“Use your imagination, Shep. Hand him over.”

With reluctance, he nods. “Fine. Let me say good night first.” He nuzzles the dog, letting him lick kisses all over his face. “I’m so sorry I’m leaving you with this crazy lady, Steve, but dad’s gotta do it, okay? I’ll make it up to you later with an extra long W-A-L-K and a bonus T-R-E-A-T.” Another nuzzle. “Good night, bub.”

He sets the pug down on the bed beside me, and Steve immediately trots up and rests on a pillow.

When I look questioningly at Shep, he shrugs. “What? That’s his pillow.”

I laugh, but it falls short when Shep fits himself between my legs, which are hanging off the edge of the bed.

Perfect fit.

Ugh.

He leans down, caging me in with his arms on either side of my head, holding his weight off me.

The thump thump thump of my heart is so loud it can probably be heard from miles away.

“W-What?” I whisper.

He pushes himself down farther, his nose connecting with the exposed base of my throat.

I bite down on my lip at the contact, doing everything I can to stifle the moan trying so desperately to leave my mouth.

Slowly, in the most painful manner you can imagine, he runs his nose up the column of my neck, not stopping until he’s right under my ear.

There, he places the gentlest of kisses.

“Good night, Bucky,” he murmurs in my ear.

Then he’s gone, leaving me with a mess of pent-up frustration and a new realization.

No matter how much I know I should, there is no way I’m going to be able to walk away from him.

Twelve

Six years ago, November

Denver: Look, I’m just going to say it, okay?

Shepard: Um…okay?

Denver: What is your goddamn deal with me?

Shepard: What do you mean?

Denver: Don’t give me that bullshit, Shep. Things have been off for weeks—since Halloween, actually.

Denver: Did I do something wrong?

Denver: I want to know because I want to fix this.

Shepard: You didn’t do anything wrong, Denver.

Denver: You sure about that? Because you’re making me feel like I did.

Shepard: You didn’t. I did.

Denver: Oh goody. Riddles. I love those.

Denver: So we are clear…^SARCASM.

Shepard: Golly, glad you cleared that up, smartass.

Denver: Just stop playing games. I’m not into those.

Shepard: I’m not trying to.

Denver: You have one more chance to answer me or I’m finally going to block your ass.

Shepard: FINE.

Shepard: I… FUCK.

Denver: You fuck? Uh…congrats?

Shepard: No. Well, I mean, yes, but no. That’s not it.

Shepard: This is just hard for me to say because it’s really fucking stupid and I hate looking stupid.

Denver: I’m not going to judge you, Shep. I’ll never judge you. You should know that by now.

Shepard: You will about this.

Denver: Try me.

Shepard: Fine. Okay.

Shepard: First…you didn’t figure out how to take screenshots yet, did you?

Denver: EYE ROLL EMOJI. No, I didn’t.

Shepard: Good.

Shepard: I was jealous.

Denver: Okay. Of?

Shepard: Your Halloween photos.

Denver: Because I looked way hotter than you?

Shepard: Quit making me laugh. NO.

Shepard: It’s all those photos I was seeing with that guy’s arm around you.

Shepard: I wanted to break it off and shove it up his ass.

Denver: That’s…vivid.

Denver: You have nothing to be jealous of. That guy meant nothing.

Shepard: It didn’t look like nothing.

Denver: I promise. It wasn’t anything. He was just some guy I met that night. All we talked about was comics.

Shepard: So something you two have in common that we don’t.

Denver: Quit your bitching. You and only you will always be my Captain.

Denver: I have to ask you something and I need a straight-up answer.

Shepard: I already know what you’re going to ask.

Denver: Let me do it anyway?

Shepard: Okay.

Denver: Do you like me, Shep? Like as more than a friend?

Shepard: Yes.

Shepard: And it’s really, really fucking annoying.

Shepard: I didn’t mean to like you.

Denver: I know.

Denver: Told ya you were falling for me.

Shepard: Bucky?

Denver: Yeah?

Shepard: Shit up.

Denver: Give me your address.

Shepard: No. You’re probably going to send me something weird.

Denver: It will only be as weird as you make it.

Shepard: Fine, but if you send me something weird, I’ll have your address by that point and I’ll send you something equally as weird.

Denver: I promise it’s not weird. It’s a Christmas present.

Shepard: We’re doing gifts?

Denver: We are now.

Shepard: Christmas isn’t for another month!

Denver: LESS than a month. Better start shopping.

Shepard: I’m sending you coal.

Denver: DOWNLOAD ATTACHMENT

Denver: ^I’ll take that, please.

Shepard: I’m not buying you a puppy.

Denver: Not just any puppy…A PUG!

Denver: Do it and I’ll be your friend forever.

Shepard: Keep dreaming.

Denver: Fine.

Denver: DOWNLOAD ATTACHMENT

Shepard: That is a $1,500 purse!

Shepard: I like you, but not that much.

Denver: Wow. I didn’t know there were price limits on love, Shep.

Shepard: I said LIKE, not LOVE.

Denver: Keep telling yourself that.

Shepard: I will. It really helps me sleep at night.

Shepard: Speaking of sleep…I need to hit the hay. Apparently I need to get up early and hit the pavement if I want to get a job so I can afford your Christmas present.

Denver: I’ll take a tan or black pug. I’m not picky.

Shepard: In the words of Aerosmith…DREAM ON.

Denver: Fine. Just make sure the purse is purple, you ass.

Denver: Good night, Cap.

Thirteen

Shepard

“Oh, fuck me,” I mutter as I peer out the balcony door.

Denny’s standing in the cold, the morning sun outlining her figure as she stares out over the horizon.

Steve sits at her feet, staring up at her like she’s a goddess.

Watch it, Steve. I called dibs a long time ago.

She must have rooted around in my drawers because she’s wearing one of my t-shirts—the number 23 stamped across her back is a dead giveaway—and a pair of my shorts that are way too big on her.

Guess she forgot pajamas in that Mary Poppins bag of hers.

Not that I mind. Seeing her in my clothes…well, it makes my already aching cock really fucking sorry it’s not buried inside of her right now.

It could be, though.

I could march out there, scoop her up into my arms, and carry her back to my bedroom then spend the entire day inside her.

We both know I could do it. We both know she would let me.

And I want to…so fucking bad.

But AJ just called, and he and Allie want to do breakfast with their best man and maid of honor.

Duty fucking calls.

As if she can feel my eyes on her, she turns around and gives me a small wave.

I hold my hand up, telling her staying out there is fine. The last thing I need is for her to come in here and see my morning wood.

Coffee? I mouth.

She nods and turns back around to the view before her, paying me no mind as I continue to scroll my eyes over her body. So many curves, so much softness and sass rolled into one.

With reluctance, I turn away and head into the kitchen. I pull the canister of coffee from the cabinet and brew half a pot, which should be plenty for the two of us.

The balcony door slides open and Steve comes scampering inside, his feet barely getting traction on the hardwood floors.

“Morning, you little shit.”

“Well, good morning to you too,” Denny says.

“I meant this little traitor, but yes, good morning to you.”

“Oh.” She blushes. “Good morning. That coffee smells amazing.”

“I know.” I pull open the fridge. “I’m sorry to report that I don’t have your coffee creamer here since I wasn’t expecting you to stay over. I do have milk—will that do?”

“Ugh. I’ll settle.” She shuffles over to the island. “I hope you don’t mind but I borrowed some of your clothes.”

“Do you know how hot it is to see a girl wearing your clothes?”

“No. I’m usually annoyed when I find another girl wearing my clothes.”

I roll my eyes, and she grins.

The coffee pot dings as it finishes up the brew and I pour us each a healthy cup of caffeine.

“What woke you up so early?”

Leaning against the counter, she blows on the hot java. “I’m naturally an early riser, though I probably could have slept another hour with your blackout curtains. I owe this early wakeup to Allie…again. She wants to meet and go over maid of honor duties.”

“AJ called me too. They want to do breakfast in an hour.”

She groans. “I know. I was hoping he’d have left you out of it though.”

“Really? Even after last night?” I tease.

“Especially after last night.”

“Does your mother know you lie this much?”

She pushes off the counter, sauntering into the living room. “I’m going to need more coffee to handle you today.”

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