He never should’ve let Ray Doyle in.
Physically, mentally, emotionally.
“Friends with benefits”. It sounded so simple. What they both wanted—hot, fast, mind-blowing sex that always left them both coming back for more. Until a “casual thing” between birds became more and more frequent.
Until Ray changed. Until Ray started wanting more.
Started wanting what Bodie could never, ever give him.
Why did Ray have to go and make it complicated? How had “no strings” turned into a tangled web that left Bodie no choice but to extricate himself from? As much as hated to do it, he had to end it. Before their personal relationship bled over into their professional one and he ran the risk of losing his partner as well as his lover.
He had every intention of walking into Ray’s flat tonight and breaking things off. But his best laid plans went out the window as soon as the door closed behind him. Ray was on him in an instant, pulling at his clothes, pushing him back up against the wall, his movements jerky, almost desperate, his blue-green eyes wide and shadowed. Bodie gave in to his partner’s advances without a fight, selfishly wanting, needing, one last night with him.
Which is why he was here, naked on his knees in the middle of Ray’s bed, his hands clutching his partner’s slim hips while Ray’s clutched the headboard, Bodie’s long, deep, hard thrusts reverberating through Ray’s body.
Bodie lost himself in the sensation, wanting to commit everything to memory, to be replayed in vivid detail on the lonely nights to come—how Ray felt, the scent of him, the sounds he made as Bodie made him shatter.
He wanted to make it last, this final time together, but the two of them had always been petrol and flame—burning hot, bright and fast. And tonight was no exception. All too soon Ray was bucking back against him, a keening noise in the back of his throat that always proceeded his climax.
Bodie bent forward, draping himself over Ray’s back, one of his hands dropping down between his partner’s legs to take him in hand. Ray’s cock was hot, hard and heavy against his palm, the length slick with precome. Ray gave a strangled cry as Bodie stroked him once, twice, three times, and then he was coming with a hoarse, broken shout like Bodie had never heard before.
Ray’s body constricted around Bodie’s cock in pulsating waves and his mind went blank as his release surged through him like a lightning strike, pulling a shout of completion from him that was tinged with sadness for what was ending.
Still blanketing his partner’s body, his hand still holding Ray’s slick cock, Bodie caught his breath, wanting to linger just this one time, to soak in all of Ray. But he fought his urge, not wanting to give his partner the wrong idea. Especially now.
So instead he slipped from Ray’s warm body and sat back on the bed as his partner turned and did the same. Bodie’s breath caught at the sight of him—disheveled, his body coated in a light sheen of sweat, utterly fucked-out, the aroma of sex clinging to him. Bodie’s groin tightened. He wanted him again.
He swallowed down this urge, too, forcing one of his patented, self-satisfied smirks to his lips before moving to gather up his discarded clothing and re-dress, per his usual custom after they finished.
Tomorrow, he told himself. Tomorrow, when he came round to pick Ray up in the morning he would tell his partner it was over.
He was fastening up the last button on his shirt when Ray spoke behind him.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Doyle said flatly. “I’m asking Ann to marry me.”
Bodie went utterly still at Ray’s words, caught completely off-guard, his entire body stiffening, ice water shooting through his veins. He turned slowly back around to his partner, trying to comprehend the unexpected announcement.
Bodie kept his expression carefully neutral, belying the whirlwind of emotion coursing through him.
“It’s that serious?” he asked.
He saw the silent plea in Ray’s wide, bright eyes, what he was begging Bodie to do, to say. Bodie’s chest clenched and he hardened his heart. He gave a brusque nod and looked quickly away, forcing the words past the constriction in his throat.
“I’m happy for you.”
And then he was gone, never once looking back. But hearing the choked off sound behind him nevertheless.
Bodie didn’t sleep that night.
Instead he lay in his bed, staring up unseeingly at the darkened ceiling as his mind played an endless loop of beginning, middle and now…the end.
How had it all started with he and Ray?
A double date that went wildly, crazily out of control. Two sexually aggressive birds, best mates, who took charge the moment they all got back to Ray’s flat after dinner and many, many drinks. In the blink of an eye, there was a pile of four naked bodies entwined on the floor of Ray’s lounge, hands and mouths wandering. The next thing Bodie knew, it wasn’t a bird in his arms, but Ray. A very willing Ray.
Bodie had always found his partner attractive. But he steadfastly refused to let his thoughts about Ray wander further than that. He couldn’t afford to.
But that night he had just enough alcohol in him to lower his inhibitions and let him indulge in fantasy. For just one night. Or so he thought.
In reality, that one night of discovery and exploration of each other only set a fire burning between them. But as much as Bodie wanted this, wanted Ray, he wouldn’t allow things to get complicated between them. Couldn’t allow it. Bodie said it needed to remain a casual thing and Ray readily agreed.
So they indulged their itch with each other in between their bird-of-the-week, keeping that fire stoked repeatedly over the next six months.
And then last month things changed. Ray changed.
Bodie wasn’t blind or dumb. He knew it had gotten complicated for his partner. His feelings had tipped over the line from casual into serious. It was glaringly obvious with his actions—he tried to draw Bodie in for sensual kisses, but Bodie always pulled away. He tried to instigate drawn out foreplay, to create intimacy between them but Bodie made it clear he was only interested in the sex act itself. He gave up his birds, but Bodie didn’t. He repeatedly asked Bodie to stay the night. But Bodie never did.
Bodie tried desperately to keep to their original agreement—friends with benefits. Nothing more. But he clearly saw Ray was no longer satisfied with that.
There was no denying it. Ray had fallen in love with him.
Bodie’s heart sank with the reality. Everything had been perfect. He had Ray, but had him at arms-length. Where he needed to be. Bodie could never allow him closer than that.
Because giving someone his heart and soul only led to crushing, devastating loss.
Bodie squeezed his eyes closed against the sudden moisture that filled them. His chest twisted painfully as faces filled his mind…
He saw them smiling, he saw them loving him, and he in return.
He saw their broken, bloodied bodies lying before him, ripping his heart to pieces with the loss.
He saw a phantom image of Ray’s body superimposed over them and it drove the breath from his lungs with the thought of losing him, too. He couldn’t let himself love Ray. Because his death would utterly destroy him.
It needed to end. Bodie needed to end it.
And then along came Ann Holly.
At first Bodie dismissed his partner’s apparent infatuation with the red-head. Especially since Ray was still frequenting his bed.
Then Bodie was tasked with investigating Ann Holly and her father behind Ray’s back. He despised every moment of it and he cursed Cowley for forcing him to keep secrets from his partner. It was never going to end well. And it didn’t, culminating with Ray’s fist slamming into his jaw. That’s when he first suspected this maybe wasn’t the fling he thought it was between Ray and Ann.
And his suspicions were confirmed tonight with Ray announcing he was intending to propose to her.
He should be thanking Ann for ending things for him. For making it simple. For not having to hurt Ray.
This is exactly what he wanted. It was over. So why was he so unsettled and filled with loss? Because things had gotten complicated for him, too, along the way but he refused to acknowledge it. Until tonight. Until someone else captured Ray’s heart. Until he realized he’d fallen in love, too.
But the marriage proposal never came.
Instead Bodie found himself staring out the window at CI5 HQ, watching as Ann left Ray, driving off, leaving him standing in the car park, head bowed, arms curled around himself.
The sight tore at Bodie and he stalked over to the door, intent on going to his partner. Cowley tried to stop him a second time, but Bodie was having none of it. Not this time.
“Yeah, I know. Never come between a man and his woman. But what about a man on his own who’s taken a bit of stick? Got a proverb for that?”
Cowley had no reply and Bodie shut the door firmly behind him before running down the two flights of stairs to the car park. Ray hadn’t moved, still standing there, hunched over, curled into himself. He never heard Bodie approach and startled when Bodie put an arm around his shoulders.
“I’m so sorry, mate…”
Doyle lashed out, shoving him away. “Piss off, Bodie!”
His voice shook and Bodie could see the anger, sadness and loss clearly written on his expressive face. And Bodie knew he deserved the dismissal, for the part he had unwittingly played in this terrible mess.
Ray stormed off down the sidewalk but Bodie was not about to let him leave like this, not when he was hurting.
“Ray!” he called after him. “Please…”
It must have been the “please” that got through to him, for Ray stopped and allowed Bodie to walk up beside him and put his arm around his shoulders again.
“Let me take you home,” he said quietly.
Ray didn’t protest, his expression now one of resignation, defeat, and allowed Bodie to bundle them both into a cab for the four block ride to Ray’s flat. Once there, Bodie cautiously exited the cab behind his partner, wondering if Ray would allow him up or not. But Ray paid him no mind, his thoughts clearly elsewhere, and Bodie followed him up the three flights and into his flat.
Bodie closed the door behind them and shrugged out of his jacket. He didn’t miss Ray’s gaze flicking to the spiral staircase that led to his bedroom, which he had accused Bodie of bugging. Thank Christ it hadn’t come to that, that Cowley hadn’t taken it that far. He wouldn’t have been able to stomach listening to Ray and Ann having sex. Especially in the same bed that he’d spent so many nights with Ray himself.
God, he needed a drink. And he was positive so did his partner.
He moved to the drinks table in the corner of Ray’s small lounge and poured his partner a stiff shot of whisky. When he turned back around with the glass, Ray was still standing stiffly in the same spot, staring at the staircase, his hands now clenched into fists, his body shaking slightly.
Concerned, Bodie held out the glass. “Here, get this down you.”
Ray whirled around, his eyes spitting fire. He smacked the glass out of Bodie’s hand, sending it and the amber liquid arching through the air, splashing and crashing down onto the floor. Bodie’s mouth dropped open in shock as Ray began to pace rigidly in the small confines of the lounge.
“I don’t want a bloody fucking drink!” Doyle bellowed.
This was more than anger. Ray was in pain. And Bodie didn’t know how to help him. He spread his arms wide. “Then tell me what you want,” he said beseechingly. “D’you want to hit me again? Will that make you feel better? Go on, then!”
Ray practically snarled at him and snapped his gaze away, shaking his head, continuing to pace erratically. Bodie could practically see his partner coming undone and he tried to brace himself for the explosion he knew was imminent.
“What then?” Bodie pleaded. “Let me help. Just tell me what you want, Ray…”
“I want you to love me!”
“I want you to love me!”
“I want you to love me!”
“I want you to love me!”
Bodie took a shaky breath, pulling himself out of memory, Ray’s broken voice echoing in his head.
It had been a year since that night. A year since Bodie laid bare his deepest fear of loving Ray and then losing him, just like everyone else he’d ever let himself love. A year since Ray broke through the wall around his heart and convinced Bodie it was okay to love him.
And Bodie did. He let Ray in and gave all of himself to his partner. They truly made love for the first time that night. They started anew that night, as if the previous seven months had never happened. And Bodie never regretted taking the risk and allowing himself to love Ray.
Until right now.
Until Mayli’s bullets nearly took Ray from him forever.
Bodie shivered with the memory of finding his partner lying on the floor, his chest and back coated in bright red blood, barely breathing.
It was his worst nightmare nearly come true—Ray dying in his arms.
And if this was just a preview, Bodie knew he could never, ever survive Ray’s actual death. The last two days, wondering if Ray would live or die had torn him apart.
Bodie pushed himself unsteadily to his feet, from the chair at Ray’s bedside. It was deep into the night, the hospital quiet except for the constant, steady beeping of the heart monitor and the hiss of the ventilator, helping his partner to breathe.
It was the first chance Bodie had had to be alone with Ray since the shooting. The nursing sister told him that Ray had woken for a brief moment about an hour ago, before falling unconscious again, which was when Bodie was on his way to hospital with a dying Mayli.
Bodie’s hands clenched into fists, his fingernails digging into his palms as he looked at his partner, lying so still, so pale, his bright red blood seeping through the gauze on his chest and shoulder. Bodie’s heart twisted painfully at the sight and he found it hard to draw breath. So close. He’d come so close to losing him…
“So take a chance, Bodie. Take a chance on us…”
Bodie shook his head, briefly squeezing his eyes closed against the tears that filled them. He’d taken that chance, believing in Ray, believing things would be different this time. He’d been so stupidly naïve to believe that. Everyone that Bodie would ever love would be taken from him by a bullet.
Anger and sadness raged within him. Anger at himself, anger at Ray, and sadness at what he needed to do. He swallowed hard against the tightening in his throat, his whispered words broken and ragged.
“I’m sorry, Ray. But I can’t…I can’t do this anymore…”
He turned on legs that would barely hold him up and strode from the room, never once looking back.
Several days later there was an insistent knocking on the door of Bodie’s flat. He sighed heavily from where he was sitting on the settee, staring blankly at the wall. He was surprised it had taken Cowley this long to come round.
Only to Bodie’s surprise, it wasn’t the CI5 controller standing in his doorway, but Murphy.
The tall, brown-haired agent gave him a withering look. “Oh, so you are alive then.”
Bodie’s brow furrowed. “Eh?”
Murphy pushed brusquely past him and into the flat. He turned around as Bodie closed the door, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Well you being dead was the only reason any of us could possibly fathom as to why you haven’t been round to see your partner. He woke up almost three days ago!”
Bodie knew that. The nursing sister had called to let him know that Ray was awake and off the ventilator, his vitals now stable. It had taken all of Bodie’s self-control to not go to him. To instead stay fast in his decision to end things between them.
“Bodie, mate. What the bloody hell is going on with you?” Murphy demanded. “Why haven’t you been to see Ray?”
Bodie wearily shook his head. “Just…leave off, Murph.”
“Like hell I will! He needs you! He nearly died, Bodie!”
“You think I don’t know that!?” Bodie shouted. “I’m the one that found him lying in a pool of his own blood!”
Murphy’s expression softened into one of concern. “Talk to me, Bodie. This isn’t like you. Not where Ray is concerned. Especially not now, with you two…”
He trailed off, but Bodie knew what he meant. The only people he and Ray had told about the change in their relationship was Cowley and Murphy. Though neither of them knew how things had truly started between them, before it became serious.
“I’m just…” Bodie blew out a harsh breath. “I’m so damn angry, Murph. At myself, at him…” He threw himself down onto the settee again, his head in his hands.
Murphy settled himself in the chair across from him. “Why?” he asked. “Why are you angry with yourself?”
Bodie raised his head. “For letting myself love him, when I knew better,” he replied honestly.
Murphy tipped his head. “What do you mean by that?”
Bodie pulled in a breath, deciding to trust his mate and reveal everything, realizing he desperately needed someone to talk to, knowing Murphy would never repeat anything Bodie would tell him in confidence like this.
“Ray and I have been together longer than you think,” he started. “We were…fucking each other for seven months before things got serious a year ago.” Bodie hated that word, “fucking”, but it was an accurate description of what they were doing at the time. Murphy’s eyes widened slightly at the revelation, but he kept silent as Bodie continued.
“I never wanted it to be more than that with him. I didn’t want a relationship.”
“Why?” Murphy asked quietly.
Bodie swallowed. “Before Ray, I’d only truly ever loved three people. And they all died, were killed, right in front of me.”
Murphy sat back. “Jesus, Bodie…I’m so sorry.”
“I didn’t want to take that risk with Ray. I couldn’t. I knew if I let myself love him and he died in my arms…it would destroy me.” He swallowed hard. “But I took the risk, I took the chance because Ray convinced me it would be worth it.”
Bodie’s mouth tightened. “And look what happened. He went and got himself shot!”
Murphy shook his head. “He didn’t let himself—“
“The hell he didn’t!” Bodie exploded, cutting Murphy off. “What the hell was he thinking, leaving the flat without setting the second lock? How could he have been so bloody careless? It was pure stupid, dumb luck that Mayli went out the window and set off the alarm instead of leaving by the front door. If she had, he’d have died there, alone…” His voice broke and he took a shuddering breath.
“He made a mistake, Bodie,” Murphy replied quietly. “Are you telling me you’ve never once made a mistake?”
“Not one that nearly cost me my life,” Bodie snapped.
Murphy’s jaw flexed. “And he’s paying for it right now. Isn’t that enough? Is he going to lose you, too?”
The anguish Bodie felt was palpable. “Seeing him lying there like that…dying right in front of me... It was my worst fear, Murph. I can’t go through this again. Not with Ray. This was just a glimpse of what his actual death will do to me, and it broke me.” He shook his head. “I have to end things with him. I need to.”
Murphy’s brows drew down and his voice hardened. “Then stop being a bloody coward and tell him that yourself. Now. He’s upset, agitated. He doesn’t understand why you’re not there. It’s hindering his recovery.”
Bodie felt a pang of guilt roll through him at that as Murphy shoved himself to his feet, his expression one of disappointment aimed squarely at Bodie.
“You know that there’s a good chance he won’t make it back after this. That he’ll be invalided out. If that happens and you break it off with him, you probably won’t ever see him again.” Murphy paused, his words sharp and weighted. “So ask yourself this—will your life be better without him in it?”
And with that Murphy pivoted on his heel and stalked out of the flat, Bodie unable to stop himself from flinching at the sharp crack of the slamming door, a bullet to his own heart.
Bodie didn’t sleep that night, Murphy’s question chasing itself around in his head endlessly alongside a slideshow of images—finding Ray covered in blood, barely breathing…he and Ray smiling, laughing, joking…Ray on the operating table, his heart stopping…he and Ray in bed, making love endlessly…in the car, driving, with no one in the passenger seat beside him…coming home to a cold, dark flat…lying in bed, the space next to him empty…Ray waking up, defying the odds… The good and the bad, over and over.
He was exhausted and bleary-eyed when he pushed himself out of bed just after dawn. Murphy was right. He’d been a bloody coward. Ray deserved better. He’d never run from anything in his life and he wasn’t about to start now.
Bodie had his answer.
It was time they talked.
But he once again waited until evening to go round to hospital, hoping all of Ray’s visitors would’ve come and gone by then, leaving them to some privacy.
Bodie approached his partner’s room quietly, standing for a moment in the doorway. Ray had been moved out of the critical care ward to a much bigger, private room. Most of the medical equipment was gone, leaving just the heart monitor attached to his chest and a single IV in his left arm.
His partner was lying in a larger, wider bed, the head raised slightly, his eyes closed. Just sleeping normally, Bodie knew, and not an unnatural unconscious state. He looked much better than the last time he’d seen him. Much of his color was back and there was no blood showing through the white gauze bandages on his chest and shoulder.
He inhaled long and slow, steadying himself. These last four days had been hell on him, too, forcing himself to stay away. He ached with missing Ray.
He stepped into the room, intending to just sit by his partner’s bedside until he woke, but the squeak of his shoes on the floor was enough to rouse him.
Doyle blinked open sleep-heavy eyes as Bodie approached, lines of worry and uncertainty creasing his forehead as he caught sight of Bodie after so many days. Bodie immediately hated himself for the sadness, resignation and heartbreak in Ray’s expressive eyes. He hated himself for abandoning him when Ray needed him the most.
“Ray…” Bodie sighed. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have stayed away. I just…”
Doyle shrugged his undamaged shoulder, his voice subdued. “S’okay…”
Bodie shook his head. “No, it was wrong. I’ve just…” He raked a hand through his short hair. “I’ve just been so angry…”
Doyle nodded slowly. “At me? You have every right to be.” He swept a hand over his body. “I deserve this. All of this.” His mouth tightened. “How could I have been so bloody careless? Handed her an engraved invitation to kill me, didn’t I?”
The bitterness and self-hate in Ray’s voice hit Bodie hard. Murphy was right. Ray was paying dearly for his mistake.
Doyle held Bodie’s gaze steadily, but his voice shook. “Lyin’ there on the floor…I could feel myself going. And I hated myself, knowing I caused it, knowing what my death would do to you. It was your worst fear come true, me dying in front of you.”
He paused, his throat working, his eyes now bright with unshed tears. “I asked you to love me when you didn’t want to. Convinced you it was worth the risk. And I would go to my grave regretting I asked you to take that chance. Knowing you would hate me for it. I tried to speak, to tell you I was sorry…”
Bodie swallowed hard. “You did die.”
Doyle blinked. “What?”
“Your heart stopped on the operating table,” Bodie told him quietly. “Cowley and I were there, in the observation room above the theater. I watched as they shocked your heart twice before it started beating again.”
Doyle looked horrified. “Jesus…Bodie…I didn’t know…”
“Why did you come back?”
Doyle cocked his head at Bodie’s soft question. “What d’you mean?”
“After the surgery, your vitals wouldn’t stabilize,” Bodie said. “The doctor thought you were trying to figure out whether to live or die. Cowley and I thought so, too.”
Doyle was quiet for a moment. “I…I believe I was.”
“What made you come back, then?”
“You.” Doyle replied simply and Bodie’s heart stuttered.
Doyle rubbed his forehead. “I…saw things. Like a dream but…not. It’s all jumbled up in my head, but you were there. And so was Cowley.” He frowned. “I was angry with him. I wanted to give up.”
Then the corners of his mouth lifted in a tiny smile. “Then you were there, tellin’ me not to. Tellin’ me to not let them beat me. And I knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t let her take me away from you. I couldn’t let my death destroy you. I needed to find the strength to come back. I wasn’t ready to let you go. We deserve more time together.”
He paused and Bodie could clearly see the love in his eyes mixed with uncertainty. “At least…I’m hoping we do. But I’ll understand if you don’t. If you’re through. With me. With us. I’m sorry for what I put you through.”
It was a long minute before Bodie could speak, could find his voice past the emotion constricting his chest.
“Murphy came round last night, demanding to know why I hadn’t come to see you. He tore a proper strip off me and before he walked out he asked me a question.”
He took a breath. “He asked me if I left you, would my life be better without you in it. It felt like a bullet to my own heart. I couldn’t sleep. It tore at me all night. My head was filled with images of you and I, all that we’ve been through—the good, the bad, everything in between, these last four days on me own… My life hasn’t been better. There’s been a hole inside me, a piece missing. That piece is you, Ray. And now knowing you chose to live, to come back to me…” Bodie’s voice was thick with emotion. “If you were strong enough to beat back death, then I can be strong enough to stay.”
It was clearly not the answer Doyle had been expecting and his eyes widened as hope flared within them. “You’ll give us another chance then, will you?”
“You won’t ever have to ask me that again,” Bodie replied strongly. “You and me, this is forever, Ray. I know that now.”
His voice quieted. “Eventually I will lose you. And it’ll tear me apart. But I want all those moments with you before that happens. To know the pain of your loss will have all been worth it.”
Doyle reached for him and Bodie leaned in, his hands framing his partner’s face, resting their foreheads together.
“I love you,” Doyle murmured against Bodie’s lips and Bodie’s long, slow, tender kiss was his unspoken answer in reply.
When they eased apart they were both smiling softly, their connection reestablished once again.
Doyle brushed his thumb over Bodie’s cheek. “Christ, I’ve missed you. Don’t sleep well anymore if you’re not next to me.”
“Well let me fix that, shall I?” With a grin Bodie slipped off his jacket, toed off his shoes and with utmost care he slowly slid his partner toward him, close to the edge of the bed.
“What are you doing?” Doyle grinned.
“This,” Bodie replied, then went round the other side and climbed into bed with him as Doyle laughed.
“You mad bastard! The nursing sister will chuck you out on your ear if she catches you.”
Bodie gave him a smirk. “Just let her try. I’m armed,” he joked.
He lay on his side as Doyle leaned his head against him with a soft sigh. Bodie had seen the lines of tiredness in the corners of Ray’s eyes. The conversation had taken a lot out of his still-healing partner.
“Thanks,” Doyle murmured.
“For saving my life,” Doyle answered softly. “If you hadn’t been there…”
Bodie’s chest tightened and he brushed the back of his hand across Ray’s cheek. “That’s what partners are for, mate.” The corner of his mouth turned up. “But let’s not make a habit of it, shall we?”
He leaned over and dropped a kiss on Ray’s unruly curls as Doyle threaded his fingers through Bodie’s, his eyes slowly closing.
“Get some kip, sunshine.”
As Bodie, too, closed his eyes he felt the tension, fear and anger drain from his body as he soaked in Ray’s warmth, leaving him settled for the first time in four long days, the ghostly spectre of Ray’s bloody body finally vanquished from the backs of his eyelids.
The sound of Ray’s slow, even breaths lulled him to the edge of sleep, safe in the knowledge that his partner was very much alive.
He opened his eyes at the odd timbre of Ray’s voice. He glanced down at his partner and his breath caught. He’d never seen Ray look so…lost. And scared.
“Ray? What’s wrong?”
“I know how bad this is. My heart…” Doyle swallowed, his voice unsteady. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to come back from this. Be back on the squad. Be back with you.”
Bodie shook his head firmly. “We’re not talking about this now. It’s too soon. I don’t want you even thinking about that. You just concentrate on healing, you hear me?”
Doyle held his gaze, his eyes wide, his voice quiet as he squeezed Bodie’s hand.
“Bodie…will you stay?”
Bodie’s heart stuttered and sudden tears pricked the backs of his eyes. This time Ray wasn’t asking him to stay the night. He was asking him to stay no matter what happened, to know Bodie would be there always.
And Bodie’s answer was the same as the first time Ray asked him. “Tonight and every night. As long as you’ll have me.”
And once again he made sure his kiss left no doubt at all in Ray’s mind.