For your reading pleasure, here is the final free Rowe and Noah short story. You can catch the other free short stories for Rowe along with Lucas and Snow here.
Rowe crouched down, knees aching bad enough that he had to clench his teeth against the fresh torrent of curses that were about to break forth. He hid behind an outcropping of boulders and tree limbs, drawing in a deep breath as he popped the magazine from the handle of his gun. Only three shots left. Not great.
Spring had moved into the area early this year, but there still weren’t enough leaves on the trees and bushes to offer him any kind of decent cover considering that it was midday. He needed to keep moving if he wanted to stay alive.
With his pistol clenched in his right hand, Rowe slowly shifted, making as little noise as possible to look around the immediate area. He was in another damn valley with a small stream chattering away behind him, swollen in its banks and rushing over flat slate rocks. Golden sunlight shined down from a rare blue sky. The temperature was only in the fifties, but sweat trickled down the side of his face.
A few birds darted between trees, their calls muted. Most of the birds hadn’t returned from their winter home just yet. It was so damn quiet. He could feel the eyes on him, but he couldn’t guess as to where the bastard was hiding. The trees weren’t so close that he couldn’t see a far distance, and yet he couldn’t guess as to where his would-be attacker was lurking. He was running out of options.
“Someone give me a damn report,” he growled, his voice barely a whisper.
“It’s down to just you and Noah, boss,” Sven said in the earpiece he was wearing. “And he’s carrying his team’s flag with him.”
“Fuck,” Rowe snarled, rocking back on the balls of his feet to relieve some of the burning in the muscles of his calves. He refused to fucking lose to Noah. He’d never hear the end of it.
It had been a damn rough year for Ward Security. They’d lost some customer accounts and one damn good guard. With Andrei’s help, Rowe had expanded their ranks with some solid talent and Gidget was making some nice headway in setting up some offshore servers so they could start offering clients a digital form of privacy protection.
But it had been Noah’s idea for a team outing. Something to help build a sense of camaraderie and to burn off a little stress. They pulled all the guards they could along with some of the back-office staff and divided into three teams: the Green Team led by Andrei, the Blue Team led by Rowe, and the Red Team led by Noah. Everyone had been given a paintball handgun with six shots and were directed to snag another team’s flag while defending their own.
While both his team and Andrei’s team had taken the tact of splitting their teams so that half defended their flag while the other half made a go at another team’s flag, the Red Team went rogue and apparently put their flag on the run with Noah.
It actually wasn’t a bad call considering that Noah had years of experience as an Army Ranger. The man knew how to move fast and stay unseen. It was unlikely that anyone was going to get the drop on Noah and it freed up his entire team to go after another team’s flag, which turned out to be the unfortunate Green Team’s.
Rowe shifted his stance again, getting ready to move. He’d dart across the stream and then start up the opposite hill to get a better vantage point before starting to sweep back toward the base that his team had set up. If he didn’t locate Noah soon, they’d have to call time and declare a tie. They needed to get on the bus to ride back to Ward Security, where Ian’s staff was setting up a surprise dinner for his people.
He looked over his shoulder one last time to see some movement out of the corner of his eye. He wasn’t quite sure what he saw, but he didn’t question his instincts. He dove forward, firing once in the direction of the movement before darting behind the other side of the outcropping. Over the rustle of dead leaves, he heard the distinct sound of a paintball smacking against a rock.
Noah’s laugh rang out, echoing through the empty woods. “You’re getting slow, old man,” he cackled.
“If I’m so slow, you should have hit me,” Rowe called back in a teasing sing-song, as he started to consider his options. They were pretty damn bad. Noah had the high ground and he couldn’t rely on the man being a horrible shot. He knew better. He was damn lucky that Noah hadn’t nailed him with the first shot.
“You willing to make a little side bet with me over the outcome of this standoff,” Noah asked.
Rowe moved slowly around his cover, trying to get a better view of the area where Noah was hiding without revealing any of himself. His voice sounded as if it was coming from the same location as before. “What kind of bet were you thinking?”
“A bet that involves toys.”
Rowe swallowed back a groan. He loved all of Noah’s ideas when they came to toys — in and out of the bedroom. Unfortunately he wasn’t sure which one he was talking about at that moment. “Is this bet going to require me to have yet another meeting with our HR department about what is and isn’t work-appropriate conversation?”
More laughter rang out from Noah and Rowe took the opportunity to get a better look at the area. He still couldn’t see Noah, but he had a better idea of where he was. The tree likely protecting Noah was huge with a wide base, but there weren’t any bushes nearby. Noah’s only cover was the tree.
“But I’m your boyfriend,” Noah cried.
“And you’re my freaking employee,” Rowe grumbled.
“You’re the one who was shouting about grabbing the lube next time we sparred.”
Rowe swallowed back his own laugh at that memory, concentrating on the best way to get out from where he was and up to the damn tree. From his vantage point, it looked as if he could see a little sliver of what could be the bottom tread of Noah’s boot. At that angle, it was likely that Noah was facing the other way, possibly even poised to make a move to come down on Rowe’s hiding spot.
“So what’s this bet you want?” Rowe asked while quietly crawling into better position. The tree was only a half dozen yards away and uphill. It would take only a couple seconds to cross that distance but he’d be out in the open the entire time. He just needed to get a slightly better angle so he could get off a shot.
“Oh…I don’t think you want me to say while we’re wearing earpieces, but it involves black leather and straps,” Noah called back.
Rowe clenched his teeth and closed his eyes for a split second as blood uncomfortably rushed south to his cock as he remained squatted behind a large rock. “And what do I get when I win?”
“I think you’re going to want the same as me,” Noah said.
As soon as Noah started speaking, Rowe darted forward, moving silently through the brush and up the hill. Jumping around the tree, the first thing he saw was Noah’s shoe…and no Noah.
“Up here, sunshine,” Noah called from above with a laugh.
Rowe didn’t hesitate. He jerked his gun upward and squeezed off his last two rounds. A heartbeat later, he felt the stinging impact of a paint pellet hitting him square in the chest.
“Gotcha, babe,” Noah purred.
“What? What? Is Rowe down?” Sven cried through their earpieces, but Rowe ignored it, smiling up at Noah as the man hung from a lower branch. He hand one hand and one sock-covered foot wrapped around the limb so that he was dangling like a monkey.
“I think you got a little something on your stomach there,” Rowe said.
Noah dropped to the ground and looked at the front of his black long-sleeve shirt. There was no missing the bright red splotch of paint on the left side of his waist.
“Son of a bitch!” Noah swore and Rowe cackled, falling on to his back on the cold, damp ground.
“What happened?” Andrei’s voice now came through the earpieces.
“It’s a tie,” Noah grumbled. “We got each other at the same time.”
There was more groaning through the earpieces but Rowe just ignored it as Noah fell on top of him, stretching out along his body.
“Guess I’m not so old and slow, huh?” Rowe teased.
“I still got you.”
“Pfft…you can have me whenever you want.”
Noah growled before grabbing his lips in a blistering kiss that had Rowe moaning as his hands slipped down to cup Noah’s ass. Lifting his hips, he rubbing his hardening length along Noah’s so that Noah whimpered into his mouth. He would never get enough of his man. Not the taste of him. Not his laughter. Not the feel of his skin. Not the love in his eyes. None of it.
“Ummm…guys…you know everyone can hear you,” Andrei broke in over their earpieces.
“So don’t care,” Rowe muttered. He raised his hand and twisted his fingers in the loose strands of Noah’s hair, holding him in place so he could deepen the kiss.
“Whatever. Get your asses back here in ten minutes or we’re leaving without you.”
Noah broke off the kiss. He planted his hands on the ground next to Rowe’s shoulders and lifted slightly up. “Race you.”
Before Rowe could even take a breath to speak, Noah was back on his feet and scooping up his shoe from the leaves. Rowe was after him a second later, still smiling. He’d get him this time.
Stay tuned for updates about Devour, book 4 of the Unbreakable Bonds series, as well as the upcoming Unbreakable Stories: Rowe collection.