CHAPTER SEVEN

Nothing To Lose

An Out To Sea Novel

Chapter Seven

 

© 2022 E.M. Lindsey

 

All rights reserved.

 

 

This serial novel is not meant for sale or distribution without the express permission of the author. These chapters are not authorize to appear on any other site except emlindseyauthor.com

 

 

Text is unedited and is subject to change before final publication. This book will be released on amazon after the completion of the serial novel.

 

Content Warning: This chapter contains mentions of verbal abuse, narcissistic parenting, sex after spinal injury, and self-deprecation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Dude.”

 

“No,” Hudson said quickly, but he wasn’t fast enough or able-bodied enough to keep the last of the brownies away from Eli’s wandering hands.

 

From his spot on the sofa, the most he could do was throw an elbow as Eli managed to wrest the box away, and he was forced to lie there helplessly as his friend dug in. It was almost worth it to see the look of surprised ecstasy on Eli’s face though. Hudson wanted someone to understand the pleasure-pain he’d been feeling since he finally gave in and tried his neighbor’s damned bakes.

 

He was full of regret, and yet… he couldn’t stop eating them.

 

“Holy shit. Marry this man,” Eli said, his words sticky with chocolate and marshmallow. “Im serious. Drive down to the courthouse right now. I’ll be a witness. I need these in my life every single day.”

 

Hudson pulled a face as he grabbed the box back and stared down forlornly at what was left. Two center pieces and some graham cracker crumbs. He licked his finger and pressed it against the graham, trying not to think about how even that tasted homemade. “I’m not marrying someone so you can have brownies.”

 

“I hate you,” Eli complained.

 

Hudson rolled his eyes. “No, you really don’t.”

 

“Anyway…I saw these on his Instagram,” Eli said, leaning back as he savored the last few bites. “I had a feeling they were for you.”

 

“Is that why you showed up? To tell me to play nice with him?” Hudson grumbled. He stuck the lid back on and leaned over to toss the box on the table. Carefully. Mostly. It was a very nice, expensive looking container which Hudson suspected was the reason the neighbor had used it—to encourage him not to destroy anything.

 

And hell, it had worked. Hudson wasn’t the nicest man in the world, but he wasn’t a monster. At least, not on his better days.

 

Of course, this was also not one of his better days. He’d been dealing with a production issue, he was on the verge of firing his PR company because they were giving both him and the twins anxiety every time they called a phone meeting to discuss their social media, and then he had to deal with his mother. Again. Because she was haunting both his work building and his PT’s office.

 

Again.

 

After his workout and unloading all of his frustrations and depression spiral on Eli, he’d called his lawyer who suggested it might be time for a protective order. It wasn’t something he was looking forward to, but he knew he had enough evidence to get one.

 

“Hudson?”

 

He blinked and realized he’d fallen into one of his thought spirals. Clearing his throat, he settled back and shook his head. “Sorry, what did you say?”

 

Eli sighed and swiped his hands on his jeans before leaning back and cuddling in close. Hudson wasn’t the kind of guy who needed or wanted physical contact very much. Since his tumor, his body was a strange mess of sensations—dull and numb in so many places, then hypersensitive in others. One time, he’d brushed the side of his hip against the spin cycle of his washing machine and he’d been seconds away from coming.

 

Granted, his therapist had explained to him that after his paralysis, arousal would be far more of a mental state than a physical one which meant he wasn’t going to have spontaneous orgasms when someone brushed up against him at the supermarket. But it still made him feel out of control.

 

However, Eli’s side-hug was a welcome one after his day, and he sighed and settled into it.

 

“I said,” Eli repeated after he got comfortable, “I’m here because my best friend was having a rough day. And I was kind of hoping you didn’t throw the brownies in Peyton’s face.”

 

“Peyton,” Hudson repeated. Peyton. He hadn’t known the neighbor’s name until that moment. He wasn’t sure why it mattered. A person was a person no matter what they were called, and in Hudson’s experience, most people were shit.

 

“Did you speak with him today?” Eli asked.

 

Hudson dragged a hand down his face, then shook his head. “I might have.” He wasn’t eager to admit that he’d been completely taken aback by how absurdly gorgeous the man was.

 

Hudson had been just out of the shower when it happened. He hadn’t bothered rushing. It was either Eli who would let himself in, or it was the delivery of their new product which could sit until he was finished. He took his time as he finished dressing, then wheeled to the front door. He was both surprised and unsurprised to see the neighbor still waiting for him with little box and familiar post-it note waiting for him.

 

But what really got him was that Eli was right: the man was sweet. He was exasperated by Hudson’s attitude which was only fair, but he was patient, and God help him, but he was even better looking in person, up close. It was all Hudson could do to just take the fucking brownies and shut the door in the man’s face, because if he hadn’t, he might have said something.

 

He might have—God forbid—invited him in.

 

“And?” Eli pressed. “How did it go?”

 

Hudson groaned and shoved at his friend who refused to be moved. “Fine.”

 

“Liar,” Eli countered.

 

Hudson growled at him. “Okay, I was an asshole, is that what you want to hear? He was nice and waited for me, and I took the fucking brownies after I was rude as hell. And yes, the brownies are delicious, and I regret throwing the other stuff away. But I’m not interested in making friends.”

 

Eli turned his head and groaned into Hudson’s bicep. “But his food is so good.”

 

“Then you go make friends with him,” Hudson said irritably. His frustration was rising again and he knew it was mostly the fault of his bad day, but it was easy to latch on to this whole Peyton thing. “In fact, why don’t you ask him out since you seem so goddamn obsessed.”

 

Eli lifted his head up and fixed Hudson with a glare. “Don’t be a dick just because…” He stopped abruptly, knowing he was about to cross a line.

 

“Because?” Hudson pressed because he really was an asshole.

 

Eli sagged back. “I’m sorry. It’s hard watching you go through all this shit because of her.”

 

Hudson immediately deflated. His best friend had been one of the first people to point out what a horrible narcissist his mother was. When Eli first brought it up, Hudson had gotten angry—defensive. But that was the moment the glass has shattered and there was no way for him to unsee it. There was no way for him to stop his brain from removing the veil and forcing him to see his entire life as her son the way it truly was: toxic.

 

Eli had been there when Hudson had to cut her off and pick up the pieces after his relationship with her shattered. In fact, Eli was there every time Hudson needed him, and it wasn’t fair to be an asshole to him just because his neighbor made him feel uncomfortable feelings.

 

“I don’t want to play nice with him,” Hudson said very quietly. “I don’t need any new friends.”

 

“I know.” Eli reached over and took Hudson’s hand. “It might not be the worst thing, though. You can’t just have me and work.”

 

“I have other people,” Hudson grumbled.

 

Eli snorted. “Other people are work people. They don’t count.”

 

Hudson tried not to flinch at Eli’s stark honesty, pursing his lips in irritation before letting out a heavy sigh. “Why the fuck not? Why can’t a man be happy with work friends?”

 

Eli laughed very softly. “Some men can, but you forget how well I know you. You’re angry and you’re hurt.” He held up his hand when Hudson’s mouth fell open to argue with him. “You’ve been hurt enough that it ruined your trust in most people, and it’s understandable. But it doesn’t change who you are at your core. You’re a good man.”

 

“You may be the first and only person who has ever said that to me,” Hudson said, ignoring yet another sting of truth. He had never, ever been a kind man, but he supposed Eli wasn’t talking about kindness.

 

“I won’t be the last.” Eli reached for his hand again, squeezing it gently when Hudson gave over. “You just have to start giving people a chance.”

 

“Who? The fucking baker?” Hudson grumbled.

 

Eli laughed and shook his head. “Doesn’t have to be him, but it needs to be someone. Not everyone is out to get you.”

 

Logically, Hudson knew that. He had a team of people he trusted with his life. But he was also a man who had seen the worst of the worst humanity could offer. He had a mother who never really loved him, a father who walked away, and an ex-husband who proved that in sickness and in health was just lip service.

 

Why would he open himself up to feel all that shit again?

 

His gaze fell on the little floral box of brownies and he tried not to let himself soften. He had no time for it, and this Peyton person had no business inserting himself in his life.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Eli didn’t stick around long, and Hudson appreciated it. On days he wasn’t feeling his best, he preferred to be alone. It was the only time he could be openly vulnerable and not constantly stress about what people were thinking when they looked at him.

 

He spent the evening working on his laptop, the latest toy unpacked and on his lap as he went over the schematics. He wasn’t thrilled with the button placement or the sensitivity, so he started a list of adjustments that had to be made.

 

Although he didn’t talk openly about it, the team knew he was one of the product testers, and it was both the best and worst part of the job. He knew it was hypocritical to be embarrassed about using a sex toy for disabled man as the disabled owner of their sex toy company, but since his tumor, he felt flayed open more than not.

 

His doctors had seen him shaking and crying in pain. His nurses had seen him piss and shit the bed. His physical therapists had seen him fall, unable to get back up on his own. Eli had seen him fall apart, screaming into the hands he pressed against his face, convinced he’d never be able to dig himself out of his hole.

 

The addition of people looking at him and knowing that he was trying to find a way to feel pleasure with his level of paralysis—knowing exactly what the toys were for and how he’d use them, just added to that pile of never having any sort of privacy.

 

 

So, it was in those quiet moments at home where he knew he wasn’t going to be interrupted that he could connect with his body. He didn’t need to think about his friends, or his family, or his medical team. He didn’t need to think about all the ways he was different, and how nothing would ever be the same again.

 

After the paperwork, Hudson grabbed the toy he’d unpacked and sanitized, then dropped it into his lap as he wheeled to his bedroom. His nightly routine was already finished so all that was left was to slide under the covers and grab his lube.

 

When Hudson was younger, even before he was married, he rarely masturbated. He saw it as a means of scratching an itch. It wasn’t something that ever gave him the feeling of control or freedom. That all changed after his illness, of course—and after his husband crumpled under the weight of their new reality.

 

After his surgery, the first time he’d come by his own hand felt like an absolute triumph… Then he’d collapsed into his pillow and let himself cry until he was sure his ability to produce tears had completely dried up. It got easier every time he touched himself after that, though. He grew bold and a little needy, and he allowed himself time and patience as he discovered all the new ways his body could feel good.

 

He just wished—a small, quiet wish he wasn’t about to say aloud to anyone—that he’d crack down that final wall built of fear that the first person who tried to touch him would be like his ex.

 

He just didn’t know how to make that happen. And in that moment, it didn’t matter.

 

 

Lying on the bed, flat on his back, he turned the vibrator on, running it at full speed. His sensations were dulled below the surgery spot, enough that he felt numb in his asshole, and his body didn’t bend the way it used to so getting to his prostate was harder now if he tried to go for it that way.

 

But if he let the nubs on the end of the vibrator scrape against his skin as he tucked his dick through the hole and let the round, rolling knob press right behind his balls, he could feel it. It shot white-hot sparks of pleasure through his body, making his face heat up and his mouth drop open.

 

His dick was still half-soft, but that didn’t matter because it was good. It was so fucking good. He pressed the button on the side, the lightest touch changing the pulsing patterns to something more erratic. It worked him up without ever tipping him over.

 

He kept at it until he couldn’t take it anymore, then he hit the button again. The pulsing changed to a sharp, staccato heartbeat, the vibrations ticking up a notch, and he could feel his orgasm cresting.

 

With his free hand, he cupped his dick and rubbed the heel of his palm over it. It gave a valiant twitch, and a little precome dribbled from the tip. Squeezing his eyes shut, Hudson chased his orgasm, forcing it to ripple through him, gasping as he tumbled over the edge.

 

He didn’t come much, but he came a little, and that always felt like a win. He just barely managed to hit the off switch before his arms gave out, and he laid back hard, his breathing a little uneven. He took extra care in studying his body, making sure his blood pressure hadn’t skyrocketed, but he wasn’t dizzy—just satisfied.

 

Rolling over, he carefully eased the toy off, then dropped it into his drawer to deal with in the morning. He had a couple of wet wipes at the ready, and he cleaned up the bits of lube and small smear of come before tossing them in the little bin.

 

Flopping back over, Hudson’s eyes started to drift, then he heard it. The smallest little tweep before his bedroom door creaked open. He let out a sigh, then pushed himself on his elbow and listened for the little tap tap tap of bird claws on his hardwood floors.

 

After that was a quiet shfft of a beak tugging at sheets, and then a little head poking up over the mattress. Bagel stared at him with that creepy bird look, all wide eyes and no blinking. Hudson debated on a staring contest before his body reminded him that he hadn’t just been physically busy, his emotions had also been put through the wringer and he needed some damn shuteye.

 

“Get comfy or get out,” he muttered irritably.

 

Bagel stared another minute before hopping up onto the bed, walking across his naked torso, then settling in the crook of his neck. He wanted the hate the thing—mostly because it had come from his ex—but in the late night moments of being profoundly alone, he couldn’t.

 

As Bagel fluffed up, then nestled down, Hudson closed his eyes and let the gentle breathing lull him to sleep.

 

To Be Continued

 

Chapter Eight

 

Start at the beginning...

 

 

 

***

 

Chapter Eight Preview:

 

Peyton cleared his throat. “Yeah, yes. Sorry. Some guy at the pet store knew me.”

 

“What, like an ex?” Linden asked.

 

Peyton scoffed. “Yeah sure, all those exes I have hidden. No, I mean from Instagram. And I think he was hitting on me.”

 

“Was he hot?”

 

“He was a baby,” Peyton shot back. “He was like…twenty. Anyway, that’s not really my crisis.”

 

“Okay,” Linden said slowly. “Do I need to hold your hand through this?”

 

Letting out a frustrated growl, Peyton glanced up at a little strip mall with a café whose only sign was a hanging wooden cup of coffee on its side. It was cute—a little kitsch—but the mom and pop shops always had the best brews so he pulled in and put his car in park.