All Ryan Newell wants to do his prove to his brothers he is just as capable as them of going out on a mission. This time they actually listen, sending him out to rescue three men from a cult that is holding them prisoner. Right from the start things go wrong. One of the prisoners, Zach Landen, manages to break out of his cell and holds him at knife point.
Ryan hates the idea of calling for back up but knows he needs to after he learns Zach is very ill. It’s second nature for Ryan to take care of Zach, but Ryan’s giving nature has gotten him in trouble before. Does he really want to get hurt again?
Ryan Newell walked into his brother Aiden’s office with the singular purpose of getting the hell out of the house as quickly as possible before Aiden changed his mind about him going. All of his brothers had taught him everything they could, and he was so ready to go out on a mission alone. This one was incredibly important, too. They trusted him with the lives of three men being held captive by some psycho religious group. Who knew what kind of trauma, both physical and mental, they were going through at the moment.
It would be Ryan’s job to not only get them out, but assess and treat whatever medical issues the three men might have. He supposed it was also his job to treat their mental issues as well, although he didn’t feel qualified to do that part of the job.
The fact that his brothers were still letting him go after he’d totally fucked up taking Aaron to the store was a miracle, one he wasn’t going to take for granted. Watching Aaron get hit on the head and then dragged into the car would haunt him for a long time.
How do you fuck something that simple up anyway? Even he didn’t know.
Ryan sat down on the couch in the sitting room and waited for everyone else. He was the only one in the office for several minutes before Xander came in carrying Aaron, who had his head on Xander’s shoulder and his eyes closed. “He should be in bed, lying down,” Ryan said, the paramedic coming out in him.
“I know, but I can’t leave him just yet. Not even for a fifteen minute meeting.” Xander sat down on the couch next to him, holding Aaron in his arms.
“I’m sorry you got hurt,” Ryan said, running his fingers through Aaron’s dark hair, massaging his scalp but staying away from the bump Ben Smith had put there earlier that day. “I feel like a piece of shit for it, man.”
“Stop that right now, Ryan. You didn’t do anything wrong. You were right behind me the entire way, and really it could have been a lot worse,” Aaron said, his head still resting against Xander’s shoulder, his back to Ryan. Ryan figured the light probably hurt his head, so it was likely that his eyes were closed still, although Ryan couldn’t see him to know for sure.
“He’s right, little brother. You did everything you could have. You couldn’t have known that Ben Smith was patrolling the area and happened to spot you guys. Shit, Ryan. He wasn’t even looking for you. The fucker just got lucky.” This was the most Xander had ever said at one time since he was ten, which spoke volumes as to how scared he was for his boyfriend.
Ryan nodded once. Ryan started massaging Aaron’s head gently, hoping that would help. He took his hand away when Xander looked at it and then up at him. Xander did have a no touching policy when it came to Aaron, which mostly just applied to Tripp, but Ryan wasn’t about to get his ass kicked by his older brother. He just liked the little guy and wanted to help, plus his hair felt like silk.
“Don’t stop,” Aaron said against Xander’s chest.
“You heard the man,” Xander said.
Ryan shrugged and did as he was told.
Aiden came in a couple minutes later. “So where’s the key?”
“In my pocket.”
“We’re waiting for Danny to give us a layout of the place. After that, you’re good to go. Don’t fuck it up, Ryan.” Ryan watched as Aiden looked over at Xander, and when Xander nodded, he turned to Ryan once again, pointing at him. “I’m sending Tripp in if I don’t think you can handle it. That’s a warning, Ryan.”
Ryan rolled his eyes but didn’t say anything. Danny came in a few minutes later carrying a great big piece of paper. He set it down on the coffee table between them. Ryan sat forward just enough so that he could get a look but not break the scalp massage he was giving Aaron.
“Hey, that’s not fair. How come Ryan gets to touch him and I don’t?” Tripp said, coming into the room. He sat down on the arm of the chair Danny had plopped down in.
“Because you want to touch him in places that would get your fingers broken,” Ryan said.
“Semantics,” Tripp said, waving his hand in the air, completely dismissing that particular detail. Tripp sat forward then, a look of concern crossed his face. “How are you feeling, pretty man?”
Aaron held up his hand and waved it back and forth in a so-so motion.
“I’m sending Ryan in to assess the area. Ryan you’ll go in through this window here. If Aaron could get out of it, then you should fit just fine,” Aiden said.
“He’ll fit,” Aaron said without even opening his eyes.
“Once you’re in, stay there for as long as you can. They probably come down there only certain times a day, so wait for them. Then you’ll know how much time you’ll have,” Aiden continued.
“I know all this. I know what I’m doing,” Ryan said, rolling his eyes.
“Pay attention, Ryan,” Xander scowled down at him and then turned to Aiden. “This is a bad idea. I’ll go.”