Adam sat up, startled, then slumped back into the cushions, recognizing the squeak of the pet door. Only Pip, though even his company would be better than the lonely hour he'd just spent in the empty house.
He rubbed at his eyes, embarrassed by his tears when the sleek creature sauntered into the room. Yes, sauntered. Only way to describe it. Pip sauntered, strolled, strutted, behaved like he owned the world. He never simply walked anywhere.
They stared at each other and Adam sniffed, "What, you've never seen a man cry before?"
Solemn gray eyes blinked at him and Adam ducked his head, his eyes filling again as the ache in his heart spilled over. The couch dipped and Pip's head rubbed against his thigh. Adam reached over and lifted the beautiful animal onto his lap. "At least I have you to love me," he whispered and began to stroke his soft gray fur, letting the repetitive motion sooth his frayed nerves.
Pip's rumbling purr became hypnotic, easing the pain tightening his chest.
"That's that," he sighed, wondering how long a broken heart took to mend. A gentle nip on his fingers dragged him from self-pity. "Hungry?" he asked. Pip rose and stretched, tail brushing under Adam's nose, making him laugh.
"Brat." He raised a brow when the cat didn't budge. "Well, are you going to get down?"
Pip glanced away, yawned, then jumped to the floor as if it were his idea. Adam shook his head as he crossed the room to the kitchen. The thought of food nauseated him, so he opened a tin for Pip, then went to the bedroom and dropped onto his stomach, clutching the pillows over his head. The bed felt huge without Ken in it, and he rolled into a ball, pulling the pillow to his chest. God, he longed for sleep.
* * *
Pip stretched, careful not to wake the man sleeping next to him. It took hours and lots of tears before Adam had closed his exhausted eyes. Moving slowly, he arched his back and shifted into his human form. Adam had never seen him like this, hadn't a clue his pet was actually a man. Pip smirked and ran a hand down his lean chest. A very sexy one at that.
Adam sighed in his sleep and Pip rolled toward him, leaned on his elbow to look at the guy in the faint glow from the digital clock on the bedside table. What he wouldn't give to pull him into his arms, kiss the hurt from his heart. He tenderly brushed the strands of Adam's dark hair off his forehead, bent and kissed his closed eyes and tasted his tears.
Pip smiled fondly in the darkness. Adam had found him in an alley last summer, the worst for an encounter with a vicious Tom. He'd carried him in his arms, so gently! Nursed him, fed him a bowl of milk, given him a home. Pip had only meant to stay a few days, but Adam had been so sweet to him. The days had turned into weeks then months. Even after Ken had moved in, Adam would still find time for him, stroking his fur while they listened to music or watched a movie together on the couch.
Pip blinked at a sting of tears. Maybe it was time for him to go. Find a new home with someone who didn't stir passions in him he couldn't control and the longing for something he could never have.
"I don't believe this. Who are you?"
He jerked his head up and met Adam's wide gaze. The guy's chest rose and fell with his quick breaths, but Pip didn't sense any fear, only wonder. How to explain?
Adam deserved the truth. "I'm Pip."
A smile curled Adam's perfect lips. "I hoped it was you."
"What about Ken?"
Pain swept Adam's face. "I was lonely and thought that was love."
Pip cupped his face, looked deep into his eyes. "No, this is love, if you can accept me."
Adam nodded. "I've dreamed of you long enough." Adam brushed his lips over Pip's, teasing. "I want the reality of you."Artwork by Marcel Stevahn -One Good EyePhotography