We walked for several blocks before Sage turned down a side street and then down an alley way. I asked, “Alley’s are a little dicey at this time of night, aren’t they?”
He smiled. “I’ve pack protection. Besides you are with me now.”
“So you don’t take this alley way without me?” I asked playfully. I knew the answer before he even said it.
“I do. But no one will hurt me. This is all Adrian’s territory. Even the gangs won’t mess with Adrian.”
“Still risky.” I said.
“Are you going to tell me not to walk down here at night?” Sage asked. I wasn’t sure what he wanted as an answer. It seemed a serious question, but the smile quirked on his lips made it seem a joke.
I shook my head. “I would never presume to tell you how to live your life. Unless you wanted me to. You have protected yourself without me for your entire life. Who’m I to say what’s safe and what’s not?”
Sage smiled. “Most guys would have been all, ‘no, you can’t walk this street alone’.”
“I’m not most guys.” I smiled at him.
Sage laughed, “No, you are not.” He smiled at me, “Would you prefer if I stuck to well lit pathways?”
I nodded. “I would. But I would stick to well lit pathways in any territory if it were me. I’m paranoid that way.”
“So you are more afraid this way than if we’d taken the long way?” Sage asked.
“Not afraid, but there are shadows that big bads could jump out from and we’d never see them coming. I hunt monsters for a living. The dark is never safe for me. Some vamps can walk from shadow to shadow with ease. Ant is one of them. His mother and father are two of the most powerful Shadow vamps in the world.”
Sage nodded. “I will stay on the streets then. For you.”
I smiled. “You don’t have to do it for me. Just don’t tell me you walked down an unlit alley way.”
Sage grinned. “I’ll stay to lit paths. I don’t want to cause you undue stress.”
“Thank you.” I beamed at him.
“Anytime.” We turned back on to the street proper and Sage started up the stairs of one of the brownstone houses. “This is me.” He pulled his keys out and turned to face me as he leaned against the door. He pointed around the corner. “Back there is my office. You can all go there at 8 instead of trying to get me here.”
I nodded with a smile. “Okay.”
Sage and I stared at each other for several minutes without speaking. Neither of us really wanted to part ways, but I didn’t think going inside was going to be a good idea either. Sage broke the silence first. “Do you want to come in?”
“I do.” I smiled, “But, I think it would be a bad idea.”
Sage laughed. “I promise I won’t let you see my bedroom.”
“Or the couch?” I asked.
Sage nodded. “Nothing we can use to have sex on. Will that work for you?”
I let out a mock sigh of defeat and smiled. “Fine, if I must.”
Sage grinned and turned to unlock the door. I followed him into the darkened entry way. Sage walked a few feet and turned on the lamp on the table. “Upstairs are the bedrooms. Down here, the living room and the kitchen.” Sage pointed to the living room as we walked past and let me through to the back of the hall into his kitchen. He flipped on the light and I was greeted with a stone fireplace and a great gas stove on the other side of a large slab granite island. “Wow.” I said as I looked around at his kitchen.
Sage laughed. “It’s a shame I can’t cook.”
I smiled at him. “Oh, but I can.” I ran my hands over the granite counter top. All the appliances were stainless steel and a set of red pots hung from the ceiling, they looked like they’d never been used.
I could feel Sage watching me as I took it all in. He asked. “You like?”
“I love. Why do you have such a great kitchen if you can’t cook?”
“Rosie thought if I would ever attract a wife, I needed a good kitchen.”
I laughed. “A wife, huh?”
Sage laughed. “I don’t think she counted on me finding a gorgeous guy who was a great cook.” He smiled, “How did things go with that girl tonight?”
I frowned and turned my back to Sage as I pretended to still be in awe of his kitchen. I don’t think he fell for it as he put his hand on my shoulder and turned me to face him. He asked, “What happened?”
I sighed. “She just wanted sex. Called me a whore when I said no and accused me not liking her because she was fat – her word not mine. And told me I wasn’t the fatherly type.” I shrugged. “It’s not a big deal.”
Sage frowned and pulled me close. “It is a big deal. You are upset by it.” He pushed me into the bar stool next to the island. “Sit. Ice-cream helps heal all wounds. I might even have chocolate in here.”
“No, Sage. It’s all right. I don’t need ice-cream.”
Sage laughed. “I do though.”
I watched Sage open his bottom drawer freezer and pull out a half gallon of chocolate ice-cream and grabbed two spoons from the drawer and set it down on the island and took a seat next to me. “She’s not seen you with Drake. I have. You are a good father.”
I smiled and dipped my spoon into the ice-cream and offered it to Sage. He grinned at me and took the proffered ice-cream. “Don’t let her get you down. I’m sure there are girls out there that will be what you need.”
I sighed. “She is what I need. She doesn’t want to be a mother. She only wants to have a baby – no relationship, just sex to make a baby. But she didn’t want to talk about it. Like having sex right then was the only option – the only way I’d say okay – let’s do this.”
Sage nodded and took another spoonful of ice-cream. He finished the cold mouthful before he said something. “Clearly she has self image issues. Large women usually do. Was she unattractive?”
I shook my head. “No. She had rolls and stretch marks, but nothing that would make me say ‘Ew, get away from me.'”
“You saw her naked?” Sage asked.
I laughed. “She came to my apartment wearing nothing but an over-sized trench coat and when she propositioned me she did so with it hanging off her elbows gaping open to reveal her figure.”
“Has anyone ever done that to you before?” Sage asked.
I shook my head. “I don’t tell girls where I live.”
“Surely Venatori girls know where you live?” Sage asked.
I shrugged. “They could find out I guess. But Venatori girls don’t proposition me regularly. Remember they think I’m gay.” I waved my hand at him and ran my long fingers through the top of my hair highlighting the aspects obvious to people.
Sage reached into my back pocket and pulled out my phone and swiped and tapping away at it. A few moments later he laid the phone down on the counter in front of us. “This her?”
Sage had easily found Treec’s contact information on my phone. I nodded, and when I did he tapped the call button. “What are you doing?” I said reaching for the phone.
Sage had it in his hand and was pulling it away. He tapped the speaker phone button and waited for the woman to answer. “What the fuck do you want, Nox?”
“Nox is here, but that’s not who is calling you.” Sage said politely into the air.
“Who are you?” Treec asked. I could hear the distinct sound of someone who had been crying. I sighed to myself and dropped my head on to my hands and took a deep breath.
“It doesn’t matter who I am. Only that I care about Nox. He wanted to talk to you tonight about your duty to the community. He still wants to talk to you. And by talk I mean with words and stuff not some strange code for sex. From what I understand, your goals and his align well, but if you’d talked about it you’d understand he doesn’t want to ram it home until it takes.”
I snorted at Sage’s use of words. Treec yelled, “He’s right there isn’t he? Fucking bastard can’t talk himself.”
I sat up ready to yell but Sage put a finger to my lips and smiled. “He is right here. But he won’t speak to you until you stop with the name calling, and you treat him with respect. You want something. He wants something, there is no reason why the two of you can’t talk respectfully to one another and work out a solution.”
“He can’t fight his own fights? He’s even weaker than I thought.” Treec laughed.
I sighed. “I reiterate my words. Fuck you, Treec.” I used air to hit the end call button and Sage frowned at me.
Sage took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”
I shrugged. “None of that was your fault.”
“I figured she’d listen.” Sage frowned. “Apparently she’s just a bitch in general.”
I shrugged. “I’ll find someone else. Though I’m sure I’ll have new rumors circulating come morning. I came on to her, she refused me and I pushed harder. Then I called up my boyfriend to fight my fights.”
“I’m sorry Nox.” Sage stood up and wrapped his arms around me.
I smiled. “You were only trying to help.” I turned in his arms and kissed his neck. “I should get going Sage. I have work to do in the morning and I need to pick up Drake at my Dad’s and make them breakfast.”
Sage laughed, “Do you feed everyone who does you favors?”
I nodded. “It’s my go to payment.”
Sage smiled and kissed me softly. “A kiss will do sometimes.”
“Only for you, love.” I smiled up at him.
“That’s twice.” Sage said as he backed up and put the ice-cream away and the spoons in the sink.
“What’s twice?” I asked.
“You called me love.” Sage said from the sink as he looked at me gaging my reaction to his observation.
I took a deep breath. “Is that a problem?”
Sage shook his head. “No. But this isn’t slowing down any is it?”
“I don’t think I know how to slow down.” I grinned at him. “I have always attached quickly to people I let in.”
Sage smiled, he took my hand, and we walked back down the long hall to the front door. “I will see you tomorrow. Bring me coffee.”
I nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Sage had his hand on the door knob but he pulled me close and wrapped his free hand around my waist and kissed me deeply. Our tongues danced in each other’s mouths and I could taste the chocolate ice-cream lingering on his tongue. I almost wished it was still chilled from it. The thought alone tensed my body and I let out a small sound that made Sage laugh through the kiss. “God, I love the effect I have on you.”
“Me too.” I smiled and kissed him softly on the lips. “I’ll see you bright and early.” Sage turned the knob and opened the door stepping away from me. I waved quickly as I walked out. I turned around when I was down the stairs, “Night, Sage.”
“Night, Nox. Text me when you get home so I know you made it safe.”
I laughed. “Okay.” I only hoped I didn’t forget to when I made it home.