In last week's chapter of In Pieces, Ryan got quite a shock in the form of the stepbrother he hadn't seen in ten years. What is he doing here? What's going on? Coincidence...or much more? See what's happening in this week's chapter. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
In Pieces #6 (3.1)
He hadn’t fainted since he was a kid, and even then it was due to the heat, not this unexpected rush of emotions that had overwhelmed him at the sight of Ben. How embarrassing. His only saving grace was he hadn’t fallen on the floor and cracked his skull open. Ben must have caught him going down, and somehow he’d managed to end up cradled securely in his long lost stepbrother’s arms. Ben wore a bemused expression as Ryan drank in the sight of him after having been separated for so long.
Ryan had always thought Ben was possessed of an ethereal beauty, even as a teenager, but now he couldn’t help but notice the young man he’d become was breathtaking. Ben’s once curly blond hair hung in luxuriant waves to his shoulders, streaked with ice blue and mauve strands that only served to accentuate his eyes, as did the subtle application of guyliner. Ben had just begun to dabble with makeup as a teen. He would situate Ryan in front of him with a handheld mirror while he experimented with different shades of eye shadow and blush, asking Ryan’s opinion at every step. Looked as though he’d perfected the art since then. A hint of peach blush on his high cheekbones matched the gloss on his Cupid’s bow lips.
There were so many things Ryan was dying to know, things he wanted to say, questions he needed to ask. He didn’t even know where to begin. “Ben,” was all he managed to get out. Ineffectual much?
“Of all the gin joints,” Ben prompted him with a roguish grin.
Ryan had to laugh in spite of himself. “I know, right? I can’t believe you’re here… after all this time…I mean, what are the odds?”
“Pretty good, actually,” Ben said mysteriously. “C’mon, let’s get you on your feet. Think you can stand?”
“Well yeah…. I think… I mean…”
Without warning, Ben leaned down and laid a soft kiss on Ryan’s forehead. Ryan’s thoughts dissipated instantly. He had no idea what he’d been about to say as he found himself gently lifted into a vertical position. Only then did he remember they were not alone. In fact, they had an audience of two very interested bystanders. Aiden was grinning broadly, but Abby’s expression was enigmatic, her eyes hooded.
“Wow, Ben, looks like you made quite an impact on our writer,” Aiden said. “Just think if you could do that with whole audiences.”
“I can and I will,” Ben said, never missing a beat.
Ryan was more confused than ever. He looked from one to another, his brain working to catch up with the evidence before him. These three obviously knew each other, coupled with the fact that Ben was even here, they were all here… everything began to fall into place.
“You’re with the group?” he asked. “You’re with Salvation?”
“Of course he is,” Aiden answered quickly. “Ben’s the heart of Salvation, I assumed you knew that. What were you thinking? How do you even know Ben?”
Ryan couldn’t speak, staring at Ben, open-mouthed. Ben… his Ben… a part of the very same group that hired him? After ten long years, surely that was no coincidence.
Ben fielded the question for him. “Of course Ryan and I know each other. He’s my stepbrother. C’mon, let’s get back to Cameron’s place. He’s waiting for us, and you know how he feels about being kept waiting. Grab Ryan’s bags, will you?”
Not waiting for an answer, he slid a protective arm about Ryan’s waist. Ryan was amazed at the strength in that slender limb.
“I’d ask if you were surprised, but I think that’s obvious,” Ben said as they made their way through the terminal.
Ryan was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that Ben was here, and not only that, he was part of the band which was Ryan’s new employer. Which meant he was working for Ben, didn’t it? “Shocked might be a better word,” he admitted. “I think this gives coincidence a whole new meaning.”
As they reached a bank of elevators, Ryan assumed Aiden and Abby were following them, but his attention and his focus were all given to Ben. He didn’t dare look away, afraid if he did, Ben might disappear again.
“This is no coincidence,” Ben said. Before Ryan could ask him what he meant, an elevator dinged open. “Hold that thought,” Ben said softly. He turned toward Aiden and Abby, who’d just caught up with them. “Where you parked?”
“In Short Term,” Aiden replied.
“Ryan and I are gonna take a cab,” Ben said. “Catch up on old times. Meet you at Cameron’s.”
Abby seemed less than pleased at Ben’s words, but she didn’t say anything. She was holding Ryan’s carry-on bag, which he’d completely forgotten about, so flustered was he at seeing Ben, while Aiden had his suitcase. She practically thrust the smaller bag into Ryan’s chest. He grabbed it quickly before it could fall.
“C’mon Aid, let’s go back to the house. I feel the need for a drink, what about you?”
“Ab-so-fucking-lutely,” Aiden agreed. He winked at Ryan and Ben. “Catch you back there,” he said, following his sister into the elevator. The doors shut and they were quickly lost from view. Ryan turned toward Ben expectantly.
“I knew who you were when I chose you, Ryan. It’s good to have you back again.” He pressed their lips together softly, taking Ryan by surprise. Not that he fought against it, either, reveling in the feel of Ben’s mouth on his. All too soon, the kiss ended, and Ben stepped back, his eyes giving nothing away, although Ryan longed to know what he was thinking and feeling.
“Let’s go,” Ben said, and then Ryan was following Ben out to the taxi stand, and whatever moment they’d just had passed.
to be continued
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