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A snap and bright flash behind Saint’s closed eyes made him grunt. “You are not taking pictures of me while I’m trying to sleep.” Snap. Flash. “Fucker.” Annoyed he’d been awakened from a deep slumber, he tossed aside the sheet and rolled over. Saint smacked his own bare ass hard enough to leave a pink handprint. “Could at least get my good side.”
“Roll back over then.”
Saint gestured with his middle finger.
“You’re a sick bastard, you know that?”
“And you love it.” Snap. “And me.”
Saint pried his eyes open and waited until his vision cleared to look at the bedside clock. Nine in the morning. Only his sadistic boyfriend would have him up this early. He levered himself onto his side. Boyce stood near the bedroom door, camera in hand. Gloriously naked. In thirteen years, Saint had never tired of looking at Boyce. Never tired of his sense of humor. Or the way Boyce did his best to make sure everyone else was taken care of before him.
“Yeah, I guess I do love you. Lucky bastard.”
Boyce set the camera to the side and picked up two oversized mugs of steaming coffee. He crossed to the bed, sitting carefully on the edge as he held out one to Saint. “There are muffins in the kitchen. Ruth from the bakery said hello.”
Saint eyed Boyce as he carefully sipped the steaming liquid. Sweet and light. Just how he liked it. “I hope she gave you a hefty discount for gifting her with an eyeful of magnificent cock while you picked up breakfast.”
Boyce smirked. “She’s a lesbian.”
“So? I’ve seen that ass turn even the staunchest lesbian’s head.” Balancing his coffee on his knee, Saint leaned over and pressed a firm kiss to Boyce’s lips. Saint tasted the peppermint toothpaste Boyce preferred as their mouths met. When he pulled back, he noticed Boyce’s hair was still damp. Coffee. Shower. All signs someone hadn’t just crawled out of bed. “You’ve been up for a while.”
“Rough night.” Boyce’s voice had changed, dropping in pitch as he lowered his gaze to stare at his coffee.
Saint’s heart clenched tightly as his worry for the man flourished. Not again. He set their mugs on the nightstand before bundling Boyce in his arms. The fact Boyce sagged against him without argument spoke volumes. They’d dealt with what had happened two nights ago at Noble House as soon as Saint had gotten Boyce cleaned up and settled comfortably into bed. Saint had hoped by this point that night would all just be a horrible memory.
Wish in one hand. Piss in the other.
They’d spent yesterday in bed, sleeping and talking. Planning.
“Why didn’t you wake me?”
You were tired.” Boyce’s voice cracked. He cleared his throat, swallowing a few times before continuing. “No reason for both of us to be awake. I worked in the darkroom for a while. Had some work to finish up anyway. Didn’t really want to work, but have to generate income somehow. Have to pull my weight.”
Saint hated knowing that Boyce believed he wasn’t contributing. “How bad was it?”
“Pretty bad.” Boyce slipped his arms around Saint’s waist and pulled him tighter. “Worse than at Noble. The flash triggered something deep. Set something off. Every time I close my eyes right now, I think I’m back there.”
Something, some memory, Boyce had been repressing. Probably without even knowing he’d done it. The tightness in Saint’s chest grew. He understood the pain. The doubts and fears. Questioning everything.
Dealing with this kind of damage to someone’s psyche wasn’t foreign territory for Saint. His kid sister had been in and out of some of the best doctor’s offices and institutions in Atlanta with problems no one had been able to solve. Ultimately, she’d come to believe there was only one way out of her problems. Molly took her own life just days after Saint left for college.
Even years later, Saint still blamed himself for not being there for her more. Not doing…something. In an effort to better understand, he’d even taken some classes to learn what was going on inside someone’s mind. Maybe that was why he fought with Boyce so much about not being silent.
He wasn’t going to lose Boyce.
But no matter how much Saint insisted Boyce wake him up when the nightmares became too much to endure, Boyce refused to comply.
As much as it pained Saint to admit, he knew there would be no way to sway Boyce. To reassure him it was all right to fully lean on someone else once in a while. Saint had even threatened to whip Boyce. But he’d quickly learned that while most people cringed at the idea, Boyce welcomed it. Even used it as a means to divert his emotional scars so he wouldn’t have to deal with them.
Someday… Saint sighed, knowing what Boyce needed was a swift kick in the ass.
When Boyce tried to pull away, Saint locked their hands together. “Stay here for a little bit.”
“I need to finish up.”
They’d had this argument already. Several times over since the break at Noble House. Despite the fact Saint hadn’t agreed, Boyce insisted on watching the video Kochran had sent them after he’d pulled it from the night’s run.
Saint wanted it destroyed, hating its very existence. And he’d very nearly hacked into Kochran’s network to do the deed himself. But because of his experience with Molly, Saint knew part of the healing process for Boyce included dealing with the reality of what happened.
Of knowing exactly what he’d done.
Saint’s jaw still ached from the punch Boyce had been lucky enough to get past him.
And he still felt the slash over his heart from how Boyce had shut himself away after the video ended. After he’d discovered he’d physically lashed out at someone he loved. It took hours to break through the reinforced barrier Boyce had erected.
Saint accepted Boyce, emotional scars and all.
It was a shame Boyce hadn’t accepted them.
Because he loved Boyce, Saint would give him the space he needed. At least for a short time. Then he’d get right in Boyce’s face so they could deal with the problem head-on.
If it came to blows again, then so be it. They’d lace up the fucking boxing gloves and go twelve rounds. Whatever it took. Saint was willing to fight for the man he loved. And he would do whatever he needed to do in order to prove it.
Even if he had to walk around wearing bruises.
“Anything you need to finish can wait,” Saint stated firmly, moving so he was lying on top of Boyce. When Boyce’s cock stirred against Saint’s stomach, he knew this was the right path to take. “I think we’re both done talking this to death. Right?”
Boyce nodded, a slight smile curling up one side of his mouth. “Yeah. Think we can find other, more interesting things to do with our mouths.”