The BCPI paranormal romance series main arc – books one through five – tells the tale of Sam Raintree and Dr. Bo Broussard, learning how to be a couple while solving cases of supernatural mystery and danger with their intrepid team of paranormal investigators. Two series related stories stand on their own, but are spin-offs from the series: Where The Heart Is tells the story of Dean Delapore, a very popular BCPI character, finding his love. Love, Like Ghosts is set ten years after the BCPI main arc ends, and tells the story of Bo’s oldest son, Adrian, as he solves a mystery and falls in love. Adrian and his guy, Greg, now have their own series, Mojo Mysteries.
When Sam Raintree goes to work for Bay City Paranormal Investigations, he expects his quiet life to change--he doesn't expect to put his life and sanity on the line, or to fall for a man he can never have.
Sam Raintree has never been normal. All his life, he's experienced things he can't explain. Things that have colored his view of the world and of himself. So taking a job as a paranormal investigator seems like a perfect fit. His new co-workers, he figures, don't have to know he's gay.
When Sam arrives at Oleander House, the site of his first assignment with Bay City Paranormal Investigations, nothing is what he expected. The repetitive yet exciting work, the unusual and violent history of the house, the intensely erotic and terrifying dreams which plague his sleep. But the most unexpected thing is Dr. Bo Broussard, the group's leader.
From the moment they meet, Sam is strongly attracted to his intelligent, alluring boss. It doesn't take Sam long to figure out that although Bo has led a heterosexual life, he is very much in the closet, and wants Sam as badly as Sam wants him.
As the investigation of Oleander House progresses and paranormal events in the house escalate, Sam and Bo circle warily around their mutual attraction, until a single night of bloodshed and revelation changes their lives forever.
Warning: this title contains explicit male/male sex, intense violence, and graphic language.
Sam Raintree's life changed forever when he started his dream job with Bay City Paranormal Investigations. In one fateful week, he learned he was psychic, discovered he possessed the power to open interdimensional portals, and accidentally let loose a horror like he'd never imagined. He also began a relationship with his boss, Dr. Bo Broussard, a man who'd been in the closet all his life.
Now, three months later, the burden of secrets has become too heavy for a fragile relationship to bear. Bo isn't ready to come out, and Sam is tired of hiding. When Bo hires a new investigator, Dean Delapore, Sam is intrigued in spite of himself. Dean is bisexual, attractive, and very interested in Sam.
During the intense investigation of South Bay High School, from which three students have mysteriously disappeared, Sam and Dean draw closer together, while Bo pushes Sam away despite their feelings for one another. When the investigation erupts and Sam comes face-to-face with his worst nightmare, he has to decide whether to fight for Bo's love, or let him go.
Warning, this title contains the following: explicit male/male sex, graphic language, intense violence.
In the twilight shadows, nothing is what it seems, and not all the monsters have claws.
While leading an amateur ghost-hunting expedition in Asheville, NC, Bay City Paranormal is called to investigate Sunset Lodge, a rustic inn situated on a remote Smoky Mountain peak. In recent weeks, employees and guests alike have seen a weird, frightening creature in the forest near the lodge. A creature which sounds all too familiar to the BCPI team.
Sam Raintree doesn’t want to deal with another interdimensional gateway. The last one they faced nearly took the life of Sam’s employer and lover, Dr. Bo Broussard, and Sam can’t stand the thought of it happening again. Especially now that he and Bo are finally together and working through their problems. But Sam’s psychokinetic abilities give him the power to permanently close the gateways, and he can’t bring himself to ignore that. With the safety of the Sunset Lodge staff and guests at stake, Sam, Bo and their colleague, Dean Delapore, make the trip to the Lodge to determine if it indeed hosts a portal to another dimension.
Once at Sunset Lodge, a missing man, a grisly discovery and a moment of carelessness converge to reveal secrets much different—and far uglier—than any the BCPI team expected. Secrets which not only put their lives in danger, but which might provide Sam with an escape from the portals. If he’s willing to take it.
Warning, this title contains the following: explicit m/m sex, graphic language, violence.
Dreams don’t always come true. But sometimes nightmares do.
After nine months of tumult, Sam Raintree is ready for some peace and quiet. A beach vacation with his boss and lover, Dr. Bo Broussard, promises to provide the serenity and reconnection they both need. Bo’s business and his children command a good deal of his time, and Sam is looking forward to two weeks of his lover’s undivided attention.
Then a new case for the Bay City Paranormal Investigations team puts a crimp in Sam’s plans. Fort Medina, a seventeenth-century citadel guarding the mouth of Mobile Bay, is less than five miles from their vacation beach house. Bo invites the group to stay with them while investigating the place, promising Sam he won’t get involved. But Sam knows better. Sure enough, Bo can’t resist joining the investigation, and talks Sam into doing the same.
Events take an alarming turn as Bo’s behavior becomes more erratic each day. Puzzled and frightened, Sam scrambles for an explanation while the man he loves turns into a volatile and unpredictable stranger.
When the truth comes out, it may already be too late to save Bo from a force neither of them can control.
Warning: This book contains explicit male/male sex (including spanking and rimming), graphic language, violence, ghosts and monsters.
All hell-s about to break loose. Literally.
After more than a year as a couple-and plenty of bumps along the road-Sam Raintree and Dr. Bo Broussard are finally settling into life together. Bo has come to terms with his sexuality, their business is thriving, and Sam has begun to accept his role as a step-parent of sorts to Bo-s sons, Sean and Adrian. The only real dark spot is Bo-s ex-wife, Janine.
When eleven-year-old Adrian begins exhibiting signs of psychokinesis-the same ability which allows Sam to manipulate interdimensional portals-the friction between Sam, Bo and Janine escalates. Sam and Bo have reason to believe Adrian-s raw, uncontrolled talent poses a danger to him and those around him. Janine, however, believes Sam and Bo are encouraging dangerous delusions on Adrian-s part. Common ground is nonexistent, anger and hard words ever-present.
Caught in the middle of the conflict and burdened with an ability he can-t yet control, Adrian is soon pushed beyond his limits. With Adrian-s mind-and the lives of everyone around him-hanging in the balance, Sam and Bo race against time to save both boys and keep an otherworldly horror from breaking free.
Warning: This book contains graphic language, explicit male/male sex, family drama and scary monsters.
Falling in love is easy. Holding on to it can tear your life apart.
When Dean Delapore takes a break from Bay City Paranormal Investigations, he doesn't expect his work to follow him to the eclectic town of Carrboro, North Carolina. The chance to investigate a haunting at the Blue Skye Inn and Winery is more than he can resist, mainly because of the inn's owner. Deceptively shy and gorgeous, Sommer Skye is not only fantastic company, he's the best lay Dean's had in ages.
As Dean probes the misty secrets of the haunted inn, he unexpectedly peels away the layers hiding Sommer's private pain. Pain Sommer's not sure he can withstand. By the time Dean realizes just how deep his feelings for the innkeeper run, it's far too late to turn back.
Now if only he can convince Sommer that falling in love changes everything, maybe for the better. If the bones of the past can be laid to rest...
Truth. Lies. A century-old mystery. What a tangled web…
At age eleven, Adrian Broussard accidentally used his mind to open a portal to another dimension. Now, ten years later, he’s successfully harnessed his strong psychokinetic abilities. In the process, he’s learned the lessons which have become the guiding principles of his life. Absolute truth. Absolute control. Always.
Sticking to his personal code of ethics has never been a problem, until two chance meetings—one with a hundred-year-old ghost, one with a handsome, very-much-alive man—turn his orderly existence upside down.
Having grown up in a family of paranormal investigators, Adrian is intrigued by the spirit of Lyndon Groome and determined to solve the mystery of his death. Greg Woodhall, however, affects Adrian in unpredictable ways. Not only does his every touch challenge Adrian’s hard-won control over his abilities, his company quickly becomes a light in Adrian’s lonely life.
As the mystery surrounding Lyndon’s death turns sinister, Adrian’s relationship with Greg deepens into something serious. Something Adrian wants to keep. But intimacy isn’t as easy as honesty, and when the heart’s involved, the line between right and wrong can blur.
Warning: This book contains a gory ghost, a haunted castle, nerdy college parties and gay sex enhanced by psychic powers.
Bare skin, hot and smooth, slick with sweat. Blunt fingers digging into his chest, strong thighs pressing against his hips.
Sam couldn’t see the man who straddled him in the humid darkness, but he could feel him. He could hear his grunts, smell the musk of his arousal. The man’s ass contracted around his cock, burning hot and almost painfully tight. Semen spurted onto Sam’s chest and he came with a shout…
His own soft cry woke him. He lay gasping in a tangled nest of damp sheets, trying to blink away the lingering shreds of the dream.
“Christ,” he whispered. He’d had erotic dreams before, but none this vivid. A faint scent of sweat and sex still perfumed the air and he could almost feel the man’s hands on him, the fierce heat clutching his cock.
His hand wandered beneath the waistband of his boxers before he realized what he was doing. He gave in to the inevitable without a fight.
Sam stared at the ceiling as he slowly caressed himself. Motes of dust turned lazily in the morning light, hazy forms swirling tantalizingly in and out of existence. If he let his vision blur just a little, Sam imagined he could see his dream man taking shape in the soft glow. Tall and slender, dusky skin and dark liquid eyes, black hair falling like a silky cloud over one broad shoulder.
Sam wasn’t surprised. Whether or not Bo been the dream man, he could certainly star in Sam’s waking fantasies. Sam came after a few hard pulls, picturing his prick in Bo’s mouth.
* * * * *
“I did, yeah.” Sam managed to meet Bo’s eyes without blushing, but he couldn’t help letting his gaze slide down Bo’s body. “Looks good. The biscuits, I mean,” he added hastily.
“They are,” David said, wandering in from the kitchen with a large blue mug in his hand. “Coffee’s on, if y’all want some.”
“Did someone mention coffee?” Amy came through the dining-room door, Andre yawning behind her. “Mmm, biscuits and gravy.”
“Good.” Andre patted his stomach. “I’m hungry.”
Bo laughed. “Everybody sit down and dig in. I’ll get the coffee.”
“I’ll help you,” Sam offered.
He followed Bo into the kitchen, looking around him to keep himself from staring at Bo. “Wow, the kitchen’s smaller than I would’ve thought.”
Bo nodded as he started filling coffee mugs. “Back when Oleander House was built, the cooking was done outside, in a separate building. The kitchen was added during renovations in 1902. They didn’t place quite the same importance on a big kitchen as we do now. Grab the cream out of the fridge, would you please?”
“Sure.” Sam opened the small portable refrigerator they’d brought with them and took out the pint of half-and-half. “There anything about this place you don’t know?”
“Probably. But it wouldn’t be for lack of trying, I’ll tell you that.” Bo handed Sam two fragrantly steaming mugs. Sam took them, tucking the carton of half-and-half under his arm. “Thanks for helping with the coffee. I appreciate it.”
Sam had to look away from Bo’s face. It was too easy to imagine he saw things that he knew couldn’t be there. “No problem.”
In the dining room, Sam handed a mug to Andre and set the carton in the middle of the table. He sat down and took a sip from his own mug. “Where’s Cecile?”
Amy wrinkled her nose. “Still sleeping, I guess.”
“No, I’m up.” Cecile swept into the room, narrow nose in the air. She eyed the table with undisguised disdain. “Isn’t there anything else to eat?”
“There’s some granola and fruit in the kitchen,” Andre said, reaching for another biscuit, “but you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t have some of this.”
Cecile smiled a tight, little smile. “Oh, I’m sure I do. Excuse me.”
David shook his head at Cecile’s back as she went into the kitchen. “Christ almighty, that woman’s enough to put you off your feed.” He turned and fixed Bo with a serious look. “We’re doing the outbuildings today, right?”
“Yes,” Bo confirmed, pouring gravy over a third biscuit.
David nodded. “Pair me up with Cecile.”
Amy’s eyebrows shot up. “Funny, I’d gotten the feeling you didn’t much like her.”
“I don’t. Thing is, I want to keep an eye on her. I’m not sure she’s for real.”
“No kidding.” Andre leaned over the table and lowered his voice. “Carl Gentry must be nuts if he really believes she’s psychic.”
“Maybe,” Bo said. “But we have to work with her, whether anyone likes it or not. You know that was Mr. Gentry’s condition for letting us do the investigation rather than someone else. He wanted his own psychic present.”
“Psychic, my ass,” David grumbled. “She’s no more psychic than this damn table.”
Cecile’s emergence from the kitchen stopped the conversation from going any further. She sat as far as she could from everyone else and started nibbling at the banana and small bowl of granola cereal she’d brought.
“So,” Bo said after a couple of uncomfortably silent minutes. “How’d everyone sleep?”
“Terrible,” Cecile complained. “All night long, spirits were trying to communicate with me. I’d like to find a way to make them speak to me when I’m awake and better able to understand them.”
“That’s, um, interesting.” Bo shot an amused glance at Sam, who stifled a laugh. “We should set up video and audio in your room and see what we get.”
Cecile’s pale cheeks flushed. “I’d rather you didn’t.”
“I’ll just bet,” David muttered. Sam lifted his mug to cover the grin he couldn’t stop.
“I would’ve slept okay,” Amy said, “but Andre kept waking me up.”
“It was just a couple of bad dreams,” Andre insisted. “Sorry I woke you.”
Amy laid a hand on his arm and kissed his cheek. “Honey, you know I don’t mind about that. But I think it’s significant that you’re having these dreams here, in this house. You don’t normally have nightmares.”
Bo leaned his elbows on the table and gave Andre a considering look. “Want to tell us what you dreamed?”
“I don’t remember it all that well. All I can remember for sure is feeling like there was something waiting in the house, and it scared me.”
Sam frowned. Andre was lying, he was sure of it, but he couldn’t figure out why. It made him more eager than ever to find a few minutes alone with Andre to compare notes.
Bo sipped his coffee, dark eyes thoughtful. “Anyone else have strange dreams, or any other experiences during the night?”
“Not me.” David scooped the last bit of gravy off his plate with his finger. “Slept like a rock.”
Sam just smiled when Bo glanced questioningly his way. The thought of telling everyone what he’d dreamed made his guts clench. The dream he remembered, anyway. Vague memories and scattered images floating on the surface of his mind told him that the dream that had woken him hadn’t been the only one.
“Okay.” Bo’s gaze lingered on Sam’s face just long enough to make Sam squirm. “Only Cecile and Andre experienced anything unusual during the night, right?”
Everyone nodded. Sam ignored the way Bo’s eyes narrowed at him. “All right. Any strange experiences—dreams, seeing or hearing things, anything at all—please report it to me or Amy.”
Noises of affirmation echoed around the table. Amy shot one last worried look at Andre, then turned to the rest of the group with a smile. “If everyone’s done eating, let’s get the dishes cleaned up then meet back in the library to go over last night’s tapes.”
“Sounds good.” David jumped to his feet and started collecting dirty dishes. “Great breakfast, as usual, Bo. You’re gonna make us all fat. I don’t know how Janine stays so hot, with you doing all the cooking.”
Bo laughed. “Hey, I try to keep my family healthy.”
“Yeah,” Amy chimed in. “He saves the artery clogging for us.”
Bo shook his head. “Okay, let me get the dishes cleaned up, then we’ll meet back in the library and get everything set up for today.”
“Aye-aye, cap’n,” David said, grinning. “Sam, why don’t you go on ahead with Andre. Y’all can get the equipment set up and he can show you the procedures we use to screen several hours’ worth of video. I’ll help Bo get the cleaning done, won’t take us ten minutes.”
“Okay, sure.” Sam resisted the urge to turn and look at Bo as he followed Andre out of the dining room.
What Hides Inside #2
They parked the SUV and piled out into the early morning sunshine. Sam lifted his face to smile at the pale blue sky. The weather was still unseasonably warm, and supposed to continue that way right through Thanksgiving.
Within a few minutes, the second SUV rolled to a stop. Cecile hopped down from the driver’s seat while Dean stepped out of the passenger side. Bo slid out of the backseat, looking unbearably hot in snug black jeans and a form-fitting long-sleeved red T-shirt. Sam licked his lips, wishing the sight of the man didn’t make his skin tingle. Not when he couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
Dean sauntered toward Sam. “So, what do you think of the place?”
“It’s gorgeous,” Sam answered, truthfully enough. “I can’t believe this is a public school. It looks more like a private college or something.”
“Yeah, but don’t be fooled. There’s no air conditioning and it floods every spring.”
Sam gave Dean a curious look as they followed the rest of the group up the steps to the archway leading inside. “Cecile said you went to high school here, is that right?”
Dean laughed. “Yeah. Of course, I graduated twelve years ago, so I’m sure some things have changed, but I’m betting there’s still not air conditioning. It’d be a real bitch to install here.”
“So, did you ever hear anything about these tunnels when you were in school here?”
“Yeah, everybody knew about ‘em. Hell, I lost my cherry there.”
“It’s true. The baseball team’s pitcher nailed me during gym in tenth grade.”
“Doesn’t sound very romantic,” Sam mused, holding the front door open for Dean to pass through.
“Oh, and I suppose your first time was on a moonlit beach, with wine and roses and violins?” Dean arched an eyebrow as he brushed past Sam, so close Sam could smell his musky cologne. “Spare me. Besides, it took me weeks of plying the boy with my considerable charm before he caved. Major closet case, that one was.”
Sam grinned. “Something tells me you were never a closet case.”
“Right you are. I proudly swing both ways.” With a quick glance at the group a few paces ahead, Dean leaned close, voice dropping low. “You’re not, are you?”
“What, a closet case? No, I’m out.”
“I figured. I can always spot the bent ones, if they’re my type.” Dean flashed a wicked smile. “And you are definitely my type.”
A spike of pure lust shot up Sam’s spine at the suggestion in Dean’s voice. Hot on the heels of his physical reaction came a wave of horrified guilt. I love Bo. How could I want Dean?
The answer, of course, was clear. Sam’s feelings for Bo couldn’t overcome his need for a warm, willing body between his legs and a hot, hard cock pounding him into blissful oblivion. Much as he wished it wasn’t true, he craved sex, and Bo wasn’t ready to give it to him. The fact that Dean was willing and able was terribly tempting.
“Would you two care to join the rest of us now?”
Bo’s irritated voice shook Sam out of his thoughts. He looked over to where Bo stood in the open doorway of the principal’s office. Bo’s cheeks were flushed, his dark eyes snapping with transparent jealousy. Sam didn’t know whether to be flattered or aggravated.
“We’re coming,” Sam said, ignoring Dean’s barely stifled giggle. “We were talking about the tunnels.”
“Yeah,” Dean chimed in. “They’re really hot and tight.”
Sam cringed. Bo gaped. Dean plowed on, apparently oblivious to them both. “I was telling Sam how I’d been down there in high school. The tunnels are narrow and low-ceilinged, and warmer than you’d think.”
“That’s true,” Mr. Innes added as they stepped through the door. “As a matter of fact, some scholars have speculated that the unexpected heat in the tunnels may have been the reason the monks abandoned the place. Evidently the original cellars didn’t turn out to be cool enough to store their wine and perishables for any length of time.”
“They didn’t tell anyone why they left?” David wondered.
Mr. Innes shrugged. “If they did, it was never recorded. The monks simply disappeared, without leaving any record as to where they were going.”
Andre’s eyebrows went up. “That’s interesting. Can you tell us any more of the property’s history?”
“I’m afraid I’ve already told you all I know.” The principal frowned. “Is it important?”
“It could be.” Bo glanced at Dean, dark eyes cool now. “Dean, on Monday I’d like for you and David to go to the main library and see what else you can find out about this property.”
“Okay.” Dean gave Bo a winning smile. “Anything in particular you want us to be on the lookout for?”
Bo tugged on his braid, his expression thoughtful. “Keep an eye out for any other disappearances especially, but you’ll want to look for anything unusual. I wish I could be more specific, but I can’t. You’ll both just have to use your judgment.”
“Got it, boss.” David nudged Dean’s elbow. “You’ll be training with me, by the way.”
Dean nodded. “Bo told me. I’m looking forward to it.”
Glancing at Bo, Sam was relieved to see the man’s eyes gleaming like they always did on an interesting case, all traces of jealousy gone. Sam caught Bo’s gaze and held it, letting his love shine through. Bo cast a furtive glance around the room, then flashed a brief, brilliant smile that made Sam feel hot all over.
Bo cleared his throat. “All right, let’s get started. Mr. Innes, what we’ll need to do first is tour the school, including the tunnels. After that, we’ll regroup here in your office, if that’s okay, and decide on an investigative plan for the day.”
“Very well. And what do you need me to do, apart from showing you the school?”
“Nothing, really,” Andre answered. “We may have more questions for you after the tour, though.”
“And we’ll need to know where the electrical outlets are,” Sam added. “In case we need to set up cameras.”
“I can show those to you as we go.” Fishing in his desk drawer, Mr. Innes pulled out a hefty ring of keys and pocketed it. “Shall we go?”
“We’re ready.” Bo started toward the office door, then turned around again. “Who’s got the notepad?”
“I do,” David said, pulling a small notebook and a pen from his jacket pocket.
“Oh, no.” Andre snatched the items out of David’s hand and passed them to Sam. “We need notes that someone can actually read later.”
David pressed a hand to his heart. “I’m wounded, man. Wounded.”
Rolling his eyes, Andre gave David a shove toward the door. “I’ll show you wounded, smart-ass. Move it.”
Still playfully bickering, Andre and David followed Mr. Innes out of the office, with the rest of the group trailing behind. As they headed down the first floor hallway, Sam found himself walking between Bo and Dean. He couldn’t help wondering just how prophetic that position would turn out to be.
After a brief discussion, they decided to go ahead and investigate the area of the sightings before the threatening snowstorm broke. They could upload last night’s video to the laptop later, along with any video from this morning. The heavy gray sky told them they had a limited amount of time to look around before the snow began.
The three of them stopped at Sam and Bo’s cabin to gather the rest of the equipment, then set off down the path. Bo switched on the EMF detector, saying he wanted to take readings of other areas for comparison’s sake. The reading was roughly the same as it had been in the woods. They passed several familiar faces going the other way as last night’s Lodge guests hurried to descend the mountain before the trails became too treacherous. The older couple from the previous night called goodbyes to them as they passed.
The trail was empty and silent when they reached their destination. They turned off the path and tramped toward the big boulder. Frost-coated pine needles and twigs crackled underfoot, the sound unnaturally loud in the breathless quiet.
When they reached the rock, Bo studied the EMF detector. “Three point four,” he announced. “Just a hair higher than last night. I think we can safely say that’s about baseline for this whole area. We’ll need to get readings around the rest of the Lodge to be sure, but so far baseline EMF’s been a bit high everywhere.”
Just like at Oleander House. Suppressing a shudder of fear, Sam wrote down Bo’s reading. He reached out with his psychic senses, easily finding and latching onto the fine thread of strange energy lingering around the boulder. “Still picking up the exact same thing as I did before. No stronger, no different.”
Dean pursed his lips. “Y’all, this whole thing gets weirder by the second.”
Winding the end of his braid around two fingers of his free hand, Bo gazed into the dense forest with a thoughtful expression. “I wonder…”
Sam glanced at him. “What?”
“Nothing. Just…” Bo shook his head, his brow furrowing. “I don’t want to say anything yet. Let’s just see what we find today.”
Curiosity burned in Sam’s gut, but he knew better than to press the issue. If Bo didn’t want to explain himself yet, nothing short of torture would make him do it. Maybe not even that.
“You want to hike out into the woods, where that thing went last night?” Dean asked, thumbing the video camera on for a quick pan of the area.
“Yes. We need to do that before—” Bo broke off, eyes widening. “There it is. Video and stills, right now.”
Shoving the notebook and pen into his jeans pocket, Sam whipped around, turning the camera on and raising it as he moved. A few feet behind the boulder, something black and shadowy emerged from thin air, paused a second, and scuttled off into the trees. Forcing back the urge to drop everything and run like hell, Sam snapped two photos back to back. His heart pounded in his throat, the rush of blood loud in his ears. His knees shook.
“It’s not coming after us,” Dean whispered, keeping the video camera trained on the thing plunging through the forest. “I’m following it.”
Before Sam or Bo could say anything, Dean bounded after the creature, camera held as steady as possible in front of him. With a swift glance at each other, Sam and Bo followed.
“No change in EMF,” Bo called. “Sam?”
“Energy’s the same too.” Sam darted a concerned look at Bo. “You’re limping again.”
“I know.” Bo stumbled, his features twisting in a grimace. “Fuck. Stay with Dean.”
“I’d rather not leave you alone.”
An odd look came over Bo’s face. “I don’t think it’ll hurt us. Just stay with Dean. Hurry, he’s almost out of sight.”
“Trust me, Sam.” Bo shoved his shoulder. “Go!”
Despite his irritation at Bo for insisting he leave him, instinct told Sam Bo was right. He picked up his pace, darting through the trees as fast as he could. Within seconds, he’d caught up to Dean. Bo limped along several yards behind them.
“It’s just ahead,” Dean panted, leaping over a fallen tree. “See?”
Sam looked in the direction Dean pointed. A translucent black mass moved from tree to tree before them. Fear curled in Sam’s belly.
“I still can’t feel it,” Sam said. “But there it is. Looks just like the others.”
Beside him, Dean slowed to a jog. “It’s stopping.”
Indeed it was. As Sam watched, the thing came to a halt, one black claw poised in front of its body. The level of energy in Sam’s head didn’t change. Feeling reassured by this, Sam raised the camera and took three more stills while Dean filmed it.
An uneven crunch of pine needles under hiking boots announced Bo’s arrival. “What’s it doing?” Bo murmured, laying a hand on Sam’s shoulder.
Dean shook his head. “Nothing. Just standing there.”
In a clump of rhododendrons not far from the creature, something moved. Sam squinted, trying to make it out. A flash of dull orange peeked from between the close-packed branches. Adrenaline jolted through Sam’s blood as he realized what it was. He dropped the camera, letting the strap around his neck catch it.
“Shit!” Without stopping to think about what he was doing, Sam sprinted toward the alien thing and the person it had trapped in the rhododendron thicket.
A string of colorful curses and pounding footsteps behind him told him Bo and Dean were following him. He wanted to order them both to stay back, but knew there was no point. Neither of them would listen.
“There’s a person there,” Sam called as he ran. “I’ll try to send the thing back if I can. Be ready to help whoever this is.”
He didn’t wait for an answer. The creature loomed mere feet in front of him. Focusing his mind on it, Sam searched for the fiery string of energy connecting it to the portal he was now sure must be here.
He couldn’t find it. The weird, blank feeling which had been there all along remained static and unchanged.
Panicking now, Sam opened his mouth to tell the trapped person to run for it. Before he could say anything, the creature flowed like smoke into the cluster of bushes and sliced the person’s head off.
Sam jolted awake, his heart slamming against his ribs. The first dawn light leaked around the curtains to lend a dim illumination to the room. Sam sat up and looked around, trying to figure out what had woken him. The dream he’d been yanked out of was just as horrible as the one from the previous morning, but it wasn’t what had disturbed Sam’s sleep. It was something else, some sort of noise or movement in the bedroom.
A low, ragged moan drifted from the pile of covers bunched on the other side of the bed. Bo’s body jerked, throwing off the corner of the bedspread which had obscured his face. His brows were drawn together in fear or pain, or both. Little whimpers bled from his open mouth. When Sam laid a hand on Bo’s bare shoulder, he could feel Bo trembling.
Sam frowned. In the short time he’d shared Bo’s bed, the man had never suffered nightmares. The fact that he seemed to be having one now of all times made Sam feel cold all over.
“Bo, wake up.” He gave Bo’s shoulder a shake.
With a sharp cry, Bo shot to a sitting position, panting like he’d just sprinted a mile. His wide-eyed gaze darted around the room. The fear melted from his eyes when they met Sam’s.
“Fuck.” He flopped onto his back. “God, I’m glad you woke me up.”
“You’ve never had nightmares before,” Sam pointed out, keeping his tone carefully neutral. He lay down beside Bo and propped himself up on one elbow. “What was it about?”
“Damned if I know.” Bo tugged at a lock of tangled black hair lying across his chest. “I don’t remember anything specific. Just…weird images. They were terrifying when I was dreaming them, but I couldn’t even tell you what they were now.”
“Strangely enough, I just woke up from another dream like I had yesterday morning. And now you’re having them too.” Sam licked his lips, hoping his next words didn’t touch off an angry tirade. “Was this nightmare anything like what you saw at the fort?”
“Not really, except for the general sense of fear, and not being able to breathe properly.” Bo darted a pointed look at him. “I know what you’re thinking, Sam, but I really don’t believe the two are related. I don’t usually have nightmares, that’s true, but I have had a few in my life. The hallucinations I had last night probably triggered one, that’s all.”
A hard chill raced up Sam’s spine. “I thought you said it only happened once.”
“Then why did you just say ‘hallucinations’, plural, like it happened more than once?”
A muscle twitched in Bo’s jaw. “I didn’t mean to say that. I meant to say ‘hallucination’, singular.”
“For God’s sake, Sam, drop it!”
Anger and frustration boiled up inside Sam and bubbled over. He kept his voice calm with an effort. “I will not drop it. This is important. I’m sure of it.”
Sighing, Bo pressed both palms to his eyes. “Look. I know you’re worried, and I understand why. But one strange feeling during the investigation and one nightmare do not add up to anything dangerous, or even concerning.”
“Even though I had a very similar dream yesterday morning, and again just now?” Sam persisted. “Even after the dreams at Oleander House?”
“This is nothing like Oleander House.” Turning onto his side, Bo folded an arm beneath his head and gazed into Sam’s eyes with a pleading expression. “Don’t you think I’d tell you if I felt this was anything to worry about? Do you really think I’d put everyone in danger by keeping it to myself?”
“No, of course not.” Sam tucked Bo’s hair behind his ear, fingers brushing his neck. “But I don’t think you’re seeing this situation clearly.”
Bo’s fingers curled, bunching the sheet between them. He looked away. “What makes you think I’m not being clearheaded about this?”
“I don’t know, exactly.” It was hard for Sam to say, but it was true. He couldn’t lie to Bo, no matter how difficult it might be to tell the truth. “All I know is, you’re not acting like yourself. And that worries me.”
With an impatient noise, Bo kicked the covers aside and started to get up. Sam wrapped both arms around his waist and rolled on top of him, pinning him to the bed.
“Let me up,” Bo growled, dark eyes flashing.
Fisting a hand in Bo’s hair, Sam leaned down and kissed him until the angry tension melted from his body and his mouth opened beneath Sam’s.
The kiss went on for endless, blissful minutes. Sam didn’t break it until Bo’s legs opened to cradle Sam in the space between his thighs. Drawing back, Sam stared down into Bo’s heavy-lidded eyes. Bo’s pupils were dilated, his breath coming short and quick. The sight made Sam’s chest ache.
“I love you,” Sam said, putting his whole heart into the simple sentiment. “Maybe these dreams and visions of yours mean something, and maybe they don’t. I think they do, but I don’t know for sure. All I know is, I’ll do anything to keep you safe. Even risk you hating me.”
The lingering anger in Bo’s eyes faded into a familiar affection. He reached up and laid both palms on Sam’s cheeks. “I could never hate you. I’m grateful every single day to have you in my life.”
Sam’s throat closed up. He couldn’t say what he felt right then, but he thought Bo understood.
Bo’s gaze dipped to Sam’s mouth. When he looked up again, lust had replaced the tenderness in his eyes. Sam’s body responded with a predictable rush of desire. He tilted his hips, rubbing his naked prick against Bo’s equally bare crotch. Bo moaned, low and rough. His thighs slid against Sam’s ribs, one heel lodging in the small of Sam’s back. Sam could feel Bo’s cock filling, the hardness pressing against Sam’s own growing erection.
A tiny corner of Sam’s brain wanted to disentangle himself from Bo’s arms and legs and continue the conversation Sam was beginning to realize Bo had successfully distracted him from. But the clutch of Bo’s limbs around him, the increasingly frantic movement of Bo’s hips and the needy little sounds he made, silenced that part of Sam’s mind. One arm beneath Bo’s neck and the other braced on the bed, Sam took Bo’s mouth in a bruising kiss as they thrust against one another.
An Inner Darkness #5
Back in Adrian’s room, Sam found Bo seated at the desk, out of the camera’s line of sight. The overhead light was off, and Bo had switched on a nightlight. He looked up as Sam entered. Rising, he went to stand beside the bed, where Adrian lay staring at the ceiling. “Sam’s going to sit with you for a little bit, son. I’ll be right outside, watching the camera displays on the laptop.”
Adrian’s eyes cut toward his father. “So we’re starting now?”
“Yes.” Leaning down, Bo kissed his son’s forehead. “Just relax, and let your thoughts flow like they usually do.”
Nodding, Adrian shut his eyes. Bo straightened up and met Sam at the door. His hand closed around Sam’s wrist, clutching hard enough to hurt. He didn’t say anything, but the fear in his eyes spoke for itself.
Sam dipped his head to plant a light kiss on Bo’s mouth. “It’ll be okay,” he whispered. “I love you.”
Bo’s lips curved into the slightest of smiles. Letting go of Sam’s wrist, he strode out into the hall, leaving Sam alone with Adrian and the possibilities of what he could do.
After a few minutes of fidgeting, Adrian sat up with a sigh, rubbing his eyes. “This sucks. I can’t get comfortable.”
“That’s okay. You don’t really need to be comfortable for this part.”
“Dad said I had to relax.”
“I know. But only enough to kind of let your thoughts and emotions go. We don’t want you going to sleep just yet.”
The boy leveled a mulish glare at Sam. “I wasn’t going to.”
“I’m sure you weren’t.” Leaning forward, Sam rested his elbows on his knees. “Listen, why don’t you try some of those breathing exercises I showed you? That should relax you enough to let you stop trying so hard and just let it happen. Okay?”
Adrian looked skeptical, but didn’t argue. Plopping backward onto his pillow, he shut his eyes and began the slow, rhythmic breathing Sam had taught him. Within a couple of minutes, the furrows smoothed from Adrian’s brow. Not long after that, his fingers began to pick at the quilted comforter.
With a quick glance toward the desk to make sure he wasn’t blocking the camera, Sam slid to the edge of his chair, his gaze fixed on Adrian. The child’s nose wrinkled. One small fist bunched the material of his pajamas. He seemed to be almost in a trance. An angry trance, Sam amended, watching the boy’s top lip curl in an unconscious sneer. He wondered what Adrian was thinking about.
Something flickered at the edge of Sam’s vision. He whipped his head around. Amid the shadows of the open closet, a deeper darkness swirled and vanished before Sam could determine its shape.
Sam stared into the clutter of books, toys and clothes. Nothing moved. Cautiously, he let his mind ease open. The fracture he’d noticed before remained unchanged, though it was easier for him to pick it out this time. He took a slow, deep breath, then another, allowing his senses to expand. Tendrils of his thought sifted through the normal energy of the house, searching for whatever might lie beneath.
A cold alien presence brushed Sam’s aura like icy fingers. Startled, he grasped at it with his mind. It slipped away from him and was gone as swiftly as it had appeared.
Heart hammering, Sam leaned back in his chair. He felt dirty, as if the thing which had just slithered through his consciousness had left an oily residue behind. He had no idea what to do now. Should he tell Bo what he’d felt? Should they cut their test short? Or was he letting his past experiences with the portals skew his objectivity?
As if in answer to his question, darkness coalesced into a near-solid mass in the depths of Adrian’s closet. Something shifted and clattered to the floor.
Adrian shot to a sitting position, breathing hard. “What was that?” The boy’s voice shook.
“I don’t know.” Jumping up, Sam flipped the switch to turn on the overhead light. Was it his imagination, or did the churning blackness linger for a moment before fading in the brightness? “Did you see anything?”
“Yeah. It was—”
The bedroom door flew open, cutting Adrian off. “What happened?” Bo demanded, his gaze darting between Sam and Adrian.
Sam gave Bo a surreptitious once-over. Bo’s voice was calm, but Sam saw the pure terror lurking behind his carefully controlled expression. “Something in Adrian’s closet fell.”
“There was something in there,” Adrian chimed in. “I saw it.”
Sam answered the question in Bo’s eyes with a tiny shake of his head. Later, he mouthed. He didn’t want to discuss what he’d felt in front of Adrian. Not without talking to Bo alone first.
With a swift but meaningful look at Sam to indicate he understood, Bo crossed the room to perch on the edge of his son’s mattress. “What did you see, Adrian?”
“It was the thing. The solid one.” He screwed his mouth sideways in thought. “Or, well, almost. It wasn’t quite solid yet. But it was gonna be in a second.”
Sam and Bo glanced at each other. “So this was the same thing you’ve seen before?” Bo asked, watching Adrian’s face.
“Uh-huh.” Adrian drew both legs up, wrapped his arms around them and rested his chin on his knees. He stared at his father with solemn eyes. “What was it, Dad? Can we make it go away?”
Bo gave him a strained smile. “Let’s look at the videos before we start making plans, okay?”
“But, Dad, what if it’s…?” Adrian scooted closer to Bo. “What if it’s a monster, Dad? Like the one that bit you?” The boy’s voice quavered just a little.
Bo glanced up at Sam, his indecision clear in his face. His eyes pleaded with Sam to give him some guidance. To tell him whether he should be completely honest with Adrian, or gloss over the potential danger in order to allay his fears. Sam shook his head. He wished he had an answer for Bo, but he didn’t. Both courses of action held their own particular hazards.
Not knowing what else to do, Sam walked over to sit on Bo’s other side. He rested his hand on the small of Bo’s back, fingers rubbing soothing circles just above the waistband of Bo’s jeans. “Whatever you think, Bo,” he murmured.
Sighing, Bo wound an arm around Adrian’s shoulders and hugged him close. “Adrian, I know you’re anxious to stop seeing and hearing things. But we need to have some sort of proof that something was actually there before we can decide what to do.”
Adrian squirmed loose of Bo’s embrace. “I saw it. It was there, and it was real.”
“Nobody’s doubting that you saw something. All I’m saying is that we need to try and find out exactly what it is you saw.” Bo reached out to brush a tentative hand across his son’s arm. “Sometimes the darkness can play tricks on your eyes. Especially when you’re already scared.”
Sam winced. He knew Bo didn’t want to frighten Adrian, but making him angry was hardly better.
Adrian jumped to his feet, his expression stormy. “I saw it! I see it all the time! It’s not my imagination!”
Bo stood, one hand held out in a placating gesture. “I’m not saying—”
“Yes you are.” Adrian backed up, his features contorted in fury. “I thought you believed me, but you don’t. Nobody does.”
Whirling around, Adrian snatched a miniature spaceship off the bedside table and hurled it against the wall. It shattered, sending shards of gray and white plastic skittering across the floor.
Hard on the heels of Adrian’s outburst came a low, rusty noise that raised all the hairs along Sam’s arms. All other sound and movement stopped cold as Sam, Adrian and Bo turned to stare into the closet, from which the noise had come. The walls seemed to bend inward toward a faint, misty whorl barely visible against the tangle of jackets and shirts.
Sam stared. He felt like all the air had been sucked from his lungs. A horribly familiar pressure throbbed inside his skull. The overhead light flickered and dimmed. Through the static in his mind, Sam heard the rough subterranean snarl once more. It was louder than before.
Fuck. Oh, fuck.
Where the Heart Is #6
From his spot at the table, Dean saw Sommer stop and speak to his friends at the door. Turning around, Kerry waved over her shoulder at Dean, then left the barn hand in hand with Ron. Dean picked up the glass of zinfandel he’d bought and took a long swallow as Sommer weaved around the emptying tables toward him.
“Hi, Dean,” Sommer said, leaning a hand on the chair beside Dean’s. “Walk up to the house with me? I’ll tell you about my ghosts, and I can show you around if you want.”
Dean grinned at the nervous quaver in Sommer’s voice. Oh yeah. I’m getting laid. “That would be awesome. Let’s go.”
Pushing his chair back, Dean stood and trailed Sommer toward a small door behind the bar in the back. He was close enough to smell the man’s musky cologne, underlaid with a hint of sweat. Dean breathed deep, trying not to be too obvious.
They rounded the bar and slipped through the back door into the night. Hunching his shoulders against the cold, Dean gazed around the grounds. A wide, neatly trimmed lawn stretched from the barn to the vineyard. The bare vines rasped together in the light wind. Overhead, the waxing moon shed a soft silver glow over the scene. Dean found it unbearably romantic.
Moving closer to Sommer, Dean gave him his friendliest smile. “So tell me about your ghosts.”
Sommer shot him a shy sidelong grin which made him want to rip the man’s clothes off and throw him down on the manicured grass. “What would you like to know?”
“What exactly you’ve experienced, where and when, and for how long.” Dean accidentally-on-purpose brushed Sommer’s arm with his, savoring the resulting hitch in Sommer’s breath. “Anything you can think of, really. Every detail can help determine what sort of haunting it is, and what if anything can be done about it.”
Sommer nodded, a thoughtful expression on his face. “That makes sense.”
“So tell me all about it.”
Sommer glanced at him again, a mixture of curiosity and fear in his eyes, but didn’t say anything. Dean waited, content just to walk together through the moonlit night. A light, chilly breeze rustled through the bare branches of the trees clustered behind the house, bringing with it the sounds of music and laughter from the barn, and the lingering smell of sun-warmed grass. Finally, as they approached the wide, shallow steps leading to the front porch of the Inn, Sommer stopped and turned to Dean with a determined expression.
“I see a mist forming,” he said, his voice low and quiet. “It rises from the floor in the kitchen, hovers there for a minute, then floats out the back door. It doesn’t make a sound, or interact with me in any way. But I…” He drew a deep breath, his gaze skittering away to rest on the huge wooden swing swaying from the branch of a large oak in front of the house. “I can feel it watching me. Like it expects me to do something, but I don’t know what.”
Intrigued, Dean leaned against the steps’ railing and regarded Sommer with keen interest. “Has anyone else seen this?”
Sommer nodded without looking at Dean. “Yeah. The cook, Lisa, saw it once, when I was in the kitchen with her.”
“Is she the only one?”
“So far, yes.”
“I’ve only had the Inn for four years, since my parents…” Sommer stared at the ground. “Well, they went missing. No clues to where they’d gone, or what might’ve happened to them. They just vanished.” Raising his head again, Sommer met Dean’s gaze with a surprisingly strong defiance in his own. “I’m an only child, there was no one else to look after this place, so I quit my job in Oregon and moved to Chapel Hill to take over the business. I’ve been seeing the mist ever since I first moved in, and no one’s seen it except when they’ve been with me.”
Moved by something he didn’t quite understand, Dean reached out and laid a hand on Sommer’s shoulder. “How often do you see this mist?” he asked, keeping his tone calm.
“A couple of times a week, usually.”
Dean pursed his lips, thinking hard. “Did you live here, in this house, before you lived in Oregon?”
Sommer shook his head. “No. In fact, my parents were—are—from Portland. They moved here when I was fifteen. I didn’t want to leave home, so they let me stay with my Aunt Katherine. I’d never been here until Mom and Dad turned up missing.”
“Hm.” Pushing away from the railing, Dean slid his hand down Sommer’s arm, making sure to brush their fingers together before drawing away. “Hey, can we go inside? It’s getting cold out here, and I’d love to see the kitchen, if that’s okay.”
Sommer’s face brightened into one of those sweet, crooked smiles which made Dean’s stomach flutter like he’d swallowed a flock of small birds. “That would be great. I have a few guests coming in tomorrow, but the place is empty tonight. We’ll have it to ourselves. I can show you everything.”
The implications in Sommer’s words were not lost on Dean. He took Sommer’s arm and smiled up at him, letting his lust shine on his face. “I like that idea.”
Sommer’s eyelids fluttered downward, hiding his eyes. His blush was clearly visible in the bright moonlight. He opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it again and shook his head. His gaze darted up again, meeting Dean’s, and Dean caught his breath at the fire in the man’s eyes. Before Dean could say a word, Sommer’s hand clamped onto the back of his neck and pulled him into a rough, demanding kiss.
For a split second, sheer surprise held Dean immobile. He knew Sommer wanted him, and he was confident they’d end up in bed before the night was out, but he’d expected to take the initiative himself. He never would have guessed Sommer would be this aggressive.
The thoughts fleeted through Dean’s brain in the space of a heartbeat, then Sommer’s tongue darted into his mouth and anything resembling rational thought went right out the window. With a low moan, Dean clutched Sommer close and tilted his head to deepen the kiss.
One long, graceful hand slid down to cup Dean’s ass through his snug jeans, the ones he’d worn specifically because they displayed his backside to best advantage. Dean returned the favor, grabbing a double handful of well-toned rear end and squeezing as Sommer attempted to suck his tongue out. Sommer groaned, the hand on Dean’s neck moving up to fist into his hair.
Dean whimpered when Sommer’s knee pushed between his legs. He rubbed himself shamelessly against the firm thigh.
“Let’s go inside,” Dean breathed the second Sommer broke the kiss to bite at the juncture of neck and shoulder. “God, if you fuck as good as you kiss it’ll probably kill me but I don’t care.”
Sommer’s chuckle vibrated against Dean’s throat. “No one’s ever complained. Not that I’m in the habit of taking men I just met to bed.”
“Mmm,” Dean hummed, arching his neck for Sommer’s nibbles and kisses. “I’d ask you why you’re taking me to bed, but I don’t care just as long as you fuck me through the mattress.”
To Dean’s relief, Sommer didn’t seem inclined to answer the question Dean had half-asked. Pulling out of Dean’s arms, Sommer grabbed his hand and started dragging him up the steps to the porch. “Come on. There’s lube and condoms in my bedroom.”
Dean’s insides clenched. Oh, my. I think I like him bossy. Grinning, he let himself be led inside.
Love, Like Ghosts #7
Adrian arrived at Groome Castle before anyone else on Friday afternoon. With a thought, he turned the front door lock, went inside and headed straight for the tower room.
The place felt empty. He sat with his back against the wall to clear his mind and try to call Lyndon to him.
He knew he shouldn’t. But he couldn’t seem to help himself. If anyone had asked why he’d felt the need to come up here and seek out Lyndon, he wasn’t sure he could’ve given a reason. All he knew was he’d woken with the burning need to tell someone all about the best night of his life, right down to the last delicious detail, and the only person he felt that comfortable with—other than the subject of his rhapsodizing—was the man whose spirit haunted this room.
Adrian drew a slow, deep breath and blew it out. As his body relaxed, he allowed his mind to open. “Lyndon? Are you here?”
For a moment, nothing happened. Then a tingle of energy raised the hairs on the back of Adrian’s neck. Warmth washed through him, the air around him swirled and Lyndon’s bloody form wavered into existence. The big, translucent eyes stared right at him, making him feel like he’d been pinned to the wall.
He smiled. “How do you do that? You’re a ghost, I don’t even know how aware of me you are, but it feels like you’re poking through my brain with a stick.”
Lyndon’s mouth opened. Adrian sat forward, doing his best to stay relaxed and breathe normally.
The pale lips formed a single syllable. Adrian couldn’t make it out, nor could he hear Lyndon’s intent in his mind.
He shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me. Can you try again?”
If a ghost could have sighed, Adrian figured that’s what he would have heard at that moment. Lyndon floated toward the southeast window and hung there, his form now so insubstantial Adrian could barely see it. An aching sadness weighed on Lyndon’s energy, so that Adrian felt his own shoulders bowing under it.
I guess maybe now’s not the time to tell him about Greg. Adrian let out a quiet laugh. As if it wasn’t pathetic enough that he’d come up here to gush to a ghost about his hot date in the first place, now the ghost didn’t seem to be in the mood to listen.
Planting his palm on the floor, Adrian pushed to his feet. He walked over to the window where Lyndon’s barely visible outline hovered, leaned against the sill and peered out. A stretch of scruffy grass sloped away from the castle’s outside wall toward the forest about thirty or forty yards away. Through the trees, he could just make out the nearby park. If he opened the window, he’d probably be able to hear the laughter of the neighborhood kids playing. He wondered if any of the children who surely snuck onto the castle grounds from time to time ever looked up here and saw Lyndon gazing down at them.
Adrian glanced at his watch and groaned. The cast and crew would begin arriving soon to prepare for opening night of the haunted house. He had about five minutes to get out of the castle and far enough away that no one would suspect him of breaking and entering.
Most likely no one would care. They might not even notice. After all, the three or four sets of keys changed hands often enough that the group sometimes had trouble keeping track of who had them on any given day. But the last thing Adrian wanted to do was draw attention to his abilities, so avoiding the possibility of discovery altogether seemed the best course of action.
He pushed away from the windowsill. “I need to go, Lyndon. I’ll come see you again soon, okay?”
The silence in his head remained unbroken. Feeling unaccountably discouraged, Adrian cut himself off from the waning flow of Lyndon’s energy and headed for the stairs.
The haunted house is going to end in a couple of weeks, he reminded himself as he descended the steps. There won’t be any reason to come back here after that. What if you haven’t learned anything by then?
Adrian stopped, one foot on the step behind him and a hand splayed flat on the stone wall. He pictured Lyndon’s sorrowful specter in his mind and knew he wouldn’t stop pursuing the truth just because he no longer had a legitimate reason to be here. Locked doors couldn’t keep him out. He would have to be careful, that’s all. He could do that.
And to think, not so long ago you swore you’d never come up here again. He let out a soft laugh. Funny how a taste of an old mystery could change his mind so completely.
Adrian took the narrow footpath winding through the woods behind the castle to the small neighborhood park a few minutes’ walk away. With a quick glance around to make sure no one saw him, he climbed a short flight of wooden steps onto the sidewalk and started along the main road back toward Groome Castle. Marisa’s brand-new electric SUV passed him on the way. She stuck an arm out the window and waved. He waved back, smiling.
When he entered the castle again, several of the tech crew and actors had arrived and were helping Marisa set up. Adrian looked around, heart thumping. Just when he thought Greg hadn’t gotten there yet, the man himself rounded the corner from the main hall. Their gazes locked, and Adrian’s knees nearly buckled.
Greg’s face lit up. He strode across the floor toward Adrian, grinning ear to ear. “Hi, Adrian.”
“Hi.” Adrian mirrored Greg’s smile. Just the sight of him made Adrian’s stomach flutter. “You ready for tonight?”
“Looking forward to it.” Greg wound his arms around Adrian’s neck and molded his body to Adrian’s. “I missed you.”
Before Adrian could process what was happening, Greg leaned in and kissed him. Adrian’s psychokinesis flared in response.
Behind Adrian, the front door squeaked open and banged shut. “Hey, get a room!” a male voice bellowed.
Adrian broke the kiss, shooting a look at the boy who’d just entered. “Um. Not here, okay?”
Surprise and a bit of hurt shone in Greg’s eyes for a moment before his usual teasing smile hid them. “Sure. Sorry.” He dropped his arms and stepped back. “I should go start getting ready anyhow.”
Adrian grabbed Greg’s hand before he could go anywhere. “Wait.”
Greg’s eyebrows went up. He glanced at Adrian’s hand clutching his. “What?”
What, indeed? Adrian had no idea. He only knew that he longed to kiss Greg again, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it right here where anyone might walk in and see. It made him feel like a sideshow exhibit.
What they needed was privacy. Turning his hand in Greg’s, Adrian laced their fingers together and led Greg through the foyer toward the hallway to the bedrooms. He managed to avoid looking at any of the people they passed on the way.
Not that it mattered. After the show he and Greg had put on in the foyer, anyone who’d seen them knew where they were going and why. In fact, the couple of students who’d witnessed that kiss probably thought Adrian and Greg were finding a nice, quiet place to have sex. Adrian winced at the thought. God, if his cheeks turned any redder his face might burst into flame.
He didn’t turn back, though. His entire body ached with a desire stronger than any he’d ever felt, and he intended to slake what he could of it now. If a kiss was all he could allow himself yet, then that’s what he’d take. So far he’d found kissing Greg orders of magnitude more exciting than even the best sex with Christian, so the prospect was hardly a disappointment.
As they passed the bathroom, Greg yanked Adrian inside and kicked the door shut behind him. Adrian didn’t even bother to argue with his choice of private space. Dropping Greg’s hand, Adrian slid one arm around Greg’s waist, fisted the other hand in his hair and let Greg pick up where they’d left off. Greg’s head tilted, his mouth opened wide and his tongue twined with Adrian’s. He grabbed Adrian’s ass in both hands and thrust his hips forward, and Adrian felt Greg’s hardness push against his own.
Adrian’s powers, already roused and quivering, exploded like a silent bomb. It took every ounce of his severely strained concentration to channel the wild energy into something harmless and pleasurable so it didn’t shatter every window in the castle. He managed, barely. Invisible fingers caressed his face and neck, twisted in his hair, slipped beneath his shirt and down his pants to glide a delicate touch up the sensitive skin of his cock. Greg whimpered, and Adrian knew he’d felt it too.
Through the haze of need in his brain, Adrian wondered what Greg thought of the mysterious touches, if he connected them with Adrian at all or if he believed some unseen but lustful entity inhabiting this room had decided to molest them.
They jumped apart when someone pounded on the door. “Hey, hurry up! Other people need to get in there too, you know.”
“Yeah, just a second,” Greg called back. His voice sounded rough and breathless. He gazed up at Adrian with a sly smile. “So. I guess you’re not much for PDA, huh?”
“Not really.” Cupping Greg’s face in both palms, Adrian kissed his forehead, his nose, his chin. “Even if I was, I couldn’t kiss you in public. You get me too excited for other people to be watching, if you know what I mean.”
Greg laughed. “Yeah, I noticed. And it’s mutual, by the way, which is pretty amazing because it’s been a long time since any guy’s been able to get me hard with just a kiss.” He gave Adrian a swift, chaste peck on the lips, then pulled out of his arms. “I don’t suppose it would do me any good to ask if we could just suck each other off real quick?”
The idea tempted Adrian more than he liked. The scary thing was, he might’ve said yes if whoever was waiting for the bathroom hadn’t chosen that moment to bang on the door again and demand that they come out right now. Greg glared daggers through the door, and Adrian let out a silent sigh of…relief? Annoyance? He couldn’t decide, and how weird was that?
Adrian let his arms drop. “We need to go.”
“I know.” Greg’s voice emerged sharp and tense. His expression softened when Adrian flinched. Reaching up, he raked his fingers through Adrian’s hair. “I know,” he repeated in a gentler tone. “Just…please promise me that if we keep seeing each other, you’ll eventually take me to bed. I can’t take getting these little tastes without knowing I can have the whole enchilada at some point, you know?”
Adrian blushed, shocked in spite of himself. “Oh. Um. Wow.”
“I’m sorry. I know that probably sounds crude to you, but I’m just being honest here.” Greg stared into Adrian’s eyes with an openness that Adrian found at once refreshing and uncomfortable. “I like you, Adrian. A lot. That’s why I’m willing to wait for you. But I desperately want to have sex with you, and I want you to promise me you’ll be ready eventually. If you can’t promise me that, please tell me now.”
Because if you never want to have sex with me, I won’t keep seeing you. Greg didn’t go so far as to actually say it, but the words were there between the lines. Adrian thought he should feel indignant about that. Trapped, maybe. After all, he could argue that Greg was trying to coerce him into sex when he didn’t want it.
There was only one problem with that argument—he did want sex with Greg. Wanted it so badly his blood sang with it.
So do it, the Sean-faced demon in his head goaded him. For once in your miserable existence, just damn well do what makes you happy. What are you so afraid of? Your powers? Look how well you controlled them just now. Practice makes perfect, and how are you gonna practice if you never do anything?
Adrian smiled. Scary how much sense Sean-demon made sometimes. Even scarier how the possibility of sex with Greg seemed so much more important than any of Adrian’s fears and neuroses.
Looking Greg squarely in the eyes, Adrian nodded. “I can definitely promise you that.”
The movie-star smile that already had Adrian hooked lit Greg’s face. “Good.” Leaning in, he planted a soft, lingering kiss on Adrian’s mouth. “I can’t wait,” he whispered as they drew apart.
“Neither can I.” Clutching Greg’s hand in his, Adrian flung the bathroom door open, lifted his chin and stalked out past the line that had formed while they’d been inside. With any luck, no one would notice the swelling in the front of his jeans or the loopy grin on his face.
Ally Blue is acknowledged by the world at large (or at least by her heroes, who tend to suffer a lot) as the Popess of Gay Angst. She has a great big suggestively-shaped hat and rides in a bullet-proof Plexiglas bubble in Christmas parades. Her harem of manwhores does double duty as bodyguards and inspirational entertainment. Her favorite band is Radiohead, her favorite color is lime green and her favorite way to waste a perfectly good Saturday is to watch all three extended version LOTR movies in a row. Her ultimate dream is to one day ditch the evil day job and support the family on manlove alone. She is not a hippie or a brain surgeon, no matter what her kids’ friends say.
What Hides Inside
An Inner Darkness
Where the Heart Is
Love, Like Ghosts