A month had passed since Preston’s disappearance. Cary had checked with everyone he knew of who knew his friend to see if he’d come to them or at least contacted them. He hadn’t.

When Cary finally got up the nerve to call Preston’s parents they were shocked at his news, which he’d expected they would be. They were also angry that someone in authority hadn’t let them know the moment it had happened. He’d had to explain that Preston had apparently refused to give the hospital any information. As for the police, on that he couldn’t hazard a guess why they neglected to notify Preston’s family.

He had then contacted the police, wanting them to know about Fulton’s threats. But as the detective he’d talked with pointed out when Cary had admitted that Preston hadn’t enumerated on just what Fulton had said other than that he belonged to him, they had no reason to suspect that Fulton was the one responsible. “Why mess up the face of someone who was making him money,” the cop has commented before dismissing Cary. Cary could do nothing but agree although he didn’t for a second think it was a random attack on Preston, or one related to his supposed visits to the leather bars.

Hugh, being the sort of man he was, did his best to keep Cary’s temper in check when his lover began ranting about the incompetence of both the police and the hospital. He spent as much time as possible at Cary’s apartment in the evenings, something he considered far from a hardship. So much time in fact that the two men were actually talking about taking the final step towards living together, finding an apartment big enough for the both of them.

“It’s not that I don’t like the coziness of this place,” Hugh said, “but you know as well as I do that there will be times when one or the other of us is going to need our own space and that’s not an option here any more than it is at my place.”

“We can always hide out in the bathroom,” Cary replied with a grin.

“Umm, no.” Hugh looked down at his lover whose head was resting in his lap, running his fingers through his hair. “I’m thinking at least two bedrooms.”

“At least?” Cary’s eyebrows shot up.

“Sure. We can turn one into an office for you since you insist on bringing work home, or make it a guestroom.”

“Like we have so many friends who will want to spend the night, but sure, two bedrooms it is. And a large kitchen with all the extras as long as we’re dreaming.”

“It’s not a dream.” Hugh bent to kiss him, smiling. “We’re going to find just the perfect place and…”

“Live happily ever after?” Cary returned the kiss, deepening it until he had only one active thought, getting them to bed and now. But deep in his mind he wondered if it really was possible that their lives could be ‘happily ever after’.

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