Secret Desires Pt. 12bymadam_noe©
"You know, sex is supposed to relax people," Nick said with a smile, trying to diffuse the tension left in the room. When he caught his friend's grave look he passed him the beer and took another. "What happened, homme?"
Aiden sighed. "Shannon...she's stronger than anyone I know. Sometimes she's as stubborn as a jackass, but I almost admire that. Except when she's right, and I'm wrong."
Laughing, Nick sat on the other bed and kicked off his boots. "Dat girl always was smarter dan de both of us."
"I asked her about moving back...I suggested we all live together."
Nick's body tensed and he paused lifting his drink, eyes narrowing. "Did you tell her about dat night?"
Aiden set his beer down and rested his head on the headboard, swallowing twice, stalling. "No, I've never told anyone about that. I didn't want to hurt you."
Nick rose. "Aiden-"
Aiden decided to improvise, just a little. "She said she's caught me looking at you, Nick, but...she says you look at me."
Nick swore viciously, kicked the bed, and turned. "We haven't spoken of dat in years. Dats how you an' me stayed good friends. We swore we'd never discuss it."
"And why? What is so wrong with it? It's not perverted or evil, and frankly Nick, if it was I'd think you'd enjoy it more, knowing you. It wasn't a fluke. I never told Lucy, I never told anyone, but in college...there were other men, too."
Nick turned on him, green eyes blazing with a sudden emotion even he couldn't identify. "It was one night, homme. She left us, we were devastated, and no one else would understand. We comforted one another, and dat was all dere was to it."
"It was more and you knew it. We'd been flirting when she wasn't there, and that started it all. I saw it in your eyes, you loved her, love her, she loves you too, and damn it, I love you too."
Nick's mouth hung open, confusion in his eyes, tension through his body. "Homme." His voice was deadly ice.
Aiden looked away to the wall, swallowing, feeling vulnerable and exposed. "She's right. I can't...share her with you without this being decided. Tell me you feel nothing and we go back to being friends."
There was silence, but Aiden kept turned to the wall, giving Nick the back of his blond head. Nick felt his hand squeeze into a fist. He was a man who wasn't scared of anything, but this...this was too much to ask. And damn him, Aiden was right. That it was dark, forbidden, and shocking only made it more alluring for him.
"Homme...I lost Shannon once. It nearly killed me. If you my friend, dat means you're always dere. If it goes further, if I lose, when I lose, I lose everyone."
Aiden glanced back, blue eyes limpid. "You won't."
Swiping his hands through his hair Nick ripped the holder until it flowed loose. He felt lashed energy, but he was rooted to the spot as Aiden stood. The sheet fell away revealing his body and Nick groaned internally. This was so damned difficult without Shannon to ease the way.
He held still as Aiden drew close, his own body so much more visibly tense with his definition. Nick didn't move, breath held as Aiden wrapped his fingers around his neck and drew him down.
At the touch of his lips memories coursed through him and desire exploded. It was too much and he jerked away and stalked to the door.
"Nick! Is that a no?" There was such raw pain in Aiden's voice he stopped with his hand on the door.
"I'm gonna follow our girl. You know as much as me she gonna look for Suzie. I keep her safe. And homme?"
"Yes," Aiden's voice trembled.
"We discuss this later."
The door shut behind him and Aiden resisted the urge to punch a hole in something. Why did it seem that with every act of love he just made the people he cared for explode?
"Get in the car."
Shannon blinked at the redhead hanging out the car door and stepped into the passenger seat three hours later. Her time at the pool had started with a phone call and bled into the hot tub. She'd felt like she was being watched but no one was there, and now that Lucy had come she felt safer. Lucy was the one person who wouldn't drive her completely insane.
"Shannon, this is John, John, this is Shannon," Lucy introduced her to the driver, the man Lucy had so gushed about recently.
"Hi there," John said with a nod, eyes on the road as he pulled out into traffic. He was a good looking man, tanned and tawny haired, well muscled and clean cut, like a poster for the true All American Male.
Lucy turned around and leaned over the headrest. "We'll go to our hotel and talk there, okay hon?"
"Thanks for coming down. I just felt like I was losing my mind."
Lucy took her hand, patting it. "I have emergency supplies we picked up on the way. Ben & Jerry, Godiva, and more."
John chuckled. "I actually have a conference here in a day, so coming in a night early works. I'll leave you two girls alone and have some drinks with the boys downstairs, but I'm only a call away."
"Thank you, John." Shannon felt the tears in her voice so she drew her hand back and spent the rest of the ride looking out the window, wondering where Suzie was. The longer she hid the greater her danger, and she was lost in a puzzle Shannon couldn't solve.
John escorted them to the room and then kissed Lucy goodbye, heading back down. This hotel room had one king size bed and was crammed tight, pale walls and bedspread contrasting with dark woods and plush blue carpet.
"Spill it. What's happened since we last spoke?"
Shannon told the tale as Lucy set down the ice cream, spoons, and opened two Diet Cokes. She openly changed into baby blue sweatpants and a t-shirt that proclaimed her Gucci dress was at the cleaners, and swept her explosion of red hair back into a sloppy bun.
By the time she finished, Shannon was crying, and Lucy held her until she was messy, both were wet, and Shannon was done. "Thank you, I don't know why I'm acting like a baby."
Lucy reached into the shopping back and pulled out a travel pack of tissues, opening them and passing them over. "Honey, you're not a baby. You're stressed. Your cousin goes missing, you get dragged back to a town you thought you escaped, you find out a killer is after your cousin, and you find out your old sweetheart and his best friend still have the hots for you...and each other. And two more pigheaded, territorial men I could never imagine. Then you find out who your father is...and he's gone.
"Shannon, it's a miracle you're not stark raving mad."
"Hand me that ice cream. And do you have spare sweatpants? A bikini and a t-shirt don't feel right for a serious discussion."
Lucy laughed and pulled a pair of black yoga pants from her suitcase, tossing them over. "All right, best friend duty. What do we tackle first? Parker, Suzie's idiotic flight, or the two demons back in your room?"
"I don't remember you being this logical," Shannon smiled, sitting back down with the pants on.
"Law school does that to a body."
Shannon unfoiled the tray of homemade brownies Lucy had brought and popped a piece into her mouth. "Seriously, if you ever leave John, let's be roommates."
Smiling Lucy grabbed a piece herself and spooned ice cream on top. "First off, I just want to say this: Suzie is a moron. All she has ever done in her life is find trouble or cause it, thinking it made life exciting. She got in over her head and it was unfair of Charlotte to dump this in your lap."
"No. We're family, and I would have come anyway if I knew. And working with Aiden and Nick we've gotten further than the FBI or NOPD."
"All right, we got to the boys right away, tells me that that's stress you just need to relax from." Lucy set down her spoon and came around to sit behind Shannon, her legs along the other woman's. Cracking her knuckles she began to massage Shannon's neck. "Girl, you have knots!"
"Tell me about it, and thank you. You're great at that."
"John taught me. Chasing after kids all day means he has tons of kinks I have to work out." She made the words suggestive and Shannon laughed. "Now, nobody is going to tell you that you have to get over your fa-Parker's death, but honey, my advice is table it for the moment. Find Suzie, drag her back by the ear to Belle Trouver, make Charlotte tan her hide, then you take all the time you need."
"Simple. Logical. I like it."
Lucy coughed, dropped her hands and sat back in a slouch. "Those boys are a bit more complicated." Shannon moved aside, and they settled into facing one another, sharing the brownies and ice cream in silence as they thought.
"Shannon, I want to explain them to you, but know it's not any kind of excuse. When you first came here, it was Nick you met first, right? That summer when Aiden was gone with his family, and he became your friend...you know Nick. His father was gone before he was born, his mother was a bad alcoholic, and everyone treated him like crap. He spent most nights sleeping on my parents' couch crying himself to sleep, but then you came, and the tears stopped.
"He fell in love with you that day, when you were four and he was six. But he has this foolish idea thanks to his idiot parents, that if he loves something, he'll lose it. It's why he's spent his entire life running from everything, rebelling at anything offered. It's why he scoffs at everything, sneering and acting aloof. He's scared to love anyone, but he's desperate to hang onto them.
"Now Aiden has always been a gentle spirit. Love comes easily for him. Don't take this the wrong way but now that I think about it, I think he may have always loved Nick in a way that went beyond friendship. When you turned sixteen and Charlotte let you date he pounced. Not only did he love you, but you were also the key to Nick, and he was raised in a way that he had to keep all he wanted secret. I'm not saying Aiden loves you because of Nick, I'm just saying that that is what first won his notice. You did the rest just by being you.
"Now this doesn't mean they're bad, or manipulative, it just means they're human, and humans make mistakes. Neither one ever forgot you. They've stayed friends but that tension has always been there. There's something you don't know about Aiden."
"Oh?" Shannon raised her brow and licked the spoon.
"He didn't just date other girls in college, he dated a few men. Handsome bastard, he got cuter ones than I did."
Shannon was shocked, but deep inside, the spark of arousal shivered through her. Maybe it was her wanton mother's blood, but Shannon knew most women would not find the thought so erotic, but she couldn't help it. Aiden was a Greek god in human form, and the thought of him and another...an image of Nick slid into her mind as well and she groaned.
Lucy chuckled. "I can guess at your thoughts, and that y cousin is involved makes me want to shower. Now let's get back to Lucy Beauchamp, psychology master.
"So, you have Nick and Aiden in a holding pattern, missing their glue, and then here you come one day, single, no strong roots up north, and they think great! Nick can claim you for his own and Aiden can rekindle everything, including something new. They do love you, but right now they have ulterior motives and that's what's tearing you apart."
"Gah!" Shannon rolled back on the bed and sighed deeply. "Great. So Aiden thinks he can use me to get Nick, and Nick thinks I can prevent it from happening. Maybe I should just go back to Chicago and buy a cat."
"So these stupid jerks love you, but are also using you to fight their battles for them. They don't understand that your life moved forward in many ways, but..."
"You never got serious with anyone in college or Chicago, did you?"
She turned away from Lucy's patient gaze and stood, pacing for a long moment. "No, I guess not."
"Have either of them asked you that?"
"No," Shannon said slowly, honestly trying to remember.
"Jerks. On one hand, it's not fair how they just assumed, but on the other..."
"Maybe you've been waiting for them too. Look, you have a lot on your plate but you guys are making headway on the case. You'll find Suzie, Nick can recover the town's records and funds, and it sounds like Mingham is the Don that got away for Aiden, and he might likely name his bagman, this Belladonna Killer.
"So things are progressing which means it might help to take your mind off things by focusing on the boys."
"Are you advising a double homicide as my lawyer?"
Lucy threw a pillow at her. "No. Look, maybe you do want to go home. Great! So if you can put your foot down with them and make them finally be open and honest about their feelings for each other, you can go home knowing they're happy.
"If you decide to stay, for some reason, then you can all be happy."
"But what if it blows up in our faces?"
"That's the chance we take with love. There are no guarantees and it's supposed to be scary. But if you want to talk about risk, what if you walk away and everyone loses because you were too scared?"
They lapsed into silence at that. One thing Shannon could always count on Lucy for was to ask the hard questions. And just as when they were teenagers, Shannon was scrambling for the correct answer.
John shoved her behind him, protective. She laid a hand on his arm and stepped around him. "John, it's just Nick." He was walking her out to a cab now that she and Lucy had figured some things out. Still, it surprised her to find Nick waiting there, looking like a predator laying in wait.
"Sheriff?" John squinted, a little tipsy and awfully cute at playing bodyguard.
Nick didn't look like a sheriff, she mused. His hair was messy and wild, hanging loose to his shoulders, and his eyes glowed like a panther's in the canopy lights in front of the hotel. He wore a black t-shirt, tight black jeans, his dusty boots, and a shoulder holster on top. He looked every inch a predator, the prototypical bad boy..
"John, homme. I'll make sure she gets back safe."
John turned and stumbled slightly. "Shannon?"
"Go ahead back up to Lucy, and I'll see you soon. I promise to call her in the morning."
"You want to do this?"
She opened her mouth and thought better of addressing that directly while Nick was standing there. She'd been wondering just how much John had heard when he walked in on her and Lucy planning strategy. "I'll be fine."
He clapped her on the upper arm and smiled, nodding to Nick, and stumbled back towards the doorman watching them with curiosity.
They both watched him go. Turning back to Nick, Shannon sighed. "Were you following me?"
"Yes." She folded her arms and glared, and Nick just laughed. "Cher, you expect me to lie? Killer on de loose, an' you likely to go off half-cocked looking for Suzie. Somebody got to keep you safe, but I didn't want to intrude."
"Hurry up!" The cabbie who'd stopped yelled.
"Coming," Shannon grumbled, and Nick followed her into the backseat, giving the driver their hotel.
They rode in silence and when they alighted, Nick took her hand and led her away from the entrance. "Walk with me, cher."
Grateful for the borrowed pants she sighed at the discomfort of walking in her beach sandals. It felt strange in a nice way to walk holding his hand. She looked like a tourist and he, well, Nick looked like a sexy modern gunslinger, but he was comforting, always had been. For all his teasing and cajoling he'd always seemed to understand her moods and share some of her dark secrets.
She compared him to Aiden in her mind for a moment, realizing just how opposite they were. Aiden was almost always sunny and full of good cheer, and he had the ability to lighten anyone's mood. He could charm the white off rice, as Charlotte would say, and he was always the one to cheer her on in her endeavors. Nick was more of a co-conspirator, but for once it seemed they had traded roles.
She muttered, nervous about the task ahead. In her mind she could heal the wounds between the two men, but still leave. Knowing they were happy would have to be enough.
"What you say, cher?"
She shook off her reverie. "Nick, it's late, been a long night, and I am tired. You obviously want to talk, so spit it out."
He stopped by a bench off the main drag, surrounded by potted plants. It was as private as they'd fine, and he drew her down to sit with him, putting his arm around her. "Dere's something I never told you, cher."
She yawned. "Quit stalling."
"You know bothers me fierce when a girl lose her accent from down here, but on you it's cute."
She pulled back and blinked up at him. "Cute? Nick Roche just called me cute?"
"Sexy as hell?" He played innocent and she laughed. "All right, enough of dat, I got to get something off my chest." With a deep breath, he seemed to set himself firmly to a purpose.
"I talked with Aiden and it seems we all dancing 'round somethin' you don; know. When we was young we played around like boys do. Some outgrew it, some didn't. Aiden and me, we were two that didn't. I used to think nothing happened because I thought I was different enough, born a bastard, parents were as bad as dey could be, and I was already marked as de town bad boy, but I was scared. It ain't easy to have dose kinds of feelings in a small southern town.
"I was scared and thought maybe if I ask you out, nobody would know. Maybe I'd be safe. Den I turn around and Aiden asked you out, swept you off yo' pretty little feet. I was happy for you, but it only made me realize how deeply I felt about you. For almost two years I watched you two so happy and it hurt, cher...but I couldn't say if losing you or losing him hurt more.
"We got drunk just night before prom. I couldn't go, not seein' you look so beautiful, him so fine. We got drunk and we talked. We couldn't say what we both felt, so we both closed our eyes and pretended it was you. It was good cher, dark, forbidden, all de things you know I enjoy in life. We kissed and touched some, kept clothes on, and de shame only made it...more. We never spoke about again until graduation, until de night you left.
"I rushed it dat night, de night you tore off. I rushed it because I wanted you both so badly, cher." He looked away and Shannon snuggled deeper into his side, but said nothing.
"When you ran off, we followed you. But you didn't go straight home, and we lost you. Didn't help we was drinkin' like fish. So we thought we'd see you in de morning, and we rode out to the old Montauk place. We drank more, talked more, and at some point we realized you'd be gone and so we- we comforted one another."
She began to stroke his back, realizing he had to say this, more than even as much as she wanted to hear.
"He was my best friend, dat boy loved me like no one else ever had. I hid my mom's rage from you cher, but Aiden knew, and he was always a safe place for me. I don't remember how it started but we were kissin' and it was so different from before, there was no pretending. It was so wild, so forbidden...it was so damn good.
"We were just fumbling; youths but I can remember his body, the way it felt, how his hands felt so different from any girl's...the way he tasted, cher, it was magic, a very certain kind of magic."
She rested her head and closed her eyes, the images as he spoke filling her mind. Nick, narrow and dark, and Aiden, strong and bright, their hands on another, their lips pressed together. Aiden would have peeled Nick's shirt off but Nick would have torn Aiden's. She imagined their hands on one another, mouths pressed together, their hard cocks aching, straining. Who would move first?
She guessed it was Aiden and Nick's narrative confirmed it. Aiden's soft, firm lips wrapping around the other man's cock. She could imagine Nick at that age, hair even longer, body narrower, fewer tattoos, just that glinting diamond stud in his ear. He would have looked like a pagan god, head thrown back in ecstasy.