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“Technically, yes.” A pale flush crept up Charlie’s neck and spread across his cheeks, the color clashing with his long, flaming red hair. “But we ended up only getting fined for trespassing.”

“And?” prompted Terry.

Charlie shook his head marginally, glancing around the restaurant before refocusing on his dessert plate. “And nothing.”

“You blushed harder than this wine. Don’t tell me nothing. Tell me the story.”

“Uh…” Now Charlie’s discomfort ramped up to a ten, making Terry reevaluate his pushing. He was just about to recant his demand when Charlie went on. “It sort of involves an ex and that’s a taboo topic for first dates so…”

The gentle clinging of silverware on china and the hum of the saxophone in the bar in the next room finished Charlie’s sentence. He then opted for a gulp from his water, bypassing his wine glass completely. The discomfort lingered, though the flush under his freckles began to diminish.

Wanting to put Charlie at ease, Terry chuckled and leaned against the table to say, “No taboo topics with me. I won’t judge.” He lifted his brows. “But only if I get the juicy details.”

Charlie’s shoulders relaxed and his lips curved. Most of his self-conscious behavior faded. “All the juicy details? Because it wasn’t exactly a PG night.”

Terry waved a hand nonchalantly before picking up his glass. “I’m an NC-17 type of guy.”

Charlie laughed, though immediately staunched the sound, causing Terry to wonder just how glorious it would be to get Charlie in a private setting, where his natural public self-consciousness wouldn’t disrupt his personality. Where that flush, as adorable as it was, wouldn’t be in constant threat of derailing the conversation. Charlie bit his lip, his gaze turning introspective, but a twinkle existed there that told Terry he was about to get what he wanted before Charlie even opened his mouth.

“Okay, then. But I did warn you.”

“I checked the rating.” Terry winked. “Bought the story anyway.”

Charlie aimed his fork at Terry and then took a deep breath. “We were eighteen. Graduation was behind us and we’d just been put through a gauntlet of parties. Parents, friends of parents, extended family all asking the same damn questions. ‘Where are you going to college?’ ‘What’s your degree?’ ‘What’s your plan in life?’

“My boyfriend at the time—Jason—started giving everyone a cheeky answer. Told people he was turning thief, dealing secrets and planning prison as a full-proof retirement plan. Maybe not too terribly original, but it was funny.”

Charlie paused to take another bite of his cheesecake as Terry finished scraping the last of his own crumbs onto his fork.

“I guess Jason got it a little more into his head because of all the doubt and snide comments from the adults who couldn’t take a joke. So he comes over one evening with The Plan.”

“The Plan?”

“Yes. Capitalized and already put into motion. See, his dad worked security at the Library of Secrets—”

“Oh shit.”

“Yeah…” Charlie ducked his head, but only briefly. “So he ends up convincing me to go with him. Had the key to the main doors, nabbed the security code off his dad’s computer and even had an illusion cloak—which probably hadn’t come cheap but his family had the money for it.”

Terry balanced his fork on his dessert plate and folded his arms on the table. “You got in, didn’t you?”

Charlie nodded slowly without the pride or arrogance that would have made Terry suspect the story was exaggerated or made-up entirely.

“We did,” said Charlie softly.

“Did Jason’s father lose his job?”

“No, thankfully. But he probably would have if… I think Jason wasn’t so out of touch with things that wanted to hurt his family like that, but once he got an idea in his head, it was all but impossible to convince him otherwise. When we walked in, we skirted the guards on duty with a bit of misdirection and that illusion cloak. Oh, we were sure they’d catch on pretty quick when their computers logged the entrance though they didn’t see Jason’s dad. Took a little longer than I’d thought though.”

“You’re telling me that you were free in the Library of Secrets with time to check the books? So you know what each member of the Mage Council hides? Where the lost cities are located? Where and when the time fluxes will appear? How…” Terry trailed off at Charlie’s head shake.

“We didn’t go into that area. Or at least we didn’t pick up those books.”

Terry leaned back, allowing a skeptical expression to show. “Don’t tell me you used that opportunity to sneak a peek at what your friends in high school hid from you?”

With a chuckle, Charlie shook his head again, this time more emphatically. “No, but I wouldn’t have put that one past our stupid selves.” He sighed and took a decently sized sip of his wine. “No, we went to look at our own secrets, believe it or not.”

Becoming far more intrigued, Terry cocked his head. “Really?’

Charlie’s smile held a hint of nostalgia. “We were pretty young. More obsessed with each other than the world. If I were to enter the Library of Secrets today I would peek into much different books.”

“What did you discover? Anything you didn’t know?”

That flush was back, creeping up Charlie’s cheeks like the reflection of his wildfire hair. “Yes,” he choked out.

“And?” Terry lengthened the word suggestively.

With a cough to clear his throat, Charlie said, “Jason found… I mean he discovered…” He glanced around the quiet restaurant again. Then, as the jazz group in the next room finished a song to a polite spattering of applause, he leaned closer and whispered, “Sexual fantasies.”

Terry slowly lifted one brow. If Charlie thought he was going to be let off the hook with only that vague answer… “Go on,” he murmured.

Charlie seemed tongue-tied for a moment, his eyes wide and his lips parted in innocent seduction. “What do you want to know?”

“Everything.”

With a sigh, Charlie set his fork down against his plate where the last few bites of his cheesecake remained forgotten. “We…”

“In the Library of Secrets…”

Charlie closed his eyes as if to gather himself. Then he opened them and stared straight at Terry. “We did. In an upstairs room, on the floor, next to two long shelves filled with all the secrets of the world. We did. It was messy. And amazing.”

Terry knew his gaze had turned hot and wanting, could tell Charlie noticed too by the way he swallowed, the way his chest suddenly lifted in a deep breath. Terry reached across the table, the coral tablecloth bunching under his elbow as he slid his hand over Charlie’s.

“And those fantasies? This Jason didn’t let them go to waste, did he?”

“No,” murmured Charlie as he turned over his hand inside Terry’s so that their fingers threaded. “We learned everything we’d been hiding from one another, things we’d been too nervous to share. Did everything we wanted.”

“And those secrets? Do I have to break into the Library to discover what gets you the most wild?”

Charlie squeezed Terry’s hand. “You wouldn’t find them there since they aren’t so secret any more.”

The air between them had a charge, a positive one that sparked and sizzled. Terry’s pants became just a little too tight. His heart beat just a little too fast. His appetite roared back to life, this time for something carnal, something to satisfy the lust burning in his veins. And not just anything or anyone. He wanted to discover Charlie, to test and push at his limits, to discover what made him yell until his voice turned hoarse and his cock went limp from repletion.

He lowered his voice so that the neighboring tables could not even hope to hear. “Then I shall read you like a book tonight, turn your pages until the climax.” He lightly stroked Charlie’s wrist with his thumb.

With a hitch of his breath, Charlie shivered, then leaned over the table to murmur. “You’re going to have to stop or else I won’t be able to walk out of here at all.”

Terry chuckled, but obediently released Charlie’s hand and changed the subject since he, too, would need a few moments before they could politely exit stage left and head somewhere to stoke the fires back to the temperature of Charlie’s hair. “What happened after? When you were caught?”

Charlie shrugged. “A slap on the wrist since Jason’s parents were influential to some extent. Went around our social circle that we’d been caught on the grounds and not inside and we didn’t do much to discredit the rumors so they wouldn’t choose to change our sentence. What about you? Have you ever broken the law?”

Terry allowed a slow grin to spread across his face. “All the time. I just don’t get caught.”

***

Another question prompt you probably figured out. This was another I worked on directly from the question itself. I have no idea what’s hidden in those books. Probably an awful lot of stories. I also have no idea what nefarious schemes Terry gets into. Maybe he’s an assassin or a thief or trades secrets that don’t belong to him. Or he street races with expensive domestic cars. Or he’s an arsonist for hire to help people wanting insurance scams. Whatever he does, I’m sure he’s up to no good. Seems the type :)

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