Ryan has barely begun his job, and is already being told what he can't do. What secrets lie behind Aiden's words? Will he run into other roadblocks? And when will he get the chance to tell Ben how he feels? See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
In Pieces #24 (7.4)
“Now I think I’m ready to face the day,” Ben said with a smile. “Has Aiden been cooperative?” His fingers lightly stroked along Ryan’s arm, but his glance was for Aiden.
“What? Oh yes, very much so,” Ryan quickly said. “He was just telling me how you met, and the other bands you’ve been in together.”
“Hey Ben, what was the name of that first band we were in?” Aiden asked. “You know, back in Frisco? I told Ryan it was something like Bad Vibrations, but I couldn’t remember for sure.”
“Not exactly.” Ben gave a little snort. “Harmonic Hazard. Should have been toxic hazard. Rowan was pure poison.”
“Yeah, he sure thought the sun rose and set on him, didn’t he? I wonder where he is now?”
“Probably serving five to ten somewhere,” Ben said lightly. His glance shifted back to Ryan. “Did you eat yet? I was going to get some breakfast, but I wanted to make sure you ate. Did you?”
Was that Ben’s way of changing the subject before it got to Prime Wisdom, and his mother? “Um, no, not yet,” Ryan admitted.
“I distracted him with a cup of coffee.” Ryan laughed. “And then we got to talking. Book stuff, you know. Trying to be helpful, like you told us to be.”
“Glad to hear it.” He glanced into Ryan’s cup. “Looks like you could use a refill. C’mon, let’s see what there is to eat.”
There was more Ryan wanted to know about the break-up of Prime Wisdom, and what Liza had to do with it, but he decided to wait. He wanted to know what he was dealing with before he broached the subject in front of Ben. He needed to gauge how potentially painful it might be, just in case.
“Sounds like a plan,” he agreed, following Ben inside. Just before he stepped through the doorway, Ryan turned on impulse to find Aiden watching them with a knowing look. Flushing, he forgot what he’d been about to say, and hurried after Ben, closing the door behind him.
The refrigerator was recessed into the wall. The pecan wood-paneled front was a direct match to the walls. Ice and water were available to be dispensed through the door. Ben was already rummaging inside. He emerged holding several pieces of fruit. “Can you grab the coffee and I’ll take this to the table?” he asked Ryan.
“Yeah, sure. How do you take yours?”
“Black,” Ben replied.
Ryan watched Ben as he sashayed in the direction of the breakfast nook, his hips swaying enticingly. For a moment, Ryan forgot what he was supposed to be doing. Oh yeah, coffee. He wrenched his gaze away from Ben’s ass, grabbed a second cup from the mug tree and filled it, then poured more for himself. He’d thought Ben took sugar and cream in his coffee, but obviously he was mistaken. He carried both cups carefully to the table and set one in front of Ben then took a seat beside him. Ben took a long appreciative sip of the hot brew, a pensive look in his expressive blue eyes.
“You okay, Ben?”
Ben didn’t answer immediately. His brows furrowed, as if in thought. Then he set down the mug and raised his eyes to meet Ryan’s. “What did Aiden have to say about… my mother?” he said at last.
So he had overheard that part of the conversation.
Ryan set his own coffee on the table and scooted closer to Ben. He laid his hand over Ben’s, warm from the steaming brew. “He said she was responsible for the break-up of your group, Primary Wisdom. That’s all.”
He felt Ben flinch at his words, felt him start to draw back. Without hesitation, he wrapped his arm about Ben’s shoulders and pulled him close, kissed the top of his head. “Don’t worry,” he said softly. “I won’t ever let her separate us again. I promise you.”
Ben shuddered beneath his touch, then relaxed with a long sigh, nestling against Ryan. “I don’t want to lose you again, Ryan. Please… promise me we’ll stay together.”
“Always,” Ryan vowed in a fervent voice. “Forever, Ben. You and me.”
Ben turned in his embrace, and Ryan wrapped his other arm about him, cocooning him in his warmth. He began to rub gentle circles on Ben’s back, breathing in Ben’s scent. “Ben, I lo—”
“Morning, y’all. Looks like it’s going to be a glorious day.” At the sound of Cameron’s voice, Ben stiffened, then drew back, out of Ryan’s embrace.
“It is going to be a glorious day,” Ben replied, his voice sounding a lot more confident than before.
Ryan hoped he’d helped him with whatever doubts and fears had momentarily assailed him. Why did Cameron have such shitty timing, though? The words he’d wanted to say would have to remain unspoken for now. But he would say them soon, and that was a promise.
to be continued
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