tagGay MaleThe Magic in Your Touch Ch. 10

The Magic in Your Touch Ch. 10

bywavyscribe©

Every muscle in Nate’s body went taut. “That’s bullshit, Mike. Brandon has already said he won’t touch my money.”

Mike rolled his eyes. “God, you are so naive. He’s got to tell you that to gain your trust. How else would he get you living here, full time? He didn’t waste any time moving you in after your accident, now did he?”

“That just proves my point. Why would Brandon engineer that accident and try to kill me? If I’d died that night, he wouldn’t have gotten a dime.”

“I don’t think he meant to kill you. I talked to the mechanic who examined your car. He said your brake lines were frayed, not cut. I believe Nash’s intention was to drain enough fluid to scare you, not make you crash. Did you know he restored that Camaro of his from the frame-up and did almost all the work himself? A man who knows as much about cars as he does could fray those brake lines in his sleep. Now he’s come up with this cock-and–bull story about a homicidal maniac who’s burning down gay businesses just to get to you? I’m telling you, Nash is behind all of it. He’ll gain your trust, and the minute he has your power of attorney, this so-called stalker will close in and you’ll meet with an unfortunate accident.”

Nate’s rage was festering just below his skin, begging to come to the surface. “Get out, Mike. When you’re through talking crazy, you and I are going to have a serious discussion about what I will and won’t tolerate.”

“Crazy? You’re calling me crazy?” His laugh was grating, bitter. “That’s an ironic statement considering your choice of lovers. Maybe it’s time I told you a few things about the man you’re sleeping with.”

Keith said, “That’s enough, damn it. Nate asked you to leave. Now get out.”

“Not until Nate listens to me.”

Keith started to say something else, but Nate stopped him. “Fine. Say what you’ve got to say. I’m sure you aren’t going to tell me anything I don’t already know, anyway.”

“Oh, really? How about the fact that three years ago, your boyfriend flipped out over a case he was working on and had to be institutionalized. Did you know he had a complete break with reality, that he was loonier than a toon for almost four months? Did you know one of the victims was his lover, and that for a while Nash was the chief suspect in his murder?”

Megan said, “That’s a filthy rotten lie. My brother was sick, not crazy.”

“Honey, your brother was fucking nuts.”

Nate edged around Keith. “Don’t talk to her that way, asshole. The correct term for the condition is post traumatic stress disorder. The case he was working on involved a killer who mutilated his victims and then delivered the remains back to the families. Brandon was the chief investigator. Yes, he was a suspect for a brief period when it was discovered that he was friends with the victim, Kyle Washburn. He and Kyle were friends, not lovers. The reason Brandon ‘went nuts’ as you so eloquently put it, is because the killer left what little remained of Kyle’s body on Brandon’s doorstep. Bran was cleared when the real killer was caught in the act of leaving another body on another doorstep. He spent three months in a private hospital—not an institution—to which he checked himself in voluntarily, I might add. He’s fine now, and that’s all that matters to me.”

Mike’s cocky smirk made Nate feel like slugging him, broken arm and all. “Who told you all that? Nash? You can’t possibly think he’d tell you the truth.”

“Brandon didn’t tell me anything. Seth had him investigated. When I refused to read the report, he read it to me. I’ll tell you the same thing I told my brother. I don’t care about Brandon’s past, except that I’m sorry for what he had to go through. The only thing I care about is the future, the one we’ll make together. I’m not going to let you come into our home and hurl this trash around. For your information, if and when I die, everything in my trust fund will go to Amy. As far as that goes, Grandmother Morris left just as much to Amy as she did to me and Seth. I didn’t accuse you of marrying Amy for her money, did I? I gave you the benefit of the doubt even though we didn’t exactly see eye to eye when you and she first started dating. Why can’t you extend the same courtesy to Brandon?”

“Nobody was trying to kill Amy when she and I were dating, either. You’re family to me, Nathan, to us. I don’t want to see you get hurt by some psycho who’s hard pressed for cash.”

Gale crossed her arms over her chest. “My son has plenty of money, you little creep. Even if he were dirt poor, which he isn’t, he has far too much integrity to ever marry for money.”

“Sure he does, lady. I don’t suppose you have any proof of his financial status, do you?”

Brandon stepped out of the mud-room. “No, she doesn’t, Vaughn, but I do.” He walked over to one of the kitchen drawers and pulled out a sheaf of papers. “Nate’s always after me to store my records somewhere other than the kitchen. Guess you never thought it would come in handy, did you, baby?” He handed the papers to Nate. “Everything you ever wanted to know about the monetary dealings of Brandon Nash is in these papers, Nate. All you have to do is look. I certainly don’t have a high dollar trust fund, but I’m comfortable. I’ve made some good investments, have a couple of CD’s. Everything I have is yours, regardless of the amount.”

Nate could only guess at how much Brandon had heard. He looked into those deep blue eyes and saw something he never thought he’d see in the ever confident sheriff. Fear. Brandon Nash was afraid of loosing him, afraid Mike’s paranoid delusions would come between them.

Nate shook his head and refused the offered documents. “I don’t need to see those.”

Mike came up and snatched the statements from Brandon’s hand. “Maybe he doesn’t, but I do.” He examined the records like a tax auditor. Nate was surprised he didn’t ask to see Brandon’s pay stubs, too. Finally, Mike looked up and said, “So you’ve got about two-hundred thousand in savings. What does that prove? Just because you’ve got a little doesn’t mean you don’t want more?”

Brandon didn’t say anything, but Nate had reached his limit. “Alright, Mike, you’ve said what you came to say. Now it’s time for you to go.”

Amy stood up, her face pale and her eyes bleary. “Nate, I’m so sorry about all of this. You know how Mike is when he gets a notion in his head.”

Mike whirled on his wife, his eyes narrowed. “Don’t defend me. I know what I’m talking about. Why is it whenever there’s a line drawn between me and Nate, you always seem to be on his side of the line?”

Amy put her hand on his arm. “You know that’s not true, Mike. You’re my husband. I married you, not Nate.”

“Only because he wouldn’t have you. Don’t think I don’t know how you feel about your so-called best friend. You’ve been lusting after him for years. Hell, I’m surprised you didn’t have a sex change just to satisfy him. I’m sure he’d have been on you in a second if you’d had a dick and some balls.” He was in Amy’s face, yelling so that the sound bounced around the room.

Nate got in between them, Amy against his back. “Whatever half-baked theory you’ve got going about me and Amy, I will not have you yelling at her like that. Make of it what you will, but that’s the way it’s gonna be.”

Mike didn’t back up so much as a step. “What’s with you, Nate? Are you so desperate to get laid that you’ll throw away your friends and possibly even your life? Damn, if Nash is that good in bed, maybe I should start taking it up the ass, too. Beats sticking it to a frigid bitch who’s pining for a fucking queer night after night.”

Brandon tried to stop him, but it was too late. Nate made a dive for Mike and sent them both tumbling to the floor, the financial papers flying through the air and littering the linoleum. He smashed his left fist into Mike’s jaw, obscenely pleased at the feel of bone crunching bone. Mike shifted his weight, throwing Nate off and coming down on top of him. Nate’s cast made an ominous thump on the hard floor as it fell uselessly aside. Physically, Nate was stronger, but lingering weakness from the accident gave Mike the advantage. He drew his arm back and was about to hit Nate in the head when Keith and Brandon pulled them apart.

Keith had his arms underneath Mike’s armpits, pinning him against his chest. Brandon held a struggling Nate around the waist, trying desperately not to put pressure on the still healing bruises dotting his chest and stomach. He was also doing his best not to get winged by Nate’s heavy cast.

“You’ll pay for that, Nathan. I’ll press charges and sue your ass for assault.” Mike made a grab for freedom, but Keith held firm.

“Go right ahead. It’ll be worth it to have the whole world know that the great Michael Vaughn got his ass kicked by a fag, not once, but twice. I’ll be sure to wear a dress and high-heels into the courtroom to make it look that much better.”

Amy came to stand between the men and their captors with an air of command and said, “Nobody’s pressing charges, unless there’s a law against making an ass out of yourself, which I’d say you’ve both done rather nicely. Now, when I count to three, Brandon and Keith are going to let you go. If you so much as snarl at each other, I’ll make sure Brandon locks you both up.” She looked at Brandon. “Alright by you?”

Nate couldn’t see Brandon, but he could hear the amusement in his voice. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Good. One. . .two. . .three.” Brandon and Keith let go at the same time. Nate and Mike stared each other down over Amy’s head, but neither said anything. Amy gave them both a quick once over, then focused all her attention on Mike. “You and I are going home. You can call me frigid all you want, but I promise you haven’t seen anything close to the bitch I can be if you cross me.” She turned around and gave Nate a sad smile. “I’m sorry about this, Nate. He may be a perfect bastard sometimes, but he’s my bastard and I love him. If it’s any consolation, he’ll start feeling guilty in a couple of hours and want to make it up to you. My advice is to make it as hard on him as possible.” She whirled on her heel and made an exit worthy of a queen. Mike followed without saying another word.

When they were gone, Gale said, “Thank God that’s over with. I wasn’t sure how much longer we were going to have to listen that nonsense.”

Brandon maneuvered Nate to the chair that Amy had vacated and said, “Sit down and take your shirt off.”

The tone of his voice was so stern, Nate couldn’t resist. “Now honey, I know I’m sexy and damned irresistible to boot, but do you really think we should be doing this in front of your family?”

“You’re not funny, Nathan. I want Keith to check you out to make sure you haven’t done any damage with your prize-fighter routine. If I have to take you back to the hospital to have that arm re-set, I’m going to ask the doctor to put you in a full body cast. That’s about the only way I can keep you out of trouble.” He grabbed the hem of Nate’s t-shirt and tugged it over his head, working it over his broken arm.

“You aren’t really mad at me, are you?” His voice was muffled through the fabric of his shirt. “I couldn’t just stand there and let him insult you and Amy like that. He had it coming.”

Brandon laid the t-shirt on the table and moved back so Keith could begin the examination. “He may have had it coming, but you didn’t have to be the one to give it to him. I’ve spent all afternoon trying to figure out ways to keep you safe. I’m not about to let you undo all that by tearing out your stitches and bleeding to death.”

Gale and Megan took chairs at the table and looked on in amusement. Gale said, “I hope Nate didn’t hurt himself, but I have to admit, I enjoyed seeing that little punk get what was coming to him.”

Megan grinned. “My favorite part was when Mike tried to tell Nate all about Brandon’s past and Nate beat him to it. I still can’t believe Seth hired a private investigator.”

Brandon snorted. “I can. He and I didn’t exactly get off to the best start.” His face softened when he looked at Nate. “I’m just grateful I’ve got a loving man who doesn’t hold my past against me.”

It was Nate’s turn to snort. “There’s nothing to hold against you. You were sick, Brandon. Most people wouldn’t have fared as well as you did. Kyle was your friend. Loosing him the way you did must have been a nightmare.”

“How did you know Kyle and I were just friends? Was that on the report, too?”

Nate wanted desperately to erase the uncertainty he saw on Brandon’s face. “It wasn’t on the report, but I didn’t need it to be. You told me about all of your serious relationships. If you and Kyle had been anything more than friends, you would have told me. I trust you, Bran.”

Keith bent down to examine Nate’s ribs. “Do you really have four million dollars? Cause I’ve got tell you, Nate, I’d consider spreading my legs to you for that much cash.”

Gale was horrified. “Keith Edward! What a horrible thing to say to your own brother’s fiancé.”

Nate and Brandon shared a smile. “I’m flattered, Keith, but you aren’t my type.”

Keith paused. “What do you mean I’m not your type? You think I’m not man enough for you?”

Brandon moved to put his hand on Nate’s shoulder. “I’ve seen you naked, Keith. Trust me when I tell you, you definitely aren’t.”

They all laughed, but Gale broke the mood. “What did you mean when you said you’ve spent all day trying to find ways to keep Nathan safe, Brandon?”

Nate listened as Bran told them about his meeting with Howard and gave them the details on Wilson. When Brandon was done, he said, “Why would a professional hit-man be after me? I don’t have any ties to organized crime.”

Keith pronounced him sound and handed him his shirt. While he was dressing, Brandon said, “I need you to think long and hard, Nate. Who would benefit from your death?”

“You mean financially?”

“I mean for any reason.”

“The only person who stands to gain anything financially is Amy, and if she hasn’t already killed me after some of the things I did to her growing up, I think it’s safe to say she isn’t going to.”

Keith took a mug down from the cabinet and poured himself a cup of coffee. “What about Mike? Wouldn’t he get his fair share if you died? What’s Amy’s is his and vice versa, right?”

Nate was adamant. “No way. I know the guy can be a pain, but he loves me somewhere deep inside. Very deep inside. Besides, why go to all the trouble of moving me up here and helping cement the partnership with Amy? I made Amy the beneficiary of my trust the day after my parents dumped me. If Mike wanted to off me for my money, he’s literally had years to do it.”

“Did you really kick his ass once before, Nate?”

“I sure did, Megan.”

“What happened?”

Nate sighed. “Basically the same thing that happened tonight. Amy and I have been friends since grade-school. All through high-school and the first year of college, it was just the two of us. She rarely dated, and I didn’t date at all. She met Mike right at the end of our sophomore year. They hit it off, but Mike wasn’t too crazy about his girlfriend having a guy for a best friend. One night, they got into an argument about the amount of time she spent with me, and Mike told her she had to choose between us. She dumped him and called me. When I got to her apartment, she was a mess. I cleaned her up, took out a couple of quarts of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream, and let her cry on my shoulder. At one point, she crawled into my lap so I could hold her while she cried. That was when Mike walked in and saw her curled up in my arms.”

All the Nash’s in the kitchen said, “Ouch.”

“He certainly wasn’t pleased. He started hurling wild accusations like he did tonight. He even said the whole gay thing was just a cover to get into Amy’s pants. It was when he called her a slut that I knocked two of his teeth out.” Nate went to the cabinet and grabbed some aspirin. “I’d have knocked out a couple tonight, too, if I hadn’t been fighting handicapped.” He filled a glass of water from the tap and downed the pills. “That still doesn’t prove anything. After that night, Mike and I actually became friends. He and I have a friendship separate from mine and Amy’s, too. Lots of times we have ‘guys’ night out’ with just the two of us. If he wanted me out of the picture, he’s hand ample opportunity. Why now?”

Brandon nodded. “What you just said makes perfect sense, but we aren’t ruling out anybody, no matter how good the logic.”

Gale said, “What about Calder? I know he’s your father, sweetie, but I have to tell you, I don’t give two hoots in hell for that old snake.”

“He certainly wouldn’t put on sackcloth and ashes if I bought it tomorrow, but I just don’t believe he’s behind all this. See, everything with my father is a matter of honor. His honor was insulted when I decided not to go into the family business. His dignity was impugned when I announced to the world that I was gay. His sense of righteousness took a beating when I refused to crawl back to him and beg forgiveness for being born unworthy of the Morris name. My father would be more likely to challenge me to a duel on the courthouse lawn than to put out a contact on my life.”

“I thought you said Mr. Morris was cleared. You let him go, after all.”

“There’s a being difference between being cleared and being let go for lack of evidence, Megan. By no means is Calder off my list of suspects.”

Keith took a healthy swig of coffee. “Not to be a jackass, but shouldn’t Seth be on that list? Does it seem strange to anyone else that he showed up at the exact same time that all this started happening, or is it just me?”

Brandon said, “Normally, I would say it’s just you, but I’m not taking any chances with Nate’s safety.”

Nate was shocked. “You suspect Seth? I thought you said you trusted him.”

Brandon walked over to the counter where Nate was leaning and caged him with his arms, his body pressed tight against him. Nate could feel the heat through his clothes and did his best not to get hard with his in-laws looking-on. Brand leaned down until his forehead was touching Nate’s and said, “I trust him as far as I’m going to. For what it’s worth, I don’t think he’s the one, but I’ll be damned before I get sloppy and make a mistake that might cost me my life.”

Nate’s voice came out a harsh whisper. “Don’t you mean, a mistake that might cost my life?”

“No. Your life and my life are the same now. There is no me without you.”

Gale took Megan by one hand and Keith by the other. “I think it’s time for us to leave.” She dragged them to the door. “Take care, boys.” Neither responded, too wrapped up in each other to hear the door open and close. Sasha came in as Gale and the others left, but gave up trying to get her masters’ attention and lumbered off to bed. Nate wasn’t sure how long they stood there just holding each other, but it was Brandon who finally broke the silence.

“You don’t know what it did to me, hearing you defend me like that. If I wasn’t nuts about you before, I would be now.”

“You would never hurt me, Bran.” Nate kissed a spot just below his jaw. “Of all the people in my life, you’re the one I know I can always count on. Maybe we haven’t said the vows yet, but in my heart, we’re already married.”

Brandon nuzzled his ear. “I feel the same way. You don’t know how scared I was that you would rip your stitches when you jumped Mike. As it is, you’re damn lucky you didn’t crack that cast open.”

Nate cleared his throat. It was now or never. “I agree with you about the cast, but you’re wrong about the stitches. Actually, I don’t have any stitches. I didn’t tell you about my appointment today because I wasn’t scheduled to go in until tomorrow. Dr. Rinehart had a cancellation this afternoon and called to see if I wanted to come on in. he said my cast can come off in about four more weeks, and then he took out all my sutures. See, even the ones in my head are gone.”

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