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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- 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- Tempeh for Two

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“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.

Teaser Thursday- Try the Tofu

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Finally, after some unknown amount of time, the visualization did its job. My pack was safe. I could handle whatever might come to us. Kyle and Jon would accompany me to Pennsylvania, though Jon and his mate Mariko wouldn’t be happy about it. Kyle wasn’t the cause of our problems, and because he existed, I might be able to solve them. He gave me focus and strength and sanity, and I was fortunate to have him in my life.

I opened my eyes and breathed deeply. The smell of spaghetti sauce filled my nose. However long I’d sat there, it had been long enough for Kyle to finish supper.

As I recognized that, Kyle walked into the room carrying two plates, with a bottle of grated cheese balanced carefully on top of one of them. “I didn’t want to move your stuff on the table, so I figured we could eat in here.” He handed one of the plates, the one with the cheese, to me. “Better?”

“Yeah. Thanks for giving me some space.” I sprinkled some cheese on my spaghetti as he sat beside me. “Vegan cheese?”

“No, so I’m not having any. Vegan-friendly sauce, though.” He left a little gap between us and gave me an uncertain look. “Have things really gotten that bad since I moved here? I thought I made your life better.”

“Don’t get all insecure on me.” That was the last thing I needed. He was strong, at least as strong as I was. If he started questioning things, I wasn’t certain how I would cope with it. “More bad things have happened since you moved here than before, but you do make my life better, Kyle. I wouldn’t have been able to cope with everything if you weren’t here. You know that.”

“I’m not being insecure. Those were some pretty loud, pissed-off thoughts you sent my way before you meditated.” He shrugged. “I’m sorry if I’ve had anything to do with things getting worse. But I’m glad to be here for you.”

“You don’t have anything to be sorry for.” I sighed. Sometimes I wished our mate bond wasn’t so strong. On the other hand, it could work to my benefit. I sent my love and desire for him along it, hoping it would counter what he’d picked up earlier.

He smiled. “You don’t have to do that, Tobias. I know how you feel about me. I also know how you feel about your pack and our safety, and I compromise that sometimes. Which is another reason it’s good that Zane told you to bring me to Pennsylvania. If there’s trouble, it’ll follow me there and the rest of the pack will be safe.”

“No, that isn’t why.” This conversation was not going the way I’d hoped. No matter what questions had been in my mind, I didn’t want Kyle to question whether he’d brought problems to my pack or me. “You’re going with me so if there’s trouble, I’ll know you’re safe, idiot. I care about my pack, and I would die to protect them if I had to. I love you, and I would kill for you.”

“I hope it never comes to that,” he said quietly. “Killing people sucks.”

“Yeah.” He knew that all too well. Art had died at Kyle’s hand—well, teeth—and Kyle hadn’t fully recovered from that. It had been his first shift since awakening from his initial change, and it had been his first kill. He hadn’t even hunted yet at that point, because the full moon had still been a couple of weeks away.

That hadn’t stopped him from being ready to kill Saul the last time we’d gone to Pennsylvania. Or from challenging Polly and threatening to kill Roderic when they’d kidnapped Mikey Damone. My Kyle had a bloodthirsty streak in him, in complete opposition to his usual pacifistic, vegan tendencies, and it scared him.

It scared me sometimes too. I knew how it felt to want to kill and to let that desire have control.

Teaser Thursday- Veggie Burgers to Go

This was a scene I wrote for the novel Veggie Burgers to Go before I wrote the actual novel.

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A really random idea came to me, and I blurted it out before I could stop myself. “What if we had a child?”

“Werewolves have some magic, but not that much,” he said in a teasing tone.

I swatted his leg. “I’m serious. We could adopt, maybe. Or even have a surrogate mother.” One of my former lover Jerry’s friends had done that with his partner. They’d become the parents of a baby girl carried by one of the partner’s cousins.

“Kyle.” Tobias took my hand and brought it to his cheek. “I love you, and if we had children it would be wonderful. But you may have noticed that there are no children in the pack?”

“Yeah.” The fact hadn’t really registered on me until now. In our pack, we had only the eleven adults. I wasn’t very familiar with any other packs, but I didn’t recall seeing any kids hanging around during the times I’d visited City Pack territory.

“Female shifters can’t bear children.” Tobias lay beside me, still holding my hand against his face. “They can become pregnant. If anything, I think shifters are more fertile than regular humans. But the fetus can’t survive the shifting.” He paused and swallowed hard. “Except once, that I know of. One of the women in my first pack became pregnant and managed to carry the child almost to term.”

He shuddered, which gave me a pretty big clue that things hadn’t been quite right with that baby. “What happened?”

“The baby—it looked like it had been crushed. I don’t know how else to describe it.” He closed his eyes, then shook his head and opened them again. “Everything was shaped wrong. It couldn’t even suck, because its mouth wasn’t formed correctly. The doctors told Sheila and her mate that even if the baby survived, it would never have any kind of life. For a few days, they kept it on IV feedings, then Sheila and her mate decided to end the feedings. They didn’t want their child to suffer. It died the day the IV came out.”

I didn’t even want to think about what the child might have looked like. The revulsion on Tobias’s face was enough for me. The way he’d told his story irked me, though. “Was the baby a boy or girl?”

“Boy. Why?”

“You kept saying ‘it.’ Whatever the child looked like, and whether he survived or not, he was still a living being.” I didn’t know why Tobias’s use of “it” bothered me so much. Referring to a baby with a pronoun generally reserved for things just seemed wrong.

“You’re right,” he said quietly. “He. They named him Joshua. Joshua only lived four days. He was born four weeks early. That’s the only case I know where a shifter’s baby has survived long enough to be born at all. Usually pregnant females miscarry during or immediately after their first shift.”

“That’s awful.” It explained why there didn’t seem to be any children among the packs. I could only imagine how hard it was for the women to know they would never have children. “I didn’t mean we should use a werewolf as a surrogate. I meant a human woman.”

“You don’t understand.” He looked into my eyes, and his brown eyes were wet. “There are no shifter babies. Males have impregnated human females before, and the babies have lived and grown up. They’re always human. I don’t know why. I guess whatever causes us to be shifters isn’t carried in the genes.”

“We could raise a human child,” I argued.

He shook his head. “It wouldn’t be safe, Kyle. Remember what I told you when we first got together?”

I remembered all too well. He’d tried to talk me out of becoming his lover because other packs might see it as a sign of weakness on his part, and because they might harm me to get to him.

The same thing they might do if we had a child.

“We could keep him or her safe somehow. Have guards or something.” I had no idea why it had suddenly become so important to me to have a child with Tobias, but something inside me wanted it so desperately I was almost in tears.

“And what if one of the pack accidentally attacked him or her in shifted form?” Tobias said. “God, Kyle, what if you or I did? There’s no way to keep a child safe among a pack of werewolves. The males who have children either leave the pack to stay with the children’s mothers, or leave the mothers to stay with the pack. The kids don’t live with the pack. Ever.”

I pulled my hand free of his and turned away from him. Kids had never been high on my priority list. I’d even laughed at Jerry’s friends when they’d had their daughter. I tolerated children, but I hadn’t been a big fan of them.

Now, after spending the day playing with my nieces and nephew, I wanted a child. I wanted to build a family with the man I loved. The impulse made no sense to me at all, but I desperately wanted it.

And it would never happen.

Teaser Thursday- The Pink, It Burns

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While the morning crowd slowly thinned, Dyer drank his latte and let his mind go blank. After a while, Myles came over again and sat down on the other side of the table. “Hanging in there?”

“Yeah, not that I have much choice.” Dyer shrugged. “Not what I expected when I walked in here today, that’s for sure. What’s with all the balloons, anyway? That’s what started the whole thing. The little girl hit me with a balloon.”

“It’s Valentine’s Day.” Myles raised an eyebrow. “Did you miss the memo? All pink and hearts and flowers and stuff? You must have noticed.”

“I hate Valentine’s Day.” Dyer traced the lid of his cup with one finger. “Never have liked it, so I usually try to ignore it. I spaced on today’s date. That explains all the pink.”

“Yeah. The pink, it burns.” Myles grinned. “Not my favorite holiday either, especially this year.”

“What makes this year different?” Dyer leaned his elbows on the table and studied Myles.

He’d seen the guy every morning for months. At first, Myles’s multicolored shaggy hair and pierced ears, eyebrow, and lips had turned Dyer off completely, but the look had grown on him. And Myles had gorgeous eyes. A mix of green and brown, with thick lashes half the women Dyer knew probably would have killed for.

Kind eyes which crinkled at the corners now as Myles said, “After what you’ve dealt with this morning, you want to hear me whine?”

“I can use the distraction.” Dyer shrugged again. “I have to go to the police station later and do a report or something. Right now, I don’t even want to think about what happened. My brain’s only going to get stuck on all the bad things. Ella’s safe now, but that isn’t going to stop the worst case reel from rolling in my head.”

“Ella was the little girl?” Myles asked.

Dyer nodded. “I heard her father say her name. Had they ever been in here before?”

“Not that I’ve seen. I think I would have remembered that guy. He had creepy eyes.” Myles smirked. “Yeah, that’s a really detailed description. You did something really awesome, you know?”

“You helped,” Dyer said. “You and your fake incompetence. Anyway, please tell me why Valentine’s Day sucks for you this year, because I really need something else to think about.”

Myles hesitated then nodded. “Okay, so my whine for the day. I was in a relationship for four years. A guy I met my junior year of college. He was a grad student a few years older, and I thought he was the most awesome person I’d ever met. Great conversation, great sex.”

“Okay.” Dyer didn’t know what else to say.

“Sorry,” Myles said. “Should I shut up?”

“No, go on.” Every weekday for months he’d said hello to Myles and made small talk, and he still knew nothing about the guy. After the way Myles had backed him up that morning, keeping Ella’s father and the little girl in the store, Dyer owed him at least a little time.

“So we were together for four years.” Myles leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. “He worked at the university. Still a grad student, but he was a TA and had a work study job or something. I don’t even know.”

“He didn’t tell you?” In spite of himself, Dyer was getting interested in Myles’s story.

Myles shook his head. “I was trying to find work. You graduate with a degree in history, oddly enough there aren’t a whole lot of jobs. Proving my parents right, which is why I work here. Anyway, so come to find out my so-called lover was banging a couple of students on the side. I found out about it when I went to surprise him at work on our anniversary back in October.”

“Oh, damn, that must have sucked.”

“Yeah, sucking is exactly what they were doing.” Myles snorted. “So instant break-up, followed by me moving in with my cousin and her boyfriend because they were the only family members still speaking to me after I came out.”

“Not a fun time.” Again Dyer wasn’t completely sure how to respond.

He didn’t mind, though. Listening to Myles’s “whining” was having the desired effect of pushing away the stress and fear of that morning’s events.

Teaser Thursday- When I See You Smile

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Kieran paced back and forth from the door to the window in his top-floor hotel suite. He should have crashed the moment they’d walked into the room. Actually, he should have ripped off their clothes, shoved Deacon onto the bed, cuffed him, and fucked the guy stupid.

He would have done exactly that if the meeting had gone the way it was supposed to. When a record exec showed up, they were supposed to tell Kieran how amazing he was and remind him he needed to start work on another album. Even though his current one had released only six months earlier and he’d been touring almost nonstop ever since, they wanted more. It bugged the shit out of him. It was time for a break, not another visit to the studio.

Thomas Garrison, smart man that he was, hadn’t argued a bit when Kieran said he was due a break. Not that it would be a complete break anyway. He had interviews scheduled and was already working on some new material for the next album. But at least he would have a few weeks away from studios and tour venues to recuperate from the past six months of insanity.

Kieran hadn’t had a problem with being told he should start on a new album. His problem was with being told what the album should include.

“I don’t do fucking covers,” he said to the floor lamp he was walking past. “I’m Kieran goddamn West. I write my own songs. I’ve been writing my own motherfucking songs since I was in goddamn elementary school. And this asswipe thinks I’m going to do a cover?”

“If you keep ranting, is it going to change anything?” Reclined on the king-sized bed, Deke yawned and stretched, showing his abs to full advantage. He was completely nude. It didn’t distract Kieran a bit, despite how eager he’d been to plunge into Deke’s sweet, tight ass only hours earlier. “It’s one song, Kieran. One. Everyone knows Kieran West writes his own songs, but this one means something to the company.”

“It means something to Thomas Garrison, the egotistical bastard. If he wants someone to sing a love song to some girl he crushed on in high school, he can damn well do it himself.” It wasn’t bad enough the exec had asked Kieran to do a cover song on his next album. The song had to be one from the 1980s, a decade Kieran barely remembered since he’d been born in 1980. Which made him older than most of his fans realized, and older than he wanted to admit, but barely old enough to recall the damn song.

The song had come out late in the decade, and Kieran did remember hearing it on the radio at friends’ houses. It wasn’t a country song, so Grandma hadn’t played it and Kieran hadn’t been a huge fan of it. “‘When I See You Smile,’” he muttered. “One of my buddies made a tape that just had that song over and over, trying to impress a girl he liked.”

“Did it work?” Deke asked.

“Hell, no. We were freaking fourth-graders. She couldn’t have cared less.” He groaned and went back to pacing, then stopped in front of the window, which he hadn’t bothered to pull the curtains over. “They want me to do a cover.”

“Yes, they do, and saying it over and over isn’t going to change it.” Deke rolled off the bed and went to Kieran. If Deke realized half the city might be able to see his naked cock and balls, he apparently didn’t care. He rested his hand on Kieran’s shoulder, and almost instantly Kieran relaxed. Deke always had that effect on him. “It’s one song, Kieran. One song on an album that won’t even be out for another year, probably. You aren’t even ready to start recording, right?”

“Right.” He took a deep breath and turned to close the curtains. “Are you into exhibitionism or something?”

“Only for you, babe.” Deacon grinned. “Are you actually going to pay attention to the naked man in your hotel room now?”

“Fuck, yeah.” He ran his hand through his shoulder-length, choppy-layered hair, still sweaty from his time on stage. He hadn’t grabbed a shower yet, even thought that was usually the first thing he did when he reached his room. He’d been too pissed off about Garrison’s request. “I probably smell like shit.”

“You smell like sweat.” Deke nuzzled Kieran’s neck, and Kieran sighed and melted into the other man’s arms. Deke touched his tongue to Kieran’s skin. “Taste like it, too. It’s good. It’s you.”

Deke knew all the right spots to get him going, and he kept nuzzling and kissing them until Kieran was hard as a fucking rock. The damn cover song didn’t matter a bit now. He was here with his man, his hot, naked man, and he’d been neglecting him.

Teaser Thursday- Chance Met

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They walked away. Despite the cold, Crawford stood there watching them walk up the street alongside Burger King. He could have walked with them. Bremen Street was the next one, and though his apartment was further down the street, it still would have been a reasonable route for him to take. But he didn’t want to push his luck.

He’d already learned more about Trey than he’d expected. The guy was gay, given that Mikey had mentioned Trey having a boyfriend in the past. He knew about and accepted his son’s abilities but was cautious about letting others find out. It might have been solely because he was worried about the general public’s reaction, or there might have been another reason. The fear in Mikey’s eyes when he’d realized he’d given himself away implied the latter. If anyone had tried to hurt the boy because of something he couldn’t help, Crawford would—

Do absolutely nothing, because whatever had happened was probably over. And he couldn’t be the knight in psychic armor for the little boy, anyway. It was Trey’s responsibility to protect his son. Crawford would help as much as the pair would allow, but it wasn’t up to him to do it all.

He shivered. Thinking about Trey and Mikey had distracted him from the cold temporarily, but now the wind cut through his jacket. He was an idiot for just standing here. It was time to go home. To his empty apartment, where he would spend the rest of the evening watching TV and surfing online until he was tired enough to go to bed. Yeah, my life is fascinating.

He’d gone through the same routine for years now, with occasional breaks to assist Joel with evening workshops and seminars and to spend time with the few people he’d allowed into his life. Something which hadn’t happened for far too long.

He headed home, walking fast to try to warm up. His life had become one enormous rut, consisting of work and distractions and very few people. He kept telling himself he needed to change that, but he’d become so stuck he hadn’t even tried.

Now things were improving. All because a little boy had wanted hot chocolate.

He stuck his hand in his pocket to touch his phone. He had Trey’s number. Trey wanted to see him again. The mention of a dinner without Mikey had sounded a whole lot like Trey was asking him on a date, something Crawford had no objection to at all.

He would take things slowly. It wouldn’t help anything if he became too excited about the idea of having a friend. Or a boyfriend, as the case may be. He wasn’t quite sure what Trey had in mind, and it would make sense to let Trey have the lead on how things developed between them. Trey had his son to consider, and he probably wouldn’t want to get into anything too fast. But if he was able to spend any time with the other man at all, Crawford would be happy.

Teaser Thursday- Changing Planes

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“Coming out?” Colin raised his eyebrows. “Are you gay or bi?”

“I don’t know. I think I’m a person-sexual.” Oliver had no other name for it. “I’ve been really into guys, and I was really into Sophia before things crumbled.”

“Okay.” Colin didn’t look any less confused. “So you aren’t going to tell your would-have-been in-laws that you sometimes like men?”

“Yeah.” When Colin put it that way, even Oliver was confused. “And I definitely don’t plan on telling them I like you.”

Colin grinned. “Okay. Well, now that you’re single, maybe we can see where that goes. Except you’re not staying in Sacramento, are you?”

“Not past the weekend.” Oliver sighed. Colin at least seemed interested in the possibility of getting something going, but it wasn’t enough to keep Oliver from going back to Boston. They weren’t together yet, and even if they had been, two days of knowing each other wasn’t enough to warrant him going through with his move. Especially when it would be so much easier to return to Massachusetts. “How do you feel about long distance?”

“I’m a flight attendant. Every relationship I’ve had has been long distance.” Colin hesitated. “We aren’t really talking relationship right now, are we? You just broke off your engagement. I can tell you’re relieved about it, and to me it sounds like you and she weren’t really much more than friends in the first place. That doesn’t mean you should just jump right into something with someone you barely know. I like you too, and I’m attracted to you. I won’t deny it. But I think you’re kind of on the rushing-things side right now.”

“Yeah.” The barista called his order, and he went to the counter to get it, both disappointed and relieved. Colin was right. Oliver was so thrilled to be out of the tangle with Sophia he was ready to plunge into a relationship—or at least a bed—with someone he’d just met. He had a feeling he and Colin would turn out to be pretty compatible, but he didn’t want to push his luck.

He returned to the table and decided to just say what was on his mind. “Okay. I’m attracted to you too. If you said right now that you wanted me to go back to your hotel room, I would, and damn sure wouldn’t say no to anything you suggested.”

“That’s because you need to get laid.” Colin lowered his voice and gave Oliver a wicked grin. “We’ll see. Friends hook up sometimes.” He folded his arms over his chest. “Seriously, I won’t be your rebound, okay? Let’s get to know each other. If it ends in bed, so be it. If it ends in more, it’s all good. I have no problem with long-distance friendships.”

“Sounds good to me.” Oliver drank some of his coffee and tried not to seem too happy. He and Colin would be friends. At the moment, that would have to be enough.

They chatted over coffee about their jobs and interests and parted after a while so Oliver could go back to the condo and make the calls necessary for his return to Boston. He didn’t actually want to leave Colin. He could have made the calls just as easily from Colin’s hotel room. But it was better to leave. He was free to lust after whomever he wanted, and right then he wanted Colin, but he didn’t want Colin to think he was only rebounding.