My Tuesday Teaser this week is from Electric Candle,
book 2 of The Sleepless City (series written with Anne Barwell).
Moose was always happy for a run and padded along while Forge schooled his pace so the dog could easily keep up. As he ran, he glanced at the indigo sky, dotted with pinpoints of light. He jogged east and saw Canis Major peeking over the treetops, pointing to Forge’s favorite constellation, Orion the Hunter. As he veered north and west to the park, he got a good look at Ursa Major and Minor, Draco and Pegasus. Lucas was going to be sorry he missed the clear skies and good viewing. Eventually, Forge turned in a more easterly direction. When Leo broached the eastern horizon, Moose was lagging and panting, and Forge slowed to a walk, turning toward home.
He turned onto his street, and as he neared the castle, he saw a figure sitting on the front steps, leaning back against them and gazing up at the sky. Forge’s heart nearly stopped, his stomach did a flip, and his cock began to stiffen the instant gray-green eyes focused on him.
“Guess there’s no sneaking in the back door,” he whispered to Moose. The corners of Blair’s mouth turned up as Forge drew near.
Blair scooted over on the steps as Forge and Moose ambled up the walkway. It was a clear invitation, and Forge knew he’d be a fool to refuse it. Moose sat beside Blair, licking his hand a few times.
“I woke up a little while ago and felt you leave. It actually hurt, here.” Blair rubbed the dip in his chest just under his pecs.
“I’m sorry. I had no idea that would happen.” Forge sat on Blair’s other side.
“It’s okay.” Blair scratched Moose’s ears and patted his shoulder. “You know, I had to quit softball too, and I loved playing,” he said softly. “I would have loved—given anything to have a dog.”
“Dogs not allowed in your apartment or something?”
“No. I have my own house. I just thought if I had one, I’d end up killing it,” Blair said and shrugged. “And I was afraid of what would happen if someone got hurt playing ball and started to bleed. No one wants a guy on their team who might kill them. Or burst into flames in the middle of a game on a sunny day.”
“Blair, I’m so sorry. If I had known, had even the slightest idea… your life wouldn’t have been like that. I hope you understand that,” Forge said.
Blair nodded. “I do now. It wasn’t your fault.” He looked away for a few seconds, then wiped the back of one hand over his nose. “I’m sorry about what I said, that you were worse than that man who changed me. That’s not true.” He looked up at Forge, eyes glistening. “And I did mean what I said about you being a hero.”
“I meant what I said about being a hero too. How did your dad die?”
“Car accident. Well, complications from one. He got a clot in his lung. Did he know about you guys? I know he did research for you and traded information on cases.”
Forge shook his head. “If he figured it out, he never let on. He was a contact I made working a case, and he liked helping. A onetime thing turned into asking for his expertise on other cases. He was a good man. Look, I understand how you feel about being turned. I was in a battle, run through with a saber and shot. I was dying, and I knew it and let it come. I wanted to die.”
“Because I always had to hide who I was…am,” Forge admitted.
Forge nodded. “Yeah. I always had to be careful and having any sort of relationship…well, it wasn’t going to happen, not the way I wanted it to. No matter how kind a woman was, she was never going to be someone I could be in love with.”
“But you clearly didn’t die,” Blair said.
“No. Then the next thing I knew, I woke up, healed, and dumped in with dead soldiers in a mass grave. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, has ever been so frightening for me. I ran, lived off the land for nearly fifty years.”
“Until you met Declan?”
“Yeah. I don’t remember most of the time between dying and Declan rescuing me. I know I was angry, a lot. I wanted to die and didn’t and I was fucking pissed off about that. And scared. Every day was nothing but terror and I’m not even sure I can explain why.”
Blair leaned his elbows on his knees and rested his chin against his knuckles, watching Forge. “And Declan rescued you from that?”
“Yes. It was bizarre. When I left society, there was no United States. We were the British Colonies. I came back to a whole new nation, new life, and nothing I knew remained,” Forge said. “I understand being lonely and thinking I have to live that way, with no one else, no companions. Declan came along, I don’t know how, or why he felt the need to help me, but he did. He took care of me and made the world a much less scary place for me at what was possibly the lowest point in my life.”
“That’s rough. So, you and this Declan guy stuck together?”
Forge nodded, and Blair stared up at the sky for a few minutes before continuing. “You love him a lot, huh?”
“Yes. But I have a bond with you, so my feelings for you are stronger than for anyone else.”
Blair nodded. “Do you like him—Declan—more?”
Forge opened his mouth, then closed it and looked away.
Blair stood up. “That’s what I figured. I’m tired now, and the pain stopped. Guess I’ll go back to bed.”
“Blair. I know Declan more. But, I’d like to know you better than I do.” Forge got up quickly. “You can sleep in my suite. I’ll take the couch if you want. It opens up to a bed.”
“I’d really like that, but I think it’s better I go back to the guest suite. Thanks for dinner.” Blair ran up the steps and into the house before Forge could say anything.
A few minutes later, Forge stood and slowly walked into the house, retrieved his sheets, and went to bed.
Electric Candle is available in eBook, paperback and
through Kindle Unlimited.
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