5 FLAMES: "I think this may just be my favorite love story of them all and that's saying quite a bit. Even Treble didn't affect my emotions the way Ruger did, although Treb is still my favorite. Seeing the healing these two men bring to each other was…well, it touched me in ways none of the other couples has. I loved the agreement Cade and Ruger came to as I think it'll be good for Ruger's battered soul. The best thing for Ruger is Spencer and vice versa. Excellent addition!" —Christy, Rainbow Book Reviews
Spencer relaxed back against the cushions of the patio lounge chair, letting the rhythm of the wood splitter lull him into a state of semi-sleep. Glancing up, he admired the beauty of the sun flickering through the golden leaves of the white birch tree he was lying under. Fall was still officially over a month away, but the leaves were already turning.
The sight of a shirtless Ruger lifting a piece of cut-up log and setting it on the beam of the splitter tempted Spencer to ask the sexy man to take him back into the house and get naked. Something about the ram of the splitter pushing the wood against the sharp wedge until it exploded in half, mixed in with Ruger’s muscles, set Spencer’s libido into overdrive. The odds of Ruger cooperating were fifty-fifty at this point. The big guy had been in a protective and nurturing mode since their epic lovemaking session.
After the adrenaline had subsided, Spencer felt drained. Ruger took one look at his face and whisked him into the shower. Spencer spent the rest of the day in bed, mostly sleeping. This morning he’d awoken to a body that hurt a whole lot less than it had in a long time and a spirit that was happy and ready to face the day. Spencer mentally lined up ten things he wanted to do. Ruger had other ideas.
Currently, a battle of wills was going on. Spencer wanted to discuss Ruger’s behavior of the other night, and Ruger didn’t. The sneaky man used brute strength to keep Spencer close and refused to let him overtax his body. Spencer’s feet had yet to touch the floor, and his every need was taken care of, except for talking. Ruger tended to become real busy every time Spencer tried to talk about Ruger’s freak-out.
Spencer blinked. The silence was startling after Ruger flipped a switch and the motor of the splitter shut down. Ruger picked up a rag from the open tailgate of the truck and wiped his hands. Spencer’s gaze soaked in Ruger’s wavy black hair, messy from the breeze and hard work. His short, thick beard surrounded lips that made Spencer lose track of time, and his alert dark eyes rarely missed anything.
“It’s almost lunchtime. What would you like to have?” Ruger asked.
“Something at a restaurant in town,” Spencer answered. The thought of getting out sounded good, not to mention eating something that wasn’t boiled eggs, fried eggs, boiled hotdogs, or spaghetti from a can.
Ruger frowned. Before he could nix the idea, Spencer jumped in. “The hotel is less than ten minutes from here. Old Betsy and I can make it.”
Ruger’s bisected eyebrow rose. “Betsy?”
“I named the walker Betsy,” Spencer said. He boldly met Ruger’s eyes, daring him to make any comment about it.
The smart man turned back to his truck and shut the tailgate. Spencer knew a delaying tactic when he saw one. Crossing his arms over his chest, Spencer waited Ruger out.
Ruger glanced over at Spencer. His chest rose, and Spencer heard him sigh. “We’ll eat and come back home. That’s it.”
Spencer grinned. Happiness flowed through him, making his soul smile. He was so ready to interact with people again. “Okay, let’s go.”
Lifting him into his arms, Ruger laughed. “Maybe you should wear something other than sleep pants and a blanket,” he teased.
“I’m wearing a T-shirt.” Spencer stuck his lower lip out just to see what Ruger would do.
Ruger stopped walking. He captured Spencer’s pouting lip between his teeth before sucking on it. Ripples of need went straight to Spencer’s dick. He closed his eye and wrapped his arms around Ruger’s wide, bare shoulders. A whiff of Old Spice and sweat reached Spencer, and the small hairs at the nape of his neck stood up. As usual he was swept away into the abbess of desire when Ruger released his lip and began to devour his mouth.
The kiss ended too soon for Spencer, and he wanted more. Ready to dive back in for another round, Spencer was stopped by Ruger’s growling stomach. Any thoughts of getting up close and personal with Ruger’s cock slid away. Food now was the priority.
Sliding the tip of his finger down Ruger’s nose, he said, “Let’s get cleaned up and head out. You need to keep up your strength up so you can handle it when I ravish your delectable body.” He couldn’t keep a smile from breaking through.
“Ravish and delectable, huh?” The side of Ruger’s mouth lifted in a small smile.
“Are you making fun of me, Mr. Black?” Spencer asked. For a moment, he wondered if he’d gone too far with his teasing and Ruger thought he was a dork.
Ruger dropped a quick kiss on his mouth before he answered, “I will never make fun of you.”
The serious look in Ruger’s black eyes took Spencer’s breath away. He now knew without a doubt that this man had his back and would never waver. At that moment, Spencer fell in love.
Ruger rolled onto his back and laid his arm over his throbbing eyes. Hatred couldn’t begin to describe how much he detested succumbing to the nightmares of echoing screams, rivers of blood, and mangled bodies.
This is why he hesitated in accepting a position with Rescue for Hire. Victims had a certain aura. They smelled of desperation and panic. Ruger didn’t know if he could handle it. At times, only a thin string held his control together. If something threw Ruger into his inner nightmare of hell and someone was hurt as a result, he wouldn’t be able to live with himself.
Ruger knew they would deny it to their dying day, but he always associated soldiers with victims. In their determination to perform their job to defeat the enemy, they, too, smelled of panic and desperation. They were caught in a struggle to fight for good over evil, save the targets of despicable human monsters, and represent the heroes of mankind’s imagination.
As a result, many became broken in mind and body. Every soldier had at least one memory that haunted them. No one escaped. Something as simple as a smell or sound, maybe even the curve of an arm, could trip the nightmare, sending the person into an inner tailspin.
Ruger’s vigilance at Spencer’s side in the hospital had kept his demons at bay. Last night they’d come out with a vengeance. By the time Spencer interrupted his frenzied woodcutting, he had worked most of the shit out of his system. His run had extradited the rest, at least for now.
A soft sigh caught Ruger’s attention. A warm, handsome Spencer Ryland lay next to him. Ruger didn’t deserve this man in his life. But that didn’t mean Ruger was ever letting him go. Over the last couple of weeks, Ruger’s memories of the boy that Spencer had been had turned into the wonderful dream that Spencer was now.
Ruger smelled like dried sweat, his hands hurt from overusing the ax, and he had no doubt the sheets had blood on them from his abused bare feet. Those irritations were pushed aside by what his soul needed.
Reaching over, Ruger pulled out the top drawer of the nightstand and found a strip of condoms and bottle of lube. Setting them near the corner of the mattress, he pushed down the covers and let his gaze slide over Spencer’s slim, delectable body. Over the last few days, Spencer had been pushing for more intimacy. Now he was going to get it, big time.
Ruger leaned over the side of the bed and grabbed a couple of pillows from the pile on the floor. At times since they’d been home he’d used them to help Spencer sleep more comfortably. Now he was going to use them so Spencer could do something else easier.
Ignoring the wide green eye watching him, Ruger gently took off Spencer’s sleep shirt and pants.
Spreading Spencer’s legs, he put a pillow under each thigh. Another pillow went under his back, and two more lifted Spencer’s sweet ass at just the right height. Ruger couldn’t help running his fingers over Spencer’s exposed crack and finding the pretty, little, wrinkled hole.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Spencer asked.
Ruger looked up. “Exploring,” he answered.
“Tired of running in the woods and thought you’d try something else?” The eyebrow over Spencer’s green eye rose.
Deciding to switch tactics, Ruger crawled up and settled next to Spencer. Sliding his hand into pretty man’s curly mop of blond hair, Ruger said, “Kiss me.”
“Don’t you think we should talk about last night?” Spencer asked.
Ruger met Spencer’s probing gaze. “Later, now kiss me.”
Spencer searched his face. Ruger wasn’t sure what he saw, but he didn’t hesitate to claim the lips Spencer tipped up to him.
Ruger’s tongue searched out every recess of Spencer’s mouth before shifting to his neck and placing wet open-mouthed kisses on it. Spencer shivered, and goose bumps welled up along his skin. Going back to Spencer’s mouth, he conquered it with lips, tongue, and teeth. Blood filled his cock until it pressed against the soft skin of Spencer’s hip. Pinching Spencer’s nipple gained Ruger a sweet cry and the restless shifting of slim hips.
“Don’t move,” Ruger ordered.
A wide-eyed and panting Spencer nodded in agreement. Ruger decided arousal was his favorite look on the lovely man.
Leaning down, Ruger took a flat, tan nipple into his mouth and sucked hard. Hands tangled in his hair.
“Ruger,” Spencer whispered.
Ruger lifted his head. “What do you need?”
“You. I feel like I’ve waited for you forever,” Spencer answered.
He couldn’t resist and kissed Spencer again.
A firm hand encircled Ruger’s cock and began stroking it, giving the head a little twist with each pass. Tongues tangled, and Ruger reached for the lube.
Spencer moved his legs farther apart and bent one knee until his foot rested on the pillow. Their lips parted, and Ruger licked at Spencer’s swollen, shiny lips. The hand on his cock moved to his balls.
Ruger kissed a path down Spencer’s neck until he reached the neglected nipple. He nipped and licked it until Spencer was squirming and murmuring, “Please.”
Continuing his exploration, he placed sucking kisses lower, making sure to avoid the light dressings circling Spencer’s middle. Next week the stitches would be removed, and hopefully they would see the last of the bandages.
Spencer’s slim, hard dick bobbed, beckoning Ruger to give it attention. Breathing in deeply Ruger enjoyed the earthy scent of Spencer’s arousal. He licked the weeping head letting the bitter-sweet pre-cum coat his tongue before sucking Spencer’s dick in all the way to the root. A sweet cry of his name and a hand tightening on his cock was Rugar’s reward. Tingles at the base of Ruger’s spine told him he needed to move this show forward. He wanted to come inside Spencer’s sweet ass, not in his hand.