Guarded

Chapter 10 - Guarded

5 AM, Tuesday morning arrived, and his phone began to chirp.  Corbin reached to turn it off. Paul spent the night with him in the cabin, and the tall man shifted a bit behind him.  Luckily he didn't quite wake. Instead, the fireman instinctively pulled on him, and Corbin's bare backside was again pressed tightly against Paul's front.

The blonde man smiled.  He had to admit, waking up to Paul was easy to get used to.  Though currently the fireman's thick penis was hard as a rock and lay pressed against the crack of his ass.  He was decidedly not used to that. Corbin licked his lips. The slight pressure and sensation were nice, and he noted his own cock begged for attention too.

Paul really wanted to mess around with him last night.  Which led to the discussion of their respective statuses.  Paul was tested annually, and his last checkup was only a month past.  No sexual partners other than Corbin since.

It's the world of the electronic health record, and the blonde man checked his own results online.  He found that his tests were complete and all negative. He told Paul, and that earned him a smoldering look.  One that promised as soon as Corbin was ready he would find the fireman more than eager to take the next step.

There was a final barrier he strived to keep between himself and Paul.  One final wall. Though he wasn't totally aware of where it was he knew the point of no return approached.  Corbin wanted to give Paul every chance to walk away now before he irreversibly fell for the tall man.

But right now he wasn't sure of the wisdom of that tactic.  Paul's naked body felt so warm, virile, and strong. Corbin breathed.  He knew, if he simply moved his hips a little Paul would wake to his cock sliding up and down against Corbin's hole.

And then he would probably get screwed for the first time in his life, and be late for work.  If he could even walk.

It was supremely difficult, but Corbin rolled away from him and stood.  Paul woke and blinked up at him. "Mornin'." He grinned at Corbin's groin.  Paul jerked his chin at Corbin's erection which was now about eye level. "Why don't you bring that over here?"

Corbin laughed.  "Noooo." Instead, he bent and kissed Paul, then quickly pulled away before he could be convinced to give in.

Paul groaned, his deep voice frustrated, and he fondled himself under the blanket.  "You're killing me, man!" Corbin's face fell. Paul frowned, then he sighed. "I … I'm sorry."  He pulled out his hands and they flopped down on the top of the covers. "I said I wouldn't pressure you.  That wasn't cool of me."

Corbin stood by the bed for a moment, then he sat on the edge beside Paul.  "I'm almost there. Okay?"

Paul looked up at him, his eyes honest and so green.  "Okay." He reached up and rubbed Corbin's face. "Tell me, if I'm doing anything wrong."

He smiled at Paul's touch.  "You're not." He sighed. "I just … I want both of us to be sure this is what we want."

Paul smiled.  "Then let me know when you've figured it out."  He sat up and pulled Corbin close. "I'll wait."  He whispered. He stretched and gently kissed Corbin.  It was slow, sensual and filled with promise. Then he pulled away and looked at Corbin's eyes.

Corbin blinked slowly.  That kiss had burned through his mind like a wildfire, and he struggled to recover.  Finally, he took a breath and swallowed. "Okay." He stood. "I have to get ready." He looked down at Paul.  "I'd like to see you when I get off work. That okay?"

The fireman smiled at him and nodded.  "Meet me up at my place?"

"Yeah."  Corbin bit his lip.  "Thanks. For being patient."

Paul swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood.  His body was incredible, and his dick impossible to miss as it swung back and forth.  "You're worth waiting on Corbin."

The blonde man turned so he wouldn't have to be tempted by Paul.  "I'm glad you think so." He headed to the bathroom. "See you later."

Corbin got ready for work and Paul went up to his place.  Once he dressed Corbin got into his truck and sighed. He looked up the ridge as he pulled onto his road.  That invisible line, the one he knew he wouldn't be able to uncross was up there.

"This afternoon, you decide.  One way or the other." He set his jaw and blew out a breath.  Then he gripped the wheel and turned onto the highway toward Hailey.

_________________________________

Corbin worked through the first hour of his shift at the Hailey Coffee Company.  Almost on the dot, Bruce came in at his regular 7 AM time. His whole countenance was confident and happy.  Corbin debated what he wanted to do as the young man stepped up to the counter.

"Hey, Corbin."  He smiled, and his freckles shifted on his pale face.  "I'd like a mocha please."

"Hey, Bruce.  Sure thing." He started to make the drink, and he looked down the passage which led to the office.  Karen was busy on the phone and seemed to be in a bit of a heated conversation with someone. 'Weird.'  But it served his purpose at the moment.

He finished the drink and handed the mocha to Bruce in exchange for a $5.  As the young man started to turn away Corbin reached and gently grabbed his wrist.  "Hey." Bruce started a bit and looked down at Corbin's hand with a little frown.

"Sorry."  Corbin let go of him.  "I just wanted to ask … ah, how are things going?"

Bruce looked at him, lost for a moment.  "What do …" then it seemed to click, "Ah, you mean with Jenoah?"  His expression shifted to one of amusement. "Hey, you had your chance, Corbin.  Though, it's flattering that you're jealous."

"No.  No that's not it."  Corbin tried again. "I … I'm just worried about you is all."

Bruce looked at him through hooded eyes.  "Sure. Yeah. Well, I'm fine. Great actually.  Thanks for all the concern." He turned. "See ya."  There was a bit of an edge to his tone and he attracted a few frowns from patrons seated at tables nearby.

He left the coffee shop and Corbin sighed.  "Well shit." He turned and was in time to see Karen walk back into the production space.  For the first time since he had met her, she wore a frown. It looked incredibly out of place.

"Uh, everything okay?"

Karen blinked and looked at him, and she forced the frown off her face.  "Oh. Yeah." She smiled, but the expression was weak. "Everything's fine."  She turned to the group of customers which had entered, and the conversation ended.

The rest of his shift was busy, but Corbin couldn't push Karen's uncharacteristic mood out of his mind.  He watched her as she worked, and it stuck with her the whole time. Though, she tried hard to appear her normal bubbly self.

10 AM rolled around and he took off the apron.  He cast his eye at the blonde woman as he folded it up.  He couldn't figure out a way to ask what was wrong without sounding like a busybody.  'Already tried that once today, and it didn't work out.'

"Well, I'll see you tomorrow Karen."  He picked up his coat and began to head out.

"Okay."  Her face pinched in what looked to be worry.  "Hey, I'm sorry … but I need to cut your hours."

Corbin stopped.  "What? Really? But, I thought you needed the help."

She sighed.  "I do." Her shoulders slumped.  "I'm having a little trouble with my loan.  I need an extension, and right now you're an expense."  She looked miserable.

Corbin frowned.  "Well, I'm sorry to hear that."  He stepped to her, and he put a hand on her shoulder.  "How about 3 days a week, 4 hours a day? That okay? Pick your busiest days, and I'll work whatever you need me to work."

She looked at Corbin in obvious surprise.  "You can survive on 12 hours of work?" She shook her head.  "I thought you'd leave as soon as I said anything."

"I'm fine.  Will the 12 hours work?"

She actually smiled a little.  "Yeah. It'll help get me back in the black in the bank's eyes.  Let's just do Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for now. That okay?"

"Yeah.  That's okay."  Corbin smiled at her.  "So, I guess I'll still see you tomorrow."

He turned to go and Karen grabbed his arm.  "Hey." She looked down and it looked almost as if she was about to cry.  "I … I'm glad you still wanna work here." She shook her head. "Thanks for sticking with me."

He debated a moment, then he hugged her.  "Well, of course, Karen." He squeezed her, then he pushed back and looked at the vulnerable woman.  "It'll be okay."

She nodded and patted his arm.  "Yeah." Then she laughed, and she approached something close to her normal self.  "It'll have to be!"

He left, and Corbin climbed into his truck.  He took a breath. "What a shitty morning." He grimaced, then he started the machine.

He drove on the highway, on the way out of town and his mind churned. Besides everything that happened at work, he still needed to decide what was going to happen with Paul.  'Do I let it happen? He won't wait forever you know.' His hands gripped and opened on the steering wheel.

As he drew even with Albertson's he jerked the wheel, and the truck cut into the parking lot.  He parked, got out, and went into the store like a man on a mission.

____________________________________

Paul worked in his building.  He hung the door, and two of the windows were partially in.  He only had some minor shimming and those were done too. He heard the noise of wheels on gravel, and he put down his tools.  He walked to the corner of the house, and he saw Corbin get out of the truck. He smiled and was about to say something when the blonde man reached into the vehicle.

His face went slack.  Corbin pulled a little potted rose bush from the seat.  It had deep red roses on it and looked vibrant and healthy.

The blonde man marched up to his front door, plant in hand.  Paul scrambled around the edge of the house. "Hey!"

Corbin turned, a little surprised.  He saw Paul come around the side of the house and his face split into a huge smile.  "Hey, Paul." His eyes looked like sapphires to Paul. He had never seen them quite so alive and sure.

Paul met him on the porch.  "What's with the rose bush?"  He smiled. Something was different in his manner.  Paul couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was definitely a difference.

"It's for you."  Corbin looked down at the plant.  "I can't stand buying cut flowers because they always die."  He looked up and his gaze was the most intense thing Paul had ever seen.  "And I wanted to have flowers in my hand when I asked you to be my boyfriend."

"Wh … what?"  Paul's surprise melted to happiness, and he grinned.  "Really?"

Corbin stared into his eyes.  "Yes. If that's what you want, then I'd like that a lot."  He set his jaw. "And you can tell people. I don't want you lying about it for me."

Paul looked down at him.  He nodded, then he reached and took the little rose bush.  "If you're sure, then yeah. I'd like that Corbin."

The blonde man smiled, and he pulled Paul down to him.  The men kissed, and as they did Paul realized with a start what was different in Corbin.

'He's not holding back.  He's there. He's all there.'

They pulled apart, and Corbin opened the door.  He took Paul's hand, and he led the man inside his home.  Paul put the small bush down on the wide window ledge in the living room.  Then the tall man let Corbin continue to lead him through the house.

They entered the bedroom.  And for the first time since Corbin had arrived, he looked nervous.  "I've never done this Paul." He reached up and began to unbutton his flannel shirt.  "But I want to. And I want it to be with you."

Paul stepped close and grabbed his hands.  "Corbin." He looked into the smaller man's eyes.  "If you're not ready, then we wait." He rubbed his beard against Corbin's neck and the side of his face.  "There's plenty else we can do," he whispered.

Corbin's eyes closed, and his lips parted a tiny bit.  He breathed and Paul's teeth found the tender skin next to his Adam's Apple.  His jaw dropped open and Paul scraped the skin there. His nervousness evaporated, and he felt the rightness of this moment as a certainty in his mind.

Between languid, passionate kisses Paul stripped away their clothes.

The two men smiled at one another and Paul lowered Corbin down to the bed on his back.  The tall man climbed on top of him, and Corbin stared up into his face. His expression was calm, certain.  "I want to, Paul." He cocked his hips so they angled up and so he was in line with Paul's groin.

The firefighter licked his lips.  He had wanted this badly for a long time now.  And as his erection rested against Corbin's exposed rear he felt his willingness to wait erode.  "Are you sure?" His deep voice was strained.

Corbin nodded.  "I'm sure." He lay back.  For the first time, his surrender was complete to the tall man.  Paul immediately felt the near-overpowering need to take him.

He reached and took the lube from his nightstand, and he coated himself generously.  Then he leaned forward and kissed Corbin. While he did his fingers found the smaller man's hole, and he slid a lube coated finger inside him.

Corbin inhaled, and Paul kept at it.  Soon a good amount of the lubricant was inside his lover, and he positioned his cock against Corbin.  Steadily, he applied pressure.

Corbin's jaw worked, and he exhaled in an attempt to relax.

The pressure built.

Then the muscular ring gave way, and Paul's cockhead entered him.  Corbin's eyes shot open, and his back arched. He breathed in and out of his mouth.

Paul watched his face.  He stayed right where he was, and he smiled down at Corbin.  He leaned down and kissed the blonde man. Soon Corbin's breathing smoothed to normal, and Paul's hips began to move in tiny gyrations.

Over the span of a couple of minutes Paul's penis slowly disappeared into Corbin.  Soon his groin pressed against Corbin's rear, and the two of them grinned at each other.

After Corbin's initial pain dissipated what remained was pressure and incredible sensation.  Paul's member moved back and forth past his prostate and he moaned. He had always marveled at Liam's face when he screwed him.  And now Corbin understood.

"Ah … ah god."  He swallowed, and his eyes rolled back into his head.  His hands clawed at the blanket under him and he writhed.  Corbin's penis leaked fluid onto his belly, and now Paul moved his pelvis in earnest.

The firefighter's eyes were feral and he curled himself over Corbin.  He put his hands and forearms under Corbin's arms and slightly lifted the smaller man's torso off the bed.  He pulled Corbin into himself while at the same time his strong core flexed and drove his hips. His cock slid in and out of Corbin in a steady rhythm.

Corbin reached between them, and he began to stroke himself.  As soon as he started he knew it wouldn't take long for him to finish.

"P… Paul … I …"  He gasped. And then Paul's hips slammed into him, as he speared himself deep into Corbin's body.  Paul grunted, and Corbin felt Paul unload inside him. Corbin made an inarticulate noise, and his legs thrashed.  He came, and a rope of semen blasted out of him. It landed on his chest, and then he followed up with four more on his belly.

The two men breathed hard.  Paul let Corbin's torso rest back on the bed.  Then he raised up and looked at Corbin. His eyes were hopeful and concerned.  "You okay?" He almost whispered it.

Corbin smiled up at him.  He nodded. "I am." He reached up and pulled Paul down to his lips.  They kissed, unhurried, and tender. Then he pulled back to look at Paul.  "I should have tried this years ago."

Paul grinned.  "That's what all the boys say after me."

Corbin barked a laugh and swatted him.  Paul only smirked. They disentangled themselves, and the two men got into the shower.

And this time they took it together.

____________________________________

The next day Corbin noticed that he was a bit sore.  He remembered sometimes Liam would be sore from their lovemaking.  And he smiled to himself. 'Small price to pay.'

Both he and Paul had to go to work that Wednesday morning.  Paul was on duty for three days, Wednesday through Friday. Corbin wouldn't see the firefighter until Saturday morning and he hated the idea of that.

After he said goodbye to Paul, and after the fireman nearly made him late for work, he drove to town.  He hurried to the back door. As usual, Karen was already inside.

"Hi, boss."  He smiled at the woman when he entered, and hoped things would be better for her today.  Karen sat at her desk, and she looked deeply focused on some sheet of paper in front of her.

She looked up as he came in.  "Hey, Corbin." She went back to studying the document.  As he walked by Corbin could tell it was a financial statement.

No luck.  She was still not her usual self.  He frowned at her. "Hey. Can I help?"

She looked up, her face worried.  She let herself lay back in the chair and she sighed.  "I don't know how." She waved her hand over the statement.  "I was checking my retirement account. Even if I wasn't penalized for early withdraw, I don't have enough to pay off the loan that's giving me the trouble.  The ONLY loan. And at this point, that's all the bank will accept."

Corbin let that sink in a moment, then he pulled up the other chair.  "How long do you have to come up with the money, and how much?"

She shook her head, and her bottom lip trembled slightly.  Then she inhaled and forced her way through the emotion. "$70,000, and I have a little over two weeks."  Her eyes met Corbin's. "If I can't get it then this place folds." She shook her head. "I'm so sorry. I never thought my extension would be denied.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have hired you. I know what a hassle is it to change jobs."

Corbin's eyes shifted as he thought.  "What's the business's estimated value?"

"$450,000 counting the property.  Which I own." She grimaced. "Well, for another two weeks."  Corbin stared at her, and she frowned at him. "What is it?"

He inhaled.  "Well, I need to run some numbers … but if you want a partner in the business, then I think I can spare the money.  But I need to see some earnings statements."

Her eyes widened.  "Are you …" her hand went up and covered her mouth, then she shook her head in disbelief, "are you serious?"

Corbin nodded.  "Yeah. As long as you can prove the place can turn a profit."

She grinned.  "Yes! I can! I'm only in trouble now because I had a couple of emergencies in a row.  I had to pay huge initial fees for my grandparents' care, and the roof of this place needed to be replaced.  That cleaned me out, and I got behind on the loan payment. But yes, this place is definitely profitable!"

Corbin smiled at her.  "Then let's see about those earnings statements, and we'll take a trip to the bank after work today."  He eyed the now excited woman. "You sure you wanna partner up with me? Sounds like I'd have a … 15% stake.  That all right?"

"Oh god, yes.  YES!" She threw her arms around his neck.  "You have no idea! Oh my god!" She looked as if she were about to cry, though this time happy tears.

"Oh no.  Don't do that."  Corbin laughed. He jerked his head at the front door.  "Come on. Let's open up. It's time."

She set her jaw and nodded.  "All right!" Then she grinned.  "Partner!" She stuck out her hand to him.

Corbin grinned back.  The two of them shook hands, then they went to go open their shop.

He worked the shop all day, up to 4 PM.  Then they closed up and went to the bank.  After some financial hoops and a couple of hours, he was now a 15% owner of Hailey Coffee Company.  And Karen had the option of buying back his share at a future date. Karen immediately paid the offending loan with the money.  And now the business owed zero money.

Though now, Corbin's account stood at just under $50,000.  He waved goodbye to his new business partner, Karen, and he got into his truck.  'Well, now I actually have to worry about money.' He sighed and started the old machine.

Corbin drove home.  At the turn-off, he looked up the ridge where he knew Paul's house sat.  He couldn't see it in the early evening, but he knew it was there.

'Miss you, fireman.'  He felt a little rush of endorphins at the simple thought of Paul, and he smiled.

With a sigh, he drove on and pulled up to his home.  As he got out his phone vibrated in his pocket. He unlocked his cabin, and he entered.  Then he pulled out the phone.

'Hey, boyfriend.  Wanted to ask if we could hang out Saturday with my buddy Chad and his wife, Mia.  They're good people. A hot tub party at my place?'

Corbin looked at it and he took a breath.  Chad was a cop. Corbin never quite got over the unease a lifetime in a crime family instilled in him when it concerned a cop.  But, he was Paul's best friend.

He texted back.  'Okay. Sounds good.'  He sent the message and groaned.  "You'd better appreciate this, damn it."  He said out loud to himself.

Then he smirked, added 'Boyfriend' and texted that too.

Paul sent back a rose and a thumbs up, and Corbin laughed.

'Maybe it'll be okay,' he thought.  He forced some optimism. 'Yeah, it'll be alright.'  He pushed the worry down, then he went into his kitchen to find some dinner.

_______________________________

Dark brown eyes flicked over the latest communication he received.  Agents shifted from NYC to Philly AND Boston. Stefano's eyes widened, and he nodded, impressed.  'Harris anticipated the pattern before it ever became one. The bastard is very clever.'

He was not in the habit of underestimating his enemy.  He anticipated this latest campaign may end prematurely.  But it cost the FBI money, and it stressed Harris. It was also a fantastic distraction.  That would have to do. The trail of misinformation would continue, which would get picked up by Harris' spies and then reported to him.

It was a stroke of genius which allowed for this latest vexation to the agent.  Early in Harris' campaign, their contact within the FBI had replaced all of the reference photos for Stefano.  Instead of Stefano, they chased a very slippery cousin, one the FBI had nothing on.

They looked similar, and one could pass for the other from a distance.  That helped things considerably. So even if Harris caught a glimpse of the switched pictures, he would have to actually examine them to see they were indeed fake.

Every reference photo of him except those held by Harris were switched.  All Harris had to do was send Stefano's picture to his force of agents, and they would know they've been duped.  But he had no reason to do that. He had no idea he needed to.

Till he did they chased the wrong man across the nation.

Stefano put the phone away and looked up.  His bus had arrived. It wasn't the most fun way to travel, but it was impossible to police with any sort of accuracy.  He looked up at the destination as it flashed across the electronic sign on the side of the bus.

'Chicago, here I come.'  He smirked, his handsome face wore the expression naturally.  Though he would prefer to stay in New York he couldn't take the chance.  Harris lived in the city, and he would recognize Stefano instantly. If he miraculously ran into or saw surveillance of him, then the game was over.  For now, the Windy City would be his refuge.

Besides, it put him that much closer to his final goal.

He loaded his bag on the bus in the cargo compartment underneath.  Then he got on with his backpack. He had the focused, intense look of a man most didn't want to cross.  Though the vehicle was near capacity no one elected to sit in the seat beside him.

The bus began the journey.  Once on the road, he pulled out his phone.  'Am on the way to the destination we discussed.  Will contact when arrived.' He sent the message, put the phone on airplane mode, then put it away.  He knew it was received, and that there would be no response sent.

He sat back thinking about that final moment when he would stand before his quarry ... and he smiled.


Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts on the chapter at the following email address link.   Wayne Gray

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