Deep in the Amazonian jungle, there is a mansion with a rose garden and a hen house where juicy tomatoes are the perfect shade of red, and marble countertops glisten.
Inside, where even the shadows don’t reach, something is rotting, and the perfect facade can only hold the stench for so long.
Domenico promised his husband that he would keep him safe, keep him away from the bloodshed and the brutal world of cartel violence. But when a guest arrives to help retrieve a stolen transport of guns, something sinister sneaks into his home, something more dangerous than his enemies. Or has it been there all along, and he just hasn’t noticed?
Seth’s life is what others dream of. Endless leisure time filled with cocktails, a kitchen stocked with anything he wishes for, and a private pool in the sunshine. What’s missing is the man he shares it with, the man he fell in love with. If being cut off from the mafia business was what he wanted, then why is it so painfully lonely in paradise?
Desperate to be the supportive husband Domenico needs, Seth buries his rage, his violent urges, and the anger that simmers inside of him. But he can only hide in plain sight for so long, and when a guest invites him to play with fire, one misstep, one wrong move, could burn their safe haven to the ground.
Themes: mafia, cartel, assassin, organized crime, family ties, domestic violence, inequality, betrayal, revenge
Genre: Dark, twisted M/M romance / crime thriller
Length: ~90,000 words (Book 7 in the series)
WARNING: Adult content. If you are easily offended, this book is not for you.
‘Guns n’ Boys’ is a gritty story of extreme violence, offensive language, abuse, and morally ambiguous protagonists. Behind the morbid facade, there is a splash of inappropriate dark humor, and a love story that will crawl under your skin.
“Dom?” Seth whispered into the darkness, but hearing no answer, he leaned closer and rubbed his hand up Domenico’s shoulder. “Dom? Are you still asleep?”
Behind the thick grey curtains, the sun wasn’t yet up, but Seth’s mind had been spinning for over an hour now, and the wait was killing him.
Domenico let out a raspy hum, acknowledging that he was aware of Seth speaking to him, but his naked back didn’t even stir. Seth smiled at the sight and pulled the covers that bit lower. Black silk was the perfect embellishment for Dom’s skin.
“I want a crossbow,” Seth whispered and put his leg over Domenico’s, running a finger down Dom’s spine. He loved every imperfection on that body. Every scar was there to remind him how much they’d survived together. Seth circled the one on the back of Domenico’s shoulder, the one that Dino Villani created when he’d shot an eleven year old boy and left him to bleed for hours. Seth leaned down to kiss the ugly, twisted scar that had set Domenico on the path to becoming who he was now, set him on a path that had eventually brought them together.
This time, Dom raised his head off the pillow and looked Seth’s way through a curtain of long, tangled locks. “W-what the hell are you talking about?”
“Is it too early? Maybe it’s still a dream…” Seth wrapped his arms around Domenico’s waist and pulled him close, enjoying how sturdy his husband was. The smooth hair licked his skin, and he smiled when Domenico didn’t fight him and let himself be held, melting into Seth’s embrace in the lazy way he only would in the mornings.
Seth smelled the long hair he loved so much and let his hand settle on Domenico’s stomach. “Seth is asleep, but he’s there, right next to you, and his subconscious is trying to tell you something.” He bit back a grin and kissed Dom’s ear.
Domenico groaned and blindly reached for his pillow, which he stuffed into Seth’s face. “Jesus Christ, go to sleep.”
Seth withdrew, but he wouldn’t stop stroking Dom’s arm. Maybe this wasn’t the best of times, but day was dawning behind the curtains, and he couldn’t get this new idea out of his head. What if Domenico was too busy to talk about it over breakfast? And they’d be around other people too, so getting his point across would be that much harder.
Several heartbeats later, Domenico twisted out of his embrace like an eel, ending up on his knees, completely naked in front of Seth. With his black hair in a wild halo as he took deep breaths, he stiffened his muscles like the embodiment of Tarzan.
“What? What? What? What the fuck do you want? I’m working today!”
Seth inched away. “Okay, go back to sleep, I didn’t want to annoy you.”
Domenico stared back at him in the dark, only to drop back to the mattress and pull the sheet over himself in a desperate gesture. He twisted to face the other way, and that was that.
Seth waited a few more seconds. “It’s just that… I can’t sleep. I want a crossbow. What do you think?”
It wasn’t Seth’s fault that after a marathon of The Walking Dead it was all he could think about. “But if, for example, in twenty years, the world runs out of oil, there will be riots, and who knows where that leads us. The world will change, and ammo might be hard to come by. If I had a crossbow and learned to use it now, learned to make my own bolts, we’d have the upper hand.”
The silence was disturbed by a loud snort. Domenico rolled Seth’s way, wrapping himself in the sheet like a mummy. “Come on, Seth. It took me just weeks to establish us as the local royalty. Drying oil would be nothing to me. If that happens, I’m gonna take over alternative power sources and get so loaded you’re gonna bathe in mineral water.”
Seth groaned but didn’t look away from Domenico’s bright eyes. Of course. He didn’t need to do anything, because Dom would take care of it. “But wouldn’t it be a useful skill? In case of other emergencies? Like, I’m not saying I know what’s gonna happen, but what if there was a deadly illness spreading through the world, and we had to fight our way through it before you managed to establish us anywhere?” He wasn’t exactly comfortable saying ‘zombie apocalypse’ to his already disgruntled husband.
Domenico let his head drop to the pillow and ignored him.
Seth rolled out of bed. That was that, then. Maybe he’d broached the subject too soon. For a moment, he hesitated about saying something like ‘see you downstairs’ or ‘I’ll go feed the chickens’, but Domenico wasn’t pleased with having his sleep disturbed, so maybe it was better if he stayed silent.
He pulled on a pair of jeans and walked out, leaving Domenico in the darkness of the room. As soon as he stepped into the corridor, artificial light was no longer needed as the soft brightness of the rising sun poured through the large windows.
Their home was spacious enough for the needs of their little family. In the months that had followed the brutal takeover of Toro’s business, Domenico had the separate guest house they’d lived at when they’d first arrived, renovated. The lower floor had been mostly remade into an open-plan living space, with the exception of an extension dedicated to little Angelica.
The living room smelled of Seth’s childhood. With Christmas Eve only two days away, the elaborate decorations he’d worked on throughout December were already in place. The tree—a pine shipped to their corner of the jungle from Bogotá—reached the ceiling and scented the whole room. Seth had ordered a set of baubles made of Murano glass for the occasion, but he’d made most of the ornaments himself, decorating the tree with dried lemon slices adorned with red bows, little cookies and candy, as well as long garlands made of gold paint-sprayed farfalle pasta.
One of the smaller windows had been transformed into a traditional nativity scene, complete with tiny figures of saints inside the wooden shed Seth had made himself, animals and artificial trees set up under a huge star that could be lit up in the evenings.
No place remained untouched by the upcoming holidays. Inspired by pictures found online, Seth had recreated various decorative setups until the house became the perfect embodiment of Christmas spirit. It made his longing for home that bit more bearable, but what really counted was the appreciation on his family’s faces whenever they entered. They made all that work worthwhile.
He glanced at the clock. It was almost six, so instead of going straight outside, he opened the door to the nursery area with a code. Dom insisted ‘their baby’ needed additional protection at night, and as silly as it seemed, Seth couldn’t argue with the fact that even the tall walls built around their private garden were not impenetrable. And at times when Angelica was there alone with her nanny, the thick walls, the separate ventilation system and locks that could withstand simple explosives gave Seth peace of mind.
Giulia looked out of her bedroom when Seth entered the corridor decorated with butterflies and flowers painted on the walls. The nanny’s round, somewhat wrinkled face relaxed when she spotted him. She emerged in her usual outfit of knee-length shorts and a T-shirt, short gray hair still in a mess, but the thinly rimmed glasses were already in place, completing the image of a sporty grandmom.
“You’re up early,” Giulia said, combing her unruly hair with one hand. The permanently reddened cheeks and attentive eyes reminded Seth of his own mother. With her flat nose and small eyes, Giulia wasn’t exactly a beauty, but the folds of skin around her mouth had been left behind by smiles. She also had a secret weapon, effective both against Angelica’s and Domenico’s moods—the patience of a saint. Maybe because she used to be a Sister.
“I couldn’t sleep, and I bet Angelica’s up.”
At least she was no longer up at random times of day and night as she’d been in the first few months. No matter how much Seth had grown to love the new addition to the family, he was glad Giulia had agreed to join them so far from her home in Italy. Choosing a nanny Domenico would approve had been an ordeal Seth didn’t want to go through again any time soon.
It had taken some time before they adjusted to her presence, but they needed all the help they could get, because Domenico was often busy, regardless of how much he enjoyed spending time with their little princess. Seth hadn’t known much about babies back then either. And Dana? Dana was annoyed whenever Angelica was around, as if the little girl’s existence were a personal insult to her.
“She’s been up for a while,” Giulia said with a smile and led Seth to the nursery.
Domenico had gone into a frenzy of researching child rearing once things had settled after the horrors of two years ago. He insisted they all spoke to Angelica in different languages so that she would grow up quadrilingual. This meant that, even though Seth had the comfort of talking Italian to Giulia, most times he didn’t understand what she spoke about with Angelica, since the nanny’s designated language was Spanish. Seth wasn’t entirely sure of this system, but he was done with arguing over this topic and went with it.
“Hey there, sunshine,” Seth said in Italian when Angelica spotted him through the open door to her room and waved at him with a wide smile, causing a warm tingle in Seth’s chest.
He’d never thought that much about having children, but Angelica’s presence in their life quickly became something as obvious as the fact that Domenico slept in the same bed as Seth. Every bit of progress Angelica made, every step that brought her closer to becoming a child rather than a toddler left Seth fascinated by the speedy development in the kid who not that long ago couldn’t even walk. Each of those moments drove home the point that he’d become a father. Angelica, the beautiful, cheerful girl with dark locks and wide brown eyes, was his and Domenico’s from the moment she was born almost two years back.
“Papà,” she squealed and ran toward him in her pink pajamas, smiling as if nothing could have made her happier than seeing Seth at the door.
“Good morning, Princess. Wanna feed the Borgias with me?” Seth asked, lifting her small body high above his head.
Angelica gave a fervent nod, squeezing Seth’s neck as soon as he pulled her closer to his chest. “Eggs!”
“Yes, there will be smiling eggs for breakfast, if you want,” Seth said, walking past Giulia, who winked at him before retreating to her room.
It was their little tradition to feed the chickens together. Seth had made the enclosure for the birds himself, including their henhouse. Painted red and green, it was his pride and joy. There was nothing like knowing where your food came from and nourishing your loved ones with homegrown vegetables and eggs.
When they’d first moved in, he’d reclaimed a large section of the lawn around their new house to start a garden. It wasn’t much, but thanks to his hard work they did have their own herbs, tomatoes, and even a small lemon tree. Enclosed by a tall wall, with a pool near the terrace, it served as a secure paradise for their little family. Within those walls they were safe, even with so many guns stored in the underground vaults of the main.
Angelica excitedly threw some grain for the chickens, and Seth let her have fun with it before he topped up the feeders. Their little girl was soaking up information like a sponge, and even though she sometimes jumbled all the languages, making Seth worry whether Domenico’s plan was a good idea after all, she knew all the chickens by their Borgia family-inspired names, and was eager to learn any new skills. Just last week, she’d helped Seth make some of the Christmas ornaments for the tree. Granted, they were not as pretty as those done by an adult, but he was still amazed Angelica’s tiny fingers could produce anything that precise.
With Angelica following him wherever he went, Seth collected the day’s eggs and made his way to the garden where they sourced veg and fruit for breakfast. After eating a colorful plate of food laid out in the shape of a smiling face, Angelica went back to her own room to play with Giulia while Seth contemplated the sunshine with a Bloody Mary and then prepared breakfast for everyone else.
While technically a chore, it was pleasant to give Mark and Domenico a tasty start for the day. Both men were perfectly capable of making themselves toast and coffee, but they often came home at different times, so dinner together wasn’t always an option. In the unstable world they lived in, holding on to little traditions grounded Seth, and he wanted to offer that experience to the rest of his chosen family. Lively conversation and love expressed on a plate to start each day.
In the mornings he also felt most refreshed. It was when he tested the craziest recipe ideas and experimented. He baked pastries, all types of breads, made his own jams and pesto. After a failed delivery some time ago, he’d even learned to make his own ricotta—all in the peaceful morning hours when there was nothing to disturb him.
The kitchen was his space, and he’d decorated it very much the way his late mother had set up her own—with pans hanging off hooks, wooden baskets for produce, and warm hues everywhere. On the wall close to the dining table were family photos. Domenico, him, Angelica, Mark, Giulia. Even Dana was in one of the pictures, though sitting notably separate from everyone else.
Seth was glad she was working for Dom in Buenos Aires at the moment, because her presence never stopped giving him the creeps.
Before starting his work, Seth put on the T-shirt Domenico had gotten him as a joke some time ago, with Trophy Husband printed above a simple trophy. It would make the perfect outfit for their wedding anniversary. As soon as delicious scents filled the kitchen, Seth forgot all about being in Colombia and imagined this being their little slice of heaven somewhere on the outskirts of Palermo, or even back in their hometown. One could always dream.
He glanced toward the staircase when his ears picked up the sound of footsteps. Relaxed and rather loud, they were Mark’s, and Seth quickly turned toward the coffee machine to switch it on.
Mark was already dressed in his usual jeans and a linen shirt, which he’d taken to wearing soon after they’d settled into their new life in El Encanto. With each passing week, he reminded Seth more of Domenico, looking far too serious for his twenty years of age, and yet there was no point in voicing that observation, since Mark idolized everything Dom did. He was even growing out his hair, despite its texture being nothing like Domenico’s.
“What’s for breakfast?” he asked, lazily stepping into the kitchen and stretching his long body. In the past two years he’d transformed from a boy into a young man with a lean figure and tight muscles. He and Seth still trained together sometimes, but more often than not Mark was ‘busy’. Whatever that meant.
“I’m making croissants stuffed with scrambled eggs and chives, with some crispy bacon on the side.” Seth had long parted from Italian breakfast traditions, more in favor of coming up with his own combinations, half influenced by his time in New York, half by the recipes his mother had left him. On the days when he had no one to cook for, though, he’d still opt for a coffee and a brioche.
Mark made a fist pump with a childlike smile. It was in moments like these that his personality shone through the ‘professional’ face he put on around strangers. As if the silly, talkative teenager Seth and Domenico had picked up years ago was still in there somewhere, even if unwilling to come out often.
“Will you take a few photos for me when it’s all set up?” Seth could take some with his phone, or a digital camera, but Mark’s pictures always came out so much classier. The boy had an eye for catching the world around him, even if he didn’t dedicate that much time to this hobby anymore.
Mark looked up, taking an espresso cup from the cupboard. “Oh… I have lots of work to do. Maybe another time?”
Seth’s mood deflated slightly, but he nodded. Food couldn’t wait for ‘another time’. It would be ready today. ‘Another time’ would mean a different meal, but he couldn’t exactly grill Mark about it if Mark said he had ‘work’ to do. Seth would take some photos himself anyway. Wouldn’t be the first time or the last.
Since Domenico had insisted Seth didn’t have access to the internet for security reasons, he’d been toying with writing about food in the form of a blog offline. He couldn’t share it with anyone, but at least he had a log of ideas and recipes.
“Busy day ahead?” Seth asked as he broke egg after egg into a large bowl.
“It will be,” Domenico said, descending the stairs with the grace of a cat. Dressed almost identically to Mark, he was gorgeous with his sleek hair falling down his shoulders, all the way to the middle of his back. “But don’t worry, we have it all under control.”
Mark nodded, sipping his coffee while he started making another one for Domenico.
Seth smiled at Domenico from behind the counter. Years after they’d met, he still couldn’t get over Domenico’s charm and beauty. And today was special—their second wedding anniversary, which he intended to celebrate with his face buried deep in the long fresh-scented locks of hair. “You will be back for dinner, right?”
Mark snorted, taking a seat by the marble counter. “Depends what’s for dinner.”
“I wasn’t asking you.” Seth pulled Dom closer for a kiss, hoping he could broach the crossbow subject again now that Domenico was awake.
Domenico smiled at him and pressed his mint-scented lips to Seth’s. “Of course. I’ll be back early,” he said and accepted the espresso from Mark.
Seth grinned, wondering what Domenico had come up with for their anniversary, even though he’d be perfectly happy to have dinner together, with no interruptions, a dip in the pool maybe, and a long hard fuck or two to conclude the day. They lived together, they slept in one bed each night, but with obligations mounting on Domenico’s shoulders, it seemed like there was never enough time for them to just be together.
“The thing I wanted. When can I order?” Seth asked.
“New kitchen appliances? An olive tree?” Mark smirked behind the cup of coffee. His voice was innocent enough, but Seth knew his meaning. Big bad Mark now carried a gun, and worked as Domenico’s right-hand man, so he thought he had the right to mock Seth’s interests. He hadn’t been complaining when he’d gotten to eat the cake made with lemons from their garden.
“No. If you need to know, I’ll be buying a crossbow.”
Domenico frowned at him, looking confused as if he remembered nothing of their conversation a couple of hours back. “What the hell would you need a crossbow for?”
Seth groaned. “I want to learn to shoot one. It will come in handy when hunting.”
Mark laughed out loud. “Hunting? You barely leave the house.”
Domenico grabbed a few grapes off the bunch kept in the basket in the middle of the table and scowled at Seth, as if it was the sweetness of the fruit that offended him. “What’s up with you and hunting? We’re not in Europe. I don’t want you to end up as jaguar bait.”
Seth opened his lips, but Mark spoke first, with the stupid grin still on his face, wavy longish hair falling over his eyes. “I know what this is about! You’ve been bingeing that zombie series. You wanna be like Daryl.”
Seth rolled his eyes. “It’s just what made me think about this in the first place, but it’s a good idea. I wouldn’t be going off to the jungle before I learn to shoot it anyway. I was thinking of setting up a target in the garden.”
Domenico sat by the table with a low sigh and massaged his eyes. “Are you already bored of soap making?”
Seth poured the egg mixture into butter sizzling in the pan. “Yeah. You can always wash in a stream or something if the world crumbled, but it’s much harder to hunt with your bare hands.”
Mark helped himself to some grapes as well. “True. It takes effort to wrestle an alligator.”
Of course. One misstep, and he was always remembered as a failure, with Domenico cast as the hero in all of Mark’s stories. “You do know I pulled you away from all those teeth, right?” Seth raised his eyebrows and pulled on the gator tooth hanging from his neck. It had been a gift from Mark when he was still a grateful kid. At least the reminder shut up that impertinent mouth.
Domenico shook his head at Mark before leaning back in the chair to watch Seth by the stove. “It’s really unlikely that you’ll ever need to hunt for food in the jungle. If you absolutely need to learn some survival tactics, how about producing electricity or filtering water? There really aren’t any reasons for you to walk around with a weapon.”
Seth put the halved croissants into the oven to warm them up. “Mark does. And I will learn that other stuff too. I want to be self-sufficient.”
Mark snorted, and the sound boosted Seth’s cortisol levels so high all that remained in Seth’s head was the need to slap the ungrateful brat.
Domenico tapped his fingers on the table. “But … Mark needs to carry a gun. He doesn’t do it for fun, or because he’s bored.”
Seth stilled with the spatula buried in the creamy eggs. He was glad that he had his back to them, because he didn’t want them to see how much those words hurt him. He pulled out the croissants, stuffed them with egg, and then put them in front of Domenico and Mark, vigorously grinding fresh black pepper on top.
“Is this also my house, or not?” he asked harshly, and this time Mark chose to not engage with the question, taking lively interest in the bacon laid out in the middle of the table.
Domenico looked up, his amber eyes darkening slightly. “Of course it is.”
“Then get me the fucking crossbow, since it’s my money too!” Seth slammed the little bowl of chopped chives in front of them so hard, pieces of the herb sprinkled the table. He shouldn’t have been forced to ask about shit like this, as if Dom were doing him a favor. And yet his hands were tied, because he wasn’t allowed out of the property without a bodyguard, and even if he somehow managed to go behind Dom’s back and ordered the fucking thing at an internet café, he didn’t actually have the means to pay for it.
Domenico generally gave Seth cash whenever it was needed, but while happy to indulge Seth’s taste in clothes, media, and food, he did sometimes police his choices. Like that time when he’d ordered Seth a plain black T-shirt instead of the one with the band print Domenico had earlier called tasteless. To that day Domenico maintained it had been an honest mistake, but Seth couldn’t shake off the sense that he’d been lied to.
Domenico’s nostrils flared at Seth’s outburst, and even Mark kept his mouth shut for once, stuffing it with the fresh food that Seth had made for him instead. He’d even left out the chives, because Mark didn’t like them, but no one noticed, assuming it was Seth’s job to indulge them.
“Fine,” Domenico said in the end, but he didn’t look too happy. “But you can’t shoot it here. We’ll build a range for you.”
Seth took a deep breath in an attempt to cool off. He hadn’t meant to cause a scene, but whenever conversations like these came up, he lost it. Even on their anniversary, he was powerless to plan anything that went beyond the little enclosed world Domenico had created for him. And so, like last year, he would prepare an amazing meal and light candles he’d made himself. Candle making. Yet another hobby he’d quickly got bored of.
“Good,” he muttered and pulled out a plate with two small chocolate pastries. He’d considered not offering them dessert after the comments they’d made, but he’d have hated to see the food go to waste.
He poured himself a glass of wine and watched Mark and Dom eat in a vain attempt to chill out, because this wasn’t the wedding anniversary morning he’d planned.
“It’s delicious,” Mark said out of nowhere, as if he were trying to make up for his earlier comments.
Seth was about to put the glass to his lips when Domenico squeezed his knee under the table. “How about you drink that a bit later? I need you to trim my hair.”
Seth stilled with the glass in hand and leaned over to rub a few of the silky strands in his fingers. So long and thick, the black hair tickled his back when Dom fucked him, complemented Domenico’s beauty, and cutting it was painful every time. But Dom wouldn’t let anyone else close with a blade, so there would be no discussion about who had to be the hair executioner.
After the haircutting that had unexpectedly devolved into an argument, Seth turned to their home gym for relaxation, but hitting the sandbag in his boxing gloves over and over again was only getting him sweaty. He had everything he needed in their private paradise, so why was he always so restless? Why couldn’t he appreciate things for what they were?
Wasn’t he the one to ask for this in the first place? How could he be this ungrateful?
How dare he be bored when Mark and Domenico worked hard to provide them with comforts brought thanks to a steady stream of dirty money. It seemed that with each passing month he knew less about what Domenico did beyond the safety of their enclosed home. Seth not asking about it completed their silent agreement. What had been a relief at first, was now an itch at the back of his mind, making it impossible to ever fully relax.
At least the restlessness combined with too much time on his hands meant he was now in what he would immodestly describe as the best shape of his life. He’d turned thirty a few months back, and he was lean, fit, sporting muscles he trained heavily for. The energy inside of him was like a ticking time bomb. He loved gardening, and cooking, tending to his chickens, and playing with Angelica, but he also craved the thrill and excitement that he simply wasn’t getting.
It felt like being constantly horny yet never able to get off.
The big birthday had only forced him to confront thoughts about the future, and no matter how many cakes he baked, how many box sets he binged on, or how many hours he spent playing video games, he had no idea where his life was going, always floating in limbo.
Play with Angelica.
Find someone to chat to.
Fill endless hours with training.
Rinse and repeat.
Sometimes he didn’t even know what day of the week it was, because it all turned into one long, meaningless race to fill the time. Alone in the house, he liked to text Domenico, but he’d already done it twice today without receiving a single answer.
Today at least, he had a special evening to look forward to. To celebrate their anniversary, he would create a grand dinner extravaganza and fuck Dom senseless. They would take their time and talk about every little thing, reminisce about their younger years, and make promises for the future. Only in Domenico’s arms did the passing of time not matter.
He’d asked Giulia to keep to the nursery this evening, so that he and Dom could have some space to enjoy each other’s company without interruptions. Excitement heated his blood as time passed, and he was adamant about making everything perfect. He’d cut fresh flowers for the table, and the newly-baked lemon cupcakes—Domenico’s favorites—filled the whole house with tempting aromas that were bound to weaken Dom’s legs even before foreplay.
By the time the day was coming to an end, Seth had finished preparing a board of Italian meats and cheeses, and the main dish waited in the oven. Everything was ready for Domenico’s return, and once the sun started its descent, Seth settled into a wicker chair on the terrace outside to catch his husband as soon as he came home.
Knowing how much Dom liked him in a shirt, Seth made sure to wear one, with the sleeves rolled up to reveal muscular forearms, the top buttons open. He sipped some wine, winding down from all the cooking, and when Domenico’s usual arrival time was closing in, he could almost taste the familiar skin against his tongue.
Another hour passed, which was fine, even if undesired, since Domenico didn’t exactly do the typical nine-to-five job. But as the hour hand of the grandfather clock in their living room climbed the numbers, Seth’s mood turned gloomier.
He eventually got tired of waiting, so another glass of wine later, he made his way to the kitchen and took his time preparing food for the table. He arranged it. Then rearranged it. Made the setup opulent and overflowing, adding fruit and nuts, so that the whole table had the appearance of the mythical cornucopia.
It was about time to send Domenico another reminder that Seth was waiting for him, but he gave his husband a bit longer by taking photos of the finished setup. Maybe he could learn to photoshop it to perfection one day?
He sent Domenico yet another text message and transferred the photos to his laptop, but the subsequent glasses of wine distracted him from any editing work he might have done, and he drifted off to look through their private photos. Some didn’t include their faces, but even those spoke of happiness and the kind of intimacy Seth had never hoped for before meeting Domenico.
His entire body exploded with heat when his phone finally buzzed, but all and any excitement fizzled out the moment he read the laconic message, which stated, [Will be home late. Work.]
Seth leaned back in the chair, eyeing the opulent setup that had taken him the entire afternoon to prepare for a dinner that wouldn’t take place.
He’d thought Domenico hadn’t mentioned their anniversary in the morning because he wanted to surprise Seth somehow. But no. He must have simply forgotten about it.
There was no other explanation for this. For good reason. Busy with the life he led outside of this house, why would Domenico pay attention to petty bullshit like this? Still, it hurt. After all that they’d been through, and with Domenico being the one who had nagged for a wedding in the first place, Seth was being taken for granted. He’d considered the Trophy Husband T-shirt funny when he first got it, but it now created a sour taste in his mouth, and the unpleasant flavor needed washing down with much more than wine.
Rum was Seth’s next choice. The old photos still burned in his brain when he drank a shot. As the liquor started buzzing in his veins, Seth took his time disassembling the elaborate dinner, even though getting rid of each element made something inside him throb.
Domenico wouldn’t even know what he’d missed, and Seth wouldn’t show him just how much he’d craved to please. For all he cared, they didn’t need to mention the anniversary at all.
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