Page 37 of Make You Mine

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No. I’m not a resident in town. I’m staying at a rental. I need help with a contract, though.

The man’s eyes scanned the note, then he wrote again.My name is Joe Garcia, and I’m familiar with some contracts, but I’m a family attorney.

Adriano knew that. He’d looked the office up online—the best rated one within a fifty-mile radius. He knew it was a crapshoot, but he had to try.I’m aware of that. The contract is simple. I need something to ensure that a video that will go up for sale will be the sole financial property of my co-star.

Adriano hadn’t writtenporn, but he saw when the meaning ofvideohit Joe Garcia. A faint sheen of sweat broke out on his brow, and he licked his lips three times before he wrote again.I don’t know how well it would hold up in court.

It will be enough for now. It’s for his peace of mind. I have a personal attorney, and he can sort out something more permanent later.

Joe drummed his fingers on the desk, and Adriano absently touched the wood to feel the rhythm of it.Okay. Can you come back at three? I’ll need legal names, the name of the company that will release the video, and the basic terms of the contract.

Adriano didn’t know why this gave him such a thrill, but he could guess. This would make money. This would make Noah a lot of money, even before other people realized it was Sylent who was starring opposite him. Viewers lapped stuff like this up like it was his actual come. But apart from that, apart from knowing it would pull Noah out of debt and give him something to lean on when his bakery closed, it was also a fuck-you to Xander and Eric. It was double middle fingers to the way they tried to cuckhold him and corner him and take away his ability to do anything without giving over pieces of his work.

As long as he wasn’t getting paid—and he didn’tneedto be paid—they couldn’t touch him. In these videos, he wouldn’t be Sylent. He would be Adriano Moretti. He would be lying with his boyfriend, faces obscured, and his hands would get him off. Over. And over. And over.

Until Noah was free.

The pen flew across the page, and Adriano eventually had it all down. He watched Joe’s eyes move over the names, and when they didn’t flare with any sort of recognition or judgment—at least no more than a normal small-town prude’s would—he felt safe that Noah’s reputation wasn’t being completely tarnished.

“Do you need anything else?” he asked.

Joe jumped at the sound of his voice, and Adriano tried not to scowl as he watched him write again.This should be enough. Leave your number and I can call you when it’s ready.

Adriano read the words, then lifted a brow as he tapped on the wordcall.

With a flush, Joe scribbled it out.Text. Sorry. I’ll text.

Adriano nodded, shook his hand, then got the amount for the meeting and the services, scribbling the number on the check before passing it over. Joe took it and slipped it into his drawer, then showed Adriano to the door.

He was annoyed Joe hadn’t apologized for his secretary, but he was walking on air that things were happening. He felt like a kid again, like a student exploring the dark edges of himself he hadn’t realized were there. But this time, instead of freedom from expectation and family, he was touching the freedom to love. Real and true love, not the bullshit, superficial obligation that had come with Eric.

And God, it was fucking beautiful.

* * *

Once he was donewith the lawyer, it took Adriano only a short while to find a place to rent after he’d gotten someone to reply to his email inquiries. He found several rentals listed, and the one he’d chosen was an eighteenth-century European cottage with a thatched roof and picket fence. It smelled a little stale, and there was a draft coming from somewhere in the house he couldn’t identify, but it was far enough from the historic district that if he wanted to make Noah scream, he wouldn’t have to worry about complaints to the owner or calls to the police.

There were three bedrooms, and they were all very nondescript—a typical bed-and-breakfast-style layout with a poster bed and floral covers. He liked that there were no stairs, and he liked that there was a swing on the back porch, which they could use in the mornings if Noah truly wanted to stay with him for more than just their arrangement.

Jude nipped at his heels as the realtor started reading over the documents, so Adriano motioned that he was heading outside, and he unclipped his baby and let him run off into a short grove of trees to finish his business. The sun was low in the sky—closer to dusk than not—and Noah would be expecting him soon.

Checking his watch, Adriano waited for Jack Garcia—ironically enough the brother of the lawyer who was helping him with the contract—to get the rental agreement sorted out. Adriano paid with his credit card, and he knew his accountant would eventually take notice, but so far, he’d done well in avoiding messages except from his lawyer, which had so far amounted to nothing.

He knew the situation would come to a head, but he also knew if he was forced to take this to litigation, he’d be tied up for months. He would deal with it—happily—if it meant spending more time with Noah. They had so much to learn about each other, and he was looking forward to it for the first time in…maybe ever. And that was a blow.

Adriano was due to spend the night over at Noah’s. He didn’t entirely understand the whole Shabbat thing, though he’d spent an hour on his phone looking up the rituals, and it seemed needlessly complicated. The last religious thing he’d ever participated in was his cousin’s baptism, which had been an eternally long mass, then a garden party at his aunt’s, which went late into the night. It had devolved from tea and watercress sandwiches to his mom throwing together pasta and everyone drinking out his uncle’s wine cellar.

Apart from the big holidays, weddings, and confirmations, his family didn’t do much in the way of God or belief. The idea that Noah was so dedicated to his faith, that he lived every day in constant adherence to it—at least as much as he could—was fascinating. It was also a little bit sexy, Adriano thought. Noah was nervous, and he was anxious, but beneath that was an underlying current of intense passion.

It ripped through him at any given moment, at any brush of Adriano’s hands or whisper of his voice. And as much as Adriano wanted to believe it was all him—and he would take credit for some—he knew so much of it was just Noah. It was just the pieces of him he’d been neglecting for so long that still existed. Those pieces were clawing their way out now, though, and Adriano was overwhelmed by the beauty of it. Watching Noah fall apart, and more than that, watching him give in to the freedom of losing control…There were no words to describe it in either of his languages.

Jude came trotting back after a moment, and Adriano lifted him to his face, rubbing his nose through soft fur. He felt the pup’s chest vibrate with his little bark and pulled back for a few kisses. He knew he was a bit of a diva, knew he was a spoiled pain-in-the-ass, sort-of-rich actor with his pocket dog and sports car. He had never been ashamed of it, but now he felt like maybe he was something a little more. He’d be seeing his lover soon—hislover—and God how that thrilled him.

When Adriano and Jude walked back in, Jack was finished with the lease agreement and tucked the check away in his pocket before handing off the keys. Adriano had a feeling once Jack had looked him up, he hadn’t bothered with his references. Or, if he had, it was simply to say he was able to speak to a few of the top adult-film stars in the industry. Adriano would unashamedly use whatever he could to get his way. He wanted this for Noah. This wasn’t just for himself.

Tucking the key for the lock of their new sanctuary into his pocket, Adriano got into the car and shot Noah a text, letting him know he was on his way. He’d been instructed to bring dinner—something that didn’t mix dairy or meat and no pork. That was easier said than done when his first instinct was a creamy carbonara or even a pizza. But there was an Israeli restaurant on the outskirts of town that had a kosher claim on their website, and he loaded up on shawarma and falafel and couscous.

The spices infiltrated his car, and Jude looked far too interested but rode obediently on the edge of the passenger seat, only perking up when Adriano pulled into the spot near Noah’s car and turned the engine off. He probably had too much with him, but for now he grabbed the food, the dog, and Jude’s little suitcase with all his things.