For those of you unfamiliar with Bruce and Jace, they are the protagonists of my Valentine's Day Sip, When Love Walked In which takes place in Manhattan, New York, 1933, and tells of how the two met.
Blurb: Bruce Shannon is a Private Investigator dealing with case after case of missing persons and infidelity. None of which inspire warm, fuzzy feelings during the week of Valentine’s Day. Then again, Bruce isn’t exactly a fuzzy feelings kind of guy, which suits him just fine. He doesn’t need anyone anyhow, only his cat, Mittens. That is, until the handsome Jace Scarret wanders off the streets and into Bruce’s life. Will Jace end up showing Bruce that maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t so lousy after all?
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Endearing Young Charms - a St. Patrick's Day Special by Charlie Cochet
There was no reply.
"Bruce?” Jace knocked cautiously on the grumpy detective’s office door, all the while wondering what on earth the man could be doing in there. It had been a slow day, so Jace knew there weren’t any clients, nor were they working any cases at the moment. With any luck, Bruce was finally getting somewhere with the previous month’s expenses. He knew how much Bruce hated paperwork, but it had taken Jace over a month to undo the damage done to Gladys’ pristine filing system. The man had a talent for disorder.
After Jace’s request, Bruce had growled at him, stomped into his office, and slammed the door, but soon it was clear that the detective was indeed working on the expenses—made evident by the sheer amount of cursing that had been expelled. However, that had been hours ago, and Jace had begun to get rather concerned, especially since he’d been attempting to get Bruce’s attention for the past fifteen minutes now.
Walking to the outer office door, he locked up. He didn’t need any clients walking in while Bruce was in the middle of one of his colorful outbursts. With that done, he went to Bruce’s office and quietly let himself in.
“What the—” Fuming, Jace marched over to Bruce’s desk, his arms crossed over his chest as he glared at his boss, and lover. “What are you doing?”
Bruce sat with his legs propped up on his desk, his sleeves rolled up to the elbows, tie crooked, a dime novel in one hand, and a glass of whiskey in the other.
“Reading,” he murmured, without looking up.
“That much I gathered,” Jace replied through his teeth, somehow managing to summon patience. “Is that what you’ve been doing for the last three and a half hours? Reading a dime novel?”
That earned him a frown, but Bruce didn’t bother looking away from his book to do so. “Don’t be a bunny. It doesn’t take me that long to read one of these. This is my third.”
“Your…” Jace gaped at him before his gaze shifted to the archive box on the desk. It was filled to the brim with balled up pieces of paper—Bruce’s preferred method of filing. Jace picked one up and held it out to Bruce, who casually took a sip of his whiskey as he continued reading. “How am I supposed to sort out the expenses if you keep turning your invoices into something the Yankees could use for practice?”
Receiving no reply, he opened his mouth to begin another bout of scolding when there was a faint rustling sound. For a moment, he thought it had come from the box. Leaning in, he peered at the sea of wadded up foolscap. Suddenly, they attacked him. With the manliest of yelps, Jace jumped back, his hand flying to his chest as he attempted to get his pulse back to a normal level. “Jesus Christ! What the hell is that?”
Gingerly, he approached the box to get a better look. As soon as his finger touched the cardboard edge, a white paw swooped out and batted it. “For crying out loud! Mittens!”
“Oh yeah, I forgot.” Bruce put his book down and grinned up at him. “She crawled in there about an hour ago. Don’t know what the hell she’s been doing in there, but she’s obviously enjoying it.”
“Well, at least one of you is doing something with these invoices. Shame it can’t be the one capable of dialogue,” Jace grumbled, wishing he could stay mad at Mittens, but as the only thing visible was her pink nose poking out from under all that paper, he couldn’t help but forgive her. Bruce on the other hand…
“Dialogue is overrated,” Bruce grumbled. “Besides, you’re wrong about Mittens.” He rapped his knuckles against the box. “Sweetheart, talk to Jace.” As instructed, Mittens began to meow. Jace was unimpressed—with Bruce anyway, and arched an eyebrow at him.
“What? It ain’t her fault you can’t understand her.”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Jace closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. He wondered how Gladys had managed. One thing was certain; the woman deserved a medal or sainthood. “Bruce, you are not leaving this office until you at least make some headway on these invoices.”
“Nope.” Bruce stood and started rolling down his sleeves. Swiping his cufflinks off the desk, he handed them to Jace, who was so taken aback by Bruce’s response that he took the cufflinks without a second thought. Had he missed something?
“What do you mean ‘nope’?” Jace asked dumbly, as Bruce extended an arm out to him. Granted, Bruce was the boss, and although most of the time he griped about things, when Jace had a valid point, Bruce usually gave in.
“I mean nope. I’m done for the day. And so are you.”
“I am? We are?” He fastened Bruce’s shirt cuff then started on the other. “But it’s the middle of the afternoon.”
“It’s St. Patrick’s Day,” Bruce declared with a big grin that had Jace’s stomach filling with butterflies. How was it possible for the man to be so excruciatingly frustrating, yet terribly irresistible at the same time? And the worst part was that Bruce was completely aware. Despite his arrogance, Jace couldn’t keep himself from melting under the man’s gaze. He quickly shook himself out of it.
“You obviously ain’t Irish,” Bruce muttered, allowing Jace to straighten his tie for him before he walked to the coat rack, put on his suit jacket, and picked up his overcoat and hat.
“What does that have to do with anything?” He was still confused. Not an unusual state for him to be in where Bruce was concerned.
“We’re going to go celebrate.”
Jace’s gaze went to the half empty bottle of whiskey on the desk before it shifted back to Bruce, who narrowed his gaze. “There something you wanna say?”
“Nope.” Jace shook his head for emphasis.
“Wise guy.” Walking over to the desk, Bruce tapped the side of the archive box. “Sweetheart, it’s time to go home.”
Mittens leapt out of the box, sending balled up invoices in all directions. After being deposited on Bruce’s shoulder, the two followed Jace into the outer office where he picked up his own overcoat and hat.
“You spoil her too much,” Jace muttered as they left and he locked up. Mittens had to be the most pampered cat in all of Manhattan. Not that he was jealous or anything.
“She deserves to be spoiled,” Bruce replied, scratching Mittens under her chin. As they walked out of the building, Bruce was still smiling, which was rather unusual for him. Was it because it was St. Patrick’s Day? It wasn’t as if the man didn’t drink at all hours any other day. What was so special about today? “Come on,” Bruce added. “We’ll drop Mittens off and then head to McBride’s. Corned beef and cabbage is on me.”
Jace followed quietly along and in no time they were at Bruce’s apartment. He waited in the living room as Bruce dropped Mittens off and disappeared into his bedroom. When he came out, Jace couldn’t keep the dopey grin off his face. Bruce was sporting a green tie. Further to his surprise, Bruce handed him a similar one.
“I have a tie,” Jace said, looking down at his own less ostentatious one.
“You don’t want to go in there and not be wearing green. Believe me.”
Not entirely sure what Bruce was getting at, Jace removed his tie and replaced it with the new brighter one. Having been a bank clerk, his ties had usually been restricted to black, gray, or deep blues. He had to admit, he was a little tickled that he was wearing something of Bruce’s—even if it was a little garish. It was silly, he knew, but it always made him feel somewhat closer to Bruce whenever he had the chance to wear something of his. It reminded Jace of when they’d met.
“What’s with the face?” Bruce asked, ushering Jace toward the door. “You’re not jealous of Mittens are you?”
How was it that Jace never had any clue as to what Bruce was thinking, but the man could read him like an open book? Not that Jace had any intention of admitting as much. “Who said I was jealous?”
“Your bottom lip,” Bruce replied, poking at it softly and sending a shiver up Jace’s spine. “It juts out whenever I’m not paying you enough attention, and you get all mopey like a puppy.”
That brought a raised brow from Jace. “Well someone certainly has a high opinion of himself.” Doing his best to keep his wanton thoughts at bay, he made to open the door only to have Bruce smack his hand against it and shut it. Jace pulled on the doorknob to no avail. “Do you mind? What on earth has gotten into you?”
“I’m more concerned about what needs to get into you,” Bruce replied, his voice low and throaty. Jace’s cheeks flared up as Bruce leaned into him, his lips inches away.
“Must you be so crude?” He hated the tremor in his voice, but it couldn’t be helped. It had been days since they’d been intimate. Bruce had been busy working cases, which usually meant he was in a foul mood, and Jace was still learning when to initiate contact or leave him be. Bruce Shannon was a conundrum. One Jace had yet to figure out.
“Am I insultin’ your delicate sensibilities?” Bruce asked, his arm wrapping around Jace’s waist and his hand finding its way to his backside. He gave it a firm, sudden squeeze, drawing a gasp from Jace.
“Um… no,” he managed feebly, uncertain of what to make of Bruce’s bold move. “I thought you said we were going to celebrate?”
“Are you complaining?” Bruce asked, and started to draw away.
In a bout of panic, Jace grabbed Bruce’s jacket and crushed their lips together, thrilled by the deep, slow moan that escaped Bruce. Jace’s kiss was returned with exceptional enthusiasm and he had to admit to nearly sighing when Bruce’s strong arms enveloped him in a tight embrace. Their kiss grew more ardent and needy, until they were forced to come up for breath. The lust in Bruce’s eyes was enough to make Jace go weak at the knees.
“Forget the pub,” Bruce said gruffly, as he all but tore off Jace’s clothes. “Let’s celebrate here.”
Jace was hardly about to argue, and even if he had anything at all to say on the matter, it was gone the moment Bruce had him stripped down to only his shirt—having given up by the third button. He grabbed Jace, hauled him off his feet, and pressed him against the door, using his weight to hold him there. With his legs wrapped around Bruce’s waist, Jace swiftly went to work undressing his lover as much as was physically possible from his position. His hands took advantage, running all over those hard, delicious muscles. There were kisses, licks, bites, and plenty of grinding coming from both of them.
Bruce pulled Jace away from the door and precariously carried him into the bedroom, dropping him onto the bed with a bounce. As he pulled off his tie and flung it somewhere across the room, followed by the rest of his clothes, he paused to sweep his gaze over Jace.
“God damn, you are somethin’ else.”
“You know,” Jace purred, his fingers tracing a line down Bruce’s chest. “I can see myself really enjoying St. Patrick’s Day from now on.”
“Less talk, more celebrating,” Bruce ordered, kissing Jace to the point of making his toes curl. He wrapped his legs around his lover and gave himself up freely and wantonly. One thing was certain, Bruce had one hell of a way of celebrating holidays.
* Thanks, Elf ;)