As one, the three men around the bed straightened and took a step back, giving Garrett his first look at Tolliver Holiday.
Eyes. For a few seconds, that’s all Garrett saw. The blue color was made even more startling by the bright red surrounding them where the whites of the man’s eyes should be. Those broken blood vessels, along with the dark purples, greens, and morbid yellow bruises encircling the man’s neck told Garrett that Tolliver had been choked almost to the point of death. Garret’s gaze took in the black and blue bruises surrounding each eye, reminding him of a raccoon’s mask.
Tolliver’s nose was red and misshapen but didn’t lean to one side or the other. It was clearly broken, but from experience, Garrett could see it wouldn’t be lumpy or disfigured once it healed.
There wasn’t much of Tolliver’s face that wasn’t bruised and swollen, including his chin and cheekbones. Puffy lips covered in healing scabs showed where stitches had pieced the fragile skin back together. Garrett remembered Roman saying the victims had been hit with a bat during their capture. The painful looking deeply red lump running from Tolliver’s temple back into his light brown hair added to the picture of the violence inflicted on this man.
The rest of Tolliver’s body was covered with a sheet. Even with the pillows surrounding him, Tolliver wasn’t half as wide as most of the men in the room.
Curled up on the end of the bed was the cutest tiny dog Garrett had ever seen. Big brown eyes stared at him as a thin little tail moved tentatively.
Garrett couldn’t resist. Walking to the bed, he leaned over and held out the back of his hand for the dog to sniff. “Well hello, my tiny one. Aren’t you sweet?”
The little dog sniffed Garrett’s hand while its tail slapped the sheet. A soft pink tongue snuck out and licked Garrett, turning his heart to mush.
“His name is Bentley.”
Outwardly, Garrett didn’t react to the hoarse, croaking whisper. Inside, his mind was going over the contents of his pantry. He knew of several things that could help the small man in the bed feel more comfortable.
“Bentley it is then.” Garrett smiled, ready to give the little dog a bit more of attention.
Pausing, Garrett watched the man in the bed stare at him. That was when it happened. He didn’t know what Tolliver Holiday looked like under the bruises. He hadn’t said more than a few words to him. Hell, he didn’t even know if the man was gay. But as they continued to gaze into each other’s eyes, need filled Garrett’s being.
He needed to get to know Tolliver. He needed to protect him and keep him close. Needs Garret couldn’t comprehend were flooding through him until he was so swamped he struggled to breathe.
“Are you real, or are you a gift brought on by the drugs?” The faint whisper reached Garrett’s ears.
Relief eased the ball of emotions that had threatened to overwhelm Garrett. It seemed the man was also feeling this, something. Never before had this happened to him. Kneeling down on one knee next to the bed, Garrett put his hand on the blankets close to, but not touching, Tolliver. At this point he didn’t know of any place he could touch the man with causing him more pain.
“I’m real, wee one,” he answered. Garrett was smiling so hard his cheek muscles hurt. He had his answer on the gay issue. Again he became lost in Tolliver’s blue-eyed gaze.
Roman stepped up next to Garrett, breaking the moment. “Tolliver, I’d like you to meet my house manager, Garrett McKay. He’s also agreed to help you during your recovery.”
“Hi.” Tolliver grimaced when his arm moved under the sheet.
The attraction was still simmering between them, but now the need to help Tolliver was pressing Garrett into action. “Hello, Tolliver. Do you like tea?” Garrett had some licorice root tea in the pantry. It would soothe Tolliver’s throat and help with the swelling.
Tolliver’s eyelids lowered in a slow blink before he nodded. The drugs and the trip to Nevada were catching up to the poor man.
“How about you take a nap, and when you wake up, I’ll have a nice cup of tea waiting for you?” Garrett kept his tone light so Tolliver would stay relaxed enough to drift off.
Tolliver managed a nod before his eyes stayed closed and he seemed to wilt into the bed.
Garrett stood there and observed the bruised face made more grotesque by the cream bed linens surrounding it. A soft touch brought his attention down to a wiggling tiny dog. Bentley’s large ears were lowered, and his tail was between his legs. His little body trembled, and big brown eyes were begging.
It didn’t take a scientist to know what the dog was asking. Scooping it up easily in one hand, Garrett looked into its eyes and said, “Bentley, my man, I have a patch of grass with your name on it.” He received a quick lick on the chin in return.
Garrett gathered his wee one close and rolled until he was on his back. With Tolliver on top of him, he could now enclose the weeping man in his arms and hold him tight.
His plans of slowly introducing the subject of marriage had pretty much flown out the window when Tolliver had declared his love. Garrett’s heart had filled to the brim with love, adoration, and the need to keep this man in his life.
Rocking Tolliver gently, Garrett whispered, “Are you overwhelmed, love, or are you trying to find a way to let me down?”
Tolliver lurched up and looked down at Garrett with stormy, red-rimmed eyes. His cheeks were shiny with tears, and snot was coating his upper lip. To Garrett, he’d never looked more handsome.
“I’ll have you know, Mr. McKay, we are getting married as soon as we can arrange it. We’re both too old to waste any more time.” Tolliver wiped at his nose with his hand.
Garrett reached over and pulled a tissue from a box sitting on the end table and handed it to Tolliver. It took two more tissues before the smaller man’s face was cleaned up, but finally Garrett had a cuddly Tolliver snuggling in his arms.
“Garrett?” Tolliver whispered.
“Yes, my wee one,” Garrett whispered back, liking the quiet, sweet moment they were having.
“I’ve got itchy cum drying on my belly and ass.”
Silence reigned throughout the room.
In one motion Garrett rolled them so Tolliver’s slim body was under him. “Well, I guess we have two choices,” he said, nuzzling the smooth soft skin of Tolliver’s neck. “We can go clean you up in the bathroom or add to the mess.” Garrett sucked hard, bringing up a lurid bruise. While admiring it, he said, “I vote for more messes,” and sucked more skin into his mouth, making another mark.
Hands on his cheeks guided his mouth to Tolliver’s. The kiss deepened, and tongues tangled. Garrett reached around and caressed Tolliver’s small, tight ass. After dipping his fingers between the firm mounds of flesh, he began to brush his fingertips against the small wrinkled pucker that was his passage to paradise.
Tolliver began to move his body in an erotic dance that had the small hairs on Garrett’s body standing up. With regret, Garrett ended the kiss and said, “I need to go and get supplies from the bathroom. I won’t hurt you or put you in danger.”
A frown appeared on Tolliver’s handsome face. “Is there a chance of danger?”
“No,” Garrett answered. “I have always practiced safe sex and had regular testing.”
“I’m clean too.” Tolliver’s smile and big blue eyes were full of hope. “Maybe now that we are engaged, we can think about forgoing the condoms.”
Garrett remembered the fear of the unknown in the eighties when an epidemic of unusual symptoms led to a multitude of gay men dying of AIDS. Not using condoms was a huge deal for him.
The love of his life wanted what he considered the ultimate commitment. In the end, the decision was easy. “When it’s safe for you to leave the hacienda, we’ll stop at the clinic to be tested together. Then, when the time is right, we’ll ditch the condoms.”
The next second Garrett had an armful of a wiggly Tolliver, who was raining kisses over his face and down his neck. Before he ended up getting lost in the small slim man’s kisses and warm body pressed against his, Garrett said, “I have to get the supplies, my wee one.”
Lips pressed against his ear, and Tolliver whispered, “They’re under the pillow.”
Garrett chuckled. It seemed Tolliver had been making plans. And Garrett loved it. His hand dived under the pillow and pulled out the bottle of slick. Life was good. It got even better when Tolliver sat up, straddling him before turning around and facing away from Garrett. He could only stare as Tolliver leaned over and presented his firm, tight ass for him to play with.
The bottle of slick landed on the bed, twice, when hands encircled Garrett’s shaft and a hot, wet mouth started sucking his cockhead. Garrett forgot what he was doing and thrust up into Tolliver’s mouth, burying his cock deep into his wee one’s throat.
Tolliver’s mouth came off his dick with a pop. “Get me ready, Garrett. I need you inside.”
Garrett shook his head to clear his mind. Again, he picked up the slick. A flick of his thumb had the cap open, and he quickly coated his hands.
Spreading the cheeks of Tolliver’s ass, Garrett rubbed his greasy finger over the tight, wrinkled rosette waiting for his attention. Grabbing the bottle, he squeezed a thick coat of slick over the ultimate prize of his delight.
With both hands, he spread Tolliver’s cheeks. He had to pause as Tolliver’s mouth sucked his cock in to the base and began swallowing it down. Breathing through his nose, he tried to regain his composure and concentrate on getting his lover ready.
The tip of his thumb breached Tolliver’s opening. “Take a deep breath, love,” he instructed.