Story Excerpt
A Promise Given

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Detective Cooper Thomas slowly climbed the stairs to his apartment. He was tired, so tired his bones ached. Every step he took up the narrow stairwell took effort. His feet felt like lead weights. It was all he could do just to lift his foot for the next step.

It seemed liked forever before he finally reached the top step of the three-story apartment building he lived in. What he wouldn't give for an apartment with an elevator. But moving took energy, too, and right now, Cooper was all tapped out.

It wasn't just the long, grueling workday but the entire past six months. Between being kidnapped by that maniac serial killer, Daryl Wallace, Cooper's time recovering from his injuries, and having his long-lost love back in his life, Cooper felt exhausted.

Cooper chuckled to himself and shook his head. Correction, having his long-lost love reappear and harass him every chance the man got. Alec couldn't be considered back in Cooper's life. That implied that they were actually working on a relationship together.

As far as Cooper was concerned, Alec could take a long walk off a short pier. Alec drove Cooper out of his mind. Every time Cooper turned around, Alec appeared. He seemed to magically know when Cooper went out with friends, went to dinner at Jack and Mason's new house, or even some get-together at Janet and Bob's.

Cooper felt pretty sure that it was a conspiracy. He knew he had been instrumental in getting Jack and Mason together, and they felt that they were just returning the favor. They weren't. They were just making Cooper's life a living hell.

Sliding his key into the lock, Cooper unlocked the door and pushed it open. The moment the lights in the room shone into his eyes, Cooper reached for the gun holstered at his waist. He knew he hadn't left the lights on when he left that morning.

Pushing the door open a little more, Cooper took a hesitant step into his apartment. Even though he had moved to a new apartment a few months ago, he still got the willies sometimes when he came home. Cooper wasn't sure he'd ever get the memory of Daryl Wallace attacking him in his old apartment out of his mind.

"It's just me, Coop."

Cooper let out the deep breath he held as he recognized Alec's voice coming from his living room. He dropped his hand from his gun and brought it up to rub over his face. Fuck! He so didn't need this right now.

Lifting his head, Cooper glared across the room at Alec. "Breaking and entering is illegal, you know."

Cooper wanted to scream in frustration as Alec raised one dark blond eyebrow. "I didn't break anything," Alec replied.

Sarcastic son of a bitch, Cooper thought. Breathtakingly beautiful, sarcastic son of a bitch. He wanted to hit something.

He stepped into his apartment and closed the door behind him. He dropped his jacket over the back of the couch and walked to the fridge. Opening the door, Cooper grabbed a beer and opened it, drinking down nearly half of it at once.

Setting the beer on the counter, Cooper glared across the small space to where Alec sat. "What do you want, Alec?"

"You know what I want, Coop."

Cooper shook his head. "I'm not going to have this conversation with you." No way, no how! He finished off the beer in his hand and reached back into the fridge for another one. This would need a lot of alcohol. He was considering going for the stronger stuff in the bottle above the fridge. He just might need it.

He twisted off the cap and tossed it into the garbage bin before taking another swig. Walking back into the living room, Cooper loosened his tie and pulled it free. He tossed it over his jacket. He could feel Alec's eyes on him.

"You need to leave, Alec." Cooper sat down in a chair across from where Alec had settled on the couch. He had to admit, with Alec's sunlight blond hair and bronze skin, the man looked fantastic sitting back against the black leather of Cooper's couch. Alec had always looked good in black leather.

"Not until we talk."

Cooper rolled his eyes. Alec pressed the issue every time they ran into each other. He wanted to talk about their past, the things that had pulled them apart. Cooper just wanted to forget it like he had been trying to do for the last ten years.

"There's nothing to discuss, Alec. You made your choice. You left me without a word, a note, nothing. You just left. I think that pretty much said it all," Cooper said. If Cooper believed that Alec would drop everything if they discussed their past, he'd do it. But he didn't.

Alec stared at him a little too hard; his eyes swept over Cooper's body a little too long. Cooper knew that Alec was still interested. Cooper was, too. Alec had been the love of his life. Still was. Cooper just didn't know if he could allow his heart to be torn apart a second time when Alec decided he wasn't worth it again. The first time had nearly destroyed him.