House keys with house keyring, on a natural background.

The Home We Make

Dr. Ashton Frost strode down the sidewalk toward the café where he was supposed to meet Jude, anticipation quickening his steps. Their shifts had been rough for the past two weeks and they’d barely had any time together. But for the next forty-eight hours, they were free and he had all kinds of dirty plans. He walked even faster. The river valley had decided to absorb the sun on this August day, so he should have slowed, but he knew he could coax Jude home and into the shower without much effort at all if he arrived a sweaty mess.

Snow’s heart skipped a beat when his man came into view. His man. Just those two words were enough to bring a smile to his lips. Jude leaned back in the metal café chair like it was a recliner. Sunglasses covered his dark eyes and a close, black beard shadowed his chin. Shorts. He was wearing cargo shorts. Snow’s gaze locked on his hairy shins and he wondered how the café patrons would react if he dropped to his knees in front of all that beauty and ran his hands up the insides of those loose shorts. He glanced around to find several women and men watching Jude. Not that he could really blame them—he could hardly ever take his eyes off the man. But the need to stake a claim came strong at times.

He walked right up to him, leaned down and grasped his chin in his hand. He pushed the sunglasses up and as always, those eyes locked onto him like nothing existed around them. It made everything in him tighten with the knowledge that this man belonged only to him.

He could never have imagined what this would feel like. He loved his friends, had loved Lucas most of his life in a way nobody had ever understood, but what he felt for Jude eclipsed everything. It surged through him with a power that felt like it could light up an entire city.

Leaning closer, he smiled as their lips brushed. “You are so fucking gorgeous,” he breathed over Jude’s mouth.

“General, there is gorgeous and then there is breathtaking.” Jude’s hand came up and cupped the back of his neck. He pressed their mouths together.

Snow forgot anyone else was there. He savored the softness of Jude’s lips, the scratch of his beard. When he pulled back, it took a moment to bring his thoughts into focus.

Jude grinned, completely aware that he’d scrambled Snow’s brain.

Snow could give him that. That smug look. He’d earned it because nobody had ever scrambled his brains like this Spanish and Greek paramedic who’d given him a home in his heart.

“Do we still have to go look at the house?” he asked before kissing him again. “I’m sick of looking at houses. I’d rather take you somewhere and explore what’s under these shorts.”

“It’s the one.”

Snow pulled back, taking in the shine of anticipation in Jude’s brown eyes. “How do you know? You haven’t even been inside.”

“Trust me.”

“I do.”

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Image Jocelynn took in Eden Park in the general area we wanted to put their home.

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An hour later, Snow stood in the perfect house. After months of weekends house hunting with Anna Torres, Jude had stumbled on this place by accident while on the job near the Eden Park overlook. And he’d only seen the outside and the view from the back. Brand new, it didn’t even have the flooring in or the paint on the walls, but Snow knew without a shadow of a doubt that this place belonged to them. His heels thudded on the concrete as he walked through the rectangular living room, the kitchen with beautiful, dark-stained cabinets currently being installed. He climbed the stairs and saw the three bedrooms, the master bedroom nice and roomy and best yet, having an attached bathroom that held a shower built big enough for more than two. Or two who liked plenty of room to get busy.

He stood in the master bedroom, gazing out of a huge, picture window that offered a view of the Ohio River and a sweeping view up Mt. Adams. Grinning, he looked back at Jude. “This is it.”

Jude leaned against the wall, hands in the pockets of his shorts. “I know.”

“It’s out of the price range you set,” Snow teased, still hating that Jude discounted what he could bring to the purchase of their home.

“Out,” Jude said to the real estate agent who’d been hovering by the door. The man didn’t hesitate to scramble.

Desire unfurled inside Snow because he fucking loved when this easy-going, caring man turned dominant.

Jude slid his hands out of the pockets of his khaki shorts as he walked to Snow. “General, I don’t give a shit that you make more than me, but yes, I tried to find something fair. Until I saw this place.” He took Snow’s hand, threading their fingers together. “I saw this place and I saw you. And I saw me here with you. We’re going to make a home here, you and me. Our family.”

The heat that flooded his body made Snow want to rip all his clothes off to find any breeze available, but instead he narrowed his eyes, grabbed Jude’s hand, and pulled him into the bathroom. He walked him into the unfinished shower that didn’t even have a door and pressed him to the wall. Black eyes met his as Jude snaked a hand around his waist and dug fingers in hard. He pulled their bodies together.

It was sweltering in here without air conditioning, the smell of dust and drywall strong, and he didn’t care. Snow closed his eyes as he rested against the man who had taken such a huge place in his heart. He felt the hardness of his muscles, smelled the faint sweat of his body, leaned in to nuzzle the prickly yet soft beard on his chin.

He wished they lived here now. Wished they were starting their life together as that family here. Snow had a family, he did, but this would be a haven for him and for Jude and he wanted that more than he’d wanted anything in his life. He slid his hands down Jude’s sides, feeling the hot skin under the casual clothes, the hair on the man’s chest that drove him crazy. “How long before you think that stupid real estate agent comes back to find us?”

“Not long.” Jude kissed his jaw, tilted his head back to kiss his throat. “He’s eager. Young. Hungry.”

“Guess he’s going to get a lesson if he shows up in the next few minutes.”

Jude grinned against his throat. “I suppose we should get out of this future shower and find him.”

“Fuck him.” Snow growled and latched onto Jude’s throat. “Next time I have you in this spot, it will be finished and hot water will be pouring all over your body and I’m going to take you up against this wall.”

“I may take you up against it.”

“Works for me, too,” Snow murmured. He licked along that corded muscle in Jude’s neck, tasting salt from his sweat, feeling the hum of love bathing every move they made. “You were right. This is the house.”

“There are some things I just know, General. Just like I knew what you could be to me from the beginning. I go after what I want.”

“Dominant fucker.”

“You love that about me.”

Snow didn’t really care if the real estate agent came back too soon or if he melted into a puddle of sweat at Jude’s feet. He dropped to his knees.

###

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Another picture Jocelynn took in Eden Park.

“You did well,” Lucas said as he came to stand next to Snow on the back patio. He was dressed casually tonight in jeans and a royal blue shirt that made his eyes shine gray. A breeze came off the river, ruffling the black hair at his temples. “I like this place more than your last.”

“You hated my last place.”

“I hated the view.” Lucas wrapped his fingers around the dark wood rail as he looked out at the river. “Most of it, anyway. Power plants aren’t my idea of scenery.”

“Says the man who lives on top of the world and sees it all.”

Lucas grinned and turned to look at him. “This house is warm.” He nodded toward the door. “Like the man you chose.”

Snow snorted and leaned on a support post. “More like chose me and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Chuckling, Lucas turned and gazed inside. “Gotta love a man who goes after what he wants. And you wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t wanted him just as much back.”

“True.” Snow followed his gaze, looking through the glass back door as he heard Ian’s laughter. Ian, Andrei, Jude and Rowe all sat around the living room they hadn’t finished decorating. Boxes lined two of the walls and Snow was looking forward to having everything done and out of the way. It had taken some time to get into the place. They were able to pick paint and flooring and they’d turned the home into exactly what they wanted. Tons of dark wood, a cozy kitchen, and best yet, the shower upstairs most definitely gave them room to maneuver.

They’d moved in the weekend before and tonight, Snow’s friends had come for a catered dinner. He watched them now, feeling almost like he was caught in a surreal dream. He thought back to when he was young and had never believed he’d have anything like this.

His gaze locked on Jude, sprawled on the floor in front of the fireplace, his head back as he laughed. They’d just ordered a rug for that spot and Snow marveled over how domestic he’d become even as he thought his heart might beat out of his chest. He couldn’t wait for that damn rug and every other thing they would add to this home together. And he loved that his friends felt comfortable here.

Andrei said something that made Ian crack up and Snow knew the smile stretching his mouth was sappy in the extreme and he didn’t give a shit. He glanced at Lucas to find the man smiling at Ian as well. Snow opened his mouth, teasing words clinging to the edge of his tongue before he swallowed them back. So what if they stood here like saps, staring at the family they’d made together. The two of them had been through a lot over the years. So instead of sass, he surprised Lucas by pulling him close. “We deserve this,” he said instead.

“We do,” Lucas agreed.

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Hope you enjoyed this third, free short story featuring Snow and Jude! For a list of all the Unbreakable Books and Stories now available, click here.