After he's kicked out for being gay, still reeling from being abandoned by the man he loves, Jude goes to live with his brother Beck, who thankfully is more than happy to take him in. But Jude has other secrets he's yet to share, for fear that even Beck will reject him, leaving him well and truly alone.
Then he draws the attention of werewolves, and discovers that everything he thought he knew about Levi, the man who abandoned him, is a lie. But one lie leads to another, ending in a vast conspiracy that threatens to destroy everything Jude loves—and that doesn't even begin to include the challenges that Beck is facing.
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Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Best Friend’s Sibling, Coming of Age, Friends to Lovers
Word Count: 78000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Jude had never been to a gay dance club before. He wasn’t interested in what went on inside the clubs, but his brother, Beck, had been nagging him to get out of the house. He’d moved to San Diego six months ago, and the only place he went willingly was to his college classes. Any other time, Beck or his partner Diego hauled him out of the house.
He regretted telling his brother about his brief… thing… with Levi Hammond. Beck watched him carefully, and Jude knew why. He should’ve been over the short-term love affair by now, but his heart disagreed. Regardless of what others believed, just because Levi no longer loved Jude didn’t mean Jude could simply turn his feelings off. But in order to get Beck off his back, Jude had said yes when a couple of friends invited him to go dancing.READ MORE
He imagined he had that tourist look when he stepped inside the club’s doors. The thump of the music actually caused the pant legs of his jeans to tremble in time with the pounding bass. He tried not to gawk, but he’d never seen the likes of what played out before him anywhere. After the shock wore off, his first impression was sex. Men writhed on the floor, emanating sensual appeal. He felt like prey walking into the lion’s den, and all he could do was watch with astonishment at the gyrating bodies.
Jude had been to a couple of high school dances over on the east coast. The comparison between the two scenes was like pitting apples against pineapples. High school dances were, well, high school and not like the movies where all the kids had rhythm and could contort their bodies to do amazing moves. Jude snorted to himself. No, there where hawk-eyed chaperones, and most of the students danced with a jerky stiffness or sat off to the side watching. Here, everybody moved fluidly, as if their bodies were boneless. The air smelled of sweat and sex, half-hard cocks prominently displayed in everything from leather to colorful mesh jockstraps.
Following his friends through the writhing mass, he was petted and groped enough he’d have bruises on his ass. His friends seemed oblivious to his discomfort as they pushed through to the middle of the dance floor, pulling him along behind them. For a split second, he contemplated leaving, swamped with the wrongness of it all. His mind whispered his place was with Levi, not here among grabby strangers.
That internal voice pissed him off. Levi had left—disappeared—and broken his promise, leaving Jude devastated and living like a monk. Twice, Jude had hooked up only to come away carrying enough guilt to make him sick to his stomach for days—over someone who had chosen to no longer be a part of his life. He was tired of being alone. Of sitting in his room wondering what Levi was doing. Of yearning for someone who would never come back for him.
With newfound determination, he quit resisting, raised his hands in the air, and let go. He danced. The movement, the energy, was cathartic. The stress left his body, and for once, he placed the ache in his soul on the back shelf and buried it. He blocked the negative emotions so he could, just for the night, be himself. He didn’t believe he asked for too much. He only wanted a few short hours without the heartbreak, pain, or the memories that continually threatened to drown him.
Jude moved to the beat. He didn’t care how awkward he appeared. He tapped his feet, shook his ass, and cleared his mind. He danced until sweat poured off him, soaking his clothes and hair. Slowly, ever so slowly, he began to feel wonderful—alive. A shirtless Adonis approached him. The man was golden everywhere, his skin, shoulder-length hair; he even had golden-brown eyes. Jude caught his breath because he’d never seen anyone so handsome. Well, handsome was relegated to the rugged attractiveness. No, the man dancing with Jude with the sleek quality of a cat was beautiful. He sucked in his breath as the stranger drew near with an uncertainty that was a contradiction to his appearance, and Jude recognized something of himself in the person approaching him.
Jude found the man’s hesitancy endearing and threw him a bone. Wrapping his arms around wide shoulders, they swayed together with the music. His large, liquid eyes drank Jude in as the Adonis matched him move for move, hands gliding and stroking, hips swaying in counter to Jude’s. For the first time in a very long time, Jude felt sexy and wanted.
“Come home with me,” the Adonis whispered in Jude’s ear between songs.
Because Jude was flying high on a rare night of happiness, he did the one thing he hadn’t done since he’d moved to San Diego.
Jude envisioned a long night of hot sweaty sex that would sustain his fantasies for weeks to come. The drive took mere minutes. Adonis hadn’t put his shirt on when they left the club, and Jude watched it sway in his back pocket as he climbed the stairs to the apartment. The guy’s hands trembled when attempting to fit the key into the lock. Jude didn’t think, just acted, grabbing the blond by the elbow. The man’s golden gaze raised from the doorknob to Jude’s hand, and something dark rippled over the surface of his eyes.
“Let me help,” Jude offered to break the silence. “My name’s Jude, by the way.”
He reached for the key, and in a quick move, Jude was plastered with his back against the door. A hard body pressed up against him, the hard line of the man’s erection pressing into him.
“Aw, shit,” Adonis moaned, pressing his nose into Jude’s skin. They both were covered in sweat, and Jude could only imagine what he smelled like. It must not have been terrible because a warm broad tongue licked up the line of his neck. “Stephen… Stephen Thornstein,” he said before his fumbling opened the door and they practically fell onto the apartment entryway.
After Stephen had slammed the door closed behind them, Jude repaid the favor and slammed Stephen against it. There wasn’t any finesse to the kiss he laid on Stephen. He ignored the rising whispers in the back of his mind noting how Stephen didn’t taste like Levi or that his lips were too plump. He viciously shoved the comparisons away. Jude was starving, so very hungry for touch, for a connection, and he tried to devour Stephen’s pouty lips. The niggling voice admonished him for his roughness, but the throaty growl Stephen gave him shut those thoughts down completely. Jude was just beginning to get lost in the feel of Stephen’s skin against his own when a hand pressed down on his shoulder.COLLAPSE