Dreams don’t always come true. But sometimes, nightmares do.
After nine months of tumult, Sam Raintree is ready for some peace and quiet. A beach vacation with his boss and lover, Dr. Bo Broussard, promises to provide the serenity they both need. Without the usual tensions to distract them, Sam hopes he and Bo will be able to reconnect in a way they haven’t in a while. Bo’s business and his children command a great deal of his time, and Sam’s looking forward to two weeks of Bo’s undivided attention.
A new case for the Bay City Paranormal Investigations team puts a crimp in Sam’s plans for a peaceful vacation. Fort Medina, a seventeenth-century citadel guarding the mouth of Mobile Bay, is less than five miles from their vacation beach house, and Bo invites the group to stay with them while investigating the place. Bo promises not to get involved, but Sam knows better. Sure enough, Bo joins the investigation on the second night, and talks Sam into doing the same.
Events take an alarming turn as Bo begins to change, his behavior becoming more erratic each day. Puzzled and frightened, Sam scrambles for an explanation while the man he loves turns into a volatile and unpredictable stranger. When the truth comes out, it may already be too late to save Bo from a force neither of them can control.
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Coming Out Later in Life, Office / Workplace Romance
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Panting, Sam Raintree wiped the sweat from his brow before it could drip into his eyes. “Bo?”
“Almost there,” Bo answered, his voice breathless.
Sam nodded and kept moving. The pace was almost more than he could handle, but he wasn’t about to say so. Dr. Bo Broussard might be Sam’s boss as well as his lover, but Sam would rather collapse from exertion than admit he couldn’t keep up with Bo. Not when it came to this.
The problem was, Sam felt like collapse was imminent. His heart hammered so hard and fast he was afraid it might explode, and his breath came in ragged gasps.
Normally, he didn’t get this tired and winded so quickly. He blamed the heat. Or the sand. Or both.
Maybe doing it on the beach had been a bad idea.
Bo shot him a devilish grin. “We can stop. If you want.”READ MORE
Encouraged by Bo’s flushed face and heaving chest, Sam shook his head. He was grateful for the burning in his lungs, because it kept him from begging Bo to finish it already.
The seconds passed in silence, broken only by harsh gasps and the sigh of sea oats in the hot breeze. Just when Sam thought he had to stop or die, Bo called out the words Sam had been longing to hear. “That’s half an hour.”
Instantly, Sam stopped running and leaned over, hands on his knees, gulping air as fast as he could.
“Keep moving,” Bo ordered, though he sounded nearly as out of breath as Sam felt. “Not good to stop like that.”
Groaning, Sam straightened up and forced himself into a brisk walk. “Bastard.”
“Hey, you made me do hill repeats last week. I owed you the most torturous run I could come up with.”
Sam had to laugh. For one of their runs together the previous week, he’d managed to find the longest, steepest hill in Mobile and led Bo in a grueling set of runs up the slope and down again. “Yeah, well, I think running an hour in the sand beats hill repeats hands down. Especially when it’s this hot.”
“I think you may be right, actually.” Bo lifted the waist-length black braid from his back, lacing his fingers together on top of his head to hold it up. “Ready to head back?”
Sam grimaced, but nodded. “The sooner we get back to the house, the sooner we can get a shower and a cold drink.”
“Those aren’t the only things I want.” Letting his braid drop, Bo reached over and smacked Sam’s ass. “Come on.”
One look at the hungry gleam in Bo’s dark eyes told Sam exactly what he wanted. Anticipation gave Sam the energy to face the long run back. Following Bo, he turned and forced his feet to move faster.
By the time they reached the house where they were staying, Sam’s feet ached and a painful stitch pulled at his side. He dragged himself up the steps to the covered porch and fell into the nearest chair.
“Damn, Bo. You about killed me.” Sam snatched a damp beach towel from the porch railing and mopped the sweat from his face. “How’s your leg?”
“It’s fine, just like it’s been ever since we left Sunset Lodge.” Bo shook his head. “You worry too much.”
It was true, Sam knew. The near-fatal bite Bo had sustained from the otherworldly creature at South Bay High over six months ago had been healed for ages, and had only bothered him when they’d been near the closed portal at Sunset Lodge. He hadn’t experienced so much as a twinge since they’d left the Lodge. But then again, they hadn’t run across any more portals since then. The fear of what might happen to Bo next time they did was a constant, nagging presence in Sam’s mind.
“I know.” Sam took Bo’s hand, pulling him closer. “I try not to worry about you, but it isn’t easy.”
Bo didn’t say anything, but the look in his eyes spoke volumes. He’d been quite vocal about his own concerns for Sam’s well-being. Since Sunset Lodge, they’d had more than their share of fights where Bo had wheedled, begged, and finally ordered Sam to seek out the treatment that just might break his psychic connection to the interdimensional portals. Sam had consistently refused, on the grounds that destroying his ability to open and close the portals would leave them all vulnerable to the nightmare things living on the other side.
Sam had come to regret sharing his theory about his psychic abilities with Bo—that they might, just possibly, be a rare form of epilepsy, and thus treatable with anticonvulsant drugs. It was only a theory, and a far-fetched one at that, but Bo had clung to it with dogged determination. Though he no longer brought up the subject, it hung dark and heavy between them, and Sam wished it wouldn’t.
“Next time we go for a run here, let’s go out on the road, where it’s halfway shady,” Sam suggested in an attempt to dispel the cloud of tension. “The beach is too damn hot.”
Laughing, Bo plopped onto Sam’s lap, making him feel a thousand times better. “Agreed. I haven’t run on the beach in years. It’s harder than I remembered it being.” He tucked a finger under Sam’s chin, lifted his face, and pressed a swift, salty kiss to his lips. “We’ll take tomorrow off, then do a road run the next day.”
That suited Sam just fine. They still had ten days of a two-week vacation left. Both of them had agreed not to slack off on their running just because they were on vacation, but Sam figured he’d rather get fat than put himself through another hellish hour like the one he’d just endured. Jogging along in the shade on a surface that didn’t shift with each step sounded like pure luxury in comparison.
“You’re on.” Smiling, Sam licked a drop of sweat from Bo’s throat. “It was really nice of Andre’s sister to let us use her house for free.”
“It certainly was.” Bo wound an arm around Sam’s shoulders and rested his cheek against Sam’s head. “Especially since between everyone at BCPI, we’re taking up a whole month when they could’ve potentially rented it out.”
“I just hope we don’t go back to work as sunburned as David and Cecile did. And they were only here for a week.” Sam nuzzled under Bo’s arm, breathing in the luscious scent of healthy, sweaty man. Bo let out a yip. Chuckling, Sam wrapped both arms around Bo and snuggled him close. “God, it’s beautiful here. Perfect for getting away from everything.”
Bo nodded his silent agreement against Sam’s hair. The house was situated on a long stretch of beach between the town of Gulf Shores and the end of the narrow peninsula jutting into the mouth of Mobile Bay. Fifteen miles from town, the houses were set among the pines behind the dune line and spaced far apart. Though he and Bo could see the cedar shingle roofs of their closest neighbors through the trees, the place was private enough that even Bo felt comfortable kissing on the porch, or holding Sam’s hand as they strolled the beach at sunset.
Bay City Paranormal Investigations had been swamped with high profile cases for months. They had all been on the ragged edge of burnout when the sister of BCPI co-owner Andre Meloy had offered to let the entire group take turns vacationing at her family’s beach house. Bo had agreed right away, without argument, which went to show how exhausted he was. The cases at Oleander House, South Bay High, and Sunset Lodge had turned BCPI into the most sought-after paranormal investigations company in the southeast, and they were all feeling the strain.
Sam and Bo sat there for several minutes, not speaking, just watching the afternoon sun sparkling on the calm turquoise water. Sam rested his head against Bo’s chest and let Bo’s heartbeat lull him into a half-trance. After all he and Bo had been through in the past eight months, two weeks alone to do as they pleased was nothing short of nirvana.
Eventually, Bo levered himself off Sam’s lap. “Come on,” he said, taking Sam’s hands. “Let’s go take a shower.”
Grinning, Sam let Bo pull him to his feet. “Together?”
“Is there any other way?” Bo pressed close, tongue flicking over Sam’s lips. “I have to say, showering with you is my second favorite thing about living together.”
Sam cupped Bo’s cheek and rubbed at the corner of his mouth with his thumb. “What’s your first favorite thing?”
The teasing light died from Bo’s eyes, replaced by a solemn tenderness which made Sam’s stomach flutter. “My favorite thing of all is going to sleep with you every night, and waking up with you every morning.” His fingers traced the line of Sam’s jaw, the touch soft and reverent. “I love knowing you’re mine, and I’m yours. It sounds maudlin, I know, but it’s true.”
Sam swallowed the sudden lump in his throat. “It’s not maudlin. I feel the same way.” Three and a half months after the fact, the day Bo had moved in with Sam still counted as the happiest day of his life.
With a sweet smile, Bo tilted his head to capture Sam’s mouth in a deep kiss. When they drew apart, Sam was so hard it hurt, and he could feel Bo’s erection digging into his hip.
He grabbed Bo’s ass in both hands and squeezed. “Shower now?”
“Shower now, yes.” Bo squirmed out of Sam’s grip, took his hand and dragged him toward the French doors. He arched a dark brow over his shoulder at Sam. “I want you to fuck me. Think you’re up to it?”
Laughing, Sam squeezed Bo’s fingers. “Smartass. You know I am.”
The heat in Bo’s eyes could’ve burned down the building. “I’m counting on it.”
Two hours later, clean, dressed, and sated—temporarily, at least—Sam and Bo sat side by side on the rattan love seat on the upstairs porch, watching a thunderstorm roll in across the water. Over the Gulf of Mexico, the sky loomed black and ominous. The sun still shining on the inland side lent a weird green glow to the rippling water and turned the sand blinding white.
As the first scattered raindrops clinked on the blue metal roof of the house, a bolt of lightning cut a brilliant zigzag between the clouds and the water. A moment later, thunder rumbled across the sky. The sun was blotted out as the storm rushed in and the rain began in earnest.
“I love this porch,” Sam declared, not for the first time. The house had deep covered porches running all the way around both levels. The second story had proven to be the perfect spot from which to watch the brief but violent storms that buffeted the beach most afternoons. Sam had been captivated from the first by the fiercely beautiful spectacle. “I love the sound of the rain on the roof.”
“Mm-hm.” Bo laid his head on Sam’s shoulder and squeezed his thigh. “Wonder how everyone’s doing at work?”
“You’re not supposed to be thinking of work. You’re supposed to be relaxing.”
“I am relaxing. But you know how busy we’ve been lately. I’m just worried about my team, that’s all.”
Winding Bo’s braid around his hand, Sam gave a gentle tug, forcing Bo’s head back so Sam could look him in the eye. “Stop worrying. They’re perfectly capable of handling things for a couple of weeks by themselves. They’re fine.”
Bo bit his lip in that unconsciously sexy way which always made Sam’s insides twist. “I’m sure you’re right. But maybe I should check on them, just to make sure.”
Sam was already shaking his head before Bo finished speaking. “No, you shouldn’t. Andre’s in charge, and you know as well as I do that he can deal with whatever comes up. Plus Danny’s full time now, which means everybody else is free to concentrate on the active investigations.”
Bo nodded, the furrows smoothing from his brow. He’d hired Danica “call me Danny” McClellan as a receptionist-slash-secretary after the Sunset Lodge case touched off a barrage of new cases. A fifty-one-year-old widow with a grown daughter, Danny had over twenty years of secretarial experience under her belt. Since she’d joined the group, the office had become more organized and well run than it had ever been. Between her and Andre, Sam had no doubt the rest of the crew would be fine in his and Bo’s absence.
Smiling, Bo slid a hand around the back of Sam’s head and brought their mouths together. They shared a languid kiss as the thunder boomed and the rain pelted the roof. When they broke apart, Bo rose to his feet.
“I’m just going to call real quick,” he said, leaning down to peck Sam on the nose. “I’ll be right back.”
“Bo, come on…”
“It won’t take but a minute.”
Before Sam could argue, Bo had the sliding glass door open and was already inside. Sighing, Sam stood and followed him into the enormous master bedroom.
Bo was sitting on the side of the king-sized bed, dialing the landline phone. Sam wandered over and sat beside him as he pressed the handset to his ear.
“Workaholic,” Sam murmured, bending to mouth the curve of Bo’s bare shoulder.
Bo ignored him, but Sam saw the gooseflesh pebbling Bo’s arms. He grinned.
“Hi, Danny,” Bo said into the phone. “It’s Bo… Yes, we’re having a wonderful time, thank you for asking. Is Andre there?… Okay, thanks.” He elbowed Sam, who was tracing a single finger up and down his spine. “Stop that.”
“Oh, am I distracting you from the work you’re not supposed to be doing?” Dipping his finger below the waistband of Bo’s indecently tiny cut-offs, Sam caressed the top of Bo’s crease with a feather-light touch. “Oops.”
Bo glared and opened his mouth, no doubt to reprimand Sam, then snapped it shut again. Sam heard Andre’s deep voice faintly through the mouthpiece of the phone.
“Hi, Andre.” Bo sounded just breathless enough to make Sam feel mischievous. “No, we’re fine. Having a…oh…a wonderful time.”
Stop that! he mouthed, pushing on Sam’s chest. His pupils were dilated and a pink flush colored his cheeks. Grinning, Sam shook his head, ducked under Bo’s arm and caught one brown nipple between his teeth. Bo squeaked.
“No, I’m okay,” Bo said in answer to whatever Andre had asked. “Sam doesn’t think I ought to be calling y’all, so he’s being a pain in the ass.”
Letting go of Bo’s nipple, Sam sat up. “I was a pain in the ass earlier, in the shower,” he called loudly enough for Andre to hear. “Right now I’m being a pain in the nipple, to punish him for working on vacation.”
Masculine laughter drifted from the mouthpiece. Groaning, Bo covered his eyes with his free hand. “Ignore him, Andre. I’m not working, just checking in.” He dropped his hand from his face and aimed a halfhearted kick at Sam’s ankle. “So how’s everything going? Y’all doing okay?”
Bo fell silent, listening. He leaned back on one hand, legs falling open. Judging by the intent expression on Bo’s face, Sam figured whatever Andre was saying must be pretty interesting. Sam, however, couldn’t care less. All he cared about right then was the denim-clad V between Bo’s thighs.
Sliding to the floor, Sam knelt between Bo’s legs, bent forward and rubbed his cheek against Bo’s crotch. Bo’s scent, clean and musky and deliciously male, made his head spin.
“Fuck,” Bo hissed as Sam’s tongue traced the swell of his cock through the shorts. “No, Andre, not that… The case sounds interesting. What are the details?… Oh no, I swear I won’t interrupt our vacation with work. Sam would kill me.”
Damn right. Staring up into Bo’s glazed eyes, Sam undid the battered shorts and pulled out Bo’s hardening prick. He licked at the head, tearing a harsh gasp from Bo’s throat.
Bo’s hips lifted in silent invitation. Not one to waste an opportunity, Sam worked the shorts down Bo’s legs and pulled them off. Bo flopped onto his back, legs bending up and spreading, the phone still pressed to his ear.
“Uh. Yeah. S-so you’re starting—Jesus, Sam—you’re starting the day after tomorrow?… Uh-huh… Well, then why don’t you—” Bo broke off, letting out a sharp cry when Sam stopped sucking his balls and bit one firm butt cheek hard.
Sam indulged in a moment of smug satisfaction before taking Bo’s now-full-blown erection into his mouth. He shut his eyes and let Bo’s taste and smell and the feel of his skin fill his senses.
Through the rush of his lust-quickened pulse in his ears, Sam thought he heard come on out and plenty of room and a not-quite-coherent promise not to do something or other before the phone bounced off the carpet and Bo’s fingers tangled in his hair.
A thread of suspicion wormed through the haze of desire fogging Sam’s brain. He ignored it. Whatever Bo had just agreed to, he’d find out—and they’d probably argue about it—later. Right now, he wanted to wring as much pleasure as possible from this one perfect moment.
Something told him it might be his last chance for a while.COLLAPSE