SACRIFICES (A JEFF WOODS MYSTERY)
By Chris T. Kat
April 28th 2014
When he was outed on the local news, Jeff Woods gave up his dream job as a detective to become an on-air radio personality. The sacrifice was worth it to keep Alex and Sean in his life, but Alex lost his job, too. Jeff can tell Alex worries he’s pressuring Jeff too much, first with Sean and now the lack of money, but he has no idea what that will lead Alex to do. Desperate times bring out the stupidity in some people, and when Jeff discovers Alex is in over his head in a situation he can’t handle, he needs all his self-control to stay calm.
After wishing Sean a good day at school, which he answered with a sullen look, I made my way over to Alex. He got up from his chair and threw himself into my open arms.
I held him tight, felt him tremble slightly. He whispered, “I don’t want him to make a fuss when the school bus arrives. I can’t handle this shit anymore.”
He was almost sobbing the last sentence. Sean had given him hell since school had started. We both understood Sean’s refusal, but St. Christopherus School was the only one available for him.
Sean never wanted to get on his school bus, which he showed everyone in no uncertain terms. He screamed and cried and thrashed around in his wheelchair so violently that he’d managed to flip the wheelchair onto its side on several occasions.
His new bus driver, an elderly woman named Patricia Cornell, was an incredibly patient person. Somehow she always convinced Sean she’d take care of him and got him on the bus. By the time the bus left, Alex was either crying or close to tears. I’d witnessed all of this several times in the past weeks and generally sat with Alex afterward while he tried to compose himself.
Today he’d be on his own.
Tightening my grip, I whispered back, “He’ll get over it eventually. His therapist said as much.”
Alex snorted. “Yeah, Burnes also said he’d get over his nightmares eventually. Do you see that happening? Because I damn well don’t.”
His trembles increased and fast puffs of breath tickled my throat. Not a good sign. Helplessly, I murmured his name.
Sean whistled sharply, obviously not happy about being excluded from the conversation. Alex jumped in my arms and tried to push away from me. I held on, keeping him crushed to my chest.
“Jeff, I need—”
“No, you don’t,” I cut him off. “Sean will survive not being the center of your attention for a moment. Relax.”
“Relax?” Alex snapped, again struggling to get free from me.
Lifting him off his feet, I carried him over to his chair, plonked down on it, and settled him on my lap, all the while ignoring his protests. “Hush now, I’m in charge here.”
“No, you’re not.”
“But yes, of course I am. Who else could be in charge here other than me?”
Sean laughed from the other side of the table. I winked at him. Alex finally stopped struggling and leaned against me instead.
“How about me?” he asked.
“You?” I countered, doing my best to sound sufficiently horrified.
Alex bumped a fist against my chest, smiling a bit. “Yes.”
“Well, for one, I like to be in charge and you don’t.”
“That’s not true!”
“Don’t interrupt me,” I said. The corners of my mouth curved upward, even though I tried to keep a straight face. “I’m having a really good daydream right now.”
“Really? What’s it about?”
“Oh, just that you’re acknowledging my awesomeness and—”
“All right, all right, you’re awesome and in charge and I was short of having a meltdown. Yet again.” He sighed.
“Hah! I knew someday you’d say it!”
“Yeah, yeah, don’t let it go to your head. We don’t want you to be distracted while you’re on your way to work,” Alex muttered.
And that was the real problem, or at least part of it. Alex feared something could happen to me—on my way to work, at work, on my way back, anywhere.
I couldn’t blame him. Resting my cheek on top of his head, I pulled him closer to me. Alex shuddered, then trailed a finger over my shirt, tracing the large scar hidden under it.
Chris T. Kat
Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there’s any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks, or does cross stitch.
Blog.Facebook.Twitter.Goodreads.Amazon Author Page