Forever My Love #36

I had a long day and getting over a cold so it’s short today. I’ll try for a longer one on Friday.

****

Lee watched the pair leave with more than a little envy. Memories of his early days with Antonio flashed through his head. He remembered when they couldn’t keep their hands off each other, a passion that barely faded over the years.

He locked up after Trent and Ike made their absent minded goodbyes too wrapped up with each other to look away for long.

Brushing bits of grass of his jeans, Lee headed for church. Despite his grandmother’s insistence Lee tended to avoid places of worship. He’d had too many priests and pastors scream he deserved to go to hell for who he loved to be comfortable spending too much time there. However he had a beef with an angel and he refused to stop him.

There were two churches in town, a new shiny version that could hold the entire town along with any possible visitors and an old clapboard version. Lee headed to the older one. The smaller church was listed in the town register as a historical building and kept in perfect condition. They still used it for meetings but no one worshiped there any more. Lee planned to correct that. He hoped the history of the older church helped him contact the angel.

If only he had a flaming sword.

He wasn’t surprised to find the front door unlocked, they rarely locked public town buildings until after dark. Stepping into the town he sneezed. The church ladies must not have visited it in a while.

The cool interior soothed some of his fiery anger but not his determination. He headed directly to the altar long stripped of any ornamentation and kneeled on the wooden altar. Sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows leaving trails of color streaking the walls.

“Michael, archangel of assholeness bring me back my man!” Lee shouted.

Nothing happened.

Lee growled. “I mean it, Michael.”

A crackle of lightening lit the interior of the church. When Lee’s eyes cleared and a tall winged man stood before him.

“Archangel of Assholeness.” The angel laughed. “You must know my brother.”

“Who are you?” Lee stood to face the angel on his feet, not that it made much of a difference since the angel still towered above him.

“I’m Chamuel, the archangel of pure love. Your heart called to me. Why are you seeking Michael?”

“Because he stole my husband.”

Chamuel rubbed his hairless chin. “Tell me more. This is right up my alley.”

Torturous Tuesday Teasers

It’s that time of the week again where I tempt you with upcoming books that have no publication date. Enjoy *evil grin*

Please remember these are unedited.
****

Prelude

Ryker woke in stages. Awareness came to him slowly. He’d never been a jump out of bed kind of riser.

His body ached and his neck throbbed.

The body beside him lay still as the daylight turned his vampire lover into a statue. A sigh escaped him as he climbed out of bed. He’d miss this place. For the first time he’d been accepted even if they didn’t know why.

With a last wistful glance at the man on the bed he slid out of bed and pulled on his clothes. His faded jeans, soft and malleable, could’ve been scratchy thorns as unwelcome as they were against his skin.

Heart aching he yanked his T-shirt over his head. He didn’t want to go. In fact every instinct screamed at him to stay. Heath would be furious when he woke and found Ryker gone.

A note.

He should leave a message. What did you say to a guy you fell in love with and then left? He had no doubt his spot in Heath’s bed would quickly be filled. Too many others were lined up to be the next plaything of the vampire leader. Most were surprised that Ryder had lasted the three months he had.

Not the least was Ryker. When he’d come to the vampire ball as a lark he hadn’t expected the leader of the coven to take a shine to him. However one look in Heath’s dark eyes and Ryker had known he’d have to stay a while.

Unfortunately all good things had to come to an end. Searching the room he didn’t find any paper or pens. He’d check Heath’s office.

Opening the door he came to a screeching halt. Heath’s head of security stood in the hallway his arms folded over his chest and a disapproving expression on his face. “Can I help you with something?”

Ryker nodded. “I need a pen and paper.”

“Why?” The soldier didn’t move an inch.

“So I can write a goodbye note.” Ryker didn’t say anything else. He didn’t need to explain himself to Delmont. The man had hated him since day one. Ryker figured the man had aspirations to be Heath’s lover.

“You’re leaving?” Surprise crossed Delmont’s face. Ryker figured not too many things shocked the hardened soldier.

“Yes.”

“Not before he wakes up.” Delmont’s firm tone told Ryker the bodyguard wouldn’t change his mind.

“Listen, I appreciate you being all protective of your employer but I really need to go.”

The tremors were building. It wouldn’t be long before he couldn’t control himself any more. It would be best if he were far away before he lost it completely. Too many people got hurt when he had an episode.

“He’s not going to understand you leaving,” Delmont said.

“Which is why I want to leave a note. I don’t want him to think I ditched him. I’ll come back if he still wants me but we both know he’s got a line of people willing to give him whatever he needs.” Ryker knew he wasn’t important in the scheme of things. “Fuck it. He’ll barely notice I’m gone.”

He shoved past Delmont. For a brief, hopeful moment he thought he’d escape without further instance but he should’ve known better. Delmont grabbed his arm and Ryker lost control.

Ryker’s magic flared bright and hot. Delmont flew across the room and slammed against the wall. The soldier crumpled onto the floor in a heap. Ryker quickly scanned Delmont relieved when he found the man uninjured except a slight bump on the head.

“Crap.” This was why he needed to get away. After bleeding off some magic he could return or he could’ve before he attacked Delmont. Now his return was cut off. Regret sliced him sharper than any knife.

Blinking back tears he headed for the front door. He could get away now. No one would care enough to stop him.

Chapter One

Six Months Later

 

Ryker slugged back his shot and beckoned the bartender for another. It had been months and he still longed for Heath. Surely he should’ve recovered from the vampire by now. Sometime he swore he still felt phantom bites on his neck. Not to mention the dreams.

Fuck, the dreams had him waking up in a cold sweat with cum decorating his stomach. How could he be so fucking scared and turned on at the same time?

“Can I buy you a drink?”

“No.” Ryker didn’t even look up to answer. He didn’t want to talk to anyone or to fuck anyone. He wanted Heath. Too bad he’d never go back.

“I found him.”

Those words had Ryker turning to look. “Crap.” Delmont stood beside him his green eyes narrowing as he assessed Ryker.

“You look like shit.”

“Fuck you, man.” Ryker didn’t have to take that crap. He could look in the mirror. He knew how bad he looked.

“No thanks. Heath would have my ass and not in a good way,” Delmont replied.

“Heath’s here?” Ryker snapped his head around to search the bar.

“No, he’s at home.”

Ryker relaxed. Good as long as he didn’t see his ex-lover he’d be fine. “What are you doing here?”

“Fetching you.”

“Why?” Ryker tossed back another shot and the world went blurry for a moment before regaining its colourful haze. The auras around him flickered and glowed. Delmont had a pretty aura for such a bad ass.

“Because Heath is pining without you.”

Ryker choked on his whiskey. “Fuck man you almost had me snorting my drink. That burns. He’s a vampire they don’t pine. They grab the next person in line.”

There wasn’t a shortage of people standing in line to be a vampire snack. Ryker had only gone along with Heath because the guy was hot.

“Usually I’d agree but he’s definitely pining.

“Why?” None of it made any sense. He’d never heard of a vampire wanting anything more than the meal in front of them.

“He thinks you’re his mate,” Delmont’s tone indicated his opinion of that idea.

“You think he’s wrong?”

“I’m not paid to think. I’m paid to collect you one way or another. Don’t try any of your fucking tricks either. I’m more than happy to take you to him bleeding. Hell, he might even like that.” Delmont’s grin sent a wave of unease through Ryker.

“I didn’t mean to zap you, man. You should’ve have grabbed me like that. Self-preservation and all that. No hard feelings.”

“Maybe not for you but I’m holding a grudge. The only way to make it up to me is for you to get your drunk ass off of that stool.”

“Is there a problem Ryker?” The bartender leant forward. Ryker knew the guy would try to intervene if he thought Ryker was having an issue with another customer. He’d become close to Dean over the past few months.

“Mind your own business.” Delmont snarled. He flashed his canines sending the bartender scurrying backwards.

“Great job, asshole,” Ryker said. “Now he knows there’s a demon in his bar.”

Delmont shrugged. “He was going to know soon anyway when I opened a portal and shoved you through it. Not much can knock a demon on its ass. Whatever mojo you’ve got you’d best keep it under control. If you hurt Heath I will rip your head off your shoulders and give it to the werewolf cubs as a ball.”

“That’s just sick, man.” Ryker curled his lip in disgust of Delmont’s imagery. He could easily see the demon doing something like that too.

Delmont grinned. “So you can see why coming with me would be in your best interests.”

Ryker sighed. “You won’t go without me?” he checked.

“No. I promised Heath I’d bring you back. Come now and I won’t kick your ass.”

“Fine but I’m still not sure why he’s looking for me.”

“Because apparently you’re his one and only,” Delmont said dryly.

Ryker was still laughing when Delmont opened a portal and shoved him through. His amusement died when he reappeared standing on the carpet before his lover. Heath sat on his throne. However, this wasn’t the healthy in charge man he’d left behind. The vampire’s skin had a sallow tint and his skin hung on his bones.

“What the fuck happened to you?” Ryker blurted out. “Don’t they take care of you?”

He glared at the crowd assembled around them. After flashing them all a glare he rushed over and dropped to his knees before the vampire.

“You’re here!” Heath’s voice, whispery soft gave Ryker chills. Where had the robust, rich tones gone?

“I’m here.” He stroked Heath’s knee. “What do I need to do?”

“Feed me!” Heath replied.

Ryker climbed onto Heath’s lap ignoring the crowd around them. He’d do anything to get the vampire back to his healthy self. He didn’t like seeing the man he’d cared about so sick. He didn’t know what was wrong but he’d get to the bottom of this and make sure it didn’t happen again.

“I offer myself freely. Take what you need.” He’d barely tilted his head back and exposed his throat when Heath struck. Fangs sank into Ryker’s neck. He jolted beneath the lightening bolt that coursed through his body.

Whispers surrounded him but he didn’t concentrate on any. He drifted as Heath drank from him. He knew the vampire probably would end up taking too much blood but he didn’t have it in him to deny Heath anything.

“Enough sire, you’ll kill him,” Delmont said.

The world swirled around Ryker losing its sharp edges to the sparkly world around him. He was losing consciousness but he didn’t care because he was back where he belonged.

Moon Pack Monday

wolf

Calvin ran the scrap of fine sandpaper over the wolf engraving. Mikel had ordered a clothing cabinet with Inno in wolf form carved on the front. He had offered Mikel a discount because he was part of Alesandro’s clan but he’d refused. Vampires didn’t really group together like wolves they had looser communities.

With Alesandro out of town on business Calvin gladly picked up the extra work. Alesandro had gifted Calvin with an amazing workshop last Christmas and he’d launched a full-scale carpenter business. His sister handled the client billing and he was considering hiring another worker to help keep up with his orders.

“When are you going to let him bite you?” a female voice asked.

“I’m not ready.” He didn’t look up from his work to answer his sister.

“Come on Calvin, you’re aging by the second,” Cindy scolded.

Calvin laughed. “I think I can hold out for a while yet.”

Cindy grabbed a folding chair then plopped down beside him. “Tell me Cal, why don’t you want to be a vampire? You get cool perks like living for eternity with your lover and drinking blood.”

“Well that does sound tempting.” He set down his sandpaper since his sister showed no sign of leaving. “What if he changes his mind?”

“Who Alesandro? The man who had an entire workshop constructed because you said you wished you had more space?”

Calvin shrugged. “He could. What if I’m just a phase?”

“You are the only phase that will last for the rest of life,” Alesandro’s rich voice rolled across the workshop. “I had no idea you were doubting me, my beloved.”

“I’ve got to go do something.” Cindy rushed off without another word.

“Coward!” Calvin shouted after her.

She giggled as she slammed the door closed.

Alesandro wrapped an arm around Calvin and pulled him close. “You aren’t a fad for me, you are everything. I only get one perfect mate and you’re it for me.”

No matter how many times Calvin heard the words, he couldn’t banish the self doubt. “No one has ever wanted me like you do,” he confessed.

“That doesn’t make our love less true.” Alesandro kissed Calvin on each cheek then his forehead then finally on his mouth. Calvin allowed Alesandro to take control of the kiss, cuddling up to his lover.

When they broke apart he couldn’t deny the love in Alesandro’s eyes.

“If I could hypnotize you to believe me I would.” Alesandro said. “I love you my sweet human. As soon as you are ready I’m going to convert you to stay with me forever.”

“Soon.” He refused to set a date but he still wished to give his lover hope.

“I won’t give up until you’re completely mine,” Alesandro vowed.

“Good. I don’t want you to.” Calvin might not be ready yet but one day he would be. “Why don’t we go home and you can show me how much you missed me.”

Alesandro grinned. “That’s a great idea.”

“ I thought you’d like that.” Calvin wrapped an arm around his lover. One day soon he’d let Alesandro convert him. His birthday was coming up in a few months. He liked the symmetry of being reborn on his birthday.

He’d share that idea with Alesandro later right now he had other plans.

Tuesday Torturous Teaser

Quentin Heart pngIn honor of Meredith making me this gorgeous cover I’m giving another teaser for this book. Below you will find links to previous teasers on this book. I’m thinking a May release but don’t hold me to that. LOL

snippet one

snippet two

Today’s Teaser… (remember all teasers are unedited and subject to change)

“I made it.” Quentin laughed into his empty apartment. “I can’t believe it.” He collapsed on the sofa, smiling as he sank into the soft cushions.

A loud ringing made his heart hiccup in his chest.

“Shit.” Reaching into his jacket pocket he pulled out his cell phone. Reading the caller id he pressed the connect button. “Hi Stacy.”

“I got a call from the magistrate. How the hell did you transport Master Vlad and the entire cage?”

Quentin laughed. “Do you remember Hal?”

“The crazy wizard on 4th street?”

“Yep, he creating a transporting spell cage for me. I did up the design and he created the whole thing. Isn’t it cool?”

“Yeah, real cool but how do they get him out of it?”

“Umm. You have to say…” Quentin plunged his hands into his pocket cursing when everything fell out of them. His extra spell balls tumbled to the floor. Good thing they needed a vampire to activate them or he could’ve had a real problem. He let out a sigh of relief as the elusive piece of paper brushed against his finger. Turning the paper to decipher his own writing he read. “Touch the bars and say, release this vamp from cage to cell. That way he can’t go anywhere except inside the jail area.”

Relief swept through him. The one thing he didn’t confess when interviewed for the position was his sucky memory. Unless written down, Quentin couldn’t remember crap. Hopefully after he captured a few vamps, the necessary phrases would stick in his mind.

“Thanks Quentin, good work. The people at the station were really impressed with you.”

“Um, thanks.”

“I can hear you’re tired. Get some rest.”

Quentin gave a rushed goodbye. Laying his head against the back of the couch he wondered how his life had been reduced to this. If his mother hadn’t gotten sick maybe he would be accepting a professorship instead of walking into vampire clans and pretending he knew what the hell he was doing. Being a bounty hunter wasn’t his first choice of occupation but the pay was phenomenal and would allow him to take care of his mother after her fucking insurance company denied her claims due to pre-existing conditions. Quentin knew he had to come up with some cash and do it fast. Graduate school could wait another year, his mother might not live that long. He’d have to wake up early so he could see her before he went to work.

Taking off his jacket he collected all the balls off the floor and stuffed them back into his pockets for now. The sudden movement caused the necklace to thunk against his chest. Curious he moved to pull it off but an ice-cold burn against his fingers had him dropping it. As soon as he let go of the necklace it returned to normal temperature and lay calmly against his skin.

“What the hell?”

He walked to the bathroom and flicked on the light so he could see his reflection in the mirror. Leaning forward he took a good look at the necklace careful not to touch it with his hands. A brilliant platinum snowflake flickered at him in the dim bathroom lights with a large diamond sparkled in the center like frozen ice. The purity of the stone told Quentin, even with his limited jewel experience, that is was probably worth a fucking fortune.

Like a sledgehammer the events of the day slammed into him, the stress of his first job, the flush of success and the fear of dozens of vampires ripping him apart.

“Go to sleep, little human.”

The whispery voice sounded familiar but Quentin’s exhaustion stopped him short of identification.

“Okay.” He whispered to the strange voice talking in his head. He couldn’t remember the last time he got some real sleep. Worry for his mother ate at him, poking him with restless fingers. Stripping off his clothes he crawled into bed and for the first time in a long while had no problem falling asleep.

Moon Pack Monday

T1a

Here’s the limo scene you asked for!

****

Gabe climbed into the limo his mates eyed him with twin expressions of concern.

“Why did you come here without us?” Vien asked.

Gabe ignored the question and kneeled on the limo floor in between the twins. “I came because I wished to get you something special to signify our mating. I know the fae don’t wear mating rings so I thought this might be a good compromise. Among shifters they know we are bonded but if we go to live among the fae, your people might not understand our connection.”

Vien cupped Gabe’s cheek. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else believes. Our hearts know we belong to you.”

Viell nodded his agreement. “There is no one who can lure us from our beloved wolf.” The fae carded his fingers through Gabe’s hair, a tender motion he did often.

Struggling to keep focus, Gabe handed one box to each of his mates not wanting to present one before the other. Luckily the jeweler had put small stickers on the back indicating which color went to which mate. “I would like you to each wear these to represent our mating.” Gabe examined the limo floor afraid of seeing rejection in his lovers’ eyes.

“Hey,” Vien slid his fingers beneath Gabe’s chin. “We will wear anything you want. Hell, we’ll get tattoos embedded in our flesh if it will make you more secure. Anything you need, that’s what mates provide.”

Gabe blinked back tears as he turned to Viell.

“What my brother said is true even though I’m not a big fan of needles.” Viell grinned. “You are our soul, sweet Gabe and we will do anything for you.”

“Thank you. Please open your boxes.”

Vien and Viell exchanged looks then opened the jewelry boxes in one synchronized motion.

The scent of surprise then joy filled the limo.

“It is beautiful,” Viell said, lifting his necklace out of the case. The blue gemstone glowed in the dark limousine with an inner light. “I’ve never seen a protection amulet with so much energy before.”

“I donated a drop of my blood to seal the spell,” Gabe explained. “The jeweler said it would further bond it to us.”

Vien set his on the seat before grabbing Gabe and dragging him onto his lap. “It is a wondrous and considerate gift.” Vien fisted Gabe’s hair and planted a searing kiss on his lips until he’d grew hard and began humping against his mate, striving for more friction.

When Vien finally lifted his mouth, Gabe panted for air. “You’re welcome.”

A predatory grin slid across Vien’s face reflecting the hunger in his eyes. “We will make sure you feel completely thanked when we get home.”

“We’ll have to think of a proper way to mark our mate,” Viell said. “Something magical that will stay with him when he shifts.”

“You don’t have to.” Gabe slid off his tempting mate’s lap to sit on the opposite bench seat. “I didn’t give them to you to get something in return.”

His inner wolf enjoyed the sight of the twins putting on his necklaces. Their territory was now properly marked.

“We know, Gabe,” Viell said, holding out his hand. “Come sit between us. We don’t like you so far away.”

Gabe gave up the tiny battle. No good ever came of distance between mates. He allowed them to fuss and cuddle with him as they brainstormed over what to get him. Apparently he wasn’t the only on who wanted to thoroughly mark his mate before they ventured into the world of the fae.

Forever my Love #35

The past few weeks have been busy for me and I still haven’t quite visualized the ending for this story. Sorry for the delay in your next section.

****

“Come home with me.” Trent said.

Ike nodded, a shy blush staining his cheeks. “All right.” He turned to Lee. “I’ll wash and return your sweats.”

“Thank you but that’s not necessary they were old and I was going to get rid of them soon anyway.” Lee’s forced smile reminded Trent of Lee’s breakdown in the garden.

“Do you know Norm?”

Lee paled. “Um, yeah, why do you want to know.”

“Don’t Trent,” Lee said.

“No, this is important. Ike might know.” Trent examined Ike’s expression carefully as he asked. “Is Norm Antonio?”

Ike flinched. “Why would you ask that?”

“He is, isn’t he!” Lee shouted. “If he wasn’t you’d ask what Trent was talking about or who Antonio is.”

Ike groaned. “I suck at keeping secrets. I wasn’t supposed to let anyone know that Norm’s body was taken over by a spirit.”

“Well, he’s been taken by an angel now,” Lee said holding up a feather.

“That could’ve come from a big bird,” Trent said. He’d thought this move would be a good one but instead it just kept becoming stranger and stranger. First he saw a ghost and now that ghost inhabited a human and had been stolen by an angel. Give him a good old homicide any day over shape shifters and ghosts.

“It was Michael,” Ike said without hesitation. “He’s been hanging around here lately. I think he has a thing for Antonio.”

“A thing as in he wants to keep him?” Lee asked.

“Maybe.” Ike shrugged as if he had no interest in the conversation. “I’ve only seen him once. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Antonio very long either. He showed up when Norm died and took over his body. I got the impression Michael didn’t want him to take over Norm’s body but was forced to offer him the choice. You have to know he’s all about you Lee. I’ve never seen someone so devoted. I mean the man came back from the dead to be with you.”

Lee smiled, a warm, loving expression Trent had never seen pointed toward him. “That’s my Antonio, stubborn to the end.”

“Let’s take this back to my place.” Ike held out his hand to Trent.

“You going to be okay?” Trent wouldn’t leave Lee if the man was going to fall apart. Friends didn’t do that. Even if they weren’t going to be romantically involved he wouldn’t leave Lee if he were suffering.

A determined glint lit Lee’s eyes. “Yes. I’m going to go to church.”

Trent grinned. “Good luck.”

“I’m going to need it.” Lee turned toward Ike. “Take good care of our sheriff.”

“I will. If we see Norm we’ll let you know.” Ike said.

Trent wrapped an arm around Ike. “Let’s go.”

Tuesday Tempting Teasers!

A fan asked me to post an excerpt from Color My Passion. I’m going to try and write this one sometime this year. Since I’ve been a bit behind in the blog I’ll post a longer excerpt. Remember this is Unedited

* * * *

Zio Botticelli, looked in the mirror as he tied his tie, untied it, tore it off and tossed it onto the bed with the other three crumpled bits of cloth previously masquerading as neck wear.

“Why did I agree to this?” he asked his reflection.

He didn’t have time to back out. He’d already agreed to go and John would rip off his balls if he left him hanging.

The doorbell rang, the cheerful sound of doom echoing in his ears like a death march.

With a groan he marched the short distance to the front door and yanked it open. His mouth dropped open when he saw his friend.

“Holy crap.”

John leaned against the doorframe wearing a pair of the tightest leather pants he’d ever seen, a skintight T-shirt and a pair of silver studded black biker boots.

His friend gave him a sly smile before his expression changed, turning disapproving. “Zio, tell me you’re not going to wear that!”

“Well I’m not going to wear anything like that.” Zio waved at his friend’s outfit. Not to mention he sure as hell didn’t have a pair of leather pants in his closet.

John laughed. “And I thought you were the artist. Aren’t you all supposed to be all kinky and shit?”

“I think you have all the kinky cornered by yourself,” he said with a nervous laugh.

“Come on. I can’t take you to the club looking like that. You’re one step from wearing a tie.” Grabbing Zio’s wrist, John dragged him back to his small bedroom. He started laughing when he saw the pile of crumpled ties on the bed. “Oh dear, I came just in time.” After pushing Zio to sit on the mattress John went to examine Zio’s closet.

“You’re not going to find a lot in there,” Zio warned. He was an MFA student, he didn’t have an extensive wardrobe.

“Take your shirt off!” John ordered.

Standing up Zio stripped off his shirt.

“Ooh nice, you waxed.”

“I always wax.” Zio’s Italian ancestry made him frighteningly hairy if he didn’t keep it under control. Besides, he’d deny it to his last breath, but he liked the pain.

“For an art nerd you’re pretty hot.”

Zio was never so happy his dark complexion hid his blushes than at that moment. “Shut up,” he muttered at his teasing friend.

John laughed. Silence reined as John flipped through his closet.

“Here wear these.” A pair of jeans flopped onto his head. Zio pulled them off and gave them a confused look.

“These are my painting pants.” Multi-colored splatters of paint covered the dark jeans.

John pointed at them accusingly. “They are the most interesting pair you own and they hug your ass great.”

“You’ve been checking out my ass?” Zio didn’t know how he felt about that. John was a good friend but he didn’t appeal to him sexually. He preferred his men bigger, stronger and able to hold him down during sex.

“Nothing personal, hon, I check out everyone’s ass.” He tossed a plain green T-shirt at Zio who caught it before it smacked him in the face.

“This shrunk when I washed it last week,” he protested.

“Yeah, I know. Get dressed. To preserve your maidenly modesty I’ll wait in the living room.”

Zio threw a pillow at his friend as he passed. John laughed and ran out the door.

Knowing they’d never leave if he didn’t do what John wanted, Zio stripped out of his clothes and put on the jeans and T-shirt. Avoiding the mirror he pulled on his own pair of plain black biker boots, a gift from his sister, and went to join his friend.

John’s eyes went wide when Zio came out. “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”

Rolling his eyes, he grabbed his jacket, keys, and wallet, and headed for the door. “Come on.”

He heard the thump of feet behind him then a sharp pinch on his ass. “Ow!”

“Get used to it. As hot as you look in those pants you’re going to get a lot of pinches.”

“Great!” Just what he wanted a black and blue ass.

The line to the club was long. Sighing, Zio leant against the wall checking out the other people waiting. They looked like the usual club goers with lots of leather and tight clothing.

“Don’t worry we won’t wait here long.” John’s confident tone made him smile. There was never a lack of nerve with his best friend. The only reason they remained friends was John’s constant determination to drag Zio out of his comfortable art studio and into the world. He always succeeded by telling Zio if he hoped to explore the world through art, first he had to explore the world.

A large bouncer walked the line. Zio had seen people do that in movies but never in real life. The big man stopped in front of John.

“John Draper, nice to see you.”

“Duke!”

The two men exchanged handshakes. Zio’s observant eyes saw the flash of green paper pass from one hand to the other. “Come to the front,” the big bouncer said, lifting the rope that kept people in a haphazard line.

John pointed behind him. “I want my friend to come with me.”

The bouncer’s eyes widened when he caught sight of Zio. “Sure come on up. I would’ve let him in anyway. He’s too fuckin’ cute to leave outside.”

Wondering what he got himself into, he docilely followed John and the bouncer to the front of the line ignoring the catcalls and not so friendly noises.

“Settle down,” the bouncer shouted to the people in line. “Or you’re never getting in.”

The big double doors were opened as they approached. With a shaky sigh, Zio followed his friend inside.

He’d entered a different world. The normal people outside transformed into creatures of sensuality once they passed through those doors. Layers stripped off to reveal naked torsos, breasts covered by strings and beads, and asses barely covered in strips of fabric. Zio felt his heart skip a beat as a man in little more than a tiny scrap of leather shorts passed by. All those muscles exposed and obviously oiled caught his attention, his fingers yearned for a pencil, a pen, hell he’d take a crayon, to sketch the man, especially when he spied the tattoo on his back.

“Watch where you’re walking,” John whispered yanking him out of the path of a pair of men walking towards him.

“Oh, sorry.”

They reached the line for the coat check and Zio obediently handed over his light jacket.

“Take off your shirt,” John demanded.

“What?”

“Do you see anyone with a shirt?” John waved to the half naked people around him.

Zio had to admit he didn’t. “Then why did it matter which one I wore?”

“I don’t want to be seen with a moron. Now take off your shirt.”

Zio yanked off his shirt and threw it at his friend.

“Temper, temper,” John clucked. A wide smile crossed the blond man’s face. Zio was going to punch his friend, soon.

John stripped off his shirt and handed them over to the shirt keepers. “One red and one yellow please.” Without asking, John tied a red cloth around Zio’s right arm.

“What’s this for?”

“It means you’re untouchable.”

“What’s yours mean?”

“Available.”

Zio looked back at the coat check. “How many colors are there?”

“Six.”

Images went through Zio’s mind of what they could all mean artistically. Bright red backdrop behind a shadowy untouchable figure flashed into Zio’s mind. He could do a series. His mind still spinning with new ideas, he blindly followed his friend into the club, between crowded tables, and towards the bar.

“What do you want to drink?”

“Whatever?”

For a club it was pretty quiet. Still focused on the painting concept going through his head, Zio followed John’s bare back not thinking of anything but his image and his desperate need for a pen. Pictures flowed through his mind, colors, images, and people.

He needed a pen.

A table floated in his periphery, a felt-tipped pen sitting on the surface.

Perfect.

Without thought, Zio snatched it up. “I’ll return it, promise,” he shouted as he walked. Paper. He needed paper.

John stopped in front of him. His bare, smooth, back beckoning Zio like a siren call. As the images ran through his mind he clamped a hand on his friend’s shoulder, pulled the cap off with his teeth and started to draw.

Edward Clark watched as the young sleekly muscled man with curly black hair swiped his pen.

He was going to protest, he was, but the brief sparkle of warm brown eyes stopped his words. When the thief stopped the man in front of him and started drawing on his back Edward became intrigued and by the time the man stopped sketching, the art on the other man’s back had him one step from obsessed.

The young man was fascinating. When was the last time he’d met someone new and interesting?

“Who’s the budding artist?” The familiar voice of his friend Robert Mayfield spoke behind him.

“I don’t think he’s budding. I think he’s brilliant.” Having traveled the world and bought art from several countries, he knew talent when he saw it. He didn’t own sixteen galleries for nothing.

“Are you going to introduce yourself?” Robert asked.

The urge to grab the other man and find a nice corner to explore him in every way possible filled Edward. “Maybe.”

“If you don’t do it someone else will soon.”

Apparently finished with his initial design the man stepped back, pulled out his cell phone and photographed his partner’s back.

“Oops. No one told him he couldn’t take pictures.”

“I’ll deal with it.” He intercepted the bouncer who started heading over as soon as he saw the flash. “I’ll take care of it.” He handed over a few bills and turned to catch the artist’s arm.

“I’m going to have to confiscate your phone.”

“What?” Dreamy eyes turned towards him. He felt an insane urge to get the other man to focus on him.

“You can’t take pictures in here.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. It was only of John’s back, I promise.”

“Still, I’ll have to take it until you leave.”

The confused look was delicious. Edward wanted to tie the young man up and confuse him all the time.

“That’s all right honey. I’ll stay close so you can have it back.” The red tie on his arm would have to go. “Would you care to come have a drink with me. I’m Edward Clark.”

“I’m Zio Bottecelli.”

“I’m very pleased to meet you Zio.”

Zio sent a desperate look at his friend. Edward recognized John and gave him a friendly nod. Luckily he’d never played with the other man, he didn’t like awkward encounters.

“I’ll vouch for him,” John nodded at Edward.

Zio flashed a look of panic at his friend but followed Edward compliantly enough. He wondered what else the other man would be willing to do.

Zio didn’t know what to do with this older man with hard blue eyes and a square jaw. There was something militant about Edward that told him not to argue. He followed Edward until they reached a quiet corner of the club.

“There are privacy issues which is why no one is allowed to photograph people inside the club.”

“I’m so sorry!” Zio’s stomach churned at the look in the other man’s eyes. “John didn’t tell me.”

“There are signs posted.” Edward pointed to couple.

Zio blushed. “Sorry I was a little focused.” He didn’t notice anything when he worked on his art.

Edward looked him up and down. “I’m sure you have amazing focus.”

Zio didn’t know where to look. He regretted leaving John. At least he knew what to expect from his friend. This guy was hot and Zio didn’t want to drool over his amazingly muscled chest. Zio didn’t have anything to be ashamed of. He didn’t have any fat but it was more due to the fact he forgot to eat while working than any heavy work out plan. A lightly muscled chest and flat stomach couldn’t compete against the hard muscles parading around the club.

One man walked by with an intricate dragon tattooed across his back Zio had images of him painted on a canvas. Instinctively he turned to follow on to be brought short by a hand on the back of the neck.

“Focus!”

“Hmm.” Zio turned his gaze to Edward.

“On me!” The command in Edward’s voice had him blinking at the other man.

“Oh sorry.”

He didn’t really concentrate on Edward though. Images of other paintings flashed through his head. The man with the dragon tattoo needed to be green.

Hard lips clamped down on his.

Oh!

Heat and desire ripped through him like a fiery tsunami. “Mmmm.” He moved to touch but his wrists were held behind him in a firm grip. His cock hardened in his pants as shifted closer to the muscled man who knew exactly what he was doing with his mouth.

“Edward you’re going to have to release him. He’s wearing red. You’re setting a bad precedent.”

The magical mouth lifted from Zio’s, an embarrassingly needy sound came from his throat. Instinctively he tried to follow the delicious taste. Edward gripped his chin. “You want me to remove your band?”

Edward expected an answer, Zio could tell from the demand in the other man’s eyes but what was the question?

What had he asked?

“Do you want your red band gone?”

Zio’s brain kicked in. Did he want his protection torn away? He couldn’t be touched if he wore the red band. Meeting Edward’s eyes he had to wonder what was the beauty of being untouched? His brain couldn’t make the connections. Did he want the band or not?

“Zio.” John’s voice broke through the fog of lust shrouding his mind.

Yanking his chin out of Edward’s grip he turned to his friend.

“What?”

John stopped beside him, his eyes wide with worry. “Are you okay?” He flashed a warning look at Edward. “No offense sir, but you know the rules.”

Zio rarely heard John pull the serious voice. John must feel strongly about something. He stepped closer to John, instinctively seeking his friend’s protection. John knew the rules. He’d keep Zio from getting into trouble.