Rough Canvas

Rough Canvas by Joey W. Hill

Book: Rough Canvas by Joey W. Hill Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joey W. Hill
from the fridge he’d already prepared for himself.
    As they ate at a bistro set on the deck, Marcus also tried to keep the conversation light. He knew he’d taken a low shot with his barbed remark about Thomas shutting the door on his muse. He also knew the emotional intensity of what they’d done before that still had Thomas’ mind reeling. He felt a little raw from it himself.
    “I have a friend with a pet elephant.”
    Thomas forked up a small piece of egg, chewed carefully and paused before he
    swallowed. “In New York? That must be some house.”
    “No, he lives on a private island. But it makes it easy to make old jokes. You know the one about the elephant in the room?”
    “If I recall, that’s not really a joke.” Thomas glanced toward him.
    “I want this to be a good week for you,” Marcus said casually, gauging Thomas’
    wary look. “So let’s just deal with it. You left me and your art because you felt your family needed you more, and you’ve been raised that your first duty is to your family.
    You’re the first son, and now considered the head of the family. I accept that they needed you. All right?” When Thomas nodded, Marcus reached out briefly, squeezed his hand.
    Okay. That seemed to go passably well. Thomas appeared to be more relaxed.
    Enough that he fell into an old habit, which pulled at Marcus’ gut even as it provoked a familiar amused frustration.
    53
    Joey W. Hill
    When Marcus sat back, picked up his fork and reached for the salt, Thomas slid it out of reach with barely a pause in his own eating. “What was your last blood pressure reading?”
    “So low they thought I was dead.”
    “You already salted the eggs when you cooked them. That’s plenty. And you’re
    such a liar.” Thomas nudged it further behind his elbow, where Marcus would have to stand up to grab it. He took a swallow of his juice. “I can always tell when you’re lying.”
    “Oh, yeah?” Marcus made a feint for the salt and Thomas sent it over his shoulder in one economical move that took it off the deck. The fortunately plastic shaker bounced off the patio, rolling under one of the easels. Thomas didn’t even glance back, as if hurling condiments fifty feet through the air was a routine breakfast practice for him.
    Marcus sat back, lips twitching. “I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder for good luck, not the whole fucking thing. How can you tell I’m lying?”
    “If I tell you that, you’ll stop doing it.”
    “A little salt isn’t going to kill me. Asshole.” Marcus picked up his coffee as Thomas made a noncommittal grunt. Marcus shifted his attention to studying the strands of Thomas’ hair in front, which were just long enough to be ruffling over his forehead with the morning breeze. Reaching out, Marcus threaded his fingers over Thomas’ ear.
    “I bet your Mom thinks you need a haircut.”
    “Yeah, I do. Anyone around here?”
    “I’m sure we can find a barber to hack it off with a buzz saw in the best rural South fashion.” When Thomas had stayed in the city, Marcus had talked him into growing it out long enough that soft dark curls tangled along the top and over his forehead, the natural curl making itself known with the length, giving Marcus a lot more to tug on.
    “How is Rory? Is he in that chair for good?”
    Thomas put down the juice. Swallowed again. “Why are you asking?”
    “Why do you think I’m asking?”
    Thomas tried to quell the surge of annoyance. Damn it, Marcus had just fucked his brains out, made him lie beneath him spread like a woman and stare up into his face, feel his lips on his mouth, those eyes so close and overpowering…he’d made him
    vulnerable, and then fired off a question like that. It couldn’t not be strategy. Thomas wasn’t going to be dicked around.
    As he searched for a response, Marcus’ jaw tightened. “You may be able to tell I’m lying, but for some reason you don’t seem to know when I’m

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