GALEN THREW the phone across the hotel room and listened to it crack against the wall, pissed as hell he couldn’t get Shane on the goddamned line. If he heard his own voice on the answering machine one more time….
Jesus, he hated Chicago. When he’d thrown in with Frank on the whole promotion business, he hadn’t planned on being in a cold fucking city for two weeks, listening to the wind blow past the windows of a high-rise hotel.
No, sir. He thought he’d do one or two trips a year, and the rest would be on the phone, wheeling and dealing from the bait shop.
The bait shop. Hey, if Shane wasn’t home and wasn’t at work, maybe he was there.
His phone was all broken when he dug it out of the pile of suitcases and shit, so Galen dialed from the hotel phone.
It rang and rang, and then, about the time he was fixin’ to snarl, he heard barking and laughing and Shane going “’Lo?”
“Hey, babe,” he said, sitting back on the bed and breathing a sigh of relief. “Was starting to think you left town.”
“Nah, Len. That’s your job. I was down here cleaning some shit up.”
He could hear Goober barking away, hear the radio in the background. Hell, he could damn near see Shane, whistling and working.
“Ha.” His gut clenched up, but he kept it light. “Was missing you, darlin’.”
“Yeah? How’s the big city? You having fun?”
“It’s fucking cold.” Growl. Snarl. “Coming home in two days.”
“No shit?” Well, that made him feel a little better—the excitement, the way he could hear the happy in Shane’s voice. “I’ll go get stuff at the grocery and shit.”
“Yeah? Get me something to burn on the grill, man.” He wanted his deck, his grill, and a naked Shane. Not necessarily in that order.
“I can do that. I’m going out on a boat tomorrow before work. Wade got him a new one and invited me out to see. Goob, lizards are not toys.”
“Oh man, no slimy lizard dog toys.” Goddamn it. Fucking Wade. Fucking ass, getting time with Shane. A not-so-quiet part of him pointed out that Shane had stopped managing the bar so they could spend more time together and he’d fucked that up, well and often. “Well, you be careful. I don’t want you all waterlogged.”
“Shit, unless he ties my ass to an anchor, I can swim out of anything.” Shane just hooted, laugh ringing through the phone.
“Hey, that ass is mine.” No one touched Shane’s ass but him. Well, him and the cold dog nose.
“Yep.” He heard a door open, close. “Miss you, huh?”
“You busy, darlin’? I can call back tonight.” Unless Shane was working…. Maybe he should switch his flight to tomorrow.
“No. No, I’m not busy. I’m just fucking around. Pottering. You know.”
Yeah, he knew. He kept thinking of Shane, wandering, working the bar, driving that old Jeep all over. Alone. Without him. Lord, he was getting maudlin. “Oh, good. I have a while before my supper meeting. Thought we could chat.”
“Sure.” Shane started jabbering aimlessly, telling him about the bar, about the bait shop, about the dog.
A knot settled deep in his belly. He didn’t know who this guy was, but he was damned sure going to meet him when he got home. Maybe have a little chat.
“So, you gonna be home for a while this time? Should I order supplies for the bait shop?”
“I’ll be there a bit, yeah.” It was supposed to be two weeks. Galen figured he might have to extend.
“Yeah? Cool! I’ll tell Buck down at the marina. They’ll be tickled that you’ll be here for the summer. Me too. I was thinking we ought to get us one of them big aboveground pools with a little hot tub.”
“That sounds good, darlin’.” God, did it. Maybe it was time he put his foot down, told the investors they needed another seller.
“Doesn’t it? We could get floaties with beer holders and get Goob a little floaty of his own and…. Oh. How do you feel about Rottweilers?”
“Rott…. What did you do, Shane?” He liked Rotties as a rule. But when Shane sounded like that, it could be bad.
Uh-huh. Right. “Darlin’, what did you do?” He grinned a little, playing the game of cat and mouse you had to play to get Shane to talk.
“Mmm.” That was a happy little sound, all need and sex and his. “I’ve been good.”
“Yeah? Really good? Waiting for me?” He knew. Galen knew Shane didn’t cheat any more than he did, but sometimes it niggled at him.
“Well, I mean, I fucked a soccer team from Brazil and these Siamese quintuplets, but besides that? Yeah. I got you a surprise….”
“You little shit.” That had him smiling, easing off his tight grip on the phone. “Wanna come home, babe.”
“Then come home, Len. I got money in savings. I’ll buy you a plane ticket. Come on.”
“I’ll come home tomorrow. Tonight I have that one last dinner. Fuck the rest of it.” There. See him make a decision like he used to before he started fucking dithering.
“Tell me when to pick you up. I’ll be there.”
“I thought you were going boating?” That wasn’t fishing for Wade info. That was Galen honestly wanting to make sure he didn’t fuck up Shane’s day. Mostly.
“Yeah, well, that’s when I wasn’t picking you up, wasn’t it?”
“It was.” Oh, Galen did love that man. “I’ll try to make it at three.”
“I’ll be there with bells on.”
“Promise?” Laughing at himself, Galen pulled out his little laptop and started working on a plane ticket. “I’ll settle for the nipple rings.”
“You got it.” Shane chuckled, the sound husky. “Tomorrow, then? For real? I’m ready.”
“For real, darlin’. I’m coming home.”
Come hell or high water.