|Arctic Absolution by Lynn Kelling|
Dixon Rowe is a good man and a good cop who keeps finding himself in bed with the enemy. After he picks up a young ex-con named Jaye Larson for stealing food, Dixon is seduced by the possibility of helping someone truly in need. He tells himself he’s assisting young Jaye out of the goodness of his heart—not because of how sexy Jaye is under all of the tattoos and defiance. But temptation entangles them as the malicious ghosts of Jaye's past return to haunt their every step. Jaye’s ghosts are bad enough, but the demon from Dixon's past is real enough to put both of their lives in danger. (M/M)
The cop was holding a couple of insulated cups and a paper bag. The mouthwatering scent of coffee filled Jaye’s head and he nearly moaned aloud.
“Wow, you brought breakfast. I love you.” Jaye closed the door, nervousness and exhaustion making him fidgety when he would have rather appeared unfazed. He had opened the curtains to let in sunlight in a pitiful attempt to warm the space up more. The blankets he’d slept on were rolled up tightly and stowed against the wall. Though he had tried to keep things clean, he suddenly became hyperaware of how cluttered, dingy, and dirty the place must appear to someone used to nicer things. “Sorry about the shittiness of my home and everything. Thanks for coming by.”
Rowe slipped off the sunglasses, folding them up and tucking them into a pocket. He set the breakfast fare down on a nearby table, small but the largest one in the cabin, with two chairs tucked up underneath of it.
“The coffee’s black,” the cop explained. “But I brought creamer and sugar if you want to add it. Assuming you drink coffee, of course. There’s sausage and egg sandwiches. Protein and carbs. How’s your side?”
Jaye breathed out a little laugh and continued to take visual measure of his guest. Tucking his hair back over his ears, feeling the ghosts tug on the ends, Jaye silently resolved to chop more of it off, and soon. He was dressed that morning in a grayish blue long-sleeved thermal shirt that hugged his lean torso and snug dark jeans that showed off his narrow hips. Jaye slinked up to the food like a starved animal with fresh meat being waved in front of its nose.
“You don’t mind if I…?” Jaye asked, indicating the paper bag. He again rubbed nervously at his neck, drawing Rowe’s eye right there.
“Course not. Go ahead. Dig in. That’s a pretty major tattoo, by the way.”
“Thanks,” Jaye replied distractedly. “I blame my eagerness on the smell of coffee. I haven’t figured out how to make it in a pot over the fire yet, so I’ve been going through withdrawal. Sucks. You mean the bird, right? My jay?”
“Jay?” Dixon said, confused.
“Blue jay. Jaye. Kind of obvious, I know, but that’s where my name came from, so it’s like my talisman. It was my first one.”
“Yep.” Jaye dug sugar out of the bag, ripped a couple of packets open and shook the contents into his palm. He trailed a fingertip through it and sucked the sugar from it with a satisfied groan before dumping the rest into one of the cups of steaming coffee. “Fucking love sugar. I’d eat nothing but candy if I could.”
“Enjoy it while you can,” Rowe said with a funny sort of faint grin.
Jaye caught it, pausing in his coffee-making to ask, “What?”
“Being able to eat whatever you want. Believe me, in a couple more years, you won’t be able to gorge on candy and still look like that.” The cop seemed to realize what he said and cleared his throat, ducking his head to cover for it. A smile flickered over Jaye’s lips and was gone.
Leaving the coffee behind, he turned to his guest who had unzipped the coat. It was still cold enough to warrant keeping it on. Jaye saw the cop was fairly cut under all of those layers and itched to get his hands on Rowe’s chest to see how hard it was. Distantly, he wondered what color his nipples were, if they were a light pink or darker. Running the tip of his tongue over the points of his teeth, he stepped closer to Rowe and asked, “You think I look good, trooper?”
“I-I shouldn’t… that was… um. Inappropriate. I, uh,” Rowe fumbled. He cleared his throat again and folded his arms over his broad chest. “Look, I shouldn’t have done what I did yesterday. It was out of line and I’d like to ask if we could pretend it never happened.”
It was more of an opening than Jaye needed. He took it immediately.
“It’s not like you forced your cock down my throat,” he said with a direct stare, letting his companion see his sincerity. “Which, you know, I wouldn’t be completely against anyway if you asked nicely first. You kissed me. It was hot. No biggie. I have four, by the way. I know you’re curious.”
“Tattoos.” He said it slowly, his lips forming the sounds, watching Rowe zero in on the way they rounded around the end of the word. “How old are you, Trooper Rowe?”
“Thirty-two,” Dixon answered distractedly, as his gaze skimmed down over Jaye’s body, probably looking for a glimpse of the other two tats. A moment later, he caught himself, stopped looking and squeezed his eyes closed instead. Biting at his lips, he exhaled with audible frustration.
The cop moved away, getting around to the other side of the small table to get his own coffee, putting the piece of furniture between them. As he reached for the unclaimed cup, Jaye replied, “Nice. The last guy I belonged to was that same age. Funny.”