When Ian picks up a weird needlepoint at an antiques store, he expects nothing more out of the ordinary than dealing with his eccentric buyer, Ellen. But when the man he bumps into on the way out of the store finds him again later at a local bar, Ian decides to throw caution to the wind and take Gabe back home with him for the night. Ian’s pleased with the decision -- until he realizes Gabe has stolen the needlepoint in the night and is now missing.
Offended, Ian tracks down Gabe and the missing needlepoint. What he discovers when Gabe finally confesses his reasoning to him is much more than Ian is expecting. With a mystery on their hands and Ellen as enlisted help, Ian and Gabe are on a mission to unravel the secrets of the strange needlepoint -- before the man stalking them injures them, or worse.
Ian shifted, looked over, but the other side of the bed was empty. He slid out and pulled on pants, hoping Gabe hadn’t been up long. Great follow up that’d be, leaving Gabe bored out of his skull for hours. But when Ian wandered out of the bedroom, the rest of his apartment was empty of all other living things, except the plant.
“Gabe?” he asked, disappointment settling on him. Well, fuck. The guy had just left. Ian wished he could have at least said good-bye to him. He checked the bathroom even though the door was open and the light was off. No one. Gabe really was gone.
Grumpy now, Ian went to the coffeepot and got it brewing, then returned to his bedroom to grab his phone. Maybe Gabe had entered his number before leaving. Nope. Nothing new in contacts. Better check the door. Well, the asshole hadn’t locked it. With a sigh, Ian turned the lock and went to sit dejectedly at the table with his mug of coffee.
Figured an amazing night would lead to a depressing morning.
“I was looking forward to cooking something for you, you asshole,” said Ian. He had a sip of coffee, muttered, “Would’ve gotten me off my ass for once.” He’d been crap at cooking for himself recently.
He’d been crap at most everything for himself recently. His apartment had slowly gone from mostly-clean to utter-disaster and he just didn’t seem to have it in him to care. He forgot what it was like to be someone who tidied regularly. Sighing, he mindlessly checked his phone for whatever pointless drama was underway on social media today.
Ellen had texted him multiple times.
So when do I get to meet my new needlepoint?
I have some library books to pick up today.
After you’re finished working is fine!
At least he had that to get his mind off Gabe.
No work today, he replied. One P.M. at the library?
The usual place, responded Ellen. She had a favorite little corner of the library, a tucked-away space nobody went to because meeting rooms were down that way and nobody used them, and she liked acting like they were both shadier than they were.
Ian would need to wrap it in a garbage bag. He got up to grab the needlepoint and blinked, staring at the empty space behind the futon. Maybe he needed more coffee. He went back to his mug, had a few more sips, and returned to the futon, got down on his hands and knees.
No purple and red needlepoint resting against the wall behind the futon. Nothing on the floor underneath it, either. Ian was sure he’d put it there yesterday. And before he’d been drinking. He leaned back, fell on his ass, swore. Stared behind the futon until he coaxed himself up for more coffee.
Then he tore his place apart, just in case. Because if he hadn’t misplaced the needlepoint, it meant Gabe had taken it. And why the fuck would he do that? He thought the damned thing was ugly.
What the hell was wrong with him, anyway? In the span of twelve hours Ian had lost a unique needlepoint and someone he’d actually wanted to get to know. Maybe both at the same time. He searched until he was satisfied the needlepoint was gone, too, then poured himself another cup of coffee and plopped back into his chair. He rested his head in his hands, staring down at the steam curling off the coffee.
“That guy really just fucked me for my needlepoint.” It sounded so absurd aloud, but Ian had run out of options to make sense of this. “But why?”