Wednesday, December 16, 2015

On the sixteenth day of December my true love gave to me......
Brad's Rock - Rescue for Hire 7

Rock Morrison sat on a hard stone bench, the brisk late October wind blowing crisp leaves around outside Granite City’s small airport. Some of the people coming out of the glass front doors of the airport were commenting on how cold it was. For him the low forty degree weather felt warm. He had just left ice and snow in Alaska, and already his coat and long-sleeved shirt were stuffed into one of his duffel bags at his feet. Sitting there in a sleeveless T-shirt, he was starting to long for his cargo shorts and flip-flops.
After the plane landed, he called Cade Miller to let him know he had arrived. Cade explained that he was at the hospital with an employee who had been shot during a rescue. Rock’s blood started pumping hard at the thought of a rescue involving that kind of danger. He’d been called an adrenaline junky more than once in his lifetime and refused to apologize for it.

Now he was waiting for someone named Brad Hayward to pick him up. Rock was glad he never had a problem with plans changing or making decisions on the fly. This job interview was turning into quite an adventure. On cue, a dark-blue truck pulled up to the curb in front of him. The driver’s door opened, and a man hopped out and started around the front of the vehicle.

Rock watched the tall drink of water stop on the concrete sidewalk before the entrance of the airport and begin searching for someone. It took a minute, but Rock finally heard the little voice inside his head called self-respect urge him to quit embarrassing himself and close his mouth.

The man had messy sandy-blond hair that looked to have been nicely styled at one time. He was about six-one, and the open jacket he was wearing couldn’t hide the muscled chest or slim waist. Now that Rock got a good look at him, the man had muscles galore but seemed a little underweight, like he had been ill recently.

Big light-blue eyes, surrounded by thick dark lashes, dominated the blond’s face. The dark circles under his eyes and pale skin concerned Rock. But before he could concentrate too much on it, a square jaw and kissable lips drew his attention.

Rock’s gaydar was pinging away, and despite his whole life potentially changing completely in the next few days, he was hooked and began making plans to somehow meet the big guy. Yeah, he knew there was a chance he would never actually succeed in meeting the man standing in front of him. But this was Rock’s way. When he saw something he wanted, he started making plans to get it.

Frowning, the man glanced at Rock and looked away before coming back to him. Amazing light-blue eyes widened when they settled on him. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence when someone first saw him.

Rock was five-eight and one quarter. Yeah, he was going to cling to that quarter of an inch until the day he died. Currently he wore a dark-purple T-shirt with the sleeves cut off and a pair of light-green-and-white checked pants. His flat-soled tennis shoes were bright green to match.

The T-shirt showed off his lean, muscled arms covered with colorful tattoo sleeves starting at the top of his shoulders down to about three inches above his wrists. His multiple shades of blond and brown long dreadlocks were drawn up into a thick ponytail on the back of his neck, hanging to just above the middle of his back.

Usually if people got past the tats, clothes, and dreads, they faltered at his piercings. Both of his ears were decorated with an array of shiny silver and black beads. One eyebrow had a small hoop with a matching black bead in it. Roc also had his nipples pierced, although no one could usually see them. And only certain attentive lovers saw his guiche.

Rock had to give the stranger some credit. After a small hesitation, he turned and headed his way with a smile. Rock felt his mouth drop open again. Deep dimples had appeared on each side of those kissable lips and straight white teeth, and Rock fell in lust.

“Hi, by any chance are you Rock Morrison?” the hunk of pretty man asked. His deep, gravelly voice sent ripples of desire down Rock’s spine. Rock returned the smile and said, “Yes I am. Are you Brad?”

Brad nodded and held out his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

Just before he shook the man’s cold hand, Rock noticed it was trembling slightly. After years of recuing people in the wilds of Alaska, his mind automatically raced through Brad’s symptoms, trying to figure out if he was sick or something.

“Likewise,” he replied, making sure to hold on just a little longer, letting Brad know he was interested.

Blue eyes widened comically, and Brad took a sudden step back. If Rock hadn’t grabbed his arm, Brad would have lost his balance and landed on his ass. As it was, his weight propelled Rock forward, and he found himself deliciously pressed against the bigger man, sending them staggering back a couple more steps.

“Aw shit,” Brad mumbled.

Strong fingers encircled Rock’s upper arms, and once Brad was steady on his feet, much to Rock’s disappointment, he was firmly moved away.

Seeing the distress in Brad’s eyes, Rock immediately tried to reassure him. “Hey, it’s okay. Thanks for picking me up. Cade said I would still be staying at his house even though he’s at the hospital.” Seeing Brad relax slightly, he continued. “I know it’s an imposition, but could we stop somewhere and get something to eat? I’m starving, and I’m not sure what I’ll find at the house considering they had to leave for the hospital in such a hurry.”

Brad wiped a shaking hand down over his mouth and straightened the collar of his black leather jacket. “The grannies sent bags of food along with me when I arrived at the house yesterday. Hop in the truck, and we can eat at Cade and Bret’s.”

After grabbing the two duffel bags he’d brought along, Rock climbed in the big truck’s cab, and they were on their way. He didn’t like the uncomfortable vibes coming off the man next to him and decided talking might ease the situation.

“Who are the grannies?” he asked.

Brad smiled, causing those lovely dimples to reappear. “They are these three awesome older ladies who swooped in to help my brother, Brian, and his partner, Jack, take care of their premature twin babies a couple of years ago.”

“Which one works for Rescue for Hire, your brother or Jack?” Rock figured he better start getting names straight. Just in case he got the job.

“Jack is the one who works for Rescue for Hire. My brother was a teacher before the girls came along. Now he stays home with them. They’ll be adding to their brood when their surrogate gives birth to another set of twins in a couple of months.” Brad’s smile was sad, making Rock wonder what he was thinking about.

“Wow. How exciting is that? I have always hoped that one day I could create a family with someone,” Rock commented.

He didn’t know what he’d said, but the man next to him seemed to deflate. Brad was now huddled behind the steering wheel, with his shoulders slumped downward in complete defeat. When the truck swerved, Rock decided it was time to take over.

“Pull over,” he ordered.

“What?” Brad looked over at him, eyes cloudy.

“Pull over, now.”

Brad parked the car on the side of the road and twisted in the seat, frowning at Rock. At least the defeated aura was gone for the moment.

“What’s the matter?” Brad asked.

“I may not know you at all, but even I can see you have some shit going on. How about I drive, and you can take a break for a while,” Rock offered.

Sad blue eyes stared at him for a long moment. Without a word, Brad got out of the truck and the two switched positions. Putting the vehicle into gear, Rock pulled away from curb.

“I’m going to need directions,” Rock stated.

Five minutes later, they left Granite City and entered a deep forest. Surrounding them, the autumn foliage was a gorgeous mixture of orange, gold, and red colors. Rock was amazed. Alaska didn’t have much of a fall, or a spring season for that matter. Maybe a week or two at the most, and it never looked anything like this.

Next to him, Brad cleared his throat, getting his attention. “I just got into town yesterday myself,” he said.

Surprised, Rock glanced over at the man who was staring intently at his folded hands lying on his lap. Before he could say anything, Brad continued.

“I lost my wife and children in a terrible accident last year. My brother Brian asked me to come and visit. Unfortunately, Rescue for Hire’s tracker, Alex, was shot during a rescue a couple of days ago, and everyone is at the hospital.” Brad looked over at Rock. “That’s what they do. When one of their own is hurt, they all stay at the hospital until they can bring them home.”

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