Shelter in the Storm Ch. 09byKarennaC©
Early Monday morning, Declan dragged himself out of bed. He rarely rose this early, but with a four-hour trip ahead of him, he didn't have much choice.
He stumbled into the kitchen. Shane was already there. "Coffee?" he offered, holding out a cup.
"Please." Declan sat at the table, and Shane set the cup in front of him. "Thank you. I hope this wakes me up enough to drive."
"I hope so too," Shane said. "It wouldn't be good if you drove off the road."
"Yeah. Thanks for the positive thought." Declan took a sip of the coffee. His mouth twisted. "Good lord, this is strong enough to fuel my car!"
"I wanted to be sure you were wide awake." Shane massaged Declan's shoulders. "I was hoping we could spend a little quality time together before you leave."
"So in other words, I got out of bed so we could get back in?"
"Pretty much, unless you'd rather not."
"I didn't say I'd rather not."
Declan took another drink of the horrible coffee and stood. "Maybe we shouldn't bother with the bed. I might fall asleep again."
"Well, we don't have to," Shane said. "We have a shower, and there's a perfectly good table here."
"And we both need showers." Declan put his arms around Shane and kissed him on the lips. He would only be gone for the night; why did he feel like it would be much longer before he saw Shane again? "I want you," he whispered.
"I woke up thinking about fucking you," Shane replied. "I almost woke you, but I wanted you to have your sleep."
"Well, I'm awake now, so have what you want."
"I want your mouth. And I want you inside me."
Declan was surprised; usually Shane preferred to do the penetrating. But he knelt and tugged Shane's boxers down to his knees. Free of its restraint, Shane's cock stood hard, a drop of precum already glistening at its tip. Declan licked it, then slid his mouth down over Shane's shaft. "Oh, god, Declan, that's amazing!" Shane said.
As he continued to lick and suck, Declan fondled Shane's balls. Shane's moans and gasps were ample indication of how much he enjoyed it. Within moments, Declan had a mouthful of cum, which he swallowed. "I take it you liked that," he said.
"I definitely liked it." Shane pulled Declan to his feet. "Now I want you to fuck me. Here or in the shower, I don't care, but I want to feel your cock in my ass."
He sounded almost desperate, which concerned Declan. What was wrong? Shane had been hornier than usual for days now, ever since the visit from his former lover, but this was more than usual. "Wherever you want to do it," he told Shane.
Shane bent over the chair Declan had been sitting in. "Here."
"Let me get the lube." Declan went into the bedroom and came back with a bottle of lube. He coated his cock and Shane's asshole with it and eased in, going slowly to give Shane time to adjust. "Does that feel okay?"
"That feels incredible. Don't be slow, Declan, I don't want it slow today."
Declan started fucking Shane harder. Shane pushed back against Declan's cock, encouraging him to go faster. Declan obliged. At this pace, he wouldn't be able to last long, but that didn't seem to matter to Shane. "Shane, I'm going to come," Declan said after a couple minutes.
"Good. I want to feel your cum in my ass."
Declan felt his balls tighten, and moaned as his cum shot into Shane. He pulled out and sat down again to catch his breath. "Was that fast enough for you?"
"That was great." Shane kissed him. "I'm going to miss you tonight."
"I'll miss you too." Declan glanced at the clock on the microwave. "Shit, I'm going to be late! I have to shower and get out of here."
"Sorry," Shane said. "I didn't mean to make you late."
"I contributed," Declan pointed out. "It's all right."
He showered and dressed quickly. Shane kissed him goodbye at the door. "I love you, Declan. See you tomorrow."
"I love you too," Declan said.
Fortunately, traffic was light for most of Declan's trip. He did get stuck in some rush hour traffic, but still was able to reach his manager's office only fifteen minutes later than scheduled. Celia, his manager, was waiting at the door. "You're late," she said.
"Apologies," Declan replied. "Traffic."
"I hope you'll try to be on time for your openings. There are some very influential people who are planning to attend. You could end up making quite a bit from these three galleries."
"Good to hear." Though Declan didn't really care about the money.
"It will be good, if you're on time. Come in."
He followed Celia inside and spent the next several hours going through thumbnail prints of his art pieces, trying to determine which paintings would go to which gallery. It was mind-numbingly boring to Declan; this was one of his least favorite parts of being an artist. It was enough to make him wish he'd never taken painting beyond the hobby phase. He would have been content to let Celia and her staff handle all the business minutiae, but Celia didn't work that way. She insisted on her clients being involved in everything.
Midafternoon, Celia finally said, "Okay, I think we're done. Let's go get something to eat."
Declan looked at the clock and was surprised to see that it was only three thirty. He'd planned on spending the night in his apartment nearby, the apartment that Shane had tried to persuade him to give up, but if his meal with Celia ended early enough, he might be able to drive back to Shane's that night after all. Although Declan liked being alone, he was getting used to living with Shane again and didn't want to spend the night alone.
Celia took him to a new Thai restaurant a few blocks away. "So how are things going for you?" she asked. "You left your job at the university, right?"
"Yes, I did. I've moved."
"You told me. I can't picture you living out in the middle of nowhere, though I suppose it makes sense. What are you planning to do now?"
"I'm not going to teach anymore. I'm going to devote my time to painting. That's where the income is; I don't need to teach."
"You're definitely making enough to live on. I thought your move was only temporary, though. Have you decided to stay?"
"I haven't decided yet, but it's likely that I'll stay." At least so far, things were going well enough with Shane that Declan wasn't thinking about leaving.
"Will you still be willing to travel for openings?"
"Of course. That's part of my work as an artist." Though Declan hated thinking of what he did as work. He wished he didn't have to attend the interminable openings, which were all the same. People who believed they understood his art better than he did himself, trying to get him to agree with their interpretations. He painted landscapes primarily; what was there to interpret?
"Good to hear," Celia said. "Your paintings are becoming very popular, Declan, and part of what's driving that popularity is your willingness to interact with the public, to attend these openings and make your face as well-known as your art."
Celia continued talking, but Declan tuned her out. He wasn't interested in discussing how well-known his face was or how much people enjoyed talking to him. He just wanted to finish his meal and leave.
Finally Celia signaled for the check, which she paid. "Are you staying in the city tonight, Declan?" she asked. "It's quite a drive back to your little seaside paradise, isn't it?"
"It is, but I think I'll go home anyway," Declan replied. "It's still early, and I can always stop for coffee if I get tired. My apartment's been closed up and would probably be too hot to sleep in."
"Well, have a safe trip."
As he headed down the highway, Declan considered calling Shane to let him know he was coming home. But Shane was big on spontaneity; maybe it would be fun to surprise him.
It was dark by the time Declan turned onto the dirt road that led to Shane's house. When he went over the hill that revealed the house and the ocean beyond it, he was surprised to see an unfamiliar car in front of the house. Who had Shane invited over? It didn't take long for Declan to realize the answer. It had to be Frank, Shane's former lover. The one Shane had lived with after he and Declan had split six years earlier.
Declan parked beside the car and went inside. The lights were off, but the TV gave enough light that he could clearly see the two men kissing on the couch.
Numbness filled him. He should have been angry, but he felt nothing, not even surprise. When Frank had shown up a few nights earlier to pick up some things he'd left behind when he'd moved out, Declan had sensed that things weren't completely resolved between Frank and Shane. Shane's sexual aggression had proved that, in Declan's mind.
Declan flipped on the light. Startled, the other men jumped apart. "Don't stop on my account," Declan said. "I'm just going to get my things and leave."
Shane got up. "Declan, wait, please. It's not-"
"If you say it's not what it looks like, I may vomit. Get out of my way, Shane."
"Declan, come on."
Declan pushed past him and went into the spare room. Although he slept with Shane in the master bedroom, Shane's belongings took up so much space that Declan had to use the closet and bureau in the guest room. He yanked a suitcase out of the closet and started filling it.
"Declan, come on, stop it," Shane said from the doorway.
"You obviously didn't plan on missing me as much as you claimed." Declan looked at the clothes hanging in the closet, trying to decide what he might need. "I'm not one of those 'oh well, he cheated, I'll stick around' kind of people. You were kissing another man. I'm leaving."
"He was kissing me, and it was only a kiss. I didn't cheat on you."
"Your definition of cheating is different from mine." He heard the front door close. "Better go catch him so you don't end up sleeping alone."
"I told him to leave. Do you really think I wanted him to do that?"
"You certainly didn't seem to mind." Declan crammed a few more things into his suitcase and closed it. "I should have stayed in the city, apparently. Then you'd have had time for your little rendezvous."
"Okay, I did invite Frank over," Shane admitted. "But not for that. Not for anything. There's a game on; we're both baseball fans, and I thought it would be fun to watch the game together. He had other ideas."
"You were kissing him. Your arms were around him. I'm leaving."
"You can't drive back to the city tonight."
"No, but I can find a motel room somewhere around here." Declan picked up the suitcase and went to the door. Shane stayed where he was. "Move."
"We need to talk about this, Declan. You can't just-"
Shane stepped out of the way. "We need to talk," he repeated. "Please."
"Talk to Frank. I don't want to hear it." He left.
Declan drove aimlessly until he spotted a small motel with a "Vacancy" sign, not an easy find in this area in the middle of summer. The one room they had left was at the far end of the motel and had a broken screen in the window, but it was better than staying with Shane.
How could Shane have done this? He'd insisted he had no feelings anymore for Frank; the reason he and Frank had broken up was that Shane had never gotten over Declan. Now that they were back together, how could Shane cheat with Frank? It didn't matter that all they had done was kiss. Who knew what might have happened if Declan hadn't come back when he had?
Declan didn't often watch TV, but to keep himself company he turned on the small set on top of the bureau. Supposedly the motel had cable, but only twelve channels came in. Declan found a movie that appeared to be tolerable and left it on while he sat on the bed to think. He'd been so angry and in such a hurry to get away from Shane that he hadn't thought to take his art supplies, even though he normally took them everywhere he went. So there was nothing for him to do to keep his mind occupied.
His cell rang. Declan ignored it; it was sure to be Shane. The ringing stopped but started again after a second. Shane was nothing if not determined. Irritated, Declan answered. "What?"
"Why can't we talk about this?" Shane asked.
"What's to talk about? You invited your ex-lover to your house while I was away and somehow your lips accidentally ended up glued to his. Clearly you don't let go of lovers easily; you fucked up your relationship with Frank because you weren't over me, and now you've fucked up our relationship because you aren't over him."
"I hope I haven't fucked up our relationship," Shane said quietly. "Declan, you know I love you. I didn't love Frank, not really, and he knew it. We were together because we were interested in the same things and the sex was good."
"Thanks. I needed to hear that."
"So you would have had good sex with him if I hadn't come home?"
"No! Declan, listen. I didn't plan on anything happening. I thought Frank understood that he and I were just friends now. We were watching the game, and next thing I knew, he kissed me. That was when you walked in."
"And the lights were off because?"
"Because we'd gotten into the game and were too lazy to get up and turn the lights on. And sometimes I watch TV with the lights off. You know that. Declan, you're making something out of this that isn't even there. Please. Come home."
"No." Declan closed his eyes for a moment; he was close to tears. "Do you have any concept of how much it hurt to see that, Shane? I left the city and drove four hours home to surprise you, and I walked in to find you with another man. Whether or not you planned on anything happening, something did, and I have to think about what I'm going to do next."
"It was a kiss. Nothing more. I know you're hurt, and I'm sorry, but you're overreacting."
"That right there proves that I've done the right thing by walking out. I'll be by tomorrow while you're at work to get the rest of my things." Declan hung up.
* * *
The next morning, Declan took himself out to a quiet breakfast in a nearby diner, then drove to Shane's house. It was late enough that Shane should have been at work, but Shane's car was still beside the house. Declan almost turned around and drove away, but he wanted his art supplies and other things. He parked in front of the house and went in.
Shane was sitting in the living room. Most of Declan's belongings were in boxes around him. "I figured if you were serious about leaving, I'd make it easier for you," Shane said. "But I wish you wouldn't leave, Declan. You're misunderstanding what happened. I don't have feelings for Frank. You're the one I love, and if that hasn't changed after sixteen years, it isn't about to now."
"I wish you'd told me you were inviting him over," Declan said. "You didn't, and to me that feels dishonest."
"You're right. I should have told you."
"Do you know what I was thinking while I was at that meeting yesterday? I was thinking that I hoped it would end early enough that I could come back to you. I didn't want to spend the night in the city because I wanted to be with you. You screwed that up."
"Yes, I did." Shane reached to touch Declan's face, but stopped himself. "You don't often tell me how you feel."
"No, but you should know. You should understand how hurt I am, because of how much I love you." Declan turned away. "I don't remember bringing this much stuff here."
"It's all yours. Do you want help bringing it out to your car? Or is it even going to fit?"
"It won't all fit. And I don't know where I'll put it."
"Where did you stay last night?"
"Some fleabag motel a few miles from here. Same place I'll likely stay tonight."
"Declan, do you really want to leave me? After we've found each other again, do you really want to throw it away because of one mistake that I didn't even make?"
Declan studied the boxes to keep from looking at Shane. Was Shane right? Was he overreacting? Could he forget what he'd seen when he'd come home the night before? "I'm taking my art supplies," he said. "I'm going to spend another night or two at the motel. You're going to tell Frank that you won't see him again, as a friend or as anything else, because whatever your intention might be, it's clear he has other plans."
"You'll come back?"
"I have to think about it more."
Shane nodded. "All right. And by the way, I told Frank when I threw him out last night that I don't want to see him again."
"Glad to hear it." Declan pulled his easel and paints out of the piles. "I'm leaving now. I'll call you tonight if I want to talk."
"Take your time," Shane said. "Just remember, I love you."
"I love you too." Carrying his art materials, Declan walked out.