Adam Darcy might be a star, but he's not immune to a cheating lover. He kicks his lover out and buries himself in work for months until his best friend drags him out to go dancing. Dylan and Simon Rosetai are finally rejoining the scene after a sexual assault on Simon nearly ends both their lives. What affects one lifemate affects the other, after all. But they survived and are determined to go back into the world and enjoy their lives. When they meet Adam, a romance begins, but is threatened by an enemy from Adam's past.
Adam Dacrei, otherwise known as Adam Darcy, walked into the entrance hall of the mansion, tired from the long flight home. He dropped his duffle bag beside the stairs and headed for the den; if Chandler was home, that was where he'd be. Adam looked forward to a nice, quiet night on the couch, cuddling with Chandler and catching up on the past few months' happenings--at least those not deemed important enough for their frequent phone calls. He figured they'd have a lot to talk about that night since for the past week they'd played phone tag. There was no one in the den, nor in the kitchen, so he went back to the hall and upstairs to their bedroom, bringing his bag along. After being gone for four months on the other coast filming a movie, he was glad to finally be home where he could relax and do nothing for a few weeks.
Opening the door quietly, in case Chandler had gone to bed early, Adam stepped in. He wasn't supposed to be home until tomorrow, and so far, his surprise wasn't quite working out as planned, but waking Chandler up had its own appeal.
He set his bag down in their sitting room, as noise from the bedroom finally penetrated his internal musings. It didn't make sense, at first, until he heard a sound he recognized from several years as Chandler's lover--a noise Chandler only made when he was really enjoying himself in bed. Ice filled Adam's stomach and froze his feet to the floor for a moment. Then he made himself take those last steps that would bring the bedroom into view.
An older man, a stranger, lay beneath Chandler, both oblivious to their audience. Adam stepped back quietly, wondering just what to do. How long had this been going on? He sat down in one of the chairs, the one closest to the bedroom, so he could listen. Perhaps a little judicious eavesdropping would shed some light on just how long Chandler had been cheating on him. As he sat, the noises that once made him a very happy man, made him nauseous.
Finally, they were done and apparently, settling in for the night. Adam knew one thing right then--he was going to burn that bed.
So how long before I can come over to stay again?â€ Adam heard the stranger ask.
I don't know. I'll see about coming over to your place when I can. Adam likes to stay home for a few days when he comes home from these trips of his. He calls it decompressing, and I'd better be exactly where he wants me,â€ Chandler answered. â€œI'm going to miss you, but in two months, he'll be on another trip and we can come back to spending every night together.â€
Why don't you leave him, Chandler?â€
Because I shouldn't have to give all this up, and I will, if I leave. He made me leave school, so I have no degree to support myself, and no money of my own because he won't let me work. He wants a kept man, but if I leave, I don't have any legal right to anything,â€ Chandler answered, unaware that Adam's cell phone was recording everything. Adam had had that angry inspiration a few minutes beforehand; he didn't know what he'd do with the recording, but at least he'd have it.
Chandler continued. â€œAnd you've never seen him angry. It makes me afraid.â€
Has he hurt you?â€
A few times...â€ Chandler answered, his voice quivery as if trying not to cry.
Adam sat, stunned. The things Chandler was saying--Adam didnâ€˜t understand why Chandler was behaving like this, but he didn't want to hear anymore. Obviously, this relationship had gone on for some time, and Adam wasn't sure he could bear to hear what other lies it was based on. He stood up and walked into the bedroom, still recording with his cell phone, although he kept it out of sight.
I would say, â€˜Honey, I'm home' but you can see that,â€ Adam said, glaring at both of them. He took a good look at the other man. He was fairly handsome and fit--Adam could admit he was attractive. Whoever he was, he was holding Chandler protectively, glaring right back at Adam. Reluctantly, Adam admitted to himself that they did make a good-looking pair: a distinguished older man and Chandler's blond, surfer-boy beauty. â€œWe haven't been properly introduced. I'm Adam Darcy, the man whose bed you've been sleeping in for how long?â€
Chandler jumped out of bed, dragging a sheet with him. â€œAdam! Why are you here tonight?â€
I had thought to give you a nice surprise, come home early, sit and veg, and then take you out tomorrow. Instead, I find you in what was our bed, fucking somebody that isn't me, and telling lies. Who is he?â€ Adam answered coldly, struggling not to let his hurt show.
My name is Brian Anders, and I will not allow you to hurt him.â€ Adam had to give the guy credit. He apparently believed Chandler's lies and cared enough about him to challenge a much bigger, much younger man to protect Chandler.
Oh, Mr. Anders, there's no need to get all caveman. I will never again touch this person whom I shared my life with for the last five years. He's right about one thing though. He's leaving this house with only what he brought with him, his name will be removed from the household accounts, and he won't be taking his credit cards either. I pay for those, you see. He has some old clothes he's not worn in years, and I think that's about it.â€
Adam walked over to the dresser where Chandler always left his wallet after undressing. He picked it up, opening it. Adam cleared all of the credit cards after leaving his cell phone on the dresser, and then counted the cash. Chandler had $800 in cash; Adam wondered what he needed that much cash for. He considered taking it back--it was his money after all--unless Chandler was doing who knew what else behind his back. But despite his anger, he couldn't leave Chandler completely in the cold. The $800 would have to suffice as his starting-over money. Poor Chandler; he was going to have to get a job.
Mr. Anders, would you be so kind as to go into the study and bring back a pen and some paper? I'm sure you know your way around the house; you seem quite comfortable.â€
Anders studied him for a moment, confusion seeping into his eyes. Adam wanted to be angry at the guy, and to a point he was, for being willing to sleep with someone else's lover. But the rest... Anders wasn't responsible for Chandler's lies.
Finally, Anders nodded and pulled on his jeans, and then hurriedly left the room. He didn't take any of his other clothes, so Adam was certain he wasn't just going to leave.
Chandler watched in silence, apparently trying to figure out the best way to handle this development.
When Anders left, Adam looked at Chandler. â€œWhy? Why would you cheat on me? Why would you tell him such lies?â€ He shook his head. â€œYou wanted to leave school, said you'd be happier living with me. I paid for anything and everything you wanted within reason. I thought you were happy.â€
I am happy, Adam. Come on, don't be like this. This isn't anything important--â€ Chandler stopped when Adam held up his hand.
Not important?â€ Adam waved his hand at the bed. â€œHow long, Chandler? How long have you been bringing another man to our bed? Is it just him or are there others?â€
There's no one important but you, Adam--â€
I'm very glad to hear that, Chandler.â€ Anders spoke coldly from the doorway, paper and pen in hand. â€œWhat is this for, Mr. Darcy?â€
I'm going to write up an agreement, Mr. Anders, and I would like you to witness it.â€ Adam took the paper and pen, then swiftly wrote out what he had in mind. He wanted something signed and written that Chandler got what he brought with him so that he could not sue for any kind of support from him, having been caught being unfaithful.
He shoved it at Chandler. â€œHere, sign it.â€
You can't throw me out, Adam. I don't have a job, no money.â€ Chandler had tears in his eyes, trying to gain Adam's pity. He read the paper. â€œThat's not fair. I've been with you for more than five years--â€
During which time you had all of your needs taken care of, upon the agreement that you would be faithful. You weren't,â€ Adam interrupted. â€œSign it. You've got $800 in your wallet that should get you by for a while. Of course, now you'll need to work, but you've done that before. I just want you out of here, for good.â€
Chandler finally signed, obviously hoping he'd be able to come back and change Adam's mind. Anders signed it as well and then grabbed Chandler's wallet. â€œYou didn't know this, Mr. Darcy, but I gave him that money in case he needed to run from you. But from what I just heard, I've been a bigger fool than I thought.â€ Anders proceeded to remove the money, then slipped a fifty back into the wallet. â€œIsn't fifty sufficient for a trick?â€
Chandler gasped at the insult but didn't seem quite able to respond.
With as much dignity as he could manage under the circumstances, Anders finished dressing and left.
Adam let him go without comment and watched as Chandler gathered up what few things he'd brought with him that he still had. The suitcases Chandler put his stuff in were expensive pieces, new, but Adam didn't say anything about it. He just wanted Chandler gone.
He followed Chandler to the door, where Chandler turned to him again.
Please, Adam, baby, he didn't mean anything. Come on, let's forget this and go cuddle on the couch, like always.â€ Chandler reached out to him, trying to caress Adam's face. Adam stepped back out of reach.
Give me your keys, Chandler, all of them, including the car.â€ Adam spoke calmly, holding his hurt and anger inside.
You're really going to break up with me over something that didn't mean anything?â€ Chandler didn't seem to believe it.
It may not have meant anything to you but it did to me--and apparently to Anders, too. Get out of my house, Chandler. Don't ever come back.â€ Adam opened the door and waited for Chandler to leave.
Chandler walked out the door, and Adam slammed it behind him, locking it.
Adam stared at the door for a moment, then went into the study. The first thing he did was call his bank and leave a message that Chandler was to be refused access to all of the accounts. He also asked that they prepare an itemized statement, which he would come to get in the morning. He wanted to know all transfers and withdrawals. He and Chandler regularly went over the bills and such together, except when Adam was on a shoot. But with the infidelity, Adam needed to know he wasn't a fleeced fool as well. He called and canceled the credit cards, and asked for itemized statements from those companies as well. He then called and canceled the cell phone, again asking for itemized statements.
Afterward, he called a locksmith, agreeing to pay the exorbitant fee to have them come out after-hours to change all of the locks to the house, garage, and the other outbuildings, including the guesthouse. Once he had that taken care of, he called his lawyer, Stacy. When she answered, he told her that he would need to make a variety of changes to his insurance and will, that he wanted Chandler removed from all of it immediately. She asked what happened, and he told her everything, including that he had recorded most of it on his phone. She told him to come over and bring the phone as soon as he was done at the bank, and they would go over everything. She also advised him to call his agent and let him know.
Why?â€ Adam asked.
Stacey, his lawyer, sighed. â€œBecause he may go to the press and say God knows what, Adam. Call Bill and give him a heads-up, so y'all are prepared. I would suggest that you consider giving Chandler a small settlement, though, as long as we don't find anything funny on the books.â€
I don't know about that. He cheated on me. What if this wasn't the first time?â€ dam sighed. â€œAsk me after I've seen all the books and statements. But you're right, I didn't even think about...â€
I know, that's part of what you pay me for,â€ Stacey answered. â€œCall Bill, and I'll see you in the morning.â€
Adam called Bill, his agent, and told him everything, although he left out the cell phone recording. Bill didn't need to know about that, and Adam didn't mention Anders' name, either. Bill assured him he would have several responses ready by morning, just in case.
Adam, I know we've talked about this before but maybe you should think about coming out officially. It would take a lot of the sting out before Chandler could say anything.â€
No. I've ignored that bullshit for the last five years, and I'll keep ignoring it as best I can. It's no one's business who I'm sleeping with, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. It's not like most of Hollywood doesn't already know Chandler's been my companion for the last four years.â€
Are you going to pay him off?â€ Bill asked.
I don't know. I've got to go through all the books and statements first, if cheating's all I can lay at his door. I'll think about it. Right now I'm so angry I can hardly think.â€
Adam got off the phone and waited while the locksmiths did their bit, then took the keys and thanked them for their good work and their time. Once the locksmiths were gone and the house was quiet, he went back to the master bedroom and picked up his duffle, taking it to one of the guest rooms at the opposite end of the hall. It was the only other bedroom in the house with an en suite bath, and right now, he just wanted to shower and crawl into bed. He felt drained, empty. Even the ice cold rage had left him.
Adam mentally listed all the things he still needed to do. He wanted to remove all traces of Chandler from his life. He remembered a film offer that he'd turned down because he had wanted to spend a few months at home with Chandler. He called Bill back, asking him to let that director know that if the offer was still on the table, he'd take it. It would be best to work while he had the house cleared of Chandler's influence.
After his shower, he crawled into the bed and finally cried.
Six months later...
Adam came home again after another long flight. For the last six months, he'd worked as much as he could, rarely returning home. He had discovered that Chandler had siphoned off nearly $25,000 from the household account and cash withdrawals off the credit cards, and then put it in another bank account under his name only. Not a bad haul in only four months, Adam had thought when he learned of it. Despite signing the agreement, Chandler had still sued for support, and now, a judge was going to determine things. Stacey had made sure the evidence of Chandler's embezzlement was entered into the court record. Meanwhile, Chandler had not only outed Adam in the tabloids but had trashed him at every opportunity as well, claiming abuse of all sorts. As he'd long ago decided to ignore any question about his sexuality, Adam continued to do so, going so far as to walk out during a few interviews when they tried to sneak it in. Bill hadn't been happy about it, but he dealt with it. Each time Adam had walked out, Bill had apologized, stating that Adam had mistakenly thought they wished to talk about Adam's work and to please let Bill know when that mistaken belief was true.
He'd checked over everything and had had a complete medical exam done, knowing that Chandler's infidelity had put him at risk. He'd also continued to sleep alone. The tabloids had made a big deal out of everything, including when a friend from high school had been in town and he'd taken her to dinner. Before, he'd always found it kind of funny when they did that to him, but these days he was just irritated. Chandler's deceit had hurt him more than he'd thought possible.
Two months before, he'd been back briefly while the filming on his last project was on hiatus for a couple of weeks, and he'd picked out new furniture for the den and living room, as well as the master bedroom, which he had previously gutted. Pictures and mementos had been boxed up, some of which had been sent to Stacey to be passed on to Chandler, but most now took up space out in the garage where he didn't have to see them.
Now he went straight up to the bedroom, sighing in relief that he still liked his efforts at creating a nice soothing place to relax and rest in. Dropping his duffle by the love seat in the sitting room, he went through the bedroom into the bath, something else that had gone through a major remodel. He hadn't realized how much he either hadn't cared about or had hated about his own house until he'd needed to remove Chandler's presence from it. The removed furniture, including his old bed, had been donated to a charity thrift store with instructions that the furniture should be given away for free to any family in need of such. The new furniture, what there was of it, was much more to Adam's taste. Stripping out of his clothes, he climbed into the shower and scrubbed from head to toe. Then he crawled into bed and slept peacefully for the first time in a very long time. His house finally felt clean again.
Dylan Rosetai smiled as he came off the dance floor with Simon, flushed and sweating. It was the first time they'd gone out in well over a year; Simon's recovery from an attempted sexual assault, that included a date rape drug, had been long and painful. The side effects of the drug had pretty much cost Simon his career as a SEAL. He hadn't been given a medical discharge simply because his enlistment was up in a few months, and he could do desk work until then. It was possible an instructor's slot would open up before his discharge, in which case Simon would be able to continue his career in something close to what he'd trained for. Simon was still bitter that his life had been so disastrously altered just because some chick didn't want to take no for an answer, but he was getting better. Going out tonight was proof of that, since it had actually been Simon's suggestion.
They'd gone to one of Dylan's favorite clubs. The music was great, the drinks weren't watered down, and security was good. A few of Simon's former teammates were on leave or off-duty and had joined them. No one left their drinks unattended; they'd learned the hard way that advice wasn't just for women.
I don't know about you, but I'm definitely ready for a break,â€ Simon said as they made their way back through the crowd.
They sat back down at the table with their friends. Simon grinned; he'd really enjoyed that. He loved to dance with Dylan, although that enjoyment was confined only to Dylan. Dylan was gay; Simon was straight. But what are you to do when you're Miisen? His swim buddy, Zimmer, liked to tease him about living the â€œgay for youâ€ cliche but Simon had always ignored it. No need for Zimmer to know how close to the truth that was; not that it mattered now. Still, his buddies were there, some with their girlfriends, but all of them out to have a good time. He looked around as the waitress brought both he and Dylan fresh sodas. She was a pretty lady but she didn't capture his interest. No one had since the attack. The Tii-su that Dylan insisted he see assured him that was a perfectly normal response, and he would get very interested again when the time was right. The military team shrink he had to see told him the same thing.
Under the table, Dylan rubbed Simon's knee for a moment, earning a quick smile and a pat. He was good; his buddies were long used to the fact that Dylan would drag him out on the floor. Dylan had once explained it quite simply: Simon was a perfect partner for a gay man who wanted to dance but didn't want to get groped. They'd looked at him kind of funny until he pointed out that women did the same thing.
Look around,â€ Dylan had pointed out at the time. â€œSee most of the women dancing out there with each other?â€
Simon's teammates had all nodded or answered affirmatively.
Most of them are straight, and they dance with each other or their gay male friends because they just want to dance, not get mauled by some guy with grabby hands. Same with gay guys. Dance with your straight male friends that are brave enough, if what you want is to dance, not play touchy-feely sausage hunt. I presume lesbian women do the same.â€ Dylan finished explaining with a laugh.
After that, none of them had said a word. Zimmer had even gotten brave a time or two and stood in for Simon.
How are you doing, love? Dylan asked Simon psionically, even as he chatted with Zimmer's girlfriend, Sally.
I'm okay. Getting really tired, though. I know this was my idea, but can we go home soon? Simon asked.
Yeah, we can. I got to dance with you a few times, as well as with a few cute twinks so I'm good. Dylan yawned. â€œHey, guys, sorry to bring it up, but I'm getting pretty tired. Who needs a ride home?â€
Ricardo's girlfriend, Emily, spoke up. â€œWe could use one, Dylan. I think we've both had one too many.â€
Ricardo snorted. â€œOr three.â€
Everybody laughed, and after getting hugs all around and promises to stop by over the next few days, the four of them left. Dylan dropped the cooing pair off at their nice rented little house, and Simon made sure they got in all right.
Coming back to the car, he sighed as he fastened his seatbelt. â€œI had fun, but man...â€
Dylan laughed. â€œYup, I know what you mean. Come on, stud, let's get to bed.â€
Simon took Dylan's hand and held it most of the way to their apartment. They didn't bother turning on the lights when they got in. They just went straight for their bedroom, where they undressed quickly and crept under the covers. Dylan settled Simon next to him, his head on Dylan's chest while he ran his fingers through Simon's hair. Simon sighed again, this time contentedly. Life wasn't what he'd worked so hard for right now, but he could walk and take care of himself again, and he had his lifemate. Everything else would settle in time.
Dylan tilted Simon's face up, so he could gently kiss him. Simon opened for him, letting him in, letting him control the kiss. Dylan was careful to keep it light, gentle, comforting. Simon deepened the kiss a little, needing more of Dylan's touch, and Dylan gave it to him, moaning a bit. After a few minutes of this, they settled back down, holding each other tight, and falling asleep together. The knowledge of fifteen years together let them take care of each other instinctively, and they used it to their advantage now.
The last thing Simon remembered was feeling Dylan kiss the top of his head and a whisper: â€œI love you, Simon.â€ He was too exhausted to reply, but then, he didn't really need to. Dylan heard him anyway.