Dawn’s Early Light

PsiCorps Volume Two

Xakara

 

Chapter One

Marshal Mackenzie Matthews turned his collar down over his tie and walked to the king-sized bed. “Rise and shine, sunshine, we’re expected downstairs soon.” He sat on the bed in the curve of the other man’s body. “Come along, Marshal Ides. I know it’s early for you, but Evie will not take ‘nocturnal circadian rhythms’ as a reason to be late to a Psi-briefing.” He ran his hand along the length of Kincaid’s immaculate dreadlocks. The scent of tea tree oil shampoo and body wash from last night’s shower wafted up. “There’s food in it for you.” He stood with an affectionate smile. “It’s my turn to make breakfast, if that at all sways your decision to move. It’ll be French toast if you start moving in time.”

“Hmflmah”

“Yes, I don’t speak grumpy-late-riser like I used to.” He slapped the high, round curve of Kincaid’s backside beneath the sheet. “Move it or I’ll let Agent Valin come and wake you.”

Kincaid bolted upright. “I’m up. I’m getting up.” He rubbed at his eyes and scowled at Mackenzie’s reflection in the dresser mirror. “That was mean. You don’t threaten a sleeping man with a pregnant, hormonal telekinetic with an alleged pain kink.”

Mackenzie adjusted his tie. “You’ve known her longer of course, but, to be accurate, I believe it’s a dominance kink, and I’m sure she would have been gentle.”

“Lying to my ass! I’d be sporting a ceiling imprint and full body bruise for sure.”

“There’s arnica gel in the medicine cabinet, it’s great for bruises and more than adequate to keep you going.” Mackenzie smiled. “And you’d be wide-awake which was the point of this exercise, so, as you’d say, it’s all good.”

“Nothing in the scenario of Riley waking me up is all good.” He stretched in a ripple of muscle and an exposure of taut, milk chocolate skin. “Unless of course she’s waking me from the spot beside me and went to sleep satisfied. I can get behind that idea, or to the side, or you know, whatever’s comfortable for her.”

“You may wish to curb such thoughts before we join them for breakfast.”

“Why? It’s not my fault that she’s been doing the whole fertile, Earth Mother Goddess thing, running around in gauzy skirts and dresses with an aversion to underwear and modesty in general.” He threw the covers back. “Do you know how many times I’ve had to transfer agents out to perimeter rotation because they caught her using the outside shower in the courtyard and couldn’t stop staring at her long enough to do their damn job? She might have the hunger and hormones, but she completely lacks any body image issues from being pregnant. Oh and can we just talk about the sexual feedback during every PsiLink? How are Torrin and Sky still upright? No wonder they needed to bring in a handler. No, I don’t buy it. I maintain that she’d be flattered with at least eighty percent of my thoughts right now. I’m a complete perv so admittedly the other twenty is questionable. I’d have to ask.”

He watched Kincaid step out of bed, naked and erect. “Perhaps you should refrain from asking and especially refrain from thinking about that twenty percent too vigorously. Her touch-telepathy instances are progressing to almost daily now. That full body bruise could still be in your future if you’re overheard and she’s not flattered.”

“Naw, that’s okay, the danger excites me.” He hugged Mackenzie from behind. “Besides, there’s arnica gel and you’d rub it all over me, wouldn’t you, Partner?”

“Cease and desist prodding my nether area with your rather willful, and I’m man enough to admit, impressive, protuberance, and go get dressed.”

Kincaid kissed his ear. “Or you can get undressed and guarantee that everyone forgives me for being late to the briefing. They’ll be so happy I got lucky they’ll forget to be mad. Come on, help a brotha out.”

Mackenzie reached back and hugged Kincaid to him. “If we’re late to the briefing then I’ll be late making breakfast and Riley will be very pregnant, very hormonal and very hungry when we arrive.”

“That’s just cold.” He stepped back and slipped from Mackenzie’s embrace. “For that, don’t watch my ass as I leave the room.”

“Never.” He slipped on his gun holster and let his gaze glide over the wing pattern branded into Kincaid’s back down to his ass and watched it disappear into the bathroom.

“I felt that!”

“Of course you did. You’re a very talented Psi, Marshal Ides.”

A snort came from the bathroom. “You don’t know the half of it. Break down and admit you want me already and we can get on with the rest.”

Without an audience to witness it, Mackenzie’s face fell, but his voice held tightly to a smile. “All things in their due time, Marshal.”

“Whatever you say, chief.”

He squared his shoulders, reined in his thoughts and walked to the bathroom doorway. “There’s no need to be like that. I hold you in deep affection.”

“Mmm, hmm.” Kincaid spoke around his toothbrush. “Affection is great, but I was going more for lust. But hey, we can’t all be Quintus.”

Mackenzie stayed silent.

“I know he’s why you’re so chipper this morning. You’re even speaking more like him. I mean Agent Valin, really? I’d love to see you call her that to her face. We’d both need the gel after that.” He caught Mackenzie’s gaze in the mirror. “You spent the entire night with Quintus again until who knows how long, and then you come and get in bed with me to get your cuddle on. It’s sad.”

“Of course, dear, how inconsiderate of me.”

Kincaid rinsed out his mouth. “Don’t ‘dear’ me.”

“No, dear, I won’t, dear.” Mackenzie smiled and followed Kincaid into the walk-in closet. “But you rather surprise me. Doesn’t the expression go: it doesn’t matter where I get my appetite as long as I come home for dinner?”

“That’s just it, Mac. You’re working up an appetite everywhere but no one’s seen you eat. Frankly, we’re starting to worry.” He slipped a leg into his pants. “And by we, I mean me, and by me I really do mean everyone, but I’m not supposed to say anything.” He pulled the charcoal gray jeans up and tucked himself into place. “I’m just looking out for my Partner. I’m not going to even go into our history together, there’s messy complication there and I’m fine with it. Let’s just look at the current facts.

“Ajay’s crush on you is beyond obvious. He’s done everything but rent a billboard and hire a sky-writer to get his message across. I understand the hesitation. He’s young, he feels you saved his life during the shootout last year and he’s Riley’s ward-slash-junior partner. There’s also that little bit about needing direct permission from Riley while she’s still training him, least we throw off the Psi balance. I get it; it would be incredibly awkward to get a permission slip from her, considering things.”

Mackenzie shifted from foot to foot. “Considering what things?”

“Really, that’s how you want to play this? You’ve had this mad flirt-on with Riley since we helped her and Sky set up the Christmas decorations back at the cabin. I know how you’ve felt about her all these years and then suddenly there she was, Christmas miracles were afoot, it was a very Lifetime Movie moment. But with Torrin returning you didn’t even consider going there, which I get, I completely get it. Torrin’s my boy and I would have had an issue if you tried to block him fresh from a coma.”

Mackenzie refused to drop his gaze. He hadn’t done anything wrong but a sliver of guilt wriggled when he remembered those conflicting thoughts about Torrin’s return. Riley and Sky had moved forward with their family after thinking Torrin dead for so long, and then, just as providence conspired to bring Mackenzie into Riley’s district and possibilities opened up, it all changed. The formal assignment to protect a new witness hit his desk, and he learned that Torrin hadn’t died in the shootout but instead spent a four-year coma in the custody of WitSecPsi.

He’d been happy for everyone involved. How could he not be? The devastation of Torrin’s death had echoed through the entire PsiCorps ranks. Every department felt the loss of one of their own to scum like Florini. No, he’d been incredibly happy for everyone, just less so for himself.

Kincaid threaded his favorite belt through the loops of his jeans. “Torrin needed that time with his lovers, and Riley needed to adjust. It was the way it had to be. That said, come on. It’s been six months and there’s some denial going on there. The two of you can’t stop touching each other when you’re in the same room. You orbit each other and don’t function the same if too long passes with you in separate locations. In the entire two years we’ve been Partners, you haven’t smiled as much as you smile in a day spent doing the baby coach thing with Riley. Do you step in and do anything? No, you’ve ruled out anything more because you’re a Pediatrics Psi and she’s a pregnant psychic. You have the whole instant Resonance Point, you’re drawn together because of the babies, she’d say yes because of heightened, impaired, emotional blah, blah, blah, classic Mackenzie stalling. Whatever, it’s not important; we all know there’s more going on there, eventually you’ll get the memo or she’ll make a move you can’t refuse. Whichever happens, I have no input on that fine, fine. What I don’t get is that you’ve been chasing Quintus for six months, and he’s done everything but trip himself to help you catch him. He’s not in training, nor is he pregnant and emotionally compromised, and you have no history together. You’ve got to give me an acceptable excuse. It’s clear that he’s open to it. You’ve got to step up to the plate already. You also have to help me decide on a shirt.”

Mackenzie picked up a tight, blood-red, armored T-shirt that matched his tie. “By the use of ‘plate’, are we still using the eating metaphor or have we switched to baseball? I’m not very versed in sports analogies, but I eat regularly so we might want to stay with that one. Here.”

“You and I are carrying history, Riley is carrying twins. Why are you stalling with Quintus? His hands are empty. I thought last night would for sure seal the deal. Do you know how many shifts I had to switch to keep you two together for six days in a row? Do my efforts mean nothing to you?” He walked to the small jewelry case. “Hoop or bar?”

“Hoop. And all of those extra shifts have been available due to extra assignments, on what?”

Kincaid slipped the hoop through his eyebrow and sucked his teeth. “Independence Baby Watch, I know. Since it’s twins, she’s technically due any day. I do attend the briefings, eventually.”

“He’s in a brand new relationship, Kincaid. He has twins on the way, this trial is taking forever to resolve, it’s a lot on any person, let alone an Empath of his level.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’ve been saying.” He took Mackenzie by the shoulders. “Mac, there’s a great deal going on with him and if he ever needed an intimate outlet to reduce stress, it would be now. You’re all eagerness with zero obligation. The two of you genuinely like each other’s company, you eye-sex each other at every opportunity, your friendship is solid, get on with the naked mambo before someone beats you to it.”

Mackenzie’s throat constricted even as his lips curled up in mirth. “Who do you have in mind?”

The sigh was loud and dramatic. “If you weren’t the senior agent and technically my boss, I’d shake you until your head popped off, or until my arms got tired, whichever came first.”

He leaned in and kissed the griffin tattoo on the side of Kincaid’s neck. “If I weren’t the senior agent and technically your boss, you wouldn’t feel like shaking me because we’d still be in bed doing all those things, whose absence you’ve been lamenting.” He straightened. “Finish getting dressed.” He looked down at Kincaid’s pelvis. “And take care of that before you hurt yourself … or someone else.”

“I figure I’ll save it for Evie, she loves me.”

Mackenzie shied away from the hurt beneath hearing their Handler’s name. “What have I told you about having virtual sex in the conference room over the feed? Everyone has to deal with that later on during their own calls. If you want some, drive out to base camp and do it in person.”

“But she likes when I save her something from my dreams the night before.”

Mackenzie turned away. “You’re fortunate that I’m saving all of you for Evie. It’s the only reason I still keep you alive on the days that your considerable skill and inarguable talents no longer suffice.”

He’d been saving all of Kincaid for their Handler Evelyn for some time. A bond of loss and love is unbreakable and soul-wrenching, and there had been no room for Mackenzie within that bond on their first day or their hundredth or their nine-hundredth. Evelyn simply couldn’t get past the resemblance and come into resonance with him. And in turn, although Mackenzie had stepped into his cousin’s shoes to take Kincaid as a partner, he couldn’t crawl into his cousin’s bed and take Kincaid as a lover. It wasn’t his place and he’d never wanted it to be. Until now.

 

 

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