Chapter 18

Zander felt pain and pressure. He felt disoriented and then he remembered. Capelli. He moaned as he was penetrated and thrashed about. "!"


Lucky blinked back tears. "Zander...easy. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." He had been applying the ointment Dr. Merrin had left. He knew it wouldn't be pleasant for Zander but it had to be done. Lucky had hoped that Zander would sleep through it. No such luck. He pulled Zander into his arms and rocked him. "It's's okay. It's me, Lucky. You're safe, Zander. You're safe."


"Lucky?" Zander opened his eyes and had to blink to bring the visage before him into focus. It was Lucky. He froze and tried to push away from him. "Capelli...Where's Capelli?"


"I don't know." Lucky let Zander pull away. He had been traumatized enough. "I found you at the cabin and brought you to a safe place. You're gonna be okay, Zander. I promise."


Zander looked around him. Nothing was familiar. "Where are we?"


Lucky smiled. "I guess it belongs to my dad. He was kind of vague about it. But it's a safe place."

"How long have I been here?" Zander made to sit up and he felt sore, inside and out. And then it hit him that Lucky knew what had happened to him and shame washed over Zander in waves.


"We've been here almost two days. You've been pretty out of it. Dr. Merrin said that was to be expected."

Zander stiffened at the unfamiliar name. "Who is Dr. Merrin?"

Lucky winced. "Uh…someone my dad knows. She examined you...and she gave me some pills and some ointment. I'm sorry, Zander. I was putting…um…I had to use the ointment on you and...uh...I'm sorry...I know it hurts…I...uh," Lucky knew he was just making it worse so he shut up.


"I have to leave." Zander couldn't even look at Lucky. He felt sick and ashamed. He made to get out of the bed and realized he was naked. Tears burned in his eyes. He felt so dirty.


"You need to rest and heal." Lucky pressed a hand to Zander's shoulder to stop him, then he saw the tears and cupped Zander's face in both hands. Leaning in, Lucky kissed away the tears. He felt Zander shaking. "I'm so sorry I didn't save you in time."

Zander was stunned. "It's not your job to save me, Lucky." He couldn't stop the tears from falling, but he pushed Lucky's hands from his face. He didn't want to be touched. Anger washed over Zander and he welcomed it. He was angry at himself for letting himself be victimized. But he used that anger now, against Lucky. To make the other man keep his distance. "You're not my fucking keeper!" Zander slid out of the bed, taking the top blanket with him and wrapping it around him. He felt unsteady on his feet but locked his knees. "Where are my clothes?"


Lucky stood up and pointed to the one dresser across the room. "In there. My dad picked some things up from your place." He could see that Zander was shaky on his feet, and he could see past the anger that Zander was projecting. There was pain and shame glittering in the beautiful, hazel eyes. Lucky wanted to reach out to Zander, but he held back. For the moment. "I'm sure you'd like to shower," he said carefully. "I'll have something for you to eat when you get out."


"I'm leaving." Zander made it to the dresser and found his things. Jeans, a pullover, boxer-briefs and socks. He didn't look at Lucky as he headed towards the most likely door to harbor a bathroom. He hit the jackpot and closed the door. Zander turned on the shower, dumped the blanket and stepped under the scalding spray. He soaped his skin, trying to ignore the bruises, trying to pretend that the internal soreness didn't exist. When the water ran cold he stepped out and dried off, but he didn't feel clean. Zander was shaking harder than before as he got dressed and he barely managed to pull on his boxers and jeans when his knees buckled and he slid to the floor. Zander's body shook with sobs and he stuffed a fist in his mouth to keep them as silent as he could. He didn't hear the door open. He didn't know Lucky was there until strong arms wrapped around him, pulling him into a hard, warm, chest. Zander resisted at first, but then he let himself be held. And after a time he realized that he wasn't crying alone.


* * * * *


Zander sat on the porch steps. He had cried himself to sleep in Lucky's arms, only to wake up later in the bed, wrapped in Lucky's warm embrace. Zander had gotten up and had gone outside, intending to leave. But he ended up just sitting in the car. Lucky had found him there and had led him back inside. That three two days ago. This morning Dr. Merrin showed up and wanted to examine him. Zander had declined. She had studied him from a distance then had asked Lucky if he was eating. Lucky had been honest. Zander wouldn't eat. He wasn't being obtuse or stubborn, he just had no appetite.


Dr. Merrin had told Lucky to get him to eat. If he didn't she would send out an ambulance and Zander would end up in the hospital. He had laughed at her, declaring her threat to be an empty one. Lucky had taken her seriously though and had spent just about every waking moment trying to get Zander to eat. To get Lucky to shut up, Zander had eaten part of a sandwich. He had gagged on every bite. He would have loved a bottle of Jack, but Lucky had dumped all the booze. Zander believed him. He had found the empty bottles and had spent twenty minutes cursing at Lucky. Then he had apologized. Then he had come outside. Which led him to the present moment.


It was night and the sky was midnight blue with lots of stars. Zander remembered looking at the stars with Emily and tears burned in his eyes. That seemed like a hundred years ago. He had been a different person then. Now he was little more than a whore. He heard the door open and wiped his eyes. Then Lucky was sitting beside him. Close, but not too close. Zander didn't protest. He felt safer with Lucky around.


"I haven't thanked you yet," Lucky said softly.

"For what? Bitching at you?"

Lucky laughed then shook his head. "For sacrificing yourself to set me free. I wish you hadn't done that, because I'm not worth that sacrifice, Zander. But thank you, just the same."

Zander closed his eyes as the image of Justus fucking him flashed in his head. His good friend, shame, came for another visit. "No thanks necessary, Lucky," Zander hissed. "I was just doing what I'm good at. Playing the whore!!" He made to rise but a hand on his arm stopped him. Zander sat back down then slowly pulled away. He hugged his arms around himself, trying to make himself as small as possible.


"Don't do that, Zander," Lucky countered. "Don't say that. You were raped. What happened was not your fault."

"Then who's fault was it?" Zander was on his feet now, glaring down at Lucky. "I told Justus he could fuck me. I made a deal with him. Get it? I let him fuck me!"

Lucky was on his feet now and angry. "Yeah…I get it! But did you ask Ric and the others to fuck you? Did they pay you for the privilege?"

Zander stiffened, thinking about the money Lorenzo and Faith had given him. Money that was gone now. Capelli had it and no doubt had run with it. Zander locked eyes with Lucky and whispered, " As a matter of fact, I did get paid for services rendered." At the stunned look on Lucky's face, Zander almost laughed. Almost. Then he found himself moving forward, his hands lifting to cup Lucky's face. Then he was kissing Lucky, for all he was worth. Kissing him and grinding his body against Lucky's, feeling the other man's hardness against his hip. Zander reached between them and fondled Lucky. For once he would be in control of this. Just this once.


"No!" Lucky broke the kiss and grabbed Zander by the wrist, pulling his hand away. "I know what you're trying to do. But I won't let you."

"Fuck you!" Zander snarled, and he tried to pull away. But then strong fingers were in his hair. Soft lips were on his. And there was nothing but tenderness in the kiss. No lust, just a warm passion. No tongue ravishing his mouth, just a gentle deepening of the kiss. No threat, no warning, nothing possessive. And Zander craved what Lucky offered. He let his tongue taste Lucky and it was sweet. Then hands were sliding out of his hair and moving over his back. No rough pawing but feather light caresses that made Zander want something more. He broke the kiss and locked eyes with Lucky. "Make love to me," Zander whispered.

Lucky closed his eyes then shook his head. "You're not ready for that. You're not healed enough."

Zander was willing to beg. "I need you," he breathed. "Please...please, Lucky. You can heal me."

"Zander.." Lucky was going to protest again but Zander was kissing him and he was lost.


Chapter 19