His Beast Returns – Chapter One teaser!

Wishing you could read a little bit before you buy? Scroll down to see a first chapter teaser for His Beast Returns… and then scroll a bit more for something just a little bit steamier. 😀

Gay, Shifters, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Suspense
Word Count: 41,00
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

EvernightAmazonBookStrandSmashwordsKoboNookiBooks

Tristan Marik fell in love when he was too young to understand that he wasn’t allowed happiness, particularly not with another boy. As the son of Edmond Marik, ruthless owner of Monolith Enterprises, he had an image to maintain. After his father threatened his boyfriend’s life, Tristan spent years pretending he’d never sworn a blood oath. But now, everything has changed.

Russell Kelvin dreamed of the day he’d return to Tristan because he thought it would happen on his terms. He thought they’d be free to love. Instead, his ability to call his beast is the only thing that can keep Tristan alive when enemies want him dead.

Fear keeps Tristan from fully trusting Russell’s intentions. Instinct keeps Russell by Tristan’s side, even in the face of doubt. But oaths made in blood never fade, and the drive of the beast is stronger than either of them realize.

Chapter One Teaser:

Russell Kelvin looked up at the building, one of the taller glass monoliths in midtown Manhattan, and gritted his teeth. The owner of the building had named it and his company aptly, for he couldn’t imagine a more forbidding tower of glass and steel. Monolith Enterprises owned the place, and Russell was here to step inside and back into the world of civilization after too long away. He hadn’t set foot in the States in ten years, and he hadn’t set eyes on Tristan Marik in even longer. His skin prickled with energy, and he swore he could taste electricity on the damned air, no matter how unlikely a scenario that was. He licked his lips, imagining Tristan’s cool green gaze. Everything else would be different about the man, but not the eyes. Never the eyes.

“You can do this,” he muttered to himself, like a madman. Only a crazy man would talk to himself in the middle of New York, but perhaps he wasmad, despite how wretchedly sober he felt. People walked around him as if he were also part monolith, and it was true he was taller than average, but it was also true that in the city, people had places to be and he was simply an immovable object in the way of everyone at this time of the morning. He thought maybe he should’ve shown up later that day, perhaps just before five, and then his sudden appearance would’ve been unremarkable, except, well, he wanted to be remarkable. Tristan needed him to be remarkable. That was the whole point of this homecoming, after all. He ran a hand through his dark hair, knowing that no matter how carefully he styled it, people would be looking at the rest of his body long before they noticed his face. He hadn’t bothered with a suit. It seemed pointless. He’d put on jeans and his boots and a black shirt, and if all of it showed his muscles just a little bit too well, so be it.

“You knew this was coming. You’ve known this was coming for over ten years now,” he murmured, exhaling almost before he began moving forward. He pushed open the glass doors. The moment he stepped inside the cool, hushed foyer, the people behind the reception desk looked up, polite smiles fading as they took him in. He wasn’t anything close to civilized, and this gleaming building wasn’t anything close to the wild lands where he’d been living. His mother would say that he was a beast set loose in a china shop, and she wouldn’t be too wrong. It was a pity she’d been dead since he was a child. She would’ve enjoyed this kind of homecoming. He would’ve enjoyed her enjoyment.

“Can I help you?” one of the women behind the gleaming desk stuttered, eyes riveted to his chest. A faint blush rose onto her cheekbones. The other woman’s dark skin hid any blush, but he felt her attention on him just the same.

Blonde. Grey eyes. Marlie, his brain supplied as he met the first woman’s gaze. He knew all the key employees here, even though they didn’t know him. “No, thanks. I’m good,” he said in a clipped voice, nerves getting the better of him. He could pretend to be civilized, but it would never feel comfortable. He glanced at the others. The woman on the far end didn’t even try to hide her curiosity. The man in the middle frowned faintly, sensing competition where there was none. Russell had no interest in the women, or even the man. “I know the way,” he said more gently, taking in the vaulted ceilings and columns.

Tristan’s father had built this place, but Tristan had his hands all over the design. And thatmeant Russell knew everything there was to know about the building, all of its secrets and deficiencies, not that anyone except Tristan had a clue about that. It was a pity the building was the only thing Tristan had control over for the past decade. Russell wouldn’t have had to stay away for so long if that hadn’t been the case. And now you’ve descended into self-pity, he thought, angry with himself. Just what Tristan doesn’t need.

Marlie stared at him, but he simply smiled as he strode past the large desk to the bank of elevators. “Wait! You can’t go up without a security pass,” she said, standing up. The man in the middle of the two women, as blond as Marlie, stood up, too. He looked less confused and more inclined to suspicion.

Hmm. Not completely stupid, then, Russell thought, not that it mattered. The man wouldn’t be a problem for him.

“She’s right,” the man said, holding the desk phone as if it were a weapon. “And you certainly can’t use that elevator. That’s the VIP lift.”

“There’s no need to call security, Jon,” Russell said, nodding at him. He ignored their whispers about his knowledge of their names. They’d find out the details soon enough. He lifted his hand and placed it on the palm scanner of the executive express elevator, the one that went directly up to the top three floors. The elevator Tristan used. The elevator Edmond Marik had used before his death a week ago. A moment later it beeped, and he tapped in the floor of the building he wanted onto the screen. The doors opened.

The woman at the far end paled. “How—”

Russell smiled, but he had too much to deal with right now to take the time to explain anything to her and the others. “It’s okay. I promise,” he told the trio, stepping inside. “I’m expected.”

Super Steamy Excerpt:

The heat that flashed through them with Russell’s touch almost brought Tristan to his knees, but he grabbed onto the granite counter behind him and held on with all he had. “Russell, you don’t understand—”

Whatever he was going to say disappeared from his head the moment Russell’s lips touched his. Tristan gasped, shocked and aroused and completely unbalanced, but Russell didn’t seem to be nearly as confused as Tristan felt. He tilted his head and assaulted Tristan’s mouth as if both their lives depended on this one, vital moment, and this one, vital connection.

And maybe it does, Tristan thought as he scrabbled at Russell’s shoulders. His friend was hot as hell, and strong, and the most stable thing in his life, both now andin the past. He moaned, or maybe Russell did, he couldn’t tell. All he knew was that Russell was finally here, and he was fucking real in a way that nothing and no one had ever felt before. He opened his mouth, and Russell’s tongue slid inside as if he owned the place. Tristan tried to kiss him back, but Russell growled and bit his lip. Tristan choked as his ridiculously hard cock pressed into Russell’s hipbone. “God,” he tore his mouth away, gasping for breath. “What are we doing? This is crazy.”

“If you think for one moment I’m going to let you shut me out like you do everyone else, Tristan, you’re sadly mistaken,” Russell murmured, hips doing a slow, devastating grind into Tristan’s body.

Tristan could feel Russell’s erection, thick and hot, and for a moment he wished his friend hadn’t bothered with clothes, but then he remembered that his mother was dead. And it was his fault. “Wait,” he said, when Russell lowered his head again.

“No. No more waiting. We’ve waited a damned lifetime already.”

Tristan twisted his face away. “My mother just died, Russell. What the fuck are we doing, here?” He slid his fingers into Russell’s hair and tugged, hard. The energy flowing between them didn’t let up, and it felt like a tornado just about to sweep them away, or possibly a tsunami poised to smash them flat. He could barely breathe. He wanted Russell with a desperation he hadn’t realized he had.

Meanwhile, Russell’s eyes had shifted from dark brown to golden amber. He stared at Tristan unblinkingly, and with intent. Suddenly, Tristan realized that his friend wasn’t entirely human. Tristan inhaled, more aroused than ever, and then he tried to shutter his mind. He’d somehow cast his power wide open, and everything he felt rushed through him and into Russell in a wild, volatile exchange of energy. He grabbed the doors of his mind, and he tugged hard, trying to close up tight again, but Russell growled. His mental presence chased away Tristan’s resolve.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Russell said, thrusting a leg between Tristan’s. “Don’t you shut me out now.” This brought their cocks into contact, and Tristan shuddered. Even trapped behind his jeans, Russell’s erection felt like perfection shoving against his. He’d never felt so perfectly turned on. He gave up trying to shut away the energy and let Russell kiss him again.

“Yeah. That’s better. Give it to me,” Russell muttered, biting at Tristan’s lip, and then down his jaw. “Fuck, this is insane. You drive me crazy, do you realize that?” Russell demanded as he slid his hands inside Tristan’s robe. When his fingers touched Tristan’s skin, they both shivered. “And yes, I know your mother died, but would she want you to keep putting your life on hold? Especially now?” He dragged his lips along Tristan’s neck. “How much longer do we have to wait, Tristan?”

Tristan stared at him. Somehow, Russell had hit the nail squarely on the head. His mother had never wanted him to lock himself into the box his father had created for him even before she’d died, and she wouldn’t want him to do it to himself, especially not now, when no one could hurt her any longer.

“No, she wouldn’t,” Tristan told Russell, hips grinding against his friend’s. His power was wide open and surging wildly, and his ability to think had all but disappeared. “But you’ve only just come home.”

“So what?” Russell asked him. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop.” He punctuated his statement with a devastating roll of his torso. “Not now. Not ever again.” He put his head close to Tristan’s. “I want to strip you naked and bite you and fuck you senseless, Tristan. I’ve been waiting my whole life to touch you.”

Jesus God. Tristan gripped Russell’s ass and squeezed, hard. If they kept this up, he’d come without anyone even touching his cock. Crazed with need, he fumbled Russell’s pants open, cupping his erection when it pushed out over the zipper. He could barely believe he was here, touching Russell like this. Except for the one kiss he and Russell had shared all those years ago, he hadn’t ever been intimate with a man. It felt … good. Too good. “So hot,” he whispered, fingers surrounding Russell’s cock as if he could memorize the skin.

“I’ll show you hot. Stroke me harder,” Russell said, hips moving faster. “Tighter. I don’t mind a little pain.” With a sudden move, he grabbed Tristan’s robe and yanked it off.

Tristan’s skin burned, and so did his mind. Energy rocketed through them as if they stood in the center of an electrical storm. Russell’s eyes had bled to amber, and Tristan could see the echo of his beast inside.

“Touch me back, Russell.” Tristan gripped Russell’s erection firmly enough to bruise, wanting it in his mouth. Wanting it in his body. “Please. Just … touch me.” He’d never wanted anything so acutely, not even through all those long years of hiding himself in plain sight. He wanted Russell, not just because of the sex, but because his old friend was the only living being who saw him for who he truly was.

 

New Release! – His Beast Returns –

Gay, Shifters, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Suspense
Word Count: 41,00

EvernightAmazonBookStrandSmashwordsKoboNook – iBooks

Tristan Marik fell in love when he was too young to understand that he wasn’t allowed happiness, particularly not with another boy. As the son of Edmond Marik, ruthless owner of Monolith Enterprises, he had an image to maintain. After his father threatened his boyfriend’s life, Tristan spent years pretending he’d never sworn a blood oath. But now, everything has changed.

Russell Kelvin dreamed of the day he’d return to Tristan because he thought it would happen on his terms. He thought they’d be free to love. Instead, his ability to call his beast is the only thing that can keep Tristan alive when enemies want him dead.

Fear keeps Tristan from fully trusting Russell’s intentions. Instinct keeps Russell by Tristan’s side, even in the face of doubt. But oaths made in blood never fade, and the drive of the beast is stronger than either of them realize.

Story Excerpt:

The heat that flashed through them with Russell’s touch almost brought Tristan to his knees, but he grabbed onto the granite counter behind him and held on with all he had. “Russell, you don’t understand—”

Whatever he was going to say disappeared from his head the moment Russell’s lips touched his. Tristan gasped, shocked and aroused and completely unbalanced, but Russell didn’t seem to be nearly as confused as Tristan felt. He tilted his head and assaulted Tristan’s mouth as if both their lives depended on this one, vital moment, and this one, vital connection.

And maybe it does, Tristan thought as he scrabbled at Russell’s shoulders. His friend was hot as hell, and strong, and the most stable thing in his life, both now andin the past. He moaned, or maybe Russell did, he couldn’t tell. All he knew was that Russell was finally here, and he was fucking real in a way that nothing and no one had ever felt before. He opened his mouth, and Russell’s tongue slid inside as if he owned the place. Tristan tried to kiss him back, but Russell growled and bit his lip. Tristan choked as his ridiculously hard cock pressed into Russell’s hipbone. “God,” he tore his mouth away, gasping for breath. “What are we doing? This is crazy.”

“If you think for one moment I’m going to let you shut me out like you do everyone else, Tristan, you’re sadly mistaken,” Russell murmured, hips doing a slow, devastating grind into Tristan’s body.

Tristan could feel Russell’s erection, thick and hot, and for a moment he wished his friend hadn’t bothered with clothes, but then he remembered that his mother was dead. And it was his fault. “Wait,” he said, when Russell lowered his head again.

“No. No more waiting. We’ve waited a damned lifetime already.”

Tristan twisted his face away. “My mother just died, Russell. What the fuck are we doing, here?” He slid his fingers into Russell’s hair and tugged, hard. The energy flowing between them didn’t let up, and it felt like a tornado just about to sweep them away, or possibly a tsunami poised to smash them flat. He could barely breathe. He wanted Russell with a desperation he hadn’t realized he had.

Meanwhile, Russell’s eyes had shifted from dark brown to golden amber. He stared at Tristan unblinkingly, and with intent. Suddenly, Tristan realized that his friend wasn’t entirely human. Tristan inhaled, more aroused than ever, and then he tried to shutter his mind. He’d somehow cast his power wide open, and everything he felt rushed through him and into Russell in a wild, volatile exchange of energy. He grabbed the doors of his mind, and he tugged hard, trying to close up tight again, but Russell growled. His mental presence chased away Tristan’s resolve.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Russell said, thrusting a leg between Tristan’s. “Don’t you shut me out now.” This brought their cocks into contact, and Tristan shuddered. Even trapped behind his jeans, Russell’s erection felt like perfection shoving against his. He’d never felt so perfectly turned on. He gave up trying to shut away the energy and let Russell kiss him again.

“Yeah. That’s better. Give it to me,” Russell muttered, biting at Tristan’s lip, and then down his jaw. “Fuck, this is insane. You drive me crazy, do you realize that?” Russell demanded as he slid his hands inside Tristan’s robe. When his fingers touched Tristan’s skin, they both shivered. “And yes, I know your mother died, but would she want you to keep putting your life on hold? Especially now?” He dragged his lips along Tristan’s neck. “How much longer do we have to wait, Tristan?”

Tristan stared at him. Somehow, Russell had hit the nail squarely on the head. His mother had never wanted him to lock himself into the box his father had created for him even before she’d died, and she wouldn’t want him to do it to himself, especially not now, when no one could hurt her any longer.

“No, she wouldn’t,” Tristan told Russell, hips grinding against his friend’s. His power was wide open and surging wildly, and his ability to think had all but disappeared. “But you’ve only just come home.”

“So what?” Russell asked him. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop.” He punctuated his statement with a devastating roll of his torso. “Not now. Not ever again.” He put his head close to Tristan’s. “I want to strip you naked and bite you and fuck you senseless, Tristan. I’ve been waiting my whole life to touch you.”

Jesus God. Tristan gripped Russell’s ass and squeezed, hard. If they kept this up, he’d come without anyone even touching his cock. Crazed with need, he fumbled Russell’s pants open, cupping his erection when it pushed out over the zipper. He could barely believe he was here, touching Russell like this. Except for the one kiss he and Russell had shared all those years ago, he hadn’t ever been intimate with a man. It felt … good. Too good. “So hot,” he whispered, fingers surrounding Russell’s cock as if he could memorize the skin.

“I’ll show you hot. Stroke me harder,” Russell said, hips moving faster. “Tighter. I don’t mind a little pain.” With a sudden move, he grabbed Tristan’s robe and yanked it off.

Tristan’s skin burned, and so did his mind. Energy rocketed through them as if they stood in the center of an electrical storm. Russell’s eyes had bled to amber, and Tristan could see the echo of his beast inside.

“Touch me back, Russell.” Tristan gripped Russell’s erection firmly enough to bruise, wanting it in his mouth. Wanting it in his body. “Please. Just … touch me.” He’d never wanted anything so acutely, not even through all those long years of hiding himself in plain sight. He wanted Russell, not just because of the sex, but because his old friend was the only living being who saw him for who he truly was.

 

His Beast Returns – Cover Reveal!

Releasing Friday!

Gay, Shifters, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Suspense
Word Count: 41,00

 

Tristan Marik fell in love when he was too young to understand that he wasn’t allowed happiness, particularly not with another boy. As the son of Edmond Marik, ruthless owner of Monolith Enterprises, he had an image to maintain. After his father threatened his boyfriend’s life, Tristan spent years pretending he’d never sworn a blood oath. But now, everything has changed.

Russell Kelvin dreamed of the day he’d return to Tristan because he thought it would happen on his terms. He thought they’d be free to love. Instead, his ability to call his beast is the only thing that can keep Tristan alive when enemies want him dead.

Fear keeps Tristan from fully trusting Russell’s intentions. Instinct keeps Russell by Tristan’s side, even in the face of doubt. But oaths made in blood never fade, and the drive of the beast is stronger than either of them realize.

Story Excerpt:

The heat that flashed through them with Russell’s touch almost brought Tristan to his knees, but he grabbed onto the granite counter behind him and held on with all he had. “Russell, you don’t understand—”

Whatever he was going to say disappeared from his head the moment Russell’s lips touched his. Tristan gasped, shocked and aroused and completely unbalanced, but Russell didn’t seem to be nearly as confused as Tristan felt. He tilted his head and assaulted Tristan’s mouth as if both their lives depended on this one, vital moment, and this one, vital connection.

And maybe it does, Tristan thought as he scrabbled at Russell’s shoulders. His friend was hot as hell, and strong, and the most stable thing in his life, both now andin the past. He moaned, or maybe Russell did, he couldn’t tell. All he knew was that Russell was finally here, and he was fucking real in a way that nothing and no one had ever felt before. He opened his mouth, and Russell’s tongue slid inside as if he owned the place. Tristan tried to kiss him back, but Russell growled and bit his lip. Tristan choked as his ridiculously hard cock pressed into Russell’s hipbone. “God,” he tore his mouth away, gasping for breath. “What are we doing? This is crazy.”

“If you think for one moment I’m going to let you shut me out like you do everyone else, Tristan, you’re sadly mistaken,” Russell murmured, hips doing a slow, devastating grind into Tristan’s body.

Tristan could feel Russell’s erection, thick and hot, and for a moment he wished his friend hadn’t bothered with clothes, but then he remembered that his mother was dead. And it was his fault. “Wait,” he said, when Russell lowered his head again.

“No. No more waiting. We’ve waited a damned lifetime already.”

Tristan twisted his face away. “My mother just died, Russell. What the fuck are we doing, here?” He slid his fingers into Russell’s hair and tugged, hard. The energy flowing between them didn’t let up, and it felt like a tornado just about to sweep them away, or possibly a tsunami poised to smash them flat. He could barely breathe. He wanted Russell with a desperation he hadn’t realized he had.

Meanwhile, Russell’s eyes had shifted from dark brown to golden amber. He stared at Tristan unblinkingly, and with intent. Suddenly, Tristan realized that his friend wasn’t entirely human. Tristan inhaled, more aroused than ever, and then he tried to shutter his mind. He’d somehow cast his power wide open, and everything he felt rushed through him and into Russell in a wild, volatile exchange of energy. He grabbed the doors of his mind, and he tugged hard, trying to close up tight again, but Russell growled. His mental presence chased away Tristan’s resolve.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Russell said, thrusting a leg between Tristan’s. “Don’t you shut me out now.” This brought their cocks into contact, and Tristan shuddered. Even trapped behind his jeans, Russell’s erection felt like perfection shoving against his. He’d never felt so perfectly turned on. He gave up trying to shut away the energy and let Russell kiss him again.

“Yeah. That’s better. Give it to me,” Russell muttered, biting at Tristan’s lip, and then down his jaw. “Fuck, this is insane. You drive me crazy, do you realize that?” Russell demanded as he slid his hands inside Tristan’s robe. When his fingers touched Tristan’s skin, they both shivered. “And yes, I know your mother died, but would she want you to keep putting your life on hold? Especially now?” He dragged his lips along Tristan’s neck. “How much longer do we have to wait, Tristan?”

Tristan stared at him. Somehow, Russell had hit the nail squarely on the head. His mother had never wanted him to lock himself into the box his father had created for him even before she’d died, and she wouldn’t want him to do it to himself, especially not now, when no one could hurt her any longer.

“No, she wouldn’t,” Tristan told Russell, hips grinding against his friend’s. His power was wide open and surging wildly, and his ability to think had all but disappeared. “But you’ve only just come home.”

“So what?” Russell asked him. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop.” He punctuated his statement with a devastating roll of his torso. “Not now. Not ever again.” He put his head close to Tristan’s. “I want to strip you naked and bite you and fuck you senseless, Tristan. I’ve been waiting my whole life to touch you.”

Jesus God. Tristan gripped Russell’s ass and squeezed, hard. If they kept this up, he’d come without anyone even touching his cock. Crazed with need, he fumbled Russell’s pants open, cupping his erection when it pushed out over the zipper. He could barely believe he was here, touching Russell like this. Except for the one kiss he and Russell had shared all those years ago, he hadn’t ever been intimate with a man. It felt … good. Too good. “So hot,” he whispered, fingers surrounding Russell’s cock as if he could memorize the skin.

“I’ll show you hot. Stroke me harder,” Russell said, hips moving faster. “Tighter. I don’t mind a little pain.” With a sudden move, he grabbed Tristan’s robe and yanked it off.

Tristan’s skin burned, and so did his mind. Energy rocketed through them as if they stood in the center of an electrical storm. Russell’s eyes had bled to amber, and Tristan could see the echo of his beast inside.

“Touch me back, Russell.” Tristan gripped Russell’s erection firmly enough to bruise, wanting it in his mouth. Wanting it in his body. “Please. Just … touch me.” He’d never wanted anything so acutely, not even through all those long years of hiding himself in plain sight. He wanted Russell, not just because of the sex, but because his old friend was the only living being who saw him for who he truly was.

 

His Beast Returns is coming May 3!!!

The release date for His Beast Returns is May 3! To celebrate, scroll down for a first chapter teaser!

Gay, Shifters, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Suspense
Word Count: 41,00

Tristan Marik fell in love when he was too young to understand that he wasn’t allowed happiness, particularly not with another boy. As the son of Edmond Marik, ruthless owner of Monolith Enterprises, he had an image to maintain. After his father threatened his boyfriend’s life, Tristan spent years pretending he’d never sworn a blood oath. But now, everything has changed.

Russell Kelvin dreamed of the day he’d return to Tristan because he thought it would happen on his terms. He thought they’d be free to love. Instead, his ability to call his beast is the only thing that can keep Tristan alive when enemies want him dead.

Fear keeps Tristan from fully trusting Russell’s intentions. Instinct keeps Russell by Tristan’s side, even in the face of doubt. But oaths made in blood never fade, and the drive of the beast is stronger than either of them realize.

Chapter One Teaser:

Russell Kelvin looked up at the building, one of the taller glass monoliths in midtown Manhattan, and gritted his teeth. The owner of the building had named it and his company aptly, for he couldn’t imagine a more forbidding tower of glass and steel. Monolith Enterprises owned the place, and Russell was here to step inside and back into the world of civilization after too long away. He hadn’t set foot in the States in ten years, and he hadn’t set eyes on Tristan Marik in even longer. His skin prickled with energy, and he swore he could taste electricity on the damned air, no matter how unlikely a scenario that was. He licked his lips, imagining Tristan’s cool green gaze. Everything else would be different about the man, but not the eyes. Never the eyes.

“You can do this,” he muttered to himself, like a madman. Only a crazy man would talk to himself in the middle of New York, but perhaps he wasmad, despite how wretchedly sober he felt. People walked around him as if he were also part monolith, and it was true he was taller than average, but it was also true that in the city, people had places to be and he was simply an immovable object in the way of everyone at this time of the morning. He thought maybe he should’ve shown up later that day, perhaps just before five, and then his sudden appearance would’ve been unremarkable, except, well, he wanted to be remarkable. Tristan needed him to be remarkable. That was the whole point of this homecoming, after all. He ran a hand through his dark hair, knowing that no matter how carefully he styled it, people would be looking at the rest of his body long before they noticed his face. He hadn’t bothered with a suit. It seemed pointless. He’d put on jeans and his boots and a black shirt, and if all of it showed his muscles just a little bit too well, so be it.

“You knew this was coming. You’ve known this was coming for over ten years now,” he murmured, exhaling almost before he began moving forward. He pushed open the glass doors. The moment he stepped inside the cool, hushed foyer, the people behind the reception desk looked up, polite smiles fading as they took him in. He wasn’t anything close to civilized, and this gleaming building wasn’t anything close to the wild lands where he’d been living. His mother would say that he was a beast set loose in a china shop, and she wouldn’t be too wrong. It was a pity she’d been dead since he was a child. She would’ve enjoyed this kind of homecoming. He would’ve enjoyed her enjoyment.

“Can I help you?” one of the women behind the gleaming desk stuttered, eyes riveted to his chest. A faint blush rose onto her cheekbones. The other woman’s dark skin hid any blush, but he felt her attention on him just the same.

Blonde. Grey eyes. Marlie, his brain supplied as he met the first woman’s gaze. He knew all the key employees here, even though they didn’t know him. “No, thanks. I’m good,” he said in a clipped voice, nerves getting the better of him. He could pretend to be civilized, but it would never feel comfortable. He glanced at the others. The woman on the far end didn’t even try to hide her curiosity. The man in the middle frowned faintly, sensing competition where there was none. Russell had no interest in the women, or even the man. “I know the way,” he said more gently, taking in the vaulted ceilings and columns.

Tristan’s father had built this place, but Tristan had his hands all over the design. And thatmeant Russell knew everything there was to know about the building, all of its secrets and deficiencies, not that anyone except Tristan had a clue about that. It was a pity the building was the only thing Tristan had control over for the past decade. Russell wouldn’t have had to stay away for so long if that hadn’t been the case. And now you’ve descended into self-pity, he thought, angry with himself. Just what Tristan doesn’t need.

Marlie stared at him, but he simply smiled as he strode past the large desk to the bank of elevators. “Wait! You can’t go up without a security pass,” she said, standing up. The man in the middle of the two women, as blond as Marlie, stood up, too. He looked less confused and more inclined to suspicion.

Hmm. Not completely stupid, then, Russell thought, not that it mattered. The man wouldn’t be a problem for him.

“She’s right,” the man said, holding the desk phone as if it were a weapon. “And you certainly can’t use that elevator. That’s the VIP lift.”

“There’s no need to call security, Jon,” Russell said, nodding at him. He ignored their whispers about his knowledge of their names. They’d find out the details soon enough. He lifted his hand and placed it on the palm scanner of the executive express elevator, the one that went directly up to the top three floors. The elevator Tristan used. The elevator Edmond Marik had used before his death a week ago. A moment later it beeped, and he tapped in the floor of the building he wanted onto the screen. The doors opened.

The woman at the far end paled. “How—”

Russell smiled, but he had too much to deal with right now to take the time to explain anything to her and the others. “It’s okay. I promise,” he told the trio, stepping inside. “I’m expected.”

 

His Beast Returns – teaser excerpt

Second edits for His Beast Returns are done! I should have a release date very soon, but first, how about a juicy excerpt? 😉

Gay, Shifters, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Suspense
Word Count: 41,00

 

Tristan Marik fell in love when he was too young to understand that the son of Edmond Marik, ruthless owner of Monolith Enterprises, wasn’t allowed happiness, particularly not with another boy. After his father threatened his boyfriend’s life, Tristan spent years pretending he’d never sworn a blood oath. But now, Tristan’s life is in ruins, and there’s only one man who can help.

Russell Kelvin dreamed of the day he’d return to Tristan, but he thought it would happen on his terms. He thought they’d be free to love. Instead, his ability to call his beast is the only thing that can keep Tristan alive when enemies want him dead.

Fear keeps Tristan from fully trusting Russell’s intentions. Instinct keeps Russell by Tristan’s side, even in the face of doubt. But oaths made in blood never fade, and the drive of the beast is stronger than either of them realize.

Story Excerpt:

The heat that flashed through them with Russell’s touch almost brought Tristan to his knees, but he grabbed onto the granite counter behind him and held on with all he had. “Russell, you don’t understand—”

Whatever he was going to say disappeared from his head the moment Russell’s lips touched his. Tristan gasped, shocked and aroused and completely unbalanced, but Russell didn’t seem to be nearly as confused as Tristan felt. He tilted his head and assaulted Tristan’s mouth as if both their lives depended on this one, vital moment, and this one, vital connection.

And maybe it does, Tristan thought as he scrabbled at Russell’s shoulders. His friend was hot as hell, and strong, and the most stable thing in his life, both now andin the past. He moaned, or maybe Russell did, he couldn’t tell. All he knew was that Russell was finally here, and he was fucking real in a way that nothing and no one had ever felt before. He opened his mouth, and Russell’s tongue slid inside as if he owned the place. Tristan tried to kiss him back, but Russell growled and bit his lip. Tristan choked as his ridiculously hard cock pressed into Russell’s hipbone. “God,” he tore his mouth away, gasping for breath. “What are we doing? This is crazy.”

“If you think for one moment I’m going to let you shut me out like you do everyone else, Tristan, you’re sadly mistaken,” Russell murmured, hips doing a slow, devastating grind into Tristan’s body.

Tristan could feel Russell’s erection, thick and hot, and for a moment he wished his friend hadn’t bothered with clothes, but then he remembered that his mother was dead. And it was his fault. “Wait,” he said, when Russell lowered his head again.

“No. No more waiting. We’ve waited a damned lifetime already.”

Tristan twisted his face away. “My mother just died, Russell. What the fuck are we doing, here?” He slid his fingers into Russell’s hair and tugged, hard. The energy flowing between them didn’t let up, and it felt like a tornado just about to sweep them away, or possibly a tsunami poised to smash them flat. He could barely breathe. He wanted Russell with a desperation he hadn’t realized he had.

Meanwhile, Russell’s eyes had shifted from dark brown to golden amber. He stared at Tristan unblinkingly, and with intent. Suddenly, Tristan realized that his friend wasn’t entirely human. Tristan inhaled, more aroused than ever, and then he tried to shutter his mind. He’d somehow cast his power wide open, and everything he felt rushed through him and into Russell in a wild, volatile exchange of energy. He grabbed the doors of his mind, and he tugged hard, trying to close up tight again, but Russell growled. His mental presence chased away Tristan’s resolve.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Russell said, thrusting a leg between Tristan’s. “Don’t you shut me out now.” This brought their cocks into contact, and Tristan shuddered. Even trapped behind his jeans, Russell’s erection felt like perfection shoving against his. He’d never felt so perfectly turned on. He gave up trying to shut away the energy and let Russell kiss him again.

“Yeah. That’s better. Give it to me,” Russell muttered, biting at Tristan’s lip, and then down his jaw. “Fuck, this is insane. You drive me crazy, do you realize that?” Russell demanded as he slid his hands inside Tristan’s robe. When his fingers touched Tristan’s skin, they both shivered. “And yes, I know your mother died, but would she want you to keep putting your life on hold? Especially now?” He dragged his lips along Tristan’s neck. “How much longer do we have to wait, Tristan?”

Tristan stared at him. Somehow, Russell had hit the nail squarely on the head. His mother had never wanted him to lock himself into the box his father had created for him even before she’d died, and she wouldn’t want him to do it to himself, especially not now, when no one could hurt her any longer.

“No, she wouldn’t,” Tristan told Russell, hips grinding against his friend’s. His power was wide open and surging wildly, and his ability to think had all but disappeared. “But you’ve only just come home.”

“So what?” Russell asked him. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop.” He punctuated his statement with a devastating roll of his torso. “Not now. Not ever again.” He put his head close to Tristan’s. “I want to strip you naked and bite you and fuck you senseless, Tristan. I’ve been waiting my whole life to touch you.”

Jesus God. Tristan gripped Russell’s ass and squeezed, hard. If they kept this up, he’d come without anyone even touching his cock. Crazed with need, he fumbled Russell’s pants open, cupping his erection when it pushed out over the zipper. He could barely believe he was here, touching Russell like this. Except for the one kiss he and Russell had shared all those years ago, he hadn’t ever been intimate with a man. It felt … good. Too good. “So hot,” he whispered, fingers surrounding Russell’s cock as if he could memorize the skin.

“I’ll show you hot. Stroke me harder,” Russell said, hips moving faster. “Tighter. I don’t mind a little pain.” With a sudden move, he grabbed Tristan’s robe and yanked it off.

Tristan’s skin burned, and so did his mind. Energy rocketed through them as if they stood in the center of an electrical storm. Russell’s eyes had bled to amber, and Tristan could see the echo of his beast inside.

“Touch me back, Russell.” Tristan gripped Russell’s erection firmly enough to bruise, wanting it in his mouth. Wanting it in his body. “Please. Just … touch me.” He’d never wanted anything so acutely, not even through all those long years of hiding himself in plain sight. He wanted Russell, not just because of the sex, but because his old friend was the only living being who saw him for who he truly was.

 

Seer Release Day!

Gay Romance, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Suspense
Word Count: 54,500
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

EvernightAmazon – BookStrandKoboSmashwordsNOOKiBooks

No one knows that Nick Auspex is a Seer, but his power is very real—that’s why he knows he’ll always be alone. Since childhood, he’s seen visions of his soulmate caught in the midst of a terrible fire. So when he’s assigned to protect Jeff Wright, he knows their mutual attraction is destined to go nowhere.

When Jeff opens the door to find the Craft Council’s security expert on his doorstep, his first instinct is to send Nick away. Jeff is human, but Nick is a powerful Crafter, and everyone knows relationships like that never work. Jeff needs to figure out who murdered his parents, not screw around with some random guy when he’s never even dated another man before.

Of course, neither of them can control fate—and when two soulmates meet, destiny trumps fear. Will fire destroy lives or illuminate the truth hiding in the darkness?

Story Excerpt:

Jeff waited for Nick to make the first move. The man felt large and hot and completely fucking overwhelming, but there was no way Jeff was about to let go. Not now. Not after the gunshot, and the fire, and the last two weeks of grief, and the last two years of denying himself everything he wanted. He’d thought he was a chemist, and he’d been wrong. He’d thought he could believe the cops, and move on after his parents died, and he hadn’t been able to open his eyes without feeling total denial of what everyone told him must have happened. His parents hadn’t killed themselves. And I thought I was straight, but that was before Nick broke down every door I tried to keep closed,he mused, feeling as though he was finally seeing things with complete and utter clarity.

“I’m alive, and I’m fucking sure,” he said, goading Nick. He needed Nick to kiss him again. He needed Nick to push him into the wall. He needed things he didn’t have words for. I want my life to be worth something more than to be the failed experiment my parents couldn’t deal with.

“Dammit,” Nick growled, and then he kissed Jeff again, but this time he wasn’t gentle. He wasn’t soft. He didn’t ease his way into it, as if Jeff were a blushing virgin. He dove in, forcing Jeff to open up or else. “Give it to me,” he muttered, biting along Jeff’s lips. “Come on. Open your mouth.”

Jeff gasped, hands moving to Nick’s hair. He liked the stubble scraping at his skin. He liked the controlled violence of Nick’s hands on his face. “Come on. Do it. I’m not going to break. I’m not fragile.” If there was one thing he knew, one thing he’d alwaysknown, it was that he was a survivor.

“No, you’re not,” Nick said, pushing into him. His erection slotted up against Jeff’s hip, hot and heavy. Jeff sucked in a shocked gasp as he felt another man’s cock against his body for the first time, but then Nick bit his jaw, stealing even the ability to string two thoughts together. The door behind them creaked with their weight. Nick opened it and dragged Jeff through, and he didn’t even try to resist. He wanted it. He wanted Nick, God help him. The bodyguard pulled him down the hall and into the first bedroom.

“Oh my God,” Jeff said, fighting to breathe as Nick kissed him again. He pulled away, ignoring Nick’s frustrated expression, and then he took off his shirt with shaking hands, vaguely surprised at how hard his cock was. He’d never been this revved up before. His ex hadn’t ever gotten him this randy, and she’d been hot as hell. She was beautiful, but she also lied all the time,he thought, hesitating a moment. What the hell am I doing here?

He stared at Nick. Nick’s hazel eyes had darkened, and Jeff felt a hint of fear. He was about to take a step he didn’t think he could ever come back from, but his cock was hard enough to hurt. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t remember what the hell he was supposed to be worried about. He palmed himself through his jeans. Maybe if they did it quick, it would be okay. “I’m too close to the edge for anything complicated,” he said, voice rough. His mind shied away from what complicatedmight mean.

“I’m not going to let you go off before I can have my fill,” Nick said, slowly unbuttoning his shirt. “Deep breaths, Jeff. I won’t let you fall.” He peeled off his shirt.

Jeff stared as muscles on top of muscles peeked out. He wanted to press his hands onto Nick’s chest and just feel. “God. What are you doing to me?” He’d never felt quite like this before. Was it the danger from the lab? The gunshots? Being attacked, not once, but twice?

“You’ve never done this before,” Nick said, stalking closer. He undid his pants, but didn’t take them off. He’d lost his shoes already, and Jeff had no idea when or how. “So you’d best prepare yourself.”

“I’ve had sex,” Jeff said defensively, puzzled by Nick’s statement. He frowned when the older man went to his knees. “What are you doing?”

“What do you think I’m doing?” Nick said, staring up at him.

Jeff’s mouth went dry. “Oh, hell.” He grabbed himself, needing the pressure to keep from spontaneously combusting. He didn’t know what he’d expected, but Nick on his knees in front of him wasn’t it. “I’ve had sex,” he repeated, like a mantra. This wasn’t going to be that different from what he’d experienced with his ex, right?

“You may have had sex,” Nick said, hazel eyes dark with lust. “But you’ve never had sex with me.”

Dark romance? Yes, please.

When I started writing CAGED KILLER, I had no idea where it was going. I started with Knox, and his personality was strange because I was fascinated with the idea of a man closed off from his emotions. I wanted to play with the idea of two completely damaged men falling in love, and the fallout from their meeting. Nothing about these two went according to plan. Neither of these men were particularly nice, or rational, and this novella is what happened.

   

Contemporary, Gay Erotic Romance (MM), Suspense, Dark Romance, BDSM
Word Count: 30,460
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Buy links: EvernightAmazon – BookStrand – Google Play – Barnes & NobleSmashwordsKoboiTunes

Knox is a killer hired to catch a thief: what happens when the thief catches the assassin instead, and chains him up? Nothing good. Nothing … sane.

Knox Calvin has spent his life repressing his sexuality. When Mick Lannon picks at his carefully constructed mental cage with a knife, he isn’t prepared for the fallout. Unfortunately, Knox isn’t the kind of man who can be bound for long, and Mick has his own demons to wrestle into submission. When Mick’s vendetta against his aunt’s killer spirals into all out war, Knox escapes to watch the carnage from a distance.

Mick likes his sex casual, his partners breathing, and doesn’t much care about anything else. Knox wasn’t interested in sex at all until Mick shackled him to a wall. What happens when one moment’s slip into darkness wakes up the monster in both men?

Story Excerpt:

Mick suddenly climbed on the bed, straddling Knox.

“Oh, Jesus Christ.” The words fell out of Knox’s mouth before he could stop them. Mick’s weight pressed right onto his dick, hard and painful and fucking perfect.

Mick licked his lips. “Well, well. Clearly you didn’t see that coming.” He shimmied down a bit more, slotting Knox’s erection right between his legs. The fucker looked like he was getting off on this shit.

“Fuck you.” Knox refused to let his hips buck up into the bastard’s heat. He was not gay. He wasn’t anything at all. He wanted to twist Lannon around and crack his spine into pieces, but he didn’t have the leverage. Not anymore. Not with the bastard on top of me, but the moment he moves…

“That can definitely be arranged.”

Knox shuddered.

Mick ground down, sliding his knife up Knox’s arm like a deadly snake. “I like blood.” He pressed in with the tip, just enough to sting. Blood trickled down Knox’s arm, circling the tattoo inked into the crook of his elbow.

“What the hell are you doing?” Knox couldn’t seem to stop running off at the mouth. “What did you dose me with?” There had to be some reason his body was so hot to trot right now, after years of indifference to pretty much anything or anyone. Drugs were a likely culprit.

“BDSM baby.” Mick laughed. “I chained you up. That’s it.” He leaned down and kissed the blood on Knox’s skin. “And you like it. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. They call you Fort Knox, you know. ‘He’s stone cold,’ they said, when I got the file on you.” He kissed the edge of Knox’s biceps. “Such lies.” His lips tickled against Knox’s skin. “You’re not cold at all, are you?”

“Whatever you pumped into my veins is doing this.” Knox bit back a groan. The scent of chocolate swept over him. “Fucking get off me.”

Mick licked up his arm, ignoring his pleas. “You are an unexpected treasure, Knox Calvin.”

Knox pressed his lips together so tightly the skin went numb. “You’re a fucking cocksucker.”

Mick sat back up again, pushing Knox’s erection flat. It hurt like hell. “Sometimes, yeah.” He licked his lips. “And obviously,” he punctuated his words with a roll of his hips. “So are you.”

Knox growled, beyond pissed and heading straight into rage. “Motherfucker.”

“Mmm. Look at you.” Mick’s eyes traveled along Knox’s torso. “You had no idea you could feel this way, did you?” The thief grinned. “Oh, I’m going to enjoy this.”

“Fuck you.” Knox felt like there wasn’t enough air going into his lungs. Fucking drugs.

“You’re repeating yourself.” Mick slid his knife into the opening of Knox’s t-shirt, and with a swift, sure jerk, split the fabric right down the middle. “Well, would you look at that?” He put his palm dead center on Knox’s chest. The heat from his hand burned. “You have a picture of a cage inked into your skin, Mr. Calvin.”

That’s it. He’s fucking close enough. Knox twisted, lifting up and using his legs to trap Mick. Using his chains as leverage, he tenses his shoulders and flipped them both over, pinning the bastard underneath his body. The mattress squeaked like an old whore, but he ignored it, trusting the steel bedframe to keep them off the floor. He shoved an arm over Mick throat, metal rattling.

“Where’s the key?” Knox shifted the chains, digging the shackle’s cuff into Mick’s shoulder. I should just kill him and get it over with, he thought, but he didn’t press harder. Something about this guy made him want to let the situation play out. What would the thief do next? And it’s not like I have anything else to do right now.

Mick narrowed his eyes. “I have a knife at your jugular, Knox.” He leaned the tip into Knox’s skin.

“I don’t fucking care.” Knox pressed harder. The sting at his neck felt like hardly anything.

Mick’s gaze went flat. “I really don’t want to kill you.”

“The feeling’s mutual. This is business.” Knox frowned. “Give me the key.”

The blade at his throat sank in unexpectedly. This time the pain wasn’t small. Wasn’t good. Warmth blossomed over his shoulder, wet and strange. Knox blinked, trying to think, and then Mick flipped them back over. He threw his blade to the side and slapped a hand over Knox’s throat. “You stupid fuck.”

Vaguely, Knox realized that his hard-on had finally subsided.

What are people saying about Caged Killer?

Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter — 5 Heart Read!

“A suspenseful, dramatic backdrop of “who did it” and how Mick and Knox’s lives become intricately intertwined in such. A story with little morsels dropped all along the way just waiting for the mind to squeal and slam on the brakes, yelling “Holy shit,” at an awesome revelation.”

GGR-Review — 5 stars!

“The writing is stellar and believable, and it absolutely answers the question: do Knox and Mick deserve each other? … There’s a tight plot, engrossing characters who chew the scenery and give lust a run for its money, some surprise twists and turns, and a satisfying ending. Oh, and excellent editing.”

Love Bytes Reviews — 4.5 stars!

“Caged Killer isn’t a light and fluffy love story it’s a dark, twisted road to love so deep and abiding you will wish you’re the one on the receiving end!”

The TBR Pile — 4 stars!

“This is different and fun and dark. I really love the way the author thought out of the box with this plot.”

The Romance Reviews — 4 stars!

“Erotically mind blowing and dark, Ms. Leaf seduces me again with her sexually charged m/m erotica. For those looking for a happily ever after or some sweet loving, leave now. This tale is for those who enjoy a bit of the dark side with some of my favourite edgeplays: blood, knife and breathplay.”

SOULMATE #FirstChapter #Excerpt!

It’s that time again: if you’re not sure you want to try something, you read a sample first, right? So here is a first chapter excerpt for my bestselling new release, SOULMATE!

Buy links: EvernightAmazonGoogle PlayBookStrandKoboSmashwordsNOOKiBooks

  

Gay Romance, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Suspense, May/Dec
Word Count: 53,500
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

****

Guy Keaton doesn’t want a hookup or a soulmate or anything in between. When he lost his wife to cancer, he knew he’d be alone for the rest of his life. He has a grown son, and his woodshop, and in a world where those born with powerful gifts are few and far between, that’s all that really matters.

Theo Fraser’s empathic gift is rare and strong. He isn’t looking for love, but when he meets Guy, everything changes, because he knows that when you find your soulmate, you hold on tight and don’t let go. The only problem is that Guy thinks he’s straight, and Theo doesn’t know if he can convince a man already set in his ways to change his mind.

Will Guy be able to give up his grief and accept Theo’s love? And what happens when a terrible betrayal forces them to fight to keep each other alive?

****

First Chapter Excerpt:

“It’s been three years since Mom died, Dad,” Guy Keaton’s son said.His voicesounded smaller over the phone than in real life, but his exasperation came through loud and clear. “You need to get out there again. Maybe go on a date or two. You know people like us live longer than ordinary humans. You may be forty-five, but for a WoodCrafter, you’re still young. I’m a Healer, and I can tell that you’re as healthy as a horse.”

Guy frowned, feeling the beginning of a headache creep up from his spine as he paced his shop. The afternoon sunlight lit the bench where he’d just placed his latest creation: an acoustic guitar. It still needed a lot of work. He stared at it while he tried to figure out what to say to his son. The swirls of the flame maple front picked up the light quite nicely, and he sighed, wishing he wasn’t having this conversation again. “Jonathan, I’m fine just the way things are. Seriously. I don’t know why you keep nagging me about dating. I’m good with my woodworking and hanging out with you once a week or so. I don’t need to start dating. I loved your mother, and I have no intention of replacing her with anyone.”

“Mom made me promise I wouldn’t let you hibernate alone forever,” Jonathan said impatiently. “She also told me you’d be impossible over this, and she was right.” He let out a gusty sigh, then continued. “I know it sucked, the cancer. Her dying so young. Believe me, I get it. She was my mom, and I couldn’t save her. I miss her, too, but, Dad, you hardly leave the house. It’s not healthy. I’m not sure having your woodshop attached to where you live is a good thing.” He paused a moment, then continued. “And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a soulmate out there.”

I don’t want a soulmate,I want my wife back, Guy thought as a familiar surge of grief welled up and lodged in his esophagus, nearly choking him. For a moment he couldn’t talk. He remembered Pamela’s dark red hair. Her startling blue eyes. He’d loved teasing her about how much time she spent fooling with her makeup when the truth was, she didn’t need any at all. She was beautiful to him even after the cancer had robbed her of everything: her hair, her sparkle. Even her skin lost its glow, but she was still his wife. His high school sweetheart. He’d loved her for her kindness and her intelligence, not because of how she’d looked. She wasn’t his fated soulmate, and she didn’t have any Craft power, but it didn’t matter. How many people found their perfect match, anyway? It happened so rarely it was almost mythical. He’d fallen for Pamela in middle school, and had never bothered wishing after some impossible soulmate that only one percent of the already rare Crafted population ever found. He loved Pamela. They were supposed to live happily ever after together, not happily for half of a life.

“Dad? You there?”

Guy cleared his throat. “Yeah, I’m here.” He heard the hoarseness in his voice and knew he had to do better. “Look, I’m about to head out. Are we still getting together for pizza on Friday night?”

“You’re trying to get out of this conversation,” his son said.

Guilty as charged,Guy thought, but he couldn’t let his son think that he didn’t want to talk to him. “No, really. I’m going—” He thought frantically for a split second, trying to figure out what he could tell his son that wouldn’t be a lie. His gaze landed on his shop’s bulletin board where he let customers and friends post advertisements and business cards. A flyer for a local outdoor trail caught his eye. “—hiking,” he said, seizing on the idea. He could use a break from his latest project. The surface of the guitar’s neck had cracked when he’d tried to screw in the pegs, and now he had to take it apart and re-varnish the entire piece. He could use a bit of cardio to work off his frustration. “I was about to head out to the Blue Mountain trails when you called.”

“Hiking? Hmm.” His son sounded suspicious.

“I used to go hiking all the time,” Guy pointed out, praying his son would buy the excuse.

“You haven’t gone since…” Jonathan trailed off.

Guy smiled grimly. He hadn’t gone since Jonathan’s mother had died, true. She hadn’t liked hiking, so it had been one of the few things they didn’t do together, but he’d been going out to the woods since he was a teenager. Glancing at the flyer again, he realized he missed being in the forest. It made sense. As one of the few people born with a Craft talent, he’d been blessed with an affinity to wood. He was a WoodCrafter. He probably shouldn’t have cut himself off from living trees for so long. “It’s just a quick hike. I miss going out into nature. And I need to work off some energy today because I messed up the varnish on my latest guitar.”

“Well. That’s good, I guess,” Jonathan said slowly, obviously working through what Guy had told him. “You shouldn’t be obsessing over cracked varnish, anyway. You’re a WoodCrafter. You could just smooth over the problem spot with a little bit of energy.” His son sounded cheerier. “You have more than enough Crafting skill to fix something like that, and you should keep in practice, anyway. Not many of us have the ability to actually use what we’re born with, you know.”

“And you know I don’t like to do that. Feels like cheating,” Guy replied, bemused. His son was repeating his own lessons back at him. He shook his head. He didn’t know why he’d been born with the ability to handle woods, but it wasn’t something he’d chosen. No one did. Not everyone was born with the capability to manipulate natural materials, and of those who were, only some had enough power to actually use the ability. Most people with Craft could sense the energy, but didn’t have the capacity to do anything with it, and no one knew why.

“Look, it’s not like this talent is particularly useful in the modern world. There isn’t that much of a demand for Crafted wooden objects,” Guy told his son.

“Are you kidding?” Jonathan asked incredulously. “You could be creating soulmate rings and pulling in money hand over fist. I’m not sure anyone is making them anymore.”

“Only bonded WoodCrafters can make those rings, and I don’t have a soulmate. I know I’ve explained that to you that before.” Guy scowled. “So, no. I can’t. And it’s not like there are a lot of soulmated pairs to sell them to, anyway.” The thought of making soulmate rings when his own wife had died… Ugh. Not now, and probably not ever, he thought, recoiling from the very idea of it. He’d never be able to handle the pain of meeting and dealing with soulmate couples. He didn’t care if there was a shortage of the rings. He deserved to live out the rest of his life in peace, if not happily, and he had no desire to date or meet his so-called perfect match. The love of his life was gone, and she was never coming back.

“What good is having power if you don’t use it?” his son asked, clearly sensing his father’s disquiet. “Your Craft power is cool. Sometimes I wish I’d inherited your abilities.”

Guy exhaled slowly. They’d been over this before. “I like to work with wood the old-fashioned way. I know I have both an affinity and the power for WoodCraft, but I like working with my hands. And you have your own power, Jonathan. Not everyone can sense illness the way you do. You’re a fantastic veterinarian. A Healer. That’s rare, too.”

His son made an unintelligible sound. “Fine, fine. I can tell you don’t want to talk about it anymore. So, about hiking. Maybe we could go together sometime. Next weekend?”

Guy nodded, happy to get off the topic of soulmates and power and most especially dating. “Yes, that would be great.” He and his son used to go hiking all the time. When had they stopped? He thought a moment. When Pamela first got sick. Has it really been five years since we’ve been out in the woods together? Wow,he thought, dismayed. His son deserved more of his time. Jonathan was the only family he had left.

“I can do next Sunday afternoon, maybe around four,” Jonathan said, sounding distracted. “Hang on, let me put it on my calendar.”

“That would be nice. I’d really love to get out with you. I miss it,” Guy said. There, that wasn’t a lie at all. He smiled to himself. Maybe Jonathan was right. He didneed to get out, but he certainly didn’t need to try dating. Doing some hiking with his son and getting in a little extra exercise wouldn’t hurt. He was in great shape thanks to his woodworking. The bigger pieces he put together, like tables and cabinets, often needed a lot of muscle, but more active pursuits wouldn’t be bad for him. Might help me be more creative, too. Exercise is good for the mind and the body, everyone says,he mused.

“Hey, Dad, I have to go. They’re bringing in an injured dog, and they need my Craft. I’ll see you Friday, okay?”

Guy nodded, even though he knew his son couldn’t see him. “Yeah, Friday for pizza, and then next Sunday. Four o’clock.”

“Yup, great. Bye, Dad. Love you.”

“Love you, too,” Guy replied, but then he realized the connection was already dead. He smiled wryly. His son was a busy man. Most of the people born as Healers were human doctors, so a veterinarian with that particular power was in high demand. People loved their pets. He rolled his shoulders, wincing as his spine cracked. He wasn’t getting any younger. People with Craft lived a little longer than regular humans, and people who found their soulmates lived even longer than that, but he was no longer sure an extended lifespan was all it was cracked up to be. He’d much rather have Pamela back than go on through the next sixty or so years alone.

“Stop it,” he said aloud, standing up and stretching. “You’re only forty-five, and you have a son, and a successful business.” He hated self-pity, and he’d been falling into the habit too often in the past few years. He grimaced as he racked his tools and set the guitar aside, out of the sunlight. Maybe he’d trail run instead of hike. If nothing else, working his body to exhaustion would help him sleep tonight.

****

“Stupid,” Guy muttered, wiping the sweat off his face. He’d run two miles, and then pooped out. “I am an idiot.” The sun glittered down through the trees and the birds were singing, but to him, the sounds of the late spring day felt like taunts. He’d let himself get way too out of shape for running, but now he was in the middle of the trail loop and there was no way out but forward. “One step at a time,” he said, snorting. He’d at least managed not to get a blister, but it had been a close thing. He’d already taken his trail runners off twice to cool a hot spot on his heel. He kept walking, watching for roots and rocks as his overheated body cooled. At the back of his mind, he sensed the trees murmuring to each other with his Craft, and he had to smile. He’d missed this. Working with wood helped, but living, breathing trees had a language all their own. Why had he stayed away from the woods for so long?

“Sir, please wait a moment,” a man said, startling him as he headed around a sharp curve.

Guy looked up just before he walked into a black-clad man standing in the middle of the trail. “What?”

“Delegate Fraser is almost done filming,” the man replied, blocking his way. “You can pass in a moment.”

Delegate? What is a Craft Councilmember doing out in the woods?Guy frowned, looking past the black-clad man. Just beyond them stood a younger man talking to a camera. A woman held a microphone boom next to the cameraman, and another woman stood to the side. She watched, occasionally tapping at her tablet computer. Two more black-clad men stood on the other side of the trail, blocking access from that direction. “What’s going on?” Guy asked, confused. Sure, this was a popular public trail, but it wasn’t like there were so many Council Delegates that it was easy to stumble over one in the middle of the woods. The Council mostly mediated disputes between Crafters and handled public relations with the larger non-gifted population.

“Sir, please stand back,” the man said, not answering Guy’s question.

The woman with the tablet looked over, then made her way around the camera. “Delegate Fraser is recording a public service announcement promoting outdoor activity,” she said, smiling. She nodded to the man in black, and he backed up a bit, turning to watch the trail. She held out her hand. “Hello, I’m Rose Tremaine, Delegate Fraser’s assistant. Do you come here often?”

That guy looks like a bodyguard. Strange. I’ve never heard of a Council Delegate needing protection, except maybe the Council Head.Guy absently shook the woman’s hand, noting her short dark hair and brown eyes. Her light brown skin looked smooth as butter, and he wondered what was wrong with him that he felt not even the slightest bit of attraction to her. Even when he’d been married he’d noticed beautiful women, but lately he hadn’t felt anything. “Guy Keaton. And no, I don’t come here often anymore, but I used to. It’s been a few years.” He looked past her. Something about the Delegate still talking to the camera intrigued him. “He’s a bit young for a Delegate, isn’t he?”

Rose smiled. “He’s thirty, so, yeah. He’s young, but not that young.” She glanced over her shoulder at the Delegate. “And he’s the smartest guy I’ve ever met.”

Guy raised an eyebrow, sensing that she meant more than she was saying out loud. “Is he gifted, then?” He felt himself flush. Of course the man had Craft power. He couldn’t serve on the Council if he didn’t. “I meant, does he have a Craft specialty?” Only the strongest of them specialized in something. His WoodCrafting and his son’s Healing abilities were unusually strong, but then, the power did tend to run in families.

Her mouth twisted slightly, and Guy knew she was amused by his stumbling. “He’s an Empath, and he has a lot of Craft power, yes, if that’s what you mean.” She lifted a shoulder. “But he’s gifted in other ways, too. He truly believes in serving his constituents. You know how rare that is.”

Guy nodded. Historically, people who were born with empathy as their Craft sometimes went into politics, but not many could handle the burden of being around people all the time. The Empaths who’d served on the Council in the past were always bonded with a soulmate, and their partner helped them handle the pressure of their situation. Empathy was both a gift and a curse, so much so that he hadn’t heard of anyone with that particular gift becoming a Delegate for at least fifty years. He didn’t envy the guy.

“Theo’s a good guy,” Rose said, turning back to look at her boss.

“Interesting,” Guy murmured, feeling the trees around him hush as the man spoke. Guy’s Craft power tingled, sending surges of energy down his spine. He inhaled, then let out his breath slowly. He hadn’t had to wrestle with his power in ages. Down, boy,he told himself, amused when his cock twitched. Something about the Delegate and being in the woods was getting his energy all riled up.

“Are you gifted?” Rose asked him, tilting her head.

He nodded. “Wood.” He gestured to the trees. He could tell she didn’t have even a spark of Craft, but she seemed naturally intuitive.

She smiled. “Interesting, Mr. Taciturn.”

He laughed, enjoying her poke at his cryptic statement. “Not that interesting,” he said wryly.

“There aren’t a lot of WoodCrafters,” she said, dark eyes speculating. “Do you create soulmate rings?”

Guy went still. “No. I’m not bonded,” he said, suddenly angry. Everyone knew only a soulmated Crafter could make the rings. And why did so many people assume he wanted a soulmate? He’d had a wife, and he’d loved her deeply even though she wasn’t his soulmate, and then he’d lost her, and now his life was shit.

“I’m sorry,” she said, stepping back. “Crafting with wood is so rare, and there’s the shortage of rings…” She trailed off apologetically.

Guy shook his head, then scrubbed at his face. “No, no. You did nothing wrong. I’m just—” He cut himself off before he said anything more.

“What’s wrong? Rose?”

Guy looked up, then froze. The Delegate had come over while he was having his little internal freak out. He stared at the man as everything went strangely silent in the forest. He felt as if the ground had suddenly dropped out from under his feet. Theo Fraser was around the same height as Guy, and muscular, but he carried himself like a man used to delicate negotiations. Guy wanted to touch him to see if he was real, but somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that wasn’t proper. He needed to wait … for what? He shook his head against the vertigo, and looked down at his trail runners for a moment, hoping the familiar sight would help settle the weirdness. He jammed his right foot against the root poking up through the dirt and let the wood’s quiet strength seep into him. What the fuck was wrong with him? With his power? When he looked up again, the Delegate stared at him, dark eyes unwavering.

“Theo? Theo, are you okay?” Rose was asking. She put a hand on the Delegate’s arm.

Theo blinked. “I’m fine, Rose.” He held out his hand to Guy. “Hello, I’m Theo Fraser.”

Guy couldn’t move. The man’s brown eyes seemed lit with some kind of knowledge Guy didn’t share. Slowly, as though he had to push through molasses, he raised his hand. Theo grasped it, and Guy sucked in a startled breath when static jumped over his skin. “That’s some power you have there,” he managed to say.

Theo let go, looking just as startled. “It’s not my power. It’s yours.” He flexed his fingers. “You zapped me.”

Guy frowned, not sure what to say. His Craft power wasn’t anything nearly so dramatic as that. Talent with wood was a quiet skill. No one would even know he had any abilities at all unless he told them. Rose’s intuition about his Crafting was an anomaly.

“Did you finish filming the segment?” Rose asked, interrupting Guy’s thoughts.

Theo turned to her, looking confused. “No. I felt something … odd. I thought you were upset. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Rose pursed her lips. “I’m fine.” She glanced at Guy. “Theo, this is Guy Keaton. He said he used to use these trails a lot.”

“Hello, Guy,” Theo said, and then he smiled.

Guy almost stepped back, because it felt like he’d been punched in the chest. He sucked in a breath as his gaze met Theo’s. He’d swear the Delegate was peering right into Guy’s soul. He forced himself to look away, but his attention didn’t wander far, and his gaze landed on Theo’s hair. It was long for a politician: it just brushed his shoulders in soft waves. I bet it feels as soft as it looks,Guy thought, strangely fascinated.

“So, you used to hike here often?” Theo asked. “Have you been going somewhere else lately?”

Guy wrenched his attention back to the Delegate’s words. “No.” He cleared his throat. “I mean, I used to hike and run here all the time, and then, well…” He trailed off again. He had no idea how to tell people his wife was dead. He’d never been able to figure out how to explain the dramatic disaster of his life, and how Pamela’s death had changed everything for him. He doubted he’d everfeel comfortable explaining.

Theo’s expression softened as if he knew exactly what was going on in Guy’s head. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to pry.”

Is this what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an Empath?Guy drew in a deep breath and decided to just get it over with. “I used to come hiking here all the time before my wife passed away three years ago.” He shrugged. “Cancer.”

Theo nodded as if he’d already expected that explanation. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” He glanced back at the cameraman for a moment. “I need to finish up the segment we’re filming, but I’d like it if you stuck around. I want to hike the rest of the trail, and it’d be nice to have company.”

Guy saw Rose’s eyebrows lift, but her surprise barely registered. The thought of hiking withsomeone intrigued him. “Yeah, that would be cool,” he found himself saying before he could question his sudden desire to hang out with a complete stranger. He hadn’t really wanted to hang out with anyonein years.

What the hell is wrong with me?he thought, running a hand over the back of his neck. His skin prickled, as if static was still running just under the surface.

“Great. I’ll be done in a few minutes,” Theo said, and then he loped back towards the camera.

“I have no idea what just happened,” Guy murmured, mostly to himself.

Rose laughed. “You met Delegate Fraser. He has that kind of effect on some people.”

Guy made a face. “I’m not some people. I’m just a guy. I’m ordinary.”

Rose gave him a speculative look. “Hmm.”

“Hmm? What does that mean?” Guy shifted his weight. His cock hung heavy and half-hard against his thigh. He wasn’t used to it. He wasn’t used to feeling much of anything, lately, except grief.

Rose just shook her head. “Nothing. You’ll see.”

Guy stared past her. The Delegate gestured to the woman holding the microphone, and the cameraman grinned. Theo began talking, but this time, Guy could tell there was something more there. Some sort of energy the Delegate hadn’t had before.

“He’s a good guy,” Rose murmured, watching with a half-smile on her face. “You could do worse.”

Guy frowned at her. “What?”

She just shook her head. “You’ll see,” she repeated.

I’ll see what?Guy wondered, but then the cameraman unshouldered his equipment, and Theo turned back down the trail. His dark eyes gleamed, even in the bright afternoon light. Guy nearly took a step back when their gazes caught and held. There’s nothing to fear,he told himself, as Theo started walking toward him. He’s just a man. A good man.Somehow, repeating those words in his head didn’t make him feel any better.

SOULMATE Release Day!

It’s been a long time coming, but the first book of a brand new paranormal gay romance series is here! I’m already in the middle of book two, SEER, and book three, SHIFTER, is planned out. I hope you enjoy SOULMATE!

Buy links: EvernightAmazonGoogle PlayBookStrandKoboSmashwordsNOOKiBooks

  

Gay Romance, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Suspense, May/Dec
Word Count: 53,500
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

****

Guy Keaton doesn’t want a hookup or a soulmate or anything in between. When he lost his wife to cancer, he knew he’d be alone for the rest of his life. He has a grown son, and his woodshop, and in a world where those born with powerful gifts are few and far between, that’s all that really matters.

Theo Fraser’s empathic gift is rare and strong. He isn’t looking for love, but when he meets Guy, everything changes, because he knows that when you find your soulmate, you hold on tight and don’t let go. The only problem is that Guy thinks he’s straight, and Theo doesn’t know if he can convince a man already set in his ways to change his mind.

Will Guy be able to give up his grief and accept Theo’s love? And what happens when a terrible betrayal forces them to fight to keep each other alive?

****

 

Story Excerpt:

“You seem very sure I’m bisexual.” Guy put his hands in his pockets.

Theo paused on the trail. He could see the trailhead just up ahead. “Aren’t you?”

Guy looked at him. “I was married for a long time.”

“That’s not an answer.” Theo took a risk and stepped closer. “I know a great way for you to find out for sure.” He ignored the little voice in his head that was telling him not to be an impulsive idiot. He looked back down the trail and waved a “wait” signal to the two bodyguards trailing them. Julio had already reached the trailhead, and Theo knew he was checking out the car. They were as alone as they were going to get right now. And it’s just a kiss. It’s not like we’re going to have sex in the middle of a hiking trail.

“How?” Guy asked, sounding wary.

“I kiss you right here, right now. If you like it, you’re bi. If you don’t, you’re not.” Theo waited, knowing even as the words left his mouth that nothing in life was as simple as what he’d just suggested. He knew that even if Guy enjoyed the kiss, there would be some serious questions for his soulmate to wade through before he came out the other side. Guy had just spent most of his life thinking he was straight, and denying the feelings that were buried deep all along. And I know firsthand that it isn’t easy to change beliefs you hold onto too tightly, Theo mused, thinking of his parents. He shook off the bad memories. Now was not the time to dredge up that emotional shitstorm.

“That’s crazy,” Guy said, half smiling, and half looking like a man about to run for the hills. “You could be a shitty kisser.”

Theo smirked. Guy hadn’t said no. “I’m an Empath. I’m incapable of being a shitty kisser.”

Guy laughed, as Theo had intended. “So the rumors about Empaths are true? They’re great in bed?”

Theo didn’t reply. He let his silence speak for him.

Guy ran a hand over the back of his neck. “This is crazy,” he muttered, repeating himself.

Theo’s cock swelled as he sensed Guy’s tentative arousal. And fear. Don’t forget the fear, he thought, as his power instinctively reached out to his soulmate. Guy was the one person in the world he would never be able to block out. He sensed Guy’s attraction to him, and his anxiety, as well as his bone-deep weariness with being sad. The relaxation he’d felt just a little while ago on the trail lingered, too.

“Yeah, okay. What the hell,” Guy said, stepping closer. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Theo grinned. “You sound like a man trying to decide if he should try out a new taco, not a kiss.”

“It’s just as terrifying,” Guy replied instantly. “You never know when a taco could be harboring one of those insanely hot peppers. I could get burned.”

Theo reached out and put a hand on Guy’s shoulder, willing him to relax. “I’m not a habanero, Guy,” Theo murmured.

“You might as well be,” Guy said, his voice catching.

Theo moved his hand from Guy’s shoulder to his cheek. “Shh.”

Guy’s eyes widened.

Theo put his thumb on Guy’s lips and sensed a sudden spike in the older man’s arousal. Here goes nothing, he thought, just before he leaned in and kissed his soulmate for the first time.

****

Guy froze as Theo’s lips touched his. Theo’s mouth was soft and expressive, and so damned hot he thought he might go up in flames if he moved even an inch. He stood there, trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with him, when suddenly his Craft power lit up through his body. Energy rushed through him, and he reached out to grab Theo’s arms. He meant to push him away, but he found himself clutching at the younger man as if he were a life raft and Guy was drowning.

“Easy,” Theo murmured against his mouth.

“Fuck.” Guy kissed him back, searching for … what? He had no idea. All he knew was that he’d never felt so damned aroused in his life. His cock shoved against his pants, hard and hot and insistent. He groaned when Theo slid his hands into his hair and kissed him again, licking into his mouth with intent. They were the same height, so Guy didn’t have to crane his neck down the way he’d had to in order to kiss Pamela. It was strange. Hot. More than that, though, he felt unbalanced. Confused.

Theo gentled the kiss and pulled back. “There.”

There? Who was the man kidding? Guy stared at him. Was Theo as stunned as he was? The younger man’s mouth looked red and slightly swollen. I did that to him, Guy thought, and then, But I’m straight.

“Dammit,” Theo muttered, and then he stepped closer and kissed Guy again.

This time, Theo pressed himself up against Guy’s torso, and for the first time in his life, Guy felt another man’s hard-on against his hip. “Jesus,” he gasped, unable to stop his body’s instinctive thrust forward. He grabbed Theo’s arms again, absently reveling in the man’s strength, and pulled him closer. “What the fuck is happening?”

Theo answered by biting Guy’s lower lip.

Guy moaned into Theo’s mouth, and walked them back until the younger man’s body hit the sturdy oak tree at the edge of the trail. Guy’s Craft flared again, and the tree shuddered as his energy hit it, but then Theo slid his tongue into his mouth and he didn’t care about anything except the younger man coaxing him to open himself wide. He did, and Theo bit him again. Guy’s erection swelled, and he gasped. He slid his hands down Theo’s arms to his hips.

“Oh, God,” Theo said, head thunking back against the tree as Guy pushed into him.

Manic Readers loved The Fixer (The Criminals 2)!

mrheader

The Fixer (The Criminals #2) received 4 stars at Manic Readers!

“This story by Ms. Leaf is well written and enjoyable.  I enjoyed returning to this world and look forward to more in the future.”

Read the rest of the review.

buy links: EvernightAmazon – BookStrand –  SmashwordsKoboiBookstore – Barnes & Noble

  

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Scroll down for an excerpt.

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

What are people saying about The Fixer?

Manic Readers — 4 stars!

“This story by Ms. Leaf is well written and enjoyable.  I enjoyed returning to this world and look forward to more in the future.”

Story Excerpt:

Zero couldn’t help it. He leaned in and cupped Julian’s cheeks. Fine auburn stubble pricked his palms. He loved it. “Darling, how enterprising of you,” he murmured. He really liked this man. Julian’s delightful combination of youthful innocence married to a startling level of self-confidence flat out did it for him. Instead of jerking his head away from Zero’s hands, Julian’s skin heated more. Zero watched while the younger man’s face flushed a deeper pink. “Lovely,” he murmured.

“What the hell, Zero?” Julian stared at him.

Aw, fuck it. Zero moved closer, crowding Julian up against the bathroom door. It didn’t take much movement to pin the younger man there. His motorhome might be a luxury model, but it was still a small space for two large men. “Are you quite certain you want to stay here with me, Julian?” he asked, giving the man one last exit possibility. “I can’t guarantee that you will remain innocent under my care.”

“Innocent?” Julian laughed. “I’m not innocent, and neither am I in your care. For the last time, I’m a grown man. I choose where I want to be.” Julian leaned into Zero’s touch, eyes going heavy lidded. “You keep making the assumption that I don’t know what I want.” He put his hands on Zero’s wrists. “I’m bisexual. I’ve never been in anyone’s closet, let alone my own. Stop pretending that you’re in charge of my life, Zero.”

Arousal slammed into Zero, despite his exhaustion. Most men looked at his size and ran the other way. The ones who liked their lovers big ran away when they discovered Zero’s brain was just as impressive as the rest of his body. Julian, however, hadn’t shied away even once. Delight warred with the violence Zero worked so hard to keep in check. He wanted to grind himself into Julian until they were both dirty and aching. Zero hummed under his breath, and leaned in. “I’m going to kiss you now. And you’re going to like it.”

“So much talk,” Julian whispered, but Zero’s mouth shut him up.

****

Julian froze the moment Zero’s lips touched his. Instead of devouring him, Zero coaxed him open gently. Instead of biting, Zero licked and nibbled until Julian’s need for a solid touch burned through him. He yanked Zero closer, groaning when the man’s heavy body pressed him to the wall. “Fuck, Zero. Stop with the teasing.”

Zero lifted his head. “Oh, but teasing can lead to such delightful things, Julian.”

Julian answered by biting Zero’s bottom lip. “You talk too much.” He knew he was asking for trouble by hooking up with a guy recovering from a gunshot wound, who also had a lot of unfinished and probably illegal business to deal with, but fuck if he cared right now. He wanted Zero. He hadn’t felt this revved up by a simple kiss, like, ever. So what if I get myself in trouble? I gotta live my life, right? He licked inside, chasing the fading taste of beer on Zero’s breath.

Zero shuddered, hands going around Julian’s neck. He threaded his fingers up into Julian’s hair. “Mmmm. You taste like a very, very bad idea.”

Julian groaned, then ground his cock into Zero’s hip. “Don’t overthink this, Zero. We could have a good time together.” He wasn’t a small man, and he knew he was in fantastic shape, but his lean muscles were no match for Zero’s bulky frame. Decades of some kind of weight lifting had given Zero enough mass to shoulder his way through just about anything. He locked one hand in Julian’s hair, and then he used the other to jerk Julian closer. Julian let him. Hell, Julian liked it.

“Someday we’re going to fuck and nothing will be the same ever again,” Zero murmured.

“Promises, promises.” Julian smirked, grinding against Zero until his dick hurt with the pressure. “You feel like a guy in need of some relief.”

“Fuck.” Zero’s eloquence seemed to have completely deserted him. Julian let Zero manhandle him down the hall to the master bedroom.

“You’re going to get us both killed,” Zero muttered, muscles bulging as he moved.

“But what a sweet way to die,” Julian replied, not giving a shit about Zero’s paranoia. “You talk too much.” He inhaled, catching a hint of the man he knew lay under all the hospital scents.

Zero grunted, lips busy along Julian’s jawline. “You don’t know what you’re fucking with.”

“I know you’re going to fuck up your incisions if you keep that up,” Julian said when Zero shoved him up against yet another wall.

“Shut up.” Zero kissed him again, savagely this time.

When the kiss ended, Julian gasped for air. “We definitely doing this then?” he asked, trying to get his bearings.

Zero stared at him, dark eyes gone black with lust. “You better be very sure, my dear.”