YOUR BONUS CONTENT
ONE YEAR LATER
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“Oy. You know we’re a pale people.”
I squeezed out of the compact car, stretching my legs. The skies were the perfect shade of blue without a cloud in sight. I couldn’t have asked for better weather. My travel companion, on the other hand, he’d need more convincing. Between the hat, sunglasses, and thick layer of sunscreen covering his face, I was surprised he could feel the sun at all.
“You’ll have plenty of time to work on your tan,” I said.
“Going to cook me like a damned lobster.”
I doubled over laughing as he struggled to get out of the car. Carrying two beefy men, it had been a miracle that it didn’t drag along the ground. While it wouldn’t win any races, it got us from the airport to our home for the next week.
I selected the cottage for its proximity to the beach, but it came with other perks. Palm trees lined the driveway, leading to a small porch. It wasn’t big, not by any stretch, but I didn’t expect to spend our days inside. When Calum’s captain demanded he use his sick time, I sprang into action as our travel agent. If Calum wanted some place with less sun, he should never have said, “I’m game for anything.”
“It’s cute,” he said. “It has air con, right?”
He hadn’t asked many questions while I schemed. I gave him credit. He attempted to buy into my vision. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I needed this week to be one amazing event after another. A little black box in my backpack begged to be whipped out, but only when the moment was perfect.
“It’s already chilled,” I said, walking toward the door.
“Oy. Come here.” He waved his phone about like a lunatic. Oh, it was going to be one of those events. “Photos or it didn’t happen.” He lived by the mantra. When I moved into my new apartment, he made sure the walls were covered with photographs of us.
He wrapped an arm around my waist. “Thank you.”
“Being you.” He always said the sweetest things.
I gave him a bear hug, pressing our sweaty bodies together. His eyes went wide as I lifted off the ground, holding out my hand for him to join. He scanned the property, cautious for watchful eyes. Convinced we were alone, he reached up, taking my hand and following me a hundred feet above our rental.
“What are you up to?” He knew me sometimes too well. It should be expected as we approached our one-year anniversary. “Whoa.”
His jaw dropped as he had a clear view of the island. But it wasn’t the beautiful golden sands or the unearthly teal waters. They were breathtaking on their own. No, against this stunning landscape, the most impressive thing was the hundreds of people flying through the air.
“Turks and Caicos, the only place in the world with more supers than Vanguard.”
“I can’t even describe it.”
I moved behind Calum, wrapping my arms around his shoulders. His head moved back and forth as he watched hundreds of fliers zipping across the island. We spent our days transitioning between secret identities and our alter egos. Here, we didn’t have to choose. For the next week, there wouldn’t be compartmentalizing. I wanted to spend this vacation with Calum, every part of him.
“It’s amazing,” he whispered.
He spun about and I had to stifle a laugh. I wielded fire like a god, and Calum manipulated a primal force of nature. Who knew it’d be ultraviolet rays that did him in? I pulled the hat from his head and slid the glasses off his face.
“There’s my handsome boyfriend.”
The title made me cringe. It was easier than saying, “Serious romantic partner.” But when Calum had that look in his eyes, like I was the only person in a crowded room, it fit. Hopefully, by the end of the vacation, I’d find the words for all those moments when he left me speechless.
“I love you.” It made me blush, like I was hearing it for the first time.
It hung in the air long enough he raised an eyebrow. In this relationship, I pushed Calum out of his comfort zone. But with pesky feelings, it was him who dragged me kicking and screaming. Three simple words. They hardly covered the turbulence I experienced every time I laid eyes on him.
“I love you.” For now, they’d serve as a summary.
“Well, I can see why you chose this cottage.”
The kitchen needed its own zip code. Maybe it influenced my decision. It had a six burner stove top, marble countertops, and most exciting, a waterfall edge. It was as if they searched my browser history. More than that, the pans hanging above the island were top of the line.
Calum pulled a knife from the butcher block. “Aren’t these the same knives I got you for Christmas?”
“I never want to leave.”
The kitchen was bigger than the living room. But Calum wasn’t concerned with the single sofa and small television. He pulled open the front of his shirt and basked in the frigid breeze from the air conditioner.
“I’m never moving from this spot.”
“That’s not every—” I stopped mid sentence as the cold pelted my skin. As a human flame thrower, the heat didn’t bother me. But I’d never waste an opportunity to drop my internal temperature. Lisanette mocked me for taking my breaks in the walk-in cooler. Maybe our next vacation would be the arctic. That is, if Calum survived this one.
“There’s more.” I pulled back the curtains in the living room to reveal a small pool. It was almost foolish for an island sitting in the middle of the ocean, but I wanted a private outdoor space. Not that I planned on being naked outside… okay, I planned on sunning my junk.
Calum walked to the only door on the far side of the living room. “Bedroom isn’t shabby either.”
He broke me from the thought of basking in the sunlight in my naked glory. A king-sized bed. After six months of dating, Calum forced me to shop for a new mattress. He refused to spend the night until I upgraded to a queen. He claimed I tried to crawl on top of him in the middle of the night while we slept. Joke was on him. I was awake when I did that. Despite the additional space, he still wiggled back and pulled my arm across his chest.
I gave him a nudge, knocking him onto the bed. I jumped beside him, making the frame groan. With his shirt open, exposing his belly, I couldn’t resist. My hand traced circles through the hair until it reached his chest.
“I’d kiss you, but you’d taste like coconut.”
Calum rolled over, throwing a leg over my waist. He peppered my face with kisses. So much coconut. There was no escaping the slick sensation of sunscreen. I batted at him until he sat back, straddling me.
“I’m going to take a shower. You go cheat on me with your other love.” The kitchen. He liked to refer to it as the third member of our relationship. Not that he complained. That sexy belly never went without a meal. “Unless you want to join?” The grin spread across his face. He added a waggle of the eyebrows to drive his point home.
“There will be plenty of me soaping you up. But you go cool off while I get dinner started.”
He rolled off me, landing on his back. “Abandoned. Again.” He held the back of his hand to his forehead for dramatic effect. “You love it more than me.”
“I’m making lamb shanks.”
Calum shot upright. “Why are you still talking? To the kitchen with you!”
I expected nothing less. It had been the dinner where he first blurted out, “I love you.” After several failed attempts cooking lamb, I got a handle on how to prepare it without drying out the meat. It had been a hit for date night. At first, I thought he confessed to loving the meal. Then I spotted those puppy dog eyes and bright red cheeks.
“Think of me in the kitchen.” He pulled his shirt over his head and headed into the bathroom.
“Think of me in the shower.”
“I always do.”
I reached across the bed, searching for my life-sized teddy bear. The sheets were cool to the touch. Had my snoring chased him away in the middle of the night? It took a moment before I remembered we weren’t in his apartment. It came rushing in. The airport. The car rental. The laughing as we dined on lamb. The little black box.
I sat up, wiping the sleep from my eyes. Despite the efforts of the air conditioner, the room had grown warm. On an island filled with supers, I’m sure I could find one capable of making it snow over our cottage. Caribbean Chill, perfect beaches with a hint of Christmas. I could get behind that business.
Getting out of bed, I held my hand up. The flame flickered in my palm. I walked into the living room. The exterior door creaked, unlocked, and opened. My mind raced with the fear that somebody had broken in. Call it an occupational hazard. On an island filled with supers, burglary seemed mundane. But none the less, I let the flame wrap around my fist, just in case.
I solved the case of the missing boyfriend. On his back, Calum floated about the pool. The sight of the naked bear staring up at the stars was a sight to behold. When I ran my hand over a tiki torch, lighting the wick, I startled him. In a quick flail, he vanished below the water. When he surfaced, he swam to the edge.
“Did I wake you?”
“Bed got lonely.”
“Between Caribbean heat and sleeping with a space heater, it got warm. Besides, look at that.” He turned his attention skyward. My jaw went slack as hundreds of tiny lights flew across the sky. At first I thought it might be resident supers zipping across the sky, but so many? In the bright lights of Vanguard, we’d never have seen the specks as they vanished into the atmosphere.
Maybe Calum had the right idea. I ran the last few feet, tucking my legs under me. It’d be somewhere between a cannon ball and a belly flop. I didn’t hear him shout as I smacked against the water. Cool and refreshing. It was what the night called for. When I surfaced, Calum shielded his face as another wave pounded at his chest.
“Really? Really!” I replied with another splash of water.
He jumped, arms wrapping around me as I fought to stay upright. He succeeded in dunking me. But I got the last laugh as I grabbed his legs and pulled him under. When we both came up for air, it got incredibly quiet. Other than the water rocking in the pool, there was… nothing.
“Wow,” I said. “Vanguard never sleeps.”
“It’s like we’re the only two people in the world.”
I watched as Calum wiped the water from his eyes. Did he understant the magnitude of his statement?. I spent evenings at Lou’s feeding the hungry and my late nights eliminating the scum of Southland. There was a lot going on. But when he walked into the room, none of it mattered. For ten years, prison taught me feelings were deadly. Anything but macho bullshit attached a target to a person’s back. Calum never pushed as I worked through the emotional trauma.
“What are you thinking?”
The old me would have shrugged. But that’s what made him special. I had spent years living in an emotional cage, allowing my anger to seethe. I didn’t run from my past. But with Calum, I wanted his approval. His unconditional affection left me wanting to be better than the day before. How did I tell him he made me more of who I wanted to be?
He didn’t push as he wrapped his arms around my neck. When the words eluded me, he let me show him. I pulled him close, swaying in the water. The shadows from the tiki torch made it impossible to see the green of his eyes, but I had them memorized. I pushed against him, tasting the salt from the pool as we kissed. Putting my feelings into actions had never been a problem.
I reached for his thighs, picking him up until his legs wrapped around my waist. I walked to the edge of the pool while I savored the taste of him. When I lifted him out of the water, resting him on the concrete, he didn’t protest. I positioned myself between his legs, kissing his chest. Once he realized where this was going, he leaned back on his elbows, giving me free access. I could have rolled him onto his belly and pulled him onto my cock, but this wasn’t about me. I wanted Calum front and center. He never complained about my non-verbal methods of appreciation.
Dammit. The mood was perfect, exactly what I wanted when I presented him with the ring. I’d stumble through my words as I worked through my feelings. But in the silence, under falling stars, it’d have been perfect. Rushing inside to grab the ring box would spoil the mood. I could only hope we’d have another moment like this. Until then…
I wrapped my hand around his cock while I kissed his thighs. I’d never tire of tracing the curves of his muscles. When I squeezed his shaft, he let out a sigh. In the quiet, I heard every staggered breath. I took my time stroking him, in no rush to reach the finish line.
Three-hundred-and-sixty-three days had passed since that fateful night in the diner. But as I replayed the history of us… I wanted another year, and then one after that. I wanted to lose track of the times I touched Calum. Once upon a time, I wanted to live in the moment. But… Calum was my future.
I cupped his balls as I swallowed his cock. His hips bucked, sliding in the last inch. He groaned as I held still, letting him squirm. I kept the position until I needed to come up for air. With a quick breath, I fell into a rhythm, moving up and down his cock at a steady pace.
“That feels amazing,” he mumbled.
Yes, yes it does. Some romps were about sprinting to an orgasm. But sometimes sex served as an excuse to please, to touch, to express what words couldn’t. As his breathing quickened, I pulled off his cock, kissing down his shaft until I reached his testicles. They tasted of salt water, but that didn’t stop me from dragging my tongue across the skin. Calum moaned and reached for his cock. He thought better of it, leaning back and spreading his legs wider. It had taken a while to train him, but now, when we played, I was the only one allowed to touch his cock.
“Good boy,” the words came out as a growl.
With a flex, he made his cock bounce, Calum’s subtle way of saying it wanted attention. Normally, I was the impatient one. I preferred a couple of shorter sessions. Calum tended to wait until the end of the day to cum. Funny how the tables had turned.
I dove onto his cock. Each time, I dragged my tongue along the underside of his shaft. The moaning started, a long guttural sound. His body tensed as we raced toward his orgasm. I paused, freezing midway. The moan turned to a whimper as he thrust his hips. As tempting as it was to make him beg, I wanted to taste Calum. Okay, maybe it was a little about me.
He roared as his cock thickened. I greedily swallowed every drop. With one last lick, his body relaxed. Shaking his head, he let out a low whistle.
It might not have been a bashful question on one knee, but it was a close runner-up. The proposal would happen at just the right time. It’d be one we’d tell friends, hoping they grasped just how wonderful it had been. But that’d have to wait for tomorrow.
Callum’s body continued twitching as I ran my hands along his belly. It wasn’t quite our usual shower routine, but he didn’t complain. Lifting out of the water, I hovered above the pool. The fire swirled about me until I was dry. I helped Calum to his feet.
“We should get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be an adventure.”
“After that… sleeping next to a furnace won’t matter.”
I had big plans.
“I wasn’t expecting this.”
“Vex owed me a favor.”
The sail of the catamaran snapped back and forth as the breeze moved us away from the island. Booking an excursion wasn’t enough. I called in the big guns and Vex delivered a small yacht. Of course, he had a captain and two crew mates on the payroll just in case he wanted to sail the globe. Having rich friends had its perks.
Calum had one requirement for this vacation: snorkeling along the reef. Living in a congested city, we didn’t have access to crystal clear waters. If somebody went swimming in the Vanguard River, they’d walk out with powers. But here, the ocean in the distance bordered on surreal. Calum held onto the railing of the boat, watching as the water darkened with coral.
“You outdid yourself,” he said.
From behind, I wrapped my arms around his chest. My hand snaked inside his Hawaiian button down, resting over his heart. I laid my head on his shoulder, watching as the shore faded from view. A dark object surfaced to the side of the boat. If the Atlanteans attacked, I’d be pissed. My head shot up when it happened again.
The loud speaker roared to life. “This is your captain. It looks like Jojo is joining us.”
On the next jump, I could make out the dolphin.
“Look.” I pointed and Calum switched positions, leaning over the side to get a better view. The dolphin kept pace with the boat. But the sight couldn’t compare to the sense of childhood wonder on Calum’s face. Time after time, I stood by this valiant man as we protected our city. Somehow, it didn’t leave him jaded. When Jojo the dolphin leapt from the water, he squealed with delight.
How did I get this lucky?
Minutes passed as Jojo put on a show, weaving back and forth next to the boat.
“You’re staring,” he said. He reached for my hand, pulling me to the railing. “Still nervous about getting wet?” He squeezed my fingers. Calum might be thrilled to jump in the water, but I had my reservations. Fire and water didn’t mix. It wasn’t the fear of losing my powers while we splashed about. I equated the inability to summon fire with inhibitor collars in prison.
“It’s worth it.” I gave him a wink, but it didn’t stop him from holding my hand. Without powers, I might not be a hot-headed bear, but not to Calum. He pulled off his hat and sunglasses before giving me a kiss. Those eyes fixated on me, and the heat rushed to my face. Without a word, he shoved a lifetime of emotions into a single look.
“Diesel, have I told you how much I love you?”
I cursed myself. The ring wouldn’t fit in my swim trunks. I left it hiding in the small pocket of my backpack at the house. I considered jetting back to shore to retrieve it, but I’d miss the window of opportunity. For a guy on a mission, I failed at every turn.
I held the sides of his face before stealing a kiss. “I know.”
“Good.” He gave me a slap on the ass before ducking under my arm. “Powers are not, you’re my hero.” Damn. He could deliver a single line and leave my heart racing.
Yet again, logistics stopped me from showing him how much he meant to me. How did men pull this off and make it look so easy? It’s not like I organized a flash mob or an orchestra to appear out of nowhere.
The anchor roared as it dropped into the water. Calum was already sliding his goggles into place. There was no fanfare as he threw the fins over the side of the boat. With only a few steps, he launched himself off the boat. He hit the water in a near perfect dive. For a guy his size, I expected the loud smack of a belly flop.
I couldn’t help but smile as he came up, waving for me to join him. Childhood wonder. Simply by being him, he reminded me to be something other than dark and brooding. I grabbed my mask off a bench and tossed my flippers over the side.
“Woohoo!” With the goggles secured, I charged forward. Jumping into the air, I confronted my fears and embrace the adventure.
Six hours later, we collapsed onto a bench at the rear of the boat. The sun neared the horizon, and the sky tinted shades of yellow and orange. The boat rocked as I laid down on my back, head resting in Calum’s lap. If I let him, he’d still be exploring caves in the reef. When I asked if he wanted me to go back for his camera, he simply said, “I’ll never forget this.” I earned double boyfriend points for this excursion.
“We need to do this more,” I said.
“Snorkeling?” He ran his hand along my scalp. If I closed my eyes, the gentle touches would have me asleep in minutes.
“Not that. This.” I waved my hands about as if it explained everything. He gave me a confused look. “Us. People. Normal. This.” I waved again. “We spend so much time between work and saving the city, we don’t get enough time to just be us.”
“Do you want me to stop with all the overtime?”
“No. You love your job. You giving up work would be like me making microwave dinners.”
“I do love frozen lasagna.”
“Blasphemy.” Since I started spending the night at his place, the microwave hadn’t gotten used for anything other than warming cold coffee. As it should be.
“You think more vacations?”
“Maybe.” I hadn’t thought that far ahead. “I want to spend more time with you doing couple-y stuff.”
“Couple-y stuff? What have you done with Diesel?”
Okay, I deserved that. We did plenty of things as a couple, but I rarely talked about what it meant to us, to me. I had no problem dressing up and taking him to a fancy dinner and making subtle references about how fast I’d get him out of his pants. But I had issues explaining how much those moments meant.
“Do you want to move in?” I blurted out the words. Wait, did I just screw up the proposal? Would it be weird to follow up moving in with a bigger question? Would he think I was testing the waters? Deep breaths. Don’t let him see me sweat.
“Is that what this vacation was about?”
“Maybe.” It wasn’t lying. Omission of the truth didn’t constitute perjury.
He stared off to the horizon, his face neutral. My stomach tied itself in knots as I searched for a clue, any clue, about his feelings. He dragged it out long enough that my heart sank. If he wasn’t willing to cohabitate, what would that mean for a proposal? I thought I read the situation correctly. If I dropped to a knee and popped the question and he said—
“My place or yours?”
I let out a long sigh. I was worried about him saying no. He worried about logistics. I had forgotten whose lap I was using as a pillow. “We could look for a new place?”
“Are you just saying that because I don’t have a waterfall counter?” He shot me a look, one that cut through any bullshit and got to the heart of the matter. I laughed. Hard. The tension escaped with each rumble of my belly. It had been a year and Calum still made me nervous. It had less to do with him and more to do with me rediscovering how to be a partner. Sure, as Arson, I was a cocky man on the streets, but as Diesel, I needed to work on myself more.
“Your kitchen is horrible,” I confessed.
“Your shower doesn’t have water pressure.”
“Your neighbors are loud.”
“Your neighbors have triplets.”
“Your closet space—”
“At least I have a closet!”
The argument could go on. Despite the shortcomings of our apartments, they were home. It’s where we had breakfast and chatted about what we looked forward to that day. Both couches were heavily used as we watched movies and engaged in gentle warfare over whose turn it was to be the pillow. Each came with a list of problems. But as long as I fell asleep wrapped around my little spoon, they were perfect.
I raised an eyebrow.
“Let’s find a new place. You can get your kitchen. I can get my water pressure.” He smiled while returning to the horizon. “It’ll have to be the top floor for our extracurricular activities. I’m not taking the elevator in my spandex.”
The thought of him as Gallant while listening to elevator music made me chuckle.
“Where should we look?”
He shrugged. “Between our jobs?” He continued rubbing my head. “It doesn’t matter where. It’ll be home.”
Just weeks ago, I went toe-to-toe with the Lizard King and his minions. Before that, I faced off against an interstellar band of misfits who wanted to use Earth for their late night shenanigans. Faced with danger, I was nothing but confidence. We’d trade blows, I’d walk out victorious. The world was a better place. But with a single line, Calum reached inside my chest and made my heart skip a beat. I had one goal this vacation and missed too many opportunities.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow would be the day.
“I’d endure the heat all day for that view.”
We walked down the boardwalk leading from the parking lot to the beach. To the side was the restaurant, which normally would be stunning on its own. But competing with the shimmer of an endless ocean and a purple sky? It didn’t stand a chance.
We spent the day lounging on a quiet beach. I had brought a book, thinking it’d be a peaceful way to spend the afternoon. Instead, I spent it napping while Calum splashed in the water with a group of local mermen. I’m pretty sure they were trying to convince him to head back to their place. I couldn’t blame them. Calum looked delicious in a speedo.
I wanted to cook tonight, an intimate night for the two of us, but he convinced me to go out. He picked a restaurant next to the beach that boasted some of the best conch on the island. I ran my hand along my shorts, checking for the angular bulge in my pocket. I came prepared, ready to lay it all on the line. Even though we spent the day talking about moving in together, it didn’t calm the butterflies. I once called myself the biggest bad in the room. This big bad had gotten squishy, thanks to a certain handsome fella.
I took his hand and walked toward the restaurant. As we approached the host, he gave a slight head nod as a portal opened next to him. He stepped through, gesturing to a table. We took our seats, and I had to give it to Calum. He picked the perfect spot. It was like a small oasis. Palm trees surrounded the dining room while a pool sat in the middle. Each table had been spaced out, giving couples privacy. On a bridge in the center of the pool, a young woman swayed, while violins appeared to play themselves.
“Wow,” Calum said. “I feel like I didn’t dress for the occasion.”
“You look perfect.”
Before we could pick up the menu, the server arrived holding drinks.
“I’ll be back for your order.” I swatted at my ear. Her voice inside my head bordered on melodic. I should expect an island filled with supers to have a telepath or two. Using their abilities to predict our drink order, I considered that a creative use.
“Best of luck.” She gave me a wink as she set down the drinks.
I reached for my pocket, double checking that the ring rested safely on my hip. While Calum inspected the menu, I picked up my rum and pineapple juice. The nerves were getting the better of me as my hand shook. I swallowed it in a single gulp. I’d need a few more of those. Lava beast? No problem. The fear of rejection? That was the real super villain.
Here we go.
“Do you mind if—”
“You want to speak to the chef, don’t you?”
I nodded. “I want to see how they make the conch.”
“You just like saying conch.”
I got up, giving him a kiss on his forehead. It wasn’t uncommon for me to talk with the chef. Every time we tasted something amazing, I wanted to know the chef’s secrets. I could learn about it all day in class, but nothing beat hand-on-experience. It’d make for the perfect cover.
“I’ll make sure he sees.” The waitress gave me a pat on the back as I passed. There was no hiding from telepaths. Did she sense the radiating anxiety radiating? It wouldn’t take a mind reader to see how nervous I was.
I ducked past the kitchen and out the other side of the restaurant. With a push, I was airborne, flying into the darkness above. Once in position, I let the fire pool in the palm of my hands. I had thought of a thousand ways to ask Calum. We could have revisited the arcade or axe throwing. But when I asked his very Scottish father for permission to marry his son, he said, “Laddie, I couldn’t ask for a better crook to be my son-in-law.” I’m still not sure if he meant it as a compliment. But then he added, “You’re his hero.” It only seemed fitting to ask him in a way only Arson could.
The fire poured from my hands. I whipped it about, spraying it across the night. Summoning fire was easy, controlling it required concentration. But using it to pop the question? I had practice on a small scale, but never enough to fill the sky. Once it was in place, I shut my eyes, imagining the individual letters. I could feel the flames bend to my will.
Will you marry me?
It lit up the sky, impossible to miss. I had started the process, but popping the question was only the beginning. Now came the part that kept me awake at night. I’d know in a few minutes if our talk about hunting for a new home would be for nothing.
All eyes were on me. I shook away the fire and touched down next to the pool. Calum stood from his chair, glancing from me to the writing in the sky and back to me. Every patron in the restaurant did the same. His jaw was open, but I couldn’t tell if from embarrassment, disbelief, or amazement. There was no turning back. Butterflies be damned. I was going to take those squishy feelings and put them on the table.
“Calum McGregor.” I coughed, pulling at the collar of my shirt. “Calum Alistair McGregor. For the last year… I…” With a quick shake, I walked toward him. “We shouldn’t work. A cop and a con. This relationship started with nothing but red flags. But here we are. For the last year, you have stood by side. You’ve been my partner in crime, my guiding light, my foundation. You’ve always seen the best in me and I’m a better man for it.”
He wiped his eyes. Tears. That’s a good sign, right?
“You make me nervous, and not because you sleep with a gun next to the bed. Every day I wonder if I’m good enough for you. And every single you day, you remind me I am enough. Masked or not…” I dropped to one knee, looking up as Calum chewed his bottom lip. “I want you as my partner.”
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the box. Holding it up, I opened it. “Will you marry me?”
“Say yes. Say yes. Say yes.” At least I knew the server rooted for me.
Calum spoke, his words coming out in a squeak. “Took you long enough,” he laughed. When I didn’t move, he answered. “Yes! Of course, yes!”
I turned the box around, ready to take the ring. “Mother Fu…” I had been so nervous, I hadn’t checked the box. Empty. All that fanfare and I—
“Missing this?” The ring hovered between Calum and I. Rotating, I could see the strips of brushed platinum with a band of dark Scottish pine in the middle. “It fell out while you packed your suitcase.” He had known? This entire trip… he waited for me to get my shit together. If that didn’t explain our relationship in a nutshell, nothing did.
“Calum McGregor, Tha gaol agam ort.” I took the ring and slid it on his finger.
His eyes lit up at the poorly executed Gaelic.
“I love you too.”
He pulled me to my feet, arms wrapped around my neck. “Always,” he muttered, before kissing me. I could taste the rum on his lips as he pulled me upward, levitating for the entire restaurant. The applauds started. I thought I’d be embarrassed to wear my heart on my sleeve in public. But as Calum bit my lower lip, nobody but him mattered.
Fireworks exploded high above, the pyrotechnics launched by a patron.
It was perfect. He was perfect.
“How’d I do?”
Too energized to sleep, we had followed a sandy path toward the moon until we reached water. Everybody had retired for the evening, leaving us alone as the waves smacked against the beach. It was paradise on its worse days. Calum rested his head on my shoulder as we perched ourselves on the sand. It was a reality I never thought possible.
“Which part? The ring? The proposal?”
“The vacation. All of it, I guess?”
“I wasn’t sure at first. Heat? Sun? Sand? But consider me a convert.” His finger traced circles on my knee. “I still can’t believe you asked for my father’s permission? Is this the fifties?”
“I’d rather put down the God of War again than face a McGregor’s wrath.”
“He asked about it, you know? Who’s going to propose? Get off your ass and make an honest man out of him. And my mother…” He whistled. “She tells her book club about you all the time. ‘My son is seeing this handsome gent,’ she says. They consider you family.”
“Vast improvement from when they would count the silver after you left.”
I pulled away, trying to read his face. “They never…”
He laughed. “Don’t mess with Momma McGregor and her heirloom silver.”
“I still have nightmares about that first Sunday dinner.”
Calum kissed my cheek. He held out his hand. The ring caught the moonlight. “Wait until I tell them. They’ll be all over you. Dates. Plans. Mom will want to know what socks you’re going to wear.”
“We could get married here. Speedos only.”
“Not sure I want to see the police department in speedos.” He reached back and snapped the elastic in my bathing suit. “You, on the other hand… I could get used to this.”
I reached between his legs and gave his package a squeeze. “It’s almost as good as watching you walk around the apartment in briefs.” He did it as torture. It almost always ended with him on all fours and me pulling the back of his underwear down.
In a smooth motion, he pushed me on my back and straddled my waist. With the moon behind him, I could only see the beefy outline of my boyfriend… fiancé. “You’re my fiancé.” It was almost as cringe worthy as boyfriend. “I don’t like that one bit.”
“How about pre-husband?”
He got me. “Pre-husband, hmm.” I rolled it around in my head. “Yeah, I can work with that.”
“Well, pre-husband, we’re not going to waste a deserted beach, are we?” He knew I couldn’t resist when he laid on the accent.
To emphasize his point, he leaned back, his ass grinding against my cock. Just the mention of sex on the beach made my speedo tight. It didn’t hurt that this beautiful man held me captive.
It had been a year since Lisanette invited him into the diner for a quick bite to eat. His smile had short wired my brain and despite the red flags, he won me over. More than that, he won my heart. The Doc had once asked me, if I could have my ideal relationship, what would it be?
This. It would be this.
“I love you,” he said.
“I believe you.” Betrayed and sent to prison, I never thought I’d be able to open myself again. But with Calum, there were no doubts.
He reached behind him, pulling at the string of my speedo. Seconds later, he pulled my cock free. I resisted the temptation to summon the fire and turn our swimsuits to ash. He rocked back and forth, the tight fabric brushing along my shaft. I reached for his package and he smacked my hand.
“Nope. Not this time. I’m in charge.”
“That’s not—” His powers pulled at my nipple rings, hard enough I bit my lip, stifling a growl. I could count on one hand the times Calum called the shots in the bedroom. He preferred when I took control and relieved him of any decision making. But if he wanted to use my body, I would not put up a fight.
He leaned forward, resting his weight along my stomach. His powers kept pressure on my nipples, leaving me gasping. Biting my bottom lip, I tried writhing, but he used his bodyweight to hold me in place. When he went in for a kiss, I closed my eyes, reveling in the hint of mint. His hands reached for mine, holding them above my head, his hips thrust forward. Between our bellies, I could feel his cock trying to break free from his suit.
Sex with Calum was nothing short of spectacular. But the thought of sex with my future husband? I had a feeling both of us were going to be pretty sore by morning.
Calum reached back, pulling down the back of his suit. When he sat up, my cock slid between his cheeks. He continued rocking, teasing, until I was ready to beg. I tried sitting upright, but with a hand out, his powers used my nipple rings to keep me in place. Evil. He was downright evil. With a flick of the wrist, they twisted just enough that I—
“Fuck,” I growled.
He got what he wanted, pleasurable torture. This time, when he reached behind him, he guided my cock forward. I had been inside him hundreds of times. But the moment the head of my cock slid pressed against his hole, it was like the first time. Calum gasped as he leaned back. Steady. Inch by inch, he pushed back until he had taken all of me.
“First time fucking my fiancé.” I shot him a wink.
Eyes closed, head back, his muscles tensed and his ass squeezed my cock. Some days, a guy needed to get off, and he raced toward an orgasm. But on days like this, I wanted to take my time and make sure I noted the tiniest of details.
“Damn,” he gasped, “I forget how big, every damned time.”
I wanted to savor the moment. Calum had other plans. He placed his hands on my chest, his fingers flicking over my nipples. I resisted bucking my hips or rolling him over. I surrendered control and let him have his way with me. He rose, almost painfully slow. With a quick push, he took the entire length again.
Calum bit his lip, his eyes staying closed as he let out whimpers every time he slammed himself back on my cock. This continued for five, ten, fifteen minutes. Every time his movements became erratic, he slowed his pace. When he sat upright, bouncing up and down, he reached into his speedo, freeing his cock.
I watched his face as his expression went from concentration to ecstasy. He picked up the pace, fucking his hand. He was already leaking, a sign he was only seconds away from cumming. The first volley hit near my chest, the second streaking across my face. As soon as I licked my lips, tasting Calum, the orgasm started.
“I’m cumming.” It came out somewhere between a hiss and a growl.
He didn’t slow, still stroking his cock. His body shook a second time and his eyes shot open. As I unloaded inside him, he shot another load, covering my belly. Sitting all the way back, he didn’t shy away from my cock as it continued pulsing inside him. When his body shook, I growled. While he might be able to cum twice in a row, I went from beast to sensitive wimp in seconds.
He dropped on top of me, my cock sliding from his ass. He licked the cum along my cheek before kissing me. As his tongue slid in my mouth, I questioned my ability to reload and go a second time. With the weight of this sexy man resting on me, tasting of his cum, I could suffer through a second round.
“How is it fucking your fiancé?”
I couldn’t answer. Instead, I nodded.
“Speechless? That’s almost as good as the ring on my finger.” He held up his hand, trying to catch a glint of metal. “Almost.”
“Still three more days of vacation.”
“I don’t know how you’re going to beat a proposal and sex on the beach.”
Wait. Had our vacation suffered from a premature climax? Just as I was about to admit my lack of foresight, a crazy idea settled into place. It was almost too outlandish, even for us. Oh well, let’s throw caution to the wind.
“How do you feel about a beach wedding?”
He shot upright. I could feel his cum already turning tacky in my chest hair. “Is this just so you can get a waterfall counter?”
It could have been the high from sex with this beautiful man, or it could be I had already imagined our future together. I was ready for an adventure with Calum, my husband. “Maybe. Or maybe I want to drop the pre from my pre-husband.”
He slid off me and cozied up to my side before kissing my cheek. “In that case, let’s get married.”
It started with a burger in a greasy diner. A year later, numerous slow dances in the living room and countless experiments in the kitchen, we were only beginning. If he tolerated me calling him my sidekick while saving the city, I could be his sidekick in life… for life.
Diesel and Calum McGregor.
— THE END–