Coby Kennedy and his drummer twin, Bruce, have a band called Patchwork
Heaven. They have been rising steadily up the country music charts, but
unfortunately, that rise has attracted unwanted attention. Faced with
anonymous letters, sinister gifts, and the wanton destruction of their
personal space, they hire The Detail, a specialized security firm. Coby
never anticipated Gregor, The Detail's owner and his personal guard,
would be quite so intriguing.
the stalker gets closer and more violent and questions pile up, Gregor
fears his past might get in the way of him finding who is threatening
his client when he becomes suspect number one. Even though Coby is
convinced Gregor is not behind the threat, Gregor is not sure he's the
right man to keep Coby safe, either from the stalker, or from his own
interest in the singer.
weren’t going to get your rocks off with your boss,” Coby murmured as he leaned
back and rested his head on Gregor’s shoulder. It was nice to have someone he
could do that with. Most guys were inches shorter than he. Gregor was thin,
lanky, but as tall as Coby. He liked the feel of that.
“Three things,” Gregor replied, dropping a kiss on the
side of Coby’s neck. “First, I’m off duty, so you’re not my boss.”
“Okay.” Coby was willing to agree to that slight
stretching of the definition.
“Second, I admit, more than a couple of my own guys are
breathing a sigh of relief right now, watching this. Apparently, I’ve been a
little… tense lately.”
“Really?” Coby resisted the urge to glance around the
room at the cameras he knew were there. It would hardly be the first time he
had an audience for a couple of kisses. Sometimes, you compromised privacy for
security in his line of work. Closed-circuit cameras in the public portions of
his home were a necessary precaution. Especially now. The private areas,
however, were nonnegotiable and his staff knew it.
“What’s the third thing?” he asked, tipping his head
away to give Gregor more access to bare skin. He reached back to find purchase
for his questing hands on Gregor’s legs behind him.
“Third?” Gregor licked a trail up the side of Coby’s
neck to his earlobe, kissed it, then nipped it. Hard, and held on.
Coby barely resisted the instinct to pull away despite
the pain and surprise. He went very still, and a tingle traveled down his body.
Gregor released his earlobe to whisper. “Third, this
isn’t about getting my rocks off at all.”
Coby swallowed. “It isn’t?”
“Put your hands on the counter, Coby.”
Heart speeding up, brows drawing down, Coby slowly did
as he’d been instructed. The splint clicked lightly against the countertop in
the quiet room. He wasn’t entirely sure why he obeyed. “What is it about?” Coby
asked. Heat prickled across his skin under his clothing.
“Maybe this isn’t the place to find out,” Gregor said as
he stepped back.
Coby remained very still. Chill replaced the heat and he
hesitated, rethinking the motion that would have turned him to face Gregor. He
remained where he was, not even swiveling his head to see the other man, and
waited, wondering what was stopping him moving.
“Upstairs?” Gregor asked.
Was it an invitation? Or was he asking permission?
“Aren’t you supposed to tell me?” Coby asked, confusion
undermining the earlier relief.
“Needing it and wanting it sometimes aren’t the same
thing,” Gregor said. “You need it.” Gregor’s breath was loud in the stillness
that asked for permission in place of his words.
Gregor traced a path down Coby’s spine, and he held back
a shiver. Barely.
“It can be a difficult thing to accept that you also
want it,” Gregor went on. “So I am asking.”
“I’ve never… done it before,” Coby said. “If by
‘it’ you mean….” How to word it?
Coby swallowed. Incongruously, in that moment, he
thought of Bruce. He’d never submitted in his life. He was up against Bruce.
Always. Submission meant letting his twin’s bolder temperament swamp him. And
if some days he wished he could let that happen, the greater part of him knew
he didn’t want to be the lesser brother. His strength came from the constant
battle not to let Bruce take over their lives. They vied and bantered and
teased, and Coby thrived. But it was tiring. He was so tired. Now here was Gregor,
offering a sort of surcease if he dared take it.
“I don’t know,” he said. His sweating palms slipped
against the countertop. Tell me what to do! He closed his eyes.
Bruce. He was there, and then he wasn’t. A spray of red,
his feet flying, and gone.
“Fuck!” He snapped his eyes open again, and nothing he
did could stop the way his arms shook with tension or the way his good fingers
gripped the counter edge. His breath hitched. Nothing he did opened his lungs
enough to pull in sufficient air.
“Upstairs,” Gregor said. Calm radiated off him as he
took Coby’s arm and placed a hand on the small of his back. “Come on.”
Coby allowed himself to be led. He followed the
direction because the numb, frightened part of his brain kept eclipsing the
rest. He had to control it, fiercely hold on to the immediacy of every moment
to keep that vision at bay.
Once they were inside the private sanctum of Coby’s
bedroom, Gregor eased his hand away and stepped back to look around. The warm
woods and plush carpet seemed to meet with his approval, if his nod was
anything to go by. He gaze fell on the bed and he smiled.
“Bruce has a quilt like that in the trailer.”
Coby nodded. “Mom made them for us. Long time ago.”
“Yeah.” Coby gazed at it himself and felt a bit of his
“Okay.” Gregor’s hand was back, palm firm against Coby’s
lower spine. “Sit. On the bed.”
Coby did. He also removed his shoes, socks, and shirt at
Gregor’s command, as Gregor circled the room drawing curtains closed, checking
the bathroom and walk-in closet, and flicking on a few small lamps.
The room was warm. The clammy sweat covering Coby’s
chest and back made that fact less noticeable, and he trembled, every so often
losing control of the spasms that shook him and sent slivers of pain radiating
out from his bruises and stitches.
He kept careful track of the other man as Gregor knelt
at his side and traced light fingers over his bandages.
“Not bleeding, though,” he confirmed with a quick peek
behind them. Gently, he plastered the peeled tape back in place. He pulled in a
deep breath as he considered. “Okay.” He placed both hands on Coby’s knees and
looked up at him. “I know you trust me with your life, or you wouldn’t have
“Like I said, we’re not going to have sex.”
“Oh.” Coby couldn’t decide if that was disappointing or
“You’re not up to it until that’s more healed, for one
thing, and you’re freaked the hell out. I know how to help with that, but you
have to trust me.”
“We just established that I do.”
Gregor nodded. “Really trust me, because this might
actually be scary.” He squeezed one of Coby’s knees. “And you have… some
quirks, I noticed. About touching. And tidiness.”
Coby bit his lower lip. “I guess.”
“So I’ll be touching you, and I need to know that’s
okay. I need you to know it’s okay.”
Coby nodded. “It’s you. The touching thing is more with
“Okay. Good to know.”
They were quiet for a few minutes.
“The tidy thing doesn’t really come into play here, does
it?” Coby asked, and congratulated himself when he didn’t even glance at the
shoes and socks Gregor had left strewn on the floor next to the bed.
“Probably not, but if there’s anything else I should
know about, you need to tell me.”
Coby shook his head. “No. Well. The confined-spaces
thing, I guess. Sometimes. And….” He shivered. “I thought I was over it, but
the dark, where I can’t see if there’s anyone around.” He did glance around the
room then, noting there were none of the usual opaque corners. Lamps were lit
to reveal everything, muted, but enough so no inky shadows covered the recesses
by the closet and window seats. “But you already figured that one out,” he
said, bringing his attention back to Gregor.
Gregor smiled. “I told you. I pay attention.”
Gregor pulled in a deep breath and held Coby’s
attention. “Just so we’re clear before we start, the enclosed spaces might be a
problem. The dark, definitely. If they’re hard limits, you have to say so now.”
“Things you absolutely can’t handle. Can’t do.”
Coby stared at him a long time. “What are you going to
“Ultimately, help you relax.”
“By pushing me into situations that make me tense.” He
“Not if it’s going to make you so tense you can’t do
them. But maybe we can keep this discomfort in the dark from becoming another
thing for you.”
“You can do that?”
“We can. If you trust me.”
Coby had to swallow a few times to keep the nerves from
clogging his throat, but finally, he nodded. “Okay. But what do I do if it’s
Gregor smiled softly. “Tell me you want Bruce, and
everything stops. Promise.”
“Coby.” Gregor touched Coby’s cheek. “This is about you.
I think I can help. I’d like to try, and if it works, it’ll be good. If it
doesn’t, we find another way.”
“Normally, people who find me attractive just want to
fuck me. They want my money. Or something….” Gregor was petting his cheek.
Okay, that was distracting and sweet and hot all at once. Coby lost his train
of thought somewhere in the caress and the depths of Gregor’s gaze.
“If you want me out the door, I’m gone,” he promised.
Coby shook spasmodically. Uncontrolled. “No. Stay.”
“Okay. Then yes or no?”
“Okay then, close your eyes,” Gregor instructed,
standing before him. The tie he’d been wearing dangled from his hand, and he’d
opened the top few buttons of his shirt. Letting his gaze travel down from
those elegant fingers, past his flat stomach and narrow hips, along muscled—if
lean—legs, right to his toes, Coby had to appreciate the vision. Even his feet,
Coby noticed, were strangely beautiful, narrow and long-toed.
Coby logged that fact, along with the view of long legs
in tailored pants, tailored shirt over broad chest, narrow chin, pursed, pretty
lips, and finally, deep, liquid eyes, the brown nearly black in the dim light.
Coby fixed his gaze on Gregor’s gorgeous eyes. He didn’t want to be deprived of
the sight, he convinced himself. It wasn’t because he was afraid of what might
flash through his brain if he voluntarily let the darkness close around him.
Gregor’s gaze held reassurance. His smile held something
harder-edged. “I’ll do it for you if I must.”
Coby frowned. It didn’t even occur to him to move until
the tie was actually across his face, and then it was too late.
pressed right against him. His head, held tight to Gregor’s chest, was beyond
his control to move, and the tie was fastened in place all in less time than it
took Coby to process what had happened.