Tuesday, September 29, 2015

SAVE ME (The Voodoo Dolls #1)


From the first moment Steve sees Nathan, he knows he’s in trouble. First, Nathan looked just like the doll he’d found on his bed, and second, Steve couldn’t stop thinking how it would feel having Nathan in his arms and under his body. He’s never desired anyone so strongly before, and he’s reluctant to show it, but then Nathan gives him something he hadn’t been conscious of wanting. Stunned, he craves more, but starts to worry what he feels might not be real.

Alone and vulnerable after being dumped by his ex, Nathan longs for the security of being in a relationship. With no money, no job, and now a Voodoo Doll out to kill him, Nathan doesn’t think things could get any worse, but then he starts falling for Steve. Problem is, it doesn’t look like Steve feels the same way. Even after Steve finally lets Nathan in, Steve unexpectedly withdraws, refusing to explain why.

Unable to cope with another rejection, Nathan succumbs to the evil of the doll. Steve realizes he needs to own up to his feelings, but are they enough to save Nathan?


Nathan wondered if he’d made a mistake coming around. The guy who’d opened the door looked like some lunatic. His eyes were wide and feverish, his hands were covered in blood, and the way he stared at Nathan like he was some vision of the dead was not really how Nathan had expected to be greeted when he’d rushed over to help.

As soon as he heard the banging and screaming, Nathan thought the guy was being murdered or something. Nathan had been about to call the cops when the banging and screaming had stopped. Not sure if he should still call them, Nathan had decided to find out what was going on first. He wasn’t really fond of the cops, not since they’d failed to help him when he’d been robbed a few weeks ago. Granted, this was different, but calling triple zero when it wasn’t an emergency could get him fined, and Nathan couldn’t afford a fine. He also couldn’t ignore the fact his neighbor was in some sort of trouble. Mercifully, being murdered wasn’t it, but the man was definitely injured.

“Are you all right?” Nathan asked again, eyeing the blood covering both the guy’s hands and face, and trying to figure out where it originated.

“Something’s wrong.” The slightly wild look in his next-door neighbor’s dark brown eyes told Nathan as much, but he still wasn’t sure what.

“Are you hurt?” He took another step over the threshold. This time the guy didn’t try to stop him. From where Nathan now stood, he could see the blood was coming from cuts in the guy’s hands, and the blood on his face was from secondary contact. “How did you cut yourself?”

“I didn’t. I mean… Did you put the doll on my bed?”

Confused and a little wary, Nathan shook his head. He had no idea what the crazy man was going on about, but it was obvious he needed some help.

“It looked just like you.”

“Pardon?” Totally confused now, Nathan thought about scarpering back to his own place. Maybe trying to be the Good Samaritan hadn’t been the right move.

“The doll. It…”

Nathan worried his neighbor was going to have a breakdown. The man looked really scared, terrified actually, but then he frowned.

“Who are you?” he asked.

For a few moments, Nathan didn’t know if he should answer—if it was actually safe to do so—but then decided he couldn’t be rude. “Nathan Davis. I live next door.”

“Of course you do. My day just couldn’t get any better, could it?” Though the words sounded sarcastic, the tone his neighbor used wasn’t. He sounded tired, resigned, beaten. He stared at Nathan, his face showing all the signs of fatigue. “You honestly don’t know anything about the doll?”

“No, I don’t. I heard you pounding on the wall, and I thought you might be calling for help or something.”

“I didn’t imagine it. There was a doll.” Every word the guy muttered sounded like he was talking to himself. He stopped staring at Nathan and started glancing around his apartment as if he was searching for something.

Nathan surreptitiously took a look around the apartment as well. It was nicely furnished, which had Nathan quirking up his lips a little. Then again, any furniture would have seemed nice to him, considering he didn’t have any. The large couch was a sectional, which looked comfortable. There was a low timber coffee table, a couple of lamp tables, but what impressed Nathan the most was the entertainment center that fully covered one wall. It held books and DVDs, CDs, and a few pictures, but best of all was the large flat-screen television. Eyeing it with more than a little envy, Nathan sighed. The sound brought a dark brown gaze arrowing back on him again.

Nathan hadn’t really taken a proper look at his neighbor when he’d opened the door, but he did so now. He’d never spotted the guy around the building but knew he’d moved in about six months ago. He was around the same height as Nathan, maybe an inch taller, but he was a lot heavier. Nathan wouldn’t have called his neighbor fat or even overweight because his broad shoulders did taper to narrow hips, but there was just a little extra meat around his middle. His hair was a dark chestnut-brown, cut short, and not really all that stylish, but it looked soft, and his face was, well…pleasant. His best feature though was his mouth, luscious and full and perfectly kissable. Nathan also would have said his neighbor had nice eyes, except for the way he was looking at him.

“Do you need any help? Because if you’re okay…?” Nathan took a step back toward the door, finally deciding it might be prudent to not get involved.

“Why did it look like you?”

Definitely time to go. Nathan smiled, though it was all for show. “If you’re okay then,” he said, taking another step backward.

“No. Don’t go. I should say sorry. My name’s Steve. Steve Forbes. I live here.”

Nathan knew he’d never had such a stilted or baffling conversation before. He’d never felt so uncomfortable before either. He generally got on well with people, even strangers. Everyone said he made them feel at ease. This guy, however, looked anything but. He was still strung-out tighter than—well, every cliché Nathan could think of—and it actually made him start to worry about his own safety.

“Well, nice to meet you, Steve, but you don’t have to say sorry. I was just being neighborly. So…” Nathan pointed over his shoulder, indicating the open door, basically telling the guy he was leaving.

“The banging. It was wrong of me. I promise I won’t do it again. It was the music. It was driving me nuts, but it wasn’t just that. When I heard the voice I just snapped.” Steve’s eyes suddenly narrowed. “It said, ‘stop him.’”

“Stop who?”

“I assume you.”

Okay, this was getting more than weird. Ignoring the part where Steve had said he’d heard a voice because, well, how did you react to that? Nathan tipped his head to the side. “Stop me from doing what?”

“Playing the music.”

Music? “You mean the tape?”

“It blares through the walls, and you play it over and over again. Every night.” Steve didn’t sound like he was complaining, more like he was justifying his actions.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you’d be able to hear it.” Nathan frowned, really surprised the song he’d been playing could be heard by Steve in his apartment. It wasn’t like he played it loud or anything, and he thought the walls had good insulation. “I won’t play it anymore if it annoyed you that much. But why didn’t you say anything? You could have asked me to turn it down or turn it off.”

Steve suddenly looked abashed as if it never occurred for him to do so, or maybe he’d been afraid to confront Nathan about it.

“I really wish you’d said something. I feel pretty bad about disturbing you.” Nathan felt a need to apologize again, just in case Steve decided banging on the wall hadn’t been enough.

Steve nodded. “I shouldn’t have lost my temper like that. I honestly don’t know what came over me. It just seemed like I…” He ran his fingers through his hair, grimacing as he noticed the blood still covering his hand.

“It’s okay. Really.” Nathan gripped the frame of the door as he backed into the hallway. “Sorry,” he said again but decided that was the last time. If Steve didn’t have the guts to tell him to stop before now… Well, that was Steve’s fault.

Nathan left the door open and headed back to his apartment. As he did, he thought he saw a shadow dart across the wall. He stopped and searched the floor. A few months back, the building had suffered problems with rats, but he’d been told they’d all been eradicated. Wondering if one or two of them had survived or if there was a new infestation, Nathan checked along the baseboard to see if there had been recent signs of activity. Seeing none, he nevertheless decided to notify the building caretaker, just in case. He shivered. He hated rats.

Once safely ensconced within his own place, Nathan thought back to Steve. The man had obviously been very stressed, and Nathan truly regretted causing Steve’s breakdown or whatever it was, but a doll? What was that about?

Nathan wouldn’t have said Steve was a recluse, because he heard his door close occasionally, but Steve never used any of the building’s facilities like the gym or the pool. If he did, Nathan had never seen him, and none of the other tenants had mentioned seeing him either. It could mean Steve was simply antisocial, but what about the doll he claimed looked like Nathan? There was something wrong with that. Seriously wrong.

He checked his door again to make sure it was locked. He never usually bothered because it wasn’t as if there was anything in his apartment to steal. All he had was a mattress, his sleeping bag, a few clothes, and the tape player. Right now the little handheld machine was sitting on the floor in his living room. It was where Rob had left it, and that was where it had stayed.

Ignoring the living room, Nathan continued to his bedroom. That was where he spent most of his time, since that was where all his possessions lay. Rob leaving had been a shock, but on reflection his stripping the apartment down to the bare walls was something Nathan should have expected. He wouldn’t have said Rob was vindictive, but recently there had been times when Rob had shown levels of being overassertive. Even so, Nathan had no idea Rob had been unhappy or that he’d wanted to break up. That loss, however, was tempered by Rob taking everything with him, even the things belonging to Nathan. So instead of Nathan being devastated when he’d come home, he’d been pissed.

The cops had done nothing, and Nathan had suspected it was because he’d told them Rob had been his boyfriend and not just a flatmate, but Nathan had never hidden he was gay, and he certainly wasn’t going to start. So he’d been left with nothing and was forced to buy a mattress, a sleeping bag, and essential clothing, since that was all he could afford. The rest of his money he used for rent and food. He didn’t even have electricity, relying on a battery-powered torch for light.

Throwing himself onto his “bed,” Nathan sighed. The past month his life had been a struggle—still was—but he’d managed to keep himself afloat. Next week he was supposed to start a new job, and he’d have a little more cash. Not enough to go crazy, but he’d be able to get the electricity turned back on and pay the couple of weeks’ back rent he owed. He’d only needed to work part-time when Rob had been there, and he’d found it difficult to find a full-time job after Rob left. The restaurant Nathan had sometimes worked for had offered him a position, but he’d had to wait until one had become available, and no one else had anything, making every effort at finding work frustrating and depressing.

He lay there for a moment, thinking of Rob and the life he thought they were building together, but then decided there was no point dwelling on what wasn’t to be. He’d eventually find someone who would love him for who he was; he just hoped it wouldn’t take too long. Being alone unnerved him. It made him feel edgy and vulnerable, and Nathan hated feeling vulnerable.

* * * *

A sharp, stabbing pain woke Nathan from what had been a restless sleep. He slapped his hand over his neck and almost fell off the mattress in shock. Sweat covered his body, and his sleeping bag lay in a mess at his feet where he must have kicked free of it. His torch sat beside him, and on instinct, Nathan grabbed it and turned it on, illuminating his room. He pushed up into a sitting position and then tentatively checked his neck. His fingers came away smeared with blood.

“What the fuck?” His first thought was he’d been bitten, but when he probed at the site again, he found a long, shallow gash and not something that felt like puncture wounds. Looking around to see what could have caused the damage, Nathan saw spatters of blood making a ragged path across the carpet, but nothing else.

Shaken, he climbed to his feet, and with torch in hand made his way to the bathroom. The mirror showed what he’d felt—a one-inch cut. It looked sliced and was most definitely not a bite, but he had no idea what could have caused it. It wasn’t deep enough to need stitches, though the red drops that still oozed from the cut slithered down Nathan’s neck and soaked into his gray T-shirt.

Grimacing, he pulled his T-shirt off over his head and dumped it onto the floor with the rest of his dirty clothes. He didn’t own a laundry basket, but as he was due to wash his things tomorrow, he wasn’t too worried about leaving it there. What he was worried about was taking care of the cut.

His supplies were limited, but he had antiseptic cream, which he smeared on liberally, wincing as it stung. Then he checked out the rest of his body, but there were no other marks or cuts, no scratches or bruises, nothing to indicate what had happened to him. Though more confused than ever, Nathan decided it had to have been a rat that attacked him, despite it being unlikely, because what was the alternative?

Before heading back to bed, he took a quick look around his apartment, even pulling open the doors of the kitchen cupboards though there was nothing stored in there. There was nowhere else for rats to hide, but to make sure, he inspected the skirting board and architrave. Nothing. No evidence of the little fuckers whatsoever.

Creeping back into his sleeping bag, Nathan decided he couldn’t sleep. His brain was too wired, his body too galvanized, so he picked up the book he’d borrowed from the local library, and tried to read. For some odd reason though, his mind kept wandering back to his next-door neighbor.

Steve had clearly been suffering from anxiety or something. Nathan had never seen anyone act so strangely. Most of what Steve said hadn’t made sense, and the thing he’d spouted about the doll had seemed almost maniacal. Even Steve’s complaint about the music being loud hadn’t really added up. Granted, the tape held the same track—their song, which Nathan played over and over in a masochistic, macabre way—but he barely heard it from his bedroom, and he always left the door open, so how could Steve hear it through an insulated wall? And if it was that loud, why hadn’t the other neighbors complained?

Giving up on reading, Nathan put the book down beside him. He clicked off the torch, but the idea of rats sneaking up on him in the dark forced him to turn it back on again. Agitated and unable to ignore the uneasy feeling that something wasn’t quite right, Nathan got up and paced his small bedroom. His pile of washing beckoned, and though it wasn’t the ideal time, Nathan decided to do his laundry. Anything to keep from thinking a rodent had tried to make a meal of him.

He pulled on a pair of shorts and the slightly cleaner T-shirt he’d been wearing earlier, gathered up everything he needed, then set off for the basement where the washing and drying machines were situated. Some of the apartments had their own machines in situ, but for the tenants who didn’t, the building’s facilities were perfect. It was usually there that Nathan got to know most of his neighbors.

The building was made up of three sides that formed a U shape. The center held the pool and a courtyard for those who wanted to sit outdoors. The space under the one-bedroom apartments, which was north facing, had the gym and the laundry; and the two and three-bedroom apartments, which were south and east facing, had underground parking. All the apartments had balconies, both on the outside and looking over the inner courtyard and pool, so the tenants had a choice of which to use. It was a great place, and Nathan liked living there. The only problem was the rent, which was pretty high for the neighborhood, but the building was always clean and well maintained. So it was with surprise that Nathan noticed all the lights to the basement stairs were out.

It took him more than a few seconds to decide whether to go down into the depths. Not that he was afraid of the dark, but if there were rats in his apartment, they could be in the basement, and Nathan wasn’t afraid to admit he was scared of them. He fingered his neck, revolted at the idea that some rodent had been gnawing on it.

He could do his washing later; it wasn’t as if he had anything else to do with his day. However, thinking about it, he decided he wasn’t going to let a few rats stop him from doing what he’d set out to do, and anyway, maybe the lights were on in the laundry proper. With that in mind, Nathan grasped the handrail on his right and started down the stairs. He’d barely taken two steps when hot pain pierced his ankle. Shocked, he dropped his washing and let go of the handrail, but before he had a chance to regain his grip, another stabbing pain hit him. His scream echoed off the painted brick walls, becoming louder as he fell.

Trying vainly to stop the plummet to the bottom, Nathan reached out, but that was when he felt his face smash into the edge of a step. Stunned, he could do nothing more until he finally landed on a solid concrete floor in a bruised, bloody, and agonized heap.

Fighting back unwanted tears, Nathan lay where he was, trying to take deep, fortifying breaths. A trickle of blood oozed from his cut lip into his open mouth, the metallic taste against his tongue almost making him gag. He moaned, cautiously shifting to assess the damage, but stopping when that small movement caused his body to convulse as if he was being tortured.

Frozen in place, in time, his pulse thundering in his ears, Nathan barely registered the scamper of little feet approaching until they were so close they sounded right next to his head. He flinched, fearing a rat, but quickly realized it wasn’t the scrape of claws on concrete he heard, but the shuffle of soft cloth. For some reason, the sound was distinctive, as if it had been magnified by the cramped space between the bottom of the steps and the wall behind him.

Terror, irrational but unmistakable, swept through Nathan. He blinked in an attempt to clear his eyes of the white spots dancing before them. Something was ready to pounce on him; he could feel its presence, watching, waiting. As his limbs tightened in panicked trepidation, he tried to tell himself there was nothing there, that it was all in his imagination, but the minute puffs of air he could feel on the back of his neck told him otherwise.

“Get away from me. Get the fuck away from me!”

Unmindful of his injuries, Nathan lashed out, but it made no difference. Little hands tugged at his hair, and just before he blacked out—the crack to his head finally taking its toll—a tiny, manic laugh cackled in his ear.

Copyright © Penny Brandon

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Without a View - Free Short Story

This is a story prompted by Bookbee from the m/m romance group over at Goodreads. Here is her prompt and the subsequent story.

I'd like to thank everyone involved in getting this story out, and to Jess Buffett for my lovely cover.


The first thing he noticed as he slowly came awake was the tickle at his nose. The second was the noise… or rather the lack thereof. The ubiquitous drone of big city life (that was always there but usually went unnoticed) was just… gone.

Raising his head he slowly cracked an eye open. The light was dim but still allowed him to see― what? Straw? Where the f*ck was he? And buck-ass-naked too!

He shut his eyes quickly, took a deep, calming breath and opened his eyes once again…

Dear Author, how did he get here? He was out with his co-workers last night. A quick get-acquainted drink at the neighbourhood pub to celebrate his new job, in a new city, before heading home.

Maybe he shouldn’t have taken that shortcut through the park after all…



Without a View

The first thing he noticed as he slowly came awake was the itchy straw beneath his nose. The second was the dry, dusty smell and the complete lack of sound. The third was being naked.

Thinking some of his senses weren’t working properly, and that he was really lying on his soft mattress and not some lumpy, prickly pile of straw, Ray blinked a couple of times and slowly lifted his head. A soft glow over to his right gave him enough light to figure out he most definitely wasn’t at home, but that was all it showed him.


His dry and scratchy voice was lost in the gloom. No one answered him, but Ray wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. He pushed up onto his elbows, conscious about his lack of clothes, but worried more about why he couldn’t remember where he was or how he’d gotten there.

He remembered the pub he’d gone to and the few drinks he’d had. He even remembered a guy trying to pick him up, which had been a nice surprise, but after that… Searching his memory, the only other recollection was of taking a shortcut through the park, and then nothing. Until now.

The room felt dank and cool enough to have Ray shivering, but he ignored it, twisting into a sitting position so he could have a better look around. From what he could see, the room appeared small, about eighteen feet square, and from corner to corner it was filled with straw. The glow he’d first spotted came from a tiny lamp high up in the corner. Not bright enough to be a regular light, it must have been some sort of night light, like the type parents plugged into their children’s bedrooms so they wouldn’t be afraid of the dark.

Feeling exactly like that child, Ray cautiously stood. The room swayed, and a brutal roll of nausea curdled his stomach, forcing him to take in a deep breath. After a minute of silent cursing, he checked his body, thankful to see no cuts or bruises, though he did notice his shoulders were sore, and there was an ache around his chest. Other than that and him being buck-ass naked, there were no signs he’d been mistreated, but that knowledge didn’t bring him any relief because he still didn’t know where he was or why he was here.

Shivering again, this time not from the cold, Ray moved toward the light, hoping to find something that would show him a way out. With his ankles buried in a thick layer of straw, he took each step slowly. Even so, he nearly tripped and fell as his foot hit something hard and unyielding, except it wasn’t that hard or unyielding. It moaned and reached out, grabbing his foot and toppling him onto his back. For a few frantic heartbeats Ray lay stunned, then instinct kicked in and he lashed out, trying to break free.

“Stop struggling.”

Ray barely heard the growled words. He twisted, fighting hard, but the iron grip around his ankle tightened to the point of pain, and then, as if his efforts were nothing more than a nuisance, Ray felt himself being dragged along the floor and pinned by a thick forearm across his chest.

“I said stop struggling.” The deep voice close to his ear possessed a menacing edge, and the force with which the arm held him down increased. “I won’t harm you if you stop.”

“Okay. Okay, but get off me.” Ray tried to sound reasonable, but panic bubbled deep in his veins, and with each passing second he found it harder to breathe.

“Who are you?” In the darkness of the room, it was difficult to make out the features of the man who held him down, but it was pretty easy to see he was just as bewildered by what was going on as Ray was.

“My name’s Ray. Now get off me, please.” He tried to push away, but was instantly seized around his arms.

“Where are we?”

“I don’t know. I just woke up. Same as you.”

For a few seconds, Ray wasn’t sure what the guy was going to do, but then with a low mutter and a single curse, he let Ray go and sat up. The relief of no longer being pinned down overrode Ray’s fear, and instead of scrambling to his feet, he pushed himself into a sitting position and drew his legs up. The man shifted, putting a few inches between them, and in the overhead light Ray saw him run his hands through his dark hair.

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

The question wasn’t all that much of a surprise, and despite the other guy’s initial explosive reaction, it eased some of Ray’s concerns knowing he wasn’t the only one here. But he disliked feeling at a disadvantage, and offering up all the information definitely put him in that category.

“Why don’t you tell me your name first?” he asked, needing to know who he was dealing with.

The guy looked at him and then slowly got to his feet. He towered over Ray, but he would have done that even if Ray were standing. His sheer size wasn’t a complete surprise, considering the strength and ease with which he’d held Ray down, but Ray still stared as the guy took a deep breath and filled out his chest before lifting his arms and stretching them over his head.

Strict protocol told him to keep his gaze on the man’s pecs or at least no lower than his hard, ripped stomach, but he couldn’t help it. They were right there, in front of him, and if Ray was on his knees, they would be at perfect face level. So he looked. It was only a quick glance, but it was enough to take in the dark patch of curly hair, the thick, long cock, and the pair of large, hairy, heavy, swinging balls.

Savoring the image, Ray prided himself on not drooling or whimpering, or in any way reducing his self-respect by reaching out and fondling them. God they looked so ripe, so full, so fucking delicious, it was hard not to want to run his tongue over them, to have them in his mouth, tasting them, sucking on them, ravishing them.

“It’s Greg.”

“Pardon?” Ray looked up to see the man staring at him, and even in the darkness it was obvious he wasn’t happy about Ray ogling him.

“My name is Greg.”

Feeling a little like a pervert, Ray got up and sheepishly brushed away some of the straw clinging to his legs. He was half inclined to say sorry, but decided that would only make things more awkward. “The last thing I remember is being in the park,” he offered instead.

Greg nodded, as if Ray’s answer was as he expected. He shifted to the right, toward the corner of the room, checking the integrity of the wall as he moved. “What time?”

Ray followed, keeping him in sight. “I don’t know. It wasn’t too late, around ten I guess.”

“You didn’t see anyone, talk to anyone?” At the corner Greg started down the side wall. It was darker along there so Ray hung back, keeping closer to the light.    
“Only at the pub. I was supposed to meet some friends from work, but when they realized it was full of gay men, they left early.”

Greg stopped and looked over his shoulder. In the shadows it was hard to see his expression. “Why didn’t you leave?”

“Because it was full of gay men.” Ray lifted his chin as he said that. He’d never hidden who he was, and he had no intention of starting. Not even when confronted by a guy with an attitude and the physical capability of flattening him. Pride may be a bitch, but he’d earned it, and he wasn’t giving it up easily. However, when Greg started back toward him, Ray almost wished he’d kept his mouth shut.

“Were you propositioned? Did anyone buy you a drink or offer to go home with you?”

What was this, an interrogation or something? “Does it matter? That’s not going to help us find a way out of here.”

“We’re not going to find a way out of here.”

“What do you mean?”

“We won’t find our way out because none of the other men did.”

A piece of ice slid slowly down the length of Ray’s spine and ended up somewhere in his balls. He felt them shriveling to the size of acorns, and he had to fight the instinct to feel if they were still hanging.

“What other men?”

Greg shook his head. “Just tell me what you remember. Did anyone buy you a drink?”

“What the hell is going on, Greg? You know where we are, don’t you? And you also know why we’re here.”

Linking both hands behind his neck, Greg paced toward the far wall before coming back. His face was grim, and from what Ray could see, all of Greg’s muscles were tense. “No. I don’t know where we are, but yes, I do know why we’re here. Or at least I thought I did. From what we know they’ve never taken two men before― only one― but this changes things, and I don’t like it one bit.”

With every word Greg uttered, Ray had a feeling he’d fallen into some rabbit hole. Since waking up, he’d tried hard not to think about why he’d been abducted and imprisoned, he’d tried even harder not to freak out, to totally lose control, and he thought he’d managed it, but now he could feel himself coming apart, inch by slow inch.

“Who are they?”

“We don’t know.” Greg let out a breath and then dropped his hands. As he did so, Ray noticed him wince, but Greg’s sore shoulders weren’t Ray’s concern right then.

“Okay, here’s an easier question. Who the fuck are you?”

Greg hesitated, as if he wasn’t sure he should divulge that little bit of information, but then he capitulated, though his reluctance was obvious. “I’m a cop. Undercover.”

Was Greg for real? An undercover cop? “So it was your intention to get yourself captured and thrown in here?”



Greg shrugged, the width of his shoulders emphasizing the movement. “Because it’s my job, and these guys need to be stopped.”

“Doing what?” Ray pressed his back into the wall, its coldness exacerbating the chill filling his chest. “What’s going to happen to us?”

“I don’t know. The others…” Greg shifted, putting himself closer. “The others were asked to perform sexual acts before they were released.

“Sexual acts?” Ray felt his legs go weak, and right then was glad of the wall behind him. “Fuck!”

“Look, it’s not that bad―”

“Not that bad! Are you kidding me? We’ve been put in here so some deviant can have his way with us! How can that not be bad?”

“You could have been brought here to be tortured.” The calm tone Greg used set Ray’s teeth on edge. He pushed away from the wall and stormed up to the bigger guy.

“That’s not fucking funny. You better find a way of getting me out of here because I’m not getting it on with you or anyone else.”

“There isn’t a way. I told you. No one has gotten out of here until they’ve complied with the captor’s instructions, which was to jack off. That’s all they had to do.”

Ray shook his head and straightened to his full height. He still came ridiculously short of Greg’s six foot odd inches, but he didn’t care. “But there are two of us. You said only one man at a time had been brought here before, right?”

“That we’re aware of, yes.”

“Then it makes sense to assume they’ve upped their game. They must have gotten bored with just one guy, and now they want to perv on two, and I doubt it’s to watch us jack off together.”

It didn’t take a genius to figure Greg had come to the same conclusion, and by the look on his face he wasn’t any happier with the idea than Ray was.

“I’m sorry, but there was no way we could have known they were going to change their tactic. My team has been watching the park for weeks, waiting for a chance to catch them taking off with someone. When nothing happened I set myself up as bait. We didn’t expect them to take anyone else, not when I was an obvious target.”

“If your team was watching you, then they should know where you are. Weren’t you carrying a tracking device?”

“Does it look like I’m carrying a tracking device?” Greg scowled, but Ray couldn’t tell if it was from being questioned or from the way Ray gave him a quick once-over.

“I meant before you were stripped.”

“No. We didn’t think we would need one. Each victim’s last recollection was of being in the park before they found themselves in here. Once they’d done what they were asked to do they were dumped back in the park, so that’s where we focused our attention.”

Something in Greg’s tone changed, and it triggered Ray’s suspicions. “What’s the last thing you remember?” he asked. It wasn’t that he suspected Greg was lying, but he was sure there was more Greg wasn’t saying.

Greg dropped his dark gaze and then reached up to rub the back of his neck. He winced once again and rolled his shoulder, reminding Ray of his own aching muscles.

“It wasn’t the park. I was supposed to meet up with my team outside, and we were going to set up the sting, but I was still a couple of streets away.”

“Did you stop to talk to anyone?”

The flash of amusement on Greg’s face caught Ray by surprise, and when he smiled, Ray almost smiled back. “What?”

“You’re very composed. Most guys I know would be freaking out by now.”

“I am. Trust me.”

Greg’s mouth turned up a little, but then he sighed. “I don’t remember talking to anyone. Everything after I hit Oxford Street is gone.”

“That’s where I was, at the Lion’s Den.”

“And you didn’t know it was a gay bar? Oxford Street is pretty much full of them.” This time Greg’s amusement was plain to see. His eyes lit up and there was a show of teeth, and even as Ray watched, Greg’s muscles visibly relaxed.

“I’ve only just moved to the area, and I’m not familiar with the city.”

“But these guys are, and they must have been watching you come from that direction.”

“So you think they’re deliberately targeting gay men?”

“Yeah, that’s why I volunteered.”

That admission said it all, and it pretty much alleviated Ray’s anxiety. However, something else Greg said bothered him. “But why were you snatched before you got to the park? These guys wouldn’t have changed their MO unless they had a good reason. So what made you special?”

“I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. At the start I was prepared to do what they wanted, but that was before they brought you in. Now they can go fuck themselves.”

Ray burrowed deeper into the straw, curling up into a ball before wrapping his arms around his shoulders in an attempt to preserve some warmth. Tired, hungry, and shivering so hard his bones were aching, Ray wasn’t sure how much longer he could last. In the unrelenting darkness he’d lost track of time, but he was convinced they’d spent close to two days stuck in this godforsaken hole, and that was two days too many. He wasn’t blaming Greg― just the opposite― but there had to be a limit to their suffering, didn’t there?

“Are you okay?”

Greg’s voice drifted across the width of the room along with the sound of rustling straw as he moved.

“No. I’m fucking freezing. I can’t believe it’s so cold.”

“It’s not that cold, but why don’t you come over here and I’ll keep you warm.” Greg’s invitation had Ray’s body twitching. He could almost feel his skin breaking out in goose bumps at the thought― unless that was the cold sticking him with ice-like needles.

“I’m fine.”

“You just said you weren’t. Come on. We can share body heat.”

Ray tightened his jaw, mainly to stop his teeth from breaking apart from the constant chattering, but also to hold back on a soft moan. Sharing body heat with Greg meant plastering himself against all that skin, and Ray didn’t think he had the ability to do that without his body betraying him.

He couldn’t have known such circumstances as these would inspire friendship, but during their long conversations to distract themselves, he’d started to like Greg. The man was determined and smart, but most of all he’d encouraged Ray to keep his spirits high. The problem was, Ray had also found himself attracted to Greg. At one point he thought he’d accidentally let on how he was feeling, but Greg hadn’t shown any signs of noticing. However, there would be no chance of hiding it once he was cuddled up in Greg’s arms.

“Ray. Are you coming over here, or do I have to come and get you?”

“I…” Torn between what could be an embarrassing moment or lying there and freezing to death, Ray reluctantly forced his limbs to move and pushed aside the thin layer covering him.

The glacial concrete floor beneath his feet barely registered as he skirted around the small drain they’d found in the middle, though what it was used for Ray didn’t know, considering they hadn’t found any running water, or anything else of value in here for that matter. There was only the straw and the small box of supplies Ray was trying not to think about.

As he reached where Greg lay he heard him shifting again, and then in the low light he saw a glimpse of Greg’s smile. He hesitated, just for a second, and then dropped to his knees and crawled into a literal body of warmth.

“God, you’re hot,” he murmured, wishing he’d had the nerve to do this earlier.

“Thanks. I think you’re kind of hot too.”

Ray almost groaned as he realized Greg had taken his statement the wrong way. “No, I mean you feel hot,” he stammered.

Greg’s chuckle whispered across Ray’s ear, eliciting a tiny spark of flame. “I know what you meant. Now come here.”

Enfolded within Greg’s arms, Ray practically melted, and as he’d guessed, it wasn’t the heat Greg generated that caused his body to instantly defrost. Ray knew being pressed up against Greg was going to affect him but he hadn’t realized how much. He felt a little light-headed, and he was sure a part of his brain had shut down because all he could think about was getting closer.


Ray nodded, though conflict rippled through every fiber. All Greg was doing was trying to help him, and all Ray was trying to do was sneak a free feel. “Yes, thanks.”

“You should have said something.” Greg tightened his arms and rested his chin on Ray’s shoulder. The rasp of stubble against Ray’s cheek reminded him of how long they’d been imprisoned, but he certainly didn’t mind that Greg felt comfortable enough to get so familiar.

“And make you think I was a wuss?” He hated the idea of appearing so weak, so he’d been careful not to show it. However, he was beginning to fail, and fast.

“Hey, I don’t think that. You’ve been incredibly resilient. What we’re going through would have caused most men to cave.”

“You haven’t.”

Greg was silent a moment, and then Ray felt a subtle change in his breathing. “That’s because the choice isn’t mine.”

“What do you mean?” Ray turned his head a little and could have sworn Greg pressed firm lips against his jaw before sighing.

“I made a mistake. They’ve never kept anyone this long before, and with no food or water I don’t think waiting them out is going to be an option.”

“So you want to give in?” Holy shit. Did that mean Greg wanted to make love to him? No, of course he didn’t. It wouldn’t be making love; there couldn’t be anything tender or personal about it. It was simply a way of getting out of here: a possibility Ray had deliberately tried not to think about.

“It’s not a case of giving in, but I can’t force you to stay here indefinitely.”

“You’re not forcing me.” Actually, being locked up the last few days had been far less of an ordeal than Ray expected, mainly because Greg had been there to reassure him. He’d never met a man more considerate and compassionate, well, certainly not one who was also gorgeous.

“Maybe not, but I knew what I was getting into, so if we do anything, it’s your call.”


“Of course. I would never make you do anything you don’t want to.”

Though grateful for the chance to make that decision, Ray wanted to take into account Greg’s sentiment. It wasn’t as if they could pretend it was a simple hookup; or maybe that was exactly what they had to do.

“Won’t it bother you, being with someone you don’t know?” he asked.

“What makes you think I don’t know you? For the past few days we’ve done nothing but talk. I know a lot about you, and I like you.”

Greg liked him? Ray smiled because it was more than he’d anticipated.

“I like you too.”

“Good, then it shouldn’t be so bad if we end up doing the dirty.”

Ray couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled up from somewhere deep, and despite the awkward situation, he felt himself relax. That was until Greg pulled him close again and then placed a light kiss on his shoulder.

It was impossible to think it was anything other than a kiss because Ray knew the difference between an accidental touch and a deliberate act, but why would Greg kiss him? Unless…

“Um, I haven’t made my mind up yet.”

“I know. I’m sure you’ll let me know when you do.”

“So you’re not making advances right now?”

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean… Well, I did mean, but not the way you think.”

Ray twisted in Greg’s arms until he was facing him. It wasn’t as if he could see his expression, but he had a feeling Greg thought he was upset, and Ray wanted Greg to know he most definitely wasn’t. He held back saying so though, not sure how Greg would take it if he suddenly started kissing him back.

“Then the kiss was because…”

Greg rested his forehead on Ray’s, and his light breaths ghosted across Ray’s cheek. “Because I wanted to. I’ve been wanting to for the past couple of days, but under the circumstances it didn’t seem appropriate, however…”    

“However what?” Something in Ray’s chest hiccupped, and he found it hard to concentrate. Was Greg really saying what he thought he was saying?

“Now that I’ve got you in my arms, I can’t help it. You feel so good, and you tempt me far more than any man has done for quite a while, but if you don’t like it―”

“Oh, no, I liked it.” Realizing he sounded a little overeager, Ray winced. He didn’t want Greg thinking he was too brazen when in reality he was generally reserved, especially around men who were seriously sexy, like Greg.

“Good, but I’m not kissing you as a means to try and push you into anything. That decision is still yours.”

“I know, and I appreciate that.” Ray flattened his palms against Greg’s chest, not at all surprised when hard muscles flexed beneath his touch. “Not many men would be so honorable.”

“I don’t feel honorable. I want to kiss you again, but this time not just on your shoulder.”

Instantly visualizing several different places Greg could kiss him, Ray only just managed to stop a small whimper. He hadn’t expected Greg to want him, not like this, but as Greg continued to hold him, Ray started to wonder what it would be like have Greg’s hard body holding him down, of yielding to Greg’s intense pounding, of crying out as an orgasm shook him to his core.

“What if I said yes?” he asked, his voice whisper quiet in the stillness of the room.

“Then I’d ask if you were sure because―”

“I am, okay. I know the consequences, I know there’s a chance what we do will be uploaded onto the net. You’ve warned me, but I honestly don’t care.”

“You should care. I don’t want you to regret anything, and I don’t just mean us being plastered all over a gay sex site.”

Regret? The way Ray was feeling right then, the only thing he’d regret was not getting the opportunity to find out if Greg was as good as Ray imagined.

“I won’t.”

Greg’s breathing changed then, and the beat of his heart increased. “Then I think you should be the one to make the first move.”

Ray didn’t have to think twice, not when offered such an enticing proposition. He leaned in, lifted his chin, and found Greg’s lips with his own. They were warm, firm, open, and inviting. Ray moaned, pushing closer, dipping his tongue inside, taking what he’d been dreaming of for days. The soft glide of Greg’s tongue on his was like silk, igniting parts of him that had lain dormant for too long. He moaned again and slid his leg between Greg’s, seeking both heat and confirmation Greg wanted this just as much as he did.

He wasn’t disappointed. Greg’s cock pressed hard and heavy into his hip, while Greg’s balls rested softly against the top of his thigh. Ray shivered and then pushed his hand between them, caught up in a need he could no longer deny.

“Full, so full.”

“Jesus, Ray. A little less squeeze.”

“Sorry.” But he wasn’t, and there was no way he was letting go, not when he could feel them subtly retract and drop with each beat of Greg’s pulse. It was like holding something living in his hand, something animated.

“So balls are your thing?” Greg asked, amusement lacing his voice as he subtly shifted to allow Ray more room.

Ray nodded, feeling a little weird because he’d never actually admitted his obsession to anyone before, but the way Greg seemed okay with it gave him a little confidence. “I love licking them, and having them in my mouth,” he murmured, feeling his face flame even as he said it.

“You know what I like?” Greg asked while pushing Ray onto his back and leaning in close to his ear. “I love rimming.”

“Rimming?” Ray almost had an orgasmic meltdown, his hole fluttering as if Greg’s tongue was already pressed against it. “Seriously?”

“Why not?”

“Well, I’ve never met anyone who… I mean I’ve never… Never mind.”

Greg’s low chuckle stopped Ray’s babbling, but he moaned when Greg pressed warm lips against his throat. Butterflies shot through his stomach, and as Greg slid his hands around Ray’s hips and dragged him so he lay completely under Greg’s hard body, Ray just about floated.

“When we get out of here, when neither of us are hungry, and we don’t have to think about being videoed, maybe we can try something more with each other.”

“Yeah.” That was about as much as Ray got out before Greg pushed his thighs apart and moved between them. He lost his hold on Greg’s balls, but he could feel them herded up against his own. “Yeah,” he repeated, not really caring what he was agreeing to.

“For now though, stay here. Don’t move, okay?”

Ray nodded, but then made a sound of protest as he felt Greg pull away. “Where are you going?”

“For the supplies.”

Damn, he’d almost forgotten the little box they’d found in one of the corners. It contained a bottle of lube and a condom, along with a note suggesting that in order to be released one of them needed to get his ass fucked. That note had pretty much been the nail in the coffin, even if they hadn’t come to the same conclusion. Holding out hadn’t gained them anything, but while Ray waited for Greg to come back, he wondered if complying would be any better. What if they were never let go?

He heard Greg returning and welcomed the presence of Greg’s body as the other man crawled in beside him.

“Miss me?” Greg asked, snuggling up close.

Ray instantly pulled him into his arms and pressed his face into Greg’s warm neck. “Yes, I did,” he mumbled, feeling more than a little insecure right then and needing Greg to take that away from him.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” Greg put Ray onto his back and lifted his chin. In the shadows it was impossible to see what Greg was thinking, but from his tone he sounded worried.

“Nothing. I just…” He shrugged, not sure how to explain how he was feeling. “I want you, but I’m not sure I should.”

“Oh, you most definitely should. In case I haven’t made it clear, I want you too, Ray. And just so you know, having your ass is only a part of it.”

Puzzled, Ray shook his head. “What do you mean?”

“I told you I liked you, and I do. This may not have been the ideal circumstance in which to meet, but after this is over I’d like to see you properly, for a date, and I was hoping you’d feel the same way.”


“Yes, you.” Amusement once again threaded through Greg’s voice, but Ray couldn’t see what was so funny. Did Greg seriously want to go out with him?

“I don’t think―”

“You don’t have to. Not right now. We can talk about it when we’re safely out of here. Until then, can I make love to you, please?”

The way Greg put it, the way he cradled Ray in his arms, it was impossible to deny him, not that Ray had any intention of doing so. He linked his arms around Greg’s neck, pulling him down until their lips were almost touching.


 Greg’s response was to slowly bridge that final distance and tease open Ray’s mouth with his tongue. Ray let him in, relishing the gentle pressure, the soft insistence, and Greg’s unique tenderness. He’d shown it in everything he’d done the past few days― the way he’d treated him, encouraged him, spoke to him― and it was something Ray really appreciated now. Trusting Greg, Ray spread his thighs, and Greg lightly settled between them.

Ray’s stomach did a flip, and a shot of electricity zapped down his spine. Focusing on the sensation, he moaned, totally absorbed in the feel of Greg’s skin on his, and the tightly bound strength that layered beneath it.

“I love the way you moan,” Greg murmured as he stroked down the length of Ray’s hip. “It sounds so sweet and sexy.”

“Maybe you should make me moan more then,” Ray whispered back.

Greg stilled. “Is that a challenge?”

Ray smiled while tightening his hold around Greg’s neck. “Nope, it’s a request.”

When Greg started placing little kisses along his neck, it sent another shock of pleasure rushing over Ray’s skin. He moaned, and Greg did that soft chuckle Ray was beginning to adore. Instinct had him tilting his head to the side to give Greg more access, and Greg took full advantage, dipping his tongue into the hollow between Ray’s neck and his shoulder until Ray whimpered.

“God, the sounds you fucking make. I can’t wait until I can spend some proper alone time getting to know every inch of your body. I bet I’ll be able to make you scream.”

Sucking in a deep breath, Ray nodded. “Probably. You’ve already got me wound up so tight I feel like I’m going to explode.”

“Yeah?” Greg pulled back a little, as if he were searching Ray’s face.

“I’ve been thinking about you touching me, holding me like this. I’ve been imagining how your skin would feel, how soft it would be, and I’ve not stopped wondering what it would be like to have you buried deep inside me.” With every word uttered, Ray felt his muscles tense and his heart race. It was as if he were getting ready to jump off a cliff: frightening and exhilarating at the same time. He’d never experienced such a heady rush, but he instinctively knew Greg was the cause. He squirmed beneath the weight of Greg’s body, impatient, needy. “Please, Greg. I want you now.”

“You’ve got me,” Greg told him. “I just hope I’ve got you.” The last was murmured low enough that Ray wasn’t quite sure if he’d heard it correctly, but before he had chance to ask, Greg reached back to grab the small bottle of lube that had been left for them, and Ray’s concentration focused solely on what was going to happen next.

As Greg flicked open the lid, Ray held his breath, and then let it out on a gasp when a cold glob of liquid hit his ass.

“Sorry. I should have warmed it up first.”

“It’s okay. Just spread it around quickly.”

“And here I was thinking you liked it slow.” Greg’s voice held both tenderness and humor, something Ray had already learned was part of Greg’s nature. He grinned, and for the first time truly relaxed, knowing that not only was Greg going to treat him with the utmost care, but also with a level of indulgence.

“I do normally, but right now I want it hard and fast,” Ray replied, beginning to lose himself in the sensation of Greg’s finger slowly circling his hole.

“Whatever you want, babe. This is all about you.”

True to his word, Greg pushed his finger in deep, spreading the lube before adding a second finger and stretching Ray in earnest. Ray lifted his hips, encouraging Greg to open him further, offering himself so Greg would know this wasn’t just about him, but about both of them.

“I’m ready,” he said, need making him impatient.

Greg didn’t argue, and within seconds Ray heard the foil of a condom packet being torn open. Cursing the darkness that prevented him from seeing Greg fully, Ray reached out and was greeted with a very hard cock covered in skin as soft as silk. He tracked up the long length, catching a drop of moisture from its tip. Impulse had him bringing the drop to his mouth, and he moaned in appreciation as the flavor burst on his tongue.

“Fuck.” Greg sounded breathless, which brought a smile to Ray’s lips. He sat up a little, and as Greg started to roll the condom on, Ray palmed the heavy balls he simply couldn’t keep away from.

“You’re going to make me come if you keep doing that,” Greg protested.

“At any other time, I’d love to try. Now though, I want you in me.”

The dark shadow looming above him moved, and Ray lay back down.

“Like this?” Greg asked, spreading Ray’s legs and pushing them back so Ray was completely exposed and vulnerable. Yet he didn’t feel that way, he felt safe and protected and wanted. Greg shifted closer and then slowly pressed the thick head of his cock past the tight ring of Ray’s hole. Ray hissed at the slight burn, but welcomed the intrusion, loving the feel of Greg’s solid length filling him, owning him.

“Okay?” Greg held himself still, giving Ray a chance to adjust, and that was just one more way Ray found Greg’s level of concern completely endearing.

“Yeah, I’m fine. More than fine actually.” He raised his hand to stroke along Greg’s cheek, and as he did so, Greg turned his head and kissed Ray’s inner wrist. Ray’s heart skipped a beat at the simple gesture, recognizing the intent behind it.

“Ready for me to move?”

“If you don’t, I’m going to.”

Greg’s reply was lost as he pulled back slightly before thrusting back in. Ray gasped and then moaned, urging Greg to do it again. He raised his hips a little to allow Greg to slide deeper, and on the next thrust, Greg’s swollen cock hit that perfect spot inside, and Ray saw fireworks. Greg must have known because he continued at the same angle, increasing his speed until Ray couldn’t think straight.

He forgot about the discomfort of the straw beneath him, of where they were and why they were there. All he could grasp was the sensation of Greg’s hard body above him, of the gentle, soft words Greg uttered, and the fearsome potential he felt in Greg’s arms.

“Shit, Ray. I’m coming.” Greg started to slow, but Ray quickly wrapped his legs around Greg’s waist and desperately held him in place.

“Don’t stop. Don’t you dare fucking stop.” He clung tighter to Greg, whimpering as his body rushed toward a pinnacle of pleasure he hadn’t expected. He could feel it in the insistent tingle down his spine, in the hard knot in the pit of his stomach, in the tightening of his balls, and in the unrelenting pins and needles pricking every inch of his skin.

“Greg.” It was a warning and a plea, and as Greg responded to it with a combination of intensity and tenderness, Ray fell headlong into an orgasm more potent than he’d ever thought possible. He cried out, caught up in the wonder and beauty and the incredible knowledge that Greg was right there with him.

He barely felt the warm spatter of cum across his stomach and chest, but he swore he could feel himself being filled with Greg’s heated release, even though he knew it was all being captured by the condom. Greg moaned, a low, subtle sound that Ray would have been happy to hear over and over, and as Greg slowly collapsed on top of him, he wanted to see if he could get Greg to moan like that again.    
“Tell me that was good for you,” Greg murmured, his breath choppy and uneven.

Ray grinned into the darkness and dropped his legs, fully sated yet itching for another opportunity to have Greg inside him, and soon. “It was amazing.”

“Yeah, it was.” Greg moved to take up some of his weight and then pulled out softly, removing the condom and discarding it before rolling onto his side and gathering Ray back into his arms. “So do you want to do it again?” he asked.

“God yes, but next time I…” Ray paused, realizing he was about to ask for something Greg may not be prepared to give. Greg may have said he liked him and that he wanted to see him outside these four walls, but that didn’t mean he was thinking of anything more.

“Next time… what? Because whatever it is, I’ll give it to you.” Greg sounded so sincere, it was impossible not to believe him, but Greg had no idea what Ray was thinking.

Taking a chance, and hoping he wasn’t going to make a fool of himself, Ray opened up to what was in his heart. “When you said you wanted to date me, did you really mean it?”

“Of course I did, but I meant more than that.” Greg palmed the side of Ray’s jaw and then used his thumb to skim along Ray’s bottom lip. He hesitated a moment and then briefly pressed his lips to Ray’s. “You know when you meet someone for the first time, and you just know he’s the one? Well that happened to me. If I’d met you in the middle of a crowded bar or sitting alone on a beach, I would have known you were meant for me. Being here hasn’t changed that. In fact I think I would have told you sooner if we hadn’t been under so much pressure.”

Awed by Greg’s admission, Ray seriously had to give himself a couple of seconds to get his brain working. “But you don’t even know what I look like. Not really.”

“Doesn’t matter. I know who you are inside, and that’s what matters most.”

In the cocoon Greg created, it was hard to think beyond anything that might happen outside it, but Ray’s romantic soul refused to turn down a proposal like that. He nodded and then broke out into a smile. “I’ve got black hair and dark blue eyes. Just in case you’re interested.”

Greg’s light laugh held a note of relief in it, but the strength of his arms as he pulled Ray in tight spoke of confidence. “My eyes are brown, and so is my hair. Nothing special, but I don’t think that matters to you either, does it?”

“Nope. I like what’s in here.” Ray placed his hand over Greg’s heart and felt the strong, steady beat beneath his palm. He’d never felt so comfortable with anyone before, so at ease, but he honestly couldn’t wait until they were free of this room, free to get to know each other properly. He leaned in for a small kiss and then settled within the circle of Greg’s embrace.

“I guess when we wake up we’ll be out of here, right?”

“Yeah. That’s what happened to the other guys. None of them remembered anything between the time they fulfilled the abductors’ demands and regaining consciousness in the park. Obviously they weren’t happy about what had happened, however apart from that they all woke up safe and sound.”

“Then let’s hope we do too.”

“Don’t worry, we will. Just stay positive, like you’ve been.” The tiny squeeze of Greg’s hand on his was meant as encouragement, but for some reason Ray couldn’t shake the feeling this wasn’t going to go the way they hoped. He closed his eyes, shutting out the small light that had barely given them any illumination, and then listened to Greg’s even breathing, allowing it to calm his mounting nerves and slowly lull him to sleep.


Blinding light and a cacophony of noise pierced Ray’s senses. He winced and then quickly threw his arm over his eyes to shield them before realizing there shouldn’t be any light, and that the blaring horns and rumbling engines he could hear close by were not the soft, rhythmic breaths of the man he’d fallen asleep next to. Figuring out he was out of the dark, tomb-like room took all of two seconds, but as he carefully opened his eyes and glanced around the small alley he now found himself in, he figured out something else. Greg wasn’t with him.

Fear hit Ray harder than it had when he’d first woken up in the straw-filled room. He quickly stood up—ignoring the pain in his shoulders and the sick nausea that almost had him doubling over—and staggered toward the end of the ally, checking every nook and cranny to make sure Greg hadn’t been dumped further away. However, as he desperately searched, Ray knew he wasn’t going to find him; some sixth sense told him Greg was nowhere close.

Ray turned at the sound of the voice behind him, his heart hammering as he sought out the caller.

“You can’t be here.”
Ray blinked. “I don’t know where I am,” he said, his disappointment a sharp pain in his chest as he spotted someone who wasn’t Greg standing a few feet away. He hurriedly explored his pockets, frustration turning to anger when he couldn’t find his phone.

“I need to call the police.”
“Why?” The stranger took a few steps toward him, but Ray held up his hand, as if warding off a possible threat. He didn’t want anyone getting close to him, too afraid, too uncertain.

“I was attacked,” he said. “And my friend is missing. I can’t find him.” Ray heard the panic in his voice, and knew the other guy did too.
“Okay, okay. I’ll call them now for you.”

Nodding, Ray glanced around him again. It would have been easy to dump him here. There didn’t seem to be any apartments or dwellings nearby, therefore no one to see anything untoward, but why not the park, why hadn’t he been dumped where he’d been taken, or was the park still being monitored by Greg’s team?
“How close is the park?” Ray asked, suddenly realizing Greg may have been left there.

“Which one?”
“The one near Oxford Street.”

“Just over the road.”
Ray took off running, not caring for his own safety as he crossed the busy two lane traffic, his thoughts centered on Greg and getting to him. If Greg had recently woken up he might be feeling the same fear; wondering where Ray was. That knowledge spurred Ray on, but as he hit the edge of the park he had no idea where he was supposed to start looking. He had no memory of how far in he’d gotten before he’d been abducted, and he didn’t even know from which side he’d entered that night.

Once again he felt fear slam into him, but he knew he had to hold it together—for Greg.
“Think, damn it. Think.” He took a slow deep breath, trying to gain a small measure of composure. It didn’t seem to slow his heart down any, but he was able to notice a group of people to his right, so deciding it was as good a place as any to start, he headed that way.

He was within a few feet when a short man of around fifty years of age quickly approached him.
“Ray Beresford?”

Ray stopped, fear trickling down his spine. Shit, was he ever going to trust anyone other than Greg again? Forcing himself to not retreat, he nodded. “Yes.”
“I’m detective Tom Straub. We’ve been directed to come here and look for you. You were abducted, right?”

Realizing these men must be part of Greg’s team, Ray felt his legs go weak with relief. “Where is he? Is he all right?” Had Greg been injured, was that why he wasn’t here?
The man’s expression turned careful, and he glanced toward the other two men who stood a couple of feet away. “Are you talking about Greg?”

“Yes, of course.” Not liking the way all three men were now looking at him, Ray bristled, but then fear reared its ugly head again. “Is he all right?”
“We don’t know.”

“What do you mean?” The lack of food, water and proper sleep caught up to Ray so fast his head spun. He blinked, trying to understand what he was hearing while trying not to fall down.
“Why don’t you come with us to the station? I’m sure you’ll want to file an assault charge.”

“No, not until we find Greg first.” Why weren’t they searching for him? What was going on?
“Ray, I really think you need to come down to the station with us.” Detective Straub put out a hand and grasped Ray’s arm. “You’ve been through a lot, and you’re going to need some medical attention. We can have someone meet us down there.”

“I’m fine,” Ray argued. “But if you don’t know where the hell Greg is, then he may not be. They may still have him.” The last he whispered, sick at the thought of Greg still being held prisoner. “Please, we need to find him.”
“Maybe he’s already at the police station. Maybe he’s there looking for you.”
If there was one thing Ray recognized, it was a patronizing tone. “If you think he’s there, then go and check, but I’m not going anywhere until we find him.” Anger outstripped Ray’s fear and he poked the detective in the chest, ignoring the threatening stance of one of the other men. “You should have been keeping a closer eye on him. Where was his backup?”
“His backup?”

“You let him get snatched three streets away. What kind of cop does that to another?”
“You think Greg was a cop?”

It was the way the man said it that caught Ray’s attention. He seemed genuinely surprised, and confused.
“Well yes. He told me.”

“And you believed him?”
“Why wouldn’t I?” Lightheaded, Ray wasn’t sure if he was comprehending the detective’s question. “We talked for days, discussed every minute detail of our lives. He was genuine, and nice, and… He wasn’t lying, there wasn’t any need to.”

“There was if he’s the one who abducted you.”
Shaking his head, Ray took a step back. “No. He was taken, imprisoned like me. We had no food or water. He tried to hold out, told me we wouldn’t do anything, but I—” Ray linked his fingers behind his neck and bent almost double as weakness overcame him. “I couldn’t last, and there was only one way to get out. I made the first move.” Ray took a deep breath before straightening up and meeting Detective Straub’s pale eyes. “I wasn’t forced,” he said.

“You were under duress. You may not have realized what he was doing.” Though said with compassion, the detective seemed unconvinced, as if Ray should have known exactly what Greg was doing. “The video shows—”
“You’ve seen it?” Though Ray knew there was a distinct possibility a video had been made and it would have been uploaded onto the net, he’d been hoping it may have gone unnoticed, but to know this man had viewed it…

“We needed to as part of our ongoing investigation, which is why we know the man you call Greg isn’t a part of the investigative team. We don’t know who he is.”
“Have you heard of Stockholm Syndrome?”
Ray lifted his head from the desk and stared at the detective sitting in front of him. He’d forgotten his name, Josh, or something. He’d been one of the men at the park, and though while there he hadn’t said a word, now he insisted on talking when Ray would have been happy for him to keep his mouth shut.

“Yes, I’ve heard of it, and that isn’t what happened.” Irritation flared across his nerves because though Josh—or whatever his name was—loved to talk, he wasn’t listening. “I know the difference between someone lying and someone being completely honest with me.”
“Then you know I’m telling you the truth about this Greg not being a cop.”
Ray sighed, beginning to hate Josh’s insistence he’d been duped. “Can I see the video now? You promised I’d get a chance.”
“There’s nothing on there, other than you two—” There was a light blush to the detective’s cheeks, which caused a darker one to grace Ray’s own, but he wasn’t concerned about their embarrassment, only about Greg’s safety.

“There might be. If it was taken with special lenses to overcome the darkness, it may have picked up something you’ve missed, something about where we were held.”
“You don’t think we’ve looked?”

“Please, just give me a chance to look too.” Ray glanced at the bottle of water sitting on the table; it’s condensation had long since dried up, but Ray knew the water would be cool, and refreshing, and that it would help replace his rapidly dwindling energy levels, but he’d be damned if he took care of his needs before he’d secured Greg’s. “He’s still down there, and he’s suffering.”
“What if he’s not? What if he’s getting ready to kidnap someone else?”

They’d hashed out that line of inquiry more times than Ray wanted to think about, but he shook his head, refusing to be persuaded. “Then all the more reason to check out the video, and find out where the victims had been held.”

Josh held up his hands. “Fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He got up from the table and exited through the open doorway, shaking his head as he did so.
Ray sat back against his chair, exhaustion beginning to sap what mental strength he had left. He shook it off, determined not to succumb to despair or doubt. Greg had been genuine, Ray was positive about that, but why did the police insist he didn’t work for them? It wasn’t as if they could be wrong, so what were they trying to hide?

Thinking back to the conversations he had with Greg, the only thing that kept popping up was the fact that he was taken at a different location from the park; a complete contrast from the kidnappers’ previous setup. Why? Did they know Greg was a cop, and if so, what was their reason for taking him?
When the detective came back he was accompanied by Tom Straub, who looked as grim as Ray felt. “Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked.

“What? Try to find a man who kept me from going insane while I was imprisoned in a dark twelve by twelve cell? I don’t know. What do you think?” Sarcasm wasn’t Ray’s strongest suit, but he thought he’d pulled it off when Straub frowned.
“I just don’t want you to be traumatized any further. Seeing this might not be beneficial.”

“It will if we find him.” Ray almost pushed up from the chair to put himself at equal height with the detective, but he didn’t have any energy left. Instead he placed his palms on the table and counted to three—ten being out of reach. “Just play the damn thing.”
Straub nodded to Josh, who clicked on a remote control. The television on the wall came to life, and after a couple of seconds, images flickered across its screen. Ray focused on it, lost in the confusion of dark shadows until he spotted movement on the left. In eerie silence Ray watched himself tiptoe over to where Greg lay, and then crawl in beside him. The scene played out as he remembered, but without sound. He figured the detectives had deliberately turned it off—because who wanted to hear two men moan as they had sex.

“There!” Ray quickly stood, ignoring a wave of dizziness as he did so. He pointed to the screen, to the far left of where both he and Greg lay tangled in each other’s arms. Josh paused the video, and Ray stepped up close to the television. “On the wall. What’s that writing?”
Josh zoomed in until the lettering was clear. “E.L. Bakeries.”
“Shit, why didn’t we see that before? Check it out, now!”
“On it.” Josh ran out the room, muttering as he went.
Straub turned to Ray. “That might lead us somewhere.”
“It better lead you to Greg, but why—” Ray stopped. What if Detective Straub was in on it? What if they all were? Maybe Greg had found out something and they were trying to keep him quiet? Accepting that may be unrealistic, Ray was still unable to shake off the feeling there was more to Greg’s abduction than anyone realized. Head pounding, he stared at the larger than life image of Greg on the screen.
“Why haven’t they let you go? Why are you so special?”
“Because he is a cop.”
Ray twisted to see Josh walk into the room with a folder in his hands. He passed it over to Straub, a sheepish expression across his face. “I just pulled this up. Gregory Alan Marshall, undercover, and on loan from out west. The captain’s chewed my ass, said we should have known, but Detective Marshall only shipped in two days before he was taken, and the team he was working with kept it quiet because they suspected an inside job. Stupid if you ask me. We could have helped search for him.”
Holding back on saying I told you so, though every inch of him felt like shouting it, Ray focused on the reason Josh had left the room in the first place. “Did you find anything on that bakery?”
“They used to operate in what’s now an abandoned warehouse just south of the city. I’ve got the address, and I’m joining a team that’s already on their way.”
“I’m going with you.” Ray started toward the detective, determined not to let the other man put him off, but just as Josh started to shake his head, his phone went off. He answered it, his gaze leveled on Ray.
“When? How bad? Okay, I’ll ask Straub to meet them there. I’m still going to the site.”
Impatience mixed with another twist of fear had Ray close to losing it. What was going on? He was about to demand answers when Josh ended the call.
“Detective Marshall has been taken to hospital. They found him, alive but—”
“Which hospital?”
“I’ll take you,” Straub said. He glanced at Ray, apology clearly written in his eyes. Right then Ray didn’t care. It was Greg who deserved any and all apologies. They’d wasted so much time…
“How bad is he?” Ray quickly asked of Josh as dread filled his stomach.
Josh shook his head. “You’d better get down there.”
Greg’s closed eyes and pale face said more to Ray than the doctor’s explanation of Greg’s condition. There was none of the vitality Ray had come to rely on, none of the strength. He looked exhausted, vulnerable, broken.
Ray sat down on the chair beside Greg, wanting to reach out and touch him, but scared of waking him. The doctor had warned him that Greg needed rest; that the drugs pumped into him had taken their toll.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, though he knew there was nothing he could have done to stop what had happened to Greg. “They told me you were found with a needle in your arm, and because of that the guys who kidnapped us are now wanted for attempted murder. They must have known you were an undercover detective. That’s what everyone is thinking anyway. The only problem is no one knows how that plays into things. They’re working on it, so don’t worry about it right now. Just work on getting better. Please.”
A small sound behind Ray had him turning around. Detective Straub stood at the door, looking as if he wasn’t sure he should interrupt.
“Have you found out anything?” Ray asked, keeping his tone light.
Straub waved a folder in his hands. “The toxicology report came back.”
Ray absently rubbed the spot on his arm where they’d taken his blood. “And?”
“It was similar to a date drug. Your levels were low, but Detective Marshall’s were way off the charts.”
“Is that what he was overdosed with?”
“That and…other stuff.”
“Is he going to be all right?” Ray stared at Greg’s pale face again, desperately wanting reassurance.
Straub came in and stood next to him. “The doctors assured me there shouldn’t be any lasting effects.”
It was what Ray wanted to hear, but he still wasn’t happy. “How did they drug us? No one bought me a drink at the bar, and Greg told me he’d only had bottled water before he was snatched. And don’t forget neither of us had access to anything prior to me being released.”
“Detective Swift is still investigating that, but it seems there was some sort of gas bottle at the abandoned warehouse.”
“Where we were held?”
Straub nodded. “They found a trapdoor at the top of a storeroom with a block and tackle type rigging. Looks like you and Marshall were lowered inside.”
That bit of news wasn’t surprising. He and Greg had figured that out once it was obvious there was no other way in. It had also explained their sore shoulders. “So they sprayed us with something to knock us out, let me go, but kept Greg. Why?”
“We don’t know yet.”
Ray wasn’t sure about that, there was something they weren’t telling him, but he reckoned he wasn’t going to be privy to an answer. No doubt when Greg woke he’d demand one. Until then, Ray wasn’t going to let Greg out of his sight.
“He’s not your responsibility, you know.” Straub looked down at Greg, a frown creasing his brow, as if he didn’t understand Ray’s need to be there.
“Yes he is. He made me his responsibility when we were stuck in that room, so now he’s mine, but it’s more than that. We got to know each other. We discussed our pasts, our futures. Our likes and dislikes. We even laughed, believe it or not. He was kind, and sincere, and he didn’t make me feel awkward or embarrassed. In fact he gave me purpose, and that’s to prove I’m worthy of his friendship.”
“You are.” The softy spoken words almost gave Ray a heart attack. He swung round to see Greg looking at him, his brown eyes clear and focused. “But I thought we’d agreed to go beyond that.”
As his heart rate settled, Ray moved in to grasp Greg’s hand. “Hey. How are you?”
“Fine now that I know you’re safe. When I woke up and you weren’t there…” Greg took a deep breath, but then smiled. “Looks like you did better than me.”
Not sure how much the doctors had told him, if anything, Ray just nodded, not wanting to explain why just yet; all that could come later. “We’ll both be out of here soon.”
“And then we can go on that date.”
Though he’d kind of expected it, Ray was still delighted Greg had mentioned his proposal. “Of course.” He grinned, completely vindicated for trusting Greg, despite Detective’s Straub and Swift’s attempts to dissuade him.
“Good.” Greg closed his eyes, and he seemed to sink deep into the pillow behind him. “That’s good.”
Holding onto Greg’s hand, Ray moved in a little closer. “Rest,” he said. “And when you wake up, I’ll be here. I promise.”
A twitch of Greg’s mouth was all he could give in response, but it was enough. Ray leaned in and ran his lips softly across Greg’s knuckles, and then he lay his head on the bed, allowing himself the same rest he’d just ordered Greg to take. “I promise.”
Before he’d barely got the door open, Ray grabbed Greg’s arm and dragged him inside, and then before Greg had a chance to say anything, Ray mashed their lips together, taking the kiss he’d been longing for all week. Greg responded by opening up to him, allowing Ray to delve deeper, and Ray took full advantage, pushing Greg up against the wall while kicking the door closed.
He slowly took his fill, reveling the taste of Greg’s mouth and the firm softness of his lips, and then when marginally satisfied, he pulled back.
“Mmm. I love how you say hello,” Greg said, laughter filling his warm, dark eyes.
“I missed you.” Looking up at him, Ray tried not to let his unhappiness show. He hated that Greg lived so far away. Seeing him only on weekends wasn’t enough, and when Greg was here, all Ray kept thinking about was when Greg had to leave. It had been difficult enough at the beginning when they were still getting to know one another, but it had become increasingly harder the more Ray allowed his emotions to grow.
“I miss you too, which is why there’s something I want to talk to you about.” Greg laced his hands behind Ray’s back, pulling him close. “I put in for a transfer, and it was accepted.”
“You did? When? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to get your hopes up, or mine. But now it’s official. I start in a week, so that’ll give me time to settle in here.”
“Here? As in the city?”
The gleam in Greg’s eyes should have warned Ray, but he was still digesting Greg’s news about moving closer. In the past six months he’d often thought about changing jobs so he could see more of Greg, but he hadn’t been completely sure how Greg would take it. After everything they’d been through, after all the time they spent together, he knew Greg felt something for him, but he wasn’t sure how deep it went.
“No. Here, as in this apartment.”
“You…here…with me?” Ray heard his voice go up an octave, and he quickly tamped down his excitement and surprise. “I mean, of course, if you want to.”
“I do want to, just as much as I know you want me to. Your hints haven’t exactly been subtle.” Greg grinned, his mouth wide, his eyes bright. “And I can’t stand being away from you. It’s killing me only seeing you two nights a week.”
Ray swallowed the hard lump in his throat, wondering if Greg realized how much those words meant to him. When Greg moved in for a soft kiss, he reckoned Greg knew exactly what they meant. He slid his arms around Greg’s neck, intending to deepen the kiss, but Greg stopped him.
“One more thing before we christen that new king-sized bed you just got delivered.” At once Greg’s face grew somber. “They got twenty years each.”
Not really wanting to discuss the conviction of the two men who had abducted and then almost killed Greg, Ray merely nodded. He’d opted out of attending the final hearing, knowing he’d be unable to hide the anger still boiling within him.
“It’s over,” Greg said, pushing a loose strand of Ray’s hair away from his face. “So now we can forget about it.”
“I’ll never forget, or forgive them. There hadn’t been any need to try and kill you.”
“It doesn’t matter. What matters is they didn’t succeed.”
“I know, but still, when they found out you were a cop they should have just let you go instead of trying to make sure you couldn’t talk, and that guy…” Ray couldn’t even say his name without shuddering. “How could he think you’d want him after what he did to you?”
“Babe, please don’t worry about it anymore, okay? I’m alive, you’re alive. I love you, and—”
Ray snapped his gaze up to meet Greg’s eyes. “Say that again.” Oh, he better had heard right, and Greg had better have meant what he said.
“You mean the ‘I love you’ part?”
“Yeah, that part.”
Greg looked down at him, a little smugness flitting about the edges of his mouth. “Only if you say it first.”
Now that he knew Greg’s response, it was easy to utter the words that had been in his heart for weeks. “Gregory Alan Marshall, from the moment you held me in your arms and told me I’d be safe, you became the most important person in my life. I trusted you then and I trust you now, with both my life and my heart.” Ray took a slow, deep breath, then smiled. “And I love you too.”

The heat in Greg’s eyes set Ray’s veins on fire. He groaned, knowing full well what was going to come next. Greg linked their hands together and started pulling him toward what was now their bedroom.
“I want you to ride me,” Greg said, his voice deep and gritty as he began peeling Ray’s T-shirt off him. “I want to watch you coming. I want to see everything.”
Ray wasn’t going to argue. He loved it when Greg got all demanding, especially when he added impatience into the mix. He opened Greg’s belt buckle, and went for the fiddly fly buttons, quickly slipping his hand inside and palming Greg’s heavy balls. Greg moaned and doubled his efforts to rip Ray’s clothes off him. He got Ray’s jeans halfway down his legs before Ray decided it was probably best they actually got on the bed.
He shuffled backward, his jeans constricting his movements. Greg followed, not that he had much choice considering Ray wasn’t releasing his prize.
“You’re going to have to let go of me, just for a second,” Greg said, though it didn’t look like he relished the idea of Ray removing his hand.
Ray merely grinned, squirming out of his jeans and pushing Greg’s down while sliding backward until he was in the middle of the bed. Greg landed on top of him, his shirt still tangled about his arms.
“Okay, that works.”
Laughing, Ray reached back with his free hand and grabbed the bottle of lube he’d already had sitting there. Ray could never wait to make love after being apart all week. Knowing Greg felt the same way, Ray didn’t worry about appearing over-eager. Not anymore.
“Open me up,” he instructed, passing the lube to Greg.
Greg’s little hitch of breath sent butterflies rippling through Ray’s stomach. It still amazed him that Greg experienced an elevated level of pleasure while stretching him, but that was probably because while Greg had a finger in his ass, Ray busied himself sucking on Greg’s balls.
Greg was quick to comply, ridding himself of his shirt before carefully moving into position. Ray guided him, spreading his legs at the same time he spread Greg’s. When a pair of swollen balls were dangling above his mouth, Ray instantly pulled them down, his grip light enough not to hurt, but strong enough that Greg lowered his hips until Ray had him exactly where he wanted him.
From experience he knew he wasn’t going to get too much play time, so he delved right in, lapping at Greg’s balls, relishing the taste and texture, and the warmth that spread through his chest as he indulged in an innate need he neither wanted to question or deny.
As Greg started smearing lube across his hole, Ray shifted to allow him better access. He loved it when Greg showed just how aroused he was, and by the way Greg was pushing the lube inside him, he was already close to the edge. Mindful of how vulnerable Greg was right now, Ray slowed his ministrations. Greg continued to stretch him, using two fingers then three before groaning.
“Ray, I need you.”
Ray took one last swipe with his tongue before pushing up on Greg’s hips to put him on his back. Greg grabbed him around the waist and pulled until he was straddling Greg’s hips, and then before Ray really had a chance to adjust to his new position, Greg started to press inside, slowly, but with intent.
“Damn, Greg.”
“Been too long, and you just told me you love me, so I’m going to come pretty quick. Sorry.”
Ray laughed, more by the look on Greg’s face than anything else. His dark eyes were narrowed, and he was biting his bottom lip in concentration.
“It’s okay. You can finish me off later if you want,” Ray offered.
“No. I want you with me.” Greg slid his hands over Ray’s thighs and then gently grasped Ray’s hard cock. Ray moaned as a strong throb of need rush through him, suddenly deciding he wanted to be with Greg too. As Greg began thrusting, Ray rocked forward, putting himself at that perfect angle they’d refined over the past few months.
A sizzle of electricity set his skin alight, and as Greg continued to drive into him hard and fast, Ray started to come undone at the edges. However, it wasn’t just the physical sensation of Greg inside him that had Ray nearing orgasm, it was knowing Greg found him irresistible, and had done since the beginning. It was also Greg’s strength and kindness, his warm humor, and the fact that he wasn’t afraid to show or say what he was feeling.
“Soon,” he groaned, letting Greg know he was almost there.
“Too soon, but—” Greg sucked in a deep breath, and then shuddered. “Fuck.”
He gripped Ray’s hips, holding him with fingers that were almost bruising. His back arched off the bed, and it was at that point Ray took control. He slammed down, forcing Greg deeper while transferring one hand to his aching cock. With a few short strokes he was coming, his body twisting in ecstasy, every muscle tight, every nerve screaming.
Though unable to focus on much else, Ray was still aware when Greg flooded his hole with cum. He whimpered, completely overwhelmed, realizing they hadn’t used protection, but knowing it simply meant their commitment to each other was complete.
Greg pulled him down, enfolding him in his arms. “That was pretty intense,” he murmured.

“You think. I don’t remember ever coming so hard.”

A little chuckle eased itself from Greg’s throat, and then he rolled over to the side, dumping Ray next to him. He used the small towel Ray kept close by to wipe them both off before landing a small kiss on Ray’s lips.
“It’s only going to get better,” he said.

“Yeah. It is.”
Ray lay there, warm and comfortable in Greg’s embrace, close to falling asleep, when a small movement caught his eye. He got up off the bed and padded to the big window that dominated one wall. The city lights glittered below, along with the beautiful harbor view. It was nearing night, and soon those lights would filter through the sheer curtains that billowed softly in the breeze. Ray looked out, loving how unconfined and free that view made him feel, but then he turned and looked back at Greg laying replete in his bed, and decided that view was better than anything he could hope to wish for.
He closed the window, and strolled back to bed, snuggling down in Greg’s arms once again. This time, however, he no longer had to worry about waking up and not finding Greg still beside him. From now on Greg would always be there.

The End

Penny Brandon © 2015