Ezra's cheeks were bright red and his whole face quivered with the need to laugh out loud but he was trying to keep it inside. I knew I looked pretty ridiculous with all the snow covering me from head to toe. Who knew that a snowball that missed and hit a tree branch could dump so much snow? Buck was cruising for a bruising and I was pretty sure that J.D. would help me out.
But Ez' was coming over to brush me off and I knew just how to free his laughter. I let him get close then I pushed him into the drift, following him down so's I could taste him. It had been way too long since I'd kissed him. His lips parted and drew me in while his hands brushed away the snow from my back, drifting down to my ass and sending little tingles straight to my cock.
I've never heated up so fast in my life.
He swallowed my groan and rolled us so we were side by side. Only the thought that the other guys were about two trees over kept me from growling and laying serious tongue on him. Breaking away from his teasing lips, I panted. "When I get you home, Ezra P. Standish, you are going to be loved within an inch of your life."
That shy smile was back, the one that told me he still couldn't quite believe that I meant what I said. But that was okay 'cause I surely did like showing him.
"I shall look forward to it, Vin," was all he said with a gentle kiss to my cold lips before sitting up and pulling me up with him.
We brushed each other off and I kept my hands to a gentle tease. He was still a little unsure of the guys and I wasn't quite sure myself what they would be willing to turn a blind eye to when it came to our touching each other. But that reminded me of Buck and I took a quick look around and spotted J.D. looking kind of wistful at us. So I beckoned him over with a tilt of my head and he came at a trot.
"Bucklin has to pay for that little attack, J.D. You up for a little revenge?" I asked him and watched a big smile cross his lips.
"Payback's a bitch is what he always says." He said with a nod.
"You know that you can talk to either of us about any questions you might have, J.D." Ezra touched his arm hesitantly and I suddenly looked at the youngest member of our team with new eyes.
He'd known where all the gay sites were on the Internet and he'd matter-of-factly signed me onto one that needed registration. It hadn't even occurred to me that he might have leanings that way. But then, it was all so new to me that I hadn't had any mind to spare from worrying about Ezra. Now, I put it all together and caught up to where Ez' already was.
"Shows, huh?" He shrugged and cast a quick look at the tall man who was playfully wrestling with Josiah. "Never going to happen in a million years but ..." he sighed, "I guess I'll come to terms with it eventually."
"Don't be so quick, J.D. He goes out with the pretty ladies but he always comes home to you." I said gently while brushing off the last of the snow from Ezra's shoulders. Then I motioned for both of them to the other side of the big old pine. "Now, here's the plan."
And it worked too. Buck was eyeing us when we came around the tree together but Chris distracted him for a vital moment and pretty soon he was buried under about a ton of snow from the tree he'd been standing under. Our aim was impeccable and in the free-for-all that followed, Ezra made sure that J.D. was the one who ended up on top of the ladies' man.
Now that my eyes were opened, I could see the gentle way that Buck handled the kid and the kind of sad look in the deep blue eyes whenever they looked at him. And suddenly, I wanted to play matchmaker for them. I was so happy that I wanted everyone else to be happy too.
Peace was declared. Eventually. And we all trooped back to the house for hot cocoa and popcorn. Ezra's eyes were drooping and I could see that the long day had tired him. He hardly protested at all when I asked Chris if he would mind if we used the guestroom for a nap. Nathan took his pulse and listened to his heart before sending us off. We'd all used the spare bedroom at least once and I had fond memories of sleeping here after the whole Munson deal.
I tucked Ezra in after taking off his shoes. Then I rubbed little circles on his temples while he smiled and fell asleep. He's so beautiful when he's all relaxed like that and he looks like the angel that he calls me. Once he was safely asleep, I went outside to check on the rocker. The storage shed had solar panels that kept it powered for electricity and I'd flipped the small heater on to keep it at fifty degrees so's the stripper would keep on working.
The old apron protected me from splatters and I scraped off the first two layers of ugly paint. Not too surprisingly, Buck joined me after a few minutes and we each took a side, working silently together until we had to upend the rocker to get the bottom rungs and rockers. I wondered if I should say something to him about J.D. but I'm not much good with words and I didn't want to spook him.
"You okay, Vin? That's a man-sized frown on your face." He spoke kind of tentative like.
"I'm fine, Buck. Just thinking about something that I'm not sure about." I got out the stripper and prepared to slather on the next coat. "How do you feel about Ezra and I?"
He chuckled and began cleaning up the scrapers. "You look real good together, Vin. He's loosening up just fine and you're smiling more than I've ever seen you. To tell the truth, I'm kind of envious."
I smiled at him, pleased that he could tell me that straight to my face. "I've never been so happy, Buck. It's like he fits all the empty places that I had inside of me, filling me up with love. He wasn't treated too good by those he loved before." My knuckles turned white on the brush while I fought down the anger that flooded me at the thought of Tyler Brown. "In fact, there's an old score to be settled with an asshole who hurt him real bad."
His eyes narrowed. "What's his name and why do we need to kill him?"
I took a deep breath, which was a mistake with all the fumes in there. The cough started and wouldn't hardly stop until Buck threw open the door and let some of the chill air in. "Th-thanks. Let's get this finished and head inside before we gas ourselves to death."
He nodded and we tidied up, leaving everything in its proper place. I'd scrape off this coat before we headed home then I'd have to come back in a couple of days to finish the job. But Ezra would be with me and that would make our trip out fun. Maybe we'd even get to go riding like we'd talked of. Buck shortened his stride to mine while we walked back to the house and I debated whether or not I should tell him about Brown.
It was a private part of Ezra's life that I was pretty sure he wouldn't want to share with anyone but me. "Buck, it's private but I may need a little help once I find him. I'll let you know."
"Okay, but if you need to talk, I'm here for both of you." His eyes still had that sad look in them and I spoke up before I could stop myself.
"How about you, Buck? Anything you want to talk about?"
He looked real startled at me and I could see that devil-may-care mask slip into place. "Nope, Junior, I'm just fine. Never better. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, no reason. I'm going to go check on Ezra." I just smiled at him and slipped down the hall to wash my hands first. He was still asleep and I knelt by the bed so I could watch him. A lock of that silky dark hair had fallen onto his forehead and when I brushed it back, he smiled and leaned into my hand.
Silly, but that innocent little gesture told me more than anything else that he trusted me on a level even deeper than he might realize during his waking moments. And I vowed to him silently that he'd never regret loving me or letting me love him. My fingers slid through the waves that persisted no matter how much he tried to smooth them out. He sighed gently and I couldn't help but lean up to kiss him softly.
The sleepy whisper hardened me instantly. "Hey, Sleeping Beauty, I guess those kisses really do work."
He chuckled and reached up to bring my mouth back to his. Ezra always tasted good but right then, he tasted of that ambrosia he'd told me about. When he drew me up onto the bed on top of him, I felt an answering hardness at his groin. I wasn't quite sure about the etiquette of making love in somebody else's house but I was willing to find out.
"Vin, I don't know if we should be doing this in Mr. Larabee's guest room." He stopped me with his hesitant whisper while I was investigating the sensitive patch of skin at the hollow of his throat.
"I locked the door behind me when I came in." I said hopefully and he chuckled again.
"Why then I believe that we should partake of our pleasure, Vin. But I need to see a little more of you." His pout went straight to my heart.
So I got up and slowly stripped away my clothes while I watched his eyes go hot and sultry. And that made me feel ten feet tall. But once I was naked, I pounced on him and stripped him bare. The feel of skin against skin slowed us to a leisurely exploration and he showed me another variation when he got us turned around so we could pleasure each other at the same time.
He tasted better than popcorn and I drank him down like my favorite Coors when he released into my eager mouth. He was trembling all over and I hugged him close and waited for him to come back to me. I could wait until then for my own release, licking the sweat slick skin of his inner thighs to make sure I didn't miss anything.
A wet tongue licking my balls told me that he was ready to torment me some more and he pushed me onto my back so he could hold me down while he returned my teasing touches until I was in a fever of need. Biting my hand so I didn't make any noise, I finally burst deep in his throat. He cleaned my cock with his tongue with the same fervor that I'd felt a few moments earlier.
"I can truthfully say that I've never enjoyed a visit to this ranch more." His wondering voice made me laugh out loud and I squirmed around until I could taste his lips. We kissed for a long time until I noticed that he was shivering.
"Hey, Ez', why don't we get dressed and go sit out by the fire?"
"Good idea, Vin. Don't you have to clean off the stripper from your rocker?" He looked all tousled propped up on one elbow and I thought about how much I loved seeing that satisfied look in his eyes.
"Did that while you were sleeping, Ez'. Buck helped me scrape off the top two coats. Right now it's a really gross orange, probably from the seventies. We'll scrape off that layer before we go home." I told him and watched his eyes go wide before he looked at the bedside clock.
"I slept for two hours?"
"Yep, you sure did. And if that's Josiah's chili that I can smell, you woke up just in time for dinner." I rolled out of bed and held out my hand to him, pulling him upright and close to me. Stealing another kiss, I felt him smile and knew that he was happy.
"Vin, I believe that I will have a very hard time to keep from smiling at dinner." He slid his hands around my waist.
"Me too, Ez'. The others will be jealous." I searched and found the clothes that I'd flung every which way in my hurry to get naked. "Here's your pants, Ezra. Where are your boxers?"
"The last I saw of them was," he was kneeling by the bed and he bent over to fish for them while I quietly lusted after those firm white cheeks he was mooning me with. "Here they are. Oh."
He turned and saw my lustful look, blushing and dropping his eyes. I never wanted him thinking that he'd done something wrong when it came to loving me so I pulled him up and into my arms for a kiss. I love the way he opens to me right away as if he can't hardly wait to taste me. Both our cocks decided to wake up a bit and I loved the way they slid together, like they were made for each other.
"Oh, Vin, I do love you." Those green eyes of his were filled with wonder and I felt real proud that I was the one who made him look like that.
"I love you too, Ezra. Don't you ever doubt that. Now, we better get dressed before I'm forced to find out if Chris keeps lubricant in the guest bathroom." I watched for his blush and he didn't disappoint me. But his eyes danced for me and I knew that I'd be chastised most severely once we were safe at home.
Home. I was thinking of Ezra's place as home. Funny how that happened right out of the blue. I found myself dressed while still thinking about how amazing that was. Life sure does have a way of surprising you sometimes. Ez' was dressed as well and was waiting patiently for me to come back to him.
"Sorry, Ezra, but I just realized that I think of your place as home now." I grinned at him and his eyes lit up.
"Vin, where ever you are, that's where my home will always be." His southern drawl flowed like honey over my hearing and I just couldn't resist pulling him into my arms for another kiss.
But a knock at the door interrupted us and I had a flash of unease that was echoed in Ezra if the frown line between his eyes was any indication. "Vin?"
"Be right with you, Chris." I let Ezra go reluctantly and wondered for a moment if the heater in the shed had started a fire or something. Three long paces and I had the door open to find Chris frowning real bad. "What's up?"
"Officer Logan had police dispatch call here. He discovered a fire in your apartment building. It looks real bad. They said it was a code five."
I heard Ezra exclaim from beside me while all the time I was thinking about the photo album that I'd taken over to Ezra's. It would have been toast if he hadn't had that premonition. He was thinking about that too when I looked at him so I found a smile and kissed him gently.
"Guess you're right, Ez'. Home is where you are." Then I turned back to Chris. "Anybody hurt?"
"Didn't say. But we should probably get over there to see what's what." He was back to being the team leader who planned ahead and took care of the details. "The other guys are ready to go. We're taking my truck and Josiah's van."
And just like that, we were on our way to Purgatorio. Officer Logan had been right. It was bad. Chris flashed his ATF badge and got to the fire chief while I found Mrs. Gomez and her kids safe and sound with Sister John of the Sisters of Mercy. With them was 80 year old Mr. Frick, minus his hearing aid with Sister Jimenez hollering into his good ear. All the neighbors were present and accounted for except for 78 year old Mrs. Silk who'd breathed some smoke and already been taken to Denver General.
It could have been a lot worse. None of us had many material possessions but little Rosa Gomez was crying quietly because her teddy bear had burned up. I'd bought twelve of them for the Sisters to give out at Christmas and I made a mental note to replace hers as soon as possible.
Ezra stood by my side through out the whole grim process. I could feel him supporting me while I watched the building that had been home for four years burn to the ground. You would have thought that all the snow that had fallen in the last month would have helped put it out but there wasn't enough snow in the whole world to put out those greedy flames. The firemen weren't even trying anymore, just hosing down the side buildings to keep them from catching fire too.
"Son, there's nothing more we can do here." Josiah's comforting rumble and gentle hand on my shoulder broke into my confused thoughts. "Why don't you let Chris take you and Ezra home? I brought my chili with us and the good Sisters are going to feed everyone at their Mission before putting them to bed."
"Yeah, that would be good." I knew that there wasn't anything more I could do but it felt wrong to just turn my back on what remained of the building. "Ezra?"
"We'll heat up something at home, Vin." He was right there, the way he always was for me. "Tomorrow will be soon enough to worry about the rest of it. Let's go home, Vin."
I just nodded. Taking a last look at what had once been home, I let Josiah and Ezra lead me back to the black truck and Chris. It was a short trip but I kept a hold of Ez's hand the whole way. I didn't know why it felt so hollow inside of me. It was just a place like any other place that I'd lived in for the last 28 years. Maybe it was shock or remorse or guilt that I had someplace else to go while my neighbors didn't.
I just knew that there was an empty spot inside of me that needed filling.
We were quiet the whole way up in the elevator and into the apartment. I could still smell the stink of smoke in my hair. This time it was my turn to shiver and not be able to stop but Ezra was right there to hold me. He rocked me in his strong arms while I rested my head on his shoulder and held onto him with all my strength.
"I know it hurts, Vin but I'm so grateful that you weren't there when it happened or I might have lost you." His whisper went straight to my heart. "Let's shower away the smell then I'll feed you some of my favorite soup."
I managed a nod and he led me into the bathroom. We stripped hurriedly and he bundled the clothes up and disappeared for a moment before returning. The water was hot and slowly but surely the smoky smell faded, especially once he soaped my hair with his strong fingers. He massaged my scalp until I was purring for him. He liked that and when I opened my eyes, I caught his beautiful smile.
"You are just a big old cat, Vin." He rinsed me carefully, making sure that no soap got into my eyes and I felt tears well at his caring touch.
"Love you, Ezra, so much."
"And I love you, my angel Vin. Now, let's get dry. It's my turn to bring you dinner in bed." He turned off the water and we dried off before pulling on the robes that hung on the back of the door.
The apartment was still really warm and I welcomed the too hot air while little shivers raced all over me. My brain told me that was just the aftereffects of shock but my skin was rippling all over and I stayed as close to Ezra as I could get, wrapping my arms around him while he heated up some soup from the freezer in the microwave. He hummed while he worked and I soaked up the sound like it was the air I needed to breathe.
We ate the soup and oyster crackers in bed, sharing a big bowl and feeding each other every other bite. Ezra left briefly to take the dirty dish away and move the clothes from the washer to the drier. Then he slid under the covers with me and I had him skin to skin. It felt like heaven to feel his wiry curls against my almost hairless chest. He was kissing me everywhere with soft sucking kisses that branded me with his mark.
I needed that, needed to know that I was his and he'd never let me go. Reaching a long arm over to the bedside table, I grabbed the tube of lubricant and pressed it into his hand. He looked hard at me but I nodded and flipped up the cap. Ezra's eyes went that sultry green that told me that I was going to be loved into the mattress.
And I was.
He was so careful, stretching me wider and wider until the empty spot inside of me spasmed open and took him in. His cock slid inside of me like he'd never been away and I groaned at how good he felt. I liked this position even better than the side-by-side one. Ezra was real slow with his thrusts and pretty soon I was burning hotter than the fire we'd just come from. I was panting at the pain/pleasure and when I flexed around him, he caught his breath and speeded up.
He burned me right down to the ground and I pulsed out my seed all over his stomach and mine. His weight anchored me to the bed and even though my arms felt like they had weights attached, I still held him to me. I wasn't ever letting go. His soft lips ghosted over my skin and his tongue lapped the sweat from the hollow at the base of my throat.
"Love you, Vin. Thank you for loving me." His murmur was so soft that I almost didn't hear him.
"Love you, too. Loving you just keeps getting better, Ezra." I traced his spine with my fingers and he arched up into them like the cat he'd compared me to. "I'm thinking that when we get our new place we better go looking for a watch-cat to guard it."
"A watch-cat?" He raised his head to look at me.
"Sure, with both of us being cats, we'd just confuse a poor old dog." I said innocently.
He snorted once before burying his head in my shoulder and beginning to laugh. I grinned to myself and went back to smoothing his spine. But when I slid them over those beautiful ass cheeks of his, he hiccuped and wiggled. That was enough to push him all the way out of me and we both groaned. But he rolled me over to check my entrance, laying a little kiss there when he found no blood.
"Rest right there while I get something to clean us up." He kissed my shoulder and I watched him walk gracefully out of the room, thinking how very lucky I was.
Flexing my inner muscles, I pondered why something that hurt could also feel good. Being connected to Ezra through his flesh wasn't something I'd ever thought about but I liked it. I liked it a lot and I wanted it again. But I also liked being inside of him. Just thinking about that had my cock thinking about rising again. Chuckling to myself, I reached down a hand to gently touch myself, imagining that my fingers were Ezra's muscles flexing around me.
"Oh, that's the most beautiful sight I've ever seen." Ezra stood in the doorway with a wet cloth in one hand. "Vin, you're my very own Apollo, come to Earth."
"Godlike, huh?" I grinned and held out my hand. "Then you must be Hermes. Ma always said that the god of messengers was a southern gentleman."
He laughed out loud and joined me on the bed. "More than ever, Vin, I wish I could have met your mother. She must have been a great lady."
"She was, Ez'. And she would have liked you. I think she had as many stories inside of her as you do." I stretched all over while he cleaned my stomach. His touch soon had me wiggling and he threw the washcloth onto the bedside table before handing me the lube.
"My turn, Vin, give me your strength and gentleness." He lay down beside me and shot me a heated look that could only be called 'come-hither'.
And just like that, I was hard as a rock. So I knelt between his legs and leaned in to taste him while he shivered and clutched the sheet. Getting him ready was fun but soon he was on his hands and knees, pleading with me to come inside. Sliding into him isn't like anything else in the world. The room, the apartment ... hell, the whole city disappears and leaves just the two of us.
I might have lost an apartment but never my home. Wherever Ezra was, that was home and always would be. I was the luckiest man in the whole world because Ezra loved me. Ma was right, home is where your heart is.
End part fourteen