In The Shadows Of Love
Secrets Kept Secret
. 1 .
The air felt thick when Sam stepped into the kitchen. He paused before either men became aware of him. They were sitting at the counter, perched on the tall stools, barely a foot or so apart, legs nearly touching. The anxiety came back so quick it spun Sam's guts into a myriad of knots. Nausea gripped him and he almost ran back to the bathroom to vomit. Resisting the urge, he swallowed thickly, sickly.
Shaun said something too low for Sam's ringing ears to make out, nudged Adam in the arm almost playfully and laughed. Adam ducked his head and chuckled, then nodded. A smile so heavenly it had to have been plucked from the face of an angel, swept across Shaun's lips as his beautiful piercing eyes gazed at Adam like a long lost treasure.
Fear and rage battled like jackals in Sam's head; clawing, ripping, tearing, tumbling down and dropping heavily into the bottom of his heart so hard he sucked in a low, sharp gasp. They were each striving for dominance when Adam turned suddenly, noticed Sam – and smiled.
A warmth rushed through Sam from the way Adam said his name and gazed at him lovingly. But the gentle heat chilled when Shaun twisted around and the man's sinfully beautiful eyes swept down Sam's body then back up to his face.
“Sam.” Shaun smiled but it only spread half way up his perfect face, never reaching his eyes. Whether Adam would admit it or not, the man never liked it when Sam was around. Sam could feel it as clear as day. Shaun may not have come here with the intention of reclaiming Adam for his own – but he sure as fuck wanted him now.
Sam glanced at the wall clock.
11:56 p.m.; by this time every night, him and Adam were always in bed...usually in the throes of passion. But since Shaun had arrived, Sam had found himself going to bed alone and usually falling asleep before Adam finally slipped under the blankets next to him. He'd apologized repeatedly, telling Sam that Shaun would only be here for a short while and they had a lot to catch up on. Sam insisted it was okay, he understood. And to some degree he did; Adam and Shaun were good friends. Sam didn't feel like it was his place to ask Adam to send Shaun on his way, though that's exactly what he wished he could do. He didn't trust the man to be alone with Adam, and yet it seemed they always ended up somewhere together – with Sam standing at the edge of their conversations like a stranger outside their secret circle, distanced from their consistent recollections of a past when they were more than just friends.
Sam's stare turned to stone as he looked at Shaun. He was terrified of the man. Not physically, but in every other way. How could he compete with a man like Shaun if he truly decided he wanted Adam back? He was everything Sam wasn't – both figuratively and literally. Sam was inferior, he knew this. Still he met Shaun's stare with a challenge. His fists clenched subconsciously at his sides and ached to steal away some of the man's beauty. But even if he could go fist to fist with the man and win – which was doubtful – he knew he never would. He wouldn't disrespect Adam by giving way to jealousy.
“I'm going to bed.” He said quietly. He hated the tightness that squeezed his throat. It was a far too familiar sensation of his past when his entire life seemed steeped in pain. Adam had rescued him from that, and he'd thought it was over, for good. But now, the tight throat, the stinging eyes, burning tears seemed to be coming back more and more. He wanted to scream at Shaun to go away, get the fuck out of their lives, just disappear. But Sam didn't say a word to the man.
Without waiting for Adam's response, Sam turned away from the men and walked out of the kitchen. He bit down hard, his teeth grinding, as he struggled to swallow the knot of pain swelling in his throat. His eyes blinked against the tears, hating them, feeling they were a betrayal to Adam, proclaiming Sam's lack of trust in him. Still, they welled and threatened to run free.
A short gasp escaped Sam as he was brought up short by a hand grabbing his arm and pulling him around. Adam's arms were around him before he even knew the man was there. On instinct, he hugged Adam's warm body tight against his own and pressed his face hard against his throat, breathing in his scent.
Please don't leave me, baby...please...please...
“What?” Adam murmured against the top of his head. “I don't even get a good night kiss? When did this start?”
Sam drew back and was thankful for the dim lighting in the hallway. He didn't want Adam to see the dampness in his eyes or the anguish tightening his face. “I'm sorry.” Sam whispered, not trusting himself to speak any louder, wanting to cry but not wanting to have to explain himself. “I'm just tired. I didn't mean to...dis you.”
“Well you did.” Adam smiled and leaned down for his kiss, touching his lips to Sam's mouth. He lingered momentarily, teasing Sam's lips before claiming the kiss.
Moaning softly, Sam sagged against his hard body, hugging him tighter as their kiss deepened.
“I can say good night to Shaun.” Adam's voice trembled a little. “And come to bed with you if you want me to.”
Yes, baby, I want you to.
But somehow those weren't the words that came out. “It's okay. You can visit.” Why did he say that? The last thing he wanted was to send Adam back into the kitchen with Shaun. He wanted him to come to bed with him, hold him, make love to him. Why couldn't he just say it?
“Baby, are you okay?” Adam asked softly, a note of concern in his voice.
Sam hadn't realized he was trembling, and forced himself to calm. “I'm fine.” He whispered, then kissed Adam's lips and stepped back out of his arms with deep reluctance. “Good night.”
He turned down the hall, his hand sliding through Adam's. But Adam gripped him at the last moment. “I love you, Sam.” Adam said quietly.
Sam barely turned back and stared at the floor. “I know.” He whispered. “I love you too.”
“You better.” Adam's lips twitched, and Sam smiled. Adam squeezed his hand then released it. “I'll be in soon. Stay awake for me?”
Adam chuckled. “Good enough.”
A sudden, startling ache clenched Sam's chest when Adam turned away. But it was his own fault. He should have asked Adam to come to bed with him. Somehow, though, it had seemed like the weak thing to do. Like he would've only been doing it to keep Adam close to him and away from Shaun.
The bedroom felt empty, as it had for the last couple days. Sam stared at the bed. As much as his body ached to slip between the sheets and just rest, he dreaded crawling into bed alone. He hadn't went to bed alone since the day Adam had pushed him to fight back against his fear and pain and rage.
An uneven breath escaped him and he went to the bed, stripping down to his boxers. It felt strange leaving them on as he got into bed. Adam always made him sleep in the nude. Therapy, Adam called it. At least that was his excuse for always wanting Sam naked. Sam suspected he was just lazy and didn't want to have to undress him when the mood struck him in the middle of the night.
A smile touched his lips despite his heavy heart. A weak move or not, he cursed himself for not taking Adam up on his offer to come to bed with him. He left the blankets around his waist as he turned on his side and hugged Adam's pillow. It smelled of Adam's cologne.
I love you, Sam.
A tear slipped from the corner of his eye and wet the pillow. Did he really believe Adam would go through all he'd gone through to gain Sam's love and trust – only to toss him aside for an old flame? Was there any real suspicion in him that Adam was being deceitful about how he really felt towards Shaun?
“This is Adam.” Sam whispered thickly. “He wouldn't hide things from you. He's always told you everything.” And it was true. Adam had been an open book from the start. He'd been honest about his previous relationship with Shaun, hadn't tried to hide it from Sam.
Adam would never deceive him.
There was nothing he wouldn't tell Sam.
. 2 .
“Everything all right?”
Adam took his place on the stool and nodded. “Yeah.”
A smirk danced on Shaun's perfectly chiseled lips. “He's cute. Adorable, even.”
Adam met his piercing stare. “But?”
Shaun shrugged. “But, honestly, I would've never thought you'd go for the cute, adorable type.” He cocked an eyebrow and smiled darkly. “Certainly didn't used to be your type.”
A pinching cramp stabbed Adam in the gut. “That was a long time ago.” His voice was suddenly tight, strained. “I was just a stupid kid.”
“Does Sam know?”
Adam didn't answer, just stared at the counter top blankly, the cramping in his stomach growing worse.
“So you never told him how we met?”
“It doesn't matter.” Adam looked up. “There is no profit in telling him. His knowing isn't pertinent to our relationship.”
Shaun gazed at him. Adam looked away again, unable to meet his stare at the moment. In the man's eyes he saw it all; the first time he'd laid eyes on Shaun, how quickly everything had escalated. Though Shaun was a year younger than him, he'd taught Adam most all he knew about pleasing a man. Had taught Adam how to be a power bottom, with Shaun always being the top. Sam certainly didn't need to know that.
“I remember...that you liked the receiving more than the giving.”
“What're you doing?” Adam asked tightly. “I'm getting married in a little over a week. Why are you bringing this shit up?”
Shaun twisted around with his back to the counter and rested his elbows back on the counter top. “I'm just saying...Sam don't strike me as someone who tops. It just seems to me you'd have went for someone more...”
“Like you?” Adam finished.
“Well, not to put too fine a point on it.” Shaun said. “But, yeah.” He dropped his head back a little and twisted his face towards Adam, flashing an award winning grin. “You gotta admit, I'm a hell of a top.” He brushed his hand against Adam's arm. “Never heard you complain. Heard a lot of things come out of you, but never complaints.” He chuckled.
“Knock it off.” Adam spoke low and glanced towards the doorway, as if expecting Sam to be standing there again, hearing their exchange of words.
Shaun's smile faded a bit as he gazed heavily at Adam. “We had a lot of fun, can't deny that.”
Images from the past snapped through Adam's mind like a slide show. He'd buried that period of his past. There would be nothing to gain in telling Sam, and much to lose. Sam was getting better, healing, growing stronger. He didn't need anything setting him back again.
“I remember the first time I saw you.” Shaun smiled, his voice low, heavy. “I knew you were going to be my favorite.” His eyes caressed Adam's face as Adam avoided his stare. “And the first time we fucked...I was gone on you. I wanted you all to myself.” He chuckled low. “I never told you this...but it drove me crazy when you weren't with me.”
A shudder swept through Adam. “Shut up about it, Shaun. It's ancient history.”
“Why did we break up, exactly?”
Adam sighed. “You know why.” He said. “We just weren't cut out to be in a relationship. We made better friends than we did lovers.”
“Right.” Shaun murmured, then smiled. “Although not everyone agreed.” He grinned. “So who was your favorite...besides me, of course?”
Adam stood up off the stool. “I'm going to bed.” He looked at Shaun. “You mention this again, and you're gone. And you damn well better not breathe a word of it to Sam.”