Shelter in the Storm Ch. 04byKarennaC©
Declan spent Saturday packing. Not that he had much to pack. He'd arrived at the rented cottage the previous Sunday, and the storm that had caused the evacuation of most of the town had hit on Tuesday. Some of Declan's things were still in suitcases; he'd unpacked his art supplies first thing, but had gotten distracted by painting before he'd gotten much else out.
The rental was up on the cottage today, but Declan had managed to find a room at one of the town's bed and breakfasts. Since the place had been full, it had cost him almost double the regular price, but his artwork brought enough income for him to afford it. He'd managed to barter the cost down from what the owners had originally wanted by promising them two free paintings. Even in this out of the way town, the name Declan Morrissey was worth something.
Declan loaded his things into his car for the short drive to the bed and breakfast, then called the cottage's owner to let her know he was ready to leave. She had to inspect the place before the next renters arrived the following morning. "Leave me a note with your address, and I'll send the deposit check," she told him.
"Actually, I'll still be in town," Declan replied. "I'm staying at The Pines. If you could just give me a call when the check's ready, I can come get it."
"No problem. Wish I'd known you wanted to stay; I could have arranged something for you."
"It was a rather unexpected decision."
"What changed your mind?"
"I ran into an old friend the night of the storm."
"Oh, nice. So you decided to stay and reconnect?"
"Something like that." Declan didn't want to go into too much detail. Not knowing how open-minded the woman might be, he wasn't sure he should tell her that he'd encountered his former lover. Especially since that lover was another man.
"Well, good luck with it, and I'll call you after I do the inspection," the woman said. "I assume there was no storm damage."
"Just some small branches and leaves down in the yard."
"Did you take care of them?"
"I didn't know I'd be expected to."
"You should have either cleaned it up or contacted me. I'll see how it looks, but that might mean you get less back of your deposit."
Keeping up the grounds of the cottage hadn't been mentioned in the agreement Declan had signed, but he didn't attempt to argue. He was sure the woman would do whatever she could to avoid having to return his entire five hundred dollar security deposit. "That's fine," he said. "I'll be waiting to hear from you." He flipped his cell shut and put it in his pocket.
With some regret, Declan drove the few blocks from the cottage to the bed and breakfast. The cottage was beside the shore, with ocean views that had truly inspired him, and he'd been alone there. The bed and breakfast had ocean views only from the third floor rooms, which were all taken, and he would be sharing the building with several other people. At least he would have a room to himself. But after years of not having to share space with anyone, he wasn't sure just one room to himself would be enough.
He checked into the B&B and started carting his things up to the small second-floor room they'd given him. There wasn't enough space for everything he had with him; some of it would have to remain in his car trunk. Hopefully the B&B would be a temporary thing.
If it wasn't for Shane, he wouldn't have even been there. Shane, the first man he'd loved. The only man he'd loved, if he was honest. He and Shane had met when they were nineteen, during their second year of college, and they'd been together for ten years. Then a job offer had prompted Shane to move. Declan had refused to go with him, and Shane had seemingly moved on, starting a new relationship and even buying a house with his new lover. A house here, in the town Declan had unknowingly chosen for his week's vacation.
After Shane had left, Declan had thrown himself into teaching and painting. Other than a few dates, he'd put his personal life on hold. He and Shane had kept in touch, though since Shane's letters were mailed from the nearby city where he worked, Declan had never been sure exactly where Shane lived. Declan didn't want to admit it, even to himself, but he had never really let go of Shane. And when he'd seen Shane at the emergency shelter the night of the storm, he'd known that they would try again.
Shane hadn't gotten over Declan either, apparently. He'd said that his feelings for Declan were one of the main reasons he and his new lover had split up after five years together. If Declan had believed in fate, he would have said that fate had brought him to this town and caused the storm so that he could find Shane again. But he didn't believe that. Or so he told himself.
By the time he got his things arranged as well as he could, his stomach was growling. It was mid-afternoon, too late for lunch and too early for supper, but he hadn't eaten at all that day. He went down to the desk and asked, "Where would you recommend eating?"
"There's a nice diner a couple streets over," the man at the desk replied. "Got good food, good portion sizes. Ours is better, of course, but we only serve breakfast. I'd recommend them for other meals. You can also pick up some things at the grocery store; just label it. We have a fridge, a microwave, and a hot plate for guests' use."
"Thank you, I might do that," Declan replied. "I'm not sure yet how long I'll be staying, and eating out could get expensive."
"As long as you're willing to pay our rates, you can stay as long as you like. Sorry we have to charge you so much, but we had to bump someone to give you a room, and we had to refund them half again what they'd paid."
"I understand. Don't worry, money isn't a problem." Though it would be if he hadn't sold any pieces lately. He made a mental note to go to the local library on Monday; surely they would have an Internet connection so he could check his emails and get an update from the gallery that sold most of his work.
"Yes, we've heard of you. My wife did a little research when you offered us your paintings. We'd actually like to talk to you about commissioning you to do some work; if you're interested, we might be able to let you stay free for a while."
"I don't do commissions, but thank you," Declan said. "I'll be back later; I really need to get something to eat."
"Of course. Let us know if you need anything."
Declan walked out the door. He needed peace and quiet, nothing more. Declan was proud of his artwork, but he hated discussing it with others. There were always too many questions and comments, too many people asking whether he'd paint something for them. Or paint them. This was why Declan worked with a gallery; they could handle all the questions, and as long as Declan sent them new work on a regular basis and showed up once in a while for openings, he didn't have to interact with anyone.
His cell rang. Expecting it to be the cottage owner, Declan was surprised to see an unfamiliar local number. He almost didn't answer, then realized it might be Shane and flipped open the phone. "Hello?"
"Hi, it's me." Shane. "Where are you? I just went by the cottage, but your car's gone."
"I've already moved over to the bed and breakfast," Declan replied. "I'm walking to some diner that's hopefully where I was told it is so I can have something to eat."
"I know the place you mean," Shane said. "I'll meet you there, if that's okay."
"Sure, I don't mind the company."
When Declan turned the corner to the street where the diner was, he saw Shane's pickup at the curb. Shane jumped out and hurried over to him. "There you are. I was hoping they'd given you good enough directions."
"It isn't that big a town," Declan pointed out. "I couldn't get very lost, even if I tried."
"Good point." Shane touched Declan's arm, the closest they'd ever allowed themselves to affection in public. "Come on, I'll buy you some lunch. Or supper, as the case may be."
They walked into the diner together. Other than a brief glance from the waitress at the counter, no one seemed to notice them. They sat at a back booth and Shane handed Declan the lone menu that stood against the wall. "I already know what I want," Shane said. "I eat here once or twice a week."
"Good food?" Declan said.
"And good prices. Frank used to bring me here. I think I like it better than he did."
"Do me a favor. If we're starting over, don't mention Frank."
"Done. Sorry." Shane tapped the menu. "If you have trouble choosing, I recommend the bacon burger and fries. Their burgers are unbelievable."
"Good to know. I'm vegetarian."
Shane raised an eyebrow. "Vegetarian? When did that happen?"
"About three years ago. I was in the hospital for a while, intestinal problems. The doctors told me to cut out red meat. I stopped eating red meat, then decided to go all the way and give up all meat. It works well for me."
"Well, I've noticed there's one kind of meat you still eat," Shane teased.
"Very funny." Declan studied the menu. "Breakfast all day, huh? Good; that means I can have eggs and homefries."
"Their homefries are as good as their burgers," Shane said. "So you're all moved out of the cottage?"
"Yes, as of a couple hours ago. I don't have the best room in the bed and breakfast, but I'm lucky to have gotten anything at all. At least there's room to set up the easel."
"You still could come to my place. You know that."
"I do know. But I'm more comfortable at the bed and breakfast for now. You know why."
"Yes, and I get the whole taking things slow idea, though it still seems strange to me." Shane played with the fork on the table. "We still love each other. We made love the first night we ran into each other here. But you won't move in with me."
"It's different." Though Declan couldn't explain how. "I'm used to living on my own, Shane. It's been too long since we lived together. If we're going to argue and end up not being able to work things out, I'd rather have it happen when I'm staying somewhere other than in your house."
The waitress came to the table with two glasses of water, which she set in front of them before taking their order. After she was gone, Shane said, "Why are you so sure we won't be able to work things out?"
"I'm not sure we won't. I'm just not sure we will. Six years is a long time, and we've both changed."
"Ten years is a long time," Shane countered. "We were together for ten years, and we never would have been apart if I hadn't chosen that job over you. Or if you hadn't chosen your job over me, depending on how you want to look at it."
"We both made choices that didn't involve each other," Declan said.
Shane laughed. "Very diplomatic of you. All right, so we both made choices. My point is, if we'd made different choices, we would have stayed together. I don't think anything else would have broken us up."
"If we made those choices, then maybe it was time for us to be apart."
"Okay, that's a downer."
"I'm playing devil's advocate. If we loved each other so much and were so good together, why did we let our careers split us?"
"You're asking a question I can't answer. I really don't know, Declan. It was a mistake, I know that. I've never stopped thinking about you. And I couldn't believe it when I saw you in the emergency shelter the other night. I wish you would just move in with me. We both know that's what will end up happening."
"No, we don't both know that. That's my point."
"Okay, let's change the subject. What are your plans after we eat?"
"To avoid my room as long as possible."
"That bad, huh?"
"Like I said, I'm used to being alone. It's going to be strange living in a small room in an inn with other people around. I rarely even stay in hotels, and when I do, I get a suite."
"Big spender," Shane teased. "It's strange to think of you as such a famous artist. Things have definitely changed since we were together."
"Yes, they have. Which was the point I was making a minute ago."
Shane rolled his eyes. "Caught myself, didn't I? Okay, fine. The point I want to make is, if you're planning to avoid your room how about spending the rest of the afternoon with me? I know a cove near here that you'd love to see. Great place for painting; I'll even take you back to the B and B to get your supplies."
Later, Shane drove them to a town several miles away. Although it was a warm June day, there were few cars in the parking lot, and when Shane led Declan down the path to the cove, the place was nearly deserted. "This is beautiful," Declan said.
"Told you." Shane set down Declan's easel, which he'd carried from the truck. "And there's a nice, hidden little cave over here."
"I won't ask how you know about that."
"Exploring alone one day. Come check it out."
As soon as they were in the cave, Shane put his arms around Declan and kissed him, a deep, passionate kiss. "Are you nuts?" Declan asked. "There are people out there, you know."
"Exactly. Out there. Not in here." Shane rubbed the front of Declan's shorts. "I want you, and this is a perfect place as far as I'm concerned."
"You're going to fuck me in a cave where anyone could see us."
"Yep." Shane tugged Declan's shorts down. "I've thought a lot of times about bringing you here. Now that you're here, I'm taking advantage of it."
He knelt and took Declan's cock in his mouth. Declan closed his eyes and moaned as Shane's tongue worked his cockhead. "That feels so good!"
Shane looked up at him and grinned as best he could around Declan's cock. Then he returned to licking and sucking. Declan relaxed, enjoying the sensation and trying to forget about the possibility of someone discovering them. It didn't matter if someone saw. Right then, all that mattered was Shane and what he was doing.
It wasn't long before Declan felt his balls tighten. "Shane, I'm coming!" he warned.
Shane nodded and sucked harder, sliding his lips up and down Declan's shaft until finally Declan cried out as he came in Shane's mouth. Shane swallowed and smiled. "Very good," he said. "Care to return the favor, or should I just fuck you?"
Declan replied by kneeling beside Shane and undoing his pants. Shane stood and pushed his pants down. Declan wrapped his lips around Shane's shaft and sucked. "Mmm, you're so good at this!" Shane said. "I love feeling your mouth on me!"
Declan licked up and down Shane's shaft, the way he knew Shane liked, and was rewarded with a moan. Moments later, Shane's warm cum filled his mouth. "Declan, damn, that was incredible!" Shane exclaimed.
"Glad you liked it." Declan stood. "So what are your plans for this little cave we've found?"
"Hmm." Shane looked around. "You know, you're right. Maybe this is a bit too public. How about we pack your easel and stuff back in the truck and head for my place?"
"I can come back here and paint another time while you're at work." Declan kissed Shane's lips. "Okay, let's go."
On the way to Shane's, looking out the truck window, Declan made a decision. He did love Shane. He wasn't ready to move in with him yet, but he knew that was what he eventually wanted. First thing Monday, he would go home and turn in his resignation to the university where he taught. He didn't belong there anymore. He belonged with Shane.