I really enjoy working with the PAX stories -- five authors take the same theme and run with it and you get five very different stories.
For the Office PAX, Affton and Lukas invaded my brain and ran with the story. It's such a good feeling when the story zooms -- they should all work like that!
It's also great when two characters who've fallen apart and are broken, manage to find each other again and start healing together.
I hope you enjoy reading Affton and Lukas' story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Four years ago, Luke walked out on Affton while he was still sleeping, leaving only a quick “I can’t do this” email behind. Affton has spent those four years focused on his career, a now-successful one at that. So when Affton encounters Luke in the graphics department of the company for which he now works, it rocks his world.
Insisting that Luke owes him a coffee at least, Affton finds his world further rocked when he learns why Luke left him in the first place. Can he convince Luke that he isn’t the man Luke believes him to be and that they deserve a second chance? Or will he be fated to watch Luke run away from him yet again?
“God, he’s a prick.”
Luke shrugged. “He’s a businessman.” And an ex. And he wasn’t supposed to have to see the bastard, ever. His oldest friend was head of HR and promised him that the job would be worth the risk.
“Well, someone has to work on this crappy piece of shit account.” Louise handed the file over to him.
“I’m not dealing with him. I’ll design the logo.” It wouldn’t take him three hours. Hell, he’d have it done before he left for the day.
“Just drop the file back in his office when you leave. He’ll be gone by then. You know the execs—they’re never in the office after lunch.” She made a disparaging face.
“Okay. Just let me work. I’ll get on it.” Luke took the file. “I’ll email it.” He couldn’t see Affton again. He couldn’t. Not after… He shook his head. He wasn’t going there.
“Just don’t get us fired, kid.”
“I won’t. I got this.” Static design was a no-brainer.
She patted his shoulder and headed back to her cubicle.
Luke did the work, sent the file, forcing himself not to think, then he grabbed his stuff. He’d finish the rest of his shit from home. He got on the elevator without looking, only realizing his mistake as a choked noise sounded. He looked up, and up, right into Affton’s eyes as the doors slid closed. He didn’t say a word, he couldn’t. His throat just closed up. He’d never been so happy, as he’d been with this man.
“Luke.” The word came out strangled. He didn’t know if it was an acknowledgement or accusation.
“Affie. I. Did you get your file?” Oh, God.
“I got it.” Affton bit the words out. “I didn’t know you were working for Fillian.”
“For about a year. Don got me the job. I work from home.”
“You’re here today.” Was that an accusation?
“Yeah. Louise asked me to.”
Affton stared at him for a long moment and then—thank God—the elevator doors opened.
He made to hurry out, but Affton grabbed his arm, tugged him to the side. “Let’s get a drink.”
“A drink?” Oh, God. No one had touched him in so long…
“Coffee, a beer. I don’t care where we go, but I think you owe me an explanation.”
“Coffee. I don’t drink.” Ever.
“There’s a shop across the street.”
Eddie’s would be quiet this time of day, too.
God, he couldn’t do this. He couldn’t. He needed his job, though. He had rent. Bills. “Okay. One cup of coffee.”
Affton nodded, hand sliding around his arm, holding on as they left the building and headed across the street.
His shirt tugged off his shoulder, baring his skin and he pulled it up. “I won’t run away.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time.”
He didn’t have anything to say to that.
They went up to the counter and Affton ordered for them both. The man still remembered how he took his coffee. Luke wanted to just sit down and sob.
“Was the file okay?” he asked.
“I don’t care about the fucking file.”
“You sure cared about it three hours ago.”
“Yeah, well. I’ve had three hours to think since I saw you for the first time since you walked out on me without so much as a good-bye.”
The coffees came and they sat, and Luke just stared at the steam coming from the latte.
“I was hoping you’d have an explanation for me.” The words weren’t loud or angry, they were quiet. Hurt.
“I…” Like stared at his hands and the images from that awful night played out in his head. Bright lights. A group of men. Liquor. Music. “How could you think I’d stay, Affie?”
“What?” Affton frowned at him. “I loved you, why wouldn’t I think you’d stay?”
“If you loved me… Why did you do it?” Why on earth would Affton take him to a party and…give him to a group of men like he was worthless?
“Do what? What is it I’m supposed to have done?” How could Affton look so earnest?
He drank his coffee, the heat scalding his tongue.
“Damn it, Luke, if you’re going to accuse me of doing something so horrible you’d leave, you’d better actually accuse me.”
“You let them drug me. Let them hurt me, touch me.” He put the coffee down, stomach acidic and hurting. “I just… I need to go home. I don’t want… I need to go home.”
“What? Baby? What the hell are you talking about?” All the color had drained out of Affton’s face. “Who drugged you? Touched you?”
“I can’t do this. I…I loved you. I really did. You’re like the only guy I ever wanted.” He stood, shaking. “I have to go.”
Affie stood, too. “You can’t go. Who hurt you? I would never let anyone hurt you. Luke?”
“They drugged me, your friends. Downstairs. A fucking roofie? I called for you and they said I was a present from you.” He’d always hated those parties, everyone pretending to be friends, but that… Luke shuddered and just headed out. He couldn’t do this.
The wind was howling, a rainstorm threatening, and he just kept walking. He thought he heard his name, but he didn’t turn. He couldn’t. He nearly jumped out of his skin when a hand landed on his shoulder.
“Luke. My God. I would never do anything like that to you! How could you think I would? Are you all right? Did they hurt you? Why didn’t you call the cops?”
“I just want to go home.” He’d always hated those parties.
“I’ll take you home. I’ll do anything you want. Please. I had no idea. I loved you. I would never….” Affie shook his head, shuddered. “I loved you, too.”
Luke’s eyes filled with tears and he took off, running hard. God. God, he couldn’t do this.
smut fixes everything
Working It Out by Sean Michael is now available at Amber Allure.
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