Monday, December 21, 2015

On the twenty-first day of December my true love gave to me...
Progressing with Storm - Granite County 5

Storm opened his eyes to the white hell of a hospital room and the heaven of a warm man in his arms. Or, in this case, one arm, as the other was still bound in the hated sling.
He carefully moved his shoulder back and forth. It was sore, but not too bad. Glancing down, Storm encountered the lightest blue eyes he had ever seen. Thick black lashes outlined them and were a stark contrast to the pale skin as smooth as cream that covered Kris’s handsome face.
“Hi,” Storm whispered.
“Hi. Are you feeling better?”
“Yeah. I’m back to the land of the living.” Storm wanted to taste those plump pink lips just inches away.
Kris must have seen the want on his face and backed away. Nervous fingers picked at the bed sheet. “Corey asked me to come here to see how you were doing.”
“Who is Corey?” Storm couldn’t recall knowing anyone named Corey.
“You rescued Corey from the burning house today,” Kris said.
“Oh, his name was Corey? Is he okay?” Storm asked.
Kris nodded. “They want to keep him overnight for observation.”
Storm loosened his hold on Kris. A golden opportunity for escape had presented itself. “Let’s go see him.”
Kris’s pretty eyes widened. “You want to go see Corey?”
Storm frowned. He didn’t understand why Kris wouldn’t want him to make sure that Corey was okay? Storm had risked his life to get the man out of that burning building
“Is there a reason why I shouldn’t check on him?” he asked.
Kris shook his head so hard that Storm thought he heard his teeth rattle together.
Storm smiled and sat up. “Let’s go visit Corey. He might hate being here as much as I do.”
“He never seemed to have a problem with hospitals before,” Kris commented
Storm had just taken Kris’s hand to help him off the bed. Now he paused and asked, “Do you know Corey well?”
“Yeah, for about a year.” Kris’s head was bent, and he rubbed his finger on a spot on his lightweight pants.
Storm could see there was more going on than Kris was saying. But it didn’t matter. Tugging on the smaller man’s hand, he said, “I want to go and meet Corey under better circumstances than I did earlier today.”
Kris slid off the bed, and Storm estimated Kris’s slight frame was at least six inches shorter than his. Storm kept a hold of Kris’s hand and ignored the slight tug to be free.
“Do you have to tell someone you’re leaving?” Kris asked.
“They’re lucky I stayed this long. Come on. I’m out of here.”
Storm walked through the curtain and headed out of the emergency examining room. He didn’t look or speak to anyone. In the past, if he acted like he owned the place, everyone thought he did.
“Where are we going?” he asked, pausing in the hall outside the door.
Kris pointed to the right. “Corey’s room is at the end of the hall.”
Storm turned to the right and started in the direction Kris had indicated. The farther Storm managed to get from the doctors and nurses behind him, the more his gut eased.
Looking down, he squeezed Kris’s hand and smiled. Kris didn’t smile back. Instead, the smaller man seemed to withdraw.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
“Where did your accent go?” Kris asked quietly.
“My accent?”
“Before when you were talking to me you called me sugar and sounded like you came from Ireland,” Kris said.
Storm bent his elbow, bringing Kris closer as they continued down the hall. “I’m told when I’ve had a few too many beers my grandfather’s accent comes out. As a kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, who is from Ireland. I’m thinking the drugs they gave me brought it out.” In one motion, Storm had Kris pressed up against the wall. “Now do you want to tell me why you look like we’re going before a firing squad?”
“No,” Kris answered, staring at the middle of Storm’s chest.
“Look at me,” Storm ordered.
Unhappy light blue eyes met Storm’s gaze.
“Does this have something to do with Corey? Are you afraid of him?” Storm would have no problem taking care of this Corey if he was hurting Kris.
“No, I’ve never been afraid of Corey. It’s complicated.” Sadness and frustration covered Kris’s face.
Storm knew what complicated meant. When someone stated those words regarding someone else it meant they were in some kind of relationship that, in the end, wasn’t really working.
He didn’t see Kris as being a cheater. Storm knew he pretty much had steamrolled over Kris since they met. Yes, the man could have told Storm he was in a relationship, but because Kris hadn’t, Storm could only deduct things weren’t right between him and Corey.
In the past, Storm had proved to be good at sorting out complicated. He believed all relationships took work to keep them healthy. But when one of the people in the relationship used the word complicated, he found the odds of the couple making it went way down.
Selfishly he wanted to keep Kris for himself. He’d liked waking up with the man in his arms. But he didn’t know what the circumstances between Kris and Corey were. And the only way to find out what was happening was to face it head-on.
Stepping away from Kris, he said, “Show me which room is Corey’s.”
With their fingers still laced together, Kris led Storm down the hall until they came to room #148. Storm watched Kris take a deep breath before smiling weakly at him and pulling open the door.

* * * *

The slide of the door against the tile floor woke Corey out of a light sleep. A nurse had come in a half-hour before and taken the oxygen mask away. They told him he was doing well and he should be able to go home first thing in the morning.
Relief eased the knot in Corey’s belly when Kris walked into the room. He had been gone over an hour, and a part of Corey feared he wouldn’t bother coming back. Why should he after the way Corey had treated him this last year? That relief was short-lived when a huge, half-naked man followed Kris, and the two were holding hands.
“Kris, what’s going on?” he asked before coughing to clear his scratchy throat.
“You asked me to check on Storm. He decided he wanted to check on you too,” Kris answered.
Corey heard Kris talking, but he didn’t understand a word he said. He was too busy taking in the incredible feast of the amazing man standing before him. The guy was gigantic. Corey estimated he was at least six feet five. And the muscles covered with tattoos had Corey drooling.
His gaze locked on the sling the man was wearing. It was a stark reminder that this man had risked his life saving him. Something inside Corey melted until he saw Kris and his hero were still holding hands.
Frowning, he demanded, “Kris, why are you holding this guy’s hand?”
Actually he’s holding mine,” Kris answered.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I don’t know,” Kris responded. “Storm just does stuff. He doesn’t make me try and figure out what he wants.” By now, Kris’s tone had escalated until he was almost shouting.
Corey blinked. In all their time together, Kris had never yelled at him. Corey’s heart cracked a little.
“You were only gone an hour. I know you’d never met this guy before. This is crazy.” Corey tried to reason with Kris. Was he still asleep and having some kind of weird dream?
“Look,” Storm said, breaking into the conversation, “when Kris found me, I was high on the drugs the doctors gave me. As soon as they wore off, Kris told me that you had sent him to check on me. That was nice of you.”
Storm let go of Kris’s hand. Corey gritted his teeth together when Storm put his arm around Kris’s shoulders, getting his boyfriend’s attention.
“I see the nurses haven’t bothered to clean Corey up. They usually have a small plastic container in the bathroom that they use to give patients sponge baths. Why don’t you go and see if you can find one? There should be some soap lying around in there too. Then you can bring it out here, and we can take care of Corey.”
“He can’t,” Corey blurted out.
Kris gave him the stink eye. “I’m getting stronger all the time. I can do it.”
Corey saw Storm look Kris over and pull him closer to his body.
“What’s going on? Are you injured?”
Storm’s blue eyes were hard as stone when he looked over at Corey. “Maybe you should tell me if Kris is injured.”
“I didn’t do anything,” Corey objected. “He was attacked last month by a boyfriend. He’s still recovering.”
“Did you have to throw that in my face, Corey? You were the one who’d left again. Every time you leave I know you find someone else. I never did, never. Except, for once, someone actually thought I was enough for them. Me, a lowly flower shop owner, was actually enough.” Kris sniffed and rubbed his nose. “Of course he turned out to be a madman obsessed with someone else and was only using me. So I guess you were right all along. I’m not exciting enough for someone to stay with long term.”
“Holy fuck, you’re the one Snake attacked,” Storm exclaimed.
Corey ignored the big man. “Kris, please stop it. How many times do I have to tell you that I love you before you will believe me?” he asked. “I won’t leave again. We’ll make it work this time.”
“Why bother?” Kris snapped.
“Enough you two,” Storm broke in. “Kris, do you need to sit down?”
“No, I’m going to go and find that soap and water and wash Corey’s face like you said.”
Corey was entranced. He had never seen Kris stick his bottom lip out in a huge pout before. Combine that with the determined look on his face and Corey fell even more in love with the man.
“All right, you see if you can find the stuff, and I’ll help you carry it in here,” Storm said.
“Okay,” Kris agreed.
Kris’s gaze almost sliced Corey in half with its sharpness before he headed to the bathroom. Corey noted that Kris’s posture was straight and his steps were crisp. That was good. It meant he wasn’t hurting or tired, at least physically.
“We haven’t formally met yet. So, hi, I’m Storm Donahue.” Storm held out his hand.
Corey looked at the hand in front of him before lifting his gaze and laughing. “I’m Corey Casey. Maybe shaking hands isn’t a good idea.” Corey lifted his bandaged hand up.
Stormed laughed, and Corey’s heart stuttered. The man was gorgeous.
“You’re right. We’ll have to postpone hand shaking until yours are healed,” Storm said. “So how bad are your injuries?”
“My hands are ripped up, and I have a couple of staples in my head. That’s about it except for smoke inhalation and a few bruises,” Corey said. “Can I ask you something?”
“Are you after my boyfriend?”

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