Steve Reynolds has a great job, a snazzy apartment in Los Angeles, and some good friends. What he doesn't have is a date for the upcoming office Valentine's Day party. When he tackles a burglar in his apartment, he winds up in the arms of LAPD Officer Richard Malone. Has Cupid brought Steve the ideal Valentine's date-or a man who might just turn Steve's ordered life upside down?
February 4th 2011
I hate it when I can't sleep. All kinds of crazy things go tumbling through my mind--things I should have said, things I should have done, things I shouldn't have said or done. This particular night was one of those. I tossed and turned 'til I eventually gave up, and was about to turn the bedside lamp back on and pick up the book I'd been reading before trying to reach the land of Nod.
Then I heard it.
At first I wasn't sure what it was. A rustling sound. Had I left the living room window open? No, it was a tad too cold outside for that. I lay in the dark, perfectly still, ears straining to pick up the slightest trace of any movement beyond my open bedroom door. I heard it again, and this time it most definitely sounded like someone was walking across the carpeted living room floor.
Times like this it would be good to have someone lying in bed next me. Trouble is they'd have been gone by now anyway. I never invited sleepovers ...
Trying to be quieter than a mouse I slipped out of bed, grabbed the pair of boxer briefs I'd discarded on the floor, pulled them on and tip-toed towards the door. Now I am not the big and brave and stalwart type. At five eight and a hundred and forty pounds I am most definitely a lightweight, but I work out and I'm pretty wiry, so I figured as long as whoever was in my apartment without my permission wasn't Colossus, I could probably, if I took him by surprise, take him down.
As it turned out he took me by surprise. I squealed--the only word for it I'm afraid as an arm was wrapped around my neck and I was pushed to the floor, a heavy weight on top of me. My attacker started banging my head on the floor--thank God for upgraded carpet padding. On the tile floor in the kitchen my head would have been mush.
"Get the fuck off me," I yelled, arching my back in an attempt to dislodge whoever the hell was beating me up. I managed to twist my body just enough to free my left hand and deliver a punch to the side of his head that probably hurt me more than it did him. "Ow!" Shit, that did hurt, but he must have been surprised by my attempt to fight back because suddenly the weight covering me was gone and the son of a bitch was heading for the door.
"Oh, no you don't," I roared, giving chase. Whoever said reason rules the mind hadn't done a study on gay guys who've just been attacked in their own apartment and had their heads banged against the floor. I was mad, seeing red, even in the dark, and that creep who'd been trying to rob me, of what exactly I wasn't sure at that moment, wasn't going to get away with it. I grabbed his arm, he pushed me away, I grabbed him again, he wrenched the door open, pushing me away again, this time with a lot more force. I stumbled backwards, he shot through the door, I charged after him, and both us ran into the arms of three uniformed cops.
When I say â€˜ran into the arms' I mean that quite literally, at least in my case. The would-be robber was tackled none too gently by two of the cops, forced to the ground and handcuffed in what seemed to me in the blink of an eye. I meanwhile, was being held in the strong arms of the third cop, who was chuckling.
"Okay, sir--we got him," he said, still chuckling. "No need to beat up on him anymore."
"He was beating me up," I snapped, glaring at the felon who was now yanked to his feet, looking suitably pissed off at being caught. Still fuming I glanced up at the policeman who had released me from his arms presumably convinced I was no longer a threat to the criminals of Los Angeles--and gulped.
Oh. My. God. The guy was absolutely gorgeous. Despite the fact I had almost been beaten senseless, had engaged in a rough and tumble with a man much bigger than me, and was now surrounded by LAPD's finest, I felt the heat of arousal unfurl in my briefs. I had to physically restrain myself from jumping back into his arms. Taller than me--well, nearly everyone I know is taller than me--but built. His eyes, still twinkling with amusement were a forest green under dark feathered eyebrows, his nose long and straight and his mouth, slightly curled at the corners was full and--totally kissable.
Quit staring! My reason, finally returning, made me step back and drop my eyes from his beautiful face to the metal name tag on his uniform that read, Malone.
"Hey, Rich," one of the other cops said, interrupting my silent worship, "why don't you get the gentleman's statement while we take this one in?"
"Sure thing..." Officer Rich Malone smiled at me. "Wanna go back inside and tell me what happened?"
"Uh, yeah..." Truth to tell I was feeling a little shaky now that the drama was over and my adrenaline high was fast evaporating. Suddenly aware I was still wearing my skimpy boxer briefs, I muttered, "I should get some clothes on too." He followed me into my apartment and I flicked on a couple of lights. "Be right back," I said, heading for the bedroom where I grabbed a bathrobe and slipped it on.
When I got back, the gorgeous cop was standing in the middle of the living room looking around. "Nice place. You live here alone?"
"Yes. Can I get you anything? Coffee, water?"
"No, I'm good." He shot me a look of concern. "Why don't you sit down? You look a little shaken up."
"Yeah, I guess the shock is setting in." I gave him a wobbly grin. "Not every night I find a burglar in my living room." I put a hand to my head as the room swung a little to the left. Next thing I was wrapped in those strong arms again and being led over to the couch.
"Here, take it easy." He helped me sit. "I'll get you some water."
"Put some Scotch in it," I mumbled, trying to show him I was one tough cookie, and not the shaky wimp he must have thought I was by this time.
"You have some?"
"Yeah, corner of the counter by the fridge."
He was back in a moment or two holding out a glass with a fair amount of the amber elixir. "Sip it slowly," he said as I took the glass. He sat in the chair opposite and removed his cap. He ran his hand over his springy dark brown curls and stared at me, a smile playing round his lips. "Feeling better?" he asked after I'd knocked back a couple of mouthfuls.
I nodded. "How did you guys just happen to be there in the hall?"
"We had a call from one of the other tenants who saw someone out on her balcony, then when we got here your neighbor below said she heard thumping and shouting."
I gulped another mouthful of Scotch. "That was probably when he was banging my head on the floor."
He frowned. "Your head? You feeling okay? I can call the paramedics."
"No, no, I'll be fine."
"If you're sure." He reached inside his pocket and drew out a notepad and pen. "I should take some notes and let you get back to bed. You work tomorrow?"
"Not on Saturdays, thank God. After this I think I'll take a sleeping pill and lie in."
"Good idea." He cleared his throat. "So, uh, what's your name?"
"Oh ..." I managed a chuckle. "That's right--we haven't been formerly introduced. Steven Reynolds."
"Okay, Mr. Reynolds, I got the address, and this is apartment...?"
"Nine. Call me Steve, please."
His green eyes met mine and held for several seconds before he looked down at his notepad again. "Okay, Steve ..." He asked me for my phone numbers, landline and cell and wrote it all down. It was kind of a nice feeling to know he knew exactly where I lived, and how to get in touch with me--not that it was likely. Get a grip!
"So obviously nothing's been taken, but..." He got up and walked over to the window. "You've got some damage here where he broke in. You'll want that repaired right away and let your insurance company know." He came back and sat opposite me. "You'll want to press charges of course."
Did I? Yeah, the fucker had tried to rob me, beat me up--but what if he was some poor guy out of a job like so many others these days, with a wife and family to support?
"Uh, Mr. Rey--Steve?"
"Yeah, I guess so. I was just wondering if maybe this was a one-off ... you know, a guy who's unemployed, desperate..."
Officer Malone smiled. He had a lovely smile. "We'll find out when we process him at the station. He might have a record a yard long."
He stood, and I blurted before I could stop myself, "You're leaving?"
"Gotta get back on duty. I'll be in touch tomorrow, let you know what we find out about the thief, and should you want to press charges, you'll have to come down to the station."
"Oh, okay." That means I get to see you again. "Uh, you'll be there?"
"Maybe." He held out his hand. "Goodnight--I hope you can get some sleep after all this."
He took my hand in his warm grip and I tried not to visibly shiver from the contact. If he only knew that what I wanted to do was leap into his arms and cover his gorgeous face with kisses. With admirable self control, I said, "Goodnight, and thanks for...uh, everything."
Was I completely mistaken or did I see a glimmer of more than just casual interest in those dark green peepers just before he blinked, turned and disappeared through the doorway?
Yeah... I sighed as I closed the door. I was probably mistaken.
After he left I polished off the Scotch and poured myself another.
Sitting on the couch I mulled over the events of the night, but most especially the time Officer Rich Malone and I had been alone together. Not that I was fooling myself thinking anything could come of our meeting. He was most likely straight, married--lucky woman, whoever she is--or even if he was gay, certainly not unattached.
No man that terrific looking could be single. He filled out that uniform so incredibly well, I couldn't help but wonder what he'd look like out of it. His chest when I'd been pressed against it had been hard; his arms around me, strong and muscular. Jeez, but I'd like to have got that much closer, kiss those full lips, feel his erection press against mine.
Oh God, I was so hard it was painful. Way to go, Steve, I thought, go get yourself worked up over some straight cop. Like anything could ever come of that. Well... I stroked the ever growing bulge inside my briefs. Someone's going to come--and any minute now!