Run and Hide Pt. 02byCC_Ryder©
Ho. Ly. Shit.
It was Paul's hot birthday fuck. In his brother's living room. On a Wednesday afternoon.
Thoughts waged war for supremacy in Paul's head: Wasn't the home stager going to be a woman? Christ, his ass looks good in those pants. Don't, for the love of God, get an erection right now. Calm, be calm.
Paul wondered if Ace even remembered him. Hell, most of the time they were together, Ace was bent over, facing the wall. Maybe he forgot Paul as soon as he was gone.
Paul watched the color rise in Ace's cheeks, and his fingers twitched to feel the heat there.
Oh yeah. He remembers. They both did.
Then Ace's mouth dropped open enticingly, and Paul's thoughts took a much naughtier turn.
Those lips. Those soft, juicy lips. How they looked wrapped around his ...
He shifted his stance, trying madly to calm his rebellious dick.
This. This right here. This is why there are rules.
"Turns out Acelin is a guy's name," Steven said.
Paul flashed cold for a second, worried that Ace would let on that they'd met already. He was so not ready to tell Steven how that happened.
"Nice to meet you, Ace," Paul said, polite and cool. He offered his hand to shake.
Ace started for just a moment, then took the hand to shake.
Shaking a man's hand shouldn't affect his whole body like that. Paul shouldn't feel the warmth spread so deliciously along his nerve endings. He shouldn't long to let his fingers run along the rest of that tempting skin.
"Likewise," Ace replied, suddenly hoarse. He roughly cleared his throat and turned to Steven. "So, how about you show me the rest of the house, and then I can get started."
Paul trailed behind, his attention split between watching Ace take notes about the rooms and watching the sinful way Ace's ass moved inside those pants.
"Do you mind if I take some before photos?" Ace asked Steven.
"Oh damn," Steven groaned. "It's that bad? My house is a before picture?"
Ace laughed, and the sound spread warmly through Paul's body. He liked how that felt - and what it did to Ace's already beautiful face and deep blue eyes.
"Nothing like that, really," Ace said. "I'm trying to get more content for my Web site, and before and after photos are the best way to show what I can do for a house. Yours is far, far from my biggest challenge, believe me."
Steven narrowed his eyes slightly. "But it's not the easiest one, either, is it?"
Ace took a deep breath. "No. But it's not because you've done anything wrong. It's just a little ... blank. Usually, I have to remove personal photos left and right and cull down the mess on the walls. But you ... well, that's not an issue here."
"So what do you do about that?" Paul asked. He wasn't exactly sure what his job as backup entailed anymore, now that he wasn't on flower blockage patrol. But despite himself, he wanted an excuse to talk to Ace.
"First, I think we'll attack the low-hanging fruit," Ace said, not quite meeting his eyes. "Let's move some furniture around."
"Might as well, since my muscle is here and everything." Steven slugged his brother lightly on the arm.
Ace pursed his lips quickly, as if to stop himself from saying something.
"Then let's go to the bedroom," Ace said.
Oh let's. Paul shook his head. Cut it out, McDonnell.
The room Steven used as the master bedroom was smallish, like all the rooms in this older house, and Steven's king-size bed took up most of the space. He'd placed it so that you would fall into it after taking two steps into the room.
"I'm guessing this is where you put the bed the first day you were in the house, right?" Ace said.
"More than likely," Steven said.
"Once you finally get your stuff into a new place, you're usually too tired to even think about moving it later, and that's especially true of bedroom furniture."
"I think I put the bed here because of the phone jack," Steven said.
"Makes sense," Ace said. "But it's sort of blocked your entry into the room. I know you have made this work for you, but people are going to walk in here and think they will never fit everything they need."
"But all my stuff does fit," Steven said.
"We can make it fit better," Ace said. "You want the layout to welcome people into the bedroom, make them want to explore further."
Okay, this was getting ridiculous. Paul was taking everything Ace said in a much more interesting way. Like, I would definitely welcome you into the bedroom. Or, you already know everything important fits.
Paul shook his head to clear it and realized that both Ace and Steven were looking at him.
"I'm sorry," he said. "Did I miss something?"
"Could you grab that bedside table and move it into the hallway?" Ace repeated.
Paul grunted softly and went to work, grateful for the physical distraction. With a few adjustments and new positions for Steven's furniture, the bedroom was quickly transformed. The entry was unobstructed, the furniture was tucked into new homes, and the room surprisingly looked bigger.
Paul found it kind of remarkable. He never paid that much attention to his own home or where he put stuff - as long as it was functional and clean, he didn't really care much. But Ace was able to see exactly where things should go, and it made a huge difference. It seemed obvious in retrospect that everything should have been like this to begin with, but only Ace had been able to see that.
This man was impressing him more and more. This was not a good thing.
This never happened to him before. All the men he'd fucked had been one-night only affairs, and usually well out of town.
And the thing was, he liked it that way. For Paul, every encounter was fired with that thrill of a first time, the uncertainty and the novelty, the rush of a new touch. By definition, a second time wouldn't have any of that. He already knew what Ace's body felt like, what his own cock felt like inside that unbelievable ass.
So why was he craving another ride?
He didn't have much time to reflect on that as Ace moved from room to room, directing new placement for the furniture and giving Steven a running list of things to do, what to pack, what to store in the basement for the time being, what he might consider buying to help the showing.
Paul could tell that Steven was pleased with how the staging was coming. Ace was good about giving solid reasons for everything he was doing. Logic worked well on his younger brother, the telecommunications executive.
Ace even managed to scrounge up a couple pieces of art that Steven must have had left over from his college days.
"I can make this work," Ace murmured, almost to himself. "Do you mind if I use this frame for a different print?"
"Man, anything you want," Steven said. "I totally trust your judgment."
"Steven, he'll probably need a hammer and a picture hanger if that's going on the wall," Paul said. "Right?" he asked Ace.
Ace looked a little startled every time Paul spoke, which wasn't that often.
"Uh, yeah, that'd be great," he said. Steven went in search of the tools.
Ace turned back to the table with the artwork and bent over to transfer the newfound print to a better frame. Leaning against the door frame, Paul enjoyed the view under the pretense of watching him work.
Paul rifled his brain for something to say in those stolen moments alone. But his fear sensors overruled his other senses. Again.
"I'm trying to find a good looking girl for my big brother to bring as a date to the wedding," Steven said to Ace, returning quickly with the hardware. "Maybe you know some single realtors? I'm not above playing matchmaker."
That snapped Paul right out of his thoughts.
Ace glanced at Paul to see how he took that. Paul schooled his expression to detached amusement at his brother. He viciously stamped down any other emotions - longing, interest, conflict - and parked his face in neutral.
He caught a flash of disappointment in Ace's eyes before they, too, put on a mask.
"Nope," Ace said cheerfully. "I'm afraid I don't know anyone he could take."
Mmmm, I could take you, Paul thought. All kinds of ways I could take you.
But not to the wedding. That cooled his thickening ardor quickly. He couldn't take Ace to the wedding - or anywhere, for Christ's sake. Not that he wanted to, right? Rules. There are rules for a reason.
"Aw, come on," Steven said. "There's got to be somebody. It's not like he's a bad catch or anything. He's good looking! He's a doctor! It shouldn't be so damn hard for him to find a girl."
Ace laughed, a little unevenly. "I might not be the best man to advise on how to find a girl."
Steven grimaced goofily. "Point. But don't you gay guys have all these women friends? All the women I know are dying to have a gay friend."
Paul was getting mightily uncomfortable with the way the conversation had twisted. But he was relieved to note how easy it was for his brother to accept Ace's sexuality, even joking about it. That was a good sign. Or might be.
"Well, I am unique in many exciting ways," Ace said lightly. "I only have the one fag hag, and she's married."
Paul's heart was beating a little too fast as his fight-or-flight instinct kicked in with the word 'fag.' Time to get out of this.
"So," Paul said, moving from his perch in the doorway. "Any more furniture for me to move, or are we going to talk about girls the rest of the day?"
"You in a hurry, bro?" Steven laughed. "Big date with your big TV?"
Paul gave him a stop-fucking-with-me look.
"No, he's right," Ace said. He hung the reframed print in the foyer and instantly altered the look of that space.
Then they headed outside, where Ace diagnosed several issues with the landscaping. It sounded like Steven had a lot of work ahead of him. No doubt he'd enlist Paul's help.
"Before I leave, I want you to think about something," Ace said carefully to Steven.
Steven groaned. "It's the TV, isn't it? You want me to lose the TV. I knew it."
"No, not lose it," Ace assured him. "Maybe find a new place for it in your home, though."
Steven narrowed his eyes. "But this is where I watch TV. This is where I spend all my time in the house. I don't want to completely mess up my everyday life just to sell this damn place."
"I understand, really," Ace said. "But here's what every realtor will tell you: Women buy houses. Men buy garages and basements. A woman will come into this house and see that huge TV and dismiss this as a bachelor pad."
"But won't the guy she's with be impressed? Won't it make him want to live here?" Steven asked.
"You can't assume she'll have a guy with her," Ace said.
"Yeah, they're letting single girls buy houses all by themselves this century," Paul teased his brother.
Steven rolled his eyes at Paul. "So, where do you want me to stash it?" he sighed. "The garage?"
"This is just a suggestion, but think about making the basement into a kind of man cave," Ace said. "I know you don't need one, considering your whole house is your cave. But it will definitely help women see themselves in the living room, and every married man will drool over the idea of using the basement as his own space like that."
It was a good idea, Paul realized. Once again, he was impressed with how well Ace could not only transform the space but also use logic to get Steven to agree to things.
Paul could tell Steven was starting to buy the idea, though the idea of hiding his TV probably still chafed.
"And it could be good practice for you," Ace offered. "In case your fiancé doesn't want the TV in your new living room, too. You seem like the kind of guy who needs a man cave."
Of course, the words "man cave" made Paul think very different thoughts, especially when spoken by the object of his recent lust.
"Building a man cave sounds like more work than just moving a couch around," Steven said. "I'm definitely going to need reinforcements."
"I can send you the links to some Web sites that can help you out," Ace said.
Steven nodded, his face telegraphing his deep thoughts. "Look, you've done such amazing things here, and I really trust you and your judgment. Do you think you could help me out again with the rest of this list?"
Ace looked torn. "Usually, my job is just to rearrange and point you in the right direction," he said. "I don't think David was intending me to do much beyond that."
"I can call him, make sure you get paid more," Steven said. "He told me your fee was being added to all my closing costs and stuff. I don't mind tacking on more to that."
Ace chewed on his lower lip briefly, and the vision jolted Paul again. Could he handle another day around this man without jumping him the second they were alone?
"I can probably come over Saturday morning, for a little while at least," Ace said finally. "I'll have to drive in from Lawrence, so let's say around nine?"
Lawrence. He lived in Paul's town. Once again, ho-ly shit.
This was getting way too close to home, literally. Now his hot birthday fuck was stationed in his own zip code. He didn't know whether to agree with his happy cock about that or his worried brain.
Steven sighed happily. "You're the best, man," he said. "I'll ask Holly to come over too with more art and stuff."
"That would be great, actually," Ace said. "It would help to have more to work with."
"And Paul, you'll help out again, right?" Steven said, his voice rising in pitch along with his hope.
Now it was Paul's turn to hedge. "I don't know, bro," he said. "I sometimes have Saturday appointments."
"Can you reschedule? I could really use more muscle on this," Steven pleaded.
Paul clenched his jaw against the conflict roaring within him. The big brother knew that of course he should help Steven. But the man who was terrified of his own desires wanted to run away from the temptation that had been dropped back into his lap.
He glanced over to Ace, who was watching him with guarded eyes. The more he looked at Ace, the more he wanted him, and that was simply unacceptable.
"I'll see what I can do," he told Steven.
He told himself: Run. Don't look back.
It was the looking back that would kill him.
By Friday, Ace had talked himself in and out of canceling on Steven at least seven times.
Seriously, what was he thinking? He had no obligation to do anything more to Steven's house. He knew a dozen handymen Steven could hire. He'd already provided plenty of guidance. Right?
But... Always a but. He'd be an idiot to turn down extra money - and a pleased client. And the front yard did need a lot more attention than just a helpful to-do list. And he could get even better after photos for the Web site. And...
Ace thought he was going to swallow his own tongue when he'd turned around and fallen into those grey-blue eyes again. Bad enough that the man had echoed in his fevered dreams since that first explosive encounter. There in front of Steven's burgundy wall, he had to keep himself from peeling off the man's shirt and licking his nipples.
Then Paul introduced himself as if they'd never met, and Ace's heart had sunk into his shoes.
He shouldn't let it bother him. This is one of the emotional risks of fucking someone without knowing his last name or anything about him. Not everyone was out and unafraid of it.
But why is it that I seemed doomed to find men who don't know how to be themselves?
The trouble was, now that he knew a little more about Paul and had spent that afternoon around him, he wanted more of him, not less. Even with that closet door between them.
He'd caved and googled Paul, now that he had a last name to work with, and found his chiropractic office's Web site, featuring a photo of a confident, strong man gazing directly into the camera.
He returned to that photo every time he thought about canceling. He wasn't sure if it served as a reason to cancel or a reason to show up on Saturday.
Currently, he was set firmly on maybe.
Ace didn't have any client meetings scheduled on Friday afternoon, which worked out well because Head Web Monkey Tanner Caldwell was coming over this afternoon to help get the site launched, finally.
For months he'd been relying on word of mouth and referrals to make a living, and it was long past time he had a presence online.
Tanner had been fiddling with the site for a few weeks now, building forms and slideshows and getting everything ready for a proper launch. The last step was one more proofing session.
Until Tanner arrived, though, Ace was once again at loose ends, which gave him too much time to either waste or think about Paul.
One urge was definitely stronger than the other.
Ace was grateful that his job involved going out to meet clients and work with them in their homes. Because whenever he hit a slow patch and he was essentially stuck in his home with nothing pressing on him, it was a disconcerting experience. Instead of relying on a boss to crack the whip, he had to motivate himself to not give in to the temptations of being unsupervised. Like reading blogs for four hours. Or giving in to the temptation of porn.
The realtors he worked with were often the only people he ever dealt with more than once. His job was essentially a series of one-night stands. Swoop in to an ill-planned room, edit out the unnecessary bits, make it pretty and swoop out again. It was always invigorating working with his clients - and always nice when they heaped praise on his work - but he never got the chance to really develop any relationships.
For someone who worked with other people as part of his job, he was pretty lonely.
Before Tanner arrived, Ace made sure to tuck away that photo of Paul, as well as clear his browser history. Tanner might be gay, but there was no reason he needed to know about the dirty sites Ace liked to visit in his bored hours.
Plus, he didn't want the kid to think he was encouraging something more.
Tanner defied nearly all the stereotypes of computer science majors. Instead of a skinny, pale geek, his body was perfectly built, in a way that could only come from dedicated weightlifting. His light brown hair was always styled in an artfully casual way, and to top it off, he had the face of a little boy who knew he could charm his way out of anything. He looked more like a party-happy frat guy than someone who could work in the IT department.
Ace would be kidding himself if said he wasn't tempted.
A couple of months ago, Ace had found himself at Sparks once again at the end of a long week, but this time he had spotted a familiar face – his new Web designer.
Erik had pointed Ace to Tanner in the first place when Ace needed a tech guy to help him create his new business's site. Not a week after their initial client meeting, there was Tanner in the place Ace came to scratch his itch.
Tanner had wheedled a ride home out of him at the end of the fruitless night. And there, in his truck parked by Tanner's apartment, Ace had let the hot jock give him a blowjob.
The stuff of legendary romance it was not.
Ever since then, Tanner had made it clear that he was ready for round two.
Ace had been less than clear.
When he arrived, Tanner greeted Ace with that grin and a full-body once-over glance.
"Hey, Acelin." Tanner always mispronounced his name.
Ace rolled his eyes. "Really, just Ace. Nobody calls me by my full name." And it's pronounced Ahs-lin. As I've told you before.
"It's a cool name, is all," he said with a shrug. "Really unique. Kind of like mine. I don't know any other Tanners, and I definitely don't know any other Acelins."
"True," Ace acknowledged. He cleared his throat and turned to lead Tanner to the office. "What have you got for me?"