In this the 6th and final installment of the Apishipa Creek Chronicles, we find out the fate of Rebel Marino, who in the last book was in a terrible accident, left to the ghosts of the past and the tenacity of his fiancé.
This gripping look at the lives of all of the couples we have grown to love is a testament to hope, faith and endearing strength that they have found in each other and the friendship that holds them all together as they face maybe the hardest trials yet. Each of them come up against past demons and future fears as one of their own must stand against sickness and pain.
Rebel, Jack, Lonnie, Travis, Binx, Nathan, Pappy, Sidney, Brandon, Joey, Andy and Lin as well as the people of the town of Apishipa Creek and the leather club Manacle band together to save a new love that none of them saw coming as well as fight the evil of the young men who left Rebel to die.
Come once more to the town tucked in the mountains of Colorado and fall in love again…
Warning: This book contains BDSM and scenes of consensual sex between two or more men
Lonnie didn’t leave the scene until morning, and Travis never left his side. Lin said that the club wouldn’t open, and although Travis was technically the owner of Manacle, the BDSM club in St. Martin, ever since Travis had bought it from Lin, he knew that his best friend would always have the last say in the running of it.
Lonnie was exhausted, but Travis knew his man. Lonnie wouldn’t rest until he’d found the man who did it, or men. It looked to be more than one.
When they left the scene together, they went straight to the Apishipa Creek Sheriff station, where Patsy, the receptionist/dispatcher, was waiting, still wearing the dress she’d been in at the church. “Lonnie! Any word?”
“No, Pats. Sorry.” He left it at that and walked past the front desk and into Jack’s office where he shut the door as soon as Travis was inside. He threw himself at Travis and kissed him hard, holding on for dear life.
Not that Travis didn’t need the closeness, he did. It wasn’t the time for the way Lonnie was grinding into him. Not here, not in Jack’s office. “Lane, come on, we’ll go home if you want this.”
“I’m scared, Travis. Master! I’m fucking scared!”
Travis saw it in Lonnie’s eyes, those dark, beautiful eyes he adored. There was a deep terror there and Travis didn’t understand. “What are you afraid of?”
“Everything. What will Jack do without him? What if I fuck up this investigation? What if Rebel dies? He’s, he’s like my brother.”
Here, so far inside of him that he barely knew it was there, Travis’s own, selfish fear was that if Rebel died, Lonnie would want Jack. He’d been in love with him for so long, before Jack had fallen for Rebel. Now, he saw that that was as far from Lonnie’s mind as could be. He was terrified of losing his friend.
“Lane, get what work you need done and meet me at home. I’m driving down to check on Jack.”
“I wanted you to do that hours ago.”
Travis kissed him deep and long, holding his face still as he did so. When he pulled back, Lonnie was noticeably calmer. “I love Jack and he’s my friend, but there was no way I was leaving my man alone for a minute. I’ll go now, but not for long. I’ll check on things and be back. You work for a couple of hours then hand it to the troopers if you can. This is an order, don’t fucking disobey me.”
Lonnie gave him a ghost of a smile and he left, knowing Lonnie would try his best to do exactly that. They had butted heads about work versus his submissive duties before. Lonnie didn’t know his limits as far as what he could pile on himself. That was what Travis was there for. Well, one of the things.
He left the station and headed down the hill to St. Martin. All of it reminded him so much of Lonnie’s close brush with death that he felt sick to his stomach. It hurt him inside and outside. Every muscle in his body ached as did the muscle of his heart. That day had been the worst of his life. Moreover, though, it showed him what Lonnie meant to him.
At the hospital, he found Jack in the waiting room of the surgery wing. Lynn was with him and smiled at Travis, giving him a quick hug and whispering to him, “He’s not had a thing to eat or drink.”
Travis patted her back and pulled back, telling Jack, “Everyone is praying.”
Jack didn’t look at him at all, just stared down the hall. “Good, good, I appreciate that.”
“Why don’t we go get a cup of bad coffee?”
Without flinching, he answered, “Nope.” Lynn left them alone then and Travis sighed in resignation.
Travis understood. No one could’ve moved him with a crane. He sat next to Jack and said, “Dennis should be down here soon. He had to go home and take his meds for his arthritis.”
Jack nodded slowly, but didn’t look his way. He could be that guy, the one to tell him all the bullshit about taking care of himself, that he should have hope, that he should eat, sleep…but he knew that not only was that advice pointless, but it would be ignored. No one except the doctor coming out of surgery would be able to tell Jack a thing that he’d listen to.
“When Lonnie was here, I think I lost ten pounds overnight from the stress. When you were here, I thought Rebel would lose his mind.”
Jack closed his eyes for the briefest moment and nodded again. Jack had been shot by a sniper who was hired by Travis’s father. Travis’s father had thought Jack and every other gay man who knew Travis was the reason Travis was gay. Now Conway Walton was in prison for at least twenty five years. “I guess it was your turn to worry, huh?”
Jack cracked a small grin. “I guess. I would gladly have been the one again, though, in there.”
“I’m sure Rebel would argue that. He was a wreck.”
Jack sat up and finally looked at Travis, his eyes tired and red. “He’s not going to die. I can’t let him.”
Lynn came in and sat back down, handing them both a cup. “Now there is a Dom speaking.”
As soon as they were out of the office, Lonnie went to the desk and started pulling out drawers. He remembered that Jack had had a bottle of scotch in one of them back in the day to take the edge off of rough cases or to share a drink with friends, but there was no fucking bottle. When he pushed the last drawer back in, he knew what he had to do.
Travis picked up on the second ring and he didn’t let him say hello before he gritted his teeth and begged, “I need you, Master. I need you bad.”
Travis didn’t hesitate, and stated, “I’ll be there in twenty minutes, go straight home and get in the bedroom.”
Lonnie ran to the car as soon as he told Patsy that he’d be back and drove as steady and slowly as he could to get to his home. He was upstairs and undressed like his clothes were burning him, all the while taking stock of his entire house, thinking if there was a beer, a bottle of cooking wine, or anything and trying not to hyperventilate.
Before he could look, he went to their playroom, a small space next to their bedroom, and pulled out drawers until he found a pair of cuffs, clumsily getting them on and pulling them as tight as he could.
Once they were on, he went back into the bedroom and laid face down on the bed, breathing deep and thinking about Travis, the love of his life, the man who was his port in many storms. He wondered again why the fuck St. Martin had to be so far from Apishipa Creek, and why he’d ever become a cop. He wasn’t good enough. He wasn’t strong enough.
He was a rez dog, better fit to be sipping cheap wine from a paper bag; not here, in this beautiful house, pretending to be something he wasn’t. This was crazy, this was-
Lonnie turned his head and his eyes shot to Travis’s, feeling like he could scream and cry at once. “Master…please!”
Travis was there on the bed with him in seconds. He kept Lonnie on his stomach as he rubbed a strong hand over his back. “Tell me, Lane.”
“I’m a fucking fraud! I need a drink so bad I can’t think straight! I’m a filthy, stupid idiot! I will fuck this up! I will fuck it up and those boys will walk and I’ll let Rebel down and Jack and you and everyone! I should’ve stayed in New Mexico!”
While he was spewing everything out like toxic smoke, Travis’s hand never faltered, rubbing in hard steady strokes up and down his back. Once he was finished, Travis said, “Safeword?”
His hair was pulled so hard his head rose from the bedspread. “Tell me your fucking safeword, Lane!”
“Cantaloupe! It’s fucking cantaloupe!”
Travis let go and leaned down to kiss his hair as he said, “It’s gonna hurt, Lane. Take it for me.”
Binx hadn’t stopped chopping onions since he’d gotten home and Pappy was worried. His pup didn’t have a lot of things to keep his mind off of stuff like Rebel’s accident except cooking and his service to Nathan and him, but this was not making a nice pot roast or some apple turnovers.
Pappy watched him from the doorway, leaning on the jamb, and each time Binx swiped the back of his hand over the tears streaming down his face, he cringed. He hated when his Binxie was upset, but he wasn’t sure if he should intervene or let him deal with his feelings on his own for a while first.
He decided quickly when Binx came close to cutting himself with the very sharp knife. “Binx, stop, now.”
Binx turned, his eyes redder than the wine sitting on the counter, untouched. “I need to freeze these. Mr. Landen gave me a whole bushel full from his garden for the pie I made for him.”
Pappy made his way into the kitchen, taking Binx around the waist and kissing the side of his shaved head. “Talk to me. You know this will keep.”
“I’m not crying, it’s the onions.”
Pappy didn’t chuckle like he wanted to do. Instead, he purred in Binx’s ear. “Don’t make me make you tell me.”
Binx tensed up, straightening his back and he said again, firmly, “I’m not crying.”
Nathan was pulling up outside and Pappy pointed out of the window. “You know Nathan won’t let you get away with that.”
“Why can’t I be alone for a while?”
“Because, Binx, I love you. I’m worried, too. Sad, too. Maybe I need your comforting.”
This was something Binx hadn’t thought of, he was sure. Binx set down the knife and turned in Pappy’s arms. “You do?”
“He’s my friend too. You subs think that we are divided into two separate groups. Only you guys are friends and only we Doms are, but I love Rebel as much as I love Jack. They are both my friends.”
“What’s this?” Nathan walked into the kitchen and saw the pile of onions on the counter and stared into Pappy’s eyes. Pappy pushed Binx into his arms.
“I’m having a hard time with all of this and Binx was comforting me.”
Binx set his cheek on Nathan’s broad chest and denied it. “No, I wasn’t. I wish I was.”
“I’m sure you did more than you thought,” Nathan whispered to him and Pappy leaned in, kissing Nathan’s lips, then Binx’s cheek.
“Maybe we need a night without all of this. A night just for us. Away from everything.”
Nathan winked at Pappy and stated, “Then my news is timed perfectly. A patient I treated last month for some deep scratches from his mistress owes me a big favor for not telling his wife and he offered his cabin for any night I want it. If you two fine gentlemen will accompany me to it, we can relax, be together, fall more desperately in love in the middle of a beautiful mountain.”
Pappy swooned a little at the thought, but Binx grimaced. “We live in the middle of beautiful mountains. What difference is it going make if we go to a cabin, except I’ll be cooking on older, probably crappier appliances, if there are appliances, and be more afraid of bears?”
Before Pappy could argue, Nathan swept in like the wondrous prince his was. “No, darling, you don’t have to worry about cooking. This is a mini vacation. We are going there to relax and that means you, too. No cooking, no phone, no interruptions.”
If these were the cabins Nathan had talked to Pappy about on their morning jog, of course there would be no phones. “No cell service way up there.”
Binx was about to bitch, Pappy saw it written all over him, then his face changed like something dawned on him. “So you mean to tell me neither of you will be dragged off to the clinic or a parishioner’s house in an emergency? I’ll have you both, free and clear, all night?”
Nathan slung his arm around Pappy’s shoulders and purred, “Free, clear, horny, sexy and ready to pound your ass until you forget all your worries.”
Binx squealed and hooked his arms around their necks. “I love you guys!”
“Pappy, do we love this one?”
Binx pulled back, smiling, with a brow cocked high. “Do you?”
“More than anything in the world.”
Lin set the phone down and slid his eyes over to Andy and Joey, who were sitting together on the bed reading a gay romance novel and laughing like kids. Andy was positively blushing and Joey was sporting wood, but still giggling like a girl. They were beautiful, they were special and they were his. He’d never felt so lucky before in his life and he’d had a very blessed life. Now he would have to hurt them with this news. Neither was terribly close to Rebel. They were only beginning to get to know the other subs besides Sid and Lonnie, but they were friends nonetheless and perhaps more importantly, they were other subs. That made him one of them and when one of their own was hurt or in any sort of pain, it seemed to affect them all.
Joey looked up at Lin and immediately lost his smile. Smart Joey, he could read people well, but his sweet Andy was still grinning and said, “Daddy Lin, this is absurd and so sexy! You must read with us, yes?”
“Maybe later, baby. Come here to me, both of you.”
They slid off of the bed and walked over to him, Andy sensing his tone and sobering from his laughter. Joey took Andy’s hand and then took him from behind, holding him as he told Lin, “Tell us, Daddy Lin. Please, Sir.”
“Boys…There’s some bad news about Rebel.”
Joey tightened his grip on Andy. “His leg, Sir?”
“Yeah, Joe. The doctors told them a little while ago. Rebel’s not taking it well, of course. If either of you pray, this may be the time.”
“Raised Catholic, Daddy, I haven’t prayed in a long time, except to get you and Andy. I’ll go light a candle.”
Andy turned his head to Joey and asked, “Can we go with you?”
Lin answered, “Yeah, let’s leave this unpacking and head to St. Martin. We’ll swing by the hospital and then go to one of the churches there. Pappy might not be back yet.”
“They probably have a chapel,” Joey offered, and Lin nodded while he took them both into his arms.
They were surrounded by boxes, bags, and there was newspaper everywhere, but it was already home. They’d decided to take down some of Candace Perry’s colorful decorations to make the place their own, but the one wall would always hold the collage of rock and roll posters most of the men thought were signs from the great beyond that each of the couples who’d lived one time or another in that house were meant to be.
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