If I Must Lane

If I Must Lane by Amy Lane Read Free Book Online

Book: If I Must Lane by Amy Lane Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amy Lane
Tags: M/M romance
murmured. “No worries, right? My ticket, it’s for tomorrow night. I stop in Sacramento. I’ll spend the day trying to get a flight from Sacto to L.A. right?”
    “It shouldn’t be too hard,” Joel said out of a dry throat. “There’s a lot of commuter flights in and out. You should be good.”
    “Yeah,” Mel said, giving him a long hug and a laugh. “Wait ’til I tell the girls at work my brother is gay. I swear, my coolness will shoot up like a rocket!”
    “Yeah,” Joel muttered into his sister’s shoulder, “you got cooler the minute I was born.”
    “I knew that, pappi . You know I did.”
    *  *  *
    Joel called Ian in the morning and told him when his flight arrived. He called him from the airport and told him when it left and how long it would be in the air. He called when he landed, and Ian answered, “I know you’re here, mate. I’m at the baggage carousel, waiting for your shit.”
    He sounded happy, Joel thought. He hoped it was true; he’d feel like a first-class asshole if he’d stolen his sister’s ticket and left his mother’s home early for a guy who wouldn’t even notice he was there.
    But any doubts he would have had faded away when he saw Ian, slouching near the back of the baggage carousel, looking towards Joel’s gate.
    Joel had the curious sensation of the chaos of the airport fading to a dull swish in his ears, and suddenly, the only person in the world was Ian. He was unaware that he was trotting at all possible speed, dodging luggage, children, and reuniting families, just so he could get there and see Ian smile.
    It was blinding.
    Their hug went on longer than was probably appropriate, but Joel didn’t give a ripe shit, not when Ian was there, warm, needing, and grateful.
    They released, but Ian kept his arms around Joel’s back, and Joel didn’t pull away. “You know,” he said, looking somewhere else, “you didn’t have to do that. You did tell your sister thank you for me?”
    “Tell her yourself. She’s sleeping on the couch for Christmas,” Joel said with a soft smile.
    Ian blinked, befuddled. “Why would she want to do that?” he asked. Together they saw Joel’s bag and moved toward it, Ian’s arm still looped around Joel’s shoulders. Joel refused to comment about the arm. Ian’s casual touch was sustaining him, anchoring him to the world, making all those revelations he’d had about Ian when he was alone in his child’s bed seem real and solid and true.
    “I’ll tell you later,” Joel said, hoping that by then, Ian would still want it to be true. Ian snagged his bag—those amazing muscles managing the entire case without benefit of wheels—and together they headed outside and across the street to Ian’s little Prius.
    When they’d loaded up, Ian hesitated for a minute before turning the keys in the ignition.
    “How’s Manky Bastard?” Joel asked quietly into the silence. It was the one thing Ian hadn’t talked about, and the one thing Joel was pretty sure he knew the answer to.
    “In a vase on the mantel,” Ian replied, his voice catching.
    Joel put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “I’m sorry, pappi. I’m sorry she had to die. I’m really sorry it had to be when I was gone.”
    Ian nodded, looking determinedly to outside his window. “It wasn’t your fault,” he said softly. “I just… I just hope, you know… you don’t… you won’t think….” Ian looked at him, helplessly, waving his hands and sniffling, wiping his face on the back of his hands and looking embarrassed about that.
    “I took care of her, Joel. I can take care of another one, honest! I can take care of myself, I swear. I just don’t want you to….” He trailed off, and Joel unbuckled his seatbelt and turned, grabbing Ian’s shoulders and shaking him a little.
    “Ian… pappi, you need to calm down. I know you can take care of yourself. I know you took care of her. Why is this so important? You’re not—” Oh Christ! This

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