Chapter One

August 30, 2009

South Beach, Florida

MACHLAN O’BANNON slid his fingers up and down Sam’s spine and prayed the motion would soothe away his lover’s worries.

He didn’t know how long they’d been standing with their foreheads pressed together and breathing into each other’s mouths, and he didn’t care. Their hearts were thumping their ways out of their chests for two completely different reasons, and it was up to Mac to ensure Sam stuck to his decision.

Whereas Mac was over the moon that they had agreed to forego the rules of their relationship, Sam was scared shitless. Understandable, as change was never easy, especially for a man whose life was a constant struggle between what he really wanted and what he allowed himself to have. But after a long weekend spent observing Sam’s behavior and reading between every line, Mac had no doubt his lover of three months wanted more than the occasional fuck.

Much more.

And so did Mac, which was why he’d decided to up the ante. An extremely risky move that could have cost him what little time he got to spend with his Yankee, but it had paid off. Thank God.

“What would you’ve done?” Sam asked quietly against his lips. “Had I refused to change the rules?”

A loaded question if Mac had ever heard one.

He took a deep breath, but he didn’t look away from Sam’s bright blue eyes as he considered his answer. Not that he could’ve moved even if he’d wanted to. Not with the death grip Sam had on his head.

If he admitted he would’ve used every trick at his disposal to change Sam’s mind, it would take Sam two seconds flat to realize Mac was more into him than he let on. Considering Sam would cut and run if confronted with how very committed he already was, Mac’s only option at the moment was to keep his mouth shut and his plan under wraps.

But if he acted nonchalantly and said he would’ve continued to abide by their original agreement, Sam would question Mac’s reasons for wanting to revise it and most likely back off, insisting they keep the status quo.

Mac couldn’t let that happen. Sam was it for him. Hell, he knew they were it for each other, and if they didn’t move forward, he’d go stark crazy.

“I don’t know, darlin’… I really don’t,” he finally said, stroking Sam’s silky black hair away from his forehead and smiling when he caught sight of his own hand. It was sticky, and it smelled like his guy’s cum. Best fucking scent in the world.

Sam frowned, released Mac’s head, and leaned away from his touch.

Mac dropped his hands and took a couple of steps back. He also made sure his expression was mostly blank. If Sam caught a glimpse of how giddy he really felt, he’d be screwed, and not in the ball-tingling way.

Touching Sam with tenderness when the guy felt out of sorts had been a bit risky. The man needed to feel in control of his emotions as much as he needed to breathe, and Mac should have kept in mind that Sam would want some space after giving up his precious rules.

No harm done, though.

Sam was still in the room.

But Mac had a pretty good idea how far—and hard—he could push Sam, and when it was best to leave things alone. Now it was time to back off. No need to jeopardize his chance at a more substantial relationship by freaking out the man of his dreams with premature displays of affection.

“You wanna take a shower?” Mac wiggled his fingers and pointed at Sam’s head. “You’ve got dried spunk all over your hair.”

“You’re damn lucky it’s mine.” Sam walked past Mac and opened the closet door. He avoided eye contact, but the smirk Mac had gotten to know so well was plastered on Sam’s face. “I would’ve fucked you up if it had been your cum anywhere near my face.”

Mac chuckled, recognizing the comment for what it was—Sam’s attempt to bring their interaction back to familiar ground. Boundaries had never extended to their sexual encounters, and Mac had marked Sam’s face with his release more than once. But bantering and competing for dominance were what they did. They both enjoyed it, and they were both good at it.

“Such an unnecessary threat,” Mac quipped, opening a drawer and choosing a fresh pair of boxers. “You know I always try to shoot deep down your throat so I can watch you swallow every drop.”

Sam snorted as he carried a bunch of his clothes to the bed, but the ring of his cell phone interrupted whatever smart-mouthed comeback he’d been about to throw at Mac.

Instead Sam froze in place, trepidation all over his face. Mac couldn’t blame him. The last call he’d received had aggravated the shit out of him. Hell, Sam had melted down epically over it. As mortified as he’d been over that, the last thing Sam would want would be to get more bad news in Mac’s presence. Not only was he private by nature, but he also liked to pretend he wasn’t a loving and caring person. After their recent conversation, he’d probably rather die than allow Mac to witness any kind of reaction on his part.

Mac opened another drawer, grabbed a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, and walked to the bathroom. He started the shower but didn’t close the door. That was as much privacy as he was willing to give Sam. He’d agreed not to act like a boyfriend, but he’d be damned if he’d allow Sam to build up another wall. Besides, he was worried. The situation between Sam and his sister had escalated in the past few days, and Mac had every intention of being there for his man whether Sam liked it or not.

He applied shaving cream to his cheeks and chin, then stuck his head out the door for a quick glance. Sam was on the phone, but he didn’t look anywhere near losing his shit.

Not his sister, then.

Mac took his razor from the sink and started shaving, doing his best to ignore his and Sam’s toiletries sitting together on the marble countertop.

They hadn’t yet checked out of the hotel, but he already missed the routine and camaraderie they had developed in the past five days. Their time together had been amazing. Mac loved hanging out with Sam. He loved that they held hands when they went out, and he especially loved how very possessive Sam was. Going back to Houston and sleeping in his own bed without Sam’s muscular arm wrapped around his waist was going to suck, but if Mac played his cards right it wouldn’t be for too long.

He rinsed the remaining shaving cream from his face, took off his T-shirt, and proceeded to clean his brand new tattoo. Mild soap, water, and a light massage of his fingers made quick work of residual adhesive, ointment, and dried blood. After patting the area with a dry wash cloth, he took a few seconds to admire the artist’s work. Not the actual ink, but the design.

Superb.

Not to mention that choosing the “515” for a matching tattoo had been ingenious. The number represented their hotel room encounters, but it also had great individual significance. It marked important events in both Sam’s and Mac’s lives, and if things went to shit between them, neither would feel the need to have it removed… or cut a limb off in order to erase the memory.

Mac walked out of the bathroom and plugged his cell phone into the charger. That’s when he realized it was already one o’clock.

“Shit,” he said under his breath, deeply disappointed they had less than one hour left before checkout time. “How much longer are you gonna be?” he asked softly.

Sam glared, annoyed at being interrupted—or rushed—but he signaled a “ten” while he continued his conversation.

Mac smiled to himself. That Sam hadn’t ripped him a new one for getting demanding only confirmed what Mac had suspected during their dinner date. Sam was his for the taking, as simple as that. Mac just had to be smart about how and when he staked his claim, even though he already knew gradually would be best.

He heard Sam say, “And your friend Chris is positive the MO is the same?”

MO.

A work-related phone call.

Mac took a deep breath and walked over to the nightstand he’d used during their stay. “We’ve got to be out of here in forty minutes,” he said, slightly louder this time around.

Sam put up a hand, silently ordering Mac to not say another word. “Yes, give him access to the pictures. Make sure he understands they’re confidential material that we haven’t disclosed to the press, and they can’t be shared.” Sam rubbed his face, then gripped the back of his neck. “No new bodies? Missing persons reports? Right… uh-huh… you think?”

Mac grabbed the bottle of lube and waved it until it caught Sam’s attention. “I want to get thoroughly fucked before we leave this room,” he said, sotto voce.

Normally he would’ve found something to do while Sam finished his call, but, come on. They were about to part ways. Soon Sam would be knee-deep in murder cases and family issues, and the same applied to Mac. Not the murder investigations, but God knew his personal drama rivaled Sam’s. The moment he returned to Houston he’d be dealing with Amy and his mom, and it would be at least two weeks before Mac got to see his guy again. So, yeah, it was time to prioritize. Sam’s job could damn well wait.

He walked around the bed.

Sam’s eyes became darker as he watched Mac approach. His lips parted and his nostrils flared. “Tell you what, Lo,” he rasped. Mac assumed he was speaking with his friend Logan. “Put another call in to Detective Molasses in Houston, and send him an e-mail as well.”

Mac frowned. Houston? What was up with that? Was Sam working a case in Mac’s city? Would he be visiting?

Mac lost his train of thought when Sam took off his shirt and roamed Mac’s chest with his gaze.

Not to be outdone, Mac got rid of his cargo shorts and forgot about Sam’s job. “Want some of this?” he whispered, fisting his cock.

“I’ve got to go,” Sam growled. “We’ll talk about what Chris said, and what you found out on the news, as soon as I get back to New York.”

Sam’s smile was pure sex when he finished his call.

SAM SNATCHED a condom from his bedside table, dropped his jeans, and followed Mac’s ass—and his own dick—to the bathroom. It hadn’t been twenty minutes since he’d come all over Mac’s hand, but he was ready to go again.

It never ceased to amaze him how immediate his physical reaction was whenever he was around Mac. Not only had he hardened to an almost painful length in a matter of seconds, but his heartbeat fucking leaped, and blood surged through his veins at an alarming speed.

Mac took his breath away. Made him feel off-kilter and centered at the same time—and in the past few days he’d come to realize lust wasn’t the sole reason for it. Sam’s mind, body, and heart had been at war from the moment he asked Mac to come to South Beach with him, and his behavior in the past hours could only mean his heart had won.

But Sam wasn’t ready to accept that, which was why he grabbed Mac’s shoulder, bent him over the sink, and used his own body to keep him in place. After overcoming what had to be one of the most frightening moments of his life with his dignity mostly intact, he needed to be one with Mac in a way he could control.

He wanted a fuck.

The kind of sex that had nothing to do with feelings and everything to do with getting down and dirty and losing his inhibitions. The kind that Mac would still feel days after he’d gone back to Texas.

Mac’s heavy shoulders tensed rock tight, but when Sam’s fingers grazed the clammy skin covering his ribs and gripped his hip with a not-so-steady hand, Mac became liquid.

The bathroom had steamed up from Mac leaving the water running too long, but their gazes met in the foggy mirror above the sink. Mac’s emerald depths shone with knowledge, raw desire, and acceptance of the man pinning him against the sink. Sam’s own eyes showed something he didn’t dare name, but it was all-consuming nonetheless.

The broad back fit perfectly against Sam’s chest as he aligned his body over Mac’s.

“We should get in the shower,” Mac suggested softly. “It’s been a few hours since—”

“I don’t give a shit.” Sam inhaled until he felt he would explode if he didn’t release his breath. “I want to taste you, babe. It’s your scent that does it for me, not some shower gel.”

He buried his left hand in short blond hair and licked his guy’s earlobe without breaking eye contact, but when Mac ground his ass against his groin, Sam lowered his face and sank his teeth into the hot flesh of the curve between Mac’s shoulder and neck.

He sucked on the skin. That was a favorite spot of his, and he couldn’t help it. Fortunately for him, Mac loved it, as evidenced by his deep growl, the arm he wrapped around Sam’s neck, and the way his knees buckled. He cranked Mac’s head to the side to expose more of his throat, then licked up and down a few times before sucking again. He wanted to leave a mark. He wanted Mac to see it every time he got dressed, and to feel the pull of his skin when he moved around.

They kissed.

The angle of their bodies made it sloppy and awkward, but it brought Sam to the brink of orgasm.

“Sit on the countertop for me,” he panted in Mac’s ear. “I want to suck you off and eat your ass.”

“Oh, fuck….” Mac complied immediately, clearing a space between the two sinks with a sweep of his hand and sitting on it.

They shared another scorching kiss. Sam covered Mac’s knees with his hands and pushed them up, and the moment his feet were firmly planted on the countertop, Sam stepped between Mac’s legs and spread his knees as wide as he could.

Mac ended the kiss and leaned farther back. Sam licked his lips as he watched his guy’s head rest against the mirror and his asshole peeking from the edge of the countertop.

Bared to Sam.

Inviting.

Mesmerizing.

Ready for his tongue.

He nipped Mac’s collarbone and rolled an erect nipple between his fingers. That’s when he caught sight of his new tattoo, a colorful contrast against the golden skin of Mac’s stomach.

Overtaken by feelings he didn’t care to analyze, he closed his eyes and got on his knees. This wasn’t the time to think about how he’d willingly marked his body with a number that also meant a lot to his guy.

Mac’s massive erection lay straight against his lower abs, hot and needy and leaking at the tip.

Sam wrapped his hand around the base, glanced up, and proceeded to worship the essence of his guy’s manhood.

He slid his tongue around the glans and up and down the shaft, then sucked on the hairless balls, which amped up his desire to self-combustion levels. To say he cherished having those heavy globes in his mouth would be an understatement. Unlike himself, who’d always preferred a simple trim, Mac’s genitals were completely shaved, and Sam loved that particular difference between them.

Mac’s hands clutched either side of his head. Sam smiled up at him, mouth full of cock. He knew that was a view his lover thoroughly enjoyed.

He did everything he’d learned Mac liked.

He played with his dick. He tickled the frenulum and the corona with the tip of his tongue, stuck his tongue in the slit, and sucked the perineum. He stroked him with a firm hand and licked slowly from head to base for several minutes before opening his mouth wide and going to town.

Sam sucked for all he was worth. He ignored his own body’s demands for attention and focused on making Mac’s body jerk with pleasure. He made Mac mewl his desire and frustration, and almost lost his own mind in the process.

He brought Mac to the edge several times. He licked, sucked, and tongue-fucked Mac’s pretty hole, and every time Mac got close to orgasm, Sam squeezed him hard and started all over again.

Because Mac loved getting head, and Sam took pride in keeping his guy utterly satisfied.

Because Mac had chosen to stay with him after they battled out their future, and that made Sam damn happy.

Because it would be at least a few weeks before they could be together again.

He felt a tug on his hair, and the bottle of lube was placed in his hand.

Sam got up and let Mac kiss him clean as he took a few seconds to lube him up with two fingers. Then he put on the condom and buried himself in Mac’s heat.

“You doing okay?” he asked softly against Mac’s lips.

“Never been better, darlin’.” Mac’s voice was nothing but a whisper. “I want to come.” He grabbed Sam’s hand, spit on it, and wrapped it around his cock. Sam took it away and shook his head.

“Not like that,” he grunted. “I want you to come from feeling my cock filling you up.”

Mac flashed him a smile so wicked it turned Sam’s world upside down.

He adjusted his stance, withdrew almost all the way, and pushed in again. He found his rhythm in a few heartbeats, and judging by Mac’s open mouth and glazed eyes, he’d yet to miss his prostate.

“We’re so fucking good at this,” Mac moaned, and Sam nodded his agreement. “I could really get used to this,” he added after kissing Sam and biting his jaw. “Couldn’t you?”

“I don’t want to talk.” He squeezed his eyes shut, but Mac wasn’t having any of that.

Mac pulled his hair and forced Sam to look him in the eye. “Couldn’t you?” he repeated.

“One day at a time,” was all Sam said after a few seconds. Yes, he would gladly fuck his way to the grave with Mac, but he couldn’t admit to it.

He didn’t have to say a word, though. As it turned out, Mac could read his mind.

“One day you’ll be ready for more,” Mac said in a voice so low Sam almost didn’t hear him.

Christ.

“You promised me,” he growled, scared shitless of possibilities he couldn’t afford to consider. “One day at a time, remember?”

Mac nodded. “One day at a time it’ll be….” He kissed Sam again and caressed his stubbly cheek, “but I reserve the right to change the game as I see fit.”

“Don’t push me, Mac.” He meant to sound threatening, but a rather embarrassing whimper of pleasure escaped him and completely ruined the effect.

Shit.

How was he supposed to think with a clear head when he was in his favorite place? ’Cause there were no questions about that. Buried in the kitten’s ass was where he wanted to spend every second he could.

“I won’t push you,” Mac said, gazing at him in the most sweet and understanding way. “I’ll just take my cues from you.”

Sam’s heart skipped a few beats. He couldn’t put his finger on the reason, but he felt like his fate had been sealed. It scared the shit out of him, so he shook his head and concentrated on the most pressing matter at hand.

He fucked Mac hard and let the fear, relief, and apprehension of the past couple of hours drive his every thrust. It didn’t take long. Mac’s chute clenched around his cock, and Sam smiled triumphantly when Mac’s spunk hit his chest and face.

Best fucking feeling in the world.

Even though he’d just come, Mac grasped his shoulders and met Sam’s thrusts with his own.

Sam closed his eyes, threw back his head, and swallowed all the things he suddenly wanted to say.

Like how happy he was they’d gotten to spend almost a week together or how much he hated that it had come to an end, and please, could they do it again?

The growl that initiated somewhere near Sam’s balls and made its way up his stomach and throat was almost inhuman in its volume and intensity. His rhythm became erratic, his spine exploded, and the world disappeared as he started to come. And all he could think as he came back from the most powerful orgasm ever was that he wanted another… and another.

He wanted as many as he could handle, and he wanted them all with Mac.