If you’ve read His Premier, then you know the special bond that Colin shares with Jackie and, after asking in the readers group, I think we’re all curious how that plays out in his relationship with Arnaud.
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The room was still blessedly dark when his opened his eyes. Mornings after were like having a hangover on steroids and the last thing he needed was sunlight. The episodes were bad enough, the way they left him weak was embarrassing as fuck, but feeling like he’d been put through the meat grinder was the final insult. His head pounded, his body ached, even thinking hurt. The only thing that saved him from groaning aloud was the warmth surrounding him.
Despite the anticipation of pain, Jackie took a deep breath and smiled. He’d know that particular combination of cologne and fabric softener anywhere. With an unmanly whimper, he burrowed deeper and sent up a silent prayer of thanks for Colin Sinclair. The bestest friend and strongest arms a fucked up bastard like him could ask for. And like the miracle that was the man who rescued him from his demons, those arms tightened as if they knew exactly what he needed.
Lulled in the cradle of Colin’s shelter, Jackie drifted back toward unconsciousness and barely registered the unfamiliar movement at his front. Lethargy pulled him toward the abyss, but his instincts went on high alert when a long arm slung over his hip and another body cuddled in close.
“Col.” The soft murmur was followed by an equally soft nuzzle against his throat and then the body settled just as content as he’d been moments early.
Unlike their unexpected bed partner, Jackie was now wide awake and frozen in place as he frantically racked his brain for an explanation. If he were in Saul’s bed, an additional body or two would be natural and welcome. On more than one occasion, he’d enjoyed the benefits of what the boys called a puppy pile. That was fine there, but not here because never once had there been another person in Colin’s bed.
Had he interrupted a date with…what was his name? Damn it! He knew the man, liked him…Jackie was sure of it. The aftermath was a scary place with big gaping holes where new information was just out of reach. Colin’s new boyfriend seemed to have fallen into one of those gaps and, worse, he was going to wake up to find himself snuggling with someone other than his lover.
“Did anyone ever tell you that you think too loud?” The sleepy voice was smoother than Colin’s gravelly morning pitch and the soft lips moving against the column of this throat were fuller than the ones not quite pressed to the back of his neck. Fucking hell, he was trapped in an intimate clusterfuck and couldn’t even remember the guy’s name! “Jackie?”
“Huh?” The sound was pathetic. He was pathetic.
The body before him expanded with a sigh and, without any logical reason for it, a hand curled gently around his wrist and dragged his own trapped arm forward until they were hugging. With a little wiggle, whatever-his-name-was brought them even closer and Colin seemed to instinctively respond until they were tangled up around him. Despite his confusion, it felt so good that Jackie had to bite back an inappropriate groan. There was nothing sexual between him and Colin, and he didn’t want his guy to think otherwise.
“Is this okay?”
Okay compared to what? Jackie hadn’t been okay in so long that he didn’t know how to answer. “Uhm. I think I should…you guys weren’t having sex, were you? Please tell me I didn’t interrupt.”
A hand patted his hip in what was probably meant to be a reassuring gesture and that smooth voice promised, “No worries there, man.”
But he was worried. If his needs impacted Colin’s relationship, he would hate himself. “That doesn’t answer my question.”
“I suppose I could tell you that I covered your bestie with cum about an hour before you needed him, but really…wouldn’t that be TMI?”
“Did you seriously just say that?” It was the last thing he was expecting. Well, no, having the guy cuddle him was the last.
“Arnaud doesn’t say anything serious in the middle of the night,” Colin grumbled at his back. “Why are we talking? Can’t you guys see I’m trying to sleep?”
Arnaud. Whew. Now he had a name and with it came memories. Good ones that meant he’d been right, he did like Arnaud too much to let this awkward moment drag on. “Uh, Colin, I don’t think…or rather, I do think this is probably weirding your man out. I should go back to my room.”
With something of a huff, Arnaud gave up the crook of his neck and peered at him in the dark. “Seems to me the only one weirded out is you.”
Could that that true? After all, Kyle and Javier had always been welcoming. But they were his friends, they worried about him and encouraged Saul’s help. Even if Colin explained things to his boyfriend, that didn’t mean Arnaud wanted to have to deal with his issues. “Arnaud…”
“Jackie,” Arnaud mimicked. “Do you really want to give up this warm cocoon because you think I should be freaked out? Because I promise you, I’m not. If you need Colin, I’m happy to share him and if you’ll let me, I’ll be there for you too.”
That seemed like too much to ask of someone he barely knew. “Why?”
“The short, middle of the night answer is that Colin loves you, he worries about you, and I would never ever ask him to stop being there for you.” Arnaud paused and by the angle of his head, Jackie knew he was looking at Colin behind him. That was so fucking strange and he still didn’t move. Truth was, he didn’t want to leave their warm cocoon, especially if the issue was only in his head. “You will always have this spot in our bed, Jackie. Always.”
With that, Arnaud resumed his cuddling and Colin responded in kind. That left him sandwiched between two warm welcoming bodies. It still wasn’t sexual, would never be, but it felt so good that he wanted to accept that response at face value. Could it be that simple?
“You’re still thinking,” Arnaud admonished a few minutes later. “Do you know how grumpy he is when he doesn’t get enough sleep?”
“He never gets enough sleep,” Jackie countered. At least, that used to be the case. Before Arnaud, Colin rarely slept. He’d doze on the couch, in his chauffeured car, or holding Jackie through
his nightmares…but real sleep hadn’t come easily at all to his friend.
“Neither do you,” Colin reminded.
“Well, I’m here now and I require a solid eight,” Arnaud declared. “I can do that here or, if you two chatty cathy’s insist on blathering away, I’ll go take your empty bed.”
His immediate denial was drowned out by Colin’s and Jackie could feel Arnaud shaking with laughter. “You think you won something.”
“I know I did.” Arnaud’s response was smug and Jackie let himself drift with that for a while.
Somewhere along the way, Arnaud’s even breathing and Colin’s steady heartbeat lulled him back toward sleep. He didn’t think it possible, not with his mind racing and self-protective instincts engaged. But the next thing he knew, the sun was shining through the slatted blinds and someone was trying to wrestle the blanket away from him.
“Hey, I said I would share my man, not my blanket.” Arnaud was draped over his shoulder glaring at him through bleary eyes. “Either roll and share, or give it back.”
Half asleep, Jackie rolled and shared. He was so content that it took him several minutes to realize Colin was no longer with them. When he opened his eyes again, Arnaud was watching him as if he knew this might cause a freak out. That made him press pause and take stock of himself. Was he actually freaked out or just reacting to what he thought Arnaud should be feeling? The answer really was simple.
Grateful and a little sheepish, he offered, “Sorry about your blanket.”
With a brilliant smile, Arnaud promised, “If it happens again, I’ll put a pillow over your face.”
“Aww, I knew you guys would love each other.” Colin laughed from the doorway, his arms ladened with a coffee tray. “Now make room for me.”
God help him, but he was a lucky fuck.