The music was soft enough that Isaiah heard the chair as it was moved and a body sat in it. He turned just enough to view his new companion. He was cute and had a boyish charm about him. He looked freshly plucked off a tractor in the Midwest. He didn’t have much of a tan to match it, but otherwise he totally looked like a farm boy. He had the short, yet shaggy, haircut and the blond hair that was so light it seemed almost white.
And he’d dressed like Matt. He looked like he was ready to go sing in the church choir instead of dance freaky on the dance floor.
“I told Jesse the cake would be a hit,” he said. Yeah, that voice could probably sing. Isaiah could picture him carrying the candles during service. “He thought we were overdoing the chocolate.”
“Not possible,” Isaiah said. “You can never have too much chocolate.”
The boy smiled. He looked like a teen, but Isaiah wasn’t sure how old. It’s just innocent conversation, he told himself. Even if his dick really did want to know if the kid was old enough to be legal.
“That’s exactly what I said.” His smile grew larger, showing off his perfect teeth.
“Glad you convinced him.”
The boy held out a hand for Isaiah to shake. “I’m Cooper.”
“Isaiah,” he replied, trying not to let his voice give away his surprise. He took his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. Cooper held it for longer than normal and Isaiah had to tug a bit to get it back.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Cooper said.
“You too.” Isaiah focused back on his cake and stirred the remaining crumbs around. There was a moment of silence as Isaiah tried to think of how to broach the topic. He hadn’t thought of what to say if they actually found Cooper.
“I know you and your brother are here for me,” Cooper said. Isaiah glanced back at him, vanishing for a moment in the dark abyss of Cooper’s eyes.
“My brother already talked to you?”
He smiled what seemed a genuine expression. “No.”
What did that mean? Isaiah bit his lip to keep from asking. “Do you know why we are looking for you?”
“Your brother is my prophet. Here to relay messages from God,” Cooper said. He looked through the crowd and Isaiah followed the gaze until he saw his brother. Matt hadn’t noticed them and was instead chatting up an elderly woman.
Well. This was going easier than Isaiah expected.
“I’ll go get him for you,” Isaiah said. He started to get up. “I was really here more to—”
“It’s not him I want to talk to,” Cooper said.
Isaiah forced his butt to sink back in the chair.
“I’ll go to your brother’s church, where he preaches, this coming Sunday.”
“That’s great.” Weird that he hadn’t asked which church it was, but whatever. “We should tell him.”
“I’ll talk to him Sunday,” Cooper said. “And you didn’t let me finish.”
“I’ll go on Sunday, if you agree to go on a date with me Saturday.”
“I don’t date.” The words came out automatically and he barely registered having said them.
“Then we won’t call it that. Lunch. Meet me for lunch at Della’s Diner on fourth street. Do that, and I’ll meet with your brother on Sunday.”
If Cooper was going to join his brother’s church, he was going to be sorely disappointed at their views toward gays.
“I think you should really keep your relationship to my brother and not include me,” Isaiah said.
“It’s not him I want a relationship with,” Cooper said. He slid a new slice of cake in front of Isaiah. He hadn’t even noticed he’d had it with him.
“You’re supposed to be the new messiah. I’m not sure you’re supposed to be in a relationship with anyone other than God.”
“As a messiah, that’s up to me to decide.” He stood and glanced at Matt again. “If you want your brother to be my prophet, you’ll show for lunch.”
He retreated before Isaiah could think of a proper response. Before he could finish the second piece of cake, Matt approached the table.
“I think people are realizing we don’t belong here,” Matt said.
“It’s fine. I already found Cooper.” And I know why God told you to bring me with you.
It wasn’t just Banya’s past memories that she’d lost. Her present ones seemed to have trouble sticking as well. She yanked roughly on Jayson’s arm and pulled him to a crouch below the window display in the clothing store. He’d brought her to the mall before his shift started so he could buy her the things she needed, but being with her in public was proving harder than he expected.
“We can’t let him see us,” Banya said.
“Who?” Jayson tried to look out the window, but she shoved him back down.
“He’ll kill us.”
He realized this might be a flashback of some sort.
“Who? What’s his name?”
“Carter must have sent him. Sent him to finish me off.” She didn’t look afraid, more like an Army soldier plotting their attack. The summer dress she’d been trying on was not suitable for her deed and he decided they should stick to pants. She kept low as she moved forward between the clothing racks and closer to the exit. Jayson stood and looked out in the hall to see who she was concerned about.
The god boyfriend was strolling down the corridor wearing his stupid high school jersey.
“It’s just Cooper. He’s here to give us the answers to the questions we texted him last night.”
“You know him?” Banya jumped to her feet, and for a frightening moment he thought she might attack him. Then her eyes seemed to blank out, like whatever she’d remembered had been taken from her. She wrapped her arms around herself and turned in a small circle.
“We know him,” Jayson corrected. He grabbed some more clothes off the clearance rack and led her to the dressing room. He pushed her into the room after hanging the clothes inside. “Try these on.”
He texted Cooper where they were, and he appeared a few minutes later.
“Is she here?” Cooper asked.
“Trying on some clothes.” Jayson pointed to the dressing room. They were the only patrons and the place was understaffed, so no one was around to complain of there being men in the women’s changing room.
Cooper pulled out a folded-up paper. “I wrote the answers down. I’ll let you read them and decide how to tell her.”
“Sounds great.” Jayson took the paper and shoved it in his pocket.
“You can text me more tonight, after you’ve gone over those with her.”
Cooper glanced around like he thought they might get in trouble.
“There are twenty infected people stumbling around in the parking lot; trust me, no one gives a shit that we are in the women’s changing room,” Jayson said.
“Right,” Cooper agreed. He seemed nervous. Jayson wasn’t certain why. Did it have something to do with the answers on the paper?
“So, I tried the ear rubbing thing and you were right. So I think this…” He gestured between them. “Might work.”
“Ah, so that’s it. You’re working up the courage to ask me for me sex advice.” Jayson grinned, loving that he was the reason for Cooper’s discomfort. “Did you want me to pull you into a booth and show you how to give proper head?”
Cooper rolled his eyes and kept them focused on the ceiling. “I know how to do that.”
“Sure you do. But let’s start smaller.” Since they were in a more private setting, Jayson figured he would take advantage. “Let me show you how to kiss.”
“I know how to kiss, Jayson.”
“Do you want my help or not?”
Cooper didn’t reply and instead gave a deep sigh. “You are the one who came to me.”
“It’s a kiss, Cooper. Can I have your consent?”
“You want to kiss me?”
“It’s the best way to demonstrate.”
Through gritted teeth, Cooper muttered something that might have been compliance.
Jayson sauntered closer. “What was that?”
“You can kiss me,” Cooper said, the words gruff.
“My dream come true,” Jayson said. Before Cooper could roll his eyes again, Jayson pressed his lips to Cooper’s. He didn’t touch him in any other way, and he didn’t want to. He kept his hands firmly planted against his hip pockets.
He used his tongue to skim Cooper’s lips until he opened them. Then he slipped his tongue in and ran it across the top of Cooper’s mouth, feeling all the ridges. He continued the caress, like the top of Cooper’s mouth contained a secret G spot. He kept it up until he felt Cooper’s body give a shudder, probably of disgust.
Jayson broke the embrace and took two steps back. “Now, I want you to try it on me.”
Cooper stared at him for a moment, and Jayson couldn’t quite read the expression. It certainly wasn’t one Cooper had given him before. He said nothing, but he crossed the distance between them and sealed his lips to Jayson’s. They were the same height, so there was no strain; in fact, they almost fit together perfectly. Cooper slipped his tongue across Jayson’s lips and he opened them.
He let Cooper stroke the top of his mouth a few times, then he put his own tongue against Cooper’s and sucked, pulling on his tongue like he might a finger. Cooper’s entire body shuddered this time and Jayson again stopped, thinking he was about to get punched in the face, but then two hands ran up his chest, skimming across his nipples on their way up to cup his face. Cooper pulled back, but only to turn his head, then his lips came crashing down again as he held Jayson in place.
Jayson’s brain froze up.
Was Cooper… enjoying this?
His own dick gave a twitch. He hadn’t been kissed like this since his boyfriend had gone to prison. Kissed like the person actually wanted him. Like he wasn’t some sick pervert, cause even when Isaiah kissed him there was disdain there. But this, this was pure want and need.
Cooper’s body pressed against him and Jayson felt his hard cock brush against his thigh. And that was it, the final stroke to break the spell and bring him back to reality. Because this was Isaiah’s boyfriend kissing him. And he’d screwed Isaiah over plenty already. He wasn’t about to do… whatever the hell this was.
He twisted and pushed, managing to break free of Cooper’s grasp.
He stumbled a few steps farther and managed a strained, “I think you’ve got the hang of it.”
“S-sorry,” Cooper said. He didn’t follow after Jayson. And thank God for that because Jayson wasn’t sure if he could break that embrace again.
Cooper’s face was red and a bulge was visible in his pants.
“You really are good at this,” Cooper said, averting his eyes.
“Yeah, well, I lived in a brothel, so… you tend to become good at something when it’s your means of survival.” Why had he said that? Brought up his shitty past like that? What difference did it make? It wasn’t like Cooper wanted him. And if he did, it was purely physical.
“Try the kiss on Isaiah. I’m sure he’ll love it,” Jayson said.
Cooper cleared his throat and adjusted his boner to be less visible. “I will, and let me know about the, uh, questions.”
Laurie started singing and it took me a minute to get over my shock of seeing Jayson and recall the words. I managed to recover and focused on the here and now, singing in harmony with Laurie and stepping out of his way as he did his fancy ballerina moves.
By the end of the number, we were both sweating and staring into each other’s eyes like newlywed lovers, like this was our wedding. Laurie clutched my face with both his hands, one still gripping the microphone he held. He planted a deep kiss on my lips, which got applause from the attendees.
I kept my eyes open and searched the crowd, looking until I saw the waiter again, staring at us, his eyes huge and lips parted. I wished it was him I was kissing. I stared at him, hoping I was portraying my desire to him with my eyes.
Laurie pulled back and whispered a low thank you. Then he turned to his adoring fans. I slipped the microphone back to the DJ and escaped off the stage. I went to the bar and got the hardest liquor they had. I took two shots and sagged against the bar, clutching my head and resting my elbows on the counter.
“You were amazing,” Jayson said. I knew his voice and didn’t need to turn to know it was him.
“How’s your brother?” I asked, shutting my eyes tightly.
“He’s great. I’m staying with them, helping with the babysitting. I’d wondered how you were. I haven’t seen you since, well, since we saved the world.” His fingers touched my bicep and my entire body tingled at the contact. I dropped my hand from my face and turned to look at him.
“Not that we got any credit,” I said. He was hotter than I remembered. He’d gained some weight. The scar was still on his face, but he didn’t look ashamed of it. But now that I was looking at him, I noticed how stiffly he moved, like he’d slept in a bad position and had a crick in his neck.
“I’m surprised Cooper didn’t fix this,” I said. I reached over and skimmed my fingers across the scar, starting on his cheek and going down until it vanished under his collar. He averted his eyes and stepped away from me, but I didn’t remove my hand.
“It’s nice to have bit of my ugly on the outside,” Jayson said. My stomach lurched, and my brain fuzzed a bit, perhaps from the alcohol I’d drank on my empty stomach.
“It’s not ugly.” I gripped his neck, unable to let go. I ran my thumb along part of the scar above my hand. “I’m a physical therapist. I could help you loosen the scar tissue. Give you some exercises to do.”
“I can’t afford—”
“I wouldn’t charge you.” I did it without thinking. I leaned over and kissed him. Like it was the most natural thing in the world. A quick brush of our lips, then we were staring at each other, our faces inches apart. Shit. I told my body to let go of him, but then his hand was on my neck, pulling me back, mashing our lips together for a second round, but this time he took control, flicking his tongue into my mouth and skimming it across the top of my mouth.