QUINN DONAHUE rolled and shrugged his shoulders as he trudged up the stairs. It had been a long, hard day at the barn, and he wanted to crawl into bed and sleep until the next morning. Or maybe have a hot bath first to soak some of the stiffness out of his muscles. He and Aaron had just moved into the new apartment, and they hadn’t really had a chance to use the huge tub yet. He grinned to himself. He could soak the stiffness out of his muscles and transfer it to some other part of his body. Apparently thinking of Aaron had re-energized him.
He fumbled for his keys and unlocked the apartment door, then pushed it open. It was dark inside, and he felt a tiny, unreasonable twist of disappointment. It was Aaron’s day off; obviously the guy had better things to do than sit around waiting for Quinn to show up. Just because Quinn had been looking forward to this all day, it didn’t mean that Aaron was quite so pathetic.
He pulled his boots off and lined them up next to Aaron’s on the mat, then shrugged free of his jacket and hung it on the only empty hook. He headed down the hall to the main room and almost jumped when he heard a familiar voice speak from the shadows by the window. “You’re home.” Aaron sounded—different. Quinn wasn’t sure what the difference was, though, and he sure as hell wasn’t sure why Aaron was sitting all alone in a dark room.
“You okay, man? Is something wrong?” Quinn worked at Aaron’s family barn, and everyone had been fine when he’d left, so whatever the news was, it couldn’t be too bad. Still, this was strange, and Quinn took a step toward the windows.
“Stop.” Aaron’s voice wasn’t loud, but it was firm, and Quinn did as he was told.
“What’s going on, Aaron?” Quinn wasn’t worried, exactly, but he was definitely off balance. He tried to silence the nagging voice in the back of his mind, the one that suggested that maybe Aaron was tired of playing house, tired of Quinn altogether….
“Stay where you are and turn the kitchen light on. Don’t adjust the dimmer, just turn it on.” Aaron’s voice was still quiet, still authoritative.
“Aaron…” Quinn started, but then he shook his head and did as he was told. The kitchen lamp wasn’t bright, but it cast enough light for Quinn to see Aaron slouching in an armchair, a chair that he must have moved there just for that purpose. He looked like he was….
“Aaron, are you wearing a suit? What’s going on, Aaron?”
“Stop asking questions. If you need to know something, I’ll tell you. Otherwise—just trust me.” There was a pause, and then Aaron’s voice sounded more familiar. “Okay, Quinn? Will you trust me?”
Quinn was beginning to get some idea of what was happening. “Have you been watching porn again, Aaron?” He caught himself. Aaron had been a virgin when he’d hooked up with Quinn, and Quinn had been the furthest thing from innocent. If Aaron wanted to experiment a little, then it was damn well Quinn’s privilege to be asked to participate. “I mean—sorry. No questions.” He nodded slowly. “Yeah, Aaron—I’ll trust you.”
“Okay. Excellent.” Aaron sounded like a little boy being told he was going to get a treat. But then he took a moment as if to collect himself, and when he spoke again his voice was back to being calm and firm. “Stay where you are, and take your jacket off. Throw it on the couch.” A pause as Aaron watched Quinn obey, then, “Jesus, Quinn, on the couch, not the floor. How are you such a slob?”
“It’s not easy to throw fabric, Aaron. Are we doing this or not?”
“No questions.” Aaron was back on his game. “Take your socks off.”
“My socks?” That didn’t seem like the right order to Quinn.
“Quinn, if you can’t stop asking questions, I may need to do something about that. Do you want me to tell you to put your socks in your mouth?”
“Aaron, this game is over if you tell me to put my socks in my mouth. They’ve been inside my sweaty boots all day, and….”
“Then you should stop asking questions.” Aaron paused. “Unless you want the game to be over. Do you want the game to be over?”
Quinn thought about it, but not for very long. “No. I don’t want it to be over.”