Caution: this story is not meant to stand alone. The Beyond Happily Ever After stories are vignettes and outtakes showing the O’Kanes in their daily lives, in between the adventures and often after their happy endings. These stories were written exclusively for readers and fans of the series, and will probably not make very much sense to anyone not familiar with the characters.
There are a lot of different ways to take care of the people you claimed as your own. In this short story, Cruz has a surprise for Ace that results in a road trip, a hot night with Rachel, and a new hope for their future.
Length: 6,300 words
Characters: Ace, Cruz & Rachel
Timeline: Set between Beyond Innocence and Beyond Ruin.
Ace had never been more than a dozen miles past the outer boundaries of the sectors before. Hell, he’d rarely been outside of Sector Four, except for those tense, uncomfortable years when his job had been to charm the panties off the rich ladies in Eden.
They’d left the sectors behind hours ago. Eden wasn’t even visible in the rearview mirror—though that probably wasn’t distance. No, the only goddamn thing in their rear view was a string of almost identical giant hills and baby mountains, but Cruz had been maneuvering around and between them like he had a map lasered on the backs of his eyelids.
“We’re getting close,” Cruz murmured as he nodded ahead of them. The mountains gave way to something more familiar on their left—abandoned buildings with caved-in ceilings and trees growing through them. Bent signs leaned precariously next to the cracked road, too rusted to give a hint about where they were or where they were going.
“Close to where, though?” Rachel leaned forward from the back seat, then braced one hand on Ace’s shoulder and climbed over to settle between them. “You haven’t told us anything.”
Cruz’s lips twitched. “That’s how surprises work.”
Ace shifted to make room for Rachel and then ruined it by dragging her close to his side. “I think he’s developing a sense of humor, Rae.”
“An evil one,” she agreed. She nudged Cruz’s thigh with her knee, then traced one of the tattoos flowing down his arm with her thumb. “At least give us a hint. Surprises work that way, too.”
If anything was likely to get him to open up, it was Rachel giving him big eyes and coaxing touches. But Cruz’s smile only grew as he steered the car around a giant crack in the road. “I’m taking you to a ghost town.”
Ace snorted and jerked his thumb toward the window, where the size of the abandoned buildings had gone from one and two stories to four and five. “That’s not a hint. We’re already in one.”
And it was true. Cars sat abandoned and rusted out in some of the lots, but most were stripped bare, with tires and even doors missing. Windows were shattered, the strewn glass catching the slanting afternoon light as Cruz wove them deeper and deeper into town.
Rachel stared. “It’s worse than Three ever was.”
“Eden’s fault.” Cruz turned off the wide street onto a narrower side road cluttered with garbage and more shattered glass. “The city that used to be here depended on water from a river, but the Base diverted it right after the Flares in order to irrigate the communes. Some people held on here for five, even ten years. But now it’s just scavengers.”
That sounded like Eden, all right. Use whatever they could get their hands on, and fuck whoever else needed it. Ace cuddled Rachel a little closer just to make himself feel better.
And then he teased Cruz, because that made him feel better, too. “Are we there yet?”
“Are we there yet?”
Cruz made that hot-as-fuck little frustrated growly noise, and Ace hid a smile against Rachel’s hair. She laughed, a muffled noise that she covered with a cough.
Then her hand fell on his knee, slid up his thigh. “Behave,” she whispered.
“Why?” Ace retorted, covering her hand and inching it higher. That might get their lover moving—Cruz hated not being able to watch when Rachel got her fingers around his dick. “He loves growling at me.”
“Mm-hmm.” She stilled her hand. “But he needs to concentrate on driving.”
“It’ll be worth the wait,” Cruz murmured. Then, because he was getting evil, he laid his arm across Rachel’s shoulders and curled his fingers around the back of Ace’s neck. Not rough, but firm, and his thumb made little circles on Ace’s skin that held all kinds of filthy promise.
Didn’t mean he had to give in easy. Especially with Rachel’s fingers so close to his dick, which was already the kind of hard that made him less interested in ghost towns and surprises and more interested in how roomy the back seat of their borrowed car was—or how much fun they could have in the tight quarters.
Before he could suggest they find out, Cruz steered the car around another block onto an open street lined by houses instead of businesses—or maybe houses that had been businesses, as picturesque as any nostalgic artwork featuring pre-Flare suburbs and their too-perfect Main Streets.
Of course, the crap art Eden churned out glorifying the good old days didn’t have ivy growing up over the roofs or trees poking through living room windows, but that had always been the ugly truth of those too-perfect neighborhoods—how quickly they went to hell when shit got real.
Cruz passed a few before turning into a parking lot in front of a towering gray building that looked like it had been designed by an architect tripping on some of Five’s best drugs. Pieces were crammed together at odd angles he could only assume were meant to be artistic, and he couldn’t tell which of the jagged gaps in the upper floors were dramatic embellishment and which were straight up broken off by wind and rain.
Cruz parked the car in front of a massive steel door and released Ace. “Wait here.”
He slipped from the car, and Ace frowned as he watched him pull a key from his pocket and set to work on a set of chains. “I give up. What the hell can be in there?”
Rachel eyed him solemnly, her eyes twinkling. “Our surprise, I’m guessing.”
“Brat.” He kissed her nose. And only her nose, even with Cruz’s unspoken promise thrumming in his veins. Because it would be so much better when it was all three of them. “He’s gonna be so smug that we didn’t figure it out.”
But Cruz wasn’t smug when he returned to the car. The steel doors had given way to a steep decline into a cavernous parking garage, and he was all business as he navigated the empty space, the car’s headlights bouncing off bare concrete.
Even worse. Smug Cruz was hot. All-Business Cruz was a goddamn volcano of dirty, sexy danger. And both Ace and Rachel were helpless when he parked and started prowling around, locking up and double-checking the empty guard room, every movement swift and efficient, a soldier assessing his surroundings with obsessive thoroughness.
Ace imagined it might get old someday. When they were seventy-five, maybe. Or already dead.
When Cruz stalked back toward them, Ace adjusted his estimate. It would take a few centuries in hell before Lorenzo Cruz stopped turning him the fuck on when his growly, protective warrior instincts were running hot.
“Upstairs,” was all he said, but he smiled at Ace before taking Rachel’s hand.
Rachel trailed her fingers over the chipped white paint as they made their way up the stairs to the main level. But her eyes went wide and she gasped as she opened the door.
They were in a huge lobby filled with sculptures. A fucking maze of sculptures under a drooping banner with fading letters that declared, SCULPTURE: A CELEBRATION OF FIVE CENTURIES. Marble busts gave way to fantastical creations of welded iron, which bled into found-object masterpieces made from bottle caps and random bits of pre-Flare tech.
Each had a dusty card crediting the artist and describing the piece, which was when it hit Ace with a swiftness that stole his breath: he was in an art museum. An honest-to-God pre-Flare museum full of art—not the stilted, soulless bullshit popular in Eden, but pieces crafted in the unbroken world that had spawned his own, by artists hundreds of years dead and dozens of years forgotten.
Cruz’s surprise. Not for them, whatever he’d said. For Ace, because this was as close as a sector brat artist could come to a religious experience.
For the first time in his life, Ace was utterly fucking speechless.
“It’s beautiful,” Rachel murmured. And that word was probably enough for her, for most people. Art could make them feel all sorts of things, but mostly it was nice to look at.
It didn’t steal their breath, not like this.
Rachel was already wandering toward a curved, sloping piece carved out of solid wood, but Ace couldn’t get his feet to move. There was so much of it here, with more doors on either side of the lobby, and how many floors above them? The sun had been past its zenith when they’d come in. That gave them a few hours, at most, before they had to head back to the sectors.
A few hours to take in a lifetime’s worth of art. How the fuck did he choose? Where did he start?
“Shh.” Cruz slid his arms around his waist, his chest hot against Ace’s back. “Take a breath, lover.”
Guilt crashed in on him, swift and mean. Cruz had offered him a magical present, and Ace was rewarding him with a panic attack. “It’s amazing. It’s the best surprise in the world, man. I just—”
“I know.” Just that, but the knowing warmth said more. It said I know you, a sentiment proven by the words that followed, whispered against Ace’s ear. “I arranged things with Dallas already. You can explore for as long as you want. We have dinner and a cozy place to sleep upstairs.” His voice dropped to a suggestive rumble. “Even flashlights if you want to stare at art all night long.”
So, he was offering Ace the impossible choice between art and dirty hot sex. Nah, who was he kidding? He was Ace fucking Santana. He was going to get both.
Cruz hadn’t been exaggerating—their bed for the night was damn cozy.
The top floor of the museum had a damn-near panoramic view of the distant mountains and the setting sun through what Ace had assumed to be miraculously unbroken windows. It had turned out to be some sort of tough-as-shit polycarbonate that would probably survive the next couple of apocalypses intact.
The tough-as-shit part was probably what soothed Cruz about the relative security. He hadn’t taken chances with anything else. The doors were barricaded and probably booby-trapped, and Cruz had unloaded a small armory of weapons onto one of the tables before sitting down to share their picnic dinner.
The security was all Cruz. The cozy part—Ace detected a specific flair in the nest of pilfered blankets piled high on a sturdy mattress. Cruz’s flashlights and glowstrips had been replaced by candles, an entire damn table of them that reflected off the windows and created a second galaxy of flickering stars. Not to mention their dinner basket, which had been filled with some of Lili’s most decadent, sumptuous specialties.
Ace would bet his favorite paint collection that Lex had been here, or at least acted as co-conspirator.
Rachel peered over at the painting he’d taken from downstairs and propped up against the wall. She nibbled the corner of a fluffy pastry stuffed with cheese and seasoned chicken as she tilted her head, squinted, then finally traced her fingertips lightly over the rough surface. “I like it, but I think I prefer the one with all the little dots.”
“It’s a technique called pointillism,” Ace supplied, then washed his own pastry down with the rest of his wine. That was a Lex touch too, he’d wager, and it was fair enough. If there was any time to be sipping Sector One’s finest vintage, it was after scoring your very own Monet. “Not a bad metaphor for the O’Kanes, you know. All those little dots add up to something amazing when you take a step back.”
Cruz leaned forward to refill his glass. “We could take both of them with us, you know. There’s room in the car.”
“Mmm, let’s leave the Seurat.” Rachel grinned wickedly. “For next time.”
No one admitted aloud that there might not be a next time. Tensions with Eden grew daily, diminishing the chances for the three of them to slip away. Tonight, by silent agreement, they were living in a bubble. A glorious, art-filled bubble of wine and lazy smiles and slow touches and an inevitable naked tangle of bodies.
They weren’t talking about the tablets they’d taken with their dinner, either. The third week in each blister pack, and any dose could count. The fertility drugs were their secret, just the three of them, because he and Rachel remembered the way people had watched Amira and Flash, the well-meaning but high-pressure attention that risked turning something joyful into potential failure.
Even though they weren’t talking about it, it was there. Beneath every smile, every touch. A heat he hadn’t expected, because babies had barely been a thing in his life until Hana and her adorable curly hair and her huge brown eyes and the way Rachel’s face melted with yearning when Hana fell asleep in her arms.
Ace wanted a damn baby. Their baby, with his or Cruz’s dark hair and Rachel’s impossible-to-describe eyes, and they could spend years arguing over whether they were hazel or gray or blue or green. A baby who would grow up as safe and protected as Hana, with dozens of aunts and uncles who’d storm castles and wage wars to make sure lost and orphan and unloved were never words that applied.
Rachel met his gaze, and her throat worked as she swallowed. “What’s that look for?”
Ace held out his glass of wine. “Thinking about how we’re going to keep busy until sunrise.”
She unscrewed the cap from her bottle of water and gave him an arch look. “Maybe I’m the one with the big plans tonight. All sorts of things I could do to you two.”
Cruz dropped a hand to Ace’s shoulder, his thumb rubbing up the back of Ace’s neck, a reminder of all those unspoken, unfulfilled promises from earlier. “I have a few ideas…but I can be flexible.”
Like hell. Once Cruz got himself focused on something, nothing could sway him from his course. It was part of his charm. “He’s lying, angel. We can have all the plans in the world and we’re still gonna end up doing whatever he tells us to do.”
Her eyes gleamed. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“If I thought it was a bad thing I—”
Cruz gripped the back of his neck harder. “If you don’t have anything filthy to say, do something more productive with your mouth.”
The delighted glee in Rachel’s eyes matched Ace’s own smug satisfaction. Cruz had taken his sweet time embracing all the demanding dominance inside him, but he’d become a star fucking pupil. No more shame, no more insecurity—just the easy give and take between three people who never got bored with unwrapping the many layers of each other’s fantasies.
“You heard him, angel.” Ace set aside his glass and extended his hand, his own command softer. Absolute control might be Cruz’s deal, not his, but he could still appreciate Rachel’s sweet obedience. “Get over here so I can be filthy with my mouth.”
She crawled to him, her water bottle abandoned. Forgotten. She stopped in front of him, then wrapped her arms around his neck and slid into his lap. The first brush of her lips was like wildfire, raging through his mind and burning away thoughts of fertility drugs and precious art.
When Rachel or Cruz touched him, it didn’t matter if they were alone in an art museum or in the middle of an already-in-progress raging orgy. For the first few moments it was just them. Nothing else, no one else.
Rachel and Ace and Cruz. The only miraculous work of art that would ever matter.
He wound his fingers into Rachel’s hair and tilted his head, teasing her lips until she parted for him. Cruz’s grip on his neck tightened, and warm breath brushed his cheek. Ace tried to pull back, to turn them both into a three-way kiss, but Cruz had other plans.
He seized Ace’s mouth. Conquered it. A hot, deep kiss from a man who would never be ashamed again, and Ace was suddenly sure he knew what was coming next—so sure that his body tightened in sheer, wild lust.
Cruz pulled back, Ace’s lower lip caught between his teeth for a heart-pounding moment before he kept going. To Rachel’s jaw, to her ear, and Ace eased back just enough to watch her face as Cruz whispered, “Tonight, Rachel. Are you ready?”
Her eyes widened as a shudder wracked her. “Tonight?”
The anticipation in her eyes was only transcended by the yearning, and Ace couldn’t blame her. She’d been begging Cruz for weeks, but he’d taken his time preparing her, progressing with implacable patience and an absolute refusal to rush. Some things Cruz would bend on, but being sure Rachel could handle what they were giving to her?
In that, he and Cruz would always be on the same fucking page.
“Tonight,” Cruz replied, his voice a low, seductive rumble that turned his next words into something straight up obscene. “Tonight, you can have both our cocks in your pussy at the same time. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
Her breathing quickened, her chest rising and falling a little faster with each passing heartbeat. “I want everything you’ll give me.”
Cruz tilted his head to look at him, and Ace knew what his job was. He gripped Rachel’s chin and shook his head. “Our soldier-man is precise, Rae. Be a sweet girl and tell him what you want in your pussy.”
“I want your—” She licked her lips. “Your cocks. I want you to fuck me at the same time.”
Sweet Jesus, he would never get used this. How her cheeks flushed and her voice trembled when she put her fantasies into words. Her nervousness hadn’t diminished, only shifted focus. In the earliest days she’d been uncertain, embarrassed of the things she wanted, unsure if they’d want them too.
Now she knew they’d give her anything she asked for. Her shaking was the good kind of nerves, all mixed up with anticipation and growing arousal. And when they got her burning hot enough, all those dirty words would spill effortlessly from her tongue.
That was always when Ace knew they had her.
Cruz slipped his hands under her shirt to guide it up. Ace released her and tore his own shirt over his head, barely having the presence of mind to toss it away from the candles. Cruz was more methodical, setting her shirt aside before smoothing her disheveled hair back into place. “Stand up, sweetheart.”
She was trembling when she rose. The candlelight cast her face into dark shadow even as it gleamed off her skin and glinted off the jeweled piercings in both of her nipples. Cruz began unlacing her boots, still the methodical man on a mission. But for a moment Ace could only stare, committing the moment to memory with feverish desperation. Because this was art, too. Her curves and dips, the way light and shadow played with each one. She was rising out of darkness and disappearing into it, as ethereal and otherworldly as the angel he’d tattooed on her skin.
Ace lifted his fingers, followed the outlines of the angel’s fluttering dress and silvery wings, and remembered—how she’d writhed, screamed, how she had come for them. He’d had to finish the tattoo another day, because when Rachel got hot and trembly and needy, he’d would dive out of a moving car if it meant getting to her, getting in her.
“That was the first time,” Cruz murmured, his fingers brushing Ace’s before moving to Rachel’s zipper. “The first time we were both inside you.”
“I remember.” Her voice was shaking now too, the finest quiver of lust and longing. “It still didn’t seem real, that I could reach for either of you and touch you instead of grabbing on to nothing.”
Ace kissed her side, tracing the tattoo with his tongue before rocking up to his knees. Her piercings beckoned, glittering in the candlelight, and he licked the tip of one nipple. “Grab on to us, angel.”
Cruz urged her pants down her legs, and she braced her hands on Ace’s shoulders as she stepped free of the denim. Her head fell back as Cruz slid his hands back up her legs, and she was biting her lip by the time he hooked his fingers in her panties and peeled them off.
When she was naked, gloriously naked, Cruz rose and circled her, his fingertips dragging up her arm to linger on her elbow. That was all the prompting it took. Still breathing unsteadily, Rachel folded her arms behind her back, eagerly obedient to Cruz’s smallest gesture.
Not that Ace blamed her.
Cruz tugged Rachel back against his body, trapping her there with one big hand splayed across her abdomen. He stroked the other hand up her body and stared at Ace over her shoulder. “Pants, Ace. Now.”
Ace had his belt unbuckled before the last word faded.
Rachel made a soft noise—of need, of pleasure, of supplication—as Cruz kissed her neck and teased her nipples. He tugged and twisted the metal rings that pierced the taut tips, toying with her until goosebumps rose on her bare flesh.
Ace fumbled his boots off as Cruz’s voice twined around both of them. “Look at him. He wants to touch you so badly, he’s shaking.”
“I know the feeling.” Rachel inhaled sharply. “Let me?”
“Soon,” Cruz promised, tilting her head up so he could kiss her.
Oh, that was distracting as hell, too. Another work of art, the sheer perfection of them melding together. The contrast of hard muscles against soft curves, the way Rachel’s neck stretched into a vulnerable arc as Cruz held her chin and bent to kiss her. It would take Ace weeks to get the shape of his fingers just right, to capture the essence of Cruz—strong, firm, demanding. Tender, gentle, protective.
Ace kicked free of his jeans, his cock so hard it ached, his heart captivated.
Cruz broke the kiss with a groan and turned all that strong, firm demand toward him. “Lie down.”
Ace stretched out on the blankets, and he knew exactly where they were going now. He’d helped shape the filthier twists and turns of Cruz’s mind, after all. He’d coaxed him down all those dark alleys, convinced him to embrace his desires. And it was fucking fun to sprawl back on the mattress and let it play out—
“Go,” Cruz murmured, urging Rachel down to her knees. “You can take him as deep as you want, just don’t let him come.”
—especially when letting it play out meant Rachel crawling across the floor, her lips parted, her eyes sparking with mischief. “Jeez, Cruz. A Monet and a blowjob. Was I a very good boy?”
Cruz tried not to laugh, but Ace knew that growling sound meant victory. “Almost never.”
“You’re something better.” Rachel edged slowly toward him. “You’re Ace.” Her palms brushed his upper thighs. “You’re ours.”
Two more words he’d never get over. He had scars on his side, proof of how close he’d come to being no one’s. Nothing. But even before his brush with death, he’d still been too stupid to see what was standing in front of him. Two people—two—who loved him too much to let him go.
A hundred Monets had nothing on that.
Ace let himself reach for Rachel. Her hair was silk beneath his fingers, golden honey in the candlelight and so familiar curled around his fist. He loved the way she sucked in a quick breath when he tightened his grip. “I’m yours, angel. What are you going to do with me?”
“That’s easy.” She wrapped her fingers around his cock, a gentle caress that turned into a firm squeeze as she reached the base. “I’m going to love you.”
“Cheater,” he whispered, tugging on her hair. “How am I supposed to chide you for not being filthy when you’re saying shit like that?”
She dipped her head to hide a smile, then kept going until her lips grazed the head of his dick. “You’re not,” she whispered, her warm breath feathering over him. “You just…take me the way that I am.”
The same way she took him, metaphorically and literally, deliciously, engulfing the first few inches of his cock in wetness and warmth. He let his head drop back to the cushions, only vaguely aware of Cruz as he moved around them, readying the next stages of a plan Ace couldn’t bring himself to think too much about with Rachel sucking his dick.
Then she cried out around him, the sound vibrating through him as she squirmed and sucked harder.
He forced his eyes open and found Cruz kneeling behind Rachel, gripping her hip with one hand. Ace knew where the other was—inside her, those big, strong fingers working her into a frenzy. She’d be slick already, wet, but that wouldn’t be enough for Cruz. Not tonight. He’d make sure his fingers were slippery with whatever lube he’d brought—probably their favorite, the kind that made everything warm and tingly and always left Rachel begging for it, even when she already had a cock in her ass and three fingers in her pussy.
Gripping the base of his dick, Ace dragged Rachel up until her lips could barely reach the head. “How do you want it tonight, Rae? Give or take?”
She arched with a moan, struggling against the grip they both had on her—but only in search of more. “Take it,” she pleaded. “Fuck my face, whatever you want. I need—” Her voice hitched, broke. “I need to make you feel this good.”
“Shh.” He tugged at her hair again, hard enough to trigger a moan. “You make me feel good just like this, baby. Desperate and begging, squirming on Cruz’s fingers. Willing to take anything or nothing.” On any other night, he’d test them both, stretching his own patience to the breaking point because she meant it—whatever he wanted—and sometimes he wanted to be mean to them both so that nice tasted that much sweeter.
But not tonight. Tonight, he had no patience—and nothing would get her hotter than a taste of helplessness. So he forced her head down, just a few inches, easy enough to let her brace herself.
Then he thrust up into her mouth.
She took him readily, swallowing when she might have gagged or choked. She didn’t pull back, and she didn’t lunge for more. Not because she didn’t want it—she touched his hand, silently encouraging—but because this was her gift to him.
Ace ground his teeth together and reminded himself not to come.
Challenge enough, and it got even harder when Cruz flexed his arm and twisted his fingers, sending a shock through Rachel’s whole body. Ace thrust up again, deeper, shuddering as she swallowed him, and held her there until her fingers trembled over his.
Overwhelmed, that’s how she’d feel. That’s how they needed her to feel. He met Cruz’s eyes and caught his rhythm, hauling Rachel’s head up so she could gasp in a breath just as Cruz thrust his fingers forward again.
She bit off a sharp cry, her eyes shut tight against the pleasure that rocked her. It was always this way on the nights when she came the hardest—a sudden, clenching orgasm followed by hours and hours of sensitivity, the kind where she could come again in a heartbeat if you breathed on her just right.
Oh yeah, Cruz was methodical. And fucking brilliant.
Rachel was still shaking, and Ace gave her hair one last tug as he urged her up his body. Cruz helped, maneuvering her smoothly as Ace coaxed her to rest her cheek against his chest.
She ended up with her knees on either side of his hips and her ass in the air, giving Ace a breathtaking view of Cruz. He’d discarded his shirt at some point, and the candlelight loved him. Bronzed skin, vivid ink, endless flexing muscles for the shadows to flirt with—he was a fucking god. Vengeful with everyone else, but never with them.
He retrieved the bottle of lube and spilled more of it on his fingers while Ace stroked a soothing path down Rachel’s spine. “Hold on to me, angel, because he’s gonna make you fly.”
She was still panting, and her fingers bit into his arms a second before her teeth scored his chest. “It’s never enough. Twenty-four fucking hours a day, and it wouldn’t be enough.”
Truer fucking words.
Cruz held Rachel’s hip as his fingers pressed against her again—three this time. “If it’s too much, you tell us you need to slow down, all right?”
“Don’t,” she begged.
Ace caught her hand and twined their fingers together. “He won’t, Rae, not unless you ask him to. But if you want him to keep going, you have to promise him this.”
“I know.” She took a shuddering breath. “I promise.”
“Good girl,” Ace murmured, stroking her spine again. She had flowers there, tattoos he’d designed and etched into her skin and had traced with his mouth and fingertips so many times he could do it without looking.
He calmed her as Cruz resumed his slow, purposeful thrusts, and when that wasn’t enough, he wrapped both arms around her to hold her still as she came again. Hot, fast, hard. Even if she hadn’t been bucking against him, Ace would have known it from the way Cruz hissed, from the way his jaw clenched and his eyes darkened.
When Cruz worked a fourth finger into her, Rachel went tense and lifted her head. Her eyes were glazed with pleasure, and her perfect, swollen lips formed a word she couldn’t quite manage to voice.
Ace framed her face with her hands. She was ready, but Cruz would take no chances. “Stay with me, angel. Look at me. You’re so close.”
She focused on him, but only for a moment before another wave swept her away. Her choked noise was one of ecstasy shot through with pure, absolute submission, a wordless cry that meant they’d pushed her beyond all her limits…and she still craved whatever they’d give her next.
Cruz reached for Ace’s dick, his slick fingers stroking up the shaft until it was his turn choke on a groan. Just as quickly, the delicious caress vanished, and Ace pressed a thumb to Rachel’s parted lips as Cruz moved her hips into place. “Come on, sweetheart.”
She rocked down before the words had all left his mouth. Seeking and desperate and wet, so wet that she took him in one endless, driving jolt.
“Fuck—” It was all Ace could do to stay still, not to meet her thrust, fuck up into her until the pleasure already blazing through him ignited. And she sure as hell wasn’t waiting. Her hips twisted over his, fighting Cruz’s grip.
Ace grabbed her ass and pinned her in place, her hips snug against his, his cock as deep as it could go. “Steady, angel. Almost there.”
She stilled against him. Ace kept murmuring to her, soothing, encouraging, promises he could barely remember because he knew what was coming.
It was heaven when it did. And hell. Cruz positioned the head of his cock as Ace lifted Rachel’s hips. She whimpered when Cruz pressed forward, and Ace shut his eyes and told himself to be a rock, to be firm and in control, to ignore how fucking hot it was to feel Cruz’s cock rubbing against his as he worked deeper—
And he definitely couldn’t imagine how it looked. How Rachel looked, sprawled out in blissful pleasure, her ass in the air, her skin flushed, her pussy eagerly taking both of them because there was no fucking way they didn’t fit together.
If he imagined that, he’d come before Cruz got all the way inside her.
Her nails raked Ace’s shoulders as she tried to brace herself, not against Cruz’s careful, gentle movements, but against ravenous sensation. “Oh, God. God—”
Fucking hell. She was coming again, coming around both of them, and Ace slammed his head back, as if even a goddamn concussion could delay the inevitable at this point. “Christ, Rae, you feel—”
Words failed him. The filthy ones always did when he needed them most. But Cruz curled his fingers around Rachel’s shoulder, lifting and steadying her as he began his slow, rocking thrusts, and he said the only word that mattered. “Perfect.”
She whimpered, trapped by the position, by Cruz’s control—and set free by the care he took with her.
With both of them.
The muscles in Cruz’s arm flexed, making the inked dragons writhe in the candlelight, and Ace would have laughed with the joy of it if only he could have stopped moaning. A dragon to keep us safe—and fuck our everloving brains out.
It couldn’t last forever. Rachel was swaying above him and even Cruz’s stamina wasn’t limitless. But if there was ever a moment to wallow in forever it was right now, when they were so close that every shift, every squirm, every breath shuddered through all three of them.
Then Rachel’s pussy clenched again, and Ace didn’t care about moments. He cared about tight, irresistible heat and the slide of Cruz’s dick against his, and getting Rachel off one last time so they could join her. “Come on, angel. Come all over us.”
She cried out. Nothing as piercing as a scream, but something lower. More visceral. Her body quaked above his, around his, and Ace had mere seconds to gloat that Cruz lost it first. He shuddered and drove into her with a growl hot enough to bring a weaker man to his knees.
Ace was already flat on his back. So he clutched Rachel close and lost himself in her.
It was good. Teeth-grinding, toe-curling, knees-don’t-fucking-work-anymore good. But the pleasure wasn’t the part that had him groaning into her hair as he came inside her with a shudder.
As they both came inside her.
It would happen, and soon. Ace didn’t care which of them knocked Rachel up because the baby would be theirs, their own personal fucking miracle. The three of them were good at miracles. They were the rock stars of miracles. Crashing together, staying together, loving hard enough to make it work even when life sucked.
But as they panted together, Rachel a sweet, boneless weight against his chest and Cruz leaning over them both, Ace thought it had to be tonight.
It felt like a night for miracles.
Rachel pushed against his chest. “We’ll crush you.”
Ace laughed hoarsely. “Sounds good to me. I’m not moving anyway.”
“Lazy,” Cruz grumbled, but he was already easing back. They all hissed as he slipped away, and Ace knew Rachel had to be sore—or would be when the endorphins faded.
When Cruz was gone, Ace rolled to his side and settled Rachel in the nest of blankets. “Doing okay?”
“Mmm.” She smiled slowly, then opened her eyes the same way. “Do you have to ask?”
“Always,” he answered solemnly. And he did, for the same reason Cruz was making one last check of the doors before returning to their bed with a gun to set within reach. Because they took of each other in the ways they knew best.
Rachel’s smile widened. “I feel…like I could stay right here forever.”
Cruz settled in on her other side and dragged a blanket over them. “Careful what you wish for, darling. Ace hasn’t made it to the gift shop yet. Once he does, he may never leave.”
“Wait a minute.” Ace propped himself up on his elbow and frowned. “What’s in the gift shop?”
“See?” Cruz murmured, curling closer to her.
“Cruz, what the hell. What’s in the fucking gift shop?”
Cruz reached over Rachel to tug him back down. “Art supplies. Starter kits full of paint and brushes, some sketch pads and pencils. Lots of stuff no one bothered to loot and everyone else forgot about.”
If his knees had been a little steadier, he’d already be crawling out from under the covers. Paint, real pre-Flare paint, was hard as shit to come by and cost a ton to import. The factories in Eight made paint, but it wasn’t the same. The colors were off, muted and lacking in range, like the end of the world had narrowed the acceptable palette.
Cruz laughed softly. “Settle down, Ace. That’s why I brought a car with a big trunk. We’ll loot tomorrow.”
Rachel threaded her fingers through Cruz’s and pulled his hand to her lips for a soft kiss. “Is there anything you won’t give us?”
He smiled. “Not so far.”
And it was true. Ace relaxed against them, high on satisfaction, anticipation, and the sheer fucking impossibility of mattering so much to Cruz that he’d planned this. All of this—lost artwork and looting and the kind of sweetly obscene sex no one wrote poetry about because when it was that fucking good, you didn’t want to share it.
They’d filled his world with shades of emotion he’d never seen. With colors that shouldn’t exist. He’d been like his pilfered Monet, all angry oranges and reds burning fast and hot, burning out. Life had run him down until those were the only colors he could even see anymore.
They’d given him a goddamn rainbow, and he was going to paint a new world with it. For them.
And for their miracle, whenever it happened.