I swear something is conspiring against me writing these chapters to this story *banging head on desk* If it's not one thing, it's another, but I won't go into details because then I'd be here all night typing *lol* HOWEVER, I finally got it (after losing it and having to rewrite it). Please excuse any mistakes. It's on its way to my dear friend who helps me keep from making so many grammer errors, but I didn't want you all to suffer any longer. Wouldn't be fair, huh?
So here it is.
Ryan held his breath as he waited for the door to be answered. Again and again he asked himself what he was doing here? He felt as if he were walking into a lion’s den. The door opened and he was a little relieved to find that it was Charlie who answered. He still wasn’t sure if he was ready to see Zack or not.
“Hayes.” Charlie nodded and opened the door wider.
Ryan hesitated. His stomach wound in a tight knot.
Charlie sighed. “Maria won’t serve you dinner out there.”
Taking a deep breath Ryan took the first step and crossed the threshold.
“Charlie, what’s…Oh, Ryan.” She smiled radiantly at him. “Please come in. Dinner will be ready in five minutes.”
“Thank you.” He returned her infectious smile.
Maria swept out of the room in her graceful manner. Charlie was a lucky man to have a woman like her.
“Have a seat. Would you like some tea? Water? Beer?”
“A beer would be nice.” Ryan walked toward the couch Charlie indicated, however, his eyes kept glancing to the stairs.
“No problem. I’ll get it.” He walked toward the doorway Ryan assumed led to the kitchen.
Ryan looked around the room. The décor was feminine. It matched Maria’s bubbling personality with its vivid colors and honey oak furniture. Despite the friendly surroundings, Ryan couldn’t relax.
Startled, Ryan’s breath hitched. He stood abruptly, turning toward the front door. He hadn’t even heard it open.
“Zack.” The name came out in a rush of breath. Heat exploded in Ryan’s body remembering how good it felt to be pressed against the man standing in front of him. He fought to maintain control. He wasn’t an adolescent child entering puberty.
They stared at each other, wordless. It took Ryan a few breaths before he found his voice. “You look good.”
Zack’s cheeks flushed at the compliment. Ryan couldn’t stop the smile, enjoying the youthful expression. It was nice to see something other than shadows in his eyes.
“How’s your shoulder?”
Ryan shrugged with his good shoulder. “It’s coming along. No infection, but the Doc said I’d have to go through some rehab before I can get back to work.”
Zack nodded, his eyes leaving Ryan’s gaze. His mouth opened and he was about to say something when Charlie came in, a beer in each hand.
“Hey, Zack. I didn’t hear you come in. Want a beer?” He handed Ryan a beer and held the other out to Zack.
Zack shook his head. “As tempting as that is, I can’t. I promised Dr. Parker I’d stay away from alcohol, sleeping pills, and anything else that may ‘take away the pain’.” He raised his fingers and made invisible quotation marks in the air.
“Dr. Parker?” Ryan asked, then regretted it. It wasn’t my business. “Never mind. I didn’t mean to pry.”
“Dr. Parker is Zack’s therapist.” Charlie supplied, taking a sip of his beer. “She specializes in abusive relationships and helping the victims move on.”
Ryan’s brow rose. “You found one in Alameda?” The town was so small you didn’t need more than two officers on duty at once.
“A complete fluke,” Zack said. “She moved here about six months ago from California. However, she’s a New Mexico native. Grew up over in Roswell.”
“She took Dr. Long’s position when he decided to retire. She’s settled in nicely here. The folks like her well enough.”
“Dinner’s ready,” Maria announced.
Charlie turned and started to the kitchen. “Need any help, honey?” he asked, but Ryan caught the sideways glance at him and Zack as if he didn’t really want to leave them alone.
“This is your last chance to skedaddle. Maria’s not the best of cooks. Her food has been known to cause more stomach problems than food poisoning.”
I chuckled and looked at Zack. “I’m good. Can’t be any worse than my mother’s cooking. She was the world’s worst. If it weren’t for dad finally hiring a cook when we were young, I think we would have starved.”
Zack made a face, but his eyes were laughing. “That’s an exaggeration. Surely someone couldn’t be that bad. Rob was a…” Zack stopped and his expression sobered.
Damn it, Ryan cursed silently. He had to open his big mouth. Instead of letting them dwelling on the unpleasantries, he delved through his mind for a funny story.
“Now my partner, Jerry. He was an awesome cook. However, this one time, when he was trying to make a veggie lasagna I thought I would die.” Ryan gently touched Zack’s shoulder and started herding him to the dinning area while he told him the story. From the corner of his eye Ryan caught sight of Maria and Charlie standing in the kitchen doorway still as a mouse and watching them closely.