The Boy Who Came in From the Cold (10 page)

BOOK: The Boy Who Came in From the Cold
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Peter Wagner—the owner of the company he and Tracy worked for—had discovered his talent for reading people, for feeling out clients. Gabe’s almost sixth sense for when it was okay or not okay to trust someone. It was why he was so successful at his job. Gabe knew when a client was being honest, when investing in them was a good idea, when they were withholding information. He couldn’t read minds. Gabe didn’t believe in that. He, as well as Peter, maintained he had some kind of instinct for reading faces. They said dogs could do that, and most humans had just lost the ability.

Yet he sure had fucked up with the men in his life, hadn’t he? Except for Peter, that is.

 

But no. Todd was no Brett. Gabe believed in Todd. He
knew
he could trust him.

Tracy was not going to be able to find a single—
“What about when you found out Daniel took your Logan McCree videos? You said he’d never steal from you. Those were your DVDs. I bought one of them for you. An autographed copy!”

Gabe burst into laughter. How disconcerting it must have been for her to arrange that for him. She was no prude, but overt sexuality did

embarrass her. “You’re reaching, Tracy. You are really, really reaching.”

“And the buffet?” Tracy asked, jumping to her high-heeled feet. “I let Daniel have it.”

“He was still stealing. You bought that. He didn’t pitch in a dime.”

 

“Daniel picked it out and I hated it. It was a win-win situation.”

Tracy sighed, and at least it wasn’t an overly dramatic one. And at least she wasn’t going for the jugular, which she could. “Your funeral, buster.” She started to reach for the door, then stopped. She turned back. “Is he at least cute?”

A slow smile crept across Gabe’s face. “Yes,” he replied without even needing to stop and think about it. He closed his eyes and imagined the kid. A good head shorter than him, had looked stocky until Gabe had seen him with his shirt off. While Todd had no cut abs, there wasn’t any fat on him. That creamy, smooth skin, except for the dark patch of hair on his chest. And on his face. Scruffy. Dark hair. Thick brows. Eyes so deep you could fall into them—and he almost had several times. “Yes, Tracy. He is god-awful cute.”

He opened his eyes and saw Tracy biting her lip. “So at least a little bit of this is your little head doing the thinking?”

 

Gabe grinned. Little head. Tracy would no more say “dick” than she would “hell” or “shit.” Loud she might be, crass she wasn’t.

“Maybe,” he admitted. “Tracy. I look at him and….” He paused, trying to think of what it was. Peter would know. He’d listen to Gabe and know. Peter. Gabe gave a little sigh. “Todd reminds me of me not that long ago. Todd has big dreams, and they’ve all been crushed. He came from this little town—I can’t remember the name. And sure I came from a big one. St. Louis is much bigger than… Buckman. That’s the name. But big or small, that was me. Then Peter came along—”

“Who I still wonder if you shtupped.”

“No you don’t. You know I didn’t.”
I actually offered
, he remembered. “Tracy, look, Todd has lost it all. He has the clothes he’s wearing and nothing else. His landlord took everything. If there’s some

way I can help him out, then maybe—just maybe—I can pay forward just a little bit for what’s been done for me.”

Tracy came to him then, reached out a hand and placed it on Gabe’s arm. “Oh, sweetie.” She sighed. “That’s all you do. That’s who you
are
.” She leaned in and hugged him. “I don’t mean to be a B-I-TC-H. I’m just worried that—”

“I know what you’re worried about.”
You’re worried Todd is another Brett.
“Gabriel, it’s your turn. All you do is help people. It’s time for someone to do something for you again.”

Gabe shrugged. “I know it’s hard for you to believe, but I’m happy. I’ve got everything I want.”
Almost everything.

 

Tracy stepped back.

 

“I leave you on your own, then, dear one. I hope you know what you’re doing.” She left him there alone, and good, she closed the door.

Gabe looked at the time. Ten thirty. It was going to be a long day. He usually loved work, but today he found all he wanted to do was go home.

T
ODDfound the chicken right where Gabe said it would be. It wasn’t shrink-wrapped, like the ones he’d seen since moving to the city, but was contained in a paper bag instead. A label proclaimed it was a “Carlisle Free Range Chicken.” All natural. “Raised and grown as a chicken should be.”

In other words, raised on a country farm. And raised at the edge of the universe as he was, local farm chickens were all Todd had known. There was a difference. He could taste it. He hadn’t had a chicken that didn’t taste “wrong” since he’d moved to Kansas City. This would be a delight.

He noticed the price and winced. Shit. But should he be surprised? Gabe would be interested in his health—witness his body and the expensive work-out equipment he owned. The man wouldn’t be worried about cost.

Todd put the chicken in the sink to thaw. He saw where Gabe was going with the Crock-Pot thing; Todd’s mom had used them his whole life, hers too. Stick a frozen something in the Crock-Pot, put it on low, go to work, and
voila!
dinner was ready when you got home. But that was not going to happen today. Nuh-uh, no way.

A quick inspection of the kitchen showed—to Todd’s delight— some fresh fruits and vegetables (and what would he bet they were organic?) and the hanging tiered basket by the sink included onions and some new potatoes, as well as some ginger and cloves of garlic. He got an idea. He wasn’t sure where they came from, he never was. But somehow they worked…

(
“What the fuck is this? Can’t you just make a goddamn burger or a friggin’ meatloaf? What is this supposed to be?”
)

 

… no matter what his stepfather said.

The spices in the cabinet were obviously, while dried, fresh considering most of them were in little baggies instead of grocery store bottles. Who knew how old the spices were in those little bottles? He

started to open a bag, but even before he did, he could smell the fresh scent of the rosemary he held. Oooh, he could come up with something all right.

First though, the weather. Another peek out the balcony doors showed a world covered in white, dazzlingly bright in the morning sun. While there were clouds, there was blue sky as well. In other circumstances, he would have been enchanted. Today he could only shiver thinking about actually being out there.

He found the remote and turned on the TV, only to discover, to his amusement, a DVD had been left in the player.
The Avengers
! Who would have thought it? Gabe watching
The Avengers
? Todd found the case and, yes, it wasn’t even a rental. Gabe owned it. It made Todd curious, and he quickly found the armoire in the corner held a stash of movies, many of them a geek’s delight. And,
ohmygod
, a set of all six
Star Wars
movies! So even though Gabe hadn’t caught his little joke the night before about where he came from, or made the connection with the name of Todd’s cat, the man wasn’t a sci-fi hater. For some reason, that pleased Todd immensely.

BOOK: The Boy Who Came in From the Cold
4.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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