Eliot surfaced from sleep because he could feel someone watching him. He knew it wasn't Bri. For one thing, she knew better and for another, she would be more likely to slither down his body and take a chance on him pinning her because she touched him than to stare. Slitting his eyes open, he turned his head slowly to find Colby staring at him. "If you're going to freak out, why don't you do it somewhere else?" he asked quietly.
Colby looked startled that Eliot was awake, but didn't jump. "I'm not...I'm fine."
"Then stop staring at me," Eliot growled. He curled an arm protectively around Bri, drawing her slightly away from the other man.
"I wasn't..." He considered. "Okay I was. Sorry."
Eliot glanced down at Bri who was stirring at the sound of their voices. "Look if you want to talk, let's move to another part of the room. I don't want to deal with Bri waking up and bitching at us."
Colby nodded. "Sure."
Eliot waited until the other man was searching for his clothes before slipping out of bed and grabbing the nearest pair of jeans that belonged to him. Pulling them on, he turned to find Colby staring at him again from across the bed. Pointing to the table area, he said, "Ya know that is just creepy. Go. Sit." He waited until the other man had complied, then detoured over to the mini-fridge and retrieved two bottles of water. Handing one to Colby, he sat down and took a healthy slug from his own. "Now what's your problem?"
"I don't have one," Colby responded instantly.
"Fast response, immediate denial. Yeah, ya gotta problem." Eliot looked him over, noticing that he had gotten completely dressed except for his shoes. "You havin' an issue with enjoyin' yourself?"
Colby ran a hand through his hair. "Not exactly for enjoying myself. Just. I don't know."
"Okay. So what is your problem?"
"This isn't me." Colby motioned at the room and the sleeping woman. "I don't pick up random women and sleep with them. Or with guys."
"First off. We..." Eliot pointed at Colby and then himself, "did not have sex. So take that off your list of freak outs. Second of all, I know Bri, and pretty damn well. Once she gets her mind set on something, she pretty much has to be unconscious to change it."
"Force of nature?" Colby questioned and when Eliot nodded, he said, "Yeah, I know the type. Actually despite the difference in looks, she reminds me of a friend." He chuckled. "Who I met in a bar." He corrected himself. "Who picked me up in a bar." He sighed. "I guess I'm just wondering what impact this will have on my career."
Eliot shifted uneasily and glanced over at Bri who had moved over, curling into the warmth left by his body. "What are you talking about?"
Colby gestured at his pants. "I'm on leave from the Army. I got injured in Afghan." Eliot frowned at that revelation; he hadn't noticed anything, but he hadn't really been looking either. "After I got out of the hospital, they shipped me here and told me to make a decision. Either accept a position stateside-a desk job-or an honorable discharge."
"So what does this have to do with that?"
"The Army frowns on anything out of the norm," Colby elaborated. "As does the FBI, the police, and the CIA."
It took Eliot a second, mostly because he was running on little sleep and hadn't been comfortable with another person in the room. "And you think this will become known," he guessed. He considered the other man, trying to decide how much to touch him. "Bri and I don't exactly work within the law," he finally said carefully. "But it hasn't always been that way," he hurried to add at Colby's look. "I spent some time," he took a deep breath as memories invaded his mind of a time he preferred not to think about, "let's just say I know what you've been through. Or I know something damn similar." He ran a hand through his hair, letting it settle. "Look. Bri and I are used to flying under the radar. There's no connection legally between us and even if people noticed you leaving the bar with her." He shrugged. "Who cares if you left with a woman."
Colby sighed deeply. "My life has taken so many twists that I didn't expect. I was supposed to join the Army, do my twenty, and then settle down at our ranch and stay there."
Eliot bit out a bitter laugh. "Ya think this is what I planned for my life? Trust me, grunt, this is not what I pictured when I was sixteen. But shit happens and you either learn to deal or you politely beat the shit out of the people who made you suffer. Or both. I'm the last person to give anyone advice, but think about what you'd like to do. Make your decision on where you think you can do the best and where you think you'll survive the best."
"Is that how you ended up doing what you do?" Colby asked.
"You...could say that," Eliot decided. "A lot of factors went into me deciding on my course and some of them had to do with being very, very good at it. Some of it has to do with other things. Things you don't need to know."
"What about Bri?"
"Why Bri does this is no one's business but her own."
Colby studied him for a minute. "You know what happened. And it kills you that she won't let you do something about it. The two of you may be saying you don't mean anything to each other, but there's a connection there; a need. An understanding."
Eliot winced at how perceptive the other man was. "Doesn't matter and doesn't concern you. I think..." He nodded. "Yeah, I think you need to get going."
"Okay. I just need to get my shoes," Colby responded, sensing that whatever had tied them together was fast unraveling. "And have you seen my wallet?"
"Nnnn..." Eliot spied it under the bed. "Yeah. I'll get it." As he bent to retrieve it, he noticed Bri's eyes were cracked open. She wiggled her hand up and put her finger over her lips, grinning at him. Eliot rolled his eyes and pulled the wallet out, getting to his feet and resisting the urge to lean over and kiss her. Turning he tossed it to Colby. "Do I need to walk you down, grunt?"
"Nah, I think I can find my way." Colby paused as if he was going to say something else, but settled on, "Bye."
Eliot cat-footed after the man, checking the door and sliding the chain lock into place. On his way back to the bed, he retrieved a knife from behind the chair and set it on the table. As he unbuttoned his jeans, Bri opened her eyes fully. "What was that all about?"
Eliot finished stripping and slipped into bed beside her, waiting until she moved into his space. "Just talking to him. Any idea how his wallet got under the bed?"
Bri grinned before ducking her head and kissing his chest. "I picked his pocket."
Eliot scanned his memories, trying to figure out when she would have had time. "Um, when?"
She grinned, running a hand down his body. "When we were all pressed together. He didn't even notice." She turned, pulling something from beneath the pillow, and holding it between two fingers. "I figured this might come in handy."
Eliot took the card from her, flipping it over to reveal a military ID in the name of Colburn Granger. "I don't look anything like this Granger. And you sure as hell don't."
"Yeah, but I can doctor it." Bri reached down, talented fingers finding his hot spots. "We just needed the original."
"And you don't think he'll notice the missing ID?"
She shrugged. "If he does, he'll just think he misplaced it. He's that type of guy."
Eliot kissed the top of her head. "You can be too trusting."
"And sometimes you're not trusting enough." Bri's touch turned gentle. "Sleep now. I know you didn't when he was here. I've got your back."
Eliot closed his eyes, allowing her to sooth him towards sleep. He might not trust many people, might not even trust Bri one hundred percent, but he trusted her to watch his back while he slept. Laying his head down on her and slinging his arm over her waist, he allowed himself to drift off. Bri would do as she said. They were as safe here as they could be. He could stand down for now.