Gage’s feet slid out of the stirrups and he lowered his legs. He rested them on Ted’s lap and stretched. “You’re a sweet guy, Ted.” He had to admit he enjoyed being naked there with Ted, who still looked so much like Prince Harry it was hard to believe they weren’t twins like he and his brother, Luis. “Did anyone ever tell you how much you look like Prince Harry?” He lifted his foot and ran his toes across Ted’s lean abdomen.

Ted laughed. “All the time. You have no idea how annoying it is to look so much like someone else. I’ve even been stopped in airports.”

Gage smiled. He removed his foot from Ted’s stomach and sat up. If Ted only knew how well Gage understood this. “I have to get dressed now and go back home. Jase will be back with Hunter.” He felt a weird burn on his stomach and he wasn’t even sure why. It wasn’t because he felt guilty about cheating on Donny Vitelli with Ted. He and Donny didn’t have any real commitment, and Gage was starting to realize their relationship had run its course anyway. And it wasn’t because he felt guilty about cheating on Jase with Ted. Jase wasn’t his lover or partner, and Gage wasn’t even attracted to Jase.

He climbed off the bed and reached for Luis’s white shirt. He looked around on the floor for the ankle bracelet but didn’t see it. He must have lost it at Cider Mill Farm. When he reached for his pants on the floor, he lifted them upside down and the contents of his back pockets fell onto Ted’s hardwood, wide-planked floor. Luis’s cash fell out and two small pieces of paper. Gage hadn’t spent much of Luis’s money on anything, and the one small piece of paper made him sigh out loud. This was the piece of paper on which the taxi driver had written his telephone address and telephone number. Until then, it hadn’t occurred to Gage how much he remembered about the dark, handsome taxi driver. He didn’t even know the guy’s name until he picked the piece of paper up and looked down at it. Above the address and phone number it read, “Daksha.” This was the first time Gage had actually read the piece of paper and noticed the guy’s name. He’d been carrying it around in his back pocket since the night he’d kidnapped his twin brother and wasn’t even sure why he still had it. The name Daksha sounded like it was from India•

By that time, Ted was up and walking around—even when he walked, it looked as if he were sprinting on the balls of his feet. He’d removed the condom and he was holding his blue plaid boxer shorts in his hands. “You okay?” he asked.

“I’m curious,” Gage said. Ted seemed so smart he figured he’d ask. “What kind of a name is Daksha?” He quickly shoved the small piece of paper back into Luis’s jeans.

“I think it’s from India,” Ted said. “Why do you ask?”

Gage shrugged and fastened his pants. “Just curious, no reason. I heard it the other day and couldn’t get it out of my mind.”

“I think it means brilliant,” Ted said. “I had a student from India once with the same name.”

Gage sat down on a small chair and put on his socks and shoes. “It’s really a nice name, isn’t it? It has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?”

Ted shrugged and said, “I guess. I never really thought much about it.”

After that, Gage didn’t mention Daksha again. But he couldn’t stop thinking about him. He even repeated the name aloud a few times as he walked back to Cider Mill Farm, allowing the name to roll off the tip of his tongue. Though he’d just enjoyed himself with Ted, it wouldn’t be one of his fondest memories. He couldn’t stop thinking about the way Daksha had made him feel that night in the taxi. And it hadn’t been just the sex. It was the way Daksha had looked him in the eye, as if Daksha had been able to read his innermost thoughts. Ted, sweet as he was, hadn’t done this.

Daksha could have been insulted when Gage wouldn’t give him his name. But Daksha hadn’t pushed him. No one had ever made Gage feel this way before, not even his first lover, Snake. And the saddest part of all: Gage knew he had screwed things up by kidnapping his twin brother he knew he’d never have a future with anyone, especially not a decent guy like Daksha.

Chapter Thirteen

On Sunday, it rained all day. It wasn’t a heavy rain, just a light, constant drizzle that never stopped. It was colder, too. Hunter couldn’t go outside and play with his best friend—a kid named Justin who also lived in New York with his two gay fathers and came out to Bucks County on the weekends—and Jase couldn’t putter outside to relieve his sexual frustrations because Gage still wouldn’t have sex with him. He’d tried climbing on top of Gage early on Sunday morning, but Gage politely pushed him off and coughed a few times. Then Gage climbed out of bed, went into the bathroom, and pretended to take aspirin to relieve the quasi-congestion in his head.

While he was in the bathroom, Jase said, “I found a diamond bracelet on the floor last night. Is it yours?”

So the ankle bracelet had fallen off in the bedroom. He hated bracelets of any kind for this reason. “Yes, it’s mine. I’ve had it for ages. I usually don’t wear it because it falls off all the time. Just leave it on the nightstand. I’ll get it when I come out.” At least he hadn’t lost the ankle bracelet. He was planning to put it in his pocket and return it to Donny Vitelli. It was much too expensive to keep, especially since he was planning to stop seeing Donny when he returned to New York and sorted out his affairs with Luis. He was beginning to realize the affair with Donny had run its course. Donny the cop would never come out of the closet and Gage wanted more from a partner. He wanted what Luis had: a real life, with a real husband. He wasn’t going to settle for less. He even thought about calling the taxi driver whom he’d slept with on Thursday night. Daksha. Gage couldn’t stop thinking about his brown eyes. But he wasn’t sure about that yet. He didn’t want to get into another dead-end relationship.

Gage spent the rest of the day lounging in the family room at Cider Mill Farm beneath a thick comforter. Jase kept checking his forehead for a fever and looking at his eyes because he wasn’t feeling well; he even brought him hot chicken soup on a tray for lunch. Hunter kept brining him glasses of orange juice and individually wrapped cough drops from the time Hunter had been sick.

When Gage saw how much Hunter and Jase loved Luis, and he realized they would have done anything for Luis, he really did start to feel ill. Each time Hunter frowned and asked him how he felt, Gage’s stomach turned. Each time Jase offered to take his temperature, Gage’s chest caved in. When Gage had kidnapped Luis, he thought he was just getting even with his competitive twin brother for all the nasty, snarky things Luis had done to him in the past. But now he realized he was hurting two very nice people, Hunter and Jase. Copyright 2016 - 2023