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Thank you all who have been reading and following along. I always appreciate getting feedback. It helps with becoming a better writer and it’s always an ego boost, so feel free to reach out. I will always respond!
The usual spiel: This isn’t a stroke story, (more porn with plot.) Be warned, it’s very long. 33 chapters, and many sexless ones before it gets sexy, which is why it was originally published under novels/novellas, but readers asked for it to be put under gay male due to content, so here we go.
This book is dedicated to all of the brave service members and their families who sacrifice so much every day so that the rest of us can enjoy the liberties that they swear to protect and uphold.
Although references in this novel may be made to actual places or events, the names, characters, incidents, and locations within are complete works of fiction. They are not a resemblance to actual living or dead persons, businesses, or events. Any similarity is coincidental. In an effort to do the United States Army justice, and to show my respect to my country, I have applied all possible efforts to merge fact and fiction to entertain, while portraying the military, and the hardships and achievements of soldiers, with respect, dignity and accuracy to the best of my abilities. It’s my hope that I’ve done you all justice, and that all of the creative licenses taken with this novel are understood to be the efforts of imagination, and not any judgment or disrespect against the U.S. military. Thank you all for your service. ***
Friendship is like a glass ornament; once it is broken it can rarely be put back together exactly the same way. —Charles Kingsley
A true friend knew when to push and when to back off. Max was the real deal. He never grilled me for information about what had happened between Ben and me in the hospital, allowing time for the dampness on my face to dry to a fine layer of salt. After we’d gotten into his rental and I’d told him to start driving, all he’d asked was where he should stop. I’d told him to just keep going south by the coast until I said otherwise.
We’d already driven for well over an hour according to the time on my cell phone, and still hadn’t said a word though the silence had been broken several times by the influx of text message notification beeps from my cell phone and his. Tara and Sofia were persistent in their quest to find out if I was all right. I wasn’t up to exploring my feelings yet, so I’d finally turned my phone off to avoid having to click ignore every time their numbers came up. Max had been the one to call Sofia back after we got on the road to tell her I was alright and with him. After she’d promised to relay that to Tara, the notifications on Max’s cell slowed down to infrequent, muffled rumbles from the safety of his pocket, but didn’t stop completely. He was too responsible to completely turn it off, but setting the phone to vibrate allowed us to maintain the quiet I needed right now as we navigated the long stretch of open highway. I knew we’d have to talk eventually, but I’d hold out as long as I could.
I wasn’t sure at what point I’d fallen asleep, but I woke to the scent of aromatic grease. A fast food bag rested on Max’s seat where he should’ve been, and my neck cracked unhappily when I sat up in my seat to look around. I expected a chain restaurant or a gas station, not the liquor store we were parked in front of.
When Max emerged and got back into the car, he tossed me a pack of cigarettes, and then leaned over to deposit a brown paper bag between my feet on the floor mat. When I investigated further, I found a bottle of Jack stashed between more packs of cigarettes. He answered the question in my eyes with a shrug.
“If you’re going to get drunk, then at least do it with someone else so it’s more happy hour than street-corner-wino. Eat your burger and Şirinevler Escort I’ll let you spike your Coke. I had them fill the cup only three-quarters of the way.”
He reached across the console to grab a fry from the bag that looked as limp and dejected as I felt. “I used the GPS to find a cheap motel off the highway. If you’re going to open that bottle, we need to stop.”
I nodded as I unwrapped the burger. It didn’t look any perkier than the fries, but the over-processed flavor was tolerable after I washed it down with a shot of whiskey straight from the bottle. Max’s warning look prompted me to polish off the rest of my meal before I poured enough booze into the partially filled plastic cup of soda to top it off. When the spiked cola reached my stomach, it chased away some of the cold that had been knotting my insides since I’d left the hospital.
By the time we’d reached the parking lot of the motel, the day was still young and the bottle was full enough for a good time. Max killed the engine, then took the bottle from me and took a shot himself. He grimaced when he handed the whiskey back to me.
“Damn that stuff is nasty.”
“Keep drinking it until it tastes good.” I swallowed another mouthful to provide an example, ignoring his snort.
“Shut up and stay in the car until I pay for the room and get the key.”
“Okay,” I said, more than agreeable since that scenario left me alone with the bottle that was quickly becoming a good friend. Even spiked with booze, the Coke was less dear to my heart, but I gulped it down anyway.
When Max returned, I got out of the car and we walked the few feet across the parking lot to the door—well he walked and I stumbled. Swearing, I managed to right myself with one hand locked tight on the edge of the doorframe, the other still holding the bottle as Max searched for the room key in his pocket. I was eyeing the flecking paint chips on my fingers with such intense interest that I almost ended up on my ass again when Max opened the door.
Shaking his head, Max walked me back toward the bed. “Sit. Stay.”
He released me long enough to drop to his knees to start working on the laces of my boots as I looked around. The hotel was by no means the Ritz, but the teal-colored carpeting was clean, and still plush. Venetian blinds in a lighter blue picked up on the cacophony of color in the multicolored floral drapes covering the windows. Serviceable full sized beds were covered with colorful duvets. Plain white towels hung on the drying rack. There was the subtle hint of must to the air, overlaid with the salty tang of the ocean breeze drifting in through the open windows; vintage Florida.
I looked down at the top of Max’s sandy brown head. The last time we’d been together in a motel, I’d been the one on my knees and it hadn’t been my laces he’d been cursing at. His dick down my throat always got the same reaction. My cock stirred at the memory, and Max glanced up as if he knew what I was thinking. I didn’t move when his hand slid up my thigh to bring him to a kneeling position. All he had to do from there was slide both hands inward and it’d be over. I could forget Ben in the heat of sweaty bodies tangled together so tight, you couldn’t tell where one left off and the other began. If there was one thing Max and I did well, it was fuck like champions.
Max stopped the glide of my hands before I could make a poor choice. He turned my left hand over, and the kiss he pressed into my palm tingled. Our eyes met, and then he let go so he could stand up, leaving me to fight with the stubborn laces myself if I wanted the boots off.
By the time I freed myself from them, the alcohol had started to kick in hard. My eyes closed. When I reopened them, Max was sitting on the bed beside me, his hands loose on his knees.
“How bad Şirinevler Escort Bayan was it?” he asked quietly. “Ben wouldn’t tell me.”
“He tried to wake me up in the middle of a nightmare, and I almost broke his neck.”
We’d been friends long enough for Max to know I’d never exaggerate like that. His eyes widened like trash can lids. “Jesus, Sam.”
“I know.” I rolled my head slowly on my shoulders, looking up to focus on the popcorn ceiling. “He told me he’d take self-defense classes.”
“Ben. He thinks we have a shot at working this out. As if some underpaid minion in a community center can teach him how to take me down, and then counsel me till I turn all Mary Sunshine and follow fucking yellow brick roads with him.”
Max reached for the bottle, taking another swig from it. He wasn’t a heavy drinker, so he’d be feeling it tomorrow. He shuddered. “Yeah, that stuff’s still not any less nasty.” He set the bottle on the nightstand. “Sam, Ben cares about you, and that night I came home you said that he’s it for you. Now he’s seen the darkest sides and still wants you. What’s the problem?”
“Aside from me almost killing him?”
“It was a fluke. You’ve spent the night with me and never flipped out.” “If I did, you could handle me.”
“Yeah I could, but you want Ben not me.”
“I never said I didn’t want you, Max. I just didn’t want to cheat on Ben. But he’s out of the picture now. Lie down.”
Max immediately stretched out on the bed at my side. One arm curled up over his head, but he didn’t touch me and his body language didn’t invite me closer, so I mirrored his position instead. We laid together in silence until Max finally rolled over. He propped up on his good arm to see my face.
“I think you should talk to Ben.” “Your suggestion’s been noted and overruled.”
“Sam, you’re in love with him.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “I am, but like you said that night on the porch, the relationship between you and me is the longest one I’ve ever been in. We make more sense.”
“We do. But logic isn’t the same as love.”
“Since when does your moral compass point so northward?”
“Since you fell for a guy I can’t compete with.”
“Who says you can’t?”
Max didn’t say a word when I dragged my hand down his chest, but he stopped me before I could get to the more interesting landscape below his belt. My growl of frustration didn’t faze him in the least. I had the advantage of two good hands and his arm was still injured, so when I rolled him under me and straddled his hips, he only had the one hand to press against my chest to keep me from closing the gap between his mouth and mine.
I could feel his obvious interest in the power play when our hips aligned. Ben was the only one I submitted to regularly. Max and I switched all the time. Our playful fights of dominance to see who’d be on top had always been epic, and set the tone for nights that would make me walk funny for days.
Max’s good hand slid down my hip, squeezing hard as he pulled me a little higher up his body until the ridge of his cock rubbed along my ass just right. Even through the denim of our jeans it felt good, and was familiar enough to lull me into a false sense of confidence amplified by the dulling effects of the alcohol. I didn’t feel his knees coming up until it was too late.
I blinked when I ended up flipped on my back, held in place by his weight. He ignored my whined protest.
“I thought you wanted to give us a chance. Here’s your shot.” I wiggled my hips as he had, but instead of pressing his advantage, Max rolled off to his side of the bed again and snorted.
“You’re down and out like a fat kid playing dodge ball. I’m not going to take advantage of that.”
His slap was affectionate as he caught me on the side Escort Şirinevler of the head. I scowled, rubbing the spot.
“I think I liked you better when all you wanted was my cock.”
“Technically, all I used to want was your ass,” he corrected with a grin. “Preferably when it was wrapped tight around my cock.”
My own dick stirred at that thought. Max noticed at once. His eyes crinkled at the edges. Some of the lines stayed even when his smile lightened, deeper than they’d been the last time I’d seen him. That subtle sign of age softened the irritation I felt at him for not allowing me to self-destruct by fucking him to escape from the pain of giving up Ben.
We weren’t kids anymore, and this wasn’t fair to him. Not just because of the newly confessed feelings he had for me, but because it didn’t follow the codes of conduct followed by a good soldier. No matter what I’d said to Ben at the hospital, I still felt the military’s values down to my core, and you just didn’t fuck with loyalty and love that went deep enough for a man to willingly take a bullet for you. And Max would without any hesitation. Before, and especially now that there was a hint of that new gentleness I knew was costing him more than he’d admit.
My voice was gruff as I swiped a hand down his arm. “I’m sorry I pushed. That was a dick move.”
Max shrugged. “Baby, don’t doubt I’m employing every ounce of self-control I have not to drag that fine ass of yours under me and fuck you stupid. If I thought that would work to get Ben out of your mind, we wouldn’t be talking right now. But I like to think I’m smarter than that…at least when the big head has enough control to tell the little one to stop the crazy.”
My mouth curved into a genuine smile. “I’ve always liked your brand of crazy.”
“Well if you wake up in the morning still craving seven inches of crazy so deep you’ll feel the insanity for days, you let me know. For now, get your ass in your own bed. I’m going to spread out and fucking starfish if I’m not getting laid.”
Max spread out when I moved, arms and legs positioned like he was about to make snow angels. “I want to enjoy the luxury of sleeping on a bed bigger than a twin for one more day.”
I smiled as I moved over to the other bed, looking back at him once I got situated. I watched him get comfortable, my voice quiet when I asked, “Are we okay?”
“We’re fine, Sam,” he assured me in that slow steady drawl. “The question is, are you okay? I’ve got you smiling now, but I leave tomorrow, so you need to decide whether you’re going to try and work out things here, or take some time off.”
“Where would I go?” “Anywhere you want. If you’re desperate, you could head to New Jersey for a while. My parents would love to see you, though after time spent at the Melone house you might see how good you have it here.”
He was teasing, but I knew the offer was genuine, and it was a tempting suggestion. His parents had always embraced Connor and me as their own when they’d lived in Florida, allowing us to stay over at their home when things were too tense at ours. Since Max’s dad was a retired veteran, he understood what transition out of the service and into civilian life was like. I knew he wouldn’t ask too many questions, and Max’s mother was the quintessential mom. She’d baby the hell out of me, and give me the chance to hide for a while.
My voice slurred with sleepiness, not alcohol this time when I forced my eyes to stay open long enough to look over at Max. “What do you think I should do?”
He shrugged. “Don’t ask me, sweetheart. I’ve used up my selfless quota for the day.” His body moved with bendy grace as he rolled to a seated position. “I’m going to check in with Sofia, and then I’ll call my parents to give them the heads up that you might be dropping by.”
I nodded. “Max?”
Max smiled. “I love you too, dumbass.”
He became a lean silhouette as he drew the blinds tight and shut off the lights. I was half asleep, but the tease in his voice still registered when he said, “Remember what I said about craving the crazy in the morning.”
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