Home > Leveled (Saints of Denver #0.5)(3)

Leveled (Saints of Denver #0.5)(3)
Author: Jay Crownover

“Uh, okay. Thank you.” I lifted a hand, rubbed it across the back of my neck, suddenly nervous and out of sorts for different reasons than the uncertainty surrounding my future.

“You won’t be thanking me shortly, but I’m happy to do my best to help an officer injured in the line of duty. I can’t make any promises because no matter how hard you try or how badly you want it, the body often has its own agenda and limits. Those limits will win every time, but we can try and I’m optimistic.”

Thank fuck. Finally someone besides me that was optimistic.

I curled my hands into fists on the tops of my thighs to keep from reaching out and grabbing him. I wanted to hold on to this man, this stranger, for a lot of reasons, and only a couple of those reasons had anything to do with the long-awaited words he was saying to me.

“It’s going to be a lot of work. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be frustrating, and the results aren’t a guarantee, but I’ll be there every step of the way and whether we succeed or fail, we do it as a team. That mean you are going to have to trust me and believe that whatever I am asking of you is in your best interest.”

My hands tightened even further as I nodded numbly. I was used to be the one that took care of everything. I was used to being the man in charge, the pillar of strength and support, and even though Royal was my partner at work, I still felt like it was my duty to look out for her, not because she was a woman but because she was my closest friend and I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. I’d never really had anyone looking out for me or my best interest before. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. So I just muttered a weak “okay” and stood to shake his hand when he rose from behind the desk.

There was more than a spark when our palms touched. There was an electrical current that blazed a fiery trail all the way up my injured arm and made my spine tingle at the contact. I held his pale gaze and searched openly for any sign that he felt it, felt something. It was unexplainable and overwhelming, but something was happening between the two of us, and I saw his skin darken slightly and his eyes widen just a fraction. He was better at hiding his response than I was, but I was trained to look for the tiniest changes in expression, and they were there on his handsome face. He was as affected by me as I was by him.

He released my hand and cleared his throat. “I’ll see you on Wednesday. We’ll go through the paces and see exactly where you’re at so we have a baseline to work from. Be ready to sweat.”

I couldn’t hold back the chuckle or the leer that crossed my face. “I don’t mind working up a good sweat.”

I could’ve sworn he blushed, but I didn’t intend to push my luck any further, so I told him I would see him Wednesday and headed for the door. I let my gaze skim over all the awards and degrees he had decorating his shelves and took in the pictures he had decorating the space. I was impressed to see him standing with his arm around Peyton Manning and another where he was with Carmelo Anthony when he still played for the Nuggets. Apparently Lando was a hockey guy, because of all the sports stuff he had on the shelves, most of it was dominated by the Avalanche, and there was more than one picture of him with Patrick Roy and with Gabriel Landeskog, proving he was a longtime fan.

Apparently in this line of work he got to live a fan boy’s dream but what really caught my eye was an obviously personal picture that stood out the most amongst the autographed and flashy memorabilia. It was a picture of a much younger Lando standing next to another boy in his late teens who was wearing a high-school football uniform. Lando was smiling ear to ear, arm wrapped around the padded shoulders of the stiff and obviously uncomfortable dark-haired boy. This wasn’t a fan excited to meet a ball player. These weren’t two buddies excited after a big win. This picture showed a young man proud of his boyfriend. There was obvious affection and pride on the picture of Lando’s face. Both boys were so young and so obviously in love, at least it seemed to me. I could also tell there was something captured in that innocent snapshot that made the dark haired boy uneasy.

Interesting. I couldn’t help but wonder if the extraordinarily handsome football player in the photograph was still in the actual picture, as in Orlando’s life currently.

All of those wayward thoughts took a backseat to the silent thrill that zapped through my entire body at what I considered irrefutable proof that Mr. Fancy-Pants did indeed like boys the same way I did, and we were about to spend a lot of time getting sweaty together on the regular.

Bring it on.

Chapter 2

Lando

A cop.

A big, burly and surly protector of the law and innocent.

A warrior and a fighter. A man that would push and push until he broke and then push some more.

A hero.

Dominic Voss was all of those things and so much more. He was the reason that taking on cases for those that served selflessly, for those that gave their lives to be the first line of defense in a world that was full of really terrible things was something I had to do. I did it in order to balance the scales between making a nice living off the rich and famous, and getting to help people that needed it. I wanted to have purpose. I wanted to help. I genuinely wanted to repair things that were broken. I wanted to help people stop hurting whenever I could.

For every injured hockey player or football player that came into my clinic, I made sure that the cost of their care and rehab would be enough to cover the rehab of at least two disabled veterans or first responders injured in the line of duty. My loyalty was to the health and well-being of the body, not to the wallet attached to it and how fat it may or may not be. Broken bodies came from all walks of life and I firmly believed if I was able to help, then I would.

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