Hometown Hearts – Chapter 22

Hometown Hearts by M.L. Rhodes

Copyright 2018-2019 by M.L. Rhodes, All Rights Reserved

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Hometown Hearts by M.L. Rhodes
Hometown Hearts

One of the nurses came in to say Maddy would definitely be discharged tonight. But after she left, Maddy warned us it would probably take forever because that’s how it usually went. They’d have to wait for the doctor to give the order, and then there’d be paperwork and such. Kevin had already told the sheriff’s office he wouldn’t be back for the rest of his shift because he wanted to stay with her and take her home.

“Get out of here, you two. There are better places to hang out than at the hospital,” Maddy said.

Kevin nodded. “I’m not leaving her side. We’ll be fine. Go.”

So Jay and I left the hospital around nine-thirty.

We were mostly quiet on the drive back to Lodgepole. I wasn’t really sure why except that we were probably both tired. Our less-than-fabulous sleep last night, and virtually none the night before except for the few hours of napping we’d done on Christmas Eve day, had no doubt caught up to us. Plus, I suspected the emotional toll of worrying about Maddy, and for Jay, reliving what had happened to Grandpa Fred only a year ago, played a part, too. As my head settled back against the headrest in the passenger seat of Jay’s truck and the snow blowing into the headlights mesmerized me, I realized I was exhausted. Physically and emotionally.

My gaze slid over to Jay. I couldn’t see much in the dark except for what the dash lights highlighted, but from his profile, he looked wiped as well.

I reached across the console and rested my hand on his thigh, warm and firm beneath beneath my palm. Without saying a word, he settled his hand over mine.

When we got to Lodgepole I might have been half dozing because his voice startled me.

“Hey,” he said softly, squeezing my hand. 

“Sorry,” I said, blinking. “Did I fall asleep?”

“Maybe a little. It’s okay. It’s been a long day.”

I scrubbed a hand over my face. “It really has.”

“Do you want to go back to your folks’ house? We’re almost there.”


I’d turned my head to look at him, and when I said that, I saw him draw in a quick breath. 

He glanced at me. “No?”


He’d turned back to look at the road, but the tiniest hint of a smile played around his lips, and suddenly I wasn’t nearly as tired as I had been.

Ten minutes later we pulled into his driveway and the garage door slid open in front of us, offering a warm refuge from the dark, snowy night.

After we were in the house, Jay went to the kitchen while I sent my mom a quick text.

I’m staying with Jay tonight. Love you.

She responded right away: I thought you might. Love you, too, hon. And Jay.

That made me smile.

Jay stood in front of the fridge with the door open. I moved up behind him and wrapped my arms around his waist, pressing a kiss against the warm skin on the back of his neck.

I felt his shoulders relax, and heard the soft sound of his sigh. One of his hands curved over mine, where it rested on his abdomen.

“My mom said to tell you she loves you.”

I felt him smile. “I love her, too. Both your parents. They’ve always been good to me.”

“Because you’re part of our family. And because you have a beautiful soul, Jay Marshall.”

He drew in a shaky breath and released it. My words had made him emotional.

“Are…are you thirsty?” he asked. I knew he was trying to hide just how emotional he was. “Or hungry? We could find something to eat.”

I leaned around him to close the refrigerator door, then stepped back and turned him to face me. “Not right now.” I cupped his face between my hands and kissed him.

His arms curved around my waist, one hand coming to rest on my lower back, the other slowly sliding up and down my spine. He still tasted faintly of Coke and M&Ms, but mostly like…home. And love. And peace. All the things I didn’t realize for years I’d missed and craved, and now here they were, wrapped up in one six-foot-tall, warm, solid, Jay-shaped package that I didn’t ever want to live without again.

He took a step away from me and held out his hand.

I took it without question and followed him through the kitchen and living room to the stairs.

The open stairway led to the upper level of the house where a loft-like room overlooked the living area. Grandpa Fred used to use it as sort of a second-floor sitting room, with shelves filled with books and games. In the glow from a floor lamp that had been left on, I noticed Jay had turned it into an office. A large desk, which had both an iMac and a laptop on it, sat next to the window, alongside a comfortable-looking chair and ottoman. But the shelves were still there, filled with what looked like even more books, and probably the old board games we used to play. 

He led me past the master bedroom doorway to his old room, where he’d said he was still sleeping. The room where I’d spent so much time with him growing up. 

The lamp out in the office cast enough light across the hallway to be able to see the furniture in Jay’s room, including the same full-sized cherry sleigh bed I remembered from when we were young. Grandpa Fred had made it and I’d always thought it was seriously cool. 

But tonight I was less concerned about its craftsmanship and more about the man pulling me into his arms as we stood next to it. 

Jay picked up the kiss where we’d left off downstairs, burying his fingers in my hair as his tongue wreaked havoc in the best possible way on my senses. 

God, I couldn’t seem to get close enough to him. So I reached for the hem of his thermal shirt and eased it up over his torso. When he raised his arms to help, I lifted it over his head and tossed it away. 

He did the same to my shirt, and then in one smooth movement pulled me back against him. I moaned softly. He was so damned warm and I loved the feel of the hair on his chest gently grating against my nipples.  

I pressed against him, yet it still wasn’t quite enough. 

Jay seemed to be reading my mind because his hands moved to the front of my jeans and quickly and easily popped open the button and slid down the zipper. Then he was pushing them and my boxers down over my hips, getting them out of the way for the heat of his hand to curl around my cock.  When it did, when his fingers wrapped around me, I moaned again. 

He eased me down until I sat on the side of the bed, then sank to his knees in front of me. He pulled my pants and boxers off the rest of the way and pushed them aside on the floor. Then he was between my legs, cradling the back of my head and giving me a thorough, heated kiss on the mouth. When I was nearly breathless from it, he moved on, brushing kisses over my jaw, my neck, my collarbone. His tongue circled one of my nipples, then the other, before his warm lips trekked lower, down my abdomen, and then…unh!

As his mouth closed over my shaft, I kneaded his scalp with my fingers and sighed. 

I couldn’t even begin to describe how it felt to have his mouth on me, his tongue tracing circles around the head of my cock, the heat of his hand wrapped around the base of it, holding firmly. It was like…like a fantasy I might have had long ago, except staggeringly better.  Better because this was here and now. It was really happening and not just a daydream. Because we weren’t inexperienced teenagers fumbling around—we were grown men who knew exactly what we wanted. But mostly because I loved this man with all my being. 

When he pulled off my cock and kissed my mouth again, I tasted myself—the eager tang of salty desire—and it made me long to taste the same from him.

I nudged him to stand, then took my time unzipping his jeans, loving how his breath caught when I pushed the opened flaps apart and leaned in to press a kiss against the hot bulge still hidden behind his briefs. He rested a hand atop my head, not pushing for more, but clearly wanting it.

I eased his jeans down, leaving what I could now see were his dark boxer briefs in place. Once the bulky denim was out of the way I stroked him through the fabric, feeling him grow even harder still beneath my hand. I leaned in and kissed the firm bulge again.

The quiet huff that escaped him encouraged me to continue. 

I inched his briefs down until just the head of his cock was exposed. With my hands on his back, holding him close, I licked across the hot, exposed tip, swirling my tongue over and into his slit, tasting, as I’d wanted, the bead of moisture that had leaked free. When I drew the entire head into my mouth and gently sucked, his fingers curled into my hair and a soft, needy gasp escaped him.

With infinite care, I pulled his briefs down farther still, until he was fully exposed, and then I resumed my quest, tasting, stroking, gauging his reactions, listening to his breathing quicken, feeling when he tensed, when he trembled. 

“Jesus, Hunt,” he whispered.

I eased off him and looked up to find his chest rapidly rising and falling, and his gaze fixed on me.

“It feels like you’re reading every breath I take and responding in exactly the right way.”

A warm pulse shot through me at his words and I smiled.

“Come up here,” he rumbled. “I find myself desperately needing to kiss you some more.”

He pulled me to my feet and into a kiss that instantly rocked me to my core, his tongue hungrily delving into my mouth. I moaned and gave myself up to it, stroking his back, the warm, firm flesh of his ass, up his sides, tracing over his ribs. And he did the same. It was as if we still couldn’t get enough contact with one another, couldn’t touch enough, be close enough.

“Please, get these off me,” he begged, raggedly tearing his mouth free from mine long enough to say the words.

I knew he meant his jeans and underwear, which were still around his thighs, restricting him from moving. 

I helped him get them off, sliding them down his legs until he could step out of them. Once he had, he pulled me back into his arms and, at last, we were skin to skin with nothing in the way.

“I will never, ever get tired of this,” he rasped.

Neither would I. Not ever.

I sank onto the bed again, but this time I scooted all the way onto it, lying on my back, and pulled Jay with me, on top of me.

We both groaned because, damn

The heat of his body seared into me, rippling through my veins, making me ache with need but also sigh with sheer pleasure.

And yet, we didn’t do anything about it right away in spite of the fact, God knew, I was fully aroused and so was Jay. Instead, we continued to kiss, deeply but surprisingly unhurriedly, our tongues twining, each of us swallowing the soft moans the other made.

I loved kissing him in a way I’d never loved it with anyone else. I couldn’t figure out why, until I finally realized it was because it wasn’t about foreplay or leading up to sex, like kissing had always been with others. This was kissing for the sake of itself, because it felt so damned good all on its own. There was an honesty to it that I’d never experienced before, that created intimacy and closeness in a different way from sex. It’d been that way the first night we’d kissed as well, on the couch down in the living room. And I was loath to let that feeling go. 

Eventually, though, Jay pushed himself up on his arms and looked down at me. 

“Hi,” he said softly.


We both smiled.

“Am I squashing you?”

“No. I’m pretty damned comfortable, actually.”

He stole another kiss, then sucked on my lower lip for a second.

That small action sent a blaze of renewed desire through me, so I leaned up and kissed him, then did the same to him.

“Fuck,” he whispered.

“Mm-hmm. I know the feeling.”

“Every little thing with you is so…powerful,” he said. “Like all the small, delicate strokes in a painting that most people don’t notice are even there, but those little touches take the painting from looking flat and two-dimensional to being vividly three-dimensional and alive. Thats…that’s what it’s like with you.”

Somehow, I intuitively understood what he meant. It was similar to what my brain had been trying to process about kissing him—such a simple thing, and yet with him it had taken on all new depth and meaning.

“Every relationship I’ve ever had, or tried to have, I had this idea in my head of what I wanted, and I could never find it,” he said. “I tried, but none of them were…right. They were flat. And I didn’t know why. I assumed it was because I was confused about my sexuality, and that may have factored into it. But I think, after all this time, I finally see it.”

I brushed a hand over his bearded cheek. “What do you see?”

He turned into my caress and kissed my palm. “That none of them were you. Us. None of them had this connection we have.”

“That we’ve always had,” I whispered, understanding.

He nodded. “That we’ve always had. I think, subconsciously, I’ve always been waiting for you and nothing else, no one else, was ever going to be good enough.”

My chest tightened and I whispered my fingers over his lips. “I think I’ve been doing the same thing. For years. Trying to…pretend. Go through the motions. But it’s never been like this. Because it wasn’t you. I don’t want this to ever stop, Jay. This feeling.”

“Neither do I.”

“What you said earlier today, about me staying here, living here in the house with you…”

He nodded, watching me closely.

“If you meant it…yes. God, yes, I would love to live here with you.”

“Yeah?” he asked softly.

“Oh yeah.”

Almost before I could get the words out, he kissed me again, and it was so rife with gratitude it made my heart race. I kissed him back, trying to show him how grateful I was for him, too.    

This time things quickly grew heated. The kisses deepened. Our roving hands groped more urgently, until both of us were panting and our mutual need pressed hard and eagerly together.  

“Hunt,” Jay asked, his voice hoarse. “Are you okay with— Do you—?”

I understood what he wanted to know. “Yes.”

He lifted his head and a smile flickered across his lips. “You don’t even know what I was going to say.”

“Yes I do.”

“Maybe I was going to ask if you wanted a drink of water.”

I smiled. “No you weren’t.”

“No. I wasn’t.” He’d risen up on his knees, straddling my hips. He ran a palm down my chest. “Top or bottom? And can I just say, it’s weird to ask you that. We’ve known each other all our lives and I feel like I should already know this.”

“Well, since we’ve never found ourselves in this position before, there’s no reason either of us should know. And for the record…I like either. You?”

“Hmmm. You may be fine with either, but I suspect you have a preference. If you could choose—and be honest—which would it be?”

“You’re awfully demanding.” But I was still smiling.

“Fess up. Which is it?”

I bit my lip. Then admitted, “Bottom.”

He smiled now.

“You didn’t tell me what you prefer.”

He rolled me over onto my stomach, and I wrapped my arms around the pillow where my head lay. 

When I was comfortable, he leaned down and nuzzled my neck. “Either,” he said against my ear.

I laughed. “No. No fair. Which one would you choose over the other?”

His kisses trailed down my back, warm and damp, all the way to the base of my spine. Then I felt one of his fingertips trace down my crack, making me shiver. 

“I’ll give you one guess,” he murmured a second before his mouth followed the path of his finger.

Holy shit.

 I don’t think there was any part of my backside that Jay didn’t kiss or nuzzle or caress. My neck, shoulders, down my spine again, every rib, the globes of my ass, the insides of my thighs. He seemed particularly fond of my lower back right at the top of my crack, since he kept returning to it. Maybe because I trembled every time he did. 

And he was in no rush. His exploration was as unhurried as the kisses earlier. It was like…like he was revering me. Like everything he did was for the singular purpose of showing me how much he loved me. And I felt it. My heart and my body pulsed with that knowledge.

When I was trembling so much I begged him to fill me, he pulled me up onto my knees and did, with the same gentle intensity. 

Having him hot and hard inside me, stroking into me, his hands caressing my back, his softly murmured words of love and need rippling through me like tall grass blowing in a warm summer meadow, made my eyes sting with moisture. I couldn’t help it, couldn’t stop it. Didn’t want to. Because his every touch, his every thrust, his every word was again filled with something I’d never had before—love. In all my adult years as a gay man I’d had plenty of sex. But I’d never, ever been made love to. Until now.

When Jay pulled out of me and turned me over so we were face-to-face, he saw. And I didn’t care. I reached for him and drew him down into a kiss, so I could show him how much he meant to me. How much I loved him, too. He kissed my closed, damp eyes, my forehead, then my mouth again, even as I spread my legs to accommodate him. And when he pushed back into me, I sighed and held him tight. 

“I love you,” I whispered against this neck. “I love you so much, Jay.”

“I love you, too. I’ve always loved you. I always will.”

Click here to read Chapter 23!

Timeline for the remainder of the Hometown Hearts chapters can be found here.

Click here to read my original post from December 18th on how this book came about, why it’s serialized, and how this limited time serialization will work!

Author: mlrhodes

Author M.L. Rhodes writes bestselling m/m romance and fantasy novels. She's also a geek, an introvert, a night owl, a potter, and a damn fine margarita maker.

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