Arctic Restitution (Arctic Absolution #3)

As he approaches his twenty-second birthday, the three-year anniversary of the brutal attack in an alley that nearly cost him his life in a few different ways, Jaye Larson thinks he’s left behind the ghosts from his years spent incarcerated, but when he’s delivered a mysterious letter with terrifying implications, old monsters rear their ugly heads. His normal new life in remote Zus, Alaska, with his lover, Dixon Rowe, the heart of a found-family that supports Jaye in ways he’s never before dreamed possible, is threatened by old deals and ties he begins to fear may never be broken. While old alliances strive to draw Jaye backward, Dixon and the rest of their family are called to step up to keep him steady. When the letter turns out to be just the first clue in a chain leading both Jaye and Dixon back inside the walls of the Federal Corrections Institute of Sheridan, Oregon, all of them are left facing carefully-held secrets and terrible new truths that refuse to be ignored. (M/M)

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Chapter 4: The Breakdown

The whole thing was totally Cash’s style. Jaye could easily fill in the missing pieces of information just by using his imagination. Cash outsourced the job, made sure nothing tied back to him in any concrete way, but included enough particulars for Jaye to know, without a doubt, why Ecker had been killed, and by whom.

It was another deal, still in play. Jaye had made the request, back when he was in Sheridan. Cash had come through in a big way. Now, Cash expected compensation.

Only, Jaye had no idea what it could be that Cash wanted from him.

Maybe he really was lonely, and would ask for Jaye to visit. The idea of walking back into that hellhole of his own accord was stomach churning, but Jaye knew if it came down to it, he’d go. For Cash, he would.

The creeping dread like icy fingers tickling up his spine told him it wouldn’t be as easy as that.

Maybe they’d want to make another video.

Maybe it would be even worse.

I’m straight now, Jaye told himself. No more breaking the law. No more fucking up. I won’t ruin what I have with Dixon. I can’t take the chance. Not even for Cash.

Standing in the kitchen, scraping his uneaten stew back into the container to save for later, Jaye felt closed in and too exposed at the same time. The conflicting types of paranoia made him a little crazy. That damned letter had him pinned down, unable to stop thinking about it. But it also made him feel like all of the wilderness in Alaska wasn’t enough to hide him. Cash, and his crew, knew right where he was.

Jaye set the container back in the fridge, then wandered across the cabin.

Dixon tended the fire, staring into the licking, amorphous tongues of orange and red. As he set some more wood on the charred pile, he glanced over a shoulder at Jaye, lingering nearby. “Where’d he get your P.O. address?”

“Mm,” Jaye grunted, chewing at his lip. “My fault, obviously. Another cock-up. I wrote him once, right after I got up here. It was stupid. I was just lonely, looking for someone to talk to. As nice as the solitude was… there was a fuck-ton of it and it was kind of hard to deal with. I gave him the P.O. Box so he could write back, but he never did.”

Dixon paused with the poker in his hand. After a moment’s thought, he stuck it into the flames, using it to arrange the fresh wood. “I didn’t even think of that,” he admitted. “You coming way out here, with no one to talk to, trying to get your life together.”

“I was closer to him than anyone. After the attack, I lost everyone — my mom, my boyfriend, my regular friends. That was harder than being locked up, and when I got out I couldn’t escape the isolation.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed you don’t talk about that stuff a lot.” The fire was growing again, the wood popping, the flames feeding on the wood. Dixon stood and turned his attention back to Jaye. The size difference between them hit Jaye, turning him on and setting him on edge a little. Dixon’s cotton shirt pulled tight over his muscular chest and shoulders. He loved the way Dixon made him feel helpless and safeguarded. Only wanting more of that, Jaye was tempted to submit to everything he knew Dixon could give.

“Yeah.” Jaye dropped his gaze. Dixon walked closer, touched Jaye’s arm and guided him over to the bed. Jaye sat on the edge next to Dixon and rubbed at his thighs as his nerves jangled and surged. “There was no way to deal with it all. I just had to put it behind me. It felt like proof of what a worthless person I was. No one wanted me. I was nothing. No one. But Cash made me feel like I was worth something. He taught me how to keep fighting for myself, even when it seemed like I had nothing left to give. You can always dig deeper.”

Matching Jaye’s hushed tone, Dixon said, “I can’t imagine what that must have felt like to have all of the people you thought you could count on fail you in such a huge way, right when you needed them the most. I’m so sorry you felt so alone. I swear you’re never going to feel like that again. You have family and friends, and we love you. We’re here for you. It makes me so angry knowing what you went through, and I feel so goddamned powerless, knowing that there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Jaye shook his head. “No, we’ve been through this. It was some hard times, sure. But you had your own to deal with. No looking back. Only forward. And there’s plenty you do for me every day, every fucking minute, just by being here.”

He took a good long look at Dixon, seeing all of his frustration and protectiveness. It made Jaye grin. Dixon was his living, breathing reminder of how something amazing could enter life at any moment. Jaye was determined to hold on to him as tightly as he could, now that he had him. He’d lost too much not to realize how good he had it.

But that letter meant something. Cash was waiting, but for what?

Jaye paused, just to see if the ghosts would speak up, now that they had new fodder for torment, but they’d remained silent. All he could detect was faint, far away laughter. It sounded dead, and cold. All of his enemies were dead now.

The thought should have been more comforting than it was.

With goosebumps lingering on his skin, Jaye turned to Dixon and shifted, moving to straddle Dixon’s lap.

“Hey,” Dixon protested, holding Jaye’s hips and trying to keep him from advancing. “You don’t need to.”

“Maybe I do,” Jaye countered. He was able to settle on top of Dixon, facing him, breathing in his scent. It felt nice, soothing, real. The goosebumps went away. Dixon caressed Jaye’s back.

“I can’t believe he’s anything but a bad guy,” Dixon confessed, so quietly Jaye barely heard him. “Even if he was there for you sometimes.”

Chuckling despite himself, wearing a crooked grin, Jaye rolled his hips against Dixon’s crotch. “Mm, so this is your jealous side, huh?”

“No,” Dixon scoffed, gritting his teeth against the distracting movements of Jaye’s body. After another firm thrust, Jaye could feel Dixon getting hard, and it only made Jaye’s smile grow.

“I was a bad guy, too. We were all bad guys in there.”

Dixon groaned, then kissed Jaye like he needed to but was trying hard not to. It was quick, dirty, and Dixon’s hand grabbed at Jaye’s ass, squeezing. Using the grip there, he pulled Jaye’s crotch in even harder against him.

They fell back onto the bed, lying on it as they rutted against each other.

“No fucking way. You were innocent.”

“Of what?” Jaye grinned darkly. Dixon’s eyes flashed in warning, like he wasn’t going to let Jaye speak badly about himself, which only egged Jaye on even more. “It’s okay to be bad sometimes, Dix.”

He had Dixon’s belt open, then his fly, and pulled out his cock. With a hungry, hard grunt, Jaye pushed off against Dixon’s chest, sliding quickly down to kneel at the foot of the bed. He yanked Dixon toward him a few inches, then swallowed his cock like he was starving for it. The taste, the heat, the wet, easy slide over his tongue made Jaye moan wantonly.

Dixon hissed, “Fuck,” and palmed Jaye’s head.

Drawing it out as long as he could, Jaye sucked Dixon until he was close to coming. Knowing what he needed to come next, Jaye pulled off with a wet pop, stood, then hurriedly pushed his pants down. He climbed onto the bed next to Dixon, and got into position on his knees, ass up and waiting.

The funniest part was how clearly Dixon was fighting against the moment, trying to tell himself it was inappropriate or something, but instincts were getting in the way.

He shifted behind Jaye. After just a second, two licked-wet fingers pressed inside.

“Just fuck me,” Jaye begged.

“No. It’ll hurt without prep.”

“So fucking what? You would never hurt me in any way that matters.”

Dixon’s pair of fingers pumped harder, making Jaye gasp and spread even more, wanting it intensely. A third finger slipped in on the next push, nice and slow, and Jaye gasped around a moan, shivering. Dixon’s name became a mantra when the fingers pulled out, leaving him empty. As soon as he felt pressure, Jaye bit his lip and pushed back onto the thick cock burrowing into him, claiming him.

Lowering his head so it was resting against the bed, Jaye gasped. Sure, it still hurt a little, but he drank the ache down, needing Dixon inside him where he belonged. Once he was fully seated, he let Jaye catch his breath and just caressed the sides of his ass and along his thighs.

“Love you,” Dixon whispered.

Needing those words so desperately, it was terrifying, Jaye frowned against the bed. It used to be so easy to be hard, to not care. Dixon had changed all that — changed him.

“I’ll take care of you. I promise,” Dixon told him, starting to move. The intimate tug and press, stuffing him full, kept him in a vulnerable mindset.

Jaye could only moan. When Dixon began stroking Jaye’s dick counter to each thrust, it was only seconds before Jaye came, shuddering, his breath choking off completely with the force of it.

Dixon slowly pulled out, then pushed right back in on a steady, never-ending thrust that took Jaye apart. “Fucking love you so much, Dix.”

Three hard rutting pushes, hips slapped against Jaye’s cheeks, and Dixon came too, growling through the climax. Jaye laughed breathlessly. He reached for Dixon’s hand, pulling him closer, not letting go.

Chain Link

Jaye’s body wound around Dixon, his arms and legs holding on tightly. The fire crackled in the fireplace but the world beyond the cabin’s wooden confines was peaceful and still. The blankets covering the entangled pair were warm and cozy. A stubborn, subtle frown lingered on Jaye’s expression. Dixon tried to soothe it away with kisses, to no avail.

He knew it was easier for Jaye to face things physically. Talking out problems still brought out his defensive side, his walls closing him in intentionally. That’s why he wasn’t surprised Jaye’s instinct had been to seek comfort and connection through sex before either of them had really faced what they were dealing with. But talking needed to happen. Dixon knew he had to try to assure Jaye it was going to be all right.

“What are you going to do?” Dixon asked, knowing Jaye had thought it through just from the pure unease in the quirk of his mouth.

“I can’t call him. He doesn’t have my number and he can’t call cell phones anyway. Has to be a landline. I could write him, but what would I say? I mean, really? Hey, got your message, thanks for bumping off that piece of shit Ecker? Prison staff reads everything that goes in or out.”

Dixon propped himself up on one arm. The more he pulled away, the more Jaye tried to prevent it by clinging even tighter to him.

“You’re not going down there.”

He’d intended it to be a question, but when it came out as a command, Jaye smirked a little.

“Yes sir, Trooper Rowe, though I’m pretty sure I went down already,” Jaye teased.

“I mean it,” Dixon pressed after a pause for a little inward reflection. “I’m not delivering you to that dangerous nutcase. You don’t owe him anything.”

“Don’t I? I would probably be long dead if it wasn’t for Cash. That’s worth something to you, isn’t it? Because it is to me. I’ve got my whole life ahead of me now, because of him. I have you. I have hope. That’s pretty fucking huge. He’s doing his time. It doesn’t hurt anything just to touch base with him.”

“Yes. It does. He ordered a hit on that guard. He fucking had a man murdered in cold blood.”

“Hey, I murdered a guy too. Someone just as monstrous as Ecker.”

“That’s not the same. You were being actively killed and violated. It was pure self-defense. Cash wasn’t anywhere near Ecker when he died. It was pre-meditated.”

“I don’t know, Dix. Some days I think a killer is a killer, no matter what kind he might happen to be.”

“What if he expects you to do something illegal for him? That seems pretty likely to me. Tell me it isn’t.”

Jaye’s expression shifted. Dixon couldn’t get a read on it, it was too shadowy, hiding things that barely reached the surface. “It isn’t,” Jaye said after a long while.

“You had to think about it a long time,” Dixon frowned.

“He wouldn’t put me in danger like that.”

Dixon had to laugh. Flashes of memory came back, of the things Jaye had hinted to in private confession. He hated to think of what Jaye had been made to suffer in prison. Imagination conjured unspeakable horrors, especially when he had Jaye naked, spread and vulnerable beneath him. There had been other, crueler men in his place, taking advantage in the most awful ways of the person Dixon loved more than any other. Letting Cash have any contact with Jaye felt like stepping aside to let the unhinged thug climb back on top of Jaye’s nude body to have at him in whatever ways he wanted. Dixon had no concept of how to be okay with that on any level.

He stroked through Jaye’s dark curls, afraid for him all over again.

“Tell me he never put you in danger in there,” Dixon dared.

Jaye’s gaze slipped to the side. He sighed. It was answer enough.

“Cash wasn’t responsible for anything I hadn’t agreed to ahead of time,” Jaye replied. It was a cautious, telling response and it made Dixon angry as hell.

“He offered you up to people,” Dixon growled. “How would you feel if Marcus had offered me up like that?”

“Dix,” Jaye hushed, “I would never agree to anything that would make you uncomfortable. You know that, right? You’re the only thing that matters to me. It was about surviving in there. It’s not about that anymore. Cash knows it. He knows he doesn’t have that kind of leverage. He’s not stupid.”

“Fuck leverage and fuck the past. You don’t owe him anything,” Dixon snapped.

He could see it now. Jaye felt like he needed to contact Cash. He was going to do it.

“I’m asking you not to contact him,” Dixon said, trying to get it together and to stop imagining Jaye being raped, being held down by criminals and hurt, over and over again, with no end in sight. “Please? Please don’t?”

Jaye avoided eye contact and stayed silent. Dixon caressed Jaye’s arms. Their fingers wove together. He held Jaye down and kissed him gently. “You’re mine now,” he whispered against Jaye’s warm, kiss-bitten lips.

Exhaling heavily, undulating up against Dixon, Jaye gave every sign of being turned on by the position and Dixon’s words. His legs were hooked behind Dixon’s lower back. Grinding in little movements against Dixon’s body while they kissed, Jaye slowly got hard, his breathing uneven and rough.

Dixon let go of Jaye’s hands, hooked his arms under Jaye’s legs instead, pulling him wide open as he folded Jaye’s legs back. He entered Jaye in one push, going deep fast. Jaye’s mouth fell open around a cry, drinking down air. His lower lip quivered. As Dixon started to move, rocking right against Jaye’s gland, Jaye let out a rough yell of pure pleasure. Clawing at the back of Dixon’s neck, Jaye met every hard thrust. He glanced down where their bodies met, watching Dixon’s swollen dick fucking him wide open.

“God yes,” Jaye moaned, back arching.

He reached for his cock, but Dixon commanded, “No. Just lay there. That’s an order.”

“Fucking love when you give me orders,” Jaye chuckled deliriously. The sound twisted, broke apart on a gasp.

“Then I order you not to contact him.”

“Yes, sir, Trooper Rowe,” Jaye replied with a submissive purr.

“Obey me,” Dixon growled, giving him a hard, complete thrust, feeling Jaye’s lithe, toned body yield and spread easily to receive.

“Oh Jesus,” Jaye moaned, his eyes rolling up, his dick an angry, stiff red, dripping pre-come. Dixon kept rocking against his gland, making Jaye whimper and tremble. His ass pushed down into every thrust. His chin tipped up, his head thrown back in ecstasy. “Don’t fucking stop,” he begged.

“Obey me,” Dixon repeated, his lips brushing against Jaye’s. The heat came off him in waves, sweat slicking his brow and chest.

“Always,” Jaye promised.

Dixon came with a rough groan, pumping seed deeply into Jaye’s ass.

He guided Jaye’s arms above his head, curling there. Crossing his wrists, Dixon pinned them with one hand. When he reached, slowly, for Jaye’s straining dick with the other, Jaye made a fragile, pleading sound. Dixon rubbed gently with the pad of his thumb under the head of Jaye’s dick, barely brushing the silky, hot skin. Jaye shuddered hard, frowning. His hips chased into the touch, but he was impaled on Dixon’s cock, his arms trapped. He wasn’t going anywhere. Dixon kept the light, tickling touch from providing much relief, making Jaye ride the edge of his orgasm. His inner muscles clenched up around Dixon as he fought it, trying to thrust, to come.

He drew it out as long as he could. Brushing with his fingertips around Jaye’s cockhead, Dixon watched Jaye’s mouth as he made broken, breathless little cries. He kept shuddering, his cock dripping. Reading his cues, Dixon kept relief just out of reach. Jaye’s frown melted away. A sort of peace transformed his expression and body language. The stimulation was too intense for any worries to slip through.

Dixon pulled slowly out and fed Jaye’s ass three fingers instead. Going right for his gland, Dixon massaged it carefully.

Jaye yelled, his naturally rough voice even more ragged. Fingering him over and over again, Dixon gradually let go of Jaye’s wrists and crept down his body.

“Fuck… Dix… please…”

He licked with long strokes of his tongue up the underside of Jaye’s cock. Swallowing down the pre-come, he cleaned it all away. Then he licked over the head, up the sides. When he closed his lips around Jaye’s cockhead and let the shaft slide back to fill his mouth and throat, Jaye came with a strangled sound, convulsing. He rode Dixon’s mouth, fucking it, twisting on the fingers taking him apart. Jaye’s come tasted sweet and Dixon sucked him hard through the aftershocks.

Once he was fully spent and lay boneless on the bed, Dixon crawled back up and settled down beside him. Without a moment’s hesitation, though he was clearly exhausted, Jaye curled up like a kitten at Dixon’s side, under his arm, his head pillowed on Dixon’s chest as he caught his breath.

Cruel men like Cash might have been good at building up Jaye’s walls, but Dixon took great pride at his ability to get Jaye to let all of those walls come tumbling down.

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