Shadows in the Light: Oscar’s Story – Chapter Twelve (The Final Chapter!)
Okay, I wanted to thank you all for sticking with me on this journey. I hope you’ve enjoyed Oscar and Max, and if you haven’t read them already, check out Haven’s Creed and Haven’s War.
Today’s installment has Oscar and Max watching a Disney flick, and what makes it weirder? Oscar chooses it.
I’d been home almost two months and Max hadn’t stopped fussing over me. He had me sit out on the deck, the waves of the sea bringing that crisp, clean smell along with them. Max would bring me food out, and sit with me as I ate. Then he’d clear away the dishes and come back out to rub my back or feet.
Every time I tried to say I had something to take care of, he objected. I wasn’t allowed to do anything more strenuous than a good fuck, and after being gone all that time, I had a lot to make up for in that department. But even I had my limits.
Still, I could see how happy it made Max to take care of me. When he thought I wasn’t looking, he had a smile so wide, I could count every one of his pearly whites. I’d always come back from jobs and never gave a moment’s thought to what I’d spoken about with Haven. How did Max stay after all these years? Any sane person would have walked out. I was a good lay, but not that good. And when I came back, I got all the fucking I could handle, and loved the shit out of all the pampering.
This time it was different. After the threat to Max’s life, the thought I could lose him, everything became sharper, more focused. For six years Max had put up with me. He’d told me countless times that he loved me, and never once complained when I didn’t say it back. In that dark moment, when I thought he was about to die, I realized how I’d taken advantage of the situation.
“I need you to go into town.”
He swallowed hard. He hated going by himself, and even when I went with him he’d say he would be happy to stay at home.
“Why?” The word was filled with dread.
“I ordered you something from the shop. I thought you might want to pick it up yourself.”
“Can’t you come with me?”
I shook my head. He pouted. I chuckled and reached out to rub his head. “It’ll be fine, I promise.”
By the time he left, I was a ball of nervous energy. For what I was about to do, everything had to be perfect. I hurried around, putting things where I wanted them. By two, I was mostly ready. I hoped. When the phone rang, and I saw it was the gallery, I swiped my finger across the screen to answer it.
“He’s on his way.”
“Thanks, Mel. I appreciate it.”
“Not sure what you’re doing, but you’d better be good to him. I expect another show in six months, and if you fuck this up for me—”
“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”
His comeback was instantaneous. “No, I kiss yours.”
“You know my mom is dead, right?”
“Meh. Desperate times lead to desperate measures.”
I snorted. Mom would have appreciated the joke. And she’d been gone long enough, so I didn’t take offense at it. Plus, Mel was kind of warped anyway.
“I promise I’m not going to hurt him. At least not anymore than he wants me to.”
“Okay, that’s crossing into TMM territory.”
I blinked. “Don’t you mean TMI?”
He breathed a heavy sigh. “No, TMM. Tell Me More. Sequim is a small town, so I’m living my life through you.” He laughed, and it was infectious. Mine was more from nerves, though. The thought that this could all blow up in my face rattled around in my head. If I didn’t get off the phone, Max would be home, and I wouldn’t be ready.
“I have to go. He should be back shortly.”
“Okay. Later.” Before I disconnected, I heard Mel call my name.
“I hope you make him happy. He worships the ground you walk on.”
I knew he did, it humbled me.
When the car pulled up, I did my best to act casual, even though my guts were churning. Max came in, a bright smile on his face.
“You bought all that stuff for me?”
It wasn’t much. Sure as hell a lot less than what he deserved. “I did.”
He came over and gave me a slow, lingering kiss. When he broke away, his cheeks were pink and his lips slightly swollen. “Thank you.”
I reached down and swatted him on the ass. “Go paint until dinner.”
He was a giddy as a little kid. He rushed to the car, grabbed up the supplies, then began hauling them in while I started one of the frozen pizzas Max had ordered. It wouldn’t take too long, and after, if everything went well, we’d have things to discuss.
Max had been vibrating during dinner. He kept glancing toward his studio, and his fingers never stopped twitching. After we ate, he hurried back to it, leaving me to clean up. It was fine, though. After all the times I’d rushed off after we’d eaten and left him with the work, I guess I deserved it. I grabbed all of the dishes, threw them into the dishwasher, then sat down to wait until a good time had passed. Have I ever mentioned waiting wasn’t my strong suit?
When I heard Max go into the bathroom to perform his nightly ritual, I knew the time had come.
Max came in from the other room, toothbrush in his hand, and a ring of paste around his lips. His confusion was adorable. He blinked a few times, then stared at me. “Movie night?”
“That’s what I said.” I put a bowl of popcorn on the table. “Sit down and shut up.”
He shrugged, went back into the bathroom for a moment, then came out paste free. He moved to the couch and took a seat. Normally I would sit on the other end of the couch and Max would move in my direction. Tonight I sat beside him and wrapped an arm around his shoulder.
He leaned back, looked at my arm, then glared at me. “Okay, who the heck are you?”
I ignored him and picked up the remote to start the movie which had already been queued.
“Hercules? Okay, now I know something is wrong.”
He made to stand, but I pulled him back down. “Stay there.” When he gave me the side-eye, I glared back at him. “Problem?”
“You hate animated movies.”
“I’m making an exception. Now shut up.”
About twenty minutes into the movie, Max snuggled into my side like he always did. The way he fit, slotted in next to me, was perfect. Max was perfect, and it was about fucking time I realized it.
The movie played through, but my attention was on the man sitting beside me. Max, as usual, laughed, cried, and at one point, sobbed. He threw himself heart and soul into everything he did. Whether painting, reading a book, watching a movie, or calling out my name while I fucked him, Max could be moved by so many emotions. When the part where Meg was singing came on, he sniffled and ran the sleeve of his sweater over his face.
I tucked an arm around him and gave a squeeze. “You’ve seen this already. Why are you crying?”
“Because it’s beautiful. It’s a love story and…” He stopped, his lower lip quivering.
Max shook his head. “Nothing.”
I picked up the remote to pause the movie. He turned to me, confusion obvious.
His voice was strained and the expression on his face told me more than his words ever could. “She loves him, but she won’t say it.”
That was a cue if I ever heard one. “Remind you of someone?”
His face scrunched up. We’d been together six years. Six amazing, wonderful years, and never once had I said the words he’d probably been dying to hear. Haven said them to Sammy. Kelly said them to Lilah. Why did I refuse to say them to Max?
“Look at me.”
He peered from beneath his lashes. I bent over and kissed his forehead.
“For the longest time, I told myself that I didn’t need to say the words, because you knew how I felt. I’d convinced myself that I wouldn’t have to ever utter them, and I was fine with that. But I’m not so sure anymore. So I’m going to ask you a question, and you’re going to answer for me. Do you know how I feel about you?”
He was still for a moment, then nodded.
“Words. That still hasn’t changed. I need to hear them.”
He sighed. “I think I do.”
“You think?” Well, that didn’t sound good.
“I mean I usually do, but sometimes when I hear you talking with someone about bending them over the table and…you know, I… Well, I guess I’m not sure.”
I stood and dragged him up to me.
“Okay, so… I tease. A lot. There’s one thing you need to know, and I swear to you on everything I believe, this is the truth. In all my life, no one or nothing has meant to me as much as you do. Take away everything from me, and as long as you’re there, I’ll be okay. Do you understand?”
No, not good enough. Not by a long shot. I grabbed his hair and yanked his head back. I kissed him until he couldn’t breathe. When I turned him loose, his eyes were wide. He reached up and touched his lips, still moist from my tongue.
“I love you, Max.” His face scrunched up and tears fell from his eyes. I had a feeling I fucked up badly. “What’s wrong?”
“Wrong?” He scrubbed a hand over his eyes. “You can’t be that stupid. I’ve been hoping to hear those words from you. I would have given anything for you to say them. Literally anything. And you said them.”
Shit. I had been a total asshole. I cupped his chin and stared into his eyes. Normally, this kind of display would make me uncomfortable, but Max was my everything, and he needed to know that. “I mean them, too.”
My phone rang.
He put his hand over my pocket, and I could see his eyes pleading with me. “Let it go to voicemail.”
I wanted to, but that never worked out well. I pulled the phone out and when I glanced at the caller ID, I knew I had to take it.
“I’m sorry, but…” I swiped a finger over the accept button, hoping to hell it wasn’t who I thought it was. “This is Oscar.”
“This is King. You’re needed.”
And with those words, the happy moment Max and I were to share, went to shit.
Yep, this is the end of this story, but it’s a segue into a new one. Keep an eye out on my blog for updates as they become available.