Great Restorations - 21. Chapter 21
Chapter The Last. Also...
Chapter warning: Sexual content
HIS homecoming didn‘t exactly go as planned. For one, Marc‘s phone beeped as they turned into the driveway, the display flashing a 911 text message from Rick. Call me.
Secondly, his mother was sitting on the front steps, skirt tucked around her legs, hands folded in her lap. Her hair had been tied back with a dark purple scarf, though several long strands had come free to blow in the wind. Sawyer didn‘t say a word as he pulled in, but his mouth thinned into a tight line.
Marc kept his eyes on Maggie as he dialed Rick‘s number. “What‘s wrong?”
Rick‘s voice held the same edge of anger it had during the confrontation at breakfast. “I‘m at your aunt‘s house,” he said.
The conversation spun out in front of him, and Marc suddenly knew, without asking, the reason for the phone call. “Don‘t make me have to bail you out of jail later.”
“Would I do that to you? And ruin your special afternoon plans? Just wanted to let you know he‘s leaving with his suitcases, but without the boxes he was trying to load into his car.”
Marc rubbed his eyes, trying to soothe the headache blooming behind them. “Any idea what he was trying to take?”
“No idea. You can check later. I stacked them in the foyer.”
Marc drew a deep breath, sensing another small part of his life put to peace. “Thanks, Rick.”
“It was my pleasure, boss.” Marc had known Rick long enough to hear the evil pleasure in his voice. He was enjoying himself, perhaps a little too much.
“I think he‘s harmless, but just in case, don‘t turn your back on him,” Marc warned.
“I almost want to, you know? Maybe he‘ll give me an excuse to beat the crap out of him.”
“Yeah.” Marc‘s attention had wandered during the call. Now it returned to Maggie. “But I‘m asking you nicely. Let it go.”
Rick‘s answering silence meant he was at least considering it. His subsequent put-upon sigh meant Marc had won. “Fine. But I‘m hanging out for a while. Just in case he comes back.”
“If you want.”
Marc ended the call and tossed his phone on the seat. “Everything‘s fine,” he said to Sawyer‘s unspoken concern. “Rick took it upon himself to make sure my father didn‘t take any souvenirs with him.”
Sawyer grunted. “Rick‘s one step ahead of me.”
“Me too.” Which made him uncomfortable. Anticipating Jonathon‘s next move hadn‘t occurred to him. He‘d been too busy savoring his relief and satisfaction. As well as his plans for the afternoon with Sawyer. He wanted something from him that he’d put off for far too long.
On the porch steps, Maggie rose to her feet. The late autumn breeze whipped at her skirt and hair. Marc frowned when he saw her wrap her arms around herself. “Be right back,” he said.
“I‘ll be here,” Sawyer assured him. He trailed a finger over Marc‘s cheek. “Take your time.”
It was physically painful to climb out of the car. His joints ached and fatigue had taken hold again. How unfair, yet predictable, that facing his mother made him feel like an old man. Her sad, tentative smile did little to alleviate the nervousness that was making his stomach roll.
Why wouldn‘t these cravings leave him? Time after time, his mother had hurt him. His longing for her had been painful, and his resentment peppered with hope for too long. He needed to let go. Get angry, if that‘s what it took to banish her.
But was it really productive, or even fair, to be angry? The truth was, he didn‘t even know his mother. Whatever motivations or reasons or even regrets she kept close to her heart were a mystery to him. His was still a child‘s anger, a child‘s hope. But he hadn‘t been a child for a long time.
It was past time to let go.
He stepped away from the truck, strength flowing back with every step. Maggie stepped down onto the grass to meet him, and Marc‘s pace faltered for one heart-wrenching moment when he saw her swollen, bloodshot eyes.
She noticed his frown. “Oh, don‘t mind me,” she said with a nervous laugh. “I‘ve always been a weepy sort of girl. I have trouble… well, that‘s not important, is it?” She pressed both palms to her cheeks, then pushed back her loose locks of hair. The move accentuated her gauntness, and for the first time Marc didn‘t let emotion color his vision. He reached out. Surprise flickered through his mother‘s pale eyes, but she took his hand.
“You‘re so thin.” He‘d wanted to say it differently, or maybe he‘d wanted it to mean something he couldn‘t verbalize, but Maggie tilted her head, acknowledging his words, and after that, it didn‘t seem necessary.
“I lead a very active life, Marc. Sometimes I think it might be time to slow down, but then there are other things that need to be done, more people who need me, and I‘m off and running again.” She laughed, the same soft, lilting sound that Marc remembered from his childhood. “It suits me, this thing your father and I do.” A gust of wind rushed past, and she lifted her face to it, inhaling deeply. “I didn‘t want to presume anything,” she said, “so I waited, hoping you‘d come.”
Puzzled, Marc cocked his head, and Maggie inclined hers toward the house. “I‘d love to have a look around inside, if you don‘t mind. I know you think I‘m crazy, and probably not entitled, but—” She sifted her hand through the wildflowers blooming by the steps. “―I‘d just like to see it. One more time.”
Curiously comfortable with the request, Marc led her up the steps to the door.
“Oh, my!” Maggie laughed and turned a circle in the foyer. “It‘s fancier than I remember.”
Marc looked too, trying to see what she did. “I‘ve been working on it.” A thorough understatement, but the situation called for one.
Maggie pointed to the set of stairs curling up the wall to the second floor. “I remember when you tumbled down those. One second you were playing quietly, and the next you were gone off the blanket and climbing the steps. Oh!” She covered her face. “I screamed so loud I think the neighbors down the road heard me.”
Having no idea what to say, Marc shrugged.
Maggie didn‘t speak again for another few minutes. Marc considered filling the silence, but the tears falling down his mother‘s face kept him quiet. “I made a mistake,” Maggie whispered. “Leaving you.” The tears spilled faster. “I made so many mistakes. Oh, Marc. I‘m so sorry.”
Marc waited. Surely he‘d feel something soon. If not forgiveness, then at least pity. This is the scene he used to dream about, the one he‘d convinced himself he wanted. But he felt nothing, not even a hitch in his heartbeat, and he realized… I’ve won. He‘d beaten it. He wasn‘t the needy boy she‘d left behind. He was no longer lost or alone.
He was free.
“Can you forgive me?” Maggie sobbed, reaching to touch his face. “Can you ever forgive me?”
“I don‘t know.” He covered her hand, then gave her fingers a brief squeeze before stepping back. “I‘ll try.” That, at least, he could promise.
A horn sounded outside. Maggie drew back, brushing at her tears. “You‘ve done well for yourself, sweetheart. I want you to know that I am very, very proud of you.”
His throat closed. Apparently his walls weren‘t as thick as he thought. “Thanks,” he choked.
Maggie smiled, but she didn‘t try to touch him again. “Goodbye, Marc. I hope we see each other again someday. Soon.”
“Me too,” he whispered.
She walked to the front door, and he followed a few steps behind. A dark car he didn‘t recognize idled in front of the house, green rental sticker affixed to the rear windshield. Jonathon sat behind the wheel. On the other side of the driveway, Sawyer was leaning against the front of his SUV, glaring at him.
Perhaps sensing the volatility of the situation, Maggie hurried down the steps and got in. Jonathon slammed the car into gear and it jumped forward, spitting gravel. Maggie turned to wave as they drove away. Transfixed by the sight, Marc jumped when a pair of arms circled him.
Sawyer pulled him close, cradling him tight to his chest, and pressed a kiss to his temple. “You okay?”
“Yeah. I‘m okay.”
“Ready to go in?”
The somber moment was fading as quickly as the dust kicked up by Jonathon‘s car. Marc couldn‘t say he felt as carefree as he had when they‘d left the diner, but his mind seemed determined to shake off the painful scene with his mother.
“Yeah.” He took Sawyer‘s hand. “More than ready.”
The door was still standing open. Marc closed it behind them, then led the way toward the stairs. Sawyer wanted to speak—Marc could tell by the way he hung back, biting his lip. Marc shook his head and pulled. A brief, silent tug of war ensued, and then Sawyer gave in. Marc was grateful he didn‘t put up more of a fight. The time had come to put an end to the waiting and the uncertainty. He was positive of his course and didn‘t want to have to defend it. It boosted his confidence that Sawyer sensed that.
Sawyer paused at the door to the bedroom while Marc walked inside. “Expecting any more visitors today?”
“I sure as hell hope not.”
“So—” Sawyer clasped the doorknob. “Open or closed?”
Marc didn‘t even have to think about it. “Open.” He kicked his shoes off.
That put a smile on Sawyer‘s face. He swung the door wide, then crossed the room in three strides and grabbed Marc by the waist. “Let me help you with that.” A moment later, Marc‘s shirt landed next to his shoes. Poised for the next attack, Marc couldn‘t hide his surprise when Sawyer dropped his hands to his sides. “Actually, It‘s been a crazy couple of days,” he said. “There‘s no rush.”
Marc‘s answer was to reach between them and work Sawyer‘s jeans open. “Yeah,” he said, pushing them over Sawyer‘s hips. “I know.”
Still, Sawyer hesitated. Endearing, but Marc‘s need had progressed far beyond hand-holding. Boldly, he slipped his hands into the front of Sawyer‘s briefs. His fingers brushed hard heat, and Sawyer tipped his head back with a groan.
Just to show that expectations were dangerous things, Sawyer didn‘t proceed as Marc expected. Accepting rather than aggressive, he stepped back and stripped off the rest of his clothes, not once breaking eye contact. Naked, he lowered himself to the bed, then scooted backward and spread out across the sheets.
Marc drank him in, forgetting for the moment he could do so much more than look. Until Sawyer beckoned him closer. It took three tries, but Marc‘s fingers finally managed the button on his pants. He didn‘t waste any time; he pushed them down and off in one movement.
“Jesus,” Sawyer said, moving restlessly on the bed, one hand straying to his cock. “Look at you. Come here.”
This time when Sawyer held out his hand, Marc didn‘t hesitate. He climbed up and over the mattress, throwing one leg over Sawyer‘s thighs. His hands shook at the feel of warm skin under his fingertips. It felt right, having Sawyer beneath him like this, waiting to be touched. Sawyer‘s chest rose and fell with sharp breaths, but he waited, arms crossed behind his head while Marc took the lead. When Marc moved his fingers lower to play over Sawyer‘s cock for the first time, Sawyer squeezed his eyes shut and tipped his head back.
“Is this okay?” Marc asked, only half kidding.
Sawyer‘s throat bobbed as he nodded.
Marc didn‘t feel like being gentle, and there was nothing tender about the way he closed his fist around Sawyer. They‘d done their share of slow and explorative, and there‘d be more of that to come. What he needed now was something more visceral. He released Sawyer‘s cock, ignoring his huff of disappointment, and curled over his chest. “Sawyer?”
“Yeah?” Sawyer asked, eyes screwed shut.
Sawyer‘s eyes flew open. “Uh… I think maybe—”
Marc thumped Sawyer’s chest. “Stop treating me like a china doll and do what I ask. Unless you don‘t want to,” he added, suddenly uncertain.
All the warning he got was a flash in Sawyer‘s eyes, then he was tumbling over onto the pile of blankets. The laughter bubbling up his throat never made it past his lips. Sawyer stretched over him, pressing down with all his weight, squeezing the air from Marc‘s lungs in more ways than one. “Okay,” was all he said before he attacked.
Sawyer‘s mouth crashed across Marc‘s, clumsy and sloppy. He retreated when Marc twisted away to grab shallow breaths but returned each time with the same unrelenting passion. Through it all, he rolled his hips in tight, maddening circles until Marc quivered beneath him.
The pressure in Marc‘s cock had turned into a throbbing ache. “Come on,” he urged when the kisses grew gentler. He wiggled until his legs were sprawled open with Sawyer‘s trapped between them. “I‘m waiting.”
Sawyer took the words to heart. The feral look in his eyes sent a chill down Marc‘s spine. “Yeah, I bet you are,” Sawyer growled. His eyes strayed to the nightstand, then back to Marc, and Marc nodded.
“Yeah. In there.”
Sawyer was in the drawer before Marc had finished speaking. He emerged with the lube, frowned, then tossed it on the bed and rolled away.
Marc grabbed for him, but missed. “Where are you going?”
Stumbling to where he‘d left his jeans, Sawyer extracted his wallet from the pocket. Credit cards and cash spilled to the floor as he fumbled it open. He ignored them, pulled a condom from somewhere deep inside, and stalked back to the bed.
Marc blinked at it. “Do we—?”
“Yes. We do.” Sawyer tempered his harsh response with a kiss. “For now,” he added, stretching out beside Marc. He held the condom up between them, the question plain on his face.
Marc plucked it from his fingers and ripped it open. “It‘s for you,” he whispered.
“Are you sure?”
“Please stop asking me that.”
A pleased smile teased at Sawyer‘s lips. He nodded once. “Okay.”
Yet he did nothing with it right away. Instead, he placed the packet aside and slid close, pulling one of Marc‘s legs between his. He started with more slow, deep kisses, leeching away the tension that had crept back during the interlude, and stroked one hand through Marc‘s hair while the other wandered over his chest.
Marc barely noticed when the hand moved to his thigh and pulled his legs wider, but when Sawyer‘s fingers pressed in, slippery and cool, he had to turn away from the kiss to suck in a breath.
Sawyer nuzzled his ear. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Marc answered.
It wasn‘t a new sensation. Marc had done the same to himself many times. But it had never been like this, with every touch a surprise, fingers delving deeper than he‘d ever managed himself. And he‘d never had Sawyer curled against him, whispering dirty things into his ear about how tight he was and how hot and how he couldn‘t wait to be inside. This was the gritty reality he‘d craved, but that his own hands and mind had never given him.
“Sawyer.” Marc fumbled around on the bed until his fingers brushed the condom. He scooped it up and slapped it to Sawyer‘s chest. “Please,” he said between Sawyer‘s nipping kisses.
Having Sawyer obey so readily was as intoxicating as the feel of his fingers in his body and the heated press of his cock against Marc‘s hip. Sawyer grabbed the condom and sat up, dragging one of the pillows with him. “Here, baby,” he said, pushing helpfully behind Marc‘s knees until his ass lifted off the mattress. He shoved the pillow beneath Marc‘s hips. “Better.” He freed the condom from its wrapper.
Marc watched him roll it on, entranced at how his face screwed up in concentration and his hands trembled just a little. “Don‘t hold back, okay?”
“Don‘t tell me what to do,” Sawyer barked, voice harsh. He pushed Marc‘s legs up and apart. “But don‘t worry. I don‘t think I have it in me to be gentle right now.”
But he didn‘t move, only stared downward at where they were about to be joined. The seconds ticked by, and a tendril of self-consciousness worked its way into Marc‘s lust-fogged brain. He shifted his hips, and Sawyer caught his breath, then raised his head. Despite his words, his eyes were wide with wonder, his gaze tender.
“Come on,” Marc whispered, raising a hand to Sawyer‘s cheek.
Sawyer ducked his head to swallow, whispering “Jesus Christ,” so softly that Marc nearly didn‘t make out the words. He remained frozen.
Enough was enough. Marc dropped his hands from Sawyer‘s shoulders, slung an arm behind each knee and pulled, stretching himself wide. It was all the encouragement Sawyer needed. Breath coming in uneven pants, he guided himself in.
Marc gritted his teeth. He‘d expected some discomfort, but the spike of pain made him arch off the bed. His hands fell from his legs to fist in the sheets. Sawyer‘s hand sank into his hair. “Easy, Marc. Breathe,” he said in a wavering voice.
Overwhelmed, Marc tried, falling back to the pillow and consciously unclenching muscles that had gone tight and unyielding. To his surprise, his body responded, and Sawyer groaned as he slid in. Panting, he wrapped his arms around Marc‘s thighs and pushed deeper. “Fucking Christ,” were his last words before he began to move.
Marc‘s eyes drifted closed. Drawing a deep breath was impossible, not that he had any intention of complaining. He felt Sawyer everywhere, inside and out. His toes tingled and his ears rang, but nothing compared to the delicious sensations shooting through his cock with each of Sawyer‘s thrusts.
He tightened his hands around the sheets when the urge to touch himself took hold. The hell if he‘d bring an end to this so soon. But the pleasure crawled under his skin, too intense to ignore, and his hand crept to his cock. He needed something. Some pressure. He held on tight, determined not to stroke himself, knowing it would be over as soon as he started.
Sawyer foiled him.
He shifted slightly and slammed back in, having the nerve to laugh when Marc cried out at the spike of pleasure. “Not holding back,” he echoed. “Because, Christ—” He thrust again, then again, picking up a punishing rhythm, “I don‘t think I can.”
At least Marc wouldn‘t be alone in his embarrassing lack of self-control. He didn‘t bother answering, even to nod. All that mattered was getting where he wanted and taking Sawyer with him. The pleasure tottered on the edge of pain, as intense as Marc had ever felt. He couldn‘t wait any longer.
His thighs were slippery with lube. Marc let go of his cock long enough to swipe a hand through the mess, then began the short, tight strokes he preferred, pumping fast. His balls tightened immediately. Fuck. He wasn‘t going to even last a minute. “Sawyer,” he breathed.
Sawyer understood the warning. Gasping, he leaned over Marc‘s chest, bracing himself on the bed and snapping his hips even faster, nearly matching Marc‘s speed.
In the end, Sawyer succumbed first, but only by a few seconds. He came with a roar, straining against Marc, pushing him deeper into the mattress, and Marc followed, his own orgasm rising and cresting with little warning to pulse between their sweat-soaked stomachs.
Dazed, he felt Sawyer release his legs and lower them carefully to the bed, and though he made a valiant effort to roll away, Marc didn‘t allow it. Sawyer acquiesced with a groan. After a few minutes, he pressed a kiss to Marc‘s damp brow and slid to the side, though he didn‘t wander any farther.
Marc waited for his heart to slow and his limbs to stop tingling. “Worth the wait?” he asked in a drowsy voice.
Sawyer bit his shoulder. “That‘s my line.”
“What‘s my line, then?”
“I think it goes… ‘That was incredible. Let‘s take a nap’,” Sawyer mumbled, eyes closed.
Marc shook with carefree laughter. He placed a kiss at the corner of Sawyer‘s mouth. “That was fucking incredible,” he whispered, laughing again when Sawyer grinned. “Let‘s take a nap.”
Sawyer made a blind grab for the blanket, coming up lucky on his first try. He tucked it around them. “I do love an idea man.” He curved an arm over Marc‘s chest and pressed close. “Now go to sleep.”
Marc closed his eyes.
IF ANYBODY was made for the spotlight, it was Bruce. Watching him work the crowd was something Marc would remember. His jokes skirted the edge of sexy—innuendo delivered with such slick precision that Marc couldn‘t help but admire it. Bruce didn‘t need the microphone to help carry his voice across the vast banquet hall, but he took advantage of it when necessary. The large, decorative podium did little to diminish his presence.
“People ask me all the time where I get my ideas,” he said after the audience‘s laughter had faded. “Everybody in a creative profession gets that question, right? What inspires us?” He glanced up over the top of his glasses. “I‘d tell you my secret, but I promised to keep my speech
“Impressive, isn‘t he?” Sawyer whispered in Marc‘s ear.
Marc shot him a look. What was impressive was Sawyer in a tux. The black tie against that pristine white shirt, not to mention the tailored dinner jacket that hugged his frame in all the right places, had already distracted Marc several times that evening. The first had been when Sawyer came sauntering out of their hotel suite‘s bathroom sporting suspenders and a pair of dress pants that made Marc‘s mouth go dry. He‘d sunk onto the bed and just looked.
Sawyer‘s predatory grin hadn‘t helped. He‘d jerked his chin at the cummerbund hanging limply in Marc‘s hands. “Need help with that?”
Arching an eyebrow, Sawyer smoothed his shirt over his stomach in playful challenge. “How do I look?”
“I‘d tell you, but I have a feeling you already know,” Marc answered, breathless.
“Come on, feed my ego.” Laughing, Sawyer approached the bed and slid between Marc‘s knees.
“Gladly.” Leaning forward, Marc nuzzled the smooth, black trousers, smiling when he felt Sawyer‘s body stir against his mouth.
Catching Marc‘s face in his hands, Sawyer groaned. “That‘s not exactly what I meant.”
“Liar. Do you want it or not?”
“We‘ll be late.” Not that that fact stopped Sawyer from fumbling with his belt and unzipping his fly. When he moved to ease the suspenders off his shoulders, Marc stopped him. “Leave those,” he said. “I like them.”
Despite Sawyer‘s dire predictions, they made it to the gala on time.
Hours later, the event was still going strong, but Marc barely remembered how he‘d passed the time. Sawyer had been glued to his side all night, looking like a god in that damn tuxedo, while Marc had spent most of the evening with his suit coat buttoned, doing his best to hide his erection.
A nudge to his ribs brought him back to the present. “This is it,” Sawyer said. He sprawled casually in his chair, one leg crossed over the opposite knee. “Your big moment.”
Nervousness fluttered in his stomach. It was Bruce‘s moment more than his, honestly, but to see the mill project finally brought to life… it had become his symbol. A rebirth of something vanquished, then brought back to life, infused with pride and hope and fresh perspective.
“You‘ll be happy to know the story behind this one is rated G,” Bruce continued. “This time I found my inspiration in a person. Someone who noticed a spark in a place where there hadn‘t been one before. He breathed life into something long dead. He made it useful. He made it beautiful. But most of all, he kept the spirit of its history alive.” Bruce spread his hands. “Is that not exactly what we‘ve been striving to do here for years? Rebuild our image? As well as something far more difficult: stay true to who we are.” He paused for a sip of water, winking when his eyes locked with Marc‘s across the room. “We aren‘t the flashiest city. Nor the wealthiest. Nor the most popular. But we have a history that defines us, one that‘s shaped our neighborhoods and communities, grounded our economy, influenced our children‘s education, and made us famous in our own right. Ladies and gentlemen, we need to stop reaching for what we aren‘t and embrace what we are… because it‘s something to be proud of.” Bruce raised his glass of water in a toast, eyes on Marc’s. “Thank you, Marc, for helping me see that.”
Sawyer clapped wildly along with the crowd. Feeling self-conscious, a sensation that hadn‘t plagued him in months, Marc sipped his wine.
Bruce scooped a remote off the podium and pressed a button. The lights dimmed, and on the stage behind him a large screen lit up, filling Marc‘s vision with a view of the city‘s waterfront. Abandoned, boarded up warehouses lined a shore littered with rusting barges. “Our riverfront today,” Bruce said.
He clicked to the next screen. A detailed drawing, similar to the one Bruce had shown Marc all those months ago, appeared. The audience gasped, then broke into more vigorous applause.
The mill stood front and center, more beautiful than Marc remembered and just as perfect. More details had been added to the depiction: two parks, one at the north shore and one at the south, as well as monuments, museums, and restaurants. Bruce pointed out the locations of tasteful shopping squares, topped with premium apartments and lofts.
“Our roots are still here, buried under one and a half centuries of waste and misuse. But—” Bruce held up a finger, then pointed behind him to the screen “―they‘re still alive. Sleeping. Not dead. Waiting for a great restoration. That is what the Riverfront Revitalization Project will do. Now….” He pushed his glasses higher on his nose and turned to the next page of his speech.
Marc felt a tug on his arm and turned to find Sawyer watching him. He leaned close when Sawyer crooked a finger. “Let‘s go get some air,” Sawyer said. “We‘ve heard this part.”
That was true. Bruce had spent the past two weekends in Edgewood, perfecting the details of his presentation in front of whoever would listen. Several times a day. “This is it, kittens,” he‘d said. “Time to impress the moneybags. Now stop yawning. You‘re giving me a complex.”
Not that this gave them an excuse to be rude. Marc frowned as Sawyer continued to pull on his sleeve. He shook his head.
Please? Sawyer mouthed, eyes wide and imploring. Marc‘s protests crumbled.
They waited until Bruce advanced to the next slide to make their escape. Although they‘d been seated near the front of the banquet hall, their table hugged the perimeter, feeding Marc‘s hope that few people noticed when they slipped away. Sawyer waited until they found each other in the shadows near the rear of the room, then led Marc through a set of glass doors onto the rooftop veranda.
Thunderstorms had moved through earlier, killing some of the midsummer heat and humidity. Marc took a deep breath, relishing the fresh, cool air. Sawyer walked ahead to the railing and stared off toward the river. Marc joined him, sliding an arm inside Sawyer‘s jacket and around his back. “Gorgeous night.”
“Not as gorgeous as it‘s going to be. I think this one‘s in the bag. Did you hear that applause?”
Downtown glittered, its thousands of lights reflecting off rain damp streets. The whole city looked like it was covered in diamonds. To the east, the waterfront stood dark and empty. Waiting. “I think you‘re right,” Marc said. “This time next year, the view will look a whole lot different.”
“It‘s already changed a lot, I think.”
Puzzled, Marc turned his attention from the skyline. “What has? The view from here?”
“No. The view from here,” Sawyer said, using a finger to trace Marc‘s eyelids.
“Oh.” Marc hummed when Sawyer‘s fingertips wandered over the shell of his ear, then across his neck. “That‘s putting it mildly,” he said, turning his face into Sawyer‘s cheek. The lingering scent of his aftershave sent his heart beating faster, as usual.
“Are you happy?” Sawyer whispered.
As questions went, the answer was easy, even if the journey hadn‘t been. Business was still good. His relationships were all intact. If some people didn‘t look him in the eye when they passed him on the street, then it was a small price to pay. He had Sawyer by his side, most days and every night. “Yes,” he said. “I‘m very happy.”
Sawyer stepped behind to wrap Marc in a snug embrace. He laid his chin on Marc‘s shoulder, and they stared across the city together. “Any big plans for this weekend?” he asked.
“Of course. On Saturday.” Sawyer‘s hands were warm and heavy across his chest. Marc covered them with his own.
“That‘s right,” Sawyer murmured. “Estate sale day.”
Marc nodded. Once a month. For May.
“Where are we starting?” Sawyer asked.
Marc fixed his eyes on the strip of riverfront beyond the press of bright buildings. “Wherever we want.”
I hope Marc and Sawyer’s story brought some escape and enjoyment. My thanks to everyone for reading, especially to those who reacted and commented. Formatting such an old story to post here took more work than I thought, and I realize there are things I missed along the way - quotation marks, paragraph breaks and the such. Thanks for overlooking those.
I’ll admit I was surprised at this story’s reception. I never really considered it groundbreaking, but it seems well-liked, which is heartening.
And maybe one day soon, I will feel inspired to go back to Edgewood. After all, there are still a few lonely people there who could use their own happy-ever-after….
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it.
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