Kingscliff wasn’t like any safe house I imagined, not that I had a lot of experience in safe houses, but it certainly wasn’t a small cabin in the forest, or a farm in rural Tennessee.
It was a Cape Cod mansion, strong and proud and very white, with a collection of outbuildings, dug deep into the rocky coast of Maine. Close to the border with Canada, the place had been home to Ben and me for two weeks now. The glistening waters of Cliff Creek were visible from the vast deck at the front of the house, the rear of the place backed onto forest, and the only way in to the complex was down a private road that was blink-and-you-miss-it small and hidden from the main road. The mansion even had its own private beach, a mix of sand and stones that led to the rolling waters of an enticing ocean. In practical terms it needed a shit ton of work, which is what I was currently in charge of.
Some change from being an accountant to mustering the trades who were working on finishing the job. All had been through security—it was a team that Sanctuary put in place—and all I had to do was make sure things were completed to the complicated specifications which included so much security I suspect not even the tiniest bug could get in unannounced once it was done.
Ultimately Kingscliff was planned to be a safe house for Sanctuary; a specific rehabilitation and re-homing site for stolen kids and their families who’d been destroyed and pulled apart by trafficking. With dormitories, quiet rooms, family accommodation, and best of all, classrooms. Still, it was a long way off from being there.
For me and Ben, this was our new home.
Plus, Ethan of course.
The three of us were a family in the making.
Ethan and his new Shadow Team were in a separate building, a mini fortress a quarter mile from Kingscliff, built into the rocks near the horseshoe bay. Once an indoor swimming pool complex that had been a gilded age marvel, the space had been repurposed at speed, although the fact that Ethan’s office was in the former deep end of the main pool intrigued me. Two of his office walls were tile, and the other two smokey glass, and the entire set up was wired for anything, with banks of monitors, a gym, accommodation… it was an action hero’s lair and I never let Ethan forget that he was turning into Batman. Sanctuary’s priority was to get it up and running for the new team, but Jake and his foundation had also pushed an equally enormous amount of cash at getting Kingscliff habitable and ready to go. Dormitories and classrooms filled the second floor, a huge kitchen covered a quarter of the first, there were breakout rooms, extensive security, and my favorite place, classrooms. Two of them.
Ultimately, Ethan and I were going to share a room on the top floor of Kingscliff, Ben right next door, but the work needed to make those two rooms habitable was extensive, and standing in the middle of what would be Ben’s room I was suddenly overwhelmed with the work we had to do. All the contractors had gone home now, Ben was down in the kitchen with a couple of the kids who we hadn’t managed to connect with families yet, and I was completely alone, and for the briefest moment it all felt too much. Ben and I were currently living in one side of the empty dormitories, and Ethan was staying over in the Swimming Pool complex trying to finish the place, but that meant alone time with a frustratingly busy Ethan was rare and we’d been here two weeks.
I felt alone, and lonely in the worst kind of way, and then felt stupid because I was letting everything get to me. Particularly as Ben had started at a local school this week, so even my days were just me on my own.
I missed Ben, but he loved his school.
I missed Ethan, but he had work to do. Hurried kisses, promises of more, and exchanging I love you’s was one thing, but actual time together with Ethan—alone—wasn’t happening.
“Twenty-three,” Ethan said from behind me, and I whirled to face him, smiling already and my heart swelling in my chest.
“Twenty-three what?” I asked, as he came toward me and kissed me, my toes curling. I wished to hell I didn’t have a roller in my hand and wasn’t covered in paint so that I could get closer.
“Twenty-three rooms. In this place,” he said as he pressed his lips to the end of my nose.
He kissed me again. “I got turned around on the middle floor so I may have lost count.”
I bent to place the roller in the stand and yanked off my paint splattered T-shirt, Ethan’s eyes widening before I stepped back into his arms. “I thought you were an expert in navigation.”
“Nope,” he said with a grin, and pulled me closer, running his hands down my bare back, and then resting them on my hips. “That would be Luca. But you know what?” He paused, and kissed me, and I carded my hands through his thick hair, tugging him close so we deepened the kiss. The question he’d asked was lost for a while in connecting with the man I loved.
“What?” I asked when we paused to catch our breath, both hard, both needing more.
“Huh?” Ethan seemed dazed.
I did that. I made strong silent sexy Ethan go like that, just by kissing him.
Clearly I have superpowers.
“You said, guess what, which implies you have a question you want me to answer,” I reminded him, and he smiled then, walking me back to the door and shutting it firmly and leaning there, with me trapped between one hard wood and another.
“It wasn’t a question, more like a jokey thing.”
“Go on then.”
He waggled his eyebrows theatrically. “Well, you see, I don’t need to be an expert in navigation to know my way around your body,” he finished with a grin.
I liked that sentiment.
No, I loved it and craved it.
He unzipped my paint splattered jeans, as I yanked at his belt, and then we tore of clothes in a flurry of motion in this vast room that smelled of paint. With a ladder wedged up under the door, he grabbed painting cloths and piled them up before tumbling us both down onto them. Even piled up they weren’t exactly a mattress, but if we didn’t mind paint in interesting places we’d be good—and who cared about paint when I had Ethan in my arms? We spent so long kissing and rubbing and loving each other I thought I might come just from that alone, but Ethan rolled me onto my back, his breathing heavy.
“No. I want to taste you.” He kissed his way from my chest down, “I miss you; I love you.” He was frustratingly slow, his hair a whisper on my skin, “I miss you.” His fingers traced the path that he followed with his tongue. “I love you.”
I wanted to repeat his words, but I was too busy sinking into a space where it was kisses, and touches, and I carded my hands in his hair as he swallowed me down. I was going to lose myself embarrassingly fast and I wanted my hands on him, needed him inside me, wished to hell we were in a cozy bed with condoms and lube. He pressed his fingers against me, and it was game over—I didn’t even have time to warn him, and kissed back up my body until he was close enough that I could wrap my hand around him, and I twisted my fingers, and kissed him, and loved him.
All too soon we were a panting, laughing, mess on the drop cloths.
“I love you,” I murmured, staring up at the ceiling, our fingers laced together as we lay side by side.
He rolled up so he could see me. “I love you, too.”
The beautiful man I'd been so drawn to in that bar, was right here in my life, kissing me, loving me, making me his.
And it was perfect.