Tag Archive | Braylin McGavin

Knights of Hope – Chapter 10 – Trouble Brewing

436

The next day Braylin woke earlier than usual. Maybe it was the rumble from the nearby train or the unfamiliar bed. It didn’t matter. The bed he was in was empty. Tossing back the blankets he shuffled into the living room rubbing sleep from his eyes. It too was empty. The dishes from the night before were put away from where he had stacked them on the counter.

Knocking on the bathroom door. Waiting for a response before opening it and sticking his head inside. Empty. Had Trebor received an emergency call from the hospital? Surely he would have left him a note or a text. Frowning he went back into the bedroom pulling on his boxers. There was one other place he hadn’t checked yet. The roof. Trebor had mentioned it was his favorite place to think.

435433

Climbing the stairs he found Trebor starting across the river. Silently he approached him wrapping his arms around him pressing his front into his back. Lifting his face he kissed his shoulders where it sloped up to his neck. “Morning he whispered.”

“I used to think we’d be close forever” Trebor said reaching for Braylin’s hand. “My sister and I. The older we got the further apart we became.”

“You can’t blame yourself for that” he said quietly.

“I keep thinking if I hadn’t been so busy. If I wasn’t so focused on getting good grades. Becoming a doctor. Maybe I would have seen when she started going down the wrong path.” Turning into Braylin’s arms “I’m a terrible brother.”

432

Kissing the top of his messy head he ran his fingers through Trebor’s hair. “That’s not true. I’m the terrible brother not you. She’s responsible for her own decisions.”

“I could have done more. You heard me yesterday. I sounded more like our mom than her brother.” Pulling away from Braylin’s embrace he took several steps away hugging himself. “I could have tried to be a little more understanding.”

“Why don’t you give her another call” he suggested “tell her what you just told me.”

Holding his phone up he said “I already did. At least I tried. I’m not sure if it came out the way I wanted it too.”

Taking slow careful steps forward he suggested “why don’t we go out for breakfast?”

“The diner isn’t busy this time of day. Their breakfast isn’t as good as their supper menu. It’s still good” he added hastily his eyes focused on his phone.

431430

“It’s better than sitting around waiting for a response” he said taking the phone from Trebor’s hand. “We’ll leave this here.”

“What if I get a call from the hospital” he protested reaching for the phone.

“Another thirty minutes won’t matter” he said holding the phone just out of reach from Trebor’s hands.

Giving his phone one last longing look Trebor glared at the pink haired male. “You can’t just take my phone” he made an expected lounge for it. His fingers sliding across its surface.

“Don’t worry. You’ll get it back” he chuckled “I promise. It’s just for breakfast.”

“Fine have it your way” he mumbled.

“Goodie” he clapped his hands. “Now let’s get dressed and go eat.”

***

417

When they were both dressed and sitting outside the diner Braylin asked “tell me about when you were a kid. You hardly talk about your family.”

A smile tugged at his lips. “I don’t like to talk about them. I’m homesick all the time and talking about home just makes it worse. But….”

“But? What” he prompted taking a swallow of his coffee.

“Before I was alone with no one to talk to” he sighed “it’s awful to be alone and so far away from home. That type of loneliness eats at you.”

“I can understand that” he set his coffee cup down. “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

“I want to I think” a smile spread across his face as his eyes took on a far away look. “There was this one time my parents took me and my sister to the beach. It was a family picnic. Dad made all the fixings and Mom got all our stuff together. I was about ten and Ava was six. She liked to follow me around everywhere. I found it both annoying and flattering.”

Braylin smiled listening to him. He remembered feeling the same about his little brother. Hearing his brother tell everyone he wanted to be just like him. Then it all changed. Became dangerous to be like him… shaking his head he tried to rid his mind of the troubling thoughts.

427

“Somehow we forgot our beach ball in the car. Ava volunteered to go back to get it. She was taking forever. I was busy making sandcastles and forgot all about it.”

“Trebor where’s your sister” Garrett asked a worried frown upon his face.

“I don’t know” he mumbled digging a mote in the sand.

“Did she go swimming” he asked panic making his voice higher than usual.

“Honey what’s wrong” Verity asked coming alongside them.

“Are you sure you don’t know where she went” Garrett asked again.

“How should I know” Trebor demanded looking up at them “I haven’t seen her in awhile.”

G194

Clutching Garrett’s arm Verity cried “what if she went swimming alone. What if she got caught in a rip tide?”

“Do you remember what direction she went” Garrett asked his son.

“I don’t know” he pointed “I think she went that way.”

Garrett tore off across the beach towards the ocean in the direction Trebor had pointed in. Verity ran behind him searching the water for any sign of her little girl.

A few minutes later “what’s daddy and mommy doing” Ava asked stopping beside her brother carrying a large beach ball.

“Looking for you I think” Trebor said “where were you?”

“I went to get our ball” she tossed it into the air “it took forever to blow up.”

427

“Mom” he called getting her attention “I found her.”

“Did not” she protested “I wasn’t lost. I knew exactly where I was at all times.”

“OMG Ava” Verity cried running up and hugging her little girl “don’t ever run off like that again.”

“I didn’t I told Trebor” she protested.

“Did not” he said.

“You need to tell me or your dad” Verity said “never run off by yourself again.”

“Dad wasn’t very happy that he’d been diving in and out of the ocean for no reason.” He laughed at the memory of his dad soaking wet in his clothes. “I really did forget about her telling me where she was going. She had been gone so long it completely slipped my mind.” Taking a bite of his omelet he asked “what about you? Any embarrassing stories you want to tell?”

428

“Well there was this one time. We were visiting our grandma and we wanted to go fishing.” He smiled at the memory. He loved his grandma and still missed her. “Grandma said we could but we had to find our own bait.”

“Bait? Did you use lures or anything” Trebor asked.

“Nope. Grandma taught us how to fish the old fashioned way.” He grinned enjoying the disbelieving look that crossed Trebor’s face. “I’m not making it up. She had us find the straightest sticks we could find and tied a fishing line and hook at one end of it. It took some practice to get used to but it was fun. Kind of like being Huckleberry Finn or something.”

“So you went hunting for bait” Trebor prompted.

“Yeah” he thought for moment “we decided we needed bugs and night-crawlers.”

“Night-crawlers” Trebor asked “what’s that?”

“Worms” he chuckled remembering. “We spent most of the day searching under rocks and logs to get the best works we could find. We found out later that the best time to go night crawler hunting is at night when tons of worms come up from the ground.”

429

Trebor shivered “sounds gross.”

“Worms don’t hurt you and makes the soil good to grow things. Grandma’s garden had lots of worms in it.” Taking sip of his coffee he continued “Bodhi kept pulling up weeds and throwing them at me. It wasn’t until the next day we realized what those weeds were.”

“Oh no” Trebor laughed “don’t tell me…poison ivy.”

“Yep” he shook his head “Bodhi was pulling it up by the handfuls and he didn’t get anything. Me on the other hand. I was was covered from head to foot in the stuff. I itched so bad.”

“Did your grandma use calamine lotion to keep you from itching” he asked.

“Yeah I was pink from head to foot then too” he scowled at Trebor “yeah go ahead and laugh. Wait until you get poison ivy and see how funny you think it is then.”
“I’m sorry but I can’t help it.” he grabbed his orange juice to keep from bursting into another round of laughter.

***

426425

“So glad you decided to grace us with your presence McGavin” the coach yelled as he came onto the ice from the locker room.

“Sorry coach” he mumbled feeling everyone’s eyes upon him. “Won’t happen again.”

“See that it don’t otherwise you’ll find yourself on the bench” the man thundered.

“A general grumble rose amongst the team. “Yes sir” he said knowing that was the general accepted response.

“As I was saying before we were interrupted we have three new team members. Joseph Bennett from Starlight Shores. Rory Braxton from Bridgeport. Matt Ryan from right here in good old Boroughsburg.” There was a heavy pause that followed his announcement. “The are subs in case anyone can’t play.” He stared at Braylin a moment before continuing. “I’ll let you guys introduce yourselves later. Let’s practice.”

424

As they were leaving the ice Matt skated up behind Braylin forcing him into the boards. “Better watch your back” he whispered harshly in his ear before John pulled him off.

“What’s his problem” he asked glaring after the new guy.

Rubbing his neck Braylin shrugged “I think he wants my position.”

“Fat chance of that happening” John slapped him on the back “you’re the best center we have.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence but I don’t think Coach feels the same way.” His day had started off great. Breakfast. Talking about their respective families. The feeling that maybe he wasn’t the worst brother in the world. Things were going good until now.

423

“Just be on time next time” John advised him “Coach isn’t going to let Matt take your spot unless you don’t give him any choice.”

Nodding he followed John into the locker room. The old feeling of things slowly unraveling around him was making him feel jumpy. Slumping onto the bench in front of his locker he peeled off his sweat soaked jersey. He had a sense of being out of place. A square peg in a round hole.

“Hey did you hear” John asked smiling down at him. “The new kid Joseph is throwing a party at his place over the weekend.”

“Count me out” he said with a shake of his head. “I don’t party like I used to. I think I’ll pass.”

“Don’t be like that. It’s not going to be that kind of party. It’s more of a get to know you party. We’re all going and bringing our significant others with us.” Jabbing him playfully in the side “maybe we’ll finally meet that handsome doctor of yours.”

422

“There’s a reason why I keep him away from the likes of you.”

“Hey I can’t help it if I’m irresistible” John held his hands up “but if it makes you feel better I promise not to try anything. I just want to meet him.”

“I’ll think about it” he said “if he wants to come and if he doesn’t have to work we might come.”

“Awesome” he jumped up unable to contain his excitement any longer. He somehow always reminded Braylin of a puppy who knew he was about to get a treat. “I’ll see you there.”

Tossing his uniform into the locker he wrapped a towel around his waist. H walked over to the showers stopping when he came face to face with Matt. The cocky sneer he was wearing sent shivers down his spine. H didn’t know what it was about this guy but he had the uncomfortable feeling that he was up to no good.

***

421420

“Are you sure you want to do this” he asked as they walked up the sidewalk towards the house.

“I want to meet the guys on the team” Trebor insisted.

“Are you sure that’s it” he asked “you’re not concerned I’ll have a relapse or anything?”

“I trust you” he looked into Braylin’s troubled eyes. “You can do this alone if you wanted to. We don’t have stay long either if it makes you uncomfortable. We can leave anytime you want.”

Stopping to tuck a strand of hair behind Trebor’s ear he said “I never want to lose the faith you have in me. That means more to me than you’ll ever know.”

“Are you sure you want to do this” Trebor asked his apprehension rising. “You don’t have to do this if you’re not ready.”

419

“I want to show off my drop dead sexy doctor” he grinned forcing the uneasiness he was feeling to the back of his mind. “I’m proud of my handsome doctor.”

“As I am of my hockey player” he grinned allowing Braylin to pull him close and kiss him in front of the house.

Neither of them noticed the curtains move as their arrival didn’t go unnoticed. “Let the games begin” the observer muttered turning from the window. “Hey everybody they’re here” he announced picking up the two drinks he’d prepared special for their arrival.

“Those are nonalcoholic right” John asked his words slightly slurred.

“Of course” Matt nodded “taste it if you don’t believe me.” Carefully he handed the cup intended for Trebor to him.

“Eew” he made a disgusted face “that’s really bad.”

418

“Anything nonalcoholic is bad” Joseph said slapping John on the back “but we make allowances for people with different tastes. Don’t we buddy?”

“Sure do” John agreed letting himself be steered into another room away from the door.

“Welcome to the party” Matt greeted them handing Trebor the cup John had sampled and the other cup he gave to Braylin. “I wanted to apologize for the way I acted at practice the other day.”

Taking a sip of the contents Braylin nodded “that’s okay. We all want a chance to play. You’ll get yours.”

Turning away muttering under his breath “sooner than you think.”

Chapter 9 – Movie Date /

Knights of Hope – Chapter 9 – Movie Date

403

Trebor leaned against the moving van kneading the back of his neck.”How did I let myself get roped into doing manual labor on my day off” he muttered to himself.

“I don’t know. How did you” a familiar voice said next to his ear.

“Braylin” he cried jumping a little when the man’s fingers dug into his sore overworked muscles.

“Mmm that feels divine” closing his eyes he let himself relax beneath the hand’s kneading his tired sore muscles. “I thought you had to practice this morning” he hummed slightly. He was sure if he were part cat he’d be purring.

“Practice is over” he leaned forward pressing his lips into the back of Trebor’s neck. “Thought I’d come by to see if you needed any help.”

“OMG this is him isn’t” Elaine’s voice cried shrill with excitement came to them as she came out of the house. “I’ve heard all about you. I didn’t really believe it though.”

Tensing Trebor stepped away from Braylin to face his cousin. “Did you think I made him up or something?”

“Well….” shrugging she turned to stare at Braylin “maybe just the part about him being a famous hockey player.”

402401

“You told them I was famous” he asked eyes twinkling with amusement.

“Well aren’t you?”

“I don’t know….maybe a little” grinning he turned his attention to the girl “maybe I am among hockey fans.”

“I’m not a fan” she gushed “but my boyfriend is. Russell is going to freak.” Turning her head towards the house “Russell come out here. There’s someone you need to meet.”

Trebor reached for Braylin’s hand giving him an apologetic look. “I’m sorry” he murmured.

“Don’t be” he squeezed his hand to reassure him. “I’m kind of used to this kind of reaction from fans.”

The door opened and a tired looking young man appeared. “Elaine what are you doing out here? You should be inside resting.”

“I’m fine” she insisted. Waving her hands around in the direction of Braylin she announced “look.”

400

Russell’s eyes became large and round. “You’re you’re” looking to Trebor as if he needed confirmation for what his eyes were telling him “is this your boyfriend?” Receiving a nod in response to his question he continued to stare at Braylin too tongue-tied to say anything.

“Are you a hockey fan” Braylin asked when the silence lengthened into awkwardness.

Nodding Russell blinked slowly as if coming back into focus. “Ssssorry. It’s just I never expected to meet you in person.” He gave Eli a glare who was snickering behind his back but resolutely continued “you never know how much to believe when your source is that guy.” He jerked his head towards Eli.

“I would have told you if he were lying” Trebor said softly.

“Don’t be upset” Elaine quickly stepped in “we just thought it was a case of love being blind and all that jazz. We assumed you wouldn’t know if he was famous or not. You never seemed to be all that into hockey when we invited you over to see any of the games.” Giggling a little “it’s not like you were all that interested or ever actually watched the game.”

“You got me there” he admitted scratching his head. “Before Braylin I didn’t know anything about hockey. I barely knew what a puck was.”

“You’ve come a long way babe” Braylin beamed at him wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling Trebor to him. “So how much more do you have to do? Trebor and I had plans tonight. I don’t want him to miss that movie he’s been talking about for weeks.”

“Are you taking him to the new dragon movie” Elaine asked as they all converged on the van.

399

“That was the plan” he said “but the last showing is at 3:30 so we had to cancel.”

“Cancel” she cried “why did you do that?”

“Laine it’s alright” Trebor assured her “I’ll see it when it comes out on Netflix.”

“You’ll do no such thing” she shook her head at him resting her hands on her slim hips. Turning to Braylin “do you know he collects all things dragon? He’s wanted to see that movie since he saw the previews. He absolutely loves dragons.”

“I don’t see how we can help you move and make the movie” Trebor pointed out picking up a large box.

“Put that down” she ordered.

“What” he asked almost dropping it.

“You heard me. Put it down” she pointed towards the floor of the van. “If you leave right now you’ll be able to get cleaned up and still make it in time to see the movie.”

398397

“Are you serious” he asked slowly setting the box down.

“Of course she is” Russell encouraged coming up alongside kissing her cheek. “She’s a romantic at heart.”

“Shush” she leaned into him “I would have insisted you stop working a while ago if I had known.”

“Are you sure” he asked again “I don’t mind helping. I don’t want to leave you with all this work yet to do.”

“Don’t worry about it” she waved a dismissive hand towards the boxes. We have the truck until Monday. We’ll finish tomorrow if you want to come back in the morning to help.”

“We’ll be here” Braylin grabbed Trebor’s hand and hurried from the van.

“But…” he stammered “we should finish and I’m not dressed….”

“You look fine” Braylin assured him.

“Have fun you two” Eli shouted “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

***

408409

“I wish I had time to have a shower at least” Trebor mumbled under his breath as they found seats in the middle towards the front.

“You smell fine” Braylin flashed his trademark toothy grin.

“That’s something at least” taking a handful of the buttery popcorn Braylin insisted on getting.

“I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist this buttery goodness” winking at him nonchalantly munching on a handful of popcorn.

“I’m starving” Trebor explained “we were waiting for Lana to come back with lunch.”

“Oh” the movie theater darkened. “Would you like some nachos? I could get you some?”

“Don’t worry about it” he munched on more popcorn “I’ll survive.”

Most of the movie Braylin found himself watching the man beside him. Trebor’s eyes were glued to the screen jumping whenever something tense or exciting happened in the movie. He especially liked the almost childlike wonder that Trebor had allowing him to suspend reality and fully give himself over to the movie.

406

Walking from the theater Trebor asked “what were you thinking about during the moving? You kept watching me.”

“I didn’t think you noticed” he brushed a street of hair from Trebor’s eyes.

“I could tell you were watching me not the movie” he turned to leave disappointment in the sag of his shoulders and eyes.

“Hey don’t be like that” Braylin caught his arm slowing him down.

“Like what” he challenged “we could have watched something else. We didn’t have to watch that particular movie because it’s the one I wanted to see.”

“I liked the movie well enough” he protested.

“What was it about” Trebor challenged.

“It was …. Um” he shrugged “I don’t know. Maybe I needed to know more about dragons to really enjoy it.”

“We could have gone to something else” anxious now that he knew Braylin wasn’t as into Dragon’s as he was.

405

“I enjoyed it” he insisted.

“But you didn’t like it” Trebor shook his head “you probably think I’m being silly for liking it so much.”

“Not at all” he shook his head taking Trebor’s hand and leading him from the empty theater. “I enjoyed watching you enjoy it. It was all worth it.”

“You’re not just saying that” he asked looking up watching Braylin contritely.

“It’s like you watching me play hockey” he explained “you don’t understand it but you still have fun. That’s how I feel right now.” He watched the anxiety melt from Trebor’s face and eyes and smiled. “That’s better” he teased touching his face “I missed that smile.”

“Sorry it’s just after all the talking I did about the movie and how great it was going to be” he shrugged “then you didn’t like it. Don’t say you did. I’ve gotten familiar with the way you crease your forehead when you don’t like something. You may not dislike it but you’re just tolerating it because of me.”

“Oh” he was chagrined “I still had fun though.”

“I don’t know how if you hated the movie” he persisted.

“I had fun watching you enjoy it” pausing flicking Trebor’s nose playfully. “You were so engrossed in the movie. I would have paid to watch the way your face lit up. That’s what I found the most enjoyable watching you.”

304

“What do you want for supper” Trebor asked changing the subject.

“I thought you were going to feed me a gourmet meal” he teased.

“I don’t know how gourmet it will be but I can cook” Trebor said “Do you like lasagna?”

“I’ll eat anything you make.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“I’m not fond of Italian” he grinned “but it beats eating Chinese take out again.”

Frowning as he drove up outside Trebor’s building. “This isn’t a very good neighborhood.”

“Don’t worry. Your car will be safe” he assured him getting out. “I can’t afford anything else with all my school loans” he said.

Pointing in the direction of the little diner packed with customers. “Have you ever eaten there” he asked.

417

“Not often” he said leading the way towards his apartment. “It’s always packed and yes their food is that good.”

“One day we should try it” he suggested.

“Are you saying you don’t like my cooking” he asked.

By the tone of his voice Braylin knew he was teasing “I didn’t say that.”

“No? You just implied it” he held the door open for Braylin to enter first. He walked past the elevator going towards the stairs. With a groan Braylin followed.

Several flights up Trebor exits the stairwell and going towards his door. Holding it open allowing Braylin to enter first. Whistling softly Braylin said “not bad.”

“Not quite the hole in the wall you expected” he challenged.

“Nope” he went to inspect the view “wow you’re super close to the train.”

I’m kind of used to it by now” he said moving around the kitchen gathering the ingredients he needed to cook. “I hardly notice it now. After we eat we’ll need to go up to the roof to check out the view. It’s my favorite spot.”

***

416

An hour later Braylin was leaning back at the kitchen table. “That was delicious” he patted his stomach. “I might have to do extra laps tomorrow to run it all off.” Silence greeted his announcement. Giving Trebor a concerned look only to find him staring at his phone. “Something wrong?”

Shaking his head he looked up meeting Braylin’s gaze. Eyes moist with tears not yet fallen. “It’s my little sister. She quit college.”

“Her choice” he asked sensing that her quitting school wasn’t the real problem.

“She only has a few months to go before getting her degree” he took a deep breath. Putting his phone away saying “my parents don’t know where she is. They were hoping she’d come here.”

“Will she?”

415

“I don’t think so” he drummed his fingers on the table a far away look in his eyes. “We used to be really close when we were kids. Now” he shrugged “I don’t know her.”

Pushing away from the table Braylin stood and began to clear the table. “I’ll clean up” he offered “why don’t you give her a call?”

“Are you sure” he asked frowning as he watched as Braylin stacked the dishes haphazardly. Biting his lip to keep from saying anything he stood up too.

Sighing Braylin looked at the dishes in his hands “I know I haven’t learned your method yet but I promise I’ll get them clean.”

“Alright” he nodded reluctantly taking a few steps towards the living room before turning back. Wrapping his arms around Braylin he whispered “I don’t know what I’d do without my hockey player.”

414

“Well Doctor Bennett I hope you never have to find out” he smiled letting the warmth caused by Trebor’s words to spread through him. Briefly he felt the warmth of Trebor’s lips on the side of his neck just below his ear lobe.

Turning Trebor stood in front of his dragon tapestry letting his mind wander to the movie he’d seen earlier that day. How would it be if he actually had a real dragon? His hand traced the dragon’s tail while he listened to his phone ring waiting for his sister to pick up.

Frowning as the automated message played he took a deep breath to leave his message. “Ava this is your brother. Where the hell are you? Mom and Dad are hysterical. I know you’re going through some sort of experimental phase or whatever you call it. That’s no excuse to make everyone worry about you. Call me.”

He slowly turned around coming face to face with Braylin. “Don’t say anything” he snapped not happy with the message he’d left.

“In my experience that’s the last message I’d return” he said drying his hands on the back of his jeans. “What kind of trouble is she in?”

413412

“I never said she was….”

Walking over to the other man he gently lifted Trebor’s chin up to gaze into his eyes. “You didn’t have to.” He could the indecision and trouble in the light blue eyes as they stared up at him “tell me” he requested softly.

“She’s just the typical college senior” he mumbled turning away. “She drinks too much and … “ wrapping his arms around himself he stared at his feet.

“Is she into drugs” Braylin asked making a guess.

Nodding he looked up “I found the drugs in her room when we were both home for the holidays last year. She promised she’d stop.” His voice rose “now I don’t know. She may have just been telling me what I wanted to hear.”

411

“All you can do is wait to hear from her” he murmured.

“She won’t call” he said jerking from the well-meaning arms of the hockey player. “She’s too stubborn. Always doing her own thing. I thought if I was a good enough big brother she wouldn’t have to go down this path.” Turning he reached for the door knob “maybe it’s karma come to bite me in the ass.”

Frowning Braylin wondered what he meant by that. But before he could ask Trebor said “want to go up to the roof?”

The plea in his voice and the sadness in his eyes made him want to do anything he could to wipe that expression from his face forever. “Sure babe I’d like that” he followed him out and up the stairs. Reaching the top he said “you know you can tell me anything right?”

A pause ensued at Trebor stared at the busy bridge in the distance “I know. I just need a little time.”

Chapter 8 – Friendly Get Together / Chapter 10 – Trouble Brewing

Knights of Hope – Chapter 8 – Friendly Get Together

394395

“Do I look alright” Braylin asked tugging at his necktie. “I feel like I’m choking.”

Leaning his head to the side Trebor asked “who said you had to wear a tie?”

“You did” he grumbled reaching for the door handle to get out of the car.

“I never said anything about wearing a tie” he protested walking around the car. “Here let me help you.” Moving quickly he released the tie and tossed in into the front seat.

“Hey” he shouted “it took me forever to tie that thing.” He twisted around to retrieve it.

“Leave it” Trebor said “you don’t need it.” he put a hand on the man’s shoulder. “You look fine the way you are.” Stepping back he gave his boyfriend an appraising look “better than fine.”

“Fine enough that’d you would ravish me in the back seat” he asked a hopeful gleam in his eyes.

387388

“You’ve got to be better than fine for that to happen.” Shaking his head Trebor turned to walk to the towards the building. A whistle made him stop and glance over his shoulder.

“Like what you see” he asked smiling.

Hurrying towards him, taking his hand they finished the rest of the walk hand in hand. While they waited for someone to let them inside Braylin leaned in close “you’ve got the best butt I’ve seen. I almost didn’t want to catch up with you. I was enjoying the view so much.”

“I’m glad you caught up though” Trebor said resting his cheek momentarily on his shoulder. “I’d much rather hold your hand than have your eyes on my ass.”

“Knock it off you two” Eli’s voice made them both jump when they realized the door was open.

“Don’t listen to him” Lana said coming up behind her fiance. “I think it’s adorable” she gave Trebor a hug then turned to Braylin “it’s good to meet you in person.”

386

At Braylin’s confused look Eli explained “meet nurse Betty. She’s the one who gave you the inside scoop on your man’s work schedule or should I say lack of love life until you came into his life.”

“Be nice” Lana warned swatting him “otherwise you’ll be on the couch tonight.”

“Threaten all you want but I know you’ll never do it” he grinned confident in his assessment.

“And why is that” she demanded following him into the kitchen. Walking over to the counter she picked up a stack of plates “make yourself useful and set the table.”

Taking the plates he said “you’ll never do it” as if the conversation never ended. “I’m too damn irresistible.”

Ignoring him she turned to Trebor. “Tell me you’ll trade me cutie pie here for doofus over there.” She winked at Braylin causing Eli to chuckle.

“Don’t get your hopes up. She’ll never do it” Eli said confidently “she loves to me too much.”

385

Taking Braylin’s arm Trebor said “there will be no trading today…unless of course Bray here wants to be traded.”

He glanced from one smiling face to the next. It was all fun and games. “Nope not today. I’m happy with the guy I came with.”

“Just as well” she sighed “I’m rather fond of my doofus over there.”

“See” Eli grinned putting an around her waist “I knew you couldn’t get rid of me.”

“If you make me drop this bowl you really will be sleeping on the couch” she scolded him.

Dropping his arm he turned to his guest. “Perhaps we should go into the living room while she finishes up.”

***

383382

“Braylin would you mind staying and helping me” she asked as the others moved towards the other room.

“Well I…” grinning he nodded “of course I can. What would you like me to do?” He didn’t miss the panic in Trebor’s expressive eyes or the giggle Eli couldn’t suppress. When they were seated and talking quietly amongst themselves he asked “so is this when you tell me not to hurt your friend?”

She raised an eyebrow at him “what makes you think I was going to do that?”

“Isn’t it pretty obvious? I mean you ask me to stay behind when Eli could have helped you.” Glancing towards the living room “I get it. You care about him and don’t want to see him hurt. I’m glad he has friends that care that much about him.”

“From what I can tell you’re a really nice guy” she admitted giving him a sincere smile. “If I didn’t believe that I would never have given you all the information I had. Trebor’s a good guy. He’s family.” At his blank expression she explained “we’re cousins. Our grandparents were siblings. So we’ve known each other all our lives. He needs someone looking out for him.”

“He doesn’t talk much about his family” he said softly not wanting the others to overhear them.

“It’s his way of coping with homesickness” she explained “would you mind tossing this salad?” she asked handing him some tongs.

384

“Sure” he said taking the tongs from her. “What makes you think he’s homesick? Where is home?”

“I’m sure he’s told you he’s from Sunlit Tides” she said.

“Yeah he’s mentioned it” shrugging “I guess I never thought about it much. It’s just an island.”

“An island he plans on setting up his practice on” she said watching him carefully. “That’s how I know he’s homesick. He has a habit of not taking about things that upset him.”

“I’ve noticed that about him” he conceded looking towards the living room. “It’s not like I haven’t asked him questions….”

“I’m not saying that” she rested a hand on his forearm. “I’m just saying you need to get him to open up to you. He’ll start to open up. I’m sure of it.”

Frowning he thought over what she’d said. “What else can I do? I mean I’ve told him about my past and party lifestyle. Things I regret a lot. I’ve shared with him my love of hockey.” Looking down at the salad he chuckled a little “I can’t cook worth a damn.”

381

“What about your family” she asked “have you told him anything about them?”

“Not much. I guess it hasn’t come up” he stared into space. “Do you really think that will help him to open up to me? Me opening up to him?”

“That’s usually how it works” she giggled “it’s really not that difficult or scary. You’re a good guy. Sometimes Trebor needs a nudge in the right direction. Show him you want more than just a good time and sexy times in the bedroom. Show him you’re interested in him as a person.”

“I am interested in him as a person” he protested slamming the tongs down. “I mean the sex is great but I do want to get to know him better. I kind of thought that was evident a month ago…”

“Hey now” she took his hand “don’t think that way. He knows you care about him. He trusts you. That says a lot.” She stopped considering her words “he’s been hurt before. He kind of closed himself off to keep from getting hurt again. This is the first time I’ve seen him this relaxed around anyone not family. You’re good for him.” Letting his hand go she said “I’m glad you haven’t given up trying to get through his reserves. Help him open up. We’ve all been there. Even Doofus.”

“I appreciate you telling me. I really am. He means the world to me.”

Grinning she said “if you hurt that cinnamon roll I’ll personally kick your ass.” Raising her voice she called “let’s eat. Dinner is served.”

***

393

“Will we be hearing wedding bells soon” Eli asked the following morning as they did rounds.

“No one said anything about marriage” he protested “besides we hardly know each other.”

“Whose fault is that” he demanded “he isn’t Oliver.”

“I know that….”

“You’re afraid.”

“I am not” he hesitated “maybe a little.” Before Eli could say anything he cut him off. “I know what your going to say. I know they’re totally different people. Totally different circumstances. I know it but my brain hasn’t caught up with me yet.”

“Want some advice” he asked.

392

“Even if I didn’t I’m going to get it anyway.”

“Damn right” he chuckled “don’t hold onto the past. Braylin is here…” Pausing to give Trebor a reassuring smile when he saw the way he looked around attempting to find the pink haired male. “Not physically you dork. I meant figuratively.”

“I knew that” he said feeling his cheeks heating up.

“Yeah right. That’s why you were craning your neck to see him” he teased. “You’ve got it bad for him.”

“I do not” he protested knowing that Eli was just trying to get a rise out of him. “I thought you wanted to tell me something” he said hoping to change the subject.

“Oh yeah I did” snapping his fingers as if the thought just occurred to him. “I need your muscles this weekend.”

Groaning he shook his head. “I am not spending my only day off moving Lana’s furniture around.”

391

“Did I ask you” he said sounding offended.

“Why else would you need my muscles” he demanded knowing the answer was obvious. “I admit I’ve down that in the past but this time you’ll be moving someone else’s furniture around.”

“No” he said firmly “Braylin and I have plans. Dinner and a movie.”

“He can help” he enthused.

“I said no” walking away hoping that would be the end of it.

“You didn’t even ask whose furniture we’re moving” he said catching up with Trebor.

390

“If you were a fly I’d swat you to get you to leave me alone” he said annoyed at Eli’s persistence.

“Good for me I’m not a fly then.”

“But no less annoying” he gave him a thoughtful look “can’t you ask someone else to help you. I have plans.”

“I could but you kind of offered…”

“I’m pretty sure I didn’t” he frowned. “I only said I’d help Russell move if they ever found a place.”

“They found a place” Eli clapped a hand on his shoulder “cheer up. You and Braylin can go to the movie another night.”

“It’s the last show” he sighed “I was really looking forward to seeing it too.”

389

“Give it a few months and it’ll be on Netflix” Eli suggested.

“It’s not the same” he complained.

“It’s better” he winked at his friend “if you know what I mean.”

“Oh I know what you mean” shaking his head “not everything has to be about sex.”

“It ought to be” he mumbled rubbing his side where Trebor had elbowed him. “That really hurt.”

“Cry me a river” he called over his shoulder as he out paced him.

Stopping he said “I’ll text you the time and place” he said going into the room of his first patient.

Chapter 7 – Hockey Practice / Chapter 9 – Movie Date

Knights of Hope – Chapter 7 – Hockey Practice

The loud slap of the puck slamming into the boards startled Trebor from his thoughts making him jump. Frowning he tried to watch where the little black disk was at all times but his eyes kept straying towards the players. His eyes constantly searching for the one that said McGavin. The only way he had to distinguish one player to the next.

Blowing on his fingers he tried to warm them up. He never imagined hockey being all that interesting before. He’d never been one to play sports and if he did it was soccer. How different was soccer from hockey? Of course he hadn’t played since he was in middle school. By the time he’d gotten into high school he’d concentrated on his grades to the exclusion of everything else. Getting good grades to ensure he got into a good school didn’t leave him much time for anything else.

The bench shifted as someone joined him. Glancing up he found Braylin grinning at him. Sweat dripping from his we hair, his helmet hanging from his hand by the chin strap. “Having fun” he asked. He was barely breathing hard despite having played for almost two hours.

His brow furrowed as he stared intently at the ice and the players on the ice. “I don’t understand the plays. It just looks like a bunch of guys chasing a black disc across the ice.”

Snorting Braylin blurted “it’s a little more than that.”

“Why don’t all the players wear the gear the goalie wears” he asked.

“Because we need to be able to move fast” he laughed “are you really interested in this?”

376

“I wouldn’t be asking if I weren’t” he said “I get that the goalie’s job is to keep the opposing team from getting the puck into the net. Why does he need all that gear?”

“Have you ever been hit by a puck before” he asked trying not to laugh.

“Never” he shook his head “but you have.” It was a statement not a question. He’d seen the bruises that covered Braylin’s body.

“Then let me inform you. It hurts. It hurts like hell” Braylin enthused rubbing his side. “I’ve had my ribs cracked before and concussions from being hit in the head.”

“Weren’t you wearing your helmet” he asked staring at the helmet dandling from Braylin’s hands.

“Well yeah mostly” he shrugged ruefully.

“Uh huh that’s what I thought” Trebor grunted giving him a knowing glare.

“Hey don’t give me that look” he cried pulling Trebor to his lap when he moved to get up.

375

Struggling to get up Trebor demanded “what’s the point of having protective gear if you don’t wear it? You could have ruptured your spleen or gotten internal bleeding.”

“None of that happened” he pulled Trebor’s head down to kiss his lips.

“Eww gross” he cried pushing him away “you’re all sweaty.”

“I thought you liked me all hot and sweaty” he gave him one more kiss before releasing him.

Adjusting his clothes he glared at the pink haired male. “This is different and you know it” he huffed.

Braylin followed him with his eyes tempted to pull him back but resisted the urge. No doubt the catcalls and whistles from the guys on the ice were upsetting him. “You’re right. I’m sorry. It is different.” He waved to some the guys who were leaving. “Give me ten minute to wash some of this sweat off then we can go to lunch.”

Keeping his back turned towards him he crossed his arms in front of him. Shrugging Braylin didn’t wait for a reply just walked towards the locker room hoping he’d still be out there waiting for him by the time he came out again.

***

374

Checking his phone Trebor said “you’re late.”

“Sorry” he smiled sheepishly “the coach wanted to talk to me.”

“He’s not upset you weren’t here yesterday, is he?”

There was concern in his voice and worry in his eyes that Braylin found endearing. “He wasn’t too happy but he’s okay now. I had to tell him about us though.”

“Us” he asked looking towards the ice “is there an us?”

“Would you like there to be an us” he countered mouth twitching watching the mild irritation flash in Trebor’s eyes.

“I don’t want to play any games” he muttered “if that’s what all of this is then tell me. I’m okay with the idea that I’m just a booty call when you’re in town.” He snapped his mouth shut as a hard painful lump formed inside his chest making it difficult to breathe.

“But” Braylin prompted moving forward tilting Trebor’s chin up “you’re hoping for something more.”

Closing his eyes he nodded “no one has ever gone out of their way to do what you did for me. I’m used to having to handle things on my own.” Moving restlessly he turned away “I know we hardly know each other. Yet it feels like…”

373

“Forever” Braylin finished for him. Taking his hand he started walking them towards the exit. “I don’t want a booty call or friends with benefits sort of thing. I want a good old-fashioned relationship. I want to tell everyone you’re my boyfriend.”

“Your boyfriend” he repeated coming to a stop “you want me to be your boyfriend?”

The way he said it like he could hardly believe anyone would want him tugged at Braylin’s heart strings. “Why wouldn’t I? You’re a doctor. You’re going to be the best damn heart surgeon in the world.”

“Do you have any idea how much time and effort it’ll take to get there” he asked watching Braylin as he shook his head. “I have to work long hours. Get extra training. There will be days, weeks maybe even months when you’ll hardly ever see me. When you do, I’ll be so tired I’ll barely know who you are. All I’ll want to do is sleep. Maybe eat. Are you able to handle that?”

“I … don’t know” he conceded.

“At least your honest” Trebor said resuming their walk towards the exit.

“Hey wait a minute” he called after him reaching out to him. “Not so fast. Dating me isn’t going to be a picnic either. My hours are going to be crazy especially during hockey season. I have to train. Practice. Go to games. Travel. I’ll be gone for weeks. Maybe even for months at a time. It doesn’t just stop when hockey season ends. There’s promotional tours. Signings.”

“I hadn’t thought about that” Trebor admitted “it sounds impossible.”

372

“Nothing’s impossible” he tilted Trebor’s face up to his “do you trust me?”

“You know I do” he mumbled shifting his eyes attempting to look away.

“Do. You. Trust. Me.” He spoke each word slow and clear pausing after each one as he said it. “Be honest. Do you really trust me?”

Looking up he met Braylin’s gaze. Calm and steady. Sincere mixed with something else that appeared to be love shining back at him. “I do” he said firmly surprising both of them with the vehemence in which he spoke. “But how do we make this work when there’s so much against it? Us?”

“Only if we let it” he said leaning in close mouth hovering just above Trebor’s. “We’ll both have to make it work. Make adjustments.”

“I’m not afraid of a little hard work” Trebor said closing the minuscule gap between them. Pressing his lips to Braylin’s. Pulling apart he asked “does this mean you want to meet my parents?”

“If you want me to” he said taking his hand to resume their walk again. “I’m sure the clean up crew are waiting for us to leave so they can lock up and go.”

“Oh” he bit his lip cheeks turning red. “I thought we were alone in here.”

“Don’t worry I’m sure they were too busy to notice us and if they did they’ve seen a lot worse than two guys kissing.” When they were outside he asked “where would you like to go for lunch?”

371

Opening his mouth “Chin…” His voice was abruptly cut off by a hand covering his mouth.

“Don’t say it” he pleaded “I like Chinese as much as the next guy but I draw the line at eating it three days in a row. It’s more than I can take.”

“Then you decide” he said jerking his face away “I happen to like Chinese.”

Braylin gave him a curious look asking “why?”

“I…” he hesitated a moment thinking “don’t know.” Bursting into self-conscious laughter he explained “because there’s a Chinese restaurant on the way home from the hospital that I stop at all the time. I don’t have wait for it to be delivered and I don’t have to cook either.”

“I see” he chuckled “so it’s not that you like it that much it’s just convenient.”

“Yeah I guess” he mumbled.

“We’re going to this great little French restaurant. The food is awesome.” He went on to describe the atmosphere and the cuisine before he realized the odd expression Trebor was giving him. “What” he asked watching him.

“I’m not eating frog’s legs” he gagged.

370

“That’s not the only thing on the menu” he smiled “besides frog’s legs are a lot better than the cat and dog meat you get at your local Chinese establishment.”

“They do not serve cat and dog meat” he protested. “That’s just an old wives tale. They eat normal meat like beef, pork and chicken.”

“And octopus and squid…”

“At least it’s not snail” he turned a chalky white at the mention of it. “I’m not eating snails.”

“I bet you’ll like it once you’ve tried it” Braylin winked at him. “You need to expand your palate.” He unlocked the doors holding the passenger side door open for Trebor.

“My palate is just fine” he huffed getting inside the car. Once they were driving for a while he said “maybe one day I’ll make you a home cooked meal.”

Glancing over at him from the driver’s seat he asked “you can cook?”

“Watch the road” he braced himself against the dash. “I know it’s shocking and all but I wish you’d keep your eyes on the road.”

“Let’s go grocery shopping after we eat” he suggested “that way you can cook for me and I can judge for myself whether you can cook or not.”

***

369

“You’re really going to have to get over your fear of the elevator” Braylin huffed setting the grocery bags on the counter. “I am not going to lug groceries up five flights of stairs again.”

“I told you to take the elevator and I’d meet you there” Trebor said starting to take the items out that they purchased from the organic specialties store he talked Braylin into taking him. Opening one of the cupboards he frowned “you weren’t joking about having nothing in your kitchen.”

“Why would I lie” he said waving a hand towards a pile of take out menus. “I have plenty of choices.”

“Then you’re in for a treat” he enthused even as his frown increased opening one empty cupboard after another. “I think we have a problem.”

Watching him his amusement growing Braylin asked in a mock serious tone “what problem would that be?”

“Well you don’t seem to own any cooking utensils. I mean who doesn’t have at least one pot or pan? I don’t think I even saw any actual dishes to eat off of either.” Slamming the nearest cupboard door he said “in order for me to cook we’ll have to go shopping for everything I need to cook it in.”

“In my defense I did tell you I didn’t have anything” his lips twitched fighting the urge to laugh.

368

“You’re making fun of me” Trebor huffed crossing his arms “you knew I didn’t understand exactly what you meant by nothing. I never dreamed that literally meant you had nothing in your kitchen.”

“What’s the big deal” he shrugged nonchalantly “we can go shopping for everything you need tomorrow and order out tonight.”

“But I….” glaring at the groceries “you’re right.”

“I’ll order your favorite…Chinese” he grinned ducking just in time to miss being hit by the tomato Trebor launched at his head. “Hey watch it.”

“I don’t want Chinese” he huffed “I wanted a home cooked Italian meal.”

“You can have Italian tomorrow. After you cook it.”

“If I cook it for you” he pouted lifting another tomato and tossing from hand to hand.

367

“Don’t do it” Braylin warned raising his hands as if to shield himself.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t.”

“One” he grinned “you’ll have to buy more.”

“Nope not good enough” he shook his head “I already have to go shopping. What’s one more tomato?”

“Um” he scratched his head “you don’t like mess. You’ll have to clean it up.”

“True” he agreed lowering his hand “but I already have to clean up one mess what’s another?”

“What if I ask you real nice not to do it?”

366

Lowering his pitching arm Trebor considered his words. “That might work if you asked” he raised his arm “I’m waiting. Ask me.”

Braylin walked forward a grin spreading across his face confident that he’d get his way. “Please don’t throw that tomato at me.” He closed the gap between them wrapping his arms around Trebor hands resting on his hips. “I knew you wouldn’t” he winked giving Trebor a soft sweet kiss.

Pulling back eyebrows raised “you think I won’t?”

“Nope” shaking his head grinning.

“Wrong” he said smashing the tomato on top of Braylin’s head. Juice and seeds ran down his face and into his eyes.

“You’re so going to pay for that” he threatened.

“Only if you catch me” he said running towards the door laughing like a little kid.

Catching up to him he tripped Trebor sending sprawling onto the floor face down. “You have to be quicker than that to get away from me.”

“Who said I wanted to get away” he asked turning onto his back.

“Oh no” he protested jumping on top of him “you aren’t going to say you let me catch you.” He pinned Trebor to the floor “I think this requires a special kind of punishment.” Running his fingers along Trebor’s sides watching him flinch. Smiling “are you ticklish?”

“No” he protested as the pink haired man’s fingers dug into his sides making him squirm attempting to get away. “Stop! Please stop” he gasping for air.

“You promise to never throw another tomato or anything else at me” he asked fingers poised to launch another tickle attack.

“I promise” he gasped “please just don’t tickle me anymore.”

“Alright” he shifted his weight “remember your promise or else you’ll get another visit from the tickle monster.

Chapter 6 – Safe Zone / Chapter 8 – Friendly Get Together

Knights of Hope – Chapter 6 – Safe Zone

360

“Do you mind taking him to your place” Eli asked as he helped Braylin get Trebor to his feet. “I don’t think he should be alone right now.”

“What about Lia and Geoffrey? Aren’t they still at his place” he asked putting an arm around Trebor’s waist to keep him falling over. “What did you give him” he asked in concern.

“A mild sedative” Eli said “I think he’s just opting out. Which is why he shouldn’t be alone. Unfortunately if he went to his place Lia would pester him with a million questions.” Pointing at him he asked “do you think he’s in any condition for that?”

“Well…no” he glanced at the man leaning into him all but unconscious. “You don’t think it’ll freak him out waking up in my house” he asked. “He’s been through enough trauma don’t you think?”

360

Nodding Eli said “I guess he could stay with me and Lana but with Russell staying with us we really don’t have the room. Plus there’s Lia. She’s family so she’ll be over there pestering him with questions too. She means well but she hasn’t figured out when to stop.” He gave Braylin an appraising look “you seem like you genuinely care about him. He seems to trust you. I think he’ll be okay with you if he freaks out on you.”

“Is that likely to happen” he asked his brow rising in concern.

“He might. There are things in his past that might come up because of what happened today. It might explain why he’s giving us a fair impression of a wet noodle right now. I think given time he’ll tell you about it himself. Just give him some space and don’t pressure him too much. Right now he just needs to know he’s safe. Do you think you can do that?”

***

352

Twenty minutes later Braylin found himself helping Trebor from his car. His light blue eyes appeared to be more alert. Without thinking Braylin said “your zipper’s down.” Instantly he regretted the thoughtless words as tears filled Trebor’s eyes and his bottom lip and chin began to quiver. A silent fury build inside him like lava inside a volcano building up pressure to erupt.

“I didn’t want him to” Trebor sobbed “I….I tried to stop him.”

“It’s okay” he soothed keeping a tight lid on his growing anger. “He didn’t get a chance to do anything. You pushed him away.”

“I…I did” he questioned lifting his head up seeking reassurance. “You’re not just saying that because you think it’ll make me feel better?”

“I promise you pushed him away” he said firmly “if you don’t believe me you can ask Eli.”

Nodding he let the matter drop asking instead “how did you know I was in trouble?”

“We followed you” tapping his phone he explained “Eli downloaded a tracking app onto your phone.” At Trebor’s bewildered expression he added “I was worried about you. I know you wanted to deal with this yourself. You did well but that guy wasn’t playing fair. I wanted to be available if it all went bad.”

Nodding he asked “how did you get the Hospital Director down there?”

351

“That was Eli’s idea. He thought that given enough rope Doctor Creepy would hang himself.” He grinned remembering that he had indeed hung himself.

“Why” Trebor asked “you hardly know me.”

“Doesn’t matter” he gently caressed Trebor’s cheek “I care about you. I couldn’t just sit by and let you be hurt.”

“Thank you” he leaned into the hand resting on his cheek. “I thought I could handle it. I thought I was misreading things. That he couldn’t really be doing what it felt like he was doing.”

“It’s over now. He can’t hurt you” Braylin soothed wrapping an arm around him holding him tight. “Will you be okay? Do you want me to call anyone for you?”

“No I’ll be okay” he sighed nuzzling his face into Braylin’s chest “I’m so tired.”

“You can sleep once we get inside” Braylin said attempting to move towards the entrance but finding it difficult with Trebor hanging like a limpet around his neck. “Come on honey you’ve got to do your part and walk.”

“Carry me” he requested.

358

“You can walk” he said thankful that they had finally made it to the elevator. “You can do it. Just one foot in front of another.”

The doors whooshed open. Trebor squealed backpedaling “no I want to use the stairs.”

“Then you have to walk” Braylin said firmly.

“No carry me” he pouted.

“Not up five flights of stairs” he thought a moment “if you get in the elevator I’ll carry you down the hallway to the apartment.” Even then Trebor hung back needing Braylin to practically carry him into the elevator. “You’ll be okay. Just hold my hand.”

Nodding in a jerking head motion Trebor squeezed Braylin’s hand in a vice like grip when the elevator jerked a little as it started upwards. They stopped on the second floor to allow a dark-haired man on. Trebor gasped in shock causing Braylin to look down at him as the sound of Trebor’s labored breathing filled the elevator.

“Is your friend alright” the man asked.

“He will be” Braylin said focusing all his attention on the man in his arms.

“I…can’t…breathe” he gasped eyes round as saucers.

Leaning forward resting his forehead on Trebor’s he said “I want you to concentrate on my face. Not the floor. Not anyone else. Just me. I’m right here. Nothing’s going to happen to you while I’m here.”

“Okay” he said gazing into Braylin’s eyes “I’m okay.”

Once the elevator stopped at their floor Braylin whisked Trebor into his arms at the amusement of the other man they share the elevator with. He felt Trebor move in his arms burying his face in his shoulder. A steady boiling fury rose inside him. How he wished he could go back and beat the shit out of Doctor Creepy.

356357

Unlocking the door proved daunting when Trebor refused to be put down acting more like a toddler than an aspiring heart surgeon. He hurried across the apartment to lay his precious burden on his bed. “I’m going to help you get more comfortable” he said before he started removing the lab coat Trebor was still wearing from the hospital. He removed his shoes and socks next before he reached for the buttons on Trebor’s shirt. Noticing how agitated he was becoming he stopped not wanting to make any moves that would upset him anymore than he already was.

Taking two pills from a bottle Eli had given him he dumped a couple of little white pills into his palm. “Take these” he said holding his hand out.

“What are they” Trebor looked at them suspiciously.

“Eli said they’d help you sleep” he explained “remember you said you were tired.”

“Okay” he agreed taking the pills.

***

349350

Stripping down to his pants Braylin went into the living room to review the plays he needed to learn for his next game. He’d skipped practice that day to be available to be at the hospital. He didn’t know exactly what was happening to him. He never let anyone come between him and the game before. In such a short time Trebor had become his everything. Rubbing a hand over his mouth his brow creasing in worry. With an irritated sigh he turned the TV off. There was no point watching the plays if his mind was on the man in the other room.

Laying back closing his eyes he meant to only rest his eyes for a few minutes. The next thing he knew he was being jolted from his sleep by blood curdling screams coming from his bedroom. Heart hammering in his chest he stumbled to the door expecting to find a bloodbath when he opened the door. He found Trebor tossing and turning on the king sized bed moaning in his sleep rising in pitch and he steeled himself for another gut wrenching scream. The sheets were twisted around his sweat covered body making his skin gleam in the light.

348

Moving closer Braylin could hear the mumbled pleas mixed with inarticulate groans. “Baby its okay. You’re safe” he reached a hand out to smooth the messy hair. The sweat drenched hair reminded him of how his head felt when he removed his hockey helmet after a game.

“No please” Trebor moaned swatting Braylin’s hand away.

“It’s me” Braylin soothed “you’re safe. No one is going to hurt you here.” He didn’t know what he was supposed to do or say. He was in foreign territory and found himself just repeating that he was safe in the hopes that maybe it would calm him.

A few minutes later Trebor opened his eyes. “Bray? Where am I?”

Smiling up at him from where he was resting his head on the mattress he said “in my apartment. In my room.” He held his breath expecting another melt down.

347346

Sitting up Trebor took several long moments to absorb where he was and why. “Was I screaming? My throat feels like I was screaming.” Looking down at Braylin he asked “did I wake you up?” He pulled his knees into his chest giving the impression of being apprehensive.

“Kind of” he moved to sit on the edge of the bed careful to not do anything that might startle Trebor. “I fell asleep on the couch. It’s been a long day. You must be hungry” he said “it’s been hours since we had breakfast.”

“More Chinese” he asked hopefully.

“If that’s what you want” he said standing up and stretching. “I’ll place the order.”

Following Braylin into the living room he asked “mind if I take a shower while we wait?”

345

“Sure help yourself to anything you need” he said going back into his room and emerging with a bundle of clothes he handed to Trebor. “You might want something to put on afterwards.”

“What? No sitting around naked on the furniture” he said giving Braylin a cheeky grin.

“You must be feeling better” he said relieved. “I thought with the nightmare that…” he shrugged.

“I wasn’t dreaming about that asshole” Trebor’s voice was harsh and unforgiving. “I’m still shaky over what happened but that’s not what I was dreaming about.”

“Do you want to talk about it” he asked wondering if this had something to do with what Eli had alluded to earlier.

“After I have my shower. I’m all gross” he took the offered clothes and shuffled towards the bathroom.

Staring after him Braylin hadn’t expected him to take him up on the offer to talk. He expected him to brush him off with something along the lines of it being just a nightmare produced from the days events.

***

344

Their food was delivered as Trebor emerge from the bathroom from his shower. Braylin raised his brows when he was just wearing the sweats but not the t-shirt. The sight of his damp bare chest was enough to awaken his more base desires.

“I took longer than I thought” he said joining Braylin on the couch “I’m starving.”

“When aren’t you starving” he teased.

They ate in silence for several minutes before Trebor said “I was kidnapped when I was two almost three.”

Braylin looked from his meal “I’m sorry” he mumbled around his mouthful of food.

“It was my Aunt. She was my dad’s half sister and for some reason she hated him and my mother. Maybe it was because she couldn’t have children of her own. I don’t know. My parents didn’t like to talk about it much. The memories I have are all vague and come to me in the form of nightmares when I’m stressed out.” He took a deep breath to steady himself. “I do remember wanting mommy and daddy and not understanding why they weren’t there.”

343342

Braylin felt his throat close losing his appetite. Pushing the half eaten food away he stared at Trebor. He didn’t have the words to express how he felt. Moving closer on the couch he reached for Trebor’s hand. Moving of his own accord Trebor leaned into Braylin resting his head on his shoulder.

“Is that what you were dreaming about? Being kidnapped” he asked pressing his lips to the top of his head.

Shivering he pressed closer to Braylin “yeah. She didn’t like me much. Always yelling and screaming me.” Shifting he lifted his face up enough to look into Braylin’s eyes “she threw me away like you would garbage.”

Braylin shivered squeezing him tight. “She can’t hurt you anymore” he said thinking she was in a prison where she couldn’t hurt anyone.

341340

“That’s just it. She’s still out there somewhere” he laid his head back on Braylin’s shoulder “she knew my great-uncle was close to finding her. She decided to get rid of me before she was caught.” Inhaling deeply “I have vague memories of being locked in a room all by myself. From what I’ve been told she lost interest in making me her son when she found out how difficult having a baby really was. My grandpa said when he found me I was nothing but skin and bones and my diaper was rank. I guess she didn’t like to change diapers either.”

“Do you remember that” he asked horrified that anyone could do anything like that to someone so young.

“Not really” he shrugged “I did some research and read all the stories that were written about my rescue and the state of I was in. Then my grandpa filled in the gaps.” Taking another deep breath “the thing that bothers me the most was the way she left me. She could have just left me in that filthy stinking room I was in. But she….” he blinked as tears ran down his cheeks “she threw me away. Put me inside a trash can and put the lid on so I was trapped in the dark.”

Pulling him onto his lap Braylin peppered his face with soft tender kisses. He could taste the salty from his tears. It all made sense now. The reaction to being trapped inside an elevator, being enclosed. Claustrophobia. “I wish there was something i could do for you.”

“Just hold me” Trebor said “I don’t need anything else.”

***

335

The next morning they woke up still in each other’s arm on the couch. Trebor resting on top of Braylin using him as a pillow. Opening his eyes he found Braylin watching him. A smile slowly spread across his face “morning” he mumbled “guess we fell asleep.”

“Opted out” he agreed “I think this is the first time we’ve slept together without having sex first.”

“Must be why I feel so rested” he stretched moving to get up.

“Not so fast I was thinking we could have morning sex instead” he rolled Trebor onto the couch beneath him kissing him deeply slowly moving his hands across his body. He went slowly making sure Trebor was okay with this pace.

“I could wake up to this every morning” Braylin said when their needs had been met and they were cuddling in the afterglow.

“Until you got tired of me” Trebor said lightly.

334333

“Never. Morning sex is a bonus to having you to wake up to” he asserted determined that Trebor never feel like he was disposable again. He may not always know what to say to express himself but it was that feeling of being cheap that hurt the most from everything that happened recently and the desire to get Doctor Creepy in a room by himself was strong.

Giving him a serious look Trebor said “you don’t have to treat me with kid gloves. I’m not fragile. I know I have issues…”

“Like what” he asked curious.

“Well….that” waved towards the congealing food inside the Chinese takeout boxes. “I’m dying to clean that mess up. It’s driving me crazy.”

“I’m not stopping you” Braylin teased. He pulled Trebor down on top of him when he moved to get up and clean up. “I was joking. I want to lay here and cuddle.”

“I’ll cuddle better when that mess is cleaned up” he protested “besides I thought you had hockey practice this morning.”

332

“Shit” he cried jumping to his feet “what time is it?”

“Almost seven” he said pulling on a pair of sweatpants.

“Good” sighing in relief “I still have time. I don’t have to be at the rink until eight.” He smiled watching Trebor move around his home cleaning. It was all so domestic. “Want to come watch me play?”

“I don’t know anything about hockey” he said surprised by the invite.

“Haven’t you ever played hockey” he asked in a state of shock.

“I grew up on an island. I never even saw snow until I went to university” Trebor said “the first game I watched was the one you had your face smashed into the boards.”

331

“For someone who doesn’t know hockey you’ve picked up on some of the terms already” he said impressed “I’ll turn you into a die-hard fan yet.”

“What if I don’t like hockey” he challenged.

“That’s impossible everyone who’s anyone likes hockey” Braylin asserted.

“I guess you could teach me everything I need to know” he said “I have to admit I didn’t know what was going on. Most of the time I had no idea what was going on.”

“Weren’t you paying attention” he demanded.

“I was” he asserted “but I kept being distracted by a certain player in a McGavin jersey.”

329328

“Is that so” he smirked placing his hands on Trebor’s hips. “I was that distracting.”

“No” he shook his head “I just have a thing for jersey’s with the name McGavin on them.”

“You don’t have to make up excuses. I know I’m irresistible.” He pressed his lips to Trebor’s while his hands slipped between his sweats to cup his cheeks forcing the sweats downward.

Gently pushing him away before things could get too heated Trebor said “you’re going to be late.”

“It’ll be worth it” he moved to pull Trebor close so they could resume what they started.

Pushing him away a second time saying “but I was looking forward to seeing you play. I’ll make it worth your while tonight.

Chapter 5 – Confrontation / Chapter 7 – Hockey Practice

Knights of Hope – Chapter 5 – Confrontation

Author’s Note: Due to the mature content I am giving a trigger warning. This chapter mentions and describes an episode of sexual harassment that some may find upsetting. Where the description is not detailed and does not go very far it may still be triggering. Please proceed with caution.

305

“Lia says you ran out of the apartment like the hounds of hell were after you” Eli chuckled joining Trebor at the nurses station before beginning their rounds.

“It wasn’t like that” he laughed rolling his eyes.

“Uh huh…she also said you left with a really cute pink haired guy too” his eyes twinkled.

“Don’t say it” he mumbled turning his back to him hoping he would get the hint.

“Was it the hockey player” Lana asked joining the conversation.

“Who else would make our boy here turn that particular shade of red” Eli asked leaning over the nurses station to give his girlfriend a kiss.

“Did you tell him the news” she asked eyes shining bright waving her left hand around.

“Tell me what” he asked turning around.

306307

“We’re engaged” Lana beamed holding her hand up displaying the newly acquired diamond on her finger.

“Congratulations” he said grinning at her as her as he stepped back to get out-of-the-way of the horde of nurses clamoring to make their best wishes known. Walking away with Eli trailing beside him he said “it’s about time. You’ve been carrying that ring around for what? Six months?”

“I was waiting for the right time” he cried sounding defensive.

“The right time” he mused “how is having your visiting cousin lying in a hospital bed connected to half a dozen machines fighting for her life the right time?

“Well…yeah” he shrugged “if felt right. She needed something happy to offset all the bad.” they walked in silence for several seconds before Eli continued “Lia said you refused to talk to her…”

“You know what she’s like” he protested “always nagging you until you want to scream. How many times do I have to say I’ve got things under control? I can handle it.”

“Sure you can” he nodded “that’s why you’ve been avoiding Doctor Creepy all day.”

“I wouldn’t say all day. I’ve only been here a couple of hours….”

308

“You know what I mean” Eli said “is that why you’ve changed direction whenever you’ve seen him coming in your direction? I saw you duck into radiology when he came out of emergency coming towards you.

“I was going in there anyway” he mumbled “it had nothing to do with him.” Looking up meeting his friends disbelieving gaze “I don’t care what you think. It’s not like you care.” He knew he was being unfair the moment the words were out of his mouth and the wounded expression crossed Eli’s face. “I’m sorry” he apologized even though he knew he’d never be able to make amends for the unkind words. “I’m just tired.”

“I bet” he grinned letting him know he was off the hook and all was forgiven. “You spent the night with the hockey player, didn’t you?”

A dreamy smile spread across Trebor’s face. “Yeah … it was nice.”

309

“More than nice from the looks of you” Eli chuckled ducking when Trebor swung at him. “I haven’t seen you this happy in…I don’t know when. I’m happy for you.”

Ducking his head down Trebor nodded. He knew that Lana had told Eli about his relationship with Oli and the depression he’d spiraled into when it all came to a crashing end. “Thanks” he mumbled “maybe once Elaine is released from the hospital we can go out to dinner as couples.” The word slipped from his lips without him noticing. It was strange how good he felt and at the same time be scared out of his mind this whole thing made him.

“Knowing Lana she’ll want to have you both over for a home cooked meal.” Pausing for effect he added “she’ll want to play Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.

“The teams wouldn’t be balanced” Trebor pointed out.

310

“That’s okay. You can answer all the questions for women when it’s your turn” Eli offered.

“Why me” he demanded.

“Because the only other choice would be your hockey player and somehow I don’t see that happening.” Eli breathed deeply trying not the laugh “besides Lana always said it’s not the gender that matters but the answers you give.”

“Yeah but….” he couldn’t think of anything he could use to dissuade his friend “I’ll play if Braylin wants too.”

“He will” he said confidently.

“How do you know” he challenged.

“I just do” he giggled “he’ll want to do anything to get you flustered so you turn red. You’re way to pickable.”

“Whatever” he rolled his eyes stopping beside a water fountain. Taking a drink he turned to join Eli when a displeased deep voice spoke behind him.

***

 

“You were supposed to come to my office at the end of your shift the other night” Doctor Brackett stated.

Drying his mouth Trebor turned to face the older man. Doctor Creepy himself was staring at him his eyes smoldering. “I was told you were in surgery” he explained “Your receptionist said I could go home.”

The man’s eyes narrowed “you should have waited.”

Trebor felt his insides begin to quake making him feel nauseous. On the best of days he had a hard enough time dealing with loud raised voices, today wasn’t the best of days. Squeezing his eyes tight he forced the images of the past back into the place he assigned them in his mind. It didn’t do a lot of good under the barrage of bombastic ridicule he was being subjected to. An overwhelming feeling of helplessness swept through him leaving him feeling like the scared little toddler he was when he’d been kidnapped.

“Well” the man demanded cutting into his thoughts “what do you have to say for yourself?”

Blinking he drew in a shaky shallow breath “I um…I did as I was told. It’s not my fault your receptionist didn’t relay to me the correct information. If you had wanted me to say she should have told me so.”

314

The man fumed silently in front of him “Very well. Come with me now” he ordered.

“I’m in the middle of rounds” he informed him.

“Doctor Everett can finish yours and his both. He could use the practice” he snapped.
With a sinking all was lost feeling he handed Eli his charts of his remaining patients.

“Good luck” Eli whispered to him.

Nodding Trebor turned to follow the older man who was holding the elevator for him. He gave Eli a desperate look sure this would be the last time he’d see him alive. Once he was on the elevator he moved as far away as he could manage on the elevator trying to ignore how small and enclosed it was as the walls seemed to close in around him. Doctors and nurses came and went as the elevator descended. His heart thumped painfully in his chest as his breathing increased making him feel light-headed. When they reached the ground level he moved to get off. He gave the older doctor a startled look when he pressed the button to continue down to the basement.

“We’ll have more privacy” he explained his eyes taking on a strange glossy look like he was high. When the doors opened again he grabbed Trebor’s arm dragging him from the elevator.

315

“I think if we need to talk about my job performance it should be in your office. We should have plenty of privacy there” he cried pitching his voice loud hoping someone would hear him. Struggling in the man’s grip shocked at how strong the older man was.

“Your job performance is just fine. You’re one of the best young doctor’s we have” Doctor Brackett informed him.

“But you said….then why…” his voice trailed away a he caught sight of a brand new sports car sitting in the loading dock.

“I needed an excuse to get you down here” the man grinned pleased with himself. “It’s a perk. A well deserved perk.”

“It’s …. I mean I appreciate the thought” shaking his head he looked up at his superior. “What’s the catch” he asked suspiciously.

“Well now that you ask” the man’s voice was close speaking in his ear “there are certain services you’d be expected to perform.”

 

“Services” he asked his heart pounding sending his blood pressure to the roof. Tensing as he felt the man’s lips on his neck nibbling and sucking.

“I’ve wanted to do this ever since you started here” he said wrapping his arms around his body and pulling him closer.

Trebor froze feeling the man’s lustful intentions through the layers of material. No doubt remained. “What about your family? Your wife” he groped for something that would break through the man’s desire.

“She knows what I want. What I need” he worked his hand down to the front of Trebor’s pants.

The sound of his zipper being released broke through Trebor’s reserves giving him the strength to break free from the man’s hold. “I’m not….we can’t…” he stammered incoherently.

“Of course you can” he demurred “just relax and enjoy the moment. This could be pleasurable for both us if you let it.”

 

“No” he shouted running towards the open doors of the dock.

Before he could get very far Doctor Brackett caught him and forced him backwards against the hard concrete wall. “What’s the harm? You’ll get plenty of benefits not to mention a stellar recommendation from me when your residency is over. You’ll be able to go anywhere.” He ground himself into Trebor “just relax. Isn’t becoming a heart surgeon worth it? You need this residency and without me you won’t get…”

“Don’t touch me” he screamed bringing his hands between them and pushing him hard.
Staggering backwards Doctor Brackett glared at him. “Why is this so difficult for you? A little harmless fun is all I’m asking. No one needs to know. We both get what we want.”

“I won’t” Trebor tensed when the man came towards “don’t come near me.”

“If you want to keep your position as resident here at the hospital you’ll comply with my request.” His voice was deep, foreboding like thunder warning of an incoming storm. “I always get what I want. There’s always one eager beaver among the residents willing to put out to get ahead of the rest.” He looked Trebor up and down “or they can be persuaded with the right leverage. You’ll be no different.”

***

327

“I’m afraid for you this time is different” a familiar voice said from the dimly lit interior of the loading dock of the hospital.

“Braylin” Trebor whispered noticing the familiar pink hair. Relief flooded through him as he fell to his knees too weak to support himself.

Another familiar voice was speaking now. The voice was tinged with anger as it confronted the visibly shaken Doctor Brackett. “I had my suspicions and let my doubts cloud my judgement. You’re dismissed.”

“You can’t do that” Doctor Brackett protested. “I’m the Director of Emergency Medicine.”

“You were now you’re not. I’m the Director of the Hospital. I’m responsible for hiring you. I can damn well fire you.”

“I’ll sue” he blustered.

323325

“You’ll lose. I heard it all. Saw it all. It’s no longer a matter of his word against yours. Thanks to Doctor Everett I was able to witness what was happening inside my hospital. Now I can stop this travesty. This is a teaching hospital not your personal hunting ground for your perversions. I suggest you contact your lawyer for the impending criminal charges you’ll be faced with.” Turning towards Trebor “I assume you will be filing charges. I’ll make the hospital lawyer available to you and I will personally testify on your behalf.”

“Thank you” Braylin said for him.

“No” Trebor whispered trembling from the release of tension “I just….I don’t…I….”

Holding his face still forcing him to look at him. “Do you trust me” he asked cutting into Trebor’s disjointed dribble.

“Yes” he said eyes pleading with him.

“Then you’ll file charges to put this scum in jail. You won’t have to go through this alone. I promise.” Braylin pulled him close planting a soft tender kiss on Trebor’s lips. “I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

324326

“Okay” he said his voice barely audible. The good-hearted Director of the hospital knelt beside them as the police arrived to arrest Doctor Brackett. His face was grim “I’m sorry this happened to you. I should have taken the accusations more seriously but it was always dropped in the past.”

“It’s not your fault” Trebor heard himself saying even though they lacked conviction.

“You don’t have to protect me from my own stupidity young man” he said reaching out to pat Trebor’s shoulder. Noticing the way he flinched at his touch he nodded saying “I’ll give you something to relax you before you leave today.”

“Can I take him home” Braylin asked “I doubt he’s in any condition to go back to work.”

“Once the police are finished with their questions he can go home. He can have the next week off as well. I’m sure he’ll need the time to process what just happened.”

“Great” Braylin said thanking the older man.

Chapter 4 – Opening Up / Chapter 6 – Safe Zone

Knights of Hope – Chapter 4 – Opening Up

304

Silence descended upon them like a heavy blanket as Braylin drove across town to his apartment. Bray ran his thumb across the back of Trebor’s hand resting comfortingly in his as he drove. There were so many questions vying for attention in his mind. Not one could he ask without risk of alienating the silent man sitting beside him. Strange how Trebor had managed to worm his way into his heart without as much effort as others in the past. From the moment he’d seen Trebor across the room from him he knew he had to get to know him.

“Look familiar” he asked giving him a cheeky grin.

“You ass” Trebor snapped “you know damn well it does.”

302

Walking around the car Braylin lifted Trebor’s chin up “don’t be like that. That night brought us together. You did come here willingly that night.”

“I know” his eyes shifted downward before lifting to meet Bray’s “I don’t regret it either.”

“Good” he said pulling Trebor close before releasing him long enough to take his hand to walk to the entrance.

“I’m just not very good company right now” he admitted as they entered the lobby.

297

“Want to talk about it” he offered making sure to keep his tone neutral without pressure even though he was dying to know what was going. What had Lia been talking about? Why was Trebor so anxious for him not to know?

“Not really” came the not so surprising answer.

“Alright” Braylin nodded pressing the button for the elevator. “I promised I wouldn’t ask. Tonight is going to be a stress free night.” He put a hand out lifting Trebor’s down turned face. A small smile crossed his lips as he leaned in close covering Trebor’s mouth with his own. He deepened the kiss when Trebor leaned into him moaning into his mouth.

The elevator slowed coming to a stop. Conscious of the doors opening and an elderly couple shuffling in Trebor pushed the hockey player away from him. He tried not to look at the couple afraid they’d be upset at what they’d witnessed.

298

“It’s alright dear” the elderly woman said touching Trebor’s hand. “We were young once too.” She gave her husband an affection look that he returned with a touch of his hand.

Trebor felt a rush of longing and loss watching the couple. They reminded him so much of his great grandparents. Heat rose to his cheeks wishing the elevator would open again so he could get off. He could feel the walls closing in around him. His breathing was coming out in quick shallow gasps. As soon as the doors opened he bolted through them leaning against the wall panting.

299

“Hey where do you think you’re going” Braylin asked following him from the elevator. “My apartment is three more flights up.

“I uh” he ran a trembling hand through his messy hair “I’ll take the stairs.”

“If it’s about the kiss” Braylin said “they were totally okay with it.”

“It’s not that” he gasped trying to get his breathing under control.

“Then what is it” he asked.

Shaking his head Trebor took a deep breath. “I’d rather take the stairs.”

“Don’t be ridiculous the elevator is quicker” he said “if you get in I promise I’ll be good.”

Glaring at him Trebor moved towards the open doors. He didn’t know what came over him. The sudden panic of being enclosed. Trapped. All he knew was he had to escape. The sight of the elderly couple holding the elevator for them nearly made him want to run again. He concentrated on his toes crossing his arms he signaled for all around him he wanted to be left alone.

301

Braylin pressed a hand over his mouth to keep from laughing out loud as the elevator started it’s climb again. It stopped again to allow the elderly couple out. The woman smiled at Trebor eyes shining. “Cherish these moments while you can. One day you’ll be old like us and a stolen kiss in an elevator won’t seem so terrible. It may even be the highlight of your day.”

303

When the doors closed Braylin moved over to where Trebor stood. “Alone at last” he grinned “thought they’d never leave.” He took Trebor’s hand squeezing it. “Can a I get a smile. Just a little one” he asked “it wasn’t that bad was it? They were alright….”

“That’s not the point” he cried “there’s a proper place and an elevator isn’t it.”

Lips twitching Braylin said “it could have been worse. I mean people have sex inside elevators all the time.

“Have you” Trebor asked curiosity getting the better of him as they walked down the hall. He knew the answer by the shimmer in Braylin’s eyes as they regarded him.

“Why” he challenged “want to give it a try?”

“No” he shook his emphatically looking back towards the elevator. For some reason it was more of a temptation than he thought it would be. If he were alone and knew no one would get on then …. Well if Braylin started something he doubted he’d have the willpower to )resist. “You promised me food” he said changing the subject.

296295

“That I did” he agreed letting Trebor into his home and pulling his phone out to call his favorite Chinese place.

“Don’t I get a choice?” Trebor demanded after realizing Braylin was ordering for both of them. “What if I don’t like it?”

“You will” Braylin assured him “besides you’re starving. Food is food.” He closed the gap between them kissing Trebor hard enough to back him into the door. “You can have dessert while we wait.”

Desire that lay dormant awakened inside Trebor as he reached for the hockey player’s belt buckle. His fingers shook having trouble working the buttons and zippers.

***

294

Thirty minutes later they were happily scarfing down chow mien and beef broccoli. There were other items less recognizable and ignored by Trebor as he shoveled food into his mouth.

“Haven’t you been eating” Braylin asked after watching him inhale his food.

“Here and there” he shrugged as if it were normal. “Sometimes if it’s busy I don’t eat at all. Then when I get home I’m too tired to eat.”

“Have you always wanted to be a doctor” Braylin asked curious to know what drives someone to push himself so much. He’d met the dedicated all or nothing hockey player but this was different.

Swallowing the mouthful of food he nodded. “I can’t remember not wanting to be a doctor.” His face turned sober as his eyes took on a far away look. “My great grandpa died from a heart attack. I was five or six at the time. I’ve often wondered if he might have lived longer if the island had a heart specialist.”

293

“I’m sorry” Braylin murmured “was he very old?”

“He was in his mid seventies I believe” Trebor said “people always say he lived a long life, had a loving wife but he could have had more time if he had the proper medical treatment available to him.” Pushing his empty containers away he rested his head in his hands. “That’s why this situation is so damn frustrating. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to be is a heart surgeon. To save families from the heartache my family went through. Now I don’t know….”

Braylin watched as Trebor blinked several times in succession in an obvious attempt to ward off tears. “This situation, is it the one Lia wanted to tell me about?”

Wiping a hand across his eyes he nodded. “She wants me to bring my boss up on charges of harassment.” He pulled his knees up into his chest curling into himself. “The man literally holds my future as a doctor in his hands. I need this residency. He could destroy everything I’ve worked so hard to accomplish. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted.”

292

Braylin moved closer wrapping an arm around Trebor’s trembling shoulders. To his surprise Trebor snuggled into him, clutching his shirt between his fingers. For a moment Braylin just held him admiring the man’s drive to his dream. “Has your boss been harassing you” he asked once he sensed the man in his arms was calming down. “Is your boss Doctor Bracket? I met him at the charity event. He’s the guy I teased you about. He stood too close to you. Always touching you. I could tell it made you uncomfortable.”

Nodding against Braylin’s chest he mumbled “I didn’t want to believe he was coming on to me. I mean the guys married. Has kids not much younger than me.”

“Is that why you said he wanted to discuss a patient and didn’t want to be overheard” When Trebor nodded he could feel anger building inside him like a smoldering fire ready to ignite into an inferno at a moments notice. “Has he tried anything? Or threatened you?”

291290

Trebor froze sucking in an anxious breath. Squirming from Braylin’s arms he got up “I should go” he announced making a beeline towards the door.

Jumping over the back of the couch Braylin cut off his escape. “Hey you can tell me. I won’t think any less of you. Just let me help.”

“I can handle it” he insisted hands curled into fists.

Regarding him for a moment Braylin said “everyone needs help sometimes. If you won’t talk to me. Talk to Lia. Get advise. Find out what you can do to protect yourself.”

“I…” he swallowed “what if they don’t believe me? What if I’m wrong? I could destroy him with unfounded accusations. What if” licking his lips he continued “he knows people who will back him. I’m just a resident. If I lose my position my whole future is over. Everything I’ve worked for. Gone.”

289288

“That won’t happen” Braylin asserted slowly pulling Trebor into his arms. “I promise that won’t happen.” He didn’t know how he could prevent it but it sounded good. He felt Trebor relax in his arms resting his head on his shoulder. He placed a soft tender kiss on the top of his tousled head. Trebor moved enough to look up at him, his mouth opened to say something and Braylin cut him off with a kiss. “Let me take care of you tonight” he requested reaching for the hem of Trebor’s shirt tugging it free. Trebor lifted his arms allowing him to pull it over his head. “You don’t have to worry about anything” he whispered brushing his lips lightly over Trebor’s.

Whimpering a little Trebor pressed as much of himself as he could into Braylin. Wanting. Needing to feel more of him. To immerse himself in the man’s presence. “I need you to work your magic on me. I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to feel you.”

***

Sometime later Braylin shifted his weight in the bed to look down at the sleeping man lying beside him, his head resting on his shoulder. He trailed a finger along his jawline tempted to kiss the full lips puckered into a pout that gave the man the appearance of innocence.

It took him a moment to realize Trebor was looking up at him with confusion in his eyes. “Sorry” he whispered placing a kiss on his nose “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Recognition replaced the confusion. “What time is it” he asked in a tired half asleep voice.

Reaching for his phone he said “almost 6:00.”

Turning on his side he snuggled his face into the pillow. “Wake me at 9:00 please.”

“Okay” he smile watching him. There was something about the guy that made him go weak on the inside. He’d been in relationships before but none of them had ever touched him the way Trebor had. He had felt it from the very beginning. It was what kept him coming back.

283282

Rolling to his feet he walked towards the large windows. The city lights bright and cars moving along the streets in a city that never truly slept. Rain pelted the glass beading then running in streaks. Gooseflesh rose on his skin from the cool air. He debated crawling back into bed with Trebor. Waking him up to warm himself with his body. A smile tugged at his lips remembering the nights activities and knew he was falling head over heels in love with the guy.

Which meant he couldn’t stand idly by and watch him get hurt. No one should ever be made to feel they had to endure an intolerable situation to keep what they’ve struggled to achieve. He wanted to give Trebor a chance to figure this out on this own yet he was afraid a solution would forever be out of his grasp. Fear would ultimately be a stumbling block. He had to make sure the guy stopped without endangering what Trebor had accomplished. A thrill shot through him as he anticipated what he’d have to do and knowing he was going to enjoy teaching the good doctor a lesson he was sure not to forget.

Chapter 3 – Uncomfortable Situation / Chapter 5 – Confrontation