The Other Team, Book 8
Published 2016 by Book Boutiques.
Copyright © 2016, G.R. George.
All rights reserved.
2 ounces of vodka
6 ounces of orange juice
1 cup of ice
1 splash of green olive brine (or juice)
Put your ice in a highball glass, pour in vodka then top with orange juice. At the end, hit it with a splash of olive brine to create a deliciously dirty screw.
Marty Misses Chris
“I’m sorry we’ll be losing you, Lincoln.” Master Sergeant Bo Griggs sat behind his desk, his mood as sour as the expression on his face. “You are one of the best Rangers I’ve ever trained.”
“Was,” Marty Lincoln corrected. The attack two years ago, the one that killed his best friend, Michael Wares, and injured him, put an end to his career in field operations. Sure, they’d asked him to stay on as a trainer, but the chronic pain in his left leg made it impossible to bear the sixty-one-day intensive course. He felt his only recourse was to leave the Army.
“You’re still a Ranger, Martin.”
It startled Marty to hear Griggs use his first name. “Thank you, Master Sergeant. I appreciate you saying so.”
“You are still a Ranger,” the old soldier said again, his voice suddenly gentle. Sad. “You’re dismissed.”
“Yes, Master Sergeant.”
Marty left the office and headed toward his barracks. He hadn’t wanted to let Griggs down. The man had been a second father to him. An instructor when Marty had joined the program six years earlier, Griggs had trained Marty and Mike, and Marty knew the older man felt the pain of Mike’s loss, too.
Since Marty had returned to base, the nightmares had started again. He’d been given a week’s reprieve, a week filled with comforting intimacy. Jesus, he could still feel Chris Lawson’s lips on him like a ghosting touch when he least expected. He couldn’t understand how this man managed to make him feel lighter, less burdened. The hardworking bartender had been more effective than all the counselors, sleeping tablets, pain pills, and anti-depressants the Army had thrown at Marty. That week with Chris had given Marty hope for a future beyond the military. Now that he was back on base, his anxieties and fears had returned.
It had been six days since he’d kissed Chris goodbye. Six days since he’d had a peaceful night’s sleep. Six days. He’d wanted to call Chris, but the physical distance between them made Marty doubt if what they’d had was real and tangible. He wanted to believe he was special to Chris, not just a short fling. His brother, Jay, the owner of the bar and grill Chris worked at, had told Marty that Chris was a player. The king of one-night stands. Marty didn’t want that thought circling around in his head, but it was there, a little rain cloud hovering over his happiness.
He stared at his smart phone, his finger hovering an inch above the touch screen. He hadn’t called Chris when he’d returned, and every day that passed without sending a text or a making phone call made the idea of keeping his promise to contact Chris scarier. Before the gorgeous bartender, Marty had only been with women, but there was something about Chris that made Marty’s pulse race.
Had he been drawn to Chris—a man grieving the loss of a father—because he’d been a wounded soul, too? Marty gravitated toward people in need. There was something inside him that wanted to help, wanted to fix. Or had he been drawn to Chris because, for the first time in two years, another human being looked at him as if he were more than his battle scars, more than damaged?
His heart skipped a beat. Marty sat his phone on the nightstand in his private room. There was a third option. Maybe he genuinely liked the guy. If that were true, did any of the other stuff matter?
Marty had a big decision to make. He touched his mouth, remembering the supple press of Chris’s lips on his own.
“Jesus,” he whispered, rubbing his hand over the erection tenting his boxers. “Every time.” All he had to do was think of Chris and his dick got hard. “Fuck it.” He picked up his phone and called Chris.
It beeped once. Then again. And again. When it went to voice mail, he hung up. Half-disappointed, half-relieved, Marty put the phone down on the bed next to him and lay back on his pillow. He stared at the water stain shaped like South America on the ceiling tile above his head. The quick turn of the ceiling fan blade as it whooshed in a slow, steady circle soothed his frayed nerves. His left thigh ached, and instead of grabbing the bottle of pain pills, he concentrated on breathing. Within a few minutes, he’d found a semi-Zen state, which is why he jumped out of his skin when his phone started playing “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus.
“What the hell?” He picked up his phone and saw Chris’s name was on the display. Chris must have assigned the ringtone when he’d put his number in. With a smile, he answered
* * * *
Chris Misses Marty
Chris Lawson had almost stopped breathing when he’d seen the missed call on his phone. He’d certainly said a few cuss words. Since Marty had left, he’d willed his phone to ring every second of every minute, and after six days, he’d started to think the young war vet would never call. Chris tried to prepare himself for the inevitability that he’d been nothing more than a social experiment for Marty. A distraction from the pain.
But Marty hadn’t forgotten about him. The proof was in his missed calls history.
Chris touched Marty’s number. His chest squeezed with an ache he’d never experienced the minute he’d heard the man’s voice.
“Are you serious? You changed my ring tone to Wrecking Ball?” The soft chuckle on the other end of the phone sent Chris’s pulse to the races.
“It’s just a joke,” Chris said.
“It’s not very funny.”
“Yes, it is.”
He could hear the smile in Marty’s voice. “How are you?”
“Fine. Back to work now.”
“We’ve talked a couple of times since the funeral.”
Chris hadn’t talked to his mom in nearly five years except for the occasional short call, but his father’s death had reconnected them. He still didn’t feel close to her. It was hard to trust someone who was supposed to love you unconditionally but didn’t.
“I’m glad,” he said.
“I’m glad you called,” Chris said.
“You called me.”
“I have a missed call from you from like five minutes ago.”
“Oh, yeah. Right. I called.” Marty sounded nervous.
“Did you…want something?”
“No,” Marty said. “I just…I don’t know. I guess I wanted to let you know that I made it back to the base.”
“I know.” Chris sighed. Apparently, Marty had called his parents and Jay, but not Chris. He tried hard not to sound disappointed. “Jay told me a couple of days ago.”
“Of course,” Marty said. “I should have called you.”
“You really should have,” Chris agreed.
“I forgive you, but only because you have such a sweet ass.” Fuck, why was he so flip? Was he trying to scare Marty completely off?
“Jesus,” Marty said. “I don’t know how to respond to that.”
Chris laughed it off as a joke. “I have to get back to work. We’re having a busy Wednesday night. Royals are playing Minnesota, and we’ve got a pretty big crowd of fans in for the game.”
“Go Royals,” Marty said. “Okay. I’ll let you go.”
“Okay,” Chris said. His next words were quieter. “Can I call you tomorrow night?”
He could hear Marty breathing, but it was a few seconds before he said, “Sure. Yes. I’ll be back in my room around eight.”
“Good. We’ll catch up then.”
“I’d like that.”
Chris swallowed the lump in his throat. “I’m glad you called.”
Marty paused again, then said, “Me too.” Then he hung up.
Chris’s mind raced as he put a tray of three draft beers and two Tom Collins on the counter. He’d scheduled a phone date with Marty, and it scared him how much he wished he could zip forward in time. He waved at the waiter, Alex Michaels. The tall, dark-haired nerd, who dated Ricky, the supremely sexy Irish cook, quickly made his way over to the bar.
“Thanks,” Alex said, grabbing the tray. He paused for a minute and added, “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, why?”
“You look pale like you’ve seen a ghost. You’re not going to faint again are you?”
“No.” Chris narrowed his gaze on Alex. “I said I’m fine. Unless you have another drink order, move along before the ice melts in the drinks.”
Not Strictly Straight
For the fifth time, Marty checked his watch. It was three minutes to eight, about a minute later than the last time he looked. Why was he so nervous and uptight? Besides, did it matter if Chris called early or even a little later as long as he called. Ridiculously, Marty had showered and brushed his teeth as if getting ready for a real date, not a phone call. His tee shirt clung to his still damp chest.
Two minutes now. Miley Cyrus’s voice belted out. Goddamn it, he thought as he pressed “answer.” I have to change that ringtone.
“Hey,” he said, saliva thick in his mouth. “You’re early.”
“Not that early,” Chris said. “I can call back in a couple of minutes if now isn’t a good time.”
“No,” Marty said sharply. “Now’s good.”
“How are you?”
“Fine. I told my commander I wasn’t re-upping.” Why had he blurted that bit of news?
“I’m sorry,” Chris said. “I know how important the Army is for you.”
“Thanks.” A swell of calm swept over Marty. “Thanks for saying that.”
“What are you doing tonight?”
Marty reclined back on his mattress. “Laying in bed, staring at South America.”
“Never mind.” He laughed. “What are you doing?”
“I’m staring at two fingers of bourbon in an old-fashioned glass because the color reminds me of your eyes.”
Marty heard the tinkle of ice in a glass. “I miss your face.”
“You do?” Chris sounded surprised, but he recovered quickly. “Of course, you do. I’m very good-looking. All the boys say so.”
“All of them?”
“Every single one.”
“Even the straight boys.”
“Especially the straight boys.” Chris laughed. “Look at you.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m not strictly straight,” Marty said.
He gripped his dick, once again rock hard for Chris. “I think the evidence speaks for itself.”
“I miss your lips,” Chris said.
“Tell me more.” God, how he wanted to hear more!
“I miss the way your soft kisses electrify my skin. I miss the way you taste when your tongue’s in my mouth. And I miss the way it feels when those sweet, sweet lips eagerly slide over my dick and you take me deep to the back of your throat.”
Marty bit back a moan. He slipped his free hand inside his underwear and gripped his rigid length.
“Marty?” Chris’s soft voice held questions and uncertainty. “Do you want me to stop?”
“God, no,” Marty said, his own voice hoarse and throaty with his rising lust.
“Are you touching yourself, Marty?
“Close your eyes.”
Marty closed his eyes. “Okay.”
“I am rubbing your dick, stroking you. Can you feel me?”
“Good. I love stroking you. Almost as much as I love sucking you off. God, I want to put my mouth on you so fucking bad. I want to feel the silk of your skin on my tongue, taste the salty-sweet of your cum on my lips.”
“Jesus,” Marty groaned. His hips moving now of their own accord as he fisted his cock.
“That’s it, baby,” Chris said. “Next, I roll my tongue around your balls, licking and sucking the sensitive skin at the base. I push your leg up so I can get a better view of your gorgeous ass.”
“Fuck,” Marty said on a jagged exhalation. His cock pulsed in his hand.
“Wet your finger for me, babe. Stick it in your mouth and get it slick with spit.”
Marty reluctantly let go of his shaft and put his index finger in his mouth, wetting it like Chris had told him. “Okay.”
“Reach around your ass and touch your hole, get it nice and wet.”
Holy shit, Marty thought. Am I really doing this? He’d never had phone sex before, never knew it could be so fucking hot. But also, a little embarrassing, especially if he was the only one getting off. “Are you touching yourself?”
“Yes,” Chris said. “Oh yes. I’m so hard it hurts. Now, do what I say. Are you there? Is your finger circling that magnificent, tight hole?”
“Hold on.” Marty slipped his boxers off, he grabbed his earbuds from the nightstand, plugged them into his phone, and put them in his ears. He put the phone next to his pillow. He wet his finger again and reached around until he could feel his ass. His anus pulsed as he swirled the slick digit in a circle. “I’m doing it.”
“You’re doing what?” Chris asked coyly.
“I’m playing with my ass.”
“No,” Chris said. “I am. I’m swirling the tight hole with my tongue, licking and teasing.” Chris moaned now. “Fuck, how I love eating that ass of yours. I want to stick my tongue inside you, Marty.”
“Yes,” Marty said, squirming, his hips rocking as he thrust his cock into one hand while he forced his fingertip through the taut circular ring of muscle. “Yes. You’re inside me. Feels so good.”
“What do you want me to do next, Marty? Do you want me to fuck you again? Do you want me to sink my dick inside your tight ass?”
“Yes,” Marty said, quickening his strokes. It burned as he pushed his finger inside himself to the knuckle. He pulled out a little and just worked that short two inches in and out of his body. “Fuck me, Chris.”
“I can feel your grip on my dick, milking me with every stroke. You feel so fucking good, Marty. God, I want to see you come. I want to look into your eyes as I take you over the edge. I wanted to get lost in those pools of amber as I get lost inside you.”
“I can see you,” Marty said, his eyes squeezed shut. “I can feel you. Oh. Ah.” Marty groaned as his climax exploded, shooting across his blanket.
“Fuck!” Chris shouted. “Ah, ah—” After a brief moment of ragged breathing, Chris started laughing.
Marty smiled, shaking his head. “That was something else.”
“Entirely,” Chris agreed. “Have you ever—”
“No,” Marty said. “Have you?”
“Nope, the first time.”
“You were pretty damn good for a virgin.”
Chris laughed again. “I could say the same about you.”
“I just followed your lead.”
“As you should.” Chris paused on his end for a moment then said, “That wasn’t weird for you was it?”
Marty shrugged even though Chris couldn’t see him. He wiped himself and his covers with his discarded underwear. He’d clean up better after he got off the phone. “Maybe a little.”
“I hope your walls aren’t thin.” Chris laughed. “You’re not quiet when you come.”
The edges of Marty’s ears heated. “I didn’t think about that.” He really needed to find a place off base.
“Oh, don’t worry. I’m sure if you woke up the neighbors they’d be banging on your walls.”
“Good. Jay offered me an assistant manager position at the bar. Did he tell you?”
“No, he didn’t say anything.” The offer surprised Marty.
“Good,” Chris said. “Then I’ll probably take it. I could use the extra money.”
“You having some financial problems?”
“No,” Chris said. “I didn’t mean to sound like I did. I’m just…” There was another hesitation. “I’m just glad he didn’t offer me the job because of you.”
Marty snorted. “I can guarantee he didn’t offer it to you because of me.” Jay was not a fan of Marty seeing Chris. He tried to warn him off the blond bartender more than once, but Jay didn’t see Chris the way Marty did. “If Jay wants you as his assistant manager it’s because he knows you’re capable of handling the job. No other reason. I promise you.”
“I don’t know if I should be flattered or offended.”
“Flattered,” Marty said. “Definitely.”
* * * *
Tell Me Your Secrets
Chris had cleaned up in the bathroom during the conversation. He hadn’t bothered to dress after—the perks of living alone. He walked naked around his small apartment, the phone tucked between his shoulder and his ear. He was glad the job offer from Jay was legit, but he would have taken it either way. It was extra money, and for a guy without an education, he needed to take advantage of all opportunities. He straightened the kitchen, put his dinner plate, a white one with blue lines around the edges, in his dishwasher. The brown ceramic coffee mug had a little chip, but it was thick and chunky, which kept his coffee hot in the mornings.
“I’ll tell Jay tomorrow that I’m going to take the job.” He cleaned out the reusable coffee filter and rinsed the pot.
“Are you running water in the sink?”
“Just a little light housework,” Chris said. “I’m multi-tasking.”
“Do you have an apron on?”
“I’m wearing nothing by my birthday suit.”
“That’s a good suit,” Marty said. “Fits you perfectly.”
He hung his coffee mug on a wooden mug rack, a little zing in his step. “You just like the way it hugs my hips.”
“I like everything about it.”
Marty’s baritone voice was like a caress against Chris’s skin. His stomach fluttered and his heartbeat picked up the pace. “Martin Lincoln, are you trying to seduce me? Again?”
“Is it working?”
The week he and Marty had spent together had been strangely isolated—just the two of them in their own magic bubble. But now, the real world stepped in between them. Could the connection they shared withstand a two-hundred-mile separation? He wanted to believe it could. This phone conversation was definitely encouraging.
“When’s your next night off?”
“It might change. I think Jay mostly wants me to manage the day shift.”
“Text me your schedule, and we’ll set up another phone date.”
“Count on it,” Chris said. “Do you need to go?”
“No. Do you?”
“I can talk a while longer.” Just hearing Marty’s voice on the other end of the line made him feel calm. Assured. It was all the rest of the time that Chris felt like an insecure ass.
“So, go Royals,” Marty said.
“Really.” Chris laughed as he opened the door off his living room to his bedroom. “You want to talk baseball?”
“We can talk about anything you want.”
“How’s your leg feeling?” He’d had to be careful during their intimate moments. The wounds of battle had healed into knotted scars on Marty’s left leg, but he was in pain most of the time.
“The same,” Marty said, his tone flat. “I’m getting on.”
“I know. Sorry.” Why was he bringing up such a serious subject? He needed to keep it light. Keep it fun. He didn’t want Marty to think he was clingy. “So, how about them Royals?”
“They’re having a hell of a season.”
“I think they’ll go all the way this year.”
Marty laughed. “I think you’re right.”
Chris sat on the edge of his bed. He finger-combed his hair. “Before you say goodbye, tell me something about yourself. Something that nobody else knows.”
He heard Marty blow out a breath. After a short pause, he said, “Jay moved out of the house when he was eighteen to live in the college dorms. My parents had given me his room, it was larger than mine, and they turned my old room into a sewing room for mom. A year later, when Jay dropped out of school and came back home from college, they kicked me out of my new room until he could figure out what it was he wanted to do with his life. During those two months, I was forced to sleep on a rollaway bed—”
“A rollaway bed. One of those that you can fold up.”
“Got it.” Chris smiled. “Go on.”
“Anyhow, every night I had to go to sleep surrounded by quilt racks, stacks of fabric squares, the smell of sewing machine oil. You get the picture.”
“I love Jay, but I was twelve, just entering puberty hardcore, and I went from having a large, private bedroom to sharing space with my mom and her hobby.”
“I bet you were pissed.”
“Vengeful is a better term, I think.” Marty laughed softly. “I’ve never told a living soul this before.”
“You can’t stop now.”
“You can never divulge this secret.”
“You were a scout?”
“No.” He lied. “Do I look like the kind of guy who would join the scouts?” He’d made it all the way to Eagle.
Marty laughed again. “I guess not.”
“So spill,” Chris said. “I will keep your confessional.”
“Have you ever had milk go bad?”
“Yes. It’s disgusting.”
“It really is,” Marty said. “Well, I hid a small cup of milk on the shelf of Jay’s closet, at the very back behind an old baby blanket of his. For the first week, everything was fine, but by the second week, it was starting to get all toe-jam funky. Every now and then, as it would start to dry up, I would sneak into the room and add a little more milk. By the time he moved out, the rotten smell had started to infiltrate the hallway outside his room.”
“Oh my God!” Chris guffawed. “That’s awful.”
“Yeah, and he and my parents couldn’t figure out why his room stunk so bad.” Marty laughed again. “They thought an animal had died in the attic crawlspace. They would tease Jay about hiding a body in the wall.” Now he was laughing so hard, Chris could hear him fight for breath. “The smell miraculously cleared up when Jay moved out.”
“I can’t believe you got away with it.”
“Nobody suspected me at all.” He wheezed another laugh. “Okay. It’s your turn now.”
“I don’t know how I can top that story.”
“Come on,” Marty said. “You have to tell me something about yourself that nobody else knows. Just between you and me.”
What could Chris tell him that he hadn’t told anybody else? He searched his memories for something that wasn’t too awful or too shallow. Finally, he landed one. “When I was ten, I was failing in school. I already knew I was different than the other boys in my class, and I found myself losing interest in classwork. I played sports, baseball, basketball, and football. My dad was really into all that.” His gut pinched as he thought about his father. He’d enjoyed his dad’s approval during his younger years. “Anyways, I had been blowing off English homework for about two weeks. And my teacher, Mrs. Mercer gave us a test. I failed it, of course. I ended up with a twenty-two out of one-hundred.” He scratched his head. “I’m really bad at telling stories. And this one…”
“Come on. I told you mine.”
“Okay. Well, instead of handing me back my test, she asked me to go outside with her into the hallway. When we got out there, she handed me my paper. I’ll never forget her expression. It was a mix of rage and disappointment. When I took the test from her, she slapped me across the face.”
“You’re shitting me.”
“No,” Chris said. He rubbed his cheek as if he could still feel the sting. “It happened.”
“I hope you reported her.”
“I didn’t, Marty. And I’ll tell you why. After she had slapped me, Mrs. Mercer said to me, ‘You are one of the smartest students I have, Christopher. I am so disappointed because I know you are a lot better than this grade.’” Chris swallowed at the lump in his throat and willed the heat in his eyes to dissipate as he thought of the old teacher. “After, she hugged me. It was the weirdest, and in a way, the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. I never told anyone about the slap, but after that day, I started engaging with class again. Started making A’s and B’s again instead of F’s. I felt as if Mrs. Mercer had seen me. A better version of me. The one I could be if only I cared enough. I wanted to be that for her. For myself.”
“Yeah,” Chris agreed. His cheeks burned with embarrassment. Why had he picked this story of all stories to tell? It made him feel weak. “I have to go now, but I’ll text you when I have my schedule.”
“Chris,” Marty said.
“Thank you for tonight.” And with those final words, Marty hung up the phone.
Chris stared at the spackled ceiling in his bedroom. He grabbed one of the three small pillows on his queen-sized bed and hugged it to his body. It was eight-thirty-five in the evening. A little early for bed, but he didn’t want to get up. He didn’t want to go out. But he did want to stop feeling lonely.
Maybe he needed a cat.