Mike sat up, taken aback, not by Crandall’s cursing, but by his accusation. “I did call. I texted. I called. I texted again.”
Crandall patted the pocket of his pants and cursed again. “Where’s my phone?”
One shoulder inched up in a half-hearted shrug, but Mike kept his mouth shut.
“Damn it. I left it on the charger at the office. Beryl’s pissing fire?” Crandall sunk into his seat. His head fell back against the wall behind him.
“Yep. She thinks you’re busy sleeping around.”
Crandall rolled his head to one side fixing Mike with his trademark stare. “I could tell her who I’m fucking so she keeps this shit straight.”
Mike shook his head. “Don’t,” he whispered.
With a snort, Crandall straightened his head and stared at the corner. “I said I wouldn’t, didn’t I.”
“She’ll get over it.”
“Yeah, after I pay my dues. Shit, Mike, she’s such a pain in the ass when she’s pissed off.”
“I know.” Mike waited but Crandall offered nothing more. “So what happened?”
“You don’t forget practice.”
Crandall snorted. He pushed up and winced. “Fuck, I’m tired.” He rubbed his hands down his thighs.
“Stretch now, or it’ll get worse.”
Dragon returned, tossing a key ring into the desk drawer. “Staying? Going?” he asked.
“Going,” Crandall said.
“Monday,” Dragon said.
Crandall nodded and slapped Mike’s arm as he headed for the door. “Let’s go get a pizza.”
Mike stood. “You good, Dragon?”
“I’m heading out shortly.”
“Later,” Mike said and followed Crandall out. Mike locked the front door behind them and then caught up with Crandall at the car. “I’m not kidding, Crank. If you don’t stretch out your muscles, you’ll be miserable tomorrow.”
“Yeah, I heard you the first time.” He yanked open the door to the Mustang and dropped into the seat with a groan.
Mike slouched on the ancient, mud-brown sofa, his head tipped back and his mouth hanging open.
“Hey!” Crandall kicked Mike’s foot. “You’re snoring.”
With a snort and a jump, Mike woke, sitting up and rubbing his face.
“Show me some good stretches,” Crandall said as he dropped down beside him.
Mike frowned, shooting a look between Crandall and the clock on the DVR. “I’m going to bed.”
Crandall caught his arm. “Please, Mike.”
Mike softened, but still hesitated. He’d offered two hours ago.
He looked it too. Crandall’s colorful eyes were dull. His movements crawled like spilt molasses. His hair, normally every which way intentionally, now looked mussed in an unstyled, attempted to sleep but couldn’t way. The faintest ginger fuzz pushed through his chin and cheeks, as if even his facial hair was too tired to put in much effort.
“You’re insane, man. You know that, right?”
Hazel eyes darkened towards brown. “Is that a no?”
“No, it’s not.” Mike cupped Crandall’s cheek, and pressed a hard kiss to his mouth. “Get on the floor,” he said. His thumb brushed over Crandall’s lips. “I’ll stretch you out.”
“Is that a euphemism? Because I’m not really up for it right now.”
Mike laughed. “Is that all you ever think about?” He stood and, without waiting for an answer, pointed to a spot on the other side of the coffee table. “Floor. Now.”
Crandall eased himself down. He rolled his eyes up to the ceiling.
Mike knelt beside him. With a hand beneath one knee, he lifted Crandall’s leg. “Feet on the floor,” he said. “Ready?” When Crandall nodded, Mike lifted his leg, supporting his knee and calf.
“More,” Crandall said.
“No pain, just stretching,” Mike said. He shifted to rest Crandall’s leg on his shoulder, using his body to leverage the stretch. He kneaded Crandall’s hamstring as he leaned forward. When Crandall scrunched up his face, Mike released some of the pressure.
“Doesn’t hurt,” Crandall grunted. “It’s helping.”
“Looks like it hurts.”
His glare, formally of the ceiling, snapped at Mike. “Fuck you.”
“If you want.” Mike’s fingers shifted from firm to light and drifted to Crandall’s inner thigh.
Mike slowly released Crandall’s leg and then lifted the other one, massaging as he pushed into the stretch. He led Crandall through several more positions, loosening sore muscles until Crandall’s eyes drooped.
“Good enough,” Mike said. He patted Crandall’s leg. “Can I go to bed now?”
Crandall sat up. “Yeah, better. Thanks.”
Mike stood and the pulled Crandall to his feet. Crandall leaned into him, his head against Mike’s chest. With an arm around his shoulders, Mike guided Crandall towards the hall that led to their bedrooms, shutting off the lights as he went.
Once changed and in bed, Crandall turned his back to Mike, snuggling into his arms. Spooning had become their favorite sleeping position. Crandall had an open escape and Mike had Crandall. Mike pressed his mouth against Crandall’s shoulders in a lazy kiss, affirming the reality of their relationship. He’d done nothing but daydream about such moments for years; it almost couldn’t be true. Almost.
Crandall sighed softly, relaxing in Mike’s embrace. “I thought you were tired,” he said.
“Mm-hm.” Mike’s hand drifted up Crandall’s chest, brushing over one nipple.
“It was a vampire, Mike.”
Mike froze and then lifted his head to look down into Crandall’s face. “What was?”
Crandall turned his face away and tugged on Mike’s arm. Once Mike took the hint and settled down against his back again, Crandall said, “The reason I forgot.”
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