Sequel to Angel Heart.
True love's path seldom runs smooth.
Dean Chapman built his life and reputation around being a womaniser. Until he fell in love with a man.
Three years with his boyfriend, Jay, have upended the identity of which he was always so sure. To give the man he loves the commitment he deserves, Dean must first make sense of his conflicting emotions.
As he comes to grips with his true feelings concerning family, commitment, sex, fear, and trust, Dean must accept help, and lay his heart open to a future of possibilities, or risk losing everything.
Can love change a man who doesn't even understand himself?
By the time Jay ascended the stairs, Dean had moved on from the bedroom. He'd stripped, evidence provided by a single sock abandoned on the floor, overlooked or disregarded. The man’s trousers huddled in a heap thrown on the room's only chair. Dean's dressing gown, hanging on the back of the bedroom door, gave a sure sign of having walked naked to the bathroom. As Jay changed out of his clothes, the shower turned on.
He slipped on his robe and glanced at the digital alarm clock beside the bed. A quarter to midnight; late, as he'd thought.
When he pushed the bathroom door open, a thick enveloping blanket of steam blotted out any sight of Dean. Jay went in without hesitating as heat and moisture often set off the smoke alarm. Entering was akin to walking into a tropical greenhouse.
Jay waved a hand, separating the fog. As the mist cleared, Dean stood revealed ... tall, naked, hands bracketing the pipe that led to the spray control in the shower cubicle. His head hung. Water cascaded over his back, the temperature high enough to turn the room into a sauna. Dean's skin took on a ruddy glow. The water caught the light and made him gleam, his muscles vibrantly defined.
The captivating sight held Jay's interest, until Dean glanced across, giving Jay a look he couldn't interpret. Straightening, the man reached for a squirt of shower gel.
The back view no more eased Jay's instant arousal than the side view had. Nor did the movements of Dean's hands spreading the soap, cleansing places only his, Jay's fingers, and Jay's tongue, ever explored.
Any other night Jay might step into the cubicle with him and, despite his smaller size, stretch around, and gather up a little of the gel. He'd help to spread the soap, work the lather into every crease and crevice until the only thing left to need a wash ... Dean's erection; hot and hard and ready for him to grasp ...
Jay swallowed, slumped, bending his neck. Tonight, he didn't think Dean would welcome his attention. A sense of wryness twisted Jay's lips as he shook his head. Hard to recollect when he last dealt with disappointment.
Resisting the urge to rub his fingers against his temples, he moved to the sink and prepared his toothbrush, setting it aside. He needed to wait until Dean finished because the water had a tendency to flash icy if someone turned on a tap elsewhere in the house. Seconds ticked by, a minute, two. He eyed the faucet. If Dean didn't hurry so Jay could take his turn, he might give in to the temptation to switch the tap on full.
At last, the sound of running water ceased. Jay brushed as Dean stepped out, reaching for a towel. A patchy puzzle via the steamed-up bathroom mirror was the only glimpse of Dean. Maybe just as well. He didn't want to see the man’s expression. Jay concentrated on rinsing his mouth, overly attentive to spitting. By then, Dean had left the room.
Jay moved to the shower, disrobed, and stepped in. The sharp scent of the wash Dean loved to use assaulted his nostrils. While he liked it well enough on Dean, tonight the man's shower gel reacted in fury. How much had Dean used? Jay's preferred cleanser had a milder note, less of a citrus tone. Dean often said it made him think of warmth -- a hot drink, a cosy fire, the right smile, and the things he wanted to find waiting for him at home. Once, he'd said the same of Jay's apple-scented shampoo. These days, Jay used other products, but Dean said he liked those, too. When Jay crawled into bed, maybe the familiar fragrance might help to bring Dean back to him, to 'bring him home', for he felt far away from Jay this evening. Jay took no time lathering up and fewer seconds rinsing. He didn't want to risk Dean going to sleep before they exchanged a few words.
Despite his haste, he feared he'd taken too long when the only light to shine in the bedroom came from the lamp on his side of the bed. Dean lay still, eyes closed, facing away.
Jay relaxed. Dean only faked sleep. Jay shook his head as he hung up his robe and then slipped into bed glad they both slept naked. Without waiting, he curled up behind Dean, who tensed.
He must have imagined it, but no; Dean had tautened for a moment there and even though he appeared to loosen, the movement came across as fake as Dean's pretence at sleeping. Dean hadn't behaved this way in a long while. What had happened? No way to ask without sounding indelicate.
"Dinner went well."
Jay rolled away, clasping his hands behind his head, elbows out to the sides. How to cope with this? How to handle a moody man? He glanced over and smirked. How did one handle a moody Dean, more like?