| Flynn's Way
Remington Smith glanced over at the clock on the night stand, and then slowly rolled out of bed, careful not to jostle the sleeping figure lying next to him. It was 4:00 am and still black as pitch outside, so there was no need to wake him. He needed to get home, to shower and change; he had a meeting in ....five or so hours, so he needed to hurry.
Hell, he needed to get out of here.
He grabbed his clothes from the chair, tossing them over his shoulder, then picked up his sneakers from the floor and carried them with him. He figured that dressing in here would make too much noise, so waiting until he was a little closer to the exit door seemed the considerate thing to do.
Inching the bedroom door open, he cringed when the door creaked - then held his breath - before chancing a look over his shoulder toward the bed he'd just escaped from. He sighed in relief to see that Eric....or was it Aaron? hadn't stirred at all, and was still sound asleep and snoring softly.
God…..why couldn't he remember the guy’s name?
Not that names were really important, but since he had broken his own very hard and fast rule about never going home with the same guy twice, he figured it was the least that he could do. For the life of him he didn't even know why he had broken it.
This guy....Eric..damn?...Aaron? was in his mid twenties, plenty old enough to know the score. He was tight, good looking and available, which were all considered a plus, although to Remy, not a prerequisite. But there were plenty of other guys around to choose from, who found a night of uncommitted, unconnected, mindless sex to be a pleasurable distraction, from any number of the clubs he frequented. And contrary to popular opinion, he hadn't fucked them all.
But this kid, he kept showing up at every turn, at every club; and no matter what Remy did in trying to avoid him, he couldn't seem to escape him - escape those eyes.
God. Those eyes.
They kept asking for more - more of him, more from him. Just... more. Remy didn't have anything to give him, nothing at all. But if he were honest with himself, and he rarely was, he would admit that as much as he hated the look in those eyes, hated the need he saw in them, they looked very familiar. He'd seen that look before....in a rare unguarded moment while looking at his own reflection.
The kid needed to learn now how to hide that need, because Remy knew for sure that what he was looking for didn't exist. He hadn't done the kid any favors by playing the game with him again last night and sticking around to say goodbye this morning would only be adding to the pretense. Pretense bugged the hell out of him and he never stuck around for that. So he figured he was doing the kid a favor now, by leaving.
And he couldn't get out of there fast enough.
After hitting the bottom of the stairs, he yanked on his jeans, toed in his sneakers, not bothering to tie them, and then tugged his t-shirt over his head as he fled out the front door.
Remy wasn't one for morning afters. It made things more tidy... his way.
Flynn pushed himself up from the couch, stretched his arms over his head, groaning a bit as his back cracked. It had been months since the last time he’d crashed here at the office, but he should've remembered how damned uncomfortable that couch was. There were two perfectly good beds upstairs, yet he never seemed to make it up there.
He rubbed his hands over the dark stubble on his chin and debated whether or not to shower, shave and change before the rest of the gang started wandering in. They were more than employees, they were good friends, and he knew that they worried and cared for him. He didn't want them thinking he was having a relapse, which he knew would be their first thought. They'd be talking intervention before the first pot of coffee was emptied, his ears would be ringing by lunchtime. They were a bossy lot, the women who worked for him. They tended to forget who was King around here.
Instead of heading for the shower, he sat down, leaned back in his chair, put his feet up on his desk and stared out of the large bay window of his office.
Staying here last night had seemed like a good idea at the time. His paperwork was here, so it was convenient; he had to be here early this morning, so there was no sense in going home or any number of excuses for….. just not going home. But he hadn’t really gotten anything done.
It wasn’t that he didn’t have plenty to do. There was that meeting with the Planning Commission to prepare for. The land was ready for the Nottingham housing development and he had several interviews with architects and sub-contractors today. And then there were the last minute details for the upcoming opening of the Design Center, a pet project of his and something he’d worked hard on these past two years.
King Construction could sell you a prime piece of land, set you up with an architect to design the house of your dreams, and then build it for you. And now, with the Design Center, you could have an interior decorator at your disposal to help you choose your floor coverings, window treatments, furniture - everything right down to the knobs on your laundry room cabinets. And you could do it all in one stress-free, pampered day at King Compound. Hell, they would even throw in a champagne lunch in the bargain.
Leaning his head back against the chair, Flynn had to chuckle at the thought of what his father would have to say about all that. William King was a smart business man, but deep down he had been just a hammer and nail sort of guy who liked to build things. He had built the very first model home, the one Flynn still used as his office, sixteen years before, but even then he had thought it a damned waste of good land and manpower. His blood pressure would have risen at seeing the three, 5000 square foot model homes that now surrounded it, and champagne lunches to pick out knobs for laundry room cabinets would have sent it straight through the roof. But Flynn also knew that his father would be proud of all that had grown from what he had left behind.
Flynn liked the business side of King Construction; he could easily bury himself in it. He loved what he did and he knew he was good at it. Although at times it could be a distraction from having to think about anything else. And Flynn, being an honest man, would admit that for the last two years he had used it as a distraction. He hadn’t allowed himself to think about anything else.
It hurt too much... to think about anything else.
It was hard to believe that it had been two years. In some ways it seemed like a life time ago, in other ways it was as if life had just stood still. Or maybe.... he had just been standing still: Existing, but not really living. Sort of like the gardens in his back yard, the gardens that had been left untouched until the overgrowth of brush had covered any life that grew beneath it, deliberately left uncared for, because he hadn't been able to bear looking at them.
It hurt too much...to look at them.
David had loved working in his gardens. After hours of sitting behind his desk writing, it had been the only thing that seemed to relax him. During the winter he had loved thumbing through landscaping magazines or browsing the gardening websites for new designs and color themes. Early each spring they would spend hours wandering though every greenhouse within a hundred mile radius, filling up the back of the truck with dirt and mulch, bags of wildflower seeds, perennials and annuals. Flynn wasn't much for flowers and such; he didn't know the difference between a Tulip and a Daffodil.
What he had loved was... David. Hearing David laugh. Seeing David smile. Working side by side with David in the gardens. He had loved sitting out on the deck overlooking the gardens, drinking a beer or a glass of ice tea, just the two of them, and talking about the weekend or the week ahead; making plans for the future, the future that neither of them could've ever imagined not sharing together. And he had loved how David would shake his head in mock despair and tell him what a crime it was to call something so beautiful a ...whatchamacallit? And he had loved how, just before going inside for the night, David would sit on his lap, wrap his arms around his neck and teasingly start a game of ‘Name that Flower.'
It was in October, after they’d spent the afternoon working in the gardens, putting them to bed for the long winter ahead, that David had sat down on the steps of the deck, his sweet face smiling up at Flynn, looking so perfect, his thirty year old body had seemed so perfectly healthy, and teasingly told him that he was getting too old for all of this manual labor, his back was killing him.
How could they have known or ever even imagined that what seemed like such a casual, teasing remark, would be the beginning of a nightmare. Or at least by burying himself in his work, Flynn had allowed him the luxury of pretending that it had been just one, very long and horrifying nightmare.
Sweet, loving, good natured, so very trusting, David had been happy to follow Flynn's lead. This was something that neither of them had ever really discussed between them, but something that Flynn had spent many hours thinking about, and at times worrying over, these past two years. He supposed it had been survivor’s guilt that had him hoping that David had been as happy as he had been; had him praying that it hadn't all been just a dream.
Survivor's guilt could be an evil nemesis, making a person doubt everything good and decent. But Flynn had done a lot of soul searching the last few weeks, and he didn't know if he'd had some sort of an epiphany last night, or if it was just his 'picking yourself up by your bootstraps' philosophy that had finally kicked him in the ass.
He and David had always had a sort of ....unspoken agreement between them. It had been signed and sealed on that fateful spring break of their junior year in college, after Flynn had told David, a man he'd only known for three days, that "No, we won't be going to that party." And David had answered, without so much as a pause, "You're the boss."
Flynn smiled, remembering. He knew without a doubt that David had known how much he had been loved; he knew without a doubt just how much David had loved him. There wasn't any room for guilt when he remembered David. What they had shared together, the two of them, might have been more complex than either of them had ever acknowledged, but it hadn't been a dream. It had been huge and so real; and complex or not, it had just been so....easy, simply because it had just been so good.
“Good morning,” Catherine Anderson said. Her voice startled Flynn out of his musings. She looked efficient and professional in her light gray suit, every strand of her short silver hair perfectly in place as always.
She was much more than a secretary for King Construction. She knew the business inside and out, made sure that those who pulled their weight were acknowledged and didn't have any qualms in letting those who didn't, know about it. His father had hired her 30 years before and then only under protest. His old man had never been one for delegating, thought he could do it all and better than anyone else. But Flynn’s mother had threatened, only half jokingly, to burn the place to the ground if he didn’t hire someone to help out in the office so that he could spend more time at home with his family. He had never regretted it.
Flynn had never regretted keeping her on after the old man’s death; it was one of the smartest decisions he had ever made. Her unwavering support and confidence in his ability to lead King Construction right after his father’s death had helped to ease the fears of those who had thought him, at 27, too young and inexperienced to handle the responsibilities of it. She had become his right hand over the past few years, but more, a good and loyal friend. He didn’t know what he would’ve done without her during those seemingly endless weeks of David’s illness, and then, the first few months after his death.
But since she’d also kept a candy dish on her desk for whenever the young Flynn had dropped by after school, her model of efficiency tended to be that of a clucking mother hen.
“Did you sleep here last night? You look terrible,” Catherine clucked, shaking her head in disapproval of his appearance. “And you need a shave.”
“Good morning to you, too.” Flynn chuckled, rubbing his stumbled jaw. “You’re supposed to compliment your boss, Catherine. I’m the king of King Construction, after all. Maybe we should send you back to secretarial school for a crash course in…..reverence.”
“You look less like a King this morning, and more like a hooligan.” Catherine clucked again, as she sat down on the chair beside his desk. “And while everyone is well aware that your idea of a Royal Wardrobe is tattered jeans and ripped tee-shirts, you do have a meeting with the Planning Commission this morning. You'll have to leave as soon as your finished with your 9:00 appointment.”
“I know,” Flynn rubbed his hands over his face and lifted his feet off his desk. “I’ll shower and change here.”
“You have a suit in the wardrobe upstairs.” Catherine said, giving him a small smile of understanding. It had been months since the last time she had come in to find Flynn had spent the night here at the office. But as much as finding him here this morning saddened her, she hadn‘t been surprised to find him here. She was well aware of what yesterday had been. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I‘m fine….” Flynn answered automatically, then after giving it a little more thought, he smiled at her before adding, “Yeah….. I will be fine. Why don’t you call and reserve a ticket for that benefit dinner at the civic center on Friday night? James and Andrew have been after me for weeks about going. At 500 bucks a pop, I’m sure they’ll still have a few left. And even though I’ll have to dress up in a monkey suit, it’s for a good cause.”
Catherine beamed, happy to be making arrangements for him that didn’t have anything to do with work, and thrilled that Flynn was taking steps to rejoin the living. “Yes sir!”
“That’s more like it.” Flynn chuckled, winking at her as he pushed himself up from his chair, then headed out of the office toward the stairs to shower and change. “Maybe we won’t have to send you back to secretarial school after all.”
It was 11:00 when Flynn returned from his meeting with the Planning Commission. His tie had already been tugged loose and he yanked at it a little more as he climbed out of the car. He paused a moment to check out the motorcycle that had been parked in the lot when he pulled in, before he started up the walkway towards the house. He walked through the front door, into the large foyer and then turned into what would have been a family room had this been someone's home instead of an office. The reception area was tastefully-decorated open space, the cherry wood desks and leather chairs artfully arranged to feel homey rather than corporate.
"Who belongs to the motorcylce parked out front?" Flynn asked, when he entered the room.
"That's your 9:00 appointment. He showed up around 10:00." Catherine informed Flynn, and then quickly continued before Flynn had a chance to start grumbling. "I know how annoyed you were that he didn't show. But he does great work, you said so yourself..." she smiled, already smitten, "..and he's charming. So I told him that you would be back shortly, he's waiting in your office."
"Charming?" Flynn snorted, shaking his head. He had been annoyed, but he trusted Catherine's instincts, she wasn't easily charmed, so he figured he'd give the guy a second chance. Besides, he'd seen this guy's work, he was good, and Flynn wanted only the best for King Construction.
"And he's SO hot, too." Laura Jennings added, looking up from her computer and grinning at Flynn. "Who cares about punctuality? I think you should offer him a Ton of money to work with us."
"'Hot' should be worth a million at least." Flynn said, teasingly, rolling his eyes at the pretty, single but Always looking 24 year old. Officially, Laura was one of the office's two billing clerks. Unofficially, she was The Official List Keeper of The Hot and Hunky...or as Flynn liked to tease her - Any Penis Within a 100 Mile Radius. "Damn! There goes everyone's bonus."
"Yeah, right." Laura laughed, then stuck her tongue out at Flynn. "Anyway, he's at the top of my Top Ten List. And having someone around who looked like him would be almost as good as a bonus, let me tell you!"
"'Looking' is about All you'd get to do with him, Laura." Cassie Cain, the other billing clerk, said, after hanging up the phone.
"And why is that?" Laura asked, turning her head towards Cassie.
"Because from what I hear, Remington Smith would be Way more interested in The Boss.." Cassie pointed a finger at Flynn, "...than he would Ever be in you."
"How do you know that?" Laura asked, very interested; she swivelled her chair completely around and looked at Cass.
"My brother," Cassie answered. She was the same age as Laura, petite, blond and blue-eyed, the opposite of her tall, leggy, dark haired co-worker and friend, but just as pretty. And unlike Laura, she wasn't single - this week, anyway. At least once a month she threatened to dump her boyfriend of five years for good, if he didn't get around to giving her the diamond ring she had her heart set on having. She tossed her pretty blond hair over her shoulder and leaned her arms on her desk, preparing for a little gossip. "Apparently they go to a lot of the same clubs.
"Really?" Laura asked, always eager for gossip. "Why didn't you say something before? What did he say about him?"
"I wasn't sure if it was the same guy. I just called Jason to get the scoop. From what I gathered, Remington Smith is even more typically male than most. A Notorious Man-Whore!" Cassie snarked, hands flapping in the air. "Men! Gay or straight, they're all the same!" She giggled at the mock insulted look Flynn shot her. "Present company excluded, naturally. But anyway, my brother says he's a real player."
"Hmm, interesting. I really hope you can talk him into working with us, Flynn," Laura said, tapping her chin as she gave Flynn a teasing look. "My list of Hot and Hunky isn't discriminatory, you know, and I'd be happy to share it with you. We all think that you need to 'play' a little more. And I think that I deserve a bonus for thinking of it."
"I think you deserve...something." Flynn chuckled, shaking his head. He looked over at Catherine. "Isn't there a class for sexual harassment in the workplace that we could send them to?"
"I don't think it would help." Catherine answered. Turning her nose primly into the air, she tsked at the girls. "Girls, that's enough now."
"But Catherine, we're not sexually harassing anyone." Laura grinned, "We're loyal employees and we're just looking out for Flynn's best interest. Isn't that right Cass?"
"Exactly," Cassie answered, her blond curls bouncing as she nodded her head in agreement.
"Oh, of course you are." Catherine tsked again, as she sat down on the chair beside Cassie's desk, her eyes bright with interest. "But keep your voices down. Mr. Smith is right next door. We wouldn't want him to hear us."
"Oh, God...," Flynn groaned, looking up at the ceiling, he rubbed his face with his hands. "I'm surrounded....."
"Hush," Catherine tsked, this time at Flynn, "Cassie's giving us the scoop on Mr. Smith."
"Well, I'm going in to get the *real* scoop on Mr. Smith." Flynn chuckled, straightening his tie as he headed for his office. "Some of us have to work around here."
"And some of us work too much..." Catherine said softly, watching Flynn's retreating back. Then she leaned in closer and rested her arms on the desk. "So Cass, tell us what else you found out about our Mr. Smith."
Flynn was still chuckling as he opened the door of his office, not at all oblivious to the plotting going on behind his back. He spotted Remy standing in front of the built-in cabinets and book shelves that covered the back wall of his office. Hearing the door open, Remy turned around, meeting Flynn's gaze with a squint and a nod. His jeans were well-worn, tattered and varnish-covered; not something most people would choose to wear for an interview. But his 'fuck you' stance said that he didn't give a rat's ass about making an impression, so this particular pair of jeans were worn as a statement. Flynn could appreciate that, he never worried about making an impression either. And since he much preferred wearing tattered to tailored himself, he could only admire how well... this particular statement fit.
Taking into account Remy's deliberate slouch, Flynn figured him to be around six feet tall. His broad shoulders tapered into a leanly muscled torso. His thick head of almost black hair was cut short around his ears, longer on the top, the unruly, finger-combed waves drooped down over his forehead. His square jaw was shadowed with stubble, as if he hadn't taken the time to shave, but it only added to the dangerous appeal of his rawboned face. It was pretty obvious why this man had made Laura's Top Ten List; and even though the color of his eyes were hidden behind that cocky squint, it was equally obvious to Flynn that he was being, very similarly, sized up by them.
And he was right. Remy wasn't much for suits, he wouldn't know the difference between an Armani and an Off the Rack Sears, but he figured this one to be expensive. Not that he gave a flying fuck about that, but the tailored jacket, cut to precision, fit over those broad shoulders like a second skin, and he couldn't help but admire the way the lean muscles flexed beneath it. They were about the same size, but Flynn carried himself with a quiet confidence that Remy immediately envied. Flynn's hair was lighter, more dirty blonde than brown and cut closer than anything Remy had seen since boot camp. He wasn't what you'd call handsome; his face more rugged than refined, more interesting than pretty; all planes and creases, the shallow cleft in his chin did little to soften it. His eyes were pale blue, their ice an odd contrast to the fire Remy felt from that penetrating gaze.
"I'm glad you decided to show up." Flynn spoke first, holding out his hand. "Flynn King...and you must be Remington Smith."
"Remy..." Remy corrected, shaking his hand. He usually didn't bother apologizing, but Remy felt a heated flush from the cool ice of this man's eyes and he couldn't seem to help explaining himself.
"I had second thoughts about coming at all."
"That was your choice." Flynn said, his brow creased, his ice blue eyes crackling with heat, though his voice was cool. "A phone call would've been...either less rude or more professional. I can deal with the first, even if I find it annoying; but I expect the second from anyone I work with."
Remy wasn't used to anyone calling him on anything and it took him a moment to find his feet. "Like I told you on the phone..I work on my own, make my own schedule."
"So do I." Flynn said, pointedly, already sensing that the cockiness was mostly bullshit and bravado or he'd have already thrown this guy out on his ass. He motioned for Remy to have a seat instead. "You're detail work. Most of what you do, everyone else can work around. I need someone I can depend on, but as long as your schedule doesn't hold back anyone else from doing their job, you're on your own."
"I keep pretty busy, just by word of mouth." Remy said, not missing the dig, just ignoring it. He sat down on the leather sofa and crossed an ankle over his knee.
"Yeah," Flynn smiled, nodding his head. "But I figure word of mouth would travel a lot faster if you built a wall unit or two in the Design Center. You could put together a portfolio of a few of the other things you've done, fireplaces, bars, whatever. I've seen a little of what you can do and what I've seen was damned good. You have an eye for detail and you understand what it is someone is looking for."
"Sub-contracting, right? I don't want to be on your payroll." Remy leaned forward and rested his arms on his knees. "I'd make my own schedule, take on what I want?"
"Exactly." Flynn nodded, understanding the appeal that working on his own held for Remy. He respected that. "The other two model homes will still be used for selling structures. The Design Center will be for sub-contracting the details: Interior design, lighting, fixtures, flooring. You'd have King Construction behind you, doing your advertising, doing your billing. You could use our workers to do some of your framing work if you wanted, freeing some of your time for the kind of design and detail work you enjoy."
It wasn't a hard sell; Flynn was confident in his vision.
"I see the Design Center as completely separate from King Construction...several businesses all under one roof. King Construction is just supplying that roof and giving them a base for operations in an executive model home that's already built. It makes use of wasted space and at the same time, we're making things convenient for our customers."
"And what do you get out of it?" Remy raised an eyebrow, he wasn't stupid. "I might be setting my own pricing, but I don't figure this 'wasted' space is free either."
"This is what I see happening: I get the best for my customers, and you get to do what you like and not deal with the part you don't." Flynn said, before zeroing in on the bottom line. "You'd set your own hours, your own pricing and you'd have as much as work as you wanted."
"It sounds good in theory." Remy was definitely interested, just not sure he wanted to let this guy know how much. He liked working with his hands and he preferred working alone, but he wasn't much for planning and he hated promoting. And this man seemed to know what he wanted and how to get it done.
"I have everything broken down right here. You'll find it fair." Flynn told him, as he picked up a folder from the coffee table. He looked Remy straight in the eyes...they were brown. Dark brown.
"We need to find a new supplier for roofing materials" Flynn said in greeting, as he walked into reception area, already tugging at the buttons on his shirt. "This is the third time they've been late on a delivery."
“I'll look into it tomorrow. Your tux is hanging in your closet, shirt pressed and ready to go.” Catherine said, ever efficient, as she snapped her purse shut. “Cocktail hour starts at 6:30, you'll have time to take a quick shower."
“Thanks Catherine. I don't know what I’d do without you.”
“Well, you’ll just have to keep wondering. I’m not ready to retire just yet.” Catherine said, although not long ago she had been thinking towards retiring. She and Frank were looking forward to traveling a little while they were still able and spending time with their grandchildren while they were still young enough to appreciate them. But that was before sweet David. She wasn’t going to leave now, not until Flynn was settled.
And to her, settled meant *with* someone.
“The extra prints came in for the Center remodeling.” Catherine informed him, tapping her chin. "I was thinking that I'd drop off a set to that nice Remy fellow on my way home? He's working on a Habitat house. It’s not that far out of my way, not far from the civic center actually.”
“I'm going to the civic center anyway." Flynn answered, his ears perking at the mention of Remy’s name. "I wasn't planning on making the cocktail hour, I could drop them off on my way."
“I don’t mind, really.” Catherine’s eyes sparkled. Her devious smile wasn’t lost on Flynn. His face flushed; he sure as hell couldn’t remember the last time he'd blushed.
“Mrs. Anderson, are you playing matchmaker?”
“Who, me?” Catherine sniffed in her most queenly manner. “I’m just an employee around here and I most certainly do not interfere in anyone’s personal business.”
“Since when?" Flynn laughed out loud.
Flynn pulled up in front of a small white house in the middle of an older tree-lined neighborhood. There wasn’t a number on the house, but from the numbers on the surroundings houses he figured this one was it.
There was a Habitat for Humanity sign in the small front yard and a construction dumpster sitting in the driveway. Flynn got out of the car and started up the walkway toward the porch. The front door opened before he had a chance to knock.
“Hi!” Remy greeted Flynn from the other side of the screen door. “Your secretary called my cell, I was looking out for you.”
"I wasn't sure this was the place.”
“Yeah, I didn't think that you'd be all that familiar with this street.”
Remy leaned against the doorframe. No, he wasn't much for suits, but he did appreciate what Flynn did for one.
“You’re kind of overdressed for the occasion. Are you slumming or on your way to somewhere?”
“On my way to a dinner, not far from here." Flynn answered, giving Remy an appreciative look back. "It was on my way and I had some time to kill."
Remy pushed the door open and Flynn passed him the large envelope filled with the plans for the Design Center. They talked for a few moments, going over the plans for the center, shooting ideas back and forth, neither of them seemed to be in any hurry.
"Are you a regular volunteer for Habitat?" Flynn asked, as he surveyed the small front porch.
"I worked on a couple while I was in college, just sort of stuck with it," Remy answered, keeping it simple; he didn't expand on his reasons for doing it. He hadn't come from 'easy', so he knew what it was like to want more and he appreciated those who tried for better. He shrugged his shoulders. “I like keeping busy. You wanna come in a minute, have a look around?”
Flynn followed Remy through the partially dry-walled living room and into the kitchen. The counter-top was in, the dry-wall was already finished and painted a bright yellow. There were oak cabinets, simply made, clean lined and sturdy, sitting on the floor.
“Are you the only one working here tonight?”
“Yeah.” Remy pointed to the cabinets on the floor. “We were going to use white pre-fab cabinets for the kitchen. But the woman moving in here is a single mother with three little girls. I figured the oak would be less maintenance; hide the fingerprints better anyway. I finished them last night, so I decided to swing by and put them up while no one was around.”
“So…. you made the cabinets?”
“Nothing fancy, didn’t take long.” Remy shrugged again.
“They’re beautiful.” Flynn said, impressed and touched that Remy would take the extra time, the extra care. “That was a really nice thing to do, Remy, really nice.”
“She’s decent, she tries, and I had some free time. No big deal.” Remy shrugged again, uncomfortable with being thought nice....but even more, he was uncomfortable with the pleasure he felt at hearing Flynn’s praise. So he hid his discomfort behind the cockiness he was known for. “Well, don’t lean on anything. You might get dirty.”
Basically giving Flynn the sack, Remy turned his back on him and lifted one of the cabinets off the floor, then sat it on the counter.
The cocky dismissal wasn’t lost on Flynn, and it grated on him just a bit. He looked around the room, gave it one moment of thought, and then shrugged out of his jacket.
“You need any help hanging cabinets?”
“I can handle the cabinets.” Remy answered, almost in a snap. He liked handling things alone and he knew that he *should* want this guy to leave. But it was knowing that he had been secretly hoping that Flynn wouldn’t leave..…that pissed him off. So the invitation sounded more like a dare.
“But…can you drywall?”
“You don’t think I can do it?” Flynn couldn’t miss the dare, but he had to listen really close, in order to hear the invitation. “I can handle it. Trust me.”
“I have an extra pair of jeans and a t-shirt in there.” Remy pointed to the duffle bag on the floor in the corner, secretly pleased that Flynn was staying, and annoyed as hell with himself for feeling that way. “Show me.”
As the evening wore on, Remy’s cockiness seemed to fade and the two men fell into an easy banter, laughing and talking back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. A few hours later they were sitting on the floor in the living room, eating pizza by the bright light of the new fixtures. The cabinets were up, the drywall in the living room mostly finished, but neither one of them seemed in any hurry to go home.
“You’re fast, and the drywall looks good.” Remy said, as he leaned back against the wall. He took a bite of pizza, chewed on it a second, before adding his punch line. But this time there was a tease in the tone of it. “Not bad for a suit.”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover. I only wear a suit when I have to.” Flynn laughed, as he filled his paper plate with two pieces of pizza, and then leaned against the wall beside Remy. “I learned King Construction from the ground up, spent every summer from junior high through college hanging drywall and pounding boards. My father never did wear a suit, he was much more comfortable with swinging a hammer.”
“You didn’t want to take over the business?”
“Yeah, I did.” Flynn smiled, he had always been proud of what his father had built, always wanted to be a part of it. “And I always had big plans for expanding it. But my father thought I needed to learn the business from the ground up. He was right, although it grated at the time.”
“My father was a grease monkey. He had these huge, strong hands, I don’t remember a time when they didn’t look dirty.” Remy smiled at some long ago memory, as he looked down at his own hands. “He was really decent, you know? When I was fourteen, he bought this old Vette; we spent hours in his shop working on it, just the two of us, getting it ready for when I turned sixteen.”
“You still have it?” Flynn asked, eager to know more about this man.
“Never finished it.” Remy looked up at the ceiling. “He died the next year. Money was tight, so we had to sell it.”
“Long time ago.” Remy shrugged again, like something that mattered, didn’t.
“Yeah well, my father died a when I was 27 and it was still hard. We were just starting to..... I don’t know, get to know each other as men, I guess.” Flynn paused a moment, thinking of David, and it surprised him that it was the first time he had thought of him that night. “Losing someone is never easy. Fifteen would make it harder. Do you have other family, brothers, sisters?”
"My mother married an accountant when I turned eighteen. She moved to Chicago, but I decided to stick around here.” Remy made it sound as if it had been an easy choice, but his eyes couldn’t hide the fact that it was a choice that had been hard time in coming. “He’s an okay guy, his hands are always clean and he sure as hell made her life easier. But…..he and I are better with a few miles between us. They have a two little girls, I see them once or twice a year.”
“What did you do then, go to school?”
“Eventually. I usually do things the hard way. Got into a little trouble. It wasn’t a big deal,” Remy added, a little defensively, feeling a little pissy again. It shouldn't matter so much what this guy thought of him. But he shrugged it off this time and continued. “But this cop, he was a friend of my old man’s, had some bright idea that joining the army would make a man out of me. Since the other option wasn’t very appealing, I decided it wasn‘t such a bad idea either.”
Flynn was interested in what the "other option" had been, but he had a feeling that was off limits.
“Did it make a man out of you?”
“I liked it. I liked the structure, knowing what to expect, what was expected.” Remy shrugged, he had liked the structure of it and he’d floundered a bit once he was free again.
The revealing comment, stated so casually, said a lot about this man. Flynn understood structure and he appreciated the boundaries it provided, where a person could feel in control because he knew what to expect, what was expected. There was freedom in that and safety within it. But he smiled thinking of how Remy must have bristled under it at times, too.
“I can understand that." Flynn said, smiling at Remy. “Where were you stationed?”
“I was assigned to General Engineering, mostly Ft. Bragg. Spent some time at Hovey, in Korea,” Remy said, taking a bite of his pizza and washing it down with coke before continuing. “Mainly housing construction, but I learned a lot. I worked my way up to 51B, Carpentry and Masonry Specialist. I spent hours in the shop after-hours; found out I had a knack for making things.”
Flynn smiled at the pride in Remy's voice.
“How long have you been out?”
"In four, inactive four, so I guess you could say I’m officially out. After I came home I went to school at night and worked for a construction company during the day.” Remy kept on talking, couldn’t remember talking quite so much. “I was working on this addition for the wife of this big shot CEO, she and I got to talking one day. She wanted this wall cabinet, but couldn’t get the boss to understand what she wanted. I made it for her, then some of her fancy friends saw it and started calling.”
"Good work is its own advertisement. I've heard your name dropped a time or two," Flynn said, pleased that Remy was now...sort of on his team. “You went out on your own then?”
“Well, I quit my day job, went to school full time on the GI bill and built cabinets at night.” Remy chuckled, shaking his head. “Funny what people with money will pay, for the same thing I sell at just above cost to the guy down at Smitty’s garage.”
“So you have two price sheets?” Flynn laughed, shaking his head. “Some might call that discriminatory. Which one are you using for me?”
“I’ll only charge you what you’ll pay for it." Remy grinned. "I figure that‘s fair.”
“Business major?” Flynn chuckled.
“No,” Remy answered, laughing. “I learned that at Hovey. You'd buy shampoo, cigarettes, coffee and Jack Daniels - black label, and then sell it to a mamasan with one arm, in this village called Yong-te-ri for three times what you paid for it. Of course, she usually paid you in won, but since I wasn’t interested, she could hook you up with what did….…and she was discreet."
“We’ll have to discuss costs in more detail. I think you‘ll find I‘m not so easily hustled.” Flynn laughed. Leaning his head back against the wall, he looked over at Remy.
"We'll see about that. Hustle is my middle name." Remy laughed. Leaning his own head back against the wall, he looked over at Flynn.
They sat there for a moment, just looking at each other. Neither of them spoke.
“I better head out.” Flynn said, breaking the silence, which hadn't been at all uncomfortable. “It’s late.”
“Your friends are probably wondering what happened to you, when you didn’t show.”
“I called someone from my cell.” Flynn smiled. “I don’t figure my being there mattered so much, I already paid for the plate.”
“Not only are you into good deeds, you’re considerate as well.” Remy mocked him, but Flynn could see the sparkle in his eyes; it was good natured, back-handed…..insult.
“Yeah, a modern day Robin Hood, that’s me.” Flynn chuckled, amused.
“You did double duty on good deeds tonight. You should sleep well.”
"I think I will." Flynn answered, feeling relaxed. He couldn‘t remember the last time he'd slept through the night. “I enjoyed it, I really did.”
“Getting your hands dirty can be fun, eh?”
Flynn laughed at Remy’s sarcasm; he was beginning to see it for what it was. “You do know that King Construction backs about two or three Habitat Houses a year, right? Everyone kicks in, I always enjoy it. Maybe you’ll kick in the next time, what with you being a good deed doer yourself and all?”
“Just don’t advertise it.” Remy smiled, and then nodded his head. “But…maybe.”
"You busy?" Remy asked, as he poked his head inside of Flynn's office door.
It was after 6:00 and everyone else had taken off for the day. Remy liked working alone, so it was nice to have a key to the Design Center. He could come and go as he pleased that way. But he always looked for Flynn's car, on the off chance he was working late. Some nights he could avoid the temptation to stop by the main office to see him...to talk to him...and other times he couldn't seem to stop himself, no matter how hard he tried. Like tonight.
"No, come on in. I was hoping you'd show up before I left." Flynn said, looking up from his desk and smiling at the sight of Remy. He had stuck around a little later than usual. This was something that he found himself doing a lot of the last few weeks, on the off chance Remy would decide to make one of his random appearances to Flynn's office. And he'd found himself walking over to the Design Center more often, on those days when Remy's bike would randomly appear earlier in the afternoon. "I have something for you."
"What? My walking papers?" Remy asked, chuckling. He sauntered inside the office and took a seat in the leather chair beside Flynn's desk.
"Hardly. The wall units are looking great." Flynn praised, leaning back in his chair. "By the way, I looked over the pictures you left for me. You make beautiful furniture, Remy. I showed them to Suzanne, she's in charge of the furniture department. She's interested in talking with you about showing some of yours. If you're still interested?"
"I'm still interested," Remy shrugged.
"She's on a buying trip this week. I'll set something up when she gets back."
"Just let me know when." Remy said as he leaned back in the chair, stretched his legs out in front of him and crossed his ankles. He noticed the Black Hawk chrome motorcycle helmet sitting at the egdge of Flynn's desk. He cocked his head towards it. "Do you ride?"
"I've ridden," Flynn answered, chuckling. "I picked that one up for you. I noticed that you didn't have one."
"I have one," Remy chuckled, reaching for the helmet. "I just choose not to wear it. It's not a law here, you know?"
"It may not be a law, but common sense should prevail." Flynn crossed his arms over his chest. "I need for you to stick around long enough to finish the jobs you've started."
"So...this is a 'King Construction rule'?" Remy cocked a brow. "I must have missed that in the contract."
"No, this one is off the books," Flynn laughed, "let's just say its a 'Flynn Rule.'"
"It's a nice one," Remy rubbed the helmet's surface with his hand.
"Yeah, I thought the chrome would look good with your bike." Flynn's face softened. "David used to motorcross. A friend of his sells accessories. Good stuff."
"How long were you and David together?" Remy asked before he could stop himself. Flynn had mentioned David several times, and he was curious about them.
"That's a long time."
"Not nearly long enough." Flynn smiled. It was a bittersweet smile.
Remy didn't believe in forever. But the rough edges and creases of Flynn's face always softened so when he spoke of David, and it was very obvious to Remy, that Flynn did believe in it.... obvious how very well loved David had been while he was alive. And Remy found it strange that he felt oddly envious of the young man whose life had been cut so short.
"Well, I don't even last through breakfast, so it seems like a long time to me." Remy chuckled uncomfortably, wishing he hadn't asked and trying to lighten things a bit. He shrugged off his discomfort and shot Flynn a cocky grin. "Thanks for the helmet. I'll try to keep my head in place, at least until after I've finished the job."
"I'd appreciate it."
They talked for a few moments longer, mostly about the Design Center, before Remy pushed himself up from his chair.
"I better get to work. The owner is a slave-driving bastard."
"Yeah, I've heard that about him." Flynn chuckled, watching Remy's back as he sauntered towards the door. He couldn't help but admire the way he moved; what his firm, tight ass and long, leanly muscled legs did for varnished-stained denim.
Remy felt Flynn's eyes on him, his skin burned. He paused in the doorway, before turning around and leaning against the frame.
"My workshop is out of my house. If you wanted, you could stop by on Saturday, take a look at my furniture in person?" He tilted his head to the side and went for it. "A friend of mine has a Top Gun he's letting me borrow. Maybe after you check out the furniture.... I could take you for a spin?"
"You could try," Flynn chuckled, shooting Remy a grin, his ice blue eyes, fire. "What time?"
"I'll see you around noon." Remy shot Flynn a grin of his own, before making his exit.
They climbed inside the boat, lifted the cooler and sat it in storage space behind the seats. Remy sat in the captains chair, took hold of the steering wheel, his eyes sparkling with anticipation.
"I'm going to have a boat like this for myself one day."
Flynn didn't sit down in the passenger seat, just leaned his knee against it and looked around, sizing up the slick, red cigarette boat. The Top Gun was sleek and narrow, it was made for speed, the long closed hull didn't make room for passengers and he understood the appeal it would hold for Remy.
"You like it fast, don't you, Remy?"
Remy grinned over at Flynn; the cocky look he gave him was flirty. "I like everything fast."
There were two young guys sitting on the hull of the boat in the slip beside them. They were freshly sunburned and it looked as though they had pulled in the marina to fill up with gas and restock their provisions, which appeared to be mostly beer.
"Hey, Smith! You up for another race today?" One of them called out to Remy, he sounded cheerfully drunk.
Remy lifted one hand from the steering wheel and waved at him, his eyes gleaming at the thought of a race, his grin cocky with confidence.
"I'll whip your ass just like last time, Winters!"
Wanting some alone time with Remy and racing with with a couple of drunks holding no appeal at all, Flynn leaned over and rested his hand on the steering wheel.
"Let's just say we did, but didn't." Flynn's eyes met Remy's.
Remy saw the steel in Flynn's eyes, heard it in his casual response. And because it made him feel uncomfortable, he steeled his own eyes.
"You think you can drive this baby?" Remy's words sounded mocking.
"I've driven a few." Flynn smiled with confidence, not unfamiliar with boats or speed. He liked it fast too; he just liked to feel that he was in control of it. His hand remained on the steering wheel, his eyes didn't waver. "Trust me."
Remy sat there a moment, his eyes locked with Flynn's in some sort of unspoken power struggle over the steering wheel. He could stare down the best of them; piss farther than just about anyone and if push came to shove, he could usually shove harder. But it didn't take long for him to realize that the biggest power struggle was the one he was having with himself, because Flynn didn't appear to be struggling at all.
Remy looked away first, pulling his hand off the steering wheel as if he'd been burned. It took a moment for him to mask his discomfort, then he shrugged, as if it really didn't matter, stood up, climbed on to the hull and untied the boat from the slip.
He looked back at Flynn and nodded his head toward the captain’s chair.
They had both been hot, sweaty and hungry when they pulled into the marina. They dropped off the keys at the clubhouse for John to pick up, and then kicked around the idea of eating at the restaurant there. They agreed that going to Remy's place first, to shower and change, would make dinner taste a little better.
Flynn had a few phone calls to make, so Remy showered first. As he stood under the spray he thought back on how easily he had relinquished the wheel to Flynn.... or more, how easily he had relinquished control to Flynn. Remy had been impressed, although not suprised, when Flynn had eased the boat onto the lake and then pulled out all the stops, taking it to full throttle. And the mix of easy banter and comfortable silences they normally shared had helped to ease his discomfort from before. And it left plenty of time to enjoy the cool breeze the high speeds gave them under the hot sun. Plenty of time to exchange appreciative looks between them.....plenty of time to appreciate shirtless, sizzling skin and bare lean muscle.
When he came out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist, his finger-combed hair still wet and dripping, he found Flynn sitting on his bed.
Remy was used to being looked at and it never made him feel uncomfortable. He knew he was attractive and he wasn't ignorant of the fact that it was the reason he never really had to work on a pick up line. It was genetics and it had very little to do with who he was. However it was useful as a shield, because most people didn't look much further than the surface. And Remy didn't allow many people to see beyond that.
But never before had he felt his skin burn like it did before the heated appreciation in the ice blue of Flynn's eyes. The intensity he saw in them made Remy feel as though Flynn could see straight into his soul.
"I didn't use all the hot water." Remy didn't look Flynn in the eye. "There are towels in the linen closet. Make use of whatever you find in there."
"Thanks, I won't be long." Flynn said, smiling as he headed into the bathroom.
Remy waited until Flynn disappeared into the bathroom before finishing drying off. He may have been caught a little of guard by the feelings Flynn caused in him, but he hadn't been turned off by it. He slipped on a fresh pair of boxers and paced the room, an animal reclaiming his territory. He could feel his muscles tightening, his body readying to pounce.
Feeling he was back control, Remy went to the dresser on the wall nearest to the bedroom door and opened the drawer.
He never brought anyone home with him. He felt more comfortable if there was an exit door and he made damned sure there was always one handy. It made things much more tidy his way.
But he always kept tubes of lube and a box of condoms in the drawer, just in case. And Remy wasn't stupid; he always grabbed a few on his way out the door. He took them out of the drawer and laid them out in an obvious place on top of the dresser.
He had always been the one to choose the place, to set the pace and decide on the time.
And it was now.
Flynn walked out of the bathroom, his short hair already almost dry, beads of water still spattered his chest and shoulders, a towel wrapped low around his waist. When he spotted the lube and condoms on the dresser, he turned heated eyes on Remy and the look he gave him was....predatory.
Remy couldn't help but admire the lean muscle, the hardness of Flynn's body, the prowling, almost stalking way he had of moving, and he sure as hell hadn't missed the predatory gleam in his eyes. Remy immediately felt stalked again and that wasn't how he had planned it. He needed to turn the tables a little. He gave Flynn an appraising look, his lip raised in a cocky leer.
"You look.....cute." Remy said, as he leaned his shoulder against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest, one ankle crossed over the other. It was an insult wrapped in a compliment, and it was a deliberate attempt to place Flynn in the role of the hunted.
"Cute...?" Flynn growled, his eyes gleaming, they traveled up and down Remy's length in that predatory way he had. He moved fast, in one second his palms were resting on the wall, his arms trapping Remy between them, his mouth hovering a breath away from Remy’s lips. "You think I'm...cute?"
Remy's only response was to meet Flynn's hovering mouth with his own. The kiss they shared was hard and long; one hard body pressed against one hard body. His face felt flushed, he felt on fire and his palms burned as they roamed over the heated skin of Flynn’s bare back, the muscles, tight and hard, flexing beneath them.
Before he had time to struggle, Remy found himself turned around and pressed, face first against the wall, that just moments before had been at his back. He shuddered when he felt Flynn's hand slide around from behind him, then slip inside the front of his boxers, Flynn's palm hot against his throbbing cock. A guttural sound of desire ripped from his throat when he felt Flynn's other hand slide inside the elastic, this time from behind. And he could do nothing but arch his back in welcome, when he felt a fingertip teasing about the cleft of his buttocks.
Out of habit, Remy struggled to regain control; it was the one thing that had always protected him. He could count on one hand the times he had bottomed for anyone and those few times had been years before. If he let down his guard he was afraid he'd never be able to find that protection again. And then he would be left with nothing.
But Christ, he wanted Flynn so badly.
He made a half-hearted attempt to turn around, to claim himself the hunter and not the hunted. They were the same size, both strong men, their bodies hard and toned from years of physical labor. And since Remy had never sat behind a desk, he held a slight edge.
But real power was rarely physical. Flynn had control, a power that radiated from him and he couldn't give it up, it was just a part of who he was. Hell, Remy never had a chance when it came to Flynn. His own inner struggle for control wasn't any match for it and he didn't seem to have the will, or the want, to continue with it.
Remy might not have always been honest with himself, but pretense bugged the hell out of him, and he couldn't pretend that he didn't want it... this way. Flynn's way.
“Tell me what you want." Flynn whispered in his ear, his own breathing heavy with desire.
"You...." Remy sounded breathless; his hands slid down the wall a little, allowing himself some bend. "I...want ...you."
Flynn released him then and moved away for a moment to make use of the condom and lube left out on the dresser beside them. It was the perfect opportunity to turn the tables, to gain a little control. If someone wanted to escape, now was the time to do it.
If someone wanted to.
But Remy made no move to escape, he didn't move from his place against the wall. It had been his own need and desire that had held him hostage there. His own need and desire...that kept him there.
Remy felt Flynn slide one arm around his waist again, his fingers were wet with heated lube, warmed from his burning skin, as was the condom covered cock he felt pressing against him through the light cotton of his boxers. Eager to feel the heat, skin to skin, Remy groaned and his palms, still pressed tight against the wall, started to move in a rushed attempt to rid himself of the burning cotton.
Flynn stayed Remy's hands by pushing his body hard against his, pressing him closer to the wall, almost anchoring him there. Only after he deftly slid the boxers down over his hips with one hand, did he allow Remy enough room to kick them off and aside. He pressed his hardened cock against the opening cleft of Remy's tight buttocks; his breath hot, his breathing hitched, he whispered in Remy's ear, "Trust me."
Remy slowly rolled out of bed, careful not to jostle the sleeping figure lying next to him. God, he needed to get out of here. He groaned, remembering that he was at home. Shit! There was a damned good reason for never choosing home when he chose the place. It made escaping a hell of a lot harder.
It didn't matter. He had to get out of here.
He grabbed his clothes from the chair, tossing them over his shoulder, then picked up his sneakers from the floor and carried them with him. He chanced a look over his shoulder towards the bed - the bed he had shared with Flynn, not long after they had shared the wall.
The second time hadn't been as rushed. The second time had been a little more ....tender. The second time.... hadn't been any less intense. But Remy rarely did second times, so what did he know?
Hell, who was kidding? He had never experienced anything like.....either time, ever before.
Remy stood there for a moment, looking down at Flynn, who was still sleeping soundly....and found himself wishing for a third time.....more time.....a long time......
Panicked, he looked around the room, thoughts rushing, his heart pounding, wanting to stay, wanting to leave, struggling for some kind of control. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror that hung above the dresser. He closed his eyes.
Remy hated the need he saw there. He wasn't a dreamer and he knew that whatever it was that would fill that need didn't exist anyway.
Forever sure as hell didn't exist.
He inched the bedroom door open, cringing when it creaked, but he didn't pause or chance a look behind him. He'd stayed too long as it was.
After hitting the bottom of the stairs, he tugged on his jeans, toed in his sneakers, not bothering to tie them, and then tugged the t-shirt over his head. Without even thinking, he grabbed the helmet off of the table, the helmet Flynn had given him, the helmet Flynn had told him to wear.
Then he placed it back on the table. It was a symbolic gesture, filled with hated pretense, but it gave Remy the illusion that he was back in control.
He opened the door, paused in the archway for a moment and looked back over his shoulder toward the stairs, before closing it tightly behind him.
Flynn was a big boy, he could let himself out. It made things more tidy this way.
This was stupid, Flynn thought to himself as he paced the large open space of Remy's living room. He'd waited two hours, left several messages on Remy's cell phone and he was still waiting here like some love starved sap who didn't know the score.
It wasn’t as if he had never practiced the so-called male art of one night stands and sneaking out before breakfast or... in Remy's case, dinner. Although he’d never been a "player" and he’d always been responsible about it. And he sure as hell had never snuck out of his own home!
But before David, Flynn had been a normal twenty-something male, gay or otherwise, and one certainly not openly looking for commitment. And uncommitted, unconnected, mindless sex with another twenty-something male with similar objectives, had been pleasurable, if not completely satisfying.
Flynn knew that sex didn't mean"love." He knew that then, and he sure as hell knew it now. He wasn't that much of a sap. But he was sure as hell too old for games and mindless sex stopped being interesting or pleasurable a long time ago. Or at least it wasn’t now that he knew the difference, knew what it was that he was missing - it just wasn’t enough anymore. Some people spent their whole life searching for that one special someone to share their life with. And God, he had found that with David and he would've spent a lifetime sharing it with him.
Well, he had spent a lifetime sharing it. David’s lifetime, anyway.
There had been a time, about a year after David’s death; that lost year when the sharp knife in his heart had dulled to numbness and he was desperate to feel something....a warm body, the sound of a heartbeat, to touch….to be touched. But the bodies were cold, there was no feeling behind the touches, they were less satisfying than a hand job, and at least after a hand job he wasn’t left feeling even lonelier than before.
And maybe, just maybe, he was a little bit of a sap? Because today, he had never felt so warm, the touches had never made him feel so alive, he couldn't remember ever being so satisfied and the loneliness that had felt like a dull knife in his heart for so long, seemed to have vanished.
Maybe it all had just been pretense or wishful thinking? A dream? Because he didn't think he had ever felt lonelier than he did right this minute
There was always a risk in dreaming, a chance that it wouldn't work out, that someone might leave - that someone would die. Flynn understood those risks and he had learned them in the hardest way imaginable. But he also believed that the risk was worth it. He had learned that lesson too, and he'd learned it well.
He tugged his keys from his pocket as he headed for the door. On his way out he glanced over at the table, at the helmet lying there and silently wondered why some people were willing to risk losing it all for a thrill, yet weren't willing to take the one risk... that would bring them everything.
But it was a risk that took two people, and he sure as hell wasn't a masochist.
Flynn was a big boy, he knew the way out. He opened the door and shut it tightly behind him.
Remy had made himself scarce the next few days. He hadn't come around at all during the day, and only showed up late, when he knew no one would be around. When he knew Flynn wouldn't be around. He was pissed at himself for hiding, it grated. So he made a point of showing up mid-day today. But he still felt tense when he parked his bike in the lot beside the Design Center.
He noticed a few guys, college kids, who were working construction for summer jobs, sitting outside eating lunch. A couple of them raced motorcross and Remy had bullshitted with them a time or two.
"Hey, Smith," Jared Davis called out to Remy, grinning in the way only a cocky nineteen year old can grin. "Today is a good day for a race, don't ya think?"
Remy had heard the dare from Jared before, and he'd always shrugged it off. But today...he welcomed the dare. And Remy couldn't wait to take him up on it.
Remy shot Jared a cocky grin, in only the way a cocky Remy could grin. "I was just waiting for you to ask."
A few minutes later Jared and Remy, along with Timothy Walker, another racer, shot down the road, motors revving, chrome flashing, as several of the others stood back yelling and placing bets.
Jared cornered hard, almost laying his bike on its side in his eagerness. Timothy Walker's bike spun out on the turn, leaving him flat in the gravel. Remy skidded back in first, hair streaming, rubber screaming, his grin cockier than ever.
"All right Smith!" The spectators hailed the winner. Their congratulations ceased abruptly as Flynn strode onto the lot.
"Lunch time is over. Get back to work," Flynn said, sharply, pinning the two college workers with his cool blue eyes. He waited until they were on their way, before shooting that cool ice towards the helmet-less Remy. “I don‘t know what in the hell you‘re trying to prove, but do it on your own time.”
“I‘m not trying to *prove* anything.” Remy snapped, but his heart was pounding at the sight of Flynn.
“Yeah, I know. You just like taking chances, pushing the limits, it gives you a thrill,” Flynn snapped back.
“I’m not on your payroll, so what I do is none of your business.”
“This is my site, so it’s my business.”
The look Flynn gave him made Remy feel like he was in front of the judge again, trying to explain the already six points on his license. He felt stupid and juvenile, even younger the college kids he’d just been racing against.
“Look, we were just …” Remy started to defend himself, but he couldn't deny Flynn‘s right in being angry - it was his site, his business. But the apology seemed to stick in his throat. “…...we didn't do any harm.”
“You like playing with fire, that’s fine. You wanna street race, don‘t bring it around here.” Flynn didn‘t let up, his eyes narrowed to slits. He realized that he was more pissed about the parts of this that really weren‘t any of his business, than he was about the things that were. And he was still burning from being left the other night, which had nothing to do with this. So he pulled back a little. “I’m depending on you to do a job. If you’re too immature to handle that, maybe you should let me know now.”
Remy‘s heart was racing. “I’ve never not come through on one of your jobs.”
“Yet.” Flynn snapped again, he felt the strings of his control pulling again. He knew that Remy would die before he’d ditch a job, but since he seemed to have a death wish, there was always that possibility. He tossed Remy a hard hat. “Recess is over. Put that on. We don’t take chances with what’s important around here.”
Remy's breath caught in his throat as he caught the hard hat in his hand. It wasn't until after Flynn walked away that he was able to breath again. And it wasn’t because he’d been afraid Flynn’s anger; Remy knew that he deserved that and he did feel guilty, even ashamed and embarrassed. And he sure as hell didn't like feeling that way.
But he hadn’t been afraid of it.
It had been the intensity he’d seen in Flynn’s eyes, the passion behind the anger, the feeling behind the fury..... that had given him a bigger rush than any street race ever had.
And that…… scared the hell out of him.
Flynn pulled his car in the driveway, not bothering to pull it in the garage. He didn’t plan on staying home long. He sure as hell wasn't going to spend another night at home alone, moping. He wasn't a masochist.
After yesterday's row, he’d gone looking for Remy to apologize. Remy had always done what he was paid to do. Not that the other things Flynn had said weren’t true; just that maybe it wasn’t his place to say them. And not because he still didn‘t feel like kicking Remy’s ass; just that maybe it wasn’t his place to do it.
But he'd found out from a few of the workers that after Remy had finished staining the framing for the cabinet, he'd made another one of his Infamous fast exits. They were supposed to meet with Suzanne for lunch today about commissioning some of his furniture, but Remy hadn’t shown up for that either.
And Flynn was positive that as soon as Remy listened to the voice mail message he'd left on his cell, it would be pretty obvious that he no longer felt like apologizing.
He grabbed his briefcase before climbing out of the car and headed up the walk. He opened the mailbox, tugged a handful of the mostly junk from it and slid it under his arm before unlocking the front door. He headed for the den as he shuffled through the mail, eyes downcast as he entered the room.
Flynn’s head jerked up from the mail he was reading, surprised and because he was still annoyed as hell at Remy's chronic disappearing acts, he wasn’t yet sure if it was pleasantly.
Remy was sitting behind the desk, casually leaning back in the chair; his jeans torn and varnish spattered, his sneakered feet resting comfortably on top of the desk, wearing that cocky grin that had Flynn either wanting to wrap his arms around him…..or swat his ass.
And what with Remy being….…well, Remy - Flynn was finding that these were becoming very familiar choices - and that Both of them held a certain appeal.
He smiled instead, although it was a wry one. And Flynn was well aware that the reason for it wasn’t so much Remy’s audacity, as much as it was his own attraction to it.
"What do you want, Remy?" Flynn dumped the mail he was still holding on his desk, leaned his hip against it and crossed his arms. "I didn't see your bike when I pulled in."
“I parked down the street a ways.” Remy shrugged, not really sure what he wanted, or what he was doing here, only that he hadn't been able to stay away. “The bike seems to put you in a bad mood. Apologies are hard enough; I figured keeping it out of sight would be in my own best interest.”
Flynn didn't say anything for a moment, neither of them did, their eyes locked in a silent battle of wills. He pushed himself away from his desk and moved in a little closer, before breaking the silence first.
"Well, what?" Remy asked, confused. Needing a little space from Flynn, he pushed himself up from the chair, and then leaned against the wall behind it.
"Just what, exactly, are you apologizing for?" Flynn asked, as he moved in a little closer. He sure as hell wasn't going to list them for Remy. And as far as he was concerned, it was one hell of a long list.
Remy's eyes narrowed; annoyed that Flynn wasn't making this easy for him. “Okay. I’m….sorry about yesterday, at the site." He shrugged, not looking at all repentant, or tried not to anyway. "And then, I just didn’t think you’d feel the same way about recommending me for anything, so I skipped out on lunch today.”
“I don’t own you, Remy. What you do in your free time… isn’t really any of my business.” Flynn said, feeling like a liar, because it sure as hell didn't feel that way. “And maybe I was out of line in the things I said to you yesterday. But not showing up for the appointment today was unprofessional. And since I recommended you and you accepted the invitation, that is my business.”
“You weren’t out of line yesterday. It was stupid and it was on your site, so I figure I made it your business.” Remy admitted, his words were rushed, his face flushed; this wasn't going at all like he'd planned. "I'm ....sorry. And I'm sorry about this afternoon. I called Suzanne and apologized. She was good about it; we set up another appointment for Monday.”
“She won‘t be disappointed.” Flynn nodded his head in approval, it was a start anyway. He didn't figure Remy even realized that his disappearing acts deserved an apology. Yet.
“How did you get in here?”
“You left the backdoor unlocked.”
“I did not.” Flynn answered, moving in closer still.
“Pretty confident about that, are you?” Remy tried sounding cocky, tried to find his edge, but Flynn was too close, invading his space. No, this wasn't going at all like he'd planned.
“No one has ever accused me of having self-esteem problems.” Flynn assured him, not uncomfortable with that impression. He just wasn’t all that complicated, you just were - who you were. But Remy on the other hand.... “But I don’t think it's my own confidence we‘re talking about here, as much as how easy it is for me to see, that you hide a lot behind that bad boy image and a mother-load of bullshit.”
Remy's face flushed again, he crossed his arms, the cocky grin didn't quite reach his eyes. "You don’t think breaking and entering is ….bad?”
"You’re more in the habit of making a fast exit than you are of breaking and entering, Remy….." Flynn said, his voice soft, yet laced in steel. He moved in closer still; then he rested his palms on the wall, his arms trapping Remy between them. "…..and I wouldn't say that made you bad, as much as it makes you.....scared.”
Remy looked Flynn straight in the eyes, but his heart was pounding, his skin burning, he voice breathless. "You don't... scare me."
"I scare you white," Flynn leaned in closer, his breath hot on Remy's cheek. “But I think you're confident enough to know, that I wouldn’t call the cops at finding you here.”
Remy licked his lips, they felt so dry. He swallowed visibly, his voice husky. "And what ...does that make you?"
“A masochist." Flynn whispered, his mouth hovering a breath away from Remy's lips. "What do you want, Remy?"
"You..." Remy whispered against Flynn's hovering mouth. "I want....you."
Remy slowly rolled out of bed, careful not to jostle the sleeping figure lying next to him. The clock on the night stand read 9:00 a.m., mid-morning light was brightly shining through the windows. His heart was racing a bit; he didn't like making his exit in the light of day.
He needed to get out of here.
He grabbed his clothes from the chair, tossing them over his shoulder, then picked up his sneakers from the floor and carried them with him. He figured that dressing in here would make too much noise, so waiting until he was a little closer to the exit door - seemed the considerate thing to do.
Inching the bedroom door open, he cringed when the door creaked - then held his breath, before chancing a look over his shoulder towards the bed - the bed he had spent the night sharing with Flynn. He stood in the doorway for a moment, looking down at Flynn, the rough lines and creases of his face softened from sleep, and wondered why he didn't feel any relief that the noise hadn't awakened him. And maybe silently wishing .....that it had?
But Remy was a rule breaker with very few rules for himself. And staying would be breaking every one of the few rules he did have.
Don’t get too close. Don’t show too much. Don’t lose control.
He understood those rules. And he had learned the hard way that breaking them would only leave him defenseless, his self-imposed fortress unguarded. The fortress that had taken him a lifetime to build, one he’d spent a lifetime fighting to protect. And then used it as a shield to hide behind. Flynn was the only one who had ever realized that, or maybe it was just that he was the only one who had ever had the balls to call him on it?
Remy knew if there was ever a time in his entire life when he should be afraid that someone would be able to break through that fortress, it was now. He had felt the walls falling the last few weeks, and the last few days they seemed to crumble completely. He’d always been the one to take control during sex, always been the one to set the stage, the pace; he could count on one hand the times he’d bottomed for anyone and those few times had been years before.
If he were honest with himself, which he rarely was, Remy would admit, that with Flynn, it felt right letting him set the pace, it seemed natural allowing him to take control. It was hot and it was intense and it had never felt so good or so right. But more, Flynn seemed to fill a need Remy had never acknowledged before, but must have always been there, lying dormant somewhere deep inside of him - because it felt so very familiar? A need that seemed to release inside of him whenever he was with Flynn? A need that Flynn seemed to fill....or could fill, if Remy would only let him?
It should have made him feel defenseless, and yet he couldn’t remember ever feeling so very protected, so completely safe...... or ever wanting anything so badly.
Well, if he were honest with himself, he might be able to admit that.
But there was one thing he did know for sure; if he didn’t leave now....he would never want to.
And *that* scared the shit out him.
Flynn could sense that he was alone in the bed before he’d even opened his eyes. His hand glided down the sheets on the other, now empty, side of the bed. The sheets were still warm. After two long years of coldness.
He waited for the guilt to come, the guilt he was sure he would have in the light of morning at having someone other than David share this bed. Their bed. He was relieved when it didn’t come.
His eyes glanced over to where he kept the framed photograph of David- his eyes sparkling with life, his face laughing. The very same photograph he had reached for during the night…. and had turned face down on the night stand.
And the guilt still didn’t come.
What he did feel didn't surprise him though, because with Remy there was always that possibility. Disappointment, that he was alone. That there wouldn’t be any lingering early morning cuddle, no good morning kisses over coffee in bed, or playful chitchat before deciding to dive back under the covers for a repeat of the night before. But there wasn't any guilt.
And that pissed him off more than anything!
That instead of the guilt that he should be feeling, he was lying in this bed feeling very much like the females in every women’s magazine article he’d ever read while waiting in any waiting room he’d ever waited in, or every Monday morning bitchfest he’d overheard from his single, but always looking, female friends at the office.
God, he could hear himself as he gathered with the girls around the coffeepot come Monday morning. Instead of defending the male species or making patronizing comments as they complained about the trials and tribulations of dating, the insensitivity of men and their complete lack of emotional connection - he’d hold his coffee cup in the air in a commiserating toast and shout - “You said it, sister!”
He ripped off the sheet that covered his still naked body, shot out of bed, then reached for the boxers he’d thrown on the floor in that heated moment of Sheer Insanity the night before and headed for the bathroom for a much needed piss.
What he and David had shared had been real and honest. And he had thought, maybe arrogantly so, that they would always have it. And then…. he had been just as convinced that he would never find it again. Couldn’t imagine… ever wanting to.
But these past few weeks had him wanting it again, wishing for it again, and believing that, maybe ....it could happen again. And the last few days, God, he had felt so very much alive. After two years of feeling pretty much nothing at all, he could feel his blood pumping, his heart pounding, his arms aching.
And as scary as he found that, as frightening as it was to give someone else the power to rip your heart out, he hadn’t been able to stop himself from dreaming, that maybe he could be one of those lucky bastards who had found that special someone to care for, to love and love him back, twice in a lifetime.
It was better to have loved and lost……
He headed down the stairs, yanking his t-shirt over his head, internally arguing with himself about whether or not he should be celebrating the fact that he could at least feel *something*- even if it did hurt like Hell - and kicking himself in the ass for acting like a silly romantic teenager falling for the neighborhood bad boy.
He was a mature, intelligent man and he was sure as hell smart enough not to fall for a brash, undisciplined brat, who couldn’t even commit to lunch, let alone a relationship.
A brash, undisciplined brat, with more talent than he knew what to do with and more heart and caring than any rich do-gooder he’d ever been forced to sit beside at any five-hundred-dollar-a-plate benefit dinner.
And a hell a lot more interesting!
“I didn’t wake you, did I?”
Startled by the voice that seemed to come out of nowhere - again - Flynn looked back over his shoulder towards the living room. He was surprised to see Remy, his hair uncombed, his clothes haphazardly thrown on, his jaw lightly shadowed with early morning stubble. He was casually sitting on the floor tying his sneakers, apparently getting ready for one of his infamous exits.
“No, you didn’t wake me.” Flynn crossed his arms and leaned against the doorway. His eyes narrowing as he nodded his head towards the offending sneakers. “I take it that ‘waking me’ wasn’t part of the plan?”
Remy shrugged his shoulders. He was usually much more adept when it came to exits, but escaping, it seemed, had lost some of its appeal. But he lifted his head, tried masking the need and all of his insecurities with a cocky grin.
“Morning afters are usually messy, so I never stay for breakfast. It makes things more tidy that way.”
Flynn wasn’t fooled by that cocky grin; the dark lashes couldn’t conceal the questions, doubts and fears in Remy’s expressive eyes, no matter how hard he tried to hide them. This brash brat was afraid. And even though Flynn didn’t take any pleasure in the knowing of that, he couldn’t stop the feeling of hope that knowledge gave him. Hope for the future, dreams of sharing it with someone he loved and who loved him back; his blood was pumping, his heart was pounding, God, he felt alive for the first time in so long and it felt so damned good.
But it scared the hell out of him all the same.
Well, hell! Who isn’t?
“Tidy is boring.” Flynn cocked a brow towards Remy. "Messy makes things much more interesting."
"Yeah, but how long do you think it’ll hold your interest?" Remy asked, his heart was pounding, his blood was pumping, he wanted nothing more than to stay right there, forever. He wanted so badly to believe there was such a thing, but he was so afraid to believe in it.
"How long have you got?" Flynn asked, yet it sounded very much like a promise. "Stay or run, Remy, it's your choice. But once you make it, there's no going back. Do you understand?
Remy hated pretense, but he knew there was no pretense in that promise. And since escaping didn't hold any appeal at all, he couldn't pretend any longer that it did.
"So..." Remy shrugged his shoulders, he had no desire to run at all, but since he had never not escaped before, he wasn't quite sure what you were supposed to do next. "....where do we go from here?"
Flynn smiled, understanding that Remy was making his own promise, in his own way. He was also very aware that the unacknowledged, yet easy and accepted roles, within his and David’s relationship wouldn’t work with Remy, it wouldn't be that easy. It wasn’t that what he and David had together was any less or more than what he and Remy could have; would have. Only that it was just too subtle for what was between them. It would have to be acknowledged and openly admitted - because there was no way it could be denied - before it could be accepted and appreciated.
And that would take time and care, so he wasn't going risk rushing it.
"I have a rule about breakfast. You aren't leaving my house without it." Flynn answered, knowing that there would have to be a few rules between them, and because this was Remy, staying for breakfast would obviously have to be the first one. "I figure we can start with that.”
“You have a lot of rules, don’t you Flynn?” Remy smiled, his arms resting on his knees. His head tilted to the side, his brown eyes were bright with emotion and his next words were meant to sound like a dare. Although he couldn't quite pull it off. “This isn't going to be so easy, you know? I can be what you’d call .... a rule breaker.
“Yeah, that's all a part of that 'messy' I was talking about before.” Flynn smiled down at Remy, his eyes even more reassuring than his words. He understood the risks involved, the risks they were both taking. But he was more than up to taking on the promise and keeping it. He held out a hand to pull Remy to his feet. "Tidy is boring...."
"..and messy is much more interesting." Remy chuckled, as he finished Flynn's words from before. He grabbed hold of Flynn’s hand, pulling himself to his feet and he didn't pull away when Flynn's arms wrapped around his waist. This wasn't nearly as scary as he'd thought it would be. Maybe it was because he knew that Flynn did believe in forever and even knowing the risks involved, he still wasn’t afraid to take the chance again. He felt so good, it just felt right...no, not so scary after all.
"Yeah...it's much more interesting." Flynn answered softly, tracing his fingers along Remy‘s stubbled jaw, before kissing him, hard and long. When he felt Remy's arms wrap around his neck, he felt like he had finally made it home.
“We could pretend I never left your bed," Remy said softly, his lips brushing against Flynn's, the heat that was always there between them, burning them both. He was about to break every rule he ever had for himself, and breakfast was the last thing on his mind. "....and just go back upstairs, instead?”
“We’ll make it upstairs, eventually," Flynn promised, tempted, but not giving in. "After breakfast."
Remy laughed, shaking his head, “It’s always going to be your way, isn’t it, Flynn?”
“Not always.” Flynn laughed, hanging his arm around Remy‘s shoulder and guiding him towards the kitchen, and breakfast. "Trust me."
“Show me,” Remy answered, smiling, although he was pretty sure that Flynn would do just that.
Because so far, things had ended up being a hell of a lot more interesting ....Flynn's way.