Tobias’s boss’s voicemail came on. He sighed in relief at having been spared the torture of talking to her directly. “Yeah, ah, Martha. It’s Tobias. I didn’t get a chance to call you before now, but I won’t be able to come in tomorrow or for the rest of the week. There’s been a family emerg–”
Before he could continue, Martha replied, “Tobias?”
He frowned. “Hi, Martha. I was just leaving you a message.”
“Yes, I realized that. So did I hear correctly, you won’t be coming in this week because of a family emergency?”
“Yeah, my mom had a stroke earlier today. I took a plane home as soon as I heard.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope she’ll be better soon.”
“Thanks.” He was astounded at how sympathetic Martha seemed.
“About my work and the edits on John’s book.”
“Don’t worry about that. Work and the edits can wait until your mom gets better and you come back to New York.”
Tobias grinned with deep relief. “Okay, that’ll be great. Thanks so much for understanding.”
“You’re welcome. We’ve all got a mother we love and who we want to help as much as we can. After all, they’ve done so much for us. It’s only right we return the favour.” Her tone turned assertive. “Concentrate on your mom and work will wait until you get back here. In the meantime, let me know how she’s doing soon.”
“I will. Thanks again, Martha.”
“No problem, Tobias. Bye.”
He stared at the phone wondering if it really was Martha Benson he actually had spoken to or an imposter with a kind heart. He shrugged before using the app directory to get the number to St. Matthews Hospital. When he placed the call, an automated system came on. By the time he’d gone through the phone protocol, five minutes passed.
A gentle and sweet female voice answered, “St. Mathews Hospital ICU. Nurse Smith speaking.”
“Hi, I’m Gladys Gale’s son. I wanted to know if there’s been a change in her condition.”
“Why yes, there has, Mr. Gale.” Tobias held his breath ready for bad news. “She’s awake and alert. It happened just a few minutes ago. I was in her room taking her vitals when she woke up. She asked me about you. She had heard you talking to her.”
“Oh my God! That’s wonderful. I’ll head back there right away.”
“Umm, the doctor is with her right now and I believe he’ll send her upstairs for an MRI and other tests now. Plus, it’s hospital policy –”
“I know. I know. Not to have visitors in the ICU after visiting hours end.”
“Yes, sir, but you can come in at ten tomorrow to see her. I promise I’ll check in on her just as soon as the doctor finishes examining her. I’ll make sure she’s all right and see if she needs or wants anything.”
“Thank you, Nurse Smith, that’s so very kind of you.”
“My patients are my number one priority, Mr. Gale, and your mother is such a sweetheart.”
He smiled as his eyes misted with emotion. “Yes, she is.”
“Good night, Mr. Gale.”
“Bye.” He was all choked up.
He didn’t wait to make sure he shut off the phone before rushing to the back of the house to tell Ryan the good news. He stopped in midstride after he turned the corner and witnessed Ryan exiting the bathroom. He had a tiny towel wrapped around his waist. His wide shoulders, brawny, hairless chest and ripped six-pack abs glistened with droplets of water on his skin, which accentuated his gorgeous, muscular physique and wayward sexual magnetism.
Tobias’s eyes soaked in all the beauty while his mouth hung open and his mind turned to mush. It took him a few seconds to realize he was rudely ogling and started to turn away in embarrassment.
Ryan said, while towel-drying his damp hair, “I’m done if you need to use it.”
“Hmm, use what?”
“The bathroom.” Ryan offered him a sidelong grin.
“No, I don’t.” His brain function began to kick in again. “I was just looking for you to tell you the good news.”
Ryan froze, staring at him wide-eyed.” What good news?”
“My mom’s awake and alert, and she asked Nurse Smith about me.”
Ryan walked up to him. His eyes and smile beamed as he wrapped his huge arms quickly around Tobias’s shoulders, hugging him tightly. Holy cow!He smelled of musk and lemon-scented body wash.
“Yes, that’s the best news ever!” Ryan cheered.
He stepped back. The teeny-tiny towel started to slide down his thigh with his motion, offering Tobias a quick peek. Ryan then quickly turned around, trying to grab the wet towel and re-wrap it, but not before Tobias got a good look at Ryan’s amazing derriere. Damn, that was the finest ass Tobias had ever seen.
He almost let out a whimper of approval before Ryan said, “I better get dressed before I give you a real peep show.” Apparently, he had no idea he had already done just that. “I’ll be out in a minute.”
Tobias pointed over his shoulder while his heart raced. “That’s all right. I’m heading to my old room to crash out. I want to wake up early to go see my mom as soon as visiting hours begin.”
Ryan nodded. “All right. I’m going to bed now, too. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
“Yeah, bye.” Tobias turned, too distracted to see the wall before he slammed into it hard. He rubbed the side of his aching head as he hurried away, praying Ryan didn’t notice his clumsy manoeuvre.
The protruding bump pulsed with heat as blood pooled into it. He needed to get ice on it, stat. It would help reduce the swelling and maybe cool down his body. He was hot and bothered and it was all Ryan Forrester the teaser’s fault.
They barely knew each other and Ryan just plunged in for a kiss, way too fast. Ryan had to take a step back, let Tobias breathe. Tobias had to make the next move, when he was ready, when he wasn’t frightened of Ryan, the wolf shifter, or the sexual attraction and that something more meaningful that was growing between them.
Ryan knew it was love. Slowly but surely, it was taking rein over their minds, their emotions and yes, even their bodies.
Ryan began to open the car door to exit. “I’m sorry. I let my emotions get the better of me. I shouldn’t have kissed you just now.” He stepped out and looked around. The narrow trail led into the woods on one side and a big ranch house about two hundred yards to the right.
Changing the subject so the awkward tension between them would dissipate, he asked, “So, do you want to head to the house now?”
Tobias gazed in that direction, squinting, then frowning. “No, let’s just walk along the trail for a while and see if we see anyone.”
“All right.” Ryan walked by his side down the winding trail. The beaming sun warmed their shoulders while they traveled. “You’re worried to meet them?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m more than worried. I’m scared.”
“Because I don’t know how they’ll react.” He scratched the tip of his nose as they continued in a slow gait.
Smiling to reassure him, Ryan answered, “I think that once the shock settles, they’ll like you. They’ll like you a lot, and you’ll all get along and become real tight.”
Tobias laughed. “I doubt that very much, but it would be nice to have them accept me as their half-brother. Maybe we can even hang out every once in a while to talk.”
Ryan tapped and rubbed the center of his back. “You’ll do that and more with them, Tobias. Trust me when I say the moment they see you, they’ll love you. You have that effect on people, you know.” His grin turned into a flirtatious smirk, and then he realized what he’d just admitted to.
Before he could back step and rectify his words, the sound of quick, pounding steps approaching alerted them both that someone was coming in their direction from the ranch house.
“Quick, follow my lead,” Tobias uttered, pushing Ryan against the oak tree behind him and kissing him hard on the lips just as whoever the stranger was jogging on the path came upon them.
* * * *
The blond, tall giant jogging by them chuckled approvingly at their exhibitionist kiss. For a split second, Tobias wondered if this was his half-brother, but when Ryan wrapped his arms around his waist and pulled him against his powerful chest, that train of thought disintegrated. His carnal desires took over and he let them carry him forward.
Ryan had said he had been imagining kissing Tobias for weeks, and just a few seconds ago, he hinted that he was falling in love with Tobias. He should be freaked out, because it kind of bordered on obsessive stalker behaviour, but he wasn’t. In fact, it had the completely opposite effect on him. It enticed him. After that amazing kiss they shared in the car, his mind and body wanted more.
He couldn’t understand why he felt that way, but he wasn’t going to stop it. There was something hot, intense and so powerful brewing between them. Ryan may have instigated things in the beginning, and Tobias was hesitant to follow at first, but now that he had tasted Ryan’s lips again and held him in his arms, the passion was too much to resist. It was free-rolling, bringing them both to a higher plateau of sexual awareness.
Tobias had carnal needs, needs that hadn’t been satisfied by a significant other in over a year. He yearned to be kissed and made love to by this sexy, virile man in his embrace.
When Ryan’s lips parted, Tobias took the initiative to deepen the kiss by probing his tongue. Ryan’s greeted his tongue with an erotic movement, caressing and enticing his.
Tobias’s ragged breaths were in sync with his erratic, pounding heart. His body was moving to overdrive, urging him to move forward. When Ryan rubbed his hard-on against Tobias’s pelvis through their tight jeans, Tobias dove into a sexual frenzy. He nipped Ryan’s full lower lip and purred between heavy breaths. “Ah, fuck me, Ryan. I want to feel you deep inside me.”
Ryan broke free to look around, out of breath. His lips turned upward into a sly slanted grin. “You’re sure you want to do this here? Now?”
Tobias peered around. The stranger, possibly his half-brother, had disappeared from sight. So no one was around to see them. The throbbing bulge in his pants began to ache as his cock grew and pushed against his restraining seams.
“Hell yes,” he rasped. “I changed my mind. I don’t care if someone sees us? I can’t wait any longer. I want you so bad.”
Ryan grabbed his hands, smiling as he twirled him around until Tobias leaned against the tree and Ryan crushed his body against Tobias’s. “Then let me make love to you, Tobias, like I’ve been dreaming about doing for so long.”
A surge of pleasure shocked Tobias’s body and he shivered. When Ryan undid the buttons on Tobias’s cotton shirt and his hot hands traced and rubbed Tobias’s chest and abdomen, while his hungry, eager eyes contoured Tobias’s upper body, Tobias sighed with anticipation.
“Mmm, I want to fuck you so bad,” Ryan whispered into his ear right before he licked Tobias’s neck and began to nibble his earlobe. Pangs of sexual pleasure flowed through Tobias. They traveled downward, weakening his legs and making his blood rush to his cock. Ah, it pounded with sexual fury in his pants. He thought he couldn’t take anymore when Ryan unzipped his jeans. He released Tobias’s excited, super-hard cock. Ryan’s warm, strong fingers stroked it, making it jerk and bounce in arousal.
Pre-cum spread from the tip over the shaft as Ryan continued to fondle it. Ryan stared down at it and moaned after licking his own lips, “I want to taste you.”