Shelter in the Storm Ch. 02byKarennaC©
The day after the storm, the cleanup began. Some houses had been flooded; windows were broken; tree limbs and leaves littered the town. The worst damage was to one of the bed and breakfasts; an entire section of its roof had been lost and would need fast repair, since the place was already booked up for the summer season. Fortunately, despite the property damage, no one had been hurt.
As soon as it was declared safe for people to leave the emergency shelter at the high school, Declan returned to his cottage. There was no electricity, but he didn't care. It was better than enduring the shelter any longer. Even if Shane was there.
It astonished Declan that he'd run into his former lover in an emergency shelter, of all places. Six years of separation, and they'd found each other again. He was equally astonished by his reaction to seeing Shane. It had seemed like no time at all had passed; they talked as easily as ever. And clearly time hadn't diminished the attraction between them, as evidenced by their lovemaking in the basement of the high school.
But even Shane wasn't enough to keep Declan at the shelter any longer than necessary. He had always hated crowds, and the shelter had been filled to overflowing. The noise had been too much for him. Having no electricity was a small price to pay.
The morning of the second day after the storm, Declan awoke to bright sunlight and the sounds of cleaning and construction outside. He got up and looked out the window at the blue sky. It was a perfect day for painting. He got his things together and left the cottage without bothering to shower or change. Showering would have been miserable without electricity to heat the water, and the shorts and T-shirt he'd worn to bed were acceptable to wear outdoors.
Many of the nearby trees had been almost stripped by the high winds. The bare limbs against the sky appealed to Declan. He set up his easel in a corner of the yard and was preparing his paint when he heard someone call, "Declan! Good morning!"
Declan turned to see Shane hurrying across the lawn. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
"You don't sound too happy to see me," Shane said. "Did I do something wrong?"
Only brought more confusion to Declan's life than he'd felt in years. "No, of course not," he said. "I just woke up, and I'm surprised to see you. I thought you'd be working."
"I took a few days off. My place is kind of a mess; some windows got broken, and there's debris all over the yard. And some in the house. Besides, I can't shower until the power comes back, and I don't think my coworkers want to smell me."
"You could have showered at the shelter, couldn't you?"
"Sure, if I'd wanted to wait in line forever. Everyone's trying to shower there, even the people who've gone home. I don't mind having some time off from work. Cleaning up is going to take a few days, since I don't have anyone to help me."
Declan wanted to spend his day painting and recovering from being at the shelter. He wanted to be alone. But Shane was clearly hinting for his help with the cleanup, and Declan didn't have the heart to turn him down. Besides, spending time with Shane wouldn't be exactly unpleasant. "I can help if you'd like," he said.
"Are you sure you don't mind?" Shane said.
"I'm sure. Just let me put this stuff away."
"I don't want to interrupt your painting. I know how much you hate that."
Though that had never stopped him before. Countless times when they'd been together, Declan had been in the middle of a painting when Shane had started conversations with him. He had never seemed to grasp that Declan needed to concentrate on his art, and he'd usually gotten annoyed if Declan tried to ignore him. But after six years, maybe Shane had changed.
"You aren't interrupting," Declan said. "I hadn't started yet. I can paint later. The branches will still be there."
"Okay." Shane smiled. "Help would be great. I was actually on the way to the glass place to see about new windows, and decided to stop by and see how you're doing. You didn't tell me you were leaving the shelter yesterday."
"Sorry. I just wanted to get out of there."
"I understand. I know you hate being around that many people. That's why I wanted to make sure you're okay." He looked around. "You don't seem to have had much damage here."
"No, fortunately. The person I'm renting from is hard to get hold of." Declan took down his easel. "Here, carry this for me, please."
Shane took the easel. Declan picked up the rest of his supplies and led Shane into the cottage. "Nice place," Shane said.
"It's not bad," Declan agreed. "For a week of painting and relaxing, it'll do."
"Are you still leaving at the end of the week?" Shane sounded disappointed. "The other night, you said you might stay till the end of the summer."
"I might, if I can find somewhere to stay. This cottage is already rented out for the next few weeks, so I have to leave Saturday afternoon."
"You could stay with me. My house has two bedrooms, so there wouldn't be any pressure on you." He touched Declan's shoulder. "I'd like you to stay, Declan. I know we've been apart for a long time, but I'd like to try again."
Declan wasn't sure what to say. He still had feelings for Shane, there was no question about that. Strong feelings. But did he want to get involved with him again? "We can talk about it," he said finally. "It's only Thursday; as long as I'm out of the cottage by five o'clock Saturday, I'm all set. There's time to decide." Not that two days was enough time to make that big a decision. He and Shane had lived together for years, but now Declan was used to living alone. He wasn't sure he could adjust to living with someone again. And even if he and Shane agreed that he was just staying at Shane's house for the rest of the summer, there would be hopes and expectations on both sides, ones that it might be better not to meet.
"There's plenty of time," Shane agreed. "Meanwhile, are you going to change before we go to the glass place?"
Declan looked down at his shorts and T-shirt. "Change? What's wrong with what I'm wearing?"
Shane laughed. "You never were much on fashion. Okay, come on, then."
It took them a while at the glass shop to arrange to have new windows made, but finally they were told that someone would be at Shane's the next day. "That was needlessly annoying," Shane said as they went back to his pickup truck. "I know there's a lot of storm damage around, but all they had to say was they'd make an appointment. They didn't have to argue so much."
"Neither did you," Declan pointed out. "I thought you were going to leap across the counter and throttle the guy."
"I thought about it," Shane admitted. "Okay. Have you had anything to eat this morning?"
"Not yet." Declan's stomach rumbled; he hadn't realized until then that he was hungry. "I couldn't have cooked anything if I'd wanted to; the stove's electric. And I guess I'm going to have to throw out all the stuff in the fridge. I just went shopping Monday."
"Yeah, it stinks. I'm going to have to get rid of a bunch of stuff too, but there's no point in buying any more until the power's back on. I called the power company this morning and got a recording saying it could be on as early as this afternoon or as late as Monday, depending on how damaged the lines are."
"Nothing like being definite."
They got into the truck, and Declan took his favorite position, slumped down in the passenger seat with his feet on the dash. "Aren't you a little old to sit like that?" Shane teased.
"I'm thirty-five. Not quite ancient," Declan replied. "And this is comfortable."
"Yeah, but you're getting dirt on my dashboard."
"I'll wipe it off."
Shane laughed. "Some things never change. You always used to say that, and you never wiped off the dirt."
"Maybe I wanted to leave my mark."
"Believe me, you did."
Shane drove back through town, avoiding the fallen branches and other debris that the public works department hadn't yet removed from the streets. "It's a nice place," he said. "When Frank and I moved here, I thought it would be too quiet. I was used to the city. But I've really liked living here."
"Which I assume is why you stayed after Frank left," Declan said.
"Yeah. Kind of funny, really. He was the one who wanted to move here, but I was the one who wanted to stay."
"That is interesting. Why did he want to move here in the first place?"
"His family used to come here summers, and he liked the place. We bought the house from one of his uncles; we got it for a song, because no one else in the family wanted it after his grandparents passed away."
"But Frank didn't want to keep the house when you and he separated?"
"Like I said, he didn't want to stay here. And the house was in my name; I'm the one who made the down payment and paid most of the mortgage. You know what, let's change the subject, okay? I don't want to talk about Frank anymore. He and I split up a year ago, and I haven't even heard from him since. I want to talk about you and me."
That was a conversation Declan didn't want to have. Not yet. The night at the shelter, he and Shane had talked about getting together again, about the feelings for each other that had never completely gone away. But that had come partly from their surprise at seeing each other again. Now Declan was having second thoughts. He still loved Shane; he'd known that for six years. But was that enough to make things work between them again?
"What needs to be done at your house?" Declan asked.
Shane sighed. "If you don't want to talk about us, all you have to do is say so. I guess I'm going to have to put up some boards over the broken windows for now, until they show up to fix them, and I want to clear the yard as much as possible. And of course there's broken glass all over the place inside, and some other mess. I just left the shelter this morning; I haven't done anything at home yet."
"It isn't that I don't want to talk about us," Declan said. "It's that I don't know what to say yet."
"Maybe we don't need to say anything." Shane rested his hand on Declan's thigh. "I think we said a lot the other night, with and without words. Making love to you felt as right as it always has. We still belong together, Declan. We never should have been apart."
"But we have been apart. For a long time. We can't pretend six years don't exist."
"I'm not asking you to. I'm asking for another chance. We can start from scratch if that's what you want, but after the other night, I don't think we need to."
They turned onto a dirt road that led over a slight hill. When they crested the hill, Declan caught his breath. Ahead of them was a weatherbeaten house; the grey boards almost sparkled in the sunlight. Beyond the house, the ocean stretched to the horizon. "It's beautiful!" Declan exclaimed.
"Something you could paint." Shane drove up in front of the house and shut off the truck. "It's a great place, but lonely sometimes. Especially in the winter; the closest houses are summer people."
"I'd love that. No one around, peace and quiet..."
"You always did like that. You and I are such opposites. Sometimes I wonder what kept us together for ten years."
"We made things work. The differences didn't matter."
"And we could make them work again."
Shane leaned toward Declan and placed his hand gently on the side of Declan's face. Against his better judgment, Declan met Shane's lips with his own. For a few minutes, they were lost in their kiss.
Shane broke it. "Inside. Cleaning can wait. Right now, I need you."
"Shane, I'm not sure that's a good idea."
"Declan, please." Keeping his hand against Declan's cheek, Shane slid the other hand up Declan's thigh. "The other night was amazing. We were always good together, and that hasn't changed. I want you, Declan."
Declan felt his body responding to Shane's touch. He wanted Shane too, but despite their time together at the shelter, it felt now like making love would be going too far, too soon. "Let's go inside," he said. "And talk about it."
"You talk too much," Shane grumbled.
Declan grinned. "And you're always horny. But that doesn't mean we're going to fuck today."
"I can talk you into it."
They got out of the truck and went inside. The place was more of a mess than Declan had expected; after the windows had broken, apparently the wind had scattered papers and other things around. "I definitely have some work ahead of me," Shane said.
"Better get started, then."
Declan bent to pick up a piece of paper, and Shane took advantage by caressing his ass. "Good position for you," Shane said.
"Very funny." Declan stood up and looked around for a trash can. "Where should I put this?"
"Down." Shane's arms went around him. "Forget about cleaning. Think about us. Think about how good I make you feel. I love you, Declan."
"You do make me feel good." The bulge in the front of Declan's shorts proved that. "But if you're serious about trying to make it work again, we can't rush things, Shane. You're right; the other night was great. I've missed you more than I realized. But that doesn't mean we can just-"
Shane cut him off with a kiss. Their tongues came together, and one of Shane's hands roamed below Declan's waist, finding the hardness there. Declan gasped into Shane's mouth at the touch.
Before the night at the shelter, Declan hadn't been with anyone in nearly a year. He'd lost himself in his art and his job, and had given up on finding a partner. He'd thought he hadn't missed sex at all, but since being with Shane again, his body seemed to want and expect more. He ran his hands down Shane's back, over his ass. Shane rubbed Declan's cock through his shorts, and Declan moaned. "Does that feel good?" Shane asked.
"You know it does."
"Then let me make you feel better."
Shane knelt in front of Declan and pulled his shorts down, revealing Declan's cock. Shane grasped it in one hand and licked the tip. "Do you want me to suck you, baby?" he asked.
Declan's second thoughts warred with his desire to feel Shane's mouth on him. The desire won. "Yes," he said softly. "Yes, I want that."
Shane's mouth engulfed Declan's cock. He sucked, sliding his mouth up and down Declan's shaft until Declan wanted to explode. "God, Shane, that feels amazing!" he said. "I'm going to come!"
Shane glanced up, a gleam in his eye, and sucked harder. Declan felt his balls tighten and said again, "Shane, I'm coming!"
When they'd been together before, Shane had never allowed Declan to come in his mouth, though he'd filled Declan's mouth plenty of times. But now, Shane continued sucking until Declan felt himself erupt. "Oh, god, Shane!"
When Declan's orgasm ended, Shane licked his cockhead clean and stood, grinning. "Bet you never thought I'd do that, huh?"
"I guess six years can change things," Declan said. "That was incredible. Can I return the favor?"
"Not right now. We've got some cleaning up to do." Shane bent and pulled Declan's shorts back up. "I'll take your returned favor later. Let's get to work."
"Things really have changed." During their relationship, Shane had never done anything without reciprocity.
"One thing hasn't." Shane kissed Declan's lips. "I love you. Now come on, let's get some of this stuff cleaned up so we can take a break and finish what we just started."
"I just finished," Declan pointed out. "And I love you too."
"I was hoping you'd say that." Shane went to a nearby closet and took out a broom. "Here. We'll start with cleaning the bedroom." He winked and went upstairs.