Fires are blazing across southern Utah, and Aaron Meyers, volunteer firefighter, knows he should be concentrating on the flames. Unfortunately, he's too distracted by former crush, and current New York City fireman, Xander Wescott.
Xander returns to Utah to help battle the flames threatening his hometown. He remembers Aaron as the gangly kid who used to follow him around, and he's unprepared for just how much he wants to know the man Aaron has become.
Aaron's thoughts chased themselves like Honey chasing her own tail. He sighed with relief when the puppy finally jumped from the bed and scratched at the door, demanding to be let out. A walk would be good for both of them -- even if that meant taking a walk in the dark, and the wind, and the rain, with the occasional flash of lightning. It was almost four. He could be back, showered, changed, and calm by the time Xander woke.
"Okay, we can go for a walk," Aaron murmured, "but you have to be quiet about it."
But when Aaron opened the bedroom door, Honey ran toward the couch instead of the front door.
He tried to intercept her, but she was just too fast. By the time he rounded the corner to the living room, she already had her paws on Xander's chest, licking his face.
Xander's bare chest.
To go with the almost bare rest of him.
Maybe in some attempt to get comfortable -- or maybe because God was offering a two-for-one deal and decided to add tormenting Aaron to his local deeds for the night -- Xander had stripped out of his clothes. All he wore was a pair of black boxer briefs that outlined not only his cock but also his heavy balls, the molded fabric drawing attention to the line of hair that disappeared beneath the waistband. The man was also wide awake, his intense eyes jumping immediately to Aaron to pin him in place at the entrance.
"Looks like somebody else couldn't sleep, either," Xander commented.
"Honey, heel." He wrapped his fingers around her collar and pulled her back. "I'm sorry. I thought she wanted to go out. I didn't think she was going to come in here and ... attack you. Well, I guess lick you to death would be a better description."
Xander's mouth slanted. "Well, if it makes a difference, as far as ways to go, I have to say licking to death is probably the best. I wasn't asleep anyway."
"Oh, that's good. I mean, it's not good you weren't asleep. Is something keeping you awake?"
"No." He folded his arm over his head, stretching the muscle so that Aaron had no choice but to look at it. "I'm just wound up."
Aaron couldn't tear his gaze away from Xander's body. He didn't want to. He just wanted to hoard all the details he could so he could return to them later. "Why? Is there anything I can do?"
Xander sighed. It wasn't a deep sigh, nor a loud one, but Aaron saw every flex of muscle, heard every whisper of air, as if Xander was standing right next to him and breathed directly in his ear.
"Don't ask questions you don't want the answer to," he warned softly. "Because I'm just about to the point where I'll say exactly what I'm thinking, and I'd really rather not lose you as a friend, too."
For as long as Aaron had known Xander, he wanted to know Xander. He had always been too young, just an awkward kid all elbows and knees. And for a moment, he almost felt like that kid again. But he wasn't too young to know Xander now. He wasn't a kid out of his depth. He didn't want to be pushed out anymore.
"I do want to know the answer. It won't change our friendship."
"That's what Eddie said." Xander's eyes drifted shut. "Then he saw me actually kissing my boyfriend and everything went all to hell."
Aaron almost fell down. Instead of hitting the floor, he made it to the arm of the couch and sat heavily. Honey pressed her nose under his hand, seeking attention, but he barely noticed her.
"Your boyfriend? You have a boyfriend?"
His arm shifted, covering the top half of his face. "Well, I did. At the time. Not currently, which is probably good considering the kinds of thoughts I've been having all week."
Keep it together. Keep it together. He felt lightheaded and flushed. Just because he once had a boyfriend doesn't mean he'd want you.