Elizabeth Noble It was a cool, clear night. The type of evening Nick Ruger liked best. He stretched and breathed in the sweet scent of lilacs and grass mixed with the faint aroma of horses in the field. This was always Nick’s favorite part of the day. It was when he and his mate, Todd, would spend some time, just the two of them, sitting outside in one of the big, wooden lounge chairs Todd had built so many years ago. He’d made it special for the two of them. There was a wooden cup holder and basket securely attached to each arm. Perfect for holding Nick’s observing journal or books as well as whatever they were drinking at the time.
The Rugers had lived in this house, and on this farm, in Yellowknife, for a decade. The property had been left to them by the doctor who had built it; he wanted this place, built with his wife, to go to a family who would love it as much as they had. In that ten years Todd and Nick had built a deck on the back, expanded the gardens around the house and added to the barn to accommodate Nick’s four-legged patients when needed. The rest of the farm land they leased to one of the neighboring farmers.
No matter what was happening in their lives, or what direction things took, Todd and Nick Ruger had each other and their home.
Nick stuck his hands into the pockets of his dark green pullover sweatshirt. It wasn’t the same one Todd had given him their first night together, but it looked and felt just like it. This one was probably the fourth or fifth one Todd had bought for Nick.
The horses were feeling frisky this evening, chasing each other around the pasture. Every now and then one of them kicked out their hind legs and bucked for a few paces. Even the moderately warmer weather after the harsh, cold, longer than normal winter they’d recently endured was enough to lift spirits of man and animal alike.
He liked watching their horses, and caring for them. Todd built things; he worked with wood and made sure their home was always in the best shape. Nick liked caring for the grounds. The gardens as well as pastures were tended by Nick. As with everything else they were the perfect complement to one another. Nick always got a warm, comforting feeling from those thoughts.
“You going to stand there staring at the horses all night? Are they doing something naughty?” Todd peered over Nick’s shoulder, at the same time nudged Nick’s elbow.
Todd held a large, topless egg shaped mug in each hand. One was offered to Nick.
Nick smile and inhaled deeply. “Thanks.”
Todd had introduced Nick to coffee, and always made a damn fine brew. Todd hooked one foot around the leg of the nearest lounge and dragged it closer to them. He settled on the lounge, pushing back until he rested against the back. Todd held his mug of coffee with one hand and waved at Nick to join him with the other.
Nick sat on the edge of the lounge and carefully inched back until he was nestled against Todd’s side, leaning into his strength and warmth. Watching for the long ripples of light stretching from the horizon upward to fill the sky. The cool colors in greens and blues mixed with the sprinkling of stars and swirled across the night sky.
“I love watching the lights,” Todd said between sips of coffee. “They always amaze me. We could hardly see them from New Colorado.”
Nick pointed to the sky. “The lights, they’re caused when particles are pushed out from the Sun by solar flares and—” One of Todd’s fingers finding the space between two of Nick’s ribs and rubbing back and forth fast, stopped Nick’s words. He sucked in a sharp breath and swallowed a yelp.
“They’re pretty lights and you don’t have to dissect everything. That habit could get a guy’s library privileges revoked and make his books vanish,” Todd teased.
At least Nick hoped he was teasing. “You wouldn’t.”
Todd set his mug in the holder and reached across Nick, sliding his arm around Nick’s waist. “Try me.”
Nick opened his mouth, but he never got the chance to speak. Todd twisted to the side, pulled Nick hard against him and pressed his mouth to Nick’s, his tongue slipping in and cutting off Nick’s words.
A minute later Nick had forgotten what he wanted to say. Todd broke their kiss then whispered a soft, “Shh.” He moved his arm from across Nick’s middle so he could catch Nick’s hand in his own.
Nick shifted a bit so he could watch Todd’s profile more easily. No matter how old they got or how many years went by, there would be things Nick would always remember. One such treasured memory was his first meeting with Todd, long ago and many miles away. That day was full of so many firsts, but the one foremost on Nick’s mind was Todd taking his hand and leading him away from the group they were to travel with and to privacy at the back of their wagon.
Todd was power, confidence and he seemed so sure of everything. All the things Nick wasn’t, but aspired to be. He’d so easily slid his hand over Nick’s. Todd’s fingers were warm and strong, using just the right amount of pressure to be loving and possessive at the same time.
Nick smiled every time he’d think of Todd’s fingers twining with his, curling ever so slightly until Nick had no hope of escape, not that he wanted to escape. Nick could feel every twitch and movement of the muscles of Todd’s arm, how’d he’d flex and tense ever so slightly as he stepped closer to Nick, fingers curling even more, grip tightening.
The day had been warm and slightly muggy, but goose-bumps rose on Nick’s skin and he’d shivered and smiled shyly. A tingle of excitement worked its way through Nick, as always it was a cozy, comforting tendril that was a constant in Nick’s life. Home for Nick wasn’t just where Todd was, for Nick Todd was his home.
~|~ ~|~ ~|~
“I could start a fire,” Todd offered.
“You already did.”
“Did I now?” Todd went for innocent, but knew Nick wasn’t buying it; the chuckle that rumbled through him was proof of that. Nick could read Todd more easily than he could any book.
Even though Nick was an inch or two taller, he had a particular talent for wedging himself under Todd’s shoulder and against his side. Ten years in this house and more years than that together hadn’t dampened Nick’s desire for physical contact in the least.
Todd lifted the hand that rested on Nick’s shoulder and stroked the top of Nick’s head. It was no secret Todd loved Nick’s hair. It was lustrous, with enough length to let Todd’s fingers get a good hold. There was enough curl to make Todd want to run his fingers though just to see the strands separate and spring back together. Some would twist around one another, but somehow it didn’t tangle. Even the color, a deep chocolate, Todd found soothing and sensual.
Nick didn’t do much to his hair other than wash it, sometimes get it cut, yet it was a part of him Todd was especially drawn to. More than the texture he loved, Todd also loved its scent. Fresh from being outdoors and uniquely Nick.
Like his personality, Nick’s hair was a mass of contradiction, literally and figuratively. There were bangs constantly over his face and being brushed back from his eyes, but they were never messy, and always graceful. It constantly seemed too long until it was cut then it seemed like it grew back longer and fuller than before. Just when Todd thought it couldn’t get better, it surprised him and was twice as wonderful. He moved his fingers in a lazy pattern through Nick’s hair and caressing his skin.
“We could take the horses out for a ride before bed,” Todd murmured.
“Hmmm, a ride sounds good.” Nick sat up and rolled so he was more on top of Todd than next to him and grinned. Todd had built these chairs for the two of them, they were sturdy and stable and the couple had done much more than lounging on them over the years.
The pleasant warmth in Todd’s belly and groin ignited completely. His cock went from a casual full feeling to hard in the span of a few breaths. The way the material between Nick’s legs strained made it obvious to Todd Nick was having the same reaction. Todd sat up and leaned forward, skimming Nick’s neck with his tongue, then teeth. At the same time he slipped his hands under Nick’s clothes. With his palms pressed to Nick’s skin, Todd pushed them up until his fingers brushed Nick’s tight nipples.
Nick groaned and shuddered. “It’s cold out here.”
“You’re getting soft. We used to spend months outdoors.” Todd rolled one of Nick’s nipples between thumb and forefinger and smiled when another quiver rippled through his mate.
“But now we have a big, warm bed and fireplace in our bedroom.” Nick sat straighter for a second then arched his back as Todd slid his hands back down Nick’s torso, dragging his clothes back into place as well.
Todd grabbed Nick’s waist and urged Nick to the side so they could both stand up. The instant Todd’s feet hit the ground he straightened and pulled Nick firmly against him. “I don’t think we’ll need that fireplace tonight.” He dropped one hand lower, massaging Nick’s buttocks.
Ten years in one spot hadn’t diminished anything, in fact what they had continued to grow daily. He kissed Nick, long and deep, feeling Nick’s heartbeat against his chest, beating in time with his own. Nick was the fire in Todd’s soul and the heart that kept him going.
Nick broke their kiss and embrace first, saying in a low voice, “We should go inside now, or you’ll have grass stains on your knees in about three more minutes.”
“Fair enough.” Todd took Nick’s hand in his own again and tugged him along toward the house, their home.
Just as they reached the door Nick’s grip tightened and he put the brakes on. Todd was forced to stop and turn to face him. Nick stepped close so he straddled one of Todd’s thighs, rocking against Todd and stealing another kiss while he mumbled, “Not getting soft.”
“Oh, hell no, you’re not.” Todd reached behind him and fumbled at the door handle, finally getting it open. They practically fell inside, separating just enough to make their way through their home and to their bed.
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