March 3, 2015
He stirred on the bed, not quite awake, not completely asleep, the sensation of warm air moving over his skin odd enough to rouse him from his sleep. Prying open sleep-glazed eyes, he blinked slowly, waiting for his vision to clear. It took longer now than it once had, though he refused to acknowledge that side of his age. He’d turned forty last month, and some days he felt it. Memories filtered through the haze of sleep as he stared at the expanse of white sand and blue water. Campoverde. Vacation. Private villa. He’d stretched out on the canopy bed on their terrace, enjoying the sight of Tom playing in the surf with their dog. He must have fallen asleep because the shadows had all but disappeared since morning. Sitting up, he looked around for his absent lover, wondering where Tom had disappeared to. A cold drink pressed against his sweaty back answered his question.
“Here, love,” Tom’s voice murmured in his ear. “Have something to drink. You wouldn’t want to get dehydrated.”
Jake took the glass and drained it in one long gulp, the crisp flavor of fresh orange juice incredibly refreshing against the heat of the afternoon. He glanced down toward the water and saw the beach was deserted. “It looks like everyone’s gone inside for their siestas,” he observed huskily. “I seem to have taken mine early.”
Tom’s grin widened. “Then we’ll just have to think of something else to do while it’s too hot to go out. Let’s go inside.”
“Why?” Jake asked. “We have a perfectly suitable bed right here and there’s no one to see. They’re all tucked away in their own beds.”
“Exhibitionist,” Tom teased automatically even as he stripped the T-shirt over his head, revealing skin darkened from their week here and muscles toned from the exercises that had become part of his routine as he recovered from his shoulder surgery. He’d expanded that workout over the years as his strength and flexibility increased, but he never missed a day. His body suffered too much when he did.
“You’re one to talk,” Jake retorted, reaching up to pull Tom down next to him, pressing their bare chests together. He ran callused fingers over the smooth skin of his lover’s side, firmly enough not to tickle, but still lightly. It was too hot to rush. Besides, they were on vacation. He wanted to linger over every inch of Tom’s body, to take his time and reaffirm the bonds that ran to the very depths of their beings. He fingered the charms that still hung around Tom’s neck, lingering on the newest addition, a half heart whose mate lay on a chain in the bedroom with Jake’s wallet and watch. He bent his head and kissed the muddled array of trinkets quickly before lifting the lanyard over Tom’s head, tenderly untangling it from the disheveled curls. He wanted nothing between their bodies, not even an expression of their love.
Tom smiled and nuzzled the strong hand, welcoming Jake’s attentions as always. Deciding his lover had the right idea, he reached for the shorts Jake wore and pushed them out of the way, leaving the blond deliciously naked. He hoped he looked half as good when he was forty. He ran his hand up one solid thigh toward the shaft that had jumped to attention the minute Tom joined Jake on the bed. “Glad to see me?” he teased, fingers dancing up and down the awakening cock.
Jake growled and rolled Tom beneath him. “Imp,” he scolded, grinding down against Tom’s groin.
Tom just laughed and pushed Jake off. “Uh-uh,” he scolded. “You lost the bet, which means I get to top the rest of the week if I want to, and I definitely want to.”
Jake sighed in mock resignation, his legs parting without conscious thought, just the idea of Tom inside him enough to make him achingly aware of the emptiness that nothing but his lover could fill. “Tell me you remembered to bring out supplies.”
“Of course I remembered,” Tom sniffed, “but I can think of more enjoyable ways to open you up for me.” He stripped his own shorts off, straddling Jake’s shoulders, carefully feeding his cock into his lover’s mouth. Jake swallowed him down immediately, drawing a deep groan from Tom’s chest as he bent to lick a long stripe down Jake’s erection on his way to his ultimate goal. Jake spread his legs wide, lifting his knees to give Tom better access to his ass. Grinning, Tom ran his tongue over hairy balls and farther down into the musky cleft of Jake’s ass, tasting sweat and desire.
The moan that escaped Jake’s chest vibrated around the head of Tom’s cock, convincing him to hurry his preparations. He curled his tongue and stabbed the tip into the clenching portal that guarded the deepest recesses of Jake’s body. It would open for him momentarily, no part of his lover off-limits to him, just as he would hold no part of himself back from Jake. His thumbs massaged the exterior muscle as his tongue worked its way inside, stretching the always tight sheath. It didn’t matter how many times they did this. Jake always hugged him snugly when they made love.
Jake bucked up against his mouth, driving him even deeper, making Tom smile. His lover was such a greedy slut of a bottom when he gave in and let Tom take him. Adding a long finger next to his tongue, he probed deeper, widening the channel so that their joining would bring only pleasure. He deliberately avoided Jake’s prostate, not wanting this to be over too soon.
He half expected Jake to finger-fuck him given their position, but his lover’s hands stayed above his waist, twiddling with his nipples, tugging occasionally on the hair under his arms. He added a second finger, Jake’s talented mouth making it difficult to take things as slowly as he’d planned. When his digits could slide easily in and out of the stretching hole, Tom pulled away, grabbed the lube, and squirted some on his cock quickly as he turned around. “Ready?” he asked, the head of his erection seeking entrance.
“Always ready for you, lover,” Jake replied instantly, tilting his hips eagerly.
Tom smiled and slid home, mating their bodies as they had mated their lives, two halves of one unbreakable whole. They groaned in unison, their lips meeting blindly, each tasting himself in the other’s mouth, the mingled flavors only adding to their desire.
Tom’s hips thrust of their own volition until Jake caught them, holding his lover still against him. “Slowly,” he urged. “Slow and deep until we come just from being together this way.”
Tom nodded and rocked against Jake slowly, never withdrawing, just stirring his erection inside his lover until the sense of connection was so strong Tom wondered why he couldn’t see the ties binding them together. The emotion, the desire built and built and built until neither of them could hold back any longer, their release spooling out of them in long, slow waves.
They lay together panting, foreheads pressed together as their heartbeats settled. Jake lifted one arm over his head to find Tom’s, twining their fingers together, eyes drifting shut again as satiation sapped what little energy the heat had not already stolen. Smiling, Tom dropped the mosquito netting on the bed to provide them with a modicum of privacy should anyone pass by before they awoke. Then he stretched out next to his lover and joined him in dreams.
Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their two dogs. Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with both France, where she found her husband, and India, where she dreams of retiring some day. She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit, and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.
January 31, 2015
Title: There’s Something About Chinese Food
Author: Felicitas Ivey
Pairing: Ryan and Wil from There’s Something About Spot
Ryan wandered out of his workshop and into the yard after a morning of woodworking. He casually stripped out of the clothes he was wearing, shaking all the wood chips and dust out of them. He didn’t want to bring it all into the house, it would be too much of a pain to deal with.
Wil looked over at him, from the garden he was weeding and smiled. “Is that a hint?” he called out.
“I’m not getting all this in the house,” Ryan said. He smiled. “But I wouldn’t say no—”
He didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence. Wil pounced on him.
Ryan was drowsing in bed afterwards. He was surprised they had made it to the bed, but once Wil started kissing him, things had blurred a bit. “I should make us something to eat.”
He didn’t know what time it was, but he felt a little bit hungry and knew he needed to eat something soon.
“Let’s go out,” Wil replied. “There’s a new place in town.”
Ryan looked at him. Town was at least as forty-five minute drive and they would have to take a shower. He was comfortable and not that ambitious. And Wil rarely wanted to go out, content to be at home where he didn’t have people pulling at him all the time to solve their problems. “And you want to check it out?” he asked.
Wil sighed. “Miss Serenity asked me to talk to the owners.”
Ryan echoed his sigh. Wil’s position in the community was as the priest for the local, odd to some pagan practices. They worshiped Tsthug’wa, an ancient and corrupted deity, whom they all hoped would stay sleeping and unaware of them, so it wouldn’t eat them and worse. To placate the god to keep him sleeping, Wil performed a ceremony every Midsummer, erotic and exhausting, with Ryan as a willing participant as he had been since the beginning when he stumbled into the village years ago.
“So not so much a date, as checking the place out,” Ryan teased him. “And what is she expecting?”
Wil shrugged. “I don’t know.” He hesitated. “It can be something as simple as she doesn’t like them to something a little more… serious. And it isn’t anything she felt she could deal with on her own, either.”
Which meant Wil would have to fix whatever the issue was. And it might kill him to do so, if Miss Serenity didn’t know how to deal with it. Ryan ignored the tightening in his gut and mustered a smile. “I bet it’s nothing more than bad Mushu Pork,” he said. “We get showered, head to town and take Spot with us. If the food’s crap, you know he’ll eat it.”
And Spot would kill anyone or thing which would threaten either of them.
Wil nodded, a grateful look in his eyes for Ryan putting a brave face on it.
“I love this plan!” Ryan said, the false cheer thick in his voice.
He made a mental note to eat a snack now, because he wasn’t sure he was going to get any food later.
They got to town a couple of hours later, Spot hanging his head out the window from his place at Wil’s feet. His tentacles were blowing in the breeze, as his body wiggled with excitement over being in the car. He was about seventy pounds now, long and thin, moving like an inchworm to get around. Spot was fast, a deadly inchworm with razor teeth underneath his flailing tentacles and the killer instinct of a Dark Spawn, for all his adorable awkwardness.
Ryan pulled into a parking spot down the street from the restaurant. The town of Hidden Valley was small, a couple of short streets and a collection of odd shops. The valley was mostly farms and cut off from the rest of the world. No cell reception, no Internet; it was a quiet place you found by accident, because even government spy satellites didn’t seem to know it existed. Once you found it, all you saw was a quaint New England town, trapped in some sort of time warp.
The new restaurant seemed to have popped up overnight, in a space at the edge of town. That alone put Ryan on edge. It didn’t fit in with the rest of the town’s buildings – a collection of wood and brick buildings, staid and respectable. This place was a garish yellow and red, in the style Ryan mentally dubbed ‘Tacky Chinese”, with odd colored bloated dragons and a pagoda styled roof. The sign in front was flashing neon, proclaiming the place to be ‘Black Lotus’.
“Tacky,” Ryan said after staring at the place.
“Dangerous,” Wil told him. “They aren’t being subtle.”
“The sign can be seen in the North Pole,” Ryan commented dryly. “These people have never heard of the word.”
Ryan opened the storage box between the two seats, pulling out a blue vest, sized for Spot. In white lettering on each side, ‘Service Animal’ was printed.
“Spot is going in with us because I need him to watch out for me,” Ryan explained as he strapped it on to Spot.
“I see,” Wil said, obviously not understanding.
“It’s a cheat and I am being an ass taking advantage of such things when Spot isn’t a service animal, but you can’t kick one out of a restaurant.” Ryan finished putting the vest on Spot. “I bought it on a whim and kept it in the car. I just remembered it now.”
“Spot likes it,” Wil said, leaning over to kiss him.
They walked into the restaurant with a surprisingly well-behaved Spot at Ryan’s side. Ryan shivered when he walked through the airlock to the second door, feeling a little odd for a second. Wil slipped his hand out of Ryan’s, a frown on his face as Ryan looked around the lobby.
The restaurant was empty, even if it was dinnertime. Ryan didn’t remember seeing any other cars parked at the place, but he thought they might have been on the other side of the building. He tightened his grip on Spot’s leash; unnerved the place was empty, and wondering what was wrong. But the place wasn’t as tackily decorated on the inside as the outside led him to be believe it would be.
The room was dimly lit, trying for a romantic atmosphere, for some reason. There was a huge fire pit in the middle and Ryan hoped it wasn’t used for cooking, even though there seemed to be something smoking on it. The air was scented a mixture of subtle spices and something sweet, which stuck to the back of this throat. And Ryan noticed there weren’t any windows in the place, which sent a chill down his back, because he would have sworn there had been a couple of them in the front and on the sides.
The host or a waiter hurried up to them, bowing and nodding. Ryan was struck at how short he was. Miss Serenity, as bowed as she was by age, would be taller than the man. He looked around, catching a glimpse of another couple of men, and he thought they were even shorter than the man in front of him.
The man caught a glimpse of Spot and shook his head, even as he looked at Wil. “And how may we help you?”
The man’s accent was heavy and Ryan thought it could be Chinese, but it didn’t sound like any Chinese accent he had heard in the movies or on the streets of Chinatown in New York; but China was big place and these guys might be from the back end of nowhere Hicksville to sound like that. But he could understand him, which was the important thing to him.
Ryan thought that was an odd thing to say, but Wil answered coolly, “A table for two.”
“Of course.” The waiter paused and added, “I assure you, sir, the menu will be to your liking.”
“I will address the chef if it isn’t,” Wil told him.
The man bowed again and led them to a table in the back corner of the room. Ryan wasn’t surprised to see it showed them the entire room. The host dropped off two menus, stating, “Fei Long will be your waiter.”
“And you are?” Wil asked.
The man hesitated for a split second, “Sheng She, honored one.”
He walked away and Ryan picked up his menu, “So I guess he knows who you are.”
The table was set for two, plates with red and blue pagodas, dragons and weird looking flowers painted on them. There were both silverware and metal chopsticks provided, with some sort of black flower floating in a crystal bowl as the centerpiece of the table. It was elegant, with white linen tablecloths and nothing that he had been expecting from the outside of the place.
“What I am,” Wil said inexplicably with a smile, before picking up his own menu. “I’ve never had Chinese before.”
Ryan looked at the menu. “I don’t even think this is in Chinese. And it isn’t in English, because I can’t read it. So I don’t know what this place is.”
The lettering could be Chinese, but it looked off. Too many or too few lines in the characters and they were wavy instead of straight. Ryan’s head jerked up when he heard Sheng She talking loudly with another man. It could be an argument or they could be talking about sports for all he knew, but the tone of voice for both men sounded off.
“That isn’t Chinese,” he informed Wil.
“I didn’t expect it to be,” Wil told him. “I’m sorry, I should explain these things to you better.”
“Eh?” Ryan shrugged. Wil was being Wil and dealing with the crap he had to deal with being a priest wasn’t something he wanted to do. “And just let me say, I don’t know if I want to eat here.”
‘That may be wise,” Wil said, putting his menu down. “I don’t think I’d want Spot eating here.”
“Honored one, this is a vegetation… vegetarian restaurant. I am Fei Long and I will serve you tonight.”
Fei Ling was tiny, about the size of a six year old, but very round. Ryan thought he looked like a dumpling of a man. Ryan swore he hadn’t seen the man walk up; he just seemed to appear out of thin air.
“Vegetarian?” Wil smiled coolly at him.
“There is no Long Pork on the menu,” Fei Long told him with a laugh. It wasn’t a jolly laugh, but the sly, mocking one of a bully.
Ryan had no idea what he was talking about, but whatever Long Pork was, the mention of it infuriated Wil.
“Shall Spot explore your kitchen to tell me the truth of your words?” Wil asked glacially.
Fei Long looked confused, until Spot poked his head out from underneath the table. He sniffed at Fei Long for a couple of seconds, before settling back underneath the table with a small growl in the back of his throat.
Fei Long froze, petrified, before he hissed, “You wouldn’t—! This isn’t—!”
“Spot’s a service animal,” Ryan said over his sputtering protests. “You can’t kick him out of the place.”
“He is human!” Fei Long shrieked, before switching back to his own language.
“As am I!” Wil snarled.
Spot poked his head out again, curious and nervous about all the shouting.
“You’re upsetting Spot,” Ryan said calmly, petting the Dark Spawn. “Seriously, why does everyone freak out when they see him?”
Fei Long stared at Ryan for a second, before turning to Wil. “The Human—”
“My consort.” Wil said flatly.
“—can control a Spawn?” he finished.
“Just Spot,” Ryan told him, as the being in question wiggled under his attention. The rest of the pack was a little standoffish with him. “And pork is fine, I’m not Jewish or Arabic, but you did mention this was a vegetarian restaurant, so I don’t know what the fuss is.”
“Long Pork isn’t a type of swine,” Wil said gently. “It is a phrase used to describe human flesh when it is eaten.”
Ryan swallowed hard. “That’s kind of gross.” He paused. “I think I read someplace it wasn’t a good idea because stuff getting stuck in your brain from eating people, aside from it being not a socially acceptable idea to eat the neighbors.”
Ryan flushed when the other two looked at him like he was crazy. “I’ll shut up now,” he mumbled.
“Your consort is a prize,” Fei Long said. His tone seemed to think Ryan was the booby prize.
“I don’t think the “Black Lotus” would be a good fit in our little town,” Wil said, as he stood up. “Leave it.”
The command was spoken in an eerie voice, one Ryan usually only heard during rituals. Ryan rose to follow him out of the restaurant. He really didn’t want to eat here, the smell of the place making him queasy now.
That tone brought Sheng She out from wherever he had been hiding. “You cannot tell us what to do! We are Tcho-Tcho, Priest, and not under your sway!” he thundered.
“My land is under the protection of Tsthug’wa,” Wil told him coldly. “And as his priest, I banish you from it.”
Ryan didn’t know what was going on, but he grabbed the chopsticks as a weapon. The knife wasn’t a better choice because there was no edge on it. Both it and the fork looked fragile and off to him now. He could poke these two with them if he had to, even as he kept a tight hold on Spot’s leash. The Spawn was pressed against his legs, poised to jump at either Tcho-Tcho, whatever they were.
“My god,” Sheng She started, pulling himself up to his full height.
Wil said something in an odd language, the words slippery and hurtful. It was like nothing Ryan had ever heard before and he swallowed hard, dizzy all of a sudden.
The Tcho-Tcho all winced and stepped back, a snarl appearing on Sheng She’s face, before he started spitting out odd sounds. Ryan couldn’t call them words. They were sharp sounds of hate, which caused Wil to bare his teeth in a grimace, even as his continued to speak. Wil stood his ground, adding strange finger waggling gestures to the words he was saying and Ryan just stood frozen, Spot wrapping himself around him for protection.
“You are not where you think you are, priest,” Sheng She snarled at Wil.
Wil smiled at him, “I know exactly where I am. Do you?”
Ryan shivered when he said that, wondering if they were still in Hidden Valley. But the question stopped Sheng She for a moment and Ryan saw the shocked look on his face. “You dared!”
Wil laughed. It wasn’t a happy laugh. “My god is one of this earth, this plane of existence, while Ch’augn’ar F!aung is of the outer veil. We are not in his place of power, as you think you are, since I placed this dwelling on the blasted planes. You forget there are those who are much greater then even our gods.”
“And what does that mean?” Sheng She asked. “You speak in riddles. Are you trying to buy time before we feast upon you and your pet?”
Wil smiled wolfishly at them. Ryan thought it was both incredibly disturbing and incredibly hot at the same time. He was frightened at how turned on he was. He was being threatened by being eaten by these freaks and all he could think of was Wil eating him in another manner, his hot mouth around his cock, sucking him dry.
“He is my consort,” Wil hissed, emphasizing the title. “Prized beyond belief by me and mine.”
“He will be a tasty morsel we will eat in front of you,” Fei Long threatened.
The building shook and Wil grinned. “Ask the Dancer of Madness about the feast he is interested in.”
The Tcho-Tchos looked at him in horror, while Spot unwrapped himself from around Ryan’s legs and started to lead him to the door. Ryan went with him, too shocked to fight him.
Wil waited until he was past him to smile and bow to the others, “Enjoy your discussion with Az’thoth.”
Ryan didn’t know the name, but from the way the blood drained from the others’ faces and the frantic, desperate chant Sheng She started, this god wasn’t either reasonable or nice. He just hoped he didn’t meet it… him… whatever.
Spot had him out the door, with Wil close behind him. As they passed through the airlock, Ryan caught a glimpse of a twisted and blasted landscape, the sky the color of acid. He shivered, but when they walked out of the door, they were back in the town of Hidden Valley.
“We’re not going to have to worry about them again,” Wil said with a smile. “But I’m sorry we didn’t get anything to eat.”
“At least we got a pair of chopsticks out of it,” Ryan said trying to make light of what just happened, realizing he still held them. He started shivering, his mind trying desperately to forget the split second of whatever he had just seen.
“But not dinner,” Wil replied, “And I know you miss Chinese food sometimes.”
“If we had eaten there, we’d been hungry an hour later,” Ryan said. “So why don’t I drive home and cook supper?”
“But first something else,” Wil said leaning over and kissing him.
Ryan moaned, kissing him back fiercely, pressing his whole body against Wil, feeling their cocks rub together. Wil was as hard and as turned on as he was. He dropped the chopsticks he was holding to wrap his arms the other man.
Ryan’s moans degenerated into whimpers when Wil undid his pants, pushing them down to his knees, kneading his ass for a minute as he kissed him. Ryan didn’t care they were in town and Spot had wandered off someplace to get into mischief, since he dropped his leash. He shuddered when Wil slipped a finger into his ass, wiggling it around a little until he found that special spot inside him.
Ryan was still loose from earlier in the day, so there was a little discomfort which he forgot about when Wil started finger fucking him, rubbing against his prostrate, causing little bolts of lighting to fire off in his brain, reducing it to jelly.
“I love you like this,” Wil crooned. “You’re so beautiful, so responsive to my touch.”
Ryan just rubbed against Wil, his cock wanting the friction of the other man’s jeans as he got closer and closer to his orgasm. This was what he wanted, what he needed as he chased after the pleasure Wil was giving him. He didn’t know how long it was before he hid his face in Wil’s neck, muffling the scream of joy that tore out of him when he came, spraying the two of them. Wil held him as the aftershocks shuddered through him, whispering in his ear in a language he didn’t understand.
“We’re going to get arrested,” Ryan said sleepily.
He was worn out from all the adrenaline that had coursed through his system by almost getting killed and by what Wil just did with him.
“No one’s going to see us,” Wil promised him.
Wil then opened the door to the Jeep and maneuvered Ryan into the passenger’s seat. Ryan sat down, not caring that his jeans were down around his ankles and his shirt really didn’t cover the fact he wasn’t wearing any underwear.
“But I’ll wait until we’re further out of town to have my pleasure with you,” Wil promised him.
Ryan stretched and wiggled in his seat, looking forward to that. It was insane to want Wil again, but he just had walked away from something horrifying and he wanted to celebrate that too. What just had happened hadn’t even whetted his appetite. Making love in the moonlight for several hours would be a fine celebration for the both of them.
Did you enjoy Felicitas Ivey’s story? If so, check out the rest of her books and take 25% off at checkout with the code FelicitasIveyFlash. Coupon code is good for one order per customer through February 28, 2015.
January 25, 2015
Title: Hopeful Beginning
Author: Serena Yates
Pairing: Grayson and James from Fighting for Hope
To all fans of the Modern Battles series.
Thank you for loving Grayson and James of Fighting for Hope as much as I do!
This short glimpse into Grayson and James’s lives is set right after the end of Fighting for Hope. It is the day of the first fundraising concert for the new Oxford Children’s Hospital, which takes place at the castle restaurant north of Oxford where James has taken Grayson on a previous date. During the intermission, James and Grayson are taking a walk in the gardens and end up at a hidden bench in the back.
James has just asked Grayson to marry him. Grayson has said yes, and both men are having a hard time keeping their hands off each other—but since they’re at a public venue, it looks as if there isn’t much they can do…
Grayson pulled back from the hottest kiss he had ever shared with James, but reluctantly, and only when he needed air more desperately than to feel connected to his fiancé. Gasping for breath, he leaned his forehead against James’s shoulder and focused on controlling his raging libido. With their groins still pressed tightly together as James straddled the bench in the back of the castle restaurant’s garden, and Grayson’s legs draped over James’s thighs, Grayson’s attempts to rein in the need to come came very close to being less than successful. Finally, when he believed he had a handle on his lust he looked up.
“You’re so hot.” James’s blue eyes blazed with a fire Grayson hadn’t seen in them since the first and last time they’d made love weeks and weeks ago.
“You’re not so bad yourself.” Grayson smiled and lifted his hand to caress James’s face. Touching the man he loved made him realize how much he’d missed this physical closeness when they’d drifted apart while professional fighting took over and they lost sight of what they meant to each other.
James quietly leaned into Grayson’s hand cupping his cheek, and Grayson marveled at the satisfaction he felt from seeing the normally serious, logical man so emotional. Grayson still couldn’t quite believe James had given up his fight for a theoretical research center and was now supporting Grayson’s idea of building a new Children’s Hospital. But he was grateful the obstacle no longer stood between them and determined to make sure James never regretted that decision.
“You have no idea how much I want to make love to you right now.” James grinned ruefully. “Do you think people would mind if we left the concert early?”
“Shit, the concert.” Grayson sat up and looked toward the castle, just visible over the treetops between them and the sandstone building.
“You forgot about that?” James laughed and pulled Grayson even closer.
“It’s not difficult, with you distracting me like you did.” Grayson held out his hand, admiring the simple gold ring James had placed on it just minutes earlier.
“You like it?” James held his hand next to Grayson’s.
“I love it.” Grayson smiled. Seeing the matching ring on his man’s finger did all kinds of interesting things to Grayson’s heart—as well as farther south. “It’s like a promise for a new beginning. And I’d love to celebrate that in style, but….”
“Not out in the open?” James looked around them, assessing the bushes as if deciding which one to drag Grayson behind.
“Definitely not! What if some reporter wanders out here, bored with whatever people are talking about during the intermission, and we end up splashed across the front page of some tabloid or other?” Grayson shuddered at the thought. “Not the kind of publicity we want for the Children’s Hospital.”
“I agree. But I don’t think I can make it home, not in this condition.” James stopped staring at the vegetation and pushed his hips forward, reminding Grayson how hard they both were. “We may need to improvise.”
“How?” Grayson really wanted James inside him, but doing it in the men’s room wasn’t any less risky than going at it out here, and definitely a lot less romantic.
“Hmm, come with me, I may have an idea.” James’s eyes twinkled as he carefully scooted back on the bench, untangling their legs in the process. He rose slowly, adjusted himself with a wince, and pulled Grayson up to follow him
Grayson got up, copied the gesture of adjustment, and followed James back toward the castle. But instead of walking up the steps toward the door of the former ballroom where the concert was taking place, James turned to their left and followed the castle’s outline until they found a ground-level entrance.
“Aha!” James looked triumphant and made a beeline for that door.
“The kitchen?” Grayson narrowed his eyes to try to peer into the room. Surely the door would be either locked or guarded. The caterers bringing the drinks sold during the intermission might have set up on the upper floor, but they must have left someone behind if this was where they kept extra stock. But, much to Grayson’s relief, he couldn’t detect a single soul in the whitewashed basement room with vaulted ceilings, a huge hearth, and dark wooden cupboards and cabinets.
“Yep. I figure it’s a way in that may allow us to enter without being seen.” James winked, then took the last few steps, practically dragging Grayson with him, and pressed his hand on the antique door handle.
It opened with a slight squeak, then James pulled open the door and peeked inside. “The coast looks clear.”
With a huge sigh of relief, Grayson followed his adventurous fiancé, closing the outside door behind them before turning his attention back to James. What now?
“Let’s find the servant stairs. All castles have them, and they’ll be perfect for getting upstairs.” James started looking around.
Grayson automatically did the same even as he wondered what had gotten into James. His fiancé, and God how he loved being able to refer to James that way, had always been determined and stubborn, but to see him apply it to finding them a hidden spot so they could seal their new beginning was a heady feeling.
“There!” James pointed at one of the back walls, a triumphant grin gracing his handsome features.
A wooden door stood slightly ajar, two rows of servant bells, neatly labeled with room names, nailed onto a wooden board right next to it. Grayson raised his eyebrows as he realized the implications. The open door probably meant someone was upstairs, but there was no way to know where that person had gone, or why. Not that it mattered. They’d just have to be even more careful.
“Come on.” James tugged on Grayson’s arm and started to walk in the direction of the mysterious door.
Yup, it appeared they were going upstairs.
James led the way and paused only briefly to allow Grayson to pull the door into the same position they’d found it in. They slowly ascended the stairs, James’s tux and Grayson’s charcoal suit an odd contrast to their burglar-like behavior. They passed a door labeled “ground floor” with a neat little wooden sign at eye level, telling them this was the story containing the restaurant and the ballroom, as well as all the guests. After another set of steps, there was another door in the wall, this one’s sign pronouncing it to be the “first floor.” The servant stairs continued to ascend, but James stopped.
“I really think this odd British way of numbering floors is very confusing.” James grinned and moved toward the door. He put his ear on the wood, probably listening for signs of people on the other side. “Sounds like there’s nobody there.”
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Grayson nodded toward the door. “What if there are guards out there? They wouldn’t make any noise to warn us.”
“We can always say we got lost.” James waggled his eyebrows, then turned serious as he pulled Grayson into his arms. “We can go back right now if you want. I just really, really want to make love to you, right now, and not have to wait until we make it home. And I don’t want it to be somewhere we might get caught, you know? And I sort of like the thought of sneaking into one of the castle rooms, don’t you?”
“I….” Grayson swallowed. James’s enthusiasm was getting to him. And what was the worst that could happen? No, no, that was the wrong thing to think about. He took a deep breath. “Oh, what the hell. Let’s do it. You only get engaged once.”
James raised his eyebrows, his lips twitching a little.
“Well, I certainly have no intention of letting you go.” Grayson gave James a quick peck on the mouth. “So, we better make this good.”
“You don’t have to convince me.” James kissed him back, then turned his attention back to the door. “Here goes nothing…”
James pulled open the door slowly, looking left and right as soon as he could stick out his head, while Grayson held his breath. When nothing happened, he exhaled and started breathing normally as he followed his fiancé out onto the landing at the top of the majestic staircase leading to this floor from the huge entrance hall below them. They moved carefully along the wall, the soft carpet dampening their steps. The first door to their right was closed, but another neat little wooden sign, this one with a golden border, informed them they had reached the castle’s library.
“Perfect.” James carefully opened this door, checked the room with all the aplomb of a professional criminal, and walked inside quickly, pulling Grayson with him.
Grayson followed and closed the door, looking for a lock and finding it. He turned the huge metal key to secure them inside the room and turned around to check the details. The room was lit by windows on two of the walls. The other two walls, and all the space between the windows, were covered in bookshelves. Made from white oak, they made the room feel less oppressive than darker wood might have. There were two groups of leather sofas and easy chairs in two corners, as well as a large antique desk in front of the windows. Expensive looking rugs covered the stone floor.
“Wow, it’s beautiful.” Grayson took James’s hand and twined their fingers. “Very romantic.”
“Glad you like it.” James smiled and pulled Grayson into his arms.
The kiss that followed started out slow and tender, but quickly got Grayson going again. His excitement rose as he pressed himself as close to James as he could get, sliding his arms around his fiancé’s neck so he wouldn’t fall as his knees weakened. And this time, now they were behind a closed and locked door, Grayson hoped to be feeling what it was like to have engagement sex. A bit illicit, and not in a bed, but the adventure of it all didn’t exactly deter him from becoming hard enough for his cock to push against the confines of his suddenly much too tight pants.
“I want you, James.” Grayson panted as he pulled back. “Make love to me?”
James couldn’t believe his luck. After all the fighting they had gone through on a professional level, the misunderstandings that had developed in their personal lives, and Grayson almost losing his life in that horrible car accident almost two weeks ago, he was holding the man he loved in his arms. Better yet, he had asked Grayson to marry him and had not been rejected.
“James?” Grayson stared at him with a small frown on his forehead. “Where did you go just now?”
“I’m here.” God, was he ever. He’d never believed in all that hippie mumbo-jumbo about living in the moment, but he had to admit, they had a point. “Just thinking how lucky I am to have you back in my arms and wanting to spend the rest of your life with me. I’m not going anywhere without you from now on.”
“Good. The feeling is mutual.” Grayson nodded and looked around the room as if to figure out the best place in the library for them to finally make love. “I’m about ready to explode, and those couches look awfully comfortable…”
“Then again, the desk has a certain appeal.” James eyed the antique piece of furniture a little more closely. “Does it look sturdy enough to you? I mean, for what we have planned?”
“Do you have a desk fetish I should know about? Or fantasies about bending me over one?” Grayson grinned and winked. “I have to admit, the thought appeals to me, but I’m not so sure this one was built for what I have in mind. And can you imagine what would happen if we destroyed it in the throes of passion?”
“I’d rather not.” James shuddered. It was all well and good to play with the thought of getting caught, but he did not want to find out what it felt like to be confronted with others finding him and Grayson in a compromising position. He might be a bit of an adventurous soul when the occasion arose, but an exhibitionist he was not.
“I’m glad you agree.” Grayson nodded toward the couch farthest from the window. “Is that one good for you?”
“Lead the way.” James followed Grayson, watching his fiancé’s ass move in his deliciously tight slacks. Yum! James slid his arms around Grayson’s middle when he stopped and kissed the side of his neck.
“You like that?” James smiled and continued his soft assault on Grayson’s slightly sweaty skin.
“Oh God. You have no idea what this does to me.” Grayson held on to James’s hands and leaned back, tilting his head for better access.
“I’m beginning to figure it out.” James licked and nibbled his way down Grayson’s throat, moving around him until they were facing each other and he was stopped by Grayson’s shirt collar.
Grayson’s eyes were bright with lust, and he reached up to take off his tie. He aimed it at the closest easy chair, then unbuttoned his shirt. James followed the movement of Grayson’s fingers, enjoying each additional square inch of pale skin appearing as the shirt was pulled aside. Suddenly, the shirt slid off Grayson’s wide shoulders and followed the tie onto the chair. And Grayson didn’t stop there. His pants, shoes and socks followed quickly, but then he stopped.
“What?” James was mesmerized and hadn’t moved a single muscle during the sexy strip tease.
“You too.” Grayson’s voice sounded raspy.
“Oh.” James had rarely been this tongue-tied, but Grayson was taking his breath away with his perfect proportions and hidden strength. James began to move on autopilot, divesting himself of his tux and carelessly adding each piece of clothing to the growing heap on the chair. When James looked up, finally naked, Grayson had taken off his briefs and stood right there, gloriously erect and clearly ready to go.
“Oh shit.” Greyson frowned. “We don’t have condoms or lube.”
James blinked, trying to clear his brain from the fog of lust preventing him from thinking clearly. Then he bent to retrieve his pants and pulled the foil packet and sachet from a pocket, holding it up for Grayson’s inspection.
“Always prepared, huh?” Grayson laughed.
“I was hopeful.” James shrugged.
“I’m glad.” Grayson opened his arms and James walked right into them.
It brought their hard cocks into contact and Grayson arched his back, putting more pressure on James’s erection and making him hiss with the sudden intensity. He slid his arms around Grayson and kissed him while rubbing their lengths together slowly so he could enjoy the friction. James slowly pushed Grayson until they hit the sofa, then followed him down, careful not to crush him as they settled. With Grayson on his back, legs spread so James would fit, and their cocks aligned, things heated up really quickly.
“Hot.” Grayson gasped for air, but never stopped pushing upward to meet James’s thrusts. “More.”
James grinned. Lack of coherence was a good sign. He reached for the condom and sheathed himself. When he opened the packet of lube, Grayson sighed with relief and spread his legs farther apart.
“I need you inside me, James.” Grayson kneaded James’s asscheeks hard enough to make James lose his train of thought again.
“We’ll get there. Just let me make sure you’re ready.” James pulled back into a kneeling position, opened the sachet, and slicked his fingers. When he touched Grayson’s hole, they both moaned, and Grayson pushed upward so fast, James’s index finger slid in to the first knuckle faster than he could blink.
“Yes!” Grayson hissed and wiggled his ass. “More.”
James slid his digit deeper, watching for signs of discomfort or pain, but there were none. He added a second finger and began to spread them, and Grayson whimpered. When James hit his prostate on the first try, Grayson howled as he threw back his head and shook with need.
“Now, please, now!” Grayson reached for his cock, but James batted his hand away.
James distributed the rest of the lube on his cock and put the tip against Grayson’s waiting hole. When James started to push in, as slowly as he was able to go, the tight heat almost made him come right then and there. He stopped and focused on unsexy thoughts until he regained some measure of control.
Grayson, apparently, wouldn’t have it. He grabbed James’s ass and pulled until James bottomed out. Overwhelmed with the need to fuck, he groaned and grabbed Grayson’s shoulders so he had something to hold on to. Grayson slid his legs around James’s hips and tightened his muscles. The increase in pressure was excruciatingly wonderful, but it didn’t help him stay in charge.
“Move,” Grayson hissed.
“Grayson. Fuck. You make me crazy.” Beads of sweat pooled on James’s forehead as he fought the need to come. “Please, slow down. I want to make this good for you.”
“Then move and make me feel it.” Grayson lifted his hands to James’s shoulders and pulled him down for a scorching kiss. “I love you, but I need you to move.”
“Okay.” Who was James to fight what they clearly both wanted?
Holding onto Grayson’s shoulders to stop him from falling off the sofa, James pulled out and thrust back in quickly enough to make Grayson’s eyes widen.
“Yes! Yes, that’s what I need.” Grayson moved away when James pulled back and pushed toward him when he thrust forward, increasing the intensity of their coupling.
James began to thrust in earnest and kept his strokes long and deep as long as he was able. He saw stars every time Grayson clenched around his erection, and within minutes, James was thrusting in and out of Grayson with such speed and force it made the leather creak. Grayson’s moans and small whimpers encouraged James to keep going, and his fiancé’s wide green eyes staring at him with love and trust added an intimacy to their lovemaking that made James want to howl with joy.
The scent of Grayson’s sweat mixed with that of the leather, wood polish, and old paper of the books was the best aphrodisiac James could think of, and all sensations combined, finally drove him over the edge. James came in long bursts of ecstasy that filled the condom and must have set Grayson off. His fiancé’s come added spurts of heat to the sweat between their bodies and made them slide against each other even better.
James’s breath came in ragged gasps as he captured Grayson’s lips for another passionate kiss that didn’t exactly help to calm them down. But finally James pulled up and out to deal with the used condom by wrapping it in a handkerchief. He used a second one to clean Grayson a little, then sank back onto the sofa and took Grayson into his arms.
“I love you.” Grayson still sounded out of breath.
“I love you too.” James smiled at his fiancé. “Thank you for giving me a second chance.”
Grayson smiled and snuggled closer. James closed his eyes for a few moments, but the need to make sure they weren’t discovered soon got the better of him.
“We should probably get dressed and get back to the concert.” James didn’t sound convinced to his own ears.
“Yeah, best not to tempt fate any further.” Grayson chuckled. “I’m sure Danny has figured out what we were up to, but we can always distract him by showing our rings.”
“Good idea.” James smiled. He really liked Danny, and was glad Grayson had such a loyal supporter.
“All right, let’s go.” Grayson rose and began to sort out there clothes.
They dressed in silence, then sneaked back downstairs and outside. When they approached the stairs leading up to the ballroom level, Danny was already standing there, a wide grin on his face. Robert stood right next to him, staring at James with wide eyes that twinkled with mischief.
“Time to face the music, right?” Grayson looked at James with such love and trust in his eyes, James wanted to return to the library as fast as possible.
Instead, he tightened his grip on Grayson’s fingers for support and smiled at him. With Grayson beside him instead of fighting him, James could face anything. Their life together was just beginning, and having Grayson by his side filled him with enough love and hope to last a lifetime.
Did you enjoy Serena Yates’s story? If so, check out the rest of her books and take 25% off at checkout with the code PearlLoveFlash2. Coupon code is good for one order per customer through February 25, 2015.
January 2, 2015
Title: My Brown-Eyed Handsome Man
Pairing: Kipp and Hyde (from Two Lips, Indifferent Red)
Hyde Wyndham and I planned to have a baby together, a little girl with his honey-brown eyes or maybe a little boy with his warm caramel skin.
“She could be blonde, Kipp,” Hyde murmured against my own blond hair. “He could have blue eyes, just like yours.”
Or green eyes. Hyde’s mom had green eyes.
Before we’d left on our honeymoon in Fiji, the doctors had taken samples of our sperm and had done a little gene manipulating, replacing the egg’s DNA with mine so this baby would be made from both our genetic material. After all, it was 2017, and things like that were becoming commonplace. Besides, my husband was a billionaire businessman who could have it done with the snap of his fingers.
As soon as we’d returned to Martinsburg from our honeymoon on the island of Biru Atimu—the island he’d bought for me—we’d given the go-ahead for the embryo to be implanted in our surrogate and then sat back to wait for the results. Even with all his money, Hyde couldn’t rush nature.
But we needed that information as soon as we could get it. Granddad wasn’t doing well, and while his doctors informed us he wouldn’t last to see our son or daughter, I wanted him to know he was going to be a great-grandfather.
Hyde returned to the suite of rooms he kept at the Saratoga Trunk, the most exclusive hotel in Martinsburg, PA. I’d been working on the plans for the Martha’s Vineyard commission I’d received from a noted film director, and I jumped up to greet him.
“You look tired, love. Too tired?”
“Never too tired for my blue-eyed boy.” He dropped his briefcase and opened his arms.
“Excellent!” I wound my arms around his neck, rubbing up against him shamelessly. There had been a time I would have restrained myself for fear of driving him away, but that was in the past. After exploring his sweet mouth in a ravenous kiss—we were still newlyweds, and it was allowed—I eased his suit jacket off his shoulders and began unbuttoning his shirt. “I’ve missed you.”
“We had lunch together.” He nuzzled and nipped the tendon in my throat, and I shivered and moaned.
“Y-yes. And that was six hours ago.”
“Ah. In that case, I apologize. How can I make it up to you?”
I leaned back and looked into his honey-brown eyes, eyes that I’d fallen in love with the first time I’d gazed into them. “Suppose we practice making a baby?”
I didn’t wait for him to answer, just grabbed his hand and pulled him along after me into the bedroom.
“You know, we can’t keep living here in the Saratoga Trunk.” I’d traveled with him on business to various cities, and we still lived in hotel suites. Even when we didn’t have to travel, that was where we stayed. “We have to decide where we’re going to live. Especially once the baby is born.”
“You mean you don’t want to raise our child in a hotel?”
“Hyde! This is important!” I smacked his shoulder with the heel of my hand.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I shouldn’t tease.” He dropped a kiss on my nose and tugged the hem of my T-shirt—a new one I’d found that read Save Ferris—up over my head. “Do you want to stay here in Martinsburg?” He scraped the nail of his forefinger over my nipple, and it pebbled up as if pleading for more attention. That or his lips would be fine. “Before we go to Fiji again, I want you to get this nipple pierced.” His voice deepened. “You’ll do that for me, won’t you, Kipp?”
“Anything. Anything!” I whimpered, kicked off my running shoes, and went to work on my jeans. But if I didn’t get my mind off Hyde’s words, I was going to come too soon. “Could… could we live at Silver Birch?”
My grandfather’s home was enormous, having been built originally to house a huge family, and he’d given us the entire upper floor of the east wing for when we stayed in Martinsburg. “You’ll be awake anyway, so sunrise won’t bother you,” he’d told us from his bed at Promise Hospice. I didn’t want to ask what he thought we’d be doing at that hour, because yes, we probably would be awake, doing it.
“Would you mind?” I was redecorating our rooms there, and that was why we were staying at the Trunk. When I’d chosen interior design as my major, it had caused a rift between me and Granddad. He’d been afraid people would think I was gay. As it turned out, I was gay, and after Granddad’s diagnosis, he’d decided there were more important things in life than what people thought. I needed another year to get my degree, but if our surrogate became pregnant, I’d put my education on hold. And if we did make Silver Birch our home, I’d have a wall taken down and remodel the space next to the master into a nursery.
“Not in the least.” Hyde slid his broad palm past the waistband of my jeans and gripped a buttock, squeezing rhythmically. “It’s a lovely house, and you have fond memories of staying there.”
“Thank you, Hyde.” I unbuckled his belt, undid the button at his waistband, and unzipped his fly, then yanked down his trousers and shorts. His beautiful cock stood proud against his flat belly. “Oh God!” I whispered, and my mouth began to water. Hyde took his hand from my jeans and placed it on my hip to steady me, but I didn’t need to be steadied. Instead, I dropped to my knees and swallowed him. Or tried to. He was so thick and long, I had a hard time… no pun intended, thank you very much… getting more than a few inches of him past my lips. But dammit, I was going to keep trying, and one of these days….
He braced his legs apart, buried his fingers in my hair, and let me suck on the crown of his cock and probe the slit with delicate flicks of my tongue.
I slipped a finger into my mouth, not an easy task with his monster of a cock in there as well, but I had a plan. I worked up a mouthful of spit, got my finger good and wet, then eased it out and sucked harder on his cock to distract him.
“If you make me come now—” Hyde warned.
I ran my palms over the luscious curves of his muscular ass, pulled apart his cheeks, and stroked my finger over his hole.
“Kipp, I swear—” But there was a quaver in his voice, and I had no intention of stopping.
I dipped my finger in, found his prostate and rubbed, and his words became garbled. I hummed “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man,” the song I always thought of when I looked into his gorgeous honey eyes, and he groaned and gasped as spurt after spurt of hot, sweet come flooded over my tongue.
“Y-you sc-scamp!” he panted when he’d finally caught his breath.
I let his cock slip past my lips, being careful of the sensitive head. “I love you, Hyde.”
“We were supposed to practice making a baby,” he grumbled.
“There’s no law that says we can’t do that after dinner.”
“But you didn’t climax.”
“I didn’t, did I?” I rubbed a palm over the front of my jeans, which gaped open. Sometimes the restraint Sir had insisted on paid off, although I was willing to bet he’d have been seriously aggravated to learn how I’d employed that restraint. “You’ll take care of me later, won’t you?”
“You know I will!” He urged me to my feet, tipped my chin up, and took my mouth in a kiss that would have knocked my shoes off—if I’d been wearing shoes. My knees were about to give out from under me by the time that kiss ended. He scooped me up in his arms, and I rested my head against his shoulder as he carried me into the bedroom. He’d taken my virginity on that bed on our wedding night.
“Meeting you was the best day of my life,” I murmured as I stroked his cheek.
“Deciding to marry you was the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I love you, Kipp. My God, how I love you!”
Unfortunately, things weren’t all sunshine, lollipops, and blowjobs.
I sat beside Granddad’s bed in his room at Promise Hospice. In an effort to ease his breathing, the nurse had raised the head of the bed to a forty-five degree angle, but he still struggled to breathe as he faded in and out of consciousness. The television was on, set to a music station, and I kept the sound down so he wouldn’t be bothered by it. Oddly enough, Buddy Holly’s version of “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” was playing. I held Granddad’s hand and listened to the music with one ear and to his breathing with the other.
Please don’t let him die. I knew it was selfish, but I’d only gotten him back a few months ago, after a three-year estrangement.
He’d been diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer two years prior, and because it had already spread, he’d refused to agree to any treatment other than radiation therapy. His doctors fought for him, but because the prognosis was so poor, they didn’t hold out much hope.
But each time he’d had a setback, he’d followed it with a comeback.
This time, though, I knew… we all knew… it was the end. The entire family had come to say good-bye, but because the room wasn’t large enough to hold everyone, they’d left to get some coffee.
I held onto his hand, hummed along with the music, and tried to keep from weeping.
The door swung open, and Hyde strode in.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at a meeting?” I asked softly, not wanting to disturb Granddad.
“I was, but I received a voicemail from Gayla in the middle of it.”
Our surrogate? “Is everything okay?”
“Listen to this.” He played back the message.
“Hi, Mr. Wyndham. I just wanted to let you and your husband know that, in my grandmother’s parlance, the rabbit died!”
Was she…? Did that mean…? I stared at Hyde, afraid to voice my hopes.
“We’re going to be dads!”
“Kipp?” For the first time in a couple of days, my grandfather’s eyes held awareness as he looked at me. He tightened his grip on my hand.
“Granddad! You’re with us again! Hyde, would you get the rest of the family? They went down to the coffee shop.”
“No need to get them, Hyde. I… I won’t be here for much longer.” He attempted to sit up straighter.
I bit my lip to keep from protesting. He’d been in so much pain, in spite of all the morphine they’d given him. It would be cruel to plead with him to stay. “Please don’t exert yourself,” I begged instead.
“I… I have to tell you this. I had the strangest dream.”
“Did you?” I petted the hand that held mine, concerned the brief moment of lucidity was gone but not willing to distress him.
“Yes. You and Hyde were about to become fathers.”
“We are. Our surrogate left a message on Hyde’s phone. She’s carrying our baby. And that means you’re going to be a great-granddad!”
“Ah. That makes me so happy.” He lay back against the pillows. “Promise… promise me one thing.”
“Anything, Granddad.” I clung to his hand.
“Name… name her Beth.”
I felt my eyes well up. After my mother? Of course we didn’t know the baby’s gender yet, but I was thrilled he’d suggested that. I turned my gaze to Hyde’s. “May we?”
“Of course. And if he’s a boy, we’ll name him after you, Bradley.”
Granddad shook his head. “Name your second child Kipp. Or Hyde. Another Bradley is superfluous.”
“Whatever you say, Granddad.” My uncle was Bradley Martin IV. “But we can always make it a middle name.”
“I held on, waiting for this moment. God bless and keep you all.” He smiled, his eyes misty. “You, Kipp, for being my beloved grandson. You, Hyde, for loving him, and both of you for my little great-granddaughter….”
And then he closed his eyes, and he was gone.
I freed my hand gently, folded his over his chest, and leaned down to kiss his cheek. “Good-bye, Granddad.”
Hyde reached for the call bell and pressed it, and then he held me as we waited together for the nurse to come in.
Granddad’s funeral was strictly for family: his daughters and son and their spouses and children, my brother Geoff and his wife Mindy, even Beauchamp, who’d been his butler for years. In a month or so, we’d have a memorial service for the entire city to attend if they chose. After all, Martinsburg had been named for the Martin who’d first come over the mountains and settled here.
We’d returned from the reading of the will, and the only surprise was that Granddad had left Silver Birch and all its contents to me. Geoff had no objection. Granddad had left him shares in the Martin family business as well as other stocks and bonds, and Geoff had Llewellyn Manor, the house we’d grown up in, since Sir, his father, had passed away two days after Hyde and I had left for our honeymoon.
I’d regretted I hadn’t been there for my brother but not that I’d missed the funeral of the man who had made it obvious all my life that he had no use for me.
As for my aunts and uncle…. “Dad left us plenty, Kipp, and it’s only right you have your mother’s share,” Uncle Brad said. “We don’t ever want you in the position where you have to marry the first billionaire who comes along and asks you.”
I couldn’t help grinning at him. “Already did that, Uncle Brad.”
“Humph. When is your baby due?”
“The second or third week in April.”
“All right, we’ll be back then.” He was in the army, as my father had been, and I hoped he’d be able to get leave.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a new baby in this family,” Aunt Charlotte said, and she and Aunt Louise kissed my cheek and then hugged Hyde. “You’ll let us give you a baby shower, I hope.”
“Whatever you like, Aunt Charlotte.”
“Smart boy. Beth would have been so proud of you.”
“The buffet has been set up in the small dining room. Why don’t you go and help yourselves?”
Uncle Brad squeezed my shoulder, and the family dispersed to sample the amazing array of food that had been prepared by Mrs. Wales, Geoff’s cook, who he’d kindly let me borrow.
Everyone had finally retired to the rooms they had used as children—they’d leave in the morning—and Geoff and Mindy had gone home.
I sprawled on the couch in the downstairs parlor, sipping one of Granddad’s excellent brandies, a Marquis de Montdidier VSOP, while Hyde sat beside me, nursing his own. It had been a rough week, and as soon as I got myself together, we’d go up to bed ourselves in the room that had been mine.
A tap on the door frame caused Hyde to glance around. “Yes, Beauchamp?”
“I thought I should take this opportunity to give you this.” He approached me and held out a cedar box that was five inches by eight by four. “It’s Miss Beth’s keepsake box. Mr. Martin wanted Kipp to have it after the will was read.”
“What does it contain?” I asked as I took the box. I knew it had once held the ring I’d placed on my husband’s finger all three times we’d exchanged vows: the first in Granddad’s Hospice room, the second at city hall, and the third a few days later, before our friends and family.
“Why after the will was read?” Hyde sounded concerned.
“A key. And I’m sure I couldn’t say, sir.”
I raised the lid and looked in as the scent of cedar rose from it. Sure enough, on the faded velvet that lined the box was a key to a safe deposit box. I took it out and studied the tag attached to it. “First Federal Bank of Cadwalader?”
“It’s a very small town about a hundred miles west of King of Prussia,” Hyde said.
“You’re familiar with it?” What was I saying? Of course he was familiar with it.
“I think we’re taking a road trip.”
I stared at him. “But that contract…?”
“Armitage can deal with it.”
Yes, she could. She was Hyde’s very excellent personal assistant.
“Beauchamp, if you’ll take the snifters?” Hyde handed them to him. “We’ll have breakfast at eight, please.”
“Very good, sir. I’ll wish you both good night.”
“Good night.” Hyde pulled me to my feet, and I smothered a yawn.
“Good night, Grandfather.” We exchanged grins, because, as it turned out, Marcus Llewellyn wasn’t my father; Beauchamp’s son Kipling was. I didn’t begrudge my mother the measure of happiness she’d found, if only for a short time.
Then I yawned again.
“Come on, blue eyes. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be another long day.”
The following morning after breakfast, Hyde drove us to the Martinsburg Airfield, and his—our—private jet flew us to the airport closest to Cadwalader, which happened to be Philadelphia International.
Armitage had reserved a Honda CRV XL for us, so we went to Zone 2 outside baggage claim to pick it up. The drive to Cadwalader was going to take about an hour and a half, and while Hyde drove, I finished up the sketches of the child’s room I planned to submit to my client… my client!… in a week or so when I’d fly out to LA where he was working on his latest movie to meet with him and his wife. And Hyde would be accompanying me, rather than the other way around!
Not that I minded being my husband’s eye candy, but I was looking forward to him being mine.
I realized the car had stopped moving when Hyde touched my shoulder.
“We are?” I stared out the SUV’s window.
Hyde was right, the town was small, although miniscule might be a better word for it. It looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting of small town America. A single street ran through the center of town and the houses and shops were charmingly picturesque.
He pulled the SUV into an angled parking spot in front of the only bank in town, and we got out and walked in.
The bank president came toward us, positively beaming, and with his hand extended. “Mr. Wyndham, it’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. Miss Armitage called to say you’d be coming to visit our little town. And… and this is your husband? I’m Alfred Katz, but please, call me Alfred, Mr. Llewellyn-Wyndham.”
“Hello.” Since I hadn’t legally changed my name to Beauchamp just yet, I didn’t bother correcting him.
“I… uh… I’m afraid I’ll need to see the paperwork.”
“Of course.” Hyde had contacted everyone who needed to be contacted, and in an amazingly short amount of time I’d received everything that was necessary.
“Thank you.” Mr. Katz took the envelope from Hyde and studied the contents, finally nodding in satisfaction. “And permit me to express my condolences on the loss of your mother, Mr. Llewellyn-Wyndham. She was a lovely woman.”
“You met her?”
“Oh… er….” He led us to the vault. “I didn’t know her personally, of course. I’m not as old as all that. That is to say… My predecessor handled all the transactions. He opened this safe deposit box for her about twenty-two years ago, and set up an account as well to cover all the bank fees.”
“I see.” Although I really didn’t. Why had my mother opened a safe deposit box in Cadwalader of all places?
“I’m actually one of the youngest presidents in this bank’s history,” he announced.
“Yes, I’m quite a catch, if I say so myself.”
Beside me, Hyde was grinding his teeth.
Unaware, Mr. Katz smiled and leafed through the book to Mother’s page. “Here we are. Now, if you’ll sign right here?”
I took the pen and went still. On the line was my mother’s signature, Elizabeth Martin. At one time, she’d stood here, very much alive, and written in this book. I drew in a breath and scribbled my name beneath hers.
“And if you’ll wait here one moment, Mr. Wyndham?”
Hyde growled, and I caught his gaze and raised both eyebrows. I’d never been able to raise just one, although practically everyone else in the world could. It was something I’d gotten from my father’s side of the family, since Grandfather couldn’t do it, and he’d told me neither could Kipling.
Hyde hunched a shoulder and smoothed his expression, as if he hadn’t just been glaring daggers at Mr. Katz’s back, but he made no attempt to follow us into the vault.
Mr. Katz rolled a small stepladder against one wall and set the brake before climbing up. He found box 523, inserted his key, inserted mine, turned them both, and then opened the door and removed the long, narrow box.
He stepped off the ladder, carefully balancing the box. “This way, please.” He led the way out of the vault and started to gesture to a single room to the right of the vault, but Hyde was already there, and he didn’t look too impressed.
“Is this the best you can offer my husband?”
“I’m-I’m sorry, Mr. Wyndham.” Mr. Katz swallowed heavily. “I’m afraid this is the only room we h-have for this use.” He tugged at his collar. “Would you care for anything? I’d be more than happy to send out for coffee or tea.”
“No, we’re fine, Mr. Katz.” I took the safe deposit box from him.
“In that case, I’ll leave you to it. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you.” He scurried back to his desk.
“You didn’t have to scare him, Hyde.”
“I didn’t like the way he was looking at you.”
“How was he looking at me?”
Hyde frowned at me. “Like you were the cherry on a sundae, and he couldn’t wait to suck you off.”
“Excuse me? You thought I’d let him get in my pants?” I hissed, struggling to keep my voice down.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I meant….” Hyde pulled me into the room and closed the door. “You’re entirely too unobservant!”
“No, I’m not.” The only furniture in the room was a table and two chairs. Annoyed, I put the box down on the table with a thump. “Hyde, it doesn’t matter to me how anyone other than you looks at me. You’re the most important person in my life.”
I suddenly found myself in his arms.
“I’m sorry, Kipp. He was insinuating I was too old for you, and I just—”
I freed my arms and cradled his cheeks between my palms. “Age is immaterial. I love you, my brown-eyed handsome man.”
“And I love you, my blue-eyed boy.”
Long minutes drifted by as I explored his mouth, and he explored mine.
“Now let’s get this finished,” he murmured against my lips.
One final kiss to the corner of his mouth, and then I stepped back and raised the lid of the safe deposit box. One by one, I removed the contents and lined them up on the table: a key, a deed, and a map.
I unfolded the deed and scanned the information it contained. “This is for a cabin in the Big Bass Lake region of the Pocono Mountains. It belonged to my great-grandmother, who was also named Elizabeth Martin. She left it to Mother.” I stared at Hyde wide-eyed. “I have a cabin in the mountains! We have a cabin in the mountains!”
“If it comes to that, we also have a cottage by the sea, a penthouse on Park Avenue, a mansion in the Hamptons, and a three-level yacht that can cruise the open ocean. Mi casa es su casa.”
“Yes, Hyde.” I leaned against him and rubbed my cheek against his shoulder. “What were you looking at?”
He had opened the map and was studying it. He pointed out a spot. “We’re going there. We’ll have to backtrack…” He traced the route we would take. “… which will add another hour or so to the drive—your mother didn’t want Llewellyn to know about this cabin.” He folded the map. “Is there anything else in there?”
“No-yes.” I heard something rattling around in the box now that there wasn’t anything to muffle the sound. I tipped it, and a small jeweler’s box slid forward. “I wonder what’s in here.” I took it out, pressed the catch, and blinked as the lid popped up to reveal a ring.
“That must be the ring Kipling Beauchamp gave your mother.”
“It’s beautiful.” It was a more feminine version of the ring I had placed on my husband’s finger. I couldn’t leave it here. I closed the jeweler’s box and put it in my pocket. Then I put the key for the cabin in beside it.
“Give me the deed, Kipp.” He tucked it and the map into his inner jacket pocket while I closed the now-empty safe deposit box.
I held it under my arm, and we left the small room.
“Mr. Katz, we’re done here.”
He hurried back to us, and then he and I went into the vault and locked the box away.
“I… I hope I didn’t overstep any boundaries,” he whispered, obviously uncomfortable. “It’s just… you’re very attractive. And your husband is so—”
“Hyde is so what?” There was ice in my voice. If he dared to say what I thought he’d planned to say, I was going to kick his ass.
“Uh… attractive! You make a lovely couple!” He held out the key, his hand shaking.
I accepted the key and slipped it into my other pocket, and we left the vault. “Thank you for your kindness and your assistance. Good afternoon.”
Hyde was chuckling as we left the bank.
“Never let anyone say you’re not a Martin.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I reached down and twined my fingers with his. “Hyde, what do you think we’ll find in the cabin?”
He was silent for a moment, and then gave my fingers a squeeze. “I honestly don’t know. It seems the items your mother felt were most important were in the safe deposit box.”
“Yes, I imagine you’re right.” I sighed. There went my fantasy of us on a treasure hunt, tapping on walls and pulling up floorboards, perhaps finding letters my parents wrote or mementos they gave each other. “I wonder what condition the cabin will be in. Will there be veils of spider webs and mounds of dust?”
“Why would you picture it that way?”
“Well, the last time my mother was there had to have been before I was born. Granddad told me Marcus kept close watch over her after he brought her back to Llewellyn Manor.” She’d run away to be with Kipling Beauchamp, but then they’d learned he was being deployed to Bosnia, and after he left, she’d returned to Martinsburg.
“Considering her careful planning—setting up an account to take care of the bank fees for the safe deposit box—I’m inclined to think she hired someone to care for the grounds and the interior of the cabin. But we’ll see in about three hours.”
“That’s roughly how long it will take us to drive to the Poconos from here.”
“Really?” My stomach growled. “Can we have lunch before we go?” As much as I wanted to see my mother’s cabin, I was starving.
“Of course.” Hyde took out his Smartphone, and his fingers danced over the screen. “Ah. The Cadwalader Diner has received very good Yelp reviews. Interesting for such a small town.” He put his phone away and smiled into my eyes. “Will that be all right?”
“That will be fine, Hyde.” I just hoped the cabin was habitable enough to stay in overnight, because it was going to be late when we got there.
He draped his arm across my shoulders, and as we crossed the street and strolled to the diner, I thought of spending winter holidays there, of taking our child… our children… there for summer vacations. I began humming.
And of course it was “Brown Eyed Handsome Man.”
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December 8, 2014
Body Language takes place in Lydia—a kingdom in Asia Minor (now part of modern Turkey) that was conquered by Cyrus the Great during the 6th century BC and became part of the Persian Empire.
Years later, Lykos, the son of the king of the Thracian city-state, Aenus, is travelling incognito through the conquered province. To avoid arousing questions as to why he is there, he is only accompanied by the Persian, Narses, a friend of his father. Hearing cries for help, the two men intervene. They are too late to save a merchant and his slave, but they arrive in time to prevent bandits slaying the third member of the party.
Kas recently lost his family and was grateful to be travelling under the protection of Tahmasp. Now the merchant is dead, his future is once more under threat. He would like nothing better than to remain with the handsome warrior, but how can he explain that to a man who speaks little but Greek?
May 31, 2013
Josh cried out as Brandon slammed into him, the condom just barely visible through the camera while I adjusted the focus. Kenny, a recent addition to the ever growing Raging Hearts family, had a knack for capturing the guys’ expressions so he ran the second camera. We’d splice everything together during editing, clean up the audio, and showcase it on the site in a few months. No muss, no fuss. I liked Brandon and Josh—they liked to strip, fuck, and get paid. I didn’t have to deal with any shit from them and that’s exactly why I scheduled them together for today. Today was special and I didn’t need a fucking twelve hour shoot with pills, injections, a diva top, or a whiny bottom.
“Yeah, like that,” Josh half-whispered to Brandon, barely registering with the camera microphones. It was a statement just for Brandon telling him how to get Josh off so we could finish the scene with a spectacular money shot. Brandon pushed Josh’s legs just a little higher and spread them for the camera as his scene partner jerked his own cock in a steady rhythm. I’d already told them to wrap it up, so Josh paid particular attention to the head, knowing from years of experience exactly what he had to do in order to get himself there as Brandon nailed his ass.
I drew the shot back, focusing on the way Brandon’s hips undulated in quick but smooth thrusts and his muscled ass flexed. Josh began to moan, his back arching, and Kenny changed his angle so he could capture both Josh’s face and the come shot. I focused on Josh’s hand as it jerked his dick and the incessant pounding of Brandon’s cock in his ass.
“I’m gonna come,” Josh gasped for the benefit of the camera and their operators. Brandon moved faster, closing in on his climax. The come shot from the top is almost incidental; it’s the bottom’s come shot the guys jerking off are waiting for. They want to hear it, see it, and feel it themselves as they race the bottom to the finish line.
Speaking of the finish line…
Josh’s head fell back onto the bed and his cock erupted. White streams of semen shot over his abs and managed to reach his chest. It was always such a contest with these guys—who could shoot farther, as if they had any fucking control over it. The mics picked up his low, strained moans, the grunts of pleasure as he coated his skin. I caught Brandon’s attention and asked him silently how close; he simply nodded. Thank fuck for that. I didn’t want to wait another hour for him to get himself off. We’d have to stop, get Josh to clean himself up, apply silicone lube so it looked like fresh jizz, and wait. Luckily for me, Brandon could get off with a stiff breeze so we didn’t have to stop.
If Brandon weren’t straight, Josh might have reached down and stroked his balls to help him off, but we all knew to just let him go. The big blond would close his eyes, think about his pretty little wife, and round out the scene. Within ten minutes, he’d added his own spunk on Josh’s abs.
“Great job guys,” I said once the cameras stopped filming and the boys were climbing off the bed. “I’m going to toss in a bonus because you didn’t give me any crap and got me out early today. I really appreciate that.” Brandon threw on a pair of loose shorts over his softening cock and shrugged.
“Dude, I’m married. I get it. Besides, we were at your wedding,” he said, tossing a glance at Josh, who nodded. Brandon pulled a faded T-shirt over his head and asked, “How’s Jamie doing? He never really comes by the studio anymore.”
“The publisher had some changes they wanted him to make on his new book, and he’s been working his ass off to make their ridiculous deadline.” I averted my eyes, packing up the camera so they couldn’t see the disappointment in them. It was our very first anniversary and I hadn’t even heard from Jamie. He’d been gone when I got up, probably off to Starbucks to work on his edits because he couldn’t concentrate at home. We’d been missing each other the last couple of weeks, passing like ships in the night because we were both inundated with work.
After paying Brandon and Josh, I checked my phone and saw the text I’d sent Jamie was still unanswered—even unopened. My heart sank. Rather than going straight home like I’d planned and setting up a candlelight dinner Jamie might not even show up for, I grabbed the memory card out of the camera and started checking the prelims. It was only out of sheer desperate hope that I went upstairs and douched before leaving the studio.
It was just past dusk when I arrived home to our house, dark save for the glow of the lighted porch.
Jamie still wasn’t driving. Though his seizures were mostly controlled by medication, his doctor hadn’t signed off for the state of California to let him behind the wheel. Starbucks was about ten minutes away anyway, so if I didn’t drop him on my way in to the studio, he would walk. The porch light glowed as I tried the door to find it locked. My heart clenched. He’d forgotten our anniversary.
Pushing open the door, I shoved the hurt down deep. I’d promised myself when we got married that I wouldn’t doubt our relationship. Jamie loved me, without question. I couldn’t even blame the book because I knew he’d worked so hard on it. The story of two gay boys who had been fucked by the Sunshine Center just like he had. It was important to him. I hated how selfish I’d become.
When I saw the living room, I stopped dead in the doorway. The furniture had been pushed out of the way, and an inflatable mattress, maybe even the mattress, lay dormant in the middle of the room. A small camping lantern, like we’d had in the tree house, sat on one of the side tables next to it. I’d just taken in the scene and what it meant when Jamie came into the room. His blond unruly hair, which I’d begged him to keep long, was wet from a shower. He stepped directly in front of me, cradled my face in his hands, and kissed me so tenderly I could have wept.
I moaned into his mouth and prayed he didn’t have dinner ready.
“I want to make love to you,” he whispered against my ear after breaking the kiss, “thoroughly, slowly, just like that very first time.” I nodded even as my arms wound around his neck. God yes. Pressing my body closer, I tried to kiss him again, but he murmured against my lips. “Then, I’ll feed you and take you up to our bed.” I nodded again, and he took a step back, pulling me toward the inflatable mattress.
“Is this—?” I started to ask before I lost my balance and dropped onto the mattress without a modicum of grace. He chuckled as he pulled the polo shirt over his head and bared his chest. Any other questions I might have had fled my mind at the sight of his bare skin. I saw it almost daily, but here in the soft light of his makeshift version of the tree house, a replica of the place where we lost our innocence to each other, it was like seeing him for the first time.
“Is this the mattress?” he asked, finishing my question as he unbuttoned his jeans. I pulled my own T-shirt off as I sat up. “Yeah, baby, it is. I got everything from my dad’s over the weekend and hid it in the garage. Even the fan and the radio came from our tree house.” He tilted his head to indicate another table I’d missed where the old radio and fan sat quietly in the background.
“I love you so much.” I grabbed his hand and pulled him down on top of me. It didn’t matter that his jeans scraped against my skin; I just wanted to feel him, to hold him. He was my whole fucking world and everything in it. My head pushed back against the pillow with the force of his kiss. In it were his love and need for me I felt with every meeting of our eager mouths. He whispered my name between our lips and I threaded my fingers through the silky strands of his blond hair. My heart pounded in my chest, just as it had our very first time together. The only thing missing was the sound and smell of rain.
“You are my soul,” he murmured against my jaw. My head fell back as his lips found the pulse point on my neck, kissing it and sucking with almost no force, just enough to make me ache for him. I loved the way his body fit perfectly against mine when I wrapped my legs around his waist and arched up into him. He wasn’t all the way hard yet, but the friction of our bodies was getting us both there faster than I ever thought possible.
His absence from my life still haunted my nightmares, but in moments like this, where I could feel him and smell him and touch him, I could keep the fear locked away. I focused on the way his lips closed over my nipple and a wild, desperate craving to have him inside me exploded through my body. The only sounds in the room were his slow sweet kisses on my skin and our harsh, needy breaths. With surprising speed, Jamie popped the buttons on my jeans, even as his mouth slid down my abs with a peppering of tiny whispered kisses. When he reached the top of my briefs, I couldn’t stop the strangled cry or the way my hips thrust up to meet his touch.
Jamie tugged hard at the denim, jerking the jeans down my legs and then off over my feet. The briefs came with them, and I don’t know or care where any of it landed. I cared only that I lay naked before my beautiful Jamie. He nuzzled his face against my hip bone, his hair tickling my abs as I ran my fingers through it. I loved the tenderness between us.
Then my cock was in his mouth and all other thoughts left me.
“God, baby,” I moaned even as my fingers tightened in his hair. My breath caught in my throat when he took me deep and I barely registered him pulling his own cock out of his jeans to stroke it while he sucked me. Jamie sucked hard, pulling at the head with his lips. After a minute, he stripped off his pants and briefs so we were both naked and wanting.
“Move up higher,” Jamie said after letting go of my dick with a pop of his lips. My legs felt like jelly, but I crab-walked backward a foot or so up on the mattress. Jamie moved right with me, pushing one of my legs up so he could continue to explore me with his mouth. Moving lower past my cock, he massaged my balls with his tongue. First one, taking it deep into his mouth as I held my knee to my chest to give him room, and then the other, while stroking my spit-covered dick with his fist.
It felt so good, I wanted to beg him to fuck me right then, but it was obvious he wanted to take his time. When he held my other knee up and out, spreading me to him, and slid his tongue into my ass, I cried out, fisting the back of his hair. Fuck, we hadn’t done that the first time we made love. I whimpered as his thumbs held me open. It felt like he was digging the last of the ice cream out of the carton. Jesus. He didn’t miss even the smallest bit of skin. My cock ached, I was so hard.
I wanted to suck him too, but he’d already grabbed a bottle of lube hidden beneath one of the pillows. The overwhelming need to feel him inside me won out over the desire to watch him writhe on the bed with his dick in my mouth. I kept my knee to my chest so he could coat my hole with lube. Jamie was always careful with me. It didn’t matter to him I used to fuck guys for a living; he continued to be gentle and loving because that was Jamie.
He straightened my leg and kissed the inside of my knee as it rested over his shoulder. The back of my thigh strained when he leaned forward to kiss me. The scruff on Jamie’s face scraped my palm as I cupped his cheek, and my heart swelled with love for him. For a moment, it filled me so completely I couldn’t breathe. I could almost hear the rain beating on the tree house roof. I could almost see the boy that Jamie had been, sweet and scared as he hovered above me that very first time. As he slid into me, however, the fear and the pain I’d felt back then were absent. It was just Jamie and me, making love like we’d done hundreds of times before.
I felt him moan “Brian” against my lips when he slid home, his hips barely touching my ass with short, gentle thrusts. My fingers wrapped around the back of his neck and pulled his head down so I could capture his lips. We panted into each other’s mouths until he dropped his forehead to my shoulder and drove his cock into me in earnest. I loved the way he stretched me, making me feel every inch of him as he made me his all over again. I would always be his. Always.
Nothing, not even sound, could have wedged between us as we made love, as close as two people could ever be. God, I needed him more than air. He was like sunshine on my soul. As I turned my face slightly toward him, I buried my nose in his hair. The sweet smell of sweat and coconut made my cock throb against his stomach. I longed to reach down and stroke my dick, but if I did, it would end, and I never wanted Jamie to stop.
After what felt like no time at all, he whispered to me, begging softly for me to touch myself because he couldn’t hold back much longer. The intensity of the emotions between us coupled with our amazing, dynamic attraction for each other made everything so sharp, so focused, like a single point of light that radiated through every part of our lives. We could lie together in bed, spending hours on end without words.
My hand slid, almost unconsciously, between us, and I rubbed my swollen cock. Jamie stopped for just a moment to grab the lube and drizzle a bit onto my fingers. Then I laughed as he slapped the cap against his thigh and flung the bottle over his shoulder. With my left arm wrapped around his shoulders, I used my right hand to get myself closer to the point where we could come together. We liked to do that sometimes, one of us slowing down to let the other catch up so that we could find nirvana in each other’s arms.
His labored breathing in my ear told me I needed to go faster if I wanted to keep pace, so I twisted my fist over the head with each fast stroke. Jamie let my leg slip from his shoulder but pulled my other leg higher. The change in position, the incredible vulnerability of being spread wide for him, drove me so much closer. When his dick glanced off my hot spot, I whimpered in his ear and he did it again. And again. And again.
“Jamie,” I murmured into his hair, tightening my hold around him as my muscles began to tighten. He answered with his own harsh groan and drove deep as his orgasm exploded into me. Crying out, I focused every bit of my energy on the way my groin tingled and my balls tightened against my body. He didn’t slow, trying to get me there, and after a long minute, I wrapped my legs tightly around his waist and shot my load between us.
“Yeah, baby,” he moaned against my lips as his forehead pressed against mine. He held me as our bodies shook and my cock continued to press against his stomach, tracing lines in the cooling semen on our skin. When he pulled back, I don’t think I’d ever seen such a look of tenderness on his face.
“All those years ago, I prayed that we would be here one day,” he said, one hand cradling my cheek and love shining in his eyes. “I never dared to hope, especially after they took me away from you, but I prayed. Our marriage is the answer to that prayer, Brian. I may not believe in my mother’s kind of God, but I do think he exists, if for no other reason than that he sent me my very own angel.”
A single tear ran down my cheek at his words, and I couldn’t stop myself from kissing him with long, slow deliberation.
“I love you, Jamie. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. While I’m not sure I believe in God, I have to wonder because I prayed too. I begged him to keep you safe until I could find you.”
“Happy anniversary, baby. It’s you and me—forever.”
Read more about Brian and Jamie in the Little Boy Lost series.
May 31, 2013
I put the final touches on the carving I was making Matt for our first anniversary. When we’d been eighteen, our friendship just solidified and our chance at more seemingly non-existent, I’d carved a horse for him. Years later, I’d found out he’d kept it through our time apart, treasuring it even when he’d wanted to hate me.
I’d carved other things for him since we’d been together—salad bowls, wooden utensils, a mixing bowl for him to give his mom. But this gift was more special than any of those, because it was a way of giving him myself, showing him that every single part of me was his, even the part I’d tried to hide from him, my shifter side. I’d carved him a wolf, and it was one of the most detailed pieces I’d ever made, the fur, the eyes, the line of the throat as the wolf tilted it’s head up for a howl. I’d spent hours hidden away in the shed I used as a workroom, perfecting it.
Read more about Matt and Shane in Denying Yourself.
I looked the wolf over one more time and decided I was satisfied. Now I just needed to wrap it and go find Matt. He was working at the restaurant he ran at Pisgah Mountain Lodge. I worked there too, as a handyman, but I’d been able to get away for most of the day. I’d hoped we’d have the evening to ourselves, but Matt hadn’t wanted to ask for the night off since it was a Saturday, and the restaurant would be busy. He’d promised we’d celebrate after he closed up and again the next morning and the next afternoon. But I wanted to stop by and surprise him anyway.
When I stepped out of my workroom, I smelled hickory smoke. If I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed Matt was firing up the grill with hickory chips in the smoke box. We didn’t have any close neighbors, but I figured someone was burning leaves or something even though my lupine sense told me otherwise.
I toed off my dirty boots, leaving them by the door. Then I pulled it open, and the smoky smell was overpowered by the sweet tang of blackberry pie. “Matt?”
He appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, wearing nothing but his threadbare cut-offs
“Surprise,” he said, looking sexy as hell with his naughty-little-boy grin on his face.
I walked toward him, needing to feel his skin under my hands. “I thought you had to work.”
His smile widened. “Nothing but an emergency would keep me away from you on the night of our anniversary. I just wanted to surprise you, so I came home after lunch and left my truck parked at the end of the driveway.“
It had been my truck, one I’d bought with my own money when I was seventeen. It was ancient, and I didn’t know how Matt kept it running, but he refused to trade it. He said it held too many memories.
“But how did you know I wouldn’t be in the house?”
Matt rolled his eyes. “You’ve got a day off. You’re on your own. You’re going to be in your studio.”
I should probably have been annoyed that he found me so predictable, but I couldn’t bother, not with him looking so hot, leaning against the doorway, his shorts low on his hips, sweat glistening on his sculpted chest after standing by the stove in the stifling afternoon heat.
I reached out with my free hand and pushed an errant curl off his forehead. He’d let his hair stay longer than he usually did in the summer just because I liked it. “Did you make blackberry pie?”
He chewed his lip, looking uncertain. “Yeah. I made your favorite meal—steak, garlic-cheddar mashed potatoes, collards and blackberry pie.”
The list of foods sounded seductive on his lips. I skimmed my fingers down his neck and across his chest and abdomen before toying with his waistband. “Delicious.”
“Me or the food?” Matt joked.
Matt still looked unsure. “I thought about getting you something else, but I wasn’t sure what you’d want, and well…”
“This is perfect. There’s nothing I want more than you, but you’re cooking is a close second.”
The worry vanished from Matt’s hazel eyes. “I love that after a year you still stay that.”
“I’m still going to be saying that after twenty years.”
“I love you,” Matt said, setting his hands on my hips and pulling me closer.
“I love you too.” Those words still had the power to bring me to my knees. For so long I’d thought I would never hear them from Matt, never hear anything but scorn after I’d fucked up so badly. I was so lucky to have gotten another chance with him.
“I made this for you.” I held out the carving. “I was going to wrap it, but…”
Matt’s eyes widened as he turned the wolf over in his hands. “This is incredible. I’ve always been impressed by what you could do but…wow.” He ran his hands over the wolf’s back, feeling the texture of the fur. “I can’t imagine how you did this.”
“It’s supposed to be me. ‘Cause I didn’t want to give you that part of me at first, but now it’s okay. I can’t believe it’s been a year, Matt. A whole year and you’re still here with me, and we’re still happy and—God I’m so lucky.” My hands shook as I waited to see what he would say.
“Shane, that’s…” Tears glistened in his eyes. He took several steps backward into the kitchen, pulling me with him. He set the wolf down on the table, then took my face in his hands.
“You’re no more lucky than I am. You remember that, don’t you?”
“Most days.” There were times when I could believe Matt felt as awestruck by what was between us as I did. Other days that didn’t seem possible.
“I’m going to start making sure you remember it every day because you are the most important thing in my life. And this—“ Matt picked up the carved wolf. “This is going on the mantle right beside my horse. You couldn’t have given me a better present, because this is you. The wolf is you, the caving is you, the following your dreams is you.” Matt frowned. “All I did is cook.”
“But don’t you see? That’s who you are, the man who takes care of everyone by feeding them. You’re living your dream too.”
“But I wouldn’t be if you hadn’t pushed me.”
I cupped Matt’s ass and pulled him hard against me, needing to show him how I felt instead of talking. He kissed me, pushing into my mouth, making me open for him. He was aggressive and needy at the same time. I took what he had and gave it back, devouring him. Finally, we both needed to breathe. He nipped at my lower lip as he pulled back.
His eyes had a mischievous glint, and my body thrummed, waiting to find out what he wanted. He took hold of the table’s edge and smiled. “It’s sturdy enough, don’t you think?”
My eyes widened. ”You mean…”
“I’m going to spread you out on it and show you just how happy I am to have you.”
My dick immediately seconded the idea, but my stomach wasn’t so sure. “What about dinner?”
Matt grinned. “I can put the steaks on afterwards. Everything else can wait.”
“But you can’t wait?”
Matt shook his head. “No, I can’t.”
I wasn’t about to deny him what he wanted, so I gripped the hem of my T-shirt, pulled it up and over my head, and tossed it to the floor. Matt maneuvered me until I was between him and the edge of the table. Then he suckled one of my nipples as I worked the fastenings of my jeans. My fingers fumbled when he bit down.
“Oh yes, I’m going to fuck you.”
I grinned. “I love how you go from sweet to lust-crazed in no time.”
He laved my nipple, soothing the sting of the bite. “This is sweet. Very, very sweet.” He belied his words by sinking his teeth into my shoulder and sucking hard enough to leave a mark.
“Matt!” I cried, digging my fingers into his back as I kicked out of my pants.
“I love that after a year this is still just as hot as it always was.”
I groaned. “Hotter.”
Matt gripped my waist, and I held onto his shoulders as he lifted me to sit on the table’s edge. I dropped my head back as he kissed along my neck, teasing my skin with flicks of his tongue. My wolf stirred inside, longing to take command, but I wouldn’t let him.
Matt shivered like he sensed the predator rising in me. “You gonna fight me?” He asking, straightening up and popping the snap on his cut-offs. Sometimes Matt liked for my wolf to come out to play during sex. He enjoyed the side of me that balked at his being in control, but that’s not what I wanted tonight.
I shook my head. “Not if you hurry.”
He cocked his head like he was thinking. “Shouldn’t anniversary sex be slow and romantic?”
I lay back, spreading myself for him and shifting restlessly against the table. “Not this time.”
Matt groaned, watching me as he pushed his shorts over his hips and stepped out of them.
I breathed deep, smelling his desire. It was laced with the primal fear any human has of a wolf.
“Now,” I growled, knowing it would make him hotter.
I started to sit up and pull him on top of me, but he pushed me back down, and I let him, even though my wolf wanted to fight.
“Don’t move,” he said. He stepped away, glanced around the kitchen, then grabbed the olive oil from the counter. It wouldn’t be the first time we’d improvised with lube because we were too impatient walk to the bedroom. Thank goodness we didn’t need condoms any more.
I stroked myself as I watched him slick up his cock. I was desperate to feel him inside me, to have us locked together, connected in the most basic way possible.
I reached for him, and he leaned down and kissed me. “I love you,” I murmured against his mouth. “Always.”
“Shane, you’re amazing.” He found my entrance with his slick fingers and pushed inside me, opening me up, working me slowly, torturously as he kissed me. I bucked up against him, my cock brushing his abdomen, desperate for friction.
In seconds, I was already too far gone for complete sentences. “You don’t have to… I don’t need… Just fuck me.”
He grinned as he pulled his fingers from my body. “I love making you so needy.” He positioned his cock, teasing me, circling my hole with the tip. “I love making you mine.” He drove into me, and I cried out.
“Always yours. Always,” I shouted.
I arched up, taking him deeper. My vision shifted as my eyes turned wolfish, and I growled. “Fuck me.”
Matt took my hands in his and pinned them to the table. He didn’t have my shifter strength, but I had no interest in breaking free. I was exactly where I wanted to be.
“I’m right where I want to be too.”
I gasped. “How did you know I was thinking that?”
He raised a brow. “I know you, Shane. I know everything about you inside and out, and I love it all.”
He thrust deep, cutting off my words. Neither of us wanted slow and sweet right then. We wanted to work each other over, to let all our emotions turn to burning hot lust.
I wrapped my legs around him, holding him tight, and he gave me exactly what I wanted. I fought my wolf, holding him at bay. I snarled and bucked and Matt only gave harder.
“I fucking love when you’re so wild,” he said.
“Close, Matt. So close.”
He shifted position just enough to make his thrust drag over my gland, and that was all it took. I shouted his name and lost it. My cum shot between us, making our bodies slide against each other as he kissed me, pulling my cries into his mouth, then filling me with his own as he drove deep, giving all of himself to me, snarling and shouting through his own climax.
We lay there, panting, bodies slick with sweat and cum, limbs loose. “Wow,” I said when I found my voice.
“Yeah.” Matt chuckled. “That was not exactly how I planned to start the evening, but—“
“It was perfect.”
He sat up enough to look at me. “Happy Anniversary.”
I smiled. “I can’t imagine one happier.”
“Then be prepared to be amazed next year and the year after that.”
May 31, 2013
“What’s going on?” Miles paused in the doorway of the lounge, his newspaper under his arm. He was due a haircut, but hadn’t had time to arrange an appointment. It meant that a stray lock of his thick dark hair fell forward over his forehead and kept getting stuck in the arm of his reading glasses. Every time he brushed it back, it knocked the glasses askew on his long, straight nose.
It had been a weary, hot, and distressing week at work, finished off with a weary, hot and distressing journey home. He’d refused the offer of a cab at the end of the day: after all, he was only a dozen or so stations away from his city flat. But a wildcat strike by the train drivers meant only one in three trains was running. He’d been jostled and squashed on the platform by frustrated commuters, turned borderline psychotic by impatience and ill-equipped air conditioning. Then some hooded youth who obviously had a death wish tenacious beyond belief, had knocked into Miles - twice - and made him drop his much-needed frappuccino onto the tracks below. Before he’d taken even one sip.
The youth had apologised profusely, but Miles was in no mood for any further problems, at work or home. He looked into the lounge and frowned. The glasses slid a little further down his nose.
Zeke uncurled himself from a comfortable position on the sofa and peered over the back of it. “So I’m guessing you don’t need any further stress,” came his long, slow drawl. “I’m a sensitive, new age male. I can see that. Something about the way your fingers are welded to the handle of your briefcase. Something about the homicidal gleam in your eye.”
Miles peeled the remains of the newspaper from where the afternoon’s heat had stuck it to his palm and dropped it on to the side table. There was newsprint all over his hand but he was past caring. He carefully unwrapped the fingers of his other hand from their pseudo-rigor mortis around his case. Then he moistened his dry, pursed lips, preparing his carefully balanced response.
“Love it when you do that,” Zeke murmured. “Purse your lips like that. For me.” His eyes looked wide and innocent but his mouth smiled wickedly, licking around his words as if they were nuggets of something luscious and inevitably chocolate-flavoured. “But I guess you know that.”
Miles tried to ignore the way that Zeke’s mouth moved. Sometimes it promised delights that couldn’t be bought or begged anywhere this side of Paradise. Sometimes it meant - most definitely - further stress, though of a different kind. Miles sighed. And sometimes he never really knew what it would bring. That thought brought fearful delight. It stimulated him beyond belief. And he had no doubt that Zeke knew that.
He took a couple of steps into the lounge. “What’s going on?” he repeated. Quite calmly, and – he reckoned – in his most measured tone.
“Nothing much,” Zeke replied, in such a way that the opposite was patently true. “Just thought you needed to chill out. Hey, just listen to the strain in your voice. This deal has been hell for you. Every day, into the city centre, fighting with lawyers and accountants, and every journey a struggle through a sweaty, seething mass of humanity.”
“I never actually phrased it like that,” Miles said, dryly. “And I’ve enjoyed being involved in a new merger.”
“But maybe not as much as before.”
Miles grimaced. Did Zeke really see that in him? “True. I’ve spent a couple of months working mainly from home, and I suppose I’ve been spoiled. The change back just takes getting used to.”
“The clamour, the travel, the backbiting, the politics…”
Miles raised an eyebrow. “And that’s just at the coffee shop.”
Zeke’s smile grew wider, the skin crinkling at the outer edges of his eyes. “It’ll be finished in another month or so, and you can work from here again. I like us both working from home.”
“Your idea of us working from home has a rather different agenda than my need to earn money,” Miles said, but he could feel his smile venturing out to join Zeke’s. “Your career aspirations for us tend to involve over eighty per cent of my time – our time - in bed. I find it difficult to create due diligence checklists from that – those – angles.”
Zeke was laughing now. He stood up gracefully from the sofa and went to the side table, where he poured out and offered to Miles a glass of something pale, and full of what looked like unashamedly luxurious bubbles. The sides of the glass shimmered with chill condensation. Miles gazed back at his lover, seeing so clearly the similarity between man and Moet.
Zeke shrugged with a gentle, sensual grace. A trickle of liquid ran down the side of the glass and over the edge of his thumb. After Miles took the glass from Zeke’s hand, Zeke lifted that thumb up to his mouth and pressed it slowly between his lips, absorbing the drop of cool water.
Miles watched every movement; his hand felt numb around the stem of the glass. His groin ached with a heat that had nothing to do with the lack of air conditioning in public transport. “Have I forgotten a birthday or something?”
“No need to think you’re at fault. It’s just a day. Just special because it’s us.”
Miles wasn’t fooled. Spending time with Zeke kept him on his toes in more ways than one; kept him continuously alert to mood and nuance; kept him sharp and suspicious in the most delicious of ways. Living with Zeke had only honed those skills over the course of…
“It’s a year,” he said, rather too sharply, but then his back was still hurting from a buggy that some woman had chosen to park against his kidneys for all of three stops. “A year that we’ve lived together. At the gallery, at my house. Here in town.”
Zeke’s eyes widened a little further. “Is it really?”
Miles started to laugh. His gaze ranged over the room- the drawn curtains; the subdued lighting; the extra cushions on the couch. The warm, meaty aroma of something cooking in the kitchen. The ice bucket perched carelessly on the low table; the soft chink of the cubes inside it shifting as the warmth of the room began to melt them.
“You wanted to celebrate it. Should I have asked to leave work early?”
Zeke took a step forward, right up against him, sliding his hand around Miles’s waist, and pressing his mouth to Miles’s neck. “Maybe.”
Miles arched back, baring the skin of his throat, feeling moist from the sweat of his journey, warm with the throbbing pulse of his excitement. “Much earlier?”
“Very…” Zeke hissed, “very, very much earlier.” He nibbled at the skin under Miles’s ear, his hands slipping down to cup the cheeks of his lover’s arse through his heat-creased pants.
Miles leaned forward into the harbour of Zeke’s body, nestling his head on the other man’s shoulder, running his own hand down the sinewy planes of Zeke’s back. The skin was very warm there and his fingers followed Zeke’s spine, a ridge of sharp bones and tight flesh. The small dip at the bottom smoothed down into the curve of his arse. The skin there was also warm; also delicious to touch; also goose bumping under the path of Miles’s fingertips…
Zeke sucked in a breath and moaned.
Miles slid his hands back up to Zeke’s shoulders and pushed him gently to arms’ length. “I like this welcome look,” he said. He was slightly breathless.
Zeke smiled, his eyes now heavy-lidded and decidedly less focussed. “The glass of champagne look?”
Miles tutted. He ran a finger slowly - tortuously slowly - down the trail of hair between Zeke’s nipples, watching them spring back gently against their natural line.
“Ohhh,” Zeke sighed. “You mean the nude look?”
Miles let his eyes run hungrily up and down the naked man in his lounge. “Yes. The nude look.”
“No problems with accessorising. Goes with everything.” Zeke panted, nudging himself back against Miles. “Let me demonstrate.”
“No,” Miles said, startling Zeke. “Let me.” He removed his glasses, folding them carefully and putting them aside. He took a full mouthful of his champagne and put the glass back on the table. He didn’t swallow the drink. Instead, he sank down to his knees in front of the other man, his hands supporting himself as he went, running firmly down the taut skin of Zeke’s waist, Zeke’s hips, Zeke’s thighs…
“Fuck,” Zeke sighed, as if he breathed a particularly precious poem.
Miles smiled with closed lips and then slid his mouth carefully over Zeke’s rearing cock. The champagne was still cool, still fizzing. Miles felt the hot, thick flesh of Zeke’s arousal thrust through the bubbles towards the back of Miles’ throat. Miles steadied himself with a hand on Zeke’s shaved groin, and felt Zeke’s shudder run all the way down to his toes.
“Love it when you do that,” Zeke moaned. “Like that. For me. Did I say that before?”
Miles mumbled something that was part agreement, part pleasure. He’d spent too long in conference with work colleagues this week to worry about it at home as well. He moved his head slowly, letting Zeke’s hand in his hair just follow the movement, not directing. Again and again, back and forth, in against Zeke’s groin then back up to the tip, the champagne warming and the bubbles melting in with Miles’s saliva, lubricating his mouth, bathing the thickening cock as he sucked.
“Gonna…” Zeke gasped loudly and tensed up.
“Do it.” Miles opened his mouth and took a quick gulp of air before going back down.
“It’s your anniversary gift.” Zeke was very flushed. One of his hands clutched the back of the couch and the other gripped cruelly into Miles’s scalp. It seemed to be the only way he could stay upright at the moment of climax. “Don’t mind… no cute gift wrapping?”
Miles chuckled, scraping his teeth lightly over the crown of Zeke’s cock. “This is cute enough for me.” You always are, he nearly said, but then his mouth was filled with a spurt of thick, sticky come, a hot new burst in amongst the warmed alcohol and his own juices. He gagged but welcomed it, sucking harder than he’d meant to, but desperate to take all he could. His hands tightened on Zeke’s thighs, his fingers making pink penny-shapes in the pale flesh.
Zeke cried out as he came, babbling some nonsense words in the back of his throat that included both cursing and pleading. His back arched as his cock spat out its satisfaction, and he leant back against the sofa for support. When Miles got to his feet, slowly licking his lips, Zeke leaned back into Miles’s arms, holding tightly until his body stopped shivering with pleasure shocks, and he seemed firmer on his feet again.
Miles stood there patiently, listening to the excited beat of his own heart. When Zeke reached fumbling fingers to his chest, he let him peel the shirt up over his arms. Miles savoured the stretch, his body tired of clothes and the pressures of a week’s work.
“Look at that,” Zeke said, throatily. “Today’s news, hot from the flesh. How tasty.” He dipped his head and licked at a line of smudged newsprint along Miles’s bared wrist. “Miles. Don’t feel bad at forgetting today. It’s not like it made the national papers.” He started to lick along Miles’ skin.
Miles shivered at the flickering tongue, teasing at the sensitive areas under his arm and across his shoulder. “Who said I forgot?”
He smiled at the bemusement in Zeke’s voice. He took a step away, breathing heavily, the movement in his broad chest stirring new trickles of sweat. He flipped open the straining button of his trousers, then reached for Zeke’s hand and slid it down inside his boxers.
Zeke’s eyes opened even wider. They glinted like a switchblade unfolding. He whistled, appreciatively.
“Guess where my gift wrapping is,” Miles said. He felt Zeke’s hand tangle in amongst his sweaty hairs, and his palm close possessively around Miles’s fiercely erect cock. Gotcha!
“You wore this all the way home?”
“At this tension?” As Miles nodded again, Zeke’s expression softened. He smiled, his expression both lascivious and loving. “God, you’re hard.”
“I’m well aware of that.”
Zeke chuckled, then sighed, almost reverently. He pushed Miles’s trousers to the floor and helped him kick them to the side so that he was as naked as Zeke. Miles saw the sweat on their skin shining in the dimming light. His limbs ached with anticipation and he nudged against Zeke, impatiently. And so Zeke gently peeled off the slim, tight leather band around Miles’s cock and balls, releasing him.
Miles’ cock throbbed against Zeke’s hand, damp desire at its tip, slicking the fingers that caressed it. He groaned with almost inexpressible delight. The journey home had, indeed, been a nightmare. “I reckoned the occasion should be…”
“Celebrated?” Zeke finished, nodding. “Love it when you do that. For me.” He was breathless again and his cock was bobbing encouragingly between his legs. “I really – really – like to see that on you.”
“Uh-huh. Restrained, and desperate for release. And best of all, knowing I’m the one can offer that release.” He leaned against Miles and their mouths met greedily. “Am I right?”
“You’re right. It’s been a good time. Together, I mean.”
Miles nodded and they both smiled, their lips tracing the shape of each other’s, knowing and desiring and understanding. Miles gripped Zeke again, rubbing their cocks together, his need so urgent that he felt it as a shock through his body.
“Use me,” Zeke hissed. “That’s what you want, isn’t it?” He stroked his hands down Miles’s chest, his eyes twinkling with a mix of excitement, mischief and impatience. Then he turned his back to Miles and bent forward over the seat of the sofa, resting his arms against the back cushions. He looked back over his shoulder, his legs apart and his arse presented high for Miles to see and touch. To Miles’ delight, it looked like he was already well-lubed and ready for play.
Miles smiled, his feelings deep, joyful and at peace. He moved closer, stepping between Zeke’s outstretched thighs, rubbing his swollen cock slowly with one hand and smoothing the other over Zeke’s muscled buttocks. “Happy anniversary, Zeke.”
“And? Say it, then,” Zeke whispered, grinning, sweating. “You know you want to.”
Miles laughed again, his gaze on the sensuous arch of Zeke’s body, his heart full of happiness at their shared humour, his lover’s eagerness, the plans they’d made for each other … the thoughts of the night ahead.
“I love it when you do that,” he said, no longer any strain left in his voice. “For me.”
Read more about Zeke and Miles in the True Colors series.
May 30, 2013
Roan arrived at Panic just ahead of closing time, but still had to weave his way through the sloshed leaving men. He was so glad he wasn’t single anymore.
Once inside the nightclub, he was almost stunned by the quiet. Usually the dance music played at a volume that not only threatened to deafen him, but the bass often felt like it was attempting to puree his organs. Dylan was shirtless and wiping down the bar, which you’d expect of a bartender. Luis, the other one on duty, was gathering discarded glasses and bottles from the tables. He saw him first. “Ooh, look Dyl, your husband’s here,” Luis said, in a cheerful singsong voice.
Dylan looked at Roan and smiled, but Roan could still see the surprise in his eyes. “Hey. I didn’t know you were dropping by.”
“Didn’t want to ruin the surprise,” Roan replied, taking a seat at the bar.
“Surprise?” Dylan asked, tossing his clean up towel beneath the bar. “Is it a good surprise or a bad one?”
Poor Dylan. He’d put him through so much over the years he couldn’t trust that any surprise Roan had was a good one. “Good, I hope. I guess that’s ultimately up to you.”
He was just being honest, but that earned Roan a suspicious raised eyebrow. “Why don’t I find that comforting?”
“’Cause you’re a suspicious person?”
“I’m not. You just love being cryptic.”
“I do not.” He paused dramatically. “Or do I?”
Dylan shook his head and chuckled faintly at his stupid joke. “I just walked into that one, didn’t I?”
“Little bit. But thanks for setting up such a softball for me. I love knocking those down.”
“Don’t I know it. Luis, you got this?”
Luis sighed like the world’s saddest martyr. “Oh, I suppose. It’s not like I have anyone to go home to.”
“Says the man who hates dating.,” Dylan noted, heading into the back.
“Just ‘cause I hate dating doesn’t mean I don’t get envious of you sickening couples sometimes,” Luis called after him. He then looked at Roan, and said, “No offense.”
“None taken?” Roan replied, making it a question mainly because he wasn’t sure there was anything offensive in that statement. Was he worried because he called them sickening? Frankly, Roan had been called worse within the last hour. Sickening was kind of a step up for him. Maybe not for Dyl, though.
Dylan came out of the back with his shirt and coat on, which was only fair, but still a tiny disappointment. He just looked so good shirtless. “So do you want me to follow you in my car, or should I lead the way?”
“Actually, I thought we might walk somewhere first.”
Dylan cocked his head curiously, but it was Luis who said, “Walk? Are you crazy? It’s after 2 AM. You know how dangerous that is?”
Roan glanced at Luis. “How am I not the most dangerous thing out there?”
Luis thought about that for a moment. “Good point. Well, have fun kids. If you kill a gaybasher, I’d appreciate you not mentioning me in the police report.”
“Me, talk to you?” Roan responded. “Never.”
Luis waved goodbye, and Dylan gave him one in return. Roan didn’t bother, mainly because he was keeping his part of the agreement about ignoring him, in case anything happened tonight. Not that anything would, or at least it better not. Roan was hoping he’d made the news enough that even the ridiculously stupid would think twice before messing with him.
The evening was surprisingly muggy, suggesting a storm was imminent, although the occasional breeze off the Puget Sound was vividly cold. As they walked together down darkened and surprisingly empty sidewalks – although, this being Seattle, there was still traffic on the road – Dylan asked, “Where exactly are we going, and why?”
“You’ll see,” Roan said, continuing to be cryptic.
Despite Luis’s fear, they managed the two blocks without being bothered by anyone, and when they crested that second block, Dylan saw which street they were on, and gave Roan a curious look. “So we’re going to Gracie’s? You couldn’t just tell me you were buying me dinner?”
“Well, there’s a little more to it than that.”
“Oh really? Like what?”
“Now where’s the fun in that? You need to guess more.” Roan smiled at Dylan’s frown. Yes, he was being something of a jackass and they both knew it, but Dylan was too used to this behavior by now to be truly annoyed. Not that he ever liked it, but he was learning to tolerate it. Maybe if they were together for a hundred years or so, Dylan would learn to ignore it completely.
Gracie’s was an all night diner that was a true greasy spoon, which meant there was actually little food here that vegetarian Dyl could eat. Still, it was open, and it wasn’t a fast food place, so it would always have that in its favor. And even though the bars had closed, and that was a boom time for Gracie’s, there were only a couple guys tucked into back booths, either too tired or too wasted to look at all enthusiastic about the hamburgers and diesel grade coffee they were shoveling into their mouths.
As they took a booth by the window, Dylan asked, “Okay, I’m too tired to guess, so stop with the cryptic nonsense and tell me what this is about before I banish you to the sofa for the night.”
Ooh, he was pulling out the big guns. Dyl was slow to anger, but you still knew when he was pissed off. “Tell me, what day is it?”
He gave Roan a look that suggested he was pretty much at the end of his patience. “It’s the fourteenth. No, wait, it’s 2 AM, so it’s the fifteenth …” he trailed off, and his eyes widened slightly as he got it. “Oh hell, it’s our anniversary.”
Roan gave him a small, lazy smile. “Yep. And while this wasn’t the first place we met, it was the first place we really bonded, so what better place to have an anniversary dinner?” Roan reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small vinyl pouch, which he put on the table between them.
Dylan gave him the curious eyebrow again, before reaching for the pouch. “What’s this? Did you buy me something frilly?”
“No, that’s waiting at home,” Roan teased.
Dylan opened the pouch, and gasped and smiled as he pulled out the leather corded bracelet with the weird iron charm on it, that looked like a spring warped, smashed flat, and left out on a sea wall for about a hundred years. Roan didn’t get it, but he didn’t get about eighty percent of the art world Dyl exposed him to. The fact that he liked about twenty percent of it was probably a surprise to the both of them. “No way. This is an Etem?”
“I noticed how much you loved his stuff. I can be slow on the uptake sometimes, but I’m not a complete idiot.” Etem Brankovic – and there was no way in hell that Etem was his real name – was an artist who worked in metal, and that included making masculine jewelry that had a bit of a macho junkyard feel to it. Dylan had dragged him to one of his shows a couple of months ago, and while Roan didn’t get it, he knew Dyl was thrilled by it. That was the give and take of a relationship. Dylan put up with Roan’s cartoon watching, and Roan put up with Dylan’s love of art that seemed inexplicable.
Dylan studied the bracelet, grinning the entire time, but when he looked at him again, he grimaced. “This was probably too much …”
“Not as much as you might think. He’s a fan of your work. And hey, you don’t ask the price. That’s just rude. It’s a gift, so accept it.”
Dylan slipped it on his wrist, then stood up, reached over the table, and gave him a big, passionate kiss. “You are the sweetest man. I tell my friends this, and they never believe me.”
“That’s because I’m a member of the fascist bourgeoisie to them.”
“Aww. But you’re my bourgeoisie,” Dyl said, giving him a kiss on the forehead. He then sat back and admired his new bracelet.
“So comforting,” Roan replied, unable to keep from smiling. He never meant to bring so much trouble into Dylan’s life, so he was glad when he could make him happy. It felt like atonement. “So where’s my gift?”
“At home,” Dylan replied, giving him a warm smile. “Might be more than one.”
Dylan clasped Roan’s hands over the top of the table. “Happy anniversary, sweetheart.”
Roan held his hands tightly, and knew he was goddamn lucky. “Happy anniversary, hon.”
And while it might be weird to some that they were celebrating it in a greasy spoon at two in the morning, Roan thought this was one of the best anniversaries he had ever had.
Read more about Roan and Dylan’s friendship in the Infected series.
May 30, 2013
So much for romance. This trip was officially a total disaster. Sean Henderson took a deep breath and poked his head into the men’s room. “You okay in there?” he asked.
He was answered by the unmistakable sound of someone being violently ill. “Yeah, peachy,” Jason Adams replied. “I enjoy puking like this. I can’t wait to do it again.”
Sean winced. One thing he’d noticed early in their relationship was that Jason completely lost his brain to mouth filters when he wasn’t feeling well. “I’ll wait outside then, shall I?” he mumbled.
He waited a few minutes just outside the door then decided he needed some fresh air. The door out to the deck wasn’t that far from the men’s room. If Jason didn’t join him in a few minutes, Sean would go check on him again.
A few deep breaths of brisk sea air and Sean already began to feel more peaceful. He’d thought that taking Jason on the ferry to Picton would be a great way to celebrate their second anniversary together, especially as he knew Jason hadn’t been on a boat before. He’d asked Jason whether they still used boats in the future but Jason had shrugged and said he’d never seen the appeal of them.
The motor of the Arahura hummed beneath his feet as waves crashed into the side of the boat. Sean leaned against the railing and looked out into Cook Strait but his thoughts wandered elsewhere. The last two years had gone by so quickly, but there were moments when he still had trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that the man he loved was a time traveller. Jason had ignored the parameters of the assignment he’d been given and risked his life to save Sean. While Jason wasn’t very forthcoming about details of the time from which he came because of risk to the timelines, occasionally the odd hint about what it was like in the future slipped out. Sean didn’t push for information; with the second chance of life he’d been given and, more importantly, a life with Jason, he figured he owed the universe enough already without pushing his luck too far.
Life was good. Sean’s music career still hadn’t taken off, but he earned enough from playing the occasional gig with a couple of local bands to supplement his income from the cafe, and he was still composing. Jason had decided to study history at Victoria University, although he still wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the degree, and Ruth had offered him part time work at the cafe.
“Sorry about before.” Jason slipped his arms around Sean from behind, and nuzzled at his neck. “I’m not a nice person when I’m sick.”
“I kind of figured that one out, yeah. I don’t take it personally.” Sean smiled as Jason’s embrace tightened. “Feeling any better? We should be through the strait in about another five minutes and that’s always the worst of it.”
“My stomach’s still queasy but I don’t think I’ve got anything left to bring up,” Jason said. “It’s much better out here in the fresh air too.”
“I’ve always found that.” Sean turned to face him. Jason still looked a little green, but he managed a smile which was a step in the right direction. “I’m sorry for suggesting this trip. I thought it would be something you’d enjoy.”
“You had no way of knowing I’d be sick.” Jason pulled a face. “If I have to get on one of these ferries again it will be too soon.”
“You’ll have to brave it again this evening,” Sean pointed out, wishing he hadn’t when Jason’s face fell.
“Oh crap.” Jason’s pallor paled further. “I don’t suppose we could swap the ferry for the hovercraft crossing, could we?”
“We don’t have hovercraft crossings yet.”
Jason groaned. “Of course we don’t.” He lunged suddenly for the railing and threw up over the side.
It was a good thing they were on the lower deck so all he’d done was feed the fish.
“Do you want me to get you something to settle your stomach?” Sean rubbed comforting circles over Jason’s back. “It will be over soon, I promise.”
“Kia Ora.” Both men turned at the sound of a woman’s voice. An older Māori woman smiled kindly at them. “You don’t look well, tama. Try some of this. It will help.” She held out a paper bag. “A couple of my tamariki aren’t good sailors. This works a treat for them.”
“Thanks.” Jason took a piece of what appeared to be some kind of dried fruit from the bag, popped in into his mouth and chewed. “It tastes good. What is it?”
“Crystallised ginger,” the woman said. “Take a few more, in case you need them.” She gave him an approving look when he took her up on her suggestion. “Make sure to drink plenty of water too.” She gave them a nod. “I hope you feel better soon. E noho rā.”
“Goodbye and thanks.” Sean replied in English not wanting to insult her with bad pronunciation after she’d been so kind.
“Can we sit down?” Jason grabbed at the railing. He shivered. “It’s cold out here, but I’d prefer that and a bit of rain than going back inside again.”
“Sure.” Sean helped Jason to one of the seats. It was only spitting and they both wore jackets. “I’m not leaving you.” The little sun there was highlighted the hint of red hiding amongst Jason’s blond locks. Jason rested his head on Sean’s shoulder and made a contented noise when Sean stroked his hair. “Feeling better?” Sean asked.
“Yeah.” Jason snuggled in closer. “You must really love me to put up with this crap,” he murmured.
“Yeah,” Sean whispered, kissing the top of Jason’s head. “I really do.”
“I can see why you wanted to come here,” Jason admitted. He took another swig from his water bottle. “It’s peaceful and beautiful.”
Sean stretched his legs out and leaned back on the bench seat they were sharing. They’d found one near the waterfront with a good view of Picton Harbour, and the small boats moored in the marina. Surrounding the town in the near distance were green hills, behind Sean and Jason a play area and the couple of streets that made up the shopping area. “Worth the seasickness?” he asked. He took off his glasses and polished them on the hem of his shirt.
“Don’t push it,” Jason said. He laughed in case Sean got the idea he was serious. “You’ll have to put up with me being a total coward getting back on the damn thing though.”
“The weather’s eased off so it’s supposed to be a much smoother sailing going back,” Sean said. “We can sit outside and kiss under the moonlight.”
“You’re just trying to distract me and lead me into temptation.”
“Is it working?”
“Yeah.” Jason leaned in and kissed Sean. “Although I might need some practise to get in the mood. Dutch courage and all that.”
Sean laughed. “I thought that was supposed to refer to alcohol. Or is that another one of those pop culture things you still haven’t got quite right?”
“I’m much better than I was with that stuff,” Jason pointed out. He attempted a pathetic hangdog expression but Sean just rolled his eyes. He rubbed his leg against Sean’s, enjoying the warmth of Sean’s body through his jeans. However much time Jason spent in the sun his skin never tanned the way Sean’s did. But then, that probably had something to do with the fact Sean wouldn’t let him venture out without slathering himself in sun block first, despite Jason’s insistence that he was used to the lack of ozone layer and that it was way worse in his own time.
It had been easier to adapt to the twenty-first century than he thought it would be. While a lot of things had changed, there was much that hadn’t, and people were still people whenever they lived. It was something he’d learnt very quickly after joining the Tempus Institute. Having Sean to guide him had helped, and the fact he was very patient with Jason’s many questions. That was one of the things he loved about Sean, his patience and willingness to help out wherever he could. Jason had never regretted his decision to stay with him and make a life in Wellington. There were days he missed his family and friends, especially his father and Alisha, but he’d expected that. He was where and when he belonged and with the man he loved, and that was what mattered.
“Penny for them?” Sean said softly. “You’ve got that far away look again like you’re literally years away. I can listen if you want to talk.”
Jason linked their hands together and stroked Sean’s thumb. “I was thinking about how much my life has changed.” He shrugged. “I was never much for doing stuff the proper way, and I used to get into a lot of trouble for it at the Institute. I only read case files when I had to and as much as I had to. I figured that last assignment was probably my final chance before I got booted down to the stacks room to spend the rest of my days doing research.” He shivered at the thought. “James threatened me with it once before and he’s not one for idle threats.”
“James was your boss, yeah?”
“Yeah.” It was crazy but some days Jason kind of missed him too. “If someone had told me I’d end up as a full time student and handing assignments in on time―mostly―I wouldn’t have believed it.”
“You’re getting good grades. I’m proud of you. You’re working hard.”
“Yeah, after you kicked me up the arse for failing that first paper I took.” Jason winced at the memory. He’d seriously had to readjust some of his attitude after that one, but Sean knew what motivated him and wasn’t above using it to get results.
“I made it up to you later, though.” Sean grinned and slowly licked his lips.
“Keep doing that and I won’t have to worry about that ferry trip. We’ll both be arrested for indecent exposure and having sex in a public place.”
“So not the way I was planning to spend our anniversary.” Sean looked down for a moment. “I wanted this day to be perfect, you know? The last two years have been weird, but in a good way. It’s not every day that a guy finds out he was supposed to die.”
“You weren’t supposed to die.” Jason squeezed Sean’s hand. “I told you what Alisha said. That we’d put things right, the way it was supposed to be.” He cleared his throat and whistled a familiar tune. Slow Dreaming. The song that had haunted Jason for years, and Sean had finished writing after they’d first met. Time travel could be weird at times. It had no concept at all of doing things in the right order.
“Being with you feels like it’s supposed to be.” Sean stood bringing Jason with him. “We have a couple of hours until the evening sailing. I’d like to look around the shops and find somewhere nice for dinner.”
“Are you sure dinner’s a good idea?” Jason glanced warily toward the wharf where the Kaitaki would be docking in a few hours before it took them home.
“Yeah. Something light on your stomach will help.” Sean pulled Jason toward across the grass toward the shops. “Come on.”
“I’m coming.” Jason gave into the temptation and gave Sean a light whack on his backside. Damn he looked good in those tight jeans. Jason couldn’t wait to get him out of them once they did finally get home.
The view from Pencarrow Head, sailing into Wellington, at night was amazing. Sean heard Jason’s breath hitch when he saw the city lights in the distance. The mixture of colours had always reminded Sean of a Christmas tree. “This is why I wanted to take the later sailing home,” he told Jason. “I wanted you to see this.”
“Wow,” Jason said. He turned from the railing toward Sean, his face lit up with excitement. “They’re beautiful. Thank you.”
They were alone on the top deck as it was a chilly night, but thankfully the weather was otherwise behaving itself. The return sailing had been much smoother and Jason had been able to enjoy the trip. The sunlight had lasted long enough for him to take some photos of the Marlborough Sounds and enjoy the unspoilt scenery.
Jason kissed Sean deeply, cupping his buttocks to pull him into a close embrace. “They might be beautiful,” he murmured in Sean’s ear, “but they’re not a patch on you. You’re hot.”
“Ummm,” Sean mumbled. Although Jason told him that regularly, he still couldn’t see it, but had found out it didn’t pay to argue too much. Besides, he kind of liked hearing it even it did make him blush.
His hand went to the jade pendant around his neck. Jason had bought it for him in Picton as an anniversary present. Sean had wanted their anniversary to be special. The ferry excursion had only been the first part of it, but now he’d got to the really important bit, it was much more difficult to say the words than he’d first thought.
“Penny for them,” Jason said. “I can see the steam from here.” He frowned. “There’s nothing wrong, is there? I’ve enjoyed today, it was a good idea. I didn’t mean to ruin it earlier by being sick.”
“I know you didn’t.” Sean pulled away from Jason. He’d always told himself that when he did this, he’d do it properly. He knew it was probably old fashioned but he suspected Jason would appreciate the gesture.
Sean swallowed. He took Jason’s hand in his own, and knelt on one knee on the deck. “I love you. Will you marry me?” he asked, his voice hoarse with emotion.
“Marry you?” Jason didn’t let go of Sean’s hand but instead knelt next to him. “You really want that?”
“I wouldn’t be asking otherwise.” Sean met Jason’s gaze, trying to get some kind of clue of what was going on in his lover’s mind. “We can get married legally now, so yeah, I want to.”
Jason’s mouth opened and closed. He was shaking.
Then he kissed Sean hard, and embraced him, clinging to him. “Oh, Sean,” he whispered.
“Is that a yes?” Sean felt a cold chill go through him. What if Jason said no? Did they still get married where he came from? He’d never said much about it. “I just thought… when the marriage equality bill passed the first thing I thought of was asking you. I just wanted… Oh God. I wanted this to be the right time. I wanted it to be perfect.”
“Sean, it’s okay. Slow down.” Jason said softly. “This is perfect. I love you.” He caressed Sean’s cheek and smiled. “I’d thought the same thing but I wasn’t sure I should ask.”
“So that kiss?”
“Yeah, that kiss,” Jason said. “That was me saying yes.”
Kia Ora, hello (informal greeting)
Tama, young man
E noho rā, goodbye.
There’s more information about the Wellington to Picton voyage and the ferries here:
Read more about Sean and Jason in Slow Dreaming.