Teaser Thursday- Shiny Objects

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They walked back to her car and got in. Niko slid the passenger seat backward and reclined the back of the seat, and Elena moved her seat back slightly.

Niko pushed his hood off his head and rested against the seat back, eyes closed. “Comfortable,” he murmured.

“So you’re going to take a nap?” Elena teased.

“Not with you sitting here. That would defeat the purpose.” He opened his eyes and stared into hers. “What is the purpose? Why did you agree to meet me tonight?”

“I wanted to see you,” she said softly. “Our kiss Friday. I didn’t feel wrong about it then, and I don’t now. The only ‘wrong’ thing about it was that it made me dishonest to Corin and what I have with him.”

“Until you told him about it.” He took her hand and turned it palm up, then slipped his own hand over it. “That made it honest.”

“Right.” She relaxed under his touch.

“So there wasn’t anything wrong about it.” With his other hand, he brushed her face. ”You told me he said he didn’t have a problem with it.”

“He did.” She took a shuddering breath. “You’re making it really hard to have a conversation.”

“I am?” He raised an eyebrow. “Funny, I know human touch is powerful. I didn’t realize it had the power to take away speech.”

“You know what I mean.” She turned to face him. “You asked why I came here tonight. Why did you?”

“I wanted to see you.” With one finger, he traced her lips. “You told me your man would have no problem if you and I got something going. Or maybe I should say resumed what we used to have. You wouldn’t have told me if the idea didn’t appeal to you. I’d like to see just how much appeal it has.”

“So this is an experiment?” she muttered. “See how far you can persuade me to go?”

“See how far you’re willing to go.” He leaned closer to her, his face now mere inches from hers. In less than a second, he would be able to kiss her if he wanted. If she allowed it. He had to give her the choice, but having her so near, knowing she would no longer hide behind her fear of cheating on her man, made holding back even more difficult than before. “You have permission to explore what you want. Will you take the chance, or are you going to keep trying to play it safe?”

“It isn’t possible to play it safe with you.” She ran her hand up his arm. “This should be peaceful, like at your apartment. It isn’t. Far from it.”

“Possibilities.” Niko kissed her forehead. “Whatever happens here tonight won’t change my opinion of you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“It might change mine,” she said softly.

“You’re here. I’m here.” He rested his hand on her thigh, and she shivered again. “Relax,” he whispered. “If you can’t make up your mind, let me make it up for you. For once, stop trying so hard to be in control, and see what happens if you let go.”

He watched her, seeing in her expression her struggle to decide what to do. What happened next might change everything between them. From their previous relationship, they’d formed a friendship, but Niko couldn’t leave it at that any longer. His feelings for her were too strong to accept mere friendship.

He didn’t know if even mere friendship would survive between them if either of them developed any doubts. Or if Elena’s man changed his mind.

But he couldn’t predict the future. All he knew was here and now, sitting in Elena’s car with her, hearing the rain as it hit the car, watching Elena’s uncertainty give way to determination.

“Okay,” she said softly.

Teaser Thursday- Shiny Objects

On the subject of communication in polyamorous relationships.

As she puttered, making Niko’s cup of coffee, she kept an ear on the conversation in the living room. For the first few minutes, it consisted of more strained chatter. Finally, just as she poured boiling water into her cup, Niko said, “Elena said you wanted to meet the man you’re sharing her with.”

Corin coughed. “I guess that’s one way to put it. I just want to make sure no one, Elena especially, ends up hurt in this.”

“Most people would care more about whether they themselves end up hurt,” Niko said.

“Elena’s very important to me,” Corin replied firmly. “If it came to a choice between me being hurt or her, I’d choose myself.”

“I admire that,” Niko said. “I question it, but then again, I don’t know you well enough to say if you’d stick to it.”

“I already have. I told her it would be okay if she saw you.”

Elena flinched. She hadn’t expected Corin to state so bluntly how he felt about her relationship with Niko. Especially not to Niko himself. More than ever, she wished she’d never kissed Niko, that she’d never put herself or the men into this situation.

But wishing did no good. She couldn’t change the past.

She stirred the coffee and carried the cup to Niko with a forced smile. “Caffeine.”

“Thanks.” Niko took a sip of it then set the cup in front of him on the coffee table. Looking at Corin, he said, “I told Elena I wouldn’t do anything to come between her and you. I guess like you, I’ll do whatever I can to make sure she isn’t hurt.”

Tears pricked Elena’s eyes, and she blinked rapidly to keep them back. “Just stop. No one wants to see anyone hurt. Right now, I like I’ve screwed up both your lives, and I hate it.” She swallowed the lump in her throat.

“You haven’t.” Corin reached for her hand. “Honey, that isn’t what I meant at all.”

“Me either,” Niko said firmly. “You should know me better than that. If something screwed up my life, it wouldn’t be part of my life anymore.”

“I know.” Elena sank onto the loveseat beside Corin. “So tell me what you meant. This is what I was afraid of. You both sound pissed, and I’m not sure this is going to work.”

“We’ll make it work,” Niko said roughly. “If it’s what you want, we’ll make it work.”

“What about what you guys want?”

Corin ran his hand through his hair. “I want to know you aren’t leaving me. I want to know that every night, you’ll be sleeping in our bed, even if you’ve been with Niko.”

“Which works for me, because I have nowhere for her to sleep,” Niko said. “Having a roommate isn’t always conducive to having sleepover guests.”

Corin nodded. “Okay. That takes care of one of my concerns.”

“I’m not leaving you.” Elena rested her hand on Corin’s knee. “I told you that. I don’t want Niko instead of you. I don’t know what the hell I’m thinking. I always thought I was a one-man woman. But I want both of you.”

“All I want is for you to be happy and comfortable with what’s going on,” Niko said quietly. “If you’re not, we end my part in it. It’s that simple.”

After what he’d told her the other night, she doubted it would be that simple for him. But if he had to let her go, he would never express any qualms. That wasn’t Niko.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome.”

Elena turned to Corin, who gave her a reassuring smile. “You and I discussed things before you started with Niko,” he said. “Maybe we should have involved Niko in the discussion.”

“What is there to discuss?” Niko asked. “We both want her, and she wants both of us. She lives with you. She’s home every night. She visits me when she can and when I have a place for us to be together. That won’t be often, unfortunately, since I think for most of the winter her car won’t be the best location, and she told me you’d rather she not bring me here.”

“Her car?” Corin snarled.

“Not the other night,” Elena said quickly. “His roommate went out. And the time in my car, it was warm out.” To her own ears, it sounded like a lame explanation.

Niko nodded. “As I said, having a roommate isn’t conducive to having company. And Elena’s worth far more than fumbling in a car like a couple of teenagers. We had no other option that night. If this is going to be an ongoing thing, I’ll find a solution.”

“Her car,” Corin muttered.

“Let it go.” Elena grinned, hoping to lighten the mood. “Being in a car can be exciting sometimes.”

“Not when it’s twenty degrees out,” Niko said. “I’ll think of something better.” He studied Corin. “So why did you want me over here today?”

“To straighten out a few things,” Corin replied, an edge to his voice. “Elena told me you and she f—slept together the other night, and I took it harder than I expected. I agreed to it, and I don’t want to blame Elena for doing what I said I wouldn’t have a problem with her doing.”

Anger sparked in Niko’s eyes. “Is that why you didn’t call me yesterday, Elena?”

She hesitated. The guys had almost been getting along. She didn’t want another conflict to start. “Corin and I needed to sort things out, and we did. That’s why I asked you to come over.”

“To make this work, we have to be on the same page,” Corin said. “And it isn’t fair to Elena to have to be our go-between. I can see you’re pissed at me. Not my problem. My problem was that I got pissed off when I shouldn’t have. Elena and I worked that out. It was between her and me.”

Niko glared and said nothing.

“It’s okay,” Elena assured him. “We did work it out.”

“Good.” Niko folded his arms. “All right, any other agreements we need to make? Maybe we should set a schedule of when Elena’s allowed to see me?” His voice dripped with sarcasm.

Corin bristled. “You know, when I asked Elena to move in with me, I expected to spend the rest of my life with her. I didn’t expect to share her with another guy. You can be as pissy as you want. I’m doing this for her, and it would help if we were all on the same page about it. Speaking of which, did you use a condom, at least?”

Niko opened his mouth. To fend off another snarky comment, Elena spoke quickly, cringing inside at the fear of what Corin might say. “No. We talked about it. We both know we test negative for everything, and I can’t get pregnant, so we decided we didn’t need one.”

Corin’s face clouded. “I don’t think I like you letting him come inside you.”

Elena’s chest tightened. She should have talked to Corin about sexual health before going condom-free with Niko. She hadn’t even thought of it.

“I didn’t,” Niko said. “I came on her belly. I don’t need to come inside her and mark my territory. I just didn’t want anything between us.”

“If anything happens because of this—” Corin said.

“Stop,” Elena stood. “You guys are not going to fight about me. Or if you are, I’m not going to listen to it. I’ll be in the other room. Let me know when the fists are done flying.”

“We aren’t fighting,” Niko said.

“You’d better not be. I still need to leave the room. Be right back.” She hurried to the bathroom and shut herself in.

Teaser Thursday- Lost Soul

As promised in Monday’s post about safer sex practices in fiction. Warning: Explicit adult content.

Joel gasped and let go of Lanny’s hair as Lanny slid his mouth up and down the shaft. Joel’s cock pulsed against his lips and tongue, and Lanny knew he was close. He stroked himself with one hand, holding back from coming but needing some kind of touch. His arousal was so heightened he knew he would go insane if he didn’t touch himself.

Of course, his own touch wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted, needed, Joel’s touch, but that would wait.

“Stop!” Joel gasped.

Lanny considered ignoring the instruction, but he knew damn well that if Joel came now, the fun would be over. Joel would never allow Lanny to fuck him if he soul-ripped him first. Reluctantly, he pulled back and stood, smiling smugly at the man who stood in front of him breathing like a marathon runner.

Joel touched his lips to Lanny’s and pulled him toward the bed. “I need you.”

“I know.” Lanny smiled and pushed the other man forward onto the mattress. Joel growled low in his throat and positioned himself on his hands and knees, proving Lanny’s assumption that the guy would be a bottom. “The soul rip—”

“When one of us comes, it starts. I’m careful. It will be just like before.” Joel took a couple deep breaths. “Please, no more talking. I want you to come first, but I’m too fucking close to hold back for long.”

“Well, you’re going to have to, because I’m not going to just slam into your ass.” Lanny glanced around. Even with a bonfire raging inside him, he was too smart to be stupid. “Lube? Condoms?”

“Magic. No diseases, and magic works better than lube. Trust me.”

“How do you convince other people to do without condoms?”

“I use them if I’m asked.” He looked over his shoulder at Lanny. “Don’t ask. I promise you, we don’t need either. I want to feel you inside me.”

Lanny caressed Joel’s ass. He wasn’t about to argue. He had no reason to doubt what Joel said, and he wasn’t exactly against the idea of fucking him bareback, even though he’d never done it with any other guy. Then again, none of the other guys he’d fucked had been sorcerers.

He was too turned on to think about it anymore. “I’ll take your word for it. Back up.”

Teaser Thursday- Vengeance Is Sweet

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The entire Ruiz house was dark. I doubted Alex had gone to bed so early, and my instincts told me he and Keeley hadn’t left the building. There should have been light. I opened my mouth to call their names.

Ghast put his hand over my face. “Silence,” he whispered.

Frantic to find Alejandro and Keeley, I struggled against his grasp and then realized he was right. Whoever had caused this might still be there.

When I relaxed enough to focus, I sensed at least two demons and an unfamiliar presence which might have been an angel, though without the usual angelic aura of good. If we detected them, they likely had detected us. Still, if we didn’t speak, they might have more difficulty finding us.

Down the hall, I heard a faint whimper. Keeley. Screw any bad guys who might have been nearby. I had to protect the child. Without waiting for Ghast, I hurried toward the sound. He followed.

The pitch blackness of Keeley’s room came from more than a mere lack of electric light. It was the total absence of light of any kind, other than a small spark in one corner of the room, which I realized came from Keeley.

My heart would have stopped if I’d had one. That spark was no match for the darkness. And in this room, I sensed more than three presences, none of which had Keeley’s best interests in mind.

Angels visited the child. So where the Heaven are they? Jochiel and his pals had sworn to protect her, and the fuckers, excuse me, the idiots had evidently fallen down on the job. Although at least one of the presences had an angelic nature, I doubted it was one of the ones Keeley had mentioned. She hadn’t been afraid of those angels. Her fear of this one permeated the entire room.

A piece of darkness turned toward me and snarled, “Leave.”

“Not a chance.” I sounded pretty darn brave for someone who didn’t even have the power to defend herself. “She hasn’t done anything to you. She’s only a child. You tried to take her once and failed. Leave her alone.”

“Omara?” Keeley whimpered.

“I’m here.” I waved even though I knew she couldn’t see me and took a step toward the bed, hoping I wouldn’t trip. All I could see was her tiny spark.

“Not for long,” the darkness said. A bolt of deeper blackness shot toward me. I ducked and it missed, hitting the wall. The force of it shook the entire house.

Good thing I’d ducked.

“Omara!” Keeley cried.

From another room came the sound of Alex’s voice. “Keeley!”

“I’m okay,” I said.

I refused to leave Keeley, but I desperately wanted to make sure Alex hadn’t been hurt. Thinking Ghast might find out for me, I opened my mouth to call out to him.

I stopped myself. While the others had sensed me, I wasn’t sure they realized Ghast had accompanied me. I didn’t want to clue them in.

I took another step toward the small light. Greater darkness obscured it.

“The child is ours,” another piece of darkness hissed. “You cannot help her.”

“Want to bet?” I needed to shift to my true form. Scaring Keeley didn’t worry me. She wouldn’t be able to see me anyway, and even if she did, saving her mattered too much. I doubted I would frighten her more than what had already occurred.

Concentrating as hard as possible, I tried to shift. Maybe I had some last residue of power.

It didn’t work.

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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Blinking against a too-bright light, Weston tried to inhale. The air stabbed his lungs like knives, and when he coughed, the pain worsened exponentially. He was covered with a thin sheet, and the smell of soot surrounded him.

“Easy.” An unfamiliar female face appeared above him. “You inhaled a lot of smoke. We’re getting oxygen set up for you. Take it easy.”

Reassured by her soothing voice, Weston closed his eyes again.

The next time he opened them, a mask covered his mouth and nose. The light wasn’t as bright now. He tried to sit up, and a hand pressed his shoulder.

“You need to be still.” The voice sounded like the same woman as earlier.

“Andy.” Weston couldn’t even understand himself through the mask.

Apparently the woman—a nurse, he guessed—had some practice at translating oxygen-mask speak. “Your friend is in the next room. He’s unconscious. Try to breathe normally. I’ll find out what’s happening with him.”

Weston nodded his thanks and stared up at the white ceiling, listening to the nurse’s footsteps fade and trying to sort out his memories of what had happened.

A fire. Someone had set fire to the library as soon as Mildred was out of the building.

The crash in the main room must have been the arsonist breaking out through one of the windows so Andy and Weston wouldn’t see him.

Someone had chained the back door shut.

Someone had wanted Andy and Weston dead badly enough to make sure they couldn’t escape. Badly enough to destroy the entire library.

Andy should never have come to Dayfield. The town had never been a good place, but Weston hadn’t realized exactly how deep the darkness ran until Andy showed up.

“Your friend’s doing better.” The nurse walked over to stand beside Weston. “Still unconscious, but the doctor says he’s going to be fine.”

Weston started to speak, but his throat was too raw and sore to make another sound. Instead, he simply nodded again.

For a little while, he dozed off and on, waking each time someone entered the room. He expected his mother to show up, but she didn’t appear.

Finally, a male doctor carrying a clipboard entered with the nurse Weston had seen first. Without a word, she removed Weston’s mask.

“Try taking a breath,” the doctor said. “Slowly.”

Weston obeyed. His chest ached, but the sharp pain had faded enough for him to draw in some air.

He put his hand on his throat. “Water?”

The doctor nodded. “We’ll get you some. How are you feeling?”

Like I almost died in a fire, idiot. “Hurts.”

Teaser Thursday- Love Like Vampires

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By the time they went back inside, Shane was breathing easily and the tightness in his chest had let up. None of the arguments among the band had become too serious, at least not with their current lineup, but he was always afraid they might, and then everything would fall apart. He and Thaniel had been through it with five different guys already, guys who wanted to write songs that didn’t match the band’s style, or who were pissy because Thaniel let Shane have too much say in how the band ran.

Thaniel had always had his back, even when their first drummer had called Shane a “fucking faggot” the day Shane came out. Shane had had to hold Thaniel back from beating the shit out of the guy.

Good times. Shane hadn’t exactly enjoyed being treated crappy merely because he’d finally had the guts to admit something most people had figured out years earlier. Having Thaniel not only accept it but defend him had helped.

Right now, the band had it pretty good. Their current lineup gelled, and everyone agreed on musical style and where they wanted the band to go. Bryan and Jace were too laid back, and Todd was too busy, to care who ran things, as long as they didn’t have to. They all had about the same level of skills, and none of them gave a damn about each other’s sexuality.

But something was broken. Shane couldn’t put his finger on it and didn’t really want to. He only knew the band wasn’t as connected as they had been, and that might mean Love Like Vampires would fall apart.

He took another breath as he and Todd followed Thaniel to the area they’d been assigned to hang out in during Jareth’s part of the show. The argument had ended. Everything was cool.

Bryan and Jace were already in the designated spot, sipping bottles of water and talking to one of Jareth’s musicians. Both of them stood mostly still, mellow expressions on their faces. At least Jace wouldn’t get on anyone’s nerves for a while.

“Ready for this?” Bryan asked as they took their seats. “This is where we’re heading in a year or two if we keep it up.”

“I sure as fuck hope so.” Thaniel slid down in his seat and grabbed a bottle from the cooler between his chair and Bryan’s. “Two albums and a ton of frigging shows, and we still aren’t hitting what we should be.”

“We’ll get there.” Shane took the seat on the other side of Thaniel and mentally prepared the usual pep talk. Every single time they played a show, Thaniel ended up griping about what they should have been doing. From the second the guy had said, “Hey, we should start a band,” he’d had plans. The plans hadn’t worked out yet, and it irked the hell out of Thaniel.

Teaser Thursday- With Every Touch

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Sheila nibbled at the bits of lobster in her sandwich and willed back her tears as lightning flashed outside the window beside her. She had left her hometown as soon as she had graduated university, twelve years earlier, and she hadn’t looked back since. She didn’t need to think about it now, and she definitely didn’t need to think about Jack, no matter how difficult it was to put him out of her mind.

After moving to the city, she’d gotten help to deal with the emotional scars Jack had left. She hadn’t been able to do anything about the physical ones.

It was in the past now, and she wanted to focus on her present. She wasn’t even sure why she had brought it up to Erich. Part of her was surprised he hadn’t walked away. Most guys didn’t want to deal with a woman who’d been damaged the way she had.

Most guys didn’t even earn enough of her trust to hear about her life before Portland, but Erich’s calm demeanor encouraged her to trust him.

“These lobster rolls are excellent,” Erich said.

“Yeah.” Sheila glanced at him. No judgment, no discomfort. He took a bite of his sandwich and smiled as he chewed.

He might be a guy worth knowing better. Maybe having around more.

She dismissed the thought immediately. Neither of them wanted a relationship, and she hoped to move to Boston soon. If she repeated that to herself enough times, it might get through. She couldn’t have Erich around her more than a friend would be. There was no point in even thinking about it.

She wouldn’t have wanted him to be with her constantly anyway. She didn’t have time or patience for it.

“I want to say something to make you smile,” Erich said. “I’m not having much luck thinking of anything.”

“It isn’t your job to entertain me.” She ate another fry. It tasted like cardboard around the lump that had risen through her throat.

“Something hit a nerve.” He held out his hand. Although Sheila wanted the physical contact, she didn’t take it. It would only have given her comfort, which would have been a bad thing when she was so close to losing her cool and bursting into tears.

Erich hesitated a moment before resting his hand on the table. “I don’t know if it was something I said or something you said. Either way, it happened while we were talking, and I want to help.”

“I don’t want to spill my sordid past.” She twisted her mouth in something that felt close enough to a smile and took a sip of her soda. “No issue. Memories are crap sometimes, but the good thing is they’re in the past. I want to think about now.”

“Well, right now there’s a hell of a thunderstorm going on outside.” A crash of thunder punctuated his words. “You’re not looking at the lightning. It’s pretty spectacular.”

Sheila turned to the window just as a bolt of forked lightning shot from the clouds to the surface of the water. It was beautiful and exciting, and she couldn’t help smiling. “God, I love that! I wish I was out there.”

“You might get struck,” Erich pointed out.

“Stop being reasonable.” She stuck out her tongue at him, and he laughed. So did she. Something about thunderstorms—the power, the electricity in the air, and the beauty of the lightning had always lifted her mood. Now she was able to dismiss the tears and memories. They couldn’t stand up to the crashing thunder and waves.

She wanted to be outside. It was pouring hard enough that the water looked like sheets running down the window, and judging from how closely thunder followed on the heels of each lightning bolt, the storm was close to overhead. It didn’t matter. She needed to be outside.

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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Weston didn’t say another word until they were inside the historical society room. He took off his denim jacket and draped it over a chair, then cracked his knuckles. “My dad has a lot of friends in town, and they keep him informed of what’s going on. Including the fact that a Chaffee is poking around. Why are you going into the diner? Didn’t you learn anything yesterday?”

“I learned they have good food.” Andy shook his head. “Why do I feel like I’m in a horror novel or something? Stay away from the town, or they’ll possess you and eat you alive.”

“That’s how some small towns are,” Weston muttered. “You had a run-in this morning.”

“A couple of guys in the diner weren’t thrilled with me being there, but Rich shut them up.” Andy paused. “After I told him to get over himself.”

Weston’s frown deepened. “I heard about that too. Maybe you should take the books back to Boston and mail them to me when you’re finished.”

Andy stared at him. “Kicking me out of town? I wouldn’t have figured you’d agree with the general public.”

“I don’t, but Dad said Ernie implied you’d better get out of here sooner than later.”

Andy had no clue which of the men in the diner was Ernie. Nor did he care. He wasn’t about to leave because of a dickwad blustering over the phone. “I’ll get out of here when I’m finished what I came here for. Matt over in the photo shop doesn’t seem to hate me, at least.”

“Matt’s a little different. He’s a townie, but he tries to keep an open mind most of the time.” Weston nodded toward the bag Andy was still holding. “You bought a photo?”

“He gave it to me. It’s the factory.” Andy hesitated. “I haven’t seen the factory yet.”

“Do you want to?” Weston sounded surprised.

“It’s part of the family history, right?” Andy wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to visit the place, but since he was in town, it wouldn’t hurt.

“In a way, I guess. Not a pleasant part.” Weston walked over to one of the bookcases and ran his finger over the spines on one shelf. “I have a book about the factory here somewhere. When it started, when the Chaffees took over, all of that. Maybe you should read it first.”

“Sure.” Andy didn’t see why he needed to read a book before visiting the factory, but he appreciated Weston’s willingness to help.

“So are you planning to hang out here again today?” Weston asked. “You took all those books yesterday. I figured you’d spend the day reading at the motel.”

Andy hesitated. They were barely at the friendly acquaintance stage, and he wasn’t the kind to admit an attraction to someone after knowing them such a short time. He’d learned to be cautious.

But Weston was worth taking the chance. Worst case, Andy would avoid the library for the rest of his time in the area, except to return the books he’d borrowed.

He smiled. “I wanted the company.”

Weston glanced over his shoulder. “You did, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I don’t mind the company either.” Weston turned back to the books. “Here it is.”

“Okay.” That’s it? We say we like being around each other and then go back to talking about books?

Then again, he didn’t know what else he’d expected

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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This room smelled even more of old things and dust, and Andy stifled a cough. Around him, papers were crammed between books or piled in unsteady stacks. Andy saw no one else in the room.

He cleared his throat. “Hello?”

“Oh. Hang on.”

Andy waited, rocking slightly back and forth on his feet. A slim man who barely reached Andy’s shoulder walked out from between two shelving units. His brown hair was tousled, and a small gold hoop adorned each ear and one eyebrow. He had a sparse mustache and goatee, and his brown eyes gleamed even in the dim light.

He seemed as out of place in Dayfield as the elderly librarian would have been in downtown Boston.

Andy cleared his throat again and tried to moisten his dry lips. “Hi. I’m Andy Forrest. She, um, the librarian said she told you I’d be here today?”

“Yeah.” The man’s face crinkled into something resembling a smile. He held out his hand. “Weston Thibeault. Historian, such as it is.”

Andy shook hands with him. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise, though I wish it was in a nicer place.” Weston grimaced. “Sorry. I tend to be a bit cynical about this town. No reason for it to spill over on you. You won’t be here long, I take it.”

“How long I stay depends on how easy it is to find the information I need.” Andy glanced around.

Weston chuckled. “Yeah, it’s kind of a mess, isn’t it? People keep dropping off stuff they figure I can shoehorn in. Which I sort of can, but it isn’t a matter of simply shoving things onto shelves. There is, believe it or not, a system, and I haven’t had much time lately to put things away.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“You’re going to have to. I’m the only one who knows where things are around here.” Weston gestured at the nearest shelves. “This is what a degree in history gets you. So Mildred said you want to find out about a family from Dayfield?”

“Yeah.” Andy hadn’t given the librarian the whole story when he’d called. There were some things he wasn’t comfortable saying over the phone. And after the way the woman—Mildred, he guessed—had greeted him, Andy doubted he would ever be comfortable enough to tell her anything. “My birth father’s from here.”

Weston raised his pierced eyebrow. “You’re adopted?”

“Yeah.” Andy braced himself for the myriad questions he generally got when people found out he’d been “given away.” Questions which, for the most part, he couldn’t answer.

“What about your birth mother?” Weston asked.

“I think she lives on the North Shore. At least, that’s where she was living when I was born, as far as I know.”

“She might have moved since.” Weston paused. “What are their names? If one or maybe both of them are here in town, you could bypass all the paperwork and talk to them.”

“I don’t want to meet them,” Andy blurted. “I’d rather leave it at finding out more about my father and the family. History, you know?”

“Sure.” Weston wrinkled his forehead. “Okay, well, if you have their names, I’m sure we’ll have something about them here. At least about your father. We have info about pretty much everyone who’s lived here, at least in the past century and a half or so.”

“That’s what I’m hoping.” Andy glanced around again. There was no guarantee the shelves and piles contained anything about his biological father, and even if they did, he hadn’t decided how much he actually wanted to learn. The biggest question he had was one old books and papers probably couldn’t answer: Why had his birth parents given him up?

“The names?” Weston prompted.

Andy took a deep breath. “My mother is Elise Cummings. My father is Vardon Chaffee.”

He expected some sign of recognition from Weston. In a town as small as Dayfield, it was unlikely Weston wouldn’t have heard the name. But Andy didn’t expect the disgusted twist of Weston’s mouth or the narrowing of his eyes.

“Chaffee?” Weston spoke the name as if he were spitting out a mouthful of shit. “You’re a Chaffee?”

“No. I’m a Forrest.” Andy folded his arms and squared his feet. He had no clue why “Chaffee” was a bad thing, but he damn sure wasn’t about to let Weston insult him because of a guy Andy had never met. “My birth father was a Chaffee. And I’m guessing you aren’t too happy about it?”

Weston pressed his lips together and looked away for a moment. When he faced Andy again, his expression was blank. “Sorry. Yeah, that name tends to leave a bad taste in most mouths around here. You don’t know anything about the family?”

“Not really.” Andy’s adoptive father had tried to give him what little information he had beyond the names of Andy’s birth parents and their hometowns, but Andy had refused to listen. He only wanted to learn enough to relieve his dad’s fear that Andy might carry some unknown health condition, like the heart problem that had killed Andy’s mom.

“Wow. Okay.” Weston ran his hand through his hair. “So not only am I going to have to find you information about the family, but I’ll have to educate you so you don’t say that name in too many places around here.”

Teaser Thursday- Tempeh for Two

TempehforTwo_200

“Kyle, stop wallowing,” I snapped.

Glen and Kendra stared at me. I sounded harsh as hell, and they probably thought I was being a complete asshole. I didn’t disagree, but it was the only thing that Kyle might actually hear.

“You saved my fucking life.” I leaned across the island and tried to look Kyle in the eye. The tension returned to his body. Anger, this time.

Knock this off, I said, choosing this time to speak through the mate bond so I wouldn’t piss off Kendra and Glen. I know it’s hard. You hate what you had to do. That’s good. It means you don’t do it lightly. But you had to. This wasn’t a time you could have made a different choice. No matter what you did, someone would have died in that room.

Fuck you, he said.

Later. It’ll get some of your aggression out.

He looked up, startled, and barked out something that might have been a laugh. Kendra did a double take. Glen again didn’t react other than to say, “Laughing isn’t a bad thing.”

“Private joke.” Kyle sat up a little straighter and finished his water. “Kendra, can I have more, please?”

“Sure.” Looking confused, she took the glass to the fridge’s water dispenser.

“I can’t promise I won’t wallow again,” Kyle said.

“I know.” I rested my hand on the island, and he took it. “We’ll get through it. But remember why you did this. Not why the wolf did. Why Kyle Slidell, the human side, took someone’s life to save his own. And mine.”

He nodded. “I had no choice.”

“That’s right.” I squeezed his hand. “I love you, Kyle. I would say I forgive you, but you didn’t do anything you need forgiveness for. Do you understand?”

“I love you too.” He let out a long breath. “I should lie down. I didn’t think I’d be able to, but now I feel like I’m going to fall over. I don’t want to be all the way upstairs, though.”

“We’ll set you up in one of the guest rooms down here if you want.” I glanced at Kendra, who nodded.

“Yeah, that would be good.” Kyle broke off a piece of the muffin and swallowed it without chewing. “I need to stay down here. This isn’t over. You think it is. You think you’ve taken care of him and come up with a plausible story for what happened. It’ll work for the human world. Not for ours. There are consequences.”

He spoke the way he did whenever random information came to him. As if he were reciting something he’d known forever while having no idea where it came from.

I hated hearing him speak that way, because it meant he was right. Somehow, someone would know what he’d done to Andrew, and they wouldn’t let it rest. And it made perfect sense. Whoever had been controlling Andrew would have felt the bond break. And whatever that wolf knew, the Anax knew.

“Go rest for now,” I said. “We’ll worry about what happens next when it happens. I won’t leave you if I can help it. I won’t let them hurt you.”

He gave me a faint smile. “You’re always saving my ass. The same way you did when I took off after Mikey that time. I don’t think you can get me out of this one, Tobias. Zane didn’t want to punish me for shifting in front of humans, so it didn’t take much for him to decide to let me live. The A—this guy wants us both dead, and he’s going to take the opportunity.”

“Shut up and go rest.” I spoke more roughly than I intended this time. I refused to accept the possibility of my mate dying for what he’d done. If he’d killed Andrew in cold blood, I would have taken Kyle’s life myself, but he hadn’t.

The Anax wouldn’t see it that way. He would find some reason to believe, and make others believe, Kyle had killed for the sake of killing. Kyle was right. The Anax wanted me dead, and the easiest way to do that would be to murder Kyle.