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When Snow Falls, We Listen Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at http://archiveofourown.org/works/29828055. Rating: Archive Warning: Category: Fandom: Relationship: Character: Additional Tags: Language: Stats: Explicit No Archive Warnings Apply M/M 9-1-1: Lone Star (TV 2020) Carlos Reyes/TK Strand Carlos Reyes (9-1-1 Lone Star), TK Strand, Michelle Blake (9-1-1 Lone Star), Mateo Chavez (9-1-1 Lone Star), Paul Strickland (9-1-1 Lone Star), Alex (9-1-1 Lone Star) Canadian Shack, Snowed In, Hurt/Comfort, Food, flexible dietary choices, talk of past drug abuse, Minor panic, Fluff, chef carlos, Actor TK, Alternate Universe, Insecure Carlos Reyes (9-1-1 Lone Star), alex is irredeemable, there's only one bed, more tags to come as the story posts, Fluff and Angst, tk can be a bit dramatic, carlos is a big teddy bear English Published: 2021-03-03 Completed: 2021-07-31 Chapters: 24/24 Words: 77826 Summary When Snow Falls, We Listen by destimushi Hollywood heartthrob TK Strand seems to have everything figured out. He's got the career of his dreams, his pick of scripts, and a platform where he gets to touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Sure, his personal life is just one sex scandal after another, but he's used to that. He loves his job and adores his fans and that's all that matters. After attending a wedding that drags up unpleasant memories from a past he'd rather forget, TK books himself a remote cabin in Canada where he can re-center himself before his next big shoot. Carlos Reyes loves to cook, but he loves watching people enjoy his food more. Although his catering and meal planning business is booming, he's lost the spark of passion that drove him to culinary school in the first place. When his last catering job goes sideways and nasty rumours start to fly, Carlos retreats to his family's cabin up north in Canada for some much needed time to make some life-altering decisions. Miscommunication brings them together, but a snow storm keeps them there, and it's up to TK and Carlos to figure out what it is they both need to weather the storm. Notes
When Snow Falls, We Listen 最初发布在 http://archiveofourown.org/works/29828055 的 Archive of Our Own 上。评级: 存档 警告: 类别: 同人圈: 关系: 角色: 附加标签: 语言: 统计: 显式 无存档警告 适用 M/M 9-1-1: 孤星 (TV 2020) 卡洛斯·雷耶斯/TK 斯特兰德 卡洛斯·雷耶斯 (9-1-1 孤星), TK 斯特兰德, 米歇尔·布莱克 (9-1-1 孤星), 马特奥·查韦斯 (9-1-1 孤星), 保罗·斯特里克兰 (9-1-1 孤星), 亚历克斯 (9-1-1 孤星) 加拿大小屋, 下雪了, 伤害/舒适,食物,灵活的饮食选择,谈论过去的药物滥用,轻微的恐慌,绒毛,厨师卡洛斯,演员TK,平行宇宙,不安全的卡洛斯·雷耶斯(9-1-1孤星),亚历克斯是不可救药的,只有一张床,更多的标签随着故事的发布而出现,绒毛和焦虑,tk可能有点戏剧性,卡洛斯是一只大泰迪熊 英语出版: 2021-03-03 已完成:2021-07-31 章节:24/24 字数:77826 摘要 当雪落下时,我们倾听 作者:destimushi 好莱坞万人迷 TK Strand 似乎已经想通了一切。他有他梦想的职业,他挑选的剧本,以及一个他可以触及数十万人生活的平台。当然,他的个人生活只是一个接一个的性丑闻,但他已经习惯了。他热爱自己的工作,崇拜他的粉丝,这才是最重要的。在参加了一场婚礼后,他宁愿忘记过去的不愉快回忆,TK在加拿大为自己预订了一个偏远的小屋,在那里他可以在下一次大型拍摄之前重新集中精力。卡洛斯·雷耶斯(Carlos Reyes)喜欢做饭,但他喜欢看着人们更喜欢他的食物。尽管他的餐饮和膳食计划业务蒸蒸日上,但他失去了最初驱使他进入烹饪学校的激情火花。 当他的最后一份餐饮工作陷入困境,令人讨厌的谣言开始满天飞时,卡洛斯回到了他家在加拿大北部的小屋里,花了一些急需的时间来做出一些改变生活的决定。沟通不畅使他们走到了一起,但一场暴风雪将他们留在了那里,TK和卡洛斯要弄清楚他们需要什么来度过风暴。笔记

After 1.5 seasons of my obsessing over these two, it's finally happened! A multi-chapter au fic! Thanks to Mel for putting up with me and alpha reading as I wrote, and thanks to my wonderful beta Bobbob for catching all my stupid mistakes. Updates will happen every Thursday night/Friday morning depending on life, but no later than Friday night! I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it! And yes, the cabin is a real place, though it won't show up on Google maps because it's that remote!
在我痴迷于这两个赛季的 1.5 个赛季之后,它终于发生了!一个多章节的au fic!感谢 Mel 在我写作时忍受我和 alpha 阅读,感谢我出色的 beta Bobbob 抓住了我所有愚蠢的错误。根据生活情况,每周四晚上/周五早上都会进行更新,但不迟于周五晚上!我希望你喜欢阅读这个故事,就像我喜欢写它一样!是的,小屋是一个真实的地方,尽管它不会出现在谷歌地图上,因为它太偏僻了!

Chapter 1 TK checks the map—printed from the welcome email he received from the Airbnb host—taped to the dashboard of his rental, then squints at the road sign overhead. He hates driving at the best of times, but at least in the city one wrong turn won’t take him to the next town. Here in the backcountry of British Columbia, Canada, if he misses his exit, it’ll be miles of rolling hills before he can find his way back. Of course, things would be easier if he had a GPS, but the cabin he rented is so remote it doesn’t have an address he can pin on Google Maps. His phone rings. TK glances at the device laying on the driver’s seat before pressing the answer button on the steering wheel. Mateo’s voice, his agent, cuts off the music on the Bluetooth speakers. “Yo, TK. Where’re you at?” “I’m getting close, I think.” TK checks the map again, making sure he took the right turn off the exit. “The map says I got one more fork in the road then I’ll be at the bottom of the driveway.” “Okay. Good. You stay safe out there, you hear?” Mateo says, genuine concern in his voice. “Can’t have the famous TK Strand dead in the middle of nowhere in bum fuck Canada. Especially since your next job starts in three weeks.” “Seriously, it’s not my first time heading off into the wilderness alone.” TK rolls his eyes. “At least this time there’s a heated cabin waiting for me.” “You know how much stress eating you cause me every time you take one of your little nature trips?” Mateo shoots back. “My entire fitness team waits with glee for you to take off so they can torture me.” “You have a fitness team?” “Fuck off, Strand.” TK laughs, his mood lifting. Over the years, Mateo has become more than just his agent, and he always knows how to cheer TK up. There’s a lull in their conversation, and TK checks his phone to make sure the call didn’t cut off. Service has been spotty ever since he left the last little town for fuel. Mateo’s handsome face is still on the screen with the call counter jumping up by the second. “You sure you’re okay, bud?” Mateo asks after another moment of silence, all traces of playfulness gone from his voice. TK drags a hand down his face, his grip on the steering wheel tightening. Is he okay? He’s not really sure, but that’s why he’s out here, isn’t it? “Yeah, I’ll be fine. There’s just been a lot going on.” “What, with Douchenozzle’s wedding?” Mateo spits, still refusing to use Alex’s name. “Told you not to go.” “It’s been four years and I’m over him, I swear,” TK says, resigned. “The past year has been a lot, with work and what not.” TK pauses and something twists in his gut. “And yeah, the wedding was a lot too.”
第1章 TK检查了贴在他出租屋仪表板上的地图——从他从Airbnb房东那里收到的欢迎电子邮件打印出来,然后眯着眼睛看着头顶的路标。他讨厌在最好的时候开车,但至少在城市里,一个错误的转弯不会把他带到下一个城镇。在加拿大不列颠哥伦比亚省的偏远地区,如果他错过了出口,在他找到回去的路之前,他要经过数英里的连绵起伏的丘陵。当然,如果他有GPS,事情会更容易,但他租的小屋太偏僻了,没有可以在谷歌地图上固定的地址。他的电话响了。TK瞥了一眼放在驾驶座上的设备,然后按下了方向盘上的应答按钮。马特奥的声音,他的经纪人,切断了蓝牙扬声器上的音乐。“哟,TK。你在哪儿?“我想,我快要到了。”TK再次检查地图,确保他从出口右转。“地图上说我还有一个岔路口,然后我就会在车道的底部。“好的。好。你在外面保持安全,听到了吗?马特奥说,他的声音中带着真诚的担忧。“不能让著名的 TK Strand 死在他妈的加拿大的偏僻地方。特别是因为你的下一份工作将在三周后开始。“说真的,这不是我第一次独自前往荒野。”TK翻了个白眼。“至少这一次有一个加热的小屋在等着我。”“你知道你每次参加一次小小的自然旅行时,你吃东西给我带来了多大的压力吗?”马特奥回击。“我的整个健身团队都兴高采烈地等着你起飞,这样他们就可以折磨我了。”“你有健身队吗?”“滚蛋,斯特兰德。”TK笑了,心情好了起来。多年来,马特奥已经不仅仅是他的经纪人,他总是知道如何让TK振作起来。 他们的谈话停顿了一下,TK检查了他的手机,以确保通话没有被切断。自从他离开最后一个小镇加油以来,服务一直参差不齐。马特奥英俊的脸庞仍然在屏幕上,呼叫计数器一秒一秒地跳起来。“你确定你没事,伙计?”马特奥又沉默了一会儿后问道,他的声音中所有戏谑的痕迹都消失了。TK把一只手拖到他的脸上,他握紧方向盘的手。他还好吗?他不太确定,但这就是他来这里的原因,不是吗?“是的,我会没事的。只是发生了很多事情。“什么,Douchenozzle的婚礼?”马特奥吐了口唾沫,仍然拒绝使用亚历克斯的名字。“叫你不要去。”“已经四年了,我发誓,我超过了他,”TK说,辞职了。“过去的一年有很多,有工作,什么没有。”TK停顿了一下,他的直觉有些扭曲。“是的,婚礼也很多。”

“It’s Douchenozzle . Of course it was gonna be a lot . He got married on Valentine’s day, for fuck’s sake. I mean, who even does that?” Mateo spits, and TK can hear the eye roll in his voice. “Why'd you even go?” “He invited me.” TK shrugs even if Mateo can’t see it. “I wanted to show him that I’m over him. And I am, but he...he hasn’t changed one little bit.” Mateo snorts. “Could have told you that and saved you a ridiculously expensive wedding gift. Why the fuck he needs a Tibetan gong is beyond me.” “Like you said, it’s Alex. Who knows what goes on in that fucked up head of his?” TK replies. Once upon a time, he thought he knew, but evidently he was the Jon Snow of their relationship, in that he knew nothing. “Anyway, I just turned off at the fork in the road. The host says I’ll lose cell service when I hit the driveway.” “All right. You be safe, TK,” Mateo says. “I’m literally a phone call away, so call me if you need anything. Got it?” “Yes, mom.” “Fuck you, too.” The call ends, and TK chuckles as his music resumes. It’s Mateo’s job as his agent to look out for him, but he takes his duties beyond just work, and TK is grateful for that. If it wasn’t for Mateo catching him when things went south with Alex, TK’s not sure where he’d be right now. When he first moved to LA at nineteen, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and working at a coffee shop like all aspiring actors, he had no idea that a chance meeting with the Hollywood heartthrob Alex Silvester would turn his world upside down. It was good at first, really good. Alex introduced TK to Mateo, got him his first gig on a TV commercial, and the rest was history. In a way, TK owes his career to Alex, but definitely not his success. TK shakes his head and shoves all thoughts of Alex to the dark crevices of his mind. He’s not here to think about Alex. Or about work. Or about anything for that matter. It’s been a long time since he last took a real vacation where he could be alone and unwind without the fear of being caught by the paparazzi or fans. He loves his fans, they’re the reason he gets to wake up every morning and do the thing he loves most, but once in a while, he just wants to take off his mask and relax. To exist in total anonymity. The road narrows and TK slows as he spots the private property sign nailed to a tree. The instructions say to turn down the slope here and follow the path to the cabin. In the summer, TK can see how spotting the driveway would be tricky, but right now, it’s the only path that’s plowed. His tires crunch on compacted snow as he slowly drives down the sloped driveway. Trees with snow laden branches lead him down the narrow path into a massive clearing. The chained gate is open, and TK pulls through carefully. TK follows the host’s instructions and parks next to the cabin at the edge of the clearing. Turning off the engine, he sits in total silence and drinks it all in. Large trees surround the entire clearing like a cocoon, and TK sighs in contentment as the silence of the forest soothes his agitation. The frozen lake in the distance is breath-takingly still. What would this place be like in the summer, with the forest bursting with life and the lake warm and welcoming? He’ll have to check and see if the cabin is available for rent come summer.
“这是Douchenozzle。当然会很多.他在情人节结婚了,看在他妈的份上。我的意思是,谁会这样做?马特奥吐了口唾沫,TK能听到他声音里的翻白眼。“你为什么要去?”“他邀请了我。”TK耸耸肩,即使马特奥看不见。“我想向他表明我胜过他。我是,但他......他一点都没变。马特奥哼了一声。“本来可以告诉你的,给你省下一份贵得离谱的结婚礼物。为什么他他妈需要西藏锣,这超出了我的范围。“就像你说的,是亚历克斯。谁知道他那该死的脑袋里在想什么?TK回答。曾几何时,他以为自己知道,但显然他是他们关系中的琼恩·雪诺,因为他什么都不知道。“无论如何,我只是在岔路口转弯。房东说,当我上车道时,我会失去手机服务。“好吧。你很安全,TK,“马特奥说。“我只是一个电话,所以如果你需要什么,请给我打电话。明白了吗?“是,妈妈。”“去你妈的,也。”通话结束,TK在音乐恢复时笑了起来。作为他的经纪人,马特奥的工作是照顾他,但他的职责不仅仅是工作,TK对此表示感谢。如果不是马特奥在亚历克斯向南发展时抓住了他,TK不确定他现在会在哪里。当他十九岁第一次搬到洛杉矶时,他眼睛明亮,尾巴浓密,像所有有抱负的演员一样在咖啡店工作,他不知道与好莱坞万人迷亚历克斯·西尔维斯特的偶然相遇会让他的世界发生翻天覆地的变化。一开始很好,真的很好。亚历克斯将TK介绍给马特奥,让他在电视广告中得到了他的第一场演出,剩下的就是历史了。在某种程度上,TK的职业生涯归功于亚历克斯,但绝对不是他的成功。TK摇了摇头,把亚历克斯的所有想法都推到了他脑海中的黑暗缝隙中。 他不是来想亚历克斯的。或者关于工作。或者与此相关的任何事情。自从他上一次真正度假以来已经很久了,在那里他可以独自一人放松,而不必担心被狗仔队或粉丝抓住。他爱他的粉丝,他们是他每天早上醒来做他最喜欢的事情的原因,但偶尔,他只想摘下面具放松一下。以完全匿名的方式存在。道路变窄了,TK放慢了速度,因为他发现钉在树上的私有财产标志。说明说要在这里转下斜坡,然后沿着小路前往小屋。在夏天,TK可以看到发现车道是多么棘手,但现在,这是唯一被犁过的路径。他的轮胎在压实的雪地上嘎吱作响,慢慢地沿着倾斜的车道行驶。树枝上长满了积雪的树木将他引向狭窄的小路,进入一片巨大的空地。锁链门是打开的,TK小心翼翼地拉了进去。TK听从主人的指示,将车停在空地边缘的小屋旁边。关掉引擎,他静静地坐着,一饮而尽。大树像茧一样环绕着整片空地,TK心满意足地叹了口气,森林的寂静抚慰着他的躁动。远处结冰的湖面寂静得令人叹为观止。夏天,森林充满生机,湖泊温暖而温馨,这个地方会是什么样子?他必须检查一下,看看小屋是否在夏天可以出租。

He hasn’t even left his car yet, and already he feels better just being here. There’s something about being alone in the middle of nowhere that calms him. As if he exists in the centre of a world unhindered by the hustle and bustle of human civilization. The trees don’t care about schedules and photo shoots and ex-boyfriends’ weddings. The lake doesn’t care about talk shows and promotional tours. Mother nature doesn’t care about his fame and success. She only cares that he lives within her arms. That he is enough just by existing. He checks his phone, and true to the host’s word, there’s no cell service. He feels lighter, as if a weight’s been lifted, and a thrill runs through him at the thought of being so completely and utterly unplugged. No one can find him. No one can reach him. If he doesn’t show up at his apartment in two weeks, Mateo will know to come looking for him. But until then, he’s free. TK takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, and when he exhales, all the stress from his life flows away with that one lungful of air. This little slice of heaven is his for the next two weeks, and he can’t wait to find his centre again. He gets out of the car and shivers as a gust of cold air cuts through his sweater. He scurries up the front porch and finds the key where the host said it would be, hidden under the third clay pot from the door, and opens the front door. The cabin is nice and toasty. The host must have come by earlier to plow the driveway, turn on the generator, and set the cabin up for his stay. Even though he had warned TK that he’d have to turn on the generator and hot water tank by himself. With barely contained giddiness, TK runs back out to the car and unloads the trunk. It takes him a few trips to get his bedding, extra large pillow, duffle bag filled with comfy lounging clothes, his toiletry kit, and cooler full of food into the cabin. The fridge is, to his surprise, stocked with food. There are Tupperwares stacked neatly at the bottom. Bags of greens, a brick of cheese, and an assortment of condiments line the shelves. In the fridge door are bags of individually wrapped chocolates and bags of chips. Huh. Weird. TK frowns and purses his lips. The host definitely said he’d not be stocking the fridge. Oh well, it’s a good thing he’s only just decided to go vegan and wouldn’t mind pushing that back until he got home. With all this food plus what he’s packed, he won’t have to make the trip into town in a week to restock. He unpacks his bags of salads and packaged vegan meats and treats and jams them into the fridge before taking a step back and looking around. The cabin is modest but roomy, the living room and kitchen separated by a dinner table. A quick snoop into the kitchen cupboards reveals a set of pots and pans, some mismatched tableware, and an assortment of herbs, spices, and oils for cooking. Whoever owns this cabin obviously also loves spending time here, and they love to cook. TK grabs his duffle bag and walks down the short hall to the bedroom. The room is small and tidy. A queen sized bed is pushed up against the wall next to the doorway, and a chest of drawers sit under a large window across from the foot of the bed. The mattress is bare, as promised, and TK quickly makes the bed with his sheets. He hoists his duffle onto the bed and pulls out a stack of his favourite sweaters. He turns to the top drawer and freezes. Don’t put stuff in hotel dressers. They’re so dirty and you don’t know who’s left God knows what in them.
他甚至还没有离开他的车,他已经在这里感觉好多了。独自一人在偏僻的地方会让他平静下来。仿佛他存在于一个不受人类文明喧嚣阻碍的世界中心。树木不在乎日程安排、照片拍摄和前男友的婚礼。湖不在乎脱口秀和宣传旅游。大自然母亲不在乎他的名声和成功。她只在乎他住在她的怀里。只要存在,他就足够了。他看了看手机,果然和房东说的一样,没有手机服务。他感觉自己更轻了,仿佛重担被举起了,一想到自己被完全彻底地拔掉了,他就感到一阵兴奋。没有人能找到他。没有人能联系到他。如果他两周内没有出现在他的公寓,马特奥就会知道来找他。但在那之前,他是自由的。TK深吸一口气,闭上眼睛,当他呼气时,他生活中的所有压力都随着那一股空气流走了。在接下来的两周里,这一小片天堂是他的,他迫不及待地想再次找到他的中心。他下了车,当一阵冷风穿过他的毛衣时,他浑身发抖。他匆匆忙忙地爬上前廊,找到了主人说的钥匙,藏在门外的第三个陶罐下面,然后打开了前门。小屋很好,很温暖。主人一定早点过来犁车道,打开发电机,并为他的住宿设置小屋。尽管他已经警告过TK,他必须自己打开发电机和热水箱。TK几乎无法控制头晕目眩,跑回车里,卸下后备箱。 他花了好几趟才把他的床上用品、超大枕头、装满舒适休闲衣服的行李袋、他的洗漱用品和装满食物的冷却器带进机舱。令他惊讶的是,冰箱里装满了食物。底部整齐地堆放着特百惠。货架上摆放着一袋袋蔬菜、一块奶酪和各种调味品。冰箱门里放着一袋袋独立包装的巧克力和一袋袋薯片。哼。奇怪。TK皱起眉头,抿了抿嘴唇。主人肯定说他不会放冰箱。哦,好吧,这是一件好事,他只是刚刚决定成为素食主义者,不介意把它推迟到他回家。有了所有这些食物加上他打包的东西,他就不必在一周内进城补货了。他打开沙拉和包装好的纯素肉类和零食的包装,把它们塞进冰箱,然后退后一步,环顾四周。小屋不大但宽敞,客厅和厨房由餐桌隔开。快速窥探厨房橱柜,会发现一套锅碗瓢盆、一些不匹配的餐具,以及各种用于烹饪的香草、香料和油。拥有这个小屋的人显然也喜欢在这里度过时光,他们喜欢做饭。TK拿起他的行李袋,沿着短短的走廊走到卧室。房间小而整洁。一张大号床靠在门口旁边的墙上,床脚对面的大窗户下放着一个五斗柜。正如承诺的那样,床垫是光秃秃的,TK很快就用床单铺好了床。他把行李箱放到床上,拿出一叠他最喜欢的毛衣。他转向最上面的抽屉,僵住了。不要把东西放在酒店的梳妆台上。它们太脏了,你不知道谁离开了,天知道里面有什么。

Alex’s annoyed voice pops into TK’s head unbidden and TK growls. It must be all that talk about Alex with Mateo that’s triggering these thoughts, because God knows TK has been over that asshole for years. Regardless, the fact Alex can still touch him like this pisses him off, and TK slams his stack of sweaters in the very clean drawer with more force than necessary before unloading the rest of his things into the dresser. Good mood dampened, TK is determined to not let Douchenozzle ruin the first day of his impromptu vacation. He grabs his toiletry bag and spreads his essentials across the vanity. Just because he’s on vacation doesn’t mean he can let his beauty routine go, or his new makeup team will kill him. The bathroom is adjacent to the bedroom at the end of the short hall. It’s small but functional, with the vanity and toilet on one side, and a towel bar on the opposite wall. Tucked in the back of the room, next to the toilet, is a metal claw tub. TK eyes the tub and his heart skips a beat. Claw tubs are his absolute favourite, and it’s been a long, long time since he luxuriated in a bath. He’s had a long day of flying, then driving, and it’s cold out. Plus, he’s on vacation after all. TK pulls his bottom lip between his teeth and worries at it. Despite the host asking him to be conservative with water, especially hot water, he decides to allow himself this one small indulgence. Steam plumes as he fills the bath, and the scent of eucalyptus and citrus is soothing as he pours his favourite body wash into the swirling water. It’s no epsom salt bath bomb, but beggars can’t be choosers. When he finally lowers himself into the tub, hot water sloshes up to his shoulders, and TK’s body and mind are finally at ease. This is going to be an amazing vacation. He just knows it.
亚历克斯恼怒的声音突然出现在TK的脑海中,TK咆哮着。一定是所有关于亚历克斯和马特奥的谈话引发了这些想法,因为上帝知道 TK 多年来一直在那个混蛋身上。不管怎么说,亚历克斯还能这样摸他,这让他很生气,TK把他的一叠毛衣砸在干净的抽屉里,用力过猛,然后把剩下的东西放进梳妆台。好心情受到挫折,TK决心不让Douchenozzle毁了他即兴度假的第一天。他拿起洗漱包,把他的必需品铺在梳妆台上。仅仅因为他在度假并不意味着他可以放弃他的美容程序,否则他的新化妆团队会杀死他。浴室与短走廊尽头的卧室相邻。它虽小但功能齐全,一侧是梳妆台和马桶,对面的墙上是毛巾架。藏在房间后面的马桶旁边,是一个金属爪浴缸。TK盯着浴缸,心跳加快了一拍。爪子浴缸是他的最爱,他已经很久很久没有在浴缸里尽情享受了。他坐了一整天的飞机,然后开车,外面很冷。另外,他毕竟在度假。TK用牙齿夹住下唇,担心地看着它。尽管主人要求他对水,尤其是热水要保守,但他还是决定让自己放纵一下。当他装满浴缸时,蒸汽羽流飘散,当他将他最喜欢的沐浴露倒入漩涡水中时,桉树和柑橘的香味令人舒缓。这不是泻盐浴霸,但乞丐不能成为选择者。当他终于把自己放进浴缸里时,热水晃到他的肩膀上,TK的身心终于放松了下来。这将是一个了不起的假期。 他只是知道。

Chapter 2 There’s something magical about the way the snow quiets the forest. Carlos breathes easy for the first time in a long time. His snowshoes drag across the undisturbed powdery surface, and with every step deeper into the forest, he finds equilibrium. It was a good idea to come to the cabin, even if it was a last minute, knee jerk decision. But hey, isn’t that one of the perks of having a family owned vacation home? The cabin on the edge of Roche lake has been in Carlos’ family for a couple of generations, and they all rotate through coming up here in the summer to get away from the noisy hustle and bustle of city life. No one really comes during the winter. Too cold, too much snow, but Carlos loves it when it’s just him and the quiet wilderness. A cool breeze teases the curls of hair peeking out from under his beanie. Carlos tugs the hat lower to cover his ears and pushes his glasses higher up the bridge of his nose. He checks the darkening sky and frowns. How long has he been out here? He’s lost track, and it’s freeing knowing that time doesn’t matter. As long as he gets back to the cabin before nightfall, he’s the master of his own schedule. No deadlines. No demanding clients. No deliveries. No fancy parties. Catering wasn’t what he dreamt of doing, but it paid the bills and, after a while, it became something he did because he didn’t know what else to do. Is this what being stuck in a rut feels like? Sure, he’s one of the most sought after caterers and personal meal planning nutritionists in Hollywood, and it’s nice to be successful at what he does, but is this really what the rest of his life is going to be? You can always go to New York City. A tiny voice that sounds suspiciously like his best friend from culinary school nags him. Since graduation, Michelle’s made a name for herself as a celebrity chef and culinary genius. She’s opened many successful high-end fine-dining restaurants across the US and her empire is growing rapidly. Now, she’s opening up her first restaurant in the big apple, and she’s been after Carlos to take on the head chef position for months. It would be a change and a fantastic opportunity. Chefs all over would kill for a spot in Michelle’s kitchen, and he loves cooking with her both as a friend and a professional, but... He shakes his head and adjusts his backpack, pushing all thoughts of a potential new career path from his mind. He came to the backcountry to escape work, not to dwell on it. The next two weeks will just be him, his trusty knife, his arsenal of spices, and his imagination. He’ll cook all types of cuisines—Mexican, Chinese, Italian, whatever he fancies, blended and fused—for himself, things he can’t make for his calorie and macros-conscious clients. He’ll cook the food he enjoys and the flavours he’s passionate about. Carlos’ pocket vibrates, pulling him from his thoughts, and he stops to pull out his phone. The device buzzes repeatedly in his hand until Carlos silences the barrage of notifications. Service is spotty up here, so when he gets it, Carlos likes to take advantage and check his messages. The first two emails are from his business partner, Paul, reminding him that they have two big parties coming up for the weekend along with three more next week. A fresh wave of guilt overcomes him as he opens the first email. He should be there helping coordinate and run the event. Instead, he’s hiding out here and licking his wounds.
第 2 章 雪让森林安静下来的方式有些神奇。卡洛斯很长一段时间以来第一次呼吸轻松。他的雪鞋拖曳着未受干扰的粉状表面,每深入森林一步,他都会找到平衡。来到机舱是个好主意,即使这是最后一分钟的下意识决定。但是,嘿,这难道不是拥有家庭拥有的度假屋的好处之一吗?罗氏湖边的小屋在卡洛斯的家里已经有几代人了,他们都在夏天轮流来这里,远离城市生活的喧嚣。冬天真的没有人来。太冷了,雪太多了,但卡洛斯喜欢只有他和安静的荒野。一阵凉风吹拂着他从无檐小便帽下露出的卷发。卡洛斯把帽子拉低,遮住耳朵,把眼镜推到鼻梁上。他看了看越来越暗的天空,皱起了眉头。他来这里多久了?他迷失了方向,知道时间并不重要,这让他感到自由。只要他在夜幕降临之前回到小屋,他就是自己日程安排的主人。没有最后期限。没有苛刻的客户。没有交货。没有花哨的派对。餐饮不是他梦寐以求的事情,但它支付了账单,一段时间后,它变成了他做的事情,因为他不知道还能做什么。这就是被困在车辙里的感觉吗?当然,他是好莱坞最受追捧的餐饮服务商和个人膳食计划营养师之一,在他所做的事情上取得成功是件好事,但这真的是他的余生吗?你可以随时去纽约市。一个听起来很可疑的小声音唠叨着他,就像他在烹饪学校最好的朋友。 自毕业以来,米歇尔以名厨和烹饪天才而闻名。她在美国各地开设了许多成功的高端高级餐厅,她的帝国正在迅速发展。现在,她正在大苹果开她的第一家餐厅,几个月来,她一直在追随卡洛斯担任主厨一职。这将是一个变化,也是一个绝佳的机会。世界各地的厨师都会在米歇尔的厨房里争夺一席之地,他喜欢和她一起做饭,无论是作为朋友还是专业人士,但是......他摇了摇头,调整了一下背包,把所有关于潜在新职业道路的想法都从脑海中赶了出来。他来到偏远地区是为了逃避工作,而不是为了纠缠于工作。接下來的兩個星期將只有他,他那把可靠的刀,他的香料庫,以及他的想像力。他会为自己烹饪各种类型的美食——墨西哥菜、中国菜、意大利菜,任何他喜欢的、混合和融合的——这些都是他无法为卡路里和注重宏观的客户制作的。他会烹饪他喜欢的食物和他热衷的口味。卡洛斯的口袋震动了一下,把他从思绪中拉了出来,他停下来掏出手机。设备在他手中反复嗡嗡作响,直到卡洛斯将一连串的通知静音。这里的服务参差不齐,所以当他得到它时,卡洛斯喜欢利用并检查他的消息。前两封电子邮件来自他的商业伙伴保罗,提醒他周末有两场大型派对,下周还有三场。当他打开第一封电子邮件时,一股新的内疚感战胜了他。他应该在那里帮助协调和举办活动。相反,他躲在这里舔舐伤口。

The email is about a missing shipment of tiger prawns. He replies with the number of the guy Paul needs to call, then opens the second to find Paul’s done just that. Carlos chuckles and pulls up the messenger app out of habit, and he’s bombarded with messages from friends, acquaintances, and clients. His heart drops, and his earlier good mood evaporates as he thumbs through the list of unread messages. Most of them are angry messages asking him if it’s true, and Carlos wants to scream and throw up at the same time. His thumb hovers over a headline someone sent him, along with a wincing emoji, and Carlos’ gut clenches. Carlos Reyes, Hollywood’s Favourite Caterer, Making A Move On Alex Silvester At His Wedding?! He doesn’t need to read the article to know what it’s about. It’s partially the reason why he fled LA and hightailed it to a whole other country. Alex had been trouble since the minute they sat down for their initial consult, and Carlos should have listened to his gut and declined to cater his wedding. He didn’t, however, and now the asshole’s smearing his name for something he would never do. Maybe going to NYC wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. Carlos stuffs the phone back in his pocket and adjusts his beanie one more time, turning around to head back the way he came. The sun’s getting low and the sky is thick with dark, gloomy clouds. Despite it being the perfect reflection of his mood, it would be stupid and dangerous to get stuck out here come night fall, especially with those clouds. He moves with purpose, keeping his focus on putting one foot in front of the other instead of the disaster he ran away from back in LA. The forest has lost its magical hold on Carlos, and the comforting trees now press in on him, claustrophobic. He shoulders his pack and moves faster, uncaring that his glasses are fogging up and he’s sweating. He’ll be back at the cabin before the sweat cools his skin too much. Thoughts of the cabin chase away the chill settling in his bones. He hasn’t unloaded his clothes and bedding from the car yet, but he did unpack and process all the food he picked up in town before driving up to the cabin. There’s enough variety for him to eat like a king for the whole two weeks of his stay, and he likes to keep the cabin kitchen well stocked with spices and dried herbs as well. Afterall, this is where he comes to be bold and adventurous and to experiment with the sort of fusion cooking he loves. Maybe he’ll fry the shrimp, cilantro, and cream cheese egg rolls and have that with black bean carne asada . Add some sautéed baby bok choy and Spanish rice, and that should be enough to eat himself into happy oblivion. He always finds comfort in the Chinese Mexican fusion flavours he grew up with. His mouth waters, and his stomach growls a long, strangling gurgle that reminds Carlos all he’s had to eat today were some peanuts on the flight. Feeling calmer with a proper dinner plan, he hurries back to the cabin just as the last of the sunlight bleeds into darkness. He stumbles down the driveway in total darkness and freezes at the sight of the SUV parked next to the cabin. What the hell? Light spills from the tiny window on the side of the cabin, and the faint scent of eucalyptus tickles Carlos’ nose. Fear prickles the back of his neck, and every muscle in his body coils with tension. It’s not unheard of for vacation cabins to get broken into, and they’ve had their share of break-ins over the years, but most robbers bring large trucks and trailers to grab the things that are worth stealing. This SUV is definitely too small to be able to carry much.
这封电子邮件是关于丢失的虎虾。他回复了保罗需要打电话的人的号码,然后打开第二个电话,发现保罗就是这样做的。卡洛斯笑了笑,出于习惯打开了信使应用程序,他被来自朋友、熟人和客户的消息轰炸了。他的心掉了下来,他之前的好心情在他翻阅未读消息列表时消失了。其中大部分都是愤怒的信息,问他这是不是真的,卡洛斯想同时尖叫和呕吐。他的拇指悬停在有人发给他的标题上,还有一个畏缩的表情符号,以及卡洛斯的直觉。好莱坞最受欢迎的餐饮服务商卡洛斯·雷耶斯(Carlos Reyes)在亚历克斯·西尔维斯特(Alex Silvester)的婚礼上采取行动?!他不需要阅读这篇文章就知道它是关于什么的。这也是他逃离洛杉矶并将其带到另一个国家的部分原因。亚历克斯从他们坐下来进行初步咨询的那一刻起就一直很麻烦,卡洛斯应该听从他的直觉,拒绝迎合他的婚礼。然而,他没有,现在这个混蛋正在抹黑他的名字,因为他永远不会做一些事情。也许去纽约毕竟不是一个坏主意。卡洛斯把手机塞回口袋里,又调整了一下他的无檐小便帽,转身回到了来时的路。太阳越来越低,天空中乌云密布。尽管这是他心情的完美反映,但在夜幕降临时被困在这里是愚蠢和危险的,尤其是在那些云层中。他有目的地移动,专注于将一只脚放在另一只脚的前面,而不是他在洛杉矶逃离的灾难。森林已经失去了对卡洛斯的魔力,而那些令人欣慰的树木现在压在他身上,幽闭恐惧症。 他背起背包,走得更快,丝毫不在意眼镜起雾,出汗。他会在汗水冷却他的皮肤之前回到机舱。一想到小屋,他就赶走了他骨子里的寒意。他还没有从车上卸下衣服和被褥,但他确实在开车去小屋之前打开并处理了他在镇上捡到的所有食物。在他逗留的整个两周里,食物种类繁多,可以像国王一样吃,而且他喜欢在小屋厨房里摆放香料和干香草。毕竟,这是他开始大胆冒险并尝试他喜欢的融合烹饪的地方。也许他会炒虾、香菜和奶油芝士蛋卷,然后配上黑豆肉浅田。再加上一些炒小白菜和西班牙米饭,这应该足以让自己快乐地忘乎所以。他总是从小到大的墨西哥融合风味中找到安慰。他口水直流,肚子咕噜咕噜地咕噜咕噜地叫着,这让卡洛斯想起了他今天在飞机上吃的只是一些花生。有了适当的晚餐计划,他感到平静了,他匆匆忙忙地回到了小屋,就像最后一缕阳光渗入黑暗一样。他在完全黑暗的车道上跌跌撞撞地走下车道,看到停在机舱旁边的SUV就僵住了。管他呢?光线从机舱侧面的小窗户洒进来,淡淡的桉树香味让卡洛斯的鼻子发痒。恐惧刺痛了他的后颈,他身体的每一块肌肉都紧绷着。度假小屋被闯入并非闻所未闻,多年来他们也曾有过闯入事件,但大多数劫匪都会开着大卡车和拖车来抢夺值得偷的东西。 这辆SUV绝对太小了,无法携带太多东西。

No one else from the family is booked to be here for the next two weeks. So who the fuck is at his cabin? Dropping his backpack by the car, Carlos picks up a branch as thick as his arm, the nearest weapon he can find, and creeps up the front steps. He opens the door quietly, sneaking into his own house like a thief, and finds the lights on in the living room and bedroom. A pair of boots are placed neatly by the front door, and the door to the bathroom is slightly ajar with light spilling through the crack. Is that humming he hears? The smell of eucalyptus is stronger inside and Carlos frowns. Is this a robbery or is someone squatting here? It’s just his luck that even his vacation is about to get ruined. Why can’t he just have one moment of peace and quiet? Annoyance fuels his anger and drowns his fear as he grips the branch tighter. Should he run up the driveway and call the park ranger for help? Probably, but it’s too damn late now. There’s no cell service in the cabin, and besides, he can handle the asshole who’s most likely sitting on the toilet with his pants around his ankles, taking a break from robbing the place and thinking no one’s here. Carlos stalks down the short hall and kicks the bathroom door open with a bang. An ear-splitting scream halts Carlos in his charge, and the most beautiful pair of startled green eyes snap to him. Water sloshes over the tub and splashes onto the tiled floor as the stranger scrambles away from Carlos. His knees are drawn up to his chin and his body curls into a ball, and he’s pressed as far away from Carlos as possible. Which is not all that far since he’s in the bathtub. “Who the fuck are you?” the stranger asks, his pitched voice angry and accusatory. Annoyance washes over Carlos and he frowns. “Excuse me?” “Who the fuck are you? And why are you in my Airbnb?” he repeats slowly as if talking to a daft person, each word spat through gritted teeth, then his expression freezes and he inhales sharply. “Oh God, he double booked me. Or...” He narrows his eyes at Carlos and fear flashes in his eyes. Airbnb? Double booked? What the actual fuck is happening here? “This isn’t an Airbnb. You’re in my cabin,” Carlos says, uncaring that he sounds as annoyed and confused as he feels. “Who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my house?” They blink at each other, and Carlos’ mouth dries as his eyes trail along the curve of the stranger’s neck and down his chest. There aren’t many bubbles to hide behind in the tub, and he pulls his knees closer to his chest as if sensing Carlos’ wandering gaze. He’s as decent as one can be while naked in the bath, but Carlos already got an eyeful when he first barged in. Even through the thrum of adrenaline, Carlos can’t help but notice how gorgeous the stranger is. There’s something familiar about him, but Carlos can’t put his finger on it. It’s as if his brain is paralyzed and he can’t think. All he can do is gawk at the beautiful man sitting in his tub, with his thick head of dark, tousled hair, his proud nose, his high cheekbones, and those piercing green eyes staring at him with apprehension and confusion and anger. The strong aroma of eucalyptus overwhelms him, or maybe it’s the naked man sitting in his tub, but Carlos is at a loss. He’s unsure of the situation, of himself, of everything, and feeling stupid as he stands over the stranger, holding a giant stick like a cave man.
在接下来的两周里,家里没有其他人被预订在这里。那么他的小屋里他妈的是谁?卡洛斯把背包放在车旁,捡起一根和他手臂一样粗的树枝,这是他能找到的最近的武器,然后爬上前面的台阶。他悄悄地打开门,像小偷一样偷偷溜进自己的房子,发现客厅和卧室的灯都亮着。前门整齐地摆放着一双靴子,浴室的门微微半开,光线从缝隙中洒进来。他听到了嗡嗡声吗?里面的桉树味更浓了,卡洛斯皱起了眉头。这是抢劫还是有人蹲在这里?只是他的运气好,连他的假期都快要毁了。为什么他不能有片刻的平静和安宁?烦恼助长了他的愤怒,淹没了他的恐惧,因为他更紧地抓住了树枝。他应该跑到车道上打电话给公园管理员寻求帮助吗?也许吧,但现在为时已晚。机舱里没有手机服务,此外,他可以对付那个很可能坐在马桶上,裤子缠在脚踝上的混蛋,从抢劫这个地方并认为没有人在这里休息一下。卡洛斯走下矮小的走廊,砰的一声把浴室的门踢开了。一声震耳欲聋的尖叫让卡洛斯停下了冲锋的脚步,一双最美丽的惊愕的绿色眼睛猛地盯着他。水在浴缸上晃动,溅到瓷砖地板上,陌生人从卡洛斯身边爬开。他的膝盖被拉到下巴上,身体蜷缩成一个球,他被压得尽可能远离卡洛斯。自从他在浴缸里以来,这并不遥远。“你他妈是谁?”陌生人问道,他尖锐的声音带着愤怒和指责。恼怒笼罩着卡洛斯,他皱起了眉头。“对不起?“ ”你他妈是谁?你为什么在我的Airbnb里?“他缓慢地重复着,仿佛在和一个愚蠢的人说话,每个字都咬牙切齿地吐出,然后他的表情僵住了,他猛地吸了一口气。“哦,上帝,他给我预订了两次。或者......”他眯起眼睛看着卡洛斯,眼中闪过恐惧。Airbnb?双预订?这到底是怎么回事?“这不是Airbnb。你在我的小屋里,“卡洛斯说,不在乎他听起来像他感觉的那样恼火和困惑。“你他妈是谁,你在我家干什么?”他们互相眨了眨眼,卡洛斯的嘴巴干了,他的眼睛沿着陌生人脖子的曲线沿着他的胸膛向下移动。浴缸里没有多少泡泡可以藏起来,他把膝盖拉近胸口,仿佛感觉到卡洛斯游移的目光。他在浴缸里赤身裸体时表现得很体面,但卡洛斯第一次闯进来时就已经盯上了。即使肾上腺素飙升,卡洛斯还是忍不住注意到这个陌生人是多么的华丽。他身上有一种熟悉的东西,但卡洛斯不能把手指放在上面。就好像他的大脑瘫痪了,他无法思考。他所能做的就是盯着坐在浴缸里的美男子,他浓密的黑发,高高的颧骨,那双刺眼的绿色眼睛,带着忧虑、困惑和愤怒地盯着他。桉树的浓郁香气让他不知所措,也许是坐在浴缸里的裸体男人,但卡洛斯不知所措。他不确定情况,不确定自己,不确定一切,当他站在陌生人身边时,他觉得自己很愚蠢,像穴居人一样拿着一根巨大的棍子。

The man’s eyes widen, and he leans forward to study Carlos with narrowed eyes. “You don’t know who I am?” Carlos should know. He’s sure he knows, but his brain is still refusing to cooperate and he shakes his head. The stranger relaxes, then frowns as he stares at Carlos, narrow eyes now filled with suspicion. “Wait, what do you mean your cabin? The host on the app was clearly Asian, and you’re clearly not.” “Asian?” Carlos parrots and something clicks. “Yeah, Asian, and I have the email to prove it. So, stop fucking with me.” He crosses his arms and glares at Carlos with his chin raised. “Who are you? Are you stalking me? Are you a fan?” Suddenly, it dawns on Carlos why this handsome face looks so familiar. He’s only seen it plastered everywhere in movie posters and on TV. “Oh, I thought you looked familiar,” Carlos groans. “You’re TK Strand.” And what is Hollywood’s hottest heartthrob doing sitting in his bathtub?
男人瞪大了眼睛,他眯着眼睛向前倾,打量着卡洛斯。“你不知道我是谁?”卡洛斯应该知道。他确信他知道,但他的大脑仍然拒绝合作,他摇了摇头。陌生人放松下来,然后皱着眉头盯着卡洛斯,狭长的眼睛现在充满了怀疑。“等等,你说你的小屋是什么意思?应用程序上的主人显然是亚洲人,而你显然不是。“亚洲人?”卡洛斯鹦鹉学舌,有什么东西咔哒一声。“是的,亚洲人,我有电子邮件可以证明这一点。所以,别再跟我做爱了。他交叉双臂,抬起下巴瞪着卡洛斯。“你是谁?你在跟踪我吗?你是粉丝吗?突然间,卡洛斯明白了为什么这张英俊的脸看起来如此熟悉。他只在电影海报和电视上到处看到它。“哦,我以为你看起来很眼熟,”卡洛斯呻吟道。“你是TK Strand。”好莱坞最炙手可热的万人迷坐在浴缸里做什么?

Chapter 3 Being who he is, doing what he does, he should be used to having people know his name without introduction, but it still makes him uncomfortable every time. “Okay, so you know who I am,” TK says, glad that he sounds more annoyed than terrified. He swallows, tries to ignore the rapid pounding of his heart, and clenches his fists to keep his hands from trembling. “Yeah, me and every person who’s been to a theater in the past four years,” the stranger says. “That doesn’t explain why you’re here . You said you rented the cabin off Airbnb?” “Yeah.” “From an Asian guy?” “Mhm.” “Is his name by any chance Kevin?” TK perks up at the name. “Yeah. That’s him.” “Oh, I’m going to fucking kill him,” the man mutters under his breath. Silence, thick as smoke and just as suffocating, surrounds them and TK’s not sure what to do. “Um,” he continues, breaking the silence. “Not that I don’t believe your story, but I need to see that confirmation email.” Suspicion goes up like a wall around him and his heart pounds even louder in his ears. “And how do I know you are who you say you are?” he blurts before he can fully process his words. “I mean, don’t even know your name.” He looks shocked for a second, then his cheeks colour as if he’s embarrassed. Huh. “Oh, Carlos. My name’s Carlos.” “Hi Carlos,” TK says, testing the name. “That still doesn’t tell me anything about you.” “Show me the email, then we’ll head up the driveway and call my brother, uh, Kevin,” Carlos says. “He’ll confirm I’m not some crazy psycho serial killer or a stalker fan. Then we can get you sorted.” Brother? From his dark, tanned skin to his Hispanic features, there’s nothing remotely Southeast Asian about Carlos. As if reading TK’s mind, Carlos explains, “Stepbrother. His dad, Chinese, married my mother, Mexican.” Carlos’ features soften as he smiles ruefully, and TK’s heart skips a beat. How has he not noticed just how gorgeous Carlos is? Not the fucking time, Tyler Kennedy. Not the fucking time. “Oh,” is all TK can say as he shifts his focus back to everything that’s happened in the past ten minutes. Carlos’ smile soothes the edges of his jagged nerves a little, giving him a moment of reprieve from the mind-numbing fear he’s desperately staving off. There are so many layers to the situation that his brain hurts, and that doesn’t even touch on the fact he’s still sitting in the bathtub, naked, while a stranger stands not six feet away, staring at him.
第3章 做他自己,做他所做的事情,他应该习惯于让人们不经介绍就知道他的名字,但每次还是让他不舒服。“好吧,所以你知道我是谁了,”TK说,很高兴他听起来更恼火而不是害怕。他咽了口唾沫,试图忽略心脏的快速跳动,握紧拳头不让双手颤抖。“是的,我和过去四年里去过剧院的每个人,”陌生人说。“这并不能解释你为什么在这里。你说你在Airbnb租了小屋?”“嗯。”“来自一个亚洲人?”“嗯。”“凯文,他的名字是吗?”TK对这个名字感到振奋。“是啊。就是他。“哦,我他妈的要杀了他,”男人低声咕哝着。寂静,浓得像烟雾,同样令人窒息,包围着他们,TK不知道该怎么办。 “嗯,”他继续说,打破了沉默。“不是说我不相信你的故事,但我需要看看那封确认邮件。”怀疑像一堵墙一样在他周围升起,他的心在他耳边跳得更响了。“我怎么知道你是你说的那个人?”他脱口而出,还没来得及完全理解他的话。“我的意思是,连你的名字都不知道。”他看起来很震惊,然后他的脸颊变色,好像他很尴尬。哼。“哦,卡洛斯。我叫卡洛斯。“嗨,卡洛斯,”TK说,测试这个名字。“这仍然没有告诉我任何关于你的事情。”“把电子邮件给我看,然后我们走到车道上,给我哥哥打电话,呃,凯文,”卡洛斯说。“他会确认我不是什么疯狂的心理连环杀手或跟踪狂粉丝。然后我们就可以帮你整理好了。哥哥?从他黝黑的皮肤到他的西班牙裔特征,卡洛斯没有任何东南亚人。卡洛斯仿佛读懂了TK的心思,解释道:“继兄弟。他的父亲是中国人,娶了我的母亲,墨西哥人。“ 卡洛斯的五官变得柔和起来,他悲伤地笑了笑,TK的心跳加快了一拍。他怎么没有注意到卡洛斯有多漂亮?不是他妈的时间,泰勒肯尼迪。不是他妈的时间。“噢,”TK只能说,因为他把注意力转移到过去十分钟发生的一切上。卡洛斯的笑容稍微抚慰了他参差不齐的神经边缘,让他从他拼命躲避的麻木恐惧中缓和了片刻。这种情况有太多的层次,以至于他的大脑受伤了,这甚至没有触及他仍然赤身裸体地坐在浴缸里,而一个陌生人站在不到六英尺远的地方,盯着他看。

Silence fills the small bathroom once more, and TK shifts uncomfortably on the hard porcelain. He needs to get out of the tub so he can show Carlos the rental agreement email, but he can’t do that with Carlos standing there. “Um, you gotta—so I can—” TK points at himself then at Carlos and the bathroom door. Carlos startles. His honey-brown eyes widen comically behind his thick-rimmed glasses as if he’s noticing TK’s state of undress for the first time, and the blush in his cheeks deepens and crawls down his neck, disappearing under his thick winter jacket. “Oh, yes, right. I’ll, uh, just...” He makes a hasty retreat and pulls the door shut behind him. TK sags against the side of the tub and stares at the door. He waits for the roar of blood in his ears to recede and closes his eyes, letting the darkness calm the jitters in his limbs. It’s another few long, measured breaths before his heart stops trying to rip out of his chest. He shivers, his skin clammy and cold, and he sinks all the way into the warm water, hoping the heat will chase away the chill working its way into his bones. When he surfaces, his heart sinks. Carlos mentioned getting him sorted. What does that mean? Does he have to leave even though they’re the ones who fucked up the scheduling? It hardly seems fair, but if this is Carlos’ cabin, then he definitely has the right to ask TK to leave. TK didn’t just need the time away to relax and recharge. Being who he is and doing what he does, he’s shoved into situations where he needs to be social and engaging constantly. He’s good at being that guy, good at putting on a charming smile and making smooth conversation, but it takes an immense amount of energy to put on that face day in and day out. While he can hold it together well enough most days at work, after attending Alex’s outlandishly massive wedding where he had invited every living, breathing person in Hollywood, TK just doesn’t want to hold it together anymore, even if it’s just for two weeks. The thought of going back to LA and answering those requests for interviews and guest appearances on talk shows, where questions about Alex’s wedding are sure to come up, makes him nauseous. There’s no way people wouldn’t ask. After all, it’s common knowledge that TK and Alex were quite the “hashtag couple goals” back in the day. TK was looking forward to this escape before having to weather all that unwanted attention. To reconnect with nature and find his centre. Instead, he gets to drive four hours back into town and try to change his flight on short notice. Here’s to hoping Carlos will at least let him stay the night and so he won’t have to drive in the dark in the middle of nowhere. He should have never gone to stupid Alex’s stupid wedding. Then he wouldn’t have needed to get away and end up in this mess. If he ever so much as hears the name Alex Silvester again, he’s going to burn sage and hide in a salt circle for a week. Which means he’ll probably be living in a salt circle for the rest of his life. Sadly, Alex’s fame hasn’t dwindled even as TK’s career soared. With a groan, TK heaves himself out of the bath and shivers. What precious steam that’d built up when TK ran the bath escaped when Carlos burst into the bathroom, and TK will die before he acknowledges just how high his voice got when Carlos kicked the door open. With his cheeks burning, TK bites his lip and grabs the towel off the towel rack with a snap. He dries himself hastily, then wraps the towel around his waist. He studies himself in the mirror. His eyes are tired, with dark circles under them to emphasize that point. His skin is more ashen than he’d like, not too sickly, but definitely not glowing with health either. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, letting the air in his lungs absorb his tension, and
寂静再次充斥着小浴室,TK在坚硬的瓷器上不舒服地移动。他需要从浴缸里出来,这样他才能给卡洛斯看租房协议电子邮件,但卡洛斯站在那里,他不能这样做。“呃,你得——这样我才能——”TK指了指自己,然后指了指卡洛斯和浴室的门。卡洛斯吓了一跳。他蜜棕色的眼睛滑稽地睁大,仿佛他第一次注意到TK脱衣服的状态,他脸颊上的红晕加深并顺着他的脖子爬下来,消失在他厚厚的冬衣下。“哦,是的,对。我,呃,只是......”他匆匆撤退,把身后的门关上。TK靠在浴缸的侧面,盯着门。他等待耳边的血腥咆哮消退,闭上眼睛,让黑暗平息他四肢的紧张。又是几次漫长而有节制的呼吸,他的心脏才停止试图从胸腔中撕裂出来。他浑身发抖,皮肤又湿又冷,他一路沉入温热的水中,希望热量能驱散渗入骨髓的寒意。当他浮出水面时,他的心沉了下去。卡洛斯提到要把他整理好。那是什么意思?即使他们是搞砸日程安排的人,他也必须离开吗?这似乎不公平,但如果这是卡洛斯的小屋,那么他绝对有权要求TK离开。TK不仅需要时间来放松和充电。做他自己,做他所做的事情,他被推入了他需要社交和不断参与的境地。他善于成为那个家伙,善于摆出迷人的笑容,使谈话顺利,但日复一日地摆出那张脸需要巨大的精力。 虽然他在工作中的大部分时间里都能很好地保持这种状态,但在参加了亚历克斯的古怪盛大婚礼后,他邀请了好莱坞每一个活生生的人,TK只是不想再把它放在一起了,即使只是两个星期。一想到要回到洛杉矶,回答那些采访和客串脱口秀节目的请求,关于亚历克斯婚礼的问题肯定会出现,这让他很恶心。人们不可能不问。毕竟,众所周知,TK 和 Alex 在当时是相当“标签情侣目标”。TK在不得不经受住所有不必要的关注之前,期待着这次逃脱。与大自然重新建立联系,找到他的中心。取而代之的是,他可以开车四个小时回到城里,并试图在短时间内改变他的航班。希望卡洛斯至少能让他过夜,这样他就不必在茫茫人海中在黑暗中开车了。他不应该去参加愚蠢的亚历克斯愚蠢的婚礼。那么他就不需要逃跑并最终陷入这种混乱之中了。如果他再次听到亚历克斯·西尔维斯特这个名字,他会烧掉鼠尾草,躲在盐圈里一个星期。这意味着他可能会一辈子都生活在一个盐圈里。可悲的是,即使 TK 的职业生涯飙升,亚历克斯的名气也没有减少。随着一声呻吟,TK从浴缸里爬了出来,浑身发抖。当卡洛斯冲进浴室时,TK洗澡时积聚的宝贵蒸汽逸出,TK在他承认卡洛斯踢开门时他的声音有多高之前就死了。脸颊灼热,TK咬了咬嘴唇,啪的一声从毛巾架上抓起了毛巾。他匆匆擦干身体,然后把毛巾缠在腰上。 他在镜子里研究自己。他的眼睛很疲惫,下面有黑眼圈来强调这一点。他的皮肤比他想要的更灰白,不是太病态,但绝对不会焕发健康。他深吸一口气,闭上眼睛,让肺部的空气吸收他的紧张,然后

breathes it all out with his next exhale. It’s already scandalous enough that Carlos saw him naked, he can’t let him see just how rattled he is. He’s TK fucking Strand and he’s got a reputation to uphold. The last thing he needs is Carlos talking to the press and giving them even more ammunition to speculate about TK’s life. He takes another deep breath, and with the exhale, he empties his mind and becomes the person he needs to be every day when he steps out of his house. In the mirror, his expression is smooth, his smile easy, and even the way he carries himself is different. His shoulders relax, his back straightens, and with the change in posture, TK settles and slips into his most practiced role. His reflection nods at him, and he tilts his chin in an upward flick in acknowledgement. It’s a simple move that’s both powerful and empowering. He’s TK Strand, and he’ll own the damn room because that’s what he does. When he pushes out of the bathroom, Carlos is nowhere in sight. TK huffs a soft sigh of relief and darts down the hall and into the bedroom. He pulls on a pair of worn grey sweatpants, an oversized sweater, and thick wool socks. Once dressed, he digs into his bag for the rental email and instructions for operating the generator and water boiler, all printed as suggested by the host because he can’t get data down here to load it on the go. TK pads into the living room on silent feet and finds Carlos standing in front of the kitchen sink with a steaming mug in hand. It all makes sense now why the generator was already running and the hot water tank was full, and why there’s so much food in the fridge. Carlos’ back is turned to him as he stares out of the window and into the inky blackness of the night. He’s dressed in a red flannel shirt and a pair of faded blue jeans. His hair is a mass of dark, wild curls, and TK wonders if they’re as soft as they look. The material of the shirt stretches taut across his wide shoulders and thick biceps, and the tail of it sits bunched at the top of his very round and very perky ass. Long legs put the denim of his jeans to the test, and TK swallows as heat crawls up the back of his neck. Not the fucking time , Tyler Kennedy. He sighs again and runs a hand through his hair. Carlos must have heard his loud exhale because he turns from the sink with a smile, and TK has to bite his lip to keep from moaning. The buttons of Carlos’ shirt strain across his chest, leaving nothing and everything to the imagination. “Here’s the email,” TK says as he stops in front of Carlos, holding out the papers. “Thanks.” Carlos puts his mug on the counter and takes the stack, then adjusts his glasses as he leans back against the edge of the counter. A small frown creases his brows as he reads the email, the attached invoice, then the detailed instructions on the setup and operation of the cabin. His thick, long lashes flutter as he blinks behind his glasses, and the tip of his tongue pokes out from between his plush lips as he concentrates. The glasses give him a bookish, whimsical charm that tames his impressive physique, and the combination sets TK’s stomach fluttering with butterflies. He’s met a lot of beautiful women and equally gorgeous men in his line of work, but Carlos is something else. “Christ, he’s charging how much ?” Carlos mutters as he flips to the end of the stack of papers and looks up at TK with disbelief in his eyes. “And you paid this?”
在他下一次呼气时将其全部呼出。卡洛斯看到他赤身裸体已经够可耻的了,他不能让他看到他有多慌张。他是TK他妈的斯特兰德,他有名声要维护。他最不需要的就是卡洛斯与媒体交谈,并给他们更多的弹药来推测TK的生活。他又深吸了一口气,呼出一口气,清空了自己的思绪,成为了他每天走出家门时需要成为的人。在镜子里,他的表情很流畅,笑容很轻松,甚至他的举止都不一样。他的肩膀放松,背部挺直,随着姿势的改变,TK安定下来,进入了他最擅长的角色。他的倒影向他点了点头,他向上翘了翘下巴以示认可。这是一个简单的举动,既强大又赋权。他是TK Strand,他将拥有该死的房间,因为这就是他所做的。当他推出浴室时,卡洛斯不见了踪影。TK轻轻地松了一口气,飞快地穿过走廊,走进卧室。他穿上一条破旧的灰色运动裤、一件超大号毛衣和厚厚的羊毛袜。穿好衣服后,他从包里掏出租赁电子邮件以及发电机和开水器的操作说明,所有这些都按照主人的建议打印出来,因为他无法在这里获取数据以在旅途中加载数据。TK默默地走进客厅,发现卡洛斯站在厨房水槽前,手里拿着一个热气腾腾的杯子。现在一切都明白了,为什么发电机已经在运行,热水箱已经满了,为什么冰箱里有这么多食物。卡洛斯背对着他,凝视着窗外,凝视着漆黑的夜色。 他穿着一件红色法兰绒衬衫和一条褪色的蓝色牛仔裤。他的头发是一团深色的、狂野的卷发,TK想知道它们是否像看起来那样柔软。衬衫的材质在他宽阔的肩膀和厚实的二头肌上绷紧,它的尾巴束在他非常圆润和非常活泼的屁股顶部。大长腿让他的牛仔裤的牛仔布经受住了考验,TK吞了吞口水,热气爬上了他的脖子后面。不是他妈的时间,泰勒肯尼迪。他又叹了口气,用手抚摸着自己的头发。卡洛斯一定听到了他大声的呼气,因为他微笑着从水槽里转过身来,TK不得不咬住嘴唇不让自己呻吟。卡洛斯衬衫的纽扣紧紧地扣在胸前,什么都没有留下,一切都留给了想象。“这是电子邮件,”TK说,他停在Carlos面前,拿出文件。“谢谢。”卡洛斯把杯子放在柜台上,拿起一叠杯子,然后调整了一下眼镜,靠在柜台边缘。当他阅读电子邮件、随附的发票,然后阅读有关机舱设置和操作的详细说明时,他的眉头皱起了眉头。当他眨眼时,他浓密而长的睫毛颤动着眼镜,当他集中注意力时,他的舌尖从他毛绒绒的嘴唇之间探出。眼镜赋予他一种书卷气、异想天开的魅力,驯服了他令人印象深刻的体格,这种组合让 TK 的肚子随着蝴蝶飞舞。在他的工作中,他遇到了很多漂亮的女人和同样漂亮的男人,但卡洛斯是另一回事。“天哪,他收了多少钱?”Carlos一边嘀咕着,一边翻到那堆文件的尽头,抬头看着TK,眼神中带着难以置信。“你付了这个钱?”

TK shrugs. “You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind.” Carlos grunts, and his expression darkens for a brief moment before he schools his face into something neutral. “All right, put on your coat,” he slaps the papers on the counter and pushes off from the counter, his thigh muscles shifting with the movement. “Let’s call my brother so you can have your peace of mind.” It’s not the words, but his tone that gives TK pause as if a switch just flipped. Gone is Carlos’ gentle smile, replaced by something guarded and resigned. Was it something TK said? He sighs and grabs his coat off the back of the couch in the living room and joins Carlos—who’s back in his thick down coat—at the front door. He slips on his boots, then flips up the fur-lined hood of his jacket before following Carlos out into the chilly night. A gust of strong wind steals his breath, and it takes TK a moment to adjust to the freezing air slipping beneath his coat and into his lungs. Carlos walks ahead without looking back to see if TK’s following, and TK trudges behind him down the dark tree-lined driveway. There are no stars to light the way. Was it really smart to follow Carlos down this path? What if he turns out to be a serial killer and this is his ploy to murder TK in the woods? He shakes his head and crosses his arms, tucking his frozen fingertips under his armpits. If he wanted TK dead, TK would already be dead. It’s not like the forest is any more isolated than the cabin is. The trek to the top of the driveway takes longer than TK anticipates, and his ears and the tip of his nose throb with cold. He’s so damn tired, and just when he thought he could finally have a little peace and quiet, something else goes wrong. Should he have just stayed home? Lock himself in his house and pretend to be away for two weeks? TK shakes his head and sighs. It wouldn’t be the same. He’d still be surrounded by people, by nosy neighbours and the paparazzi. He’d still have to be on high alert and constantly watching his back. He’d still have to be on. So stuck in his own head, TK doesn’t notice Carlos stopping and smacks into his solid back. He stumbles backwards with a yelp, and the heel of his foot catches on something hard and solid. TK goes rigid and his eyes screw shut as he tumbles backwards. A large hand grasps his elbow even as another fists the front of his coat. TK squeals and clutches at Carlos’ wrist with both hands, hanging on for dear life, and opens his eyes in relief when his ass doesn’t hit the frozen ground. Their gazes meet, and for a split second, TK’s sure there’s a flame in those stormy brown eyes that mirrors the heat spreading from TK’s gut. Time stretches like taffy, sticky as it holds them frozen in place. TK swallows, his breath catching, and he’s suddenly too hot despite the cold flakes of snow swirling around them like pixies. He clears his throat and steadies himself. Carlos drops his elbow as if burnt and looks away sharply. A muscle ticks in his chiselled jaw. “Um, thanks,” TK mutters as he smoothes down the front of his jacket. “Don’t worry about it,” Carlos replies as he pulls his phone from his pocket and turns on the screen. “Let’s just call Kevin and clear the air.”
TK耸耸肩。“你不能给安心贴上价格标签。”卡洛斯咕哝了一声,他的表情黯淡了一会儿,然后他把脸变成了一种中立的表情。“好了,穿上外套,”他拍了拍柜台上的文件,从柜台上推开,大腿肌肉随着动作而移动。“我们打电话给我哥哥,这样你就可以安心了。”不是这些话,而是他的语气让TK停顿了一下,就好像开关刚刚翻转一样。卡洛斯温柔的笑容不见了,取而代之的是戒备和无奈。是TK说的吗?他叹了口气,从客厅的沙发后面抓起外套,和穿着厚厚羽绒服的卡洛斯一起走到前门。他穿上靴子,然后掀起夹克的毛皮衬里兜帽,然后跟着卡洛斯走到寒冷的夜晚。一阵强风吹走了他的呼吸,TK花了一点时间才适应从外套下滑入肺部的冰冷空气。卡洛斯头也不回地走在前面,看看TK是否跟着他,TK在他身后沿着黑暗的绿树成荫的车道跋涉。没有星星可以照亮道路。跟着卡洛斯走这条路真的聪明吗?如果他原来是一个连环杀手,这是他在树林里谋杀 TK 的伎俩怎么办?他摇了摇头,双臂交叉,将冰冷的指尖塞在腋下。如果他想让TK死,TK早就死了。这并不是说森林比小屋更孤立。跋涉到车道顶端的时间比TK预期的要长,他的耳朵和鼻尖都因寒冷而悸动。他太累了,就在他以为自己终于可以有一点平静的时候,又出了点问题。他应该呆在家里吗? 把自己锁在屋子里,假装离开两个星期?TK摇了摇头,叹了口气。它不会是一样的。他仍然会被人包围,被爱管闲事的邻居和狗仔队包围。他仍然必须保持高度警惕,并不断注意他的背影。他仍然必须上场。TK被困在自己的脑海里,没有注意到卡洛斯停下来,撞上了他坚实的后背。他大叫一声踉踉跄跄地向后退去,脚后跟抓住了坚硬而坚实的东西。TK变得僵硬,当他向后翻滚时,他的眼睛紧闭。一只大手抓住了他的胳膊肘,而另一只手则握紧了他的外套前襟。TK尖叫着用双手抓着卡洛斯的手腕,紧紧抓住他的生命,当他的屁股没有碰到冰冻的地面时,他松了一口气。他们的目光相遇,有那么一瞬间,TK确信那双暴风雨般的棕色眼睛里有火焰,反映了从TK肠道蔓延的热量。时间像太妃糖一样伸展,粘稠,因为它将它们冻结在原地。TK咽了口唾沫,呼吸急促,尽管冰冷的雪花像小精灵一样在他们周围盘旋,但他突然太热了。他清了清嗓子,稳住了自己。卡洛斯像被烧伤了一样放下胳膊肘,猛地移开了视线。一块肌肉在他轮廓分明的下巴上滴答作响。“嗯,谢谢,”TK一边嘟囔着,一边抚平了夹克的前襟。“别担心,”卡洛斯回答说,他从口袋里掏出手机,打开屏幕。“让我们打电话给凯文,清理一下空气。”

Chapter 4 Chapter Notes It's 11:22pm PST XD! Still Friday! Carlos jabs at the screen of his phone until he pulls up Kevin’s contact. He glances at TK and tries to ignore the way his face falls as soon as he thinks Carlos has looked away. TK’s a celebrity just like the rest of them, impulsive, narcissistic, wasteful, and what’s worse is he’s Alex Silvester’s ex. It takes a certain kind of person to date someone like Alex and, even if their relationship is ancient history now, anyone who can get involved with that scumbag is someone Carlos wants nothing to do with. So why does the weary defeat in TK’s big green eyes bother Carlos so much? There’s something about the way his shoulders slump and his feet drag that sends tendrils of guilt through Carlos. This is just a vacation, right? He can always book a new vacation with the money he’s getting back from Kevin. Hell, he can probably afford ten times what he’s paying for the cabin and go anywhere in the world. Celebrities like TK, who charges millions of dollars to be in a single movie, don’t value money the way hard working folks like Carlos do. Growing up with a single mother who worked three jobs to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, it makes Carlos angry to be surrounded by people who won’t blink an eye spending thousands of dollars on a stupid purse or a pair of shoes. TK’s Gucci jacket can probably feed a family of five for a month. Annoyed, Carlos turns his back to TK and dials Kevin. His step brother has been talking about renting the cabin on Airbnb for ages, but he didn’t know he’d actually gone through with it. The call goes through on the third ring, and Carlos doesn’t wait for Kevin’s greeting. “Did you seriously rent out the cabin on Airbnb?” Silence, then Kevin mutters a quiet “oh shit.” “Oh shit is right,” Carlos grouses and tries to keep his voice down. “You could’ve at least marked it out on the calendar, jackass.” “Shit, it’s the middle of winter,” Kevin says, his voice apologetic. “I didn’t think anyone’d be heading up there.” “Well I’m here, and so is your guest.” Carlos sighs and switches the phone from one year to the other. “Go tell him who I am so the guy doesn’t kill me in my sleep thinking I’m some sort of crazy stalker fan.” “Crazy stalker fan—wait is it actually the TK Strand?” Kevin’s voice goes up a whole octave. “Yes it is, and he’s not impressed.” “Fuck.”
第 4 章 章节注释 现在是太平洋标准时间晚上 11:22!还是星期五!卡洛斯盯着手机屏幕,直到他拨通了凯文的联系方式。他瞥了一眼TK,并试图忽略他的脸色,因为他认为卡洛斯已经移开了视线。TK和其他人一样是名人,冲动、自恋、浪费,更糟糕的是他是亚历克斯·西尔维斯特的前任。需要某种类型的人才能与亚历克斯这样的人约会,即使他们的关系现在已经是古老的历史,任何能与那个渣男扯上关系的人都是卡洛斯不想与之扯上关系的人。那么,为什么TK那双绿色的大眼睛里疲惫的失败会让卡洛斯如此困扰呢?他的肩膀下垂和双脚拖沓的方式让卡洛斯感到内疚。这只是一个假期,对吧?他总是可以用从凯文那里拿回来的钱预订新的假期。的,他可能买得起十倍于他支付的小屋费用,然后去世界任何地方。像TK这样的名人,在一部电影中收取数百万美元的费用,并不像卡洛斯这样勤奋的人那样重视金钱。卡洛斯与一位单身母亲一起长大,她打了三份工,把食物放在桌子上,头上有一个屋顶,这让卡洛斯很生气,因为周围都是不眨眼的人,他们花了数千美元买一个愚蠢的钱包或一双鞋。TK 的 Gucci 夹克大概可以养活一个五口之家一个月。卡洛斯很生气,背对着TK,拨通了凯文的电话。他的继兄弟多年来一直在谈论在Airbnb上租用小屋,但他不知道他实际上已经完成了它。电话在第三次响铃时响起,卡洛斯没有等待凯文的问候。“你真的把Airbnb上的小屋租出去了吗?”沉默,然后凯文小声嘀咕了一句“哦,该死。“ ”哦,该死的是对的,“卡洛斯嘟囔着,试图压低声音。你至少可以在日历上把它标出来,混蛋。“妈的,现在是隆冬,”凯文说,他的声音带着歉意。“我没想到有人会去那里。”“嗯,我在这里,你的客人也在。”卡洛斯叹了口气,把手机从一年换到了另一年。“去告诉他我是谁,这样那家伙就不会在我睡梦中杀了我,以为我是某种疯狂的跟踪狂粉丝。”“疯狂的跟踪狂粉丝——等等,真的是TK Strand吗?”凯文的声音提高了整整八度。“是的,他没有留下深刻的印象。”“他妈的。”

Carlos turns around and finds TK staring at him. He holds the phone out and shrugs. “Here’s Kevin. Ask him whatever to confirm I’m who I say I am.” TK takes the phone and turns away. “Hello?” Carlos can’t hear what TK’s saying over the wind, but he watches TK’s back as he nods a few times, pauses, nods some more, then turns back and hands Carlos the phone. “Okay, we’re good.” TK smiles but it doesn’t reach his eyes. Carlos puts the phone back to his ear, even more annoyed. “You’re gonna give him a full refund.” “What? Why—” “Because the fact we’re both here is one hundred percent your fault,” Carlos growls. “And I wonder if Mom and Dad signed off on this whole rental business.” Which they most likely did not, or else the dates would have been blacked out on the family calendar. “Wait, fuck, okay, please don’t tell them,” Kevin pleads. “They’re still thinking about it.” “And you listed it anyway?” “I’m sorry, I just figured it’s the middle of winter and we never go there in the winter.” Carlos sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. “I do.” “Apparently,” Kevin bites back indignantly. Carlos resists the urge to roll his eyes. “Look, just give the guy his refund and I’ll figure it out from here.” “Okay, fine,” Kevin says. “What’s he like?” “Bye, Kevin.” “Wait—” Carlos hangs up, then turns his attention back to TK. “Kevin’ll be issuing you a full refund.” TK chews his bottom lip as if deep in thought, then his face brightens with a charming smile. “Thanks,” he says. The shift is subtle, but it jars Carlos to the bone. The air of melancholy around TK is gone, replaced by the celebrity Carlos has seen on late-night talk shows and interviews on TV. “And thanks for going through the trouble to clear things up for me.” “Oh, uh, no problem.” Carlos blinks, unable to look away from TK’s dazzling smile. There’s no arguing how handsome TK is on the big screen, but he’s breathtaking in person where his hair isn’t stylishly mussed and his lips aren’t glistening with gloss. Without makeup, Carlos can pick out tiny blemishes in his skin, and the corners of his eyes crinkle when he smiles. More guilt washes over him as he watches TK put on his public face right in front of him. There’s no reason for TK to choose such a remote spot for a vacation unless he’s looking to be alone. It must be exhausting putting on a persona every waking moment, waiting to be ambushed by the paparazzi or fans, and now Carlos, or rather Kevin, has ruined his plans to unwind and be himself. Would TK stay if Carlos offered? Should he offer? The cabin isn’t huge, but there’s enough room
卡洛斯转过身来,发现TK正盯着他看。他拿出手机,耸了耸肩。“这是凯文。问他什么,以确认我就是我所说的那个人。TK接过电话,转身离开。“你好?”卡洛斯听不见TK在风中说了什么,但他看着TK的背影,他点了几下头,停顿了一下,又点了点头,然后转过身来,把电话递给了卡洛斯。“好吧,我们很好。”TK笑了,但没能到他的眼睛里。卡洛斯把电话放回耳边,更加恼火了。“你要给他全额退款。”“什么?为什么——“ ”因为我们俩都在这里,这百分之百是你的错,“卡洛斯咆哮道。“我想知道爸爸妈妈是否签署了整个租赁业务。他们很可能没有这样做,否则日期就会在家庭日历上被涂黑。“等等,他妈的,好吧,请不要告诉他们,”凯文恳求道。“他们还在考虑这个问题。”“你还是把它列了出来?”“对不起,我只是觉得现在是隆冬,我们冬天从来不去那里。”卡洛斯叹了口气,捏了捏鼻梁。“我愿意。”“显然,”凯文愤愤不平地咬了一口。卡洛斯忍住了翻白眼的冲动。“听着,只要把钱给那家伙,我就从这里想办法。”“好吧,好吧,”凯文说。“他长什么样子?”“再见,凯文。”“等等——”卡洛斯挂断了电话,然后把注意力转回了TK身上,“凯文会给你全额退款的。TK咬着下唇,仿佛陷入了沉思,然后他的脸上露出了迷人的笑容。“谢谢,”他说。这种转变是微妙的,但它让卡洛斯感到震惊。围绕TK的忧郁气氛消失了,取而代之的是卡洛斯在深夜脱口秀节目和电视采访中看到的名人。“谢谢你费尽心思为我解决问题。”“哦,呃,没问题。“卡洛斯眨了眨眼,目光无法从TK灿烂的笑容上移开。毋庸置疑,TK在大银幕上有多帅,但他本人令人叹为观止,他的头发没有时尚的肌肉,他的嘴唇也没有光泽。不化妆,卡洛斯可以挑出皮肤上的微小瑕疵,笑起来眼角会皱起来。当他看着TK在他面前摆出他的公众面孔时,更多的内疚感涌上心头。TK没有理由选择这样一个偏僻的地方度假,除非他想一个人呆着。每时每刻都扮演一个角色,等待被狗仔队或粉丝伏击,这肯定是令人筋疲力尽的,而现在卡洛斯,或者更确切地说是凯文,已经破坏了他放松和做自己的计划。如果卡洛斯愿意,TK会留下来吗?他应该提供吗?机舱不大,但有足够的空间

for two people. Sure, it wouldn’t be the isolated holiday either of them wanted, but there’s enough space in the forest for two grown men to not bother each other, isn’t there? Thick flakes of snow swirl around them as they make their way back to the cabin, and a strong gust of wind blows through Carlos’ beanie. In front of him, TK shivers and hugs himself tighter. His shoulders hunch as he ducks his head, making his already slender frame seem even smaller. A strong urge to wrap his arms around him overcomes Carlos, and he balls his fists to keep himself from reaching out. No matter how attractive he is or how vulnerable he seems, he’s still one of them, and Carlos is done getting involved with famous people. Maybe he shouldn’t offer for TK to stay after all? The cabin comes into view, and they hurry as the wind whips snow in their faces. Carlos unlocks the cabin and they pile into the warm hall before Carlos shuts the door, cutting off the howling wind abruptly. They kick off their boots and shed their thick coats, and Carlos stuffs his hands into his pockets as TK blows hot air into his cupped hands. The tip of his nose is red, and coupled with his wild, untamed hair and a sweater so big it swallows him right up, he looks younger. More boy-next-door and less slick-Hollywood-heartthrob. It’s a good look on him. TK looks up and their eyes meet. Carlos clears his throat and ignores the heat crawling up his neck and pushes past TK down the short hallway into the joint kitchen living room. “I’m gonna make some hot cocoa, you want some?” Carlos calls over his shoulder, and he’s glad his voice is steady. TK’s answer comes after a beat of silence. “Yes, please. Thank you.” Carlos doesn’t look behind him to know TK’s taken a seat on the couch. The leather squeaks as he sits down, and Carlos tries not to imagine how he must look curled up on the couch in his sweatpants, sweater, and thick, wool socks. Instead, he focuses on pouring milk and heavy cream into a small saucepan. He can feel TK’s eyes following him, his gaze scorching on the back of his neck, and Carlos tries not to let it distract him. It’s not the first time he’s cooked with others watching, but usually it’s the food that’s under scrutiny and not him. Something as simple as mixing cocoa powder into milk suddenly becomes difficult, and Carlos curses as his stirring falters and a cloud of powder flies out the pot. He closes his eyes and inhales deeply, letting the warm smell of warm cream and vanilla settle his nerves. He’s making hot cocoa, something he’s done countless times in his life, and he’ll not ruin a perfectly good batch just because some celebrity golden boy is watching him. Carlos glances over his shoulder into the living room and deflates. TK looks away quickly, as if he’s a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He looks calm, but something tells Carlos he’s anything but as he plucks at the hem of his sweater. He turns his attention back to the saucepan and gives the contents a quick stir, satisfied with the way the drink turned out despite his blunder. There’s nothing like hot cocoa to warm the body and the soul, and from the looks of things, TK could use a bit of both. Carefully, Carlos pours hot cocoa into two tall mugs with all the fixings, then takes both into the living room, ignoring the fact TK is very pointedly not looking at him. He holds a mug out to TK. “Thanks,” TK says as he accepts. His eyes flutter shut as he inhales, and when he takes a sip, they
两个人。当然,这不会是他们俩想要的孤立假期,但森林里有足够的空间让两个成年男子不打扰对方,不是吗?当他们回到小屋时,厚厚的雪花在他们周围盘旋,一阵强风吹过卡洛斯的无檐小便帽。在他面前,TK颤抖着,把自己抱得更紧了。他的肩膀耷拉着,低下头,使他本来就纤细的身躯显得更加渺小。一种强烈的想要搂住他的冲动战胜了卡洛斯,他握紧拳头不让自己伸出手来。无论他多么有吸引力,或者他看起来多么脆弱,他仍然是他们中的一员,卡洛斯已经完成了与名人的交往。也许他不应该让TK留下来?小屋映入眼帘,他们匆匆忙忙,因为风把雪鞭打在他们的脸上。卡洛斯打开了小屋的锁,他们挤进了温暖的大厅,然后卡洛斯关上了门,突然切断了呼啸的风。他们脱下靴子,脱下厚厚的外套,卡洛斯把手塞进口袋里,TK把热空气吹进他杯状的手里。他的鼻尖是红色的,再加上他狂野、野性的头发和一件大到足以吞噬他的毛衣,他看起来更年轻了。更多的邻家男孩,而不是圆滑的好莱坞万人迷。他看起来不错。TK抬起头,他们的目光相遇。卡洛斯清了清嗓子,无视脖子上爬来的热气,推开TK沿着短短的走廊走进了厨房的客厅。“我要做一些热可可,你要一些吗?”卡洛斯在他肩膀上叫了一声,他很高兴自己的声音很稳定。TK的回答是在一阵沉默之后做出的。“是的,请。谢谢。卡洛斯没有回头看他身后,知道TK已经在沙发上坐了下来。 当他坐下时,皮革发出吱吱声,卡洛斯试图不去想象他穿着运动裤、毛衣和厚厚的羊毛袜蜷缩在沙发上的样子。相反,他专注于将牛奶和浓奶油倒入一个小平底锅中。他能感觉到TK的眼睛在跟着他,他的目光灼热地盯着他的脖子后面,卡洛斯尽量不让它分散他的注意力。这不是他第一次在别人的注视下做饭,但通常审查的是食物,而不是他。像将可可粉混合到牛奶中这样简单的事情突然变得困难起来,卡洛斯咒骂着,因为他的搅拌动摇了,一团粉从锅里飞了出来。他闭上眼睛,深吸一口气,让温暖的奶油和香草的温暖气味安抚他的神经。他正在制作热可可,这是他一生中做过无数次的事情,他不会因为某个名人金童在看着他而毁掉一批完美的可可。卡洛斯瞥了一眼客厅,然后放了气。TK迅速移开视线,仿佛他是一个被饼干罐抓住的孩子。他看起来很平静,但当他扯了扯毛衣的下摆时,有什么东西告诉卡洛斯,他什么都不是。他把注意力转回平底锅上,快速搅拌了一下里面的东西,尽管他犯了错误,但他对饮料的结果感到满意。没有什么比热可可更能温暖身体和灵魂了,从外观上看,TK可以同时使用两者。卡洛斯小心翼翼地将热可可倒入两个装有所有固定装置的高杯子中,然后把两个杯子都带进客厅,忽略了TK非常尖锐地不看他的事实。他向TK伸出一个杯子,“谢谢,”TK在接受时说。当他吸气时,他的眼睛颤抖着闭上,当他喝一口时,他们

pop open and a soft, appreciative moan escapes his lips. “This is hands down the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.” Carlos can’t help the smile tugging at his own lips. He takes a sip of his drink and sighs as warm cream and rich cocoa coats his tongue. “Wanna know the secret?” “Yes and no,” TK says after taking another sip. “Do I want to know how the trick works and ruin the magic, or continue to be awed by it?” Carlos chuckles and relaxes. “There’s no magic, just a dash of cayenne pepper.” TK sighs dramatically, his eyebrows pinching like two dancing caterpillars. “Ugh, magic ruined.” Carlos laughs, and it startles him as much as it sets him at ease. “Well, I’ve got many more magic tricks up my sleeve.” “Spoken like a true magician.” TK winks and takes another sip. They fall into a comfortable silence as they sip their hot cocoa. Despite his every effort, Carlos finds himself drawn to TK. Sure, he’s gorgeous, as one would expect a successful actor to be, but it’s the way his feet slip under his butt as he relaxes that’s endearing. It’s the way he brushes unruly locks of dark hair from his brow and the way his throat works when he swallows that has Carlos’ heart pounding against his rib cage. There’s nothing Hollywood glam about the man sitting in front of him. No saccharine smiles and designer outfits and perfect makeup, just a man enjoying a warm drink at the end of a long, cold day. He seems comfortable despite the shitshow of the evening. Suddenly, Carlos is sure he wants TK to stay so he can enjoy his escape before heading back to whatever real life holds for him. “I know this isn’t the vacation you wanted,” Carlos starts, rolling his mug between his hands. “And it definitely isn’t how I imagined my next two weeks, but—” Carlos swallows and takes a deep breath. “If you’d like, you’re welcome to stay. That is, if you don’t mind having some company.” TK looks up and blinks, his mask forgotten as he stares at Carlos with unguarded surprise in his eyes. He straightens from the couch and chews his bottom lip, his eyes so wide they’re glowing in the dim lamp light. He hesitates, and Carlos can almost hear the gears grinding in his head. “I mean,” Carlos continues, trying to fill the silence. “Please stay the night at least and no pressure if you’d rather go home tomorrow—” “No,” TK says sharply, then sags back into the couch as he cradles the mug in his lap. “I mean, that’s really nice of you to offer, but I don’t want to impose.” “I wouldn’t be offering if I didn’t mean it,” Carlos says. “Besides, it looks like you could use a vacation.” TK huffs a breath that’s half sigh half laughter and wrinkles his nose. “That obvious?” “Hard to hide behind a mask when you’re caught naked in a bathtub.” TK covers his eyes with his forearm and groans, his head thrown back. “Warn me before you take that to the press?” His tone is light, almost joking, but there’s a sliver of fear and resignation in his voice that hits Carlos like a punch to the gut. The gossip that’s circulating around about Carlos and Alex must
啪的一声,一声轻柔的、欣赏的呻吟从他的嘴唇中逸出。“这是我吃过的最好的热巧克力。”卡洛斯忍不住扯了扯自己的嘴唇。他喝了一口饮料,叹了口气,温暖的奶油和浓郁的可可覆盖在他的舌头上。“想知道这个秘密吗?”“是也不是,”TK又喝了一口后说。“我是想知道这个把戏是如何运作的,毁掉魔法,还是继续被它所敬畏?”卡洛斯笑了笑,放松了下来。“没有魔法,只有一点辣椒。”TK叹了口气,眉毛像两只跳舞的毛毛虫一样捏在一起。“呃,魔法毁了。”卡洛斯笑了,这让他吃惊,也让他放松下来。“嗯,我还有更多的魔术。”“说话像个真正的魔术师。”TK眨了眨眼,又喝了一口。当他们啜饮热可可时,他们陷入了舒适的沉默。尽管他尽了一切努力,卡洛斯还是发现自己被TK所吸引。 当然,他很漂亮,正如人们所期望的那样,一个成功的演员,但当他放松时,他的脚滑到屁股下的方式很可爱。正是他从额头上拂过一绺乱糟糟的黑发,以及他吞咽时喉咙的工作方式,让卡洛斯的心脏砰砰直跳。坐在他面前的男人没有什么好莱坞的魅力。没有糖精的笑容,没有名牌服装和完美的妆容,只是一个男人在漫长而寒冷的一天结束时享受一杯热饮。尽管晚上的表演,他看起来很舒服。突然间,卡洛斯确定他希望TK留下来,这样他就可以享受他的逃亡,然后再回到现实生活中。“我知道这不是你想要的假期,”卡洛斯开始说,双手搓着杯子。“这绝对不是我想象中接下来的两周,但是——”卡洛斯咽了口唾沫,深吸了一口气。 “如果你愿意,欢迎你留下来。也就是说,如果你不介意有一些公司的话。TK抬起头眨了眨眼,他的面具被遗忘了,他盯着卡洛斯,眼中毫无防备的惊讶。他从沙发上直起身子,咬着下唇,眼睛睁得大大的,在昏暗的灯光下闪闪发光。他犹豫了一下,卡洛斯几乎可以听到齿轮在他脑海中磨擦的声音。“我是说,”卡洛斯继续说,试图填补沉默。“请至少过夜,如果你明天想回家,不要有压力——”不,“TK尖锐地说,然后瘫倒在沙发上,把杯子抱在腿上。“我的意思是,你提供的东西真的很好,但我不想强加于人。”“如果我不是故意的,我就不会提供,”卡洛斯说。“再说了,看来你可以放个假了。”TK喘着粗气,半是叹息,半是笑,皱了皱鼻子。“这么明显?”“当你赤身裸体地躺在浴缸里时,很难躲在面具后面。”TK用前臂捂住眼睛,呻吟着,头向后仰。“在你把它带到媒体面前之前警告我?”他的语气很轻,几乎是在开玩笑,但他的声音里有一丝恐惧和无奈,像一拳打在卡洛斯的肚子上。关于卡洛斯和亚历克斯的流言蜚语一定是

happen to TK a lot, and Carlos hates that he’s learned to just roll with it. “I’d never do that,” Carlos says with conviction. TK regards him with a cocked eyebrow, and Carlos shrugs. “Thanks,” TK says after a small pause. “So what sent you to a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere instead of somewhere hot with sandy beaches for a vacation?” Carlos asks, genuinely curious. TK stares into his empty mug, his expression conflicted as if he’s having some internal struggle. Eventually, he sighs and looks up with a soft smile. “Went to my ex’s wedding.” Carlos winces. “Alex Silvester?” “Yeah,” TK says with a dry chuckle. “Everyone knows I was his bitch.” Carlos frowns at the bitterness in his words. “Anyway,” TK continues, “I’m over him. The wedding confirmed it, but it stirred up some unpleasant memories. That coupled with the crazy year I’ve had with work, I just needed to go somewhere quiet where I can be alone.” “You were no one’s bitch, TK,” Carlos says and reaches over to squeeze TK’s knee. “Alex is a total jackass anyway, so really, you dodged a bullet.” TK’s eyes flick to Carlos’ hand on his knee and Carlos yanks it back. He didn’t mean to do that, it just happened, and now TK must think he’s some sort of creep. “You know Alex?” TK asks. “I catered his wedding.” TK’s eyes widen and a myriad of emotions flit across them. His expression is waxy with shock, then his face screws up with disgust and anger. “It was you making out with him in the kitchen, wasn’t it?” Carlos’ mouth dries and he recoils from the rage in TK’s eyes. “What—” “Don’t. I saw it all. Christ on a cracker.” TK scrubs a hand down his face and slams his mug on the coffee table. “I just can’t get away from that asshole anywhere, not even in bum fuck nowhere, Canada.” He shoves to his feet and glares down at Carlos, all traces of friendliness and contentment gone. “What you do in private with Alex is none of my business. I’ll leave in the morning. Thanks for the hot chocolate.” Without a backward glance and a chance for Carlos to explain, TK pushes past him and storms out of the living room. A door slams, the sound jarring Carlos to the bone. What the actual fuck? He picks up both mugs and stalks to the sink. What the hell is TK Strand’s problem? For a guy who claims to be over Alex, he certainly doesn’t act like it. He saw Alex kissing Carlos. Was he the one who told the press about it? But if he saw the whole thing, then he should know that Alex instigated everything and Carlos was the victim. Carlos is not a saint, and he’s definitely not been the best boyfriend a guy can be sometimes, but he’d never help someone else cheat, especially not on their wedding day. Carlos turns on the tap
TK经常发生,卡洛斯讨厌他学会了随波逐流。“我永远不会那样做,”卡洛斯坚定地说。TK翘起眉毛看着他,Carlos耸了耸肩。“谢谢,”TK停顿了一会儿后说。“那么,是什么让你去一个偏僻的小屋,而不是一个炎热的沙滩度假?”卡洛斯问道,真的很好奇。TK盯着他空空如也的杯子,表情矛盾,仿佛在内心挣扎。最终,他叹了口气,抬起头来,露出一个温柔的微笑。“去参加我前任的婚礼了。”卡洛斯皱起了眉头。“亚历克斯·西尔维斯特?”“是的,”TK干笑着说。“每个人都知道我是他的婊子。”卡洛斯皱起眉头,看着他话语中的苦涩。“不管怎样,”TK继续说,“我胜过他。婚礼证实了这一点,但它激起了一些不愉快的回忆。再加上我疯狂的一年工作,我只需要去一个安静的地方,在那里我可以独处。“你不是任何人的婊子,TK,”卡洛斯说,伸手捏了捏TK的膝盖。“反正亚历克斯是个彻头彻尾的混蛋,所以说真的,你躲过了一颗子弹。”TK的目光落在卡洛斯放在膝盖上的手上,卡洛斯把它拽了回来。他不是故意的,它只是发生了,现在TK一定认为他是某种毛骨悚然的人。“你认识亚历克斯吗?”TK问道。“我为他的婚礼做了餐饮服务。”TK瞪大了眼睛,无数的情绪在他们身上闪过。他的表情因震惊而蜡质,然后他的脸因厌恶和愤怒而扭曲。“是你在厨房里和他亲热,不是吗?”卡洛斯的嘴巴干了,他从TK眼中的愤怒中退缩了。“什么——” “不要。我都看到了。饼干上的基督。TK用一只手在脸上搓了搓,把杯子砸在了茶几上。“我在任何地方都无法摆脱那个混蛋,即使是在他妈的加拿大。“他猛地站起来,瞪着卡洛斯,所有友好和满足的痕迹都消失了。你和亚历克斯私下里做的事情不关我的事。我早上就走。谢谢你的热巧克力。没有回头看一眼,也没有机会让卡洛斯解释,TK推开他,冲出了客厅。一扇门砰的一声关上了,这声音让卡洛斯彻骨。到底是怎么回事?他拿起两个杯子,走到水槽前。TK Strand的问题到底是什么?对于一个自称超过亚历克斯的家伙来说,他当然不会表现得像这样。他看到亚历克斯亲吻卡洛斯。他是告诉媒体这件事的人吗?但如果他看到了整件事,那么他应该知道亚历克斯煽动了一切,而卡洛斯是受害者。卡洛斯不是圣人,他绝对不是一个男人有时可以成为的最好的男朋友,但他永远不会帮助别人作弊,尤其是在他们的婚礼当天。卡洛斯打开水龙头

with an angry twist and plugs the sink. He squirts some soap into the swirling water and sighs. TK Strand is just like the rest of them. Carlos should have listened to his head instead of his gut. To think Carlos was starting to like the guy. Why? Because he’s hot? Because he looks adorably lost in his baggy clothes? Because he liked Carlos’ hot cocoa? Carlos scrubs the saucepan with more force than necessary, then does the same with the mugs and whisk. He wants to leave in the morning? Don’t let the door hit his perfect ass on the way out. With the dishes done, Carlos reaches for the radio on the windowsill. Fiddling with the dial, he finally finds a station—one of three that the cabin receives—and sets it down on the counter as soft classic rock drifts from the tiny speakers. What he needs is some dinner and a good night’s sleep. Come morning, the bump in his vacation plans would be gone, then he can get the peace and quiet he came here for. Carlos pulls the ingredients for the egg rolls out of the fridge and minces the shrimp into a paste with garlic, ginger, and cilantro. The rhythmic thud of the cleaver takes him out of his head, and before long, he’s pushed all thoughts of TK Strand and Alex Silvester out of his mind. He tosses everything into a large bowl and mixes the filling until it’s a smooth paste, then sniffs it before adding another dash of white pepper and salt. Satisfied with the filling, Carlos pulls the spring roll wrappers out of the fridge, then sets up his station. The repetitive nature of wrapping spring rolls is exactly what he needs after the excitement of the evening, and with every roll, a little more tension bleeds from his shoulders. Despite how volatile the world is, there’s one constant in his life, and that’s his place in the kitchen. Cooking is his happy place, and when he’s making something he loves, he can forget about the world for a little while. The song on the radio stops abruptly, pulling Carlos out of his concentration. He looks up, his spoon filled with shrimp filling pausing midair, and he turns to the radio with a frown. Is the thing broken? It’s another moment of silence before a voice comes on. “Sorry for the interruption folks, this is Carson on Soft Rock one-oh-one, and we just received an emergency announcement,” the radio host announces in his chirpy voice. “The national weather service in and around the city of Kelowna has issued a snow storm warning.” Carlos holds his breath as Carson reads the rest of the report. Snow storm warning in effect immediately. Heavy snowfall expected to last at least seventy-two hours, up to seven days and possibly longer. All highways leading into the city will be affected. Inner city road closures dependant on conditions. Rural roads, including all roads surrounding Roche Lake will be closed. Extreme conditions not suitable for travel. Carson signs off wishing everyone to stay safe and stay home. The speakers crackle, then the music resumes as if the radio host didn’t just drop a bomb on Carlos. Carlos puts the spoon down and wipes his hands on a clean towel, his earlier calm evaporating. His stomach clenches even as his heart sinks. He’s stocked the cabin with emergency rations for this very reason, but— “Fuck.” Carlos whirls around to the quiet mutter and finds TK standing at the mouth of the hallway, looking as devastated as Carlos feels.
愤怒地扭动并塞住水槽。他把一些肥皂喷进漩涡般的水中,叹了口气。TK Strand 就像其他人一样。卡洛斯应该听从他的头脑而不是他的直觉。以为卡洛斯开始喜欢这个家伙了。为什么?因为他很热?因为他穿着宽松的衣服看起来很可爱?因为他喜欢卡洛斯的热可可?卡洛斯用不必要的力擦洗平底锅,然后用杯子和打蛋器做同样的事情。他想早上离开?不要让门在出门的路上撞到他完美的屁股。洗好碗后,卡洛斯伸手去拿窗台上的收音机。摆弄着表盘,他终于找到了一个电台——机舱接收的三个电台之一——并将其放在柜台上,柔和的经典摇滚从小扬声器中飘出。他需要的是晚餐和一夜好眠。到了早上,他度假计划中的颠簸就会消失,然后他就可以得到他来这里所追求的和平与安宁。卡洛斯从冰箱里拿出蛋卷的原料,把虾和大蒜、生姜和香菜一起切成糊状。切肉刀有节奏的砰砰声把他从脑海中带走,没过多久,他就把TK Strand和Alex Silvester的所有想法都从脑海中赶走了。他把所有东西都扔进一个大碗里,把馅料混合,直到它变成光滑的糊状物,然后闻一闻,然后再加入少许白胡椒和盐。卡洛斯对馅料很满意,从冰箱里拿出春卷包装纸,然后摆好自己的工作台。包裹春卷的重复性正是他在晚上的兴奋之后所需要的,每卷春卷,他的肩膀就会流出更多的紧张感。尽管世界动荡不安,但他的生活中有一个不变的,那就是他在厨房里的位置。 烹饪是他快乐的地方,当他做自己喜欢的东西时,他可以暂时忘记这个世界。收音机里的歌曲戛然而止,把卡洛斯从注意力中拉了出来。他抬起头,装满虾馅的勺子在半空中停了下来,他皱着眉头转向收音机。东西坏了吗?又是片刻的沉默,然后一个声音响起。“对不起,打扰了大家,我是 Soft Rock 的 Carson,我们刚刚收到紧急公告,”电台主持人用他嘶哑的声音宣布。“基洛纳市及其周边地区的国家气象局已经发布了暴风雪警告。卡洛斯屏住呼吸,卡森读着报告的其余部分。暴风雪警告立即生效。预计大雪将持续至少72小时,最长可达7天,甚至可能更长。所有通往城市的高速公路都将受到影响。市内道路封闭取决于情况。农村道路,包括罗氏湖周围的所有道路都将关闭。不适合旅行的极端条件。卡森签字祝愿大家保持安全并待在家里。扬声器噼啪作响,然后音乐又恢复了,就好像电台主持人不只是向卡洛斯投下了炸弹一样。卡洛斯放下勺子,用干净的毛巾擦了擦手,他先前的平静消失了。他的肚子紧紧地咬着,即使他的心在下沉。正是出于这个原因,他在机舱里储备了应急口粮,但是——“他妈的。卡洛斯转过身来,来到安静的嘀咕声中,发现TK站在走廊口,看起来和卡洛斯一样沮丧。

Chapter 5 The smell of fresh coffee, butter, and bacon tickles his nose, and TK’s growling stomach pulls him from a fitful sleep. He lies on his back staring at the popcorn ceiling, his mouth watering, and sighs as the news from last night weights down on him. He’s stuck here until the storm breaks. Stuck here with Carlos. Gorgeous, beautiful Carlos. Carlos who made out with Alex on his wedding day. What were the fucking chances that he’d run into Carlos here? In the middle of nowhere in a different country? TK groans and tugs the pillow over his head, trying and failing to block out the tempting smoky aroma of cured pork belly and the image of Alex lunging for Carlos in the kitchen of the reception venue. TK didn’t see the person Alex kissed clearly, and he didn’t stick around to find out who he was as he bolted from the reception, his stomach roiling with anger and disgust. Alex Silvester has always been a fucking cheater, and not even holy matrimony can fix him. Turns out, people really don’t change. TK should warn Carlos about what sort of man Alex is, but Carlos was catering his wedding , and if he’s okay kissing a man on his wedding day then he deserves what’s coming for him. TK huffs and grabs his book off the bedside table, opening it to the bookmarked page and attempts to read. But his stomach has other ideas as it complains loudly, reminding him louder and louder each time that he stormed off to bed last night without supper. More mouthwatering smells waft in from outside the bedroom: eggs, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. TK groans and pulls the comforter over his head. He’d rather starve than go out there right now and face Carlos. The look on Carlos’ face was unmistakably annoyed at the news that TK would be stuck here until the storm blows over, and why shouldn’t he be? He offered TK to stay despite demanding his brother to give TK a full refund, and TK threw it all back in his face just because he couldn’t bear the fact that Carlos is involved with Alex. Who Carlos sleeps with is none of TK’s business. Regardless of how inappropriate TK thinks the whole affair is, it’s not his place to judge. He acted like a complete diva storming out of the room and now he has to live with the consequences of his overreaction. His stomach cramps, leaving TK to curl into a ball as he tries to staunch the gurgling and growling. So engrossed in his hunger induced misery, TK almost misses the soft knock on his door. He pulls the comforter down an inch and swallows when the knock comes again. Carlos says nothing, but there’s a soft thud by the bedroom door, then the floor creaks with retreating footsteps. TK blinks into the darkness of his comforter cocoon. Did he leave something by the door? Wearily, TK peels the sheets back and rolls out of bed. He cracks open the door and finds a plate on the floor piled high with French toast. A fork and a knife are tucked under the mountain of food. A fresh wave of guilt washes over TK. He bends down and picks up the plate, and his recent resolve to go vegan takes a backseat as he crunches down on a strip of bacon. The combination of sweet and salty explodes on his tongue. It’s smoky, it’s juicy, it’s chewy and crispy, and it’s absolutely heaven after nearly twenty-four hours of not eating. TK picks up another strip of bacon and stuffs it in his mouth, chews and swallows before sighing and taking the plate down the hall.
第 5 章 新鲜咖啡、黄油和培根的香味让他的鼻子发痒,TK 咕咕叫的肚子把他从睡梦中拉了出来。他仰面躺着,盯着爆米花天花板,垂涎欲滴,叹了口气,因为昨晚的消息压在他身上。他被困在这里,直到暴风雨来临。和卡洛斯一起被困在这里。华丽,美丽的卡洛斯。卡洛斯在婚礼当天与亚历克斯亲热。他在这里碰到卡洛斯的几率有多大?在另一个国家的偏僻地方?TK呻吟着,把枕头扯过头顶,试图阻挡腌五花肉诱人的烟熏香气和亚历克斯在接待会场厨房里冲向卡洛斯的画面,但失败了。TK没有看清亚历克斯亲吻的人,当他从接待处冲出来时,他没有留下来找出他是谁,他的胃因愤怒和厌恶而翻腾。亚历克斯·西尔维斯特(Alex Silvester)一直是个他妈的骗子,即使是神圣的婚姻也无法解决他。事实证明,人们真的不会改变。TK应该警告卡洛斯亚历克斯是什么样的人,但卡洛斯正在为他的婚礼做准备,如果他在婚礼当天亲吻一个男人没问题,那么他应该得到他应得的。TK气喘吁吁地从床头柜上拿起他的书,打开书签页面,试图阅读。但他的肚子却有其他想法,因为它大声抱怨,每次提醒他昨晚没有吃晚饭就冲上床睡觉时,声音越来越大。更多令人垂涎的气味从卧室外飘进来:鸡蛋、黄油、肉桂和肉豆蔻。TK呻吟着,把被子拉到头上。他宁愿挨饿,也不愿现在就出去面对卡洛斯。 卡洛斯脸上的表情显然是对TK将被困在这里直到暴风雨来临的消息感到恼火,他为什么不呢?尽管要求他的兄弟给TK全额退款,但他还是提出TK留下来,而TK只是因为他无法忍受卡洛斯与亚历克斯有牵连的事实而把这一切都扔回了他的脸上。卡洛斯和谁上床不关TK的事。不管TK认为整个事件有多么不合适,这都不是他评判的地方。他表现得像一个完整的女主角冲出房间,现在他不得不忍受他反应过度的后果。他的胃痉挛,让TK蜷缩成一个球,试图阻止咕噜咕噜的咕噜声和咆哮声。TK全神贯注于饥饿带来的痛苦中,几乎错过了轻轻的敲门声。他把被子往下拉了一英寸,当敲门声再次传来时,他咽了咽口水。卡洛斯什么也没说,但卧室门边传来一声轻柔的砰砰声,然后地板吱吱作响,脚步声渐渐远去。TK眨了眨眼,进入了他被子茧的黑暗中。他在门边留下了什么东西吗?TK疲惫地剥开床单,滚下床。他打开门,发现地板上有一个盘子,上面堆满了法式吐司。一把叉子和一把刀藏在堆积如山的食物下面。新一波的内疚感席卷了TK。他弯下腰拿起盘子,当他嚼着一条培根时,他最近成为素食主义者的决心退居二线。甜咸的结合在他的舌头上爆炸。烟熏味浓郁,多汁,耐嚼酥脆,近二十四小时不吃东西后绝对是天堂。TK拿起另一条培根塞进嘴里,咀嚼并吞咽,然后叹了口气,把盘子拿到大厅里。

Carlos is sitting at the dinner table with his plate of half-eaten food half and his phone in his free hand. With no reception here, TK can only assume Carlos is reading a book or something on his phone? The muscles in his jaw shifts as he chews, and his glasses sit low on his proud nose. His curls are even more unruly after a night of sleep, and the stubble on his face gives him a homely charm that sets TK’s heart racing. Carlos looks up and their eyes meet. Heat crawls up TK’s neck and he looks away as he tries to hide his staring. Instead, his gaze lands on the pile of blankets on the living room couch and even more guilt punches through him. There’s only one bed, the one TK claimed, so Carlos must have slept on the couch. “Oh, hey, good morning.” Carlos’ voice startles TK and he jumps. “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.” TK’s face burns as he ducks his head and turns back to the dinner table. He takes a seat across from Carlos and plunks his plate down. “No it’s—I was—I mean, good morning,” he mumbles. “And thanks. For breakfast.” “No worries.” Carlos picks up his mug and takes a sip. “I figured, since you skipped dinner last night, that you could use some food.” TK’s cheeks burn hotter and he forces a smile on his face. He came out of his room last night to get some food, but when he heard the storm warning on the radio and saw the look on Carlos’ face, he bolted again and locked himself in his room for the rest of the night. “There’s more coffee if you want some,” Carlos adds before turning his attention back to his phone. His tone is not unfriendly now, but it’s not warm either. Not like last night when they shared hot chocolate on the couch. TK hesitates, then gets up and busies himself with fixing his coffee. He adds one packet of stevia and a splash of almond milk, both things he packed for himself, except he forgot to pack the actual coffee. God, he’s a fucking mess. He steals a glance over his shoulder and averts his eyes when they meet with Carlos’ honey browns once more. After how he acted last night, he expected Carlos to treat him with cold indifference, instead the man cooked him breakfast, made extra coffee, and laid out the stevia and almond milk that TK brought. No wonder Alex made a move on Carlos. Not only is he hot as sin, but he’s a cook and a nice guy. Armed with coffee and a moment to collect himself, TK returns to the dinner table and tucks into his French toast. It’s chilled, but still warm in the middle. The butter has melted completely, soaking into the eggy bread along with a thick and robust smokey syrup. He looks up with wide eyes, then takes another bite of his toast, chewing slowly to dismantle the complex layers of flavours in that syrup. “Is that...smoke?” he asks around a mouthful. Carlos looks up from his book and grins. “Yup. Smoked paprika, to be exact.” TK sighs and stuffs more food into his mouth. This is the best French toast he’s ever tasted. Even better than his dad’s, and that’s saying something. He finishes his plate in silence, then washes everything down with his now lukewarm coffee. His stomach is filled to burst but he’s content and warm from the inside out.
卡洛斯坐在餐桌旁,手里拿着一盘吃了一半的食物,手里拿着手机。由于这里没有接收,TK只能假设卡洛斯正在用手机看书什么的?当他咀嚼时,他下巴的肌肉会移动,他的眼镜低垂在他骄傲的鼻子上。一夜的睡眠后,他的卷发更加不羁,脸上的胡茬赋予他一种家常的魅力,让TK心跳加速。卡洛斯抬起头,两人的目光相遇。热气爬上TK的脖子,他移开视线,试图掩饰自己的目光。相反,他的目光落在客厅沙发上的一堆毯子上,更多的内疚感袭来。只有一张床,TK声称的那张床,所以卡洛斯一定睡在沙发上。“哦,嘿,早上好。”卡洛斯的声音吓了TK一跳,他跳了起来。“对不起,我不是故意吓唬你的。”TK低下头,转身回到餐桌上,脸上烧得焦头烂额。他在卡洛斯对面坐下,把盘子放下。“不,是——我是——我是,早上好,”他咕哝着。“谢谢。早餐。“不用担心。”卡洛斯拿起杯子喝了一口。“我想,既然你昨晚没有吃晚饭,你可以用一些食物。TK的脸颊烧得更热了,他强迫脸上露出笑容。昨晚他从房间里出来拿点吃的,但当他听到收音机里的暴风雨警告,看到卡洛斯脸上的表情时,他又闯了进来,把自己锁在房间里过了一夜。“如果你想要一些咖啡,还有更多的咖啡,”卡洛斯补充道,然后把注意力转回手机上。他现在的语气不是不友好,但也不是温暖。不像昨晚他们在沙发上分享热巧克力。TK犹豫了一下,然后起身忙着煮咖啡。 他加了一包甜叶菊和一点杏仁奶,这两样东西都是他自己打包的,只是他忘了打包真正的咖啡。天哪,他妈是个烂摊子。他偷偷瞥了一眼他的肩膀,当他们再次与卡洛斯的蜜褐色相遇时,他移开了视线。在他昨晚的表现之后,他本以为卡洛斯会冷漠地对待他,结果这个男人给他做了早餐,多煮了咖啡,并摆上了TK带来的甜叶菊和杏仁奶。难怪亚历克斯对卡洛斯动手。他不仅像罪恶一样炙手可热,而且他是一个厨师和一个好人。喝完咖啡,TK回到餐桌上,开始吃法式吐司。它很冷,但中间仍然温暖。黄油已经完全融化,与浓稠而浓郁的烟熏糖浆一起浸入鸡蛋面包中。他睁大眼睛抬起头,然后又咬了一口吐司,慢慢地咀嚼着,以消除糖浆中复杂的味道层。“难道......抽烟?“他问道。卡洛斯从书中抬起头,咧嘴一笑。“是的。确切地说,是烟熏辣椒粉。TK叹了口气,把更多的食物塞进嘴里。这是他吃过的最好的法式吐司。甚至比他爸爸的还要好,这说明了什么。他默默地吃完了盘子,然后用他现在温热的咖啡把所有东西都洗干净了。他的肚子被填满了,但他从内到外都很满足和温暖。

It’s not until he’s put down his mug and cradling his stomach that he notices Carlos watching him over the thick black rim of his glasses, his nose still in the maybe-book on his phone that he’s obviously not reading. His gaze is intense but his lips are curled in an amused smile. Heat creeps up the back of TK’s neck and he clears his throat. “Um, thanks, that was delicious,” he says. A moment of silence passes, but Carlos’ eyes stay locked on his. “Why are you being so nice to me?” he blurts, regretting the words as soon as they leave his lips. Carlos blinks as if the question caught him off guard. He puts the phone down and turns off the screen before looking back up at TK. “I figure if we’re going to be stuck together until the storm blows over, we might as well try to be civil.” TK chuckles and pats his stomach. “If you’re going to be handling all the cooking, then I can be civil.” Carlos smiles behind his coffee mug and drains it before he asks, “You don’t like to cook?” “I’m not much of a cook,” TK admits. “All my meals are delivered when I’m on set, and when I’m not working I live off raw veggies and crackers or I order delivery.” He’s not exaggerating his inability to cook. The fact he mostly eats carrot sticks and bagged salads and cold tofu is partially why he wants to try going vegan. He’s already halfway there. “LA isn’t exactly lacking for food delivery options.” “Fair enough.” Carlos sits back in his chair and pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “I take you like to cook?” TK kicks himself as another wave of heat rushes up the collar of his shirt. Of course he likes to cook, the guy’s a chef for crying out loud. A wide smile splits Carlos’ face, and the warmth of it fills the space around them. “Absolutely. Cooking is my happy place,” he says. “I love to eat, and I love mixing flavours. There’s just something magical about the transformation of raw ingredients that shouldn’t mix into something coherent and even delicious, you know?” “If you say so.” TK doesn’t mean to come off so standoffish and adds quickly, “I get it. It’s really cool that you can do that.” Carlos places his elbows on the table as he leans forward, his eyes dancing as he continues. “It’s all about timing and consistency and being prepared, and of course, eating. That’s the best part. The more you eat, the more you learn about flavours and what works and what doesn’t.” Carlos’ whole body comes alive as he talks about food, and TK can’t help but feel excited despite the fact he can’t boil water without setting the stove on fire. For TK, cooking has always been a chore, a means to an end, and he could never find the joy in it the way his dad did. But Carlos obviously loves it, and it’s evident in the sparkle in his eyes and in the food he prepares. He can take something as simple as a hot chocolate and add in layers of flavours that work harmoniously, and his attention to detail shows that food isn’t just fuel for his body, it’s fuel for his soul, too. Carlos is physically stunning with his broad shoulders, thick arms, wide chest, full, round pecs, tapered waist, and his strong, muscular thighs. But it’s the way his face lights up when he talks about cooking and food that takes TK’s breath away, and he finds himself drawn to him despite having only met the man yesterday.
直到他放下杯子,捂着肚子,他才注意到卡洛斯正隔着厚厚的黑框眼镜看着他,他的鼻子还在手机上那本他显然没有看的书里。他的目光很强烈,但他的嘴唇却弯成一个有趣的微笑。热气爬上TK的脖子后部,他清了清嗓子。“嗯,谢谢,太好吃了,”他说。沉默了一会儿,卡洛斯的眼睛一直盯着他。“你为什么对我这么好?”他脱口而出,一离开嘴唇就后悔了。卡洛斯眨了眨眼,好像这个问题让他措手不及。他放下手机,关掉屏幕,然后抬头看向TK。 “我想,如果我们要被困在一起,直到暴风雨过去,我们不妨试着保持文明。TK笑着拍了拍肚子。“如果你要处理所有的烹饪,那么我可以很有礼貌。卡洛斯在咖啡杯后面笑了笑,一饮而尽,然后问道:“你不喜欢做饭吗?“我不太会做饭,”TK承认。“我所有的饭菜都是在片场送来的,不工作的时候,我靠生蔬菜和饼干为生,或者我点外卖。”他并没有夸大自己不会做饭。事实上,他主要吃胡萝卜条、袋装沙拉和冷豆腐,这是他想尝试成为素食主义者的部分原因。他已经走了一半。“洛杉矶并不完全缺乏送餐选择。”“很公平。”卡洛斯坐回椅子上,把眼镜推到鼻梁上。“我带你去做饭?”TK踢了踢自己,另一股热浪冲上了他的衬衫领子。他当然喜欢做饭,这家伙是个大声哭泣的厨师。卡洛斯的脸上露出灿烂的笑容,温暖的笑容充满了他们周围的空间。“当然可以。烹饪是我快乐的地方,“他说。 “我喜欢吃,我喜欢混合口味。原料的转化有一种神奇的东西,不应该混合成连贯甚至美味的东西,你知道吗?“如果你这么说的话。”TK并不是要表现得那么冷漠,他很快补充道,“我明白了。你能做到这一点真的很酷。卡洛斯身体前倾,将胳膊肘放在桌子上,眼睛在继续时跳舞。“这完全取决于时机、一致性和准备,当然还有饮食。这是最好的部分。你吃得越多,你就越了解口味,什么有效,什么无效。卡洛斯在谈论食物时全身都活了过来,TK忍不住感到兴奋,尽管他不能在不点燃炉子的情况下烧开水。对于TK来说,做饭一直是一件苦差事,是达到目的的手段,他永远无法像他父亲那样从中找到乐趣。但卡洛斯显然很喜欢它,这从他眼睛里的闪光和他准备的食物中可以看出。他可以把热巧克力这样简单的东西加入和谐的口味,他对细节的关注表明,食物不仅是他身体的燃料,也是他灵魂的燃料。卡洛斯宽阔的肩膀、粗壮的手臂、宽阔的胸部、丰满圆润的胸肌、锥形腰部和强壮、肌肉发达的大腿,在身体上令人惊叹。但是,当他谈到烹饪和食物时,他的脸上闪耀着光芒,这让TK屏住了呼吸,尽管他昨天才见过这个人,但他发现自己被他吸引住了。

“Is that why you became a caterer?” TK asks, wanting to learn more about Carlos. Something shifts in Carlos. His shoulders tense and his body deflates. It’s subtle, but TK’s good at watching people and picking up on the minute changes in their emotions—it’s what makes him such a good actor—and Carlos just went from elated to defeated in a split second. “We offer meal deliveries on top of our usual catering gigs, too,” Carlos says. It’s not an answer to TK’s question, but TK lets it slide. “You do?” “Yeah. Most of my clients are in the entertainment industry, actually,” Carlos says as he slumps back in his chair. “We do macros tracking, calorie counting, special dietary needs and restrictions. Short of exotic animals, we do just about everything.” There’s no spark in his eyes, no excitement as he talks about his business, and it puts TK at a loss. “Huh, that’s cool,” he says, and when Carlos doesn’t respond, he adds, “anyone I know?” Carlos’ lips twitch into a half smile. “Probably, but I’m not at liberty to say.” “Oh, c’mon, what am I gonna do, go to the press with Brad Pitt’s food dairy?” Carlos laughs and the corners of his eyes crinkle. Tension bleeds from his shoulders, and he shakes his head as his laughter peters out. God, but he’s gorgeous when he laughs. “You think I work for Brad Pitt?” he asks between chuckles. “You give me way too much credit.” TK shrugs and pats his stomach. “If that French toast is anything to go by, Brad Pitt would be lucky to have you cook for him for every meal.” “I’m happy to cook for you while you’re here,” Carlos says, and TK doesn’t miss the flush of pink in his cheeks. “We won’t have a lot of food options though, just what we packed and the staples that are already here. But I’m sure I can make something work.” The corner of Carlos’ lips twitch into a confident smile, and that passion is back in his bright honey brown eyes. The thought of more of Carlos’ cooking sends a happy thrill through TK. It’s not just the food, which he’s sure will be fantastic, but that Carlos is offering to cook for him. Sure, they may have started off on the wrong foot, but they can be civil, like Carlos says, and maybe being stuck here won’t be as bad as TK feared. He may even enjoy himself.
“这就是你成为餐饮服务商的原因吗?”TK问道,想更多地了解卡洛斯。卡洛斯身上发生了一些变化。他的肩膀绷紧,身体放气。这很微妙,但TK善于观察人们,捕捉他们情绪的微小变化——这就是他成为如此优秀演员的原因——而卡洛斯只是在一瞬间从兴高采烈变成了失败。“除了我们通常的餐饮演出之外,我们还提供送餐服务,”卡洛斯说。这不是对TK问题的回答,但TK让它滑落。“是吗?”“是啊。实际上,我的大多数客户都在娱乐业,“卡洛斯说,他瘫坐在椅子上。“我们进行宏跟踪、卡路里计算、特殊饮食需求和限制。除了外来动物,我们几乎什么都做。当他谈论他的生意时,他的眼睛里没有火花,没有兴奋,这让TK不知所措。“呵呵,这很酷,”他说,当卡洛斯没有回应时,他补充道,“我认识的人吗?卡洛斯的嘴唇抽搐成半笑。“也许吧,但我不能随意说。”“哦,来吧,我该怎么办,带着布拉德·皮特的食品乳制品去媒体?”卡洛斯笑了,眼角皱了起来。紧张感从他的肩膀上流淌出来,他摇了摇头,笑声渐渐消失了。天哪,但他笑起来很漂亮。“你以为我为布拉德·皮特工作吗?”他笑着问道。“你给了我太多的功劳。”TK耸了耸肩,拍了拍肚子。“如果那道法式吐司有什么可取的,布拉德·皮特(Brad Pitt)会很幸运,每顿饭都有你为他做饭。“当你在这里的时候,我很高兴为你做饭,”卡洛斯说,TK不会错过他脸颊上的粉红色。“不过,我们不会有太多的食物选择,只有我们打包的东西和已经在这里的主食。但我相信我能做点什么。“ 卡洛斯的嘴角抽搐成一个自信的笑容,那种激情又回到了他明亮的蜜棕色眼睛里。一想到卡洛斯的更多烹饪,TK就感到一种快乐的快感。这不仅仅是食物,他确信会很棒,而且卡洛斯愿意为他做饭。当然,他们可能一开始就走错了路,但他们可以像卡洛斯说的那样文明,也许被困在这里不会像TK担心的那么糟糕。他甚至可能很享受。

Chapter 6 He’s not sure why he offered to cook for TK. Just as he’s not sure why his cheeks are burning and it’s suddenly too hot in the cabin. There’s something about the way TK looks at Carlos when he talks about cooking that has his heart racing. TK’s so attentive, and when Carlos speaks, TK looks as if there’s nowhere else he’d rather be than listening to Carlos blather on about flavour combinations. Most of his friends and family humour him when he gets excited about food, but not TK, or maybe he really is that good of an actor. TK picks up his fork and draws random circles in the pool of syrup on his plate absentmindedly. Carlos wasn’t sure if serving French toast and bacon to someone like TK was a good idea, but he’s cooking for himself when he’s at the cabin, and other people’s dietary restrictions and needs are not his problem for once. He expected TK to turn his nose up at the full fat, full carb, full sugar breakfast, especially since he found TK’s packaged vegan meat in the fridge (but only after he had served the bacon). Instead, TK ate it with gusto, and watching him scarf the French toast reminds Carlos why he started cooking in the first place. He loves watching people eat his food. Loves the glint in their eyes when they taste something new and exciting for the first time, and the look of contented bliss when they eat something comforting. It’s a spark that keeps him going, one that fuels his curiosity. He doesn’t get to watch his clients eat when their meals are delivered to them in neat little packages every week, and when he caters parties, everyone’s too busy mingling to pay attention to the food. Maybe having TK here is what he needs to breathe some life back into his cooking. “So,” TK says with a slow grin, “what’s for lunch, boss?” “Before we plan our lunch menu, are you vegan, or do you actually like that soy vegan meats stuff?” Carlos asks, looking from TK to his empty plate and back at TK. TK ate the bacon and seemed to have enjoyed it. TK follows Carlos’ gaze and worries at his bottom lip, his cheeks flushing a pretty shade of pink. “I’m trying to be?” “Trying to be?” “I decided to give veganism a try last week, but I can’t cook worth shit so it’s not going so well,” TK says with a wince. “There are tons of vegan places you can order from in LA, no?” “Yes, but I’m trying to do less takeout,” TK replies. “There’s always so much trash that comes with takeout.” “Right, and packaged food has less trash?” Carlos doesn’t mean to tease, but sometimes, the whole vegan mentality boggles him. TK’s eyes widen then narrow as he frowns. He grimaces and sighs. “You’re right. I’m just trading one evil for another.” Carlos blinks and tries not to let his surprise show. Usually people get very indignant when Carlos
第6章 他不知道为什么他主动提出要为TK做饭。就像他不确定为什么他的脸颊在燃烧一样,机舱里突然太热了。当 TK 谈论烹饪时,TK 看待 Carlos 的方式让他心跳加速。TK非常细心,当Carlos说话时,TK看起来好像没有别的地方比听Carlos喋喋不休地谈论口味组合了。当他对食物感到兴奋时,他的大多数朋友和家人都会幽默他,但不是 TK,或者他真的是一个好演员。TK拿起叉子,心不在焉地在盘子上的糖浆池里随意画了个圆圈。卡洛斯不确定为像TK这样的人提供法式吐司和培根是否是一个好主意,但他在小屋里时会为自己做饭,其他人的饮食限制和需求不是他的问题。他预计 TK 会对全脂、全碳水化合物、全糖早餐嗤之以鼻,尤其是因为他在冰箱里发现了 TK 包装好的纯素肉(但只有在他端上培根之后)。相反,TK吃得津津有味,看着他围着法式吐司围巾,这让卡洛斯想起了他当初开始做饭的原因。他喜欢看人们吃他的食物。当他们第一次品尝到新的和令人兴奋的东西时,他们喜欢他们眼中闪烁的光芒,当他们吃到一些令人欣慰的东西时,他们心满意足的幸福表情。这是让他继续前进的火花,激发了他的好奇心。当他的客户每周用整齐的小包装送餐时,他不会看着他的客户吃饭,而当他为派对提供餐饮服务时,每个人都忙于打成一片,没有时间关注食物。也许在这里拥有传统知识是他需要为他的烹饪注入一些活力的东西。“那么,”TK缓缓笑着说,“老板,午餐吃什么?“ ”在我们计划午餐菜单之前,你是素食主义者,还是你真的喜欢大豆素食肉类?”卡洛斯问道,从TK看向他的空盘子,又看向TK。 TK吃了培根,似乎很享受。TK顺着卡洛斯的目光看去,担心地抿着下唇,脸颊泛起了漂亮的粉红色。“我是想成为?”“想成为?”“上周我决定尝试素食主义,但我不能做饭,所以进展得不太顺利,”TK畏缩地说。“在洛杉矶,你可以从很多素食店订购,不是吗?”“是的,但我试图少吃外卖,”TK回答。“外卖总是有很多垃圾。”“对吧,包装食品的垃圾少了?”卡洛斯并不是要取笑,但有时,整个素食心态让他感到困惑。TK的眼睛睁大了,然后眯了起来,他皱起了眉头。他做了个鬼脸,叹了口气。“你说得对。我只是在用一种邪恶换取另一种邪恶。卡洛斯眨了眨眼,尽量不让自己的惊讶显露出来。通常,当卡洛斯时,人们会非常愤慨

calls them out on their hypocrisy, especially celebrities, but TK just looks contrite as the realization dawns on him. His face is an open book, and there’s genuine guilt in his eyes as he looks down at his plate, his brows knitted. He shouldn’t feel bad for calling TK out, but he can’t help feeling like an asshole. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t mean to—” “No, you’re absolutely right.” TK shakes his head and forces his lips into a tight smile. He’s so handsome even when he’s upset. “If I can’t commit to the cause, then going vegan is pretty pointless.” “And what’s the cause?” Carlos blurts, surprised that he genuinely wants to know. TK’s eyes soften and his face lights up like a boy on Christmas morning. “Ultimately? To save Mother Earth, of course.” Carlos leans forward in his seat and inhales sharply, holding the air in his lungs. Just like last night on the couch when they sipped hot cocoa, this TK is unfiltered and true. And his unguarded smile is breathtaking. “But, realistically,” TK continues, unaware of Carlos’ struggles to draw breath, “I want to start by cleaning up the ocean. So much of our trash ends up in there and it’s killing marine life. I want to use my platform to promote recycling and self awareness so we can all do our part in reducing our trash. And I can’t very well talk the talk and not walk the walk now, can I?” He’s looking at Carlos expectantly, and Carlos shakes his head, not trusting his voice. Is it possible to be mesmerized by one person in the span of minutes? To feel like his entire body is being pulled to that person like gravity? There’s an undeniable passion in TK’s voice like a ball of gleaming light, and Carlos is drawn to that light like a moth to a flame. This passion is what he’s been missing in his work and in his life, and he’s both in awe and envious of it. “I’ve been doing a lot of research on the carbon footprints of agriculture and animal farming, and I figure if I can finally convince myself to learn to cook vegan, then I’m killing two birds with one stone,” TK says with a wry smile. “Alas, turns out cooking is hard and I’m really, really bad at it.” “I can teach you,” Carlos blurts. He doesn’t offer to teach just anyone to cook, only close friends and the occasional boyfriend but definitely not someone he’d only just met, so what gives? “Would you?” TK’s beautiful blue eyes widen as excitement lights up his face. “That’d be amazing.” TK’s smile is contagious, and Carlos’ lips twitch up in response. “We’ll try to make as many vegan meals as we can with what you brought, but if the storm continues, you may have to eat some meat and cheese,” Carlos says. “I totally understand,” TK replies. “I’m not here to preach veganism or make our lives difficult. I’ll just be happy if we can make what food we have stretch until the storm blows over.” He gestures at the window and the curtain of snow falling behind it. “Speaking of which, is there an update on how long this storm will last?” Carlos shakes his head. “We can keep the radio running for updates but, as far as I know, things haven’t changed.”
大声疾呼他们的虚伪,尤其是名人,但 TK 只是看起来很懊悔,因为他意识到了这一点。他的脸是一本打开的书,当他低头看着他的盘子时,他的眼睛里有真正的内疚,他的眉头紧锁。他不应该因为把TK叫出来而感到难过,但他不禁觉得自己像个混蛋。“对不起,”他说。“我不是故意的——” “不,你说得很对。”TK摇了摇头,勉强抿起嘴唇,露出一丝笑容。即使他心烦意乱,他也很帅。“如果我不能致力于这项事业,那么成为素食主义者就毫无意义。”“那是什么原因?”卡洛斯脱口而出,惊讶于他真的想知道。TK的眼神变得柔和,他的脸像圣诞节早晨的男孩一样发光。“最终?当然是为了拯救地球母亲。卡洛斯靠在座位上,猛地吸了一口气,把空气憋在肺里。就像昨晚在沙发上啜饮热可可一样,这种传统知识是未经过滤的,是真实的。他毫无防备的笑容令人叹为观止。“但是,实际上,”TK继续说道,他没有意识到卡洛斯呼吸的挣扎,“我想从清理海洋开始。我们很多垃圾最终都在那里,它正在杀死海洋生物。我想利用我的平台来促进回收和自我意识,这样我们就可以为减少垃圾尽自己的一份力量。而且我现在不能说好话,不能走路,对吧?他满怀期待地看着卡洛斯,卡洛斯摇了摇头,不相信他的声音。有没有可能在几分钟内被一个人迷住?感觉他的整个身体都像重力一样被拉向那个人?TK的声音中有一种不可否认的激情,就像一个闪闪发光的光球,卡洛斯被这种光所吸引,就像飞蛾扑火一样。 这种激情是他在工作和生活中所缺少的,他对此既敬畏又羡慕。“我一直在对农业和畜牧业的碳足迹进行大量研究,我想如果我最终能说服自己学习烹饪素食主义者,那么我就是一石二鸟,”TK苦笑着说。“唉,原来做饭很辛苦,我真的非常不擅长。”“我可以教你,”卡洛斯脱口而出。他不教任何人做饭,只教亲密的朋友和偶尔的男朋友,但绝对不是他刚认识的人,所以是什么原因呢?“你愿意吗?”TK美丽的蓝眼睛睁大了,兴奋的脸上露出了兴奋的光芒。“那太棒了。”TK的笑容很有感染力,Carlos的嘴唇抽搐了一下作为回应。“我们会尝试用你带来的东西做尽可能多的素食餐,但如果风暴继续下去,你可能不得不吃一些肉和奶酪,”卡洛斯说。“我完全理解,”TK回答。“我不是来宣扬素食主义或让我们的生活变得困难的。如果我们能把我们所拥有的食物伸展到暴风雨过去,我会很高兴的。他指了指窗外,窗帘落在窗后。“说到这里,这场风暴会持续多久,有没有最新消息?”卡洛斯摇了摇头。“我们可以保持无线电运行以进行更新,但据我所知,情况没有改变。”

“Oh.” TK’s face falls, his smile wavering, and Carlos’ stomach drops. Is being stuck here with Carlos really that bad? Didn’t they just have a rather pleasant exchange? Is Carlos reading too much into the way TK leaned closer when he told Carlos about his grand plan to save the planet, or the happy squint of his eyes when Carlos offered to teach him how to cook? Is it the whole mess with Alex? TK seemed upset when he realized Carlos was the person Alex kissed in the kitchen. Is he still hung up on that and on Alex? Carlos purses his lips as he stares at TK’s long fingers fidgeting with his fork on the plate, pushing the metal prongs this way and that through the pool of congealing butter and leftover syrup. “Hey,” he starts, “about Alex Silve—” “Please.” TK’s voice is soft and pleading, and the exhaustion in it sends Carlos’ stomach churning. “I don’t want to talk about him. It’s none of my business.” He gets up and picks up his and Carlos’ plates, balancing them on top of each other before grabbing both their mugs. “You cooked, so I’ll do the dishes.” His tone is lighter, but Carlos doesn’t miss the way he forces the words from his throat like speaking them physically hurts. Carlos wants to explain the situation, wants to tell TK that Alex ambushed him with that kiss. It matters to him more than it should that TK knows the truth, but the shadow in TK’s eyes gives him pause. What the hell happened between them? Whatever happened, TK doesn’t want to talk about Alex Silvester. Carlos needs to respect that no matter how badly he wants to clear his name. TK walks over to the sink and places the dishes down gently. He pushes the large sleeves of his oversized yellow hoodie up his arms, and Carlos can’t help but notice the shift of muscle under his smooth, tanned skin. TK turns on the faucet then squirts dish soap into the sink as steam rises from the swirling hot water. He’s only doing dishes, yet he makes even this ordinary chore seem so extraordinary. Carlos gets up and grabs a towel off of the drying rack. He cleans the stove and counter tops while TK finishes washing the dishes. They work in silence, but it’s not uncomfortable as they dance around each other. Carlos is hyper aware of where TK is at all times, as if his whole body is in tune with the way TK moves, and TK seems to be the same as he reaches around Carlos for a dirty pan or steps out of the way when Carlos needs to drop something into the sink. The earlier tension dissipates with every passing minute, and by the time the kitchen is spotless, TK’s smile is easy. While Carlos takes inventory of their food supplies, TK curls up on the couch with a book. Carlos looks over his shoulder and grins. With his feet tucked under his butt, TK’s gigantic hoodie swallows him up. His hair is an unruly mess spilling down his forehead, but TK doesn’t seem to notice as he flips the page and continues to read. The cover of his book is worn, the spine bent, and since there’s no barcode indicating that it’s a library book, it must be TK’s very well-loved copy. He doesn’t recognize the cover art, but the style suggests fantasy. Who knew the TK Strand was a fantasy nerd? The idea of it puts a smile on Carlos’ face and a warm fondness blossoms in his chest. Carlos shakes his head and chuckles, then checks the time. It’s just after ten in the morning; there's plenty of time before they have to start preparing lunch.
“哦。”TK的脸沉了下来,他的笑容摇摆不定,Carlos的肚子也掉了下来。和卡洛斯一起被困在这里真的有那么糟糕吗?他们不是刚刚进行了一次相当愉快的交流吗?当卡洛斯告诉卡洛斯他拯救地球的宏伟计划时,卡洛斯是否读得太多了,或者当卡洛斯提出教他如何做饭时,他高兴地眯起了眼睛?是亚历克斯的一团糟吗?当TK意识到卡洛斯是亚历克斯在厨房里亲吻的人时,他似乎很不高兴。他还在挂断电话和亚历克斯吗?卡洛斯抿了抿嘴唇,盯着TK修长的手指在盘子上摆弄着叉子,将金属叉子推向这边和那边,穿过凝结的黄油和剩下的糖浆池。“嘿,”他开始说,“关于亚历克斯·西尔夫——” “拜托了。”TK的声音柔和而恳求,其中的疲惫让卡洛斯的胃翻腾。“我不想谈论他。这不关我的事。他起身拿起他和卡洛斯的盘子,把它们放在一起,然后拿起他们的两个杯子。“你做饭了,我来洗碗。”他的语气比较轻,但卡洛斯并没有错过他从喉咙里强行说出这些话的方式,就像说这些话会造成身体伤害一样。卡洛斯想解释情况,想告诉TK,亚历克斯用那个吻伏击了他。对他来说,TK知道真相比应该更重要,但TK眼中的阴影让他停顿了一下。他们之间到底发生了什么?无论发生什么,TK都不想谈论亚历克斯·西尔维斯特。卡洛斯需要尊重这一点,无论他多么想洗清自己的罪名。TK走到水槽前,轻轻地把盘子放下。他把超大号黄色连帽衫的大袖子推到手臂上,卡洛斯不禁注意到他光滑、晒黑的皮肤下的肌肉变化。 TK打开水龙头,然后将洗洁精喷入水槽,同时蒸汽从旋转的热水中升起。他只是在洗碗,但他让这些普通的家务看起来如此不平凡。卡洛斯起身,从晾衣架上拿起一条毛巾。他打扫炉子和台面,而TK则洗完碗。他们默默地工作,但当他们互相跳舞时,这并不难受。卡洛斯时刻都非常清楚TK的位置,就好像他的整个身体都与TK的移动方式保持一致,而TK似乎和他伸手去拿一个脏锅,或者在卡洛斯需要把东西扔进水槽时走开。早先的紧张感随着时间的流逝而消散,等到厨房一尘不染时,TK的笑容就轻松了。当卡洛斯清点他们的食物供应时,TK蜷缩在沙发上拿着一本书。卡洛斯回头看了看,咧嘴一笑。他的脚藏在屁股下面,TK巨大的连帽衫将他吞噬了。他的头发乱糟糟的,从他的额头上洒下来,但TK似乎没有注意到,他翻了页继续阅读。他的书的封面破旧不堪,书脊弯曲,由于没有条形码表明这是一本图书馆的书,它一定是TK非常喜爱的副本。他不认识封面艺术,但风格暗示了幻想。谁知道 TK Strand 是个奇幻书?想到这里,卡洛斯的脸上露出了笑容,温暖的爱意在他的胸膛里绽放。卡洛斯摇了摇头,笑了笑,然后看了看时间。现在是早上十点刚过;在他们必须开始准备午餐之前,还有很多时间。

The snowfall has eased enough that he can make out the white expanse of the frozen lake from the kitchen window. He puts the kettle on, waits for the whistle, then makes two mugs of peppermint tea and places one on the coffee table in front of TK before sitting down on the opposite end of the couch. TK doesn't look up, so engrossed in his book, and it’s so endearing Carlos can’t help but smile. He cradles his mug to his chest and inhales deeply, letting the peppermint wash over him. There’s a big party happening tonight and Paul is handling it all by himself. With a guilty sigh, he leaves his tea untouched on the coffee table and heaves to his feet. He heads down the hall to grab his coat and beanie from the closet, then steps out into the swirling snow. The garage shed is a short trudge from the cabin, but by the time Carlos unlocks the gate and ducks into the semi-insulated space, there’s a dusting of snow on his shoulders. He stamps his boots and shakes the snow from his coat, then checks that the plow is securely attached to the front of the ATV before pulling a set of keys from his coat pocket. Without knowing how long the storm will last, he needs to keep the driveway clear or the plow won’t be strong enough to dig them out after the storm breaks. He hops on the ATV and lets the engine heat up, then pulls it slowly out the gate and lowers the plow before taking a turn toward the long driveway. Thick, goose down flakes stick to his eyelashes as he shovels fluffy powdery snow off to the side, leaving behind a path just wide enough for their cars. Wind howls past him, cutting through his beanie, and by the time he reaches the end of the driveway, his nose aches with the cold. As soon as he’s within cell phone service, his phone chimes with its onslaught of notifications. Carlos pulls the vibrating device from his pocket and mutes all notifications before turning on the screen with frozen fingers. There are two messages from Michelle, no doubt asking if he’s made up his mind about the job in New York. He ignores them, not ready to give her an answer yet, and opens the text from Paul. Tonight’s party cancelled. Tomorrow and Wednesday night too. And six people cancelled their monthly meal subs. Apparently Silvesters’ husband is their trainer and they’re pissed about you and Alex. What really happened between you two? Carlos’ vision blurs. He didn’t tell Paul the details. In hindsight, he should have instead of leaving his partner to find out through the gossip grapevines. Despite his obvious confusion and anger, Carlos appreciates that Paul’s not jumping to conclusions. Alex made a move on me and I told him to fuck off. He texts back, his fingers stiff with cold and anger. Three dotted lines flashes across the bottom of the screen. Paul’s immanent response is the only thing keeping Carlos from flinging his phone into the forest. That’s not what Alex is saying. He said you’ve been hitting on him since we agreed to cater his wedding, and that you kissed him on his wedding day! It’s all over the internet. He’s even done a live interview on a late night show. Aired just last night! Carlos stares at the screen dumbfounded. It’s bad enough the press is smearing his name all over the internet, but how can Alex blatantly lie about what happened? Does he not think Carlos would come out and tell everyone the truth?
降雪已经缓和到足以让他从厨房的窗户看到结冰的湖面的白色。他把水壶打开,等待哨声响起,然后泡了两杯薄荷茶,把一杯放在TK面前的茶几上,然后在沙发的另一端坐下。TK没有抬头,全神贯注于他的书,它是如此可爱,卡洛斯忍不住笑了。他把杯子抱在胸前,深吸一口气,让薄荷冲刷着他。今晚有一场盛大的派对,保罗一个人处理。他愧疚地叹了口气,把茶原封不动地放在茶几上,然后站了起来。他走到大厅里,从衣柜里拿出外套和无檐小便帽,然后走到旋转的雪地里。车库棚离小屋只有很短的路程,但当卡洛斯打开大门并躲进半隔热的空间时,他的肩膀上已经沾满了雪。他跺了跺靴子,抖了抖外套上的雪,然后检查了犁是否牢固地固定在全地形车的前部,然后从外套口袋里掏出一套钥匙。在不知道暴风雨会持续多久的情况下,他需要保持车道畅通,否则暴风雨过后,犁的强度不足以将它们挖出来。他跳上全地形车,让发动机升温,然后慢慢地把它拉出大门,放下犁,然后转向长长的车道。厚厚的鹅绒雪花粘在他的睫毛上,他把蓬松的粉状雪铲到一边,留下一条刚好够他们车开的小路。风呼啸而过,划破了他的无檐小便帽,当他走到车道尽头时,他的鼻子因寒冷而疼痛。 一旦他进入手机服务,他的手机就会响起大量通知。卡洛斯从口袋里掏出振动装置,将所有通知静音,然后用冰冻的手指打开屏幕。米歇尔发来了两条信息,毫无疑问,询问他是否已经下定决心在纽约工作。他没有理会他们,还没准备好给她一个答案,然后打开了保罗的经文。今晚的派对取消了。明天和周三晚上也是。六个人取消了他们每月的膳食补贴。 显然,西尔维斯特的丈夫是他们的教练,他们对你和亚历克斯很生气。你们俩之间到底发生了什么?卡洛斯的视线变得模糊。他没有告诉保罗细节。事后看来,他应该有,而不是让他的伴侣通过八卦小道消息找出答案。尽管他显然感到困惑和愤怒,但卡洛斯很欣赏保罗没有妄下结论。亚历克斯对我动了手,我告诉他滚蛋。他回了短信,手指因冰冷和愤怒而僵硬。三条虚线在屏幕底部闪烁。保罗的内在反应是唯一阻止卡洛斯将手机扔进森林的东西。亚历克斯不是这么说的。他说自从我们同意为他的婚礼提供服务以来,你一直在打他,而且你在他的婚礼当天亲吻了他!它遍布互联网。他甚至在深夜节目中进行了现场采访。昨晚刚刚播出!卡洛斯目瞪口呆地盯着屏幕。媒体在互联网上抹黑他的名字已经够糟糕的了,但亚历克斯怎么能公然对发生的事情撒谎呢?难道他不认为卡洛斯会出来告诉大家真相吗?

Some BuzzFeed reporter reached out to me and I told them what really happened before I left. Carlos replies with shaky fingers. Well, I never saw anything get published. If you did, they either didn’t think it was worth writing about or it got buried under all the outrage from Alex’s fans. Paul’s response sets Carlos’ stomach churning with disgust and cold apprehension. No one cares about the truth. A nasty little voice that sounds a lot like Alex sneers in his head. They all want juicy gossip, and what’s juicier than some stupid schmuck making a move on Alex Silvester on the day of his wedding? It doesn’t matter that Carlos told someone his side of the story. Alex would rather lie than risk having his husband find out just what a slimy douchebag he is. Carlos scrubs a hand down his face and huffs a loud sigh. He doesn’t care what the public thinks of him, doesn’t care about what the press writes. But Alex’s lies are affecting his business and his livelihood, and he’s too far away to do anything about it. He takes a deep breath, allowing the cold air to chill his lungs, then exhales and takes another until he’s calm enough to hold his phone without shaking. Fuck. I’m sorry man. Should have never done that stupid wedding. Can we salvage the food for the canceled parties? He sends the text and watches the flashing dots at the bottom of the screen. Yeah. Some of it I can use for Monday night. The rest I can donate. We’re not out too much and if no one else cancels this week we’ll recover. So don’t worry about it. Besides, shit like this blows over fast. Before you know it, there’ll be another scandal. Carlos worries at his bottom lip. Paul’s trying to make him feel better, but he can’t help the swell of rage and guilt and disgust swirling in his gut. This doesn’t just affect him, it affects his staff and his partner, and what if it doesn’t blow over? Sure, the public will lose interest, but Alex’s husband has a lot of clients that overlap with Carlos’. What happens if they all fire him for this? What if they don’t book another catering gig? He sends back a hasty Yeah, you’re probably right. Good luck with Monday’s party , and backs out of the message thread with Paul. Michelle’s name is still bolded in the list of messages, and Carlos’ thumb hovers over her text. Maybe this is a sign he should accept Michelle’s offer. With him gone, Paul can retain the rest of their client list and keep the catering and meal prep business going. But is this the best way to handle this? To run away? The idea of being pushed into accepting a role he’s not one hundred percent sure about rankles, and Carlos turns off the screen and shoves the phone into his pocket without reading Michelle’s texts. He needs to think things over when he’s not boiling with rage and sick with despair. The wind picks up around him, slipping under his coat to chill his clammy skin. He looks up past the towering trees and blinks into the swirling snowflakes. The storm is picking up. Carlos takes one last deep breath, then turns the ATV around and heads down the driveway and into the garage shed. He locks up quickly, then ducks against the wind and snow as he trudges toward the cabin. He needs to cook something to keep his mind off the clusterfuck that is his life back in LA. He rushes back to the cabin, shrugging out of his jacket and whipping the beanie off his head as he slams the door shut behind him. Heat blasts him in the face. It stings his skin and fogs up his glasses. With a frustrated growl, he yanks them off and rubs the lenses with the hem of his flannel shirt as he storms down the short hallway and into the kitchen.
一些BuzzFeed记者联系了我,我告诉他们在我离开之前到底发生了什么。卡洛斯用颤抖的手指回答。好吧,我从未见过任何发表的东西。如果你这样做了,他们要么认为它不值得写,要么它被亚历克斯粉丝的所有愤怒所掩盖。保罗的回答让卡洛斯的胃里充满了厌恶和冷酷的担忧。没有人关心真相。一个听起来很像亚历克斯的讨厌的小声音在他的脑海中冷笑。他们都想要多汁的八卦,还有什么比一些愚蠢的笨蛋在亚历克斯·西尔维斯特婚礼当天对他动手更有趣的呢?卡洛斯告诉别人他的故事并不重要。亚历克斯宁愿撒谎,也不愿冒险让他的丈夫发现他是一个多么黏糊糊的混蛋。卡洛斯用手搓了搓脸,大声叹了口气。他不在乎公众对他的看法,也不在乎媒体写了什么。但亚历克斯的谎言正在影响他的生意和生计,他离得太远了,对此无能为力。他深吸一口气,让冷空气冷却他的肺部,然后呼出一口气,再吸一口气,直到他足够冷静,可以握住手机而不颤抖。他妈的。对不起,伙计。不应该做那个愚蠢的婚礼。我们能为取消的派对挽救食物吗?他发送文本并观察屏幕底部闪烁的点。是的。其中一些我可以在周一晚上使用。其余的我可以捐赠。我们没有出太多,如果本周没有其他人取消,我们会恢复。所以不用担心。再说了,像这样的狗屎很快就过去了。在不知不觉中,又会有一个丑闻。卡洛斯抿着下唇担心道。保罗试图让他感觉好些,但他忍不住愤怒、内疚和厌恶在他内心盘旋。 这不仅影响到他,还影响到他的员工和他的搭档,如果它没有被吹倒怎么办?当然,公众会失去兴趣,但亚历克斯的丈夫有很多与卡洛斯重叠的客户。如果他们都因此解雇了他会发生什么?如果他们不预订另一场餐饮演出怎么办?他匆匆回了一个“是的”,你可能是对的。祝你周一的派对好运,并退出了与保罗的消息线程。米歇尔的名字在消息列表中仍然以粗体显示,卡洛斯的拇指悬停在她的文本上。也许这是他应该接受米歇尔提议的迹象。随着他的离开,保罗可以保留他们客户名单的其余部分,并继续餐饮和备餐业务。但这是处理这个问题的最佳方法吗?逃跑?被逼着接受一个他不能百分百确定的角色的想法让他感到愤怒,卡洛斯关掉屏幕,把手机塞进口袋里,没有看米歇尔的短信。当他没有因愤怒而沸腾和因绝望而生病时,他需要考虑一下。风在他周围刮起,滑到他的外套下,使他湿冷的皮肤变冷。他抬头望过参天大树,眨眼看着旋转的雪花。风暴正在袭来。卡洛斯做了最后一次深呼吸,然后调转全地形车,沿着车道驶入车库棚。他迅速锁上,然后顶着风雪躲避,跋涉着走向小屋。他需要做点什么,让他的注意力远离他在洛杉矶的生活。他冲回小屋,耸耸肩脱下外套,甩掉头上的无檐小便帽,砰的一声关上了身后的门。热气打在他脸上。它刺痛了他的皮肤,使他的眼镜起雾。 他沮丧地咆哮着,把它们拽下来,用法兰绒衬衫的下摆摩擦镜片,然后冲下短走廊,走进厨房。

The fridge hums as he opens the door and he stares at the contents, his eyes roaming the rows of food until they land on a whole purple cabbage. He grabs it, rinses it under running water, then slams it on the cutting board before taking a sharp knife to it. His hand is steady as he brings the knife down, cutting through layers of crunchy purple leaves, his knife revealing the pristine purple and white layers. He slices the cabbage thinly, thinner than even a food processor can achieve, and the repetitive thud of the steel blade hitting the wooden cutting board takes the edge off the rage boiling under his skin. He makes light work of the cabbage, then goes back into the fridge and pulls out a handful of carrots. He works quickly, methodically, letting his muscle memory take over so he can shut his brain off. A mountain of carrot matchsticks pile high on the cutting board before he knows it, and he spins around for the fridge again when he comes nose to nose with TK. Carlos stops short, blinking down at the slightly shorter man. They’re so close Carlos can make out the smattering of freckles across the bridge of TK’s perfect nose. So close he can pick out flecks of blue in the green of his eyes and see the concern reflected in them. So close Carlos can hardly breathe as he jumps back, his back hitting the edge of the counter. “You...you okay?” TK asks, his brows furrowing as he takes a small step back as well, giving Carlos some space. He’s not okay. Far from it, but TK’s made it perfectly clear he doesn’t want to talk about Alex. And Alex is the sole reason why Carlos is shredding through vegetables like a human food processor. “I’m fine,” Carlos grits and takes a deep breath, trying and failing to suppress his irritation. TK’s frown deepens and concern shifts to confusion in his large eyes. “Are you sure? If something’s wrong you can tell me, maybe I can help.” TK’s voice is tentative as if he’s speaking to a spooked animal. “I told you I’m fine.” TK cocks an eyebrow at Carlos and glances at the mountain of shredded vegetables behind him on the counter. “Then why are you chopping vegetables like you’ve got a bone to pick with them?” “I—that’s not—” Carlos swallows a sigh of annoyance. The person he’s got a bone to pick with is someone TK doesn’t want to talk about, and Carlos is trying his damnedest to respect that. “We don’t have a food processor here so I figure I practice my knife skills.” TK studies Carlos for a long, quiet moment, then raises both hands, palms facing out. “All right. Okay. Whatever you say.” Does Carlos look so upset TK needs to put on his kid gloves? He glances over his shoulder at the pile of shredded cabbage and carrots and his beloved chef’s knife laying on the chopping board with bits of cabbage and carrots stuck to the gleaming blade. The placating tone of TK’s voice pisses him off. How can he help when he doesn’t even want to hear the truth about Carlos and Alex? How can he help when he shuts down just at the mention of Alex’s name? The embers of fury that he tried so hard to put out blows into flames. “No, you’re right, I’m not okay,” Carlos snarls, the words slipping from his lips before he can process them. “But you don’t care about that. You can’t even hear Alex’s name without having your precious feelings hurt. How can you help me when you won’t even admit to yourself that
当他打开门时,冰箱嗡嗡作响,他盯着里面的东西,他的眼睛在一排排食物上游荡,直到它们落在一整颗紫色的卷心菜上。他抓住它,用流水冲洗,然后把它砸在砧板上,然后用锋利的刀子砍它。当他放下刀时,他的手很稳,切开了一层层松脆的紫色叶子,他的刀露出了原始的紫色和白色层。他把卷心菜切得很薄,甚至比食品加工机还薄,钢刀片撞击木砧板的重复砰砰声消除了他皮肤下沸腾的愤怒。他轻描淡写地处理卷心菜,然后回到冰箱里,拿出一把胡萝卜。他快速、有条不紊地工作,让他的肌肉记忆接管,这样他就可以关闭大脑。不知不觉中,堆积如山的胡萝卜火柴堆在砧板上,当他与TK鼻子对着鼻子时,他又转身走向冰箱。 卡洛斯停了下来,眨了眨眼睛看着那个稍矮的男人。他们离得如此之近,卡洛斯可以辨认出TK完美鼻梁上的雀斑。离得如此之近,他可以在绿色的眼睛中挑出蓝色的斑点,并看到其中反映出的担忧。卡洛斯离得如此之近,他向后跳去,几乎无法呼吸,他的背部撞到了柜台的边缘。“你......你还好吗?TK问道,他的眉头皱了起来,同时他也向后退了一小步,给了卡洛斯一些空间。他不行。远非如此,但TK非常明确地表示他不想谈论亚历克斯。亚历克斯是卡洛斯像人类食品加工机一样切碎蔬菜的唯一原因。“我很好,”卡洛斯咬紧牙关,深吸一口气,试图抑制自己的愤怒,但失败了。 TK的眉头皱得更深了,他的大眼睛里的担忧变成了困惑。“你确定吗?如果有什么不对劲,你可以告诉我,也许我可以帮忙。TK的声音是试探性的,就好像他在和一只受惊的动物说话。“我告诉过你我很好。”TK对Carlos挑了挑眉毛,瞥了一眼柜台上堆积如山的蔬菜丝。“那你为什么要切菜,就像你有一根骨头可以摘一样?”“我——那不是——”卡洛斯懊恼地叹了口气。他有骨头要挑的人是TK不想谈论的人,而卡洛斯正在尽最大努力尊重这一点。“我们这里没有食品加工机,所以我想我练习我的刀法。”TK静静地端详了卡洛斯一会儿,然后举起双手,手掌朝外。“好吧。好。不管你说什么。卡洛斯看起来很不高兴,TK需要戴上他的儿童手套吗?他回头瞥了一眼那堆切碎的卷心菜和胡萝卜,还有他心爱的厨师刀放在砧板上,闪闪发光的刀片上粘着一些卷心菜和胡萝卜。TK声音中安抚的语气让他很生气。当他甚至不想听到关于卡洛斯和亚历克斯的真相时,他怎么能帮忙呢?当他一提到亚历克斯的名字就关机时,他能帮上什么忙?他如此努力地扑灭的愤怒余烬变成了火焰。“不,你是对的,我不行,”卡洛斯咆哮着,这些话在他处理之前就从他的嘴里滑落了。“但你不在乎这个。你甚至无法听到亚历克斯的名字,而不会伤害你宝贵的感情。当你甚至不承认自己时,你怎么能帮助我

you’re still hung up over that jackass?” TK blanches and takes another step back, his wide eyes fill with shock and hurt. “What—what’s Alex got anything to do with—” “You want to know what’s wrong?” Carlos takes a step forward, his shoulders tight and his ears ringing with anger. “Alex Silvester is what’s wrong. He’s trying to ruin my life and my business with his lies and slander.” TK gapes, then his wide eyes narrow warily. His mouth opens and snaps shut, and Carlos can almost hear the words he’s trying not to say. That’s what you get for getting involved with a married man. Red hot rage turns freezing in his veins, and Carlos says the first thing that comes to mind. “I can’t believe you were with that snake for five fucking years. Just what is wrong with you?” Regret and shame burns through him as soon as the words leave his tongue. TK pales further, his skin as white as sheets, and his face crumples with sorrow and hurt. All that rage fizzes out of Carlos at the sight of TK shrinking into himself. His shoulders are hunched, and his knuckles are white as he grips the hem of his oversized hoodie in tight fists. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. “TK, I—” “Don’t,” TK says, and despite the softness of his voice, the word rings like thunder in Carlos’ ears. Large green eyes brimming with tears glare at him, then TK spins around and disappears down the hall.
你还挂在那个混蛋身上吗?TK脸色煞白,又往后退了一步,他睁大的眼睛充满了震惊和伤害。“什么——亚历克斯和什么有什么关系——” “你想知道怎么了?”卡洛斯向前走了一步,肩膀紧绷,耳边响起了愤怒的声音。“亚历克斯·西尔维斯特(Alex Silvester)出了什么问题。他试图用他的谎言和诽谤毁掉我的生活和我的生意。TK目瞪口呆,然后警惕地眯起了大眼睛。他的嘴巴张开又啪嗒一声闭上,卡洛斯几乎能听到他试图不说的话。这就是你与已婚男人交往所得到的。炽热的愤怒在他的血管中变得冰冷,卡洛斯说出了他想到的第一件事。“我简直不敢相信你他妈的和那条蛇在一起五年了。你怎么了?话一出,他心中就涌起后悔和羞愧。TK的脸色更加苍白,他的皮肤像床单一样白,他的脸因悲伤和伤害而皱巴巴的。所有的愤怒都从卡洛斯身上消失了,因为卡洛斯看到TK缩进了自己体内。他的肩膀驼着,指关节发白,他紧紧地握着超大连帽衫的下摆。他妈的。他妈的,他妈的,他妈的。“TK,我......”“不要,”TK说,尽管他的声音很柔和,但这个词在卡洛斯的耳边像雷声一样响起。充满泪水的绿色大眼睛瞪着他,然后TK转过身来,消失在大厅里。

Chapter 7 Carlos is an asshole. Only assholes help other assholes cheat, and he deserves every bit of heartache Alex causes him. TK pulls the comforter over his head, then throws it off as he tosses from left to right and onto his back. It’s the second time in as many days that he’s stormed off to hide in the bedroom, and he’s well aware of how much of a diva that makes him look like, but— Just what is wrong with you? Carlos’ voice rings in his ears like gnats, and he shivers as he remembers the look of pure disgust on Carlos’ face. What is wrong with him? Fuck, where does he start? Despite what his therapist has told him over and over again, there’s always a small part of TK that believes it was his own fault for letting Alex abuse him for so long. That he must have been a sick masochist for letting another person reduce him to the mess he was by the time Alex dumped him. Sure, he knows Alex was the abuser, but knowing and feeling are very different things, and it’s taken TK a long, long time to reconcile with that. He tosses and turns, letting his movements exhaust his restless energy until his breathing calms and his eyes aren’t stinging with tears he stubbornly refuses to let fall. He’s agitated, but that irritation turns into resignation the longer he spends hiding in bed. Carlos isn’t wrong, not completely, even if what he said really fucking hurt. TK’s not sure how long it’s been since he stormed into the bedroom, but his hands aren’t trembling anymore, and he can finally breathe again without his entire body shuddering. He hasn’t had a panic attack over Alex for years, and he plans to keep it that way. TK sighs and rolls onto his stomach, hugging his pillow like he used to hug his Teddy when he was a kid, and worries at his bottom lip. He closes his eyes and takes another deep breath, letting his body melt into the mattress, and when he opens them again, the inkling of something that’s been troubling him resurfaces. Carlos was upset when he came back from his walk, which was confirmed by the furious way he chopped that cabbage and those carrots. He’s only known Carlos for a day, but his gut says Carlos isn’t a violent person, and TK’s learned to trust his gut after ignoring it for years while it tried to warn him about Alex. And what did he mean by what actually happened? He saw what happened. He saw Alex lunge for Carlos and he saw them kiss. But he didn’t see Carlos’ face and he didn’t stick around to find out what happened after the kiss. Is there a chance that maybe Carlos is the victim here? TK hugs the pillow closer and frowns at the ceiling. The articles he read online while he waited to board his plane all claimed Carlos was the one who made a move on Alex, but that’s not true, at least that’s not what TK saw. So if Alex lied about that, could it be possible that Alex lied about the whole thing? TK grunts in disgust. He wouldn’t put it past the douchenozzle, especially if he’s trying to keep his new husband from dumping his ass. There would be some poetic justice to that, though, if the man Alex cheated on TK with divorces him for cheating.
第7章 卡洛斯是个混蛋。只有混蛋才能帮助其他混蛋作弊,他配得上亚历克斯给他带来的每一点心痛。TK把被子拉到头上,然后从左到右扔到背上。这是他几天来第二次冲进卧室躲起来,他很清楚自己长得像个天后,但是——你到底怎么了?卡洛斯的声音像蚊蚋一样在他耳边响起,当他想起卡洛斯脸上纯粹厌恶的表情时,他不寒而栗。他怎么了?他妈的,他从哪里开始?尽管他的治疗师一遍又一遍地告诉他,但总有一小部分 TK 认为让亚历克斯虐待他这么久是他自己的错。他一定是一个病态的受虐狂,因为让另一个人把他弄得一团糟,当亚历克斯甩掉他时,他已经是一团糟了。当然,他知道亚历克斯是施虐者,但知道和感觉是截然不同的事情,TK花了很长很长的时间才与这一点和解。他辗转反侧,任由他的动作耗尽他躁动的能量,直到他的呼吸平静下来,他的眼睛不再被他固执地拒绝掉落的泪水刺痛。他很激动,但随着他躲在床上的时间越长,这种烦躁就会变成辞职。卡洛斯没有错,也不完全是错,即使他说的话真的很他妈的伤人。TK不知道他冲进卧室已经有多久了,但他的手已经不再颤抖了,他终于可以再次呼吸了,整个身体都在颤抖。多年来,他没有对亚历克斯进行过恐慌发作,他计划保持这种状态。TK叹了口气,趴在地上,抱着枕头,就像小时候抱着泰迪一样,下唇有些担忧。 他闭上眼睛,又深吸了一口气,让自己的身体融化在床垫上,当他再次睁开眼睛时,一直困扰着他的东西的暗示再次浮出水面。卡洛斯散步回来时很不高兴,他愤怒地切碎卷心菜和胡萝卜的方式证实了这一点。他只认识卡洛斯一天,但他的直觉告诉他卡洛斯不是一个暴力的人,而TK在试图警告他关于亚历克斯的直觉时忽略了他多年后,学会了相信他的直觉。他所说的实际发生的事情是什么意思?他看到了发生了什么。他看到亚历克斯冲向卡洛斯,他看到他们接吻。但他没有看到卡洛斯的脸,也没有留下来了解接吻后发生了什么。有没有可能卡洛斯是这里的受害者?TK把枕头抱得更近,皱着眉头看着天花板。他在等待登机时在网上读到的文章都声称卡洛斯是对亚历克斯采取行动的人,但事实并非如此,至少TK不是这样看到的。那么,如果亚历克斯对此撒谎,那么亚历克斯有可能在整个事情上撒谎吗?TK厌恶地咕哝着。他不会把它放在 douchenozzle 上,尤其是当他试图阻止他的新丈夫甩掉他的屁股时。不过,如果亚历克斯在TK上出轨并因出轨而与他离婚,那将有一些诗意的正义。

But if Alex is lying, why doesn’t Carlos just say so? Because the one time he brought up Alex, you got all butt hurt and told him to shut up. TK groans into the pillow and sighs, guilt churning in his empty stomach. If Carlos’ name has been dragged through the mud because of Alex and TK wouldn’t even let him explain himself, no wonder Carlos is angry. And now, thanks to Alex, TK’s ruined yet another potential friendship. He just wants Alex out of his life. Is that too much to ask? A soft knock at the door startles TK out of his thoughts. His head snaps to the sound. Another knock, and TK swallows as he holds his breath. Should he answer? He should definitely answer, but the idea of facing Carlos, of facing the anger and disgust on his face, has him paralyzed. The rasp of something sliding across the laminate floor pulls his gaze to a folded sheet of paper in the gap under the door. TK rolls out of bed and picks up the note, unfolding it to find a single word written in neat, loopy handwriting. Sorry. Fresh guilt punches through him, knocking the breath from his lungs, and TK yanks open the door. “Wait,” he calls out. Carlos freezes, his back to TK. When he looks over his shoulder, his big brown eyes are swimming with genuine regret. “Wait,” TK repeats as he fidgets with the note. “I’m also sorry for—” he gestures at Carlos then himself. “Will you tell me what actually happened?” Carlos turns around and sighs, his lips quirked into an awkward smile. “I thought you didn’t want to talk about Alex.” TK shrugs. “I don’t. And for the record, I’m not hung up on him , just some of the shit he pulled while we were together.” Carlos grimaces. He stares at his socked feet for a long, uncomfortable moment, then looks up at TK again. “I’m really sorry for what I said. I—it was shitty and—” “Alex has a way of bringing out the worst in people,” TK grouses, but he can’t help the twitch of his lips when Carlos groans. “It must be his superpower.” TK chuckles and shakes his head as he walks up to Carlos and places a hand on Carlos’ shoulder. “Tell me what happened?” Carlos looks from TK’s hand to TK’s eyes, his expression conflicted, and something warm unfurls in TK’s chest. Could it be that Carlos doesn’t want to talk about Alex because he doesn’t want to upset TK? Other than Mateo, TK can’t remember the last time someone took his feelings into consideration when it came to Alex Silvester. It’s no secret Alex and TK were together for five years, and even now interviewers and well-intentioned fans still ask him what it was like dating one of Hollywood's finest. TK squeezes Carlos’ shoulder and opens his mouth, wanting to tell Carlos it’s okay, but a loud, drawn out gurgle from his stomach stops his words. TK’s cheeks burn, and Carlos’ perfect
但如果亚历克斯在撒谎,卡洛斯为什么不直接说出来呢?因为有一次他提起亚历克斯,你屁股都疼了,叫他闭嘴。TK在枕头上呻吟着,叹了口气,内疚在他空荡荡的肚子里翻腾。如果卡洛斯的名字因为亚历克斯而被拖入泥潭,TK甚至不让他解释自己,难怪卡洛斯会生气。而现在,多亏了亚历克斯,TK毁掉了另一段潜在的友谊。他只是想让亚历克斯离开他的生活。这要求是不是太过分了?一阵轻柔的敲门声将TK从思绪中惊醒。他的脑袋猛地听到声音。又是一阵敲门声,TK屏住呼吸咽了咽口水。他应该回答吗?他当然应该回答,但一想到要面对卡洛斯,面对他脸上的愤怒和厌恶,他就瘫痪了。有什么东西在强化木地板上滑过的嘎嘎声将他的目光拉到门下缝隙中的一张折叠的纸上。TK从床上滚下来,拿起那张纸条,展开它,发现一个用工整、循环的笔迹写的字。不好意思。新鲜的内疚感刺穿了他,打断了他肺部的呼吸,TK猛地打开了门。“等等,”他喊道。卡洛斯僵住了,背对着TK。当他回头看时,他那双棕色的大眼睛正带着真正的遗憾。“等等,”TK重复着,他摆弄着纸条。“我也很抱歉——”他指了指卡洛斯,然后指了指他自己。“你能告诉我到底发生了什么吗?”卡洛斯转过身来,叹了口气,嘴角勾起一抹尴尬的笑容。“我以为你不想谈论亚历克斯。TK耸耸肩。“我没有。郑重声明,我并没有挂断他,只是我们在一起时他拉的一些狗屎。卡洛斯做了个鬼脸。他盯着自己穿袜子的脚看了很久,很不舒服,然后又抬头看了看TK。“我真的很抱歉我说的话。 我——太糟糕了,而且——“”亚历克斯有办法把人最坏的一面带出来,“TK嘟囔着,但当卡洛斯呻吟时,他忍不住抽搐了一下嘴唇。“一定是他的超能力。”TK笑着摇了摇头,走到卡洛斯面前,把一只手放在卡洛斯的肩膀上。“告诉我发生了什么事?”卡洛斯从TK的手看向TK的眼睛,他的表情很矛盾,TK的胸膛里有什么温暖的东西展开。难道卡洛斯不想谈论亚历克斯,因为他不想惹恼TK?除了马特奥,TK不记得上一次有人在谈到亚历克斯·西尔维斯特时考虑他的感受是什么时候了。亚历克斯和 TK 在一起五年已经不是什么秘密了,即使是现在,采访者和好心的粉丝仍然会问他和好莱坞最好的人之一约会是什么感觉。TK捏了捏卡洛斯的肩膀,张开嘴,想告诉卡洛斯没事,但肚子里发出一声响亮的咕噜声,阻止了他的话。TK的脸颊灼热,卡洛斯的完美

eyebrows raise in amusement. “Hungry?” he asks, his lips twitching with effort as he tries not to smile. TK clears his throat and swallows. “No—I mean yes. A little.” He drops his gaze, taking as much interest in Carlos’ socks as Carlos did just moments ago, and tries not to die of mortification. Warmth blankets his hand, and TK’s head snaps up to find Carlos’ large hand on his. “Why don’t we talk over lunch?” He pats TK’s hand a couple times before dropping his. “You made lunch?” TK misses the heat of Carlos’ dry palm, but he’s glad his voice doesn’t show his disappointment. “I did shred all that cabbage,” Carlos replies sheepishly. “So I made a salad and fried some of the tofu you brought.” TK cocks a surprised brow at Carlos. “Oh, the dressing’s vegan too,” Carlos says with a shy smile. “I hope you like it.” TK stares at Carlos’ broad back as he makes his way down the narrow hall to the kitchen, his mouth hanging in disbelief. He'd stormed off like a pissed-off cat, and Carlos made him lunch anyway? And it’s vegan to boot? His gut is right; Carlos is good people. He follows Carlos into the kitchen and takes a seat at the dinner table while Carlos brings over two cups of water and two large bowls of shredded cabbage, carrots, and cucumber salad with tofu that’s been pan fried to a perfect golden brown. The distinctive sweetness of soy sauce and unmistakable pungent smell of sesame oil washes over him, and TK’s mouth waters. He leans over and inhales deeply, and the aroma of fresh ginger, garlic, and lemon eases his earlier embarrassment. “What’s that slightly cheesy smell?” TK asks, his fork poised over the bowl. Carlos takes a seat across from TK and stabs a piece of tofu with his fork. “Nutritional yeast.” “Nutritional what?” TK scrunches up his nose and stares at his bowl with horror. There’s yeast in this? Carlos chuckles as if reading his mind. “It’s not baker’s yeast. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that’s rich in vitamins and protein, which is pretty important if you’re going vegan.” “Oh.” TK licks his lips and stabs a forkful of salad, staring at it dubiously. “And you carry this stuff with you even though you’re not vegan?” “It’s not just for vegans. I happen to love the taste, too.” TK sniffs, then takes a bite. Bright flavours burst in his mouth, and a perfect blend of sweet and savoury rounds out the robust blend of maple syrup, ginger, garlic, and citrus dancing on his tongue. Beneath the sharp tang is a rich, cheesy taste TK can only describe as intensely umami, and he looks up at Carlos with wide eyes. “Oh my God, this is amazing, ” he moans before shoving another forkful of salad in his mouth. “What’s that taste ?” “That’s the nutritional yeast,” Carlos replies with a triumphant grin. “Told you it’s delicious.”
好笑地扬起眉毛。“饿了吗?”他问道,嘴唇努力抽搐着,努力不笑。TK清了清嗓子,咽了咽口水。“不——我是说是的。一点点。他垂下目光,对卡洛斯的袜子和卡洛斯刚才一样感兴趣,并试图不让自己死于羞愧。温暖的气息笼罩着他的手,TK猛地抬起头,发现卡洛斯的大手正放在他身上。“我们为什么不在午餐时谈谈?”他拍了几下TK的手,然后放下了手。“你做了午饭?”TK想念卡洛斯干涩的手掌的热量,但他很高兴他的声音没有表现出他的失望。“我确实把那些卷心菜都切碎了,”卡洛斯羞怯地回答。“于是我做了一份沙拉,把你带来的豆腐炒了一些。”TK惊讶地对Carlos皱起了眉头。“哦,调料也是素食主义者,”卡洛斯腼腆地笑着说。“我希望你喜欢它。”TK盯着Carlos宽阔的背影,沿着狭窄的走廊走向厨房,难以置信地垂下嘴巴。他像一只生气的猫一样冲了出去,卡洛斯还是给他做了午餐?而且是素食主义者吗?他的直觉是对的;卡洛斯是好人。他跟着卡洛斯走进厨房,在餐桌旁坐下,卡洛斯端来两杯水和两大碗白菜丝、胡萝卜和黄瓜沙拉配豆腐,豆腐被煎成完美的金黄色。酱油独特的甜味和芝麻油的刺鼻气味冲刷着他,TK垂涎欲滴。他俯下身子,深深地吸了一口气,新鲜的生姜、大蒜和柠檬的香气缓解了他先前的尴尬。“那有点俗气的味道是什么?”TK问道,他的叉子放在碗上。卡洛斯在TK对面坐下,用叉子捅了一块豆腐。“营养酵母。”“营养什么?“ TK皱起鼻子,惊恐地盯着他的碗。这里面有酵母吗?卡洛斯轻笑着,仿佛读懂了他的心思。“这不是面包师的酵母。营养酵母是一种失活的酵母,富含维生素和蛋白质,如果你要成为素食主义者,这一点非常重要。“哦。”TK舔了舔嘴唇,捅了一叉沙拉,怀疑地盯着它。“即使你不是素食主义者,你也会随身携带这些东西?”“这不仅适用于素食主义者。我碰巧也喜欢这种味道。TK嗅了嗅,然后咬了一口。鲜艳的味道在他的嘴里迸发出来,甜味和咸味的完美融合使枫糖浆、生姜、大蒜和柑橘在他的舌头上跳舞的浓郁混合物更加完美。在尖锐的味道下,是一种浓郁的俗气味道,TK只能用强烈的鲜味来形容,他睁大眼睛看着卡洛斯。“哦,天哪,这太神奇了,”他呻吟着,然后又把一叉沙拉塞进嘴里。那是什么味道?“那是营养酵母,”卡洛斯带着胜利的笑容回答。“告诉你很好吃。”

TK sighs happily as he chews and swallows, a piece of tofu already skewered on his fork, ready to be devoured. “Why can’t all salads taste this good?” “Who says they can’t?” “Touché.” They eat in silence after that. TK sneaks glances at Carlos, and the look on Carlos’ face almost makes the food taste better. He’s focused, his eyes trained on his bowl, and he chews with deliberation as if he’s trying to break down the sauce he made so he can make it better next time. Not that TK thinks there’s much room for improvement. The atmosphere around them changes as they eat, becoming lighter and less awkward, and TK can’t help but relax as his stomach filled and his mind emptied. For TK, food has always been a means to an end, but there’s something about sharing a meal with Carlos that fuels more than just his body. Carlos looks so happy, and it makes every flavour burst that much brighter on TK’s tongue. TK’s not sure how they went from fighting like cats and dogs to sitting down and having a meal together. Is it the fact they’re stuck together? Is it the food? Is it something else? Something TK’s doing his hardest to ignore? Whatever it is, he’s not going to question it. When TK reaches the bottom of his bowl, he refrains from licking the damn thing. He licks his fork instead, then looks up to find Carlos’ eyes trained on him, his lips quirked in a satisfied smile. TK should feel embarrassed, caught licking his fork like that, but he doesn’t. Carlos studies TK for a beat longer, then his smile turns somber and he sighs. “So, you wanna know what happened, huh?” Carlos starts, his eyes flicking to his bowl before he looks back up at TK, holding his gaze. “Alex had been hitting on me since our first consultation for his wedding.” TK sighs. “Sounds like him.” “A good client of mine sent him my way, so I couldn’t say no, and the pay was good,” Carlos says with a wry smile. “He got progressively worse as we went over details and did taste tests, then he started calling me and requesting we meet in person to ask me questions. I went along with it at first, but it got so frequent it was becoming ridiculous, then one night we were ambushed by paparazzi, and I told him if he has any more questions to just email me.” “Let me guess, he didn’t listen.” Carlos feigns mock surprise, clutching at the front of his flannel like a string of pearls. “How did you guess?” TK snorts. “Anyway, he kept calling and showing up at my work, and it was pretty obvious what he was after.” “What can I say,” TK says, “he does have good taste when it comes to men.” Carlos’ cheeks flush, the pretty colour spreading down his neck and under his shirt collar. How far does that blush go? “Uh, thanks? But yeah, so I agreed to one more coffee and laid it out for him that while I’m flattered, and I am, indeed, into men, I’m not into men who’re about to get married.” TK swallows as unease creeps up on him. He’s intimately familiar with how Alex gets when someone tells him no. He takes a deep breath and shoves tendrils of fear down, unwilling to let Alex have any further hold on him.
TK一边咀嚼一边咽咽着,嘴里开心地叹了口气,叉子上已经串起了一块豆腐,准备被吞噬。“为什么不能所有的沙拉都这么好吃?”“谁说他们不能?”“碰。”在那之后,他们默默地吃饭。TK偷偷瞥了一眼卡洛斯,卡洛斯脸上的表情几乎让食物的味道变得更好。他很专注,眼睛盯着他的碗,他深思熟虑地咀嚼着,好像他试图分解他做的酱汁,这样他下次就可以做得更好。并不是说TK认为有很大的改进空间。当他们吃饭时,周围的气氛发生了变化,变得轻松,不那么尴尬,TK忍不住放松下来,因为他的肚子被填满了,他的头脑也空了。对于TK来说,食物一直是达到目的的手段,但与卡洛斯一起吃饭不仅仅是他的身体。卡洛斯看起来很开心,这让每一种味道在TK的舌头上都更加明亮。TK不知道他们是如何从像猫和狗一样打架到坐下来一起吃饭的。是他们粘在一起的事实吗?是食物吗?是别的什么吗?TK最难忽视的事情是什么?不管是什么,他都不会质疑。当TK到达他的碗底时,他没有舔这个该死的东西。他舔了舔叉子,然后抬起头来,发现卡洛斯的眼睛盯着他,他的嘴唇露出满意的笑容。TK应该感到尴尬,被抓到那样舔他的叉子,但他没有。卡洛斯又研究了一会儿,然后他的笑容变得阴沉,他叹了口气。“所以,你想知道发生了什么,对吧?”卡洛斯开始,他的眼睛在他的碗上弹了弹,然后他抬起头看着TK,凝视着他。“自从我们第一次为他的婚礼咨询以来,亚历克斯就一直在打击我。TK叹了口气。“听起来像他。“ ”我的一个好客户把我送来了,所以我不能拒绝,而且薪水很好,“卡洛斯苦笑着说。当我们讨论细节并进行口味测试时,他的情况逐渐恶化,然后他开始打电话给我,要求我们亲自见面问我问题。起初我同意了,但它变得如此频繁,以至于变得荒谬,然后有一天晚上我们遭到狗仔队的伏击,我告诉他,如果他还有什么问题,就给我发电子邮件。“让我猜猜,他没听。”卡洛斯假装惊讶,像一串珍珠一样紧紧抓住他的法兰绒前襟。“你是怎么猜到的?”TK哼了一声。“不管怎么说,他一直打电话来,出现在我的工作地点,很明显他想要什么。“我能说什么呢,”TK说,“在男人方面,他确实很有品味。卡洛斯的脸颊泛红,漂亮的颜色从他的脖子上蔓延到衬衫领子下面。这种腮红能走多远?“呃,谢谢?但是,是的,所以我同意再喝一杯咖啡,并为他安排,虽然我受宠若惊,而且我确实喜欢男人,但我不喜欢即将结婚的男人。TK咽了口唾沫,不安感蔓延到他身上。他非常熟悉亚历克斯在有人告诉他不时会怎么做。他深吸一口气,把恐惧的卷须往下推,不愿让亚历克斯再控制他。

“He didn’t take it well,” Carlos continues, unaware of TK’s discomfort. “But insisted that we still cater his wedding since, and I quote, ‘everyone’s looking forward to what the amazing Carlos Reyes is cooking up.’” TK winces. “I figured that was the end of it, but,” Carlos glances away and scrubs a hand down his face, his shoulders tensing. “On the day of the wedding, he came to the kitchen after we’d served everyone their meals, and told me I was stupid for turning him down, that I don’t know what I’m missing out on.” Carlos rolls his eyes and scoffs. “I was so disgusted I wanted to go out there and tell his husband and the whole venue of guests. But it’s not my problem, you know? So I told him I was leaving, and that’s when he kissed me.” Carlos takes a sip of his water and forces a smile on his face. “I shoved him off, but he tried to kiss me again so I punched him.” TK’s heart skips a beat and he leans over the table, his whole body vibrating with shock. “No,” he gasps. “Not in the face?” Carlos groans and pulls his glasses off to pinch the bridge of his nose. “Yes in the face.” TK slumps back against his chair and huffs out the breath he didn’t know he was holding. “It all makes sense now.” “What does?” TK regards Carlos with equal parts pity and amusement. “Why he’s set out to destroy you.” Carlos’ eyes widen. “You think he’s dragging me through the mud for a punch to the face?” “That face is his money maker,” TK says matter-of-factly. “You know how much his face is insured for?” “I don’t think I want to know.” “You don’t.” TK chuckles, then grows serious. “You rejected him, then you punched him in the face. You’ve been marked for death, my friend.” Carlos huffs indignantly. “Well, if he wants to get back at me, why not just go to the police or sue me for assault or something?” “And have someone officially take a statement of his infidelity from you?” TK cocks a brow at Carlos. “Besides, he’s a vindictive snake and enjoys destroying people’s careers. I would know.” He doesn’t mean to tack on that last bit, but it slips out anyway, and TK’s cheeks heat as he avoids Carlos’ eyes. If Carlos has questions, he doesn’t press much to TK’s gratitude. Instead, he hums as if trying to make sense of the situation. “I did talk to someone before I left LA, a reporter from BuzzNews or something.” “That won’t do you any good if Alex Silvester is out to get you,” TK says, trying to put as much sympathy as he can into the tone of his voice. He’s used to having false stories and nasty gossip published about him. It used to bother him, but he’s since learned to separate what the media writes about him versus who he is. He can’t control
“他没好好接受,”卡洛斯继续说,没有意识到TK的不适。“但坚持说,从那以后,我们仍然为他的婚礼提供服务,我引用,'每个人都期待着了不起的卡洛斯·雷耶斯(Carlos Reyes)正在烹饪的东西。TK畏缩不前。“我以为事情就这样结束了,但是,”卡洛斯移开视线,用一只手在脸上搓了搓,肩膀绷紧了。“婚礼那天,在我们给每个人做好饭菜后,他来到厨房,告诉我我拒绝他很愚蠢,我不知道我错过了什么。卡洛斯翻了个白眼,嗤之以鼻。“我非常厌恶,我想去那里告诉他的丈夫和整个会场的客人。但这不是我的问题,你知道吗?所以我告诉他我要走了,就在那时他吻了我。卡洛斯喝了一口水,脸上勉强露出笑容。“我把他推开,但他试图再次吻我,所以我打了他一拳。TK的心跳加快了一拍,他靠在桌子上,整个身体都因震惊而颤抖。“不,”他喘着粗气。“不是当面吗?”卡洛斯呻吟着摘下眼镜,捏了捏鼻梁。“是的,当面。”TK瘫倒在椅子上,呼出一口气,他不知道自己憋着什么。“现在一切都说得通了。”“什么?”TK对卡洛斯既怜悯又好笑。“他为什么要毁了你。”卡洛斯瞪大了眼睛。“你以为他是在把我拖到泥泞中,一拳打在脸上?”“那张脸是他的赚钱工具,”TK实事求是地说。“你知道他的脸投了多少保险吗?”“我想我不想知道。”“你不知道。”TK笑了笑,然后变得严肃起来。“你拒绝了他,然后你打了他的脸。你已经被打上了死亡的烙印,我的朋友。卡洛斯愤愤不平地哼了一声。 “好吧,如果他想报复我,为什么不直接去警察局或起诉我殴打什么的?”“有人正式从你那里拿走了他不忠的声明吗?”TK对Carlos皱起了眉头。“此外,他是一条报复性的蛇,喜欢破坏人们的职业生涯。我会知道的。他并不想抓住最后一点,但无论如何它还是溜了出来,TK的脸颊在避开卡洛斯的眼睛时发烫。如果卡洛斯有疑问,他不会过多地向TK表示感谢。相反,他哼哼唧唧,好像在试图弄清楚情况。“在我离开洛杉矶之前,我确实和某人谈过,BuzzNews的记者或其他什么人。“如果亚历克斯·西尔维斯特(Alex Silvester)出来找你,那对你没有任何好处,”TK说,试图在他的语气中加入尽可能多的同情。他已经习惯了发布关于他的虚假故事和令人讨厌的八卦。这曾经困扰着他,但从那以后,他学会了将媒体对他的报道与他是谁区分开来。他无法控制

what other people say, but he can control how he reacts to those lies and how not to let them affect him. He’s had years of practice, though, being a public figure, and it’s not a skill he wishes anyone to become good at. This must be all new to Carlos, and TK knows just how much it hurts when no one cares about the truth. Carlos throws his hands in the air. “Well, that’s fucking great.” “As toxic as Alex is, he’s also blessed with a short attention span.” As someone who’s been on the receiving end of Alex’s moods, TK feels for Carlos. Fortunately or unfortunately, TK’s also had years of experience dealing with Alex. He reaches across the table and picks up Carlos’ glasses, holding them out to him. “You’re doing the right thing by laying low. He’ll tire of going after you soon enough and move onto someone else. I promise.” It’s not much consolation, but TK hopes it’s better than nothing. Carlos hesitates before reaching for his glasses. Their fingers brush and a spark jolts up TK’s arm. He retracts his hand hastily and pulls the long sleeves of his hoodie over his fist. “Thanks, TK, really,” Carlos says, and it’s hard to miss the huskiness of his soft voice. TK licks his lips and pulls the bottom one between his lips. “I...I have a confession to make.” “Oh?” TK looks up and sighs, holding Carlos’ inquisitive gaze. “That day at Alex’s wedding, I saw him kiss you.” Both of Carlos’ eyebrows shoot up to his hairline. “Going to the wedding was a mistake, but Alex invited me and I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of thinking I was still hung up on him. So I went, and watching him get his happily-ever-after with...with the guy he cheated on me with was just a bit much, so I went to get some air.” “Oh, TK,” Carlos murmurs and reaches across the table to cover TK’s hand in his, his fingers gentle as they stroke TK’s skin. TK exhales slowly, enjoying the warmth and comfort of Carlos’ touch and finding strength in the simple gesture. “When I came back through the back door, I saw him lunge at you, and it made me sick so I bolted.” “So you didn’t see me take a swing at him?” “No.” TK chortles. “I would’ve enjoyed that.” Carlos pulls his hand back and rubs his jaw, his eyes far away as if he’s reliving the exact moment when he punched Alex Silvester in the face. “It was a solid punch.” His eyes flick to TK, a mischievous spark making his pupils seem cat like. “Yeah?” TK replies, voice soft. “Yeah.” Carlos nods matter-of-factly, like a small child retelling an epic tale of how he fought the dragon. “It made my hand hurt.” “I bet.” Carlos’ lips pull into a devious grin. “He cried.” TK bursts out laughing, and Carlos’ booming laughter joins his.

“Serves him right,” TK says as his laughter peters out. “You know how many times I’ve had to hold Mateo back from doing just that?” “Mateo?” “He’s my agent and my best friend,” TK explains. “He saved my life after...yeah.” TK looks away and chews on the inside of his cheek. The words just slipped out, but he doesn’t want to get into the dark times after Alex left him. It’s both embarrassing and pathetic, and the last thing he wants from Carlos is pity. He sneaks a glance at Carlos, who’s watching him closely, and TK shrinks under his intense gaze. Carlos doesn’t vocalize the questions swimming in his soft brown eyes. Instead, his large hand covers TK’s once more, and TK looks up to find him smiling. There’s no pity in his expression, no judgement, only warmth. “I’m glad he did,” Carlos says with a quirk of plush lips, and his large, warm fingers draw lazy circles on the back of TK’s hand. It’s hard to focus on Carlos’ words when he’s touching TK like this. It’s an innocent gesture of comfort and friendship, but the heat of Carlos’ skin spreads along TK’s arm until his whole body is burning. He can’t remember the last time a simple touch made him feel this way; it’s both exhilarating and terrifying, and he wants more. It was easy to ignore his attraction toward Carlos when he thought Carlos was with Alex, but now... Everything about Carlos is intensified, from his honey brown eyes to his tall, proud nose and high cheekbones. His dark curls seem even softer, and TK wants to run his fingers through them as he pulls those adorable dark rimmed glasses from his nose so he can taste those plump, kissable lips. TK’s body thrums with a desire so sudden and intense it’s electrifying. It’s wildly inappropriate, and there’s no way Carlos will want anything to do with him after his dramatic display of diva behaviour. Swallowing, he takes a few shallow breaths and tries to calm the blood roaring in his ears, praying to every deity willing to listen that Carlos doesn’t notice how flushed he must look. Carlos pulls his hand away and gets up from the table, taking their dirty dishes with him. There’s a bounce in his step as he walks to the sink, and when he looks over at TK, his whole face lights up with a smile that turns TK’s insides to mush. “Glad you enjoyed lunch. Hope you’re ready for dinner.”
“为他服务是对的,”TK说,他的笑声渐渐消失了。“你知道我有多少次不得不阻止马特奥这样做吗?”“马特奥?”“他是我的经纪人,也是我最好的朋友,”TK解释道。“他救了我的命......是的。TK移开视线,咀嚼着他的脸颊内侧。话音刚落,他不想在亚历克斯离开他后陷入黑暗时期。这既尴尬又可悲,他最不想从卡洛斯那里得到的就是怜悯。他偷偷瞥了一眼正在密切注视着他的卡洛斯,TK在他强烈的目光下缩了缩身子。卡洛斯没有说出他柔和的棕色眼睛里游动的问题。相反,他的大手再次盖住了TK的手,TK抬起头来发现他在微笑。他的表情中没有怜悯,没有评判,只有温暖。“我很高兴他做到了,”卡洛斯说,嘴唇毛茸茸的,他温暖的大手指在TK的手背上画着慵懒的圆圈。当卡洛斯这样触摸TK时,很难集中注意力。这是一种天真无邪的安慰和友谊的姿态,但卡洛斯皮肤的热量沿着TK的手臂蔓延,直到他的整个身体都在燃烧。他不记得上一次简单的触摸让他有这种感觉是什么时候了;这既令人振奋又令人恐惧,他想要更多。当他以为卡洛斯和亚历克斯在一起时,很容易忽略他对卡洛斯的吸引力,但现在......卡洛斯的一切都得到了强化,从他蜜棕色的眼睛到他高大、骄傲的鼻子和高高的颧骨。他的深色卷发似乎更加柔和,TK想用手指穿过它们,同时从鼻子里拔出那些可爱的黑框眼镜,这样他就可以品尝到那些丰满、可亲的嘴唇。TK的身体因一种突然而强烈的欲望而跳动,令人振奋。 这是非常不合适的,在他戏剧性地表现出女主角行为之后,卡洛斯不可能想和他有任何关系。他咽了口唾沫,深吸了几口气,试图平息耳边咆哮的血液,向每一个愿意倾听的神灵祈祷,不要让卡洛斯注意到他的脸红了。卡洛斯把手抽开,从桌子上站起来,拿着他们的脏盘子。当他走到水槽前时,他的脚步蹦蹦跳跳,当他看向TK时,他的整张脸上都露出了笑容,让TK的内心变得糊状。“很高兴你喜欢午餐。希望你已经准备好吃晚饭了。”

Chapter 8 Something changed between them since their talk yesterday. It’s as if sunlight pierced through the shadow Alex had cast over them, and Carlos would have had to be blind to miss the way TK reacted to his touch. They lounged comfortably in the living room for the rest of the afternoon; TK read and Carlos attempted a crossword puzzle without Google’s help. After dinner, TK excused himself back to his room, and Carlos passed out on the couch while watching an old movie he found in Kevin’s DVD collection. TK came out for breakfast this morning, and they spent the time after breakfast and lunch in companionable silence as if they’ve been close friends their whole lives, existing in each other’s orbit without taking up space. Now, TK is curled up on the couch, his nose buried in the same fantasy book, only he’s much further along. He’s wearing the same oversized yellow hoodie and grey sweatpants, and his hair is even more disheveled than the day before. He looks relaxed and utterly content. Carlos tries not to stare as he tinkers with the sauce he’s experimenting with for dinner, but his eyes are drawn to TK like gravity. He’s seen TK on TV, with his thick dark hair slicked back and his outlandish outfits expertly tailored to fit him like a glove, looking stunning as he smiles for the camera. That TK is easy on the eyes, but this TK, the one sitting on the couch curled up like a kitten in his baggy clothes warms Carlos’ heart. As if sensing Carlos’ eyes on him, TK looks up from his book, and his glazed expression brightens when their gazes meet. He smiles, a shy twitch of his lips, and Carlos spins to face the kitchen counter, his eyes dropping to the bowl of pungent smelling liquid in front of him. Heat crawls up his neck, and he clears his throat and pushes his glasses higher up the bridge of his nose. He sneaks glances at TK when he thinks TK isn’t looking, and he feels eyes on him when TK thinks he’s not paying attention. And when their eyes meet on occasion, heat spreads through him like wildfire and they both look away quickly. As much as Carlos finds himself drawn to TK, and as obvious as TK’s attraction is to him, he doesn’t want to push unless he’s sure TK wants the same thing. After all, they’ve only known each other for three days, and they spent two of those days irritated with each other. He stops stirring the sauce and looks out of the window and sighs. The late afternoon sun is hidden by thick clouds and the storm rages on. Goose down flakes of snow fall like feathers to the white- covered ground, and it’s so quiet outside it’s almost eerie. In the summer, the forest never sleeps. Birds chirp, critters scuttle in the underbrush, animal calls echo through the thick branches and carry across the lake, and occasionally, a fish would break free of the lake’s surface with a splash. There are no such noises now as the world lies slumbering under a blanket of snow. The back of his neck prickles, and Carlos can feel TK’s eyes on him like a red hot dart. His breath catches, and it takes every ounce of willpower for him to stay put and not turn around. He’s not sure when he became so hypersensitive to TK’s presence, but it’s very, very distracting. “Hey,” TK calls from the living room, and Carlos’ heart skips a beat. “Whatcha making over there?” Carlos looks down at the concoction in his bowl, then picks it up before turning toward the living
第8章 自从昨天的谈话以来,他们之间发生了一些变化。就好像阳光穿透了亚历克斯投在他们身上的阴影,卡洛斯必须瞎了眼才能错过TK对他的触摸的反应。下午剩下的时间里,他们在客厅里舒适地休息着;TK 阅读和 Carlos 在没有 Google 帮助的情况下尝试了填字游戏。晚饭后,TK借口回到自己的房间,卡洛斯昏倒在沙发上,正在看他在凯文的DVD收藏中找到的一部老电影。TK今天早上出来吃早餐,早餐和午餐后,他们在陪伴的沉默中度过了这段时间,就好像他们一生都是亲密的朋友一样,存在于彼此的轨道上而不占用空间。现在,TK蜷缩在沙发上,他的鼻子埋在同一本奇幻书中,只是他走得更远。他穿着同样的超大号黄色连帽衫和灰色运动裤,头发比前一天更凌乱。他看起来很放松,非常满足。卡洛斯试图不盯着他摆弄他正在尝试的晚餐酱汁,但他的眼睛被TK吸引,就像重力一样。他在电视上看到过TK,浓密的黑发向后梳理,古怪的服装像手套一样专业地合身,当他对着镜头微笑时,看起来令人惊叹。那个TK很容易让人眼前一亮,但这个TK,那个穿着宽松衣服像小猫一样蜷缩在沙发上的TK,温暖了卡洛斯的心。仿佛感觉到卡洛斯的目光在他身上,TK从书中抬起头来,当他们的目光相遇时,他呆滞的表情变得明亮起来。他笑了笑,嘴唇害羞地抽搐了一下,卡洛斯转身面对厨房柜台,眼睛落在面前那碗散发着刺鼻气味的液体上。 热气爬上他的脖子,他清了清嗓子,把眼镜推到鼻梁上。当他认为TK没有在看时,他会偷偷瞥一眼TK,当TK认为他没有注意时,他会感觉到眼睛在盯着他。当他们的目光偶尔相遇时,热量像野火一样在他身上蔓延,他们俩都迅速移开了视线。尽管卡洛斯发现自己被传统知识所吸引,而且传统知识对他的吸引力是显而易见的,但他不想推动,除非他确定传统知识也想要同样的东西。毕竟,他们只认识了三天,其中两天他们互相激怒了。他停止搅拌酱汁,望向窗外,叹了口气。傍晚的阳光被厚厚的云层遮住,暴风雨肆虐。鹅绒雪花像羽毛一样飘落在白茫茫的地面上,外面安静得几乎令人毛骨悚然。在夏天,森林从不睡觉。鸟儿叽叽喳喳,小动物在灌木丛中匍匐前进,动物的叫声在茂密的树枝上回荡,穿过湖面,偶尔,一条鱼会溅起水花从湖面上挣脱出来。现在没有这样的噪音,因为世界躺在白雪皑皑的毯子下沉睡。他的后颈刺痛了,卡洛斯能感觉到TK的眼睛像一把炽热的飞镖一样盯着他。他的呼吸急促起来,他需要每一丝意志力才能保持原地不转身。他不确定自己什么时候对TK的存在变得如此敏感,但这非常非常令人分心。“嘿,”TK从客厅里喊道,Carlos的心跳加快了一拍。“那边干嘛?“ 卡洛斯低头看了看碗里的混合物,然后拿起它,然后转向活人

room. “It’s for dinner tonight. I’m making chili eggplant.” “Like Chinese takeout?” “Not quite but close.” Carlos dips his finger in the bowl and licks it, satisfied with the intense and complex flavours of the sauce. “My stepdad used to make this for us. It’s probably one of my favourite dishes.” TK smiles and the corners of his eyes crinkle. He puts down his book and pushes his wide sleeves up to his elbows, revealing smooth, tanned forearms. “Can I help?” Carlos rips his gaze from TK’s shifting muscles and licks his lips, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Uh, yeah sure. Of course.” He puts the sauce down and motions for TK to come join him in the kitchen. TK unfurls from the couch like a cat waking up from a nap. He stretches, and Carlos tries to ignore the sliver of skin revealed below the hem of his hoodie even as his face flames. TK joins him in the kitchen with excitement dancing in his beautiful green eyes, and Carlos forgets for a moment what he’s making for dinner. “Can you get the eggplants from the fridge?” he asks, thanking the stars his voice is steady. “And while you’re in there, can you also grab the garlic, ginger, chilli paste, and maple syrup?” “Yes, chef,” TK chirps with mock seriousness and pulls the fridge door open. He grabs the eggplants and hands them to Carlos, then each subsequent item and passes them over his shoulder without looking, trusting that Carlos will grab them. “Why do you keep all this stuff in the fridge? Are you supposed to keep garlic and ginger in there?” TK asks as he shuts the fridge door behind him. “Not usually.” Carlos lays all the ingredients on the counter and opens the cupboard next to the hood fan. “But we get rodents here at the cabin, so it’s become a habit to store everything in the fridge.” From the cupboard, he grabs the bottle of sesame oil, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, and a jar of ground five spice. “Things that are sealed like these we leave in the cupboard, but everything else goes in the fridge.” “Even the chocolates?” “Especially the chocolates.” Carlos grins as he rolls up his sleeves. He takes the eggplants to the sink and rinses them under cold water. When he turns around, he finds TK laying the cutting board on the counter. “I like a man who takes initiative,” he says, smiling. TK’s cheeks turn a soft shade of pink and he runs a hand through his hair. “It made sense.” “Yes, but you’d be surprised at the number of professional chefs I’ve worked with who didn’t understand the first thing about common sense.” Carlos winks. “Oh, also, stop touching your hair.” TK drops his hand and flushes further. He washes his hands and dries them on a towel, then holds them out like a doctor ready to do surgery. “Clean and ready to learn, chef.” Carlos laughs, which earns him a dazzling smile from TK. Carlos shows TK how he wants the eggplants cut into bite sized chunks and leaves TK slicing while he prepares the salt solution they’ll be soaking the eggplants in.
房间。“今晚是晚餐。我正在做辣椒茄子。“喜欢中式外卖吗?”“不完全是,但很接近。”卡洛斯将手指蘸在碗里舔了舔,对酱汁的浓郁而复杂的味道感到满意。“我的继父曾经为我们做过这个。这可能是我最喜欢的菜肴之一。TK笑了笑,眼角皱了起来。他放下书,把宽大的袖子推到肘部,露出光滑、晒黑的前臂。“我能帮忙吗?”卡洛斯将目光从TK不断变化的肌肉上移开,舔了舔嘴唇,将眼镜推到鼻梁上。“呃,是的,当然。答案是肯定的。他把酱汁放下,示意TK来厨房和他一起。TK从沙发上展开,就像一只从午睡中醒来的猫。他伸了个懒腰,卡洛斯试图忽略连帽衫下摆下露出的那块皮肤,即使他的脸在燃烧。TK和他一起进了厨房,他美丽的绿色眼睛里兴奋地跳舞,卡洛斯暂时忘记了他要做什么晚餐。“你能从冰箱里拿到茄子吗?”他问道,感谢星星,他的声音很稳定。“当你在里面的时候,你能不能也拿大蒜、生姜、辣椒酱和枫糖浆?”“是的,厨师,”TK嘲讽地严肃地叽叽喳喳地叫着,拉开了冰箱门。他抓起茄子递给卡洛斯,然后递给卡洛斯,然后把它们放在肩膀上,看都没看,相信卡洛斯会抓住它们。“你为什么要把这些东西都放在冰箱里?你应该把大蒜和生姜放进去吗?TK一边关上身后的冰箱门一边问道。“通常不会。”卡洛斯把所有的食材都放在柜台上,然后打开抽油烟机旁边的橱柜。“但是我们在小屋里有啮齿动物,所以把所有东西都放在冰箱里已经成为一种习惯。“他从橱柜里拿出一瓶香油、米醋、中国料酒,还有一罐磨碎的五香。像这样密封的东西我们留在橱柜里,但其他所有东西都放在冰箱里。“就连巧克力?”“尤其是巧克力。”卡洛斯卷起袖子咧嘴一笑。他把茄子拿到水槽里,用冷水冲洗。当他转身时,他发现TK将砧板放在柜台上。“我喜欢一个主动的人,”他笑着说。TK的脸颊变成了柔和的粉红色,他用一只手抚摸着他的头发。“这是有道理的。”“是的,但你会惊讶于与我共事过的专业厨师的数量,他们不了解常识的第一件事。卡洛斯眨了眨眼。“哦,还有,别碰你的头发了。”TK放下手,脸色进一步冲了下去。他洗手,用毛巾擦干,然后像准备做手术的医生一样把手伸出来。“干净,可以学习了,厨师。”卡洛斯笑了,这为他赢得了TK的灿烂笑容。 卡洛斯向TK展示了他如何将茄子切成一口大小的块,并在准备将茄子浸泡在其中的盐溶液时将TK切成薄片。

“Once you’re done chopping, put them in the salt bath.” “Yes, chef,” TK replies with a cheeky grin that sets off a swarm of butterflies in Carlos’ gut. The thud thud thud of the knife hitting the cutting board doesn’t calm him like it normally would. Instead, he’s painfully aware of TK’s proximity to him and the shift of his arms and the way his brows furrowed, his lower lip caught between his teeth as he concentrated on slicing the eggplant. Carlos has worked in some small kitchens with lots of bodies, but he’s never been this aware of another person in his space, and the clean scent of TK’s shampoo and the faint smell of his eucalyptus body wash makes Carlos lightheaded. Carlos shakes his head and takes a deep breath as he pulls out a second cutting board and knife, then forces himself to focus on slicing the ginger into matchsticks instead of cutting off his own finger. “Why do you want to soak the eggplants in salt water?” TK asks as he drops the pieces of eggplants into the bowl. It takes Carlos a second to realize TK’s asked him a question, and he ducks, trying to hide his burning cheeks. “They’ll soak up less oil if you salt them first. And salt adds flavour.” Carlos helps TK toss the rest of the eggplant pieces in the water. Their elbows brush, and Carlos’ breath catches in his throat. Christ, Reyes, get yourself together. Once all the eggplants are in the water. Carlos places a plate on top to keep the pieces submerged. TK stands back and lets out a huff of breath, looking relieved. “Well, this is going... well.” “We’ve barely begun.” Carlos cocks a brow at him. “Usually by this time, if I’m cooking, something or someone is already on fire,” TK says and shrugs one shoulder. Carlos’ eyes widen and his lips twitch into an amused grin. “I promise no one will catch on fire tonight.” Carlos gives TK a thumbs up. TK rolls his eyes, but his bashful smile lights up his eyes. Carlos teaches TK how to cook rice in a pot next since the cabin doesn’t have a rice cooker like Carlos does at home. He’s never had to give such detailed instructions to anyone before, and it makes him appreciate the process just a little more. There’s joy in cooking something as simple as rice. Sometimes Carlos forgets that when he’s rushing to get orders done, but watching TK take painstaking care as he rinses the rice repeatedly helps him slow down and rediscover some of that joy. Even if having TK so close is distracting as hell. TK glances at him for guidance, and he looks so adorably lost that it makes Carlos’ insides melt. TK rinses the rice and pours the milky water out, checking with Carlos each time until the water runs clear, then reaches for a cup measure. Carlos shakes his head and takes the cup from TK’s hand. “There’s a trick my stepdad taught me that works every time,” Carlos says as he stands next to TK and dips his index finger into the pot, his fingertip just touching the rice, then he turns on the cold water and fills the pot. “When the water line reaches the first knuckle of your finger, that’s just the right amount of water for perfect rice each time.” TK looks from the pot to Carlos, his handsome face twisted with skepticism. “But everyone’s first
“切完后,把它们放进盐浴里。”“是的,厨师,”TK厚颜无耻地笑着回答,在卡洛斯的肚子里掀起了一群蝴蝶。刀子砸在砧板上的砰声并没有像往常那样让他平静下来。相反,他痛苦地意识到TK离他很近,他的手臂移动,眉头皱起,下唇夹在牙齿之间,专心致志地切茄子。卡洛斯曾在一些有很多尸体的小厨房里工作过,但他从来没有这么意识到他的空间里有另一个人,TK洗发水的清香和桉树沐浴露的淡淡气味让卡洛斯头晕目眩。卡洛斯摇了摇头,深吸了一口气,拿出第二块砧板和刀,然后强迫自己专注于将生姜切成火柴棒,而不是砍掉自己的手指。“你为什么要把茄子浸泡在盐水中?”TK一边问,一边把茄子片放进碗里。卡洛斯花了一秒钟才意识到TK问了他一个问题,他躲开了,试图掩饰自己灼热的脸颊。“如果你先给它们加盐,它们会吸收更少的油。盐可以增加风味。卡洛斯帮助TK把剩下的茄子块扔进水里。他们的胳膊肘擦肩而过,卡洛斯的呼吸卡在喉咙里。基督,雷耶斯,让自己团结起来。一旦所有的茄子都在水中。卡洛斯在上面放了一个盘子,以保持碎片被淹没。TK站了起来,呼出一口气,看起来松了一口气。“嗯,这是怎么回事......好吧。“我们才刚刚开始。”卡洛斯朝他挑了挑眉毛。“通常到这个时候,如果我在做饭,某物或某人已经着火了,”TK说,耸了耸肩。卡洛斯瞪大了眼睛,嘴唇抽搐着露出一个有趣的笑容。 “我保证今晚没有人会着火。卡洛斯对TK竖起了大拇指。TK翻了个白眼,但他害羞的笑容照亮了他的眼睛。卡洛斯接下来教TK如何在锅里煮饭,因为小屋里没有像卡洛斯在家里那样的电饭煲。他以前从未向任何人提供过如此详细的指示,这让他更加欣赏这个过程。烹饪像米饭这样简单的东西是快乐的。有时,卡洛斯在匆忙完成订单时会忘记这一点,但看着 TK 在反复冲洗米饭时煞费苦心地照顾他,可以帮助他放慢脚步并重新发现一些快乐。即使 TK 如此接近会分散注意力。TK瞥了他一眼寻求指导,他看起来很可爱,迷茫的样子让卡洛斯的内心融化了。TK冲洗米饭,倒出乳白色的水,每次都与Carlos检查,直到水变清,然后伸手去拿杯子。卡洛斯摇了摇头,从TK手中接过杯子。“我继父教我的一个技巧每次都有效,”卡洛斯说,他站在TK旁边,将食指浸入锅中,指尖刚好碰到米饭,然后他打开冷水,装满锅。“当水线到达你手指的第一个指关节时,每次的水量都恰到好处,可以制作出完美的米饭。”TK从锅里看向卡洛斯,他英俊的脸因怀疑而扭曲。“但每个人都是第一位的

knuckle is different.” “I know.” Carlos shrugs. “I don’t know why it works, but it does no matter who does it.” Carlos turns off the water and pulls his finger out of the pot. He takes TK’s hand, pointedly ignores how soft his skin is, and puts his index finger to the top of the bed of rice. “You finish it.” TK turns the tap on and waits until the water touches his first knuckle. “So you’re telling me cooking is like magic now?” he teases, giving his finger a swirl in the slightly milky water. “Maybe,” Carlos replies, and he’s only half joking. Sometimes, cooking really does feel like doing magic. “Anyway, put it on the stove and turn the heat to medium, While the rice is cooking, we can finish making the eggplant.” “Wait, you mean cook two things at once?” TK looks at Carlos with wide, frightened eyes. Just what sort of kitchen accidents has this guy had in the past? “Yes, how else are we supposed to serve everything hot at once?” Carlos takes the plate off the soaking eggplants and squeezes a spongy chunk. Happy with the texture, he drains the bowl and sets it on the counter next to the stove. “We set up everything we need, our mise en place, so we’re not scrambling for ingredients when we cook.” “Huh.” TK looks dubious. “Okay.” Carlos measures out the sauces and oils they’ll need into small dishes while TK measures out the herbs and spices. They line everything up neatly in a row, then Carlos turns on the gas stove. TK jumps as the range whooshes into life, and Carlos suppresses the urge to chuckle as he places the large flat bottomed pan over the dancing flames. “Normally I’d use a wok, but the cabin isn’t exactly a fully stocked kitchen,” Carlos explains even though he’s not sure TK cares. He’s not even sure why he’s talking so much. He doesn’t normally talk so much when he’s cooking, not even when he’s teaching someone how to cook. TK nods, taking a step back to give Carlos space. Carlos was planning on cooking, but something in the way TK shrinks from the stove changes his mind. He hands the spatula to TK and steps to the side. “You do it.” “I—what—no. I can’t—” TK holds up both hands and tries to back away, only to bump into the edge of the sink. There’s nowhere to escape in this tiny kitchen. “Yes, you can,” Carlos reassures. “I’ll tell you what to do.” TK hesitates, his wide green eyes apprehensive, then he reaches for the spatula and something swells in Carlos’ chest. “You promise no one will catch on fire tonight?” TK asks. “Promise.” TK steps in front of the stove, spatula poised, and looks to Carlos for instruction. Seems like when he said he doesn’t know how to cook, he wasn’t kidding. Carlos points at the oil with a tilt of his chin. “Pour the oil into the pan and let it heat up. Gas ranges heat up quickly so you’ll only need to wait about thirty seconds or so.” TK nods and pours the oil into the pan. The oil shimmers as it pools. “Spread the oil around by tipping the pan in a circular motion.” He watches TK carefully rotate the pan until the bottom is covered with a thin layer of grease, then points at the ginger and garlic. “Add the ginger and garlic and stir them around until fragrant.”
指关节是不同的。“我知道。”Carlos耸耸肩。“我不知道它为什么有效,但不管是谁做的。卡洛斯关掉水,把手指从锅里抽出来。他握住TK的手,故意无视他的皮肤有多柔软,把食指放在米床上。“你完成它。”TK打开水龙头,等到水碰到他的第一个指关节。“所以你是说现在做饭就像魔术一样?”他调侃道,手指在微微乳白色的水中打转。“也许吧,”卡洛斯回答说,他只是半开玩笑。有时候,做饭真的感觉像在变魔术。“不管怎样,把它放在炉子上,把火调到中火,等米饭煮熟了,我们就可以把茄子做好了。”“等等,你是说同时做两样东西?”TK惊恐地睁大眼睛看着卡洛斯。这家伙过去到底发生过什么样的厨房事故?“是啊,不然我们怎么能一次把所有热的东西都端上来呢?”卡洛斯把盘子从浸泡过的茄子上拿下来,挤了一大块海绵状的茄子。他对质地感到满意,把碗沥干,放在炉子旁边的柜台上。“我们设置了我们需要的一切,我们的 mise 就地,所以我们在做饭时不会争先恐后地寻找食材。”“呵呵。”TK看起来很可疑。“好的。”卡洛斯量出他们需要的酱汁和油放入小盘子里,而TK则量出香草和香料。他们把所有东西整齐地排成一排,然后卡洛斯打开了煤气灶。TK跳了起来,靶场嗖嗖作响,Carlos压抑着想笑的冲动,他把大平底平底锅放在舞动的火焰上。“通常我会用炒锅,但小屋并不是一个储备充足的厨房,”卡洛斯解释道,尽管他不确定TK是否在乎。他甚至不知道自己为什么说这么多。 他做饭的时候通常不会说那么多话,甚至在教别人做饭的时候也不会说话。TK点了点头,向后退了一步,给Carlos留出了空间。卡洛斯本来打算做饭,但TK从炉子上缩了缩,这让他改变了主意。他把铲子递给TK,走到一边。“你来做。”“我——什么——不。我不能......“TK举起双手,试图后退,却撞到了水槽的边缘。在这个小厨房里无处可逃。“是的,你可以的,”卡洛斯保证道。“我会告诉你该怎么做。”TK犹豫了一下,他那双绿色的大眼睛忧虑地盯着他,然后他伸手去拿抹刀,卡洛斯的胸膛里有什么东西在膨胀。“你保证今晚没有人会着火?”TK问道。“答应。”TK走到炉子前,铲子蓄势待发,向卡洛斯寻求指导。似乎当他说他不会做饭时,他不是在开玩笑。卡洛斯歪着下巴指着油。“将油倒入锅中,让它加热。燃气灶升温很快,所以你只需要等待大约三十秒左右。TK点点头,将油倒入锅中。油在汇集时闪闪发光。“通过以圆周运动倾倒锅来将油涂抹在周围。”他看着TK小心翼翼地旋转平底锅,直到底部覆盖着一层薄薄的油脂,然后指着生姜和大蒜。“加入生姜和大蒜,搅拌至香味。”

TK follows his instructions closely, and with every step, he seems to relax a little more. His movements are still, but his face isn’t screwed up in apprehension as he follows Carlos’ every word to a tee. The aroma of scorching eggplants and garlic and ginger is intoxicating, but Carlos hardly notices it as he watches TK, and for the first time, the food isn’t his first priority. It’s not until TK shakes the pan, jostling the contents with a hiss, that Carlos notices just how far along the eggplants have cooked. “Okay, the next bit will require some speed.” Carlos clears his throat and forces himself to focus on the food. Distracted or not, burning perfectly good food is just unacceptable. “Once the eggplants soften, they’re ready to get sauced.” TK frowns and looks from the little saucers of sauces to Carlos. “Do I just add all of these in at once?” “Yeah, then you toss the eggplants around to coat quickly before the maple syrup burns.” At the mention of something burning, TK’s face pales. He swallows. “Oh. Okay.” TK stares into the pan as if looking for the secrets to the universe, and Carlos can’t take his eyes off him. The enticing aroma of the contents of the pan permeates the air, and they wait in bated silence. Carlos has never seen someone concentrate so hard watching something cook, and it’s both amusing and endearing at the same time. TK’s frown deepens when Carlos grabs the pan handle and tosses the eggplants with a flick of his wrist, flipping the pieces. TK takes a step back, offering the spot in front of the stove to Carlos. “Maybe you should—” “I’ll show you.” Carlos gestures for him to get back in front of the pan. “Take the handle.” TK hesitates, then moves back into position. Without thinking, Carlos steps behind TK and reaches around to grasp TK’s hand around the handle of the pan. TK’s back is warm as it presses against Carlos, and Carlos’ brain short circuits. This was how his stepdad taught him how to stir-fry and how he’d shown some of his friends, but having TK in his arms makes it impossible to focus. Or breathe, for that matter. He swallows and tries not to notice the curve of TK’s ass inches from his body, or the jut of TK’s shoulder blades shifting against his chest, or the scent of TK’s shampoo as his hair tickles Carlos’ nose. It’s as impossible as denying his lungs air. The food. Focus on the food, and for the love of God don’t let anything catch on fire. Carlos steels himself, empties the rest of the prepared seasonings on top of the eggplants, then grabs TK’s other hand and brings the spatula to the pan. Muscle memory takes over, and he allows his body to take them through the motions while he tries to reboot his brain. His hand tightens around TK’s as he dips his wrist, then jerks the pan forward and shifts the eggplants to the edge before flicking the pan up and tossing the vegetables into the air. He repeats the motion, using the spatula as a guide, and lets the repetitive motion bring him back to some semblance of control. TK moves in time with Carlos, his arms loose as he follows Carlos’ lead, and it doesn’t take long before the eggplants are glistening, coated with a savoury and sweet sticky sauce. Carlos takes a step back and clears his throat and ignores the missing warmth of TK’s back against his chest. He turns off the stove as TK puts the pan down.
TK严格按照他的指示进行操作,每走一步,他似乎都会放松一点。他的动作静止不动,但他的脸并没有因为恐惧而搞砸,因为他跟着卡洛斯的每一个字都发球了。炙热的茄子、大蒜和生姜的香气令人陶醉,但卡洛斯在观看 TK 时几乎没有注意到这一点,而且第一次,食物不是他的首要任务。直到TK摇晃着平底锅,发出嘶嘶声,卡洛斯才注意到茄子已经煮了多远。“好的,接下来需要一些速度。”卡洛斯清了清嗓子,强迫自己把注意力集中在食物上。无论是否分心,燃烧完美的食物都是不可接受的。“茄子一旦变软,它们就可以酱汁了。”TK皱起眉头,从装酱汁的小碟子看向卡洛斯。“我是不是一次把这些都加进去?”“是的,那你把茄子扔来扔去,在枫糖浆燃烧之前快速涂上一层。”一提到燃烧的东西,TK的脸色就苍白了。他咽了口唾沫。“哦。好的。TK盯着平底锅,仿佛在寻找宇宙的秘密,卡洛斯无法将目光从他身上移开。空气中弥漫着锅里诱人的香气,他们静静地等待着。卡洛斯从未见过有人如此专注地看着烹饪,这既有趣又可爱。当卡洛斯抓住平底锅把手,手腕一抖,把茄子扔了出去,把蛋子翻转起来时,TK的眉头皱得更深了。TK后退了一步,把炉子前的位置让给了卡洛斯。“也许你应该——” “我给你看看。”卡洛斯示意他回到平底锅前。“把柄拿过来。”TK犹豫了一下,然后又回到了原位。 卡洛斯不假思索地走到TK身后,伸手抓住TK的手。TK的后背很热,因为它压在卡洛斯身上,卡洛斯的大脑短路了。他的继父就是这样教他如何炒菜的,也是他向一些朋友展示的,但怀里抱着TK让他无法集中注意力。或者呼吸,就此而言。他咽了口唾沫,尽量不去注意TK的屁股离他身体几英寸远的曲线,或者TK的肩胛骨在他胸前移动的突出部分,或者TK的头发在卡洛斯的鼻子上挠痒痒时洗发水的气味。这就像拒绝他的肺部空气一样不可能。食物。专注于食物,为了上帝的爱,不要让任何东西着火。卡洛斯振作起来,把剩下的准备好的调味料倒在茄子上,然后抓住TK的另一只手,把铲子放到锅里。肌肉记忆接管了,当他试图重新启动大脑时,他允许他的身体通过动作来接受它们。当他蘸着手腕时,他的手收紧了TK,然后猛地向前拉动平底锅,将茄子移到边缘,然后将平底锅向上弹起,将蔬菜抛向空中。他重复这个动作,用抹刀作为指导,让重复的动作把他带回某种控制状态。TK跟着卡洛斯一起移动,他的手臂松开了,跟着卡洛斯的脚步,没过多久,茄子就闪闪发光,涂上了咸甜的粘稠酱汁。卡洛斯后退了一步,清了清嗓子,忽略了TK背靠着他胸膛的温暖。当TK放下平底锅时,他关掉了炉子。

“That’s it?” TK asks, looking between Carlos and the pan. “Just like that?” “That’s it,” Carlos replies. “Simple, packed full of flavour, and very vegan.” TK’s face lights up in a dazzling smile that turns his eyes into slits. “I’ve legit never cooked anything that smells this amazing before. Usually the whole kitchen smells like ass right before the smoke alarm goes off.” “Jesus, TK.” Carlos chuckles and shakes his head. TK’s giddiness is contagious, and Carlos can’t help but smile as TK dips a finger into the pan gingerly then brings it to his lips and licks the sauce. He moans around the digit in that innocent yet obscene way that makes Carlos’ cock twitch and fill, and Carlos turns away quickly before he embarrasses himself. He should have worn jeans. His sweatpants do nothing to hide his current predicament. He grabs a spoon and checks on the rice, carefully shielding his groin from TK. Satisfied the rice is cooked to perfection, he fluffs it, then pulls two plates from the cupboard and serves up two large portions, making sure to drizzle extra sauce on TK’s rice. They eat in comfortable silence broken by more of TK’s moans and contented sighs. Despite the tightness in his pants, Carlos is warm all over as he watches TK devour his food. Their food, because TK definitely played a hand in cooking it tonight. After dinner, Carlos cleans the kitchen while TK washes the dishes. It’s surprising how comfortable they are around each other in that tiny space, their movements in sync. When Carlos needs to reach across the sink or to put something in the drainer, TK moves out of the way without prompt as if he can read Carlos’ mind. It’s nice working in a kitchen with someone who can anticipate his moves. It saves him the need to shout so much like he has to with his kitchen staff back home. Instead of retreating back to the bedroom like he has been, TK takes up his corner on the couch in the living room, his book in hand, until Carlos sits down next to him with two steaming mugs of peppermint tea. TK thanks him when he passes the mug over and takes a sip, then he goes back to reading, his brows knitted in concentration. Carlos pulls his phone from his pocket, opens his ebook app, and gets comfortable in the opposite corner of the couch. He’s almost done the new book in his favourite male/male romance series with two of his favourite tropes: enemies to lovers and “but there’s only one bed.” It’s ridiculous and over the top, but he loves a good romance story where the characters overcome their hangups and get their happily-ever-after. Maybe that makes him a sap, and he’s gotten his fair share of gentle ribbing from both Paul and Michelle, but Carlos doesn’t care. He curls up and dives right in, finally getting to the part where both characters learn to use their words and talk to each other. He loses himself in the world of dramatic confessions and tears and suspicious coincidences, and he doesn’t have to care about going to bed at a decent hour to get up for work the next day. It’s not until there’s movement by his feet that he looks up to find TK staring at him. “H-hey,” TK says. “What’s up?” Carlos straightens from his half curled position and puts down his phone. TK’s pale, his hands twisting the hem of his hoodie in his lap, and his gaze keeps shifting to
“就这?”TK问道,看着Carlos和平底锅。“就这样?”“就是这样,”卡洛斯回答。“简单,味道浓郁,非常素食。”TK的脸上露出了灿烂的笑容,将他的眼睛变成了一条缝。“我以前从来没有做过任何闻起来这么神奇的东西。通常,在烟雾报警器响起之前,整个厨房都闻起来像屁股。“天啊,TK。”卡洛斯笑着摇了摇头。TK的头晕是有感染力的,Carlos忍不住笑了,TK小心翼翼地将手指蘸入锅中,然后将其放在嘴唇上舔了舔酱汁。他以那种天真而淫秽的方式在手指周围呻吟,让卡洛斯的鸡巴抽搐和填充,卡洛斯在他尴尬之前迅速转身离开。他应该穿牛仔裤。他的运动裤并不能掩盖他目前的困境。他拿起勺子检查米饭,小心翼翼地保护自己的腹股沟免受TK的伤害。 他满意地将米饭煮熟,将其弄松,然后从橱柜中拿出两个盘子,端上两大份,确保在TK的米饭上淋上额外的酱汁。他们在舒适的寂静中吃饭,被TK更多的呻吟和满足的叹息所打破。尽管他的裤子很紧,但当卡洛斯看着TK吞噬他的食物时,他全身都暖和起来。他们的食物,因为TK肯定在今晚的烹饪中发挥了作用。晚饭后,卡洛斯打扫厨房,而TK则洗碗。令人惊讶的是,在那个狭小的空间里,他们彼此相处得如此舒适,他们的动作是同步的。当卡洛斯需要把手伸到水槽对面或把东西放进排水器时,TK会毫不犹豫地移开,就好像他能读懂卡洛斯的心思一样。在厨房里与一个可以预测他的举动的人一起工作真是太好了。 这让他不必像在家里对厨房工作人员那样大喊大叫。TK没有像以前那样回到卧室,而是在客厅的沙发上占据了他的角落,手里拿着他的书,直到Carlos坐在他旁边,手里拿着两杯热气腾腾的薄荷茶。TK感谢他,他把杯子递过来喝了一口,然后他又开始看书,眉头紧锁。卡洛斯从口袋里掏出手机,打开他的电子书应用程序,在沙发的另一角舒服地坐着。在他最喜欢的男性/男性浪漫系列中,他几乎完成了这本新书,其中有两个他最喜欢的比喻:恋人的敌人和“但只有一张床”。这很荒谬,也很夸张,但他喜欢一个好的浪漫故事,在这个故事中,角色克服了他们的宿醉,获得了他们永远的幸福。也许这让他变得很聪明,他从保罗和米歇尔那里得到了相当多的温柔肋骨,但卡洛斯不在乎。他蜷缩起来,直接潜入其中,终于到了两个角色学会使用他们的话和互相交谈的部分。他迷失在戏剧性的忏悔、眼泪和可疑巧合的世界里,他不必在乎第二天起床上班的体面时间上床睡觉。直到他的脚边有动静,他才抬起头来,发现TK正盯着他看。“嘿嘿,”TK说。“怎么了?”卡洛斯从半蜷缩的姿势中直起身子,放下手机。TK脸色苍白,双手捻着膝盖上连帽衫的下摆,目光不停地转移到

Carlos’ bundle of blankets and pillow stacked neatly in the chair on the other side of the coffee table. Carlos wants to ask what’s wrong, but it’s obvious TK’s working up his courage to say something, so Carlos waits. Finally, TK sighs and turns to face Carlos even though he’s avoiding Carlos’ eyes. “It’s gotta be pretty uncomfortable sleeping on the couch...” TK licks his lips and swallows as if he’s got a gum ball stuck in his throat. Carlos swallows too, his mind racing, afraid to guess what he thinks is coming next. But there’s no way. This isn’t one of his romance novels. “I was wondering, and no pressure I swear,” TK says, his voice so small Carlos has to strain to hear him despite the silence surrounding them, “if you’d like to share the bed with me?”

Chapter 9 Carlos is still. His mouth hangs open and his eyes are so wide they’re like saucers. And it would be funny if TK wasn’t internally losing his shit. Did he overstep? Was it too forward? Did it seem like TK was propositioning him? Because he definitely was not propositioning him. Not that he wouldn’t— No. No, no, no, no Tyler Kennedy. No. There’s still no reaction from Carlos. Not a twitch or a sigh or a single damn word. TK panics and blurts, “but you totally don’t have to and I can take the couch tonight. We—we can take turns if that’s better—I mean—I don’t—fuck—” Carlos blinks as if coming out of a trance, and he snaps his mouth shut with an audible click. Disbelief is written all over his face, but beneath that is also a hint of something else TK can’t figure out. His stomach clenches, his insides twisting, and his palms grow clammy as he tries not to panic. Why is Carlos looking at him like that? “No, I mean, yes, I—” Carlos takes a deep breath, and TK sits dead still as Carlos exhales. “I mean, if you’re okay with that, I would love to share the bed with you. This couch”—he pats the worn leather affectionately—“is great for sitting but not so great for my back.” TK lets out a sigh and swallows, and his whole body sags. “That’s—okay, yes. That’s settled then.” TK snaps his book shut and straightens, swinging his legs off the couch. He fiddles with the edge of his book for a second, and when he can’t take the heat of Carlos’ unwavering gaze any longer, he stands up and dusts imaginary lint from his sweatpants. “Well, it’s late. I’m, uh, going to brush my teeth. I’ll see you in bed?” Amusement lights up Carlos’ eyes, and TK kicks himself for his poor choice of words. “Yeah, see you in bed,” Carlos says with a lopsided grin, the tip of his tongue flashing out in a pink blur across his bottom lip. TK swallows then grips his book tightly as he steps past Carlos and slinks down the hall to the bathroom. He shuts the door behind him, then turns on the tap and splashes cold water on his burning face. The water cools his skin, but now a new flame threatens to rip through him from the inside. Why didn’t he just offer to take the couch so Carlos can have the bed? Wouldn’t that have been much smarter? He grips the edges of the sink and looks up at the mirror. His reflection stares back at him in mocking delight. The weight of Carlos’ arms around him comes back to haunt him, and TK can still feel the heat of his chest against TK's back when Carlos stepped close to grip his hand around the pan handle. The warm whisper of his breath against the back of TK’s neck, the firm grip of his hands around TK’s as they tossed the eggplants, and the way his hips bumped into TK’s ass every time he moved, all of it sending jolts of wild desire racing through TK, scrambling his brain. That must be it. That must be why he thought offering to share the bed instead of giving it up was a good idea. The idea of having Carlos in bed next to him sends nervous shivers through him. What would it be like to have those thick, muscular arms around him? To have Carlos’ weight bearing down on him?
第9章 卡洛斯还在。他的嘴巴张开,眼睛睁得大大的,就像碟子一样。如果 TK 没有在内部失去他的狗屎,那就太有趣了。他越界了吗?是不是太超前了?TK似乎是在向他求婚吗?因为他绝对不是在向他求婚。不是说他不会——不。不,不,不,不,泰勒·肯尼迪。不。卡洛斯仍然没有反应。没有抽搐,没有叹息,也没有一句该死的话。TK惊慌失措,脱口而出,“但你完全不必,我今晚可以坐在沙发上。咱们——如果这样好的话,我们可以轮流——我是说——我不——操——“卡洛斯眨了眨眼,仿佛从恍惚中醒来,他啪的一声闭上了嘴。他的脸上写满了难以置信,但在那下面也暗示着TK无法弄清楚的事情。他的肚子紧紧咬着,他的内脏扭曲着,他的手掌变得湿冷,因为他试图不惊慌。卡洛斯为什么这样看着他?“不,我是说,是的,我——”卡洛斯深吸了一口气,随着卡洛斯的呼气,TK一动不动地坐着。“我的意思是,如果你同意的话,我很乐意和你同床共枕。这张沙发“——他亲切地拍了拍破旧的皮革——”很适合坐着,但不适合我的背部。TK叹了口气,咽了咽口水,整个人都下垂了。“那——好吧,是的。那就这么定了。TK啪的一声合上书,直起身子,把腿从沙发上摆了下来。他摆弄了一会儿书的边缘,当他再也无法忍受卡洛斯坚定不移的目光时,他站起来,掸去运动裤上想象中的棉绒。“嗯,已经很晚了。我,呃,要去刷牙了。我会在床上见到你吗?卡洛斯的眼睛里充满了乐趣,TK为自己糟糕的用词而踢了自己一脚。 “是的,床上见,”卡洛斯咧嘴一笑,舌尖在下唇上闪过粉红色的模糊。TK咽了口唾沫,紧紧地握着他的书,从卡洛斯身边走过,溜下走廊去了洗手间。他关上身后的门,然后打开水龙头,把冷水泼在他灼热的脸上。水冷却了他的皮肤,但现在一股新的火焰威胁要从内部撕裂他。他为什么不主动提出要坐沙发,这样卡洛斯就可以有床了?那不是更聪明吗?他抓着水槽的边缘,抬头看着镜子。他的倒影以嘲弄的喜悦盯着他。卡洛斯搂着他的手臂的重量再次困扰着他,当卡洛斯走近握住他的手握住锅把手时,TK仍然能感觉到他的胸膛对TK背部的热量。他的呼吸在TK的脖子后面发出温暖的耳语,当他们扔茄子时,他的手紧紧地握住TK的手,以及每次他移动时他的臀部撞到TK的屁股的方式,所有这些都让狂野的欲望在TK中奔跑,扰乱了他的大脑。一定是这样。这一定是为什么他认为提出同床而不是放弃是一个好主意。一想到卡洛斯躺在床上,他就紧张地打了个寒颤。有那些粗壮、肌肉发达的手臂搂着他会是什么感觉?让卡洛斯的重担压在他身上?

What do his lips taste like? And how would he sound when he—TK curses and grabs his toothbrush, willing his imagination to calm the fuck down. Just because Carlos has been sneaking glances at him all day doesn’t mean the guy wants to jump into bed with him. He didn’t book this get away so he can find himself a fling, and isn’t TK over being someone else’s celebrity conquest? How can he do that if he’s willing to throw himself into the arms of any good looking guy who gives him a second look? But Carlos isn’t just any good looking guy. TK slows his furious teeth brushing and sighs. No, despite Carlos’ outburst—which was totally understandable—he has been nothing but a gentleman. He’s sweet, caring, a damn good chef, and he respects TK’s boundaries. And those furtive looks he’s been giving TK all day haven't helped to curb TK's attraction toward him. Sighing, TK turns off his electric brush and rinses his mouth. He glares at his reflection one last time, then yanks the door open to find Carlos standing outside, his back leaning against the wall as he reads on his phone. He’s changed into a thin white t-shirt, a pair of grey flannel pants, and his feet are bare. He looks up in time to catch TK snapping his jaw shut and he grins. “All done?” “Uh, yeah, all yours,” TK says as he sidesteps out of the bathroom. He doesn’t wait for Carlos to close the door before ducking into the bedroom. He shuts the door with a quiet click even as his heart pounds up a deafening storm against his ribcage. How the fuck is he going to make it through the night without having a heart attack? Cursing his own stupidity once more, TK strips out of his hoodie and sweatpants, changes into soft worn pajamas, and slips under the covers. He takes the far side of the bed, his back turned to the door, and tries not to inhale too loudly when the door whispers open then clicks shut. The lights go out, then the bed dips as Carlos climbs in beside him. TK holds his breath, his whole body tense as he tries and fails to ignore the warm body inches from him under the sheets. “Good night,” Carlos whispers into the dark space between them. “Night,” TK replies too quickly and kicks himself again. More shifting from the other side of the bed, then silence as TK lies perfectly still on his side, scarcely breathing. Time crawls, and before long TK’s back aches as he longs to turn over and stretch. Carlos is quiet, and TK holds his breath until he picks up the faint but unmistakable sound of even breathing. Letting out a slow and quiet sigh, TK turns onto his back and clutches the sheets up to his chin. He steals a glance toward Carlos and breathes out another sigh of relief when Carlos’ back is turned to him. His shoulders look even wider up close, and his back is solid and inviting as it rises and falls rhythmically. TK wrenches his gaze from Carlos’ back and squints into the darkness above him. He clenches his fists beside him and tries to calm his racing heart, now more sure than ever that he’ll not be sleeping tonight. ===
他的嘴唇是什么味道?当他——TK咒骂着,抓起他的牙刷,希望他的想象力让他妈的平静下来时,他会发出什么声音。仅仅因为卡洛斯整天都在偷偷瞥他一眼,并不意味着这家伙想和他一起跳上床。他不是为了让自己逃亡而预订的,难道TK不是成为别人的名人征服吗?如果他愿意投入任何一个好看他一眼的帅哥的怀抱,他怎么能做到这一点?但卡洛斯并不是一个好看的人。TK放慢了他愤怒的刷牙速度,叹了口气。不,尽管卡洛斯大发雷霆——这是完全可以理解的——但他只不过是个绅士。他很可爱,很有爱心,是个该死的好厨师,他尊重TK的界限。而他整天给TK的那些偷偷摸摸的眼神,也无助于遏制TK对他的吸引力。叹了口气,TK关掉电刷,漱口。他最后一次盯着自己的倒影,然后猛地推开门,发现卡洛斯站在外面,背靠在墙上看手机。他换上了一件薄薄的白色T恤,一条灰色法兰绒裤子,双脚裸露在外。他及时抬起头,发现TK紧闭着下巴,他咧嘴一笑。“都搞定了?”“呃,是的,都是你的,”TK一边说,一边从浴室里走出来。他不等卡洛斯关上门,就躲进了卧室。他轻轻地关上了门,尽管他的心脏在胸腔上掀起了震耳欲聋的风暴。他他妈怎么熬过一夜而不心脏病发作?TK再次咒骂自己的愚蠢,脱下连帽衫和运动裤,换上柔软的睡衣,钻进被子里。 他走到床的另一边,背对着门,尽量不要吸气太大声,这时门悄悄地打开了,然后咔哒一声关上了。灯熄灭了,然后床沉了下去,卡洛斯爬进了他身边。TK屏住呼吸,他的整个身体都绷紧了,他试图忽视床单下离他几英寸远的温暖身体。“晚安,”卡洛斯对着他们之间的黑暗空间低声说。“晚上,”TK回答得太快了,又踢了自己一脚。床的另一边传来了更多的移动,然后是沉默,TK完全静止地躺在他身边,几乎没有呼吸。时间在匍匐流逝,没过多久,TK的背就疼了,他渴望翻身伸展身体。卡洛斯很安静,TK屏住呼吸,直到他听到微弱但清晰无误的均匀呼吸声。TK缓慢而安静地叹了口气,转过身来,把床单抓到下巴。他偷偷瞥了一眼卡洛斯,当卡洛斯背对着他时,他又松了一口气。他的肩膀近距离看起来更宽,他的背部有节奏地起伏,坚实而诱人。TK将目光从卡洛斯的背上移开,眯着眼睛看着他头顶的黑暗。他握紧了身旁的拳头,试图平息自己跳动的心,现在比以往任何时候都更加确定他今晚不会睡觉。 ===

When TK opens his eyes groggily, the bed is empty. He frowns. Did he dream about inviting Carlos to share the bed with him last night? He turns to his side and his breath catches. A second pillow. There’s a second pillow in the bed, and the comforter is a bunched up pile next to TK. Carlos was here. Carlos slept in the same bed as him and now he’s gone. Disappointment courses through TK and he tries not to let it bother him. After all, it’s not like they were supposed to do anything other than share the bed for sleep. Muffled voices from the living room drift down the hall. Do they have visitors? In this storm? Confused and curious, TK hops out of bed and pulls on a pair of thick wool socks before padding down the hall and into the living room. Carlos looks up as TK walks in, his face breaking into a wide smile. “Morning.” The TV is on and a movie he knows well is playing. He looks from the screen to Carlos, who’s curled up on the couch under a blanket, and blinks. “Uh, hi, good morning. Why are you watching this?” It’s not just any movie. This is TK’s first major role as he finally stepped out from Alex’s shadow and broke into Hollywood. It’s a horror thriller where he played a Russian mob boss so bored with his life he starts staging elaborate schemes to kill people and live streams their murders. It’s gruesome and a bit over the top, but it was the big break he needed. He almost turned it down, but Mateo insisted he take it, if for nothing but to spite Alex, who also auditioned for the part. Carlos’ smile turns sheepish and he pats the space on the couch next to him. “I’m not stalking you, I swear. I woke up early and didn’t feel like reading so I started looking through my brother’s DVDs and found this and figured why not?” TK takes a seat next to Carlos, his back ram-rod straight. Now that he’s over the shock of Carlos watching this movie, he’s mortified Carlos is watching this movie. He was so young, so inexperienced, and there are so many things he would do differently if he were to play this role now. “Yeah, but this movie is so old,” TK says, trying and failing to keep the whine out of his voice. Carlos shrugs. “I haven’t really watched a movie in years. Sure, I go to the theater when a friend drags me out, but that’s usually to go see what they want to see,” he says, then turns back to the TV as if avoiding TK, his cheeks flushing a rosy pink. “And I haven’t actually seen any of your movies.” TK is not so full of himself that he thinks everyone needs to watch him on the big screen, but hearing that Carlos hasn’t seen any of his movies stings a little. He settles back into the couch and tucks his feet under his butt, getting comfortable, and says, “Well then, you better pay attention, because Alexi’s about to get his hands really bloody soon.” Carlos throws the end of the blanket over TK’s lap, then they both turn their attention to the bloodied, terrified man screaming on the screen. Carlos is about halfway through the movie where the blood and gore factor really picks up, and despite having been in the movie, TK can’t watch it without cowering. He’s not a big horror fan, and he definitely doesn’t like blood and gore, so he pulls the blanket up to his chin and tries not to flinch too hard when he averts his eyes every time a body part gets chopped off or someone gets stabbed. The main character screams when he watches TK’s character, Alexi, put a bullet through his friend’s head, and TK whimpers. He knows the blood isn’t real, that the girl he shot isn’t dead, but
当TK昏昏沉沉地睁开眼睛时,床上空无一人。他皱起眉头。他昨晚有没有梦见邀请卡洛斯和他同床共枕?他转过身来,呼吸急促起来。第二个枕头。床上还有第二个枕头,被子是一堆堆在TK旁边。卡洛斯和他睡在同一张床上,现在他走了。失望通过TK进行,他尽量不让它打扰他。毕竟,除了同床睡觉之外,他们不应该做任何事情。客厅里传来的低沉声音在走廊里飘荡。他们有访客吗?在这场风暴中?带着困惑和好奇,TK跳下床,穿上一双厚厚的羊毛袜子,然后沿着走廊进入客厅。Carlos抬起头,看着TK走了进来,脸上露出了灿烂的笑容。“早上。”电视开着,他正在播放一部他熟悉的电影。他从屏幕上看向蜷缩在毯子下的沙发上的卡洛斯,眨了眨眼。“呃,嗨,早上好。你为什么要看这个?这不仅仅是一部电影。这是TK的第一个主要角色,因为他终于走出了亚历克斯的阴影,闯入了好莱坞。这是一部恐怖惊悚片,他在片中扮演一个俄罗斯黑帮老大,对自己的生活感到厌倦,他开始制定精心设计的杀人计划,并直播他们的谋杀案。这很可怕,有点过头了,但这是他需要的重大突破。他几乎拒绝了,但马特奥坚持要他接受它,如果只是为了激怒亚历克斯,他也参加了这个角色的试镜。卡洛斯的笑容变得羞涩起来,他拍了拍旁边沙发上的空间。“我不是在跟踪你,我发誓。我起得很早,不想看书,所以我开始翻看我哥哥的DVD,发现了这个,想为什么不呢?“ TK在卡洛斯旁边坐下,他的后背笔直。现在他已经摆脱了卡洛斯看这部电影的震惊,他为卡洛斯正在看这部电影而感到羞愧。他太年轻了,经验不足,如果他现在扮演这个角色,他会做很多不同的事情。“是的,但是这部电影太老了,”TK说,试图让他的声音中不发出呜呜声,但失败了。Carlos耸耸肩。“我已经很多年没有真正看过电影了。当然,当一个朋友把我拖出去时,我去剧院,但那通常是去看看他们想看什么,“他说,然后转身回到电视机前,仿佛避开了TK,他的脸颊泛起了玫瑰色的粉红色。“而且我实际上没有看过你的任何一部电影。TK并没有那么自满,他认为每个人都需要在大银幕上看他,但听到卡洛斯没有看过他的任何一部电影,他有点刺痛。他坐回沙发上,把脚塞在屁股下面,舒服地说:“那么,你最好注意,因为亚历克西很快就会让他的手流血。卡洛斯把毯子的一端扔到TK的腿上,然后他们俩都把注意力转向屏幕上那个浑身是血、惊恐的男人。卡洛斯在电影进行到一半的时候,血腥和血腥的因素真的开始上升了,尽管已经出演了这部电影,但TK不能不畏缩地看完它。他不是一个恐怖片的忠实粉丝,他绝对不喜欢血腥和血腥,所以他把毯子拉到下巴,每次身体部位被砍掉或有人被刺伤时,他都会尽量不要退缩。当主角看到 TK 的角色 Alexi 将子弹射穿他朋友的脑袋时,他尖叫起来,TK 呜咽着。他知道血不是真的,他射杀的女孩没有死,但是

he can’t help the gut wrenching fear and nausea threatening to take over. He shuts his eyes and forces air into his lungs one slow breath at a time, and the world freezes when something warm and heavy wraps around his shoulder. TK’s eyes fly open and he finds Carlos’ warm body snuggled up next to him, his arm draped over TK’s shoulder, his large hand rubbing up and down TK’s arm as he pulls TK close. TK hesitates for a second, then he gives into the pull and leans into Carlos, dragging the blanket further up until they’re both huddled behind it. Carlos doesn’t look at him, his eyes trained on the TV screen, but TK doesn’t miss the faint twitch of Carlos’ lips when he snuggles closer. With Carlos so close, TK can’t focus on the movie even if he tried. He’s safe in a cocoon of warmth, and with each passing moment, he finds himself melting into the embrace. TK lays his head on Carlos’ chest and inhales, his eyes fluttering shut as the clean smell of Carlos washes over him. He can’t remember the last time he sat curled up against someone, doing something as mundane as watching a movie together. It’s a bittersweet reminder, and TK shoves those thoughts into the back of his head as he snuggles even closer into Carlos, savouring the moment. They stay huddled under the blanket, with Carlos’ arm around him and his arms wrapped around Carlos’ waist until the ending credits roll. TK breathes out a slow sigh, glad that the movie is over, but sad that it means he’ll have to let go of Carlos. He’s comfortable here tucked up against that hard body, fitting into Carlos’ embrace like it was made for him, and he’s grown fond of the scent of Carlos’ shampoo and detergent. As the ending credits continue to roll, TK expects Carlos to pull away, but he doesn’t. Instead, his arm tightens around TK, protective and strong and a silent plea for TK to stay. He’s not sure what this means, or how he should react to the possessive way Carlos is holding him, but he doesn’t care. All that matters is Carlos’ warmth seeping through their layers of clothes into TK’s skin and the way Carlos caresses TK’s arm like he’s some precious, fragile thing to be loved and cherished. It’s such a small movement, and TK probably shouldn’t read into it, but the up and down stroke of Carlos’ fingers along his arm puts him at ease and chinks a crack in the wall TK’s carefully built around himself over the years. He glances up through his lashes, and his cheeks heat when his eyes meet Carlos’ dreamy browns staring down at him. He wants to press his lips against Carlos’ and find out if they feel as soft as they look. It wouldn’t take much, all he needs to do is stretch and lean up and he’d know just how good Carlos tastes, but something stops him. Carlos is looking at him with such tenderness that TK doesn’t want to sully the moment with something as silly as a kiss, so he simply stares back. It should be unnerving, to hold someone’s gaze for this long, but TK has no desire to look away. It’s stupid and dangerous to trust someone he’s just met, but he trusts Carlos. He feels safe in Carlos’ arms hidden in the cabin in the middle of the woods. The way Carlos looks at him makes him feel seen and heard, not just the celebrity part of him, but the parts he keeps hidden from the public eye. Carlos smiles at him, a soft and tender twitch of his lips, and TK loses himself in the depth of Carlos’ gaze. A finger touches TK’s jaw, and it traces along his skin, leaving behind a phantom tingle that spreads until his whole body is alive with a tantalizing buzz. TK inches forward, his throat suddenly dry as his eyes finally break from Carlos’ to land on Carlos’ lips, and he’s sure Carlos is moving toward him too, helping him close the distance between them. A loud blast of music from the TV startles TK and he jumps, shattering the tender moment. The movie credits are finished, and the DVD has cycled back to the menu screen. He, or rather Alexi, is on the screen, holding a gun, an evil smirk on his face as he points the barrel at the DVD menu.
他忍不住内心深处的恐惧和恶心威胁着他。他闭上眼睛,一次缓慢地呼吸,将空气强行吸入肺部,当温暖而沉重的东西缠绕在他的肩膀上时,世界冻结了。TK睁开眼睛,发现Carlos温暖的身体依偎在他旁边,他的胳膊搭在TK的肩膀上,他的大手在TK的手臂上上下摩擦,同时将TK拉近。TK犹豫了一秒钟,然后他屈服于拉扯,靠在卡洛斯身上,把毯子往上拖,直到他们都挤在毯子后面。卡洛斯没有看他,他的眼睛盯着电视屏幕,但TK并没有错过卡洛斯依偎在一起时嘴唇的微弱抽搐。由于卡洛斯离得如此之近,TK即使尝试也无法专注于电影。他在温暖的茧中很安全,随着时间的流逝,他发现自己融入了这个怀抱。TK把头靠在卡洛斯的胸膛上,深吸一口气,他的眼睛飘飘荡荡地闭上了,卡洛斯的清新气味扑面而来。他不记得上一次他蜷缩着坐在某人身上,做一些像一起看电影这样平凡的事情是什么时候了。这是一个苦乐参半的提醒,TK把这些想法塞进了脑后,他更靠近卡洛斯,享受着这一刻。他们一直蜷缩在毯子下,卡洛斯的胳膊搂着他,他的胳膊缠着卡洛斯的腰,直到片尾字幕滚动。TK缓缓地叹了口气,很高兴电影结束了,但又很遗憾这意味着他将不得不放开卡洛斯。他在这里很舒服地蜷缩在那坚硬的身体上,融入卡洛斯的怀抱,就像它是为他量身定做的一样,他越来越喜欢卡洛斯的洗发水和洗涤剂的香味。随着片尾字幕的继续滚动,TK希望卡洛斯会离开,但他没有。 相反,他的胳膊紧紧地搂着TK,保护而有力,无声地恳求TK留下来。他不确定这意味着什么,或者他应该如何应对卡洛斯对他的占有欲,但他不在乎。重要的是卡洛斯的温暖透过他们的衣服渗入TK的皮肤,以及卡洛斯抚摸TK手臂的方式,就像他是一种珍贵而脆弱的东西一样,值得被爱和珍惜。这是一个很小的动作,TK可能不应该读懂它,但卡洛斯的手指在他手臂上的上下抚摸让他放松下来,并在TK多年来精心建造的墙壁上划出一条裂缝。他透过睫毛向上瞥了一眼,当他的眼睛碰到卡洛斯盯着他的梦幻般的棕色时,他的脸颊发烫。他想把嘴唇贴在卡洛斯的嘴唇上,看看它们的感觉是否像看起来一样柔软。这不需要太多,他需要做的就是伸展身体,靠上身子,他就会知道卡洛斯的味道有多好,但有什么东西阻止了他。卡洛斯用如此温柔的眼神看着他,以至于TK不想用像亲吻这样愚蠢的东西玷污这一刻,所以他只是盯着他看。长时间盯着别人看应该是令人不安的,但TK不想把目光移开。相信一个他刚认识的人是愚蠢和危险的,但他信任卡洛斯。在卡洛斯的怀抱里,他感到很安全,躲在树林中间的小屋里。卡洛斯看他的方式让他感到被看到和听到,不仅仅是他的名人部分,还有他隐藏在公众视线之外的部分。卡洛斯对他微笑,嘴唇轻柔而温柔地抽搐着,TK迷失在卡洛斯的目光深处。一根手指触碰到TK的下巴,沿着他的皮肤描摹,留下一种幻影般的刺痛感,这种刺痛感蔓延开来,直到他的整个身体都活了过来,发出诱人的嗡嗡声。 TK向前走了几步,他的喉咙突然干涩,因为他的眼睛终于从卡洛斯的嘴唇上挣脱出来,落在了卡洛斯的嘴唇上,他确信卡洛斯也在向他移动,帮助他拉近了他们之间的距离。电视里传来一阵响亮的音乐声,吓了TK一跳,打破了这个温柔的时刻。电影演职员表已完成,DVD 已循环回菜单屏幕。他,或者更确切地说是亚历克西,在屏幕上,拿着枪,当他将枪管指向DVD菜单时,他的脸上露出邪恶的笑容。

Carlos leans back and clears his throat. “Well, that was... something.” His face does a complicated dance of emotions. TK groans and covers his face with his hands. “Told you it’s old and horrible.” “I didn’t say horrible.” “You didn’t have to. It’s written all over your face.” TK peers at Carlos through the gap between two fingers. Carlos’ eyes widen and he pulls off his glasses, scrubs a hand down his face, then slides them back on. “It’s not—horror just isn’t my usual genre.” TK drops his hands and frowns. “Then why did you watch it?” Carlos’ cheeks turn a dusky shade of pink and he grips the back of his neck. “I wanted to see you act.” Oh. Oh. “And you were not horrible. At all,” he adds quickly. “And honestly, the story wasn’t bad either. Apart from the really excessive gore—” “Really fucking excessive,” TK agrees. “—I really enjoyed it,” Carlos says, smiling. “And you were so good I can’t believe that was you.” TK’s cheeks heat, and he swallows and tries not to smile like a total goofball. “Yeah? Which part?” Okay, maybe a bit of a goofball. Carlos rolls his eyes and shoves TK’s shoulder, but his smile is genuine and it warms his big brown eyes. “All of it. The accent, the demeanour, the rather deranged look in your eyes near the end of the movie. You’re a natural.” TK’s whole body burns and he squirms under the blanket. He’s read some reviews raving about his acting, and Mateo is always telling him he’s born to act, but Carlos’ praises send waves of heat through him unlike anything he’s ever experienced. It makes him want to preen and hide in a hole at the same time. “T-Thanks,” he says. And why does he sound so goddamn timid? “That was my first major role.” “Seriously?” Carlos gapes at him, eyes wide. “Seriously,” TK confirms, pauses, then adds, “stole the part from Alex, too.” Carlos barks a laughter that sends another flush of heat through TK. “Of course you did. Were you also marked for death?” “Oh, he smeared me for months after,” TK says. “We’d just broken up then. He told everyone I cheated on him with the producer to get the part. Didn’t think that one through, though, since the producer was straight as an arrow.” “He accused you of cheating?” Carlos’ eyes pop wide, incredulous. TK shrugs. “I know, it was really rich, especially considering he cheated on me with our trainer,” TK says, and it takes him a moment to realize the usual bitterness that sneaks into his voice
卡洛斯向后靠了靠,清了清嗓子。“嗯,那是......什么东西。他的脸上跳着复杂的情绪。TK呻吟着,用手捂住脸。“告诉过你它又旧又可怕。”“我没说可怕。”“你不必这样做。它写在你的脸上。TK透过两根手指之间的缝隙凝视着Carlos。卡洛斯瞪大了眼睛,摘下眼镜,用一只手在脸上擦了擦,然后又戴上了眼镜。“不是——恐怖片不是我惯用的类型。”TK放下手,皱起眉头。“那你为什么要看呢?”卡洛斯的脸颊变成了暗淡的粉红色,他抓住了自己的后颈。“我想看你演戏。”哦。哦。“而且你并不可怕。完全没有,“他很快补充道。“老实说,这个故事也不错。除了真的太过血腥了——“ ”真他妈的过分了,“TK同意。“——我真的很喜欢它,”卡洛斯微笑着说。“而且你太好了,我简直不敢相信那是你。”TK的脸颊发烫,他咽了口唾沫,尽量不笑得像个傻瓜。“是吗?哪一部分?好吧,也许有点傻。卡洛斯翻了个白眼,推了推TK的肩膀,但他的笑容是真诚的,温暖了他棕色的大眼睛。“所有这一切。口音,举止,电影快结束时你眼中相当疯狂的表情。你是天生的。TK的整个身体都在燃烧,他在毯子下蠕动。他读过一些关于他演技的评论,马特奥总是告诉他他天生就是演戏的,但卡洛斯的赞美在他身上散发出一波又一波的热浪,这是他从未经历过的任何事情。这让他想同时装扮和躲在洞里。“谢谢,”他说。为什么他听起来这么他妈胆怯?“那是我的第一个主要角色。”“真的吗?”卡洛斯瞪大了眼睛看着他。 “说真的,”TK确认,停顿了一下,然后补充道,“也从亚历克斯那里偷走了那部分。卡洛斯发出一声笑声,又一股热气传遍了TK。 “你当然知道了。你也被标记为死亡吗?“哦,几个月后他一直在抹黑我,”TK说。“那时我们刚刚分手。他告诉所有人,我和制片人一起欺骗了他,得到了这个角色。不过,我没有想清楚,因为制片人像箭一样直。“他指责你作弊?”卡洛斯瞪大了眼睛,难以置信。TK耸耸肩。“我知道,这真的很有钱,特别是考虑到他和我们的教练一起欺骗了我,”TK说,他花了一会儿才意识到他声音中通常的苦涩

whenever he talks about Alex is missing. Carlos inhales sharply and his brows pinch. “The guy he married?” TK nods. “Fuck, I’m so sorry.” His face scrunches up in sympathy. “It’s not your fault.” He nods, then his eyes widen as if something just dawned on him. “Christ, now I know why you were so angry about Alex kissing me at his—” “Angry is a strong word,” TK says. Carlos raises both eyebrows at him, and TK deflates. “Okay, fine. I was maybe a little upset.” Carlos shakes his head and rolls his eyes, and it makes TK’s insides funny knowing Carlos is one hundred percent on his side. “He’s such a piece of work. How do people not see it?” “It’s show biz,” TK says and shrugs again. “People see what we want them to see.” Sadness flashes in Carlos’ eyes, but it’s gone so quickly TK must have imagined it. “I know, but still,” Carlos whines, sounding like such a petulant child it makes TK laugh. It earns him an indignant grin from Carlos. “Enough about that asshole. You are a fantastic actor, and I mean it.” All thoughts of Alex vanish as something genuine and warm settles around him like a blanket, and TK licks his dry lips as they twitch into an embarrassed smile. “Thank you.” “You’re welcome.” “And just so you know,” TK says, “I don’t do horror anymore. Once was plenty for me.” Carlos chuckles and scrunches up his nose. “Good, because I’m planning on watching all your movies and was kinda dreading that there’d be more scary stuff.” TK blinks, his mouth drying as Carlos’ words sink in like molasses. “All of them?” “All of them.” Carlos’ grin is roguish, a contrasting look to his usual bookish charm. It's sexy as hell. They stare at each other. Carlos’ expression softens, and TK can’t break free of the spell Carlos has cast over him. He’s falling and floating at the same time, suspended in the liquid pools of Carlos’ beautiful eyes. He sees himself reflected in the lenses of Carlos’ glasses, his hair a disastrous mess without his hairdresser’s skilled hands to tame the strands. He’s just him, dressed in untailored sweats and grossly unkempt, but he doesn’t feel scrutinized. Carlos’ eyes blink closed, his soft, thick lashes fanning across his cheeks. When he opens them again, TK’s breath catches. How can one man be so beautiful? So perfect? Carlos smiles, and the tip of his tongue darts out to moisten his plump lips. He raises a large hand and cups TK’s cheek, calloused thumb pad stroking across TK’s skin, and the heat of that simple touch sends shivers down TK’s spine. TK leans into Carlos’ palm, wanting more but also terrified of what more means. Carlos inches closer, his hand pulling back, and TK follows like a lost puppy, desperate to stay connected. “TK,” Carlos starts, swallows, and the bob of his Adam’s apple is almost as mesmerizing as the way his lips part on an exhale. He pulls his glasses from his perfect nose and leans closer, so close TK can scarcely breathe, and whispers, “I’m going to kiss you now.”
每当他谈到亚历克斯时,亚历克斯就不见了。卡洛斯猛地吸了一口气,眉头紧锁。“他娶的那个人?”TK点了点头。“操,对不起。”他的脸因同情而皱起。“这不是你的错。”他点了点头,然后睁大了眼睛,仿佛有什么东西突然降临在他身上。“天哪,现在我知道你为什么对亚历克斯亲吻我如此生气了——” “生气是一个强烈的词,”TK说。卡洛斯朝他扬了扬眉毛,TK泄了气。“好吧,好吧。我可能有点不高兴。卡洛斯摇了摇头,翻了个白眼,这让TK的内心感到好笑,因为他知道卡洛斯百分之百地站在他这边。“他就是这样一件工作。人们怎么看不到呢?“这是演艺圈,”TK说,又耸了耸肩。“人们看到了我们希望他们看到的东西。”卡洛斯的眼中闪过一丝悲伤,但悲伤消失得如此之快,TK一定是想象出来的。“我知道,但还是,”卡洛斯抱怨道,听起来像个任性的孩子,这让TK发笑。这让他从卡洛斯那里赢得了一个愤怒的笑容。“那个混蛋已经够多了。你是一个了不起的演员,我是认真的。所有关于亚历克斯的想法都消失了,因为某种真实而温暖的东西像毯子一样在他周围安顿下来,TK舔了舔他干燥的嘴唇,嘴唇抽搐成一个尴尬的微笑。“谢谢。”“不客气。”“你知道,”TK说,“我不再做恐怖片了。一次对我来说已经足够了。卡洛斯笑了笑,皱了皱鼻子。“很好,因为我打算看你所有的电影,有点害怕会有更可怕的东西。TK眨了眨眼,随着Carlos的话语像糖蜜一样沉入水中,他的口干舌燥。“全部?”“全部。”卡洛斯的笑容很粗鲁,与他平时的书卷气形成鲜明对比。真是太性感了。他们面面相觑。卡洛斯的表情变得柔和起来,TK无法摆脱卡洛斯对他施加的咒语。 他同时坠落和漂浮,悬浮在卡洛斯美丽眼睛的液体池中。他看到自己倒映在卡洛斯眼镜的镜片中,如果没有理发师熟练的双手来驯服发丝,他的头发就变得一团糟。他就是他自己,穿着不修边幅的汗衫,蓬头垢面,但他并不觉得自己被审视。卡洛斯闭着眼睛眨了眨,柔软浓密的睫毛在脸颊上扇动。当他再次打开它们时,TK的呼吸停止了。一个男人怎么能这么漂亮?这么完美?卡洛斯微笑着,舌尖伸出,润湿了他丰满的嘴唇。他抬起一只大手,抚摸着TK的脸颊,长满老茧的拇指垫抚摸着TK的皮肤,这种简单的触感让TK的脊椎不寒而栗。TK靠在卡洛斯的手掌上,想要更多,但也害怕更多意味着什么。卡洛斯慢慢靠近,他的手缩了回去,TK像一只迷路的小狗一样跟在后面,拼命地想保持联系。“TK,”卡洛斯开始,咽了咽口水,他的喉结的晃动几乎和他的嘴唇在呼气时分开的方式一样令人着迷。他从完美的鼻子上摘下眼镜,靠得更近,TK几乎无法呼吸,低声说:“我现在要吻你。”

Chapter 10 Soft. TK’s lips are warm and soft as Carlos covers them with his mouth. They stay still as if stuck in limbo, and Carlos’ whole body vibrates with barely contained desire and disbelief. He’s kissing the TK Strand. It’s such a simple touch, a modest press of lips, but it fires Carlos’ blood like he’s never experienced before. TK tilts his head to the side, and Carlos doesn’t need a written invitation to claim those offered lips in a deeper kiss. He shifts closer, his eyes falling shut as he focuses on the smooth, tender skin of TK’s lips. Focuses on the intoxicating scent of TK’s breath and the sweetness of him. TK moans, and Carlos dives in to drink up the sound like a man dying of thirst. TK’s mouth parts and the tip of a quivering tongue darts out, swiping across Carlos’ bottom lip. Their tongues brush, and Carlos moans as the overwhelming flavour of TK’s mouth floods his senses. He tastes incredible, a mix of flavours Carlos can’t get enough of. He wants to savour it, hold it on his tongue like a precious morsel of food, and take it apart until he’s down to the basic ingredients. He wants to take TK apart, find his centre, and devour the true taste of him. The thought of worshipping TK’s body and peeling him back like a perfect onion makes Carlos lightheaded, and he gasps into the kiss as he tries to draw breath. TK surges forward, stealing what little air Carlos has even as he presses impossibly close, his lithe body melding with Carlos as he climbs into Carlos’ lap like a graceful and demanding cat. TK’s arms snake around Carlos’ neck and strong fingers dive into his hair. Carlos’ cock twitches as TK rakes fingernails along his scalp, and he shudders as another long, drawn out moan escapes his throat when TK tugs on his hair. TK grins against his lips and pulls back for a brief moment, his eyes flashing with mirth and triumph before he crushes his mouth to Carlos’ once more. Fuck, kissing TK Strand is like flirting with a hurricane, and he’s being dragged under whether he’s ready or not. There’s nothing modest about the way TK’s ravishing his mouth now, nothing innocent about the way he’s gyrating on top of him, and Carlos wouldn’t have it any other way. He runs his hands down TK’s back and cups his ass before slipping his fingers under the hem of TK’s sweatshirt. His nails drag up and down TK’s heated flesh, mapping out the jut of TK’s shoulder blades and the dip of his spine with every stroke. TK hisses into his mouth, his back arching even as he stiffens in Carlos’ arms, and he breaks the kiss to stare into Carlos’ eyes. Their chests rise and fall in sync as they try to catch their breaths, and Carlos is so kiss-drunk he nearly misses the flash of panic in TK’s eyes. But he doesn’t. It’s gone so quickly it’s like it never happened, but TK’s expression changes as if a mask slipped on, one that’s sultry and flirty and hot as all hell. TK drags the tip of his tongue across his bottom lip then bites down, and Carlos almost convinces himself that this isn’t an act. That TK’s whole demeanour hasn’t shifted into something guarded and practiced. But it’s not right. TK lunges for another kiss, but Carlos backs up with a shake of his head. TK’s brows knit in confusion, and when Carlos shakes his head again, his eyes grow hard. “What’s wrong?” he asks, his voice clipped.
第10章 软。TK的嘴唇温暖而柔软,卡洛斯用嘴捂住了嘴唇。他们一动不动,仿佛陷入了困境,卡洛斯的整个身体都在颤抖,几乎无法抑制的欲望和难以置信。他正在亲吻TK Strand。这是一个如此简单的触摸,一个适度的嘴唇按压,但它以他从未体验过的方式激发了卡洛斯的血液。TK把头歪向一边,卡洛斯不需要书面邀请,就可以在更深的吻中要求那些提供的嘴唇。他走得更近了,闭上了眼睛,专注于TK嘴唇光滑、柔软的皮肤。专注于TK呼吸的醉人气味和他的甜蜜。TK呻吟着,卡洛斯潜入水中喝下声音,就像一个渴死的人一样。TK的嘴部和颤抖的舌尖伸出,划过卡洛斯的下唇。他们的舌头擦过,卡洛斯呻吟着,TK嘴里压倒性的味道充斥着他的感官。他的味道令人难以置信,卡洛斯无法满足各种口味。他想品尝它,把它像一口珍贵的食物一样放在舌头上,然后把它拆开,直到他只剩下基本的成分。他想拆开TK,找到他的中心,吞噬他的真正味道。一想到崇拜TK的身体,把他像完美的洋葱一样剥回去,卡洛斯就头晕目眩,他喘着粗气,试图吸气。TK向前冲去,偷走了卡洛斯仅有的一点空气,即使他不可能地靠近,他轻盈的身体与卡洛斯融为一体,他像一只优雅而苛刻的猫一样爬到卡洛斯的腿上。TK的胳膊蜿蜒在Carlos的脖子上,强壮的手指伸进他的头发里。当TK用指甲耙着他的头皮时,卡洛斯的阴茎抽搐了一下,当TK拉扯他的头发时,他又发出了一声长长的呻吟,他颤抖了一下。 TK咧嘴一笑,往后退了一会儿,眼中闪烁着喜悦和胜利的光芒,然后再次将嘴巴压在了卡洛斯的嘴上。他妈的,亲吻 TK Strand 就像与飓风调情一样,无论他是否准备好,他都被拖到了下面。TK现在咧嘴的样子没什么可笑的,他在他身上旋转的样子也没什么天真无邪的,卡洛斯也不会有别的办法。他把手伸到TK的背上,捏住他的屁股,然后把手指滑到TK的运动衫下摆下面。他的指甲在TK滚烫的肉体上上下拖曳,每一次抚摸都勾勒出TK肩胛骨的突出部分和脊椎的凹陷。TK嘴里发出嘶嘶声,他的后背在卡洛斯的怀里僵硬着,他打破了这个吻,盯着卡洛斯的眼睛。当他们试图喘口气时,他们的胸膛同步起伏,而卡洛斯喝醉了,他几乎错过了TK眼中闪现的恐慌。但他没有。它消失得如此之快,就像从未发生过一样,但TK的表情就像戴上了面具一样,闷热、性感和火辣。TK用舌尖划过他的下唇,然后咬了下去,卡洛斯几乎说服自己这不是表演。TK的整个举止并没有转变为一种被保护和实践的东西。但这是不对的。TK冲上去又吻了一口,但卡洛斯摇了摇头。TK的眉头疑惑地皱了起来,当卡洛斯再次摇头时,他的眼睛变得坚硬起来。“怎么了?”他问道,声音沙哑。

Carlos frowns as he tries to figure out what changed. Was he too forward? Did they move too quickly? “You tell me.” TK goes stock still, his back ram-rod straight as he stares at Carlos. His face is expressionless as if he’s a video game character in default setting. Tension builds between them like the falling snow outside, and it’s another long, agonizing moment before TK climbs off Carlos’ lap and stands up. “I—it’s nothing.” He rakes a shaky hand through his hair, his eyes darting around the room, looking anywhere but at Carlos. “I’m gonna head outside for some fresh air.” Before Carlos can respond, TK spins around and disappears down the hall. The front door slams shut a short moment after. What just happened? Carlos stares out the sliding glass door and catches a glimpse of TK’s retreating back as he trudges toward the lake, snowflakes swirling around him like feathers. He runs a hand through his hair and groans, unsure how the hottest kiss of his life ended with TK running away, and it twists his insides. Maybe TK didn’t want anything to do with him after all? But the way TK kissed him, the way he climbed into Carlos’ lap and claimed his mouth... With a frustrated growl, Carlos shoves to his feet and heads into the kitchen. He pulls the slow cooker from the lower cupboard, then sets out to make a simple vegan chilli with canned beans and the last of their fresh vegetables. The last thing TK needs is Carlos coming after him for answers right now. Why is he so drawn to TK? They’ve only met for a few days, and with how long he’s been catering to Hollywood's most glamorous, TK isn’t even the hottest guy who’s made a pass at Carlos. So why him? Is it because they’re stuck in the cabin together? Proximity and all that jazz? He looks up through the kitchen window, finding TK settled on the dock facing the lake, and sighs as he finishes dicing the tomatoes and starts on the carrots. Once he’s done dicing and slicing and mixing all the ingredients with the right amount of seasoning, Carlos places the lid on the slow cooker and sets it to cook on low. He fills the sink with warm water and cleans the dishes, trying and failing to ignore TK’s hunched over form through the kitchen window. There’s a sadness hovering around TK. It’s in the slumped slopes of his shoulders and the way he hangs his head, and it weighs on Carlos like a ton of bricks. He looks so alone sitting out there under the swirling snow, and so still he’s like a statue. Is that how he feels all the time? Alone and guarded? Carlos purses his lips and drops the plate he’s cleaning back in the sink, his limbs filled with fresh purpose as he heads back to the fridge. Hot cocoa doesn’t solve all of life’s problems, but it’s a damn good place to start, and despite all of his shortcomings, making warm drinks that soothe the soul is something he’s good at. TK went out to the lake to be alone, and if quiet is what TK wants, Carlos will respect that. But he’s not sitting in the cold and snow without a hot drink on Carlos’ watch. It takes no time to whip up a batch of thick, creamy vegan hot chocolate. Satisfied, Carlos pulls on his coat and beanie, then grabs the thick blanket off the back of the couch. He tucks the thermos under his arm and slips out the sliding glass door facing the lake. The wind is biting as it hits his face, and he shivers and clutches the blanket tighter. The storm has eased for now, and snow flurries around him like pixie dust. He follows TK’s tracks and makes his
卡洛斯皱起眉头,试图弄清楚发生了什么变化。他是不是太超前了?他们行动得太快了吗?“你告诉我。”TK一动不动,他直挺挺地盯着卡洛斯。他的脸面无表情,仿佛他是默认设置下的视频游戏角色。他们之间的紧张关系就像外面飘落的雪一样,在TK从卡洛斯的腿上爬起来之前,又是一个漫长而痛苦的时刻。“我——没什么。”他用颤抖的手捋了捋头发,眼睛在房间里四处乱窜,除了卡洛斯之外,别无他法。“我要到外面去呼吸新鲜空气。”卡洛斯还没来得及回应,TK就转过身来,消失在大厅里。片刻之后,前门砰的一声关上了。刚刚发生了什么?卡洛斯盯着滑动玻璃门,瞥见TK跋涉向湖边撤退的背影,雪花像羽毛一样在他周围盘旋。他用一只手抚摸着自己的头发,呻吟着,不确定他生命中最炽热的吻是如何以TK逃跑而告终的,这让他的内心扭曲。也许TK毕竟不想和他有任何关系?但是TK亲吻他的方式,他爬到卡洛斯的腿上并夺走他的嘴的方式......卡洛斯沮丧地咆哮着,站起身来,走进厨房。他从下层橱柜里拿出慢炖锅,然后开始用罐装豆子和最后的新鲜蔬菜制作一个简单的纯素辣椒。TK最不需要的就是卡洛斯现在来找他寻求答案。为什么他如此着迷于传统知识?他们才认识几天,而且他已经迎合了好莱坞最迷人的人,TK甚至不是在卡洛斯(Carlos)上最炙手可热的家伙。那么为什么是他呢?是因为他们一起被困在机舱里吗?接近和所有的爵士乐? 他透过厨房的窗户抬头看去,发现TK停在面向湖边的码头上,他叹了口气,把西红柿切好,开始吃胡萝卜。一旦他完成了切丁和切片,并将所有食材与适量的调味料混合,卡洛斯就把盖子放在慢炖锅上,把它调到小火煮。他用温水装满水槽,清洗碗碟,试图忽视TK透过厨房窗户弯腰驼背的样子,但失败了。有一种悲伤徘徊在TK周围。它体现在他肩膀的下陷斜坡和他垂头的方式中,它像一吨砖头一样压在卡洛斯身上。他坐在旋转的雪下,看起来是那么孤独,所以他仍然像一尊雕像。他一直都是这样吗?独自一人,被看守?卡洛斯抿了抿嘴唇,把正在清洗的盘子放回水槽里,当他回到冰箱时,他的四肢充满了新的目的。热可可并不能解决生活中的所有问题,但这是一个很好的起点,尽管他有所有的缺点,但制作舒缓灵魂的热饮是他擅长的事情。TK去湖边独处,如果安静是TK想要的,卡洛斯会尊重这一点。但他不会坐在寒冷和雪地里,没有在卡洛斯的手表上喝一杯热饮。制作一批浓稠的奶油纯素热巧克力不需要时间。卡洛斯心满意足地穿上外套和无檐小便帽,然后从沙发后面抓起厚厚的毯子。他把热水瓶塞在胳膊下,溜出面向湖面的滑动玻璃门。风吹在他的脸上,他浑身发抖,把毯子抓得更紧了。暴风雨暂时缓和了,雪花像小精灵的尘埃一样在他周围飘扬。他追随TK的足迹,使他的

way to the dock carefully. The snow is deep and still accumulating, and the last thing he needs is a sprained ankle to add to the mess. TK doesn’t hear him as he approaches, and Carlos agonizes for a moment over how to announce his presence without startling him. Something rustles overhead in the tall trees. TK turns to the sound and his eyes widen as they land on Carlos. “Hey,” Carlos says and waves lamely. TK blinks, his eyes flitting from the blanket to the thermos under Carlos’ arm before meeting Carlos’ gaze. His cheeks are rosy, and the tip of his nose is adorably red from the cold. “Oh, hey,” he says after a pause. “I didn’t hear you.” “It’s the snow,” Carlos replies and closes the last few feet between them, stepping onto the dock. “It makes everything so quiet.” He looks down at TK’s upturned face, and heat spreads down the back of his neck when his eyes land on TK’s lips. He looks away quickly and fusses with the blanket in his arms. “Um, I brought this for you in case you got cold. Oh, and this—” He fumbles the thermos and flails as he tries and fails to catch it, dropping the blanket in the process. TK’s hand snaps out and grabs the container before it hits the ground. “What’s this?” “H-Hot cocoa,” Carlos replies, his face so hot it could probably melt a hole in the frozen lake. TK’s eyes brighten, and he cradles the thermos to his chest like a small child. “Thank you.” He picks up the blanket and folds it over his knees. “You’re welcome.” Carlos shifts his weight from one foot to the other. TK turns his attention back to the lake and stares out over the frozen surface. There’s still an air of melancholy around him, but his eyes are soft and his expression is relaxed. Carlos looks out across the snow covered surface of the lake, his eyes tracing the wavy lines of the shore. Undisturbed snow blankets everything as far as the eye can see. In the far distance, across the lake, lies the dormant main cottage of the fishing resort, their only neighbour in this little pocket of paradise apart from the animals that were here long before his step dad's family built the little cabin on the shore. The resort is a popular vacation attraction in the summer, but in the dead of the winter, the only people on the lake are the resort caretaker and his family, and Carlos and TK. Tiny pawprints dot the edge of the lake closest to them, making curving lines that lead into the forest. Carlos smiles, imagining what critters must be out and about even in this cold, most likely looking for food and shelter before nightfall. Everything here is as mother nature intended it to be, and the wilderness is breathtaking in its jagged beauty. His problems always seem so small when he’s standing here. The trees don’t care that Alex kissed him, and the lake doesn’t care whether he takes the job in New York or not. The world keeps spinning, and the snow will melt come the first whisper of a spring breeze because that is the circle of life. That’s what matters. And that’s why he comes here every time life becomes too overwhelming, because he needs the reminder that the world is bigger than his problems. Carlos breathes out a drawn-out sigh, inhales deeply, holds the cold air in his lungs, then exhales again as tension drains out of him. Does TK see what he sees? Is that why he chose to come here? Chose to sit in the cold and let
小心翼翼地去码头。积雪很深,还在积雪,他最不需要的就是脚踝扭伤,雪上加霜。当他走近时,TK没有听到他的声音,卡洛斯苦恼了一会儿,想着如何在不惊吓他的情况下宣布他的存在。高大的树木上有什么东西在头顶沙沙作响。TK转向声音,当他们落在卡洛斯身上时,他的眼睛睁大了。“嘿,”卡洛斯说着,蹩脚地挥了挥手。TK眨了眨眼,他的目光从毯子上扫到卡洛斯胳膊下的热水瓶上,然后与卡洛斯的目光相遇。他的脸颊红润,鼻尖因寒冷而发红。“哦,嘿,”他停顿了一下后说。“我没听见你说话。”“是雪,”卡洛斯回答说,并关闭了他们之间的最后几英尺,踏上了码头。“它让一切都变得如此安静。”他低头看着TK上翘的脸,当他的目光落在TK的嘴唇上时,热量从他的脖子后面蔓延开来。他迅速移开视线,把毯子抱在怀里大惊小怪。“嗯,我给你带了这个,以防你感冒。噢,还有这个——“他摸索着热水瓶和连枷,试图抓住它,但没能抓住它,在这个过程中掉了毯子。TK的手猛地伸出,在容器落地之前抓住了它。“这是什么?”“热可可,”卡洛斯回答说,他的脸太热了,可能会融化冰冻的湖面上的一个洞。TK的眼睛亮了起来,他像个小孩子一样把保温瓶抱在胸前。“谢谢。”他拿起毯子,叠在膝盖上。“不客气。”卡洛斯将他的重心从一只脚转移到另一只脚。TK将注意力转回湖面,凝视着结冰的湖面。他周围仍然弥漫着忧郁的气息,但他的眼神柔和,表情轻松。 卡洛斯眺望着白雪覆盖的湖面,他的眼睛追踪着岸边的波浪线。未受干扰的雪覆盖了目之所及的一切。在远处,在湖对面,是钓鱼胜地休眠的主小屋,这是他们在这个小小的天堂里唯一的邻居,除了在他继父的家人在岸边建造小木屋之前很久就在这里的动物。该度假村在夏季是一个受欢迎的度假胜地,但在冬季,湖上唯一的人是度假村管理员和他的家人,以及卡洛斯和TK。 细小的爪印点缀在离它们最近的湖边,形成弯曲的线条,通向森林。卡洛斯微笑着,想象着即使在这种寒冷的天气里,小动物们也一定在外面走动,很可能是在夜幕降临之前寻找食物和住所。这里的一切都是大自然母亲所希望的,荒野的锯齿状美丽令人叹为观止。当他站在这里时,他的问题总是显得那么小。树木不在乎亚历克斯亲吻了他,湖不在乎他是否在纽约接受这份工作。世界不停地旋转,雪会融化,春风的第一缕低语,因为那是生命的循环。这才是最重要的。这就是为什么每当生活变得不堪重负时,他都会来到这里,因为他需要提醒他,世界比他的问题更大。卡洛斯长长地叹了一口气,深吸一口气,将冷空气憋在肺里,然后再次呼出一口气,紧张感从他身上消失了。TK看到他所看到的吗?这就是他选择来这里的原因吗?选择坐以待毙,让

nature take over? He glances at TK’s profile, then turns toward the cabin. “Carlos,” TK calls out, his voice soft yet deafening in the snow dampened silence. “Would you...” he pauses, and Carlos turns to find TK’s eyes trained on him. “Would you stay for a bit?” TK’s cheeks are flushed pink, and Carlos isn’t sure it’s all from the cold. “Sure.” He turns and clears a spot next to TK on the snow covered dock, then sits down on the cold, frozen wooden surface. TK throws the blanket over his legs then unscrews the thermos. The intoxicating aroma of coconut and chocolate swirls around them, and TK shudders. “Oh, that smells so good.” He pours some steaming hot cocoa into the thermos lid then takes a loud sip. “You’ve ruined me for powdered hot chocolate, I hope you know that,” he says with a mocking glare, then hands Carlos the make-shift cup. “Guess you’ll just have to come over every time you want hot cocoa now.” Carlos takes the cup from TK. Their fingers brush, and a comforting warmth spreads up Carlos’ arm. It’s not the burning passion that had passed between them earlier on the couch when their lips were locked in battle, but something more tender and much more intimate. TK chuckles and leans closer. Carlos takes a sip of the hot cocoa, letting the coconut cream coat his tongue before swallowing and filling his insides with rich sweetness. He hands it back to TK, who sips at it before handing it back, and they play this game of hot cocoa ping-pong until the thermos is empty. At some point, Carlos’ arm finds its way around TK’s shoulder, and TK snuggles into him like he’s made to fit against Carlos’ body. Snow falls continuously around them, and occasionally they dust each other off before settling back under the blanket. Carlos basks in the silence and serenity surrounding them, and he loses track of time. It’s cold and his butt is numb, but TK is a ball of heat beside him, and the blanket keeps them warm as they cuddle inside this picturesque landscape. He’s not sure how long they’ve been sitting out here, but when TK finally breaks the silence, his voice is hoarse. “Thank you for the hot chocolate and the blanket and... for being here.” TK straightens and lifts his head from Carlos’ shoulder. Carlos pulls TK back into his side, and TK’s head falls back to that spot on his shoulder. “Can I— can I ask?” TK sighs and his whole body deflates. Shit. Maybe Carlos shouldn’t have— “I’m sorry,” TK murmurs. “I didn’t mean to upset you.” Carlos grips TK’s chin and tilts his head back until their gazes meet. “I’m not mad. Or upset. I just want to know that you’re okay.” TK stares at him with big green eyes for a long, silent moment, then says, “Before Alex, I was a nobody. Some punk ass kid looking to make it big in Hollywood.” Carlos makes to protest, but TK
自然接管?他瞥了一眼TK的个人资料,然后转身向机舱走去。“卡洛斯,”TK喊道,他的声音柔和而震耳欲聋,在被雪地压抑的寂静中。“你会......”他停顿了一下,卡洛斯转过身来,发现TK的眼睛正盯着他。“你会留下来一会儿吗?”TK的脸颊泛起了粉红色,Carlos不确定这是否都是因为寒冷。“当然。”他转过身,在白雪皑皑的码头上清理出TK旁边的一个地方,然后在冰冷、冰冷的木地板上坐下。TK把毯子盖在腿上,然后拧开热水瓶。椰子和巧克力的醉人香气在他们周围盘旋,TK不寒而栗。“哦,闻起来真好闻。”他将一些热气腾腾的可可倒入保温瓶盖,然后大声啜饮。“你毁了我做热巧克力粉,我希望你知道,”他嘲弄地瞪着我说,然后把临时杯子递给卡洛斯。“我猜你现在每次想喝热可可的时候都得过来。”卡洛斯从TK手中接过杯子。他们的手指擦过,一股安慰的温暖从卡洛斯的手臂上蔓延开来。这不是他们之前在沙发上嘴唇被锁住时他们之间传递的燃烧的激情,而是更温柔、更亲密的东西。TK笑了笑,靠得更近了。卡洛斯喝了一口热可可,让椰子奶油涂在舌头上,然后吞咽下去,用浓郁的甜味填满他的内脏。他把它还给TK,TK啜了一口,然后把它还回去,他们玩这个热可可乒乓球游戏,直到热水瓶空了。不知何时,卡洛斯的胳膊搭在了TK的肩膀上,TK依偎在他身上,就像他生来就是为了贴在卡洛斯的身体上一样。雪在他们周围不断落下,偶尔他们会互相掸去灰尘,然后回到毯子下。 卡洛斯沉浸在他们周围的寂静和安宁中,他忘记了时间。天气很冷,他的屁股也麻木了,但TK在他身边是一个热球,当他们依偎在这片风景如画的风景中时,毯子让他们保持温暖。他不确定他们在这里坐了多久,但当TK终于打破沉默时,他的声音嘶哑了。“谢谢你的热巧克力和毯子,还有......谢谢你来到这里。TK挺直了身子,从卡洛斯的肩膀上抬起头。卡洛斯把TK拉回他身边,TK的头落回他肩膀上的那个地方。“我能——我能问吗?”TK叹了口气,整个人都泄气了。妈的。也许卡洛斯不应该——“对不起,”TK喃喃自语。“我不是故意惹你生气的。”卡洛斯捏着TK的下巴,把头向后仰,直到他们的目光相遇。“我没有生气。或者心烦意乱。我只想知道你没事。TK用绿色的大眼睛盯着他沉默了一会儿,然后说:“在亚历克斯之前,我是一个无名小卒。一些朋克屁股孩子希望在好莱坞大放异彩。“ 卡洛斯提出抗议,但TK

presses a finger to his lips. “LA isn’t exactly short of aspiring actors.” He rolls his eyes, and Carlos can’t help but chuckle. “Then I met Alex and he noticed me. He wanted me. It was flattering, and I don’t know if I was more in love with him or with the idea of someone famous taking an interest in me.” He shifts, and Carlos lets go of his chin and tucks him back against his side. “Looking back, our entire relationship was built on us using each other. He used me for publicity stunts, for drugs and sex and for whatever else he fancied. And in return, I used him for his connections.” TK takes a shuddering breath and stares out across the frozen lake with haunted eyes. He squares his shoulders and shakes his head as if shaking off past demons, then continues, “And when he dumped me, he made me believe I wasn’t worth anything anymore. I believed him too. Why else would he cheat on me?” Carlos fists the hem of his jacket as helpless rage courses through him. What Alex did has nothing to do with TK’s worth as a person, and it pains him that TK believed that jackass. As if sensing Carlos’ anger, TK turns and presses his lips to Carlos’ jaw in a quick kiss. “Anyway. Mateo dragged me out of my, uh, funk, and with his help, I threw myself into my work and built a name for myself.” The way TK pauses and says funk makes Carlos wonder if there’s more to the story, but it’s not his place to pry. TK has enough of that in his life already. “Producers wanted to take me to lunch. Casting directors knocked on my door with lucrative offers. Suddenly, I was valuable again, I had worth, but only when I became the TK Strand.” TK spits his name with disdain. “And it was the same with relationships,” he continues, resignation replacing the bitterness in his voice. “I’m desirable because I’m him.” Carlos’ chest seizes with sudden pressure. Against the backdrop of the vast lake and the thick forest beyond, TK looks and feels tiny in his arms, and the enormity of the weight of TK’s position crushes down on Carlos’ shoulders. He can’t imagine a life where, in order to truly be himself, he needs to escape to a tiny cabin in the woods in a different country. Can’t imagine a life where he feels the need to put on a mask even when he’s having an intimate moment with someone. TK isn’t here for a fling or a good lay. He’s here to shed the persona and simply exist, and Carlos forced him to put his mask back on. Forced him to become TK Strand, smooth operator and Hollywood heart throb, when he probably just wants to kick back and relax. It hurts Carlos that TK thinks so little of himself when he’s accomplished so much. That he’s been led to believe that he’s only desirable as an icon and not a person. Shame burns through him and Carlos groans. “I made you feel like you had to become him earlier, didn’t I?” TK tenses and spins to face Carlos, his sudden movement dragging the blanket from their shoulders. “What? No. Well, yes, but it wasn’t you.” He sighs and scrubs a hand down his face. “It was me. I just defaulted to that person and—” He clamps his mouth shut and closes his eyes as if to calm himself. “I don’t want—you don’t need this on your vacation. I’m sorry I dumped all over you and —” Carlos grasps the front of TK’s coat and yanks him in for a crushing kiss. He laps at the seam of TK’s mouth, his tongue demanding entry. TK’s breath catches but his lips part without hesitation, and Carlos invites himself in. He knows he’s playing dirty, that this is the last thing TK needs right now, but it’s also the fastest way to shut TK up.
将一根手指按在他的嘴唇上。“洛杉矶并不缺乏有抱负的演员。”他翻了个白眼,卡洛斯忍不住笑了起来。“然后我遇到了亚历克斯,他注意到了我。他想要我。这让我很受宠若惊,我不知道是我更爱他,还是更爱某个名人对我感兴趣的想法。他挪了挪身子,卡洛斯松开他的下巴,把他塞回自己的身边。“回想起来,我们的整个关系都是建立在我们互相利用的基础上的。他利用我来做宣传噱头,吸毒和性,以及他喜欢的任何其他事情。作为回报,我利用他作为他的人脉。TK颤抖着吸了一口气,用惆怅的眼神盯着冰冻的湖面。他挺直了肩膀,摇了摇头,仿佛摆脱了过去的恶魔,然后继续说道,“当他甩掉我时,他让我相信我不再一文不值了。我也相信他。不然他为什么要欺骗我?卡洛斯握紧了夹克的下摆,无助的愤怒在他身上蔓延。亚历克斯的所作所为与TK作为一个人的价值无关,TK相信那个混蛋让他很痛苦。仿佛察觉到了卡洛斯的愤怒,TK转过身来,将嘴唇贴在卡洛斯的下巴上,快速地吻了一下。“总之。马特奥把我从我的,呃,放荡中拉了出来,在他的帮助下,我全身心地投入到我的工作中,为自己树立了一个名声。TK停顿了一下,说了一句放克,这让卡洛斯怀疑这个故事是否还有更多内容,但这不是他窥探的地方。TK在他的生活中已经受够了。“制片人想带我去吃午饭。选角导演以丰厚的报价敲开了我的门。突然间,我又有价值了,我有价值了,但只有当我成为TK Strand时。TK不屑地吐出他的名字。“人际关系也是如此,”他继续说,辞职取代了他声音中的苦涩。 “我是可取的,因为我是他。”卡洛斯的胸膛突然受到压力。在浩瀚的湖泊和远处茂密的森林的背景下,TK在他的怀里看起来和感觉都很渺小,TK位置的巨大重量压在了卡洛斯的肩膀上。他无法想象,为了真正做自己,他需要逃到另一个国家树林里的一个小木屋里。无法想象即使他与某人有亲密的时刻,他也觉得有必要戴上面具的生活。TK不是来玩的。他来这里是为了摆脱角色,简单地存在,卡洛斯强迫他重新戴上面具。迫使他成为 TK Strand、流畅的操作员和好莱坞的心跳,当他可能只想放松一下时。这让卡洛斯很伤心,因为TK在取得如此大的成就时却对自己如此不屑一顾。他被引导相信他只是一个偶像,而不是一个人。羞愧在他身上燃烧,卡洛斯呻吟着。“我让你觉得你必须早点成为他,不是吗?”TK绷紧身体,转身面对卡洛斯,他突然的动作把毯子从他们的肩膀上拖了下来。“什么?不。嗯,是的,但不是你。他叹了口气,用一只手在脸上搓了搓。“是我。我只是默认了那个人,然后——“他闭上嘴巴,闭上眼睛,仿佛要让自己平静下来。“我不想要——你在度假时不需要这个。对不起,我把所有东西都甩在你身上了,而且——“卡洛斯抓住TK的外套前襟,把他拽进去,给了他一个狠狠的吻。他舔了舔TK的嘴缝,他的舌头要求进入。TK的呼吸停止了,但他的嘴唇毫不犹豫地分开了,卡洛斯邀请自己进来。他知道自己在玩肮脏,这是TK现在最不需要的东西,但这也是让TK闭嘴的最快方法。

He licks into TK’s mouth, desperate to show TK that he doesn’t mind. That he’s honoured TK confided in him so openly. They’re still practically strangers, and he’s not sure why he deserves TK’s trust, but he’ll be damned if he ever betrays that gift. TK melts in his arms and moans in protest when Carlos pulls back. Their panting breaths plume like smoke, and it takes Carlos a moment to gather his wits about him. TK’s skin is flushed, and not for the first time Carlos wonders just how far down that blush goes. He shakes his head and takes a calming breath, letting the cold air wash over him and put out the fire burning under his skin. TK pulls his beanie off and rakes a shaking hand through his thick mop of unruly hair. Carlos takes the hat from him and pulls it back over his head. They smile at each other, and some unspoken understanding passes between them. “It’s bloody cold out here,” TK says, finally breaking the silence cocooning them. “Thanks, Captain Obvious, got anything else insightful to share with the class?” Carlos grins and dodges a smack as he jumps to his feet, taking the blanket with him. “Let’s head back inside, shall we?” He holds out a hand and wiggles his frozen fingers. TK stares at his hand, then takes it with a shake of his head and a throaty chuckle. “Okay.”

Chapter 11 It’s freezing outside, but TK’s entire body burns as he follows Carlos back to the cabin. With every step, that calm instilled in him by Carlos’ kiss evaporates, and he’s left feeling exposed and vulnerable. What the hell was that? Why did he tell Carlos all that stuff? Stuff he’s never told anyone, not even Mateo? Carlos opens the sliding glass door and holds it for TK. A blast of warmth stings his face as he steps inside, and the burning in his chest becomes unbearable. He shrugs out of his coat and drapes it over the back of a chair in the kitchen, then pulls the beanie from his head with more force than necessary. The door slides shut behind him, and TK turns to find Carlos’ soft brown eyes on him. Carlos smiles, and TK can’t help but smile in return. Tension drains out of him as he exhales a slow breath, and he places the beanie on top of his coat gently. The way Carlos makes him feel should freak him out, should put him on edge and bring up the walls he’s spent his whole career building. But it doesn’t. Carlos’ presence is like serenity, and it touches TK in ways that would make him uncomfortable with anyone else. Like the way he steps so effortlessly into TK’s personal space when they’re in the kitchen, or the easy way he pulled TK to him when they watched the movie. No one touches TK without a reason or an agenda, be it for work or for personal gain, and it’s usually very obvious what they want from him. But not Carlos. TK can’t read Carlos, can’t anticipate his next moves, and it’s both disconcerting and refreshing. When TK went to sit on the dock, he had wanted to be alone, to let nature swallow him up so he could hide from his problems. So he could hide from his intense attraction toward Carlos. His cheeks burn as his lips tingle with the remembered heat of Carlos’ mouth. He tasted so good, his arms felt so right around TK, and the spread of his long fingers as they roamed up and down TK’s arms and back had set TK’s heart racing. He wants Carlos, and it’s evident in the kiss they shared that Carlos wants him. And because TK is a paranoid ball of neurosis, he choked. Does Carlos want him ? Or does he just want the celebrity like everyone else? When Carlos came out with hot chocolate and a blanket and no demand for answers, shame burned hot and something snapped in TK. He’s been alone for so long, pushing people away before they could hurt him, that he’s forgotten what it’s like to simply be with another person. Aside from Mateo and his dad, Carlos is the first person in TK’s life who asks for nothing. Who seems to genuinely enjoy TK’s company. He’s seen TK storm off multiple times in true diva fashion, yet he offers TK nothing but understanding and comfort and amazing food in return. It’s so easy being here with Carlos where the rest of the world doesn’t matter. Where cell phones don’t work. Being with Carlos makes him forget who he is, something he hasn’t allowed himself to do in a long, long time, and God, but he misses being just Tyler, a pimply kid from New York city with impossible dreams. Those dreams have come true, but at what cost?
第11章 外面很冷,但TK跟着卡洛斯回到小屋时,整个身体都在燃烧。每走一步,卡洛斯的吻灌输给他的平静都会消失,他感到暴露和脆弱。那到底是什么?他为什么要告诉卡洛斯这些事情?他从来没有告诉过任何人,甚至马特奥也没有?卡洛斯打开滑动玻璃门,拿着它给TK。当他走进去时,一股温暖刺痛了他的脸,胸口的灼热变得难以忍受。他耸了耸肩,把外套披在厨房的椅背上,然后用力把无檐小便帽从头上扯下来。门在他身后关上,TK转过身来,发现卡洛斯柔和的棕色眼睛正盯着他。卡洛斯笑了,TK也忍不住笑了。当他缓缓呼出一口气时,紧张感从他身上消失了,他轻轻地将无檐小便帽放在外套上。卡洛斯给他的感觉应该让他感到害怕,应该让他感到紧张,并掀起他整个职业生涯都在建造的墙。但事实并非如此。卡洛斯的存在就像是宁静,它以一种会让他对其他人感到不舒服的方式触动了 TK。就像当他们在厨房里时,他毫不费力地走进 TK 的个人空间,或者当他们看电影时,他把 TK 拉到他身边的轻松方式。没有人会无缘无故地接触传统知识,无论是为了工作还是为了个人利益,他们想从他那里得到什么通常非常明显。但不是卡洛斯。TK读不懂卡洛斯,无法预测他的下一步行动,这既令人不安又令人耳目一新。当TK坐在码头上时,他想独自一人,让大自然吞噬他,这样他就可以躲避自己的问题。这样他就可以躲避他对卡洛斯的强烈吸引力。 他的脸颊灼热,他的嘴唇因卡洛斯嘴里的热度而刺痛。他的味道很好,他的胳膊在TK周围感觉很舒服,他修长的手指在TK的手臂和背部上下游荡时张开,让TK心跳加速。他想要卡洛斯,从他们分享的吻中可以明显看出卡洛斯想要他。而且因为TK是一个偏执的神经症球,他窒息了。卡洛斯想要他吗?还是他只是想要像其他人一样的名人?当卡洛斯拿着热巧克力和毯子出来,却不要求回答时,羞愧之心火辣辣的,TK中有什么东西啪啪作响。他独自一人呆了这么久,在别人伤害他之前就把他们推开了,以至于他忘记了和另一个人在一起是什么感觉。除了马特奥和他的父亲,卡洛斯是TK生命中第一个什么都不要求的人。谁似乎真正喜欢TK的陪伴。他多次看到 TK 以真正的天后方式暴走,但他只给 TK 理解、安慰和美味的食物作为回报。和卡洛斯在一起很容易,而世界其他地方并不重要。手机无法使用的地方。和卡洛斯在一起让他忘记了自己是谁,这是他很久很久没有允许自己做的事情,还有上帝,但他怀念只是泰勒,一个来自纽约市的长痘痘的孩子,有着不可能的梦想。这些梦想已经成真,但代价是什么?

He can’t go to the grocery store without being recognized, his love life is reduced to sex scandals and wild speculations (sometimes he wishes his sex life is actually as exciting as the tabloids like to make it seem. At least, he’d be getting some), and he’s moved away from New York and from his father, the only family he has left, to pursue his career. TK shudders and hugs his arms and sighs, suddenly bone-weary and feeling more alone than ever. A large hand lands on his shoulder, and TK turns instinctively toward the touch. “Are you cold?” Carlos asks, voice tender. Despite the hot drink, warm blanket, and Carlos’ body heat as they huddled on the dock, TK is freezing. He leans toward Carlos and nods. “Yeah, a little,” he replies ruefully. “Maybe sitting outside in a snowstorm wasn’t the smartest idea.” Carlos shrugs and squeezes TK’s shoulder affectionately. “Meh. At least you’re still pretty.” He winks before TK’s indignation could turn into words. TK sends Carlos a glare that lacks heat even as his lips twitch into a smile. “Jackass.” “This jackass already has dinner in the Crock Pot,” Carlos says proudly. “Why don’t you run a bath and get warmed up?” TK reaches up and squeezes Carlos’ hand and frowns. “Your hand’s freezing.” “I’ll warm up next to the fire.” He points his chin at the wood burning stove, which is a pile of glowing embers. “As soon as I go out and get some more firewood from the shed.” A bath sounds amazing, and the promise of a warm meal after is the cherry on top. Carlos has made it clear he’s not upset over what happened. He’s gone back to being his usual, considerate self, and they can go back to the way things were and forget about the kiss on the couch and TK’s little freak out. That’s the sane thing to do, the right thing to do. “Or you could take a bath with me,” TK blurts, and the words hang suspended between them like frozen raindrops. Carlos’ eyes widen like saucers, and his brows hike up into his hairline behind his semi-fogged glasses. TK’s face burns, but he takes a deep breath and holds Carlos’ shocked gaze. The words just came out, but he doesn’t regret them. He’s tired of running away, tired of living his life behind guarded doors and locked windows. Carlos has given him no reason to believe he’d hurt him, and TK so desperately wants to kiss him again. “Are you sure?” Carlos asks, his voice husky as he steps closer. “I don’t want to—” TK closes what little distance is left between them and brushes his lips to the corner of Carlos’ mouth. “Yes, I’m sure. And, I want to continue where we left off earlier. On the couch. If you want. See where it takes us.” TK swallows and drops his gaze. For a man who’s done countless sex scenes and even dropped his pants a few times in front of a camera and a full crew without a lick of embarrassment, he’s burning all over despite how cold he is. Strong fingers grip TK’s chin and tilt his head back until he’s staring into Carlos’ eyes, the golden brown of his irises turn into thinning halos as they darken into pools of naked desire. They’re
他不能在不被认出的情况下去杂货店,他的爱情生活沦为性丑闻和疯狂的猜测(有时他希望他的性生活实际上像小报喜欢的那样令人兴奋。至少,他会得到一些),他已经离开了纽约,离开了他的父亲,他唯一的家人,去追求他的事业。TK颤抖着抱住他的手臂,叹了口气,突然感到疲惫不堪,感到比以往任何时候都更加孤独。一只大手落在他的肩膀上,TK本能地转向触摸。“你冷吗?”卡洛斯问道,声音温柔。尽管有热饮、温暖的毯子和卡洛斯蜷缩在码头上的体温,但 TK 还是很冷。他向卡洛斯靠了靠,点了点头。“是的,有一点,”他遗憾地回答。“也许在暴风雪中坐在外面并不是最聪明的主意。卡洛斯耸了耸肩,亲切地捏了捏TK的肩膀。“嗯。至少你还是很漂亮的。他眨了眨眼,TK的愤慨还没来得及变成言语。TK向卡洛斯投去一个没有热度的瞪眼,即使他的嘴唇抽搐成一个微笑。“混蛋。”“这只驴子已经在瓦罐里吃过晚饭了,”卡洛斯自豪地说。“你为什么不洗个澡暖和一下呢?”TK伸手捏了捏Carlos的手,皱起了眉头。“你的手冻僵了。”“我会在火堆旁边取暖。”他用下巴指着烧木头的炉子,那是一堆发光的余烬。“我一出去,再从棚子里拿一些柴火。”洗澡听起来很棒,之后吃一顿热饭的承诺是锦上添花。卡洛斯已经明确表示,他对发生的事情并不感到不安。他又回到了平常的、体贴的自己,他们可以回到原来的样子,忘记沙发上的吻和TK的小怪胎。这是理智的事情,正确的事情。 “或者你可以和我一起洗澡,”TK脱口而出,这些话像冰冻的雨滴一样悬在他们之间。卡洛斯的眼睛睁得像碟子一样,他的眉毛在半雾的眼镜后面一直延伸到发际线。TK的脸灼热,但他深吸了一口气,握住了卡洛斯震惊的目光。话刚说出来,他并不后悔。他厌倦了逃跑,厌倦了在守卫的门和锁着的窗户后面生活。卡洛斯没有理由相信他会伤害他,TK如此迫切地想再次亲吻他。“你确定?”卡洛斯问道,他的声音沙哑,他走近了。“我不想——”TK拉近了他们之间仅剩的一点距离,用嘴唇擦了擦Carlos的嘴角。“是的,我确定。而且,我想从我们之前离开的地方继续。在沙发上。如果需要帮助,。看看它会把我们带到哪里。TK咽了口唾沫,垂下了目光。对于一个拍过无数性爱场面,甚至在镜头前和整个剧组面前脱裤子几次而没有一丝尴尬的男人来说,尽管他有多冷,但他还是全身燃烧。有力的手指捏住TK的下巴,将他的头向后仰,直到他盯着卡洛斯的眼睛,他虹膜的金棕色变成了稀薄的光晕,因为它们变成了赤裸裸的欲望池。他们是

communicating without words, and TK’s not sure he’s sending the right messages as he tries not to shrink from the intensity of Carlos’ gaze. Scattered thoughts fly through his head, but they all circle back to one singular truth. That he trusts Carlos. TK inhales sharply at the realization, his lips parting, and Carlos’ mouth closes over his. There’s nothing tentative about the way Carlos’ lips crush into his. No tender exploration as his tongue licks into TK’s mouth in earnest. His eyes flutter shut, and bright lights burst behind his lids as he reels from sensations so intense they’re overwhelming. Carlos’ hands cupping his face, his breath in TK’s mouth, his tongue playing across TK’s tongue, and it’s an onslaught of everything TK wants and can’t get enough of. This kiss is so much better than the last. So much more intense and honest and exhilarating. Carlos doesn’t hold back, and TK finds himself tossed about in the tempest of Carlos’ passion. Is this what kissing is supposed to feel like? Because if so, TK has been missing out his whole damn life. Carlos lets go of his face, large hands exploring down TK’s arms and settling on the round of TK’s ass. Without warning, Carlos dips down and slips his hands around TK’s thighs, hoisting him up as if he weighs nothing. TK wraps himself around Carlos like a koala, his legs locking around Carlos and settling above the curve of his hips like he belongs there. His arms tighten around Carlos’ neck, and he pulls back a fraction of a second to chuckle incredulously before diving back in for another hungry kiss. The hallway shifts. TK’s moving, but he doesn’t pay attention to where he’s going as his tongue darts in and out of Carlos’ mouth, eliciting the most delicious moans and groans from him. A light flickers on. TK glances up and meets the eyes of his reflection as Carlos tumbles into the bathroom. Carlos’ back is to the mirror, and even through the layers of flannel and cotton, TK can see the shift of his muscles as he presses TK up against the opposite wall. The sight of his legs wrapped around Carlos’ waist sends a jolt straight to his already painfully hard cock. Fuck. Carlos’ lips trail down TK’s jaw, down his neck, and TK breaks eye contact with the mirror as he throws his head back, offering himself utterly and completely. Carlos bites the curve where his neck meets his shoulder, and TK yelps then groans as a warm tongue laps away the sharp pain. Fuck, they’re not even naked, but TK’s going to embarrass himself if Carlos doesn’t slow the fuck down. As if reading his thoughts, Carlos works his lips up TK’s neck, over his Adam's apple and chin, then pecks tenderly at TK’s lips as he places TK gently back on his feet. His knees buckle, and it takes TK a moment to find his footing as he clings to Carlos’ bulging arms. Their chests heave in sync as they try to catch their breaths, and Carlos’ glasses sit askew on the bridge of his proud nose. TK grips the corners of Carlos’ glasses with both hands and pulls them off slowly. There’s something incredibly sexy about removing Carlos’ glasses that sets TK’s heart racing and his stomach fluttering with a million butterfly wings. It’s so erotic and hypnotic the way their eyes lock as TK pulls them off, like removing an invisible barrier, and his breath catches when Carlos’ fingers brush against his as he takes the glasses from TK. Carlos takes a deep breath as if to calm himself, his long lashes fanning against his cheeks as his eyes blink shut for the span of a heartbeat before he opens them. “I’ll, um, run the bath.” TK leans against the wall as he watches Carlos bend over and turn on the tap, his firm ass in perfect view. Carlos tests the water temperature, and when he’s satisfied, he places the stopper in the drain with long fingers. Fingers TK can’t wait to feel all over and inside him. He shudders, his ass clenching at the thought of Carlos fingering him, and suddenly, he’s too damn hot in his clothes. He makes quick work of his clothes, then descends on Carlos’ flannel like a mad man, peeling off
没有言语的交流,TK不确定他是否在发送正确的信息,因为他试图不从卡洛斯的目光中退缩。零散的思绪从他的脑海中飞过,但它们都回到了一个单一的真理。他信任卡洛斯。TK猛地吸了一口气,他的嘴唇分开了,卡洛斯的嘴巴闭上了。卡洛斯的嘴唇压在他的嘴唇上的方式没有任何试探性。没有温柔的探索,他的舌头认真地舔进了TK的嘴里。他闭上了眼睛,明亮的灯光在他的眼睑后面迸发出来,因为他被强烈到压倒性的感觉所震撼。卡洛斯的手捂着他的脸,他的呼吸在TK的嘴里,他的舌头在TK的舌头上玩弄,这是对TK想要和无法得到的一切的冲击。这个吻比上一个好多了。更加激烈、诚实和令人振奋。卡洛斯没有退缩,TK发现自己在卡洛斯激情的风暴中被折腾了。这就是接吻应该有的感觉吗?因为如果是这样,TK已经错过了他该死的一生。卡洛斯放开他的脸,大手沿着TK的手臂探索,落在TK的屁股上。卡洛斯毫无征兆地俯下身子,双手搂住TK的大腿,把他举起来,仿佛他什么都没有。TK像考拉一样缠绕在卡洛斯身上,他的双腿紧紧地缠绕着卡洛斯,落在他臀部的曲线之上,就像他属于那里一样。他的胳膊紧紧地搂着卡洛斯的脖子,他往后退了几分之一秒,难以置信地笑了笑,然后又潜入另一个饥饿的吻中。走廊发生了变化。TK在动,但他没有注意他要去哪里,因为他的舌头在卡洛斯的嘴里进进出出,从他身上引来最美味的呻吟和呻吟。一盏灯闪烁。 TK抬头看了一眼,与卡洛斯倒影的眼睛相遇,卡洛斯跌进了浴室。卡洛斯背对着镜子,即使隔着法兰绒和棉布层,TK也能看到他把TK压在对面墙上时肌肉的变化。看到他的双腿缠绕在卡洛斯的腰上,他本已痛苦坚硬的阴茎直接受到震动。他妈的。卡洛斯的嘴唇顺着TK的下巴,顺着他的脖子往下滑,TK中断了与镜子的眼神交流,他把头向后仰,完全地献出自己。卡洛斯咬住了脖子与肩膀相接的曲线,TK大叫了一声,然后呻吟着,温暖的舌头抚平了剧烈的疼痛。他妈的,他们甚至没有赤身裸体,但如果卡洛斯不放慢他妈的速度,TK会让自己难堪的。仿佛读懂了他的想法,卡洛斯把嘴唇贴在TK的脖子上,放在喉结和下巴上,然后温柔地啄了啄TK的嘴唇,轻轻地把TK放回了自己的脚上。他的膝盖弯曲了,TK花了一点时间才找到自己的立足点,他紧紧抓住卡洛斯鼓起的手臂。当他们试图喘口气时,他们的胸膛同步起伏,卡洛斯的眼镜歪斜地放在他骄傲的鼻梁上。TK用双手握住Carlos的眼镜角,慢慢地把它们拉下来。摘下卡洛斯的眼镜,有一种令人难以置信的性感,让TK心跳加速,他的肚子随着一百万只蝴蝶的翅膀扑腾。当TK把他们拉下来时,他们的眼睛锁定的方式是如此色情和催眠,就像移除了一个看不见的屏障,当卡洛斯的手指从TK手中接过眼镜时,他的呼吸停止了。 卡洛斯深吸了一口气,仿佛让自己平静下来,他长长的睫毛在脸颊上扇动,他的眼睛眨了眨,在他睁开眼睛之前,他闭上了心跳。“我来,嗯,去洗澡。“ TK靠在墙上,看着卡洛斯弯下腰打开水龙头,他结实的屁股尽收眼底。卡洛斯测试了水温,当他满意时,他用长长的手指将塞子放在排水管中。手指TK迫不及待地想感受他全身和体内。他浑身颤抖,一想到卡洛斯用手指着他,他的屁股就紧紧咬着,突然间,他的衣服太热了。他快速地整理了一下衣服,然后像个疯子一样趴在卡洛斯的法兰绒上,脱了下来

his layers like a kid unwrapping a present on Christmas morning. Carlos stands there, amusement and desire taking equal residence in his features as he steps out of his pants and underwear. TK’s breath catches as he drinks in Carlos’ naked body in its full glory. His tanned skin glows under the warm bathroom light, and he’s every bit as impressive as TK imagined. His body is an image of perfection, from his bulging biceps to his firm pecs to the dips and valleys of his abs. TK’s eyes travel along every inch of Carlos, etching the glorious image into his brain with a brand, and when his gaze falls to the juncture of Carlos’ legs, his mouth waters. Even his cock, rock hard and slightly curved toward his navel with its dusky head leaking a trickle of pre-come, is fucking perfect. TK swallows and takes a step forward, his mouth parting, but Carlos beats him to it. “God, you’re so beautiful,” Carlos breathes as he closes the distance between them. Before TK can react, Carlos’ mouth claims his once more, his large hands wrap around TK’s biceps before trailing down TK’s arms. It’s so easy to give in to Carlos. So easy to let Carlos sweep him off his feet. TK moans and opens his mouth, inviting Carlos in without hesitation. Strong fingers find TK’s and slip into the spaces between each one, filling the gap there like Carlos is starting to fill the gaping hole in TK’s chest, and TK lets himself be kissed and kissed and kissed until he can’t remember his own damn name. Steam surrounds them in a fluffy cocoon, and the constant staccato of water hitting water is the only indication of the passage of time as Carlos ravishes TK’s mouth, their fingers intertwined like lovers as Carlos brings TK’s arms over his head and pins them there. There’s a tenderness behind the fierceness of Carlos’ assault, a softness in the swipes of his tongue, and TK is torn between wanting more and wanting to stay right here where Carlos kisses him like he’s something precious. Carlos squeezes his hands, then brings them down to the small of Carlos’ back before letting go, silently urging TK to touch him. TK needs no further invitation, his hands spread as wide as his fingers allow as he explores the taut muscles and smooth skin of Carlos’ back, his nails raking up and down the curve of his spine, over his jutting shoulder blades, and sinking into the meaty flesh of his big shoulders. He tugs Carlos close, breaking their endless kisses, and buries his nose behind Carlos’ ear as he inhales, drinking in Carlos’ scent. Carlos’ body is hot and solid as his arms wrap around TK, and when their hard cocks finally, finally brush against each other, TK’s eyes roll into the back of his head. “Fuck,” Carlos mutters against TK’s neck, and he pulls back and leans his forehead on TK’s shoulder. “God, I hope so,” TK says with a shaky chuckle. Carlos’ eyes darken and he straightens, a crooked smirk on his lips. He steps impossibly close. “You are incorrigible.” Before TK can respond, Carlos wraps a large hand around both their cocks. The heat of his skin, the softness of his cock and the rough calluses of his palm, it’s both too much and not enough, and TK cries out in shocked pleasure. Carlos leans against TK, trapping him, and TK is a willing prisoner as he thrusts his hips forward, his cock seeking delicious friction. He hisses as he arches off the wall, and Carlos chuckles as a large hand comes between their bodies and presses down on TK’s chest, pushing him back against the wall.
他的衣服就像一个孩子在圣诞节早上打开礼物。卡洛斯站在那里,当他脱下裤子和内衣时,娱乐和欲望在他的脸上占据了同等的地位。TK的呼吸急促起来,他喝着卡洛斯赤裸的身体。他晒黑的皮肤在温暖的浴室灯光下闪闪发光,他和TK想象的一样令人印象深刻。他的身体是一个完美的形象,从他隆起的二头肌到他结实的胸肌,再到他腹肌的起伏和低谷。 TK的眼睛沿着卡洛斯的每一寸土地旅行,用烙印将这个光荣的形象刻在他的大脑中,当他的目光落在卡洛斯的双腿交界处时,他的口水直流。就连他的鸡巴,坚硬地摇晃着,微微弯曲到他的肚脐,暗淡的脑袋漏出一丝预来,他妈的完美。TK咽了口唾沫,向前走了一步,嘴巴张开了,但卡洛斯把他打了一顿。“上帝,你太美了,”卡洛斯呼吸着,拉近了他们之间的距离。还没等TK反应过来,卡洛斯的嘴巴就再次张开了,他的大手搂住了TK的肱二头肌,然后顺着TK的胳膊往下走。向卡洛斯屈服太容易了。很容易让卡洛斯把他扫地出门。TK呻吟着张开嘴,毫不犹豫地邀请卡洛斯进来。强壮的手指找到TK的手指,滑入每个手指之间的空隙,填补那里的空白,就像卡洛斯开始填补TK胸口的大洞一样,TK让自己被亲吻,亲吻,亲吻,直到他不记得自己该死的名字。蒸汽将他们包围在一个蓬松的茧中,当卡洛斯蹂躏TK的嘴巴时,水与水的不断断断续续是时间流逝的唯一迹象,当卡洛斯将TK的手臂放在头上并将它们固定在那里时,他们的手指像恋人一样交织在一起。 卡洛斯猛烈的攻击背后有一种温柔,他的舌头轻轻划过,TK在想要更多和想要留在这里之间左右为难,卡洛斯亲吻他,就像他是珍贵的东西一样。卡洛斯捏了捏他的手,然后把手放到卡洛斯的背上,然后松开手,默默地催促TK碰他。TK不需要进一步的邀请,他的双手尽可能地张开,探索卡洛斯背部紧绷的肌肉和光滑的皮肤,他的指甲在他的脊椎曲线上上下耙过,越过他突出的肩胛骨,沉入他大肩膀的肉中。他把卡洛斯拉近,打破了他们无休止的吻,把鼻子埋在卡洛斯的耳后,吸气,喝着卡洛斯的气味。卡洛斯的身体又热又结实,他的手臂缠绕着TK,当他们坚硬的鸡巴终于,终于互相擦过时,TK的眼睛翻到了他的后脑勺。“他妈的,”卡洛斯在TK的脖子上咕哝着,他往后退了一步,把额头靠在TK的肩膀上。“上帝,我希望如此,”TK颤抖着笑着说。卡洛斯的眼睛黯淡了下来,他直起身子,嘴唇上露出一丝狡黠的笑容。他走得不可思议地靠近。“你是不可救药的。”在TK做出反应之前,卡洛斯用一只大手搂住了他们的两根鸡巴。皮肤的炙热,阴茎的柔软,手掌粗糙的老茧,既多又不够,TK震惊地快感地叫了出来。卡洛斯靠在TK身上,困住了他,TK是一个心甘情愿的囚犯,他向前推着臀部,他的鸡巴寻求美味的摩擦。他嘶嘶地从墙上拱起,卡洛斯笑了起来,一只大手伸到他们的身体之间,按在TK的胸口,把他推回墙上。

Eyes locked, Carlos lets go of their cocks and holds his hand out to TK, palm inches from TK’s face, his lips pulled into a salacious grin. TK wets his lips, then leans forward and drags the flat of his tongue across Carlos’ palm. His skin is salty and sweet, mixed with the slight musk of their cocks. The flavour is intoxicating, and TK laps and licks until Carlos’ palm is slick with saliva. When that hand wraps around their cocks once more, TK lets out a drawn out hiss. Carlos’ fist is warm and tight as he strokes them both, his large hand barely closing around their combined thickness. His other hand is firmly planted on TK’s chest, holding him in place, as if there’s anywhere else in the world TK would rather be right now. Their combined pre-come slicks Carlos’ grip, and with each stroke, TK’s stomach tightens as an undeniable pressure builds at the base of his spine. He stares at Carlos, and Carlos stares back at him unflinchingly, hungrily, his glistening lips parted as he pants. They’re both thrusting into Carlos’ fist, and the silken glide of Carlos’ cock against the underside of his erection sends waves of mind numbing pleasure through him. Steam wraps around them like cotton threads, holding them together even as they race toward the abyss to be unraveled. Carlos increases his speed, his breathing ragged as his arm moves up and down in a blur. TK writhes under Carlos’ strong grip, both of his hands wrapped around Carlos’ forearm, hanging on for dear life. His moans and gasps grow louder with every stroke until he’s begging incoherently for release. Carlos strokes across the tip of TK’s cock, fingernails scraping across the slit in painful pleasure. TK’s balls draw up, and his eyes pop wide before screwing shut as the pressure inside him explodes. Lips crush into his, and TK screams into Carlos’ mouth as his back arches off the wall despite the strong hand pinning him down. His cock swells and pulses in the vice grip of Carlos’ hand and ropes of hot come paint them both. Carlos is moaning into his mouth, the sound low and keening and oh so desperate. His arm is a blur between their bodies, the grip almost too much on TK’s over-sensitive cock, then all is still save for their laboured breaths and heaving chests. TK groans as Carlos strokes him through the last of his orgasm, and when he finally gathers enough brain cells to function again, he takes Carlos’ face between his hands and nips his bottom lip. Carlos hisses, then groans as he falls into the languid kiss. He lets go of their spent cocks and unpins TK from the wall, and they fall into each other’s arms as they crumple to the bathroom floor, their lips darting in for feather light kisses until their need for oxygen pulls them apart. “That was—” Carlos inhales sharply as if just remembering something and swivels around just as water spills over the edge of the tub.
双眼紧锁,卡洛斯放开他们的,向TK伸出手,手掌距离TK的脸几英寸,他的嘴唇扯成一个的笑容。TK润湿了他的嘴唇,然后向前倾身,将舌头拖过Carlos的手掌。他的皮肤又咸又甜,夹杂着他们鸡巴的轻微麝香。味道令人陶醉,TK舔舐着,直到卡洛斯的手掌被唾液弄湿。当那只手再次缠绕在他们的上时,TK发出了一声拉长的嘶嘶声。卡洛斯的拳头温暖而紧绷,他抚摸着他们俩,他的大手勉强合拢了他们两人的粗细。他的另一只手牢牢地放在TK的胸膛上,将他固定在原地,仿佛世界上还有TK现在宁愿去的地方。他们结合在一起的滑溜溜的卡洛斯抓地力,每一次击球,TK的胃都会收紧,因为他的脊柱底部会积聚一股不可否认的压力。他盯着卡洛斯,卡洛斯也毫不犹豫地、饥渴地盯着他,他闪闪发光的嘴唇在他喘气时分开。他们俩都插进了卡洛斯的拳头里,卡洛斯的阴茎在他勃起的下面丝滑,在他身上传递着一波又一波麻木的快感。蒸汽像棉线一样缠绕着它们,将它们固定在一起,即使它们冲向深渊等待解开。卡洛斯加快了速度,他的呼吸变得急促,他的手臂在模糊中上下移动。TK在卡洛斯的强力抓握下扭动着身体,他的双手缠绕在卡洛斯的前臂上,紧紧抓住他的生命。他的呻吟和喘息声随着每一次抚摸而越来越大,直到他语无伦次地乞求释放。卡洛斯抚摸着TK的阴茎尖端,指甲在痛苦的快感中刮过缝隙。TK的球被拉了起来,他的眼睛睁得大大的,然后随着他体内的压力爆炸而拧紧。 嘴唇挤进了他的嘴唇里,TK对着卡洛斯的嘴里尖叫着,尽管那只强壮的手把他压住了,但他的后背还是从墙上拱了起来。他的阴茎在卡洛斯的手里膨胀和跳动,热乎乎的绳索在他们俩身上都涂上了。卡洛斯嘴里呻吟着,声音低沉而尖锐,哦,好绝望。他的胳膊在他们的身体之间模糊不清,对TK过于敏感的阴茎的抓握几乎太多了,然后除了他们费力的呼吸和起伏的胸膛之外,一切都还在。当卡洛斯抚摸着他度过最后一次高潮时,TK呻吟着,当他终于收集到足够的脑细胞再次发挥作用时,他用双手捧起卡洛斯的脸,咬住他的下唇。卡洛斯发出嘶嘶声,然后呻吟着陷入慵懒的吻中。他放开了他们用过的鸡巴,从墙上解开了TK,当他们蜷缩在浴室地板上时,他们倒在了对方的怀里,他们的嘴唇飞快地吻了上去,直到他们对氧气的需要将他们分开。“那是......”卡洛斯猛地吸了一口气,仿佛想起了什么,转过身来,正好水洒在浴缸的边缘。

Chapter 12 “Oh shit,” TK sputters and shoots to his feet. Carlos leans over the edge of the tub and twists the faucet shut, cutting off the constant splash of water, and suddenly, it’s too quiet in the small bathroom. Carefully, not wanting to slosh any more water onto the tiled floor, Carlos reaches into the tub and pulls the plug. Beside him, TK picks up their sopping wet clothes and throws down towels to soak up the rest of the water. They caught the flood early, and thanks to TK’s haphazard disposal of both their clothes, the bathroom is not a swampy catastrophe. With the tub draining, Carlos steals a glance at TK, who’s wringing out their clothes in the sink, and swallows. While it’s not Carlos’ first or even second time seeing him naked, there’s something infinitely more beautiful on display here that’s beyond physical attractiveness. TK’s body is perfect in every way from his strong thighs to his perky ass to the tapered lines of his waist and the sexy curve of his spine. He’s lithe and lean, and the muscles of his arms shift as he wrings out the last of their wet clothes before dropping the bundle on top of the closed toilet lid. He’s sculpted for the big screen, every inch of him trained to perfection through hard work and dedication, yet it’s the relaxed droop of his shoulders and the comfortable way he slumps down next to Carlos that has him flushed with warmth. TK crosses his legs and runs a hand through his hair, and Carlos’ eyes are drawn to the endearing softness of his stomach. Sculpted or not, this boy likes to eat, and that makes Carlos happy. TK’s smile is languid, one corner of his lips slightly higher than the other, and his eyes are bright with mirth as he glances at the draining tub then at Carlos. “Is sex with you always this exciting?” Carlos’ whole body burns, and he drops his head into his hands and groans. It’s hard to imagine that just moments ago, he had TK’s cock in his hand, jerking them both off. But he’s got the sticky evidence cooling on his stomach to prove it. He had sex with TK Strand. The TK Strand. It’s not his first time sleeping with a celebrity, being in his line of work has its perks, but being with TK was different. There wasn’t the novelty of sleeping with someone famous. It was just him and TK sharing a moment. It was exciting, exclusive, but also tender and intimate beyond just sex. And Carlos wants to do it again and again and again. “If by exciting you mean almost flooding the bathroom, then no,” Carlos replies. TK’s lips pull into a devious smirk. “Shame.” Carlos rolls his eyes as he rocks back on his knees. He sticks the plug back in the drain. “Still up for that bath?” “We do have to get clean,” TK says. He looks down at his come covered stomach, then looks up and winks. “And it’d be a shame to waste all the hot water.” Carlos huffs and wonders if he can strain a muscle by rolling his eyes too hard. TK stands up and climbs into the tub, then turns around and holds out a hand to Carlos. Carlos takes it and hauls himself to his feet and into the tub. They stand in the tub, facing each other, and Carlos’ lips twitch into a smile. TK slips his free hand
第12章 “哎呀妈呀,”TK吐了口唾沫,猛地站了起来。卡洛斯靠在浴缸的边缘,把水龙头关上,切断了不断飞溅的水,突然间,小浴室里太安静了。卡洛斯小心翼翼地不想再把水溅到瓷砖地板上,他把手伸进浴缸里,拔掉了插头。在他旁边,TK捡起他们湿漉漉的衣服,扔下毛巾吸收剩下的水。他们很早就赶上了洪水,多亏了TK随意处理了他们的两件衣服,浴室才不是一场沼泽灾难。随着浴缸的排水,卡洛斯偷偷瞥了一眼正在水槽里拧衣服的TK,然后咽了咽口水。虽然这不是卡洛斯第一次甚至第二次看到他赤身裸体,但这里展示的不仅仅是身体吸引力之外的无限美丽的东西。TK的身体在各个方面都是完美的,从他强壮的大腿到他活泼的屁股,再到他腰部的锥形线条和他脊椎的性感曲线。他轻盈而瘦弱,手臂的肌肉随着他拧干最后一件湿衣服而移动,然后将包裹放在关闭的马桶盖上。他为大银幕而雕刻,他的每一寸都通过努力工作和奉献精神被训练得完美无缺,但正是他放松的肩膀下垂和他舒适地坐在卡洛斯身边的方式让他感到温暖。TK交叉双腿,用手抚摸他的头发,Carlos的眼睛被他可爱柔软的肚子所吸引。不管有没有雕刻,这个男孩都喜欢吃东西,这让卡洛斯很开心。TK的笑容慵懒,嘴角的嘴角略高,他的眼睛里充满了喜悦,他瞥了一眼排水的浴缸,然后又看了看卡洛斯。“和你做爱总是这么刺激吗?“ 卡洛斯全身燃烧,他把头埋在手里呻吟。很难想象,就在片刻前,他手里拿着TK的鸡巴,把他们俩都抽搐了。但他的肚子里有粘性证据来证明这一点。他与TK Strand发生了性关系。传统知识链。这不是他第一次和名人上床,在他的工作中有它的好处,但和TK在一起是不同的。和名人上床没有新鲜感。只有他和TK分享了一个时刻。这是令人兴奋的,排他性的,但也不仅仅是性的温柔和亲密。卡洛斯想一次又一次地这样做。“如果你说的兴奋意味着几乎淹没了浴室,那么不,”卡洛斯回答。TK的嘴唇扯出一个狡猾的笑容。“耻辱。”卡洛斯翻了个白眼,摇摇晃晃地跪了下来。他把塞子插回排水管里。“还想洗澡吗?”“我们确实必须干净,”TK说。他低头看了看自己捂着肚子,然后抬起头眨了眨眼。“浪费所有的热水真是太可惜了。”卡洛斯气喘吁吁地想,他能不能因为用力翻白眼而拉伤肌肉。TK站起身,爬进浴缸,然后转过身来,向卡洛斯伸出一只手。卡洛斯接过它,把自己拖到浴缸里。他们站在浴缸里,面对面,卡洛斯的嘴唇抽搐着,露出了笑容。TK滑落了他空出的手

around Carlos’ back, pulling him close, his lips pressing against Carlos’ mouth in a chaste kiss. It’s almost too chaste, considering what they’d just done, but Carlos enjoys this teasing, featherlight touch just as much. Carlos drops TK’s hand and gathers him into his arms, revelling in the solid press of TK’s body against him and the heat of his smooth skin. He just had TK, but already he’s craving more, desperate for another taste as he sucks on TK’s bottom lip before slipping his tongue into TK’s mouth. Kissing TK is like an addiction, one Carlos never wants to break free from. TK melts into him, giving in to the kiss in surrender as he slips his arms around Carlos’ neck and parts his lips. He’s so sweet, his flavour so complex Carlos wants to spend an eternity parsing out each element. Wants to take his time savouring each piece of him until he’s drunk on it. His cock twitches, and he smiles into the kiss when the tip of TK’s cock brushes against his thigh. TK shivers in his arms, and Carlos groans as he pulls away, his chests heaving as he tries to catch his breath and gather his scattered brain cells. “You’re still chilled,” Carlos says as he rubs TK’s arms in gentle strokes. “No.” TK shakes his head even as another shiver tremors through him. “Okay, maybe a little.” Carlos sits in the tub and pulls TK down with him. The water sloshes dangerously close to the edge even as the overflow drain gurgles valiantly. The tub is barely big enough for one person, and it takes some maneuvering before they find a semi-comfortable position. TK’s back presses into Carlos’ front, and Carlos scoots as far back as he can against the slippery porcelain. Their knees stick out of the water, with TK’s legs tucked inside Carlos’, his paleness in stark contrast to Carlos’ olive skin. TK settles back against Carlos’ chest, his unruly thick mop of hair soft and ticklish against Carlos’ jaw, and Carlos wraps his arms around TK’s torso, his hands drawing random shapes across TK’s skin. Their companionable silence is interrupted by the occasional drops of water falling from the faucet, the drip drip drip like crystals clinking. Carlos leans his head back against the tiled wall and closes his eyes, letting the steam and heat and the solid press of TK’s body relax him. He can’t remember the last time he was this at ease, let alone this at ease with another person. Maybe it’s the secluded nature of the cabin, maybe it’s the escapism of being in the middle of nowhere, or maybe it’s the way TK so effortlessly fits into Carlos’ life like his body fits against Carlos’ in this impossibly tiny bathtub. Whatever it is, Carlos is content, and he wants this moment to last forever. TK squirms. Carlos loosens his grip until TK turns around, then settles his hands on TK’s slender hips, his thumbs massaging circles into the smooth flesh there. TK groans and leans in for another feather light kiss. Water splashes and sloshes as TK straddles Carlos’ thighs, and Carlos would be distracted by the way TK’s cock rubs against his half-hard erection if he wasn’t so mesmerized by the look on TK’s face. Angelic is the word that comes to mind. Beautiful. “Uh, thank you,” TK murmurs, his cheeks colouring. “Shit, did I say that out loud?” Carlos gasps. TK nods. His cheeks flush a deep crimson, spreading down his neck and across his shoulders, chest, and past his dusky pink nipples. So, that’s how far that blush goes. As if sensing his gaze,
搂着卡洛斯的背,把他拉近,他的嘴唇贴在卡洛斯的嘴上,一个贞洁的吻。考虑到他们刚刚的所作所为,这几乎太纯洁了,但卡洛斯同样喜欢这种挑逗、轻盈的触感。卡洛斯放下TK的手,将他抱在怀里,陶醉于TK的身体对他坚实的压迫和他光滑皮肤的热量。他刚刚吃了TK,但他已经渴望更多了,当他吮吸TK的下唇,然后把舌头滑进TK的嘴里时,他迫切地想要另一种味道。亲吻TK就像上瘾一样,卡洛斯永远不想摆脱。TK融入了他,屈服于这个吻,他搂着卡洛斯的脖子,分开他的嘴唇。他是如此甜美,他的味道如此复杂,卡洛斯想花一个永恒的时间来解析每一个元素。想慢慢细细品味他的每一块,直到他喝醉为止。他的鸡巴抽搐着,当TK的鸡巴尖端擦过他的大腿时,他微笑着亲吻。TK在他怀里颤抖着,Carlos呻吟着离开,他的胸膛起伏着,他试图喘口气,收集他分散的脑细胞。“你还是很冷,”卡洛斯一边说,一边轻轻地揉搓着TK的胳膊。“没有。”TK摇了摇头,同时又一阵颤抖在他心中颤抖。“好吧,也许有一点。”卡洛斯坐在浴缸里,把TK和他一起拉下来。水在靠近边缘的地方危险地晃动,即使溢流排水管勇敢地汩汩流淌。浴缸勉强够一个人使用,在他们找到一个半舒适的位置之前需要一些操作。TK的后背压在卡洛斯的前面,卡洛斯尽可能地向后蹬去,抵挡着滑溜溜的瓷器。他们的膝盖伸出水面,TK的腿塞在卡洛斯的腿里,他的苍白与卡洛斯的橄榄色皮肤形成鲜明对比。 TK靠在Carlos的胸膛上,他那乱糟糟的浓密头发在Carlos的下巴上柔软而痒痒,Carlos搂着TK的躯干,双手在TK的皮肤上随意画出形状。他们陪伴的沉默被偶尔从水龙头落下的水滴打断,滴滴,就像水晶叮当作响。卡洛斯把头靠在瓷砖墙上,闭上眼睛,让蒸汽和热量以及TK身体的坚实按压让他放松。他不记得自己上一次这么自在是什么时候了,更不用说和另一个人这么自在了。也许是小屋的僻静性质,也许是身处偏僻之地的逃避现实,也许是TK毫不费力地融入卡洛斯生活的方式,就像他的身体在这个不可思议的小浴缸里与卡洛斯的身体相适应一样。不管是什么,卡洛斯都很满足,他希望这一刻永远持续下去。TK蠕动。卡洛斯松开了手,直到TK转过身来,然后把手放在TK修长的臀部上,拇指在光滑的肉上按摩着圆圈。TK呻吟着,俯身又吻了一下。当TK跨在卡洛斯的大腿上时,水溅起并晃动,如果卡洛斯没有被TK脸上的表情迷住,他会被TK的阴茎摩擦他半硬的勃起的方式分散注意力。天使是我想到的词。美丽。“呃,谢谢你,”TK喃喃自语,脸颊染红。“妈的,我大声说了吗?”卡洛斯喘着粗气。TK点了点头。他的脸颊泛着深深的绯红,沿着他的脖子蔓延开来,穿过他的肩膀、胸部,经过他暗淡的粉红色。所以,这就是腮红的程度。仿佛察觉到他的目光,

TK’s nipples harden and pucker into tight little nubs like tiny berries, and Carlos’ mouth waters as he yearns for a taste. And there’s nothing stopping him. Carlos strokes up TK’s flank, his hands mapping out every dip and valley of TK’s back, then pulls TK to him. He latches onto the left nipple, his tongue swirling around the erect pebble before sucking it into his mouth. TK’s back arches, his hissing breath a whisper suspiciously like the sound of Carlos’ name. Long fingers delve into Carlos’ hair and wrap around his curls, tugging, and the pinpricks of pain urge Carlos to suck harder. He pulls the nipple between his teeth and flicks his tongue across the tip, and TK shudders as his startled shout bounces off the walls of the tiny bathroom. Carlos pulls back and blows a soft puff of air on the swollen nub, then moves onto the other nipple, his hand taking over where his mouth left off. Carlos laves and nips and sucks while rolling the other nipple between his fingers, tugging and twisting, flicking and massaging, until TK’s chest is a massive span of flushed skin. His chest heaves in time with his laboured breaths, his mewling moans and guttural groans adorable and arousing, and he alternates between pulling and pushing at Carlos’ head as if he’s unsure whether he wants Carlos to stop or if he wants more. Toying with TK may just be Carlos’ new favourite thing. TK’s hard cock grinds into Carlos’ stomach as he gyrates, and water splashes against the tub in growing waves with his ever growing desperation. “P-Please—” TK pleads, his breathy voice ending in a keening groan when Carlos closes his hand around TK’s erection. “Fuck—” It doesn’t take long before TK’s splitting apart at the seams, his gasping cries music to Carlos’ ears as he empties into the lukewarm bath. He clings to Carlos, his body shaking like an autumn leaf in a stiff breeze, and it’s the span of a few skipped heartbeats before he turns to putty in Carlos’ hands. Carlos’ cock throbs with need, but the sight of TK spent and limp in his arms chases away all desire for release. TK’s stomach growls, and he stirs as if embarrassed but makes no attempt to move. Carlos chuckles and reaches for the washcloth and soap in the basket beside the bathtub. He cradles TK in his arms and rubs a soapy washcloth across his body, washing away the come and sweat. TK moans and moves his limbs where Carlos positions them, and it’s not until Carlos rubs the cloth across his nipples that he jumps and hisses. They’re red and puffy, and a small tinge of guilt shoots through Carlos as he kisses one then the other tenderly. TK sighs, and when he seems to have finally collected himself and regained use of his muscles, he takes the cloth from Carlos and squirts more soap on it before rubbing Carlos down. He hesitates at Carlos’ still raging hard cock, but Carlos shakes his head with a grin. “I’m okay.” TK cocks a brow at him. Carlos takes the cloth from TK and rinses it in the tub. “I’m hungry. Besides, this isn’t going anywhere.” He winks, and TK turns yet another pretty shade of pink. God, for an actor with God knows how many shirtless scenes immortalized by film, he sure blushes a lot. They clean up quickly and get out of the bath, darting into the bedroom naked. TK pulls on a pair
TK的变硬,皱成像小浆果一样紧绷的小块,卡洛斯渴望尝尝,他垂涎欲滴。没有什么能阻止他。卡洛斯抚摸着TK的侧翼,他的手绘制出TK背部的每一个凹陷和低谷,然后将TK拉到他身边。他含住左,舌头在勃起的鹅卵石上打转,然后把它吸进嘴里。TK的后背拱起,他嘶嘶作响的呼吸像是卡洛斯名字的声音。修长的手指钻进卡洛斯的头发里,缠绕着他的卷发,拉扯着,刺痛的刺痛促使卡洛斯更加用力地吸吮。他把拉到牙齿之间,用舌头在尖端弹了一下,TK颤抖着,因为他惊叫的叫声从小浴室的墙壁上弹了起来。卡洛斯往后退了一步,在肿胀的小块上吹了一口轻柔的空气,然后移到另一个上,他的手接管了他嘴巴停下来的地方。卡洛斯一边用手指揉捏着另一个,一边吮吸着,拉扯着,扭动着,轻弹着,按摩着,直到TK的胸膛上长满了潮红的皮肤。他的胸膛随着他费力的呼吸而起伏,他的喵喵呻吟和喉咙呻吟可爱而令人兴奋,他在拉扯和推搡卡洛斯的头之间交替,好像他不确定他是否想让卡洛斯停下来,或者他是否想要更多。玩弄传统知识可能只是卡洛斯最喜欢的新东西。TK坚硬的鸡巴在卡洛斯的肚子里磨蹭着,随着他越来越绝望,水溅在浴缸上越来越大。“求求你——”TK恳求道,当Carlos用手搂住TK的勃起时,他气喘吁吁的声音以尖锐的呻吟结束。“他妈的——”没过多久,TK就在接缝处四分五裂,他喘息的叫声在卡洛斯的耳边响起,他倒进了温水浴中。 他紧紧抱住卡洛斯,他的身体像秋叶一样在微风中颤抖,在他变成卡洛斯手中的腻子之前,他跳了几下的心跳。卡洛斯的鸡巴因需要而悸动,但看到 TK 在他怀里耗尽和瘫软的景象赶走了所有释放的欲望。TK的肚子咕噜咕噜地叫着,他好像很尴尬,但没有试图移动。卡洛斯笑了笑,伸手去拿浴缸旁边篮子里的毛巾和肥皂。他把TK抱在怀里,用肥皂毛巾擦拭身体,洗去汗水。TK呻吟着,将四肢移到卡洛斯的位置,直到卡洛斯用布擦过他的,他才跳起来发出嘶嘶声。它们又红又浮肿,当卡洛斯温柔地亲吻一个然后另一个时,一丝内疚感从卡洛斯身上射出。TK叹了口气,当他似乎终于恢复了自己并恢复了肌肉时,他从卡洛斯手中接过布,在上面喷了更多的肥皂,然后揉了揉卡洛斯。他对卡洛斯仍然汹涌澎湃的坚硬鸡巴犹豫不决,但卡洛斯笑着摇了摇头。“我没事。”TK朝他皱起眉头。卡洛斯从TK手中取下布,在浴缸里冲洗干净。“我饿了。此外,这不会去任何地方。他眨了眨眼,TK又变成了漂亮的粉红色。天哪,对于一个有天知道多少赤膊上阵戏的演员来说,他肯定会脸红很多。他们迅速清理干净,从浴缸里出来,赤身裸体地冲进卧室。TK拉上一对

of grey sweatpants and a large, white sweater with a scoop neck that falls off one shoulder when he moves his arm just right. TK looks up and catches Carlos staring, and his lips stretch into a knowing little smile that sends Carlos’ heart racing. He wrenches his eyes away and focuses on getting dressed. It’s not until they’re in the kitchen standing hip to hip in front of the slow cooker that Carlos realizes TK’s not wearing any underwear. Christ on a cracker. “What's for dinner?” TK asks. “What?” TK cocks a brow at him, his lips curving into another smug grin, and points at the Crock Pot. “Dinner.” “Oh, um—” Carlos rips his eyes from TK and stares at the slow cooker as if it holds the meaning to life. “Vegan chilli. I found some canned beans in the pantry and used the last of our tomatoes and onions.” Carlos lifts the glass lid and stirs the thick contents with a wooden spoon. Ribbons of rich aromas wrap around them. Vegetable broth, tart tomatoes, sweet onions, pungent garlic, oregano, thyme, black pepper, all rounded by the distinctive tang of balsamic vinegar. Normally, Carlos would also add a combination of ground beef, pork, and turkey, but even without, the chilli smells phenomenal. TK inhales deeply, his eyes fluttering shut, and the smugness in his expression is replaced by pure happiness. His stomach growls once more, and Carlos’ own hunger gurgles in response. They stare at each other, then burst out laughing as Carlos opens the upper cupboard for bowls. Even though he’s only known TK for a few days, Carlos has grown used to having TK in his space. They fall into this synchronized rhythm in the kitchen without even trying, and that alone puts Carlos at ease. There are no prying cameras in the middle of the woods. No paparazzi hiding in the bushes trying to get a compromising photograph, and no trash tabloids trying to get a story. They can be themselves here, no egos, no pretences, and no masks, and Carlos is grateful that TK trusts him enough to show him the person behind the persona. Carlos dishes two large bowls of chilli while TK spreads margarine on thick slices of sourdough, and they curl up on the couch together, snuggling side by side. TK digs in, and the moans coming from him should be illegal. It warms Carlos’ heart to see TK eat whatever Carlos feeds him without fussing and asking a million questions about calories and macros. He gets it, actors have to look the part and take care of their bodies, but sometimes it’s important to let loose and live a little. “When I get back to LA, I’m gonna need your services,” TK moans around a mouthful of chilli. “I can always teach you how to make this yourself,” Carlos offers. TK glances at Carlos and smiles as he dips his toast absentmindedly into the last of his stew. “God, I wish I could eat like this every day.” “Why can’t you?” “I got a lot of shirtless scenes in my next movie.” TK sighs and takes a large bite of his toast. “Gotta get that six pack back.” “Back?” Carlos arches an eyebrow at TK and pokes his stomach.
灰色运动裤和一件白色大毛衣,当他恰到好处地移动手臂时,大圆领会从一侧肩膀上掉下来。TK抬起头,发现卡洛斯正盯着他看,他的嘴唇伸展成一个会心的微笑,让卡洛斯心跳加速。他把目光移开,专心致志地穿衣服。直到他们在厨房里,在慢炖锅前站着臀部,卡洛斯才意识到TK没有穿任何内衣。饼干上的基督。“晚餐吃什么?”TK问道。“什么?”TK朝他挑了挑眉,嘴唇弯成另一个得意的笑容,指了指瓦罐。“吃晚饭。”“噢,呃——”卡洛斯把眼睛从TK身上扯下来,盯着慢炖锅,仿佛它蕴藏着生命的意义。“纯素辣椒。我在储藏室里找到了一些罐装豆子,用了我们最后的西红柿和洋葱。卡洛斯掀开玻璃盖,用木勺搅拌着浓稠的内容物。浓郁的香气丝带缠绕着它们。蔬菜汤、酸西红柿、甜洋葱、辛辣的大蒜、牛至、百里香、黑胡椒,所有这些都被香醋的独特味道所包围。通常,卡洛斯还会添加碎牛肉、猪肉和火鸡的组合,但即使没有,辣椒闻起来也很香。TK深吸一口气,闭上眼睛,表情中的得意被纯粹的幸福所取代。他的肚子再次咕噜咕噜地叫着,卡洛斯自己的饥饿感也随之咕噜咕噜地响了起来。他们面面相觑,然后大笑起来,卡洛斯打开上面的橱柜放碗。尽管他只认识传统知识几天,但卡洛斯已经习惯了在他的空间里有传统知识。他们甚至没有尝试就进入了厨房的这种同步节奏,仅此一项就让卡洛斯放心了。树林中间没有窥探摄像头。 没有狗仔队躲在灌木丛中试图拍出一张妥协的照片,也没有垃圾小报试图报道。他们可以在这里做自己,没有自我,没有伪装,也没有面具,卡洛斯很感激TK足够信任他,向他展示了这个角色背后的人。卡洛斯端了两大碗辣椒,而TK则在厚厚的酸面团片上涂抹人造黄油,他们一起蜷缩在沙发上,并排依偎在一起。TK挖了进去,他发出的呻吟应该是非法的。看到 TK 吃卡洛斯喂给他的任何东西,没有大惊小怪地问了一百万个关于卡路里和宏量的问题,这让卡洛斯的心感到温暖。他明白了,演员必须看好自己的角色并照顾好自己的身体,但有时放松和生活一点很重要。“当我回到洛杉矶时,我将需要你的服务,”TK呻吟着一口辣椒。“我总是可以教你如何自己做这个,”卡洛斯说。TK瞥了一眼卡洛斯,微笑着将吐司蘸了上最后一口炖菜。“天哪,真希望我每天都能这样吃。”“你为什么不能?”“在我的下一部电影中,我有很多赤膊上阵的场景。”TK叹了口气,咬了一大口吐司。“得把那六块腹肌拿回来。”“回来了?”卡洛斯对TK拱了拱眉毛,戳了戳他的肚子。

“You can see them if I flex now, but when you have lights shining on you from all angles, they need to pop.” TK shrinks from Carlos’ poking and tries not to spill his food. “Also, the camera adds ten pounds. Everyone knows that.” Carlos puts his half finished bowl on the coffee table and pulls TK against him, his arm around TK’s shoulders. “Well, if we’re gonna talk business, I can do your meals to get you into six-pack shape.” It sucks, but Carlos gets it, and this is the one thing he’s damn good at. “You won’t get sourdough for a while though, so might as well enjoy yourself while you can.” TK grins and stuffs the rest of his chilli soaked toast into his mouth, his jaw working as he chews enthusiastically. They finish the rest of dinner in relative silence, making small talk here and there. TK insists on doing the dishes, and Carlos doesn’t fight him as he takes a seat at the dinner table, his hands wrapped around a mug of tea as he watches TK at the sink, his large sweater sleeves pushed up to his elbows. After the kitchen is clean, Carlos finds another one of TK’s movies in Kevin’s collection, and after some very hot and heavy convincing on Carlos’ part, TK relents to watching it. It’s another older movie where he plays a punk ass college kid, and it amazes Carlos to see the difference between the guy on screen and the guy curled up next to him. The character is a total asshole, with a devil-may-care attitude and a disregard for everyone around him, yet there’s something about him that draws Carlos in, that makes him want to know his story. It’s the way his eyes dim with melancholy when he’s alone, and the way his expression so subtly changes from one situation to another. The difference between the Russian serial killer and this college kid is night and day, the range of emotions so vast Carlos can’t begin to fathom how TK managed to do both so flawlessly. TK acts with his whole body and soul, and he holds nothing back as he throws himself into his characters, embracing their rough edges and flaws like they're his own. It’s hard to imagine this guy, with his lumpy sweater and too-big sweatpants, is the same TK Strand on the TV screen right now. Hard to imagine what sort of headspace TK must get into in order to embody someone as complex and rich as the character in order to make him so despicable yet lovable at the same time. Is TK putting on an act with Carlos now? He shakes the thought from his head as soon as it enters his mind. He doesn’t know how he knows, but his gut tells him this TK curled up against him is the real deal. This TK, who wants to save the planet and loves oversized sweaters and fantasy books and can’t cook worth shit, is the man behind the many, many masks he wears. And Carlos may be falling for him with every passing moment. He leans down and kisses the top of TK’s head, and TK looks up from where he’s resting his head on Carlos’ chest to plant a kiss on Carlos’ jaw, his green eyes soft and unguarded. Outside, the storm rages on, and despite their dwindling food supplies, Carlos wants the snow to never stop falling.
“如果我现在弯曲,你可以看到它们,但是当你有灯光从各个角度照射到你身上时,它们需要弹出。TK从卡洛斯的戳中缩了缩身子,尽量不把他的食物洒出来。“此外,相机增加了十磅。每个人都知道这一点。Carlos把他半成品的碗放在茶几上,把TK拉到他身上,他的胳膊搂着TK的肩膀。“好吧,如果我们要谈生意,我可以帮你做饭,让你变成六块腹肌。”这很糟糕,但卡洛斯明白了,这是他最擅长的一件事。“不过,你暂时不会吃酸面团,所以不妨趁着可以的时候好好享受一下。”TK咧嘴一笑,把剩下的辣椒吐司塞进嘴里,下巴一边热情地咀嚼一边工作。他们在相对安静的环境中吃完了剩下的晚餐,到处闲聊。TK坚持要洗碗,而Carlos在餐桌旁坐下时没有与他争吵,他的双手捧着一杯茶,看着TK在水槽旁,他的大毛衣袖子被推到肘部。厨房打扫干净后,卡洛斯在凯文的收藏中发现了另一部TK的电影,在卡洛斯的一番非常激烈的说服之后,TK还是放弃了观看。这是另一部老电影,他扮演一个朋克屁股大学生,看到屏幕上的家伙和蜷缩在他旁边的家伙之间的区别,卡洛斯感到惊讶。这个角色是个彻头彻尾的混蛋,有一种魔鬼般的态度,无视他周围的每个人,但他身上有一些东西吸引了卡洛斯,让他想知道他的故事。当他独自一人时,他的眼睛因忧郁而黯淡无光,他的表情从一种情况微妙地变化到另一种情况。 俄罗斯连环杀手和这个大学生之间的区别是白天和黑夜,情绪范围如此之广,卡洛斯无法开始理解 TK 是如何做到如此完美的。TK用他的整个身体和灵魂行动,当他把自己投入到他的角色中时,他没有任何退缩,拥抱他们粗糙的边缘和缺陷,就像他们自己的一样。很难想象这个穿着厚厚的毛衣和太大的运动裤的家伙,现在在电视屏幕上还是同一个 TK Strand。很难想象TK必须进入什么样的空间才能体现出像角色一样复杂和丰富的人,才能使他如此卑鄙而又可爱。TK现在正在和卡洛斯一起表演吗?这个想法一进入他的脑海,他就把这个想法从脑海中甩了出去。他不知道自己是怎么知道的,但他的直觉告诉他,这个蜷缩在他身上的TK是真的。这个想要拯救地球,喜欢超大号毛衣和奇幻书籍,不会做饭的TK,是他戴着许多面具的幕后黑手。卡洛斯可能每时每刻都爱上了他。他俯下身吻了TK的头顶,TK抬起头,把头靠在卡洛斯的胸膛上,在卡洛斯的下巴上亲了一口,绿色的眼睛柔和而毫无防备。外面,暴风雨肆虐,尽管他们的食物供应越来越少,但卡洛斯希望雪永远不会停止下。

Chapter 13 TK stirs and stretches languidly under the warm sheets, his eyes shut as he clings to the fuzziness of sleep a little longer. His body aches, his nipples are tender, and the events of yesterday send waves of heat through him. Who knew Chef Carlos with the nerdy glasses has a sadistic streak when it comes to nipple play? After the movie last night, they made out like horny teenagers on the couch before stumbling to bed. But instead of letting TK get him off, Carlos turned off the light and tucked them both into bed, his big body wrapping around TK’s like a warm blanket. TK would have loved to get his hands and mouth on Carlos’ cock, but it had been a long time since TK was the little spoon in such comforting arms that he fell asleep almost immediately. Before he passed out, though, he promised himself he’d give Carlos the best morning blowjob of his life. Heat pools between TK’s legs, his cock twitching to full-mast as he turns over and reaches for Carlos. His fingers land on air, and his eyes snap open to an empty bed. TK frowns and checks the bedside radio clock. It’s ten after eight in the morning. Where the hell is Carlos? Disappointed, he sits up and huffs out a slow sigh. Is this Carlos’ way of telling him yesterday was a one time thing? Why else would he refuse when TK offered to suck him off last night? Did Carlos want to sleep with him just that one time so he can say he did? Sick dread punches through him, and TK’s stomach heaves as a wave of nausea washes over him. How stupid is he to think yesterday was anything more than just sex? He’ll have to get in touch with Mateo to warn him of yet another potential sex scandal then call his PR agent and— The floorboards creak right outside the bedroom. TK freezes, his eyes darting to the door just as it opens on silent hinges. Carlos steps into the bedroom and smiles when he finds TK awake. His cheeks and the tip of his nose are red as if he’d been out in the cold. His curls are flat against his head, and the top half of his glasses are fogged. In his hands is a large food-laden tray, and the aroma of eggs, toast, bacon, and fresh coffee wraps around TK’s frozen form. “Morning, baby,” Carlos says, his voice quiet but cheery. “Sleep well?” TK blinks, his mind racing. He opens his mouth but no words come out as his gaze darts between the tray of food and Carlos’ face. TK must look upset, because Carlos’ smile wavers and a frown creases his thick eyebrows. He places the tray at the foot of the bed, then turns and sits gingerly on the edge, careful not to disturb the food. “What’s wrong?” he asks and reaches across the bed to brush a loose strand of hair from TK’s brows. “Did you have a bad dream?” TK clamps his mouth shut, opens it, then closes it again as he fails to find the right words. Carlos got up early to make them breakfast, and TK’s first thought was that Carlos is going to go to the press with the fact they slept together. Shame burns through him, and suddenly he can’t hold the weight of Carlos’ soft, concerned gaze. He drops his eyes to his lap and swallows, wishing the floor would open up and swallow him so he wouldn’t have to face Carlos. Alex is right. He really is just an ungrateful brat who doesn’t know anything.
第13章 TK在温暖的床单下懒洋洋地伸展着身体,闭上眼睛,在模糊的睡眠中坚持了一会儿。他的身体疼痛,柔软,昨天的事件在他身上传递着一波又一波的热浪。谁知道戴着书眼镜的厨师卡洛斯在游戏方面有虐待狂的倾向?昨晚看完电影后,他们像饥渴的少年一样在沙发上亲热,然后跌跌撞撞地上床睡觉。但卡洛斯没有让TK把他赶走,而是关掉了灯,把他们俩塞进了床上,他巨大的身体像温暖的毯子一样包裹着TK的身体。TK很想把手和嘴放在卡洛斯的鸡巴上,但TK已经很久没有成为他几乎马上睡着了的小勺子了。然而,在他昏倒之前,他向自己保证,他会给卡洛斯一生中最好的早晨口交。热气在TK的双腿之间积聚,当他翻身伸手去抓卡洛斯时,他的鸡巴抽搐到全桅杆。他的手指落在空气上,他的眼睛猛地睁开,看到一张空荡荡的床。TK皱起眉头,检查床头的收音机时钟。现在是早上八点过后十点。卡洛斯到底在哪里?失望之余,他坐了起来,缓缓地叹了口气。这是卡洛斯昨天告诉他的方式是一次性的吗?不然他为什么会拒绝,因为TK昨晚提出要把他吸走?卡洛斯想和他睡一次,这样他就可以说他做到了吗?病态的恐惧袭来,TK的胃随着一股恶心的浪潮席卷而起伏。他有多愚蠢,认为昨天不仅仅是性?他必须与马特奥取得联系,警告他另一起潜在的性丑闻,然后打电话给他的公关经纪人,然后—— 地板在卧室外吱吱作响。 TK愣住了,他的眼睛飞快地盯着门,就在门在无声的铰链上打开的时候。卡洛斯走进卧室,当他发现TK醒来时,他笑了。他的脸颊和鼻尖都红了,仿佛在寒冷中度过了难关。他的卷发平贴在头上,眼镜的上半部分起雾。他手里拿着一个装满食物的大托盘,鸡蛋、吐司、培根和新鲜咖啡的香气包裹着 TK 的冷冻形式。“早上好,宝贝,”卡洛斯说,他的声音平静而欢快。“睡得好吗?”TK眨了眨眼,脑子飞速运转。他张了张嘴,但话也说不出来,因为他的目光在食物托盘和卡洛斯的脸之间游走。TK一定看起来很不高兴,因为卡洛斯的笑容摇摆不定,浓密的眉毛皱起了眉头。他把托盘放在床脚下,然后转过身来,小心翼翼地坐在床沿上,小心翼翼地不要打扰食物。“怎么了?”他问道,把手伸到床对面,拂去TK眉毛上的一缕松散的头发。“你做了一个噩梦吗?”TK闭上嘴巴,张开嘴,然后又闭上嘴巴,因为他找不到合适的词。卡洛斯早早起床给他们做早餐,TK的第一个想法是卡洛斯要去媒体上说他们睡在一起的事实。羞愧在他身上燃烧,突然间,他无法承受卡洛斯柔和而关切的目光的重量。他把眼睛放到膝盖上,咽了口唾沫,希望地板能打开,把他吞下去,这样他就不必面对卡洛斯了。亚历克斯是对的。他真的只是一个忘恩负义的小子,什么都不知道。

Soft fingers brush across his jaw, and TK flinches before he can catch himself. Carlos’ hand pulls away, and it’s a long suffocating moment before TK finds the courage to look up again. Carlos is still here, seated on the edge of the bed, his expression full of concern as he watches TK with soft, patient eyes. How could TK ever think Carlos would betray him? He reaches across the bed and takes Carlos’ hand, threading his fingers between Carlos’ and squeezes. “Hey, sorry, it—you were right. It was nothing but a bad dream.” Carlos strokes TK’s hand and squeezes him back, his face breaking into a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you woke up.” More guilt chills him to the bone, and TK bites the inside of his cheek to keep from telling Carlos what he was really thinking. Instead, he takes a deep breath and steadies himself, pulling on his years of acting to mask his feelings. “It’s okay.” He scoots closer to the edge of the bed and brushes a quick kiss to Carlos’ cheek. “You made breakfast?” Carlos’ smile turns apologetic. “Yeah, but we’re pretty much out of vegan options at this point. It’s bacon and eggs and the last of our bread for breakfast.” He points to the tray with a nod. “I figure we can do cheese and crackers for lunch and taco fried rice for dinner. But hey, at least we still have coffee.” “You know I’ve been more vegan in the past four days than I have been since I started trying, and that’s all thanks to you, right?” TK kisses Carlos’ other cheek. “I’ll be okay eating some meat until we can restock, so don’t fret. Besides, that bacon smells amazing.” Carlos smiles and his eyes light up. “It’s not just any old bacon.” He pulls the tray carefully across the bed until it's nestled between them, then picks up a strip of glistening bacon with his fingers. “Maple brown sugar candied bacon with five spice.” TK leans forward and takes a bite and his mouth explodes with the most intense foodgasm of his life. The smoky, saltiness of the bacon is tampered by the sweetness of the maple syrup and brown sugar, and the hint of five spice reminds TK of the Chinese BBQ pork from this mom-pop shop back home in New York City, a block away from his highschool. His dad used to order take-out there every friday night when it was his turn to make dinner. He chews and swallows, then dives back in and snatches the rest of the piece from Carlos’ fingers. “God, this is so amazing. Who knew maple syrup and five spice went so well together.” “It’s one of my favourites,” Carlos replies as he picks up another strip of bacon and pops the whole thing into his mouth. Carlos crawls into bed and pulls the tray over his lap as he leans against the headboard. TK snuggles up against him and sighs, letting the tension melt from him. Carlos picks up a morsel of scrambled eggs and brings it to TK’s mouth, resting the warm, fluffy bite against TK’s bottom lip. TK glances up through his lashes and finds Carlos’ eyes trained on him as if unsure how TK is going to respond to being fed. Without thinking, his lips part, and Carlos tips the egg into his mouth. It’s sweet and creamy with a hint of curry that enhances the egg’s natural flavour without overpowering it. It’s delicious, maybe even more so than the maple brown sugar bacon, but it’s not the food that has his heart doing
柔软的手指拂过他的下巴,TK在他抓住自己之前就退缩了。卡洛斯的手抽开了,过了很久,TK才鼓起勇气再次抬起头来。卡洛斯还在这里,坐在床沿上,用柔和而耐心的眼神看着TK,他的表情充满了担忧。TK怎么会想到卡洛斯会背叛他?他把手伸到床对面,握住卡洛斯的手,手指在卡洛斯的手指之间穿梭,捏了捏。“嘿,对不起,你是对的。这不过是一场噩梦。卡洛斯抚摸着TK的手,把他捏了回去,脸上露出同情的笑容。“对不起,你醒来的时候我不在这里。”更多的内疚让他不寒而栗,TK咬了咬他的脸颊内侧,不告诉卡洛斯他的真实想法。相反,他深吸一口气,稳住自己,用他多年的表演来掩盖自己的感情。“没关系。”他蹑手蹑脚地靠近床边,在卡洛斯的脸颊上飞快地吻了一下。“你做了早餐?”卡洛斯的笑容变成了歉意。“是的,但在这一点上,我们几乎没有素食选择。这是培根和鸡蛋,是我们早餐的最后一块面包。他点了点头,指了指托盘。“我想我们可以在午餐时做奶酪和饼干,在晚餐时做炸玉米饼炒饭。但是,嘿,至少我们还有咖啡。“你知道,在过去的四天里,我比我开始尝试以来更吃素,这都多亏了你,对吧?”TK亲吻了Carlos的另一边脸颊。“在我们补充库存之前,我会吃一些肉,所以不要担心。此外,培根闻起来很香。卡洛斯微笑着,眼睛亮了起来。“这不仅仅是任何老培根。“ 他小心翼翼地将托盘拉过床,直到它依偎在它们之间,然后用手指拿起一条闪闪发光的培根。枫糖红糖蜜饯培根配五香。TK身体前倾,咬了一口,他的嘴里爆发出他一生中最强烈的食物味。熏肉的烟熏味和咸味被枫糖浆和红糖的甜味所掩盖,五种香料的味道让TK想起了纽约市家乡这家夫妻店的中国烧烤猪肉,离他的高中只有一个街区。他爸爸过去每周五晚上轮到他做晚饭时都会在那里点外卖。他咀嚼并吞咽,然后潜入水中,从卡洛斯的手指上抢走了剩下的一块。“天哪,这太神奇了。谁知道枫糖浆和五种香料搭配得这么好。“这是我的最爱之一,”卡洛斯回答说,他拿起另一条培根,把整个东西塞进嘴里。卡洛斯爬上床,把托盘拉到腿上,靠在床头板上。TK依偎在他身上,叹了口气,让紧张感从他身上消失。卡洛斯拿起一小块炒鸡蛋,送到TK的嘴里,将温暖蓬松的一口放在TK的下唇上。TK透过睫毛抬头看了一眼,发现Carlos的眼睛盯着他,好像不确定TK对被喂食会有什么反应。卡洛斯不假思索地张开嘴唇,把鸡蛋塞进嘴里。它甜美而奶油,带有一丝咖喱味,增强了鸡蛋的天然风味,而不会压倒它。它很好吃,甚至可能比枫糖红糖培根还要好吃,但这不是他心上的食物

somersaults. Something stormy clouds Carlos’ big brown eyes, turning them into pools of liquid desire as he picks up another piece of egg and brings it to TK’s lips. TK accepts without hesitation and flicks his tongue across the pad of Carlos’ finger. Carlos’ eyes narrow and his breath catches. His finger lingers on TK’s lip before returning to the tray and breaking a small piece of toast. TK accepts the toast with another flick of his tongue, and Jesus H. Christ but the look on Carlos’ face should be illegal as he devours TK with his eyes. TK settles next to Carlos, his earlier fears completely gone as he opens his mouth for every piece of food Carlos brings to his lips. He’s never been fed like this before. There’s something erotic in the press of Carlos’ fingers as he passes every bite to TK. It’s arousing yet calming at the same time, and TK finds himself floating but tethered to Carlos’ touch and the heat of his skin and the solid press of his body. It’s so sensual yet innocent, and TK can’t think as he sinks into the simple act of accepting each morsel presented to him. It’s sometime before TK notices the plate is empty, and there’s only half a triangle of toast left. Carlos smiles down at him, his expression full of pride and joy and a little something else that makes TK’s cock twitch. Somehow, TK sitting here and doing nothing but eating has pleased Carlos, and TK preens as he bites back the urge to grin like a fool. “Full?” Carlos asks as he brings one more bite of toast to TK’s lips. TK accepts, pulling the piece between his lips and chewing before answering, “Mhm.” Carlos picks up the napkin and cleans the corners of TK’s lips then wipes his fingers. “Good.” His voice is thick, and the single word is loaded with so much more than a simple affirmation. TK swallows the bite of toast and rolls onto his knees, his butt resting on his heels. He studies Carlos’ face and finds a storm brewing behind his eyes. Carefully, he moves the tray from Carlos’ lap, then peels the blankets back and settles between his legs. Carlos watches him like an attentive puppy, eyes unwavering as he follows TK’s every move. There’s so much devotion in those puppy dog eyes, so must trust, and TK swells with a need to please Carlos. To make him happy. His hands slide up Carlos’ legs, fingers ghosting over the thick material of his sweatpants until they converge at the impressive tent between Carlos’ legs. He’s hard, so so hard, and TK’s mouth waters. He glances up, his heart skipping a beat at the heated intensity of Carlos’ gaze, then slips his fingers beneath Carlos’ waist band. Carlos raises his hips as TK pulls his sweatpants and underwear down his hips. His cock catches on the elastic, then springs free to slap against his stomach in a beautiful arc. TK groans, the sound breaking the spell that held Carlos captive, and suddenly large hands are on TK as Carlos yanks him in for a searing kiss. TK relents, letting Carlos thoroughly devour his mouth before pulling away, earning himself a whimper. He reaches between their bodies and grips Carlos’ cock in a firm squeeze, and Carlos’ head slams back against the headboard with a loud crack. “Fu—” Carlos swears, and TK’s not sure if it’s from the pain or from the base-to-tip stroke he just gave Carlos’ dick. It’s thick and heavy and velvety soft, and the noises Carlos makes urge TK to stroke faster and squeeze harder. It’s so hot to see him sprawled out like this, his fists clenching and unclenching around bruised sheets, his thighs twitching, his head thrown back with his glasses askew, but TK wants more. Wants to see Carlos come apart. TK scoots down, then bends over and blows a soft
翻跟头。暴风雨笼罩着卡洛斯的棕色大眼睛,当他拿起另一块鸡蛋送到TK的嘴边时,它们变成了液体欲望的池子。TK毫不犹豫地接受了,并用舌头在Carlos的指垫上弹了一下。卡洛斯眯起眼睛,呼吸急促。他的手指在TK的嘴唇上徘徊,然后回到托盘上,掰开了一小块吐司。TK又用舌头轻弹了一下,接受了祝酒词,耶稣基督,但卡洛斯脸上的表情应该是非法的,因为他用眼睛吞噬了TK。TK在卡洛斯旁边安顿下来,他之前的恐惧完全消失了,因为他张开嘴,等待卡洛斯端到嘴边的每一块食物。他以前从未被这样喂过。卡洛斯的手指按压着一些色情的东西,因为他把每一口都交给了TK。它既令人兴奋又平静,TK发现自己漂浮在空中,但被卡洛斯的触摸、皮肤的热量和身体的坚实压力所束缚。它是如此感性而天真,TK无法思考,因为他陷入了接受呈现给他的每一口食物的简单行为中。过了好一会儿,TK才注意到盘子是空的,只剩下半个三角形的吐司了。卡洛斯对他微笑,他的表情充满了骄傲和喜悦,还有一点点让TK的鸡巴抽搐的东西。不知怎的,TK坐在这里,除了吃饭什么都不做,这让卡洛斯很开心,TK忍住了像个傻瓜一样咧嘴笑的冲动。“满了?”Carlos一边问,一边又把一口吐司送到TK的嘴边。TK接受了,把那块东西拉到嘴唇之间咀嚼,然后回答:“嗯。Carlos拿起餐巾纸,擦了擦TK的嘴角,然后擦了擦手指。“好。”他的声音很浑厚,一个字所承载的不仅仅是一个简单的肯定。 TK吞下一口吐司,滚到膝盖上,屁股靠在脚后跟上。他研究卡洛斯的脸,发现他的眼睛后面正在酝酿一场风暴。他小心翼翼地把托盘从卡洛斯的腿上移开,然后把毯子剥回去,放在他的两腿之间。卡洛斯像一只细心的小狗一样看着他,眼睛坚定不移地注视着TK的一举一动。那些小狗的眼睛里有那么多的虔诚,所以必须信任,而TK因需要取悦卡洛斯而膨胀。为了让他开心。他的手顺着卡洛斯的腿滑上,手指在他厚厚的运动裤上划过,直到它们汇聚在卡洛斯两腿之间令人印象深刻的帐篷上。他很辛苦,太辛苦了,TK的口水都流了。他抬头看了一眼,在卡洛斯炽热的目光中心跳加速,然后把手指滑到卡洛斯的腰带下面。卡洛斯抬起臀部,TK将他的运动裤和内裤拉到臀部。他的鸡巴抓住了松紧带,然后自由地弹跳起来,以一个美丽的弧线拍打着他的肚子。TK呻吟着,这声音打破了囚禁卡洛斯的咒语,突然,大手放在了TK身上,卡洛斯把他拽了进去,给了他一个灼热的吻。TK心软了,让卡洛斯彻底吞噬了他的嘴,然后抽离,为自己赢得了一声呜咽。他把手伸到他们的身体之间,用力握住卡洛斯的阴茎,卡洛斯的头撞在床头板上,发出一声巨响。“傅——”卡洛斯咒骂着,TK不确定是因为疼痛还是因为他刚刚给卡洛斯的鸡巴从根部到尖端的抚摸。它又厚又重,天鹅绒般柔软,卡洛斯发出的声音促使 TK 抚摸得更快,挤压得更用力。 看到他这样趴在外面真是太热了,他的拳头在瘀伤的床单上握紧又松开,他的大腿抽搐着,他的头向后仰,眼镜歪斜,但TK想要更多。想看到卡洛斯分崩离析。TK蹲下身子,然后弯下腰,轻轻地吹了一口气

puff of hot air on the tip of Carlos’ cock. “TK—” Carlos whines, his hips scooting forward even as they thrust up. One large hand comes up to caress TK’s cheek tenderly, then calloused fingers slide into TK’s hair like a silent plea. TK needs no further urging and he opens wide and takes Carlos all the way down in one gulp. It’s been a while since he gave head, and the length and girth of Carlos’ impressive cock triggers his gag reflex, but TK soldiers on, his throat working as he swallows Carlos’ length until it’s nudged snug and full down TK’s throat. Fingers spasm in TK’s hair, and the way Carlos’ hips stutter as he fights and fails to not thrust has TK seeing stars. His cock is so thick it’s almost too much, but it feels so good to have his throat stretched like this, to be used like this by Carlos. TK hangs on for as long as possible, then pulls back and sucks in a lungful of air before diving back down. Above him, Carlos gasps, his voice strained as if he’s trying to hold back. TK pulls off of Carlos’ cock, and a string of saliva drips from his lip to the head of Carlos’ dick. “Fuck my throat,” he rasps, his own voice unsteady as he pants for air. Carlos frowns and shakes his head, his eyes wide. Without breaking eye contact, TK drags the flat of his tongue from the base of Carlos’ cock to the top then sucks the head between his lips, earning him a high-pitched whine. “Fuck my throat, Carlos. Use me. Please.” Carlos freezes at the plea and they stare at each other for a long, breathless moment. Then, it’s as if a switch has flipped inside Carlos, and his eyes cloud over with lust. His lips pull back with a hot- as-sin snarl as he brings his other hand to the back of TK’s head. Without warning, he shoves TK back on his cock, and it’s all TK can do to relax his throat and let it happen. His throat expands to accept all of Carlos, his tongue lapping at the smooth, slippery skin, catching and mapping every vein as Carlos thrusts into his mouth. It’s clumsy at first, both of them trying to find the rhythm, but it doesn’t take long for them to synchronize their movements. TK swallows around the head of Carlos’ cock with every thrust, and every time, Carlos rewards him with a desperate little noise that shoots straight to TK’s dick. A part of him wants to reach between his legs and grasp his erection, wants to stroke himself in time with Carlos’ thrusts so he can bring himself to completion at the same time, but the bigger part doesn’t want to miss a single second of Carlos’ undoing. So he grinds his hips into the mattress, settling for whatever friction he can get as he focuses on the beautiful cock fucking his throat and the even more beautiful man tugging on his hair. TK’s no stranger to giving head, but there’s always an urgency to it as if it paves the way to something more exciting. Not right now. Not when Carlos is staring down at him with stars in his eyes. Carlos’ hips snap harder, and the stretch is almost painful as TK further relaxes his jaw, but he’s in no hurry for this to end. In no hurry for Carlos to finish, because the journey is just as breathtaking. But all good things must come to an end, and if the way Carlos is losing his rhythm is any indication, he’s getting close. He’s so fucking gorgeous like this, his cheeks flushed and his eyes stormy with desire. His lips part on a shuddering sigh, then his whole body tenses like a tightly strung bow. “TK—I’m—” is all the warning he gets before hot ropes of come jet down TK’s throat. Carlos’ fingers tighten painfully around his hair, but the pain only enhances the pleasure of seeing, hearing, tasting, and feeling Carlos lose himself. The taste of his release coats TK’s tongue and overwhelms his senses. There’s so much of it he can’t keep up as he struggles to swallow, and when Carlos’ softening cock slips from his lips, a trickle follows and dribbles down his chin.
一股热气吹在卡洛斯的鸡巴顶端。“啧——”卡洛斯呜呜地叫着,他的臀部在挺起的时候向前翘了翘。一只大手伸过来温柔地抚摸着TK的脸颊,然后长满老茧的手指滑入TK的头发,像是无声的恳求。TK不需要进一步的催促,他张开了嘴,一口气把卡洛斯一路吞了下去。他已经有一段时间没有头了,卡洛斯令人印象深刻的鸡巴的长度和周长触发了他的呕吐反射,但 TK 继续前进,他的喉咙在他吞下卡洛斯的长度时工作,直到它被轻推并完全进入 TK 的喉咙。手指在TK的头发上痉挛,卡洛斯的臀部在战斗时结结巴巴,没有,这让TK看到了星星。他的鸡巴太粗了,几乎太多了,但是他的喉咙像这样伸展,被卡洛斯这样使用的感觉真好。TK尽可能长时间地坚持下去,然后向后拉,吸入一大口空气,然后潜回去。在他上方,卡洛斯喘着粗气,他的声音紧张,仿佛在努力忍住。TK从卡洛斯的鸡巴上拔下来,一串唾液从他的嘴唇滴到卡洛斯的鸡巴头上。“操我的喉咙,”他嘶吼着,自己的声音在他喘着粗气时不稳定。卡洛斯皱着眉头摇了摇头,睁大了眼睛。TK没有中断眼神交流,将他的舌头从卡洛斯的阴茎根部拖到顶部,然后在他的嘴唇之间吮吸头部,为他赢得了高亢的呜呜声。“操我的喉咙,卡洛斯。使用我。拜托了。卡洛斯被这个请求吓了一跳,他们盯着对方看了很久,喘不过气来。然后,卡洛斯的内心仿佛打开了一个开关,他的眼睛里充满了欲望。他的嘴唇向后拉,发出一声炽热的咆哮,同时将另一只手放在TK的后脑勺上。 毫无征兆地,他把TK推回他的鸡巴上,TK能做的就是放松他的喉咙,让它发生。他的喉咙扩张以容纳卡洛斯的全部,他的舌头拍打着光滑、滑溜溜的皮肤,当卡洛斯插入他的嘴里时,捕捉并绘制了每一条静脉。一开始很笨拙,两人都试图找到节奏,但没过多久,他们的动作就同步了。TK每一次抽插都会吞下卡洛斯的鸡巴头,每一次,卡洛斯都会用绝望的小声音来奖励他,直接射向TK的鸡巴。他的一部分想把手伸到他的双腿之间,抓住他的勃起,想在卡洛斯的推力下及时抚摸自己,这样他就可以同时完成自己,但更大的部分不想错过卡洛斯的一秒钟。于是他把臀部磨进床垫里,满足于他能得到的任何摩擦,因为他专注于操他喉咙的美丽鸡巴和更漂亮的男人拉扯他的头发。TK对给予头脑并不陌生,但它总是有一种紧迫感,仿佛它为更令人兴奋的事情铺平了道路。现在不行。当卡洛斯盯着他看时,他的眼睛里有星星。卡洛斯的臀部更用力地折断,随着TK进一步放松他的下巴,这种拉伸几乎是痛苦的,但他并不急于结束这一切。卡洛斯并不急于完成,因为旅程同样令人叹为观止。但所有美好的事物都必须结束,如果卡洛斯失去节奏的方式有任何迹象,那就是他正在接近。他真他妈的漂亮,脸颊通红,眼睛里充满了欲望。他的嘴唇颤抖着叹了口气,然后他的整个身体都绷紧了,就像一张紧绷的弓。“TK——我是——”这是他在热绳索射入TK喉咙之前得到的所有警告。 卡洛斯的手指痛苦地紧紧搂着他的头发,但这种疼痛只会增强卡洛斯迷失自我的视觉、听觉、品尝和感觉的快感。他释放的味道覆盖了TK的舌头,淹没了他的感官。太多了,他挣扎着吞咽,跟不上,当卡洛斯柔软的阴茎从他的嘴唇上滑落时,一股涓涓细流顺着他的下巴滴落。

Trembling fingers cup his cheek, and when Carlos finally opens his eyes to look down at TK, there’s fire dancing in his eyes. He brushes a thumb across the stray trickle of come and scoops it to TK’s lips. TK doesn’t hesitate and opens his mouth, his tongue darting out to swipe at the last of Carlos’ pleasure. It’s bitter and salty and intensely musky, and TK can’t help as a soft moan escapes his throat when Carlos’ thumb brushes across his bottom lip. They stare at each other, both panting for different reasons, until Carlos regains enough strength to drag TK up his body. He places TK on top of him, and TK doesn’t complain as he sinks into the solid body beneath him. “That was probably the best head I’ve ever gotten,” Carlos murmurs into TK’s hair. “Damn right it was.” TK looks up and presses a kiss to the corner of Carlos’ mouth. Carlos turns and captures TK’s lips in a full, open-mouthed kiss. The intoxicating taste of Carlos’ mouth mingling with his release washes over TK, and a fresh wave of desire shudders through him. His cock aches with need, but he hardly notices it as he surges forward to deepen the kiss. For the first time in his life, his own pleasure doesn’t matter. TK ignores the tiny alarm bells going off in the back of his head as he focuses on the sweep of Carlos’ tongue and the spread of his large hands on TK’s back, and he loses himself in the heady thrill of falling head-over-heels for someone. For Carlos. Even if that’s the last thing he should be doing.

Chapter Notes Chapter 14 Posting a day early because I won't be in front of my computer at all tomorrow, and I refuse to miss a posting day! Thanks to everyone who's still keeping up with this story <3! The storm breaks sometime during the night. Despite the fact he’s fairly certain TK isn’t going to hop on the next flight for LA the very next day, a sense of melancholy overcomes Carlos as he watches TK, his haphazardly thrown-on coat hanging open as he runs out into the sun-lit clearing outside the cabin. A wide smile splits his upturned face as he turns in a slow circle like a sunflower tracking the sun. Carlos steps out onto the deck in his wool socks and tucks his hands under his armpits, his shoulders hunched against the cold. He can’t help but smile as TK prances in the snow, the sight chasing away the sadness weighing down on him. TK’s expression is joyous and open as he soaks up the sun. It makes him look younger, more carefree. Maybe he’s one of those people who gets seasonal depression, and a prolonged absence of the sun makes him a grumpy ball of sadness. Like an indignant kitten too stubborn to ask for head rubs. Carlos chortles at the thought, and he shakes his head with a contented sigh. “What’s so funny?” TK asks. “Nothing.” He rolls his eyes and bounds back to the cabin, his boots crunching in the fresh snow. “It’s so beautiful.” “Yes,” Carlos says, his eyes locked on TK, “very beautiful.” Something softens in TK’s expression, and he kicks the toe of his left boot across the wooden deck as he comes to a stop next to Carlos. His breath comes in hazy plumes, and the tiny fog clouds wrap around them like invisible threads, pulling them closer until Carlos’ lips are pressed against TK’s in a tender kiss. When Carlos pulls back, TK leans forward with a whimper that cuts off abruptly as if he’s embarrassed by the sound. It’s adorable as hell. “I gotta go into town today,” Carlos says, pretending to not notice the splash of crimson across TK’s cheeks. “Huh?” “To restock.” Carlos turns and opens the sliding glass door. He ushers TK inside with a hand on TK’s back before following through, his body relaxing in the warmth of the cabin. “We’re pretty much out of fresh vegetables and vegan protein of any sort.” “Oh, that’s right,” TK replies. His tone is light, but Carlos doesn’t miss the slight unease in his voice.
章节笔记 第14章 提前一天发帖,因为明天我根本不会在电脑前,我拒绝错过任何一个发帖日!感谢所有仍在关注这个故事的人 <3!暴风雨在夜间的某个时候爆发。尽管他相当确定TK不会在第二天跳上下一班飞往洛杉矶的航班,但当卡洛斯看着TK时,一种忧郁感战胜了他,当他跑到机舱外阳光明媚的空地上时,他随意披在身上的外套敞开着。他翘起的脸上露出灿烂的笑容,像一朵向日葵追踪太阳一样缓慢地转圈。卡洛斯穿着羊毛袜走到甲板上,双手夹在腋下,肩膀耷拉着抵御寒冷。当TK在雪地里跳跃时,他忍不住笑了,眼前的景象驱散了压在他身上的悲伤。TK在沐浴阳光时的表情是快乐和开放的。这让他看起来更年轻,更无忧无虑。也许他是那些患有季节性抑郁症的人之一,长时间没有阳光使他成为一个脾气暴躁的悲伤球。就像一只愤愤不平的小猫,固执到不敢要求揉头。想到这里,卡洛斯哽咽了一下,他满意地摇了摇头。“有什么好笑的?”TK问道。“没什么。”他翻了个白眼,蹦蹦跳跳地回到小屋,靴子在新雪中嘎吱作响。“太美了。”“是的,”卡洛斯说,他的眼睛锁定在TK身上,“非常漂亮。TK的表情变得柔和起来,他用左靴子的脚趾踢过木甲板,在卡洛斯旁边停了下来。他的呼吸朦胧地传来,细小的雾云像看不见的丝线一样缠绕着他们,将他们拉得更近,直到卡洛斯的嘴唇在温柔的吻中压在TK的嘴唇上。 当卡洛斯后退时,TK向前倾身,发出一声呜咽,突然中断,好像他被声音弄得很尴尬。真是太可爱了。“我今天得进城了,”卡洛斯说,假装没有注意到TK脸颊上的绯红。“嗯?”“补货。”卡洛斯转过身,打开了滑动玻璃门。他把TK带进去,一只手放在TK的背上,然后跟着进去,他的身体在温暖的机舱里放松。“我们几乎没有新鲜蔬菜和任何种类的纯素蛋白质。”“哦,没错,”TK回答。他的语气很轻,但卡洛斯并没有错过他声音中轻微的不安。

“You can stay here if you want.” Carlos picks up his mug and drains the last of his coffee. “I can make the run by myself. It’ll take two hours, maybe three tops. I’ll be back in time to make you a late lunch.” “No!” TK blurts. He blinks owlishly as if surprised by his own outburst. “I mean, no, I want to come with you. It’ll be good to get out after being cooped up here with you for five days.” Carlos clutches the front of his sweater and mocks offence. “I resent that statement.” “Mhm,” is all TK says as he winks and darts just outside of Carlos’ grasp. After a ridiculous chase around the tiny dining room table that ends with Carlos’ arms locked around TK’s waist and his tongue down TK’s throat, they get dressed to venture into public for the first time in nearly a week. The drive to the nearest town takes longer than usual, with some roads better plowed than others, and by the time they pull into the parking lot at the grocery store, Carlos is hoarse from belting Taylor Swift songs at the insistence of his very persuasive travel companion. “Didn’t take you for a Tay Tay fan,” TK says, obviously impressed that Carlos knows all the lyrics by heart. “Red was my jam.” Carlos winks as he kills the engine. “But I gotta hand it to her, even after all these years, she hasn’t disappointed me yet.” TK nods. “She’s a true artist. One day I want to act like she sings.” “That day may not be so far off.” Carlos reaches across the centre console and boops TK’s nose. Before TK can splutter some response, Carlos opens the car door and hops out of the truck. His boots crunch on icy, packed snow and blue crystals of ice melt as he lands, and he twists this way and that to stretch out his back, his spine cracking in blessed relief. The passenger door slams shut, and when Carlos walks around the hood of the truck to meet TK, he’s surprised to find TK in a baseball hat and sunglasses. “When did you pack a hat and sunglasses?” he asks as they walk toward the supermarket. “I always have it with me when I go out.” TK sticks his hands in his pockets and shrugs. “It's a habit now.” “Huh.” They hurry across the parking lot and step through the sliding doors into the warm interior of the store. TK pulls off his sunglasses and tucks them into his coat pocket, then pulls his baseball cap lower to shield his face. It makes sense. Wearing sunglasses inside would attract more attention than not, and that’s the last thing they want. Carlos grabs a shopping cart, and they turn down the produce section and begin their restocking. After picking out a large variety of vegetables and fruit, they find vegan meat substitutes, tofu, and tempeh in the deli section. They emerge from the cereal aisle into the pharmacy section, and TK stops dead in his tracks as if remembering something. He turns to Carlos, and Carlos barely catches the devious glint in his eyes before TK makes for the far end of the aisle. Carlos follows and stops right in front of a wall of lubes and condoms. Oh.
“如果你愿意,你可以留在这里。”卡洛斯拿起杯子,喝光了最后一口咖啡。“我可以自己跑。这需要两个小时,也许是三个顶部。我会及时回来给你做一顿晚饭。“不!”TK脱口而出。他眨了眨眼睛,仿佛对自己的爆发感到惊讶。“我的意思是,不,我想和你一起去。和你一起被关在这里五天后,出去就好了。卡洛斯抓着毛衣的前襟,嘲笑着冒犯。“我讨厌这种说法。”“嗯,”TK一边说,一边眨了眨眼,飞镖就在卡洛斯的掌握之外。在小餐桌周围进行了一场荒谬的追逐之后,卡洛斯的手臂锁在TK的腰上,他的舌头顺着TK的喉咙,他们穿上衣服,近一周来第一次冒险进入公众。开车到最近的城镇比平时要花更长的时间,有些路比其他路犁得更好,当他们驶入杂货店的停车场时,卡洛斯在他非常有说服力的旅伴的坚持下,已经嘶哑了泰勒斯威夫特的歌曲。“没把你当成Tay Tay的粉丝,”TK说,显然对Carlos熟记所有歌词印象深刻。“红色是我的果酱。”卡洛斯眨了眨眼,熄灭了引擎。“但是我得把它交给她,即使这么多年过去了,她还没有让我失望。TK点了点头。“她是一位真正的艺术家。有一天,我想表现得像她唱歌一样。“那一天可能并不遥远了。”Carlos把手伸到中控台上,拍了拍TK的鼻子。还没等TK做出一些反应,卡洛斯就打开了车门,跳下了卡车。他的靴子在冰冷的雪地上嘎吱作响,蓝色的冰晶在他落地时融化了,他扭动着这个方向,扭动着那个方向,伸展他的背部,他的脊椎在幸福的解脱中裂开了。 乘客的车门砰的一声关上了,当卡洛斯绕过卡车引擎盖去见TK时,他惊讶地发现TK戴着棒球帽和太阳镜。“你什么时候带帽子和太阳镜的?”当他们走向超市时,他问道。“我出门时总是随身携带它。”TK把手插在口袋里,耸了耸肩。“现在这已经成为一种习惯了。”“呵呵。”他们匆匆穿过停车场,穿过推拉门,进入商店温暖的内部。TK摘下墨镜,塞进外套口袋里,然后把棒球帽拉低,遮住脸。这是有道理的。在里面戴太阳镜会吸引更多的注意力,这是他们最不想要的。卡洛斯拿起购物车,他们转过农产品区,开始补货。在挑选了种类繁多的蔬菜和水果后,他们在熟食区找到了纯素肉类替代品、豆腐和豆豉。他们从麦片过道出来,走进药房区,TK停下了脚步,仿佛想起了什么。他转向卡洛斯,卡洛斯勉强捕捉到他眼中狡猾的光芒,然后TK走到过道的尽头。卡洛斯紧随其后,停在一堵装满润滑油和避孕套的墙前。哦。

TK glances at him and smirks. “I packed lube, but I didn’t pack condoms for what was supposed to be a two week vacation for one.” Carlos’ cheeks heat, both at the fact he’s standing in the family planning aisle with TK and at the implications of them being here. He swallows then clears his throat and says, “Yeah, me neither.” The just-in-case condom in his wallet’s probably long expired by now. Besides, one condom definitely isn’t going to cut it if Carlos has any say in the matter, and judging by the little grin twitching at the corners of TK’s lips, he’s thinking the same thing. TK studies the rows, then he grabs a pack of Trojans off the top and leans over and picks up a pack of Magnums. Carlos cock a brow at him, and TK shrugs as he drops the boxes in the cart next to the bananas and grapes. “What?” TK waggles his eyebrows. “I know what you’re packing. I want you to be comfortable, okay?” Carlos’ face burns and he wishes a hole would open up in the middle of the store and just fucking swallow him. But he’s also a little pleased at the implied compliment and preens as they vacate the isle of debauchery quickly. They head back down the centre isles where the food is, and Carlos lets out the breath he didn’t know he was holding. They pick up boxes of pasta, canned tomatoes, jars of pasta sauce, and whatever else that catches their fancy as they make their way through each aisle. TK picks up a box of Fruit Loops. Carlos raises both eyebrows at the psychedelic box, but TK just shrugs and flashes him a shit-eating grin as he drops it into the cart with flourish. The last time Carlos went shopping with anyone, it was with his family when he was a teenager. Food outside of work, and by extension, grocery shopping, has always been something special, something he refused to share with anyone, even his past partners. It’s a place for him to escape and be alone and relax before he has to step back into reality. He thought he enjoyed the solitude of shopping alone. But having TK here, having his input and seeing his excitement at finding something he wants to explore, it makes Carlos question how he was ever happy doing this by himself. Food is meant to be shared, after all. They meander through the International Foods aisle, where Carlos picks up packets of dry roasted seaweed, a small bag of red shiso powder, and a bottle of pre-mixed sushi rice seasoning. Carlos loves sushi, and he’s got a few fun, fusion recipes that're vegan up his sleeve that he’s sure TK will enjoy. The store is busier than Carlos would have liked, and as they make their way through, Carlos grows uneasy. The hairs on the back of his neck prickles, and he has this stomach-churning feeling that they’re being watched. TK grows increasingly agitated as well, and periodically Carlos catches TK pulling the bill of his hat lower even as he tries to shrink into himself. They’re nearly finished when a tentative, shy voice stops them in the ice cream aisle. “Are you... are you by any chance TK Strand?” A girl no older than sixteen walks up to them, her hand clasped tightly around her cell phone. The angle of the phone makes Carlos wonder if she’s recording the encounter. Behind her, two other girls around the same age huddle close, clutching each other as if to stop the
TK瞥了他一眼,傻笑。“我打包了润滑油,但我没有为一个人准备两周假期的避孕套。”卡洛斯的脸颊发烫,既因为他和TK一起站在计划生育的过道上,也因为他们在这里的意义。他咽了口唾沫,然后清了清嗓子,说:“是的,我也不是。他钱包里的避孕套现在可能早就过期了。再说了,如果卡洛斯在这件事上有发言权,一个避孕套肯定不会削减它,而且从TK嘴角抽搐的小笑容来看,他也是这么想的。TK研究了这些行,然后他从顶部抓起一包特洛伊木马,俯身捡起一包Magnums。卡洛斯朝他挑了挑眉头,TK耸了耸肩,把盒子放进了推车里,旁边是香蕉和葡萄。“什么?”TK摇了摇眉毛。“我知道你在收拾什么。我希望你舒服,好吗?卡洛斯的脸被烧伤了,他希望商店中间能开一个洞,然后他妈的把他吞下去。但他也对隐含的恭维和装腔作势感到有些高兴,因为他们迅速离开了放荡的小岛。他们回到了食物所在的中心小岛,卡洛斯呼出了一口气,他不知道自己憋着什么。当他们穿过每个过道时,他们会拿起一盒意大利面、罐装西红柿、罐装意大利面酱,以及任何其他吸引他们的东西。TK拿起一盒Fruit Loops。卡洛斯对着迷幻药盒挑了挑眉毛,但TK只是耸了耸肩,在他兴致勃勃地把它扔进购物车时,对他露出了一个吃屎的笑容。卡洛斯上一次和任何人一起去购物,还是在他十几岁的时候和家人一起。 工作之外的食物,以及杂货店购物,一直是一件特别的事情,他拒绝与任何人分享,即使是他过去的合作伙伴。这是他逃避、独处和放松的地方,然后他不得不回到现实。他以为自己很享受独自购物的孤独。但是有传统知识在这里,有他的意见,看到他找到自己想探索的东西的兴奋,这让卡洛斯质疑他怎么会自己做这件事。毕竟,食物是用来分享的。他们蜿蜒穿过国际食品的过道,卡洛斯在那里拿起了几包干烤海苔、一小袋红紫苏粉和一瓶预先混合的寿司米调味料。卡洛斯喜欢寿司,他有一些有趣的融合食谱,这些食谱是素食主义者,他相信 TK 会喜欢的。这家商店比卡洛斯想象的要繁忙,当他们穿过时,卡洛斯变得不安起来。他脖子后面的毛发刺痛,他有一种胃部翻腾的感觉,他们被监视了。TK也变得越来越激动,卡洛斯时不时地发现TK把他的帽子拉得更低,即使他试图缩进自己。他们快要吃完了,一个试探性的、害羞的声音在冰淇淋过道上拦住了他们。“你是......你是TK Strand吗?一个不超过十六岁的女孩走到他们面前,她的手紧紧地握着手机。手机的角度让卡洛斯怀疑她是否在记录这次相遇。在她身后,另外两个年龄相仿的女孩挤在一起,紧紧地抱在一起,仿佛要阻止

other from jumping out of their skins from excitement. TK pauses, his hand frozen on the freezer door handle, then he turns and transforms in front of Carlos' eyes in that uncanny way that he does. His whole demeanour shifts like he’s donned armour. His back straightens, his chest puffs up, and he plants his feet apart in a casual stance as he turns to the girls. He tips his hat back just enough to show his face. Even without make-up and under the horrible supermarket lighting, his smile is dazzling. “Hi, yes, that’s me,” he replies, voice friendly, stance open and inviting. The three girls all squeal in an octave that would make a dog wince. The one on the left behind the girl who approached them whispers triumphantly, “Told you it was him.” She shakes her friend’s arm so hard Carlos’ worries she might tug the whole thing right out of its socket. “W-we’re huge fans of yours—” the girl holding the camera stutters. “Huge. Like. Wow.” “—and we’re wondering if we can have a picture with you?” The other two girls bounce up next to their braver friend, and all three stare at TK with big, shiny, pleading eyes. TK’s smile grows wider, and he nods and reaches for the girl’s phone. “Hell yeah. Here let me hold the pho—” “I can take it,” Carlos offers and reaches for the phone, resigned. The girl hands it to him, then they sandwich TK between them and they all strike a pose. Carlos snaps multiple pictures, then hands the phone back to its owner with a nod, hoping this would be the end of it and they can grab their ice cream and head to the check-out. As it stands, Lady Luck is not on their side today, and another group of girls head toward them with fire in their eyes and purpose in their frenzied steps. Then another, and before long, a small crowd has gathered in the ice cream aisle, and TK is in the middle of all the chaos. He interacts with each fan warmly, his smile unwavering even if the lines around his lips are tight and his eyes grow more tired with each interaction. His posture is relaxed, but there’s something in the way his shoulders are pulled back that feels wrong. Someone else asks if Carlos can help them take a picture, then a different phone appears in his hand. Carlos slaps on a smile and snaps pictures, and with every passing moment, he grows more agitated. He’s done this before. Many times. Before he learned to not sleep with his clients, no matter how famous or attractive or persuasive they are. It’s always the same thing. They go out, someone notices them, and the next thing he knows, Carlos is playing photographer. He’s even ended up on the front page of a few gossip magazines. Thank heavens it was always as the anonymous mystery boyfriend, though, and not his actual name plastered everywhere. Until Alex, who isn’t even an ex. And all those past flings eventually moved on to bigger and better things, having grown tired of him. A middle-aged woman hands Carlos her phone, then slinks up to TK, putting a hand around his waist. A sudden wave of possessiveness seizes Carlos, and it takes him a moment to compose himself before he snaps the picture, his smile wooden.
其他因兴奋而跳出皮肤。TK停顿了一下,他的手僵在了冷冻室的门把手上,然后他转过身来,以一种不可思议的方式在卡洛斯的眼前变身。他的整个举止都变了,就像他穿上了盔甲一样。他的脊背挺直,胸膛鼓起,双脚分开,摆出一种随意的姿势,转向女孩们。他把帽子向后倾斜,刚好露出他的脸。即使没有化妆,在可怕的超市灯光下,他的笑容也令人眼花缭乱。“嗨,是的,就是我,”他回答说,声音友好,立场开放而诱人。三个女孩都以一个八度的尖叫声,会让狗畏缩。走近他们的女孩身后左边的那个人得意洋洋地低声说:“告诉你们是他。她用力摇晃着朋友的胳膊,卡洛斯担心她可能会把整个东西从眼窝里拽出来。“呃——我们是你的超级粉丝——”拿着相机的女孩结结巴巴地说。“巨大。喜欢。哇。“——我们想知道能不能和你合影?”另外两个女孩蹦蹦跳跳地走到她们勇敢的朋友旁边,三个人都用闪亮的大眼睛盯着TK。TK的笑容越来越灿烂,他点了点头,伸手去拿女孩的手机。“见鬼,是的。来,让我拿着河粉——“ ”我可以接受,“卡洛斯伸出手去拿电话,无奈地说道。女孩把它递给他,然后他们把TK夹在他们中间,他们都摆了一个姿势。卡洛斯拍了几张照片,然后点点头将手机还给主人,希望事情就这样结束了,他们可以拿起冰淇淋去结账。就目前而言,幸运女神今天并不站在她们这边,另一群女孩眼睛里带着火,疯狂的脚步中带着目的向他们走来。 然后又是一阵,不久之后,一小群人聚集在冰淇淋过道上,TK正处于所有混乱之中。他与每个粉丝热情地互动,即使嘴唇周围的线条紧绷,他的笑容也毫不动摇,每次互动时他的眼睛都会变得更加疲惫。他的姿势很放松,但他的肩膀向后拉的方式让人感觉不对劲。还有人问卡洛斯能不能帮他们拍照,然后另一部手机出现在他手里。卡洛斯笑了笑,拍了张照片,随着时间的流逝,他变得越来越激动。他以前做过。很多次。在他学会不和客户上床之前,无论他们多么有名、多么有吸引力或多么有说服力。这总是一样的。他们出去了,有人注意到了他们,接下来他知道,卡洛斯正在扮演摄影师。他甚至登上了几本八卦杂志的头版。谢天谢地,它总是那个匿名的神秘男友,而不是到处贴着他的真实名字。直到亚历克斯,他甚至不是前任。所有过去的那些逃避最终都转向了更大更好的事情,已经厌倦了他。一个中年妇女把手机递给卡洛斯,然后偷偷走到TK面前,把一只手搂在他的腰上。一股突如其来的占有欲抓住了卡洛斯,他花了一点时间让自己镇定下来,然后拍下了这张照片,他的笑容变得木讷。

It’s easy to forget just how famous TK is when they’re hidden away at the cabin. When TK wanders into the kitchen every morning dressed in sweatpants and too-big sweaters, his hair messier than a bird’s nest. The fact that he’s recognized at a grocery store in the middle of nowhere in another country just goes to show how well-known he is. TK is a star with a massive fanbase, and he’s only going to climb higher. He doesn’t belong to a single person and he never will. He’ll get even more famous, become an object of desire to even more people, and where would that leave Carlos? What does Carlos have to offer that TK can’t get from someone else? Someone better looking, who’s more successful, who’s a part of the world TK belongs to that Carlos can never reach? They’ve only known each other for five days, for God’s sake. The crowd thins eventually as the store manager comes over to check out the commotion. She apologizes, and TK reassures her that it was his pleasure to meet so many of his fans. When it’s just the two of them in the ice cream aisle again, TK grabs four pints of coconut ice cream and dumps them into the cart unceremoniously. His eyes meet Carlos’ for a fleeting second, then he looks away as they make their way to the check out. TK pays for the groceries before Carlos has a chance to take out his wallet. He opens his mouth to protest, but the guilt written all over TK’s face stops him. Something squeezes in Carlos’ chest, and his own insecurities fade to the back as he studies TK. He’s quiet, too quiet, and his whole body is tense. There’s an edge of nervousness in the way he slips his sunglasses back on before they grab their bags of groceries and walk out into the parking lot. They make their way to the truck in silence, and the longer the silence stretches between them, the more agitated Carlos becomes. Does it really bother TK that much when he’s approached on the street? Sure, it’s got to be disconcerting to be accosted like that when he’s out doing regular mundane things like grocery shopping, but Carlos figures he’d be used to that level of attention by now. After all, he is TK frikin’ Strand. After loading the groceries into the back seat, TK gets into the passenger seat while Carlos slips behind the wheel. They sit in more of that molasses-like silence, and it’s so sticky Carlos can’t breathe. He needs to say something, anything, to fill the space between them or he may actually choke. “TK—” Carlos starts as TK blurts, “I’m so sorry.” They blink at each other, and the air in the cab shifts around them. No longer suffocating, Carlos takes a deep breath before exhaling with a smile. “You got nothing to be sorry for.” TK whips off his baseball cap and shakes his head and unruly tufts of dark hair tumble across his forehead. “No. I do. If I hadn’t come with you, hadn’t insisted I come with you, none of that would have happened.” Carlos shrugs and chews on his bottom lip. He doesn’t like to share his past dating life with people, especially since most of them ended painfully, but the misery written all over TK’s face makes him want to help ease the guilt in any way he can. “It’s not my first time being caught with someone famous while out and about.” TK cocks an eyebrow at him. “Oh?” Carlos shrugs again and averts his gaze, staring out the windshield. “Yeah. I’ve dated a few high profile clients. I’m not proud of it, sleeping with clients and all that, but it is what it is.” Carlos takes a deep breath and drums his fingers on the steering wheel lightly. “We’d go out, thinking
当它们被藏在机舱里时,很容易忘记 TK 是多么有名。当TK每天早上穿着运动裤和太大的毛衣走进厨房时,他的头发比燕窝还乱。他在另一个国家偏僻的一家杂货店被认出,这一事实恰恰表明了他有多出名。TK是一位拥有庞大粉丝群的明星,他只会爬得更高。他不属于一个人,也永远不会。他会变得更加出名,成为更多人渴望的对象,而卡洛斯会在哪里?卡洛斯能提供什么传统知识无法从别人那里得到的东西?一个更好看的人,谁更成功,谁是TK所属世界的一部分,卡洛斯永远无法到达?看在上帝的份上,他们只认识了五天。人群最终稀疏了,因为商店经理过来查看骚动。她向她道歉,TK向她保证,他很高兴见到这么多粉丝。当冰淇淋过道里又只有他们两个人时,TK抓起四品脱椰子冰淇淋,毫不客气地把它们扔进了购物车。他的目光与卡洛斯的目光相遇了一秒钟,然后当他们走向收银台时,他把目光移开了。TK在Carlos有机会掏出钱包之前支付了杂货。他张开嘴想抗议,但写在TK脸上的愧疚阻止了他。卡洛斯的胸膛里有什么东西在挤压,当他研究传统知识时,他自己的不安全感逐渐消失。他很安静,太安静了,整个人都绷紧了。在他们拿起杂货袋走进停车场之前,他重新戴上太阳镜的方式有一种紧张感。 他们默默地走向卡车,沉默的时间越长,卡洛斯就越激动。当TK在街上被接近时,他真的那么困扰吗?当然,当他外出做杂货店购物等日常琐事时,被这样搭讪一定很令人不安,但卡洛斯认为他现在已经习惯了这种程度的关注。毕竟,他是TK frikin' Strand。将杂货装入后座后,TK坐上了副驾驶座,而Carlos则滑倒在方向盘后面。他们坐在糖蜜般的寂静中,它是如此粘稠,卡洛斯无法呼吸。他需要说些什么,任何事情,来填补他们之间的空间,否则他可能会窒息。“TK——”Carlos开始说,TK脱口而出,“我很抱歉。他们互相眨了眨眼,驾驶室里的空气在他们周围移动。卡洛斯不再感到窒息,他深吸了一口气,然后微笑着呼出一口气。“你没什么好对不起的。”TK甩掉棒球帽,摇了摇头,一簇簇乱糟糟的黑发从他的额头上滚落下来。“不,我愿意。如果我没有和你一起去,没有坚持我和你一起去,这一切都不会发生。卡洛斯耸耸肩,咬了咬下唇。他不喜欢与人分享他过去的约会生活,尤其是因为他们中的大多数人都以痛苦的方式结束,但写在TK脸上的痛苦使他想尽一切可能帮助减轻内疚感。“这不是我第一次在外出时被名人抓到。”TK朝他挑了挑眉毛。“哦?”卡洛斯再次耸耸肩,移开视线,盯着挡风玻璃。“是啊。我和一些知名客户约会过。我并不为此感到自豪,与客户上床等等,但事实就是如此。“ 卡洛斯深吸一口气,手指轻轻敲打着方向盘。“我们会出去,想着

we’re being discreet, and then get ambushed by fans or the paparazzi. Most of the time I just snap some photos for people. It’s only gotten violent once, when a photographer wouldn’t get out of our faces.” TK’s eyes pop wide like saucers, his plump lips parted in shock. “Did you punch him too?” Carlos sighs. “Okay, I can see how you’d come to that conclusion, but no, I did not punch him. I didn’t need a lawsuit on top of the scandal that was about to explode all over the internet.” “Then?” “The guy I was with at the time shoved the photographer. Made him drop his camera.” Carlos winces as he remembers the utter devastation on the photographer’s face when his very expensive camera lens snapped on the concrete. “I mean, he wouldn’t leave us alone, so he had it coming, but I still felt bad. That camera must have cost an arm and a leg.” TK’s face scrunches up. “Yeah, but still. I get we’re public figures, but we deserve a little privacy once in a while.” It’s the dejected way he says those words, as if asking for even a little privacy is a pipe dream, that guts Carlos. Celebrities make their careers being public figures. They rely on their fans to make a living, but they’re still just people. People who deserve to have their desire for some semblance of privacy respected. “I get that this is what we signed up for when we decided to become celebrities, ” TK continues, bitterness creeping into his voice, “but the people around us, our families and friends, they didn’t sign up for this, you know? You didn’t sign up for this, but you got dragged into it anyway, and I really am sorry.” Carlos stares at TK for a long moment. After all that, TK’s more upset that Carlos was pulled into his vortex of insanity than the fact he was just mauled by strangers and swarmed in the middle of a grocery store while on vacation. While Carlos was too busy feeling sorry for himself for not having a place in TK’s life. Shame rolls through him in waves, and Carlos drops his gaze to his lap. Someone as selfish as him doesn’t deserve someone like TK. But right now is not the time to wallow in self-pity. Carlos takes a deep breath and reaches across the centre console, taking TK’s hand. He slips his fingers between TK’s and squeezes. “I know what’ll make us both feel better.” TK looks from their clasped hands to Carlos’ face, and curiosity replaces the guilt in his beautiful green eyes. “Yeah? What?” “You’ll see.” Carlos squeezes TK’s hand one last time, returning his smile with a soft kiss to his cheek, then pulls back and starts the engine.
我们很谨慎,然后被粉丝或狗仔队伏击。大多数时候,我只是为人们拍一些照片。它只发生过一次暴力,当时摄影师不会离开我们的脸。TK的眼睛像碟子一样睁得大大的,他丰满的嘴唇震惊地分开了。“你也打他了吗?”卡洛斯叹了口气。“好吧,我明白你是怎么得出这个结论的,但是不,我没有打他。我不需要在即将在互联网上爆发的丑闻之上提起诉讼。“然后呢?”“当时和我在一起的那个人推了摄影师一把。让他放下相机。卡洛斯皱起了眉头,因为他想起了摄影师非常昂贵的相机镜头在混凝土上折断时脸上的彻底破坏。“我的意思是,他不会让我们一个人呆着,所以他来了,但我仍然感到难过。那台相机一定花了一条胳膊和一条腿。TK的脸皱了起来。“是的,但仍然如此。我知道我们是公众人物,但我们应该偶尔有一点隐私。正是他沮丧地说这些话的方式,仿佛要求哪怕一点隐私都是白日梦,这让卡洛斯胆战心惊。名人以公众人物为职业。他们依靠粉丝谋生,但他们仍然只是人。那些应该尊重他们对某种隐私的渴望的人。“我知道这就是我们决定成为名人时所报名参加的,”TK继续说道,他的声音中充满了苦涩,“但是我们周围的人,我们的家人和朋友,他们没有报名参加,你知道吗?你没有报名参加,但你还是被拖进去了,我真的很抱歉。卡洛斯盯着TK看了很久。 毕竟,TK对卡洛斯被拉入精神错乱的漩涡感到不安,而不是因为他在度假时被陌生人殴打并蜂拥而至。当卡洛斯忙于为自己在TK的生活中没有一席之地而感到难过时。羞愧一波又一波地从他身上滚滚而来,卡洛斯把目光投向他的腿上。像他这样自私的人不值得像TK这样的人。但现在不是沉溺于自怜的时候。Carlos深吸一口气,把手伸到中控台上,握住TK的手。他将手指滑入TK之间并挤压。“我知道什么会让我们俩感觉更好。”TK从他们紧握的双手看向卡洛斯的脸,好奇取代了他美丽的绿色眼睛中的内疚。“是吗?什么?“你会看到的。”卡洛斯最后一次握住TK的手,用温柔的吻吻他的脸颊,回报他的笑容,然后收回并启动引擎。

Chapter 15 Chapter Notes See the end of the chapter for notes They sit in silence as Carlos takes a turn down yet another street, driving further away from the busy part of town where the grocery store is. Theirs is the only car on the road, and the street isn’t as well plowed as the main thoroughfares. Just where is Carlos taking them? TK steals a glance at Carlos. He’s got one hand on the steering wheel, his other still clasped tightly in TK’s. The warmth of his skin sets TK at ease more than he wants to admit, and he basks in the strength flowing in him through Carlos’ strong grip and settles further into his seat. They continue down the slick, bumpy road, and when curiosity wins and TK opens his mouth to ask just where they’re headed, the truck pulls into a small parking lot in front of a squat concrete building. TK frowns, sitting up straighter as he peers out of the windshield. What’s so special about this place? Carlos shuts off the engine, turns to TK, and leans over to brush a soft kiss across TK’s cheek. “Wait here,” he says with a wide smile, then hops out of the truck before TK can protest. Not that he would. After the grocery store, the last thing TK wants is to run the risk of being recognized again. When he insisted on coming with Carlos to the grocery store, he didn’t think anyone would recognize him here, but he should have known better. Should have been mindful of his position and what that means for Carlos. He only ever stealth visits his dad for this very reason, and he’s always careful, so why was he so careless when he was with Carlos? And instead of being angry or irritated—and he has every right to be both—Carlos took it all in stride. TK’s not sure if that makes him feel better or more miserable. Before TK has more time to wallow, Carlos emerges from the same side door he disappeared through. He’s holding two white paper cups, one in each hand, and tucked under his arm is a bulging paper bag. Carlos jogs back to the truck, but instead of getting in, he motions with a tilt of his head for TK to come outside. TK hesitates and looks around the parking lot through the windows. They’re the only ones parked here. Satisfied, he pulls on his hat and gets out of the truck, shivering as the biting cold stings his face. “What’s up?” “Come sit with me.” Carlos points to the truck bed with another tilt of his head, then disappears around the back. TK follows and takes the bag from the tight squeeze of Carlos’ arm before he drops the thing. It’s heavy, and TK’s mouth waters at the wonderful, warm spicy aroma emanating from it. “What’s this?” TK peaks into the bag and finds two piping hot pastries. Carlos puts the cups down, then opens the back of the truck bed. He hops on and scoots to one side, patting the space beside him with a gloved hand before picking up the paper cups again. “Come sit.” TK complies, and when he’s seated as comfortably as he can on the back of a metal truck bed, he hands the bag back to Carlos. Carlos puts it on this lap, then reaches in and pulls out a steaming pastry the size of TK’s head. That warm and spicy aroma intensifies. Beneath the sharp curry and sweet turmeric is a richness TK can’t put his finger on. It’s not buttery but something equally rich, and the shiny surface of the pastry glistens under the early afternoon sun. “Here, eat it while it’s hot.” Carlos hands TK the pastry, then reaches into the bag and pulls out the second for himself. He takes a big bite and wisps of steam rise from the exposed centre. Carlos moans. The sound jolts through TK to settle between his legs. “Hng. As good as always.” TK sinks his teeth into his pastry. The crust is airy and flaky, and an overwhelming aroma fills his senses as the flour melts on his tongue, leaving behind a fatty richness that’s incredibly satisfying. He takes another bite, this time hitting the filling, and his mouth comes alive with umami flavours. Curry, turmeric, black pepper, mushrooms, onions, and something soft and tender and meaty that holds everything together. “What is this?” TK asks around a second mouthful. “Curry mushroom tofu pie,” Carlos replies. “Ever had a curry beef pie from the Asian market?” TK nods. “Yeah, but they’re nowhere near this good. This is incredible.” He takes another mouthwatering bite. There’s something about the flavours, about the soft filling and the contrasting flakiness of the crust, that makes it impossible to stop eating. As if every part of his mouth is impatient for more as soon as he swallows. Despite the piping hot filling and the size of the pie, it disappears in minutes, and TK stares at the empty bag on Carlos’ lap longingly, hoping that if he stared at it long and hard enough, another pie will appear. Carlos’ grin is smug but infectious as he looks at TK, his jaw working as he chews. He’s still got a bite of pie left in his hand, and he holds it out to TK. TK opens his mouth, and Carlos’ eyes darken as he hesitates before placing the piece between TK’s lips. TK pulls the bite into his mouth, then flicks his tongue out to brush against the pad of Carlos' retreating finger. Carlos’ eyes grow stormy, and his grin morphs into something down right sinful. “Eat,” Carlos commands. TK’s heartbeat quickens as heat pools low in his stomach. He closes his eyes and chews, savouring every last crumb, and when he opens them again, Carlos is studying him with open desire. TK clears his throat, his cheeks too damn warm despite the cold, and Carlos inhales as he averts his eyes, breaking his intense gaze and the spell it wove around TK. He passes a paper cup to TK. Something minty wafts from the drink spout in the lid along with the tendril of steam. TK inhales and lets the aroma of peppermint envelop him. “It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but there’s a factory in there where they produce these pies to be shipped all over Canada,” Carlos says, sipping his tea. “I know the guy who owns this place. We went to culinary school together.” TK raises an eyebrow. “And he just baked you some pies and made you some tea even though you showed up unannounced?” Carlos grins. “Yup. Just like that. We go way back and all his guys know me. And those mushroom tofu pies are vegan.” “What?” TK doesn’t even try to hide the shock in his voice. “How?” “Trade secret.” Carlos winks. “Oh, now he wants to keep the magic all to himself,” TK grumbles, but the smile twitching in the
第 15 章 章节笔记 笔记见本章末尾 他们静静地坐着,卡洛斯在另一条街上转弯,开车离杂货店所在的繁忙城区更远。他们的车是路上唯一的汽车,而且这条街不像主干道那样犁得很好。卡洛斯要带他们去哪里?TK偷偷瞥了一眼Carlos。他一只手握在方向盘上,另一只手仍然紧紧地握着TK。皮肤的温暖让TK比他想承认的更放松,他沉浸在卡洛斯强壮的抓握中流淌的力量中,并进一步坐在座位上。他们继续沿着光滑、崎岖不平的道路前进,当好奇心占上风,TK张开嘴问他们要去哪里时,卡车停在了一栋矮矮的混凝土建筑前的一个小停车场。TK皱起眉头,坐直了身子,从挡风玻璃向外望去。这个地方有什么特别之处?卡洛斯关掉引擎,转向TK,俯身在TK的脸颊上轻轻地吻了一下。“在这里等着,”他笑着说,然后在TK抗议之前跳下卡车。不是说他会。在杂货店之后,TK最不想做的就是冒着再次被认出的风险。当他坚持要和卡洛斯一起去杂货店时,他不认为有人会认出他来这里,但他应该知道得更多。应该注意他的位置以及这对卡洛斯意味着什么。正是因为这个原因,他才偷偷去看望他的父亲,而且他总是很小心,那么为什么他和卡洛斯在一起的时候会这么粗心大意呢?卡洛斯没有生气或恼怒——他完全有权利两者兼而有之——而是从容不迫地接受了这一切。TK不确定这是否让他感觉更好或更痛苦。 在TK有更多时间沉溺之前,卡洛斯从他消失的同一扇侧门中出现。他手里拿着两个白纸杯,两只手各拿一个,胳膊下塞着一个鼓鼓囊囊的纸袋。卡洛斯慢跑回到卡车上,但他没有上车,而是歪着头示意TK到外面来。TK犹豫了一下,透过窗户环顾停车场。他们是唯一停在这里的人。他心满意足地戴上帽子,下了卡车,刺骨的寒冷刺痛了他的脸,他浑身发抖。“怎么了?”“来跟我坐。”卡洛斯又歪了歪头,指了指卡车的车厢,然后消失在后面。TK跟在后面,从卡洛斯的胳膊上紧紧地捏着袋子,然后把东西扔了下来。它很重,TK对它散发出的美妙、温暖的辛辣香气垂涎三尺。“这是什么?”TK钻进袋子里,发现了两个滚烫的糕点。卡洛斯放下杯子,然后打开卡车车厢的后部。他跳上车,蹑手蹑脚地走到一边,用戴着手套的手拍了拍身旁的空间,然后又拿起了纸杯。“过来坐。”TK照办了,当他尽可能舒适地坐在金属卡车车厢的后面时,他把袋子还给了Carlos。卡洛斯把它放在这个腿上,然后伸手拿出一个TK头那么大的热气腾腾的糕点。那种温暖而辛辣的香气愈演愈烈。在尖锐的咖喱和甜姜黄的下面,是TK无法用手指捏住的丰富。它不是黄油,而是同样丰富的东西,糕点的闪亮表面在午后的阳光下闪闪发光。“来,趁热吃。”卡洛斯把糕点递给TK,然后把手伸进袋子里,拿出第二份给自己。他咬了一大口,一缕缕蒸汽从暴露的中心升起。卡洛斯呻吟着。 声音震动着TK进入他的双腿之间。“嗯。一如既往的好。TK咬牙切齿地吃着他的糕点。面皮透气而片状,当面粉在他的舌头上融化时,一股压倒性的香气充满了他的感官,留下了令人难以置信的令人满意的脂肪丰富。他又咬了一口,这次咬到了馅料上,他的嘴里充满了鲜味。咖喱、姜黄、黑胡椒、蘑菇、洋葱,以及一些柔软、嫩滑、多肉的东西,将所有东西结合在一起。“这是什么?”TK问了大约第二口。“咖喱蘑菇豆腐派,”卡洛斯回答。“吃过亚洲市场的咖喱牛肉派吗?”TK点了点头。“是的,但他们远没有这么好。这太不可思议了。他又咬了一口令人垂涎欲滴的口水。味道、柔软的馅料和外壳的对比片状,让人无法停止进食。仿佛他一咽下去,嘴里的每一部分都迫不及待地想再多说几句。尽管馅料滚烫,馅饼也很大,但几分钟后就消失了,TK渴望地盯着卡洛斯腿上的空袋子,希望如果他盯着它看得足够久,再狠狠地盯着它,就会出现另一个馅饼。卡洛斯的笑容很得意,但很有感染力,他看着TK,他的下巴在咀嚼时工作。他手里还剩下一口馅饼,他把它递给TK。 TK张开嘴,Carlos的眼睛暗了下来,他犹豫了一下,然后把那块馅饼放在TK的嘴唇之间。TK把咬一口的东西放进嘴里,然后伸出舌头,用舌头擦过卡洛斯后退的手指。卡洛斯的眼睛变得暴风雨般,他的笑容变成了某种罪恶的东西。“吃吧,”卡洛斯命令道。TK的心跳加快了,因为他的胃里积聚了大量的热量。 他闭上眼睛咀嚼,细细品味着每一块面包屑,当他再次睁开眼睛时,卡洛斯正怀着开放的欲望研究着他。TK清了清嗓子,尽管天气寒冷,他的脸颊还是太热了,Carlos吸了一口气,他避开了眼睛,打破了他强烈的目光和它围绕着TK编织的咒语。他把一个纸杯递给TK。 薄荷味从盖子的饮料喷口中飘出,还有蒸汽的卷须。TK吸了一口气,让薄荷的香气笼罩着他。“从外面看,它看起来并不多,但那里有一家工厂,他们生产这些馅饼,运往加拿大各地,”卡洛斯喝着茶说。“我认识这个地方的主人。我们一起去了烹饪学校。TK挑了挑眉毛。“他只是给你烤了一些馅饼,给你泡了点茶,即使你突然出现?”卡洛斯咧嘴一笑。“是的。就这样。我们回到很久以前,他所有的人都认识我。那些蘑菇豆腐馅饼是素食主义者。“什么?”TK甚至没有试图掩饰他声音中的震惊。“怎么样?”“商业秘密。”卡洛斯眨了眨眼。“噢,现在他想把魔法都留给自己,”TK抱怨道,但笑容在抽搐

corners of his lips robs his words of any heat. Carlos winks, then goes back to sipping his tea. He stares into the distance in front of him, and TK follows his gaze. All around them are snow covered mountain peaks as far as the eye can see, their silhouettes blending into the horizon. The sky is a clear crystal blue, as if the snow storm that raged for the past five days never happened, and it stretches in all directions like a vast, never ending canvas. TK inhales and leans back on his elbows, his face upturned to feel the sun on his skin. Carlos lays down beside him, his tea balanced on his chest, and turns to glance at TK. Their eyes meet, and TK finds understanding in the depth of Carlos’ honey browns. He gets it. Gets how much being beneath the sun and the never-ending sky means to TK. Gets how freeing it is to sit under the expanse of the universe without the confines of humanity. Is that why Carlos insisted he come out of the car? How is it possible that Carlos, a man he’s only known for a few short days, knows him as well as he does? TK lays back completely and takes Carlos’ hand. He pulls those thick, gloved fingers to his lips and kisses each one, and with every kiss, a little something inside TK thaws. He can’t remember the last time he was this relaxed with anyone, not even Mateo. That plus the hot tea and that scrumptious pastry, and TK is left feeling boneless and immensely content. They lay next to each other in companionable silence, neither of them moving as they soak up the tranquility surrounding them. The buzz from the earlier encounter fades with TK’s every plumed breath, and before long, his chest rises and falls with ease and his stomach stops churning with guilt. It’s so calm here in the empty parking lot on the outskirts of this little town, and TK wonders what it'd be like to move to a place like this someday. A place foreign and far, far away where no one knows him. He chortles and shakes his head and closes his eyes. It’ll never happen. He loves his job in all its hectic insanity, and he’ll never be able to give it up no matter how much the idea of an anonymous lifestyle calls to him. Pressure on his hand draws TK’s attention, and his head lolls to the side as he opens his eyes lazily. Carlos is propped on his elbow, looking down at him, and there is a glimmer of amusement in his eyes. “Feeling better?” “Much.” TK inhales deeply, then lets out a long, contented sigh. “Thank you.” Carlos shrugs one shoulder even as he squeezes TK’s hand once more, the action so affectionately tender it makes TK’s chest swell. “Ready to go home?” Home. TK chews on his bottom lip and tests the word silently on his tongue. The little cabin in the woods feels more like home in just five short days than his LA condo ever did. And that should scare him, should send him packing before things get even more complicated. But it doesn’t, and in that moment, there’s nowhere else he’d rather be than back in the cabin and curled up on the worn leather couch with Carlos’ big body wrapped around him. “Yeah.” TK pushes to his elbows and brushes his lips across Carlos’ jaw. “Let’s go home.” === By the time they get home and put away all the groceries, it’s dinner time. Carlos makes something simple yet magical with green chilis, tofu, and an assortment of mushrooms. TK didn’t even know that many different types of mushrooms existed, and he definitely did not know they
他的嘴角使他的话语失去了任何热度。卡洛斯眨了眨眼,然后回去喝茶。他凝视着前方的远方,TK也跟着他的目光看去。他们周围都是白雪皑皑的山峰,一望无际,它们的轮廓融入了地平线。天空是清澈的水晶蓝色,仿佛过去五天肆虐的暴风雪从未发生过,它像一块巨大的、永无止境的画布向四面八方延伸。TK吸了一口气,靠在胳膊肘上,仰起脸来感受阳光照在皮肤上。卡洛斯躺在他身边,他的茶放在胸前,转身瞥了一眼TK。他们的目光相遇,TK在卡洛斯的蜂蜜棕色深处找到了理解。他明白了。了解太阳和永无止境的天空对TK的意义。 了解坐在广阔的宇宙之下不受人类限制是多么自由。这就是卡洛斯坚持要他从车里出来的原因吗?卡洛斯,一个他只认识短短几天的人,怎么可能像他一样了解他?TK完全躺下,握住了Carlos的手。他把那些戴着手套的粗手指拉到嘴唇上,亲吻每一个,每一次亲吻,TK体内的一点点东西都会解冻。他不记得上一次对任何人如此放松是什么时候了,甚至连马特奥也不记得了。再加上热茶和美味的糕点,TK感到无骨和无比满足。他们紧挨着躺在一起,默默地躺着,在沉浸在周围的宁静中,他们谁也不动。先前相遇的嗡嗡声随着TK的每一次呼吸而消失,不久之后,他的胸膛轻松起伏,他的胃也停止了内疚的翻腾。 在这个小镇郊区空荡荡的停车场里,这里是如此平静,TK想知道有一天搬到这样的地方会是什么样子。一个陌生而遥远的地方,没有人认识他。他哼哼唧唧地摇了摇头,闭上了眼睛。这永远不会发生。他热爱自己的工作,无论匿名生活方式的想法多么召唤他,他都无法放弃它。手上的压力引起了TK的注意,他的头懒洋洋地睁开眼睛。卡洛斯用胳膊肘撑着,低头看着他,眼中闪过一丝戏谑。“感觉好些了吗?”“很多。”TK深吸一口气,然后长长地叹了口气。“谢谢。”卡洛斯耸了耸肩膀,再次握住了TK的手,这个动作是如此亲切温柔,让TK的胸膛膨胀起来。“准备好回家了吗?”家。TK咬着下唇,在舌头上默默地测试着这个词。在短短的五天里,树林里的小木屋感觉比他在洛杉矶的公寓更像家。这应该会吓到他,应该在事情变得更加复杂之前让他收拾行李。但事实并非如此,在那一刻,他最不想呆在小屋里,蜷缩在破旧的皮沙发上,卡洛斯的大身体缠绕着他。“嗯。”TK用手肘撑起,用嘴唇擦过Carlos的下巴。“我们回家吧。” === 当他们回到家并收拾好所有杂货时,已经是晚餐时间了。卡洛斯用青辣椒、豆腐和各种蘑菇制作了简单而神奇的东西。TK甚至不知道存在许多不同类型的蘑菇,他绝对不知道它们

can be used in such versatile ways to enhance the flavours of something as bland as even tofu. They put on a movie after, then ignore it as they lose themselves in each other, falling asleep on the couch after countless soft kisses and tender caresses. The next few days blur into an endless cycle of good food and even better company. They read together, bring in firewood together, shower together, eat together, tidy together, and when it’s time to bank the fire in the wood burning stove and head to bed, TK and Carlos rediscover each other’s bodies like it’s the first time. Over and over and over until they’re both so thoroughly spent they don’t fall asleep so much as pass out from sheer exhaustion. It’s domestic and bliss and everything TK has ever wanted to share with a partner but never dared to voice. Because voicing them would be admitting just how lonely he is. TK buries his feet under Carlos’ butt as he shifts on the old leather couch, stretching out his back. He wiggles his toes until Carlos glances up from the book he’s reading on his phone. Carlos looks over the thick black rims of his glasses and raises an eyebrow at TK. TK shrugs and smiles, and waits until Carlos turns his attention back to his book before wiggling his toes again. With how much time they spend wrapped up in each other’s arms naked, one would think TK could spend one afternoon without craving Carlos’ hands and mouth on him. But it’s as if TK’s under a spell whenever Carlos is close—which is almost every waking and sleeping moment—and his breathing would quicken, his skin would burn, and his heart would fill with something so immense he doesn’t dare think too hard on it. Just like how he doesn’t think about what will happen when their vacation ends. When he has to get into his car and drive to the airport, get on his flight, and step back into his life. Carlos would be a phone call away, but it wouldn’t be the same as waking up next to him every morning and lounging around all day. They both have obligations and jobs, and honestly, TK’s not even sure what they are past the cuddling and sex. Are they dating? Or are they just friends with benefits? TK clears his throat and shoves the depressing thoughts into the back corners of his mind. He slides one foot over Carlos’ thigh, edging his toes between Carlos’ legs to nudge his cock. Carlos ignores him, but the twitching corner of his lips and the way his legs shift apart slightly urge TK to grow bolder with his explorations. He burrows the foot under Carlos’ butt further and nudges his balls in a slow circular motion, his other foot massaging Carlos’ hardening erection. Carlos puts his phone down and takes off his glasses, placing both on the coffee table with deliberation before turning to face TK. His face is masterfully blank, but his eyes are on fire when he asks, “What’s up?” “Nothing,” TK replies. He had no intentions other than to be annoying. After all, they did just spent the entire afternoon doing nothing but cuddle and read, and as much as TK loves that, he likes having Carlos’ attention on him more. Carlos studies TK for a long moment, his expression unreadable. “I don’t believe you,” he says finally as he turns and extracts TK’s feet from under him. He pushes TK’s legs apart, then places a knee between his thighs and crawls up along his body until their noses are touching. TK sucks in a sharp, shallow breath, and his body thrums with the familiar buzz of arousal. It doesn’t take much to get his engine revving with Carlos around. He’s so incredibly sexy without even trying, and the way he likes to mindlessly touch TK’s arm or caress his skin is a special kind of torture that leaves TK shaky with need more often than not.
可以以如此多功能的方式使用,以增强像豆腐一样清淡的东西的味道。他们放了一部电影,然后忽略了它,因为他们迷失在彼此中,在无数次温柔的亲吻和温柔的爱抚之后在沙发上睡着了。接下来的几天模糊不清,变成了一个无休止的好食物和更好的陪伴的循环。他们一起读书,一起带柴火,一起洗澡,一起吃饭,一起收拾东西,到了把火堆放在烧柴炉子里睡觉的时候,TK和卡洛斯重新发现了彼此的身体,就像第一次一样。一遍又一遍,直到他们俩都彻底消耗殆尽,他们才睡着,而是因精疲力竭而昏倒。这是家庭和幸福,是TK一直想与伴侣分享但又不敢说出来的一切。因为为他们发声就是承认他有多孤独。TK把脚埋在Carlos的屁股下,在旧皮沙发上移动,伸展着背部。他扭动着脚趾,直到卡洛斯从手机上正在阅读的书中抬起头来。卡洛斯看了看眼镜上厚厚的黑色边框,对TK挑了挑眉毛。 TK耸了耸肩,笑了笑,等到卡洛斯把注意力转回他的书上,才再次扭动脚趾。他们赤身裸体地在彼此的怀抱中度过了多少时间,人们会认为TK可以度过一个下午,而不渴望卡洛斯的手和嘴在他身上。但就好像每当卡洛斯靠近他时,TK就会被施了咒语——这几乎是每一个醒着和睡觉的时刻——他的呼吸会加快,他的皮肤会灼热,他的心会充满某种巨大的东西,他不敢想太多。就像他不考虑假期结束时会发生什么一样。 当他不得不上车开车去机场,坐上飞机,回到自己的生活中时。卡洛斯只需一个电话,但这与每天早上在他身边醒来并整天闲逛是不一样的。他们都有义务和工作,老实说,TK甚至不确定他们在拥抱和性爱之后是什么。他们在约会吗?还是他们只是有好处的朋友?TK清了清嗓子,把压抑的念头塞进了脑海的角落里。他把一只脚滑过卡洛斯的大腿,用脚趾夹在卡洛斯的两腿之间,轻推他的阴茎。卡洛斯没有理会他,但他抽搐的嘴角和双腿分开的方式微微促使TK在他的探索中变得更加大胆。他把脚进一步钻到卡洛斯的屁股下面,以缓慢的圆周运动推动他的球,他的另一只脚按摩着卡洛斯坚硬的勃起。卡洛斯放下手机,摘下眼镜,深思熟虑地将两副眼镜放在茶几上,然后转身面对TK。他的脸很茫然,但当他问道:“怎么了?“没什么,”TK回答。他除了惹人讨厌之外,别无他法。毕竟,他们整个下午除了拥抱和阅读之外什么都不做,尽管TK喜欢这样,但他更喜欢卡洛斯对他的关注。卡洛斯研究了TK很久,他的表情让人看不懂。“我不相信你,”他最后说,他转过身来,从他身下抽出TK的脚。他把TK的双腿分开,然后把膝盖放在他的大腿之间,沿着他的身体向上爬,直到他们的鼻子接触。TK深深地吸了一口气,他的身体随着熟悉的兴奋嗡嗡声而颤抖。让他的引擎在卡洛斯身边转速并不需要太多。 他甚至不费吹灰之力就变得非常性感,他喜欢无意识地触摸TK的手臂或抚摸他的皮肤,这是一种特殊的折磨,让TK经常因需要而颤抖。

But none of that comes close to when Carlos gets predatory. When his eyes smoulder like hot coals and his smile drips with something sinister. His big body looms over TK, his shadow swallowing TK whole, and his leg presses closer to the centre of TK’s need, his solidly muscled leg tantalizingly close but not touching. Sometimes, Carlos Reyes is the worst kind of cock tease. TK shimmies down and presses his hardening cock against Carlos’ thigh, and a delicious shudder rolls through him. Carlos glances down between their bodies, and TK’s cock twitches as if it can feel the heat of Carlos’ gaze. “That doesn’t seem like nothing to me.” Carlos looks up, and there’s a glint of mischief in his deep brown eyes. “It can be whatever you want it to be.” TK’s lips stretch into a lazy smile, his eyes slitting until Carlos’ face blurs. Warm lips brush across TK’s jaw, and his eyes flutter shut as those luscious lips trail feather soft kisses down his throat. TK arches off the couch, and a strong arm encircles his waist, lifting his hips right off the couch to press even more firmly against Carlos’ thigh. Another arm slides under his shoulders, and TK throws his head back, offering himself for Carlos to do as he pleases. A dark, rumbling chuckle rains down on TK, but before he can process the sound, his whole body lifts off the couch. TK’s eyes fly open, and he catches a glimpse of Carlos’ grin before the world rushes past him in a blur. He faceplants into the small of Carlos’ back, his body slung over Carlos’ shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and they’re moving. TK flails, but a smack on his upturned ass stops him. “Stop squirming if you don’t want to get dropped on your head,” Carlos says as he strides across the living room. TK shudders when the sound of the sliding glass door opening is followed by a blast of cold air. “Wait, what are you—” The world spins once more and the shock of powdery snow on his bare back steals his breath. He stares up into the darkening sky, the clouds a vibrant orange as the sun sinks below the tree line, and it’s another long, frozen moment before his body registers what just happened. “You—I can’t—Carlos!” he splutters, his arms and legs flailing as he scrambles to his feet. “You threw me in the snow!” Carlos crosses his arms, a smug smile on his face, and winks. “Seemed like you needed a little help cooling off.” TK shakes his sweater as best as he can without taking it off. The powdery flakes cling to the fibres, and it’s nearly impossible to get all of them off before the snow melts against his skin. TK glares at Carlos, then bends down and grabs a handful of snow. He flings the half-assed snowball at Carlos, and it hits him in the face with an explosion of flurries. Shock replaces the smugness on Carlos’ face, then his eyes narrow and his expression darkens into something that shouldn’t be as ridiculously hot as it is. TK swallows, then takes a step back when Carlos takes a step toward him. He bends down and cups more snow in his hands, but Carlos is faster as he smashes two handfuls of snow into a snowball at record speed and throws it at TK with terrifying force.
但这些都比不上卡洛斯变得掠夺性的时候。当他的眼睛像热煤一样闷烧,他的笑容滴落着某种险恶的东西。他庞大的身躯笼罩着TK,他的影子将TK整个吞噬,他的腿越来越靠近TK的需要中心,他结实的肌肉腿诱人地靠近,但没有接触。有时,卡洛斯·雷耶斯(Carlos Reyes)是最糟糕的公鸡戏弄。TK晃了晃身子,将他坚硬的阴茎压在卡洛斯的大腿上,一阵美妙的颤抖从他身上滚过。卡洛斯低头瞥了一眼他们的身体,TK的鸡巴抽搐着,仿佛能感觉到卡洛斯目光的炽热。“在我看来,这似乎不算什么。”卡洛斯抬起头,深棕色的眼睛里闪烁着恶作剧的光芒。“它可以是你想要的任何东西。”TK的嘴唇慵懒地笑了笑,他的眼睛眯着,直到Carlos的脸变得模糊。温暖的嘴唇拂过TK的下巴,他的眼睛颤抖着闭上,那甜美的嘴唇在他的喉咙里留下了羽毛般柔软的吻。TK从沙发上拱起,一只强壮的手臂环住他的腰,将他的臀部从沙发上抬起,更加坚定地压在卡洛斯的大腿上。另一只胳膊滑到他的肩膀下,TK把头向后仰,让卡洛斯为所欲为。一声阴沉的、隆隆的笑声如雨点般落在TK身上,但在他处理声音之前,他的整个身体都从沙发上抬起。TK的眼睛飞快地睁开,他瞥见了卡洛斯的笑容,然后世界在模糊中从他身边冲过。他脸贴在卡洛斯小小的背上,他的身体像一袋土豆一样挂在卡洛斯的肩膀上,他们正在移动。TK连枷,但一巴掌打在他翘起的屁股上阻止了他。“如果你不想被摔到头上,就不要扭动了,”卡洛斯大步走过客厅时说。 当滑动玻璃门打开的声音之后是一阵冷空气时,TK不寒而栗。“等等,你干嘛——”世界再次旋转起来,他裸露的背上粉雪的冲击让他喘不过气来。他凝视着渐渐变暗的天空,当太阳沉入树线以下时,云层呈现出鲜艳的橙色,在他的身体记录下刚刚发生的事情之前,又是一个漫长而冰冷的时刻。“你——我不能——卡洛斯!”他咕噜咕噜地说,胳膊和腿都在挣扎着站起来。“你把我扔在雪地里!”卡洛斯双臂交叉,脸上露出得意的笑容,眨了眨眼。“看来你需要一点帮助来冷静一下。”TK尽可能地摇晃他的毛衣,而不把它脱掉。粉状的薄片附着在纤维上,在雪融化在他的皮肤上之前,几乎不可能将它们全部脱落。TK瞪了Carlos一眼,然后弯下腰抓了一把雪。他把半屁股的雪球扔向卡洛斯,雪球轰在卡洛斯的脸上。震惊取代了卡洛斯脸上的得意,然后他的眼睛眯了起来,他的表情变得阴沉起来,不应该像现在这样可笑地炙热。TK咽了口唾沫,然后向后退了一步,这时卡洛斯向他走了一步。他弯下腰,把更多的雪捧在手里,但卡洛斯的速度更快,他以创纪录的速度将两把雪砸成一个雪球,并以可怕的力量扔向TK。

TK pivots to his left and the snowball catches him in the shoulder with a jarring thud. He turns and pitches his snowball at Carlos, curses as it sails over Carlos’ bent over form, and runs behind a tree for cover. He scoops more snow, squeezing the fluffy powder into a compact ball as he peers around the tree trunk, only to duck back behind his cover when a snowball explodes against the tree where his face was. Seems like this isn’t Carlos’ first snowball fight. TK darts out of his cover and throws his snowball as hard as he can at Carlos before running behind another tree, his face splitting into a triumphant smile when Carlos yelps in pain. They toss snowballs back and forth while darting between the trees lining the small clearing behind the cabin. It’s freezing, and there’s so much snow down the inside of his sweater that TK’s skin’s tingling with cold, but he doesn't care. Carlos’ laughter is infectious, the sound rich and carefree and so full of joy that it fills TK to the brim with happiness. He can’t remember the last time he had this much fun just goofing off with someone without worrying about having their pictures taken or it ending up plastered all over the internet. Can’t remember the last time he let himself get so wrapped up in another person that he can’t even be mad when said person tossed him into a snowbank. TK shakes his head and chuckles. He grabs the three snowballs he just made and makes a run for the large tree to his left. The snow is deep here, and the ground drops sharply beneath his frozen, numb feet. He screams and tosses his snowballs as he tries to catch his balance, and curses when he comes to a stop buried to his hips in powdery snow. “TK?” Carlos shouts, alarm in his voice. “You okay?” Carlos comes running across the clearing and is beside him in seconds. “What happened?” “I—the snow is really deep here and it caught me by surprise,” TK says, his cheeks burning red hot against the chilly air. “I’m fine. Just a little stuck.” He pulls on one foot then the other, testing just how stuck he is. Carlos spends a few moments fussing over TK, making sure he didn’t crack his head open. Satisfied, he sits back on his haunches, and a devilish grin replaces the concern in his face. “Well well.” He gathers a handful of snow with deliberation. TK blinks, his eyes darting between the handful of snow and Carlos’ face as realization dawns on him. “Wait, you can’t—that’s cheating—I can’t mov—” The snowball explodes in his face like an icy, powdery glitter bomb. It’s everywhere. In his eyes, his nose. In his mouth. Down his throat. Then sharp teeth nip his bottom lip, and before TK has time to catch his breath, warm hands cup his cheeks and jaw and pull him forward. Soft, wet lips capture TK’s in a crushing kiss, and the heat of Carlos’ tongue is a shocking contrast to the cold all around him. TK melts like the snow in his sweater as Carlos thoroughly explores his mouth. Every lick and nip sends liquid heat through TK’s veins, warming his centre and chasing away the chill. His hands find their way around Carlos’ neck, his fingers delving through Carlos’ unruly, thick curls. They’re so much softer than they look, even when they’re matted with wet snow, and TK will never tire of running his fingers through them. Carlos pulls him close, his large hands pressing into TK’s back, and the solid weight of him grounds TK even when he’s floating. Carlos’ mouth on him, his tongue inside his mouth, his breath mingling in TK’s lungs, his very being wrapped all around TK like a safe, warm cocoon,
TK向左转,雪球以刺耳的砰砰声击中了他的肩膀。他转身向卡洛斯投掷雪球,咒骂着雪球越过卡洛斯弯腰的身躯,然后跑到一棵树后面寻找掩护。他舀了更多的雪,把蓬松的粉末挤成一个紧凑的球,同时他环顾树干,但当一个雪球在他脸上爆炸时,他躲回了掩体后面。看来这不是卡洛斯第一次打雪仗了。TK从掩体中飞出,用尽全力向卡洛斯扔雪球,然后跑到另一棵树后面,当卡洛斯痛苦地大喊大叫时,他的脸上露出了胜利的笑容。他们来回扔雪球,同时在小屋后面小空地两旁的树木之间飞奔。天气很冷,他的毛衣里面有很多雪,TK的皮肤冻得发麻,但他不在乎。卡洛斯的笑声很有感染力,声音丰富而无忧无虑,充满了欢乐,让TK充满了幸福。他不记得上一次他和某人玩得很开心是什么时候了,而不用担心他们的照片被拍下来,或者最终在互联网上贴满了照片。不记得上一次他让自己被另一个人如此包裹是什么时候,以至于当那个人把他扔进雪堆时,他甚至不会生气。TK摇了摇头,轻笑道。他抓起刚才堆的三个雪球,向左边的大树跑去。这里的雪很深,地面在他冻僵、麻木的脚下急剧下降。当他试图保持平衡时,他尖叫着扔雪球,当他停下来时,他的臀部埋在粉雪中,他咒骂着。“TK?”卡洛斯喊道,声音中带着惊恐。“你没事吧?“卡洛斯跑过空地,几秒钟就到了他身边。发生了什么事?“我——这里的雪真的很深,让我大吃一惊,”TK说,他的脸颊在寒冷的空气中烧得通红。“我很好。只是有点卡住了。他先用一只脚拉,然后用另一只脚拉,测试他被卡住了多少。卡洛斯花了一点时间对TK大惊小怪,确保他没有把脑袋撞开。他心满意足地坐回了自己的肚子上,恶魔般的笑容取代了他脸上的担忧。“嗯,好吧。”他深思熟虑地捡起一把雪。TK眨了眨眼,他的眼睛在一把雪和卡洛斯的脸上飞快地扫视着,他恍然大悟。“等等,你不能——那是作弊——我不能动——”雪球在他脸上爆炸,就像一颗冰冷的粉状闪光炸弹。它无处不在。在他的眼睛里,他的鼻子。在他嘴里。顺着他的喉咙。然后锋利的牙齿咬住他的下唇,在TK还没来得及喘口气之前,温暖的手就捂住他的脸颊和下巴,把他往前拉。柔软湿润的嘴唇在碾压的吻中捕捉到了TK,卡洛斯舌头的热度与他周围的寒冷形成了令人震惊的对比。TK像毛衣里的雪一样融化,卡洛斯彻底探索了他的嘴巴。每一次舔舐和啃咬都会通过TK的血管传递液体热量,温暖他的中心并驱散寒意。他的手在卡洛斯的脖子上摸索,他的手指在卡洛斯不羁的浓密卷发中钻研。它们比看起来要柔软得多,即使它们被湿雪覆盖,TK 也会不厌其烦地用手指穿过它们。卡洛斯把他拉近,他的大手按在TK的背上,即使他漂浮着,他坚实的重量也让TK站稳脚跟。卡洛斯的嘴在他身上,他的舌头在他的嘴里,他的呼吸在TK的肺里混合,他的身体像一个安全、温暖的茧一样包裹着TK,

and TK wants to stay a caterpillar forever. The kiss ebbs and flows in intensity until TK’s dizzy with need. Or maybe it’s the cold, he’s not sure. What he is sure of is that he never wants this vacation to end. Never wants to go back to the real world with its cell phone service and busy schedules and nosy paparazzi. Around them, the forest is quiet, the silence broken only by their rasping breaths and TK’s whimpering moan when Carlos finally breaks the kiss. Gentle fingers brush cold strands of hair from TK’s forehead, and Carlos’ smile is soft yet more radiant than the sun. “Cold?” And that’s when TK remembers he’s still stuck in the powdery snowbank. “Yes, very.” “Let’s dig you out so we can head inside and get warmed up before your toes fall off, yeah?” “My toes?” TK says sharply, alarmed, and Carlos laughs as he starts digging around TK’s legs. It takes some grunt work and colourful words before they dig TK out of his hole. He wiggles his toes and sighs in relief when they respond stiffly. They scurry back inside the house and strip off their wet clothes, their bodies and limbs tangled as they stumble into the shower. The hot water stings like needles on his skin, but Carlos’ lips and hands distract TK from the pain until he’s warm inside and out. After their shower, Carlos wraps TK in blankets and plants him on the couch before heading into the kitchen. He comes back with two steaming mugs of hot chocolate and the dreamiest smile TK’s ever seen. TK sighs, mug in hand, and lays his head on Carlos’ shoulder as they sit snuggled under the blankets together, exhausted but warm, and truly happy. Chapter End Notes oh god. i forgot how much fluff was in this. so much fluff. im sorry.
TK想永远做毛毛虫。这个吻的强度起伏不定,直到TK因需要而头晕目眩。或者也许是感冒,他不确定。他可以肯定的是,他永远不希望这个假期结束。永远不想回到现实世界,那里有手机服务、繁忙的日程安排和爱管闲事的狗仔队。在他们周围,森林很安静,只有他们刺耳的呼吸声和卡洛斯终于打破这个吻时TK的呜咽呻吟打破了寂静。温柔的手指拂过TK额头上冰冷的发丝,卡洛斯的笑容柔和而灿烂,比太阳还要灿烂。“冷?”就在这时,TK想起他仍然被困在粉状的雪堆里。“是的,非常。”“让我们把你挖出来,这样我们就可以进去热身了,以免你的脚趾掉下来,是吗?”“我的脚趾?”TK惊恐地尖锐地说道,Carlos笑了起来,他开始在TK的腿上挖东西。在他们把TK从他的洞里挖出来之前,需要一些咕噜咕噜的工作和丰富多彩的文字。他扭动着脚趾,当他们僵硬地做出反应时,他松了一口气。他们匆匆忙忙地回到屋子里,脱掉湿衣服,跌跌撞撞地走进淋浴间时,身体和四肢纠缠在一起。热水像针一样刺痛他的皮肤,但卡洛斯的嘴唇和手分散了TK的注意力,直到他从里到外都温暖起来。洗完澡后,卡洛斯用毯子把TK裹起来,把他放在沙发上,然后走进厨房。他带着两杯热气腾腾的热巧克力和TK见过的最梦幻的笑容回来了。TK叹了口气,手里拿着杯子,把头靠在卡洛斯的肩膀上,他们依偎在毯子下,疲惫但温暖,真的很开心。本章结束语 哦,上帝。我忘了这里面有多少绒毛。如此多的绒毛。对不起。

Chapter 16 “What are those?” TK looks up from his book, his eyes widening as he stares at what’s in Carlos’ hand. “Have you ever gone snowshoeing before?” Carlos looks from the pair of snowshoes he’s holding to TK. “Nope.” TK frowns. “Those don’t look like shoes.” “Well, you strap boots into them, and the frame helps keep you from sinking and getting stuck in the snow,” Carlos explains and grins, remembering the events of the night before where TK got stuck in a tree well. TK squints at him as if reading his thoughts, his lips pursed in that adorable way he does when he’s torn between being mad and amused. “Not a word, Reyes.” Carlos mimics zipping his lips and tossing the invisible key over his shoulder. He dangles the snowshoes in front of him and arches his eyebrows. TK smiles and abandons his book as he hops off the couch, his large sweater falling past his hips as he stands. He stops in front of Carlos, his nose inches from Carlos’, and leans in to press a soft kiss to the corner of Carlos’ mouth. “Okay,” he says, stepping back, “you may speak now.” “Let’s go snowshoeing.” Carlos steps closer to TK and nudges his nose across TK’s jaw. TK smells incredible, the scent of his eucalyptus body wash and woodsy aftershave a heady mix that sets Carlos’ blood singing. TK’s arms slip around Carlos’ waist, and he tilts his head back, offering his neck to Carlos. Carlos trails kisses down the elegant slope before he knows what he’s doing. “I don’t have—ah—boots.” For a brief moment, Carlos considers abandoning the snowshoeing idea all together and dragging TK back to bed, but he’s already made preparations and packed his backpack for the trip, and he really wants to show TK his favourite lookout while the sun’s out. He inhales deeply one last time, then untangles himself from TK’s octopus arms. “You can borrow Kevin’s. You guys are about the same size.” Carlos clears his throat and tries not to smile at the way TK’s eyes are glazed over with desire. It’s nice to know that TK’s as affected by him as he is by TK sometimes. “You can borrow his snow pants and snowshoes too.” “He won’t mind?” “Only if you don’t mind wearing his stinky boots.” TK wrinkles his nose, but the excited twinkle in his eyes is answer enough. “Where’re we going?” “Secret.” Carlos winks then drags himself away from TK. He opens the closet in the hall, pulls out Kevin’s black snow pants and boots, and hands them to TK. “It’s not far from here.” TK eyes him suspiciously. “You’re not gonna kill me and harvest my organs, are you?” “What’s stopping me from doing that here, in the comfort and warmth of the cabin?” Carlos cock a brow, his face a mask of feigned seriousness.
第16章 “那些是什么?”TK从书中抬起头,瞪大了眼睛,盯着卡洛斯手里的东西。“你以前去过雪鞋行走吗?”卡洛斯从他手里拿着的一双雪鞋上看向TK。TK皱起眉头。“那些看起来不像鞋子。”“好吧,你把靴子绑在里面,框架有助于防止你下沉和被困在雪地里,”卡洛斯解释道,咧嘴一笑,想起了前一天晚上TK被困在树井里的事件。TK眯着眼睛看着他,仿佛读懂了他的想法,他的嘴唇抿着,就像他在生气和逗乐之间左右为难时那样可爱。“一句话也没说,雷耶斯。”卡洛斯模仿着抿着嘴唇,把那把看不见的钥匙扔到肩膀上。他把雪鞋晃在面前,拱起眉毛。TK微笑着放下书,从沙发上跳下来,他的大毛衣在他站起来时从臀部掉了下来。他停在卡洛斯面前,鼻子离卡洛斯的鼻子只有几英寸远,然后俯身在卡洛斯的嘴角上轻轻地吻了一下。“好吧,”他说,退后一步,“你现在可以说话了。“我们去雪鞋行走吧。”Carlos走近TK,用鼻子轻推TK的下巴。TK闻起来令人难以置信,他的桉树沐浴露和木质须后水的香味令人陶醉,让卡洛斯的血液歌唱。TK的胳膊搂着卡洛斯的腰,他把头向后仰,把脖子伸向卡洛斯。卡洛斯在知道自己在做什么之前就沿着优雅的斜坡亲吻了。“我没有——啊——靴子。”有那么一瞬间,卡洛斯考虑放弃雪鞋行走的想法,把TK拖回床上,但他已经做好了准备,收拾好了旅行的背包,他真的很想在太阳出来的时候向TK展示他最喜欢的瞭望台。 他最后一次深吸一口气,然后把自己从TK的章鱼手臂上解开。“你可以借凯文的。你们的体型差不多。卡洛斯清了清嗓子,尽量不对TK的眼睛充满欲望的样子微笑。很高兴知道TK有时受到他的影响,就像他受到TK的影响一样。“你也可以借用他的雪裤和雪鞋。”“他不会介意吗?”“只要你不介意穿他的臭靴子。”TK皱了皱鼻子,但他眼中兴奋的光芒已经足够了。“我们要去哪里?”“秘密。”卡洛斯眨了眨眼,然后把自己从TK身上拖走了。他打开大厅的衣柜,拿出凯文的黑色雪裤和靴子,递给TK。TK狐疑地看着他。“你不会杀了我,摘取我的器官吧?”“是什么阻止我在这里,在舒适和温暖的机舱里这样做?”卡洛斯皱起眉头,脸上带着假装严肃的面具。

“Touché.” They get dressed quickly, and after a quick lesson in the basics of walking in snowshoes, Carlos picks up his backpack and leads the way into the forest. The midmorning sun spills through the trees, and the sunbeams reflecting off the pristine surface of the undisturbed snow are almost blinding. Carlos pulls out a pair of sunglasses and slips them on, then hands TK the spare pair he packed. It’s quiet save their breaths as they trudge a line through the knee deep snow, and occasionally, Carlos will look over his shoulder and check in with TK. He’s been snowshoeing since he was a kid, but for someone who’s not used to it, it can be tricky and frustrating. A string of curses stops Carlos in his tracks, and he turns in time to watch TK fall face down in the snow. Concern wells up in him in a flash, and he’s taking a wide step to turn around when TK pushes onto his hands and knees and shakes snow from his face. “You okay?” Carlos walks as quickly as he can in his floppy snowshoes back to TK. “Thought I heard something behind us so I turned around and tripped over my own goddamn feet,” TK grouses and glares at his boots. Carlos swallows a chuckle and helps TK to his feet. “It’s an easy mistake to make. We all fall a few times stepping on our own snowshoes before we remember there’s a foot of metal trailing behind us.” TK huffs and shakes out the front of his jacket, then rights his beanie before picking up his poles. He looks around and sighs, more relaxed this time. “It is beautiful out here.” “Isn’t it? This is my favourite snowshoeing trail. I hike it at least once or twice every time I’m up here in the winter.” Carlos follows TK’s gaze and takes in their surroundings. They’re stopped in the middle of a narrow trail between large coniferous trees, their branches laden with snow. A soft breeze darts between the leaves, sending a flurry into the air. A stronger gust could knock down the piles of snow on top of them, and some of those piles can weigh hundreds of pounds. “As lovely as it is, we need to keep moving. Don’t want all that snow falling on us.” He points up at a particularly heavy branch, and TK swallows. They continue up the path, with Carlos breaking the trail and packing down the snow so TK wouldn’t trip on the powder. It takes them a little over half an hour to get to the lookout, and by the time they emerge into the clearing on the side of the hill, TK’s breathing is laboured and his cheeks and the tip of his nose are red. Despite falling a few more times after their stop, he never complained or got upset, and every time Carlos turned to check on him, there was always a smile on his face that warmed Carlos’ heart. Carlos stops in the middle of the clearing and turns around, careful to avoid stepping on the tail of his own snowshoe, and sweeps his arm behind him at the vast, crystal sky behind him. “We’re here.” TK looks up from his feet, no doubt trying his hardest to not fall again, and his eyes pop like saucers. “Holy shit,” he breathes. His face is an open canvas filled with wonder and joy. He looks beyond Carlos, and Carlos turns and takes in what TK’s seeing. The sky is clear save for a few scatterings of fluffy white clouds, all that blue stretching in every direction as far as the eye can see. Directly in front of them are rolling hills covered in a dusting of white, and in the distance, he can just make out the highway snaking around the base of the nearest hill. In the summer, the hillsides are alive with birds and critters and insects, and tall grass that waves lazily in the hot breeze. But in the winter, especially after the snow storm they just had, everything is still.
“碰。”他们很快穿好衣服,在快速学习了穿雪鞋走路的基础知识后,卡洛斯拿起背包,带路进入森林。正午的阳光洒在树林中,阳光从未受干扰的雪地的原始表面反射出来,几乎令人眼花缭乱。Carlos掏出一副太阳镜戴上,然后把他收拾好的备用一副太阳镜递给TK。当他们在膝盖深的积雪中跋涉时,这里很安静,偶尔,卡洛斯会回头看看,和TK一起检查。他从小就开始穿雪鞋行走,但对于不习惯的人来说,这可能是棘手和令人沮丧的。一连串的咒骂阻止了卡洛斯的脚步,他及时转过身来,看着TK脸朝下倒在雪地里。一瞬间,他心中涌起一股担忧,他正要大步转身,这时TK用手和膝盖推开他,甩了甩脸上的雪。“你没事吧?”卡洛斯穿着松软的雪鞋尽可能快地走回TK。 “我以为我听到了我们身后的声音,所以我转过身来,被自己该死的脚绊倒了,”TK嘟囔着,瞪着他的靴子。卡洛斯轻笑一声,扶着TK站了起来。“这是一个容易犯的错误。我们都踩着自己的雪鞋摔倒了几次,然后才想起身后有一英尺的金属拖着。TK气喘吁吁地甩了甩夹克的前襟,然后扶正了他的无檐小便帽,然后拿起了他的杆子。他环顾四周,叹了口气,这次更放松了。“这里很漂亮。”“不是吗?这是我最喜欢的雪鞋行走小径。每次冬天来这里,我都会至少徒步一两次。卡洛斯顺着TK的目光,打量着周围的环境。 他们停在大针叶树之间的一条狭窄小径中间,树枝上满是积雪。一阵柔和的微风在树叶间飘荡,在空气中吹起一阵阵风。更强的阵风可能会吹倒上面的雪堆,其中一些雪堆可能重达数百磅。“尽管它很可爱,但我们需要继续前进。不想让所有的雪都落在我们身上。他指着一根特别重的树枝,TK咽了咽口水。他们继续沿着小路前进,卡洛斯打破了小路,把雪打包下来,这样TK就不会被粉雪绊倒。他们花了半个多小时才到达了瞭望台,当他们出现在山坡一侧的空地上时,TK的呼吸已经很困难,他的脸颊和鼻尖都红了。尽管在他们停下来后又摔倒了几次,但他从不抱怨或沮丧,每次卡洛斯转身检查他时,他的脸上总是挂着温暖卡洛斯心的笑容。卡洛斯在空地中间停了下来,转过身来,小心翼翼地避免踩到自己雪鞋的尾巴,然后用手臂扫了一眼身后广阔的水晶天空。“我们来了。”TK从脚上抬起头来,无疑是在竭尽全力不让自己再次跌倒,他的眼睛像碟子一样爆裂。“该死的,”他喘了口气。他的脸是一幅充满惊奇和喜悦的开放画布。他把目光投向卡洛斯之外,卡洛斯转过身来,欣赏着TK所看到的一切。天空是晴朗的,除了几朵蓬松的白云,所有的蓝色都向四面八方延伸,一望无际。他们的正前方是连绵起伏的山丘,覆盖着一层白色的灰尘,在远处,他只能辨认出在最近的山脚下蜿蜒曲折的高速公路。 夏天,山坡上到处都是鸟儿、小动物和昆虫,高高的草在热风中懒洋洋地摇曳。但是在冬天,尤其是在他们刚刚经历的暴风雪之后,一切都静止了。

That stillness is what draws Carlos here. Being here, surrounded by all that silence, it quiets his mind and reminds him just what true tranquility is. He glances at TK and something melts inside him. TK’s eyes are wide and gleaming, his lips pulled in a wide smile that rounds the apples of his ruddy cheeks. There’s nothing guarded about his expression, just pure awe at the spread of majestic scenery in front of him. He inhales deeply and closes his eyes and turns his face to the sun like he’s done so many times in the past few days, and Carlos finds it hard to breathe. The beauty of the mountains and the trees and the endless sky enhances TK’s own natural beauty, and the snow-reflected sunlight swathes him in a golden glow. Carlos couldn't take his eyes off TK if he tried. If his life depended on it. “Carlos—” TK takes a few steps past Carlos, then turns and smiles. And it’s the most radiant thing Carlos has ever seen. “This is amazing.” TK’s voice is soft, but it rings like bells in Carlos’ ears. His smile widens, and it’s hard not to feel the pull of all that infectious happiness. Carlos finds himself grinning from ear to ear. “I thought you’d like it.” “Like it? I love it.” TK sighs and turns back to face the rolling hills. “Can we stay for a bit before heading back?” Carlos chuckles and shrugs off his backpack. “That’s fine by me. Besides, I have no plans of carrying all this food back to the cabin.” TK turns carefully with a wide step and gapes at Carlos. “You packed us a picnic?” “Why does this surprise you?” Carlos counters with a tsk. TK rolls his eyes. “Why are you like this?” “You love it.” Something blazes in TK’s eyes, lighting up the green in them until they’re glowing, and his expression turns fierce. “I do.” Carlos swallows, and for a second he forgets about everything. Forgets about the picnic, about where they’re standing, about all the beauty surrounding them. It’s not those two little words, but the way he said them that has Carlos’ pulse quickening. The sincerity in his eyes, and the unmistakable passion that still burns in them, makes Carlos wonder if those two little words hold more meaning than on the surface. His heart beats up a storm against his ribcage, and all he sees is TK, and all he wants to do is to hold him and kiss him until the whole world melts away. Is this what falling in love feels like? Can he really fall in love with someone he’s only just met? Their eyes lock for the span of many erratic heartbeats, and Carlos takes a step forward... And falls flat on his face. “Holy shit. Carlos, you okay?” TK shouts. Moment ruined, Carlos pushes onto his hands and knees and groans, letting the snow cool his head. He hasn’t fallen in snowshoes in so long that he’s forgotten how shocking the impact and the
正是这种寂静吸引了卡洛斯来到这里。在这里,被所有的寂静所包围,它让他的心平静下来,提醒他什么是真正的宁静。他瞥了一眼TK,有什么东西在他体内融化了。TK的眼睛睁得大大的,闪闪发光,他的嘴唇扯出一个灿烂的笑容,在他红润的脸颊上泛起一个笑容。他的表情没有任何戒备,只是对眼前壮丽景色的纯粹敬畏。他深吸一口气,闭上眼睛,把脸转向太阳,就像他在过去几天里做过很多次一样,卡洛斯发现呼吸困难。山林树木和无尽的天空之美增强了TK自己的自然美,雪反射的阳光将他笼罩在金色的光芒中。卡洛斯如果尝试的话,无法将目光从TK上移开。如果他的生命取决于它。“卡洛斯——”TK从卡洛斯身边走了几步,然后转过身来,微笑着。这是卡洛斯见过的最光芒四射的东西。“这太神奇了。”TK的声音很柔和,但在卡洛斯的耳边却像铃铛一样响起。他的笑容扩大了,很难不感受到所有富有感染力的幸福的吸引力。卡洛斯发现自己笑得合不拢嘴。“我还以为你会喜欢呢。”“喜欢吗?我喜欢它。TK叹了口气,转身面对连绵起伏的丘陵。“我们可以在回去之前呆一会儿吗?”Carlos笑了笑,耸了耸肩。“这对我来说很好。再说了,我不打算把这些食物都带回船舱。TK小心翼翼地转过身来,迈着宽阔的步伐,目瞪口呆地看着卡洛斯。“你帮我们带了野餐?”“为什么这让你感到惊讶?”卡洛斯用啧啧声反击。TK翻了个白眼。“你为什么这样?”“你喜欢它。”TK的眼睛里有什么东西在燃烧,照亮了他们眼中的绿色,直到它们发光,他的表情变得凶狠。“我愿意。“ 卡洛斯咽了口唾沫,一秒钟他忘记了一切。忘记了野餐,忘记了他们站在哪里,忘记了他们周围的所有美景。不是那两个小字,而是他说这些话的方式让卡洛斯的脉搏加快。他眼中的真诚,以及其中仍然燃烧着的明确无误的激情,让卡洛斯怀疑这两个小字是否比表面上更有意义。他的心脏在胸腔上跳动着暴风雨,他看到的只是TK,他只想抱着他,亲吻他,直到整个世界都融化。这就是坠入爱河的感觉吗?他真的会爱上一个他刚刚认识的人吗?他们的目光锁定在许多不稳定的心跳中,卡洛斯向前迈出了一步......然后平躺在他的脸上。“天哪。卡洛斯,你还好吗?TK喊道。片刻被毁了,卡洛斯用手和膝盖推着他,呻吟着,让雪让他的头脑冷静下来。他已经很久没有穿上雪鞋了,以至于他忘记了撞击和撞击是多么令人震惊。

cold can be, and it takes him a moment to catch his breath and find his bearings. Love? What’s he even thinking? They haven’t known each other for two full weeks yet and Carlos is thinking about love? Maybe the fall is Mother Nature telling him to cool his jets. He's not sure if he wants to thank her or curse her for it. TK is beside him, dusting snow from his week-old beard and the front of his jacket, his gloved hands gentle, and Carlos takes another deep, cold breath to calm his heart. He’s reading too much into TK’s words, even if the way his eyes gleamed and the way his voice dropped had set Carlos’ whole body on fire. Carlos clears his throat and sits back on his heels. “I’m fine. Just tripped over my own goddamn feet it appears,” he parrots TK’s words back at him, and if TK finds his voice too tight and his attempt at a pathetic joke too forced, he doesn’t show it. “Well, at least now I’m not the only one who kept biffing it in these goddamn metal traps.” TK pushes to his feet and holds a hand out in front of Carlos. Carlos takes the offered hand and groans when TK pulls him up. His knees are cold from kneeling on the snow despite the fact the rest of him is burning so hot he’s ready to combust. He looks around for his poles and pulls them out of the snow, then hands TK his poles as well. “Help me stamp out a space for the tarp and blanket?” “Sure thing, boss.” TK gives him a mock salute and grabs his poles. “Lead the way.” Carlos stabs his poles in front of him to scout out the ground, then takes a step forward and stamps his feet until the powdery snow is flattened into a hard platform. TK follows his lead, and before long, they have a decent sized area cleared of powder. Carlos pulls the tarp and picnic blanket from the backpack, then unstraps his snowshoes before stepping onto the blanket. TK does the same, and they sit huddled under a third blanket while Carlos lays down sandwiches, fruit bowls, and a large flask of hot cocoa on the mat beside them. “Aw, no peeled grapes and red wine?” Carlos punches TK in the shoulder. “Next time you carry the backpack.” “Message received loud and clear.” TK rubs his shoulder, a shit-eating grin on his face. They finish their lunch in silence. It seems fitting given that they’re surrounded by it. TK seems to enjoy just looking at the snow covered hills, his eyes dreamy and his smile content, and Carlos doesn’t want to disturb the moment with conversation. After the sandwiches and fruit, Carlos splits the hot cocoa between them and pulls his phone out of his backpack. He usually has service up here, and he wants to check his messages in case anything important has come up. He ignores most of the notifications and opens the text thread with Paul. And his stomach drops. We have more subscription cancellations. And another party bailed. Carlos clenches and unclenches his fist, his other hand gripping the phone so tightly his fingers hurt. Paul’s only telling him about the cancellations because he insisted to be kept in the loop, but he didn’t think he’d be getting so many updates in the past week. They’ve had cancellations almost every day, and Carlos is almost afraid to ask how many more since the last time he checked. How many more? He asks anyway. There’s a moment of nothing, then three little jumping dots appear on the bottom of the message box.
冷可以,他需要一点时间才能喘口气并找到自己的方向。爱?他到底在想什么?他们还没有认识整整两个星期,卡洛斯正在考虑爱情?也许秋天是大自然母亲告诉他要冷却他的喷气式飞机。他不确定自己是想感谢她还是诅咒她。TK在他身旁,掸去他一周前的胡须和夹克前襟上的雪,戴着手套的手温柔地抚摸着,卡洛斯又深吸了一口气,让他的心平静下来。他读了太多TK的话,即使他的眼睛闪闪发光,声音低沉的样子已经让卡洛斯的整个身体着火了。卡洛斯清了清嗓子,坐回了自己的高跟鞋上。“我很好。只是被我自己该死的脚绊倒了,“他鹦鹉学舌地回击TK的话,如果TK觉得他的声音太紧,他试图开一个可悲的笑话太勉强,他就不会表现出来。“好吧,至少现在我不是唯一一个在这些该死的金属陷阱里一直捣乱的人。”TK站起身来,在Carlos面前伸出一只手。卡洛斯握住他伸出的手,呻吟着,TK把他拉了起来。他的膝盖因为跪在雪地上而变得冰冷,尽管他的其余部分正在燃烧,以至于他已经准备好燃烧了。他四处寻找他的杆子,把它们从雪地里拉出来,然后把他的杆子也递给TK。“帮我腾出空间放防水布和毯子?”“当然可以,老板。”TK向他敬了一个假礼,并抓住了他的杆子。“带路。”卡洛斯用杖子捅在他面前侦察地面,然后向前迈出一步,跺脚,直到粉状的雪被压平成一个坚硬的平台。TK紧随其后,不久之后,他们就拥有了一块相当大的区域,清除了粉末。 卡洛斯从背包里拿出防水布和野餐毯,然后解开雪鞋的鞋带,然后踏上毯子。TK也这样做,他们蜷缩在第三条毯子下,而卡洛斯则在他们旁边的垫子上放下三明治、水果盘和一大瓶热可可。“哎呀,没有去皮的葡萄和红酒吗?”卡洛斯一拳打在TK的肩膀上。“下次你背背包。”“消息响亮而清晰。”TK揉了揉肩膀,脸上露出吃屎的笑容。他们默默地吃完了午饭。考虑到他们被它包围,这似乎很合适。TK似乎很喜欢看着白雪皑皑的山丘,他的眼睛梦幻般的,笑容满足,而卡洛斯不想用谈话来打扰这一刻。吃完三明治和水果后,卡洛斯把热可可分给他们,从背包里掏出手机。他通常在这里提供服务,他想检查他的消息,以防万一有什么重要的事情发生。他忽略了大部分通知,并与 Paul 一起打开了文本线程。他的肚子下降了。我们有更多的订阅取消。另一方保释了。卡洛斯握紧了又松开了拳头,另一只手紧紧地握着手机,手指疼得发痛。保罗只是告诉他取消的消息,因为他坚持要随时了解情况,但他没想到在过去的一周里他会得到这么多更新。他们几乎每天都有取消订单,卡洛斯几乎不敢问自上次检查以来还有多少。还有多少?他还是问。有一会儿什么都没有,然后三个小跳跃点出现在消息框的底部。

6. Butdon’tworryaboutit,man.We’restilldoingwell.Thingswillblowoverandwe’llmake up those numbers in no time. Six more. They’d have to let someone go to make up the difference in lost revenue over the past week, and the last thing Carlos wants to do is to fire someone over his own mistakes. Fuck. He should have never taken that stupid catering job. Should have never let Alex push him so far. Should have made a bigger fuss and let the whole world know the truth before he ran away with his tail between his legs. He should have done so many things, but he didn’t, and now his staff and business partner are going to suffer because of his ineptitude. He types an overtly positive text to Paul, then backs out of the thread. Michelle’s name is still bolded in the texting app, and Carlos stares at it as a twinge of guilt shoots through him. Michelle has sent him more messages since the last time he checked his phone a couple of days ago. The last thing he wants to think about right now is the job in NYC, but these people are cancelling because of him and the lies Alex told about him. The truth won’t matter if all his clients are gone before he has a chance to tell it. But if he leaves and has Paul make a public announcement, then maybe they can salvage what’s left of the business. Maybe people will stop cancelling. It’s a big if, but what else can he do? Carlos’ thumb hovers over Michelle’s name when a hand touches his shoulder. He looks up, startled, to find TK looking at him with worried eyes. “Everything okay?” Carlos slips his phone into his coat pocket. The words yeah I’m fine are on the tip of his tongue, but the naked concern in TK’s expression stops him. He sighs and scrubs a hand down his face and says, “Things haven’t been great back home on the work front.” TK raises an eyebrow. “Oh?” “As you know, a lot of my client list overlaps with Alex’s husband’s.” Carlos sighs. “We’ve had a lot of cancellations in the past two weeks. Catering gigs and monthly clients. All because of what Alex is still saying to the press.” Understanding dawns on TK and anger flashes in his bewitching green eyes. “What the fuck? He’s seriously not letting this go?” Carlos shrugs and tells TK about the blatant lies all over social media, about how Alex is telling every media outlet who’s willing to listen that Carlos made a move on him despite his efforts to tell Carlos off, and how ever since those lies came out, Carlos’ clients have been canceling left, right, and centre. By the end, TK is vibrating and his expression is murderous. “That fucking asshole. He has no right dragging it out for this long!” “He’s gotta make it convincing for his new husband,” Carlos says. Rehashing all that is exhausting, but he’s numb all over, as if he’s not talking about his own tanking business and livelihood. “But he’s lying ,” TK spits.
6.但是别担心,伙计。我们仍然做得很好。事情会吹过来的,我们很快就会弥补这些数字。还有六个。他们必须让某人离开以弥补过去一周收入损失的差额,而卡洛斯最不想做的就是因为自己的错误而解雇某人。他妈的。他不应该接受那份愚蠢的餐饮工作。不应该让亚历克斯把他逼得这么远。应该大惊小怪,让全世界都知道真相,然后他夹着尾巴逃跑了。他应该做很多事情,但他没有,现在他的员工和商业伙伴将因为他的无能而受苦。他给保罗打了一条明显肯定的短信,然后退出了这个话题。米歇尔的名字在短信应用程序中仍然以粗体显示,卡洛斯盯着它,一丝内疚感从他身上射出。自从几天前他上次检查手机以来,米歇尔给他发了更多的消息。他现在最不想考虑的就是在纽约的工作,但这些人因为他和亚历克斯对他的谎言而取消了工作。如果他的所有客户在他有机会说出来之前就已经走了,真相也无关紧要。但是,如果他离开并让保罗公开宣布,那么也许他们可以挽救剩下的生意。也许人们会停止取消。这是一个很大的假设,但他还能做什么?卡洛斯的拇指悬停在米歇尔的名字上,这时一只手碰到了他的肩膀。他惊愕地抬起头,发现TK正用担忧的眼神看着他。“一切都还好吗?”卡洛斯把手机塞进外套口袋里。“是的,我很好”这句话在他的舌尖上,但TK表情中赤裸裸的担忧阻止了他。他叹了口气,用手搓了搓脸,说:“在工作方面,家里的情况并不好。“ TK挑了挑眉毛。”哦?“如你所知,我的很多客户名单都与亚历克斯丈夫的客户名单重叠。卡洛斯叹了口气。“在过去的两周里,我们有很多航班被取消。餐饮演出和每月客户。这一切都是因为亚历克斯仍然对媒体说的话。TK明白了,他迷人的绿色眼睛里闪过愤怒。“什么鬼?他真的不放过这个吗?卡洛斯耸了耸肩,告诉TK社交媒体上到处都是公然的谎言,亚历克斯如何告诉每个愿意听的媒体,尽管卡洛斯努力告诉卡洛斯,但他还是对他采取了行动,以及自从这些谎言出现以来,卡洛斯的客户一直在取消左派、右派和中间派。到最后,TK在颤抖,他的表情是杀气腾腾的。“那个该死的混蛋。他没有权利拖这么久!“他必须让他的新丈夫信服,”卡洛斯说。重述这一切令人筋疲力尽,但他全身麻木,仿佛他不是在谈论他自己的生意和生计。“但他在撒谎,”TK吐了口唾沫。

“You should know better than anyone else that the truth doesn’t matter.” TK’s mouth snaps shut and his head looks like it’s ready to explode with all the rage he’s keeping in. He holds Carlos’ gaze for a long, blazing moment, then looks away and sighs. His entire body deflates with that exhale. It would have been comical if Carlos wasn’t feeling just as resigned. “You should still come out and tell your side of the story when you get back,” TK says finally after a long moment of silence. “Especially if he won’t just let this blow over. Maybe people will stop canceling then.” Carlos chews on his bottom lip and stares out into the expansive sky. He can do that, and he should do that, but the damage is done. Those clients who have canceled won’t come back, and even if he did tell his side, who’d listen? Alex is doing a damn fine job making sure everyone knows his version of the story, and even though Carlos isn’t a part of any fandom, he’s heard enough from exes that die-hard fans can be...passionate when it comes to their idols. And Alex has a lot of die- hard fans. “Honestly, I don’t know if it’ll be worth the fight.” The words slip out before Carlos has a chance to stop them. TK blinks at him, confusion replacing the frustration in his eyes, and Carlos realizes it’s the truth. He’s stopped loving his job for a long time, and it was easy to ride the status quo when the work paid the bills with a little extra to spare, but is that status quo worth getting into a fight with one of Hollywood’s hottest actors over? “I don’t know if I have the passion to fight for this job. Not anymore, anyway.” TK opens and shuts his mouth like a goldfish, the sight so comical Carlos can’t help but chuckle. It earns him the stink-eye from TK and a gentle shove on the shoulder. “Could’ve fooled me,” he says. “You seem so happy when you’re cooking.” And he has been happy when he’s cooking for just the two of them. TK never asks him to be mindful of his food choices, and that freedom makes cooking even vegan enjoyable. Carlos didn’t have to keep to a strict food list or calorie count or macros requirements, and the way TK happily inhales everything Carlos serves him has rekindled some of Carlos’ lost passions. “I still love to cook,” Carlos replies hastily. “I’m just a little tired of cooking with so many restrictions and crazy dietary needs and choices.” “Oh,” is all the response Carlos gets and he kicks himself. “Cooking for you hasn’t been a chore, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Carlos tugs TK close and kisses his nose. “It’s not the same.” A small smile tugs at the corners of TK’s lips, and he leans his forehead against Carlos’. “TK,” Carlos says after a moment of silence. “Hm?” “Do you like what you do?” Carlos already knows the answer. It’s evident in every movie he’s seen TK in that TK is born for this career. That he loves it, and he throws one hundred and ten percent of himself into every role. But he wants to hear it from TK’s lips. “I love it,” TK replies without hesitation. He pulls back and looks Carlos in the eyes, his expression solemn. “Being able to get up every day and go on set, getting to slip into another person’s life and become someone completely new? It’s a privilege. And I’m forever grateful to
“你应该比任何人都清楚,真相并不重要。TK的嘴巴啪的一声闭上了,他的脑袋看起来已经准备好了,因为他一直保持着所有的愤怒。他盯着卡洛斯看了很久,然后移开视线,叹了口气。他的整个身体都随着呼气而放气。如果卡洛斯没有同样无奈,那就太滑稽了。“当你回来时,你仍然应该出来讲述你的故事,”TK在沉默了很久之后终于说。“特别是如果他不会让这件事结束的话。也许人们会停止取消。卡洛斯咬着下唇,凝视着广阔的天空。他可以这样做,他应该这样做,但伤害已经造成。那些取消了的客户不会回来,即使他真的告诉了他这边,谁会听?亚历克斯做得很好,确保每个人都知道他的故事版本,尽管卡洛斯不是任何粉丝的一部分,但他从前任那里听到了足够多的铁杆粉丝可以......当谈到他们的偶像时,他们充满激情。亚历克斯有很多铁杆粉丝。“老实说,我不知道这是否值得战斗。”话音未落,卡洛斯还没来得及阻止他们。TK朝他眨了眨眼,困惑取代了他眼中的沮丧,卡洛斯意识到这是事实。他已经很久不热爱自己的工作了,当工作用一点额外的闲钱支付账单时,很容易驾驭现状,但这种现状值得与好莱坞最炙手可热的演员之一争吵吗?“我不知道我是否有热情为这份工作而战。反正现在不行了。TK像金鱼一样张开又闭上嘴巴,如此滑稽的景象让卡洛斯忍不住笑了起来。这为他赢得了TK的臭眼睛,并轻轻地推了推他的肩膀。 “可能骗了我,”他说。“你做饭的时候看起来很开心。”当他只为他们两个人做饭时,他一直很开心。TK从不要求他注意自己的食物选择,这种自由使烹饪变得令人愉快,即使是素食主义者。卡洛斯不必遵守严格的食物清单、卡路里计数或宏量要求,而 TK 愉快地吸入卡洛斯为他提供的所有东西的方式重新点燃了卡洛斯失去的一些激情。“我仍然喜欢做饭,”卡洛斯匆匆回答。“我只是有点厌倦了有这么多限制和疯狂的饮食需求和选择的烹饪。”“哦,”卡洛斯得到的所有回应都是,他踢了自己一脚。“为你做饭不是一件苦差事,如果这是你担心的的话。”卡洛斯拉近TK并亲吻他的鼻子。“不一样。”TK的嘴角扯起一丝微笑,他将额头靠在卡洛斯的额头上。“TK,”卡洛斯沉默了一会儿后说。“嗯?”“你喜欢你的工作吗?”卡洛斯已经知道答案了。在他看过的每一部电影中都可以明显看出,TK是为这个职业而生的。他喜欢它,他把百分之一百一十的自己投入到每一个角色中。但他想从TK的嘴里听到。“我喜欢它,”TK毫不犹豫地回答。他回过头来,看着卡洛斯的眼睛,表情严肃。“能够每天起床去片场,进入另一个人的生活,成为一个全新的人?这是一种特权。我永远感激

my fans and all those who helped me get to where I am today. Even that douchenozzle Alex.” His voice is soft, but it carries so much passion and conviction it knocks the breath from Carlos’ lungs. His eyes glow with something Carlos hasn’t seen before, something that tugs at Carlos like the smell of water to a man dying of thirst. It’s a drive and a hunger he’s been missing, and he doesn't know where or how to find it. When Carlos doesn’t say anything, TK presses on. “Sure, the hours suck and the jet lag can be brutal. I’m so tired of plane food I just don’t bother anymore. And...” He pauses and chews on his bottom lip as if contemplating his next words. Uncertainty clouds his eyes, and Carlos sits straighter and takes TK’s hands and squeezes. “It’s lonely, Carlos, really fucking lonely sometimes,” he says at last and sags as if those few little words took the wind right out of his sails. “Hasn’t helped that Alex painted me as some sort of man whore who only likes to sleep around.” TK sighs and scoots closer to Carlos. “Even though I can count on one hand the number of one night stands I’ve had since Alex and I split.” Carlos wraps his arms around TK protectively and kisses his temple. “How come you never came out and put those rumours to rest?” TK glances up through his lashes, and Carlos can feel the resignation rolling off of TK in his bones. “Back then, I was a nobody, and my upcoming career versus his established one? It would’ve been a disaster for me and Mateo and my agency. And now? It’s not worth the PR shit storm. I don’t want him thinking I’m dragging up ancient history so I can ride the coattails of his fame.” “Huh, that’s fair I guess.” “There’s no winning.” TK shrugs and snuggles closer and wraps his arms around Carlos’ waist. “But, back to you. I think if you don’t love what you do anymore, maybe it’s time to try something new? Don’t waste your life settling for mediocre. What do you want to do?” That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Carlos chews on his bottom lip and takes a deep breath. He should tell TK about the job offer in NYC, but the words are stuck in his throat like fish bones. Is that what he wants to do? Or is that just the next easiest option? The truth is, he’s not sure what he wants to do. He wants to cook and he likes to be his own boss, but beyond that? He has no clue, and that directionlessness settles in his gut like lead. He hums but doesn’t reply, and he’s grateful TK doesn’t push. They sit like this in companionable silence for a while, just enjoying each other’s company and the unrestricted privacy Mother Nature provides. Sitting here with TK on the side of the hill, Carlos doesn’t feel so trapped and panicked despite his looming problems, and it was good to get all that crap off his chest. TK isn’t wrong. He hasn’t been happy creating strict meals and catering parties for ages, and this whole shitshow with Alex could be a blessing in disguise and the boot in the butt he needs to get out of his rut. He has the perfect opportunity waiting for him: a high-paying, high-profile job that will look fantastic on his resume years down the road. He’ll get to work with a team of highly trained chefs, and Michelle told him he’ll have full creative control over the menu. It’s every chef’s dream job. Would it be so bad to at least give it a try? Despite the clear sky and sun’s warm rays beating down on them, the cold from the hard packed
我的粉丝和所有帮助我走到今天的人。甚至那个 douchenozzer 亚历克斯。他的声音很柔和,但承载着如此多的激情和信念,让卡洛斯的肺都喘不过气来。他的眼睛里闪耀着卡洛斯从未见过的东西,这种东西像水的味道一样拉扯着卡洛斯,就像一个渴死了的人。这是他一直缺少的动力和饥饿感,他不知道在哪里或如何找到它。当卡洛斯什么也没说时,TK继续前进。“当然,时间很糟糕,时差可能很残酷。我厌倦了飞机上的食物,我不再打扰了。而且......”他停顿了一下,咬了咬下唇,好像在思考接下来的话。不确定笼罩着他的眼睛,卡洛斯坐直了身子,握住TK的手捏了捏。“这很寂寞,卡洛斯,有时候真的很寂寞,”他终于说了一句,然后下垂着,仿佛这几句话就把风从他的帆上吹走了。“亚历克斯把我描绘成某种只喜欢睡觉的男人妓女,这无济于事。”TK叹了口气,蹑手蹑脚地靠近卡洛斯。“尽管我可以用一只手数出自从亚历克斯和我分手以来我有过的次数。卡洛斯保护性地搂住TK,亲吻他的太阳穴。“你怎么从来不出来平息那些谣言?”TK透过睫毛抬头看了一眼,Carlos能感觉到TK的无奈从他的骨子里滚落下来。“那时候,我是一个无名小卒,我即将到来的职业生涯与他既定的职业生涯相比?这对我和马特奥以及我的经纪公司来说将是一场灾难。现在?不值得公关狗屎风暴。我不想让他认为我在拖累古代历史,这样我就可以乘着他的名声。“呵呵,我猜这很公平。”“没有赢家。”TK耸了耸肩,依偎得更近,搂住了卡洛斯的腰。“但是,回到你身上。 我想如果你不再喜欢你所做的事情,也许是时候尝试一些新的东西了?不要浪费你的生命满足于平庸。你想做什么?这是百万美元的问题,不是吗?卡洛斯咬着下唇,深吸了一口气。他应该告诉TK纽约的工作机会,但这些话像鱼骨头一样卡在他的喉咙里。这就是他想做的吗?或者这只是下一个最简单的选择?事实是,他不确定自己想做什么。他想做饭,他喜欢自己当老板,但除此之外呢?他毫无头绪,那种无方向感像铅一样沉淀在他的内心。他哼哼唧唧地没有回答,他很感激TK没有推。他们就这样静静地坐了一会儿,享受着彼此的陪伴和大自然母亲提供的不受限制的隐私。卡洛斯和TK坐在山坡上,尽管他的问题迫在眉睫,但他并没有感到那么困和恐慌,把所有的废话都从他的胸口拿出来是件好事。传统知识没有错。多年来,他一直不乐意举办严格的膳食和餐饮派对,而与亚历克斯的这整个狗屎表演可能是因祸得福,也是他摆脱困境所需的靴子。他有一个绝佳的机会在等着他:一份高薪、高调的工作,几年后在他的简历上看起来会很棒。他将与一支训练有素的厨师团队合作,米歇尔告诉他,他将对菜单拥有完全的创意控制权。这是每个厨师梦寐以求的工作。至少试一试会不会很糟糕?尽管晴朗的天空和温暖的阳光照在他们身上,但来自坚硬的寒冷

snow seeps through Carlos’ snow pants. He looks down at TK, and a twinge of regret shoots through him. If he takes the job, he’ll have to move to New York. TK is in LA. As if sensing the shift in his mood, TK looks up and smiles. “My ass is numb,” he says. His tone is playful, bordering on a whine, but his shrewd eyes drill into Carlos as if trying to stare into his soul. Carlos clears his throat and pulls off the blanket around their shoulders. “Mine too,” he replies, not looking at TK as he folds the blanket into a neat square. “Lets get packed and head back, shall we?” “Hm, okay.” They break up the makeshift camp quickly, and this time, TK insists on taking the backpack. The hike back takes half the time now that TK’s more experienced with the snowshoes, and before long, the cabin comes into view at the bottom of the hill. Carlos palms the phone in his pocket and inhales, and the cool air brings some much-needed clarity. “Why don’t you go ahead,” he tells TK as they near the driveway heading down to the cabin. “I have some emails to respond to.” TK studies him for a long, quiet moment, his expression unreadable, then his lips pull into a tender smile and he nods. “Okay. I’ll boil some water for tea. And I promise not to burn the place down.” “That would be appreciated.” Carlos chuckles and waves. TK turns, then stops and hesitates before turning back to face Carlos. “Hey, Carlos?” “Hm?” “I hope once we get home that we can still do this,” he says, and the colour in his cheeks darken. “Just us two hanging out somewhere secluded and alone.” Carlos swallows past the sudden lump in his throat and nods. “Yeah, of course.” TK’s smile turns radiant, and it spears Carlos straight through the heart. He gives Carlos a two- finger salute then turns toward the Cabin. Once TK’s far enough down the driveway, Carlos fishes his phone out of his pocket and opens Michelle’s texts. His thumbs shake as they hover over the screen, and for a split second he questions again if this is what he wants to do. If you don’t love what you do anymore, maybe it’s time to try something new? Don’t waste your life settling for mediocre. TK’s words echo in his head like an insistent breeze. Carlos takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. He holds the breath in his lungs until he’s fit to burst, then the air streams out in a drawn out sigh, taking away all his insecurities and doubts. This isn’t settling. This is taking a step toward something bigger and better and new. Without reading Michelle’s messages from the past week, he types a simple answer. I’ll take the job.
雪从卡洛斯的雪裤里渗出来。他低头看着TK,一丝遗憾涌上心头。如果他接受这份工作,他将不得不搬到纽约。TK在洛杉矶。仿佛察觉到他的情绪变化,TK抬起头,微笑着。“我的屁股麻木了,”他说。他的语气很俏皮,近乎呜咽,但他精明的眼睛钻进卡洛斯,仿佛试图凝视他的灵魂。卡洛斯清了清嗓子,扯下他们肩膀上的毯子。“我也是,”他回答说,当他把毯子折叠成一个整齐的正方形时,他没有看TK。“我们收拾行装回去,好吗?”“嗯,好吧。”他们迅速解散了临时营地,这一次,TK坚持要带走背包。由于TK对雪鞋更有经验,因此徒步返回需要一半的时间,不久之后,小屋就出现在山脚下。卡洛斯把手机放在口袋里,吸了一口气,凉爽的空气带来了一些急需的清晰度。“你为什么不继续前进,”当他们靠近通往小屋的车道时,他告诉TK。“我有一些电子邮件要回复。”TK静静地端详了他很久,他的表情看不懂,然后他的嘴唇扯出一个温柔的微笑,他点了点头。“好的。我去烧点水泡茶。我保证不会烧毁这个地方。“那将不胜感激。”卡洛斯笑着挥了挥手。TK转过身,然后停了下来,犹豫了一下,然后转身面对卡洛斯。“嘿,卡洛斯?”“嗯?”“我希望一旦我们回到家,我们仍然可以这样做,”他说,他脸颊上的颜色变暗了。“只有我们两个人在僻静和孤独的地方闲逛。”卡洛斯咽了咽喉咙里突然的肿块,点了点头。“是的,当然。”TK的笑容变得灿烂,它直接刺穿了卡洛斯的心脏。他向卡洛斯行了个两指的礼,然后转身走向机舱。 一旦TK在车道上走得足够远,卡洛斯就从口袋里掏出手机,打开了米歇尔的短信。他的拇指在屏幕上徘徊时颤抖着,有那么一瞬间,他再次质疑这是否是他想做的。如果你不再喜欢你所做的事情,也许是时候尝试一些新的东西了?不要浪费你的生命满足于平庸。TK的话像一阵微风一样在他脑海中回荡。卡洛斯深吸一口气,闭上眼睛。他憋着肺里的呼吸,直到他快要爆发了,然后空气在一声长长的叹息中流出,带走了他所有的不安全感和疑虑。这不是安定下来的。这是朝着更大、更好和新的事物迈出的一步。他没有阅读米歇尔过去一周的消息,而是输入了一个简单的答案。我会接受这份工作。

Chapter 17 When Carlos gets back to the cabin, TK has a mug of hot peppermint tea waiting for him. As promised, he didn’t burn down the cabin boiling water. Carlos is withdrawn when he comes through the front door, and a shadow hangs over him like a storm cloud. TK meets him in the hallway, mug in hand, but Carlos ignores it as he takes TK’s face in both hands and kisses him. It’s tender like always, but it lacks the teasing passion that TK’s come to love. Instead, Carlos’ mouth is unsure, his tongue hesitant, and he avoids TK’s eyes when they finally pull apart. He ducks into the bathroom without a word, and TK’s left in the hallway, staring at the closed door while the mug of tea cools in his hand. Did something else happen at his work? Did fucking Alex do more damage? Anger rises like bile in TK’s throat, and he swallows hard and takes a few deep, calming breaths. The bathroom door opens, and Carlos steps out in just a t-shirt and sweatpants, his snow pants and sweater hooked on his arm. His messy curls are even more unruly, as if he’s been tugging on them, but his eyes are clear. He tosses the sweater into their bedroom and hangs up the snow pants on a coat hook by the door, his movements deliberate. When turns back to face TK, he smiles, and he seems more like himself. “What’s going on?” TK asks as Carlos takes his hand and leads him back into the living room. Carlos pulls him to the couch and down on top of him, arranging TK until his back is to Carlos’ front as he sits in the V of Carlos’ spread thighs. Carlos takes the tea mug from TK and sips at the contents, and TK feels Carlos’ chest depress when he lets out a long sigh. “Carlos, is everything okay?” TK asks again, trying and failing to keep the worry out of his voice. Carlos wraps his arms around TK, then places the mug on TK’s sternum and rests his chin on top of TK’s head. “Yeah,” he says, his voice soft and resigned. “Everything’s fine.” “You sure?” If everything’s fine, then why is he acting so strange? “Mhm,” Carlos hums. He presses soft lips to TK’s temple. “Just want to hold you for a bit, is that okay?” he murmurs into TK’s ear, and TK can’t refuse him even if he wanted to. “Yeah, but—” “Shh.” TK harrumphs and frowns. Maybe he can try asking again later when Carlos isn’t so out of sorts. “Okay.” They cuddle on the couch while Carlos sips his tea, shifting every once in a while until their bodies meld together comfortably. His big body is solid beneath TK, and with every passing moment, TK’s resolve to find out what happened slips a little until he’s barely staying awake cradled in Carlos’ arms. It’s so nice here, so relaxing and warm, and TK can’t remember the last time he felt this safe in anyone’s arms other than his dad. And that is a whole different kind of security. When Carlos finishes his tea, he gets up and takes the mug to the kitchen. TK sits up straight and takes a deep breath. Maybe now Carlos will talk? TK looks over to the kitchen, but Carlos is
第17章 当卡洛斯回到小屋时,TK有一杯热薄荷茶等着他。正如承诺的那样,他没有烧掉开水的机舱。当卡洛斯从前门进来时,他被吓了一跳,一个阴影像暴风雨一样笼罩着他。TK在走廊里遇见了他,手里拿着杯子,但卡洛斯没有理会,他双手捧着TK的脸亲吻了他。它一如既往地温柔,但缺乏 TK 所爱的戏弄激情。相反,卡洛斯的嘴巴不确定,他的舌头犹豫不决,当TK的眼睛终于分开时,他避开了TK的眼睛。他一言不发地躲进浴室,TK留在走廊里,盯着紧闭的门,手里拿着一杯茶。他的工作中还发生了其他事情吗?他妈的亚历克斯造成了更大的伤害吗?愤怒像胆汁一样在TK的喉咙里升起,他艰难地咽了咽口水,深吸了几口平静的呼吸。浴室的门打开了,卡洛斯只穿着一件T恤和运动裤走了出来,他的雪裤和毛衣挂在他的胳膊上。他凌乱的卷发更是桀骜不驯,仿佛一直在扯扯,但他的眼睛却是清澈的。他把毛衣扔进卧室,把雪裤挂在门边的衣帽钩上,他的动作是故意的。当转身面对TK时,他微笑着,他看起来更像他自己。“这是怎么回事?”TK问道,Carlos牵着他的手,把他带回客厅。卡洛斯把他拉到沙发上,趴在他身上,安排TK,直到他的背对着卡洛斯的前面,他坐在卡洛斯张开的大腿的V字形上。卡洛斯从TK手中接过茶杯,啜饮着里面的东西,TK长长地叹了口气,感觉到卡洛斯的胸口在压抑。“卡洛斯,一切都好吗?”TK再次问道,试图将担忧从他的声音中抹去,但失败了。 卡洛斯搂住TK,然后把杯子放在TK的胸骨上,把下巴放在TK的头顶上。“是的,”他说,他的声音柔和而无奈。“一切都很好。”“你确定?”如果一切都很好,那他为什么表现得如此奇怪?“嗯,”卡洛斯哼了一声。他将柔软的嘴唇贴在TK的太阳穴上。“只是想抱你一会儿,可以吗?”他在TK耳边喃喃自语,TK即使想拒绝也无法拒绝他。“是的,但是——”“嘘。”TK哈伦夫斯,皱起眉头。也许他以后可以试着在卡洛斯不那么不正常的时候再问一次。“好的。”他们依偎在沙发上,卡洛斯啜饮着他的茶,每隔一段时间就会移动一次,直到他们的身体舒适地融合在一起。他庞大的身躯在TK的身下是坚实的,随着时间的流逝,TK想要弄清楚发生了什么的决心在一点点下滑,直到他几乎无法保持清醒,被卡洛斯抱在怀里。这里真是太好了,太放松了,太温暖了,TK不记得上一次在除了他爸爸之外的任何人的怀抱里感到如此安全是什么时候了。这是一种完全不同的安全。当卡洛斯喝完茶后,他起身把杯子带到厨房。TK坐直了身子,深吸了一口气。也许现在卡洛斯会说话?TK看向厨房,但Carlos正在

nowhere in sight. Where did he get off to? TK frowns and contemplates getting up to look for Carlos. The cabin isn’t that big, but before his ass leaves the soft leather cushions, Carlos walks back into the living room holding a stack of board games so high he can barely make out the top of Carlos’ curls over the boxes. Carlos pokes his head around the towering boxes and his face splits in a wide smile. “Hope you like board games.” “That’s a lot of boardgames,” TK breathes as he eyes the colourful boxes. There are the usual suspects like Monopoly and Scrabble, but there are also some boxes with elaborate and beautiful art that are completely foreign to TK. “My step dad loves board games,” Carlos says as he places the stack on the table. “Actually, that’s how he and my mom met. Mom took me to a board games meetup when I was twelve. I loved board games—still do—but they’re so expensive, so she figured this way I could get access to them and have people to play with. This friendly Chinese guy waved us over to his table, and the rest was history.” He grins, his expression soft and his eyes faraway as if he’s reliving a fond memory. “He sounds like a nice guy, your stepdad.” TK grabs the box on top of the pile and looks over the gruesome zombie cover. Definitely a pass on that. “He is.” Carlos takes a seat on the couch next to TK and starts to spread the boxes out on the coffee table. “His wife died in a car accident when Kevin was a baby. Raised him all by himself while taking over the family business. His grandparents came to America and started a frozen dumplings business that got passed down to his parents. He wanted to go to culinary school and be a chef, but then Kevin came along and he had to choose between supporting his family and his dream. He chose family.” “Oh whoa, so food runs in the family then?” “You could say that,” Carlos replies. “My mom’s family has a restaurant in Mexico, and she taught me a lot in the kitchen even before she and Dad got together. Between the two of them, I was destined for culinary school.” “And Kevin?” “He’s got a real talent for numbers and an eye for marketing, so he helps dad run the dumpling business now. He’s working on a storefront expansion and thinking about running dumpling wrapping classes for those who want to learn. Dad’s all for it. He thinks it’ll introduce more people to the culture behind dumplings.” Carlos’ smile turns wry and he shakes his head and chuckles. “And apparently he’s got a side gig going on Airbnb.” TK chortles. “He would’ve done well, too, if his brother didn’t come along and mess up his plans.” “Uh huh.” Carlos rolls his eyes and beams a smile at TK that lights up his whole face. “Serves him right for sneaking around behind our backs.” Talking about his family seems to chase away the dark cloud that hung over Carlos earlier, and TK’s loathed to say anything that could bring those shadows back. It still bothers him that Carlos was upset, but maybe it really is nothing that a solid cuddle and some board games can’t fix? Hearing about Carlos’ mom and step dad and seeing the way his face softens with love makes TK’s heart ache. His mom left when he was a kid, and it was just him and his dad against the world. Owen’s a great dad, and he does his best to always be there for TK. He even got a Free Dad 重试    错误原因

Hug t-shirt and took TK to Pride the year he came out to him. Sure, he was at work a lot, being the captain of a fire station, but he always made time for TK when it mattered. It’s been a while since he saw his old man and TK misses him. Carlos turns his attention back to the games. TK was never exposed to board games growing up. It’s not that he didn’t like them, it just wasn’t what they did. He’s played Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders and Go Fish, but that’s where his knowledge of board games ends. The spread in front of him is almost intimidating as he looks from one colourful box to the next. Some have painted pictures of rolling hills and green fields while others are covered in pictures of space and battleships. One small, ornately decorated box catches his eye, and he reaches for it. “Oh, that’s a good one,” Carlos says. “Yeah?” TK turns and holds the box out to Carlos. “Love Letter.” Carlos takes the game and opens the lid. “Have you ever played?” TK shakes his head. “We didn’t really do board games.” Carlos frowns. “Oh.” “But I’d love to try,” TK adds hurriedly. “You sure?” Carlos puts the box down and turns to look at TK. “We don’t have to if this isn’t your thing. We can watch a movie, or read, or go—” “I want to,” TK insists and leans in to brush a soft kiss to Carlos’ cheek. TK likes doing new things with Carlos, like cooking and snowshoeing, and he’s sure this will just be one more thing to add to the list of things TK didn’t know he enjoys. Carlos stares at him for another heartbeat longer, then his face breaks into a giddy smile. He pulls the deck of cards out of the box, along with a rules booklet and a small plastic bag of wooden hearts, and shows them to TK. “The goal is to hand your love letter to the princess before your opponents,” he explains while showing TK each card. “The rules are very simple, but there’s a little bit of a learning curve to this.” TK looks at each of the cards and tries to make sense of the pictures of men and women. “Okay.” “Every game you win, you earn a little heart.” He holds up the bag of wooden hearts. “The one with the most hearts wins.” “That’s easy enough, I think?” TK takes the little plastic bag and pours all the little wooden hearts out in his palm. “It’s easiest if you learn through play.” Carlos hands TK the cards, then stacks all the games on the table on the floor. “Promise I’ll take it easy on ya the first few rounds.” TK huffs indignantly and Carlos laughs. He shuffles the cards, then goes to explain the more intricate rules while dealing. It is a very simple game, but tricky in its simplicity, and the first couple rounds, TK flounders until he memorizes all the different cards there are in the small deck. 重试    错误原因

As promised, Carlos took it easy on him and showed him strategies, and even revealed his own hand to help TK out. As much as TK hates to admit it, it made learning a whole lot easier. When he decided to pursue his acting career, he left home and went to LA bright-eyed and bushy- tailed, eager to land his first role. He’s had to learn so many hard lessons, including getting involved with Alex, that learning anything new these days is exhausting. It’s why he gave up trying to cook. But Carlos makes learning fun, and TK’s eagerness to learn comes back tenfold. Before long, he’s kicking Carlos’ ass, and Carlos stops playing with kid gloves on. After Love Letter, they move onto a game called Settlers of Catan. It’s a much more complicated game than Love Letter and it takes TK a frustratingly long time to get the hang of it. Carlos is always there to instruct with patience in spades, and the liberal rewards in gentle touches and soft kisses makes the whole experience extremely pleasant. They play games well into the late afternoon, and TK finds that competitive side of him kicking in multiple times when Carlos pulls ahead in points. It’s nice to see Carlos so invested in the games, nice to see the shadows in his eyes completely disappear as they pull out a third game from the pile. And TK is having so much fun he forgets that he’s supposed to probe for answers. When they finally finish the latest game, TK’s stomach growls so loudly it sets them both off in a fit of laughter. “I guess that’s my cue to start on dinner,” Carlos says as he starts sorting the cardboard cut out pieces into the box. TK folds the playing board and slips it into the box. “What can I do to help?” Carlos grins and shakes his head. “You can help with dessert.” After a dinner of vegan burgers with a sriracha mango mayo sauce and root vegetable fries, Carlos sets TK to work slicing bananas into half inch disks while he melts butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. TK peers over Carlos’ shoulder at the bubbling sauce. “Whatcha making?” “You’ll see.” Carlos adds in a dash of cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and some vanilla extract to the mix, then picks up the pan and swirls the contents around until everything’s mixed. TK finishes slicing the bananas, his mouth watering as the sugar and butter cook into a sweet, aromatic caramel. Carlos rummages in the freezer and comes up with a bag of chopped walnuts. He tosses the bag at TK, who catches it with a lot less grace than he cares to admit. “Can you toast some walnuts?” Carlos asks without taking his eyes off the sauce. “Spread the nuts in a single layer and shake them over low heat until they’re golden brown. Use the little non-stick pan in the back.” He points to the cupboard where all the pans are kept with his foot. TK does as he’s told and keeps his eyes on the walnuts, shaking them periodically. His arm bumps into Carlos, and Carlos leans into him as they occupy the too-small space in front of the stove range. The movement is subtle, yet it sends waves of heat through TK as he struggles to stay focused on the task at hand. The smell of butter and sugar and vanilla and cinnamon mingles with the clean scent of Carlos’ shampoo and his aftershave; it’s a heady scent that drives TK wild. He turns toward Carlos and inhales as inconspicuously as possible, letting the mixture wash over him even as his cock stirs with interest. He’ll never tire of watching Carlos cook. There’s something about the way his brows 

crease and the set of his jaw as he’s concentrating that TK finds so damn sexy. Carlos knows exactly what he’s doing when he’s standing in the kitchen. There’s no hesitation, no second- guessing, and all that confidence only makes him that much more desirable. Beside him, Carlos is seemingly oblivious to TK’s mounting desire as he tosses the banana slices into the caramel sauce. His elbow brushes against TK’s when he sets the plate down, and his hip bumps into TK when he turns his attention back to the caramel pot. He stirs everything carefully with a wooden spoon, the muscles of his forearms rippling and shifting, and makes sure all the bananas are well covered. Watching Carlos toss some fruit in some sauce shouldn’t be this erotic, yet TK finds it harder to breathe the longer he stares. Carlos reaches across the stove and turns off the heat to TK’s burner. He grabs the toasted walnuts and pours them carefully into the caramel. Shit . He looks to Carlos, a panicked apology on the tip of his tongue, but the words die when Carlos winks at him. The corner of his lips pull into a knowing smirk, and TK’s embarrassment turns into mortification and indignation. That asshole knew exactly what he was doing. TK glares at Carlos, who flashes him another shit-eating grin before turning to the fridge. He brings out a half bottle of spiced rum to the saucepan, and before TK can register the cold slither of discomfort down his spine, Carlos tips a tiny stream into the caramel sauce. He pulls a lighter from the cutlery drawer and flicks it on, then, with practiced ease, he brushes the dancing flame across the surface of the sauce. Blue and orange flames jump up as he pulls his hand away in the nick of time, and TK stares as fire licks across the caramel drenched walnuts and banana slices. Blood roars in his ears, and his vision tunnels until all he sees are the dancing flames, the blue glowing centre spreading outward until there’s only a ring of orange left around the dying fire. His palms grow clammy, and his heart beats faster as he tries to ignore the increasing tightness of his chest. Carlos turns off the stove as the last of the flames sizzle out, then turns to TK with a wide smile. “Hope you like banana foster.” Without waiting for an answer, Carlos dances around TK and grabs a pint of coconut ice cream out of the freezer. He scoops ice cream into two bowls, then tops each with a generous serving of caramel, bananas, and walnuts. Dropping a spoon in each bowl, Carlos picks them up and gestures for TK to join him at the dinner table. TK follows Carlos on wooden legs. He sits in his usual spot and smiles tightly when Carlos places the bowl in front of him. TK lets out the breath he’s holding and picks up his spoon. He can do this. It’s been years. He dips the spoon through the gooey caramel and soft banana slices, cutting into the softening ice cream, and brings up a scoop. The buttery sweet scent of caramel and bananas and the subtle refreshing smell of coconut almost masks the sharp spices of the rum. Almost. TK grips the bowl so tightly his knuckles are white. If he can just take one bite. One lick. But what if that’s all it takes? He swallows past the lump in his throat in disappointment, and it’s not until he drops the spoon back into the bowl that he finds Carlos’ eyes on him. They’re wide, swimming with concern, and Carlos looks alarmed as his eyes flick between TK and his bowl. 

“Is everything okay?” Carlos asks. He lowers his half-eaten spoonful of ice cream and reaches across the table for TK’s hand. TK jerks back before he can stop himself, and a chill runs down his spine. His hand snaps out to grasp Carlos’ before he can pull it away, needing the heat of Carlos’ skin as much as he wants to reassure Carlos that he’s fine. Except he’s not. “Carlos,” TK chokes out, then his throat closes like a tightening noose. The walls of the room loom over him like mountains. He tries again to speak, but his throat won’t work. He’s hot and cold, too big for his skin yet feeling too damn small. The beginning of the panic attack greets him like an old friend, one TK hasn’t seen in some time. TK shuts his eyes and forces his lungs to expand, desperately trying to remember the tips his therapist gave him to navigate the tightness in his chest. He counts backwards from a hundred, accompanying each number with a shaky exhale. His fingers spasm around Carlos’ hand, and he grasps at the tentative tether of the touch. The large hand under TK’s twists and a new wave of panic threatens to drown him. TK’s fingers twitch, but Carlos doesn’t pull away. Instead, his hand turns over slowly and he slips his fingers in the gaps between TK’s. He squeezes tightly, and the pressure plus the dry heat of his palm send reassurance and strength through TK in waves. It’s still hard to think through the pounding in his ears. But the tightness is loosening, and the numbers become steady in his mind as he slows his count. His breathing slows in turn, and he opens his eyes to the sight of Carlos’ concerned face. “I’m sorry, Carlos,” he croaks, glad he’s found his voice at last even if his mouth is drying faster than a drop of water on a scorching pan. “It’s so dumb and it’s been years but I can’t—” And the overhead lights flicker once, then blink out. 

Chapter 18 The cabin sits in the muted orange light cast from the wood stove. Shadows swallow the expression on TK’s face, but not before Carlos caught a good glimpse of how pale it looked. It’s eerily quiet save for the pop and crackle of the fire, and Carlos wills his eyes to adjust to the change in brightness, desperate for a better look at TK’s expression. “TK?” he murmurs, his voice deafening in the silence. “Baby, are you okay?” TK’s fingers spasm in Carlos’ hand, but he doesn’t respond. When Carlos’ eyes finally adjust to the darkness, he finds TK staring at him from across the table. His wide eyes are swimming with fear, and Carlos swallows his own mounting concern as he gives TK’s hand a reassuring squeeze. “What just happened?” TK asks as he looks around the cabin as if searching for answers. TK avoids his question, but Carlos doesn’t push. As much as he wants to know just what’s got TK so wound up, it’s important to figure out why they’ve lost power. Carlos strains to listen against the silence and frowns when he notices the absence of a familiar low hum. “It’s most likely the generator,” Carlos replies and squeezes TK hand again, pulling his darting attention back to him. “It’ll be okay. I’m going to go check. You can wait here or you can come with me.” TK wets his lips and frowns. “Lemme go get my coat.” Carlos watches TK slip out of his chair, his eyes downcast, and he all but runs from the room. What was it he wanted to say before the lights went out? What’s got him so agitated? Did he find out about the job in New York? Should Carlos have consulted TK? Is that even something he should talk about with someone he’d only just met? There’s no way TK could have found out. Even if there’s cell service at the cabin, who would have told him? No one else knows. Carlos chews on his bottom lip and frowns as guilt washes over him. He should tell TK. Even if they’d only known each other for a week and a half, it feels wrong not to tell him after how intimate they’d become. After how much he’s fallen for TK. He’ll tell him after TK tells him whatever it was he wanted to say before they were so rudely interrupted. Which reminds him, the generator. Right. “I’m good to go,” TK calls from the front door. “Coming,” Carlos replies and bolts from his chair, heading down the short hall toward the front door. He grabs his coat, beanie, and flashlight, then they head out into the cold night. Moonlight reflects off the snow, and a splash of monochrome lights their way around the side of the cabin to the generator. Carlos hands the flashlight to TK. “Hold the light for me?” TK nods and shines the spotlight on the generator, which is very dead. Carlos frowns and chews on his bottom lip. He had replaced the battery when he arrived and he added the same amount of fuel this morning, like he does every morning. The wind changes and he catches a whiff of gasoline. His frown deepens and Carlos crouches and takes off his gloves. He reaches tentative fingers 

around the back of the generator and curses softly. “What’s wrong?” TK asks. The circle of light shifts as he walks closer and peaks over Carlos’ shoulder. “I think there’s a leak in the fuel tank.” Carlos reaches up the back of the generator, following the fuel line until his fingers connect with the valve. It’s wet with gasoline. With a sigh he straightens and sniffs his finger tips. “Yeah, definitely a leak. I’ll take a look at it in the morning and see about fixing it. Good thing we have a gas stove so we can still make coffee the old fashioned way.” TK looks dubiously at the generator then back at Carlos. “You know how to fix generators?” Carlos shakes his head. “Not all generators, but I’m pretty familiar with this one.” “What do you think needs fixing?” TK’s eyes dart back to the generator. The way TK shifts his weight from one foot to the other and the way he avoids Carlos’ eyes makes him think the broken generator isn’t what’s got him on edge, but at least he doesn’t look as panicked as he did over dessert. “Most likely the bushing is busted. That’s the best case scenario and an easy fix. We have spare parts in the garage shed.” Carlos rubs his fingers together and wrinkles his nose at the gas fumes surrounding them. “Let’s get back inside for now. There’s nothing we can do 'til the morning.” TK hesitates, then nods and turns, taking the shaft of light from the flashlight with him. He waits for Carlos to walk ahead and follows Carlos back to the front of the cabin. Once inside, they kick off their boots and shed their coats, then TK follows Carlos into the bathroom with the flashlight still on so Carlos can clean the gasoline off his fingers. He’s uncharacteristically quiet, and his silence only intensifies the stillness around them. Carlos has never found that stillness unnerving until now. TK folds in on himself as he stands by the doorway. The light from the flashlight quivers, and Carlos frowns as he looks at TK’s trembling hand. Carlos pauses, then he straightens and pulls TK into his arms. His hands are wet and cold, but TK nuzzles his palm none the less when Carlos cups his cheek and strokes his too-warm skin. He kisses the corner of TK’s mouth. TK inhales sharply then melts into Carlos’ arms as he turns and captures Carlos’ lips in an open mouthed kiss. Carlos wants to hold TK and kiss away all that uncertainty and fear. He wants to smooth out the crease between TK’s brows and stop the tremors rolling through him. Most importantly, he wants to know why TK’s so upset. When they finally part, their chests heaving in sync from their need for oxygen, more colour has returned to TK’s cheeks. Arms wrapped around each other, they pile into the living room and Carlos takes stock of the firewood. Usually he banks the fire before they go to bed, but tonight they’ll need to keep the fire going. “I’m going to grab more firewood,” Carlos announces. When he gets no response, he glances over to find TK staring at the kitchen table. Or more specifically, at their melting bowls of ice cream and banana foster. “TK?” He nudges TK, but TK doesn’t move, just stares at the bowls like there are demons swirling inside. Frowning, Carlos turns until he’s facing TK. He leans down and brushes his lips across TK’s ear. “TK, baby, talk to me?” 

TK jumps as if slapped. His head snaps up, and he stares at Carlos with wide, panicked eyes. His lips tremble and his face screws up as if he’s in pain. TK’s fingers dig into Carlos’ arms like claws, but Carlos hardly feels them as he gathers TK in his arms and holds him close. TK tenses, every muscle coiled tight as if he’s ready to bolt at the drop of a pin. What has gotten him so wound up? Does he not like bananas? Carlos frowns even as he coos into TK’s ear, whispering soothing words and sweet nothings. TK’s arms snake around Carlos’ torso and he clings to Carlos as if holding on for dear life. As if Carlos is the only thing keeping him from drowning. They stay like this for the span of many erratic heartbeats. Until TK’s shoulders slump and his death grip on Carlos’ shirt loosens. Carlos pulls back and studies TK’s blotchy face and brushes his thumbs across TK’s cheeks, wiping away the moisture there. TK stares down the space between their bodies, refusing to look up despite Carlos’ gentle nudges, but his breathing has slowed and he’s no longer shaking. Carlos takes that as a win. Slowly, he leads them to the wood stove and sits down in front of the fire, pulling TK with him and wrapping his arms around TK’s shoulders. TK curls into him, his body slotting against Carlos’ like a jigsaw puzzle, and Carlos sighs. There’s something comforting about the way TK fits in his arms that Carlos can’t get enough of, and they can both use a little comfort right now. Heat rolls over them in gentle waves. The flames cast dancing shadows in the small room, and the crackle and pop of the fire calms Carlos’ frayed nerves. TK sags against him and sighs, and it’s another long, quiet moment before he looks up through tear-clumped lashes. Firelight reflects off his unshed tears, and his green eyes look almost golden. “I’m s-sorry,” he mumbles and takes a shuddering breath. As much as Carlos wants to pry, he swallows his questions. TK will talk to him if he’s ready. If he wants to. “You got nothing to be sorry for.” TK sighs and drops his head back on Carlos’ shoulder as if holding its weight is too much. He’s quiet again for another long moment, then he pushes off Carlos and crosses his legs as he sits straighter. “I have everything to be sorry for,” he starts and rakes a shaky hand through his thick, dark hair. “I ruined your vacation, disrupted your life, acted like a damn spoiled brat, and now I’ve”—he gestures wildly between the dining table and himself and Carlos—“ruined dessert.” Of all the things he expected TK to say, that last one was not it, and Carlos would chuckle if TK didn’t look like a kicked puppy right now. Instead, he lays a hand on TK’s knee and gives it a squeeze. “First of all, Kevin ruined my vacation, not you. You didn’t disrupt my life and, okay, you were a bit of a diva at first.” Carlos grins at the horrified look on TK’s face. “But given the fact you thought I was seeing Alex, I can understand your reaction. As for ruining dessert...” Carlos glances at the dinner table and all traces of humour disappear. TK’s hand covers his and he slips his fingers between Carlos’. It’s not a calming touch, quite the opposite, as if he needs the contact to feel grounded. His skin is clammy, and there’s still a sheen to his face that Carlos doesn’t like, but he says nothing as he waits for TK to speak. Despite their short time together, Carlos has learned that TK’s most talkative when he’s not pushed. “Carlos,” TK starts and his eyes drop to his lap. His grip tightens around Carlos’ hand, and Carlos takes TK’s hand in his. TK has such lovely fingers, long and elegant, and Carlos hates how white his knuckles are as he clutches at Carlos. “You don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to,” Carlos says gently. 

TK shakes his head and lets out a frustrated sigh. He opens his mouth then snaps it shut with another shake of his head. His hold on Carlos’ hand tightens. Carlos wants to pull TK back in his arms, but if all TK wants right now is his hand, Carlos will gladly sit here and let TK draw whatever he needs from this simple touch. TK sighs and closes his eyes. Time loses its hold on them as Carlos sits statue still, studying the way TK’s chest rises and falls as he draws breath. Watching the small droop in his shoulders as if he’s bleeding tension one exhale at a time. Watching TK regain equilibrium is like watching him step into a character. It starts from the centre and expands until his whole body is consumed by it. When TK’s eyes flutter open, there’s resolve and strength in them. “Carlos, I—” he pulls his bottom lip between his teeth and worries at it before continuing, “When Alex and I broke up, I went to a dark place.” He looks away as if ashamed. “When he left, I...I turned to drugs, booze, sex. Anything that numbed the pain.” He chuckles, but there’s no humour in the sound. “Thinking back on it, I don’t even know why him leaving fucked me up so badly. I didn’t even love him. Not really.” TK’s voice has grown so soft Carlos isn’t sure if that last bit was meant for him to hear. Carlos’ chest seizes and his gut twists as the full implications of TK’s words sink in, but before he can say anything, TK pushes on. “It got really bad, and I would have died if Mateo didn’t drag me out of my hole and send me to rehab.” TK huffs another harsh chuckle and rakes his free hand through his hair, tugging at the strands. “He paid for it and everything. And he stuck by me when I relapsed and sent my ass packing back to rehab again and again. I didn’t have two pennies to rub together to my name back then, and all I could think about was the next fix. It’s a fucking miracle he didn’t just dump me in a ditch somewhere and let me die.” “Jesus, TK,” Carlos breathes, horrified at what could have been. Alex is not worth the scum on TK’s shoe, let alone his life. TK gives Carlos a wan smile and breathes out a long sigh. “It wasn’t until I went home to visit my dad and he caught me blowing some dude in the alley for blow that he finally found out just how bad things had gotten.” Carlos raises an eyebrow and TK laughs. “What can I say, I’m a good actor.” Carlos snorts, but the humour is short-lived as he studies TK. TK’s hunched over as if he’s trying to shrink into himself, and the haunted look in his eyes breaks Carlos’ heart. “Anyway,” TK continues, still avoiding Carlos’ eyes. “Between Dad and Mateo and what’s left of my mortified dignity, I got clean. Mateo sent me that first gig and the rest is history.” He shrugs and picks at the hem of his sweater. “I went to therapy for a long time after that, and I’m mostly okay these days, but I can’t drink. Or smoke. Or have any kind of mind altering substances.” Carlos’ stomach drops and bile rises up his throat. TK did seem a bit odd half way through making dessert, but Carlos brushed it off because he was excited for some bananas and caramel. He should have noticed and asked what was wrong. He should have— TK leans close and presses a kiss to Carlos’ cheek, and the brush of his soft lips snaps Carlos out of his guilty thoughts. He opens his mouth to say that he didn’t know, that he should have paid better attention, that he’s sorry for being so insensitive, but TK stops him with a finger to his lips and shakes his head. 

“I know what you’re gonna say,” he says with a sad smile. “But it’s not your fault. I’m sure if someone went digging into my past hard enough, they’d find out about my addiction problems, but so far either no one has or Mateo has somehow silenced them. Regardless, there’s no way you’d have known.” TK shrugs in that resigned way that Carlos has come to know and hate. “I’ve probably eaten food with alcohol in it without issue and I’ve been around people drinking. I mean, I have attended a few parties in my time. So I don’t know what happened.” He looks down at his lap and chews on his bottom lip, looking as guilty as Carlos feels, like this is somehow his fault. Anger and hopelessness burn through Carlos, and not for the first time since meeting TK, Carlos wishes he could go back in time and erase all traces of Alex from TK’s life. Carlos swallows and tugs on TK’s elbow, and TK falls into his arms with a contented huff. “I’m sorry anyway. Not just for the rum in the bananas, but for all the shit you had to go through.” “It’s all in the past now.” Carlos kisses the top of TK’s head and hums. “Doesn’t mean it didn’t suck.” TK’s arms encircle Carlos’ waist and squeezes, and the pressure eases the tightness in Carlos’ chest. “I still wouldn’t change a thing even if I could.” “Really?” Carlos pulls back and stares at TK incredulously. “Everything that’s happened led me to where I am today. It made me who I am.” TK looks up at Carlos with big, bright eyes. His face is soft in the flickering firelight, and the shadows in his eyes are replaced by fierce passion. “It gave me my life and my career, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.” A different sort of pain stabs through Carlos and he looks away quickly, unable to hold TK’s gaze. TK is stronger than he looks, stronger than Carlos gave him credit for, and he’s definitely stronger than Carlos. What has Carlos gone through to be where he is today? What has he done to chase after his dreams? What even are his dreams? “You’re kinda amazing, you know that?” Carlos mutters before he can catch himself. TK blinks as if genuinely shocked and his lips twitch into a shy smile. “You think so?” Carlos rolls his eyes. “I can’t have been the first person to tell you that.” TK twists in Carlos’ arms and throws one long leg over Carlos’ lap, straddling him. His hands slide around Carlos’ neck, and he leans close until their foreheads touch. “It’s not the same coming from you.” Carlos’ mouth dries, and suddenly, it’s a little harder to breathe with TK staring into his eyes like he’s searching for the meaning of life. Fire dances in the glowing green of TK’s eyes, and Carlos can’t look away even if he wants to. He should say something, respond with something clever, but he never got the chance. TK’s eyes flutter shut, and the last thing Carlos sees before his own eyes close is the fan of TK’s thick, long lashes against his tanned skin. Soft lips press against his, tentative, as if asking for permission, and Carlos would laugh if he wasn’t so caught up in the feel of TK in his arms and the solid weight of him in his lap. Carlos parts his lips and groans when TK’s tongue darts past to lick into his mouth. Carlos will never tire of the taste of TK’s mouth or the nip of his teeth of Carlos’ bottom lip or his breathless gasps when Carlos pushes back. Kissing TK is like eating his favourite meal for the first time over 

and over again, and Carlos can never get enough of him. They make out in front of the fire until Carlos is lightheaded, until his lungs demand oxygen and his cock strains painfully inside his boxer briefs. Even then he only pulls back reluctantly, his lips tingling with remembered heat. TK mews in protest but he sucks down lungfuls of much needed air, his chest rising and falling with each desperate inhale. His body is a beautiful bow of tension vibrating in Carlos’ arms, and he gyrates in Carlos’ lap, his hard cock rubbing against Carlos’ through their sweat pants. The friction sends bursts of stars in Carlos’ vision. TK’s eyes are half-lidded and he looks as kiss-drunk as Carlos feels, and it takes every ounce of Carlos’ self-control to not throw TK on the floor and take him right there. But after what TK just told him, Carlos owes TK the truth. TK darts in for another kiss but Carlos puts a hand on his chest. “TK, I—” “What’s wrong?” TK frowns. “I—” Carlos tries again and fails to find the right words. He doesn’t want to offend TK. That’s the last thing he wants to do. TK searches his face for a long, silent moment and a slow smile stretches across his handsome face. “Carlos, baby, talk to me.” Carlos reaches a hand between their bodies and cups TK’s cheek, brushing his thumb across his cheek. He should tell him. He needs to tell him. But the words simply won’t come. “You’ve been through so much and I don’t want you to think that—I don't want you to feel like I’m taking advantage of you.” Shame burns through him. At least it’s not a lie; Carlos would never take advantage of TK. TK’s eyes widen like saucers and his mouth hangs open for a split second before he snaps it shut. Shit. That was the wrong thing to say. Carlos wants to take his words back. Grab them out of the air and stuff them back in his stupid mouth and kiss TK so they can pretend he never said anything. He just wants to take care of TK, but all he’s managed to do is stir up bad memories and now he’s gone and offended him. It’s obvious TK doesn’t need him. He went through hell and came out the other end stronger and better with razor sharp focus. Who does Carlos think he is that he can take care of TK? He can’t even take care of his own business. Can’t even take care of himself. Isn’t that why he runs off to the cabin whenever life gets too damn hard? Why take care of his problems when he can wait them out, hidden away in the middle of nowhere? TK deserves someone with as much drive and focus as he has. Someone who’s established. Not someone like Carlos who’s too afraid to step outside of his comfort zone. Carlos swallows as he drops his gaze, and fear unlike he’s ever experienced courses through him. Maybe going to New York isn’t such a bad thing. It’ll put some distance between them, and before long, TK will forget about him and find someone who can— Before he can finish that thought, soft lips brush across the corner of his mouth, and the world stops spinning. 

Chapter 19 When TK pulls back, there’s panic and confusion in Carlos’ wide brown eyes. The corner of TK’s lips quirk into a smile, and he grasps Carlos’ face in both hands and kisses him again. More insistent this time with a lot more tongue and a lot less tenderness, and it takes a moment before Carlos gives in. The entire time TK’s been here, he’s never seen Carlos so torn up. Unsure, maybe, over his business and even over the future of his career, but not like this. TK recognized the gutted look on his face. It was the same look TK had for months after he finally dragged himself out of his drug- induced haze. It was a look that screamed self-doubt and self-hatred. Neither are things TK wants Carlos to experience, ever. So he kissed him. And continues to kiss him until they’re both panting for air and soft moans replace Carlos’ rigid silence. TK pulls back and runs his fingers through Carlos’ curls, enjoying the silken slide of them, and smiles when Carlos blinks in kiss-drunk bliss. They stare at each other for a long, quiet moment, then, “I’m sorry—” Carlos starts the same time as TK says, “You’re not—” They stop, their words hanging like droplets in the air on a foggy morning, and blink at each other. It’s so like Carlos to apologize even when it’s not his fault, and TK both loves him for it and wants to smack him and tell him to stop being sorry for everything. It’s not his fault that TK made some bad life choices when he was younger. Not his fault that those choices have lingering consequences that're outside of TK’s control. Not his fault that TK’s still fucked in the head because of another man in TK’s past. Carlos’ mouth opens, but TK beats him to it. “You’re not taking advantage of me.” When Carlos only stares at him with a tick in his jaw, TK continues, “You’re not . I swear. Carlos, I’m here because I want to be.” “You’re here because you got stuck in a snowstorm after some guy on the internet fucked up your vacation.” TK rolls his eyes and grabs Carlos’ face in both hands, forcing him to look at him. “No, I was stuck here because of a snowstorm, but in case you haven’t noticed, there’s no storm now. Just you and me and this cabin, and I’m here with you because I want to be . ” Something flickers in Carlos’ tormented eyes, and his Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows. He still looks so guilty, but his shoulders droop and he breathes out a long sigh. He pulls TK close and buries his nose in the curve of TK’s neck, and his arms encircle TK’s waist and tighten until it’s a little harder to breathe. TK cradles the back of Carlos’ head and hugs him close, and only then does realization dawn on him: he told Carlos about his past, something he’s never told anyone else except his therapist, and he’s okay. He’s more than okay. He feels light, like an invisible weight has lifted off his chest, and for the first time in a long time, the thought of Alex doesn’t make him sad or angry. Alex will forever be a part of him, for better or for worse, and it took being here for less than two weeks for him to accept what his therapist couldn’t get him to do for years. And that’s all thanks to Carlos. 

The whole time they’ve been here, even on that first day, Carlos has been taking care of him. Cooking him vegan meals and bringing him hot chocolate and just letting TK lean on him. He asked TK to stay before the storm hit despite having his own vacation interrupted, and even after TK’s less than stellar behaviour, Carlos made him breakfast. Not once did Carlos accuse him of being a shithead—it would have been well deserved—and now he thinks he’s taking advantage of TK despite TK practically throwing himself at him. Carlos fell into the caregiver role so easily that TK never thought much of it, basked in the attention even, and guilt and shame roll through him in waves. Gently, TK pulls back and cups Carlos’ cheeks. Dancing shadows play across his handsome features, and TK sucks in a sharp breath. He’s so damn beautiful despite the vulnerability written all over his face. Uncertainly rolls off of him in waves, and for a second, TK wonders if Carlos is as confident as he seems. Without another word, TK leans in and brushes his lips against Carlos’, pressing tender kisses along the seam of his mouth until Carlos melts into them. If his words can’t get through to Carlos, maybe his actions will, and it’s about damn time TK stepped up and took care of Carlos for a change. He deepens the kiss, letting his tongue slip past Carlos’ lips, and Carlos responds with the sweetest moans when TK licks into his mouth. They kiss like it’s the first time, like it’s the last, like nothing else matters except for this bubble of warmth around them. TK loses himself in the taste of Carlos’ mouth, in the feel of his big hands on the back of his neck, in the press of his solid body as he presses TK to the floor. It’s so easy to let Carlos take over, to let Carlos give him everything he didn’t know he wants and needs, but right now, it’s not about what TK wants. With a shuddering sigh, TK breaks the kiss and pops his right hip, rolling them around so he’s straddling Carlos’ thighs, his hands pressed to Carlos’ chest. “Carlos, baby—” “Make love to me,” Carlos blurts, and his eyes widen as if he’s as surprised by his words as TK is. Have they been making love this whole time? Or has it just been sex? Is this more than just a vacation fling? Can they keep whatever this is going once they’re back home in LA? The thought of it makes TK’s chest ache and his heart beat faster. He wants this, whatever this is, to never stop, and isn’t that just the most terrifying thought even as he tries not to overthink it. TK shakes his head to clear his mind, then realizing what he’d done, he nods with what he hopes is a reassuring smile. He leans over Carlos, his lips hovering tantalizingly close to Carlos’ mouth, and murmurs, “I’ll do whatever you want me to.” Carlos closes that infinitesimal space between their lips and claims TK in a hungry kiss. TK gives as good as he gets, and before long, they’re both gasping for air. TK mouths down the side of Carlos’ jaw, his lips tingling as they traverse across Carlos’ soft beard. Carlos throws his head back, and TK doesn’t hesitate as he latches his mouth to Carlos’ exposed throat. He tastes so good, a faint mix of salt and musk that’s unmistakably Carlos, and TK can’t wait to lap up more of him. He kisses and sucks his way down Carlos’ neck, stopping to dip his tongue in the hollow at the bottom of his throat, and smiles against Carlos’ warm skin when Carlos jerks and curses. TK works open the buttons of Carlos’ flannel one by one and covers each inch of exposed skin with more wet kisses. When he gets to the waistband of Carlos’ sweatpants, his mouth waters at the wet patch at the top of Carlos’ impressive tent between his legs, but he doesn’t give in to his own desires just yet. Instead, he rears up and shoves Carlos’ shirt open and drinks him in. 

Carlos’ skin glows golden in the flickering firelight, and the crests and valleys of his muscles create shadows across his body. His cheeks are flushed, and his eyes are bewitching as he stares at TK with undisguised desire. Their eyes lock for a long, silent moment, and something passes between them that makes TK’s breath hitch. “TK,” Carlos croaks, his voice so husky it’s barely a whisper. “Please.” His hips raise off the floor, and TK growls as he grasps the waistband of Carlos’ sweatpants and underwear and yanks both down his hips. Carlos’ cock springs free, the head already purple and leaking, and it twitches as if begging to be touched. TK yanks Carlos’ pants off the rest of the way, then kisses his way up Carlos’ shin and the inside of his thigh. Strong fingers thread through TK’s hair and tug, and then TK finally, finally , wraps his lips around the head of Carlos’ cock. The muscles in Carlos’ thighs tense, and his fingers spasm painfully around TK’s hair as TK swallows him in one swift movement. Carlos’ cock is so thick and long, but it fits down TK’s throat like it’s meant to be there. Like TK’s throat is made to sheath Carlos’ cock. He stays still, giving his throat a moment to adjust, but mostly he just wants to stare up Carlos’ body and see the look of rapture on his face. It makes him that much more beautiful. And that much more his . Carefully, with an agonizing lack of hurry, TK pulls off and swirls his tongue around the head, and Carlos’ left leg twitches even as he lets out another string of curses. TK grins, then plunges back down. He works Carlos like this for God knows how long, with long, unhurried strokes of his lips, his tongue, his fingers. Around Carlos’ shaft, the head of his cock, his balls, and when TK’s sure Carlos would kill him if he drags it out any longer, he presses a slick finger to the pucker of Carlos’ hole. Carlos’ whole body freezes, then relaxes like putty, and TK’s finger sinks into the warmth of his body without much resistance. The heat of it sends a jolt to TK’s already achingly hard cock, and he reaches down with his free hand to squeeze the base of his dick lest the party ends before it’s even begun. Carlos spreads his legs wider, giving TK better access, and TK pulls off his cock with a pop. “TK—baby—” Carlos gasps, but he chokes on the rest of his words when TK’s tongue swirls around the ring of muscle clenched around his finger. Rimming isn’t something he does often, but TK wants to taste every part of Carlos. Wants to savour every inch of him, inside and out. His tongue teases the opening, and when Carlos relaxes just a touch, he presses a second finger into Carlos’ molten heat along with the tip of his tongue. Carlos shouts something incoherent, and his whole body bows in a beautiful arc of tension. TK grasps Carlos’ cock and jerks it in time with his fingers and tongue, and that’s all it takes to shatter Carlos into pieces. White hot ropes of come paint TK’s fingers and splashhes across Carlos’ stomach. TK doesn’t stop stroking and tongue fucking Carlos until he’s a mewling, quivering mess writhing on the floor. A few drops of Carlos’ release splash across TK’s cheek, and when Carlos’ eyes flutter open, unfocused and glassy but fixed on TK, he gathers the drops up with a finger and brings them to his lips. He makes a show of sucking them off and thoroughly enjoying the taste. It’s not a hard act to put on when TK loves the way Carlos tastes. Carlos’ head drops back on the floor, a splash of colour spreading from his cheeks down his neck and across his shoulders and chest, and he half chuckles, half huffs. “God, please don’t ever go into porn. I don’t think the world can handle it.” 

TK laughs, and something warm spreads from the centre of his chest to his fingers and toes. “I have no plans to break into the adult entertainment industry,” he says and plants a kiss on the tip of Carlos’ semi-hard cock. “So the only person who needs to handle all this”—he points to himself with a wink—“is you.” He kisses up Carlos’ body until their noses are touching, and Carlos groans softly when TK’s still clothed erection brushes up against his softening one. They stare at each other, and the smile on Carlos’ lips slowly fades, making way for an expression TK can’t quite figure out. TK frowns, but before he can ask, Carlos rocks forward and slams his lips into TK’s. He kisses TK hard, and when they part to gasp lungfuls of air, the look in Carlos’ eyes is all the urging TK needs. He doesn’t remember shedding his clothes and running into the bedroom to get the lube, doesn’t remember rolling on the condom, but the moment he sinks into Carlos’ body, all that heat and pressure and how right it feels, that moment he will never forget. Carlos sucks him in, body and soul, and when he wraps his legs around TK, TK makes love to him. === They drive into town the next morning for bushings. After a quick breakfast of toast made using a wire rack that sits over the gas stove top and hand filtered coffee, Carlos headed out to take apart the generator while TK watched. The bushing connecting the fuel tank to the fuel line was busted, as Carlos guessed it was, and it would have been an easy fix except the last person who used the last bushing didn’t replenish the backup stock. TK thought about staying at the cabin while Carlos made the drive into town, but after last night, he didn’t want to be away from Carlos for that long. So, here he is, singing along to Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls and N*sync and Britney Spears because Carlos’ taste in music is stuck in their teenage years. Not that TK minds; late 90’s and early 00’s pop music is sort of a guilty pleasure of his. When there’s a lull in the music, he steals a glance at Carlos and smiles. Carlos seems more relaxed today, and the haunted look in his eyes that had plagued them both is gone. There was a spring in his step after they got up in the morning, and a calm that seems to have settled over him as if he’s finally found a solution to whatever problem that was bothering him. Carlos glances at TK and their eyes meet. TK clears his throat, embarrassed at being caught staring, and snaps his gaze to the road in front of them. Carlos places a large hand on TK’s knee, and TK covers his hand with his own before giving it a squeeze. They sit in silence as the radio plays a song neither of them knows the lyrics to, and TK basks in their bubble of comfort. Something buzzes loudly, and TK frowns as Carlos yanks his hand away and digs into his back pocket. He pulls out his phone, still vibrating up a storm, and presses the power button to silence the onslaught of notifications before tossing the thing into the cupholder in the centre console. “It keeps doing that every time we hit a spot with service,” Carlos grumbles. TK grins. “What, you don’t like vibrators?” Carlos side-eyes TK, but the way his lips twitch into a smile takes away the heat of the glare. “I like vibrators just fine.” TK raises an eyebrow at him and he shakes his head, obviously trying not 

to roll his eyes. “I just prefer my toys to be made out of soft silicone instead of hard plastic and gorilla glass, thank you very much.” TK makes a very serious face and purses his lips. “Didn’t take you for a sex toy connoisseur. Noted.” Carlos punches TK’s shoulder playfully, and when TK makes to punch back, Carlos holds up a hand to fend him off. “No touching the driver while he’s driving.” TK pauses, then slides his hand between Carlos’ thighs and cups his cock, his lips twitching into a sly grin when Carlos hardens rapidly in his palm. “Oh, really?” Carlos makes to protest, but TK flicks open the button and unzips Carlos’ jeans with deft fingers. TK leans over and wraps his lips around Carlos’ now hard dick, and Carlos’ words of protest turn into gasps and curses. Much to Carlos’ credit, they don’t die of a car crash despite TK’s every effort to run them off the road. When Carlos finally shoots down TK’s throat, the truck accelerates at an alarming rate before slowing down as Carlos catches his breath. He tries to glare at TK, but only manages to chuckle when he sees what is no doubt the smuggest grin TK’s ever had on his face. They spend the rest of the drive doing very PG things like holding hands and belting out more 90’s pop songs. TK tries to think of any open stretches of road in LA where they can do this again without the fear of being caught—by cameras or passing vehicles—and makes a mental note to ask Mateo when he gets back. If anyone knows where he can do stupid shit like giving road head without pictures of it making their way onto Twitter, it’s Mateo. After a quick pit stop to top up on gas and another stop at Carlos’ favourite coffee shop, they pull into the parking lot to the hardware store. Carlos shuts off the engine then looks to TK with a raised eyebrow. “Are you coming or do you wanna stay? I won’t be long.” TK rolls his paper cup of hot chocolate between his hands and chews on his bottom lip. After the whole thing in the grocery store, he’d rather not run the risk of running into more fans. “I think I’ll wait in the car.” Carlos smiles and nods in understanding. “I’ll just be a sec.” He picks up his coffee cup then hops out of the truck, slamming the door shut behind him. He makes to leave, then bends over and waves at TK before straightening and walking away. TK chuckles and rolls his eyes. How is Carlos so incredibly sexy yet so dorky at the same time? No matter. TK grins as he sips at his hot chocolate, his eyes locked on Carlos’ behind as he jogs across the parking lot. It’s definitely not a hardship watching him leave, that’s for sure. Carlos disappears into the squat building, and TK sighs. He takes another sip of his drink and stares out the window, watching the people come and go, every one of them staring at their phones. He’s enjoyed being unplugged for the past week and a half, so much so that he decided to leave his phone home when they drove out. He’s in no rush to check his messages and emails. There’s just something so freeing about not needing to be connected that he wishes he can be unplugged more often at his own choosing. Sure, he has shoots in remote locations where cell service is spotty, but that’s different. He’s still being bombarded with information when he’s on set. When everyone wants a piece of him or his attention. Maybe he needs to take remote vacations more often when his schedule allows, even if it means listening to Mateo bitch and moan after when they go to the gym to work off the extra 

weight Mateo puts on whenever TK runs off somewhere alone. To say his agent and best friend is a little overprotective is an understatement. But then again, TK can’t blame him. He’s seen just how self-destructive TK can be. TK sighs and puts the hot chocolate to his lips when Carlos’ phone buzzes, the sound amplified by the cupholder it’s sitting in. TK startles and curses when a hot stream of liquid jumps out of the spout to land on his hand. Frantically, he searches the car for a napkin when the phone vibrates again. TK glances at the lit-up screen and sees a lovely young woman smiling with crinkles in her eyes. The caller ID flashes Michelle across the screen, but before TK can push the power button to silence the phone, the call stops. He breathes out a sigh and glances out the windshield. No sign of Carlos. And his phone buzzes again with Michelle’s pretty face beaming up at him. She calls him three more times, and on the fourth time, TK sighs and picks up the phone. “Hey, Carlos—” “Los! Thank fuck you finally picked up! I knew you had service since it didn’t send me directly to voicemail.” A very melodious and eloquent and very excited voice says through the phone. “I can’t believe you actually said yes. I already sent the contract over, just need you to sign it and send it back whenever. I’m also flying you out to New York the moment you get back to LA, you hear me? We have a ton to talk about. This job isn’t a cake walk and you need to meet your team. They’re all very established and a little dubious to have some no-name catering guy be their head chef. I told them you’re the best of the best, so you better not make me look bad. Oh and—Los? Are you listening?” The air in the truck swirls around him like molasses and TK struggles to breathe. Michelle’s voice sounds far away and distorted as if TK’s underwater, and it takes him a moment to find his voice. “Uh, this isn’t Carlos. He’s—he’s not here right now.” A long, suffocating moment of silence stretches between him and the phone before Michelle utters, “Oh. Um, who—” TK hits the hang-up button and drops the phone back in the coffee holder with a loud clatter. Contract? New York? Head chef? None of it makes sense. Except it does. All of it. That’s why Carlos was acting strange yesterday. That’s why he didn’t want to talk. And after that whole “make love to me” bullshit he’s just going to leave? TK inhales sharply and swallows around the lump in his throat and runs Michelle’s words through his head over and over again until he’s numb inside. 

Chapter 20 When Carlos gets back from the hardware store with enough bushings to fix the fuel tank ten times over, TK looks like he’d seen a ghost. Carlos tries to ask him what’s wrong, but TK just shakes his head and stares out the passenger seat window, not looking at Carlos. Carlos gets behind the wheel and checks his phone quickly, ignoring the missed calls from Michelle, and sticks the key into the ignition. TK’s quiet for the drive home, and despite Carlos’ efforts to get him to speak, he only responds in one-word answers. So Carlos gives up on conversation and focuses on the road, his stomach churning as he fights back panic. When they get back to the cabin, TK waits for Carlos to unlock the door before heading inside and locking himself in the bedroom. Carlos knocks on the door, and after waiting agonizingly long minutes, he sighs and heads back outside to fix the generator. Maybe something happened in the parking lot when Carlos was gone? More fans, perhaps? Carlos doesn’t know, but it’s useless trying to pressure TK into talking when TK’s locked himself away like that. It takes Carlos no time to change the bushing on the fuel tank and reconnect the fuel line. The generator comes back on with a satisfying hum, and Carlos lets out a small sigh of relief. He wipes his hands on a rag, then reattaches the generator to the side of the cabin and cleans up his tools and locks up the shed. By the time he gets back inside, TK is still in the bedroom, and Carlos frowns as a wave of fresh concern washes over him. Just what the fuck happened? He washes up quickly then heads into the kitchen. Food always makes TK feel better, and maybe the smell of lunch will lure him out so they can talk. Whatever happened, it’s nothing a rich cup of hot cocoa and warm food can’t fix. Carlos whips up a simple tofu curry on rice served with soft boiled eggs and some extra rich hot cocoa, and when he turns to go get TK, he finds TK seated at the dinner table, his head bent as he stares at his fists. Carlos plates the food and adds an extra dollop of coconut whipped cream to TK’s hot cocoa, then brings everything to the table before taking a seat at his usual spot across from TK. “Hope you’re hungry,” he says tentatively, pushing TK’s bowl across the table, and swallows his disappointed sigh when TK doesn’t even look at it. “TK, eat something. It’ll make you feel better.” TK stares into the bowl as if he’s looking for answers, and Carlos tries again to not let panic take over. Is TK worried there are things in the food that may trigger him? Carlos was careful to use only the most basic ingredients he’s seen TK eat with no problems, but maybe he should reassure TK just to be safe? “Um, there’s—it’s just rice and spices and coconut milk in the curry, with tofu,” he says quietly. TK looks up from the bowl and the look of utter despair on his face shatters Carlos’ heart. His eyes are red as if he’s been rubbing them, and his nostrils flare when he finally looks at Carlos. Carlos swallows and reaches across the table, placing his hand on top of TK’s fist. TK flinches and yanks his hand away, and fear cascades down Carlos’ spine like ice water. 

“TK—” “When were you going to tell me?” TK asks. His voice is soft, but his icy tone sends a shiver through Carlos. “Tell you what?” TK snorts, the sound bone dry, and shakes his head. “Just drop the act, Los .” Carlos’ blood runs cold. There’s only one person in the whole world who calls him that. Michelle. But How? “TK, let me explain—” TK puts up a hand, but it’s the anger in his eyes that shuts Carlos up. “It’s none of my business what you do with your life, but you could have told me.” He looks away and sighs and chews on his bottom lip for a long, quiet moment. “Head chef in New York, huh?” He chuckles and shakes his head. “Sounds like a career making move.” He glances at the food once more, then looks up at Carlos with sad green eyes and a tight smile. Before Carlos can rearrange the right words into the right sentences to form an explanation, TK shoves back from the table and walks away. Carlos bolts from his chair and follows TK down the short hall. He grabs TK’s elbow, stopping him outside the bedroom, but when TK glares over his shoulder with defiant eyes filled with tears, Carlos lets go. “TK, please.” He takes a step forward and TK takes a step back. “I can explain.” TK turns and faces Carlos, his expression stony even as he blinks back those tears. “You don’t need to explain anything to me, Carlos.” He takes a deep breath and lets out a long, defeated sigh. “You gotta do what’s best for you.” “That’s just it, I don’t know—” “I wouldn’t let a vacation fling dictate my life choices either,” TK cuts in softly. The look on his face says that he doesn’t believe what they have is a vacation fling. Neither does Carlos, and just hearing those words cuts him deeper than he thought possible. He opens his mouth to protest but nothing comes out. What can he say that can take away the wariness in TK’s eyes? That can erase the pain that Carlos caused? All because he was—what? Afraid? Uncertain? A damn coward is what he is. TK studies Carlos for a quiet moment, then his shoulders droop and he shakes his head with a wry grin. He turns and heads into the bedroom, closing the door after him softly and leaving behind a deafening silence that makes Carlos want to vomit. The sound of the lock slipping into place echoes like a finality. Carlos stands rooted to the floor, his heart pounding in his ears and his chest constricting with every breath. He takes a step toward the bedroom and stops, his desire to make things right with TK warring with his need to respect TK’s wishes. Which is that he doesn’t want to see Carlos right now. “TK, I fucked up,” he calls out, and when no reply comes, he leans his forehead against the door and whispers, “I’m sorry.” He heads back into the living room and takes a seat at the dinner table. He stares at his own bowl of untouched food for what feels like a lifetime when something clicks: TK called him Los. He 

pulls his phone out of his back pocket and checks the call logs. There were three missed calls from Michelle and one that connected. “Shit.” Carlos tosses the phone on the table and rakes a shaky hand through his hair. TK must have answered the phone after Michelle called him for the fourth fucking time, and Michelle must have told him. Why she would tell him Carlos’ personal business is beyond him, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is TK knows. And he didn’t find out from Carlos. Nauseating guilt shafts through him and the smell of the curry makes him queasy. He grabs the bowls and takes them into the kitchen, dumping the contents into plastic containers and tossing them into the fridge. Just because no one’s hungry doesn’t mean they should waste food. He picks up his mug of hot cocoa and takes a long gulp, uncaring as the hot cream scalds down his throat. The pain feels good, punishing almost, and Carlos chortles dryly. He should have told TK yesterday when he accepted the job offer. He’s not sure why he didn’t, or why it was so hard to bring up the whole New York thing in the first place. What was he so afraid of? That TK would pull away from him knowing he’s decided to move halfway across the country? Carlos looks to the hall and sighs. Maybe TK would have been upset if Carlos told him about taking the job, or maybe they’d be figuring out how to make this thing between them work long distance. He’ll never know now because the one thing he wants to avoid the most, he ends up causing it. He wants to run back down the hall and bust into the bedroom and make TK listen. Wants to apologize for being an asshole and a coward. He wants to kiss away all the hurt and anger in TK’s eyes and feel his body melt into Carlos’ as they snuggle on the couch. Instead, he stands frozen in the middle of the kitchen, and even the thought of chopping something can’t chase away the twist of despair in his gut. Head chef in New York, huh? Sounds like a career making move. Going to New York is a career making move, with Michelle’s reputation and money backing him, and this is the best move, the only move, he can make to ensure Paul and the rest of his staff don’t get fucked over because of his stupid mistake. So why do TK’s words feel like a noose around Carlos’ neck? He takes a shuddering breath that burns his lungs and tosses the rest of his hot cocoa into the sink. He trudges into the living room and falls onto the old leather couch. Something hard digs into his hip, and Carlos shifts and finds one of TK’s fantasy novels. He turns the book in his hands over and over, smoothing the cover with trembling fingers, then on a whim, he opens it to the first page. Carlos hasn’t read a fantasy novel since he was a teenager. As he gets older, he prefers stories about people falling in love. About love conquering all and that no matter how badly the characters fuck things up, they always end up finding their way back to each other. His chest squeezes and Carlos takes a shuddering breath. If only real life worked the way it does in romance novels. He spends the afternoon reading, finding himself engrossed in a fantastical world of dragons and sorcerers and oddly enough, time travel. He gets up periodically to knock on TK’s door, but he never gets a response, and with each trip met with silence, Carlos falls a little further into despair, his imagination going wild with worst case scenarios. So he throws himself back into the book each time, letting it ease the tightness in his chest and distract his mind. Reading the book, feeling 

the pages under his fingers and getting lost in the world that TK loses himself in, it makes Carlos feel close to TK in a way he didn’t think possible. The day darkens as the sun sets, and Carlos makes a simple dinner of grilled root vegetables with a pureed cream of roasted kabocha squash and vegan mayo on a bed of microgreens. TK doesn’t come out for dinner, and as disappointed as Carlos is, he’s not surprised. He slips a note under the bedroom door to let TK know dinner is wrapped and waiting for him in the fridge whenever he’s hungry. He thought about tacking on an “I’m sorry” to the end of that note, then decided against it. What if TK never wants to see him again? Never wants to hear another word from him? Just because they’re stuck in the cabin together, doesn’t mean TK has to talk to him or even look at him for the next two days before they both head back to LA. Carlos shakes his head and does his best to ignore the nasty little voice ringing in his ear. TK will come out when he’s ready, when he’s had some time to gather his thoughts, and the only thing Carlos can do right now is to give him space. The last thing Carlos wants is to demand for TK’s attention; he has enough of that in his life already. After putting away his own barely touched food, his appetite non-existent, Carlos curls back on the couch and opens TK’s book once more. As distracted as he’s been all afternoon, he’s invested in the hero of the story, and he wants to find out what happens. Wants to know if the main character will make the right choice and face his demons, even if doing so means losing the love of his life and possibly costing him his life. If he does choose to face the dragon, Carlos hopes he at least has the decency to tell his love the truth before he leaves. Ignoring the twist of regret in his gut, Carlos dives back into the book. He doesn’t remember falling asleep, but when he opens his eyes, the sky is a muted hue of dawn. He sits up and rubs the back of his neck, working out some kinks, and a thick blanket slides from his shoulders and down his chest to pool in his lap. The book tumbles onto the floor with a loud thud, jolting Carlos from his sleepy haze, and he reaches down and picks up the paperback. He fists a hand around the blanket and a small, hopeful smile tugs at the corners of his lips. It’s still early, too early for TK to be up normally, but... Carlos shoves the blanket off his legs and springs to his feet. If TK put a blanket on him, maybe he’s ready to at least let Carlos apologize? The cabin is dark, but Carlos doesn’t need light to find his way around the place. He turns around the corner and walks down the short hall and finds the bedroom door ajar. Frowning, Carlos pushes it open and peaks inside to find the bed stripped and the room empty. 

Chapter Notes Chapter 21 Sorry the update came a bit later. Too much life happened today, but we're here! I hope you like this chapter! TK opens the script to the bookmarked page and stares at the lines. He’s read this thing countless times, but with the shoot starting in two days, he wants to really get into the head of his character. He lies down on the couch, one arm cushioned behind his head, and reads the first few lines. And reads the same lines five more times before realizing he hasn’t actually read a single word. It’s not like him to lose focus so close to the start of a new project, and TK huffs in frustration as he forces his eyes to track the words. He gets to the next block of dialogue before giving up and bolting upright, tossing the thick stack of papers on the coffee table with a loud thud. When he booked that damn vacation at the cabin, he was supposed to come back refreshed and centred and ready to work. Instead, he’s a ball of irritation and he’s got no one but himself to blame. Since he got home a few days earlier than planned, TK spent those days hiding in his house studying his lines. No TV, no internet, no social media. Just him and his thoughts and the occasional food delivery order. He saw Mateo once because Mateo insisted they meet so he’s sure TK is actually home. TK put on good enough of an act that Mateo didn’t notice just how miserable he was, then he went home to mope some more. His stomach growls, reminding TK he hasn’t eaten all day. He rakes a hand through his hair and stalks into the kitchen, yanking open the fridge to stare at the stacks of packaged vegan products he had delivered the day before. A pang of guilt shoots through him as he stares at all the extra packaging, and Carlos’ voice rings in his ears. Right, and packaged food has less trash? His chest aches, and whatever appetite he has disappears. He sighs and closes the fridge, then turns to the pantry in search of a hot chocolate packet. He dumps the contents into a mug and adds water he boiled in the microwave. The smell of chocolate fills the kitchen, but it’s not rich enough, not sweet enough, and there’s too much artificial vanilla. Without taking a sip, TK knows it’ll be a pale comparison to Carlos’ from-scratch hot cocoa, as he likes to call it. TK thought that once he got home, where he’d never even heard of Carlos Reyes, that he’d be free of him. Instead, everywhere he turns, he’s reminded of the Carlos shaped hole in his chest. Even without having ever set foot into TK’s apartment, Carlos has infiltrated his personal space, and it both irritates and terrifies him. It doesn’t help that his character in the upcoming film runs away from the love of his life too when things get complicated. TK snorts dryly. At least he wouldn’t be acting when they shoot that scene. He gets why Carlos didn’t consult him before accepting a new job. They’ve only just met, and if the tables were turned, TK wouldn’t be asking Carlos either before accepting a job that would advance his career. He knows this rationally, but rationality doesn’t always play nice with 

emotions. Turned off by the lack-lustre aromas of the packaged hot chocolate, TK leaves the steaming mug on the counter and checks his phone for the time. He’s got half an hour before Mateo arrives to take him to The Tonight Show, the one job he accepted before he left for the cabin. He wants to cancel, but it would cause a lot of people a lot of trouble to try to replace him this last minute, and as much as TK doesn’t want to face the chaos and the crowd, he’s a professional. He showers quickly, tries and fails to tame his hair, abandoning it for the poor hair stylist to deal with, and wanders into the walk-in for something to wear. Usually, he’d take time to put together an outfit that’s distinguished and unique, pushing the boundaries of gendered fashion but still playing it classy, but he’s just not in the mood to make headlines today. Instead, he ops for a black button down shirt with shimmering mother of pearl buttons and a pair of bootleg jeans. He studies himself in the full length mirror. The shirt hugs his shoulders and chest and tapers down to accentuate his waist, and the jeans hug his hips and ass like a pair of gloves, perfectly tailored to his body. He tries for a smile, but it turns into a grimace and TK sighs. It’s going to be a long night. His phone chimes in his back pocket, and TK pulls it out to find a message from Mateo, letting him know he’s here. TK checks his reflection one last time, then grabs his wallet and keys off the dresser before heading toward the front door. Mateo rolls down the passenger side window and waves at TK as he takes the front porch steps two at a time. “Yo.” Mateo’s face splits into a shit-eating grin. “How’s it hanging?” “A little to the left,” TK deadpans as he gets into the passenger seat. Mateo punches him in the shoulder playfully and waits for TK to put on his seatbelt before starting the car. “Don’t make this weird, man.” “I won’t if you don’t.” Mateo rolls his eyes as he pulls out of TK’s driveway and down the main road. “So, what’ve you been up to since I last saw you?” TK shrugs. “Nothing. Preparing for the shoot.” “For serious? Not even out for a stroll or something?” He glances at TK out of the corner of his eye. “Nope. Just wanted to be alone.” Mateo’s quiet for a long moment, and the longer the silence stretches, the more uncomfortable TK grows. It’s not like Mateo to be quiet for so long and it’s unnerving. “What’s going on, TK?” he asks at last. His voice is serious, lacking its usual ever-present sense of carefreeness. TK swallows and stares out the window. “Nothing, man.” “Yeah, cuz that looks like your nothing face.” He grows silent for another long, suffocating moment, then adds, “You know you can talk to me, right? All jokes aside, I’m here for you.” TK forces his lips into a smile, but it falters when he turns around to find Mateo’s brown eyes 

trained on him as they come to a stop in front of a red light. “Teo, I—” TK rakes a shaky hand through his hair and sighs. “I think I really fucked up this time.” Mateo raises a perfectly plucked eyebrow. “You’re gonna need to be a little more specific.” TK takes a deep breath and holds the air in his lungs. Mateo waits for him, patient like a saint, until the light turns green and he returns his attention back to the road. TK tells him about the mix-up at the cabin, about the snow storm, and about Carlos. He leaves out the not-safe-for-work bits though. Just because Mateo’s had to put out sex scandal related fires for TK more than once, doesn’t mean the poor guy needs or wants details. To Mateo’s credit, he listens to TK’s story without interruptions, and it’s not until they’re pulling into the studio parking lot and TK goes quiet that he breaks his silence. “Wait, so you’re telling me you just fucking left?” Mateo asks incredulously as he shuts off the engine, then turns to look at TK like he’s got three heads. “What else was I supposed to do?” TK crosses his arms and stares out the windshield, his cheeks burning. It’s bad enough when he’s stewing on this alone, but to have Mateo say it out loud just makes the whole thing seem so much more juvenile. “Maybe talk to the guy like a normal fucking human being?” TK glares at Mateo and huffs. “You know I’m not good at those things.” “Perhaps it’s time you learned.” Mateo shakes his head and fixes the lapel of his sports jacket. “Have you tried reaching out to him?” “I thought about it.” TK drops his hands in his lap and stares at his fingers. “Then I realized we never exchanged phone numbers or emails or anything.” “Facebook?” “He’s either very private or he doesn’t have one.” “Insta? Twitter?” Mateo’s eyes grow impossibly wide. “Tumblr?” TK rolls his eyes and huffs in frustration. “Nope. And seriously? Tumblr?” Mateo’s face splits in a cheeky grin and TK wonders if he can strain a muscle rolling his eyes too hard. “Anyway, I, uh, called his catering company, but his partner wouldn’t give me his personal contact info. He did say he’ll let Carlos know that I called.” Mateo barks out a laugh and TK wants to dig a hole in the ground and hide in it for the rest of his life. “Tyler Kennedy Strand, you called his work. You must really like this guy.” “Shut up.” TK swallows, but the corners of his lips twitch into a smile. “It’s all moot now.” He left without so much a goodbye. Who knows if Carlos will ever even want to talk to him anymore? His fleeting good mood evaporating, TK glances at the clock on the car dash and reaches for the door handle. “We better go in. I still need to get ready.” Mateo nods, and they get out of the car and enter the studio through the back entrance. Despite the noise and chaotic energy backstage, TK is in his element as he breezes through hair and makeup. He thought it would be harder to put on a smile and make nice when all he wants to do is go home and crawl into bed, but it comes to him as naturally as breathing. Keeping busy 

means keeping his mind off Carlos, and as the evening goes on, he finds himself enjoying the company of others. He even enjoys the silly games. When the inevitable questions about Alex’s wedding come up, TK answers them without hesitation or discomfort. It’s both surprising and liberating, and after the interview, TK heads backstage feeling lighter than he has in days. He finds the folding chair with his name on it and takes a seat. Mateo is nowhere to be found, which means he’s either off sampling the catering or chasing tail. TK picks up the bottle of water already in the chair’s cup holder and twists off the cap. He takes a sip, letting the cool liquid glide down his parched throat, and smiles at one of his co-stars for the evening as she walks into the backroom. Her name is Sasha, and she’s an up and coming actor who finally got her first lead role in a horror movie that’s about to hit theaters. Things started off a bit rocky backstage, but she warmed up to him quickly enough. During the interview, she and TK shared some spooky stories about being on the set of a horror movie and they bonded over the fact that both their break-out roles were horror leads and the sort of pressure they were under to perform. She’s smart, witty, has legs for days, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. TK likes her, and hopes that maybe in the future they can work together. She takes a seat next to him in her chair and breathes out a long breath. “Man, those lights out there get really hot really fast, don’t they?” she says as she wipes at her forehead with the back of a slender hand. TK reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a small packet of blotting paper. “Here, these will help.” She accepts the packet with an appreciative smile. “God, you’re a life-saver.” “Or a greasy bastard.” TK winks, and the comment earns him a chuckle. She peels a sheet from the packet and gently blots it across her forehead. “When I saw you and I were doing the show together, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect.” “Oh?” TK raises an eyebrow, his water bottle frozen on its way to his lips. “Why?” She shrugs a shoulder and pulls a second sheet to blot down her tall nose. “Well, I guess I read some stuff and, well, it’s not your fault you got involved with that shady catering guy. You’re actually all right. I’m sorry I was a bit judgy.” Huh? TK frowns and turns in his chair to face her. “What do you mean? What shady catering guy?” She cocks a brow at him, surprised. “You haven’t seen?” TK shakes his head. “I’ve been unplugged for the past couple of weeks.” “Oh, we know.” She winks as she hands the blotting paper back to TK. “Everyone knows about your little vacation up north.” TK’s stomach drops and he swallows hard. He never told anyone other than Mateo that he was leaving town. Even if someone at the airport spotted him, how would they know what he was off doing? His face must have gone sheet white, because her expression switches from teasing to concern in a split second. “Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. I mean, it was all over the internet so I assumed—” 

“Show me.” She pulls out her phone and taps on the screen a few times, then hands it to TK. The headline makes TK’s stomach churn, but it’s the picture under the headline that has his blood running cold. It’s a shot of TK and Carlos sitting on the back of Carlos’ truck, kissing. Carlos Reyes Makes a Move on TK Strand. Is One Hollywood Heartthrob Not Enough? He scans the article, and the more he reads the more his stomach churns, and TK’s glad he hasn’t eaten anything today. Someone must have followed them from the grocery store to the pastry factory and took photos, and as much as he wants to be angry at whoever did this, he’s only got himself to blame. He got careless. How could he have gotten so fucking careless? And the shit they’re writing about Carlos makes his blood boil. A fame-seeking home wrecker? Seriously? He keeps reading, his hand shaking as he scrolls to the end of the article. We reached out to Carlos Reyes and TK Strand but have not received a response from either of them. We also reached out to Alex Silvester, whose marriage Reyes tried and failed to destroy. He says, and we quote “Let him have my sloppy seconds.” Classy? Maybe not. But can we blame him for feeling a little vindictive? Red pulses in TK’s vision and he returns Sasha’s phone. The entire article is filled with speculations. It’s degrading and dehumanizing and, most infuriating of all, false. It’s all lies and slander and to think that Alex signed off on this is a splash of gasoline on a raging fire. TK thanks Sasha for her phone, and she tries her best to console him by saying how it’s not his fault. How Carlos is the one at fault here. It takes every last bit of TK’s self-control to not scream at her. She doesn’t deserve his rage, but TK knows who does. He pulls his phone out of his pocket and dials Mateo, who picks up on the first ring. “Sup?” “You still got that dossier on Alex?” TK asks without pause, his voice soft but deadly. Mateo’s quiet for a long moment, so long that TK checks to make sure the call didn’t disconnect. When Mateo finally replies, his voice is equally soft. “Yeah, man. Whatever you need.” === TK yanks his tie loose before falling onto his couch, and when his body sinks into the soft cushions, he lets out a long sigh and closes his eyes. He doesn't know how Mateo did it, but shortly after TK's call asking for the file he has on Alex, Mateo had booked him an interview with one of the biggest entertainment magazines. TK thought he wouldn’t get a chance to tell his story until after he got back from shooting his next movie. They spent the rest of that night going through everything, and as the sun creeped over the horizon to announce a new day, they both crashed on TK's couch for a couple hours before heading into the studio. It’s one thing to prepare for an interview like the one he just had, but another to actually sit through it. To have someone ask him such painfully personal questions and to openly, honestly answer them is exhausting both mentally and physically. And that’s not even taking into consideration the most unpleasant walk down memory lane he’s ever had. 

The couch sags beside him, and TK cracks open one eye to find Mateo sprawled on the couch. His eyes are trained on TK and his expression is a mix of exhaustion and concern. “When that airs,” Mateo says quietly, “it’s going to be a PR shitstorm.” TK snorts and closes his eye once more. “You don’t say.” "At least you'll be out on set in the middle of nowhere." "True." TK sighs as guilt churns in his stomach. "Sorry to leave you with this mess." “Tyler.” It’s the way Mateo says his name that makes TK open his eyes and sit up straight, and the hairs on the back of his neck prickles. The last time Mateo said his name like that, he was dropping TK off at rehab. “Why’d you do it?” TK inhales and holds the air in his lungs until he can’t anymore. “I’m just tired of his games and lies.” “He’s always been like this,” Mateo counters. “What’s changed?” “Me,” TK replies without thinking and the answer surprises him, but it’s true; he has changed, and the new him is done with all the bullshit. A slow smile spreads across Mateo’s face, and a weight lifts from TK’s chest as if he somehow, without knowing, passed some secret test. Mateo pulls out his phone and taps the screen with a blur of fingers, and a moment later, TK’s phone chimes with a text. He picks up his phone and looks from it to Mateo with narrowed eyes. “Don’t say I never do anything nice for you,” Mateo says with a secretive smile. TK opens the text and sucks in a sharp breath. “How?” “Had to pull some strings. I did some digging and it just so happens, his new boss used to work with our agency.” “His new boss?” TK cocks an eyebrow, confused as all hell. “Where would you be without me?” Mateo rolls his eyes and pushes to his feet with a groan. “Anyway, I’m gonna head home and take a nice, hot bath then pass out for a week. And you, sir, have a phone call to make.” TK gets up and yanks Mateo in for a hug. "I'd be dead in a ditch somewhere without you." He pulls back and swallows hard, his face burning. "Thanks, man." "Proud of you, bud." Mateo squeezes TK's shoulders and flashes him one of his rare genuine smiles, then he turns and saunters out of the room with a wave over his shoulder. 

Chapter Notes Chapter 22 Because life is demanding T_T I couldn't wait for my beta to finish betaing the chapter before posting or else it'll actually not get posted on Friday. So please excuse any silly mistakes. I hope you enjoy this week's chapter! Only 2 more to go omg ._. Carlos looks around the cabin one last time before pulling the door shut and locking it. TK left unannounced four days ago, and as much as Carlos wanted to fly back to LA early to find him, he didn’t. What would he even say? That he’s sorry? That he didn’t mean to make TK feel like some cheap celebrity fling? Because that’s exactly what he did when he didn’t open up and talk to TK about the head chef position. He did the one thing he knew would hurt TK the most, and he’s certain there aren’t enough apologies in the world to fix that. Besides, if TK wanted to hear his excuses, he wouldn’t have left in the middle of the night without a word or even a goodbye note. So, instead of flying back to LA early, Carlos decided to stay the full length of his originally planned vacation. He just didn’t expect the cabin to feel so cold and empty without TK here. With a sigh and a shake of his head, Carlos shoulders his duffle bag and picks up the cooler filled with leftovers. He’ll dispose of the perishables, donate the rest, and return the rented cooler in town on his way to Vancouver where the nearest international airport is located. He packs the truck, triple checks the locks on all the doors, and with one last wistful look, he gets behind the wheel and starts the engine. It’s always bittersweet leaving the cabin, and every time he drives away, it’s as if a little piece of himself is being left there. He expects this time to be no different. What he doesn’t expect is the mix of regret and longing and gut-wrenching sadness that trails him the entire four hour drive to the airport. He replays the hours between accepting the job and TK leaving over and over until he’s going insane, wishing he can go back in time and fix it. It’s too late now, and even if he somehow works up the courage to reach out to TK, would TK want to speak to him after the paparazzi got their hands on pictures of Carlos and TK kissing in the parking lot? He should have been more careful, but he thought they were safe in the parking lot of a remote factory building. Obviously, he was wrong. He saw the headlines when he went up the driveway to call Michelle, but he didn’t have the stomach to read the articles. He already knew they’d be filled with lies, and it’s yet another scandal to add to TK’s growing list of scandals to deal with. Besides, Carlos doesn’t even have a phone number or email. Because he’s a dumb ass who didn’t think to exchange contact information. If it didn’t seem like Carlos only wanted a fling before, that definitely seals the deal. Carlos pulls into the return lot of the car rental place just outside the airport and shuts off the engine. Maybe he can ask Kevin to send TK a message on Airbnb? Provided TK hasn’t blacklisted and blocked him. And how would Carlos even begin to explain this fucking mess to Kevin? Does he even want to? Carlos sighs and looks out the window to find an associate waving at him. He forces a smile and gets out of the truck. It takes no time to process the return, and ten minutes later, Carlos is swaying 

in the airport shuttle bus as it transports him and a few other passengers to the departure terminal. He checks in, pops into the gift shop and picks up a box of maple cream cookies, Michelle’s favourite, then heads toward his gate. Boarding begins shortly after he arrives, and Carlos finds himself seated by the window. The young woman next to him sets her tablet on the tray table and continues the movie she was watching. Carlos’ breath catches when he glimpses TK’s face on the screen. His phone buzzes, and Carlos lets out a soft huff as he takes it out of his pocket and checks the caller ID. It’s Paul. His chest aches for a different reason, and he stuffs it into his backpack before pulling out TK’s book. Other than talking to Michelle and changing his return flight from LA to New York, Carlos hasn’t had the gumption to speak to anyone else. He sent Paul his resignation over email and has since avoided all of Paul’s calls. It’s a dick move, and his partner for the past six years deserves better than what’s the equivalent of a text message break-up, but Carlos is too heart sick to listen to what he knows Paul will say. That he doesn’t have to do this. That things will blow over and they can rebuild. Carlos knows it’s not as easy as that, and if Alex’s husband hangs onto grudges like Alex does, then there’s no telling what will happen to their business if Carlos doesn’t pull out. He just hopes it’s still not too late to salvage what’s left of their client list, and that Paul and their team can bounce back once Carlos is out of the picture. Carlos sighs and turns his attention back to the book. He’s read it twice in the past four days, and as much as it is a reminder of what he’s lost, this is also the only way Carlos can feel close to TK. It helps that the story is vast and fantastical, and Carlos finds himself easily lost to the passages. His phone buzzes again. Carlos puts the book down and frowns. It’s not like Paul to keep calling him unless something’s wrong. He grabs the phone out of the backpack and frowns. The number across the screen isn’t Paul’s, or anyone in his contacts. His pulse quickens, and a small spark of hope flares in his chest as the hubbub of the airport waiting lounge recedes into white noise. He stares at the answer button. Could it be TK? Could it be that he’d tracked Carlos down and is reaching out to him? He makes to answer but stops. What if it isn’t? Why would TK call him? Where would he even get the number from? Kevin? Kevin wouldn’t give away his number without telling him first, would he? What if it’s just some random telemarketing call? Or a wrong number? Can he handle the disappointment? The phone stops buzzing, and Carlos curses at his indecision. What if that was TK and Carlos missed the one chance to set things straight? But what if it wasn’t? Hopeless frustration wraps around his neck like a noose, strangling him, and Carlos wants to smash the phone to pieces. The PA system crackles and the sound of static interrupts his spiralling thoughts. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome onboard Flight AC76 with service from Vancouver to New York City,” a melodious voice announces. “We ask that you please fasten your seatbelts at this time and secure all baggage underneath your seat or in the overhead compartments. We also ask that your seats and table trays are in the upright position for take-off. Please turn off all personal electronic devices, including laptops and cell phones. Smoking is prohibited for the duration of the flight. Thank you for choosing Air Canada. Enjoy your flight.” The phone buzzes once in his hand, and Carlos swallows when the voicemail icon pops up in the notification tray. If that was a telemarketing call or a wrong number, they wouldn’t leave a voicemail. Could it actually be— 

“Sir,” a soft female voice interrupts him. Carlos looks up sharply and growls, but the flight attendant is unfazed by his rudeness. “Please set all electronic devices to airplane mode. We are about to take off very shortly.” Carlos wants to argue. Wants to tell her he may have just missed the most important call of his life and he needs to call the mystery number back. But he doesn’t. Instead, he smiles and shuts off his phone and proceeds to spend the next six hours driving himself mad wondering who left him that voicemail. By the time he lands in New York City, Carlos has convinced himself that there was no way the call came from TK, and that the voicemail is probably nothing. Which means he should listen to it, but he doesn’t. Michelle has a ride waiting for him at the airport, and the driver, who introduces himself as Leo, quickly picks up on Carlos’ less than sunny mood. They zip through Manhattan’s harrowing traffic in silence, and the closer they are to Michelle’s place in Soho, the more claustrophobic Carlos feels as Leo maneuvers through narrower and more crowded streets. It feels like a lifetime before the car stops in front of Michelle’s condo building. Carlos thanks Leo and politely refuses his help to get his duffle and backpack out of the trunk. He waits until Leo pulls the car back into the street before turning around and looking up at the restored historic building. It’s deceptively plain with its yellow brick exterior and the quaint little coffee shop on the ground floor, and Carlos knows exactly why Michelle chooses to stay here despite having places in much more glamorous parts of New York City. The building is a reflection of her. He shoulders his backpack and picks up his duffle off the sidewalk and heads into the building. The doorman sees him and grins, and the front gate buzzes quietly as Carlos pushes into the foyer. “Mr. Reyes,” he says with a nod. “Kyle. How many times do I have to insist that you call me Carlos?” Carlos rolls his eyes but can’t help the smile tugging at his lips. Carlos has visited Michelle enough over the years for Kyle to let him in without needing to verify his identity, yet he insists on calling Carlos Mr. Reyes. At first, it was out of politeness, but Carlos has a suspicious feeling he does it now just too fuck with him, and Carlos wouldn’t have it any other way. “As many times as you like, Mr. Reyes,” Kyle winks and tips his hat. Carlos huffs indignantly before reaching into the side pocket of his duffle bag. He pulls out one of the two packets of maple cream cookies he picked up from the airport in Vancouver and leaves it on the reception desk. “How’s the family?” Manni’s smile widens and his expression softens. “You didn’t have to. And they’re doing great.” “I know how little Melanie loves these.” “She’s already spoiled enough.” “Nonsense,” Carlos says with a chuckle. “Give that adorable daughter a hug from Uncle Carlos, will ya?” Kyle shakes his head then nods as he tucks the cookies away under the desk. “Will do.” Carlos turns and heads down the hall to the elevators. He pushes the button for the elevator to the 

back that will take him directly to the penthouse suite and polished chrome doors slide open with a whisper. The elevator spits him out into an elegant hallway with dark hardwood floors and a very amused looking Michelle leaning against cream coloured walls. “Carlos Reyes,” she says in that soft, melodious way she talks, always so calm and collected. If Carlos didn’t know her so well, he’d think she wasn’t all that happy to see him. “Michelle Blake,” he replies, trying to keep his voice as even as hers, but his smile betrays his excitement to be here despite everything. It’s been a while since he last saw her, and he misses his best friend dearly. Michelle breaks into a radiant smile and runs toward him. She slams into him, knocking the duffle from his fingers, and slides her strong arms around him in a crushing hug. He wraps his arms around her slight shoulders and squeezes as good as he gets, and they cling to each other for a long, quiet moment before pulling back. “It’s been way too damn long,” she says. “It sure has.” He squeezes her shoulders and studies her face. She’s as beautiful as they day they met in culinary school, the few tiny lines in the corners of her eyes the only indication of any passage of time. “How’ve you been?” “Cut the crap and spill, Los.” She steps back and hooks her thumbs into her belt loops, her shrewd eyes trained on him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he lies, avoiding making eye contact. “Bullshit.” It’s always so odd hearing swear words come out of her mouth, her soft and ever calm voice somehow making them sting that much more. “Tell me everything that happened with TK fucking Strand, and I mean everything. ” Carlos sighs and groans. “Can we at least sit down first?” “You want a blanket and a hot drink too?” Carlos cocks an eyebrow and smirks. “If it’s not too much trouble.” Michelle rolls her eyes at him then spins around and walks down the lavish hallway toward the kitchen. “Go get freshened up then meet me in the living room.” Carlos follows her down the hall, then breaks off to the guest room he always takes when he visits. Michelle’s loft is ridiculously lavish, a stark contrast to the simple exterior of the building. There’s nothing quaint about this monstrosity of an apartment, with its fourteen foot ceilings, three massive crystal chandeliers, a living room bigger than Carlos’ whole apartment, and a big ass island in the middle of the main bathroom. Carlos would have found the place over the top and gauche if it wasn’t for Michelle’s quirky designs and unique taste in wall art. He drops off his bags, splashes some water on his face, then grabs the second packet of cookies from his duffle before heading to the living room. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee greets him. Michelle is seated on her dark grey velour couch, her bare feet tucked under her butt, cradling a steaming mug. On the coffee table, there’s a matching mug and a folded fleece blanket for Carlos. Before Michelle can interrogate him, he holds out the packet of cookies both as a gift and an attempt to placate her. If the look in her eyes is anything to go by, she’s going to eat him alive if he doesn’t tell her exactly what she wants to hear, which is apparently everything that happened with 

TK. Michelle’s eyes light up and her face splits into an excited smile when she sees the cookies. She takes them from him and rips into the package, picking up a maple leaf shaped cookie gingerly as if it’ll break if she holds it too firmly. “Ah.” She closes her eyes and inhales, a look of pure bliss on her face. “You are a good friend, Los.” “You can literally have these shipped to you or any of your restaurants by the case, you know that right?” She opens her eyes and gives him a look that says “no shit” and takes a bite, moaning around the buttery and crumbly mouthful. “Yeah, but they don’t taste the same coming from anywhere else but the airport.” Carlos rolls his eyes and picks up his mug and blanket before taking a seat across from her on the love seat. The cushion is soft and plush as he sinks into it and he groans. After hours spent at the airport and in a plane, this is heavenly. He spreads the blanket out across his lap, then takes a sip of his coffee. “So,” Michelle says as she picks up a second cookie from the package. “Want to tell me what happened on that very exciting vacation of yours?” Carlos sighs and takes another sip of coffee before he says, “Why do I get this feeling you already know?” Her expression is neutral save for the twinkle in her eyes. “Tell me anyway.” “Well, I arrived at the cabin and went for a hike. When I got back, TK Strand was there.” He leaves out the part about TK being naked in the bath. “Turns out, Kevin put the place on Airbnb thinking no one would be there in February.” “Oh, Kevin.” Michelle chuckles and dunks her cookie into her coffee. Carlos holds out his hand and Michelle tosses him a cookie, then they settle in while Carlos shares the past two weeks of his life with her. He tells her everything, and it feels good to finally have someone else to talk to about TK and how wonderful and earnest and passionate he is. How he’s nothing like the guy on TV and how he wants to clean the ocean and save the planet and he’s hopeless in the kitchen but wants to try anyway so he can be a better vegan. When Carlos gets to the end, he doesn’t realize the tears streaming down his face until Michelle’s beside him with a box of tissues and patting his back, and he lets all the sorrow and guilt and regret wash through him. “I was so stupid,” he mutters and wipes at his eyes angrily. “Yeah, you were.” “Should’ve just told him about the job.” “Yeah, you should’ve.” “And I should have barged into the room and demanded that he let me explain.” “Well...” Michelle squeezes his arm and leans her head on his shoulder. “Maybe, but you’ve never been that guy. The way you respect people’s boundaries and need for space is what makes you such a good person.” 

“And what’s that gotten me?” Michelle chuckles and shakes her head. “More than you may think.” Carlos frowns and sighs in frustration. It’s so Michelle to be so goddamn cryptic. “Have you checked the news lately?” “Not really,” Carlos admits. “I saw some articles about me and TK and decided I didn’t want to know what the news had to say.” She straightens and pats Carlos’ cheek, all motherly despite them being the same age. “I have something to show you.” Carlos’ frown deepens and his chest squeezes in fear. Whatever the tabloids are saying, he really doesn’t want to know. “Mich, I—” She shushes him with a press of a calloused fingertip to his lips while her other hand busies with her phone. She thumbs through to YouTube on her phone, then pulls up a video and casts it to her TV before he could see what it is. The TV comes to life and Carlos’ chest aches for a different reason. On the big screen, TK’s smiling that easy, charming smile of his. He’s dressed in a sharp, fitted charcoal suit with the collar of his blue shirt undone. His hair is slicked back, and it’s almost alien to see it so tamed after all this time. He’s seated next to a man in glasses and a button down shirt with a sheet of paper in his hand, and they’re making small talk and introductions. Carlos turns to Michelle. “Why are you showing me this?” She presses her lips together the way she always does when she’s frustrated with him. “Hush up and watch.” “It’s always nice to have you back on the show with us,” the interviewer whose name Carlos missed says. “It’s good to be back.” TK’s smile broadens and he looks from the interviewer to the camera. “Today we’re here to bring awareness to a few things that are close to your heart, is that right, TK?” “That’s right.” “And what would those things be?” “Well, anyone who’s been following my social media for the past couple of years knows that I’m a bit of an environmentalist.” He and the interviewer both chuckle because two minutes on TK’s Instagram will show anyone just how big of an environmentalist he is. “I want to help clean up the oceans and reduce pollution and waste and bring awareness to climate change and the damage global warming is doing to our Mother Earth.” TK pauses and takes a deep breath as if steeling himself. To anyone else, it looks like he’s just catching his breath, but Carlos can see the shift in his posture, the way his shoulders pull back and his whole body tenses as if preparing for a fight. “There’s also one other thing I’m here to talk about today, and that’s domestic abuse.” The interviewer looks at his sheet of paper and nods. “That’s definitely not an easy topic to approach.” “It isn’t, and it’s a real shame because in the end, it’s always the victims who suffer in silence because talking about it is uncomfortable.” TK shifts in his seat and crosses his arms as if to protect 

himself. Carlos’ fingers twitch and his heart rate quickens when realization dawns on him. “Too many abusers get away with what they do because the victims, the ones lucky enough to get away and survive the abuse, just want to put all the nastiness behind them and move on.” His eyes flick down for a second, so brief Carlos thought he imagined it, before looking back up at the camera. “That’s true.” The interviewer nods. “Sometimes it’s just not worth reliving all the trauma for justice.” “But that’s just it, what if it is worth it sometimes?” TK says, then adds quickly, “Of course, only if the person feels ready with a good support network and they are safe. I’m not saying abuse victims need to come out and confront their abusers, but if you’re able to, and if coming out and saying something will protect others from that person’s abuse, isn’t it worth it?” The interviewer looks from TK to the camera and back to TK, uncertainty written all over his face. TK takes a deep breath then pushes on. “I want to share something very personal with everyone, and hopefully, my voice can reach you and give you strength and reassurance that you’re not alone. That you’re strong and you’re a survivor, and maybe, hopefully, one day your voice can help someone else too.” “Oh, TK.” Blood rushes in Carlos’ ears, and he bites the inside of his cheek to keep from losing what little of his shit he has left. His nails dig into his palms, and the pain is like an anchor he can hang onto while he forces himself to listen to every word TK has to say. “Everyone knows I was romantically involved with Alex Silvester,” TK says calmly. “But no one knows what sort of person he really is. No one knows the abuse I went through and how I almost didn’t make it.” The interviewer’s hand flies to his mouth, and for a long moment, the room is deathly silent. When TK starts talking again, he details things that set Carlos’ stomach roiling. He tells of Alex’s lies and threats, both emotional and physical, and how he used to gaslight TK when TK caught onto his cheating. How, near the end of their relationship, TK doubted himself so much he couldn’t make a simple decision without looking to Alex for approval. When the interviewer asks how TK can prove any of the accusations, TK’s smile turns bitter and he asks someone off screen to pass a file to him. They don’t show the contents of the folder to the camera, but the interviewer’s reaction to what must be horrific photos is enough. “I also have recordings of threatening voicemails and such, but I don’t think that’s really appropriate to air,” TK says, his voice light, almost playful, but his eyes are sad and the set of his shoulders are heavy, as if the weight of the world is pressing down on him. “I come here to share this today not so I can get justice for myself, but justice for a dear friend of mine. Someone who is enduring his own version of abuse from Alex right now, where his business and livelihood is threatened by Alex’s lies.” “That’s...wow. I don’t know what to say.” “You gave me an audience,” TK replies with a genuine smile. “That’s more than enough.” The video pauses, Michelle must have paused it, but Carlos is too numb with shock to notice. He stares at the screen. Stares at the man who’s laying himself bare in front of the whole world, inviting God knows how much trouble and legal action from Alex Silvester and backlash from Alex’s fans, maybe even from his own fans, all for him. He tries to swallow, but the lump in his throat is too big, and suddenly, it’s too hard to breathe. 

A gentle hand lands on his shoulder and squeezes, and Michelle’s melodious voice cuts through the paralyzing fog inside his head. “Los, now do you see?” He turns stiffly to look at her, and her face blurs as tears well up in his eyes. “Why did he do that?” She frowns, then huffs out a breath. “That? To clear your name, I presume.” She taps on her phone a few more times and pulls up a list of articles. “And he’s been talking to anyone who’ll listen about how Alex threw himself at you on his wedding, and how Alex cheated on him, so it’s not a stretch that he’d be cheating on his husband, too” So many emotions flood through him, shock, disbelief, gratitude, fear and panic for TK for the PR shitstorm that’s about to hit him, and love. So much love it threatens to drown him. So much love it hurts to fight it. After an interview like that? TK’s going to need all the support he can get, and Carlos needs to be there to give it to him. He needs to be where TK is, not here, in this claustrophobic city that’ll literally eat him alive. “I—” He whips his gaze to the TV then back to Michelle and shakes his head. “I can’t take the job. I need to—” “Yeah, I figured.” She rolls her eyes even as she smiles. “TK’s agent reached out to my old agent who reached out to me looking for your number, and after seeing that ”—she points to the TV—“I gave it to him. Though, not before Mateo and I had our own little chat.” From what TK’s told Carlos about Mateo, the two of them probably interrogated each other mercilessly. Carlos chuckles, shaking loose a tear, and Michelle reaches up to wipe it away. “So, did you get any calls from any mysterious numbers lately?” Carlos’ breath catches and he scrambles for the phone in his back pocket. His hand shakes so hard it takes him three tries to unlock the screen, and he lets out the breath he didn’t know he was holding when he sees the voicemail icon still in the notification tray. As if it would disappear on its own for no good reason. He taps it, navigates the menu to listen to his one new voicemail, and swallows as he brings the phone to his ear. Michelle gets up and leaves, giving him some privacy. “Hey, Carlos, it’s me. It’s TK. I’m TK. Um, I’m calling to let you know I handled Alex. He should stop bothering you and—yeah. Oh and, um, Mateo got me your number. I don’t know how, but swear I’m not stalking you or anything.” There’s a moment of silence so long Carlos wonders if that was all there is. He checks the screen and puts the phone back to his ear just as TK’s voice drifts through once more. “And, I’m sorry. For everything.” The message ends, and Carlos listens to it three more times before saving the message and hanging up. Michelle takes a seat next to him once more and crosses one long leg over the other, her posture relaxed as she leans back against the couch. Her smile is wicked and Carlos grows apprehensive. She only looks like this when she’s scheming, and right now, Carlos isn’t sure he can take anymore of her schemes. “I know you’re not taking the head chef position,” she says casually, “but I do have another proposition for you that I think you may like.” 

Chapter 23 The first day of shooting is always the most hectic for the cast and crew, especially on location. It’s like starting a new jigsaw puzzle and they’re only just putting the edges together. There are some familiar faces in the skeleton crew and some new ones, and TK makes it a personal challenge to match names to faces as quickly as he can. “TK,” the assistant director—Carter, if TK remembers correctly—calls out as he makes his way to where TK’s sitting. “Good work this morning.” “Thanks. Couldn’t have done it without the help of everyone here,” TK replies and gets up from his folding chair. “They did warn me that you’re crazy modest.” Carter rolls his eyes and smiles. TK hides his embarrassment behind a cough and shakes his head. “What? No. No way.” Carter’s smile grows wider. “Uh huh. Anyway, everything looks fantastic so we’re breaking for lunch a little early. Why don’t you go check out the catering? I hear it’s pretty good.” “Oh yeah? Some local joint?” TK asks, glad to divert the conversation away from himself. “Apparently the owner of Blake Corp called us and offered their services at a massive discount.” Carter points in the general direction where the craft service and catering is served. TK’s eyes widen and his mouth waters. “Wait, seriously? The Blake Corp with all those high end restaurants where it’s damn near impossible to get a reservation unless you know someone?” Carter nods. “That very one. They sent a food truck that arrived not long ago. I can’t wait to see what they have on the menu.” “And here I thought I was just gonna grab something quick and simple.” “Well, don’t go overboard,” Carter teases. “Can’t have our star passed out in a food coma on the first day.” TK laughs. “Promise I’ll show some self restraint.” He waves as Carter walks off, his radio in hand as he answers some question TK didn’t catch, and he reaches into his back pocket for his phone to check the time. Service on location is spotty, but TK isn’t in any hurry to check online after his interview aired last night right after he left the city. He sent Mateo a text from the motel this morning before leaving, and all he got back was a bomb emoji followed by the OK hand emoji followed by the middle finger emoji. So, about that PR shit storm. He couldn’t help but grin at the string off texts, and not for the first time in his life, he’s glad he’s got Mateo in his corner. TK freshens up quickly in his trailer before heading out toward the food truck, fully intending on taking advantage of whatever vegan options they have on the menu. People are milled about, some standing while others sit on folding chairs with plates of food balanced on their knees. The sweet and savoury aroma is both mouthwatering and oddly familiar, reminding TK of something Carlos made back at the cabin. His chest seizes and his steps falter, and a small part of him curses the fact that he can’t get away from Carlos even when he’s on a remote location shoot. 

He swallows and takes a deep breath, then makes his way to the truck parked behind the craft service tent. The menu pinned on the side of the truck is simple, and to TK’s surprise, everything on offer is vegan. He ponders between the dragon bowl and the grilled tempeh when a familiar voice calls his name. He freezes, his breath catching in his throat, his heart pounding, and he turns. Carlos is leaning against the side of the truck, a dazzling smile on his face. TK’s mouth falls open, but he snaps it shut quickly and blinks to make sure he’s not seeing things. That his endless pining hasn’t conjured up some sort of hallucination. As if reading TK’s thoughts, Carlos chuckles and pushes off the truck and walks toward him in easy strides. “Hey,” Carlos says as he stops in front of TK. TK reaches out and pinches Carlos’ forearm. Carlos flinches and yelps, but the smile on his face grows impossibly wide. “Yes, I’m actually here. Though, usually aren’t you supposed to pinch yourself?” TK stares at Carlos, at the MBC logo embroidered on the front of his apron, then at the truck and frowns. “Why? How?” he blurts. Carlos chuckles and touches TK’s elbow. “Can we go somewhere more private and talk?” The warmth of Carlos’ touch breaks TK out of his stupor, and that’s when he notices the pairs of curious eyes on them. A line has formed behind TK, and despite everyone’s efforts to appear like they’re not snooping, they totally are. TK swallows and nods. “Uh, we can go talk in my trailer.” Carlos looks up through the open service window of the truck and waves at the other two men busy preparing food in the small space. “I’ll just be a second. You guys good here?” “Yes, Chef,” they respond in unison, their movements uninterrupted. Carlos turns back to TK. “Lead the way.” They make the short walk to TK’s trailer in silence, and TK can feel Carlos’ eyes on his back like a brand. How’s Carlos here? Did he see the interview? Did he also get hit by the shitstorm TK caused? Has it helped stop people from canceling his services? TK has so many questions, but the one burning a hole in his chest is the one he’s most afraid to ask. TK opens his trailer and Carlos steps through the door. He follows and closes the door behind him, shutting out more curious glances. Carlos turns in a circle as he takes in the tight but functional space before facing TK with that same blinding smile that steals TK’s breath every time. The ties of Carlos’ black apron cinches his waist, making his shoulders seem impossibly wide, and TK takes a deep, steadying breath as he tries not to think about just how much he’s missed laying his head on those wide shoulders. They stare at each other for a long, silent moment, and the air around them charges with something TK can’t quite identify with each passing second. Tension? Desire? Fear? Or is TK just projecting because those are the things churning up a storm in his insides? He wants to tell Carlos how sorry he is for leaving without saying goodbye, for acting like a brat, and how the week and a half at the cabin means so much more than a fling to him. He had a whole speech planned for this very moment, but now that Carlos is standing in front off him in all his golden-skinned glory, the words don’t seem adequate enough to convey just how much TK’s missed him. Besides, he doesn’t even know why Carlos is here, so what makes him think Carlos even wants to hear those things from him? What if the time at the cabin really was just a fling for Carlos? Can TK handle that kind of rejection right now? Handle that kind of 

rejection from Carlos? Warm fingers cup TK’s cheek. TK startles and inhales sharply. When did Carlos get so close? Soft lips brush against his, and TK’s breath catches in his throat. It takes him a moment to process the sensations, but his body reacts as if its got a mind of its own and presses against Carlos. Carlos’ arms wrap around him, pulling him impossibly close, and he melts against the solid press of Carlos’ body, already losing himself in the lick of Carlos’ tongue and the tug of Carlos’ fingers around a fistful of his hair. Before TK’s had enough, Carlos pulls away, and TK’s desperate whimper echoes around the small trailer. Carlos’ plump lips turn up in the corners, and TK tries and fails to glare at him through the kiss-induced haze clouding his brain. Well, that answers that question. “And what question is that?” Carlos asks, eyes practically glowing. Shit, did he say that out loud? TK frowns as heat crawls up his neck. “What are you doing here?” “To feed the cast and crew,” Carlos replies innocently, and TK’s not sure if he wants to kiss him or punch him. His face must show his conflicting thoughts because Carlos’ cheeky smile softens. “I’m also here to see you.” He looks away and swallows and his easy smile falters. “And to apologize.” “I’m the one who should be apologizing.” “I should’ve told you. About New York and the job offer and accepting it.” Carlos shakes his head. TK tugs his bottom lip between his teeth and worries at it. It did hurt, finding out that Carlos was leaving LA through someone else, but they’d only just met and TK can’t expect Carlos to make a life-altering decision based on something neither of them were sure of. “And I’m sorry, too, for running off and not hearing you out.” “I hurt you.” “And I hurt you.” TK reaches a hand between their bodies and cups Carlos’ cheek. “I know how much it hurts when no one wants to listen to what you have to say.” Carlos’ Adam’s apple bobs, and his eyes betray the hurt he’s trying so hard to hide. “I’m here to listen now. To everything you want to tell me.” He prays he’s not too late for the words he so desperately wants to hear. Carlos takes a shaky breath and closes his eyes, and TK’s a little glad he’s not the only one barely holding himself together. “The last two weeks, us, that was not a fling for me,” Carlos says when he finally opens his eyes again. “I know it wasn’t that long, and I don’t want to burden you with anything you’re not ready for, but I want you to know it was real for me. All of it.” TK’s at a loss for words because Carlos took them right out of his mouth. A weight lifts off his shoulders, one he hasn’t realized was there for years and years until it’s gone, and suddenly, everything brightens around him. It’s not just the words, but that they came from Carlos that makes them so freeing. TK swallows past the sudden lump in his throat and whispers, “Me too. It wasn’t a fling for me either.” Carlos’ cheek shifts under TK’s palm as his face splits in a smile. “You’ve no idea how happy I am to hear that.” 

TK smirks. “I may have a small idea.” Now that that question has been answered, TK’s got more. “How are you here?” “Michelle offered to cater your whole movie for the duration of the shoot.” Carlos grins. “Apparently, she and Mateo did some last minute plotting.” “Of course they did.” TK rolls his eyes. Then it dawns on him and his eye-roll freezes. “Wait, Michelle. The Michelle in your phone is Michelle Blake? The Michelle of Michelle Blake Corp?” Carlos chuckles and nods. “Jesus, how did I not put those two together.” “The one and only,” Carlos says fondly. “She pulled some strings and offered you guys a huge discount so I can be here.” “Holy shit.” “She’s always looking out for me, ever since culinary school.” “You went to school with the Michelle Blake. Go figures.” Carlos pouts and feigns indignation. “I scored better than her in every class.” “And yet—” TK teases and darts out of reach when Carlos tries to punch him in the shoulder, forgetting the limited space he’s in. He bounces into the wall with a startled laugh, then grabs Carlos’ outstretched hand and pulls him forward as they tumble onto the narrow couch in the makeshift living room. The tumble knocks Carlos’ glasses askew, and he laughs as he fixes them. He tugs TK into the hollow of his body, and they settle together as if the past few days never happened. As if they’re back at the cabin instead of in a tiny trailer surrounded by a whole filming crew. Comfortable silence wraps around them like invisible threads, round and round and round until they’re secure with no chance of ever separating again. Except for the part where Carlos has to go to New York City. TK’s good mood dampens slightly, but he shoves that thought out of his head and focuses on the warmth of the big body next to him. “Thank you,” Carlos says, breaking the silence, “for what you did.” TK knows exactly what he’s talking about and sighs, relieved. “You watched it?” “Yeah. Michelle showed me.” Carlos presses a firm kiss against TK’s temple and hugs him so close TK’s bones shift. Not that he minds. At all. “That couldn’t have been easy. You didn’t have to.” TK wants to say that it’s nothing, but it was a big deal. Not just for Carlos, for whom TK initially decided to do the interview, but when it was done, it was like a dark cloud had lifted from his soul and he’d felt good. Fantastic. Elated even. He knew then, with absolute certainty, that it was something he needed to do for a long, long time. “I did it for me too,” TK replies softly. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but I know now. I needed that. Maybe even more than you did.” Carlos takes a deep breath and exhales in a long sigh and his body goes lax. “I’m glad.” 

Another beat of silence, this one even more comfortable than the last, and TK wonders how he ever thought walking away from this was a good idea? They can make this work, whatever this is. Long distance relationships are a thing, right? Besides, it’s not like his work doesn’t land him in New York half the time anyway. Now that Carlos is back in his life, there’s no way TK’s ever going to let him go. “This doesn’t seem like a head chef position in the big apple,” TK teases, trying to make light of the only thing still weighing him down despite his new found resolve. “Thanks, Captain Obvious.” “Anytime.” TK smirks and Carlos boops him on the nose none too gently. “I didn’t take the job.” What? “Why not?” TK bolts upright, extricating himself from Carlos’ octopus arms so he can study Carlos’ face closely. Is he fucking with him? Carlos blinks, obviously taken aback by the intensity of TK’s reaction. “It wasn’t right for me. I was going to turn it down when things exploded, and I accepted for all the wrong reasons. And...” Carlos pauses and the corners of his lips curl up just a touch. “And you’re not in New York.” TK’s mouth falls open. He snaps it shut. It drops open again as he does the perfect impression of a goldfish. “So you’re staying with the catering company then?” “No. I handed that over to Paul,” he says with a shake of his head, his glasses sliding down the tall bridge of his nose. “And thanks to you, they’re busier than ever.” “Are you doing events for Michelle now?” TK asks, remembering the other reason why Carlos is here. “No. I’m done catering.” Carlos shakes his head again. “This is a one time thing.” “Then what’s your next big move?” “I don’t know.” Carlos purses his lips and taps them with an elegant finger. He leans his head back and studies the ceiling as if pondering his options, and when his gaze shifts back to TK, his eyes are gleaming with laughter. “How does TK Strand’s personal chef sound?” TK barks out a laugh even as his insides expand with warmth and joy. “You know TK Strand has some pretty restrictive dietary needs, right?” “I know.” “And you’re okay with that?” “As long as it makes him happy.” Carlos smiles, and the simple gesture lights up TK’s world. TK swings a leg over Carlos’ thighs and settles his weight on Carlos’ lap. He presses his forehead to Carlos’, their noses bumping, and cups his cheek in both hands. “It’ll make me very, very happy.” “Good,” Carlos murmurs, then his eyes flutter shut as he closes the tiny space between them with a kiss. 


Chapter Notes Chapter 24 Two chapters this week! Because I always feel it's a bit silly to keep an epilogue away for a whole week! See the end of the chapter for more notes Carlos Carlos wipes his hands on the kitchen towel and checks the contents of the cooler one last time, making sure everything’s perfect before he closes and latches the lid. He glances out the kitchen window and lets out a sigh of pure contentment. Outside, the lake sparkles under the morning sun, and there are cows grazing. He and TK arrived at the cabin the night before, and it’s been a year and a half since the first and last time they were here together. It hasn’t been his choice to wait this long before coming back to his place of solace, but after quitting his old life completely, he needed to find a new direction. After all, he can’t just be TK’s personal chef. Carlos isn’t keen on the idea of being a kept man. After doing the catering for TK’s movie, Michelle gave Carlos the truck and told him to go find himself. And find himself he did. Now, a year and a half later, his fusion food truck, simply named Food Fusion, is one of the hottest trucks in LA, and so well-known across the country that they just finished a tour driving to the east coast and back. They even have their own hashtag on twitter, #FoodFusionCarlos, much to his surprise. It’s how customers know where to find them around the city and how new customers tracked them when they made their way to New York City and back to LA. The tour was a success, so much so he and his staff are already planning another one next summer. The country looked so different when he drove across it, and he felt closer to the land as he visited landmarks he would have missed if he’d flown. It was also incredibly gratifying to see customers lined up—sometimes for an hour or more—in every city just to try his crazy inventions. Seeing their excited faces and hearing their moans as they took their first bites was more satisfying than working in any restaurant, even if it was one of Michelle’s. With everything ready, Carlos tiptoes down the short hall to the bedroom and opens the door just enough for him to slip inside. He doesn’t wait for his eyes to adjust as he crawls onto the bed, trusting that TK is exactly where he left him: sprawled out in the middle of the bed like the bed hog that he is. Carlos moves slowly until he’s on top of TK, his knees spread on either side of TK’s sleeping body and his face hovering directly above TK’s. He leans down and kisses TK’s closed eyelids gently, his lips trailing down the side of TK’s face, leaving behind tender little kisses, and when TK moans, Carlos covers his mouth with a firm kiss. TK responds with a sleepy groan, and his lips part to invite Carlos in. His eyes are still closed, but his body rouses as it senses the solid weight on top of him. Slender arms circle around Carlos’ neck, warm and heavy with sleep, and Carlos grins onto the kiss. He loves waking TK up like this, with lazy kisses and soft touches, and he loves how TK responds so immediately to him even half asleep. A thigh presses between Carlos’ legs from beneath the comforter, and Carlos groans as he grinds down, his rapidly filling cock seeking for more. More friction, more pressure, more TK, and a small part of him wants to toss the day’s plans so he can make love to TK right now. Love him until neither the sun goes down then love him some more. Love him for the rest of his life. Which is why Carlos needs to stop this before it goes any further. With a pained groan, he pulls back, extricating himself from TK’s octopus arms. He licks his lips as remnants of the kiss tingles across them and smiles. “Good morning, sleepyhead.” TK grunts. His eyes are still closed but his lips stretch in a wide, lazy smile. “Mornin’.” “Time to get up.” Carlos swings a leg over TK and snuggles up behind him. TK turns onto his side without prompt and wiggles backwards until his back is tucked neatly against Carlos’ front. “What time is it?” “Quarter to seven.” TK groans in protest. “Do I have to?” “Yes.” “But we’re on vacation.” “And?” “And I haven’t seen you for like 2 whole months and we just got here.” TK wiggles his ass against Carlos’ crotch, his message clear as a bright summer’s day. Between Carlos’ tour and TK’s last movie having location shoots in three different countries, they haven’t seen each other since the start of June. When they both finally arrived back home, happy but exhausted, Carlos suggested a trip to the cabin to decompress. TK was only too happy to comply. Of course, Carlos has more than just decompressing on his mind for this trip. “Trust me, baby,” Carlos murmurs into the back of TK’s neck, his breath eliciting a full-body shiver from TK. “I want nothing more than to get into bed with you, and we’ll have the next two weeks to laze around in bed.” TK hums happily at that and wiggles his ass harder. Carlos swallows a groan and continues, “I have something planned for us today, though, and I’d rather have an early start to beat the midday heat.” TK squirms and turns to face Carlos, his hazel green eyes glowing in the dim light. “Oh? What’re we doing?” Carlos winks before dragging himself away from the warmth of TK’s body. “Get up and find out. Wear something you don’t mind getting muddy in and meet me outside.” He leaves before TK can seduce him back into bed. TK’s terrifyingly good at it when he puts his heart to it, and right now, if he’s missed Carlos half as much as Carlos has missed him, Carlos wouldn’t put it past TK to play dirty just to get him naked. 

The soft string of curses that follows him out the door confirms his assessment, and Carlos chuckles and shakes his head as he makes his way back to the kitchen. He grabs the cooler and a key from the bowl labeled “important stuff” on top of the fridge and heads outside. He loads the ATV he brought out of the shed earlier this morning, checking the straps to make sure the cooler is extra secure, then goes back to the shed for helmets. TK’s waiting for him by the ATV when Carlos gets back from the shed. He’s dressed in a white long sleeve shirt with a faded logo on the front that Carlos doesn’t recognize, grey cargo shorts, and a pair of hiking boots that’s seen a few trails in its lifetime. His hair is a tousled mess, and he smiles when he sees Carlos. Carlos tosses one of the helmets he’s carrying to TK. “Try this on for size?” He slips it on and adjusts the straps before snapping it in place. “Good fit.” “Perfect.” Carlos locks the cabin, then puts his own helmet on. “Hop on.” TK eyes the ATV then looks to Carlos, and despite his face being obscured by the helmet, Carlos can almost hear his pout. “But I wanna drive.” “You can drive next time.” Carlos shoves TK onto the back of the ATV before taking his place at the front. “I want to show you a place, but it’s a bit of a ride and I don’t want you getting lost.” TK’s arms slide around Carlos’ waist and squeeze hard. “Fine. But next time I wanna drive.” Carlos rolls his eyes even though TK can’t see his face. “Hang on.” TK The ATV ride is exhilarating, and TK is almost sad he had to wear the helmet. It would be so nice to feel the wind in his hair as they zoom along bumpy trails and dirt paths, he knows better than to take stupid risks like that. Carlos is quiet for the ride, but TK doesn’t mind as he locks his arms around Carlos’ waist and leans his head on Carlos’ back, watching the trees fly by. He has no clue where they’re going, and they have been going for quite some time now, but TK trusts that Carlos knows what he’s doing. TK trusts Carlos, and this trust is something he never thought he’d have with another person after how his last relationship ended. Sure, he trusts that his dad will always love him and Mateo will always have his back, but this trust is different. He trusts Carlos with his deepest, darkest secrets and desires. Trusts Carlos with the side of him he guards against the rest of the world. He trusts Carlos to understand him and anticipate his needs, and he trusts that he can do the same for Carlos. It’s both amazing and terrifying to place his heart in the palm of someone else’s hand, to put the key to his happiness in another person’s heart, but it’s also so very fulfilling. This trust is the missing piece he didn’t know he needed in his life, and now that he has it, he’s not sure how he ever lived without it and not sure if he can survive again without it. He hopes he’ll never have to find out. 

TK snuggles against Carlos as closely as the damn helmet allows and smiles when Carlos squeezes his hands—clasped around Carlos’ middle—before turning his attention back to the road. TK’s ridden ATVs before, but it was mostly on sets and location shoots, and never through paths in the forest like they’re travelling along now. Shafts of sunlight streams through the thick foliage, creating spotlights along the forest floor, and it’s the most beautiful stage TK’s ever seen. It reminds TK why he spends every free moment fighting for ocean cleanups, for sustainable, clean energy sources, for stricter laws that’ll help slow the erosion of this planet. Because Earth is too beautiful, too essential. It’s the only home they’ve got, and chances are, the only one they’ll ever have. The ATV slows, dragging TK from his thoughts, and he sits up straighter as the bike comes to a complete stop. TK looks around the small clearing, waiting for Carlos to get off before he can hop off. His legs are wobbly and his ass tingles from the bumpy ride, but he hardly notices as he drinks in the scenery before him. All around him lay the ruins of what used to be a small town. Houses litter the perimeter of the town, all of them in various states of being reclaimed by mother nature. Tall grass waves in broken windows, and vegetation peek out from nooks and crannies, their silent strength enough to break through tile and wood and even concrete. TK takes a few steps forward, then stops as he spots a rusted pickup with its hood popped open to his left. Underneath the hood is a bed of lovely wildflowers, swaying gently in the mid-morning breeze. The place looks like it’d fallen straight out of a post apocalyptic movie set, but it’s that much more majestic because it’s all real. “Figured you’d like this place,” Carlos says, his soft voice deafening in the eerie silence. TK turns around slowly and faces Carlos. “Babe, this is incredible,” he whispers, too afraid to raise his voice. “What was this place?” “We don’t know.” Carlos shrugs and places his hands on his hips as he squints under the glaring sun. “We just call it the Ghost Town and it’s always been here. Mind you, the houses weren’t so dilapidated when we first stumbled in here years ago.” Ghost Town seems fitting for this place, and TK shivers against a stiff breeze. There’s something hauntingly beautiful about the way the houses are being taken apart by nature, the roofs pushed open by trees growing inside, the doors and windows filled with tall grass and unkept bushes. There’s beauty in the chaos, and TK can’t help but smile as he basks in it and nature’s everlasting promise to reclaim the land. It makes what he’s doing feel a little less insignificant when he can see that given a chance, Earth will heal herself in the most primal way. It’s savage and breathtaking and it gives him hope. TK turns and finds Carlos’ eyes on him, his gaze intense. He’s missed being stared at like this by Carlos, and it makes every inch of his skin tingle. Their eyes meet for a long, silent moment, and TK can’t help but feel himself pulled into Carlos’ orbit. He takes a step forward, and Carlos closes the rest of the distance between them. “Why don’t we go explore?” Carlos suggests softly, taking TK’s hand in his. “There’s a huge garage in the back, and further over the hill, there’s a school.” “How do you know it was a school?” 

“Rows of tables,” he says. “And there’s half a chalk board still hanging on the wall.” TK follows as Carlos leads them through the maze of houses. It’s so quiet, as if even critters and birds and animals are too afraid to approach this place, not until it’s healed completely. They walk through the large building that resembles a mess hall and past a few smaller houses with collapsed roofs. The garage stands tall and forgotten at the back of the town, and when they walk through it, TK finds more patches of wild flowers pushed through the hard packed floor. They don’t talk the entire time they’re there, don’t talk when they get back on the ATV, and it’s not until Carlos stops at a clearing on the side of a hill looking over the freeway that he breaks the silence. “It’s incredible, isn’t it?” He looks over his shoulder at TK. TK’s not sure if he’s talking about the scenery or the Ghost Town or what, but he nods, because everything, all of that and him being here and Carlos being here with him, is incredible. Carlos kills the engine and gets off the ATV, then holds out a hand for TK and helps him hop off. TK reaches for the sky and stretches his aching back, twisting his body this way and that as he strolls around the clearing. There’s something familiar about this place, then it dawns on him. This is the same place they snowshoed to a year and a half ago. Something warm blossoms from his chest, and when he turns back to face Carlos—a cooler in one hand and a blanket in the other—his face splits in a wide smile. “I know this place,” he says as he helps Carlos spread the picnic blanket on the ground. “I hoped you’d recognize it.” Carlos unlatches the cooler and hands TK Tupperware containers of food. The spread is simple but delicious, and of course, all vegan. They eat seated side by side, their shoulders bumping, their legs touching, sharing stories about the past two months, and it’s probably the best meal TK’s had in the past two months. The past year and a half was a whirlwind of activities, and between TK’s work schedule and Carlos creating a brand new business from the ground up, they had very little down time to just hang out. Being here reminds him of when they first met and how wonderful it was to simply exist in each other’s bubbles and relax. Being here with Carlos now, it feels like TK’s finally come home. TK rubs his stomach after having gorged on more food in this one meal than he’d eaten all week, and moans when Carlos hands him a heavy container with a smile. “Dessert?” “What is it?” “Your favourite.” “Those little stuffed date thingies?” TK asks gleefully then frowns. “How early did you get up to make all this?” When they got in the night before, TK was so exhausted he barely unpacked before passing out, and Carlos hadn’t looked all that fresh either. Carlos shrugs and a corner of his lips tick up in a smile. “Early enough.” “We got two whole weeks for you to dote on me with food, you know,” TK teases. “You didn’t have to go all out for our first picnic.” 

Carlos grows quiet, his expression pensive, and TK kicks himself for being so ungrateful. He grabs the container and pops the lid, and the spicy sweet aroma of honey and spices and dates greet him. Gingerly, he picks up a sticky date stuffed with nuts and pops it in his mouth, and an explosion of flavours burst on his tongue. “God,” he moans as he licks sticky sweet syrup off his fingers, “I’ve missed your cooking.” “Yeah?” Carlos hands him a napkin. TK ignores it as he continues to lick his fingers. “Yeah. The stuff they feed us on the road can’t even compare.” “Really?” Carlos’ expression softens, and TK lets out a soft sigh of relief. He picks up a date and presses it to Carlos’ lips. Carlos pulls the date into his mouth and runs the tip of his tongue across the pad of TK’s fingers before pulling away with a smirk. TK swallows and turns his attention back to the container of dates, determined not to take the bait. Carlos takes the container from him and picks up a particularly well stuffed date and brings it to TK’s lips. TK parts his lips and waits for Carlos to plop the sweet treat into his mouth, then makes a show of chewing and swallowing and moaning lewdly. He doesn’t try to hide his smile when Carlos’ cheeks colour. Two can play this game. They share the dates like this, feeding each other with sticky fingers, and as the container grows lighter, TK’s limbs grow heavier. Shooting on location is one thing, but flying to three different countries with three different time zones while working fourteen to sixteen hour days for two months straight is a new level of hell. He hasn’t noticed just how out of whack he is until now, and with every bite of sweet, sticky date, he finds himself returning to equilibrium just a little more. Carlos’ lips replace his fingers and dates, and TK’s only too happy to savour Carlos’ mouth. The sweetness of honey and dates mingles with the savoury fattiness of chopped nuts and spices, and underneath all that complexity is the simple taste of Carlos. His tongue, his lips, his breath. It’s the best thing TK’s ever tasted, and a flavour he’ll never get tired of. When Carlos pulls back, his chest heaving in time with TK’s, he stares into TK’s eyes like he’s searching for something. TK holds his breath even as he holds statue still, unsure of what’s going on. Carlos has been staring at him a whole lot today. Is there something on his face? Carlos shifts and reaches behind him. “I wanted to wait until we got back to the cabin. I had a whole thing planned, with dinner out by the lake and the sunset as our backdrop and candles, but —” he brings his hand around and TK’s eyes pop and his breath hitches. “I can’t think of a more perfect moment than this.” In his hand is a small black velvet box. TK’s heart pounds against his ribcage as if it’s trying to explode out of his chest, and his lungs refuse to expand no matter how hard he tries. Carlos rolls onto his knees and steps one foot forward. He holds out the box and opens the lid slowly, reverently, and TK gasps. Sunlight bounce off the diamonds embedded in the elegant silver band, making each one wink and sparkle. “I had a whole speech planned too,” Carlos says with a self-deprecating chuckle, “but honestly, right now I can’t remember a damn word of it. Only that you’re beautiful, and that I want to spend the rest of my life with you if you’ll have me. So”—he takes a deep breath and swallows—“Tyler 

Kennedy Strand, will you marry me and make me the happiest man alive?” Carlos stares at him with such vulnerability and hope and love, but there’s also tension in his shoulders, a hint of fear that makes TK’s chest ache. As if TK would actually say no. TK rears up onto his knees and takes Carlos’ face in both hands and kisses him softly until Carlos’ shoulders droop and there’s nothing but joy swimming in his warm brown eyes. He sits back on his haunches and holds out his left hand. Carlos plucks the ring from the box and slides it on TK’s ring finger, and with the forest and the clouds and the crystal clear sky as witness, TK whispers, “Yes.” Chapter End Notes This is it folks! I hope this is the ending you all hoped for. I had a blast writing the story, and I really hope it was a fun read! Thanks to everyone who stuck with it week after week! Your comments and encouragement is always appreciated <3. And thanks to everyone who stuck with it till the end! Also I did say I would post the recipes at some point, so I may do that in the next little bit! Works inspired by this one Please drop by the archive and comment to let the author know if you enjoyed their work!