Between the Bars Pt. 03bycarsonshepherd©
The motion-sensor lights on the house had flicked on when I drove up and headed down the driveway to the big barn in back. Daniel looked puzzled when I jumped out and threw open the big double doors, but then he caught on and climbed into the driver's seat and pulled in. I closed the doors behind us, locking the Passport in the barn and motioned Daniel to the house. The ice pelted us and thick black clouds choked the sky. He shivered in the wind with the rain running over his shaved head and down his neck, clutching his bag, following me up the old-fashioned cement sidewalk past the old hand-pump for the well, and my grandma's flowerbeds that were now empty and full of brown weeds, to the back porch where I used to play. The two-story farmhouse was old, but solid. It had weathered storms a lot worse than this one.
I unlocked the back door and let him into the dark house. He rubbed his arms and looked around in dismay at the cold, gloomy kitchen.
"Hang on a minute. I gotta go flip the breakers."
Without meaning to, I brushed a kiss over his cheek before I headed back outside to lift the doors into the root cellar. I pushed the buttons on the old-timey glass circuit breakers, the familiar smell of must and the dirt floor pungent in my nostrils. Why did I kiss him? That was so stupid. My stomach lurched when I thought about what he must be thinking right now.
Okay. Knock it off. I took a deep breath and grabbed a jar of golden home-canned peaches from the shelves against the wall. They were from last summer, but they would still be fine. They'd be good with whatever canned food we could scrounge from the cabinets, probably jars of tamales or corned beef hash.
The sleet was coming down even harder when I ran back up the wooden stairs and slid the bar back in place over the doors when they slammed shut. Small, hard pellets of snow mixed with the frozen raindrops. I eyed the glaze of ice forming over the bare-limbed trees. This was going to be a bad one. We were lucky to get here when we did, before the roads got too treacherous. Nobody could've followed us all the way here.
I repeated that firmly to myself and shut down on that line of thinking. Safe here. A breather, time to think. The screen door clattered shut behind me and I shivered in the kitchen, shaking the icy rain from my hair. Daniel was on the other side of the room, kneeling in front of the old iron stove. He'd found the shovel and ash bucket and was clearing out the stove's belly, scooping out the ash to start a fire. Kindling and old newspaper were in a basket next to the stove, just like they'd been for as long as I could remember. With the lights on, things looked a lot more cheerful, totally normal and reassuring.
"It's a good stove," Daniel said as I set the peaches on the counter and got out the jar of instant coffee above the sink.
"Yeah. It really keeps the room warm." I smiled faintly at the two rockers on either side of the stove. I could almost see my grandparents sitting there rocking. They'd like Daniel. "Well, we have electricity for now, but if the ice keeps building on the power lines it could go down. We don't have any gas, though; we keep it shut off when nobody's here so that means no stove and no furnace. The water heater's electric so when the tank has time to heat, we'll have enough hot water for a bath." I put water into two mugs and popped them in the microwave. "There's plenty of wood on the side porch and a fireplace in the living room, so even if the power does go off, we'll be fine. Can you take care of lighting that fire?" I asked his back.
"I think so." He was tearing the newspaper in strips in the proper way, so I was satisfied he knew what he was doing.
"Okay. I'll go get us some warm clothes."
My old room upstairs was freezing. I stayed only long enough to get enough long johns, flannel shirts and wool socks for both of us out of the closet and dresser. Yep, definitely sleeping downstairs. My grandparents' room was close enough to the fireplace that we wouldn't freeze. I planned on making sure we both stayed very, very warm tonight even if we had to use body heat.
Back in the kitchen, he had a small fire going in the stove. "Where did you say the wood was?" he asked. He looked so sexy sitting back on his heels, a smudge of soot across his chin. The kindling blazed, but I knew he still had to be chilled to the bone, especially with all his hair gone. I'd never been attracted to bald men, but he made the shaved look sexy, all sleek and feral.
"Side porch, right out that door. Put these on first, before you freeze," I ordered, dumping the clothes at his side.
No argument from him. Gratefully, he stripped and reached for the long underwear. His bare chest prickled from the cold, the nipples standing out in hard nubs. His lean belly flexed as he raised his arms to pull the shirt over his head and I was mesmerized by the silky line of hair under his navel that disappeared into the waistband of the khakis he'd borrowed from me, now crumpled and smudged. The long underwear shirt fell into place covering his hips, and then he shed the pants, stepping out of them when the fell to his ankles. When he bent to hike up the long johns, I caught a glimpse of his luscious pale ass, and then the outline of his cock lolling against his thigh and his balls weighing down the thin waffle knit. He smirked at me when I realized he'd caught me staring - again - but I just blushed a little and grinned, shrugging. Who could blame me for looking?
"Ahhh warmth," he breathed in relief as he pulled on the thick red-and-black plaid flannel shirt I'd brought down and buttoned it up the front. "I've been cold so long I almost forgot what warm is like."
I'll show you. I almost said it, but now wasn't the time to perv on him, not after what he'd just been through. My libido was making a comeback, but his might not be. He had a lot on his mind and it would probably be best if I just backed off for now and saw what happened later. Watching him kick off his boots and pull the wool socks on, seeing his shaved head bent reminded me of the pellets of sleet abusing it and trickling down his bare neck and I thought of something.
"Wait a minute." I headed to the closet in the cold living room where all the cold weather gear, coats and boots and mittens and so forth, were all kept. "Here. Most body heat is lost through the head you know." Back in the kitchen, I put a wool stocking cap on Daniel's bare head and pulled it down to the tops of his ears. My fingertips brushed his scalp and he sucked in a sharp breath, closing his eyes on a shudder. "Sorry, are my hands cold?"
"Umm, yeah. Kind of." He shivered again and smiled at me. "Thanks, Ry."
"No problem." I was glad to do it, glad to make him a little more comfortable, even if I didn't like to think too much about the warm feeling that spread through me when he gave me a gorgeous blue-eyed grateful smile. While Daniel brought in wood from the enclosed side porch, I used the microwave to make instant coffee and heat up some canned chili. I also filled the big enamel stockpot with water and put it on the stove while Daniel built the fire up.
"What's that for?"
"I dunno." I shrugged. "My grandma always had a pot of water on the stove in case we needed it."
"Probably a good idea." He crossed his legs under him on the floor next to the stove. "So you grew up here, huh? I never would've guessed you for a farm boy."
"Yup. All my life till I went off to college." Flipping on the weather radio, I reached down a bottle of Bailey's from a cabinet and poured it into the mugs with the coffee. "Fed chickens, drove a tractor, the whole deal."
Handing him the mug, I went over and picked up the phone, which was probably one of the last of its kind with the big receiver and small, square keypad on the base, mounted to the wall with a long, stretched-out spiral cord. I heard a dial tone so I punched in the familiar number quickly before the lines went down. The ice was pounding against the windows and I could see it getting worse outside. The weather radio droned a severe winter storm warning.
"Charlotte. It's Ry. Yeah, we just drove up right as the roads started to ice. No, I parked in the barn." I rolled my eyes and then held the phone away from it slightly as the voice on the other end hollered. "Yes, we. No Char, we broke up months ago. This is someone else." I glanced at Daniel who was listening to every word with an amused expression and I edged into the pantry and lowered my voice. "Yes, he's very nice and fucking gorgeous. Just met him actually... I know." I smirked. You're such a tramp, she'd told me.
"I don't know how long we're staying, I guess until the weather lets us leave. We've got firewood and plenty of blankets and kerosene for the lamps and plenty of candles if the power goes down, so we'll be fine. Oh yeah?....Sure, that'd be great, but..." I dropped down to a whisper. "Tell him not to come too early, and knock before he comes in, okay?"
After stifling laughter, I hung up the phone and strolled over to the stove to sit down in my grandma's rocker with my Bailey's and two bowls of chili. Daniel took one and started eating, probably just realizing, as I did, that we hadn't eaten since early this morning. Even from a can, it tasted pretty damn good.
"That was my Aunt Charlotte. She lives across that field behind us." My aunt, but only six years older than more and me like my big sister. We pretty much grew up together right here in this kitchen. "She keeps an eye on things while I'm gone. She said the interstates are closing, and the county's already decided it will be too dangerous for the salt trucks tomorrow, so we might be here until the next day. In the morning, she's going to send her husband Paul over here on the 4-wheeler to bring us some more firewood and stuff." And to spy, I'm sure.
Daniel stared at me with such a puzzled expression, I asked him what was wrong. "What's a salt truck?" he asked.
That made me laugh. I poured more Bailey's into what remained of our coffee while I explained about the county road maintenance crew of two snowplows and two trucks that spread rock salt on the pavement to melt the ice. In all his travels around the world, he'd never seen such a thing. He grew up in Florida and he'd been a lot of different places but most of them were hot like the Persian Gulf. As soon as he said that word, he clamped his mouth shut and looked away, and I didn't pry. Instead, I went and opened the peaches. The weather radio was a lulling background hum, taking me back to mornings before the bus came and my grandpa reading the paper in his rocker while my grandma clattered at the counter.
"Here. You'll like these. My grandma canned them."
He took the bowl, looking up at me from the floor where he still sat, his sock feet curled under him. God, he was adorable. "So how long have your grandparents been gone?"
"Let's see, about four years."
"They both died at the same time? That's awful, I'm so sorry."
"Died?" I repeated blankly. Then I burst into laughter while Daniel stared at me in startled bafflement. "They're not dead, Daniel, they just retired and moved to Sarasota."
"Oh... that's good, then." He grinned and poked the yellow-orange fruit in his bowl with the spoon. "So that means the peaches aren't four years old, right?"
We both laughed some more, our giggles fueled by Bailey's on an empty stomach, and Daniel was so fucking cute in that wooly hat, I had to sink down to the floor next to him and kiss him. He tasted like sweet, peachy summer sunshine and I dipped my tongue into his mouth and drank him down like cool water from a well.
"My hands are warm now." I slipped them behind his neck and rubbed the slight stubble that was starting to grow out. He shuddered again, shivered hard and caught his pouty bottom lip between his teeth, and I felt his body stiffen and then quiver against mine while I watched in fascination.
"They weren't cold earlier," he admitted with a coy smile that snaked straight into my cock. "It's just that... well, since I shaved my head any little touch feels very intense. I discovered it in the shower last night. If I'd known it was this erotic I would've done it a long time ago."
My breath caught and I shivered myself at the thought of a casual touch like brushing his scalp being such a powerful turn-on for him. An innocent touch on the back of the head could even happen in public, nobody would think anything of it and anyone could be watching and not know that his dick was getting hard, bulging against the unforgiving denim of his jeans...
Getting to my knees next to him, I pulled off the hat and drew his head forward so that his forehead was resting lightly against my chest. I slowly ran my hand up his neck and over his head, letting my palm stroke the silky stubble and the roundness of his smooth warm scalp, circling it while he shivered in a spasm of pleasure. My cock ached at the warmth of his breath coming in short little puffs through my shirt, his fingers coming up to cling to my hips.
"I miss your hair," I said. "I loved running my fingers through it and pulling it, but if this turns you on, then I can learn to like it too."
"It'll grow back," he muttered against my sternum, rubbing against my hand like a cat. He tilted his head back with his eyes closed and let out a little sound that was almost like a purr and my knees started to tremble.
"I won't see it."
He opened his eyes briefly at that comment, but his head fell back against my hands as I lightly trailed them both over his scalp and soon he was rubbing against me, stroking my cock through my jeans with his other hand sliding up the front of my shirt. I groaned and undulated my hips against his hand. No thinking right now, plenty of time to deal with everything later, the layer of ice growing thicker and thicker outside insulated us from the outside world in our own little cocoon.
There was a pop around us. Everything went black and silent just long enough for us to pull away from each other and look around, and then the power came back on. Outside, it was getting darker as the daylight faded into the storm clouds. It would be too dark to see if the power went out again within the next hour. Regretfully, I dropped my hands to Daniel's shoulders and pushed him back slightly so that he had to stop groping me.
"Shit. We need to get everything ready for when the power goes out."
"But it just blinked, it won't go off completely."
"Have you looked outside lately?" I questioned, lifting my eyebrow. I hauled him to his feet and steered him by the shoulders over to the window over the sink. We could see the barn from here. Standing behind him, I put my chin on his shoulder and pointed to the power lines running between it and the house, bowed and drooping with the weight of the ice. "See that? That's us, about to lose our electricity until the power company can get out here and repair the lines."
Instead of staring at the power lines in dread, his eyes lit up at the snow beginning to pile up and cover the bleak icy landscape. "It's snowing," he said, turning to me with a wide smile that was so unselfconscious and purely excited that I turned to jelly. He was a southern boy, and snow was still something exciting to him.
"Yeah. Part of the reason I live in Atlanta now." I sounded grouchy to cover up that warm glow his smile created in the pit of my stomach. "Now come on. We need to get the fire lit in the living room. There's a kerosene heater and some lanterns, as well as plenty of candles and flashlights. Radio says it's going to get into single digits tonight."
"Mmm, it'll be like a campout. Got any marshmallows?" He rubbed his lightly stubbled cheek against mine and I shivered. How did he do it? He had a magic ability to forget his tension and live completely in the moment. The outside world was cut off and so he didn't bother to worry about it. When he had to deal with it, he would; until then, having a warm place to sleep was enough.
"No, no marshmallows, but I can teach you how to make popcorn over an open fire if you like." I nuzzled the sensitive back of his neck, grinning when he sucked in his breath and leaned back against me. I was starting to think that maybe winter storms weren't so bad after all.
"Fucking gorgeous, huh?"
Blushing, I faced the mantle, where I was trimming the wick on a glass hurricane lamp with red oil in the base.
"I thought I was being quiet." I grinned through my embarrassment and heard Daniel laugh. He was at my feet, putting a log into the fire.
"You were, but I have really good ears."
From the corner of my eye, I saw him get up and he was behind me, wrapping his arms around my chest. He buried his face in my neck and his body felt so good pressed into me from behind, every inch of his warm flesh fitting into me, that I had to brace one hand against the mantle to keep my knees from getting weak.
"You did the right thing," he said in a low voice. The words didn't register on me at first because the feeling of his soft breath in my ear and his goatee tickling me made it hard to concentrate on his words, but I made myself focus because I realized he was being serious. "Earlier, when you drove away. Everything was wrong with that situation and I tried to convince myself it was okay, because I wanted this all to be over. I kept telling myself it was fine when my gut was telling me it wasn't. But you listened to yours and got us out of there."
Squeezing me, he hooked his chin over my shoulder. We fit together so comfortably. It shouldn't feel this right, should it? He was so warm. I could feel his cock pressing into my ass from behind and it was partially hard, but he simply held on to me. I reached up and put my hand over his and then he twined his fingers in mine and stared over my shoulder into the fire crackling at our feet.
"I looked behind us as you took the corner, Rylan. One of the men in the squad car was there that night."
I gasped slightly and he nodded against my shoulder. The night he was almost killed.
"Yeah, it was a set-up, and I should've never gotten within a hundred miles of it. Even a rookie would've known better. But I let myself get careless because I was tired and worried and scared, and I probably would've died if not for you." His forehead dropped lightly to my shoulder and I felt his chest rise and fall a little more rapidly. "I trusted Scott Wyman, so I didn't question why this all seemed so easy. When something's too easy, it's always wrong. I trusted him because he was Special Ops like I was and I thought that was an unbreakable bond. But loyalty doesn't mean anything when money's concerned."
"There are some people who can't be bought," I said softly.
His arms tightened around me and I reached up and brushed his cheek, still clutching the mantle for dear life. The icy snow pelted against the windows and on the roof; the fire blazed and popped, surrounding us in warmth. Daniel felt so good. We weren't going anywhere tonight, we were going to fuck, it was inevitable; but being in his arms like this while he made me feel things with his words, things I didn't want to feel and hadn't thought I could feel anymore... it was so dangerous. I couldn't afford to feel this way, not about him...
"Yeah. Sometimes you get lucky and stumble on some loyalty." He breathed a soft laugh in my ear, relaxing his hold on me. "You saved my ass, Rylan. Again. You know that, don't you?"
"Sure I do. And you owe me at least a blowjob."
Daniel's sexy laugh dripped down my spine. It pooled in my gut and I was instantly hard. His fingers released mine and skimmed my chest. He teased my nipples through my shirt until they were hard nubs and I let out an odd little whimper that would've embarrassed me if I cared anymore.