Talin hesitated outside his bedroom door, his gaze on the breakfast tray he'd made. He'd burned the toast a bit, but it was edible. Pushing the door open, he entered the bedroom to find Dimitri sitting up. Ignoring his heart's little skip, Talin took the tray to Dimitri's side of the bed.
"I brought coffee," he said banging the tray slightly on the bedside table.
Dimitri helped him steady the tray. Once it was safe, Dimitri took his left hand.
"I hope you're not leaving me to disappear downstairs," Dimitri said.
"No, I called Lori; she'll handle opening the club."
"Good," Dimitri tugged on his hand until he sat on the side of the bed.
"You took my rose," Talin said, shifting until he sat legs crossed on the bed facing Dimitri.
Reaching for the tray, he placed it on the space between them. He took Dimitri's cup of coffee and held it out.
Dimitri took the cup with a small shrug.
"You don't need black roses, Talin. I'll get you vibrant red ones if that's what you want."
"But, the black one was unique. I don't even know where it came from."
Dimitri pressed a finger on his lips.
"Don't worry about a dead rose, my dear. I'll get you a whole plant."
"And where will I put a rose plant?" Talin asked putting jam on Dimitri's toast. "I don't have a garden out there."
Dimitri nodded to the windows and the little balcony built in there.
"We'll put a flower pot there."
"What about when it snows?"
"We'll wrap it up." Dimitri grinned.
Talin shook his head.
"You have a solution for everything."
"It gives you a big ego."
Dimitri bit into the toast with a small happy sigh.
"I want to eat breakfast with you everyday."
"I doubt that," Talin said applying marmalade on his toast. "You have Kat cooking for you."
"I'm a third-wheel in that house." Dimitri grinned. "She and Lukas have eyes for each other in the morning."
Talin laughed at that picture. He doubted Dimitri would ever be a third-wheel in any situation. His personality brought him up front and center.
"You don't believe me," Dimitri said.
"I think they both love you too much to make you feel like a third-wheel. You're whining," Talin said.
"Jeez, there's no joking with you." Dimitri sipped his coffee. "Still, I prefer having toast with you to any fancy breakfast."
Talin felt warmth burst inside him and he took a bite of toast to hide it. They ate in silence for a few minutes.
Talin reached out to wipe away toast crumbs caught on the corner of Dimitri's mouth. Dimitri took his hand and pressed a kiss on his fingers.
"What are you doing today?" Talin asked.
"I have to go to the marina. Lukas needs help with one of our charter boats. Something's wrong with the engine."
"You like working with engines. The day I went to your place, I found you working on a pump engine. Is that what you do all day?"
"I do a lot of things in a day," Dimitri answered.
"Things like what?" Talin asked, wanting to know all he could about Dimitri.
So far, all he knew was that the man had insomnia, and liked to sleep in Talin's bed.
Dimitri put his coffee cup on the bedside table.
"Lukas and I own the marina together, but he does the administrative work and dealing with customers. Kat helps but she has her restaurant to deal with. I work behind the scenes. I check the charter boats, do maintenance and if anyone needs help with their boat, I handle that. We offer warehouse space, so I make sure shipments are in order. My job gives me a flexible schedule and I get to work with my hands."
"And your men, those guys you hang with, what do they do?" Talin asked.
"Sean and Tomas help me," Dimitri said. "They handle all the warehouse problems which can be trying."
Talin met amused blue eyes.
"Satisfied?" Dimitri asked.
"Nope," Talin shook his head. "Where did you go last night? I saw your car in the parking lot before I fell asleep. You weren't in the club, I called Lori to ask."
"A friend picked me up," Dimitri said with a slight shrug.
"Business friend," Dimitri said. "He had an emergency to do with a shipment and needed my help."
"Is that why you didn't sleep?" Talin asked with a frown. "Dimitri, you have to take better care of yourself. I know how it is to overwork."
"Don't worry about me," Dimitri said. "I don't sleep that much anyway. Besides, I slept the whole day yesterday."
"Still," Talin moved the tray to the bedside table.
Dimitri pushed the sheets away and moved closer, reminding Talin that he was still in his boxer shorts. They hadn't done anything beyond a few kisses and holding each other. Dimitri sunk his fingers into Talin's hair, tilting Talin's head back so that they could kiss.
All thoughts of what Dimitri did or didn't do disappeared. Dimitri tasted like coffee, strawberry jam and toast. Dimitri's tongue stroked his, Talin pressed closer, his arms moving up Dimitri's strong upper arms to his shoulders. He could kiss Dimitri all day. Their kisses were drugging, heated...he sighed when Dimitri broke away to trail kisses along his jaw to his neck.
His fingers sunk into Dimitri's mink black hair, and a moan escaped when Dimitri bit at the curve of his neck and shoulder.
"I've dreamt of holding you like this," Dimitri said sucking on the sensitive spot. "I can't believe it's finally happening."
"Why do you keep saying that? Am I really so unapproachable?" Talin asked leaning back to meet Dimitri's gaze.
"I—," Dimitri pressed a kiss on his jaw and let him go. "It seemed better to look at you from a far."
Talin sighed and got off the bed. "Well, seems you're still looking from afar."
"Why do you say that?" Dimitri asked in surprise.
"Nothing," Talin said, picking a knitted sweater he'd thrown over an armchair beside his bed. "I have no clue what we're doing, so—, it doesn't matter what I say."
Talin wore the grey sweater and tugged it over his t-shirt.
Talin tried…he tried…to fight that sexy voice, alas he was mortal and weak. Dimitri's low voice was tempting; it felt like expensive silk stroking his cock, arousal slammed him hard. He wanted…meeting pale blue eyes, he sighed, berating his body for wanting a man with secrets like Dimitri.
"What?" he asked.
Their gazes locked.
"I want in," Dimitri said, "all the way."
Talin forced himself to look away from Dimitri.
"Ah…well, if it was sex you wanted, you could have asked that first day," Talin said, trying to joke through the intensity of Dimitri's words.
He had no idea what to say. He didn't know if he could handle someone getting to know him.
Isn't that what Dimitri was implying here?
It had to be…he frowned.
"Sex is easy, I want more than that. I need it, Talin," Dimitri stated.
Dimitri got off the bed in a fluid motion and closed the distance between them with a few steps.
Talin couldn't help the gasp when Dimitri held his shoulders, turning him, so they faced each other. Unable to resist, Talin touched Dimitri's stomach, his fingers tracing soft hair dusting down to the waistband of black boxer shorts.
Dimitri ran his fingers through Talin's hair, stroking the long messy strands. Talin leaned into the touch. It was so new, yet so familiar: comforting, he let out a shaky breath and looked up to meet Dimitri's gaze.
"Can we take it slow?" Talin asked
His chest felt tight, fear creeping in at the thought of allowing someone in…again.
Dimitri's smile was slow, roguish…sexy…jeez, everything the man did linked back to sex.
Talin's cock hardened, pressing against his jeans.
"Whatever you want, Talin," Dimitri said leaning to touch his lips to Talin's, "as long as you let me have breakfast with you."
"And have my bed for sleeping?" he asked.
"Yep," Dimitri said his fingers bunching in Talin's hair gently. Using the hold on his hair, Dimitri tilted Talin's head back, "for sleeping…and other pleasurable activities, hopefully soon."
Talin closed his eyes when Dimitri finally kissed him, this time leaving no doubt what type of pleasurable activities Dimitri wanted.
The trash pick-up truck showed up at around one o'clock. They were two days late. Talin stood at the back door watching them clear the trash area. He'd been worried the health officers would show up and find the trash area messy. Health officers were a pain…not to mention the fines…he sighed and stepped back into the building. He needed to call the removal company and straighten the schedule.
Instead of going to the main club floor where Lori was dealing with late deliveries, Talin went to his office. He'd spent the past thirty minutes compiling a list of potential waiters for hire. Settling behind his desk, his gaze fell on the card Detective James left him. He'd brought it down here by mistake.
Picking it up, he touched the number with a frown. Dimitri thought it was a good idea for him to keep the card. When he'd asked why, Dimitri had smiled and told him to let the detective know if Ken Luther showed up at the club.
Now there was a man with secrets.
Talin opened the top drawer of his desk and dropped the card inside, his thoughts firmly on Dimitri as they had been through the week. They'd only spoken for four days, and it felt like he'd always known Dimitri.
It had to be the epic kisses, Talin thought with a smile, though the secrets intrigued him too.
Like last night, he'd glanced out the living room windows to see Dimitri's car in the parking lot. Talin wondered why Dimitri would leave his car in the parking lot when he'd need it to get to the marina. Then there was the Caleb Barnes saga, and the two men who followed Dimitri around. Then there was this morning…why had Dimitri looked so stressed when he'd shown up?
The questions were many, but then the kisses filled his thoughts and the questions rather took a backseat.
He was in lust with Dimitri's kisses.
Talin touched his lips and couldn't help smiling at the memory of Dimitri pressing him against the front door before he left two hours ago. He hadn't wanted that kiss to end. He'd instead wanted them to go back to his bed.
Dimitri, however, had broken the kiss, patiently held him until they both could breath easier, and then he'd left with a devastating smile.
Damn Dimitri, he frowned, the man had insane self-control.
"Talin," an amused deep voice broke into his thoughts.
He glanced up to find a tall thin black man smiling at him.
"Carl," Talin said, pleasantly surprised.
Getting up, Talin walked around the desk to meet Carl and give him a tight hug. He laughed when Carl patted his back and tugged on his ponytail. Carl Brown was his oldest friend.
"I knocked twice, but you seem preoccupied," Carl said stepping back to study him. "I see smiles, visiting the land of the living again, Talin?"
Talin chuckled and playfully punched Carl's arm.
"It's great to see you, Carl. Did Terry kick you out of the house today? I haven't seen you in a while."
Carl laughed and moved to take a seat on the armchairs set before Talin's desk. Talin joined him, moving his chair so that it faced Carl.
"She's driving me crazy," Carl said, his voice soft, dripping with fondness.
Terry was Carl's wife. Talin had been Carl's best man at their wedding six years ago. They had one two-year-old boy they both doted on. Carl was madly in love with his little family. Happiness radiated from deep within. It brightened Carl's dark brown eyes as nothing else could.
Talin was jealous.
"You haven't come to visit the Turnip," Carl said studying him. "We worried. Terry asked me to come here and drag you out to lunch."
Talin smiled at the mention of Carl and Terry's eclectic bookshop. He missed that place; the couple had a knack of stocking the bookshop with the best of books. They'd let Talin name bookshop when they first opened it. Talin still couldn't believe Terry had agreed to call the bookstore the Turnip.
"That woman," Talin smiled. "She's so bossy."
"She worries about you," Carl said leaning forward, elbows on his knees. "Although, I have to say, you're not as depressing as you usually are. What's changed?"
Talin scoffed. "What are you talking about?"
"Secret smiles, happy eyes, hmm…" Carl grinned. "Anyone I know?"
"Not really," he said not ready to mention Dimitri's name.
Carl gave him a knowing look and stood.
"Guess you're not ready to share. Come on then, I'm not taking no for an answer. We're going to the steakhouse down the street. We need to get some meat on them bones."
Talin gave the list of names on his desk a wistful glance.
Carl took his arm before he could launch any protest and led him out of his office. Talin barely grabbed his jacket on the way out before Carl closed the door.
It was wonderful to walk down the street with Carl. He listened to Carl talk about his son, and watching him grow. Carl talked about Terry, love in his every word. He'd forgotten what this was like, just listening…Carl could talk for hours…somehow it had always seemed like the best thing about Carl. He'd never needed to talk, Carl did it all…Talin just listened.
"How's your store, Carl?" Talin asked as they settled in their seats at the Steakhouse.
Carl picked up his napkin giving him a surprised look.
"Doing great, Terry ordered new graphic novels, you could come over and check them out."
"That sounds like a plan," Talin said studying the menu.
"Really?" Carl asked sitting back. "She's kept stuff for you for months."
"I'll drive to the bookshop later." Talin looked up to find Carl staring at him. "What?"
Carl took the menu away from him.
"Okay, what have you done with the real Talin?"
"I'm the same old Talin."
"No you're not," Carl shook his head. "You're definitely not the same Talin I've seen the past four years."
Talin held Carl's gaze for a moment, before he looked away.
The past filled the silence between them…too close…too hard…yet now; Talin took in a deep breath and let it out slow.
"I'm sorry," Carl said his tone regretful, "I've ruined it."
"No," Talin shook his head. "There's nothing to be sorry about. I-I checked out…"
Carl studied him, and then reached out to squeeze his hand.
"Don't think about it. I'm insanely happy to see the icicles melting. Please, let's go to the bookshop after this. It will be like old times."
Talin watched Carl pick up the menu, a small grin on his lips. He wondered why he'd never seen how much his self-imposed exile worried Carl.
"I feel like having barbecue short ribs," Carl said grinning at him. "What do you say?"
"Sure, definitely feel like getting sauce all over my face. Why not?"
Carl nodded and called their waiter.
Hours later, Talin drove back to the Talon from Carl and Terry's bookshop feeling happy. He'd strapped in a box full of new copies of fantasy graphic novels on the passenger seat. Terry knew his tastes well, and she'd kept the best titles for him. Glancing at the box, memories came back, happy memories. He'd always loved graphic art, the more conceptual the better. Carl and Terry had helped fuel that love through the years, encouraged him when he'd created it too. Thinking about his art skills brought back memories.
Memories…the vault in his head clicked open.
Talin remembered afternoons in the sun, seated under a huge oak tree, the grass so green…gorgeous green, but not as gorgeous as Gabriel's green eyes. He remembered sketching those eyes, trying to put them on paper, and capture the light just right…but never quite getting it. Kisses under that tree, giggles of delight…followed by…emptiness.
On coming headlights blinded him, and Talin jerked his car to the side of the road, his foot heavy on the brakes. He came to a stop with a jerk as the driver behind him honked his irritation.
Glancing at the box on the passenger seat, Talin wondered when the past would stop hurting.
His cell phone buzzed. Glancing at the caller ID, he let out a soft sigh when he saw Dimitri's number.
"Where are you?" Dimitri asked when he answered.
"On the way back to the club," Talin said adjusting his seatbelt. "I went to see old friends. Are you at the Talon?"
"I stopped by to drop something off, you weren't there," Dimitri said. "Are you alright?"
Talin glanced at the box of graphic novels.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Are you coming over tonight?"
"Later," Dimitri said, his voice filled with promise.
Talin smiled. "I'll wait."
"Drive safe," Dimitri said then.
Ending the call, Talin placed the phone on its holder on the dash. Holding the steering wheel with both hands, he let out a steadying breath and eased back into traffic.
"Steady, steady…," he whispered.
Back at the club, Talin helped Lori clear tables for the night. It was almost three o'clock in the morning, Dimitri still hadn't shown up. Picking up the last stool, he overturned it on the table and stretched his arms above his head. His shoulder muscles complained and he dropped his arms.
"Did you have fun with Carl?" Lori asked as she filled out the daily forms. "I saw him drag you out of here earlier."
"Yeah," Talin said taking the rag he held to the counter. "I didn't realize I was neglecting them until I saw him today. Their son is walking and everything. It was surreal, I remember a small tiny baby who had to be carried with care."
"Boss, you haven't noticed much these last few months. Working, working," she shook her head. "I guess you've turned on a switch in there. I can't wait for the new employees you're hiring. It will mean day offs."
Talin frowned. "You get day offs."
"From where?" she asked looking around the empty club. "I'm pretty sure the bulk of the work has been between you and me."
Talin picked up the dirty rags and went around the counter to dump them in the washing machine. He put in the right amount of soap and started it.
"Dimitri came over earlier," Lori said as she put away the daily forms.
She went back to his office and brought back a package wrapped with delicate green netting. She placed the package before him with a wide smile.
"Unwrap it, I've been dying to see what's inside all night."
Talin undid the green string holding it all together, and the netting fell away. He grinned when he saw the small potted plant, the thorns unmistakable.
"A plant?" Lori asked.
She touched the earthenware pot with intricate designs on its surface.
"The pot is expensive. I don't get it."
Talin touched the leaves carefully.
"It's a rose plant."
"A rose plant?" Lori frowned.
Talin ignored her confusion and instead reached for the card tucked into the plant. He opened it and found Dimitri had written a note.
>>>For your balcony, water it everyday. D
Talin placed the card on the counter and went to the sink. He picked up a beer mug and filled it with cold water. Lori gave him an amused look when he returned to water the plant carefully.
Twenty minutes later, he carried the box of graphic novels, with the rose plant carefully balanced on top, upstairs. Stopping at his door, he got his keys and unlocked the door. Ignoring the lights, Talin went into the living room to place the box on the coffee table.
He went back to close the door and turn on the lights. That's when he saw the white envelope on front door rug. Frowning, he picked it up, as he locked the door. Opening the envelope, he pulled out a picture with a note on the back.
'Dimitri Sedlackov is dangerous. He's not what he seems.'
"Well, that's ominous," he said under his breath turning the picture.
There was Dimitri holding a bundle of…money?
Talin says - I get roses....what do you get?
Sui hides in corner - You're a meano, Talin. Mean!
More Privileged Chapters
Download the app and become a privileged reader today! Come take a sneak peek at our author's stockpiled chapters!Download
Please switch to the pop-up to complete the payment.
Complete daily missions to get rewards.Learn more about the rules
This's an experimental test for reading assistance in case.
We highly recommend you to enjoy the beauty of the original words.