… How to Deal …
“MCDONALD’S? Really, Jace?”
Jason Spade looked up at his business partner, old frat buddy, and best friend, trying to keep his face impassive. “I like McDonald’s.”
Quent Jackson was looking good today—dark hair cut to part on the side, neatly trimmed goatee framing almost ridiculously full lips. Of course, Quent looked good every day. Quent had even looked good when they were both college freshmen, rooming together, before the goatee or the expensively cut hair or the natty suits, and even before the acne had cleared up. Something about Quentin’s brown eyes and open smile had always looked good to Jace. It was why he’d maneuvered their room assignments in college and asked Quent to partner with him in their day trading company. It wasn’t because Quentin was a shark—he was good enough at his job, and he certainly held his own—but because Quentin was a mammal. A warm-blooded, friendly, sweet-tempered fox who could get his own dinner but who knew how to curl up in a nest.
When they’d roomed together in college, he’d always made their dorm room home.
“We usually eat sushi,” Quent was saying now with a lift of his naturally skeptical eyebrow. Quent didn’t seem to believe the obvious things—or the things Jace thought should be obvious—and that bothered Jace.
Right now, it was bothering him a lot.
“Sometimes,” Jace grunted, not wanting to put it into words, “sometimes, french fries are better than sushi.”
“So I got McDonald’s for the french fries?” Again, that skeptical eyebrow.
Jace swallowed. Damn Quentin. Damn him for needing words.
“French fries are like blow jobs,” he said shortly, and he had to give it to Quent. He didn’t blush or anything. His eyes got big, and he paused with a ketchup-smothered fry on the way to his mouth, but he didn’t blush.
But his swallow was audible. “Elaborate.”
Jace scowled. “Sometimes, the meal is the burger and the french fries are a prelude, right?”
“Sometimes, you eat the fries, and they’re good, but what you really want is the meat, right?”
“But sometimes….” Jace took a deep breath and then brought a crackling, crisp, salty, slick, tangy little stick of heaven to his mouth and chewed, closing his eyes and letting the fry slide down his gullet, almost shuddering in ecstasy. “Sometimes, the fry alone is all you need. It’s the whole meal, first course, last course, beginning to end. Sometimes, the french fry is all you need and all you ever fucking want.”
Quent grinned at him, looking pleased by the analogy. “Well, Jace, I’ll think about that the next time I’m getting a blow job!”
Jace tried not to sigh.
Quentin grinned. He liked the idea. But he didn’t blush.
“Well, it’s not going happen tonight,” Jace said, the thought almost consoling him. “Tonight, we’ve got racquetball.”
Quent rolled his eyes. “Another chance for you to kick my ass in something. Fabulous.”
“I do my best.”
Yup. Jace was going to have to wait for the blush.
… Ante Up …
“GOOD game, Quent.”
Jace’s voice echoed hollowly off the tile in the gym. They were the last two off the racquetball courts, and all but one of the employees was gone for the night.
Quentin looked up and flushed with pleasure. They’d been playing since their senior year, and Quentin felt like he so rarely did anything better than Jace.
“You let me win,” he said, running a hand through the thick brown hair that was wet and hanging in his eyes from the shower.
“I don’t let anybody win.” Jace’s voice was mild. His scalp trim was already dry, and his vodka-blue eyes were twinkling. It was the truth. Jace was a cutthroat competitor—everybody knew it, and Quentin had always worshipped it.
“Then I must be getting better!” Quentin said brightly, although he knew for a fact that he wasn’t. He didn’t expect a reply—banter had never been their strong point. For the most part, their nearly eight-year relationship had been based on Quent’s willingness to follow Jace anywhere and Jace’s strange willingness to keep a soft touch like Quent around. But then, Jace didn’t talk to anybody, so Quent felt privileged. He wasn’t looking forward to chatter. Instead he started rummaging around in his locker for his toiletries. Deodorant—always a plus, right?
“Hey, can I borrow some of your pit-stop?” Jace’s voice came from right behind Quentin’s ear, and Quentin almost jumped. Jace sounded… odd. Breathy. Different.
“Yeah, no prob… lem?” Quent squeaked on the last part because Jace just reached over his shoulder, the front of his lean chest pressing so tightly against Quentin’s back that Quent could feel pointy, air-hardened nipples pebbling against his slick skin.
“Thanks, brother,” Jace murmured, and Quentin felt a moment of dizziness as his partner’s voice brushed his ear. Eight years? Four years of college, four as business partners, and Jace had never once been a touchy kind of guy—and Quentin had never allowed himself to think that his hero worship of his old roommate was anything more than admiration for a gifted friend.
Okay. Maybe once, when they’d first become roommates, he might have looked furtively at Jace and thought he was beautiful. Or twice, he may have been with a woman and gotten off thinking about Jace’s hard, blunt hands stroking along the edge of his skin. Or… oh God. Right now. Right now, Quent thought Jace might be more than a friend.
Jace’s erection prodded at Quentin’s ass through their towels, and Quentin took a risk and leaned back… just… just enough to rub a little, see if that hard lump under the terrycloth really was what he thought it was.
Jace pinned Quentin’s shoulders to the locker so quickly Quentin didn’t have time to breathe, and without a word, without even a deep breath, ground up against Quentin hard enough to leave bruises. Quentin gasped and grunted—and pushed back.
Jace’s movements grew more frantic, more frenzied, and as Quent was pretty much dry-humped by his friend, his business partner, he wished… wished… for a hand on his cock, even his own, to ease the painful, frustrated ache that had blossomed in his groin.
Quentin wished for that right up until Jace bit him, hard, in the tender joining of neck and shoulder before he grunted and came, the semen seeping between the towels to soak into the skin of Quent’s hip. The bite alone did it, sent Quentin over the edge, and he climaxed without even touching his own cock.
They stood there for a moment, breathing heavily, and then Jace backed away, saying, “Oops… my bad. I forgot I had some of my own.”
AND that was the end. The fucking end. For most of a week they had worked in the same building and played ball at night, and that moment—that gasping, breathless moment of sex and come—had ceased to exist.
Until now. Poker night, of all places. The bastion of manhood and heterosexuality that Jace had started dragging Quentin to even in college. The first thing he’d done when they’d graduated was start asking clients for a new poker group—one that Quentin approved of as well, strangely enough. And now here they were, wearing tuxes, drinking high-end vodka, laughing at mildly sexist jokes, and Jace was looking at Quentin like Quentin was… was….
Was an order of french fries and Jace wanted lunch.
Quentin steeled himself to look sideways at Jace while he tried to read his tells. After more than eight years, Jace still had a poker face to beat them all. And he did beat them all. Frequently. But on this night, even in the crowd of their buddies (most of them clients, one of them their lawyer) telling raucous jokes and pounding vodka, Quentin needed a sign, a glance, a wink, a twitch… something… because what had happened between him and Jace earlier that week… well….
It could leave a guy feeling insecure, that was for damned sure.
Jace ran a finger under his collar and freed the stays from his black tie, then took a deep gulp of his vodka from the cut glass tumbler. “Mitch, you got anything good enough to hold?”
Their corporate lawyer looked at his cards and threw down, and that was it. Nick wrinkled a small nose in a boyish face and threw his cards in the center.
“If Mitch doesn’t have it, I don’t,” he said. “He’s the guy you send into the building first. If he comes screaming out, that’s the end. There’s not enough backup in the world.”
Jesse rolled his eyes and shook his overly long blond hair out of his expressive eyes. “You cops are all such total pussies. It’s not like I ever have backup.”
“You need it!” Randall muttered, thumbing through his cards with blunt, battered fingers. “I’ve seen you walk into doorways with no bad guys in sight. You must have been a total loser in high school.”
Jesse blushed. “I was in the chess club, yes. Why, were you the teacher who’d make a man out of me?”
Randall grinned and threw his cards in the center too. “No, I was the teacher who’d let you hide in my classroom like a weenie.”
“Oh good,” Peter said dryly. “So I would have known you then too!” He looked at Jesse and nodded firmly while throwing his cards in. “Go chess club.”
“So what about you, Jace?” Randall asked, and Jace barely looked up.
“Football,” he said without thinking. “And call. But Quent was probably in the chess club, right, Quent?”
“Home ec,” Quent stammered. He realized he’d sat there for so long, trying to see if Jace was going to give him any clues about the two of them, that he’d forgotten to actually look to see how he was doing at poker.
“Hey,” Jace said quietly—almost intimately. He took a swig of vodka and looked up over the edge of the glass and caught Quentin’s eyes, crystal blue sparking from under his lowered brows, and Quentin blushed hotly. Jace’s eyes were open and even and perfectly sincere, and Quentin felt another surge of heat under his skin.
Okay, Quent wasn’t delusional. Jace did remember. Quentin had almost doubted his sanity. Hell, he’d almost doubted his memory!
Until right now.
“Ready to see my cards?” Jace asked, and for a moment, it was almost like they were alone, the two of them, maybe working in their shared office, or studying late when they shared a dorm. For a moment, the predator that was Jason Spade receded, leaving the guy Quent had known for eight years in his place.
“Yeah,” Quent said, his voice husky. “Go ahead and lay them down.”
Jace’s blunt hand lowered, fanning a set of low cards, a flush of hearts.
Through the electricity of their glances, Quentin barely registered that his hand beat Jace’s. “I won,” he rasped breathlessly among the crowd of catcalls from the other guys at the table. And then, hoping this meant something: “You must have let me win.”
Jace grinned recklessly, and Quentin felt his knee touch—just a bump really, or a promise. “I told you on Tuesday, Quent—I never let anybody win.”