Chris Owen

Adding it Up: By the Numbers II

120 pages / 36000 words



Trey and Deuce have settled into their lives as a couple. Dogs, Trey's daughter, Lacey, and shift work make for an unpredictable and never boring life together. Trey has managed to keep his ex-wife at arms length, but Deuce is determined to make peace amongst them all for Lacey's sake. When he attempts to establish a friendship with Holly, Trey vehemently protests. Holly is not somebody Trey wants more interaction with. Deuce persists, however, and tensions escalate between them.


Trey doesn't see how the rift can be mended. Can they make it all add up again?

A long night was proving to be an even longer one by the conspicuous absence of Trey Donovan’s work relief.

His entire crew had been relieved by their counterparts on B shift. All except for him, of course. A quick check of the shift calendar online had shown that the firefighter due to relieve him was coming off an overtime from a station across town, so of course he was late.

Trey made a face at the screen and prayed they wouldn’t get a call before Scott Halloran got there, but the way things were going, it was a faint hope at best.

‘Still waiting,’ Trey texted. He wondered if Deuce was still at home or if he’d given up and gone to work.

It was a couple of minutes before the reply came through. 'Again? This is twice in the last four shifts.'

Trey sighed. He hated being held up in the mornings just for this reason. It made both of them cranky. ‘I know,’ he typed back. ‘Can’t help it, sorry. :(‘ Maybe the sad face would adequately express what he was feeling.

The next reply took even longer to arrive. 'I know. Going to work now, call me later. Dinner defrosting in fridge.'

Damn. ‘Okay, thanks. Call you when I get home.’ Trey tossed his phone down on the desk and spun around in the swivel chair. Come on, come on, come on, he silently prayed. I just want to go the fuck home.

It was another twenty minutes before Scott showed up with a shrug and a “Sorry, man,” but Trey couldn’t really hold it against him. Trey had been on the other end before, and it was nobody’s fault. Just the way things were.

Deuce, however, seemed to need more convincing. Trey drove home with his window down and the radio up loud in the crisp winter morning. Well, as crisp as it got in southern California, anyway. The cold breeze helped to make him a little more alert. It had been a rough night.

He finally arrived in his own driveway and hauled his gear bag out of the cab of his truck. A hot shower and a two hour nap sounded like the best thing in the world right now. His only regret was that it wasn’t a weekend day and Deuce couldn’t do either of those things with him.

After dumping his dirty clothes on top of the washing machine, Trey opened the back door and whistled. Deuce would have put the dogs out there before he left for work, and sure enough, the two puppies came bounding over at once. Their mother, Q, followed at a more dignified pace, though her tail waved in welcome.

Pi and Six romped at Trey’s feet, tongues lolling. They had grown considerably in the past six months. Deuce claimed they wouldn’t be full grown for another year. Trey had apprehension about that, considering they were already weighing forty-five pounds each and had at least another fifteen to go. He bent down to give them pats and ear scratches and they both whined with eagerness.

When Trey turned to go back in the house, all three dogs followed him. They were allowed more freedom now that they’d been housebroken, but the puppies were still chewers and had to be closely supervised. In this case, “supervised” would mean he’d shut them in the bedroom with him while he napped.

The shower could wait until later. Trey toed off his tennis shoes and shed his jeans in favor of comfortable sweats. He dropped onto the bed and picked up the phone on the nightstand, dialing Deuce’s work number by heart.

It rang three times before Deuce picked up, sounding harried and busy. Not a good sign before nine a.m.

"Good morning, this is Nathaniel." Distracted, as well as busy. "How can I help you?"

“Hi, I’m home. And in bed. I wish you were here.”

Sometimes love is complicated. 

Copyright 2016 Chris Owen