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Authors: E. Davies

Clang

BOOK: Clang
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Clang
by E. Davies

© 2015 E. Davies

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any forms or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied within critical reviews and articles.

 

 

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Prologue

He was about to run, wasn't he?

Chase reached for the door already, taking a step back before Jackson could even zip up again. His eyes were wide with anxiety, and Jackson thought – hoped – he knew what it was about.

There was so much depth to their friendship that they hadn't yet explored. Chase was terrified he'd just fucked it up.

“Wait,” Jackson interrupted Chase's escape, taking his hand. “May I please return the favor?”

Chase's hand was warm and soft, not roughened and callused by tools. He had an artist's hands. The touch stilled Chase, who stared at him for a second. “Uh...”

“I'd like to, if you're okay with it.” Jackson watched the nervousness flicker across Chase's face. He looked nothing like the brash young man who'd just pushed him up against the wall.

Was Chase this unused to reciprocation?

“Okay,” Chase whispered at last, and despite his nerves, there was a tiny, hopeful smile on his lips.

Jackson had to share his thought. “You're gorgeous.” His gaze wandered over soft cheeks and the kissable lips that had just pressed against his own.

God, he wanted to make Chase feel just as good. Maybe help Chase do a little less chasing and a little more... enjoying.

“Th-Thanks,” Chase laughed, looking bashful. “Glad I give such good head.”

It's not just that. Your self-esteem is all wrapped up in sex, isn't it?
“Oh, you do,” Jackson assured him, not sure yet how to address his suspicion.

But it was true, too.

Jackson smiled, stepping closer to Chase again. He caressed his sides, then his thighs and ass. Chase ground into his leg, his breath catching. Jackson hauled Chase up into his grip, carrying Chase over to the workshop table.

“Oh, fuck!”

Jackson laughed and slid Chase onto the table. Once he swept the table off with his arm, he pushed him flat on his back. “You like your men big and strong, don't you?”

Chase breathed out, “Yeah.” He looked stunned now – spellbound. His cock was standing to attention under denim.

Jackson rubbed it firmly, watching Chase's head roll back as he moaned. “And good with their hands?” He crouched over Chase, leaning across the table and bracing himself over Chase's head.

They kissed hard. Chase grabbed Jackson's face, pulling him even closer. Chase shivered as each nerve in his body lit up with Jackson's wandering touch. They gasped breaths against each other's mouths. The rough, open-mouthed kisses left Chase squirming and moaning with need.

Warmth. Togetherness. A friendship growing into... much more.

Jackson's heart hurt with the desire to kiss every inch of Chase's body and learn this whole new side of him. One step at a time, though. The first step was convincing Chase that he deserved every ounce of attention Jackson wanted to give him.

“Oh, yes, please,” Chase moaned. His cock, still trapped in his jeans, ground against Jackson's thigh with every arch of his body.

This
was his most immediate need, and Jackson couldn't wait to satisfy it.

Chapter 1
Jackson

The best sound in the world was a sizzle. To Jackson Riley, it meant hot metal gripped in his tongs and plunged into a barrel of water.

Jackson smiled. He lifted the rod and flipped his hand over. As he dipped the other end into the barrel, the last few inches of metal cooled. This was the last railing of the night since it was getting late. He worked from his suburban backyard workshop, which was covered in ordinances. He'd modified his anvil to deaden the sound, but his work day had to be over at 9 PM.

Now he had to decide what to do for supper.

He clamped one end, then twisted the railing around and hammered the other end. The twisted rods bent out and he shaped them with ease. The metal was quite cool by the time he finished flattening the smooth, flowing stems. He dunked the metal again, then set it down to finish tomorrow.

Now that he lived next to his two brothers and worked in his backyard, there were certain perks. For one, he didn't have to run back and forth to his workshop to get measurements for the custom work he was doing for his brothers.

Right now, he was working on custom wrought iron railings for his little brother, Cameron. Cam's house had a vaulted ceiling over the living room, and the old railing overlooking it was... ugly. Jackson was creating new railings with his signature twisting, flowing, graceful patterns.

After raking the coals out and sprinkling water on them, Jackson pulled up a chair at the workshop bench. He had to wait for them to finish cooling. His own projects were still in the sketching stages, and he worked on them whenever he had a few minutes, such as now.

He liked the idea of swirls and metal beads molded into the balusters. He'd done a few custom railings for homebuilders a few months ago with an onion effect, which he liked, too. He was trying to combine them into something not too showy that highlighted his skills. The sketchbook was full of ideas, none of which had worked perfectly yet.

“Ah, fuck it,” he finally muttered and flipped the book shut. He waved a hand over the coals, then raked them again to make sure there were no remaining sparks.

Jackson walked through the grass to the back door of his house. The lights were off at Cam's, so he was probably at Noah's place. Thomas's bedroom light was on but the main floor was off.
Reading in bed again, I bet. Nerd.
He smiled to himself.

Once Jackson was inside, he fumbled with the light switch to illuminate the kitchen.

Burgers? No, he'd done those on the barbecue with his brothers for supper yesterday. Rice and chicken breast? Too much effort.

Jackson pulled open the fridge to look over his options. He had leftover pasta salad and chicken wings. That would do. It was too late to cook a full meal.

He dumped everything onto a plate and put it into the microwave, then sank onto the kitchen stool to wait.

Except for the kitchen clock ticking, the house was quiet and dark. He didn't bother to get up and turn on more lights yet. He was heading straight to bed after supper and maybe a TV show.

Jackson's brothers had moved back to town three months ago now. Some things had changed over the summer, but others hadn't. Being around Cameron and Noah made it hard to ignore his bachelor status.

“Bachelor for life,” he murmured. He grabbed his plate and utensils to sit at the kitchen island. That usually didn't sound so bad, but now and then...

He moved to the living room to switch on the TV.

Chapter 2
Chase

“Oh, man,” Chase yawned, raising the back of his hand to cover a yawn. He pressed the end of the pen into his lip as he gazed down at his sketchbook, flicking his tongue along the tip. When he closed his lips and sucked, it took him a few moments to clue in to what he was doing.

God, I need to get laid.

It had been days, but he'd been working overtime all week.

He added a few more swirls of ink with his pen, then pushed the sketchbook back. That looked like a fine rough draft.

It was a blocky tattoo of deep black swirls and geometric shapes. This customer had first asked for the same old gross “tribal tattoos” as everyone else. Finally, the guy had agreed to consider something in a similar aesthetic.

Chase hoped he could talk him into this design instead. It would look great on his body shape. A lot of guys around here just didn't understand why asking for “a tribal tattoo” was so fucking gross. Chase hated doing tattoos that made him uncomfortable. He couldn't turn the job down easily, though. He needed more in his new portfolio, and he didn't call the shots at this shop. He'd have to have a word with Floyd.

Small-town New Brunswick.

He sighed, fidgeting with the pen a few more times. He tossed it aside on the desk and leaning back to stretch out his back. Chase's gaze wandered around the shop: glass cabinets he'd polished twice today, a bright waiting room, and no sketchy ads. He'd gotten a job at a pretty good place, all things considered.

And there were good jobs. This girl had come in looking for some fun flower watercolors. He was looking forward to getting a chance to work on those. That was a lot closer to his preferred style, but he'd do whatever paid the bills until he built up another portfolio.

Fuck, his chest still burned when he thought about his old portfolio. Hours – hundreds of hours – spent building that up.

It was all gone.

He ground his teeth, checked his watch, and went to lock the door of the shop. Microwave Kraft Dinner was calling to him.

Chapter 3
Jackson

“Yo, little bro'. Ready to go? Get this show on the road?”

Cameron groaned from the landing at the top of his staircase. “Never rap, please.”

Jackson just grinned and jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Don't keep your boyfriend waiting.”

“Yeah, hold on a sec.”

Jackson leaned in the front doorframe of Cam's place. His gaze wandered up to the shoddy wooden railings overlooking the vaulted living room. He was looking forward to ripping out and replacing those. It would make the house feel much more like the Toronto loft aesthetic he knew Cam was going for.

His little brother came thundering down the stairs two at a time and jumped on the landing. He was looking good in a black collared shirt with a few little flowers printed on it and dark jeans. Cameron had chosen shiny brown boots that matched his belt.

Cam looked thinner, too. Upon his diagnosis, they'd all realized how lucky Cam was to make it through his pro sports career without cardiac arrest. His condition, CPVT, was usually spotted in young teens or kids. The fact that he'd made it until now was nothing short of a miracle.

Needless to say, they'd forbidden him from exercising. Beta blockers weren't good enough on their own. The family was preparing for surgery soon, while Cam was still in shape and likely to recover fast. Cam was losing muscle, and it was hard not to notice.

Jackson tried to drag his thoughts away from the worries that had haunted him over the summer. “Noah's done a number on your wardrobe,” he teased.

“What?”

“Floral print?”

Cameron rolled his eyes. “Apparently they're “in” this summer.”

Jackson laughed and stepped back so Cameron could lock up. It was mid-August and still warm, so they didn't need jackets for the quick walk. They were heading to the bar downtown to catch up with friends.

Thomas still didn't usually come out with them, but Cameron often did, and so did his friends. Noah's friends joined in now and then. They'd become a loose friendship group of mostly guys who went out for drinks once or twice a week.

Noah, Cam's boyfriend was good for him, at least. He made sure Cam got out of the house to socialize, and Cam had loosened up about his condition a lot.

“How was work?”

“Oh, god,” Cameron complained. “I can't bend over.”

Jackson raised his eyebrows, deadpan. “Noah was working with you today?”

“No, I – fuck off,” Cam groaned and smacked Jackson's shoulder. “I was taking honey off the hives. It's fuckin' heavy. You're disgusting.”

Jackson just laughed and elbowed Cam in return. They strode down to the sidewalk, then crossed the street. “You're always out at his place these days.”

“Yeah. It's getting annoying going back and forth between our places.”

Jackson cast a sideways glance at Cam. Was he hinting at Noah moving in...? Maybe to help with his recovery? Jackson didn't even want to think of that yet, though. “When's his lease up?”

“November.” Cam shoved his hands in his pockets. “We've been talking about it.”

“Nice,” Jackson nodded. “The two of you are... well, it's been three months already, huh?”

“Three and a half.” Cameron waited at a crosswalk with Jackson, glancing back at him now. “Yeah... it'd be six months when his lease is up. So...”

“Six months isn't too soon. As long as you feel ready.”

“I am. I think he is, too.”

Jackson smiled and clapped Cameron's arm as they crossed the street to the bar. “Good for you, man.”

“So--”

No way.
Jackson went on as if he hadn't heard Cameron beginning to form the dreaded question in response. “Kevin's coming tonight, huh? Ryan said he'd be here too.”

Cameron paused, then went on. He opened the door for Jackson and glanced inside. “Looks like Kevin's already here.”

Kevin, the captain of Noah's casual hockey club was always up for a drink. He was a house painter and university student heading into his last year of school.

“Hey, man.” Ryan came up behind them, clapping both of them on the back. He worked as a carpentry apprentice. “I've got this round. Just Kevin here?”

“Oh, don't mind, it's only me,” Kevin laughed.

“I didn't mean that,” Ryan snorted. “The usual?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“I'll help,” Jackson offered, walking up to the bar to help carry back beer bottles, plus a Coke for Cam. “Noah's supposed to be here any time now, too. I haven't heard from anyone else yet, but we'll just see who shows up.”

“Fair enough. How was your week?”

“Ohhh, so many pieces. I got an order of three hundred rails.”

Ryan shrugged. “Whatever pays, eh? Who's it from?”

Jackson took a couple open beer bottles when they were handed over. “Derek – the guy who's in charge of the new subdivision from Frontier Homes.”

“Oh, yeah, I know him. He seems all right.” Ryan handed over cash with a nod of thanks to the bartender and grabbed the other three.

As Jackson caught up on his week, his gaze wandered back to Cameron. “He told you the news yet?”

“No? I don't think so,” Ryan answered. “What is it?”

“I'll tell you at the table.”

They slid in moments later, just as Noah came in. He always swished his way around, a bit like Thomas. His mannerisms made Jackson smile fondly.

A quick glance at his brother showed him looking just as enchanted as ever. Cameron's eyes lit up as he stood up to greet his boyfriend with a kiss and pull a chair out for him. Noah wore a vest and collared shirt and tie – he'd been curating some art show or another, then.

“Hi, guys,” Noah greeted, then took his beer with a smile and sipped it. He managed not to wince. “Thanks.”

Jackson chuckled. Noah didn't really drink beer, but around the guys he made an exception for bonding purposes. “Thank Ryan.”

“Nah,” Ryan waved it off. “So Cam has news?”

Cameron sank back into his chair, his expression tighter as he grabbed his bottle of Coke. Since going on beta blockers, he was banned from drinking. “I got the letter with my surgery date.”

“Oh, shit,” Kevin exclaimed. He didn't know the full extent of Cameron's undiagnosed heart condition. That May, he'd come home from Toronto just as he'd been on the verge of being drafted. When he'd bowed out of the hockey club Kevin captained, Cam had dropped hints. Everyone knew he was waiting on surgery.

Noah smiled, glancing back at Cameron. “He's been waiting for months now. The specialist okayed him. It's been hell with all the specialists deciding what exactly he needs done and where...”

“I bet,” Ryan frowned. “Good job, man. When is it?”

“December.”

Noah added, “I still can't believe they won't get him in sooner...” For once, he looked pissed, his dark brows drawing together protectively.

“I was lucky even to get all those specialist appointments over the summer,” Cameron reminded Noah. He rubbed his boyfriend's arm. “I got ahead of a lot of people.” He glanced at the others. “It's an obscure procedure, they told me. Takes a real pro to do it, and there's only a couple in the country.”

Noah loosened his tie, the fight going out of him. “Right.”

“How long does recovery take?” Ryan asked.

“Hard to say,” Cameron answered, his jaw tight. “The first couple months are riskiest. I can't exercise hard. Even afterwards... that depends.”

“Damn,” Kevin shook his head. “And I was just getting used to telling people we got a pro on our team.” That broke the mood a little and everyone chuckled. “Glad you're getting treatment finally, though, man. My partner took
months
to get specialist referrals...”

As the others lapsed into conversation about the healthcare system, Jackson's mind wandered again. He kept glancing at Cameron and Noah. They'd scooted their chairs closer together so their arms touched. Noah reached out to play with Cameron's hair now and then or adjust his collar.

Jackson's heart squeezed with yearning. Maybe he should get dating... but every gay guy he knew here just wasn't a fit. But there could be some who just didn't hang out with his crowd of beer-loving, hockey-playing guys.

Online dating could be an option.

Hell with it, maybe he'd meet someone new and... get some stress out. Best-case scenario, he could get a date or two. Hanging out with friends was fine, but he had to avoid becoming a romantic hermit.

***

“What am I doing?” Jackson groaned as he leaned back in his computer chair. His small office was covered in paperwork for his business, but he kept one desk clear for his computer.

He was going to have to bring his laptop to the couch and brainstorm.

Once he settled on the couch in the living room, Jackson opened his profile again and stared at it.

What defined him? What would men find appealing, aside from the blacksmith thing? That
did
get him a lot of attention, and he wasn't ashamed to admit it was kind of nice. But what would be interesting about the rest of him?

He bit his lip.
Perpetual bachelor blacksmith who puts his family first? Not a great line.

Jackson wrote something to that effect: he was looking for fun dates and maybe settling down with the right guy. He wrote that he put family and his partner first, but that his blacksmithing work was also important to him.

It seemed so bare compared to the profiles he'd glanced over already. Everyone interesting had stuff to say about their job or their hobbies. The guys with bare profiles didn't catch his eye, and he knew they'd look at his bare profile the same way.

He couldn't ask his brothers. That would be way too weird. Someone who knew him loosely but without much of a personal connection...

Chase?

Jackson tried to ignore the flip-flop in his stomach. Chase was a relatively new and gorgeous friend, but he'd never shown a hint of interest in Jackson.

They went out for coffee every few weeks to hang out and bitch about their respective arts jobs that weren't counted as artistic by enough people. Chase was a tattoo artist, and he did damn good work... but most people just didn't understand what went into it. And Chase was gay, so he knew what men were looking for.

He pulled out his phone to send Chase a text.

Hey :) Wanna meet up for coffee soon? I need your opinions on dating.

Moments later, he had his answer.

Someone WANTS my opinions? OMG. ;) Tomorrow at 4?

Jackson grinned.

Works great. See you then.

They might only be casual friends, but it would be nice to get out of the workshop a little early. Jackson shut the laptop without a second thought and turned his attention to TV.

BOOK: Clang
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