As Hunter took his seat and opened the container to study its contents—a dry-looking hamburger with no condiments, yay—he heard the booming voice of the orderly who’d broken up Riley and Big Hispanic Guy’s fight.
“You gonna behave, or I gotta stand in here over you, Willby?” He was holding Bubba the Newbie by the arm.
“You got it, Big Boy,” Bubba said, saluting the orderly. The orderly grunted and released his arm, telling him to go get his tray and shut up.
After Bubba had retrieved his food, he spotted Hunter and gave a smartass smile. Hunter just shook his head, already feeling amused exasperation as the guy strutted his way. “Yo, you helped me stay out of restraints.”
“Did I now?”
“I was just about to start kicking when you told me to calm my tits.”
Hunter laughed. “That’s me. Jiminy Fucking Cricket.”
“Well, Jiminy, this seat taken?” He didn’t wait for a response before plopping down in the chair directly across from Hunter at the table.
“By all means, Bubba.”
“It’s Shane, actually.”
“Like I said, Bubba.”
Bubba laughed, a loud belly laugh that was totally out of place in the cold, sterile halls of the hospital. “I like you, Jim.”
He gave Hunter a pointed look, still smiling. “Like I said, Jim, formerly known as Jiminy Fucking Cricket. So what you in for?” He was drumming his hands on the table, eyes starting to dart around the room, not nervously but unable to focus on one thing.
Avoiding the question, Hunter said, “I didn’t know they locked people up for ADHD.”
Bubba snorted, giving Hunter a smirk. “Manic, buddy. I got a little bipolar problem.”
“A little one?”
“Well, more a problem staying on the meds.”
“So you like being all…. Hyped up?” Hunter wanted to laugh when Bubba turned his head sideways, confusion like the big dumb dog he was crossing his face.
“Of course. Who wants to be a pill zombie?”
“Never bothered me all that much.”
“Ah. A D and A boy?”
“Among other things, apparently,” Hunter said vaguely, taking a bite of his hamburger. Bubba snorted and sped up his drumming on the table, almost banging.
Hunter stared irritably at the quickly moving hands until they stopped. Bubba smirked, which seemed to be one of his favorite expressions. “Sorry. Gotta get it out somehow.”
“You sure you don’t want to take those meds?” Please. Oh, my God. The energy was fun, but Hunter hated banging and tapping. It made him twitch. If Bubba was going to be doing it all the time, like Humming Man, he wasn’t sure he’d make it without throwing shit at him all the time.
Bubba just laughed, though. “I like you, Jim.”
“It’s my lucky day,” Hunter said drily, earning another guffaw from Bubba. Okay, so the guy was all right. In a hyperactive, straight jock kinda way.
“Hey.” Bubba’s head tilted in that confused way again. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
Hunter’s head snapped back. No, surely not. He’d remember someone this excitable. Certainly he’d remember someone, even a straight boy, who looked like that. “I don’t think so.”
Bubba drummed his fingers—on his chin this time, thankfully—thinking so hard it looked like smoke would come out of his poor ears at some point.
“Don’t overdo it, man. I can hear rusty bolts trying to break in there.”
Bubba’s eyes widened before he snapped his fingers and pointed, bouncing in his seat. “Dude! Hunter Morgan?”
Hunter eyed Bubba warily. “Uh, yeah.”
“Dude!” He said it louder than he needed.
“Calm down, man,” Hunter hissed. “You’re gonna get us both sent to our rooms.”
Bubba settled… as much as he could, anyway. “You’re Travis Morgan’s little brother.”
Hunter frowned. “How….”
“You fixed my Camaro last summer. Did a damn good job.”
“Oh. Did we meet?”
“Yeah, man. You were blitzed. Your brother looked pissed. I graduated with him, though, so when he promised you did good work I threw the work your way. You rocked it hard. That baby hasn’t run that well since I’ve owned it.”
“Oh.” Hunter blushed. He knew he’d learned his shit, though he had been an ass about working at his brother’s shop at first. He’d never been complimented, though. He smiled at Bubba. “Glad it worked out.”
“No shit. Small world, huh?”
“No doubt,” Hunter said on a snorted laugh.
A movement from the corner of his eye caught Hunter’s attention. Riley stood in the doorway with his tray of food, glaring daggers at Hunter and his companion. Hunter kept smiling, waving at Riley. Riley scowled, passed his food to the old guy he usually played checkers with, and walked over to his chair by the window. Without a second glance at Hunter, he shoved Hunter’s chair back to where it belonged, by the couch, and plopped down in his own with his book. What the fuck?
“Huh, I think I’ll call him Sunshine.”
Hunter turned back to Bubba, who’d apparently amused himself. “Say it to his face at your own risk, Bubba.”
“Oh, Jim. A challenge? I love those.”
Hunter glanced back at Riley, who sat solitary, alone, and scowling as he read his book. “It’s your funeral.” Maybe mine too.
IT WASN'T BAD enough Riley had been verbally reamed by Dr. Landers, but to come back and find his only friend in that hellhole—a guy he’d trusted enough to share Andy’s secret with—getting cozy with the hot new guy… well, sunny didn’t exactly work in reference to Riley’s disposition.
Yeah, well, the whole lot of them could fuck right the fuck off. Dr. Landers. New Guy…. Hunter.
Oh, but you don’t mean that. Do you?
He slumped farther down in his seat, bringing the open book all the way up to his face. As a kid, Mimi had chastised him about reading like that, said holding a book that close to his eyes would make him go blind. He wasn’t really reading, though, more trying to hide the pissed-off mug he was rocking right now. And to think, all he’d wanted to do the entire time he was in Dr. Landers’s office was find Hunter and disappear. Maybe make plans for a second date, but noooooo.
He peeked over the edge of his book, just because curiosity wouldn’t let him mind his own business. For some ungodly reason, Riley wanted to know what was going down between his man and the new guy. His man. Riley snorted.
“Connors,” Jerry the orderly said, snapping Riley’s attention away from Hunter and the new guy. It took a second for his eyes to adjust, what with the sunlight pouring in from behind Jerry’s massive frame. “Time for group.”
“Again? Fuck. I’m tired of talking to people.”
“Sorry, kiddo. You gotta go. Rules are rules.”
Riley pushed up from his lonely seat in the corner, dropped his book facedown in the chair. Everyone knew that was his space and his book, and no one really screwed with his stuff, so he didn’t have a problem leaving it there.
“You too, Morgan,” Jerry said as he passed by Hunter’s table.
Riley did his damnedest to keep his eyes straight ahead. He couldn’t look at Hunter right now, not without wanting to go the fuck off, then rip New Guy to shreds. And they said he didn’t have any impulse control. Pft.
“Catch ya later, Jim,” the new guy said, holding up two fingers in Hunter’s direction.
“You too, Bubba.”
Bubba? Jim? What the hell?
They were guided into the same small room as before, same chairs but different characters. The doctor was someone Riley couldn’t look directly at. Something weird about his mouth made Riley twitch. Every time the dude spoke, his lips and jaw moved side to side, not up and down like normal people. That really got under Riley’s skin.
So he kept his stare on the floor like normal. He sure as hell couldn’t look at Hunter right now, not without feeling utterly betrayed and cast aside for some newer, hotter version of crazy. Maybe Hunter was the kind of person who needed to feel like he could save people or some shit. Sure would explain what happened last night, the way he’d taken care of Riley, been so kind and caring and actually made Riley feel good for a change. Maybe since he’d sorta saved one soul it was time to save another.
But as soon as Hunter took the seat beside him, Riley knew the cold-shoulder shtick wouldn’t last. He’d been biting his tongue, but now the pressure hurt in that emotional sorta way the therapists always talked about.
“So, y’all got nicknames, huh?” he whispered in Hunter’s direction, keeping his eyes straight ahead.
“So you’re talking to me, huh?”
Riley turned his head away, aiming it more at the doctor he couldn’t stand looking at rather than the guy he could stare at for hours. How the hell was he supposed to answer that? Didn’t he have a right to be a little pissed off?
“Didn’t look like you needed someone to talk to.”
“So when you’re being a jerk I’m supposed to sit with you and get the silent treatment… again?”
Jerk? Jerk! How the hell?
Eyes widened, Riley whipped his head toward Hunter. His mouth opened, ready to pour out a stream of belligerent bullshit, when the doctor saying “Let’s get started” put the brakes on the verbal explosion.
Now he had no choice but to sit there and fume, and he managed that well for all of about ten minutes. Had it not been for all the mixed feelings and the anger over New Guy getting cozy with his man, Riley would’ve been content to keep his mouth shut and waste an hour of his day with people he couldn’t stand.
Oh, but he couldn’t do it. “How was I being a jerk?” he whispered bitterly, half not caring if they got called out for speaking out of turn.
“Are you shitting me? What? I’m supposed to embarrass myself in front of everyone and drag over the chair you pushed away? I assumed that meant not to fuck with you.” Hunter’s whisper held a low growl, jaw clenching as he glared at Riley.
Someone outside the bubble of their argument cleared their throat. Both Hunter and Riley jerked their heads in the direction of the sound. It’d been the doctor with the funky mouth, and he didn’t appear to be pleased at all.
“Is there something you’d like to share, Mr. Connors?”
Riley shook his head.
“You, Mr. Morgan?”
“Nah,” Hunter bit out.
“May I proceed, then?” Doc asked.
Neither one of them said a word. Riley didn’t so much as cut his eyes, despite his wanting to.
They were relegated to sitting in silence again, Hunter doing whatever Hunter did, Riley staring at the floor, counting down the minutes until they were finally free to go back to their room. And who knew what kind of fresh hell awaited them there. For all Riley knew, Hunter had every intention of chewing him out, up one side and down the other.
The hour went by faster than Riley expected it to. Probably because he wasn’t looking forward to being alone in a room with Hunter. Wow, what a contradiction to how he’d felt last night. Now he seriously wondered what the hell Hunter’s angle was.
Riley entered their room first and immediately slid into his bed. He didn’t bother with blankets or removing his slippers. Right now he just wanted to sleep and pretend none of this ever happened—well, none of it save for meeting Hunter. It didn’t matter how mad he wanted to be at Hunter, Riley cherished every second they’d spent in each other’s lives.
Boy, didn’t that make him want to melt into a puddle of blah.
He curled around his pillow, facing the wall, because looking at Hunter right now made him think about the moment he stepped into the common area, just wanting to sit down next to his friend and spill his guts over his session with Dr. Landers, only to find Hunter hanging out with someone else, laughing and talking to someone else in a way he didn’t really laugh with Riley. Maybe Riley was too morose. Maybe he needed to lighten up and chill the fuck out. Maybe he’d pushed Hunter away just like he’d pushed his mom away after he’d been rescued.
That's it for this week's Snippet Sunday. Only two more to go before We Found Love releases on January 5, available everywhere: Amazon, ARe, Sony, iBooks, B&N (will post those links as available)! Which is awesome because my birthday is January 6 so that's a pretty rad way to celebrate. (It also means I have an excuse to party twice as hard haha) Don't forget you can pre-order the eBook and/or paperback at [Dreamspinner Press] or the eBook at [ARe]. So excited for y'all to meet these guys.
Until next time.
Releasing January 5, 2015!
Available now for pre-order!