It had taken nearly a full year for things to be resolved. It was a complicated thing, to divorce your very wealthy husband while said husband was also on trial for ordering and funding your murder.
Complicated and brutally trying and hard.
Kris had listened to Adam’s advice and alerted the media as soon as he touched back on Terra 2. They’d been present, recording everything, when he’d walked into the peace officer headquarters. At first no one had wanted to believe him, but then Kris had shown them the evidence, the evidence that Adam had given him, that the media had already made copies of, and there was nothing for them to do but to arrest Simon.
When asked about his escape, he’d explained how Adam had helped him. Then he went on to describe Ahriman in excruciatingly accurate detail. When it came time to describe Adam however, Adam became a small, blond man with extensive facial scarring that went by the name of Michael.
After that came the months of seclusion as he was shuttled from safe house to safe house, the prosecutors for his case unwilling to risk another attempt on his life.
He’d thought a lot about Adam during that solitary time, enough that the Adam that lived in his memory took on near mythic proportions as hero and savior. Sometimes Kris was angry with him, sometimes he even wondered if he’d imagined him, but mostly he just missed him terribly.
But it had all been worth it in the end, or so he had to remind himself constantly. The jury of ten had found Simon guilty and he’d been sentenced to forty years for his crime. Now Simon was in prison and he himself was a very rich man.
Not that he really cared about the money, it had never been about that. But it was nice, sometimes, to know that neither he nor his family would ever have to worry about it again.
“Sir? We’re here.”
The transport’s driver had a gruff voice and Kris found himself startling even though the man was speaking politely. He straightened and looked out the window to the hotel where he would be staying. It was nice enough; pretty though nothing spectacular. Nothing that would draw attention.
He paid the driver, tipping just the right amount before grabbing his sole bag, opening the door of the transport and stepping out into the Terran 5 sun. It truly was beautiful here; beautiful and warm and bright. Not like home with its red nights and hazy days.
He watched the transport drive away before pulling his vidcom from the bag. He dialed a number and within seconds had Kara up on the screen.
“Kris, where are you?” she asked. “Everyone’s been looking for you since this morning!”
He regretted making her worry. She’d been a source of support that he’d never expected and had turned out to be both a good person and a good friend.
“Kara, don’t worry, I’m fine. I needed some time away so I’m taking a short holiday. I’ll be back in a few days.”
“But where are you?”
“That I can’t tell you. It’s a secret.”
“That’s not funny, Kris. What are you up to?”
“Nothing,” he said. “Consider me on hiatus. I’ll call you when I’m about to come back.”
“But, Kris . . .”
“Gotta go!” he said, cancelling the call and closing down the screen. Then he opened up the back of the vidcom and pulled out its microchip. As he held it in his hand, his attention was momentarily drawn to his new fingers and to how odd it still felt to hold things with them.
He dismissed the thought with a shake of his head, then tossed the chip down, grinding it under his heel until it was nothing but powder. The vidcom he tossed into a trash can as he walked into the lobby of the hotel.
He checked in at the front desk, but before the clerk could give him his key, Kris said, “There should be a message for me. From a Kagan Elliot?”
“I’ll check, sir.”
A moment later, the clerk nodded. “Yes, here it is. Left earlier today.” The clerk printed out the message and handed it to Kris who read it quickly before slipping it into his bag.
“You’re welcome.” The clerk handed him his key card. “You’re in room 12. Enjoy your stay.”
Kris stood in front of his hotel room and stared at the door. He’d been doing this for a few minutes now and he knew that he must look like an idiot, but every time he reached for the door his heart would feel like it was jumping into his throat and he’d have to pull away.
This was it. Once he walked through this door there was no going back. He thought about Vilcea and his brand-new house nestled in its hills. He thought about his friends, his family and likely it was that he would never see any of them again.
Then he thought back to that first communique, sent anonymously, brief and to the point. He remembered how his heart had skipped a beat as he’d read it, how his hands had trembled from a combination of excitement and nerves.
There was no turning back now. Simon’s betrayal had wounded him, had nearly destroyed him. Receiving that first message had felt like coming alive again.
He took a deep breath and straightened, holding the key card to the door’s reader to unlock and open it. Stepping inside the room, he let the door shut behind him. It only took a second for him to see the man standing at the window, his back to Kris.
Kris set his bag on the floor and watched as the man slowly turned around.
He looked exactly the same. The face from his memories, his dreams. Exactly the same. Strong, imposing and beautiful.
Kris moved toward him, speaking in the hushed tones of the reverent. “Adam.”
And then Adam was there, his strong arms around him, crushing him so tightly that Kris could barely breathe. Not that he cared. Adam was here. After so long, Adam was finally here.
Adam pulled away after a minute, just far enough to stare down into Kris’ face. “After tonight, it’s Kagan. Even in private.”
“Fine. Then after tonight I’m Ian.”
“Ian?” Adam smiled, deliberately eying Kris up and down. “Yes, I suppose you could be an Ian.”
Kris returned Adam’s smile, mimicking his actions. “And I suppose you could be a Kagan.”
Adam laughed at that and for Kris, it was the most beautiful sound in the world. His voice was made for it, Kris realized. The somber, flat tone he had always used on the ship was not him. Or maybe it had been, but it shouldn’t have been.
But all too soon Adam’s laughter faded and that flat tone resumed. “Kris, are you sure about this? Are you absolutely sure?”
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Kris . . . “
“Tell me, Adam. Why are you here? After all this time, why do this?”
Adam looked at him quizzically, as if trying to determine if this was a trick. Finally, he said, “I’m here because I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I missed you.”
“Really?” Kris said. “Because that’s why I’m here.” He ran his hands along the length of Adam’s arms, from his shoulders to his wrists before taking Adam’s hands in his own. “I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not scared, but yeah, I’m sure. There was always a part of me that wanted to go with you. I don’t know why and I can’t explain it, but it’s there and I’m tired of trying to deny it.”
“Kris, there is a bounty on my head. Do you understand what that means?”
Kris did. Adam had told him about the death order in one of his messages and though it was frightening, it wasn’t a deterrent. And besides, Kris had an idea about how to get rid of that bounty. As long as Ahriman was willing to accept money instead of Adam’s head on a platter . . .
But Kris wasn’t ready to tell this to Adam. Not just yet.
He linked his fingers with Adam’s and squeezed. “Yeah, and I’m still here, aren’t I?”
Adam looked down. “Your hand . . .”
“Enhanced. Like you.”
“I’m so sorry, Kris.”
“Don’t. Don’t ever say sorry to me. It’s over. It’s done. And I’m here now.”
Adam’s smile returned with a vengeance. “Yes, you are.” He flicked his eyes over to the bed then back to Kris as the smile turned suggestive. “And we’ve got this room all to ourselves and that huge bed that looks really, really empty.”
Kris chuckled even as he felt a warm flush creeping along his skin. He let himself be guided to the bed, both of them falling onto it gracelessly.
“I don’t know what it is about you, but I’ve never felt more alive than when I’m with you,” Kris said.
Adam nodded, nuzzling at Kris’s neck, his tongue licking a line down Kris’ throat. Kris moaned, his hands tangling in Adam’s dark hair.
“Funny,” Adam said, “because that’s how you make me feel.”
Kris was about to say something else, but then Adam shifted and began to do something with his hips that could only be considered sinful and his teeth were nipping down Kris’ throat, just hard enough to feel good.
After that, words became pretty much irrelevant and there was only one last thought before Adam claimed Kris’ mouth with his own.
The thought that he was exactly where he needed to be.
And that he was a very, very lucky man.