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Storm Season

Nicola M. Cameron

Published by Belaurient Press at Smashwords

Copyright 2013 Nicola M. Cameron


First Printing, 2013

Evernight Publishing


Second Printing, 2018

Belaurient Press


ISBN: 978-0-46389-240-4


Cover Artist: Melanie Fletcher

Editor: Theresa Havens


ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Sneak Peek: Breaker Zone

Chapter One

About the Author

Other Works

Connect With Nicola M. Cameron

DEDICATION

For my honey, who always believed in me.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Storm Season was originally published in 2013 by Evernight Publishing. This version is updated and re-edited, but there are no fundamental changes to the plot. If you already read the Evernight edition of Storm Season, you don’t need to buy this one.

If you haven’t read the previous edition, however, you’re in for one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Strap in and enjoy.

CHAPTER ONE

Ian woke with a gasp, staring blindly at the bedroom ceiling as the orgasm slammed into him. One hand was already in his boxers, frantically stroking his spurting cock as warm semen soaked into the fly. He groaned as he pumped out the last few dribbles, his body twitching from the aftershocks.

“Fuck,” he panted, tilting his head back into the sweaty pillow. “Fuck.”

A wet dream. He’d had a wet dream, at the grand old age of thirty-nine. Struggling, he kicked off the hotel blanket, staring down at the spreading patch on his boxers. Even half-awake, he was shocked at how hard he’d come, the aching sense of relief in his balls.

What the actual hell? It didn’t make any sense. He hadn’t had sex in the last year since his wife Diana died, true, but he jerked off when he felt like it. There was no reason for his balls to try and turn themselves inside out like that, especially in his sleep.

Although it was, without a doubt, the hottest wet dream he’d ever had.

Wriggling the boxers down, he yanked them off and wiped at the sticky mess matting his pubic hair. On the one hand, he could ignore it and go back to sleep. On the other hand, dried semen was like an organic version of rubber cement.

With a sigh, he got out of bed and trudged across the hotel room to the tiny bathroom. Like the bedroom, it was clean but bland, featuring typical Florida hotel décor of waves, starfish, and other sea creatures. Grabbing a washcloth, he ran it under the hot tap and rubbed the now-soaked terrycloth over his groin, catching a glimpse of himself in the bathroom mirror. Short blondish hair sticking up, eyes swollen and blinky from sleep, buck-ass naked, and wiping nocturnal semen out of his pubes. Yeah, that’s a good look for you, dude.

Smirking at himself, he made a mental note to leave an extra large tip for the maid, in case anything landed on the sheets. At least he was only in the hotel for one night. By tomorrow, he’d be in the family cottage on Olympic Cove. After that, any laundry accidents were his own business.

His sister Angie had inherited the cottage, the vacation getaway for three generations of Wests, from their parents. Normally she rented it out for most of every summer, setting aside a two-week block for family stays, and he’d been surprised at her call offering him full use of the cottage from June to September. “Problem is, the economy pretty much tanked the vacation rental business,” she’d said. “And nobody in the family can afford to take off for an entire summer apart from you. So if you want it, it’s yours.”

The tiny sting of envy in her voice still bothered him. The only reason he could afford to spend the summer in the cottage was Diana’s generous insurance policy, which had allowed him to become a full-time writer. Before that, he’d worked as a technical writer for a large telecommunications firm, writing science fiction stories at night and during his lunch breaks. He’d racked up a steady string of sales and was starting to make a name for himself when Diana died in a car accident.

The dull, familiar ache of grief flared in his chest, and he blinked hard. Given a choice, he’d throw the money in a furnace and not think twice about it if it meant having Diana back.

He stared down at the washcloth and the faint pearly smears on it. Another memory came to him, of their wedding night. Diana giggling like a loon as she upended most of a can of whipped cream over his erection before licking it off him with long, deliberate strokes of her tongue. After he’d returned the favor and they’d fucked themselves silly, they’d staggered into the large hotel shower stall to rinse off the gooey trails smeared all over their bodies. Unfortunately there hadn’t been a solution for the now-sticky sheet so they spent the rest of the night sleeping on a stripped mattress, the sheet rolled in a ball and placed in the shower stall with the wet towels. He’d tipped the maid extra that time, too.

You would have loved it here, babe. He had always meant to bring her down here for a vacation, but there never seemed to be enough time. And now he’d never watch her splash in the ocean, wake up in the cottage’s master bedroom, sit on the back porch reading one of her favorite thrillers while he tapped away on his laptop.

He leaned against the sink, trying to let the grief pass through him. The pain of her loss was still there, oh yes, but it had receded from the iron-spiked agony it had been those first few months into something more bearable. He was finally getting used to the phantom limb sensation in his life, the wife-shaped hole in his heart. That return of functionality, limited as it was, had prompted him to finish Greenstrike, the SF thriller he’d been working on at the time of her death. Diana had been unceasingly supportive of his fiction career, so it was appropriate that his first novel would also be his tribute to the beautiful, gutsy woman who’d shared his life for ten years.

He tossed the washcloth over the tub rim and dried off with one of the scratchy hotel towels. Faced with the thought of digging out a clean pair of boxers from his suitcase, he decided against it and crawled back into bed naked. With luck, there would be no more impromptu dream orgies. Hotel laundry costs were a worse nightmare than anything his subconscious could throw at him.

Although that wet dream had been anything but a nightmare.

He floated in the warm water, letting the waves rock him. His eyes were closed, but he could see the red-tinged glow of the sun through his eyelids. He knew if he opened them now, everything would appear whitewashed, dreamlike. He wanted to lie back, float away, never come back—

Beloved.”

A hand trailed down his stomach, teasing and stroking the skin there. It paused above his groin, and he groaned a bit at the hesitation. He wanted the hand to move down further, touch his cock, play with him. Make him come so hard he’d scream.

All in good time,” a soft baritone murmured.

Another hand crept up between his legs, cradling his sac and rolling his balls in a broad palm. He let his head be tipped back, water rising into his hair. Lips brushed against his, gently, then with more intent.

He gave into the kiss, opening to his unseen lover’s mouth. Warm lips parted his own, and a skilled tongue lured him into a sensual, swirling dance.

Unexpectedly, he felt a second mouth on his cock. He moaned in surprise as an equally skilled tongue swirled around the head, teasing the bundle of nerves underneath. It licked down the shaft, pausing long enough to lap at his balls before coming back up in a long, slow stroke. He could feel the soft prickle of a short beard against his sac, just this side of ticklish.

And then lips tightened around his cock. His second lover’s mouth began to slide up and down, setting his nerves on fire, that wicked tongue slicking along the underside like wet velvet.

As if one lover devouring his mouth and another on his cock weren’t enough, someone’s fingers now circled his nipples, gently tweaking them. He whimpered in pleasure, torn among all the sensations.

The baritone purred against his lips. “So responsive. You’re beautiful, beloved.”

The mouth on his cock disappeared, replaced by a hand. “Not to mention delicious,” said a lighter tenor. “We’ve searched for you for a long time, love.”

Two men. Eyes still closed, Ian squirmed in their embrace, moving so that he could feel their bodies against his. He hadn’t had sex with a man in over twelve years, and he’d never had two men at the same time. Hell, Diana used to tease him about arranging a threesome, claiming that Ian needed more than one lover to blunt his overactive sex drive—

The light dimmed, as if a cloud passed over the sun.

You’ve mourned her for so long, Ian. Let us take away the pain. Let us love you,” the baritone said. Plush lips came down again, tongue flickering into his mouth. He sucked at it, hearing the other man groan at the sensation.

The tenor went back to his task, one hand wrapped around the base of Ian’s cock as he lapped and sucked at the shaft. The friction from smooth, firm lips and a deliciously wet mouth became electric, reaching down into Ian’s balls and spine.

And then that tongue (so long, Ian thought, no one could have a tongue that long) dipped into his slit, tasting the pre-come there, sliding under the ridge oh so nicely. The tenor began to work the plummy head with greedy little slurps, his hand sliding up and down the shaft in a fast stroke. And then he sucked hard, cheeks hollowing so that Ian could feel the soft tissue against his shaft—

He cried out, back bowing as his orgasm spurted into that hungry mouth. The baritone cradled him through it, whispering sweetly filthy things against his lips as the tenor swallowed and swallowed, humming and searching for more. Never stop so good need you love you oh God oh God—

And then he’d woken up.

Now he turned over, doing his best to ignore the lingering pleasure in his groin. Forget the fucking dream already and go back to sleep. You’ve got to meet that rental manager in the morning, and then you’ve got to get the place stocked. They’d keep it clean, right? Never mind, I can clean if I have to...

His brain finally took pity on him and he drifted off to sleep. In his subconscious, however, the memory of his dream lovers lingered.

****

“Where is everyone?” Ian asked, glancing around the empty beach.

“Yes, about that,” Marcia Kuttner said with a sigh. The manager of Atlantic Holiday Rentals was a tall, broad-shouldered woman with a deep brown complexion and grey-streaked hair cropped close. Her linen jacket and skirt looked slightly out of place against the backdrop of palm trees, but the flat sandals she wore proved that she was a veteran of impromptu beach walks. “I’m afraid we’re having something of a slow year right now, Mr. West. The economy, more people taking stay-cations, that sort of thing. I’m sure we’ll be able to rent out the other cottages in June or July, but at the moment—well, you’re the only resident here.”

“So I see.” Still out of sorts from the dream, he’d grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel before heading out to meet the manager from the rental company Angie had hired. To his relief, Ms. Kuttner was a competent caretaker and the West cottage, a blue and white Craftsman-style building, looked to be in decent condition. It had taken a few minutes before he realized what was bothering him. Even in early May, there should have been people puttering around their cottages, kids playing in the surf, sun worshipers working on their tans. But except for himself and Ms. Kuttner, the cove was completely empty.

He studied the other cottages now, a staggered arc of brightly colored buildings facing the blue ocean. “This seems so weird,” he continued. “When I was a kid, this place was always packed.”

“I know. Even a couple of years ago, we had waiting lists for the cottages. Now—” She gestured wearily at the empty houses. “And of course, it doesn’t help that the cove’s gotten a bit of a reputation.”

That caught his attention. “For what?”

“Odd stuff, mainly. Mysterious tracks in the sand, strange fish washing up on the beach, that sort of thing.”

Ian scanned the area again. It looked like the same Florida coastline he remembered from his childhood. “But no offshore dumping or whackjobs with hatchets, right?”

“Oh, no. In fact, this whole area is remarkably crime-free. But the cove’s gained a reputation for being somewhat peculiar.” The manager gave the cottages an exasperated look. “Unfortunately, summer people don’t like peculiar so they tend not to rebook the next year. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t mind having one of those paranormal investigation shows come here and do their thing, as long as they paid the deposit and didn’t trash the cottages. But either they haven’t picked up on it, or they don’t have the budget. In any case, you might not have much company this summer.” She seemed hesitant, as if the news would send him screaming back to Chicago. “I hope that’s all right.”

He wanted to laugh. Seeing the beach so deserted was bizarre as hell, but being the only resident didn’t bother him at all. I’m a science fiction writer. Weird shit? Bring it on. “I like being alone, Ms. Kuttner. Trust me, this is fine.”

****

A few hours later, he finished unpacking his bags into the master bedroom’s closet and cherrywood dresser. There was a lot of open space left in the closet, and he found old cedar balls still rattling around the empty drawers. It felt strange, sleeping in what had always been his parents’ bedroom, but there was no reason to sleep in his old room downstairs. Beside, the master bedroom had an adjoining bath with a soak tub and a gorgeous view of the ocean. If he was going to bust his ass writing a book for the next couple of months, he might as well be comfortable while he did it.

Downstairs, all the windows were open so that the breeze could air out the faint mildewy smell endemic to all buildings on the Florida coast, and he’d made a supply run to the local supermarket for basics and beer. A list of “to do” tasks was now tacked to the refrigerator with a banana-shaped magnet. At the top of the list was CALL CABLE/PHONE COMPANY.

The basic utilities had all been turned on the day before, Ms. Kuttner had assured him. As he quickly learned, however, the definition of “basic utilities” didn’t include phone, cable, or any sort of Internet connection. “I’m afraid your sister had it turned off at the end of the season last year,” the rental manager had said. “She was worried about squatters. And the phone and cable companies will need a deposit from the renter—or in your case, the resident.”

Ian swallowed his opinion about Angie’s frugality and plastered on a smile. Until AT&T and Time Warner could get out there and hook him up, his lifeline to the outside world was his cell phone. A lot of his friends would be frothing at the mouth over the lack of Wi-Fi, but he kind of liked the idea. Being cut off from the twin time sinks of Facebook and Twitter could only be a good thing for his word count.

Speaking of word count...

Shoving the now-empty bags into the closet, he headed downstairs and grabbed a beer from the fridge, then went out to the back porch. His father had screened in the space decades ago, furnishing it with odds and ends from a secondhand furniture store over in Olympic Beach. When Ian was a kid, it had been his favorite place to sit and read.

Now it was a great place to write. Angie had upgraded the tatty old furniture for the renters, equipping the space in comfortable white rattan and cushions in tropical florals. A narrow table now sat under the windows facing the ocean with his laptop on it, open and powered up. The rumble of his cooling deck and the booming rush of the waves were the only things he could hear.

All right. Time to stop farting around. Sitting down, he took a deep gulp of his beer and pulled up the Greenstrike file. Let’s do this.

One hour, three beers, and a blank screen later, he sat back and glared at the porch ceiling. He’d had the damn plot in his head for a good two years year: as bizarre ecological disasters occured all over the world, a reporter and a climatologist discovered that humanity was in danger of being exterminated by a vengeful Mother Earth. It was a nifty story, and he knew every detail, plot point, and character from the inside out.

Except he couldn’t find a way back into the frigging thing.

He tried another sentence, winced at its triteness, and held the Delete key down until the cursor killed it. What’s wrong with you? You can do this, you know you can.

Or could he? Before, all of his work had been done with Diana’s encouragement. She was the one who had listened to all his story ideas, acting as a sounding board when he got stuck, making suggestions when he didn’t know how to push the plot forward. It was a horrible thought, but maybe he couldn’t write without her.

A snort sounded somewhere in the back of his head. He could imagine her standing there, arms folded as she gave him a long-suffering look. Or maybe you’re tired? You woke up from that damned wet dream, after all, then you got up early to meet Ms. Kuttner, and then you had three beers. Try taking a nap before you decide your writing career is over.

A yawn overtook him, making his jaw ache. Turning, he eyed the white rattan couch set underneath the cottage’s back windows. Another of Angie’s upgrades, it looked comfortable with its thick flowered denim pad and heaped patchwork cushions.

“Next time, you stop at the one beer,” he muttered as he stood up and shuffled to the couch. Piling the cushions at one end, he flopped down onto the thick pad.

Oooh, nice. His eyes drifted shut. Yeah, I’ll nap for a while, give the old brain a chance to recharge. Then I’ll get up and go back to work…

****

A warm mouth kissed its way up his naked thigh, pausing every now and then to bite gently at his flesh. The sting was followed by a soothing tongue.

He moaned softly, and someone chuckled. “Oh, you like that, do you?” a familiar tenor said.

“I told you he would,” an equally familiar baritone said. “Now stop teasing the poor man.”

“Teasing’s half the fun.” But the owner of the lips obeyed, continuing upward until Ian could feel a gentle puff of breath along the crease of his ass.

Wait, didn’t I have shorts on?

He definitely wasn’t wearing them now. The mouth started nibbling, waking up nerves he never knew he had and working inward until he was panting softly. His still unseen lover gently spread his cheeks open, and the tip of a velvet tongue dragged across the taboo flesh there.

No one had ever eaten his ass before. It felt dirty and insanely hot at the same time. “Oh, goooood,” he said into the cushion, unsure if he was saying God or good.

“You’re a newbie, aren’t you?” the tenor asked, sounding amused. “Lovely. I do enjoy taking virginities.” He returned to his task, licking and teasing the sensitive ring of muscle. Each new touch sent a fresh surge of pleasure dancing across Ian’s nerves, and his cock began to throb in time with the attention being paid to his ass.

He tried to look back and see who was licking him so lovingly, but two large, warm hands gently pushed him back down, turning the gesture into a massage over his neck and shoulder muscles. “Relax,” the baritone murmured. “Let us love you. Just feel.”

He wanted to say something, ask something, but squeaked as his tenor lover’s tongue tip began to lick into him, easing him open. He couldn’t help wiggling under the assault, moaning incoherently into the couch.

The baritone’s hands stroked along his upper body, soothing him and keeping him still at the same time. “It feels incredible, doesn’t it? To be kissed so intimately. Feeling a tongue in such a forbidden place.”

Ian grunted in agreement, then whined when the tongue disappeared. It was replaced by a slicked finger pressing against, then through the tightly furled muscle. He felt a momentary burn, but it eased as the finger slid deeper into him, playing along his inner walls. He ground back against it, hissing under his breath. “More.”

“Your wish is my command,” the tenor said. Another finger was added, the gentle stretch causing an ache that was equal parts pain and pleasure. His tormentor’s tongue returned, dancing around the probing digits and adding a wicked pleasure to the burn. And then the fingers rotated, searching until they brushed over a certain spot.

Bliss spiked through him, a starburst of pure pleasure. “Fuck!” he yelped. “Oh, God, do that again!”

His tenor lover chuckled. “Well, since you asked so nicely.” The delicious fingers scored his sweet spot again, making him whimper with need. “Oh, yes, love. You’re hot and ripe for it.”

“But first, up a bit,” the baritone said, tugging at his hips. Without hesitation he hitched forward, tucking his knees under his body and raising his ass in the air. A large, warm hand slid underneath, palming his cock and dabbling a finger in the steady drip of precum from his slit. “Gaia, you’re drenched. You need this so badly.”

The fingers inside his ass settled into a steady rhythm, brushing over the small, firm gland and setting off more fireworks behind Ian’s eyes. Meanwhile, the baritone gathered precum and used it as lube for stroking his shaft. Another hand came up and cupped his balls, massaging the tight sac.

Ian pushed his face into the couch pad, keening as he rolled his hips onto the fingers and fucked into his unseen lover’s fist. The tenor pressed in deeper as the baritone added a twist to his stroke, thumbing the head in a delicious teasing slide.

It was too much. Ian threw his head back and howled, liquid fire surging through his cock as he came.

****

He woke up with a gasp, rutting against the couch pad. This orgasm was even more powerful than the one at the hotel, going on and on, making his thighs tremble with the aftershocks. Once it was finally over, it took him the better part of a minute to get his breath back.

He rolled over and glared at the spreading wet patch on his shorts. His subconscious couldn’t get its ass in gear when it came to writing a book, but getting rimmed and fingered in a dream until he came in his pants? No problem whatsoever.

Jamming his thumbs under his waistband, he yanked off the shorts, using them to wipe off the dollop of stickiness on his lower abdomen. A memory of napping out here when he was a teenager flashed through his mind. He’d had the most incredible wet dream about two gorgeous guys that time, too.

Which is fine when you’re sixteen. He studied the stained shorts in his hand. But at thirty-nine? That’s pathetic. Maybe I need more therapy. Or maybe—

I need to get laid. He heard a Midwestern voice say it in his mind, a nasal accent roughened even more from too many cigarettes. A tall, lanky man standing at a bar, drink in hand as he studied the crowd, unaware that he was about to watch the beginning of the end of human civilization...

Ian’s irritation vanished, replaced by a incandescent glee. Dropping the shorts, he got up and lunged for his chair at the card table, ignoring the scratchy old chair pad against his bare ass as he started typing. I don’t know what’s happening anymore, Jack Marsh thought as he stared around the Hilton’s bar, considering his options. Maybe I need to get laid.

The ecological conference he was covering for MSNBC was moderately better than some of his assignments. At least no one was flinging pig shit at him here. But after a day of listening to scientist after scientist drone on about tipping points and biosphere crush zones, all he really wanted to do was knock back a couple of Scotches and see if he could talk someone attractive into bed for an hour or so.

He eyed a blonde in a conservative blazer and skirt. One of the speakers, she was some bigwig in NOAA with alphabet soup after her name and a lot of expertise in storms. She also had killer legs and no wedding ring. He sidled up to her, waiting until the short, weedy guy she’d been talking to wandered off.

Heard your talk,” he said by way of introduction. “I never knew that hurricanes were so complicated. I thought they were just big storms.”

She gave him a professional smile, eyeing his press badge. “That’s not surprising. We’re only now finding out the exact mechanics involved in the creation of a hurricane.”

I bet.” He held out his hand. “Jack Marsh, MSNBC.”

Dr. Caroline Hubert. And no.”

No what?”

I’m not interested. But thank you anyway.” Another smile, as crisp as the first one. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I saw my boss and I need to check in before he sends an intern after me.”

Ian leaned closer to the laptop’s pale glow, fingers flying to keep up as the words poured onto the screen. This was good, it was working...

****

Out past the surf line, two shapes bobbed in the water, studying the distant cottage. “Are you sure?” the baritone said, doubtful. “I mean, yes, obviously he’s changed—”

“I’m sure,” the tenor said with absolute confidence. “I recognized him right away. And I could feel it. He’s finally come home to us.”

“Ah.” A pause. “And how exactly do you think he’s going to take this particular piece of news, brother of mine?”

“He’ll be deliriously happy,” the tenor said, then hesitated. “I think.”

“You mean you hope.”

“All right, I don’t know how he’s going to react. But if he isn’t happy, we’ll make him happy.”

The baritone snorted at that. He didn’t want to admit he felt the same pull, an almost overwhelming desire to go up to the cottage and claim their agapetos, their beloved and fated consort.

They’d waited for so long already. They could wait a bit longer while he pounded a few rules of civilized behavior into his twin brother’s head. “You will behave like the demigod you are and treat Ian with the respect he deserves. Do not babble at him, pick him up, or do anything to upset him. And for Gaia’s sake, don’t trot up and kiss him. Remember, he doesn’t know anything about us. We need to woo him, not scare him into fits.”

His twin gave him a disgusted look. “I’m not a child, By. I know how to behave with Ian.”

“Really, Aph? Because if you do anything stupid, I swear to Zeus Horkios I’ll turn you into fish paste.” He hesitated. “And remember, you can’t make someone happy. Not even Ian.”

That was met with an impatient splash. “Oh, shut up and get the ball. We’ve got a consort to claim.”

CHAPTER TWO

Whistling, Ian hunted through the fridge for a celebratory beer. The new chapter was done—rough as hell, yes, but he’d worry about cleanup when he started editing. Now, it was Miller time, so to speak. He’d promised himself that the reward for finishing the chapter would be sitting out on the cottage’s little dock and stargazing like he had when he was a kid.

Humming, he tossed the bottle cap towards the open garbage can and headed for the back door, then paused. He was still naked from the waist down, thanks to that wet dream. Going outside bare-assed, even though it was night and the cove was deserted, seemed weird.

He glanced at the shorts on the floor next to the couch. They were crusty, and he didn’t feel like going upstairs to get a clean pair.

Screw it. It’s not like anyone’s going to see me. Grinning, he shucked out of his shirt and walked outside. The ocean breeze made his exposed skin tingle, and he saluted the heavens with his beer. “I’m finishing it, baby, like you wanted. I’ll make you proud, I promise.”

A gust of wind tousled his hair, as if in benediction. He could almost hear Diana chuckling and saying I never doubted you, honey.

Blinking back tears, he padded through the loose sand to the small dock. The structure was old but still solid, built for dinghies and small sailboats. It wouldn’t be hard to get the family sailboat out of dry dock, have it brought to the cove. Might be nice to sail in the afternoon, work the writing kinks out.

Careful not to pick up a splinter, he sat on the edge of the dock, taking a deep breath as his ankles dangled in the warm water. The cove smelled like he remembered it, salt and seaweed on the ocean wind. With the rest of the cove’s cottages dark, the only illumination came from his place and the moon, waxing now and bright enough that he could make out the shoreline and the darker horizon beyond the cove’s entrance.

Something large splashed in the shallows about ten yards off. That’s weird. I didn’t know dolphins played at night.

Another splash, followed by a laugh. And dolphins definitely don’t laugh.

He frowned, trying to pinpoint the location of the sound. After a moment he was able to make out two men in the water, tossing what looked like a ball back and forth over the waves. One looked like he had a short beard, while the other was clean-shaven.

They were probably college students who decided to sneak over to the “deserted” cove from nearby Olympic Beach. He hadn’t checked the little road connecting the cottages—their car was most likely parked out there. Unfortunately for them, swimming in the cove was restricted to Olympic Cove residents. He sighed. By rights, he should call the sheriff’s department and have a couple of deputies toss them out.

The rough wood of the dock on his ass reminded him that he was naked. With his luck, they’d probably accuse him of being a pervert or something, and the deputies would slap him with a fine for public indecency.

He decided he was too tired and happy to cause a fuss. The hell with it. They’re having fun.

The bearded guy reared back and tossed the ball in a high curve. His friend lunged up to catch it, revealing a gorgeously sculpted six-pack. Ian’s mouth went a little dry at that, and he wondered what they’d look like out of the water. Long legs, tight asses, and I bet they’re hung. To quote George Takei, oh, my…

The two men gradually drifted closer to the dock. He could see their grins in the moonlight when they finally spotted him.

“Hi,” the bearded man called. “We aren’t disturbing you, are we?”

“No,” Ian said, saluting them with the bottle. “Just cooling off.”

“It’s even better in the water,” the other man said in a sexy baritone. “Want to join us?”

“Uh...” Two men, like in his dreams. Even their voices sounded strangely similar to his dream lovers. He felt a sudden pulse of desire before it was swamped by reality. They’re a couple of hard-bodied college kids. They wouldn’t be interested in an old fart like you.

They were inviting him to horse around in the water, nothing more. And if he was honest, it sounded like fun. “Yeah, okay.”

Moving his beer away from the edge, he dropped down into the lazy waves, wondering if it was obvious he wasn’t wearing trunks. He hadn’t realized how sweaty he’d gotten during his writing marathon, and the warm water felt fantastic. When he surfaced, wiping wet hair out of his eyes, he noticed the men were only chest-deep in the water, while he had to point his toes to reach the cove’s sandy bottom. Tall—must be basketball players or something.

They grinned at him. “I’m Bythos,” the clean-shaven one said with a slight accent, lifting a hand.

“Aphros,” the bearded one said. “His twin. Also the nicer of the two.”

With names like those, they’re definitely tourists. “Hi. I’m Ian.”

“Nice to meet you.” Bythos held up an old rubber baseball. “Move out a bit.”

Obediently, Ian paddled to the indicated spot, and turned in time to catch a lob. The three of them tossed the ball back and forth for a while, mingling easy throws with high pops and fastballs that skirted the surface of the water. Ian’s muscles warmed pleasantly as he watched his two new friends in action. And dear Jesus, they were worth watching. Not only were both of them built like Olympic swimmers (at least what he could see above water in the moonlight), but Bythos kept giving him these slow, sweet smiles that made him grateful for the cool water swirling around his thighs. Aphros was funnier, keeping up a constant stream of banter with his brother and throwing flirty little zingers at Ian without missing a beat. A number of delightfully filthy twin fantasies started dancing in his head. Back at the cottage, all of us piling into the shower together, getting all soapy and slick, mmm—

“Incoming!” Aphros threw the ball so that it skipped over the waves. Startled out of his daydream, Ian ducked.

The ball plopped into the water a few feet away from him. “That was a shit throw, dude,” he laughed, swimming to the ball and grabbing it. “Catch this!”

Holding his breath, he sank under the water until he was in a half crouch on the bottom. Kicking hard, he shot upwards, using the momentum to pitch the ball in a high, arching toss.

Aphros shouted happily as he mimicked Ian, ducking down before rocketing out of the water in a graceful stream of shoulders, torso, and hooves.

Wait. Hooves?

The bearded man caught the ball, dropping back into the water with a splash. Behind him, a large silvery shape rose up, beating the surface once. “Got to try harder than that!” he called, grinning.

Ian blinked hard, wiping seawater from his eyes. He did not see a big silvery tail come out of the water.

Did I?

He ducked under the water again, keeping his eyes open this time. It was dark, but there was enough moonlight to show something impossible under Aphros; namely, the front end of a horse, somehow combined with a huge, sleek fish tail. The same shape was under Bythos, as well.

He popped back up, gasping for air. The twins grinned at him. Oh fuck what are they WHAT ARE THEY?

Spinning, he thrashed towards the shore. There were shouts behind him and he ignored them, fully in panic mode now. The logical part of his brain was screaming at him to go back, talk to them, find out what the hell was going on. The lizard part of his brain promptly kicked the logical part to the curb and took over, driving him towards shore and away from the…whatever they were. Man-horse-fish things. Sea monsters.

Panting, he lurched out of the water and ran for the cottage with get to the house, oh God, what the fuck are they, get to the house on a loop in his head. Yanking the porch door open, he stumbled through it and the cottage’s back door, slamming the weathered wood shut and throwing every lock on it.

A sudden burst of fury at Marcia wormed through his terror. This wasn’t “peculiar.” This was fucking mutant water monsters. And they talked to him. Jesus, they played catch with him.

He slumped against the door, his heart beating so hard it hurt. Phone? Upstairs in the bedroom, along with his wallet and car keys. Fuckety fuckety FUCK.

There was a knock on the door and he flinched, lurching away from the door. “Go away!” he shouted.

The knock came again, more hesitant this time. Trying to control his panicked breathing, he went to the hall closet and fished through it until he found an old baseball bat. At least it was something he could use as a weapon against two ... whatever they were. How the hell did they get out of the water anyway?

“Ian? Are you all right?” The deep rumble had to be Bythos.

“Oh, damn.” A lighter tenor. Aphros. “Ian, please talk to us.”

He raised the bat, adrenaline making his skin itch and tingle. “Go away,” he repeated. “I called the cops.”

There was a pause. And then, “Please. We just wanted to apologize for frightening you.” Bythos again.

“We didn’t mean to,” Aphros said. “Come on, Ian, we’re not going to hurt you. We were just playing.”

He shuddered, remembering what he saw under the water. “I don’t care. Just—leave me alone!”

Silence. Bringing the bat up for a swing, he waited for them to try to break in, or (please God) give up and leave. He had no idea how the hell they followed him onto land, but they were significantly bigger, and there were two of them. If they broke down the door, bat or no bat, he was shit out of luck.

More silence. Heart in his throat, he tiptoed to the door, grateful that his sister had replaced the old French window unit with a solid wood one. Of course, it also meant that he couldn’t see what was on the porch. Pressing his ear to the wood, he strained to hear the sounds of monsters shifting on the creaky old porch.

All he could hear was the sound of the waves. Swallowing hard, he sagged in relief. “Oh, thank you,” he murmured, feeling the cold sweat covering his body. “Thank you, God.”

“Demigods, actually.”

He yelped and spun, slamming against the door. Two naked men stood in the middle of the kitchen, smiling at him.

Two naked, absolutely fucking gorgeous men, his subconscious added.

They had to be the twins. There was no other explanation. Both of them were tall and lean, with broad shoulders, narrow waists, and the long, muscled legs he’d imagined instead of the hooves and fish tail he’d seen. Their matching mops of curly dark auburn hair glowed in the kitchen’s overhead light, but where Aphros had sparkling blue eyes and a neatly trimmed beard that framed a lush mouth, Bythos’s grey eyes and clean-shaven face looked grave, almost careworn.

Ian glanced down, and blinked. He had been right about something else; they were both hung like proverbial horses, with beautifully thick, uncut cocks framed by impressive sacs and thick nests of darker auburn curls. His own traitorous cock twitched at the sight. If one of those had been on display during Aphros’s leap, he would have been more than happy to stay in the ocean.

The bearded man grinned at him. “You really shouldn’t leave your front door unlocked. You never know who could just wander in.”

He felt his jaw start to drop, and hastily shut it again. “But I didn’t—”

“He’s teasing,” Bythos said, glaring at his brother. “Locks can’t stop us. And if you don’t mind, I’ll take that.”

The bat was plucked from his suddenly nerveless fingers. “Genuine Louisville slugger,” Bythos said, examining the length of wood. “Nice.” He leaned it against the kitchen table. “But you won’t need that, Ian. Not with us.”

“What—” He stopped, dredging up some saliva. “What are you?”

Bythos beamed at him. “See, now you’re thinking rationally again. We’re ikhthyokentauroi.”

The word was delivered in a lovely, liquid accent that sounded Greek. “What the hell is that?”

Aphros rolled his eyes. “Gaia save us, what are they teaching you humans these days?”

“Aph,” Bythos said chidingly, before turning back to him. “We’re sea centaurs. In our natural form, we possess the torso of a man, the fore end of a horse, and the tail of a fish. And before you tell me that’s not possible, let me remind you that we’re all standing here now because the overachiever here,” he gestured at his brother, “decided to leap out of the water and put on a show.”

Aphros grinned at that. “Sorry. I tend to get a little competitive at times.”

Ian tried to wrap his still-gibbering mind around what was happening. Ickthio ... whatever, sea centaurs. Sea centaur demigods. In his cove. Fucking gorgeous demigods, but still. Demigods. “Yeah, well, you definitely don’t have horse or fish parts now,” he said, a bit more harshly than intended.

Aphros shrugged. “We can shapeshift as necessary—part of the whole demigod package. Speaking of which, I know we overstepped our bounds a bit, but could you formally invite us into your home? It would make certain things easier.”

He felt an insane urge to giggle. Invite them in? Sure, why not. He’d been fantasizing about it anyway. They could crack open some beers, watch a movie, oh, except he didn’t have cable. He’d have to find some other way to entertain them.

Heat flared low in his belly at that and he flushed, thinking of his fantasies in the water. The two handsome demigods pulling him into their arms, kissing him everywhere, fucking him silly over the kitchen table—

Stop it! You are not a horny teenager!

The two demigods were glaring at each other again. “Aph, stop pushing,” Bythos said. “It’s rude.”

“It’s a perfectly reasonable request,” Aphros said. “If he invited us in, we’d be bound by the rules of hospitality—oh, Gaia.” He frowned at Ian. “You don’t know what those are, either?”

A vague memory from a college history class surfaced, something about the ancient Greeks’ rules about hospitality. Guests were supposed to be provided with food, a comfortable place to sit, good company, and acceptance into the day’s activities. In return, the guests couldn’t harm the hosts, or they would bring down the wrath of the gods.

Apparently these rules applied to demigods, as well. “I know what they are. If I let you in as guests, you can’t harm me.”

It was Aphros’s turn to beam. “Exactly. We’re not vampires, you know. See, no sparkling.” He gestured to his body and Ian found himself staring at perfectly sculpted shoulders, chest and abs, leading down to stop it, stop it now.

Bythos stepped closer, grey eyes pleading. “Please, Ian,” he said, his voice gentle. “We would never hurt you, we swear to Zeus Horkios. You’re safe with us.”

Ian felt the soft rumble go straight through him, grounding out in his groin. They hadn’t done anything threatening. He’d been the one to freak out and run screaming like a six-year-old from the water. In retrospect, that was damned embarrassing. And quite apart from the fact that they were somehow tripping his libido into overload, they were also genuine divine beings. Any science fiction writer worth his SFWA membership would kill or die to be in his shoes right now.

He took a deep breath. All he had to do was ... let them in.

Bythos and Aphros waited, looking at him hopefully.

Oh, right. He licked dry lips. “Um, welcome to my home?”

“Thank you,” Bythos said with a little sigh of relief. Aphros gave him a smile that made his heart skip a bit, not to mention perk up attention below his waistline.

Which reminded him— Oh, shit. Naked. “I really should, um, go get dressed,” he said, trying to drape his hands across his groin as casually as possible.

Aphros grinned, his gaze drifting downwards. “Oh, you don’t have to bother with clothes. We’re not wearing anything, after all.”

Bythos folded his arms, giving Ian a long, lingering glance that caused his cock to thicken even more behind his hands. “Yes, no need to get dressed on our account. Stay comfortable.”

Oh, holy mother of Cthulhu. Ian mentally ran football stats, trying to head off what promised to be one hell of an erection. “Uh, beer,” he said, sliding past them into the kitchen. “How about a beer?”

He yanked the fridge door open, grateful for the groin-cooling blast of chilly air as he dug out three bottles of Sam Adams. Do demigods drink beer? Are they going to be offended? Maybe the last renter left some wine around somewhere.

He yipped when a warm hand touched him on the hip. He glared over his shoulder at a grinning Aphros. “Thought I’d help you,” the demigod said.

“Right. Thank you.” He handed back two Sam Adams, relieved that the cold air and the sudden surprise had shrunk his arousal back down to normal levels. “Let me get the bottle op—”

Aphros held up a corkscrew/bottle opener. “One step ahead of you. By’s in the living room. Let’s join him.”

“Uh, okay.” Trying to pretend that all of this was absolutely normal, he padded after Aphros through the short hallway into the cottage’s living room. Bythos lounged in the corner of the couch, looking like a classical statue come to life.

Ian fought down another insane little giggle. Well, hell, he’s a demigod. Maybe he did pose for Praxiteles.

Then he realized the redhead held a framed picture in his hand, studying it. Bythos looked up, eyes unreadable. “You’re married?”

With a twinge, Ian realized it was his wedding picture. He’d left it on the coffee table when he unpacked, meaning to move it out to his writing desk. “I was. She died.” He walked over and plucked the frame from the demigod’s hand, studying the picture. He and Diana were posed outside the entrance to the little chapel, wedding confetti in their hair as they laughed. The best day in his life.

“I’m sorry for your loss.” Aphros stood next to him now, looking at the picture. “She’s lovely.”

“Yes, she is. Was.” Slowly, Ian moved to the TV stand and put the picture face down on it. The raging wave of lust the twins had raised in him was gone, leaving him feeling empty and tired.

He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, and turned to see a sympathetic Aphros. “Why don’t we sit down?” the demigod suggested. “I suspect you have some questions for us.”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

He found himself seated on the middle section of the couch, with Aphros on his left. The blue-eyed demigod did the honors with the bottle opener, taking an evaluating sip. “Hmm, this is good,” he said, licking his lips thoughtfully. “American microbreweries have certainly improved in the last few decades.”

Ian hesitated, bottle halfway to his mouth. “You know American beer?”

The two redheads exchanged an amused look. “We’re demigods, not hermits,” Bythos said. “We do keep up with all the modern developments. Who rules which country—”

“—what wars are being fought where—” Aphros added.

“—which religions are currently in power, all the latest trends in sport and entertainment,” Bythos concluded. “Oh and human science and technology, of course. I think the Internet is absolutely fascinating. Do you have access to it, by any chance?”

The bizarreness of the whipsaw conversation was bemusing. “Um, not at the moment.”

“Oh, well. We’ll have to find some other way to entertain ourselves.” Bythos took a sip of his beer, letting his lips linger on the bottle’s rim before licking a droplet away.

Ian glanced to his left and saw the same expression on Aphros’s face, a sweetly hungry look. His dreams flashed through his mind. Two lovers, a baritone and a tenor. Just like Bythos and Aphros. It had to be coincidence, but—

“Why are you two here?” he blurted. “I mean, really. And don’t tell me you want to apologize. You didn’t have to come in here to do that.”

Bythos and Aphros exchanged a long, silent look, then the grey-eyed twin nodded. “All right, then. The truth.”

He straightened and an eerie sense of other enveloped him, reminding Ian that that these “men” weren’t men at all, but something far more powerful. “We’re here because of Fate,” Bythos said softly. “I know how that must sound to a human, but it’s the absolute truth in this case. We were destined to be with you, Ian. Long sought after and finally found, you’re meant to be ours, just as we’re meant to be yours.”

On the surface the words sounded ridiculous, like something out of a silly fairytale. But there was a power to them that resonated in his soul, making him ache. That part desperately wanted to climb into their arms and feel whole again for the first time since Diana died.

His logical mind, however, struggled for control. “What do you mean, I’m meant to be yours? I don’t understand.”

Bythos paused, choosing his words with care. “The Fates are tasked with the duty of mating certain individuals, both divine and mortal,” he said. “It’s been that way for thousands of years, decreed by Gaia herself. These mates usually have some sort of task that they must perform together, so the threads of their lifespans are entwined by the Fates, driving them to search for each other across far distances, even across time if necessary. In this case, the threads of your lifespan are entwined with ours.” He smiled, the expression nervous and hopeful at the same time. “In other words, you’re fated to be our mate and beloved consort.”

Ian looked from one demigod to the other as Bythos’s words sank in. “Wait—our? I’m supposed to be with both of you?”

Aphros chuckled. “Why not? We’re twins, we work together, we live together, and we share pretty much everything. It seems sensible that we share our consort, as well.”

So Fate thought that he needed not one but two hot lovers who also happened to be twin brothers. And sea gods, don’t forget that part. The concept was outrageous, totally unbelievable.

And oh God, he wanted it so badly he could almost taste it.

He sucked in a deep breath. “Okay, just back up a bit, please. Why me? What makes you think I’m your consort?”


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