This entirely original, exclusive free-to-you story features hot-man-love, explicit sex, explicit language, explicit violence, and… explicit fabulousness! If you’re NOT an m/m fan, check it out anyway… you might enjoy it.
Presenting Forsaken by Jamie Craig…
Five years since Detective Xavier Landis walked away from the man who loved him.
Four weeks looking for the stalker nobody but he believed existed.
Three years of his life Detective Jeff Keyes wishes he could get back.
Two cops, both brilliant, both determined, trying to move on from a past neither can forget.
One dead girl.
His only thought was to banish the stricken look from Xavier’s eyes. Jeff had known the instant they walked into the house that the night wasn’t going to end well. He hadn’t wanted Xavier to see the body he knew they were going to find. Robin’s death was still too raw, and from the smell of it, this victim wasn’t going to be as neatly taken care of. But he also knew he couldn’t hold Xavier back. This case was his as much as it was Jeff’s. Jeff wouldn’t deny him the right to see it through.
But he didn’t like seeing the blame play across his ex’s face. He knew this game. Sometimes, he felt like he’d written the rules himself. What if I’d done this differently? What if I’d been faster? Smarter? What if I hadn’t asked for more? Jeff didn’t always play it with his cases, of course. His best personal score came from his break-up with Xavier. That had been a blame game for the ages.
So he wasn’t going to let Xavier go through that. He needed him to know he wasn’t alone, Jeff was there no matter what, and none of this was his fault. And since he’d always been better with his hands than his mouth, Jeff did the only thing he could. He kissed him.
It was just meant to be a soft kiss. A brush of mouths together, fleeting and ephemeral. A reminder of life and breath and touch with just a slight caress. But the first contact made Jeff’s mouth water, and the first gasp that escaped from Xavier’s throat made his cock jump. His grip on Xavier’s neck tightened at the same time his lips parted, and he ran the tip of his tongue along the seam of the mouth he had once known better than anyone else’s in the world.
For a moment, he didn’t think Xavier would respond, and the kiss would stall right there. But Xavier parted his lips, and the edge of his tongue brushed across Jeff’s. He fisted Jeff’s shirt, gathering the material between his fingers. Each time Jeff thought Xavier would break the contact, he shifted directions and deepened the caress.
His free hand stole to Xavier’s slim waist. Jeff wanted to pull him out of his seat and onto his lap, but the parking brake got in the way. The best he managed was massaging the tense muscles of his neck and digging his fingers into the hard stomach he yearned to feel pressed to his again, their hard cocks trapped between their bodies until Xavier would slide up and let Jeff’s run along the crack of his ass.
Jeff groaned. His tongue swept into every warm corner he could reach. Need shuddered through him, and for long seconds, he forgot they were sitting in his car in front of a murderer’s house. All that mattered was being with Xavier, tasting him again, pretending in that moment everything was okay.
The moment was over before Jeff was ready to let it go.
Xavier broke away, yanking back violently enough to dislodge Jeff’s hand. “I shouldn’t have let you do that.”
His eyes burned. “You needed it.”
“Why do you think you know what I need?”
“Because like it or not, nobody has ever known you as well as I do.” He sat back and twisted the key in the ignition. “You can lie to yourself as much as you want, but it doesn’t work with me. It never has.”
Xavier’s gaze darted around. It didn’t take a genius to know what he was looking for. “Even if you’re right, it shouldn’t have happened here. Where anybody could have seen us, and probably did.”
Jeff pressed a little too hard on the accelerator as he pulled away from the curb. “Oh, that’s right. We have to preserve your precious heterosexuality. Even in the privacy of a car, in a deserted street, in the middle of the fucking night.”
“The street is hardly deserted. I’m sure you noticed the way the house is swarming with CSI.” Xavier paused. “Are you out at work?”
“Yes. And before you ask, yes, it bugs the shit out of some of the guys. That’s their problem. Not mine.”
Xavier looked away, watching the neighborhood fall behind them as Jeff directed the car to their hotel. He almost heard the wheels spinning in Xavier’s head, but he concentrated on the road, letting Xavier work out what he wanted to say at his own speed.
“Maybe it’s not as simple as that for me. It never has been. You’ve always known what you wanted, Jeff, and you didn’t mind telling the people in your way to fuck off. I’ve never known what I wanted.”
Jeff rolled his eyes. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Maybe I should introduce you to some of my other exes. You can compare notes.” Xavier folded his arms over his chest and hunched forward, his eyes still locked on the passing scenery.
This wasn’t how he’d wanted this talk to go, but he’d always been crap at saying the right thing. “Look, I’m sorry about the kiss, but you didn’t push me away. And I can’t stand seeing you so miserable. I wanted…hell, I don’t even know anymore. I’ve never been able to tell you what you need to hear, apparently.”
“You don’t have to apologize for the kiss. I didn’t want to push you away. I’ve…I’ve missed the way you kiss me.”
His throat tightened at the admission. Confessing to the same would make him look more pathetic than he already did, even if it was the truth.
“Have you at least come close to finding what you’ve wanted?”
“No. Things didn’t end between Jessica and me because she moved down to LA. It ended because she admitted she thought she could marry me, and I laughed. I’m a real prince of a guy, huh? Then the guys I pick up…they’re always missing something.”
He was ready to blurt out, “Like what?” but Jeff quelled the instinct. There was a place inside Xavier, waiting to be filled, a place Jeff had done everything in his power to vanquish. Even now, he wanted to be the one to save Xavier from this sadness infesting his life. Except he’d had his chance, and he’d fucked it up. He didn’t get a do-over. As much as he might crave one.
“It’s not just you,” he said, trying to lighten the mood. “Take it from someone who’s been on the dating scene. You’re not the only one who’s not finding what you’re looking for.”
“Well, you’re ahead of the game because you know what you are looking for. Though your problem might stem from your extremely high expectations.”
“No. I just keep hoping I’ll find somebody that fit as well with me as you did.”
“I don’t know if I ever fit you that well. I wasn’t immune from your expectations.”
For a moment, fear gripped Jeff’s heart. “Don’t tell me you left because I drove you away.” He cast a desperate glance in Xavier’s direction. “I never expected anything but honesty from you, X. If you thought otherwise…”
“I don’t think you drove me away. But it was damned hard to live up to the standard you set. You were ready to take on the world by your own terms. And I…I wasn’t. Honestly, I never got on your nerves?”
“Only when you left.” He knew Xavier didn’t believe him. Offering a crooked smile, he added, “And maybe when you scored higher than I did on tests at the academy. And the sock thing. I still don’t understand that one.”
Xavier snorted. “And you don’t hate me now?”
“I could never hate you. Maybe I don’t like some of the things you’ve done, but if I held those against you…” He let the thought trail away. They both knew those standards Xavier complained about weren’t entirely untrue.
“Maybe,” Xavier conceded. Then he shook his head. “I don’t know, Jeff, maybe we met each other too early.”
“Too early for what? We were twenty. Lots of people hook up that young.”
“Lots of people get hurt that young, too.”
Jeff turned onto the street for the hotel, though they were still several blocks away. “And what if we’d met each other now? Would it have made a difference?”
Xavier took his time to consider the question. “Yes, I think so. For me, anyway.”
He couldn’t breathe. “Why?”
“Because I’d like to think I’m less of a coward now. Of course, I still laughed in Jessica’s face, so maybe some things haven’t really changed.”
“Or maybe you knew she wasn’t right for you, no matter how much you might have wanted her to be.” He consciously relaxed his grip on the steering wheel. Every word coming out of Xavier’s mouth only wound him even tighter. That didn’t explain why he let the next fall so easily from his lips. “I’d be willing to try again. Start over. If you wanted to.”
“I don’t think we can just start over, Jeff. I don’t know if starting over is possible.”
“I don’t hear you saying you don’t want to.”
Xavier laughed. “Didn’t we just work out that I don’t know what I want? Wait. No, that’s a lie. I want to stop disappointing people. Letting them down when they think they can count on me.”
They were back to the original problem – Xavier’s guilt about Robin. Jeff could try and coax him until they were both blue in the balls, but none of it would take until Xavier either figured out how to let it go or caught Ruhl.
He didn’t speak again as they pulled into the parking garage, or as they went up the elevator to their room. He didn’t know what else he could say that he hadn’t already a hundred times over.
“If you want to get some sleep, I promise to wake you up if Andrea calls,” he said in lieu of anything meaningful.
Xavier dropped to his bed, flinging his arm over his eyes. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep. Every time I close my eyes…”
Without his gaze watching Jeff’s every move, Jeff could look at his ex-lover as much as he wanted. The long, slim legs. The narrow hips. The flat stomach. Xavier was ticklish there. Every time Jeff had licked along his waist, Xavier broke down in a fit of giggles more suited for a schoolgirl. It never stopped him, though. He liked the trail of hair leading straight down to Xavier’s cock too much to hold back.
“Take a shower. That’ll wash the smell away. It might help.” Though the sudden thought of Xavier wet under the spray didn’t help Jeff’s erection at all.
Xavier rolled over and pushed himself to his feet. He moved like he didn’t have the energy to move at all. “You’re probably right. It certainly can’t hurt, anyway. If you want to go back to the investigation, you can. I promise not to let anybody into my room. I won’t even fall for the old room-service trick.”
Jeff nodded. He trusted Xavier not to do anything stupid, and at least he’d be doing something useful. Sitting around watching his ex beat himself up was too masochistic, even for him. “I’ll just be gone for a few hours. I’ll bring you back something to eat, okay?”
“Some Chinese take-out would be great.” He paused at the bathroom door. “You know, I am sorry. For how I treated you.”
Jeff had to turn his head to avoid letting Xavier witness the sudden rush of emotion heating his face. “I know.” His voice was more brusque than he wanted.
He left without looking back. It was just easier.
The elevator took its own sweet time coming, giving Jeff far too long to spend in his head. Twenty-four hours earlier, Xavier had just been a bittersweet footnote in his personal history. Now, he had emblazoned a path in a brand new chapter, one leading down a road Jeff wasn’t sure he wanted. This case was going to cauterize the wounds of their separation. It would likely give Xavier the closure he obviously had never attained. Jeff would be left staring at his back yet again, once they caught the bastard Ruhl.
The elevator doors swished open. Jeff stood, staring at them, until they whispered shut again.
And what if we’d met each other now? Would it have made a difference?
Yes, I think so. For me, anyway.
He turned on his heel and marched back down the hallway.
Xavier might not know what he wanted, but Jeff sure as hell did.
The shower was running as he pulled his keycard out of the lock. Tossing it and his coat onto the chair, Jeff toed off his shoes as he peeled his shirt off over his head. His jeans came next. He didn’t even bother to pick them up off the floor before he pushed open the bathroom door.
“Jeff?” Xavier’s voice rose over the roar of the water. “Did something happen? Did Andrea call?”
The shower curtain was opaque. He couldn’t see Xavier through it. “No.” He gripped the curtain at the far end of the tub and pulled it open enough to step inside. “I changed my mind.”
Xavier froze, a bar of soap hovering over his chest, his eyes wide, his mouth open. “About going out?”
The water splashed over Xavier’s shoulder onto Jeff’s chest as he closed the distance between them. He reached around and cupped one taut ass cheek, pulling Xavier closer so their cocks rubbed against each other.
“About giving up.”
Stay tune next week for Chapter Six…
Jamie Craig is the penname used for the collaborative efforts of Pepper Espinoza and Vivien Dean. Both successful authors on their own, they began working together in early 2006. Pepper lives with her husband and cats in Utah, where she attends graduate school, and Vivien resides in northern California with her husband and two children.
This an original story given generously to us by Jamie Craig. DO NOT post any part of this story on your site without attribution to Jamie Craig or a holla-back at her site. That’s not cool. Always give credit where credit is due, yo.
Note: Hey, other writer-types, do you want to contribute to The Serial? If so, holla at yo gurl and I’ll hook you up, yo.
Till, then… Love, peace, and snarkage, my babies. Peace!
Last 5 posts by bam
- Harlequin Presents: The Unforgettable Husband - April 20th, 2015
- Harlequin Presents: Passionate Stranger by Flora Kidd - April 17th, 2015
- Harlequin Presents: Heartbreaker by Charlotte Lamb - April 16th, 2015
- Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - December 21st, 2012
- Review: The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James - September 17th, 2012