“Do you want another drink?” Riley asked, gesturing with his glass of ice water.
Jack on edge, but then that wasn’t a surprise. He shuffled a little so that Riley was between him and the crowd of people for this fundraising event.
“I need all my faculties for the next time I get cornered and propositioned by a woman old enough to be my grandma.”
“Do I need to apologize again?” Riley teased. “It wasn’t my fault we got separated.”
“I needed a beer, and you were jawing too long with that tall dude.”
“Stupid name,” Jack muttered.
Riley pressed a hand to his husband’s chest. “Stop complaining now,” he said, pressing right where he could feel Jack’s steady heartbeat. “Drink another beer, we’ll circulate, and then we’re done and out of here.”
Jack apparently couldn’t contain one last grievance. “Couldn’t we have just mailed a check?”
Riley sighed. Jack hadn't been happy about attending this event since Riley had opened the e-vite on his phone. What started out as a conversation over coffee by the fence, reminiscing about his college days had ended up with Jack finding any excuse he could think of to avoid the event.
“Riley, why look at you all grown up,” a shrill voice broke into their quiet conversation, and Riley caught Jack’s wide eyed reaction. That could only mean one thing.
Dilys had found them.
Given that Riley and Dilys’ husband, the double crossing Josiah Harrold, weren’t on speaking terms, this could end badly.
“And look at you sweet thing,” she said, loudly, and leaning into Jack. “Why you look so much like your daddy.”
Jack’s eyes widened, and Riley saw a mix of anger and
discomfort in Jack’s expression. Carefully, and with as much grace as he could manage he insinuated himself between Dilys and Jack, holding Jack’s hand and tugging him away from Dilys at the same time.
“Excuse us, ma’am, I see Cam.” He was lying, he couldn’t see Cam anywhere, but he sensed that Jack wasn’t going to last much longer having to be polite to some of the wealthy, entitled assholes here tonight. A group Riley had once been groomed to join.
They eased away.
“Like my daddy,” Jack huffed. “Something stupid there,” he added.
Riley nodded, concentrating on where to go and what to do, they only needed to last a little longer, find Cam, and then go home. He parked them in another corner, this time hidden behind a strategically placed plant. Then he needed something to distract Jack.
“I was giving some more thought to our next fundraiser for the riding school.”
“Not this again,” Jack growled.
“We never talked about it properly,” Riley countered.
“Because I don’t get it. Why would we have it at a hockey game and why is there even a team in Dallas? Doesn’t anyone know it’s hot here? It’s a stupid idea.”
Riley relaxed a little, and cradled Jack’s face, kissing away the frown. “You might like it when you get there.”
“Until they find a way of getting horses on the ice—“
Riley kissed the rest of the sentence away. When he pulled back, he caught sight of Cam heading for the balcony, and that was their cue to follow.
“Ice in Dallas,” Jack said, he sounded pissed and then Riley realized Dilys was hot on their tail.
“It’s a thing,” he said, and pushed through the door to the balcony, closing it quickly behind them. “Hey, Cam. Six.”
Cam smiled at him. Hey.”
“Evening,” Six added.
“You get this?” Jack said, sounding less stressed now he was out in the open air. “Riley is organizing a charity event at a hockey game. Ice. Dallas. Does no one see the irony in this?”
“Count me in for two seats,” Cam said. Riley shook his hand gratefully; he knew he could depend on Cam.
Jack’s cell sounded. Knowing him it was some prearranged call from Robbie to get him away from the event early, but as he chatted to Cam, he saw Jack’s expression change. “Max,” he said.
Riley didn’t delay; he said his goodbyes and they made their way through the growing crowd to the exit. No one stopped them to talk, not that Riley would have wasted time chatting.
“What happened?” he asked Jack as soon as they were in the elevator.
“He needs us to read to him.”
Riley nodded. There was so much more in that sentence that only they would recognize. An unspoken understanding that something had happened at home and Max was unsettled and needed them.
“What was it?” Riley asked.
“Hayley didn’t say, just that he needs his daddies.”
Riley was driving tonight, hence his water, and they made it home within the hour. With each mile they drove away from Dallas, Jack relaxed more, until he lost that stress he carried in the tuxedo charity receptions that he sometimes attended with Riley.
“He just keeps saying he wants you both,” Hayley said, looking frazzled. “Carol has a migraine; the twins are asleep, I’m sorry I called you home.”
Jack and Riley both hugged her. “We’re glad you did,” Riley said.
Then hand in hand they climbed the stairs to Max’s room.
Together, they had this.
You can find out all about the Texas Series here.