tagGay MaleBurning Honey Ch. 04

Burning Honey Ch. 04

byelleem©

I'm so sorry for the long hiatus. Thank you to anyone still reading, and I hope you enjoy it!

---

It was a long half an hour later that Aspen managed to push Ruby out the door as she coached him on what to say at the wedding ("Remember, dear, we'll just call you my date and leave it at that, no need to go into the details, hmm?") and reminded him to comb his hair the way she liked. He only half listened, spending her entire visit taut with nerves, but she didn't seem to notice at all. How did I ever put up with her? Aspen thought distantly.

When he'd locked the door behind her after agreeing to be ready to go bright and early in two day's time, he made his way over to sit at the kitchen table where so lately he had been spread beneath Cary, let him have free reign of his body and--

Aspen dropped his head into his hands. What was going on with him? What was going on with Cary? Aspen felt muddled, stupefied by the mere thought of the golden man whose presence immediately warmed his blood. Aspen didn't think he could keep away from that, didn't think he wanted to. And yet...

He had never been with a man before. Never even thought about it and that was the honest truth. He sighed and wondered if he was being naive to think - to feel like - like Cary was more than a dangerous attraction. He didn't want to lose his head completely, but he had the sinking feeling he might be too late already. The feel of Cary's skin under his fingertips, that smile, those golden eyes... He felt stupid even thinking it, but it felt right.

Don't get ahead of yourself, Aspen, he remonstrated himself. It's just..something physical. Biological maybe, because it felt like some part of him was programmed to respond to the man's golden hue, his scent, his touch, God, his taste...

"Stop it," Aspen said aloud to the empty room. He sighed and stood to grab the giant binder of information Cary had left for him to go over. At least it would take his mind off of the man himself.

--

It was nearly six hours later when Aspen, bleary eyed and thrumming with information, put the binder down. He'd taken a break long enough to fix dinner and shower, then had moved into his bed but continued reading, a ridge between his brows.

The binder was very organized, almost compulsively so - it had a title page and a table of contents and even an appendix at the back. Kind of silly, he thought. He wondered if Cary's secretary or someone had put it together; he pictured some starry eyed girl desperate for even one golden glance of approval and then winced. He wasn't far off from that himself.

Cary's number had been on the first page. He dialed it as he bit his lip, firmly reminding himself not to sound like a pathetic--

"Marsters," came Cary's deep voice. For a moment Aspen couldn't speak: he was thinking of the way that voice had sounded earlier, husky with lust, transforming his name into something almost reverent..."Hello? Anyone there?"

"Why didn't you tell me all the evidence points to you being at the head of a major EPA violation?" Aspen blurted out.

"Oh," Cary sounded amused. "Aspen. You're a fast reader."

"Well?" Aspen demanded, half embarrassed at his own lack of tact. He had planned to phrase that a little more carefully, but as usual the man had thrown him off balance.

"What are you wearing?" Cary returned.

"Oh, come on! You're the one who said this was so important, and you're the one, if I'm reading the material correctly, with his job and reputation on the line. Tell me."

"I was getting to it," Cary said mildly. He lowered his voice. "Bet you're naked."

Aspen flushed. It actually was true, he hadn't bothered dressing after his shower - the perks of living alone - and was laying bare on his belly amid the sheets on his bed. His cock pulsed underneath him. He said nothing.

"Okay, okay," Cary sighed. "Aspen, do you really think I'd ask you to look this stuff over if I were guilty? I didn't want to say anything earlier to influence your thinking. But I think it's pretty clear that I was hired to be a fall guy. And I want to know why."

"All I see," Aspen said measuredly, "are a number of documents of corporate policy and strategy with more than a dozen clear violations of the EPA. And all of them have your signature. Or are you saying they're all forgeries?"

"No." Cary sounded suddenly tired. "It's my signature all right. I have copies made of everything I sign, of course. All those documents exist. It's just that there have been subtle changes - a sentence here, a paragraph there - to include policies I'd never agree to, never. They - whoever - kept the final page with my signature as is and must have replaced the rest of the pages. I swear it, Aspen."

He sounded so serious, more so than he had thus far, and Aspen was inclined to believe him, if only because he thought the man seemed smart enough that he wouldn't willingly affix his name to such clearly damning documents. But he wasn't going to let onto that quite yet. Let Cary squirm. His eyes crinkled at the thought.

"And where are these original documents?" He asked instead.

"I have them, at home where they're safe. And I put copies in the appendix."

"You...made that appendix?" Aspen had a sudden image of Cary copying and hole punching and shook his head. "Never mind. So these are the documents Ryder is publicly presenting? These ones that blatantly say that the company is illegally disposing of pesticides, for example?" Aspen couldn't imagine why anyone would do that.

"You'll find some of them posted on our website, not that anyone reads through that crap," Cary said bitterly. "The thing is, Aspen, the thing that makes it so strange - I oversee pretty much all the big movements within the corporation. And I happen to know most of these violations cannot be happening. Like you said about the disposal of chemical waste - I've talked to the company, hell, the driver himself who picks up the hazardous material every week according to the real policy."

"Couldn't he be in on it, too?" Aspen pointed out. "Not that I believe you yet," he added hastily. He heard Cary sigh deeply.

"He could," he said. "But that would make this a pretty intricate conspiracy. What's the motivation? I don't know, Aspen."

"Can we go to a plant to see for ourselves?" Aspen was asking before he thought about it. Then again, that was, after all, how he'd stumbled into the last cover up. Perhaps it wasn't a bad idea.

"The production facilities aren't local - they're in Indianapolis," Cary said.

"Oh, right," Aspen started, but Cary cut him off.

"I can have plane tickets ready to go for tomorrow morning."

"Oh!" Aspen didn't know what to say. "Wow. Um, but I can't go tomorrow. I have a deadline. And the next day is that wedding I have to--"

"Right. With Ruby." Cary sounded less than pleased. "After your wedding, then."

"It's not my--" Aspen started, but thought better of it. "Look, I don't know, plane tickets aren't the cheapest things in the world, and--"

"Aspen," Cary said, voice relaxed once more. "Don't worry about it. We'll fly out on Sunday, okay? And be at the plant Monday morning. I'll take care of it. I'm the one who asked for your help, remember?"

"Okay," Aspen said reluctantly.

"More importantly," Cary breathed into the phone, "you're naked."

"I didn't say that," Aspen said, though he was suddenly hyperaware of the feeling of cotton sheets against his skin.

"But you didn't deny it," Cary's voice was like honey. "I can picture you, naked on your bed. It's fucking hot."

"You haven't even seen my bed," Aspen informed him, trying to keep his breathing even.

"It's not really my focus. I bet your sweet pink nipples are hard already. I wish I were there to bite them." Aspen let out a little sound, to his own chagrin. "Damn it. Come over, Aspen. Or I'll come over. Please. I need to see you."

"Cary," Aspen said, half laughing, half pleased at the almost desperate note in his voice. "No. It's past midnight and I have a column to write tomorrow morning. And anyway, haven't you ravished me enough for one day?"

"Oh no," Cary told him, voice deepening even further. "No, I haven't even gotten started with you. I'm gonna know every inch of you, Aspen."

"You are?" Aspen was shivering in his bed despite the warmth of his loft.

"Oh, yeah, baby. You just wait. Next time, no interruptions. I'll tie you down if I have to. And I'll start with your neck, your fucking sexy neck. I'm gonna bite it and leave my mark on you, Aspen, all over, down your chest. I'm gonna lick at those tight nipples until you're begging me for something, anything more."

"Yeah? And then?" Aspen's mouth was dry. He had rolled into his back and groaned as his state of arousal made itself very clear.

"Mm, I might have a little fun at that point," Cary said, but he still sounded very serious. "I'll kiss your cock, all over, but too light, too quick, until you're writhing for me. And your ass - I'm gonna taste you, get you soaking wet and ready for me, until you're begging me for it." Aspen couldn't help it, his hand had wrapped around his cock already, thumbing the wetness from the tip down, and his mouth was open. He could only exhale into the phone at Cary's words.

"Ah, fuck yeah, baby, you like this?" Cary sounded rough. Aspen could picture him on the end of the phone line, gloriously nude, that golden body tight with lust, a large hand circling that thick hard member, and he might have let out a whimper. God, what was this man doing to him?

"Yeah," Cary went on, not seeming to mind Aspen's loss for words. "Yeah, I'm gonna put my fingers inside you, so tight and hot, until it burns just a little, and then I'm gonna find that magic spot that makes you see stars. You're gonna want to touch me so bad, Aspen. You're going to beg me to let you suck my cock."

"Yeah," Aspen rasped. "Fuck, I want to."

"But I won't let you. Only for a second. Just long enough to get me nice and ready for you. Because I need to be inside you. Fuck. I'm gonna make it so good for you, Aspen. I'm gonna fuck you slow and tender until you're ready to scream and then I'll give it to you, pound into you until you forget your name and only remember mine. You want that, baby? You want me to make you come?"

"Fuck," Aspen moaned, "please yes."

"Come for me, baby, right now." Cary's voice was a growl now - Aspen could hear the strain in it, could tell he was just as close, and he was stroking himself furious and fast, Cary's golden visage swimming before his eyes, his voice in his ear, and Aspen let himself go under, let the tides of pleasure pull him down.

"Cary." The name came past his lips unbidden, like a prayer, and he was spent, languid with release. He could hear Cary let out a groan on the other end of the line that he knew meant he had reached his own climax. He sighed deeply in contentment.

"Damn, that was hot," Cary said lowly. "God, I can't wait to get my hands on you again. I'm not letting go once I do, you hear that?"

Aspen's breathing on the other line, already deep and even with sleep, was the only response.

---

The Saturday of the wedding was a gorgeous, crisp spring day. Ruby came to pick him up,as planned, at one o'clock. She drove a sporty white compact. Aspen figured she had wanted to drive so that he couldn't run away, not that he intended to. The way he figured it, if he made it out of this stupid wedding alive, his obligations to Ruby were officially complete and he could start fresh, a clean slate. And start ignoring her existence with a clear conscience.

Keeping this in mind, he was on his best behavior. He'd dressed in the suit she'd chosen, which, he had to admit, fit him perfectly. When Ruby had looked him over from the driver's seat and said, "Lovely, darling! See, I knew you'd clean up nicely," well, Aspen had just gritted his teeth. Ruby of course looked pristine in red

They passed the drive mostly in silence. Aspen for one felt awkward and tongue tied; what were you supposed to say to the woman you had cheated on, with her boss, no less? But Ruby seemed content to hum along with the radio.

The wedding ceremony was held in the prolific garden of a historical mansion on the outskirts of the city. Aspen wryly noted that, yet again, he was surrounded by rich, polished men and women very much unlike himself. It reminded him of Ruby's work gala --indeed, the bride Mary Ann worked with Ruby, so likely some of the bland faces were the same--and he couldn't help but let his thoughts flicker to Cary, to meeting him that first time. The thought shot a bolt of arousal direct to his groin. Stop thinking about him, Aspen thought firmly.

The beginning of the wedding itself was a relief, for Ruby was holding his arm in a near-crushing grip, pulling him around beside her as she flitted from group to group, greeting nearly everyone in attendance. By contrast it was a blissful respite to sit on the sun-warmed wooden chairs for the ceremony, watching Mary Ann walk down the aisle. He had to admit she looked beautiful in a frothy white confection of a dress, dark hair caught up in her veil, the customarily nasty curl to her lips absent for the moment. She actually looked happy for once. Her husband-to-be Paul, on the other hand, watched her procession toward him with a look of mingled awe and fear. Aspen really couldn't blame him.

Once Paul had kissed the triumphant bride, the guests were ushered into a patio for cocktails. Aspen drank his first rather quickly and Ruby's introductions were slightly less irritating after the second. He refused the third drink proffered to him by a waiter with a tray, though; he remembered all too well the last time he'd gotten more than buzzed at an event with Ruby.

Even the sit down dinner wasn't as bad as he expected--he'd been nervous, since he knew he'd be stuck beside Ruby, but on his other side was the groom's younger brother Alan who was studying journalism, and they immediately hit it off.

Soon enough Ruby wandered from the table to make her rounds, which suited Aspen just fine. He didn't see her as they were cutting the cake, or the first father-daughter dance; in fact, he didn't spot her until the band had struck up a more lively tune and most of the guests had made their way onto the dance floor. Ruby was standing by the tables, in deep conversation with an older, tall man Aspen unsurprisingly did not recognize. Aspen figured he should at least ask Ruby to dance once, to complete his obligation as wedding date, and with this goal in mind he made his way over to the pair.

Ruby had her back to him. She was speaking rather more quietly than she usually would, he noticed, but he pushed the thought away to slide next to Ruby, who looked up at him in surprise.

"Oh! Aspen," she said. She didn't look wholly thrilled to see him, but he guessed that was understandable.

"Hi," he said, putting a hand on her back. "I came to see if you wanted to dance. Hello there," he added, nodding to her companion.

"Er, hello," the man muttered, obviously ill at ease. At that point Ruby's perfect manners kicked in and almost automatically she made the introductions.

"Larry, this is my date, Aspen Altier. Aspen, this is Larry Tish, a former colleague of mine."

"Nice to meet you," Aspen said, sticking out a hand, but his mind was whirling.

Larry Tish? Wasn't that the name of the guy who had Cary's position before he was fired?

He turned to Ruby. "So, how about that dance?"

She eyed him almost warily. "Darling, frankly I'm exhausted. Would you get me a diet soda from the bar? I'll meet you there in just a moment."

"Sure," Aspen said slowly. Ruby patted his arm in a way that clearly said good boy. He nodded to Larry and turned to the bar. Once he got there, though, he turned back to see Larry taking Ruby by the elbow and leading her out of the main hall.

Just what are you up to, Ruby? Aspen thought. Something was off. Ruby had only started at Ryder Corps six months ago, and Larry Tish had been fired over a year ago. They shouldn't have known each other, unless it was from something else, but that felt like too much of a coincidence. Almost without thinking, Aspen moved towards the exit to follow them.

He heard them before he saw them--the unmistakable sound of, well, kissing. Catching a glance through the hedges, he saw them there in a dark corner of the patio where cocktails had been served earlier, locked in a close embrace.

Sick, Aspen thought. Larry Tish had to be in his sixties, and not in the dapper older gentleman kind of way. Why had Ruby invited him at all if she already had someone new, anyway? Well, at least he didn't have to feel guilty anymore. That was a familiar kiss, even from what he could see of it--a kiss that lovers share. It was clearly not the first time. Aspen turned to go--he didn't really need to see this--but froze when he heard Ruby say his name. He turned back to see she'd pulled away only slightly, his arms still around her.

"Enough, Larry. We can't have Aspen notice anything. It would ruin everything." Too late, Aspen thought laconically, then, ruin what?

"I thought you'd already done a good enough job at messing this up--you let him dump you, for Christ's sake." Tish's voice was harsh, and he pulled her roughly back to his lips, but Ruby ducked away.

"I told you, I have it under control, Larry. It'll be fine if you stop making unexpected appearances when we agreed you'd best fly under the radar."

"Yeah, well, you were the one to introduce me to your date by my real name." He sounded almost petulant.

Ruby snorted. "It's not like he has any idea who you are. And once I get him on the story idea, he'll be too busy investigating Marsters to look into you. He's probably halfway to drunk anyway." Ruby's voice dripped with disdain. Aspen felt sick.

"God, you're bad," Tish groaned out, and then their faces had mashed together once more.

Aspen was already sidling away, keeping his footfalls soft and silent, when he heard Ruby tell him, sultry as she'd never been with Aspen, "You have no idea."

Aspen's mind was whirling as he walked back into the hall. Only one thought kept rising to the surface: I have to tell Cary.

Distracted and nearly numb, Aspen nodded his way through two more songs. Ruby was nowhere in sight. He couldn't take it anymore.

Grabbing Alan from the dance floor, Aspen tasked him with telling Ruby that he wasn't feeling well and was going to take a cab home. Apparently his daze made for a believable semblance of drunkenness, because Alan just grinned and agreed, giving Aspen a lingering look that even a few weeks ago Aspen thought he probably wouldn't have registered. Aspen smiled weakly in return and clapped him on the back. Flattering as the attention of a college boy might be, he had his hands full with one man.

It was only as Aspen made his way toward a cab out front that he realized he didn't have an address--for there was no question in his mind, he was going to see Cary right now. This was too important to wait. It was just as he was reaching for his phone to text Cary and ask that he saw the broad, dark figure rise from a bench half hidden from view by a potted plant.

"Mr. Altier?" Came a deep, calm voice. Aspen stared.

"Nelson? What are you doing here?" Aspen asked, a finger of dread trailing down his spine.

"Mr. Marsters sent me." He answered, face unreadable. "To keep an eye on things." To keep an eye on me, more like, Aspen thought grimly. He hadn't asked for any of this. Jesus! He didn't know what to think.

"Well, Nelson, you can take me to Mr. Marsters then, and he can see for himself." Aspen was glad that his voice sounded steady, at least. Nelson nodded and pulled out his keys; when he hit the unlock button, Aspen jumped at the resultant beep that sounded from the dark car, partially hidden in shadow.

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