City Knight 04 - Knights Out (CMS) (MM) (4 page)


The house was nice.
A simple brick three bedroom, two bath, fifties style structure. He was willing to bet it had been gutted and renovated and was homey as hell. A bike in the front yard, hedges nicely trimmed. In one of the neighborhoods that had already made it over the hump of gentrification. Funny, Marcus thought, that it was in what was considered a relatively “gay” area.

He and Benjamin sat in the Jeep across the street
. Neither said a word, and Marcus knew it was killing his Benjamin to not ask him a million questions, not demand to know when he was going to get out and walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell. When he was going to grow a set of balls and say hello to his brother.

Before Benjamin exploded, Marcus reached over and laid a hand on this thigh. “I just need to see him first. I know you probably thin
k I am six kinds of chickenshit, but—“

, you stop it right now. Yeah, I want to see the Prater brother that’s closer in age to me, and see if maybe there’s a possibility of something there. You know, Marcus, you do tend to get yourself banged up quite a bit, and if Frankie shows any interest, well…”

Marcus knew he was being fucked with, but it still made him come out of his seat and over the console. He got in Benjamin’s face and growled, snarled, “Mine.
Benjamin, nobody touches you again.” The heat of Benjamin’s body, and the hardness of his erection in his jeans—his hands landed right on it—made Marcus crazy. The thought of stripping him and taking him right then and there, marking him was so overwhelming Marcus had to steady his hands and stop. Instead, he latched on to Benjamin’s neck and bit down, sucking hard.

“Fucking hell, Marcus.
What’s gotten into you, you fucking caveman? I’m not going anywhere.” Benjamin pushed him hard, back over the console and into his own seat. “Now, what the fuck’s going on with you?” Marcus felt suddenly shy, but couldn’t help the little swell of satisfaction at the bruise on Benjamin’s neck. The truth was, he was a little vulnerable ever since the shooting. He knew—knew to his bones—that Benjamin was his, that Chance and Wick, Zack and Archer would never leave him, that this was his family. But he’d lost one family, and he didn’t know if he could stand to lose another.

Something must have shown on his face, revealing his feelings, because Benjamin suddenly reached across the distance and grabbed his hand. “
Hey, Marcus, look at me.” He reluctantly turned, his eyes down. But he could feel Benjamin’s gaze on him, and the silence soon made him surrender and look up. “I’m yours.
Understand? I’m not leaving until you make me. And then, it’s gonna be a fight. We can see Frankie, or we can drive off right now and never talk about this again. But, baby, I’m yours.”

Not trusting himself to speak, Marcus squeezed Benjamin’s hand and raised it to his lips to drop a soft kiss on his knuckles before releasing it and turning in the seat to turn the ignition on. He reached across his body for the seat belt, and looked up. Standing in the driveway, right across from him, was a man. Tall, dark hair cut high and tight.
Solid build, with muscles stretching his DeKalb PD T-shirt as he carried a little girl on his hip and held a boy’s hand. It was like looking into a mirror. And those blue eyes. Which at the moment were locked on his.

Through the white noise that threatened to blow the top of his head off, he heard Benjamin.
“Holy fuck, Marcus. That’s not your little brother. That’s

The chuckle that escaped his lips sounded normal, Marcus hoped.
“Um, yeah. I might have forgotten to mention we kind of look alike.”

He didn’t expect the hard thump to the back of his head. “Alike? You could be fucking twins.
And Marcus, babe? Your brother sees you. And it looks like he thinks he’s seeing a ghost. How do you want to play this? You know I have your back. Well, and your front, and you—“

“Okay, you can stop babbling now.” Marcus let go of the seatbelt and reached for the
door latch. “When your mouth starts running like that, I know I better do something.”

“Hey, fuck you too.” Benjamin turned and he could feel the grin aimed at him. “I resent that.”

“You’ll live.” Marcus opened the door and started to get out. His gaze was still locked with Frankie’s, and he could see his brother answering questions from the kids he held. “I’m going to go say hello.” As he stood and closed the door, Marcus started to cross the street, and was surprised to feel Benjamin lace fingers with him. “What are you doing here? Go wait in the truck.”

Pressure on his fingers
as Benjamin tightened his grip almost made Marcus drop to his knees. “Not one chance in hell of that, lover. Now, I’ll smile and keep my mouth shut, but your happy ass isn’t going anywhere without me. You are mine, remember? And fuck it all to hell, I’m yours.”

He stumbled, but looked sideways for one brief moment. He loved this man, so damned much. “Mine,” he agreed.

Then the pair of them were at the base of the driveway, ten yards or so from his brother. Marcus stopped and waited, not sure for what, but it felt like the right thing to do after all these years. No, he thought, that was a lie. The right thing to do would be to run up and grab Frankie and hug him until they had to be pried apart. But that wasn’t what Praters did.

“Daddy.” The little boy finally broke the silence. “That man looks like you. Who is he?”

Wasn’t that the million dollar question?
Please, don’t deny me. Don’t tell that little boy you don’t know me.

Marcus watched as Frankie gave a little jolt, then crouched next to the boy and
pointed. “Marcus, that’s your uncle, my brother. His name is Marcus too. Would you like to go say hello to him?”

His knees almost gave out, and it was only by leaning on Benjamin that he was able to stand. Benjamin pulled him forward a few steps, then released his hand and stepped up to Frankie. The kid—
Marcus! He named him after me
—dropped his dad’s hand and shyly walked the small distance to stand looking up at Marcus.

He dropped to one knee, not knowing what to do. Should he offer a handshake?
Fist bump him? What the—oh, yes, that’s good, he thought, as two small arms were wound around his neck. His arms automatically went to wrap the kid—his nephew—in a hug. He closed his eyes, and breathed in the smell of little boy. Sweat, dirt, sunshine, and something that was…home.

After a moment, the boy pulled away and stood looking at him.
“Hi, Uncle Marcus. That’s my name too. I didn’t know I had an uncle. And you are Daddy’s brother? I wish I had a brother, but I got a sister instead. She’s okay, but I really wanted a little brother.”

Marcus had to laugh at that. “I was the same way, kid. I wanted a little brother, but look what I got. I got your dad. He’s not so little
anymore, is he?” Nervously, he glanced up and prayed that the little spark of hope he felt at being allowed to see his nephew, at holding the boy named after him, would stay alive for just a little bit longer.

What he saw…his brother had tears in his eyes. “No,” the familiar voice was raspy, “I think my big brother just didn’t eat his vegetables. I told you, Marcus, eat those beans and salad and you’ll grow big, like me.”

Marcus’s heart beat so fast and hard he thought he was going to pass out. The air crackled with emotion between the two brothers, but neither knew how to take that first step. And thank God, his Benjamin was there. “Yeah, Marcus. I can’t get this big clown to eat anything green. All he wants is barbeque brats and onion rings. Imagine what he would look like if he ate what I told him to. Well, that and stayed out of the way of bullets.”

Both Marcus’s eyes went wide. Uncle Marcus wanted to strangle the big-mouthed asshole. And little Marcus was full of questions about who Benjamin was and what did he mean about bullets and was he a cop like his daddy.

It was Frankie who took over, though. “Marcus, that’s enough, son. It’s time to go in and wash your hands and get ready for dinner.” He looked at his brother, and Marcus recognized the glint of hope there, matching his own. “Maybe your uncle and his friend would like to come in and have supper with us. What do you think, Amanda? Would you and your brother like that?” The little girl on his hip nodded, burying her head in Frankie’s neck.

Little Marcus
did a little dance, looking for all the world like he needed to pee. “Yeah, Uncle Marcus. Please, please,
say you will.”

Marcus turned to Benjamin, who
had a shit-eating grin plastered on his face. What could he say? “Yeah, kid, as long as I don’t have to eat beans.”


Later that night, Ben laid in bed reading while Marcus took a shower. He was dying to know what the brothers had talked about, but Marcus was tightlipped all the way home. Dinner with the kids was terrific. Ben had taken them to the den to give the two guys time to themselves. The gobsmacked look never completely left Frankie’s face, but after the two had a chance to spend some time together in the kitchen alone while Frankie put together some dinner, he looked…troubled but happy.

The water cut off, and in a few moments Marcus made his way into the bedroom, naked and toweling off his hair. God, but the man was a work of art. Yes, there were scars and blemishes and his hair was beginning to show traces of silver, but Marcus was mesmerizing. “I can feel you looking at me, you know.”

Hitting the button that powered down his e-reader, Ben tossed it onto the nightstand. “Come over here, and you can feel more than my eyes worshipping all that…fuck, man. It’s a crime you have to wear clothes.”

Marcus threw back his head and laughed. “I am
letting you go. You are so good for my ego.”

“And you are good for my ass. And cock. Now get your sexy self in bed and talk to me.”

Tossing the wet towel back toward the bathroom, Marcus stood with his hand on his hips and grinned. “Talk? You get all smexy with me and then all you want to do is talk?”

Ben felt his jaw drop.
“Smexy? Marcus, there is no way in hell you know what smexy means. What have you been doing, watching America’s Next Top Model again?”

The blush that worked its way up Marcus’s neck and face was a wonder to behold. He mumbled something, then at Ben’s upraised eyebrow, sighed. “They have women and men on it this season, and honest to God, Benjamin, there are a couple of the guys on there that…well, you aren’t allowed to watch the show, let’s just leave it at that. I’d hate to have to lock you in the townhouse all day.”

Ben felt the grin on his face widen. “Oh, yeah? And why would that be?”

Marcus sat on the edge of the bed,
clicked the lamp off and lay down, flipping the sheet over his hips. “Simple. That Tyra woman would want you to fly away to Los Angeles and be on her show, and they would have you in those tiny silk boxer shorts for everyone to see, and make you pose all bent over and showing your junk off and I would have to shoot everyone there and then they would arrest me and I would go to jail and nobody would be here to take care of you. So, see, if you just keep your clothes on and nobody sees you then nobody gets hurt.”

He had no idea his man’s mind worked like that. It was fucking amazing. “You are a freak. I swear to God, the more
you talk the harder I get, and I want to hear what Frankie had to say before you fuck my brains into Jell-O.”

All the humor seemed to bleed out of Marcus, and Ben could feel him deflate. He reached over and linked his fingers with Marcus’s and waited. After a long moment and a couple of deep breaths, Marcus spoke. “My parents told Frankie I was shot and killed.”

Oh. Ben knew the hurt, the evil that parents could inflict on their children, but this, this was unforgivable. His parents had kicked him out, cut him off from all contact with his family, and never spoke to him again. Ben was eighteen, and at the time considered himself strong. He was already enrolled in college, and while it was a pain in the ass to scramble around to rearrange his funding since the fuckers yanked their money at the last moment, he did it. But Marcus? Who could do that to him? And then to Frankie too? To tell him he was dead?

Before he could say anything, Marcus plowed on. “He got my letter, and couldn’t get my parents to answer any other questions. Then, when he got back to the states, he demanded answers. They told him I was killed in a robbery and they didn’t want to ‘upset’ him while he was deployed. He wanted to go to my grave and they told him I was cremated and my ashes scattered.”

He was doing this way too much lately. Too many people had hurt his lover, and he reached up and brushed wetness from Marcus’s eyes.

“And to top it all off, they
guilted Vanessa into backing up their nonsense. They told her the same bullshit story about me being dead so she fell for it hook, line and sinker, so when he felt it was his duty to marry her and make sure she had a good life, their whole God forsaken plan fell right into place. Oh, and since he looks so much like me and she still carried a bit of a torch for me, it seems, everyone was…happy. So she married him, had two kids, and went on with the lies. So many lies…”


“No, it’s okay. Just, I thought, see, here’s the thing. They can hurt me all they want, you know? But let it stop there. But they didn’t. You see? They tried to ruin Frankie’s life, and they used Vanessa. Then there are the kids, and they almost did it. But the lies came out.” Marcus turned on his side to face me. “Vanessa couldn’t take the lies anymore, and she told him last year. All of it. How I told her years ago I liked guys, and how we got married anyway until I couldn’t do it anymore. He asked our parents, and they denied it, of course, until he told them he was leaving and taking the kids and he was divorcing Vanessa. Evidently it went badly. Something about ungrateful kids, all that shit.”

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