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DREAM (Curtain Chasers: Book Three) has been published. It is the third and final novella in a gay paranormal romance trilogy. About 42k words long. You can read chapter one below. Be warned, explicitness involved.
Death is part of Clay’s job, but not generally part of his life. That changes when tragedy hits close to home. Now, he’s forced to start a hunt within his own town. And he has to do it without Jacob by his side.
But not even Clay’s partner, Danica, has faced this danger before, a danger no one has ever discovered how to kill. When an old enemy appears demanding Clay’s help and the police complicate matters, the power of the otherworld invades the town.
With Jacob out of reach and choices limited, Clay watches all his dreams of their future morph into one long sleepless nightmare.
Warning: This novella features fettered spirits, unclaimed dreams and a proposal gone awry.
Clay had wanted to go with yellow gold and black platinum, but he hadn’t liked the way any of them looked. Plus, he’d decided that gold signified a wedding band, so he’d ended up buying a black platinum ring with the tiniest edges of silver. Simple, with just a hint of humor in the beveled edges.
He’d thought about adding a quote on the inside of the ring, but lacked the creativity to come up with anything romantic, yet not cheesy. All of Brianna’s suggestions had been over-wrought clichés that had made Clay cringe and finally scrap the idea altogether.
Except, now that he held the ring between thumb and forefinger, he wondered if he should have engraved something like the date they’d met or their full names. Too late now. Besides, Jacob probably wouldn’t care. Clay hoped, at any rate.
Now that he let himself think about it, maybe Jacob would care. Maybe not engraving something personal on the inside would be taken as a sign of ambiguous uncaring, because couldn’t the ring then be used for any man in the world? Well, any man with a size eight point two five ring finger.
One thing was for damn sure. He needed another outlet for all this anxiety.
Clay shoved the ring into the front pocket of his jeans, picked out a shirt, sniffed it, then threw it on the bed. Then he went and opened the bathroom door and leaned on the frame so he could watch Jacob scrub himself through the mostly clear shower curtain.
“Care to join?” offered Jacob, his dimples blurry through the droplets clinging to the plastic.
Clay hesitated, but only because the shower wasn’t exactly large and the two of them barely fit. But the low, suggestive hum Jacob gave was too much to concern himself over the tight space. He shoved down his jeans and tossed them toward the bed, not bothering to check to see where they landed. Then tugged the shower curtain out of the way and stepped inside, the steam hitting him in the lungs.
Jacob felt hot to the touch, the water pouring over his dark skin and spilling off his rising shaft like one of those stone fountains with their penny-clogged water. The tiredness that had been etched into his body when he’d shuffled through the door last night had disappeared with a good long rest, his head against Clay’s shoulder most of the night. Clay hadn’t minded the drool, mostly because he’d been up half the night himself worrying over Jacob’s response today.
He took the soap from Jacob’s hand and guided him around to reach his back. As Clay ran the bar across Jacob’s shoulders, he asked, “Did you already write the article?”
Jacob shook his head, sending water droplets flying against the plastic again. “I made some notes during the flight, but was too tired to think straight. I’ll work on it today.”
Clay kissed Jacob’s neck, letting his lips linger on Jacob skin. “Can it wait? I only have another day before I’ve got to be on a plane with Danica.” Danica meaning Danica Morris, Clay’s work partner within BAH—Born-Again Hunters.
Jacob made another low sound of contentment and leaned his head back against Clay’s shoulder, seemingly oblivious to the nervous energy Clay felt he must be exuding. “Give me an hour to get a rough draft done sometime today so I can get my thoughts in complete sentences.” Jacob smiled, dimples popping. “Then I’m all yours.”
“I like the sound of that.”
The short laugh Jacob gave in response was familiar and welcoming. Like a breath of fresh air calming Clay’s worry and soothing his nerves. They’d been together long enough that today should be a breeze. A mere formality. Proof to Jacob that Clay was in this for the long haul and didn’t plan on letting him escape.
Not that escape was the right word for it because hopefully Jacob didn’t want to leave.
And there he went with the over-anxious, uncharacteristic thoughts again.
To rein in his wandering mind, Clay switched the wandering to his hands. Ran his palms down Jacob’s taut stomach. Fondled Jacob’s balls and thumbed his cockhead until Jacob’s breath hitched and his face turned into Clay’s neck. Their wet flesh stuck rather than slid together so Clay twisted to find the lube they’d stashed in the shower shortly after Jacob had moved in five, closer to six, months prior.
“Sorry about last night,” said Jacob on a sigh as Clay took him in hand once more, this time with a palmful of lube. “Don’t think any of my parts worked. I know you wanted to…” He sighed again. A low murmur whispered past his lips.
Clay started a lethargic pump. “I wasn’t expecting you to be coherent. Not after all the misspellings in those last texts.”
Jacob gave a huff of laughter and nipped at Clay’s neck, sending a zing along Clay’s spine. “I hate how they do flights nowadays. Layovers seemingly for no reason. Flying an hour or two out of the way. Just makes for more exhausting travel days.” He moaned and canted his hips as Clay picked up speed, the lube squelching in the water with every jerk and twist of his hand.
“I take it there was plenty to see around this born-again?” asked Clay as he watched the needy flashes cross Jacob’s face, the sight of them spurring on an echoing desire in his own body.
“Yes,” responded Jacob breathlessly. “It—God, Clay.” He inhaled sharply, then turned his face away from the spraying water so that his mouth hovered near Clay’s.
“A well maiden, wasn’t it? Watery graves scattered around her territory, only serving to create a larger hotspot. You were telling me the history about how the woman had died when you called me, remember?”
Jacob laughed. “Oh, God, don’t make me think right now.”
Clay roughened his voice to add some suggestion to his words. “You sure? Might be worth it. Draw it out. Paint the wall with your come you shoot so hard.” Clay chuckled because he could see Jacob losing the struggle to not finish just yet.
For a few moments, the only sound was the rush of the shower and the squelch of Clay’s hand speeding over Jacob’s shaft. Even Jacob’s panting all but disappeared as he pressed his lips to Clay’s jaw line. Clay’s own body reacted, his dick happily nudging Jacob’s slightly swinging balls.
They swayed together in a harmony that by now had become second nature. Whatever contempt that old saying claimed would appear with familiarity never making an appearance. As if whoever had coined the phrase didn’t understand true contentment and how relaxing it could be to fall into a man who you trusted implicitly.
Jacob’s panting turned to low groans and his hips picked up speed. He shoved into Clay’s hand with abandon, his foot sliding along the base of the tub before he caught himself. He groaned Clay’s name, the noise of it resounding through the small bathroom. Then his muscles tensed, the hand grasping Clay’s neck squeezing tight.
Semen splattered against the tile and coated Clay’s hand as Jacob gasped out prayers and half-formed curses. His body stiffened in Clay’s embrace, then shook with pleasure. Clay kissed him through his orgasm. Light, wet kisses over Jacob’s parted lips and freshly shaved cheeks. And when Jacob shuddered with a last aftershock and returned the attention, Clay slipped his tongue into Jacob’s mouth, tasting pheromones and toothpaste and desire. Though the desire could have been his own.
When Clay played with Jacob’s cock again, Jacob broke the kiss with a laugh and jerked his hips. “Sensitive,” he said breathlessly. “Very sensitive.”
“I bet.” Clay nudged him with his own cock suggestively.
“Let me wash off.” Jacob tugged free from Clay’s hand before extracting himself—mostly—from Clay’s arms. Then he gave a flirty grin full of promise. “Then I’ll suck the life out of you.”
Jacob stood true to his word, just as he always did, pushing Clay to the bed and swallowing him down. Knees on the carpet, body naked and water clinging to his skin. Barely a foot away from where Clay’s jeans had fallen on the floor, the ring hidden inside the denim.
Clay could barely take him mind off the fact. His eyes straying to his pants, his mind circling the thought of Jacob’s possible refusal. Jacob lifted off him with a kiss to his tip and smiled, eyes twinkling.
“Put your hands on me?”
The fact that it was a question rather than a demand made Clay’s cock bob. Made him want to fuck Jacob’s mouth, feel him hum, watch him become incapable of swallowing, his spit lubing up Clay like nothing else could. Clay stroked over Jacob’s shoulders and grasped his head as Jacob reopened his mouth. Rings and proposals and other scary things disappeared as Clay pushed deep into Jacob’s throat.
“That’s it babe. So fucking sexy. Just…take it.”
He dug his fingers into Jacob’s scalp, holding him for seconds at a time. Then relaxing his grip to enjoy Jacob’s dancing tongue over his cockhead. Their rhythm here was as easy and familiar as it had been in the shower. Jacob’s mouth accommodating and eager. Clay silently demanding Jacob’s full, unadulterated attention as he murmured encouragement.
When Jacob started to moan, the sound vibrated through Clay. Down his shaft, into his groin. His words became choppier.
“Fu—babe, that’s per—yes. Don’t st—”
His balls drew up under Jacob’s fingers. His muscles contracted. With a shout that cut off, Clay thrust, shoving deep as he started to pulse. Jacob’s arm wrapped around Clay’s middle, holding him as Clay gasped and groaned through the intensity of that perfect orgasm. Jacob’s throat closed around him, clamping down like a vise and wringing a last few jolts of pleasure from Clay’s balls.
As he came down, he sank against the bed, gentling his grip on Jacob’s head, massaging instead of squeezing. A chill rushed across his wet cock as it fell from Jacob’s mouth. For a brief moment, so brief Clay didn’t have a chance to complain, Jacob’s presence disappeared, then he was climbing on top of Clay, a satisfied gleam in his eye.
They kissed leisurely, Clay stroking Jacob’s body. The worry that had been forgotten while Jacob sucked him down came inching back up Clay’s mind, slowly gaining control over his thoughts. He ended the kiss slowly.
Jacob shrugged. “You wanted to go out.”
“Yeah. Just to Bistro Seven. Sit outside now that it’s not so damn hot.”
Jacob made an amused sound. “Sure. Let me get ready.” He pulled off with a last peck to Clay’s cheek and opened the top drawer to his dresser for a pair of bright orange briefs. Clay dragged himself off the bed to snatch them from Jacob’s hand and tossed them toward the pillows.
“You don’t need those yet.”
Jacob merely laughed and stepped into the bathroom, his dimples popping at he flashed another grin over his shoulder.
It’d been the perfect start to the day. Now to just make sure the rest went as planned.
Clay tugged his jeans up over his ass while simultaneously checking that the ring still sat in his pocket. After, he pulled on his shirt and started to leave Jacob to smear moisturizer over his face, but had to pause to get a good long look of Jacob standing ass naked facing the foggy mirror.
“You going to wear those jeans I like?”
Jacob leaned back far enough Clay could see his face, but Clay didn’t bother tearing his eyes away from places that would likely be covered most of the day.
“If you want me to.”
“Oh, I want.”
Jacob laughed and returned to the mirror. When Jacob could no longer see him, Clay let out a slow, deep breath and felt again for the ring. It was there. Of course it was there. It wasn’t as if there was a gaping hole in his pocket raring to swallow the thing.
Damn, these nerves were getting to him.
He left Jacob to it and instead turned on the television in the living room for some mindless noise that might stop him from pacing once he’d finished getting ready to leave. Wallet in his other pocket and keys in hand, Clay found himself pacing anyway, wearing a path through the carpet with his black sneakers.
“Is it supposed to rain?” called Jacob from the bedroom.
“Fuck, it better not,” muttered Clay. Louder, he said, “Weather says partially cloudy. Think you’re safe.” But he dug out his phone and rechecked the damn weather anyway because wouldn’t that just be great to have it start pouring when he was trying to choke through words that neither of them had voiced before.
He hadn’t planned anything dramatic or awe-inspiring. That just wasn’t his style. Though, he knew Jacob well enough to know he’d want the whole thing, bended knee and full-scale attention. That was, if Jacob wanted it at all.
They hadn’t shared the big “L” word yet. Not that it hadn’t crossed Clay’s mind half a dozen times. But there’d been Jacob’s move from New York. Then the wide-scale hunt down in Florida to find and kill a medusa born-again that had gone on a stone rampage. Then being in and out of Florida for the next month because, as Clay had discovered, when a medusa killed, it had the unpleasant result of spawning more medusas.
By that time Clay and Jacob had settled into a rhythm. Spending a few days together every week, sometimes longer if Clay had just come off a hunt and Jacob had finished up some research. Their habits had become set, and that included what they said to each other. So when one or other left the apartment it was always, “Be safe” or “Have fun,” followed by an “Always am” or “You know I will.”
Dumb as it was, Clay figured it was normal. Which meant adding a new word, especially one that powerful, could be met with surprise. And whether that surprise would be pleased or not remained to be seen, because, and he had to face reality here, it could very easily be that neither of them had ever said it simply because it didn’t exist.
Except, he corrected himself, he knew it existed on his end of things.
Jacob emerged from the bedroom a moment later, wearing those jeans he’d worn the first time they’d fucked, a gold chain that sat against his collarbone and a small, but thick, gold hoop in one ear.
“Ready?” asked Clay, up on the balls of his feet.
Jacob grabbed one of his lighter jackets, the one Clay had bought him, and nodded as he shrugged into it.
Clay tugged open the door. “Good, I’m starving. We—” He froze, his grip tightening fiercely on the doorknob. Until right this second, Clay couldn’t remember a time when he actually regretted sex.
However, he couldn’t help but think, had they left twenty minutes earlier, Owen Brennan, the man responsible for chaining Clay to an alley for three years, wouldn’t be standing outside the door, hand raised to knock.