Running his hand over the sheet, Patrick hated the way he could feel a line where the warmth stopped and cold took over. It had him wondering how long Dale might have been up for it to have lost all the heat they had put into it the night before.
Usually Patrick was the first up: making breakfast on the small woodstove in the corner of the room after ensuring that the bar downstairs was cleaned and tidy and stocked. He didn’t bother the women that had rooms there. They ran their own affairs and he was glad to leave them to it. They had a habit of teasing him in a way that he’d never found funny. So he only had the boss to worry about. Not that Dale had ever once asked him to tend to him or feed him or even live with him. It had just sort of happened.
Patrick rolled over, groaning a little at the way his body ached. There had been a scuffle at the bar the night before and somehow Patrick had ended up being the one to break it up. Things used to be a lot easier when Malcolm, the deputy, lived in the saloon. It wasn’t as if he was living that far away now but it was far enough that Patrick had to deal with things himself on a more regular basis.
Not that anybody took him seriously. One word from the boss or Malcolm could stop any troublemaker dead in his tracks. But Patrick didn’t seem to be able to command the same respect. Maybe if he hadn’t have been so skinny, or maybe a little taller. Dale said it was because he smiled too much. To which Patrick had smiled and asked if he wanted him to stop. Dale had looked—well, the way Dale always looked; serious, sad, angry, not giving a shit about anyone but himself. Then he kissed Patrick hard, pushed him back on the bed and told him to open his legs. Which Patrick did, smiling all the while.
There was a timepiece in the corner, some old thing in a scratched oak case that ticked too loud. A light was always burning in the room—Dale couldn’t bear the dark—so it was just light enough to see even if the blood red walls and ebony furniture did make the room seem closed in. The clock seemed to say that Patrick hadn’t overslept but as he scrubbed at his eyes, hoping to clear the blur so he could see through the low light, Patrick realized that he could smell coffee brewing. He also noticed that Dale was sitting in his chair at the bureau.
Dale wasn’t beautiful, not really. Not like Seth or Jacob Carpenter. But he was as about as handsome as a man could be sitting wrapped in an old paisley eiderdown, his hair a shock of waves like he’d just woken up. He was watching Patrick intently, as he always did. When Patrick had first met Dale and Dale had looked at him that way, Patrick kept expecting him to ask a question. He looked poised, as if to speak or like he was waiting to grab Patrick at any moment to stop him from escaping. Poised and hungry.
“Wha’ time is it?” Patrick coughed and tried to clear his throat.
“Did I oversleep?”
There was no answer so Patrick figured that meant he hadn’t.
A lot of people thought Dale Foster to be a rude man, selfish and unfriendly. It might have been partly true—or even mostly true—but really no one understood him like Patrick. He was a man that didn’t care one way or another what people thought of him. He didn’t see the point in wasting words on things like small talk or the obvious. He didn’t see the point in wasting a lot of things. Patrick was hardly surprised. After all, he knew the reasons why.
Patrick had only spent a few weeks in Dale’s bed when, one night, Dale had gotten as drunk as Patrick had ever seen him before or since. He told Patrick things—things he had done and things that had been done to him during the war— that might have frightened any other person away. It was probably why he’d said them, hoping to scare Patrick and make him leave. Except Patrick didn’t run. He carried Dale to his bed as he wept, undressed him and lay next to him, holding him when Dale allowed it and waiting patiently when he didn’t, until the sun rose and he finally fell asleep. A man might change for the better after a brush with death, but the things that happen to make him afraid to keep living—those can bring out the worst. Or at the very least, never let him smile again.
It was cold in the room despite the fire that was lit. Patrick was naked when he sat up, the chill hitting his skin as the covers fell away. As he started to pull them back up to find some warmth, Dale spoke.
Patrick shivered a little, but did as he was told. In fact he went beyond, pushing the sheets away until they were halfway down his thighs. He didn’t much like his body, too pale and skinny, all sinew and no meat. There was a good thatch of dark hair at his groin that spread down over his thighs and up his belly a little but that was about it. But Dale seemed to like it and, well, he was the boss.
Dale’s expression didn’t change at all. Not even a glimmer. He just sat impassively as he had done before. If he liked the way that Patrick shivered or his nipples hardened, he didn’t show it. The only thing he did do was turn a small box in his hand, placing each side onto the desk before turning it again.
Patrick had learned to be patient early on. Better to wait and see when it came to his lover. It was something he was good at. Maybe it was why it worked so well between them. Even from that first night.
Patrick had nowhere to go. He’d been traveling to his cousin’s farm hoping they would take him in, having buried his parents a month before. Running out of food and money, he’d asked for a job at a small town saloon and the gruff man behind the bar had handed him a broom. He could have slept in the store room, or on the floor of the bar but something in the man’s eyes had made Patrick climb the stairs at the end of the night and get into the man’s bed. He had been nervous, not knowing what to expect but he waited patiently all the same. When Dale had found him there, he hadn’t wasted any words. He acted almost as if he hadn’t even noticed the naked boy in his bed. That was until he pulled Patrick’s quivering body under him. He didn’t waste words then either. And if Patrick had been shocked some of the things Dale had done to him, well then, he had come to like them.
“It’s cold. You should put something on.” Dale barely moved but somehow the small box landed on the sheet between Patrick’s legs.
Patrick picked it up and turned it over. “It’s not my birthday.” He lifted it to his ear and shook it. “What is it?”
Dale just huffed and looked away, out of the fogged up window as he curled his fingers against his lips.
Patrick frowned, he couldn’t help it. Something felt odd but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He slipped the brown paper wrapper from the package, and tugged the lid free. Under a layer of tissue paper on a bed of white cotton, lay a gold crucifix on a long gold chain.
Patrick’s mouth dropped open. “Holy shit. I mean—is this for me?”
“You don’t have to wear it if you don’t want it.”
Patrick could hardly believe it. It was one thing for Dale to tolerate him going to church on a Sunday but he never thought he’d see the day that he would do anything like this. “I love it. I mean I’ve never had one so—”
Patrick had the cross in his hand, admiring the shine on it. As it turned, he caught a glimpse of an inscription on the back. He had to hold it close to read it, the script was so tiny.
It took a moment for the verse to come to him, thinking back to when his father had read the scripture aloud every night after supper. But when it did come, Patrick had to catch his breath. He held out the necklace with one hand, his voice on the verge of cracking. “You should put this on me.”
Dale pushed himself slowly out of the chair with both hands, letting the quilt fall away, revealing his nakedness. And his wounds. The injuries inflicted on him as a soldier, even though they might only be scars now, never seemed to heal. Patrick winced, knowing that even on the warmest of days that Dale’s body was wracked in the mornings with as much pain as when they had first been inflicted. The burns and cuts, his twisted mangled leg, never let him forget what he’d endured. He limped over, not bothering to use his cane for the short distance between the desk and the bed, and slowly lowered himself down to sit at Patrick’s side. Still not daring to look into Patrick’s eyes, Dale took the chain from Patrick’s hand with two fingers, cradling it gently in his large hands. “You don’t have to. If you want time to think about it.”
“I don’t have to think about it.” When Dale didn’t move, Patrick pulled his legs from under the covers and climbed down from the bed to kneel on the cold floor at Dale’s feet. Running his hands up the side of his lover’s thighs, he asked softly, “Do you have to think about it?”
Dale looked down at him for a second then opened the chain out and lowered it over Patrick’s head. “I’ve thought of nothing else since the night you showed up in my bed.” He pressed the crucifix against Patrick’s skin, then leaned back to admire it.
Patrick smiled. He let Dale look for only a moment before showing his devotion the best way he knew how. Dale was only half hard, so Patrick took his time, licking and suckling, tasting himself from the night before on his lover. All the while, Dale sighed and stroked his cheek, saying, “My sweet innocent boy, so lovely, so perfect,” until his breathing became heavy. Then Patrick just had to relax and hold onto the sheets as Dale roughly took him by the hair and chin, forcing his come down Patrick’s throat as he fought to breathe and swallow at the same time.
A little while later, as Patrick slid his cock inside Dale, his lover’s face contorted in pain or pleasure—for the two of them, both or either would do—Dale took hold of the gold chain and used it to pull Patrick down into a kiss.
“I didn’t get you anything,” Patrick said, as he looked down, watching himself slowly withdraw and then just as slowly find home again.
Dale only hmmed and kissed him again. And for a moment, Patrick thought he saw Dale smile.
Song of Solomon 8:6
Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Perfect – ©Alex Jane 2018 – All Rights Reserved
Last year’s Valentine’s story … Be My Valentine – Caleb and Thaddeus … A family moment