Cecil absently rubbed the bridge of his nose with his hand, the heavy thudding between his eyes growing worse. The worry and anxiety building inside of him was causing his head to throb.
Cecil dropped his hand to his lap as he nodded. Mind numbing migraine was more like it but he wasn’t about to admit that to Creed. The man took his health and safety very seriously.
“You’ve been getting a lot of those lately.”
“I probably need a few days off.” He worked hard, long hours. He might have inherited money from his parents when they passed away but the bulk of his money came from working that money to the best of its advantage. That took time and planning and burning the midnight oil.
“Maybe you should see if Manny wants to go to the lake house with you after he gets out of the hospital,” Creed said. “I’m sure the two of you could find something to occupy your time.”
Cecil grinned at the amusement he could hear in Creed’s voice. He really couldn’t think of anything he would like more than to spend a quiet weekend with Manny at his lake house, just the two of them. They could spend the entire weekend naked. Cecil would insist on it.
When the limousine pulled up in the entrance of County General fifteen minutes later, Cecil was a little white knuckled from the wild ride but he was there in one piece and that was all that mattered at the moment.
He scooted toward the door thankful when it opened before he got there. He quickly exited the vehicle, in no way surprised when Creed climbed out after him and started scanning the area for danger. Creed might not follow him into the office every single second of the day but the man took Cecil’s security in strange places very seriously. Cecil knew Creed would follow him as he hurried in through the emergency room doors. In public, the man was never more than a few feet away from him.
Now, he just needed to find Manny.
“Are you out of your mind?” an all too familiar voice shouted, giving Cecil a direction to head in.
His throat felt too thick to call out or to even ask a nurse where to find the owner of that deep, slightly accented voice, the same voice that Cecil dreamed of almost every night since he had laid eyes on Manuel Lopez.
Cecil didn’t know if it was the desperation in his eyes, the fancy suit he wore, or the large man following behind him, guarding him, but no one stopped him as he made his way through the emergency room corridor, heading toward the man that held Cecil’s soul. He wouldn’t be able to breathe again until he laid eyes on Manny himself and knew that the man was alive.
He knew Manny was hesitant about their relationship, even standoffish on occasion. Cecil didn’t hold it against the man. Once Manny got used to the idea of them being together, he would fall into line easily enough. Manny was just too used to being all alone.
Cecil planned to change that.
There was something about the tall Hispanic man that had caught Cecil’s interest from the very first glance. Cecil had been unable to think of anyone else since. He had even gone as far as getting rid of his little black book.
One night spent in Manny’s arms had proven to Cecil that he didn’t need anyone but the sexy marine. Convincing Manny of that was proving to be just a tad bit harder. The morning after they had practically fucked each other unconscious, Manny started running. Three weeks had gone by since that night and Manny was still running. Cecil hadn’t gotten to where he was in the business world without being stubborn. He refused to give up when he wanted something, and he wanted Manuel Lopez, and he wasn’t going to stop until he had him.
Cecil’s heart beat a little faster when he saw Sheriff John Henry Harrison standing in the doorway of one of the emergency room cubicles. If John Henry was standing in the doorway that meant his partner Charles Pennington III was inside the room.
And that meant Manny was inside as well.
John Henry turned just as Cecil reached him. He stepped forward, holding out his hands as if to stop Cecil, but no one was going to stop him from getting to Manny. Cecil continued to walk forward then quickly zipped around John Henry.
He paused in the doorway, finally able to breathe again for the first time since he received the phone call from Charlie that Manny had been injured. Manny was alive. Manny was breathing.
Manny was pissed.
Cecil frowned as he glanced from Manny’s scowling face to Charlie and then back again. He wasn’t real sure what was going on but it seemed to him that this was the last place Manny and Charlie should be arguing. Besides the fact that it was a hospital, Manny was obviously injured. There was a white bandage around one of his arms.
Cecil opened his mouth to say something, and hopefully defuse the situation, when the words Manny was speaking filtered through the worry that had been clouding Cecil’s brain since he had received a phone call from Charlie over an hour ago.
“I can’t believe you called him,” Manny snapped, his dark cocoa brown eyes blazing with fury. “I went on that stupid mission to get away from Cecil.”
Cecil stood utterly frozen in the doorway, his heart thudding painfully in his chest. Only by sheer force of will did he continue to stay standing when everything inside of him was crumbling around him.
“You left on a mission to get away from me?” Cecil’s words were whispered but loud enough to be heard by the two men in the room. Manny’s face drained of color as he turned to look at Cecil.
“Shit.” Charlie rushed over and grabbed Cecil’s arm as if Cecil was about to collapse and Charlie was trying to keep him standing.
Cecil shook Charlie off and stepped into the room. “Answer me, Manny. Did you go on that mission to get away from me?” Cecil swallowed. “And I want the truth.”
Manny sighed as his shoulders slumped. The cold, congested expression that settled on Manny’s face as he glanced away gave Cecil his answer even before the man opened his mouth. Cecil’s heart stuttered for one last bit of life before shattering into a million painful pieces.
“I see.” Cecil cleared his throat and tried to gather the remains of his tattered pride around himself like a shield. He stiffened his back and squared his shoulders then raised his eyes to meet Manny’s. He had never shied away from anything in his life. He wasn’t going to start now. “My apologies, Mr. Lopez. I will not bother you again.”