It's still Monday :D But first, just gotta tell you that I have officially passed to the next level of my green belt in Karate *doing happy dance*
Zack lost his nerve…and nearly the contents in his stomach. What in the hell was he doing here? Surely this was just asking for more trouble. He turned from the door just as it opened, the sound of the squeaking hinges startled him.
“Zack?” Ryan’s voice was barely above a whisper, but it commanded him to turn around again.
His mouth opened to speak, only he didn’t know what to say. He didn’t even know why he was there. His gaze went to the towel Ryan had wrapped around one hand and the blood that had soaked through. Zack unconsciously reached out for his hand, taking a step closer to the doorway.
“What did you do? Is it bad? Do you need stitches?” The questions rolled out of his mouth without thought.
“What are you doing here, Zack?” Ryan pulled his hand closer to his body.
His mouth opened, closed, then opened again. He felt like a fish lying out of water, struggling for breath.
Ryan sighed, his head falling forward, chin touching his chest. He looked defeated. Zack wanted to reach out to him, to take that expression from him. It was an odd sensation. Compassion. A feeling he’d not had for a long time toward the other man that wore the same face.
“I don’t know,” Zack finally answered.
Ryan raised his head, gaze locking with Zack’s, and nodded. He took a step back, opening the door wider. Ryan didn’t ask him in, just stepped further in so he could pass over the threshold. Taking a deep breath, Zack braved the unknown and walked through.
The first thing Zack saw was the mess of shattered glass on the floor, blood mixed with the small shards. The pieces to Ryan’s injury fell into place.
“Here, let me help.” Zack looked around the small kitchen and found a broom and dustpan. Though his left arm was still in a cast, he was able to use it while Ryan’s wound from the gunshot still had his arm incapacitated and now the cut on his uninjured arm made things harder.
With great care, he picked up what was left of the photo frame and the picture it had held. Putting the two aside, Zack swept up the shards of glass.
Ryan jumped when Zack grabbed his wrist. “What are you…?”
“Let me see.” Zack slowly unwrapped the towel. There was a gash in his palm, blood trickling from the nasty wound. “Where’s your first aid kit?”
“Come on. There’s still a piece of glass there.” Zack tightened his grip on Ryan’s wrist and started pulling him toward the bathroom. “Do you have tweezers?”
“I’m…not sure. Maybe.”
Zack didn’t allow Ryan even a second to protest. The poor man was probably in shock at his take-charge attitude. An advantage for Zack.
“Hold your hand under the faucet,” Zack instructed, turning on the cold water before digging through the cabinets and drawers, pulling out the supplies needed.
Holding Ryan’s hand up toward the light, Zack turned it one way then the other. Taking the tweezers, he carefully extracted the shard of glass.
“There, now just hold some pressure on it until I get the bandages ready.”
“Looks like you’ve done this before.” Ryan held the towel over the cut.
Zack shrugged. He opened the sterile gauze a bit clumsily, the cast hindered some of the range of motion of his wrist. “A time or two.” After two years with Rob, he’d learned first aid real quick. Of course he wasn’t about to remind Ryan of that.
It took only a couple of minutes to wrap up Ryan’s hand. “It’s going to be a bitch for a couple of days, but it should heal fine. Not deep or big enough for stitches.”
“Thanks,” Ryan withdrew his hand, holding it up in front of him. “Zack…not that I’m not grateful, but what are you doing here? How did you even know where I lived?”
Damn, he’d hoped Ryan wouldn’t ask that, but it appears as if he wasn’t about to let it drop. Wadding the trash into a ball, he exited the bathroom, the room suddenly feeling way too cramped.
Ryan followed him out not giving him an inch of space. Nope, he wasn’t going to let it drop.
Taking a deep breath, Zack met Ryan’s gaze and a shot of heat slithered to his groin, his breath halted for just a second. Damn, would the breathless feeling ever go away when he looked upon a Hayes man?
“I wish I had an answer for you, Ryan. Really, I do. I was feeling restless, tired of being inside and went for a walk. The next thing I know, I’m standing in front of your door knocking. It wasn’t intentional.” He swiped at the hair falling into his eyes. “Jesus, Ryan, the last thing I need is another Hayes in my life.”
Zack held up his hand stopping him from speaking further. “I know. If you were, you probably wouldn’t have saved me…or Charlie.” He started pacing restlessly. This wasn’t helping to calm the already chaotic emotions rolling within. “I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe I’m trying to find a way to get on with my life. To get past all the shit Rob put me through. To face my fears.”
“Are you scared of me, Zack?”
Zack stopped pacing and looked to Ryan. His gaze slid over the very fit body he was positive that hid beneath the clothing. He kept expecting the despairing chills to run his spine. The one that always slithered through whenever he looked at Rob. Instead, his body seemed to heat with attraction, unexpected lust slamming into his groin. It was surprising for it was never this strong even at the beginning of his and Rob’s relationship.
“No. I feel no fear when I’m around you.”
“Then you are looking in the wrong place to face your fear. In fact, I think you are in the worst place to be if you want to get over Rob.”
Zack’s brows dipped together in confusion.
“Look at me, Zack. REALLY, look at me. I’m nearly identical to the man who tried to kill you. Why in the hell would you even want to be reminded of that with every glance? There’s no fucking way I can even imagine why you’d want to be around me, unless you are obsessed with that man.”
Zack was speechless. Ryan was right. Being around Ryan, looking into those beautiful stormy eyes should bring back memories of pain and humiliation. Only it didn’t. That was the shocker. When he looked at Ryan, he saw compassion and…something he couldn’t identify. Longing? Loneliness? He associated little to Rob when he was around Ryan. How is that possible?
Zack’s body had a mind of its own, walked up to Ryan. Without a word, he reached up, cupped Ryan’s face in his palms, and kissed him.