Toby turned the music up louder, hoping that it would let him focus, push past the ache. The doctor had cleared him to work, to sculpt, so he’d headed to the studio first thing, started cleaning and hauling clay.
Jeannie had called him two weeks ago, letting him know she was moving out. Pregnant. He didn’t think she ever actually had sex, and she was pregnant? Weird. Cool, though, and she’d sounded so excited, so Toby didn’t even fret.
He hadn’t been back to the apartment in even longer than that, Damon insisting he stay while he was under orders not to use his arm.
Right now, the pain burned in his shoulder, the ache deep and throbbing inside him.
His phone rang and he almost didn’t look. Almost. When he did, though, he saw that it was Damon and he was glad he’d checked.
His ass tingled at the sight of his lover’s picture, and he answered quickly. “Hello?”
“Mmm. Hello.” God, Damon could be…slinky when he wanted to.
“Hey.” Toby turned the music down, leaned against the wall.
“Hey. This is your ‘I hope you’re not pushing things too hard’ call.”
“Huh?” He was drenched with sweat, burning, and still not quite focused on the call, on anything that wasn’t his art.
“I’m at the door, Toby. Let me in.”
“Why didn’t you just come in?” Toby headed to the door, opened it.
“It’s your studio and you didn’t hear me knocking.”
Damon turned off his phone and came in, giving him a hug. Toby leaned in, suddenly shaking, exhausted.
“Oh, baby. I had a hunch you’d overdo.” Supporting him, Damon led him over to the one chair his studio boasted.
“I’m fine. Did you see the new piece?”
“No, you’re not fine, but you will be. And no, I didn’t. You were all I saw.”
Toby swayed, beginning to cool off, sweat drying. The real world beginning to come into focus again.
“You stay sitting,” Damon ordered. “I can look at your new piece from here.”
“I may have lost my touch…” What if he had? What if Damon hated the new piece?
Damon snorted. “I highly doubt that.”
“I hope not.” He didn’t think he could bear that. Sculpting was his life, and after he’d gotten shot in the shoulder and hadn’t been able to work… Well, he needed to work, it was as simple as that.
“So tell me about this piece,” Damon demanded.
“It’s for the gallery. It’s called Pain.” It was his shoulder, formed into a bullet. He’d poured it all into the clay.
Damon got up and went over to where he’d been working. “Ouch.”
“Yeah. Yeah, love.” That was it. Ouch. Exactly what he’d been going for.
“You really are an amazing artist,” Damon said softly, still looking at the piece. “I can feel your pain.”
“Yeah? Not too hokey?” Was Damon just being nice? Had he lost his edge?
“There is nothing hokey about the emotion in this piece.” Damon looked over at him, met his gaze. “And I promise I’m not blowing sunshine up your ass, baby.”
Toby took in a jerky breath. Thank God. “Good. Can we go home now?” He found himself close to tears. “I’m really sore and tired.”
“You pushed yourself too hard.” Damon clucked and came over, helping him stand. “And yes, let’s go home.”
What would he do without Damon? He knew he didn’t want to find out. Toby leaned over, kissed Damon’s cheek. Damon turned his head so they were kissing lips to lips. The kiss lingered, then Damon pulled back and they headed out, Damon’s hand warm around his.
“Did it feel good?” Damon asked. “Working?”
“Uh-huh. It doesn’t now, but it did.” Now everything just hurt, but the need to work that had been clawing at him from the inside was gone.
“Good. So maybe you’ll stay home tomorrow and rest, hmm?”
“Maybe. Maybe, yeah.” Just the thought of lifting his arm made him a little sick.
“I’ll tie you to the bed again if I have to.” Damon’s words sounded like a promise.
“Be nice.” He almost offered Damon his wrists.
“I am being very nice. Helpful, even.”
Damon put him in the car, which was parked just out front. He moaned as he sat, his muscles protesting. It wasn’t far, but he wasn’t sure now that he could have walked back to Damon’s place.
Damon came around and leaned over, putting his seatbelt on for him. “There’s some Tylenol in the glove compartment.”
“Thanks.” He took three, hoping they worked. There was a bottle of water in the cup holder, too, and by the time he’d downed half of it following the pills, Damon was pulling into a parking spot behind the Corner Pub.
“Home.” Toby knew he shouldn’t think of this as home, but he did. It was.
“Yeah.” Damon came around and helped him out of the car, taking his good hand and leading him up the back way.
By the time they got up the stairs, he was sweating again and really glad Damon had come when he had. Toby wasn’t sure how he’d have gotten home otherwise. He probably would have crashed at the apartment and he didn’t want to—he wanted to be here with Damon.