A gay bar. Thank you, Jesus. A fucking gay bar. Loud and proud. Con’s kind of place, but none of Murphy’s men would be caught dead in here. Con’s body hurt all over, but they hadn’t found him. He’d given his pursuers the slip and was out of the rain.
About an hour ago—close to two in the morning—Jake had flipped the lights on and kicked everybody out. People barely dared to finish their drinks when the big, bulky man with his booming voice told them to go the fuck home. Con would be surprised if any of them would come back. Damn, Jake was something else. Con had a thing for guys who took charge and thinking of it sent sparks down his spine.
Jake had offered Con to call it a night as soon as the last guest had left the place. Clearly, he hadn’t missed that Con was moving slower and slower as the night progressed. And fuck, his ribs hurt something fierce. Still, he had declined Jake’s offer to leave right away. The bar owner had raised an eyebrow, but much to his relief, Jake had started to put the chairs up himself while Con got a broom. And every time he tried to do anything but sweep, Jake had thundered at him to stay out of the way.
“Are you trying to dig a hole with that broom? I think that corner is clean enough,” Jake said quietly from across the room, his tall frame propped against the bar—arms crossed—watching. Jake’s calm focus sent chills over Con’s body as he forced himself to relax with a few more long inhales and exhales. His overtired brain fired some images of being at the receiving end of Jake’s laser sharp attention under different circumstance—with a whole lot less distance between them, and fewer clothes. Jake was hot in an angry, pissed-off way. Square. Solid. A force to be reckoned with.
Loud tapping of Jake’s fingers onto the bar brought Con back from his wayward thoughts. For a moment, the impatient rhythm was the only sound, then Jake let out a huff of air and said, “Listen, I’m not sure how to ask this, but—do you have anywhere to go tonight?”
“Yes, of course, I—” Con’s answer had been a reflex, but he actually had no idea how to end this sentence.
“You can stay here if you have nowhere safe to go.”
Nowhere safe. How did he know? Con’s heart skipped a beat and then started to race again in his chest. His eyes shot over to the front door. How the fuck did he know?
“Hey, calm down.” Jake pushed himself up from the counter and walked a few steps closer but then stopped again. “You have no defensive wounds. And, well, you’re a big dude, so I wonder what happened to you tonight.”
Three against one. I never had a chance.
“It’s fine. You’re safe. Is it okay if I touch you?” Jake was suddenly by his side, his voice soft. Gently, a hand came down on his shoulder. “It’s okay. Why don’t you just stay on my couch tonight?”
The warmth of Jake’s hand seeped through his skin. Con gritted his jaw to steel himself against the sudden need to lean in. Any other time, he’d have given Jake crap for treating him like a wounded animal, but his beat-up body was starting to give in on him. “That would be great,” he managed through clenched teeth.