Shadows in the Light: Oscar’s Story – Chapter Eight
Two more weeks went by far too quickly. I spoke with the sisters who told me that Gina had moved out of their housing and left the order. When I touched base with Lilah, she informed me that Gina had been contacted by two doctors who wanted to help her. She was making great strides in coming to terms with what her ex had done, and the skin grafts were proceeding nicely. There would always be scarring, of course, but it would be much less than it had been.
There was also the matter of the apartment that Gina now lived in. Apparently a kind soul saw to it that she had a place to live, rent free, for as long as she wanted. She’d decided to go back to school—paid for—and was beginning to blossom. I was happy for her, even though I found I missed her.
Max had been making himself indispensable. He no longer fussed about not leaving the house. In fact, he seemed to be making himself at home. He made all the meals, cleaned the house, and did a lot of painting. As a thank you for what he’d accomplished, I went to town under the auspices of picking up something for dinner. While there, I visited the tiny art gallery—Blank Canvas—and picked up a double order of what Lilah had bought for him last time. When I got home and presented it to him, he stood there, gaping at the gift. The rest of the night he walked on the clouds, until he disappeared into his room. As I went to bed, I could hear him singing softly to himself. Good thing the boy could paint, because singing was not one of his talents.
I woke early, the sound of gulls screaming at each other pulling me from a deep sleep. Even though it was too damned early, I felt refreshed. After a quick shower, I decided this morning I would make breakfast for Max. My skills in the kitchen weren’t nearly as impressive as his, but I knew my way around. When I stepped into the living room, I found Max on the couch, head in his hands. When he stopped breathing, I knew he realized I was there.
“Why are you awake?”
He glanced up and I could see the red in his eyes. “Haven’t been to sleep yet.”
Against my better judgment, I sat down beside him. “Do you want to talk about it?”
He shook his head.
I stood again, ready to go into the other room. “Okay. If you change your mind—”
“Wait.” When I looked at him, his face was screwed up as though he was about to cry. “Did you… Did you put your gun in my mouth?”
I froze. “What?”
“That night… I had a nightmare and I dreamt you put your gun in my mouth and said I was some kind of sick person.”
Fuck. I had said he was a sick fuck. While the memory might be hazy for him, it was vivid in my mind. The anger that had welled up in my gut, the overwhelming rage at seeing that baby dead in his mother’s arms.
“Yes.” I wouldn’t apologize. Not for what I’d said, and not for what I did.
“So it wasn’t a dream.” His eyes shimmered when he looked up. “Why didn’t you just do it and get it over with? I can’t… I can’t live without my family.”
He covered his face and began to cry. The heart wrenching sobs tore at me, and I didn’t know why. I’d killed men who cried, and never once did I feel a shred of remorse. Why then did Max’s make me feel as though I’d been wrong? Unbidden, I sat next to him and put a hand on his knee. When he threw himself into my arms, I stiffened, but then found myself stroking fingers through his hair and murmuring to him that it would be okay. Even I didn’t believe me.
We sat there for about twenty minutes before he went quiet. I glanced down at him and found he’d fallen asleep in my arms. He breathing was soft, and he sighed on occasion. I knew I should have gotten up, maybe carried him back to his room or laid him down on the couch to sleep. Instead I sat there, cradling him in my arms, until he shifted and lay across my lap.
Lilah’s words kept bouncing in my head. He likes you. He likes you. What did that even mean? How could you like someone who had been the root of your nightmares?
“I’m sorry.” Saying the words made it more real to me. The raw grief that Max had been experiencing somehow became important to me. The need to wipe it away consumed my thoughts. The desire for revenge on his behalf gnawed at my gut.
“It’s okay.” Max sat up and scrubbed a hand over his eyes. “You didn’t hurt them.”
I hadn’t, but I’d failed to get into the house sooner. If I had, maybe all of this could have been avoided. And Max needed to know the truth. The whole truth.
“No, I didn’t. There are things you need to know, though.”
He tried to sit up, but I held him in place. My gut ached, and I didn’t have a clue why. It was a job. I’d done hundreds of them since I joined the agency, and none of them had affected me like this. I’d seen the inhumanity man can heap on other people. The depths they’ll sink to when they think no one cares, or that they’re above the law. My job had always been to show them they weren’t.
“My boss, a man called Knight, told me that you were threatening to kill your family.”
Max tried to rear up, but I wouldn’t let him. If he were to turn his eyes in my direction, I’d lose my resolve to see this through.
“I know you weren’t, but that night, I didn’t. See, I’ve been working with Knight for years. Never once, in all that time, did I have reason to doubt him. He’s always seemed to have my back, and I trusted him one hundred percent. Then I found you in a room with the bodies of the people I was supposed to protect, and I lost it. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s failing in my mission. It doesn’t happen often, but just enough to make it hurt.”
Max stilled as he listened to me. I put my hand back on his head and stroked his hair, happy with something to occupy my mind. His body stayed ramrod straight, and I knew both of us were worried about what was about to happen.
“When I saw you—saw them—my blood went cold. I was so fucking angry that I’d failed to protect them, and you were my outlet. If I killed you, then I got justice. Our motto is to protect when we can, and avenge when we can’t. That’s what I wanted that night. Revenge. And I was so…so close.”
My chest ached and my hands had gotten damp. Max lay there, his head in my lap, fingers twitching.
“I didn’t pull the trigger, because the part of my brain that is analytical told me things weren’t adding up. I forced myself to look at the situation logically. Then there was you…”
“Me?” His voice was raw.
“You were crying. You fought against whatever was in your system, not because you had hurt someone, but because you were hurting. Whatever happened in that room, it wasn’t because of you. You fought against what they did to you, because your family needed you.”
“And I failed them.”
That got my attention. I grabbed him by the arms and yanked him up, cupped his chin, and forced him to meet my gaze.
“You did nothing wrong. You’re lucky to be alive.”
He sneered at me. “Because you were going to kill me!” He barked out a harsh laugh. “God, do you know how fucked up that sounds?”
I did. “I do. My job isn’t pretty or nice. I’m not looking for absolution, nor am I going to apologize for what I’ve done. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people, are alive because I kill for a living. Men, women, children. People who will never know how close they came to being another statistic.”
Max swallowed hard. “Like me.”
I turned him loose, but kept his attention. “Yeah, like you.”
“I don’t understand your job. It’s wrong to kill people, even if they’ve hurt someone.”
“What would you do if you found out who killed your family? Would you be satisfied with them going to prison? Or, worse, beating the rap? My way they can’t escape their fate. There will be no languishing in prison. People like that don’t think about what they’ve done and regret it. The people they kill are like notches on their belt. The more people they’ve hurt, the bigger their reputation. I—we—don’t allow those people to live. It’s harsh, it’s violent, but it’s also a permanent solution.”
Max was quiet for a moment, then he huffed a breath. “I honestly don’t know. My parents taught me that revenge was wrong. That a man should be able to hold his head up, knowing at the end of the day he did the right thing. And look what it got them. My heart says my family needs justice done, but you’re right. I’ve heard too many times that people get away with murder.”
“Not with me. I’ll hunt them to the ends of the earth if I have to.”
Max turned and tucked one leg under him. “But don’t you see? You’re not getting vengeance for the dead. They’ll never know. So what is it you’re really fighting for?”
No one had ever asked me that. What was I fighting for? I liked the thrill of the hunt, the rush I got when my target died. Max wasn’t wrong, though. People who were dead had no wishes. I glanced up and saw him sitting there, the most earnest expression on his face, and I had my answer. “People like you. Those who lived. Like Gina, who now has to find a new path in life. You’re right, vengeance does the dead no good, but I like to think it would bring a measure of peace to those who are left behind.”
Max got up. “I’m going to start breakfast.”
I grabbed his wrist. “Listen, I know what I’m doing seems wrong to you, and I get that you can’t wait to get out of here. I’m doing my best to move that along. I hope you can be patient with me a little longer.”
He nodded and pulled free. I sat there and watched him go, wondering why his opinion of me mattered in the least.
“Oscar, I have news!”
Lilah’s exuberance was probably the result of more than a few double espressos and powdered sugar donuts. “Do tell.”
“I had one of Knight’s agents in for a gunshot wound—”
“Doesn’t matter. She’s fine. She got the bad guy and saved the kid. What’s important is that she was telling me that she’d questioned Knight about the assignment, because she couldn’t figure out why he had a secondary target. She watched the guy, and as far as she could tell, he’d done nothing wrong.”
“Did she kill him?”
“Yes. And she’s still not certain it needed to be done. But you see, others are questioning the same things you are. Something’s wrong here.”
It was the information I needed to hear. Finally I’d gotten confirmation that others shared my suspicions of Knight.
“What are you going to do?”
What was I going to do? The whole thing still had a dreamlike quality to it, where I’d wake up and laugh it off. But the bodies of seven people proved to me it wasn’t. No, the devastated look on Max’s face is what told me it was all real.
“What I should have done in the first place.”
“You need help. Let me contact Rook and get Haven to—”
It took a lot of effort not to snap and ask her if she thought I wasn’t good enough, but I knew that wasn’t what she meant. Regardless, I had to deal with this myself. “No. This is my problem, and I’ll handle it.”
“And what about Max?”
I wouldn’t leave him alone, that’s for sure. “How’s your frequent flyer miles stacking up?”
She chuckled. “I already have a flight booked. I’ll be there tomorrow.”
I thanked her and we hung up. The night, Max and I had a nice dinner—he made me some more garlic rolls—and sat down to watch television. When Max found an animated movie on Netflix, he sat back, crossed his legs, and grabbed the bowl of popcorn. His entire self morphed as he watched the movie. The stress that had been evident melted away, and he laughed. A true, genuine belly laugh over some shark named Bruce and how he swears to a little fish he’s not going to eat him because fish are friends, not food. I didn’t understand why he thought it was funny, but he absolutely melted as he watched the stupid thing. To be honest, Max’s reactions were better than the movie. He laughed, he shed a few tears, and he sighed a few times, looking so happy it made me want to put the movie on a loop, so he could be like that forever.
As the fish found his father with the help of some chick fish, Max leaned over until his head rested on my arm. After a time, I thought it seemed like a very uncomfortable position, so I grabbed one of the pillows Max had on the couch, placed it in my lap, and patted it. Max took the hint and scooted over to put his head down.
My head lit up with warning signs. This was too much. Too domestic. Too friendly. So many fucking toos that I shouldn’t be allowing, but I reached up and put my hand over his chest. He responded by snuggling in closer. I could smell the body wash and shampoo on him, and my cock responded to it.
“Shut up and watch the movie.”
Neither of us moved from that spot until the credits were over. Then Max sat up, took the popcorn bowl into the kitchen and put it in the dishwasher. When he came back, he sat back down and put his head in my lap again.
“Wanna watch another movie?”
He shook his head. “No, but thank you for asking.”
We sat there for several moments, neither of us speaking. I stared into those eyes, which held such power over me. Max’s lip quirked into a smile. “Hi.”
I had no idea what came over me, but I moved my hand and started stroking his hair. He purred in contentment and let loose with a shuddering sigh. This was wrong on so many levels. I didn’t do this. Fuck and flee, I reminded myself. But I sat there, indulging him, and he ate it up. When he rolled onto his back, and locked gazes with me, I would have sworn someone else was in control of my body. I wrapped my fingers around the back of my neck and pulled him up, mashing our mouths together. He reached up and tried to get his hands on me.
“Your hands stay at your side, or this ends now.”
“Okay.” He went limp and let me direct the kiss, his reactions, everything. Fuck, he was so pliant. Men I’d had before had always wanted at least some aspect of control, but Max gave himself over to me fully. When I stopped, he said nothing, simply laying there and panting. I slipped my arms under him and hefted him up. Max squeaked and put an arm around my neck to steady himself.
“What are we doing?”
I glared at him. “Whatever I want.”
He gave me a shy smile. “Yeah, okay.”
I carried him to my bedroom and placed him as gently as I could on the bed. I placed my hands on his chest and kneaded the firm flesh that his clothes hid. As each shirt button popped, his eyes became glazed and he whimpered. After I had it open, I ran my hands over his body, plucking at his nipples, which stood hard and solid.
“You’re not a virgin, right?”
He shook his head.
“When I ask you something, you’ll answer me. You need to let me hear the words.”
“No, I’m not a virgin.”
“And you’re a bottom?”
Because no one would ever top me in the sack.
“Good. I want you to strip for me, then crawl back into bed. You have to know, if we do this, I’m not going to go easy on you.”
“Okay.” His breathing hitched as he stood and let his shirt fall to the floor. He toed off his shoes, let his pants drop and then he stepped out of them. He stood there, arms at his side. He looked absolutely mouthwatering. Despite the time he spent in the sun, his skin was still pale. His torso and chest had the wispiest of hair, but not too much of it. His stomach was flat, with nice muscle definition.
I was so fucking lost.
I shoved him down on the bed and buried my face in his neck. I bit the tender skin, sucking it into my mouth. He responded beautifully as he arched off the bed, and cried out. My cock got harder just hearing the noises he made. I stood up and he stared at me as I stripped down. I threw my shirt somewhere, kicked my pants over into the corner, and then let him see what he was getting into.
My cock jutted out in front of me. I was proud of what I had between my legs. Just shy of ten inches, thick, veiny, and already dripping precum.
I wrapped a hand around my shaft. “You sure you want this?”
He responded by getting off the bed and dropping to his knees. He pushed my hand away and put both of his on me, as he leaned forward and nuzzled my rigid dick. He didn’t just stroke me, he worshiped my fucking cock. He planted kisses on the damn thing, licked from root to head, then back down. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I grabbed his face and pushed into his mouth. He proved his skills as he swirled his tongue around the head, dipping it into the slit. I wanted to bury myself in his throat, but I restrained myself. Soon I would have his ass, and that was where I wanted to shoot my load.
I pumped slowly, no more than a few inches, and he made the most of it. I’d never had anyone so eager to please. He was putty in my hands, but he also made the most of what power he had. I was lost in the sensation of his mouth, so fucking hot. When he gripped my legs and began bobbing his head, I stood there and let him do what he wanted. He was incredible.
He knelt back on his haunches, and smiled at me. I hoped to hell he was ready for the main event, because I needed to be inside him like now.
“On the bed, hands and knees.”
He scrambled to comply, placing himself in the middle of the mattress. Anyone else, and I would have simply gloved up and pushed in, but not Max. I’d already hurt him before, and I would do my best never to do it again.
I crawled up behind him, skimming a hand over his back. When I got to his ass, I placed a sharp smack on one cheek, then the other. My handprint stood out, bright red against the pale flesh.
“If you need me to stop, you just say so.”
“No. Please, don’t stop.”
Though he couldn’t see me, he’d said the magic words. I reached over into the nightstand and pulled out the lube and condom. Thank God for Magnums. I thought about prepping him with my fingers, so I could get inside him faster, but this had to be good for Max, too. So I did something I’ve never done before. I reached out and pushed his head down onto the the bed, so his ass was higher in the air. Then I leaned forward, spread his cheeks, and dove in.
I could taste the soap he’d used, delicate on his skin. But it didn’t dull his own natural aroma and taste. I could easily become addicted to this ass. I plunged my tongue into the hole, grinning to myself when his grunts turned into keening. Max was a vocal lover, it seemed, and I fucking loved it.
As his cries turned to pleading, I decided to move forward. I began to probe his hole with my finger, teasing the ring. He began to whimper, shiver, and beg for more. Never in my life had I wanted another person so badly. While my instincts told me it was wrong, my body didn’t care. It wanted to possess Max, to dominate him in every way.
I reached over and grabbed the bottle of lube. After flipping the top, I drizzled the viscous liquid over my fingers and pushed one back inside of Max. He threw his head back and groaned. Music to my ears. While I pushed in to the knuckle, I stroked my other hand down his back. He needed to be completely relaxed, because even though he said he wasn’t a virgin, I doubt he had anyone as big as me.
When Max began to rock himself on my finger, I added a second, then a third. It wasn’t long before he was writhing on the bed, shoving himself back onto my digits. When I pulled them back out, he whimpered and kept shimmying his hips. I quickly gloved up and got into position behind him.
“I hurt you, you tell me. Do you understand?”
He nodded. I smacked his ass and grinned when he hissed.
“Yes, I understand.”
Positioning myself, I took my shaft in hand and worked some lube over the condom. When the head of my cock touched his hole, Max didn’t even flinch.
“Push back. Take me at your pace.”
Fuck, I barely recognized my own voice it had gotten so husky. Max grunted as he pushed back, that tiny pucker opening for me. We groaned in unison. I’d been in some tight holes before, but this one took the cake.
He continued, slowly, impaling himself on my cock. When at last his ass met my legs, I knew I’d found a home. This was what I wanted, Max on his knees in front of me, letting me use him as I saw fit. I reached out and wrapped my hands around his waist. I held him tight as I leaned back, bringing him with me. It was awkward, but I finally got my legs stretched out.
I couldn’t see his face, but that meant he couldn’t see me either. As he rose up, I closed my eyes. This was as close to fucking nirvana as I ever expected to get. He moved slowly for a few times, then his pace picked up and he was slamming down on my cock. He threw his head back, all pretext of being in control gone. He was an animal now, wanting to sate his lust. He moved a hand toward his own cock, no doubt seeking relief. I thrust up to meet him, the sounds of skin on skin filling the room. I pressed my fingers into his hips, gripping him tight.
“Yes, oh, yes.”
His chanting was intoxicating, and it brought me to the edge fast. When Max cried out and his ass muscles locked around me, I probably did, too. They squeezed me, milking my orgasm from me. Not sure I’d ever shot so hard. Then he slumped over, his head lolling down. Slowly he raised himself off me, until I slipped free. My spent cock lay heavy on my stomach. I reached down, pulled off the condom, and made a perfect two point shot into the wastebasket. Then I flopped back, all my energy gone. Max stood, turned, and his expression had become unreadable.
He turned and started for the door.
He stopped and glanced over his shoulder. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. I held out my arm. For a moment he hesitated, then moved slowly toward the bed. He crawled in beside me and I wrapped myself around him. His small, lean body fit beside my larger frame. It was…nice.
I kissed his neck and he hummed in approval.
The next thing I knew, it was morning, the birds were chirping away, and I was alone.