Hyun bunched Raphael’s hair in his fingers, loving how the soft strands sifted through his fingers.A soft moan escaped, his hips arching off the bed, needing to push his cock deeper into Raphael’s mouth.God, the feel of Raphael’s mouth on him sent him flying, so hot, so deliciously hot—, he tripped, his fingers bunching Raphael’s hair tight as he came into Raphael’s mouth with a soft cry.
When he could think again, he opened his eyes to find Raphael leaning over him, a small smile curving his lips.
“I’m worried you’re going to turn me into a bald man.”
Hyun chuckled, when he realized that his fingers were still tangled in Raphael’s long hair.
“It will be your fault.”
Raphael pressed a hot kiss on his lips, and Hyun moaned when he tasted himself.He turned into Raphael who pulled him into his arms.He rested his head on Raphael’s chest closing his eyes when Raphael held him tight.
Hyun’s fingers tangled in Raphael’s hair, intricate emotions racing through him.How was it possible that in his life, having not fallen for anyone, his heart would then choose this complicated man?
Everything about Raphael was difficult, from his business, his love life, to his family. Hyun worried there was no room for him, for his insignificant love.Still, his heart wanted, dared to wish to keep Raphael.Hyun breathed in Raphael, holding him in.
“I’m sorry about tonight,” Raphael murmured into the silence.“I—I don’t want danger to touch you, Hyun.”
“Call me, Rafa.”
Hyun shifted to find green eyes studying him, caught in the same storm he was.
“Rafa, I was already in danger the first day we met,” Hyun said.“We are in this together.”
Raphael traced his index finger down the bridge of Hyun’s nose.
“Are we?” Raphael murmured, kissing Hyun, ending the kiss with a soft sigh.“I’m the devil, Hyun.You’re the innocent rabbit fallen down a deep hole into my world.I’m worried you’ll not make it back to Mina.”
Hyun chuckled, holding Raphael’s green gaze.
“Have you ever read Alice in Wonderland?Alice fell down the rabbit hole, you crazy man.The rabbit knew where he was going.”
“Are you saying you know where you are going, Little Rabbit?”
“I better know, getting involved with you, Rafa.”Hyun smiled slightly.“Otherwise, I might get burned alive in your world.”
Raphael kissed him then, a punishing kiss that left them both breathless.Hyun then decided that getting lost in desire was preferable to discussing their infinite differences.So, he trailed kisses down Raphael’s chest, biting sensitive nipples, his fingers exploring every inch of Raphael, sinking them both into raging lust, until there was no room for thought.
‘He’s in love with you.’
Raphael looked at his twin brother with a frown.A sense of panic filling him at the thought of Hyun in love with him.He had seen what love could do.Watching Talin and Gabriel, seeing Talin lose Gabriel, then now Talin with Dimitri.He knew what love could do.
Raphael knew he wasn’t living a life conducive to happy endings.If something happened to him—
‘This is the first time I’ve seen you so panicked,’ Gabriel teased.‘Relax, love’s a very contagious disease, the good kind, one you wanna catch, Rafa.You should be happy.Love is very hard to find.’
‘I’m afraid I’ll only hurt him.’
‘I was afraid too,’ Gabriel murmured, perching on the edge of the bed, his fingers trailing over Hyun’s hair.‘Everyday I loved Talin, I was afraid of losing him.I ended up leaving him first, and hurt him instead, but I don’t regret what we had.Talin made me happy.The pain that came with the happiness…well, I imagine it is our family’s curse, Rafa.We have to pay a price for any happiness that comes to us.’
Raphael stared at Gabriel.
How real he looked, sitting on the edge of the bed watching Hyun sleep.Raphael clearly understood this wasn’t possible, but still, Gabriel had always perched on his bed just like that.His hair flowing free around him.So real and vital.
Gabriel’s gaze shifted to the bag on the edge of the bed.The bag Hyun had carried with him.
‘Dad has secrets, Rafa.Don’t be hard on him when you find them.He loves Mum and you, so he does what he can to protect you.’
‘What do you mean?’ Raphael asked, only to have Gabriel lean over, press a soft kiss on Hyun’s forehead, and stand up.
‘I’m glad you have someone to love you,’ Gabriel murmured.
Raphael sat up then, intent on stopping Gabriel from disappearing, but he only managed to dislodge a sleeping Hyun.The dream dissipating into nothingness.Hyun murmured in his sleep, and Raphael pulled the covers over him, not moving until Hyun settled.
Raphael shifted out of bed in careful moves, making sure not to wake Hyun.Naked, he stood and moved to take the bag Hyun had carried with him.Going to sit on the couch by the opposite wall, he set about discovering what Petrov was hiding at the Black Orchid.
The intricate box he retrieved from Hyun’s bag was curious.The top surface of it reminded him of a Chinese puzzle box.The picture on the small movable tiles a mismatched depiction of a green dragon.Raphael frowned, looked at the ring on his small finger.The green dragon etched on the tiles was similar.
Moving Hyun’s bag aside, Raphael got to work on the puzzle, sliding the tiles to make the picture right.He had played with dozens of similar puzzles growing up.His mother liked sending the puzzles as gifts, so he had plenty of practice.A smile tagged his lips when the picture locked into place, and the top slid off the box like a well-oiled machine.
Nicolae Petrov was very interesting, Raphael thought, staring at the open box.Velvet blue fabric covered the contents.Raphael moved the soft fabric out of the way, and frowned at the gold key resting on the bottom.
“What does it open?” Hyun asked, making Raphael look up. Hyun, who was in his boxers, moved to sit beside him.
“When did you wake up?”
“You were so focused on opening the box, you didn’t notice,” Hyun said.“Why would N. Petrov protect a key so hard?”
Raphael took the key, and held it up to the light.
“I don’t know,” Raphael said.Even more curious, why would Lucian ask him not to give back a key to Nicolae.
“All the other vaults had money, why does this one have a key?” Hyun wondered.
Hyun took the box from him, and removed the fabric.Raphael turned over the key on his palm, studying it.It was gold, very plain, but large indicating a big lock.
“Look,” Hyun’s excited tone had Raphael turning to him to see Hyun holding a small note.
Raphael placed the key on the small coffee table before them and took the note.
“‘Deep sea diving in Jeju.’” Raphael read the note.“Guess we have our next location.”
“Jeju Island?” Hyun sighed.“Does that mean we’re heading to another destination?”
“Looks like it,” Raphael murmured.
Raphael’s gaze returned to the key, his thoughts on Gabriel’s comment in the dream.He couldn’t figure out whether it was insight into his father’s truths, or his imagination.After all, Gabriel was dead.
“When was the last time you were in South Korea?” Hyun asked, pulling him out of his thoughts.
“Two years ago, maybe more?It was a short business visit.These past years, my time was tied up in Colston.”
A shadow crossed Hyun’s gaze and those brown eyes slid away from him.
“Did you stay with Talin in Colston?” Hyun asked.
Raphael smiled at the thought of Talin.
“I wouldn’t say we stayed together, though I wanted to.I watched over him,” Raphael said.
Hyun touched the box on the table, and then stood up, heading to the bathroom.Raphael narrowed his gaze as the bathroom door closed.
What had he said?
Talin sneezed, lifting his laptop when his knee knocked the stool with a glass of orange juice.He sneezed again, and shifted back in the armchair to avoid knocking the juice to the floor.
“Someone is talking about you,” Mina said, her tone teasing.
She looked relaxed, lying on the couch, a book on Greek gods resting on her chest to hold her place.She smiled at him and he marveled at sight. She had come to them her gaze haunted.She had nightmares some nights.Talin woke her when they got very bad, and sat with her as she worried about Hyun.
“Well, I hope they are saying good things.”Talin closed his laptop and stood to place it on the coffee table.“Are you hungry?I can make you a sandwich?”
Mina sat up too and placed her book on the coffee table.
“My turn today,” Mina said, giving him a beautiful smile.She stood and stretched her arms above her head.She let out a soft sigh and reached up to hold her hair in a messy ponytail.“You get to taste my cooking.”
Talin followed her to the kitchen, and perched on a stool at the island table, watching Mina rummage in the fridge.She pulled out chicken breasts, white onions, and a homemade tomato sauce Katerina had dropped off.Mina closed the fridge and flashed him a smile.
“I’ve always cooked for Hyun.He has the tendency to rely on ramen when he’s busy, which was all the time.”Mina grinned.“I’d have to show up at his apartment to make sure he doesn’t drown in instant noodle cups.”
Talin smiled, watching her move in his kitchen.He listened to her talk about Hyun, how Hyun took care of her alone after their parents died.How Hyun made sure she went to college and got to do what she wanted.
“Your brother loves you,” Talin said, frowning when she handed him a knife and two onions to peel.“Did Dimitri put you up to this?He also makes me peel onions.”
Mina laughed and started prepping the chicken breasts.
Once again, Talin appreciated her laugh and picked up the knife to peel onions.
“Do you think Raphael will help Hyun?” Mina asked, pausing to look at him, her gaze suddenly so serious.“He will protect him from this Lucian?Do you trust Raphael?”
There was a time that question would have left him filled with doubt.A time when he had thought Raphael had gotten Gabriel killed.Even now, Raphael was a man he dared not define in black and white, but—
“Yes, I trust him.Raphael keeps his promises,” Talin said.“Your brother will be safe.Hyun will come back to you.”
Mina held his gaze, and then she nodded and gave him a small smile.
The front door opened and Talin smiled when Dimitri called out.
“In the kitchen,” Talin said, slicing onions on the chopping board.
Dimitri walked in a few minutes later, looking delicious and disheveled in a sleeveless white t-shirt and jeans.His hair windblown.
“How is the marina?” Talin asked.
“Doing fine,” Dimitri came to Talin’s side, sinking his fingers into Talin’s hair.He tilted Talin’s head up for a short needy kiss.“I got caught up helping Lukas fix Katerina’s car.She needs a new one.I see Mina has you working.”
Talin scowled at him.
“You have her giving me onions to peel.”
Dimitri winked at Mina and rubbed Talin’s back with a soft chuckle.
“What are we having for dinner…?”
Christina placed a plate full of creamy chicken parmesan and broccoli bowties before Hyun.The scent mouthwatering, Hyun picked up his fork and grinned at Christina.
“No wonder he keeps you a secret,” Hyun said.“This looks amazing.”
“You look happier than the last time we spent time together.”Christina perched on the chair across him.“Is your sister well?”
“She’s fine, safe.”
Hyun took a bite of the pasta dish and moaned at the perfect mix of cheese, black pepper, pasta and chicken.
“I might eat three plates of this,” Hyun said, swallowing, his fork already heaped for another bite.“Christina, come live with me.”
Christina laughed and stood up.“I’ll get you some merlot.It goes well with the chicken.”
Hyun took another bite of his food.He couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten a full meal.When was it?Closing his eyes, he swallowed the juicy food and sighed.He truly should appreciate the simple things.
He ate in silence, his gaze on the closed bedroom door.Raphael was in the shower. Hyun had refused to take one with him, opting to come out here on the pretext of starvation.Truth was he hurt.His heart ached because after tasting Raphael, he found he wanted more.Wanted him, all of him, but thinking of Raphael’s expression as he talked of Talin, Hyun sighed.
He took another huge bite, and chewed with purpose.He was the idiot.The idiot that dared love a man like Raphael Yun.What did he expect?
Hyun thanked Christina when she brought him a glass of light merlot.He took a healthy sip, nodding his head when it hit the spot.
He sat back in his chair fifteen minutes later, feeling fortified.Rubbing his stomach, he sipped wine from his glass, and watched Himura working on a laptop at a desk by the windows.The blinds were pulled down on the windows.Hyun had no idea where they were, or what time it was.He made no effort to discover it.
“Are you staring at me because you want to make a decision?”
Himura broke into his thoughts.
“A decision about what?”
“Taking a step away from this mess,” Himura said, glancing at him.“Do you remember our talk back at the house in New York?I warned you about stepping deeper into this life.Back at the Black Orchid, we barely needed your expertise.If you share your program with our staff, we can manage the rest.I’ll help you return to your sister.”
Hyun stared at Himura.
“What are you saying?” Hyun asked.
“I know you made a deal with Master Raphael, but I can help you walk away.Hand over the security program you made, and return to Mina in Colston.We’ll take care of Lucian in our own way, and make sure that you’re both safe.”
Himura shifted in his seat to face him.
“I’m giving you a way out,” Himura said, then glanced at his watch.“We’ll be landing on Jeju Island in three hours.You can catch a flight to Incheon from Jeju, and then head back to the States.Will you do that?”
Hyun’s grip on the glass tightened and he placed it on the table with care.His heart sped up, his gaze going to the closed bedroom door.Leave Raphael?Not see him again?
He let out a soft breath, and turned to Himura.
“I can’t,” Hyun said, shaking his head.“I mean—,”
“End it here,” Himura said, his dark gaze unyielding.“Any further, and you won’t have any choices left.I’ll get you a ticket from Jeju to Incheon, and from there to Colston.You have until we land to think about it.”
Himura’s attention returned to his laptop, and Hyun stared at the wine remaining in his glass.
The bedroom door opened and Hyun looked at Raphael, drinking him in like a starved man.
Raphael dressed in a tailored white shirt and grey slacks.His hair free around his shoulders, as Hyun loved it.Raphael leaned on the doorframe, his gaze on Hyun.
Minutes passed, then the plane shook, a slight tremor, enough to break the spell.Hyun shifted in his chair and Raphael moved away from the door.He was holding the puzzle box and the key.
“I was told there would be two accounts at the Black Orchid.Did you check them both?” Raphael asked, coming to sit in the chair across Hyun.
Raphael took Hyun’s glass from the table and finished the wine.
“I searched through their system.Petrov N., N502, was the only account in the Black Orchid.”
Raphael frowned, studying the key he held.
“Then the key makes sense.Open this account and you get access to the second account with this key,” Raphael mused.“Two accounts.”
“Did you find anything else?” Raphael asked, looking at Hyun with a frown.
Hyun held up the small black leather bound book he’d found at the bottom of his bag.He had tried to read it but it was full of names and numbers that didn’t quite make sense yet.He would need context.
Raphael took the book and sat back.He cracked it open, though his gaze remained on Hyun.
“Are you hungry?” Hyun asked.“You never quite ate your steak back at that creepy hotel.Christina has made the best chicken pasta ever.”
“Hyun,” Raphael said, closing the book.“Do you still remember the rules I gave you?”
“There was the first one when we met.Don’t promise anything without a guarantee.Then your insane tirade on the plane. One: Don’t tell anyone where I’m staying.Two: Do what you tell me, no matter how crazy without question.Three: Follow rule one and two.”
“So you do remember,” Raphael said.
“Who can forget?” Hyun got up.“I’ll get you food.”
“Hyun,” Raphael said, watching him.“If you have anything to ask me, don’t hesitate.I’ll tell you.”