An M/M Contemporary Romance
Malcolm Jenner kept one eye on the silent, dark-haired man standing at the rear of the room as he made his way toward the glass door leading to the riotous explosion of color that was Penny's garden. Jacob didn't look like he was doing very well. Against the smooth blue paint of the walls his face was pale, his violet eyes red-rimmed and damp-looking. Disarrayed dark curls testified to the fact he'd been running his fingers through them, a habit that Malcolm remembered well from their time together. Malcolm had no intention of allowing Jacob to leave the reception until he'd spoken to him, but the other man did a very creditable job of keeping people between them and avoiding eye contact with Malcolm.
Malcolm eased his way around the room, dodging chatting guests in their wedding finery and caterers in black pants and white shirts alike, moving ever closer to his target. He'd given his brother, Rick, the neurosurgeon, the task of capturing Jacob's attention and unobtrusively leading him to the patio doors, where they now stood engaged in conversation. Rick now watched Malcolm's approach and attempted to keep Jacob from doing the same.
He slipped behind the other two and reached out to grasp Rick's hand in a quick shake. "Thanks, Rick, I'll take him from here."
Jacob whirled around, dark curls scattering. He raised his face, and Malcolm's heart ached at the pain in those violet eyes. He extended a slightly shaky tanned hand to brush the hair away from Jacob's forehead, but pulled it back quickly when Jacob flinched.
"Jake, baby, I'm so sorry. I know how hard it must be to be here without Peter. Come outside and talk—" He broke off as Jacob began shaking his head.
"No. No, I can't be around you right now. Don't want to talk to you, Malcolm." Tears leaked in a tiny silvery stream from Jacob's eyes, and his slightly muscled frame appeared to vibrate, he held himself so tensely. The slender hands that had once stroked his flesh with urgent need rose to push him away, then run again through the overly long black curls nearly touching his shoulders. Malcolm wanted to embrace the other man, to absorb all the hurt this day had brought his beloved, and replace it with warmth and security.
"I have to talk to you. There are things you need to know; things we need to discuss." Malcolm's heart broke for many reasons: to see the desolation on Jacob's face, not least because he knew, deep inside, he actually felt a glimmer of happiness that Jacob was unattached again. It had to be difficult for Jacob to be here, surrounded by Peter's family at his sister's wedding. He had a distinctly uncharitable wish that some of the obvious sorrow and anxiety Jacob so clearly felt was on his behalf.
"Not today, Malcolm. Today is for Peter, his family and friends." Jacob didn't seem like he could handle much more stress on top of the wedding, and Malcolm was willing to wait. He had, after all, been waiting for Peter and Jacob to end their relationship for the past five years, hadn't he? He had been highly skeptical that it would even last that long, had been positive that Jacob's relationship with Peter had been a deliberate attempt to hurt himself. He frowned. He hadn't ever wished for Peter's death, though. The traffic accident the previous year that had taken Peter's life had been traumatic for Jacob, and he'd wished fervently that he could be there to help the other man through the devastation of the loss. Loss was something he had felt fully capable of dealing with.
"I was surprised—Penny and I both were—that you accepted the invitation. We appreciated your coming." Especially since it gives me the chance to be here with you, to establish contact again.
"Of course I came. This is about family. Peter would have wanted me to come. Family was everything to him. Penny practically raised him, you know, after their parents died." Jacob's confidence that he was doing the right thing showed in his steady voice.
Malcolm understood that, too. How could he not? For so many years, family duty and responsibility had been his guiding force. Every decision he'd made had been considered from their perspective. What would his father, the neurosurgeon, think? What would his mother, the society wife, have to say? How would their society friends and neighbors view his actions? Since he'd married Penny twenty years ago, her brother Peter had been a part of his family. At one time, he'd considered his responsibilities to his family more important than even this man before him today. That time had passed, though it had taken a boot in the ass from an unlikely source for him to see it.
"How about if I come by in the morning with breakfast? Will someone be staying with you? I don't think you should be alone after this." Attending Peter's sister's wedding without his husband of five years had been a surprising action on Jacob's part. He and Penny had fully expected Jacob would say good riddance to bad rubbish without a backward glance at his deceased spouse's remaining family. Hardly a charitable view, but Jacob had plenty of reasons to dislike Penny and him.
Jacob nodded and gestured toward a fair-haired man in his midthirties. "Peter's cousin, James, is staying at the condo with me. He's taking care of things." The condo he referred to had been Peter's when they’d first met, and Peter had kept it as a vacation rental property after moving to Vermont to teach in the education department at the University of Vermont.
As though sensing he was the topic of conversation, the blond man turned in their direction, and seeing Jacob talking to Malcolm, broke off his conversation with the group of people where he stood and headed in their direction.
"All right, early tomorrow morning. I'll bring you breakfast from the Black Forest Deli. I really want to talk to you and clear the air between us." He wanted more than that, but was unwilling to speak of the want and desire that pulsed through him in the blond man's presence. Mentioning the gooey cherry pastry from the deli they had frequented as a couple was a deliberate, and he admitted, slightly underhanded way of bringing their past to the present. In the months that their affair had run hot, he had made a habit of gifting Jacob with the sweet treat on lazy Sunday mornings after long hot nights of steamy sex.
"Excuse me," the blond interrupted them. "Jacob is needed in the other room."
Jacob nodded and took the other man's hand in a white-knuckled grip that didn't escape Malcolm's notice. Good, Jacob had feelings for him still, even if they weren't the warm fuzzy kind of feelings Malcolm had once denied wanting from him. That white-knuckled grip denoted the strength of the feelings involved. Given half a chance, he'd turn Jacob's hatred into love again. He could battle anything but indifference. "I'll see you in the morning, Malcolm."
James's blue eyes burned into Malcolm's. He possessively raised Jacob's hand to press it into the crook of his arm. Stepping fractionally closer to the younger man, he smiled disdainfully. "Not too early, Jenner. We need our sleep."
Malcolm followed the other two men with his eyes as they left the room, his gaze locking on that spot where the two hands clasped together. Fuck. Had Jacob already moved on from Peter's death? Not again, he vowed. You're coming back to me, where you belong. He wouldn't take a backseat for another man in Jacob's life ever again. Once before, that beautiful man had been his, and he would be again. Malcolm had learned a lot in the last five years, and most of that learning had been done the hard way.
An attraction unlike any he'd ever felt for another man in the years before and since Jacob still pulsed between them. Just being in the same room with the slight dark-haired man sent prickles of awareness rushing through his body and thickened his cock in anticipation. Though he'd tried like hell to deny it, he'd known when he first set eyes on the younger Jacob, newly hired to work in the technology department at his office, that they were meant to be together, and this time out, he would do anything and everything in his power to guarantee that outcome. He'd made the mistake once before of putting another's needs before his love's, of believing that only he could direct their future. The duty and responsibility that his parents had drummed into him from birth to carry on the family name had been fulfilled. The price it had cost him had been more than he would have willingly paid if he'd been aware of the consequences of honoring his family name above all others.
So yeah, he'd bring up the past any chance he got, remind Jacob as often as possible how good things had been between them from the start.
Discounted 25% at Amazon
Discounted 25% at Smashwords with Coupon Code: YF34J
Discounted 25% at All Romance eBooks. No coupon required.
SALE PRICES GOOD THROUGH JUN 1
Also available in French at Amazon