Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: “Nice and easy does it…”
At Full Speed, #4
Bruce’s hands seemed like steel bands closing around his arms, making it impossible for Jake to free himself. Fear turned to panic, and Jake gasped, “No.”
Bruce didn’t let go. Jake’s gaze flicked up to Bruce’s face. Bruce’s lips moved, so he was talking, but no matter how hard Jake tried, he couldn’t understand a single word. Blood pounded in his ears, and sweat beaded down his back when his panic surged to the surface in one tidal wave. He kicked out with his left foot, catching Bruce off-guard.
Bruce’s grip loosened fractionally and Jake kicked again, at the same time struggling against Bruce’s hold on his arms. Bruce’s voice rose and Jake’s panic swallowed him whole. Nothing filtered through him anymore other than the thought of “Let go, let go! Please, let go.”
Jake lost himself in a haze of screams and fighting until his throat was sore and his muscles had turned to jelly. His knees gave out and he collapsed onto the kitchen tiles, tears running down his cheeks as he sucked in air. A series of whimpers tumbled over his lips when he realized Bruce was still there, holding him.
“Shh, Jake, calm down, please.”
Jake blinked against the wetness in his eyes, trying to make sense of Bruce’s words. Why wouldn’t he let go?
“Because I’m afraid you’re going to hurt yourself,” Bruce’s voice sounded perfectly normal—calm, authoritarian, as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.
Jake coughed, but the lump in his throat didn’t budge an inch. Had he spoken aloud? How could Bruce know what went on inside his head?
“Jake, take a deep breath. Come on now, sunshine. I know you can do it.”
“Sunshine?” Jake croaked. He felt like a lot of things, but sunshine wasn’t amongst them. Slowly he became aware of his surroundings—the way Bruce’s chuckle reverberated through his own chest.
He was sitting on the kitchen floor, his back against Bruce’s broad chest. Bruce’s thick thighs fenced him in, and one large hand rubbed soothing circles on his quivering belly.
“Except for the major panic attack you just had, you’re usually very sunny-tempered,” Bruce said. Gently, he threaded his free fingers into Jake’s hair and tugged Jake’s head onto his shoulder. “Keep breathing, Jake.”
Jake listened to himself wheeze for some time. When his breath stopped hitching and stuttering, shivers wrecked his body, and he clamped his mouth shut to stop himself from chattering.
Bruce never stopped in his ministrations, and the large body surrounding him felt wonderful—protective and warm. Not at all threatening. Jake winced as he remembered himself kicking out at Bruce. “I… I’m sorry for kicking you.”
“It’s okay, Jake. You were spiraling into a full-blown panic attack at that moment. I probably shouldn’t have touched you, but you seemed so scared…”
Jake closed his eyes when Bruce pulled him sideways between his legs, wrapping both arms around Jake’s upper body. Jake melted into the embrace, soaking up the warmth of Bruce.
“What were you thinking when you panicked?” Bruce asked after they sat there in silence for some minutes.
Jake hunched over, not at all keen on explaining anything to Bruce: the fear his remark of Jake needing a firm hand had evoked in him, or his decision not to go over to Bruce’s apartment and to end their relationship. Jake’s stomach clenched. He didn’t want to stop seeing Bruce. Although they’d only known each other for a few weeks, he’d gotten under Jake’s skin, past some of his barriers, and now Jake was terrified.
“What was the question again?”
Bruce smacked a kiss on Jake’s forehead before he growled in his right ear, “Brat. I know what you’re doing.”
“Really? Because even I don’t know what I’m doing,” Jake replied, aiming for nonchalant, but failing miserably.
“Evading my question won’t get you or us anywhere. How about we get up from the floor as a first step?”
Jake made himself do the adult-thing—namely to nod and clamber to his feet when all he wanted was to glue himself to Bruce’s body and have the man hold him. Clingy. Yeah, that’s what he was, what he’d always been. A pretty but fragile boy who liked nothing better than to stick close to someone bigger, more confident. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he hurriedly swallowed them down. Damn, he was so over this shit!
“Jake?” Bruce held out a hand to him in invitation after he’d risen to his feet as well.
To his surprise, Jake found himself at the other end of his small kitchenette, huddled against the counter with his arms wrapped around himself. When had he gotten here?
Jake eyed Bruce’s outstretched hand. It was a large hand with long, blunt fingers, slightly curved upwards, beckoning Jake closer.
“You can do this, Jake. Come closer and take my hand,” Bruce said in a gentle tone.
Jake took a hesitant step toward Bruce, his gaze fixated on Bruce’s hand. A hand that could hurt him if he wanted. Jake’s courage wavered and he stopped. Why would Bruce hurt him? Why did he assume he would? He’d always been firm, but at the same time tender.
Jake lifted his own hand and reached out for Bruce. Their fingertips brushed, but Bruce made no move to pull him closer. It was up to Jake to decide whether he trusted Bruce or not.
“Nice and easy does it, Jake.” Bruce smiled at him encouragingly.