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Three months after Dominic and Ren meet but before the epilogue in the book. You do need to read the book first!


“You swear my Offender Manager is okay with this?” Dominic eyed the two suitcases sitting next to them in the small lounge where they were waiting. Ren had packed both of them.

“I swear. I’m pissed off you still have to get permission to spend the night at a different address. The guy even got shirty about you being in hospital for three days.”

“Only because he wasn’t told.”

Ren hmphed.

Dominic looked around. There was no clue as to where Ren was taking him. Dominic had only seen airport lounges on the TV and this was nothing like he’d expected. But they were going by private jet to some unknown destination, flown by a friend of Ren’s who was apparently forbidden under pain of death to tell Dominic where they were going.

“I hope this isn’t costing you a fortune,” Dominic said quietly. “We could have had a few days in Scotland.” He paused. “Camped.”

Ren laughed. “At this time of year? It’s a favour. Andy is going there to collect someone so I only have to pay for us to come back.”

They’d already shown their passports. Dominic had been thrilled when his arrived in the post, even if his photo made him look like as if he’d just been wired up to a high voltage current. Not smiling when Ren had spent fifteen minutes getting the right picture had been difficult. So apparently, Dominic only had himself to blame that he’d be stuck with that electrocuted image for ten years. It made him groan every time he looked at it.

A guy with a broad smile on his face came into the lounge.

“Andy!” Ren jumped to his feet and gave the man a hug.

Dominic stood up.

“This is Dominic. Dominic, meet Andy.”

They shook hands. “Nice to meet you,” they both said.

Within minutes they were buckled into their seats and Andy was going through the safety briefing. When he disappeared into the cockpit, Dominic exhaled. “This is amazing. There’s so much room. And a bar. And food. And it’s a Cessna.”

They both smiled.

“Every time Andy said Cessna, I wanted to laugh.” Dominic whispered.

“I think we’ll change our word.”

“I’ve only used it once and that was to make you leave me.”

“Yeah, we should definitely change it.”

Andy’s voice came over the speaker. “Taxiing for take-off now. Make sure you’re fastened in while the seat belt sign is on. I won’t bother you unless there’s something important to tell you like I’m having a heart attack. You need to take over. Only I’ll say it more panicky than that. Enjoy the flight.”

“Oh God,” Dominic muttered.

“Hey. That’s not going to happen but I can fly this if it did.”

Ren took Dominic’s hand as the wheels came off the ground.

“I’m so torn,” Dominic said. “I love looking at you but… Sorry.” He stared out of the window and watched as everything grew smaller and smaller. Then they were in the clouds and the world outside was grey. He turned back to Ren. “Now I’d rather look at you.”

“Don’t. Keep looking out of the window,” Ren told him. “This bit is magic.”

He leaned into Dominic as he turned to the window. A moment later, they came through the clouds and the sky was bluer than Dominic had ever seen it. Below was a thick layer of bumpy white clouds.

“They look so solid,” Dominic said. “Amazing to think we just punched through and the hole we made filled up behind us.”

“There are some amazing shots online of what happens behind a plane when it comes out of a cloud formation. I’ll show you later.”

Dominic leaned back in his seat. “Are we going somewhere hot?”

“Not telling you.”

“I know you packed my swimming trunks.”

Ren smiled. “Want to try and make me tell you?”

The seat belt sign pinged off and Dominic smiled. He unfastened his belt, then Ren’s, and dropped to his knees in front of his seat. It didn’t take long before Ren was gasping and groaning as Dominic did all he could to drive him wild and not let him come.

“Tell me,” Dominic lifted his mouth from Ren’s cock.

“Never. You can keep going for hours and I’ll never give in.”

With the next suck, Dominic got a mouth full of come and he coughed and spluttered as he laughed. He rested his head on Ren’s thigh and Ren stroked his hair as his breathing calmed.

“I…” Ren broke off and sighed.

Dominic was waiting for Ren to tell him he loved him. He thought Ren had been on the verge of saying it a few times but he’d never uttered the words. For some reason, probably only understood by himself—and he wasn’t sure he did understand—Dominic felt he couldn’t say it to Ren, until Ren had said it to him. And he was an idiot because what if Ren was thinking the same thing?

What’s stopping me? He did love Ren. He’d always love him. He couldn’t imagine life without him. He was Dominic’s joy, his life, his whole world. But what right did he have to expect Ren to feel the same way?

Ren kept stroking Dominic’s hair. “I…”

“You need me to move because your leg’s gone to sleep?”

“No. I need you to move because Andy’s wondering what the fuck we’ve been doing.”

Dominic jerked back so fast he almost gave himself whiplash. There was no sign of Andy. Dominic glared at Ren and dropped into his seat.

Ren put his clothing to rights and leaned over to kiss Dominic. “Want to join the mile-high club?”

“My cock’s sulking. So are my balls. Give me a minute.”

Ren kept kissing him and when his hand slipped to Dominic’s groin, Dominic groaned.

“Was that a minute?” Ren asked.

“Near enough.”


Ren had so nearly told Dominic he loved him. He kept wanting to say it and the words just would not come out. A bit of him didn’t want to say it when they’d just had sex or were about to have sex or were in the middle of sex. It wasn’t that Ren didn’t love him at those moments, he did. He loved him all the time so the first time he said it, he wanted it to be a special moment.

He hoped that moment came while they were here.

“So where are we?” Dominic asked as the plane came to a halt.

“Iceland. Reykjavik. I brought you for the snow so it better oblige.”

“Not to see Santa Claus?” Dominic pouted.

“Hmm. Not fooled.”

Dominic leaned over and kissed him. “Thank you. I am so excited.”

“So am I.”

“Have you been here before?”


Dominic beamed.


They only had five days and there was a lot to see. Although Ren wasn’t a fan of being too organised, when faced with so much choice, he’d given in and consulted a travel agent who’d designed an itinerary, booked their guided trips, hired them a four-wheel drive and sorted out the accommodation.

Within moments of arriving in the capital, they’d both fallen in love with the place. There was snow on the ground and the rooftops and Christmas lights everywhere. They only had six hours of daylight each day so there was a lot to pack in.

But pack it in they did. When they’d stood together looking up at magnificent towering mountains, watched water tumble over the edge of cliffs, stepped onto vast lava plains…they’d clung to each other’s hands—with gloves on—because bloody hell, it was cold—and felt a sense of peace that stunned them into silence. Unusual for Ren but even he was awed by the majesty of Iceland’s exotic, mystical landscape where there was something wonderful to see in all directions.

They watched the sun rise over the Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon, saw the place where icebergs washed ashore on the black sand beach and took picture after picture.

Had any of those moments been the one? Almost. Ren thought.

Then it snowed and kept snowing. Dominic pulled Ren out of the hotel to just stand in it. Dominic tipped his face to the sky and laughed and Ren thought…Now?

The Gullfoss waterfall, ice caves, whale watching, dog sledding, bathing in the hot springs, watching kids visit Santa Claus, almost persuading Dominic he had to meet Santa too…

Any of those moments. All of them. He should have been saying it before they set off. Before… a lot of things.

Ren had to say it first. He just felt it, could sense Dominic waiting.

Their final trip was to the far north. Ren had booked a special trip, a small group tour, and when they turned up, there was just another couple going with them. Ren gasped in astonishment when he realised he knew one of them.


The guy turned and laughed when he saw him. “Ren! I’ve not seen you for years. You still flying?”

“Not big jets.”

Ren turned to Dominic. “Arlo and I trained together. This is Dominic. My boyfriend.”

“This is Conrad.”

They all shook hands and got on the minibus. 

While they were being driven out of the city and into the darkness, the four of them chatted and Ren thought maybe they’d just made a couple of friends. He’d liked Arlo but after he’d left and joined the police keeping in touch with anyone had become difficult.

When the vehicle stopped, and they got out, it felt as if they were at the edge of the world. The skies were clear and dark until the world gradually filled with wonder. Conrad and Arlo were standing a little way away, Conrad behind Arlo with his arms around him as they looked up into the sky. Ren did the same with Dominic and they stared up at the dancing lights, watching colours strengthen and change, rivers of pinks and greens and purples swirling and streaming overhead. Although Ren had seen them before when he’d flown, he’d never seen them standing next to someone he loved.


As he turned, Dominic did too.

“Thank you,” Dominic whispered. “Thank you for everything.”

“I love you,” Ren spoke just as Dominic uttered the same words. “I love you.”

And that was perfect way for it to happen.

Anchor 11

The End


“Wake up, Wetherby!”

Ludo jerked awake to find himself being glared at by his English teacher, Mr Wheeler. Several of Ludo’s classmates were sniggering.

“Did you actually watch any of it?” Wheels demanded.

“Yes, sir.” Ludo’s throat felt wrong, thick somehow, not sore exactly, just not quite right.

“Come on, boys. The coach is waiting.” Wheels stalked off.

His classmates peeled away and Ludo pushed to his feet.

“Are you okay?” Ward was staring at him. “You don’t look very well.”

Ludo shrugged and walked with him towards the exit. “Did anything interesting happen? Props fall down, someone forget their lines, did anyone fart?”

“No, but Hamlet, Laertes, the king and queen all died.”

Ludo managed a chuckle at that. “They didn’t change the ending then, as well as having everyone in modern clothes?”

“No. I need the loo. It’s a long way back to school. You coming?” Ward headed for the stairs.

“What about Wheels?”

“They’re not going to go without us, are they?”

Ludo wished they would. “Isn’t there a bathroom on this floor?”

Ward shrugged. “There’ll be a queue.

Ludo followed him, his heart thumping.

There was no one in the bathroom that Ward led him to. Ward kicked open every stall door, then turned and smiled. More than just Ludo’s heart was thumping now. His whole body was vibrating.

Ward opened the door of the furthest stall and Ludo saw his Adam’s apple move up and down. He’s nervous too. Forget not feeling well, forget Wheels throwing a tantrum when he counted heads on the bus, Ludo wasn’t going to miss this chance. He walked forwards and Ward locked the door behind him.

For a moment, they did little more than stare at each other and breathe each other’s air.

“Ward,” Ludo whispered.

“Call me James.”


The smile on James’ face almost took Ludo out at the knees. The kiss did. If James hadn’t wedged him against the wall, Ludo would have collapsed. One quick, gentle brush of James’ lips over his and Ludo’s world shifted on its axis. It reminded him of the time he’d done parachute practice for Officer Training Corps and had to jump off a 250-foot freefall tower. As he fell, following his stomach down, it was as if his life flashed in front of his eyes. It was the most exciting, exhilarating and petrifying thing he’d ever done. Until now.

He couldn’t believe James was kissing him, that he was kissing James back. Ludo had always thought it was dangerous to be attracted to beauty because it overwhelmed your senses, made you careless. Even more dangerous to be attracted to someone he couldn’t have. But when James threaded his fingers in Ludo’s hair and held tight as he kissed him, this didn’t feel like the most dangerous thing he’d ever done, but the bravest.

When James used the tip of his tongue to trace the shape of Ludo’s mouth, there was a risk of spontaneous combustion. His cock was pressing against his zip and he could feel James was in the same state of arousal. James explored his mouth in slow, tentative movements and inspired by James, Ludo kissed him back. He trailed his tongue over James’ teeth, his upper palate, the inside of his cheeks until their tongues were rolling and tangling together and they were kissing as if it were the last thing they’d ever do.


Wheels’ voice dragged them apart. The best moment of Ludo’s life had turned into the worst. James put his fingers to Ludo’s lips and indicated for Ludo to climb onto the toilet. As he did, James flushed it.

“It’s me, sir. Ward.” James opened the door and slipped out. The door closed behind him.

Ludo was desperate to lock it, but didn’t dare. He heard the sound of water running in the basin.

“Have you seen Wetherby?”

“No, sir.”

“Why did you come upstairs to the bathroom?”

“My stomach is upset and there was a queue…”

“Right. Hurry up. Down to the bus.”

Ludo heard James talking to Wheels about Hamlet as they left. He waited as long as he dared, then followed them out.

When he emerged outside the theatre, Wheels stood by the steps of the bus with his arms crossed.

“Where have you been?” Wheels demanded.

Ludo reached his side, and threw up all over his English teacher’s suede shoes.


 A day later, Ludo was in the infirmary with mono—glandular fever, and feeling really ill. He couldn’t eat, couldn’t swallow. All he could do was sip through a straw. His throat looked scary. His brother Thibault came to see him and dropped into the chair next to his bed.

“They told Pa and Ma,” his brother said. “Ma’s not coming, of course. Pa’s in France on some business thing. He sent his best wishes.”

Ludo didn’t really want to see either of them.

“Anything you need? Books or something?”

“No, thanks.” Ludo’s croaky voice was barely a whisper.

He had a pile of books on the table, workbooks—because God forbid he missed anything—and the novel he was reading, but he felt too tired and sick to do anything.

Thibault leaned forward and grinned. “So who’ve you been kissing? That girl who was all over you at the dance last week?”

Oh God. “What?”

“Its other name is the kissing disease.”

Since Ludo had come down with it before he and James had kissed, and that was the first kiss ever in his life, with tongues anyway, kissing was not how he’d caught it. His eyes closed as Thibault was still talking and Ludo floated away in a dream.

He woke when someone shook his arm and opened his eyes to see James by his bed, in his pajamas.

“How are you?” James whispered.

“You supposed to be in here?” Ludo choked out.

James held his glass so Ludo could take a sip through the straw.

“No, but I’m in my camo PJs. No one spotted me.”

Ludo managed a chuckle. James’ pajamas were blue and grey. “If we were in the sea maybe.”

“I can always say I wanted my dad.”

James’s father was a housemaster at the school.

“I brought you some chocolate for when you’re feeling better.” James slipped the bar into the bedside cabinet. “I’m probably going to come down with it too. You can bring me chocolate.”

“I didn’t get it from kissing,” Ludo blurted. “That was… You…”

“My first time too,” James whispered and gave him a shy smile. “And I am going to get it from kissing. Four to six weeks from now. I want to kiss you again, but not while you’re ill.”

“We have to be careful.”

“More than careful.” James wrapped his hand around Ludo’s fingers, brought them to his lips and kissed them. Ludo’s heart jumped.

“How did you know I…?” Ludo asked.

“I didn’t. I just thought you were worth the risk.”

“And if I hadn’t been into…?”

“I hoped you’d keep quiet about what I’d done and I’d have wanked off thinking about what might have been. Now, I’m going to be thinking about what will be.” 




James had allowed his parents to help him carry all his stuff from the car to his room in Downing College. Now he wanted them to go.

“We’re so proud of you,” his father said. “I have to admit, I never thought you’d make it to Cambridge.”

Thanks a lot, Dad. But to be honest, neither had James. And if Ludo hadn’t been accepted by the university, James wouldn’t have taken up his place there but gone to their second choice. James had chosen to study Natural Sciences and Ludo had picked History.

“You were bright at school, but suddenly you seemed to shine,” his father said.

That would be the incentive of staying close to Ludo who was brilliant at most things. Though once A-levels were chosen, Ludo was no help at all.

Eventually, his parents left. James picked up a book on plants and set off for Emmanuel College which was just down the road. He hoped to see Ludo waiting for him but the seat where they’d chosen to meet was empty so James was the one who waited. At least it wasn’t raining.

He jumped when someone put their hands over his eyes and a moment later, Ludo was by his side.

“Oh God, I want to kiss you,” Ludo whispered. “What’s your room like?”

“Not bad.”

“Next year, we’ll have a place together. With a double bed.”

They did. And those three years at Cambridge were the best of James’ life. They still had to be careful. No PDAs. But James could cope with all that knowing Ludo was his.

Until he wasn’t.




“Will you be my best man?” Ludo whispered.

Fuck off. Fuuuuuck off! “No,” James said. He wished he could tell Ludo to ask his brother, but it was Thibault dying that had wrecked everything. Stupid car crash. Stupid brother.

“Sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”

No, you fucking shouldn’t have asked.

“James, I have no choice.”

James couldn’t bring himself to speak. Ludo had a choice. He’d just made the wrong one. You should have chosen me. James understood the pressure Ludo was under. He was the heir to Asquith now his brother had died. He was expected to produce an heir and James wasn’t able to help with that. Even worse, Ludo’s father had been diagnosed with colon cancer and it was advanced. The wedding was set for a week after the end of their final term.

“She’s about as keen on it as I am,” Ludo continued. “But her mother and grandmother are pushing her.”

“You’re a catch.”

“Oh God. And you caught me. I’m yours. I’ll always be yours.”

And how was that going to work? Was Ludo expecting him to meet up for dirty weekends in London for the rest of their lives?

“I don’t even know how I’m going to…touch her.”

“I think you’ll have to do more than touch her to get her pregnant.”

Ludo shuddered.

“You’re not being fair to her,” James whispered.

“What am I supposed to do?”

Ask me to wait. Tell me there’s hope.

“I can’t tell her the truth.”

And that was what broke him. “I think you should go now.” Before I fucking howl.

“I’m sorry,” Ludo said.

James touched Ludo’s wet cheek. “I know you are.” 


It should have been the end.

James should have moved on.

He didn’t.

He couldn’t.

He declined the invitation to go to the wedding. The society photographs he saw didn’t show Ludo or his bride looking desperately happy.

The photo of them holding their son, Piers, a year later was different, and James gave up hope. Not an easy thing to do.

He had a job he enjoyed working at Kew Gardens. His interest in botany had started at Cambridge and continued. There’d been a chance to go abroad but he’d turned it down because he was a fool. All he had to do was go out, find someone who’d love him, someone he could love, and forget about Ludo, but he couldn’t.

A few weeks later, James read of Ludo’s father’s death in the papers. He’d be Marquess now. Two days after the funeral, James was on his way home from Kew, when he looked up to see Ludo walking towards him.

“Hello,” Ludo said.

James nodded. “Sorry about your father.”

“I don’t like the words it was a blessing but it was. You wouldn’t have recognised him at the end. I barely did.” Ludo looked around. “Can we have a coffee? I want to talk to you.”

“You can come back to mine.”

James’ heart was beating hard. Maybe he should just have gone into a café and listened to whatever it was Ludo wanted to tell him. But he couldn’t risk falling apart when Ludo walked away. Again.

But when they were inside his place, Ludo gave a shuddering sigh. “I don’t want coffee. I want you.”

James froze.

“Sit down,” Ludo said.

James had one couch and they sat at either end.

“I’ve told her about you.”

James knew his jaw had dropped. He couldn’t have been more shocked.

“I told her I was coming here today and what I was going to ask you, in case that makes a difference to your response. She’s not happy but then she’s never happy with me. Having said that, we manage. She has Piers and she loves him.”

“Does she want more children?”

“Not at the moment.”

But that didn’t mean never.

“No, it doesn’t mean never. I can see what you’re thinking. But there are ways to achieve kids other than the obvious one and as time passes, those options will become more available. I made a deal with her. She can take lovers, discreetly, but I want you and I’ll be discreet too.”

James’ heart was sinking.

“I want to offer you a job managing the grounds at Asquith. You’d be in sole charge, advising on horticultural best practice, plant collections, design, research, appointing and managing staff and volunteers. There’s a small house you can live in. A place we’d live in. At least I’d be there some of the time. I want to be with you, James. You’re the love of my life and to be away from you this last year has been so painful. I’m not sure I can bear it any longer.”

James swallowed hard.

Ludo took a shaky breath. “I know it’s not perfect. Not what we’d choose, but almost three quarters of the population think homosexuality is wrong. We have to be careful. Things will change, but slowly. You don’t have to give me an answer now. Think about it. I know I’m asking a lot. It would still be a secret.”


“Yes, you’ll think about it?”

“Yes to the job. Yes to the house. Yes to you.”

“Oh God.”

James moved into Ludo’s arms and kissed him. It was as if they’d never been apart.

“I love you,” Ludo whispered.

“I love you too.” I always have and I always will.

The End

Anchor 10
The Big Christmas Adventure.jpg

(For this to make sense and not be a spoiler, you need to have read The Santa Problem! A year has passed since the end of that tale…)

            Christmas Day

            Alfie sat on the floor at the side of Wolf’s bed listening to Kendall read a story about a lonely Christmas tree. Kendall always did fantastic voices for the characters and Alfie could almost feel he was in the story. Wolf definitely could. He often ran into their room when he woke to tell them about his dream—usually some scrambled-up version of the story one of them had read the previous night.

            “And the little tree sighed with happiness when the squirrel and his family settled in his branches.” Kendall gave an impression of a tree shaking and sighing. “The End.”

            “Another?” Wolf asked.

            “You’re pushing your luck. You’ve had three.” Kendall ruffled the eight-and a half-year old’s hair.

            Wolf liked them to read books that really were more suitable for a younger kid, and it made Alfie and Kendall sad that the boy had missed out on those years of childhood. They were doing their best to make up for it.

            “Merry Christmas.” Alfie kissed Wolf on the cheek. “Have you had a lovely day?”

            “The best day ever.”

            Kendall and Alfie laughed. Wolf gave the same answer every time. Kendall brushed a kiss on Wolf’s forehead and he and Alfie left the room.

            When they were downstairs in the main room, Kendall dropped onto the couch. “Is it too early for us to go to bed?”

            “It’s never too early but I have a surprise for you.”

            Alfie planted his knees either side of Kendall’s hips and kissed him. Kendall swept his hands around Alfie’s waist and pulled him in tight. Alfie hadn’t planned on the kiss being a long one but he was as incapable as Kendall of ending it. When they finally broke apart, Alfie had to take a moment to pull himself together.

            “That was a nice surprise,” Kendall said.

            Alfie mock-glared. “Don’t I always give you lovely kisses? And surprises?”

            “You do.”

            “Go and take a look outside. Through the window will do.” Alfie moved off his lap.

            “Holy shit,” Kendall gasped.

            Three reindeer were looking at them through the glass. “Is that a grown-up Mouse with Tuppi and Ana? With antlers?”

            “Uh huh. He’s as strong as them now.”

            “Why did we take Wolf to bed? He’d love to see them.”

            “He will if you agree.”

            Kendall turned to look at him. “Agree to what?”

            “To the three of us going to spend the day in Greenland.”

            Kendall chewed his lip.

            “I’m not hearing no.” Alfie cocked his head.

            “He won’t be able to keep quiet about it.”

            “You think anyone will believe him? I can probably make him think it’s a dream.”


            Alfie changed tack. “Do you want to go? See your father? See my family? Let everyone meet Wolf?”

            “Yes. Okay. Let’s do it. No looping the loop, though.”

            Alfie smiled. “I’ll go and get Wolf ready while you find our coats and boots. I won’t let either of you feel cold, but the coats and boots will help.”

            No point wasting time in dressing Wolf in a conventional way, Alfie just magicked him into his clothes. Wolf barely stirred.

            By the time he got downstairs, carrying Wolf, Kendall was outside fussing the reindeer. They’d brought a sleigh and Alfie set Wolf in the middle of the seat.

            “Prop him upright while I go and get the gifts,” Alfie said.


            When Alfie came out with a sack of presents that Kendall hadn’t seen before, he wondered how long Alfie had been planning this.

            “Ever since I asked you what you’d give your father for Christmas if you were going to see him,” Alfie said.

            “I know you told me you can’t read my mind but that is very freaky. I take it you’ve bought the things I said?”

            “Every single thing and wrapped them too.”

            Alfie climbed into the sleigh and picked up the reins. “Want to wake him?”

            Kendall gently shook Wolf awake. The boy blinked and then gasped.

            “We’re off on our Big Christmas Adventure!” Alfie said. “On Tuppi! On Ana! On Mouse!”

            The reindeer began to run. Kendall took Wolf’s hand in his and squeezed his fingers as they began to rise into the sky.

            “Wow,” Wolf whispered. “This doesn’t feel like a dream. Where are we going?”

            “To see our family,” Alfie said.

            Kendall was as surprised as Wolf to spot the three snow figures flying at their side. Two snowmen and a snow dog.

            “They look like the ones we made in the garden yesterday,” Wolf said.

            “They do.” They are. “Are you warm enough?” Kendall asked.

            “Yes. Oh look, I can see the town, all the lights. Even my school. We’re really high.”

            “Remember the reindeer?” Alfie asked.

            “Of course I do,” Wolf said. “Mouse has grown up.”

            Mouse turned his head and honked.

            “Nice antlers, Mouse,” Kendall called.

            “Can people see us?” Wolf asked.

            “No, Alfie. It’s special magic.”

            “Maybe we—oh my g-gosh.” Kendall shot Alfie a glare as the sleigh went up at a steep angle. “Don’t be frightened, Wolf,” Kendall said quickly.             “You won’t fall out.”

            But my stomach might. Kendall gulped as they did a loop the loop while Wolf and Alfie yelled with delight at his side. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!

            “Again, again,” Wolf shouted as they pulled level.

            “Oh for f—Pete’s sake.” Kendall groaned.

            They did one more loop before the sleigh shot forward so fast not even stars could be seen in the sky.

            “That was amazing,” Wolf said.

            Kendall was trying to keep down the contents of his stomach.

            “Go to sleep for a while,” Alfie said and while Kendall didn’t think that included him, he found his eyes closing.


            Alfie’s heart was singing. Two years ago, he couldn’t have imagined that everything would have turned out so perfectly. He knew he was lucky. Exceptions were rarely made about travelling between worlds. It helped that Kendall was half-faerie, even if he seemed to have lost any faerie ability. Alfie wasn’t sure it had all gone, but Kendall said he was happy as he was as long as Alfie was at his side.

            Over time, Alfie’s power would fade and he was fine with that too. As long as he had Kendall. Maybe one day, a long while from now when Wolf had a family of his own, he and Kendall would come back to live in Narsuk. They’d live longer there.

            Kendall loved his job. Carlow Barr was fascinating, like a miniature Kew Gardens. And Northumberland… Alfie thought it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen. They could walk to the sea from their house. The beach was rarely crowded. The three of them had learnt to ride. Well, Alfie already knew how but he’d pretended he didn’t. He was pretty sure he’d fooled Kendall. They all had wetsuits and they’d learned to surf. That had been something new for Alfie.

            Alfie was studying archaeology. One year in and part-time, so that he could take Wolf to school and collect him, and he loved it. The most difficult thing was not using magic to find artefacts when he went looking on his own.

            Fine! Sometimes I do.

            Life was just about perfect.

            What am I saying? It is perfect.


            Kendall and Wolf woke as the sleigh landed. Alfie had dozed off too. The reindeer knew the way. Both Kendall’s father and Alfie’s family were there to meet them. Alfie had a lump in his throat as Kendall walked into his father’s arms. Then Alfie was embraced by Papi and Mami, and almost disappeared under the deluge of his brothers and sisters and their families.

            He was worried about Wolf but he could hear him laughing. When he emerged from the hugs, he found Wolf already dancing with his cousins and the snowmen and dog that had travelled with them.

            Wolf was wide-eyed with wonder as he was introduced to his grandma and grandpas and uncles and aunts, then Alfie’s nephews and nieces took him off to play. Alfie opened his mouth to tell his brothers that they needed to make sure their kids didn’t forget Wolf needed to be looked after but Sami, his oldest brother nodded. “He’ll be fine.”


            They went to see the reindeer herds with the Northern Lights turning the sky electric overhead. Gifts were offered, stories told and there was just one more thing that Alfie wanted to do. They’d spent the night at Mami and Papi’s and while Wolf was being looked after, and it was still dark, Alfie took Kendall out on a snowmobile to the top of Mount Engar.

            “Wow, that is quite a view,” Kendall said.

            “Yep.” But Alfie was looking at Kendall.

            When Kendall turned, Alfie was on his knees in front of him holding a ball of snow in his bare hands. Kendall went to his knees too and looked into Alfie’s eyes.

            “Put your hands around mine,” Alfie told him.

            Kendall pulled his gloves off and wrapped his hands around Alfie’s.

            “I love you so much,” Alfie said. “When I found that letter, I wanted to make everything right in your world. I didn’t realise that I needed you just as much in mine. I’ll never stop loving you. Nothing matters but that. You and Wolf make me so happy.”

            Alfie could feel the snow melting now and his magic surged. It was just after ten in the morning and the sun was about to break over the horizon.

            “Will you marry me?” Alfie whispered.

            “I was going to ask you.” Kendall chuckled.

            “Pick your moment. This is mine.”

            “Yes, I’d love to marry you.”

            Alfie brought his hands apart and opened them up. There was a bright silver ring on his palm that glowed with the colours of the Northern Lights. Alfie slid it onto Kendall’s finger and sighed. “Can’t change your mind now.”

            “Why would I want to?”

            “I found this ring but added a little magic.”

            “Found it?”

            “On Bamburgh beach.”

            Kendall chewed his lip. “I’m not sure… Someone might be looking for it.”

            “I think they’ve probably given up.”

            “Even so.”

            “It’s over a thousand years old. Viking treasure.”

            Kendall laughed. “Oh wow, so my ring was free.”

            “Yes, you’ll have to pay for mine.”

            “I already have.” Kendall put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small black box. “There is no better moment than this. Alfie Green, love of my life, will you do me the very great honour of marrying me?”

            “Depends what the ring’s like.” Alfie grinned.

            Kendall chuckled and opened the box. “It’s not as amazing as yours, but it’s inlaid with specks of meteorite. Something almost as rare and precious as you.” He slid it onto Alfie’s finger.

            “It’s beautiful.”

            They kissed then and kept kissing until the sun was up and the world was full of light.


            Two days later


            Wolf bounded downstairs into the kitchen where Alfie and Kendall were making breakfast. They’d arrived back last night and put Wolf straight into bed. Alfie thought Wolf would believe it was a dream, Kendall was less sure.

            “I had the most amazing dream,” Wolf said.

            Alfie pinched Kendall’s backside where Wolf couldn’t see.

            “Did you?” Alfie said. “I always look forward to hearing about your dreams.”

            “We went to Greenland where Santa lives though I didn’t see Santa but I saw lots of other people. We played games and built snowmen that came to life and went to see the reindeer and there were coloured lights in the sky and…”

            Alfie shot Kendall a look. Was there anything Wolf hadn’t remembered?

            “It was so real,” Wolf said. “I had a grandma and two grandpas and cousins and uncles and aunts and I love the reindeer and…I want it to be real.”

            Alfie stared at Kendall who sighed and nodded. Alfie scooped Wolf into his arms and carried him over to the couch. Kendall went to sit beside them.

            “Guess what?” Alfie said.

The End

Anchor 9

            As a member of the Saudi Royal family, and not a minor one at that, Prince Ahsan bin Nagi had been given almost everything he wanted from the day he was born. The proverbial silver spoon, constructed from the finest silver, by the finest craftsman, and the damn thing was still stuck in his throat.

            He’d been sent to the best schools, dressed in designer clothes, been given horses, birds of prey, fast cars—even a cheetah for a short time until he’d managed to persuade his father the animal was not what he wanted. All Ahsan had to do was say—I like—and whatever he liked had appeared. He was used to a life of privilege and luxury.

            His father made his money from oil and had several homes not just in Saudi, but all over the world. Probably had women all over the world too, but he was still married to Ahsan’s mother. His father owned a superyacht, a fleet of cars, Arabian stallions, polo ponies, expensive birds of prey… He bought whatever took his fancy. He was a man who could have whatever he wanted that money could buy. Even if he couldn’t buy it, he still expected to get what he wanted.

            And generally, he did. His father was a healthy guy, but if he’d had some medical issue, or any of the immediate family had developed a health problem, he’d probably still have expected money to solve it.

            Ahsan knew he was lucky. He was told that often enough by his brothers and his mother, but he wasn’t lucky. He pretended to be carefree but he was trapped and unhappy, and there was nothing he could do about it. His father’s money could not solve this. Ahsan couldn’t even think the word gay without his heart getting in a twist. It physically hurt sometimes and he’d had to plead indigestion to explain his pallor and discomfort. Not joining in any condemnation of homosexuality was impossible, though the words were ashes on his tongue. Say the wrong thing and he’d end up dead. That wasn’t an exaggeration.

            While there was no specific law banning it, same-sex relationships were illegal and punished by fines, whipping, torture, life imprisonment or death. Recently, there’d been a crackdown in Riyadh on items being sold for kids, pencils and paper and bags that were rainbow coloured, because they were said to contradict the Islamic faith and public morals as well as promote homosexuality. It made Ahsan want to roll his eyes.

            But he didn’t. He towed the line and he hated himself for his hypocrisy and cowardice. All his energy went into hiding how unhappy he was. He kept a smile on his face. He did what he was asked, as far as he could. But his brothers had little to do with him because he wasn’t outgoing like them. It was safer to be quiet and studious. Safer not to go anywhere when he might find himself staring at a guy in the wrong way.

            His elder brother, Saad, kept trying to find him women to marry. Ahsan knew his time was running out. He could only keep saying no for so long. Even worse, Ahsan had the horrible suspicion that Saad had guessed the truth and his brother was playing with him.

            Ahsan’s choices were bleak. Only three.

            He could conform.

            But if he married and found himself unable to have sex with his wife, it would lead to ridicule, endless questions then disaster.

            He could run.

            He had money of his own. He was good at making money and he’d accumulated his wealth in diamonds because it was easier to carry and it stopped Saad knowing exactly how much he had. But where could he go that his family wouldn’t find him? Their reach was long and never-ending. It was so fucking aggravating that they couldn’t just let him go because all he wanted to do was to live quietly, with a guy, if he ever found one who could love him, and not bother anyone. Just be himself. But his family, his father and Saad specifically, would hunt him down to either kill him or maybe imprison him in one of the more remote of his father’s homes in Saudi.

            The final option was to kill himself.

            Something he’d considered. Even then, he was worried about the impact on his family, which was crazy. But their shame if it was known he’d taken his own life was an unfair burden on his mother and sisters. Suicide was prohibited under Islamic law though that seemed to be ignored by suicide bombers. Even passive suicide was forbidden, such as neglecting a treatable wound, making no effort to save himself from drowning or burning to death, or not running from a T-Rex but allowing it to kill him… Ahsan had hoped to make himself smile, but he couldn’t.

            Trying to find ways to die that didn’t look as though he’d done it on purpose had been something he often thought about. Car crash. Falling off his horse. Trouble with those was that he might end up paralysed and not dead. Getting lost in the desert with a dead phone was a possibility, but not a quick way to go.

            Anyway, he wanted to live.

            Then one day, while he was interviewing several candidates for a role in his household, he came face to face with Rafiq, and Ahsan’s world turned upside down. He showed nothing because Saad was at his side. His brother didn’t even trust him enough to choose his own staff.

            They interviewed four men. Ahsan was afraid of asking a question that would make Rafiq look like a bad choice, so he said very little. Fortunately, Rafiq stood out as the best guy. He could handle horses and birds of prey. He had advanced driving skills and had been to school in the UK. But his father had gambled away the family money and Rafiq needed a job.

            When the last guy had left, Saad turned to him. “Which one would you pick?”

            Ahsan chewed his lip. He somehow felt it was dangerous to say Rafiq because Saad was sly enough to veto his choice.

            “Number one is out. He’s too young,” Ahsan said.

            “I agree.”

            “Two was okay.” That was Rafiq. “Three would drive me insane with that clicking.”

            Saad laughed. “You’re right.”

            “Four was okay too,” Ahsan said.

            Now there was a fifty-fifty chance.

            “Four had more experience,” Saad said.

            Ahsan nodded. “I wonder about his age though. Twenty years older than me. I want someone I can control.”

            Saad scoffed. “You can order any one around.”

            “I know, but I don’t want someone who resents me. I guess he’d be okay.”

            “Two looked more fun.”

            Ahsan couldn’t believe Saad had said that. He sensed a trap. “Whoever you think is best, brother.” And if Saad picked number four, Ahsan would find a way to get rid of him while Rafiq still needed a job.

            “I feel sorry for two,” Saad said. “He had everything and lost it. Go for two.”

            Ahsan nodded. Do not look happy. 

            Later, he wondered why he’d even wanted to choose a guy he was attracted to. Wasn’t that asking for trouble? A thought that led him to wonder if Saad had chosen Rafiq to tempt him. Now he was going to have to be super-vigilant.


            Ahsan and Rafiq hit it off immediately. Though Rafiq was a servant, he became Ahsan’s friend and when others weren’t around to see, they had fun together. Although they never touched, Ahsan began to wonder. A look exchanged. A smile shared. A glance where one of them would swallow hard. Hints. Clues. Possibilities.

            Death to them both if they were discovered, but they did nothing but enjoy each other’s company. Quad biking in the desert. A trip to the Edge of the World where they stood on top of the 1,000-foot escarpment at Jebal Fihrayn to look at the uninterrupted view of the horizon in all directions. I could fall but I don’t want to.

            Then one trip when everything changed. Ahsan had planned for it to change. He was running out of time. Women of marriageable age were being talked about more frequently. He had to be brave.

            They camped overnight about an hour from Riyadh. It was an organised trip. Ahsan wasn’t a fool. He knew Saad would check. But it was a chance to stargaze under the guidance of an expert and Ahsan had always been interested in the stars. Ahsan knew he and Rafiq would have to share a tent and as everyone was oohing and aahing at the spectacular night sky, and the amazing Milky Way, Ahsan’s mind was on what he planned to do, say, try. This time, unlike every other time, he wouldn’t lose his nerve. He was almost sure Rafiq was like him.

            Almost but not entirely sure.

            Their tent was far enough away that they wouldn’t be overheard if they whispered. Rafiq brought him water to wash, looked after him in the way that Ahsan paid him to, but not in the way he wanted. When they lay on their sleeping bags, with the tent zipped up, Ahsan rolled over to face him. Dark but not too dark to see Rafiq’s beautiful face, his neatly trimmed beard, his dark eyes and thick eyelashes…

            How much did Ahsan risk by reaching out? If Rafiq reared away, Ahsan could claim it was an accident. If he didn’t, Ahsan still had to be sure he wasn’t taking advantage.

            So do it!

            His heart pounded so hard he thought Rafiq must be able to hear it.

            “I had a good time tonight,” Rafiq said quietly. “The stars were amazing.”

            Do it!

            “I want…” Ahsan whispered.

            “For me to get you something? Don’t make it anything difficult like Ma’amoul. I know how much you love them.”

            Ahsan chuckled. He did have a thing for the crumbly pastries filled with dates, walnuts, and pistachios, but they were a holiday food.

            “I have dates in my backpack,” Rafiq said.

            Ahsan slid his hand to Rafiq’s and laid it over the top. Neither of them moved. Ahsan remembered he needed to breathe and his next inhalation was ragged. He waited. He wasn’t sure he could do more. Then the most wonderful thing happened. Rafiq turned his hand and clasped Ahsan’s.

            Even then, Ahsan wasn’t sure.

            “Is there something that scared you?” Rafiq whispered. “Scorpion? Snake? Me?” He kept that last word very low.

            Ahsan edged a little closer. “I’m feeling brave.” He wasn’t. “Tell me if I would be wiser not to be brave.”

            Rafiq moved closer. Their hands were still together, their faces a foot apart.

            “You know that’s true.” Rafiq gulped. “This is dangerous.”

            “Tell to me to stop and I will.”

            “Don’t stop.”

            Ahsan bit his lip so hard he thought he might have made it bleed.

            “I want this too,” Rafiq’s voice was barely audible. “But we have to be so careful.”

            “At the house, assume we’re watched and listened to. I even wondered if my brother thought you were…gay, and employed you to catch me out. No wrong looks. No touching. Nothing can give us away.”

            “We haven’t done anything.”

            Ahsan lifted their joined hands. “This—is everything. I want…” He moved closer and put his mouth to Rafiq’s ear. “I want us to leave Saudi. Will you come with me?”

            “I will go anywhere with you.”

            Ahsan’s heart was hurting now but in a perfect way. He cupped Rafiq’s cheek, and kissed him. The first time he’d kissed anyone like this, with intent, passion, his heart. The first time anyone had kissed him…

            They were silent and so careful. Ahsan kept his words in his heart and showed how he felt by his actions, exploring Rafiq’s face with his mouth, mapping his features, kissing his eyelids, his cheeks, his nose, his ears, his neck. He wanted to do more, let his hands move to Rafiq’s body but he didn’t. They kissed for what seemed like hours. Kissed until the sun came up. Kissed until Ahsan’s heart threatened to explode with longing. Kissed until reality broke them apart.

            They both knew what they wanted and knew what they couldn’t have.

            Not yet.

            But now they both knew. Now they had hope. The future was theirs.


The End

Anchor 8

            Jonty was waiting not very patiently for Devan to wake up. If he didn’t wake in a minute, Jonty was going to have to help him. Yesterday had been almost the best day of Jonty’s life. Maybe the best. It was so hard to choose. What about the day he’d met Devan? The day he and Devan had…? Well, yesterday had been one of the best for certain. Because…drum roll…flashing lights…Devan had proposed. Jonty’s heart thumped hard. He could still hardly believe it. Admittedly, the T-rex had almost come between them, but at least that made it a night to remember. Though he’d better not say that to Devan because the proposal made it a night to remember without the T-rex.

            But the T-rex had been part of what happened and the costume was so much fun. Jonty wanted to get his money’s worth out of it which was why he was wearing it now, waiting for Devan to wake up. He nudged Devan’s nose with the inflated head. Nothing. Damn. It wasn’t easy to do anything with arms this short, but he managed to pull the cover off the bed. Then drooled.

            Devan was curled up naked, his mouth slightly open, looking so sexy that Jonty almost regretted the costume. Almost. He tried a growl. Did T-rexes growl? He had no idea but he felt like they’d growl. No response from Devan.

            Jonty was fed up of waiting. So he crawled onto the bottom of the bed and nudged Devan’s cock with his nose. Devan still didn’t move. For one horrible moment, Jonty wondered if he’d died of pure happiness but no, he was still breathing, his chest going up and down. Jonty reached out, as best he could with tiny arms and smacked Devan across the face. Maybe a little harder than he’d—

            Devan shrieked really loudly and lurched upright. “What the fuck?”

            “Surprise!” Jonty said.

            The bedroom door sprang open and Cato burst in. “Are you—? Oh. That was why you screamed like a little girl?”

            “He’s being ravaged by a T-rex. He’s in a state of shock,” Jonty said, voice muffled.

            “Ravaged or ravished?” Vigge said behind Cato.

            Devan yanked the cover back over his body. Not without some difficulty because Jonty was leaning on it.

            “Get out,” Devan said. “I need wordths with my fianthcé.”

            “You should have thought more carefully about proposing to a T-rex,” Cato said. “This could come back to hurt you.”

            “Out!” Devan ordered.

            Cato and Vigge left, laughing.


            Oops. Devan was using that tone of voice that meant Jonty was in trouble.

            “Yes, Best Fiancé in the Entire Multiverse?”


            “I only got chance to wear this for a short while.” But now the costume was starting to get uncomfortably hot.

            “But a very important thort while.”


            “A bit like the fangths that were thuppothed to be jutht for one night and are thtill in my mouth?”

            “I like you with a lisp.”

            Devan just stared at him.

            “But you’re better without one.” Hurry, think of a distraction, you idiot.

            “Thank you.”  Devan was still staring.  

            “I don’t think I’d like to be a T-rex,” Jonty said. “How do you think they wiped their bums?”

            Devan snorted. “Do our dogths wipe their backthides?”

            “That’s true but we don’t know the habits of the dinosaurs. We don’t know what noises they made or even what colour they were. So they might have wiped their backsides.”

            “They didn’t.”

            “Not even by rubbing them on something small and furry?”

            At least Devan was smiling now.

            “Tell you what,” Devan said. “You like being a T-rethx. I think you ought to thtay as one until I get the fangth taken out.”

            “But…we were going to lunch with Cato and Vigge.”

            “We thtill are.”

            “But how am I going to eat?”

            “I’ll allow you to do that.”

            “We won’t be able to celebrate our engagement.” Jonty tried to do an enticing move on the bed and Devan laughed. Bastard!

            “We did latht night. We can tonight. You bought an extra battery, didn’t you? Make thure ith charged.”



            Jonty was pretty sure Devan had chosen the most awkward itinerary for the day once he’d discovered there was no dentist appointment to be had until Monday. The four of them went for a walk at Seahouses with Charlotte and Winnie, and Devan made him have both dog leads.

            “I’m taking lots of pictures, Jonty,” Cato told him. “So is everyone else.”

            Jonty huffed. He wasn’t going to admit to it, but he quite liked being the centre of attention.

            But the bike ride was not so straight forward. He and Devan had bikes and they’d borrowed two from Tay’s parents for the weekend so the four of them could ride part of the ‘Coast and Castles’ route. Jonty pleaded to be allowed to take the costume off but Devan wouldn’t let him. So once he’d managed to find his balance on the bike, he waved at everyone that passed. There was a lot of horn tooting.

            When they stopped for lunch, finally, Jonty was allowed to at least take his head out of the costume.

            “Had fun?” Cato asked.

            “Marvellous fun.” Jonty beamed, but he was hot and sweaty and thirsty. He ruffled his hair which was plastered to his head.

            “You certainly had your picture taken a lot,” Vigge said.

            “No one will know the identity of the mysterious T-rex seen out and about in Northumberland today, whereas all your faces, as the tormentors of that poor T-rex will be out in the world for everyone to see. Very likely all over social media.” 

            Devan laughed. Cato and Vigge didn’t. Particularly Vigge.

            “Maybe they’ll think you’re arresting me, Vigge.” Jonty widened his eyes.

            Vigge paled. “Maybe that’s enough now.”

            “Did you bring his clothes?” Cato asked.

            Devan shook his head.

            “That was deliberate,” Jonty said. “I’m being punished because he can’t get his fangs out. I can cycle back naked.”

            “And get arrested?” Vigge said.

            “Oh dear. So shall we go back once we’ve eaten?” Jonty asked.

Everyone looked at Devan and he finally nodded.

            “Then can I take the costume off?”

            “Not until I think you’ve been punithed enough.”

            “What if I promise to do that thing with my tongue that—”

            “Okay,” Devan said quickly.

            Cato put his hands over his ears. “Lalalalalalala. I really don’t want to know what my brother likes you to do with your tongue.”

            Jonty grinned. “Lick—”

            Three hands clapped over his mouth. As if that was going to stop him. Jonty waited until everything was calm and said, “I’m very flexible. I can lick—”

            “One more word and I’ll marry the T-rexth instead of you.”

            Was that possible? No, that couldn’t happen. But he’d pushed Devan far enough.

            For now.

Anchor 7

The End

Jonty's News.png

Don’t read this until you’ve read Jonty’s Halloween!

The End

            Devan glanced across at Jonty. “You’re much too quiet.”
            Jonty stopped chewing his work-in-progress fingernail to gape at him. “You’re always complaining I’m too noisy. When we’re in the supermarket, at work, on a plane, in the car, in bed… Well, maybe not in bed.”
            “But we’re in the car and you always have something to say when I’m driving. Usually that I’m going too fast and I’ve even driven too fast just to see what you’d say.”
            “I’m too traumatized to speak.” Actually, Jonty was preoccupied by thoughts of what was going to happen when they reached their destination. More precisely what Devan’s mother was going to say. And do. Jonty was looking forward to it as much as he looked forward to seeing a clown. He shuddered, then spotted a sign on the right that gave him an idea.  
            “There’s a garden centre up ahead. Can we call in? Just for a few minutes.” Or an hour.
            Devan gave a heavy sigh. “Fine.”
            That would mean even less time spent with Devan’s parents. Not that Jonty had anything against Will. Because he liked Will and Will liked him. Even so, there was no escape until after lunch tomorrow. Yet it was entirely possible that Jonty and Devan’s news would be greeted with such horror that they’d be leaving moments after Devan had made the announcement to his parents. Possibly after calling an ambulance for his mother. Oh damn, but then they’d have to stay.
            Devan pulled up in the garden centre car park and Jonty almost leapt out of the car. “Let’s buy your mother a plant.”
            “In addition to the flowers you purchased from the motorway services when you went for a pee half an hour ago?”
            “Yes, because knowing my luck, the moment I hand her those, every stalk will droop, the flower heads will fall off and she’ll be left holding a pathetic, dried-up bouquet and she’ll think I did it on purpose.”
            Devan laughed and took hold of his hand. “No cacti. Okay? She doesn’t like them.”
            “Right. What about a carnivorous plant?”
            “That’s all my choices gone.”
            “You are such a dickhead.”
            “But loveable?”
            Devan elbowed him and Jonty pretended Devan had put far more force into it than he actually had, and staggered across the car park only just avoiding collision with an elderly couple. “Please don’t hit me again, sir.”
            Devan’s glare made Jonty laugh. “Don’t push your luck.”
            The doors slid open at their approach and they entered a covered, open-ended area with hundreds of plants on display.
            “What sort of thing are you looking for?” Devan asked.
            “Something sturdy. Though I should let you know I am the dark angel of death as far as garden centres are concerned. I don’t think I’ve ever bought any plant from one that has survived longer than a week. I can almost hear them shouting don’t pick me as I walk past.”
            “So what are we doing in here then?”
            “I intend to hand it over to your mother before it curls up and dies.”
            Jonty looked around, hoping for inspiration. “Oh look. Wow, they are beautiful.” He headed over to a tub of daffodils. “I can’t go wrong with these, can I? They have to be outside and if they die, there are lots of things to blame other than me. They’re even reduced.”
            “It’s not my fault if they get covered in black fly or beetles.”
            “Or if they get eaten. Quick! Google if they’re poisonous to dogs.”
            “Jonty! Look at them!”
            “I don’t want to look at them again. They’ll die just to spite me.”
            “They aren’t going to die.”
            “Why aren’t you googling?”
            “What month is it?”
            “November. What does that have to do with googling? Aren’t you allowed to use Google in November? Is it a new rule? Why didn’t you tell me? How are you going to manage without PornHub? Where will you get your inspiration. I’m going to be so bored.”
            “When did you last see daffodils in November?
            Jonty turned, then bent to look more closely. Ah. Shit. “That’s amazing! Think how thrilled your mother will be to get daffodils at this time of the year. They must be really rare. She’ll think I paid a lot more than four pounds.”
            “You’re not taking her a tub of plastic daffodils. And yes, they are poisonous to dogs.”
            “Even the plastic ones?”
            “Any ones, knowing my dad’s dogs.” Devan picked up a flowering purple plant. “This is pretty. Allium thunbergia. Ozawa.”
            “Bless you.” Jonty grinned. “It says it’s an onion. I can’t buy your mother an onion.” He moved on. “Oh, I like this one. It’s weird. Colletia paradoxa. Anchor plant.”
            “It is weird. Are they leaves?”
            Jonty read the description. “No, the leaves appear in the spring.”
            “The stems look like jet planes.”
            “I was thinking more of little green bats. We’ll take this one. I like it. Mostly because it doesn’t look as if it will die before we get there.”

            Jonty came up with four more reasons to stop in the next fifteen minutes. None of which Devan responded to.
            “I really do need to pee.” Jonty crossed his legs.
            “No, you don’t.”
            “Yes, I do. How are you going to feel when your mum tries to hug me for the very first time and I have to rush past her into the house, possibly bowling her over, so I don’t wet myself? Because you know I’ll blame you.”
            Devan pulled into a layby. “Go in the hedge.”
            “What if someone sees me?”
            “Be quick.”
            “What excuse can I use if someone—?”
            “Jonty! Just go!”
            “Don’t look at me then. I can’t pee if you look at me.”
            Devan laughed. “That’s not true. You wait until I go into the bathroom and then leap in front of me to pee.”
            “That’s just so that you get your daily quota of the perfection that is my arse.”
            Jonty slipped round to the other side of the car and checked to see if anyone was coming before he unzipped. The tiny amount he produced really hadn’t been worth the bother, but it was a few minutes less in the clutches of Godzilla.
            He got back into the car and clipped in his seat belt. “Will your mum mind if I hug her without having washed my hands? She won’t know where they’re been if we don’t tell her. But I know what you’re like. Don’t let it slip out.”
            Devan sighed. “Hand sanitiser in the glove box.”
            Jonty used it. He couldn’t come up with any more reasons to stop. He’d gone through his whole repertoire. Hungry, thirsty, toilet break, possible injured animal at the side of the road, pothole that might have been caused by a meteorite… Well, he had a few more, but maybe it was better to get this over with.  
            When Devan pulled up outside the house, Jonty’s throat was dry. He was desperate that Devan’s mother didn’t get upset, though he thought she might. Devan picked up their overnight bag from the boot, while Jonty carried the plant and the flowers, and they headed up the steps. The door opened before they reached it and Jonty’s mum stood there smiling. She was looking at Devan, but even so…
            “How lovely…to see you.” Her speech was still a little slow after her stroke but other than that, she seemed her usual self. Devan had a long hug, Jonty was clutched by the shoulders and given a two-sided air kiss.
            “For you,” Jonty said and held out the gifts. “The bat plant can stay outside. If you tell me where you’d like it putting, I could do that for you.”
            “Bat plant?” She frowned. “Oh yes, how unusual. Yes, leave it…outside.”
            Devan’s father came into the hall and he hugged them both—properly. Jonty had to resist the urge to keep hold of him.
            “Good journey?” Will asked.
            “Not bad,” Devan said. “A few delays.” He glanced at Jonty.
            “Come and have a drink in the drawing room.” Will smiled at them.
            “We’ll just take the bag upstairs.”
            “I’ll put flowers…in water.” As Devan’s mother walked away, she left a trail of rose petals.
            Jonty sighed and followed Devan upstairs.
            “When are we going to tell them?” Jonty asked. “As we leave?”
            “When we get back downstairs.”
            Jonty gulped. “Maybe it would be a good idea to warn them first so they can have their happy faces on for me.” He only meant Devan’s mother, but didn’t like to say so.  “In fact, why don’t I stay up here and when you’re given them the news and everyone has stopped wailing and gnashing their teeth, then I could come down.”
            Devan caught hold of his hand, pulled him into his arms and kissed him.
            “You’re trying to make me forget what we’re here to do,” Jonty said.
            Devan kissed him again.
            “I haven’t forgotten.”
            Another kiss.
            “Are you sure?” Devan asked.
            Jonty buried his head in the crook of Devan’s neck. “They won’t think I’m good enough for you.”
            “Stop it right now! I’m the one who’s not good enough for you. If anyone ever dares to criticise my choice, says anything negative about you at all, then they are no longer someone I want anything to do with. I chose you. I choose you. I love you. That’s all that matters. Not what anyone else thinks.”
            “Warn her,” Jonty whispered. “She’s going to be upset. Please warn her and then when we announce it, she can pretend.”
            “No.” Devan took hold of Jonty’s hand and tugged him from the room.
            “You need to say it. I’ll get it wrong,” Jonty said.
            Devan looked at him and laughed. “How can you get it wrong?”
            “I might say Devan and Guillaume are getting married.”
            “Who’s Guillaume?”
            “He’s that waiter you flirted with in Paris.”
            Jonty thought about falling down the stairs, but then worried he might actually break his neck so he didn’t. No yawning gap opened up in the hall floor. An earthquake didn’t strike as Devan pushed open the door to the drawing room. No rush of water carried them away. They were in there, and Will and Godzilla were waiting and Jonty was going to cry if her mouth tilted even a little bit the wrong way.
            “Your father had a good time at the Halloween…party,” she said.
            Will coughed. Probably a warning not to remind Georgina what costume he’d been wearing.
            Devan pulled Jonty down to sit on the couch. “Jonty did a fabulous job. He virtually arranged the whole thing himself. It was a huge success.”
            “Champagne?” Will asked.
            He was already pouring four flutes so Jonty nodded, though he wasn’t sure his stomach could cope.
            Once they were all holding a glass, Will said, “It’s great to see you both. Here’s to—”
            “Actually, Dad, I have something I’d like to tell you.”
            Jonty kept his gaze down. Maybe it was better not to see their reaction. Even Will’s.
            “I’ve asked Jonty to marry me and he did me the very great honour of saying yes.”
            Jonty’s felt Devan wrap his fingers around his and he forced himself to look up. Will was smiling. Georgina was smiling too. Well, maybe that was an exaggeration, but she didn’t look pissed off.
            “That’s wonderful,” Will said. “Congratulations! I couldn’t be more delighted for both of you!”
            “I’m very happy for you.” Georgina raised her glass. “Congratulations.”
            Jonty waited for the next part but that was all she said.
            “So how did you pop the question?” Will asked.
            “On the beach.” Devan didn’t really answer his father, but Jonty doubted he wanted to tell the story of quite how he’d proposed.
            “Have you set a date?” his mother asked.
            “No, not yet.” Devan squeezed Jonty’s fingers.
            “It’s best—”
            They didn’t find out what Georgina was going to say because Will interrupted her. “Think you’ll get married in the UK?”
            “Of course, they will, they—” Georgina stopped abruptly. “I mean you obviously have to make up your own minds. But it would be…lovely to see you married here. In the UK, I mean.”
            Jonty mentally sighed. They already knew. Georgina was being too careful about what she said and Will was watching what she said and stepping in when he was worried. Devan had already told them. Jonty knew Devan was only trying to protect him, but he was a bit disappointed because he already knew what Devan’s mother was like. He knew what she thought about him. Her reaction hadn’t been genuine.
            “I know I’m not who you’d choose for Devan,” Jonty said. “But I promise to always try to make him happy, to take care of him when he’s sick, to make him smile when he’s sad. I love him more than I ever thought I could ever love anyone. I want to spend the rest of my life with him at my side. Devan is…everything, and a lot of that is down to you. So thank you for raising such a kind, caring guy.”
            Jonty looked at Devan. “And thank you for taking a chance on me. I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I will try to be good enough for you. I’ll never stop trying to be the sort of husband you deserve.”
            Devan swallowed hard. “Jonty… I’m the lucky one.”
            A muffled sob came from the direction of Devan’s mother and Jonty looked across to see she was crying. Probably with horror that Devan had picked him instead of some important, wealthy person who never did anything stupid.
            “Jonty!” Georgina held out her hand.
            What did she want him to do? Devan nudged him, took the glass from his hand and Jonty crossed the room to Georgina’s side. She grasped his fingers.   
            “Devan is right. He is the lucky one. You make him happy. No mother could ask for more. Now tell me all about his proposal. Was it very romantic?”
            “I thought it was.” Jonty shot Devan a panicked look.
            “Tell mum what happened.”
“The truth?” Jonty gaped at him.
            “She’ll laugh.”
            So Jonty told her and to his astonishment, she did laugh.
            “Oh Jonty, Devan’s right. You are a treasure.”

            When Devan and Jonty escaped for a walk, Jonty tucked his hand into Devan’s pocket.
            “That went well,” Devan said. “You worked some sort of magic on my mother. Maybe it was her brush with death, the sudden realisation that you don’t know what life’s going to throw at you.”
            “She and your father already knew.”
            “You thought that too?”
            Jonty frowned. “You didn’t tell them?”
            They looked at each other and said the same word together, “Cato.”
            “I’ll bloody kill him,” Devan said.
            “No, too messy. Think of something else.” Jonty sighed. “Anyway, he did it because he didn’t want me to be hurt. He probably threatened your mum to make her behave, but…”
            “Those tears were genuine. She’s not a crier. And deep down, she just wants her kids to be happy. She’s finally seen that you make me happy.”
            “For ever and ever.”
            Devan kissed him. “For ever and ever.”



Matthias tried not to look at Briar when he walked into the operations room at Paranormal Resolutions, but the guy was a bloody magnet. South pole to Matthias’ north. Yin to his yang. Sunshine to storm. Blunt to sharp. Opposites fucking well attracting. Briar was everything Matthias didn’t like and didn’t want. 
Too young.
Too good-looking.
Too chatty.
Too annoying. 
Too sweet. 
Oh, he could go on and on and on. Just like Briar usually did. 
“Hi, Matthias. Good morning. You look nice in that suit. Isn’t it a lovely day! I bought you a coffee.”
Matthias lifted his gaze from the file he was reading. “Why?”
“Why is it a good morning? Because neither of us were staked in the night. Why do you look nice in that suit? Because you look particularly handsome in dark-grey. I think it’s a lovely day so I hoped you did too and I bought you a coffee because it’s a nice thing to do. I haven’t been able to help but notice that you’re always in a better mood when you’ve had one.”
Matthias stared at the paper cup Briar had placed on his desk. 
“It’ll be hot so careful you don’t burn your mouth. I’d miss all those sarky snarky comments.”
Matthias picked up the coffee and sipped it through the hole in the lid. “Arrhgh… What the hell is this?” He’d wanted to spit it out, but his cry of disgust had attracted the attention of others in the room so he had to swallow. Ugh.
“Oh no. Did I give you the wrong one?” Briar grabbed the cup from Matthias’s fingers and sipped it. “Ah. This is the triple long shot grande salted caramel mocha latte with two pumps of vanilla and extra caramel on the extra whipped cream. Oops.” Briar winced. He put the other cup in front of Matthias. “This must be yours. Black coffee. Sorry.”
Briar sat at his desk opposite Matthias, took another sip of his drink and a blissed-out expression blossomed on his face. Matthias failed to bite back his irritation.
“You don’t mind that I drank from that before you?” Matthias asked.
“Why would I? This is too good to waste. Ecstasy in a cup. Ohhh.” He let out a long moan. “It’s so tasty. It hits just the right spot. Over and over. Oh God. God!”
The groans and moans continued with Briar’s exclamations rising to a crescendo of delight that made everyone in the room laugh, apart from Matthias.
“Have you read the Sutton file?” Matthias asked.
Briar nodded.
“Cover to cover?”
“Assimilated the information, come to a decision on the action that needs to be taken, considered possible outcomes?” Matthias had an excuse to stare at him now, so he did. Briar was small—well, smaller than him, had fewer muscles than him, had curly light brown hair, brown eyes—like a fawn that was about to be pounced on, lips that were much too…everything. 
“Yes,” Briar said.
Matthias realised he’d forgotten the question he’d asked. He looked down at the folder in front of him. Oh yes. “Off we go then.”
“’I’ll drive.”
“No, you won’t. I want you to get there in one piece.”
Briar followed him from the room. “Don’t you mean that the other way round? That you want to get there in one piece?”
“What happened last time you drove me?”
“Oh yes, you wrenched me out of the driver’s seat and threw me in the back of the car. I hadn’t even got out of the car park.”
“I’ve signed you up for advanced driving lessons.”
Brian bounced at his side. “You mean I’ll get to learn how to perform handbrake turns, how to drive backwards really fast, the details of evasive manoeuvring and slalom techniques?”
“The first three lessons are how to get out of a car park without hitting another vehicle.”
Briar grumbled under his breath, but Matthias was serious.

Matthias parked a little way down the road from the address they were heading for. There had been reports of unauthorised feeding by a vampire called Louis Ball. One of his meals had been heard bragging and that could make things quickly escalate. 
“What do you want me to do?” Briar asked.
“There’s a back way out of this place. Go and cover it in case he tries to run.”
“Give me a few minutes to get there.”
Matthias didn’t really want Briar out of his sight, but he had to learn how to do this job. If Briar hadn’t been with him, Matthias would have knocked on the door, but he needed to get inside quickly to defuse any potential issues before Briar got into trouble. He gave Briar enough time to reach the back, then headed for the front. Once he was sure he was unobserved, one hard kick opened the door and Matthias stepped inside. 
There was no one in the front room, but he found Briar sitting at the kitchen table talking to a young guy.
“This is Louis,” Briar said. “It’s all sorted out.”
Matthias blinked. “Really? He knows he’s been a naughty boy and he promises not to do it again?”
“He had to use his blood money to pay his rent and he was desperate.”
“I was,” Louis muttered, his eyes downcast.
“Those you fed from paid you,” Matthias said. 
“I thought it was safer. I went to a club where I know wannabe vamps hang out. Elysium. Know it? They just sort of fell onto my fangs.”
Matthias rolled his eyes.
“He’s only been a vamp for a few years,” Briar said.
“How many?” Matthias asked. “And don’t lie because I can check the register in an instant.”
Briar gasped. “That’s not a few years.”
“How old is he?” Louis nodded towards Matthias, but kept his head lowered.
“Ancient,” Briar said. “Really, really old. Great-grandpa of vampires. Like Atilla the Hun. That sort of old.”
Matthias sighed. “Thank you so much, Briar.”
“And very wise,” Briar added. “Smart as a…fox, a whip, a cookie, a—”
One glare and Briar shut up. That made a change. 
Matthias turned to Louis. “You had no authority to feed on a mortal. You risk us all in doing that. You’re old enough to know better. You do know better and if you can’t afford the rent, find somewhere cheaper to live.”
“I said he could share with me,” Briar mumbled.
Matthias had to repeat that comment in his head a few times before he could convince himself it was what he’d heard. Good grief, Briar!
“Though I didn’t realise he was that old.”
A comment that hurt. 
“Not that I’m ageist,” Briar said. “Old people have a lot to contribute. Gardening tips and crossword clues and—”
Louis sniggered and Matthias seized the opportunity to lower his stress levels. He caught hold of Louis by the scruff of the neck and hauled him not just to his feet, but off his toes. “This is your only warning. You do not live-feed from anyone. You’ll be watched and if you break the rules, you’ll be brought before the Vampire High Council and pay a high price. Understand?”
Louis nodded. He couldn’t speak. Matthias’s hold on his throat was too tight. Matthias let him fall and Louis crumpled to the floor rubbing his neck. Briar looked as though he was going to check the guy was all right until he caught the scowl on Matthias’s face.
“And let that be a lesson to you,” Briar said, brushing his hands together. “Shall we go? I need to go out the way I came in or it’s bad luck. See you round the front.”
“Leave by the front door.” Matthias heard the growl in his voice, but he couldn’t help himself.
Matthias followed Briar out of the house and once they were in the car and the doors were locked, he stopped grinding his teeth. 
“Well, that went well.” Briar beamed.
“In what way?”
“No heads were ripped off.”
“Were you including yours?”
Briar cringed. “I might have been.”
“You actually offered him your spare room?”
“He seemed nice.”
Matthias dragged his fingers through his hair. “You are—”
“Too kind. I know. But he just needs a break.”
“You judged that in the minute or so you were with him before I burst in?”
Matthias was about to set off when something occurred him. “Tell me you didn’t give him your address.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake.” Matthias pulled out and headed for Woolwich.
“Where are we going?” Briar asked.
“Your flat.”
“Why do you think?”
“You can’t resist my charms any longer?”
“Try again.”
“You need a blowjob and I’m the closest available mouth?”
For a moment, a brief moment, Matthias’s cock began to indicate its approval of that idea until Matthias thought of his mother, which was enough to deflate any situation of this sort. 
“Message your landlord. Tell him you’re moving out.”
“You told Louis where you lived. You invited him to stay with you. You know nothing about him apart from the important detail that he’s broken vampire law and you are an upholder of that law. And when you got back from work to find your place full of vampires feeding on humans, what were you going to do? Call me?”
Briar took out his phone and tapped into it. “Okay. Done. Where am I going to go?”
“That’s not my problem.”
“It sort of is.”
Matthias hmphed. 

Matthias was shocked by how little Briar had. Two suitcases of clothes and a box of kitchen paraphernalia.
“Is that it?” Matthias asked.
“I couldn’t go back to my parents. I lost everything including my money when I ran. I rented a fully furnished place until I can afford to buy stuff for myself. I’ve got an IKEA wish list though.”
Matthias shuddered.
“I can stay in a hotel for a while. A cheap one.” Briar shrugged. “No problem.”
“I have a spare room.” Oh shit. Did I just say that?
“Or a bed and breakfast place. That would be fine. Not that I’d need the breakfast. I prefer to eat dinner when I do consume mortal food.”
“Are you going to make me say it again?”
“I could ask someone from work if I could stay with them for a while. I’m sure there’d be loads of offers to let me stay. I’m fun.”
Matthias ground his teeth. “I have a spare room. You can stay with me.”
Briar sighed. “Could you try to sound a little bit less pissed-off about it?”
“Give me a few hours.”
He heard Briar quietly laughing. 

As they carried Briar’s things up to Matthias’s penthouse apartment, Briar didn’t stop talking. “I’ll be the most considerate person you’ve ever had staying with you.”
“No one’s stayed with me before.”
“What? Ever?”
“Long enough to forget how awful it was.”
“Well, then I’ll definitely be the most considerate person you’ve ever had staying with you. No more than one party a week, right? No more than three in a bed? You can label your stuff and I won’t use it unless I’m desperate.”
Matthias paused as he pressed his code into the door. 
“Kidding!” Briar grinned at him. 

Later that night, tucked up in bed in the spare room, Briar made a call. “Hi, Louis. It worked. Thank you so much. I’m sorry he was a bit rough.”
“He’s a moody bastard. Sure you’re doing the right thing?”
“I like a challenge.”
Louis laughed and ended the call. Briar put his phone on the bedside table and wondered if he should fake his bad dream tonight or tomorrow. The door swung open and Matthias stood there in his black boxers looking so hot but also so absolutely furious that Briar realised he’d heard what he’d said. Shit. 
Briar climbed out of bed and walked over to him. “Sorry.”
“For what?”
“Manipulating you into asking me to share your place.”
“How should I punish you?”
“Refuse to have sex with me? Refuse to let me come?”
“There you go then. You can wait.” Matthias walked out and closed the door. Only then did he allow himself to smile. Did Briar really think he could successfully fake a case of illegal feeding? 
Though now Matthias had to wait too, with temptation a room away. 
Who was going to break first?


Don’t read this until you’ve read Jonty’s Halloween!

Thursday afternoon
            Devan had taken a long time setting this up and he could already feel things starting to go wrong. That was probably because he was clinging onto the highest part of the roof on the tower at The Dunes Hotel trying to secure an enormous inflatable dragon in place, in increasingly windy conditions. Why had he bought one this size? Why wasn’t the weather cooperating? Why had he thought he’d be fine this high off the ground with no safety rope?
            He hadn’t felt as if he could risk anyone else’s neck to tie the thing on as high as this. He’d already been down to the ground four times to check how it looked and if this attempt wasn’t perfect, well, it would have to do. He’d scratched his face, lost a shoe and wrecked a perfectly good sweater. He wasn’t even thinking about his shredded nerves.
            Enough was enough.
            He climbed back through the window, only dislodging one tile, this time, but he still had to go back and put it in place. Then he secured the window from the inside in case any other idiot thought of getting out there too, and headed down to the ground. He prayed the remote worked after all this effort. Once outside, he walked away from the hotel entrance until he’d have the view that Jonty would be greeted by when he arrived the following evening.
            Devan mentally crossed his fingers and turned. The silver dragon was twisted around the tower, the head facing him and it looked…fantastic. Devan took a deep breath and pressed the remote. His eyes widened. Bloody hell. The thing was almost…scary. Jonty was going to love it. He hoped.

Friday morning 
            “Ouch, ouch, ouch,” Jonty yelped. “What’s that in the bed, apart from you?”
            “I don’t normally make you yelp.”
            “No.” Jonty gave a sad sigh, trying to sound as if he were disappointed.
            Devan growled.
            “What the hell is it?” Jonty burrowed under the covers and wrapped his fingers around the piece of plastic that had spiked his arse, registering it was some sort of toy, but then burrowed further until he reached Devan’s cock. He touched it, yelped again and scooted up until his head emerged next to Devan’s.
            “It’s so long and thick and sharp. What have you done to it? Can you buy dick-sharpeners on Amazon now? I wonder if anyone has ever put their dick into one of those spiralisers?”
            “Oh God,” Devan groaned. “I hope you weren’t thinking you might get lucky this morning because even the mere thought of that has caused the fastest deflation I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. And that includes the time my mother burst in on me when I was…busy.”
            Jonty laughed and opened his hand. He held a small red dragon with stick-out wings. “How did he get in our bed?”
            “I can’t imagine.”
            “Maybe his mummy left him for me to look after.”
            “That will be it.”
            “Or his daddy.”
            “Are you his daddy?” Jonty held the dragon up to Devan’s mouth. “Give him a kiss.”
            “I don’t think so.”
            Jonty sucked in a breath. “But he’ll be traumatised.”
            Devan grabbed the dragon, kissed it and threw it across the room. “Wow, he can fly!”
            “Is that another example of tough love? Like when I told you I only wanted to go to the top of the diving board to have a look and you told them to clear the pool?”
            “I told you not to go up.”
            “But I had to dive and it was so high.”
            “You could have jumped.”
            “But it’s called a diving board.”
            Devan sighed.
            “I’d like to go to Acapulco next year. Going loco down in Acapulco,” he sang.
            Jonty kissed his way down Devan’s chest. “Still no?”
            “It’s too dangerous.”
            “I might get poked in the eye by your spiralised dick.”
Devan yanked him back up the bed. “I never want to hear those two words together. Ever.”
            “But how can we have a conversation about ducks’ dicks then? Did you know they’re—”
            “Ah, but did you know that if there are a lot of competitors around, they can grow an extra bit on the end of their dicks?”
            “Shush now. Use your mouth for something else.”
            Jonty grinned and slid below the covers.
Friday evening
            “What’s the surprise?” Jonty asked.
            “If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise.”
            Devan had made him put on a blindfold and promise not to peek, so Jonty hadn’t. But he knew they were heading for the hotel. He could do this journey in his sleep. He knew every turn, every twist of the road, and recognised the exact spot where Devan put his foot down and let the Aston purr.
            Except, then they weren’t heading for the hotel.
            “Are we there yet?” Jonty asked.
            That was a five-point turn. Where the hell were they going?
            “Are we nearly there now?” Jonty asked.
            “I hope we’re not going back home.”
            Devan didn’t say anything. But he’d been round that roundabout four times. Now Jonty had no idea where they were heading.
            “Sure we’re not nearly there?”
            “Ask me again and this journey might take even longer.”
            Jonty pretended to zip his lips.
            Finally, the car stopped and Devan turned off the engine.
            “Oh no,” Jonty said. “We’re not here already, are we?”
            Devan laughed. “You still can’t look.”
            “Okay. I am so excited. Is it—”
            “Don’t guess, because if you get it right, I’ll be very disappointed. Keep the blindfold on. I’m going to come round and get you out of the car.”
            Jonty let Devan help him from the car. He felt Devan move him behind him, then he lifted the blindfold out of the way.
            “I’m always surprised by how gorgeous you are and that you chose me.” Jonty smiled.
            “We can go home now, then.”
            Jonty laughed. “Well, I know we’re at the hotel, though I’m facing the wrong way so what am I supposed to be looking at? Shall I go through a list of things I’d like to see?”
            “No, because when what we’ve come here to see isn’t top of that list, you’ll break my heart. Turn round.”
            Jonty gulped. He really had no idea what Devan had done and that was unusual because no matter how sneaky the Best Fiancé in the Universe was, Jonty was sneakier. But he turned and gasped. Wrapped around the tower was a huge silver dragon.
            “Wh…what… How… Wow!” Jonty spluttered.
            Devan pushed a small controller into his hand. “Press a button.”
            “Are you sure? You know what happens when I do that.”
            “It’s fine.”
            The dragon’s eyes flashed from silver, to red, to green and Jonty laughed. Another button brought a cloud of mist from its mouth.
            “Which one makes it fly?” Jonty asked.
            Devan rolled his eyes.
            “It’s fantastic,” Jonty whispered. “Even if it can’t fly. Thank you!” Then he sucked in a breath. “How did you get it up there? Tell me you didn’t do it.”
            “I couldn’t ask anyone else to.”
            “Devan!” Jonty clung to him. “Imagine me having to tell your mother that a dragon killed you. She’d blame me. I’ll go up and take it down. But if I don’t make it back safely, she’ll say it served me right.”
            “She’s warming to you.”
            Jonty widened his eyes. “She looked as if she’d swallowed a cow when you told her our news. I felt like I’d just announced I was pregnant.”
            Devan laughed. “She’s talking about venues. She’s fine.”
            “But it’s our wedding and not hers.”
            “Totally ours and if you don’t want any input from her, then there won’t be.”
            The dragon suddenly roared and Jonty jumped into Devan’s arms. “What the hell was that?”
            “Take a guess.”
            “Your mother’s here?”
            “Guess again.”
            “She’s not here?”
            “Absolutely right.”
            Jonty turned to look at the dragon. “It was a lot of trouble to go to just for a little while.”
            “There are five parties booked this week. There had been just the one, but after I called to tell them there would be a dragon on the tower, word spread and we had four more bookings.”
            Jonty laughed. “And when he needs to come down, can we let him go on a windy day so he flies over the sea? We can make sure we have a boat ready to rescue him. Though no, that’s not a good idea because if there are any planes in the vicinity, the pilots and passengers might get a bit freaked out. Plus, we can put him up again next Halloween. Well, I say we but neither of us are doing it. I’ll pay someone. I can’t believe you went up so high. What if you’d slipped? I wouldn’t have been around to cushion your fall.” Jonty clung to him.
            “I’ll never leave you.”
            “That sounded creepy.”
            Devan laughed.
            “Find another way to say it.”
            “Till death us do part.”
            “No!” Jonty glared at him. “Death is not going to part us. Nothing will part us. I’m going to be with you for ever. All the time. Except when you’ve eaten too much garlic. Then I won’t be. Unless there’s a vampire around.”
            “I love you.” Devan hugged him.
            “Love you more.”
            “That’s impossible.”
            “Everything is possible. You just bought me a dragon!”


The End

The End

jonty's nightmare.png

Unfinished Business Short Story

            Jonty woke with a start and sat bolt upright in bed.
            Devan stirred at his side. “What’s wrong? What time is it? Two thirty? Bloody hell, Jonty.”
            “I had a nightmare. God. It was awful.” He shuddered.
            Devan pulled him back down into his arms. “What was it about?”
            “I don’t want to think about it.”
            “Then go back to sleep.”
            “I can’t! I’m too upset.”
            Devan kissed his hair. “Tell me what it was about, then I can reassure you that there is no such thing as a man-eating spider, that a sinkhole isn’t going to open up under our bedroom and that there will be another series of The Great Pottery Throw Down on the TV.”
            Jonty whined. “Now you’ve given me three other things to worry about.”
            Devan groaned. “There are no such things as man-eating spiders. They can’t even lay their eggs in a human. And the chances of a sink hole opening up under the house are really small.”
            “There was one on Blyth beach a few years ago.”
            “Yeah, but it was only eight-feet deep.”
            “Okay. But… The Great Pottery Throw Down? I love Keith so much.”
            “I don’t know for certain that will be on again, but it’s such a winning formula, I’m pretty sure it will be. Why do you love Keith so much?”
            “Because he cries when he’s happy. On TV! How brave is that?”
            “Very brave. Are you sufficiently distracted now? Can I go back to sleep?” 
            “I have to tell you my dream first. It was worse than all those things. I dreamt I went to the shop to buy some Flakes and they didn’t have any. I went from shop to shop to shop and nobody had any, so I got all panicky like when I lost you in the Gents’ at the motorway service station and I thought you must have been kidnapped but you were outside waiting for me, and that’s when I woke up. It’s an omen, Devan.”
            Jonty could feel Devan trying not to laugh.
            “It’s not funny.” Jonty put as much indignation into his voice as he could. “I need to go the supermarket now and buy as many packs as I can.”
            “You mean you want me to go?”
            “Good. You’re not to go either. The nearest 24-hour supermarket is in Newcastle, fifty miles away. Go to sleep.”
            Jonty wriggled out of Devan’s arms and grabbed his phone from the bedside table.
            Devan yawned and rolled over.
            “You’re not showing anywhere near enough concern for someone who’s supposed to be the best boyfriend in the universe,” Jonty said quietly. “I know it was a dream but… Oh my God, Devan. I can’t… You’re not going to believe this. There is a shortage of Flakes. Look!”
Devan rolled back.
            Jonty put the phone in front of his face. “There’s been a run on mini-Flakes, the ones that go into ice cream cones to make 99s because of coming out of lockdown after the pandemic. Everyone wanted a 99. Of course they did. Why didn’t Cadbury’s plan for that? I would have.”
            “I’m not sure Flakes would have been on my list of must-haves after lockdown eased.”
            Jonty stared at him.
            Jonty kept staring. “You’re not normal. You don’t even eat a Flake in one go! It says the full-size ones are in short supply too because businesses are buying them to break in half to use instead. I’m psychic. I have to be, don’t I? Why would I have dreamt that otherwise?”
            “Well, maybe you saw it on the—”
            “I have a gift. Wow. I should buy a National Lottery ticket right now. Tell me some numbers.”
            “If you’re the psychic one, then you have to come up with the numbers.”
            “I remember reading that so many people pick that combination they’d only win around four hundred pounds if all six numbers came up.”
            “What? No one thinks 1,2,3,4,5,6 will come up.”
            “They obviously do.”
            “Now I don’t feel gifted at all.” Jonty sagged, then perked up. “Four hundred pounds, less the cost of the ticket, would buy a lot of Flakes.”
            “You don’t need to buy any.”
            “You don’t know me at all,” Jonty wailed.
            “How much do you love me?”
            “Is that a trick question?” Jonty’s hand slid to Devan’s erection. “Because I can tell you love me a lot.”
            “Do you love me more than a Flake?”
            “Of course I do. I’d give up my last Flake to save your life, assuming your life was really in danger. I hope a bear would rather have a Flake than eat you because I’d definitely throw one if a bear was chasing you. Do I have a last Flake? I’m pretty sure I ate it yesterday. Why did you let me eat it?” Jonty whinged.
            “Because I’d have lost my fingers if I’d tried to stop you.”
            “I did give you a mouthful.”
            “You did and it was lovely.”
            “I shared my last Flake. I think I’d like that on my tombstone above Devan should have learned how to make Flakes and Jonty would still be alive.”
            Devan laughed. “Much as I like what you’re doing with your hand, I think this is the perfect time to do a little treasure hunt.”
            “Two thirty in the morning. The perfect time! Except you’d rather I do a treasure hunt than play with your lovely cock? I’m a failure. I’m so devastated. I feel empty. Of Flakes.”
            Devan reached into the bedside drawer on his side and pulled out a square of paper. “The first clue. I’ll just have a little nap while you go on a hunt.”
            Jonty read it. “Have you heard the news? The next clue can be found where we put our…” He sighed. “Put our what?”
            Devan groaned and Jonty nudged him. “Put our what?”
            “Work it out. And don’t wake the dogs up.”
            “Our booze.” Jonty sprung out of bed and bolted to the kitchen. Not in the cupboard. He went back to Devan. “Doos, foos, goos, hoos, moos, poos. Eww. Poos? Really?”
            “Shoes,” Devan practically shouted. “Work the clues out yourself. Quietly.”
Jonty ran to the shoe rack, found the next clue and took it back to the bedroom. “They come in pairs and rhyme with clocks.” He burrowed under the duvet to Devan’s cock. “There’s nothing here and I’d have noticed a clue on mine.”
            “Socks,” Devan mumbled.
            Jonty leapt out of the bed and pulled open Devan’s sock drawer. “Another clue. This is fun. Isn’t it fun?”
            “I was assuming you’d do it at a respectable time of the day while I read the paper.”
            “But I want the treasure now. I’m all excited. Right. The clue. We’d get no light unless you pick the thing that holds a mighty… dick? These are very raunchy clues. And I’ve already searched your dick.” Jonty went through the entire alphabet and finally reached wick. He climbed over Devan to get to the candle on the chest of drawers. “Ah ha.”
            “I give in. The treasure is under the bed.”
            Jonty climbed over Devan again, even though he didn’t need to. Then bent over, his bare arse in the air and reached under the bed. When he couldn’t feel anything, he slid a little lower so he could look and saw a package on Devan’s side. He slid over Devan again, leaving his bare backside close to Devan’s face and pulled up a wrapped box.
            Devan kissed his bum as Jonty levered himself back to Devan’s side. Jonty made short work of the paper and squealed when he saw the box of Flakes.
            “How did you know what my nightmare was about? How did you know I was going to have a nightmare? How did you know there was going to be a Flake shortage? I am in awe of your wondrousness.”
            Jonty kissed the box. “I love you so much.” Kiss. “You are so beautiful.” Kiss. “And tasty.” Kiss.
Then he set the box aside. “Answer me now, oh fabulous true psychic one.”
            “I read there was a shortage of Flakes and immediately went and bought four boxes.”
            “Where are the other three?”
            “I’m not telling you. Make the first box last. I had no idea you were going to have a nightmare or what it would be about. I’d planned the treasure hunt for tomorrow morning. I was going to break the news of the shortage to you, then give you the first clue. If I was psychic, I’d have anticipated you’d wake me in a panic at some God-awful time in the morning. But I didn’t.”
            Jonty slid on top of him. “You are the best boyfriend ever. Are you awake now?”
            Devan wrapped his hands around Jonty’s arse. “Yes.”
            “I’m too excited to go straight back to sleep.”
            “I can tell.”
            Jonty wriggled against him. “All I can think about is… Waking up and sucking a Flake.”
            Devan growled and pushed Jonty down. “Find something else to put in your mouth.”
            “Can I have a Flake after?”


The End


The first meeting and first date of Newt and Leigh from ‘Waiting for Ru’

Unfinished Business Short Story

the sticking place.png

            Leigh had been told to be there at eight to catch the pathologist before he started work. He’d had every intention of being there early and it was now almost nine o’clock. He hated being late. Really hated it. He’d rather be an hour early than a minute late. He had his strict parents and boarding school to thank for that, along with a near obsession with tidiness and cleanliness. He’d left a message for Dr Newton Sanders, apologising, but Leigh was pissed off with himself for not being there on time. Events conspiring against him was not an acceptable excuse.
            On call last night, Leigh should have been off duty by seven, but had crawled out of bed just before five to go and see an alpaca that was having problems giving birth. It turned out that she was having twins. Rare and undesirable in that particular animal, but it happened. Two live babies—crias—were eventually delivered, and everyone was happy, including him. Leigh set off home only to get stuck behind a broken-down tractor. He still wasn’t running late when he reached his house, but he made his shower quick rather than leisurely, grabbed a coffee to go rather than sit at the table and take his time, only to find the road blocked en route to Dorchester, which forced him on a six-mile detour. Running out of petrol was the final straw. That had never happened to him before. It was almost as if fate didn’t want him to make this journey.
            After he’d shown his ID at reception, he was escorted further into the building, handed over to someone else, then yet another person and found himself stranded in a viewing area overlooking an ongoing autopsy. Leigh didn’t think he was supposed to be watching this. Who had they thought he was? Below him were three men. Only two of them were breathing. The dead one looked…very dead. A bloated corpse with vascular marbling, and dark discoloration of his skin and soft tissue. A Y-shaped incision had been made, his skin peeled back, and a guy was up to his elbows in the chest cavity. It seemed likely this was who Leigh needed to talk to.
            The pathologist looked up, as if he sensed Leigh watching, and a moment later, Leigh heard his voice over the speaker.
            “Dr Mitchell, I presume. If you’re not, fuck off because this is private.”
            “Dr Sanders? I’m sorry I was late. I—”
            “Call me Newt. You’ll have to wait now while I determine if this poor guy was dead before or after he hit the water. You can go away and eat a nice hearty breakfast or stay and admire my…technique.”
            “I’ll wait.” The idea of eating didn’t appeal; Leigh could imagine how bad the corpse smelt. But Newt Sanders did appeal.
            Leigh had a thing about accents and this one was as cut-glass as you could get. He couldn’t even see the pathologist’s face or his body. He had no idea how old he was. He was wearing blue theatre scrubs, an apron, big white wellies, a mask, a face visor over that and gloves. And he was splattered with…gunk.
            “Going to watch?” The tone was one of amazement.
            “I’m admiring your…technique.”
            Leigh left the same gap between the words that Newt had.
            The pathologist paid him no more attention. He was confident and skilled. He sounded thorough in his description of what he was doing and what he found, but most impressively as far as Leigh was concerned, he was caring. He had several different voices, all with that same plummy accent. A formal one for the recording device detailing his findings. A friendlier one where he asked for a piece of equipment or explained things to his technician. And a gentle voice for the dead guy, almost apologising for what he was doing and promising to get to the bottom of what had happened to him.
            Leigh was impressed, partly because he knew the job Newt was doing was in many ways misunderstood. Often seen as the nerds of medicine, pathologists were perceived to be not good with people, and that all they did were autopsies. Misconceptions, just as people assumed vets spent all their time sticking their hands up animals’ backsides or chopping the nuts off innocent males. The person Newt was working on might be dead, but he’d been someone’s son, husband, father, brother, friend and Leigh could feel Newt appreciated that. The dead man had no voice, only that of Newt. This wasn’t a dignified way to end, but Newt’s respectful treatment of the body made this less difficult than it might have been.
            When Newt finally removed his apron and peeled off his gloves, Leigh realised he’d been watching him for nearly two hours. He straightened as Newt looked up at him.
            “I need to shower. I’ll be with you in fifteen minutes, Dr Mitchell.”
            Newt nodded. Leigh was lost and he didn’t even know what the guy looked like. Or if he was gay.

            When the door at the end of the viewing area opened, Leigh stepped forward. Was this him? The guy heading towards him was about his height but there the resemblance ended. Newt had pierced ears, not just one piercing but little stars all the way down the shell, pierced eyebrows and a ring through his lip. His hair was short, spiky, wet and pink. His blue eyes were bright and the amused look on his face told Leigh that he was waiting for a reaction.
            In the second Leigh had to decide how to react, he went for humour and hoped Newt got it. Leigh took out his wallet and held it out with shaking fingers.
            “Don’t hurt me. Take what you need, but please leave the photo of my dog.”
            Newt growled. An honest-to-God growl and Leigh felt it as a stroke of his cock.
            “Now you have your wallet out, you can buy me a late breakfast. Cutting up dead bodies makes me hungry.”
            Leigh put his wallet away and held out his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
            Newt put his hand in Leigh’s. “I think it might be nice to meet you too. Come on. I know a good place where we can eat and you can show me that picture of your dog.”
            “I don’t have a dog.”
            Newt turned to him and laughed, and Leigh tried to catch his breath, catch his…anything, catch hold of a reasonable thought other than the one that was shoving persistently into his head.
            He couldn’t have said what route Newt led him on. He was too distracted by listening to him talk. He was moaning about the football team he supported, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Leigh hated football, had zero interest in it, but the way Newt spoke so passionately about his team… well, Leigh was mesmerised. They ended up outside some greasy spoon café where the floor looked cleaner than the tables and none of the clientele looked a day younger than eighty, or that they had a home. Not Leigh’s sort of place.
            Newt pushed open the door and gestured for Leigh to go in first. Leigh’s manners prevented him from showing how reluctant he felt. Newt ordered a full English at the counter and looked at Leigh.
            “I’ll have the same.”
            “And two teas,” Newt added. He paid while Leigh fumbled to get his wallet out.
            Newt chuckled. “You clearly operate better under stress, whipping that wallet out when thought you were going to be robbed.”
            “You know I was joking.” Leigh smiled. “Let me pay.”
            “Nope. My treat. You can pay when we have tea at the Ritz.”
            Leigh’s heart jumped. A flippant remark but… They walked to a table in the corner and Leigh brushed the crumbs off the seat before he dropped down.
            “I’m sorry I was late,” he said. “I left a message. It was a catalogue of disasters this morning, mostly to do with traffic and blocked roads. Though I did start the day helping an alpaca give birth.”
            “You want proof?” Leigh took out his phone and showed him the shot of the babies suckling.
            “So cute.” Newt stared at the picture for longer than Leigh had thought he would. “They can be house-trained, can’t they? Knit yourself a jumper out of their wool. You could get one instead of a dog.”
            “My hours are too difficult to have a pet.”
            “That’s a shame.”
            Their food arrived and Leigh had never seen such a huge plate of food in his life. He could almost feel his arteries shuddering.
            “You wanted to talk to me about a horse found at a crime scene?” Newt began to eat.
            “Yes. Though it wasn’t classified as a crime scene. A guy died. It looked as though his horse had kicked him.”
            “And you don’t think it did?”
            “Has there been an autopsy?”
            “Yes, and the coroner’s ruled it an accidental death. I don’t think it was. The police aren’t interested.”
            “Where did the horse kick him?”
            “Middle of his forehead.” Leigh tentatively put a piece of bacon in his mouth. Not bad.
            “The horse was found at the scene, so do you think a different horse kicked him or not a horse at all?”
            “Not a horse.”
            Newt raised his eyebrows. “Did the size of the hoof print on the guy’s head match the horseshoe? Can that be checked? Were there any other significant finds at the autopsy? Why is not accidental?”
            “I don’t believe anyone checked the size of the horseshoe and compared it to the mark on the guy’s head. But if they had, they’d have seen that it didn’t match.”
            “You’re sure about that? Can it be checked now?”
            “The horse was reshod a day later.”
            “Oh. Suspicious. What do you think happened?”
            “I’m the vet who’s looked after that horse for years. Billy is gentle. I just can’t see him kicking his owner. Robert was as devoted to Billy as Billy was to him. But Robert’s brother wanted him to sell the farm after their father had died. Robert refused. He told me he’d offered to buy his brother out over time but he could only afford to do it gradually. Not good enough for Peter. I suspect he needed the money urgently.”
            “So there’s a motive.”
            “I think Peter mounted a horseshoe onto a piece of wood, made it a weapon and slammed it onto his brother’s head.”
            Newt stopped eating and stared. “Right. Which way up was the mark on the head?”
            He believes me. “The wrong way up for the horse to have kicked back at him. Billy would have to have reared up and kicked forward. Except he was tethered when I got there and the policeman I spoke to said they’d not touched him or been near him in case he kicked out at them.”
            “And the police didn’t listen to what you said?”
            “Dead guy with a clear horseshoe shaped mark on his forehead lying a few feet from the back of the horse. Slam dunk. Accidental death.”
            “Who did the autopsy?”
            “Dr Henry Bauer. Do you know him?”
            “I’ve met him. Leave it with me. I’ll see what I can find out.”
            “Thank you.”
            “So were you and Robert friends?”
            “Only as vet and client. He was a good man. I liked him.”
            “You like good men?”
            Leigh met Newt’s gaze across the table. “Only if they have pink hair.”
            “I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Newt said. “Bad to the bone.”
            “You didn’t ask me if I liked bad men.”
            “Do you?”
            “Only if they have pink hair and piercings.”
            Newt laughed. He pushed the remains of his breakfast away. “I have to get back to work. Would you like to go out with me one night?”
            Leigh nodded.
            “How brave are you? Club, meal, cinema or a surprise?”
            Shit. Leigh wanted to say a club but his mouth came out with “Surprise.”
            Newt pushed to his feet. “I’ll give you a call.”

            Newt walked back to work with a spring in his step. He loved solving mysteries so the death-by-horse was right up his street. So was the strait-laced veterinarian in his buttoned-up shirt and thin blue tie. It looked as though he ironed creases into his trousers. Newt chucked. Unexpectedly, Leigh had made him laugh. Newt would give him a chance.
            He didn’t get the opportunity to get in touch with Henry Bauer until after lunch. By then, Newt had read the original autopsy report and the notes from the police. There was nothing about the horse being tethered. It made a difference. There was no way the upside-down U mark on the victim’s head could have been caused by a horse kicking backwards or a tethered horse kicking forwards.
            Bauer agreed with him, albeit reluctantly. They both did a bit of railing at police work being shoddy, and Newt left him to sort out the problem of reopening the investigation.
            By the time Newt met Leigh for their date a week later, the police had arrested Robert’s brother and charged him with murder. The cobbled-together weapon had even been found on the farm. Sometimes criminals were imbeciles. Newt and Leigh had talked on the phone several times, and Newt was excited about that night. But then he was always excited about a date, less excited when the relationship fizzled out like a damp firework which was what usually happened. Still, he hoped.
            When he saw Leigh heading towards him, Newt walked straight into his arms and kissed him. He knew Leigh was shocked, but this was another of Newt’s tactics. If Leigh couldn’t cope with PDAs then he couldn’t cope with Newt. So far Leigh had passed all tests with flying colours.
            And he was passing this one too. The kiss was deep and hot, and by the time they moved apart, they were both hard.
            “Glad to see me then?” Leigh asked.
            “I worried you’d back out.”
            “I’ve never looked forward to something so much in my life. What are we doing? Bowling? Climbing? Eating in the dark? Teddy Bear Museum? Maumbury rings?”
            Newt slid his hand into Leigh’s and smiled when Leigh wrapped his fingers around his.
            “Nope.” Newt tugged Leigh along the street and down a side street. “Keep guessing.”
            “Lock-in mystery? Walking tour of Dorchester? Treasure hunt? A Shakespeare production?”
            Newt slammed to a halt. “You were doing so well. Shakespeare? Really?”
            “They’re doing it in the nude.”
            Newt felt his jaw drop, then caught the look on Leigh’s face. “Right.”
            He began walking again and came to a halt in front of a small shop front.
            “Oh God,” Leigh muttered.
            “You don’t have to have anything done. You can just watch me. Or you can stick your courage to the sticking place.”
            “Can I, Lady Macbeth? So you do know some Shakespeare.”
            “Was it possible to get through school unscathed? I think not.”
            Newt let go of Leigh’s hand, pushed open the door and they went in.
            “Newt!” Daniel came over and hugged him. “How are you?”
            “Excellent, thanks. This is Leigh. He’s undecided. I’ll go first. He’ll either faint, run or maybe find his sticking place.”
            Newt took off his jacket, peeled off his shirt and sat on the tattooist’s chair. Going up the left side of his body was a line of small tattooed hearts. Just the outline, not filled in. On his right arm, he had a coloured dragon rising over his bicep and curling onto his shoulder and down to his right pec which had a bar piercing at the dragon’s mouth. There were more tattoos, more piercings, but they weren’t visible. If this was too much, then the rest would freak Leigh out.
            The man in question stood staring and when Newt smiled, he did too.
            “You don’t really think I’d faint, do you?” Leigh asked. “I had to stuff a prolapsed womb back inside a cow today. You feel like you’re having your arm swallowed.”
            “Which arm?” Newt asked.
            Leigh laughed.
            When Newt’s seventh heart had been added to the line, and a dressing applied, he rose to his feet. “Thanks, Daniel.”
            “Am I going to be filling that heart in eventually?” The tattooist glanced at Leigh.
            “We’ll see.” Newt turned to Leigh. “Piercing or tattoo or nothing?”
            Leigh took off his jacket and rolled up the sleeve on his shirt. “9.9.19 on my wrist. Small.” Then he gulped.
            “Your backside would be less painful,” Newt said.
            Leigh widened his eyes, but held out his wrist.
            “Is it to remind you of how stupid you were to agree to this?” Newt asked.
            “Yes, in case it turns out not to be a romantic reminder of the first day we met. I thought about a waterlogged corpse but decided against.”
            Newt laughed. He put his shirt and jacket back on as Daniel did Leigh’s tattoo. He hadn’t thought Leigh would agree. It wasn’t a deal breaker. He wanted to give Leigh a chance. More than a chance. Leigh didn’t even flinch as the needles darted in and out of his skin.
            Daniel did a good job and once Leigh was wrapped up, Newt went to pay.
            When they were outside the shop, Newt pulled Leigh into his arms and kissed him again. It was hard to stop once he’d started.
            “Now what?” Leigh asked when they came up for air.
            “Now you get fuck me.”
            “My wrist’s killing me.”
            “You need to use your wrist? Colour me intrigued.”
            Leigh took Newt’s hand. “Not as intrigued as me. But can I choose where we go on our next date?”
            “Yes. That only seems fair.”
            “How do you feel about jumping out of a plane?”
            “That it serves me right?”
            They both laughed. Newt really hoped Leigh wasn’t serious.
            But he was. Turns out the quiet Dr Mitchell was full of surprises.

The End

Seize the Moment.png

                            Read this AFTER you've read Double Trouble

            Raffety picked up the key at the hotel reception. “We’d have had an audience if the room hadn’t been ready.”
            Jonah laughed. They were both desperate. The gaggle of Japanese tourists hovering next to the concierge desk might have had quite an eyeful if they’d not been given the key immediately. Jonah had been desperate since the moment they’d left the twins with his parents. Who’d have guessed what devoted and besotted grandparents they’d turn out to be. They’d come back to live on this side, ostensibly because of his father’s acceptance of a role on some sort of secret committee in Eyria, but the truth was, Trouble and Perfect, Thing One and Thing Two, or as they were occasionally called— Fiadh, meaning wild, and Aodh, meaning fire— had his parents wrapped around their tiny fingers.
            “We’re on the top floor and there is a lift,” Raffety pointed out.
            “And a line of people waiting to go up. I’m not going to risk getting stuck.” Plus, it might give his cock chance to calm down. In my dreams.
            “Shower first,” Raffety said.
            “Undisturbed sleep first.”
            Raffety laughed. “I’ll wake you if my dummy falls out.”
            “The room has a tub. A big one apparently.”
            Raffety’s face lit up.
            Climbing the stairs seemed only to increase Jonah’s desperation. He unlocked the door, tugged Raffety inside, dropped the bags and pressed him back to the door to close it. As their lips met, Jonah slid his hands up Raffety’s chest to his neck and curled his thumbs under Raffety’s ears. 
            “This first.” Jonah stripped Raffety of his clothes, then stripped himself. A moment later, they were entwined on the carpet, still by the door.
            “I can’t wait,” Jonah said. “Don’t make me wait.”
            When Raffety wrapped his arms and legs around him and pulled him closer, Jonah took that as agreement. Everywhere they touched radiated sensation to the rest of his body. Lust twisted Jonah’s stomach into knots and when he slipped his fingers between Raffety’s legs and felt the warmth and slickness of the entrance to his body, it just about flipped him off the top board.
            Raffety’s hand slid down to Jonah’s cock and Jonah groaned into Raffety’s mouth as he stroked him. 
            “This might be over very quickly,” Raffety said.
            “Like normal?” 
            Raffety laughed. It seemed as if each time they were at the point of making love, one or both babies started crying. It was as if they didn’t want any brothers or sisters. But he and Raffety were being careful. Twins were enough for the time being. When the moon was full, Raffety fucked Jonah. And when the moon wasn’t full, but they were always careful when it was a Blue Moon. Jonah wanted to lock Raffety up to protect him. Raffety didn’t let him.
            Jonah dropped to his knees and kissed Raffety’s cock. It was so beautiful. Long and thick with prominent dark veins, the swollen sac tucked up tight beneath. He kissed his balls and then wrapped his hand around the base of Raffety’s shaft and pressed down while he began to pump from the top with his other hand. When he licked the crest, Raffety gurgled. Jonah’s head swam at the sweet tangy taste and as he lapped up the pre-cum gathering at the slit, hands settled on his head.
            “Oh fuck, bu…wo…you…fuuuck.”
            Jonah almost laughed.
            “Don’t you dare laugh,” Raffety said with a gasp. “I’ve no blood left in my head. How do you expect me sense to make when talk I do?”
            Jonah did laugh then. He drank in the tremors that ran through Raffety’s body because they fed his own desire. When Jonah slid his fingers into the crease of Raffety’s arse, his husband’s breathing turned ragged.
            A quick glance showed him Raffety had his head back against the door, his eyes squeezed shut and his lips apart as he panted. Then, as though Raffety sensed him looking, he stared down at Jonah and his eyes darkened. Jonah took as much of him in his mouth as he could and Raffety caressed his cheek, running his thumb over the bulge made by his cock.
            Raffety gripped Jonah’s hair, rocked his hips into his face, filling his mouth, his throat. He was muttering something, but Jonah couldn’t understand him. Jonah’s hand slid to his own cock and as Raffety started to lose control, so did he. They came almost at the same time, their cocks jerking. Raffety exploded with a series of juddering cries as Jonah’s hand flooded with warmth. Jonah swallowed the warm, silky spurts and when he’d finished, and only the musky tang remained in his mouth, he wanted more.
            Why is nothing ever enough with him?
            Raffety pulled him to his feet. 
            “Too fast.” Jonah pressed his face into the hollow of Raffety’s neck. 
            “I came, you came, what’s the problem?”
            Jonah nuzzled him. “I want you begging to come. I want you driven mad with the need to come. I want to make you wait.”
            “You think that’s possible?”
            Jonah laughed. “Think we can make it to the bathroom? Or will we need to stop on the way?”
            By the time they took the five paces to the bathroom door, he was hard again. I love being a faerie.
            “Oh wow, look at that tub,” Raffety said.
            Jonah reluctantly lifted his attention from Raffety’s beautiful arse to the large freestanding Victorian claw-footed tub in the middle of the room.
            “Taps in the middle.” He smiled and bent to turn on the water. “Like bubbles?”
            “Sounds good. I can go deep sea diving for hidden treasures.” 
            Jonah tipped both small bottles of bath gel under the torrent of water.
            Raffety climbed carefully into the large tub and settled down in the foam. “Hmm. Bliss.”
            Jonah put one toe in and whipped it out with a yelp. “Good grief. Are you cooking yourself? Shall I add carrots and onions?”
            “It’s not that hot.”
            Yes, it was. He whined until Raffety gave in and added some cold water. Finally, he was able to climb in without scalding his important bits and he sat facing him, his toes curling around Raffety’s back. Raffety stroked his inner thighs and slid his feet under Jonah’s arms.
            “Ever shared a bath before until you met me?” Jonah asked.
            “Lots of times.”
            Why ask the question when I knew it would make me bristle?
            “Rusty and I had loads of fun. Well, until he actually went rusty.”
            “Rusty?” Jonah caught hold of Raffety’s ankle and brought his toes to his mouth.
            Raffety groaned. “He was a wind-up dolphin.”
            Jonah jerked, Raffety slid under the foam and emerged laughing. Then Jonah slid under and they twisted and turned in the foam, each trying to pin the other down, until there was more foam on the floor than in the tub.
            Raffety lay with Jonah’s back against his chest, stroking his cock as it reared up between his legs. 
            “Can you actually have too much sex?” Raffety asked.
            Raffety laughed. “Want to try a reverse cowboy?” 
            “Not without a whip.”
            Oh hell, I really love him.
            “Or spurs,” he added. “Then again…”
            It became clear the tub wasn’t the place for the sort of vigorous, speedy sex they seemed unable to move beyond. Water and foam poured over the sides, but Jonah couldn’t have stopped to save his life. 
            And when they’d both come again, Jonah grateful his head hadn’t yet exploded along with his cock, they slid out of the tub onto the foamy floor and Raffety rode him the right way round. He sank down onto him and pressed him lips to his ear. “Giddy-up, horsey.”
            By the time they actually made it to the bed, they’d dried off and they still couldn’t stop touching each other. They did everything until they were too exhausted to do much more than lie side by side, fingers entangled. They’d laughed and teased and Jonah didn’t remember when sex had been so much fun, so much more than just the physical pleasure of coming. 
            “I’ve got a confession,” Raffety said. 
            “I miss them.”
            Jonah squeezed his fingers. “I do too but we have two days of uninterrupted time to do anything we want. And we’ve only just started.”
            But when he looked at Raffety, he was asleep. Jonah smiled and snuggled up to him. 
            “You can wake me in an hour,” Raffety said.
            “I thought you were asleep.”
            “I’m an expert at pretending.”
            “You mean all those times you didn’t budge when one of the Terrible Twins filled their nappy, you were awake?”
            “I might have been.” Raffety opened one eye.
            “I’m going to punish you for that.”
            “It will be.”
            “I know. That’s why I love you.”

The End

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