Saturday, May 21, 2011

We Believe In Happy Endings by Desiree Holt

      One of my favorite CD’s is Duets, in which Emmy Lou Harris sings–what else– duets with a variety of male vocalists. And of all the songs, a Johnny Rodriguez hit, We Believe in Happy Endings, caught my ear the most. When I was writing Downstroke, about a country rock star. I listened to this all the time and realized it had its own story to tell. So here, for you, the story of Haley and Tyler, who needed to find their own Happy Ending.
      Want to watch Johnny R sing the song? Here’s the link.
Rated - Adult - Appropriate for 18 years and older only. 
Genre - Contemporary 
Heat Level - Sensual

We Believe in Happy Endings

      Neither of them could even remember how the argument started. One minute they’d been lying in bed, naked, breathing erratically after an orgasm that had shaken them both, the next they’d begun discussing their fantasies and after that it all went to hell.
      Haley wrapped Tyler’s ratty old bathrobe more tightly around her, nestled deeper into the rocking chair on the back porch, and sipped from the steaming cup of coffee she’d just poured, trying to make sense of things. The night was warm for early spring just a tiny nip in the air, and the stars hung like crystal diamonds in the sky. The soft breeze carried the sweet smell of fresh cut hay mingled with the familiar scent of cattle and horses.
      This and early morning were the two times of day she loved best. She always had such a feeling of peace, looking at what she and Tyler accomplished. Everyone thought they were crazy to give up their jobs in the city and sink every dime they had into a broken down ranch. But five years later they had a successful operation to show for it. The Silver Spur had developed a good reputation for producing quality goods.
      And now, just when they were about to take the next step in their lives, this argument had erupted. The words they’d thrown at each other were so raw, so hurtful, she couldn’t begin to know how they’d get past them. She was only glad that Jody and Tucker were spending the night at her sister’s. Otherwise the shouting would have really upset them. She and Tyler always made it a point never to show anger with each other in front of the kids. That was for the privacy of their bedroom.
      And always, up until now, the anger was quick and short-lived, burning out like a stubby fuse and soothed with sweet words and hot sex. Tonight they’d had the hot sex first and then the burning fuse, so now what?
      She took another sip of the rich, strong brew and tried to remember all the bits and pieces of their conversation. They were lying side by side, a little tipsy on bourbon and Coke, savoring a night at home without the kids. They didn’t have to be quiet or swallow the screams the bubbled up when they carried each other to climax.
      Then Tyler lifted the hand he was holding, brought it to his lips and kissed it, and said. “Do you ever have fantasies you never tell me about, darlin’?”
      Fantasies? Holy hell. Of course she did. Even after eight years of marriage to a man who rocked her world she still had secret fantasies. Didn’t every woman?
      Not that Tyler wasn’t inventive and accommodating sexually. Still…
      But before she could try to fish one out of her mind he said, “I do. Lots of them.”
      Then she didn’t know whether to be excited or hurt. Wasn’t she enough for him? Had he been harboring these secret thoughts for a long time? Damn! Why was she suddenly feeling so insecure? Was it because she’d expected the same thing from Tyler if she told him about the erotic rolling around in the hiding places in her head?
      “So…what are you thinking? Two women instead of one?”
      The words were out before she could shut her mouth.
      Tyler sat up abruptly and looked at her with a totally shocked expression on his face.
      “Where the hell did that come from?”
      She shrugged, pulling the sheet up over her breasts. “I don’t know. Isn't that what men usually mean when they say they want something new and different?”
      “Not this man, Haley. And I’d like to think you know that.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “Shit. I can’t even believe you said that.”
      “Okay, okay.” She scooted slightly away from him. “So what did you have in mind?”
      “Well,” he began, “I kind of thought I’d like to try some of the kinky things I’ve heard about. Maybe tying you to the bed or getting some handcuffs.” He grinned. “Even a little spanking on that sweet ass of yours.”
      “Things you've heard? And just where have you heard them?”
      “Oh, I was just having a beer with Pete the other  night and he was telling me–“
      “Pete?” She leaped out of bed, dragging the sheet with her. “you discussed our sex life with Pete?”
      “Haley, wait.” He leaped out of bed, realized he was naked and dug in a drawer for a pair of boxers. “Honey, it wasn’t like that at all.”
      “Oh, no?” She glared at him. “Exactly what was it like? Two buddies knocking back a few beers and telling each other dirty stories about their wives?”
      “Haley. Honey.” He moved toward her but she back away.
      “Don’t you even come near me. Don’t touch me. Have you been feeding people all our intimate details all this time?”
      “No, damn it.” He stopped and closed his hands into fists. “I haven’t.”
      She looked at his hands. “You planning to hit me, Ty? Is that what’s next?”
      It had just deteriorated from there. Words flew, Hurtful, damaging words that far exceeded the original topic. Finally Tyler yanked on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, kicked his feet into his boots and stormed out of the house. As soon as she heard the front door slam and the engine turn over in his truck she dropped the sheet and opened the closet door. She meant to get the robe the kids–with Ty’s help–had given her for her birthday but somehow it was his old robe that ended up in her hands and wrapped around her body.
      Now she lifted the lapel and rubbed it against her face then buried her nose in his familiar scent. It flowed through her body, soothing her jangled nerves. Somehow centering her. This was Tyler, she reminded herself. The love of her life. The man she’d sworn to be with forever. The man she trusted more than an other human being.
      She took another sip of coffee and thought about what had set her off. Was it what he wanted to do or the fact he’d been discussing their sex life with Pete? If it was the latter she needed to remind herself that she and her best friend, Ellie, often discussed fantasies they had. Things they were too timid to share with their husbands no matter how good the relationship. She just hadn’t ever thought about men doing the same thing.
      So maybe he had his own fantasies that he was afraid to mention to her. Just like she was.
      Or was it what he actually wanted to do? Was that what had made her so mad? And why had it? It was no more than some of the things she and Ellie had discussed and even looked up on the Internet. They’d discovered that others enjoyed this in a whole spectrum of degrees. For some bondage was an integral part of their relationship while for others they took the parts that appealed to them as a way to spice up their sex lives.
      Truth be told, she pictures they’d seen and postings they’d read had set her mind to whirling. Given time she night even have brought it up to Tyler. Asked him what he thought.
      So why had she flown off the handle the way she had earlier? It seemed as if another person had invaded her body and was spewing words out of her mouth. Not that Tyler hadn’t done the same thing. The things he’d said had been just as bad. Just as hurtful. How would they ever get past this mess?
      Setting her cup down on the little table beside her she made her way toward the barn, her old flip flops slapping on the gravel. Whenever she felt disturbed about anything she always headed for the horses. Somehow hanging out with her mare, Twilight, always seemed to calm her.
      The mare was standing in her stall and trotted over when Haley leaned on the stall door.
      “So what do you think, girl?” She rubbed Twilight’s nose. “Think Tyler and I can find our way out of this?”
      In the distance she heard the sound of his truck pulling into the parking area next to house. Heard the slamming of the cab door. Where had he gone? What would he do now?
      She turned away from the stall and sat down on a short bench against the wall. Her shoulder brushed something in the dark. When she reached over she realized it was a piece of coiled rope hanging on a nail. Without even thinking about it she lifted it off, tossed it so it would unravel and wound one end around her wrist, tying it off. The roughness of the rope against her soft skin sent prickles through her that were not unpleasant.
      Hmmm. Interesting.
      She wondered how she’d feel if both of her wrists were bound? If she was helpless before Tyler? His to do with as he wished?
      The thought kicked up her pulse and set up a throbbing between her legs. She felt the wetness on the inside of her thighs, evidence of her instant arousal.
      “Figuring on getting started on this all by yourself?”
      The deep timbre of Tyler’s voice startled her so much she dropped the rope. She was glad it was dark in the barn so her embarrassment wouldn’t be evident.
      “Um, I didn’t hear you come in.”
      “I was trying to be quiet. I knew you’d come out here. You always run to Twilight when you’re upset.”
      “I didn’t know where you’d gone. Or if you were coming back.”
      “I didn’t get very far before I realized how stupid I was acting. And I’ll always come back to you, darlin’.”
      Now he was standing in front of her, his big body outlined by the moonlight shining in through the wide opening door to the barn. She wished she could see his face. She wished he’d reach out and touch her. She wished she could peel her tongue off the roof of her mouth and say something.
      “Haley?” As it always did his voice sent shivers through her.
      “I’m sorry, darlin’. For everything.”
      “I’m sorry, too.” The words came out in a rush. I said terrible things to you. Things I didn’t mean.”
      He put his hands beneath her elbows and lifted her from the bench. “I don’t even know what came over me.”
      She gave a nervous giggle. “Me, either. It was like someone else took over my body.”
      He slid his hands up to cup her face. “I love you, Haley. You’re everything to me.”
      “I love you, too,” she whispered, just as his mouth came down on hers.
      It wasn’t a tentative kiss. Far from it. Tyler was re-staking his claim, letting her know better than words that she was his in all things and in all ways.
      She dropped her hands from the robe, letting it fall open, as shed welcomed his tongue into her mouth and let her own small one glide over it. Just the taste of him inflamed her senses and she pressed her body against his. Even through the fabric of his jeans she could feel the thickness of his heavy erection.
      His tongue was still dancing around the inside of her mouth when she felt something tugging on her wrist and realized he’d grabbed the rope and was pulling it behind her.
      “Shh,” he soothed. “I saw you testing the feel of this around your wrist. Curiosity’s good, darlin’. How about seeing how it feels with both wrists bound up?”
      Her heart rate kicked up at least twenty degrees and more liquid trickled from her sex. Her breasts felt swollen and tender. Impulsively she bit Tyler’s bottom lip.
      He chuckled, a low, sexy sound. “That arouse you, Haley? When I first thought about it I figured it would. You’re a little wildcat, sugar, who I believe has an inner desire to be tamed. Right?”
      “Only by you, Tyler,” she breathed.
      “Then let’s see what happens, Okay?”
      She nodded wordlessly. She could still barely see him in the dark and somehow that made it all seem more erotic.
      In what seemed like seconds he had both hands bound behind her back, the robe gaping open, her body exposed to him. She heard his indrawn breath as he ran his hands lightly over the dips and swells of her body, pausing to tweak her nipples and slide his fingers into the wet heat of her sex.
      “Spread your legs, darlin’.” His voice had a commanding tone to it now.
      She widened her stance as best she could and still keep her balance.
      Tyler bent his head to take first one nipple in his mouth then the other sucking them until they were swollen and taut.
      “I think I probably owe you a good spanking for misbehaving earlier,” he told her in a hoarse voice, “but that can wait until next to me. Right now the sight of you with your hands tied up and my old robe hanging open has me so hot I’ve got to be inside you or explode.”
      She sensed as much as saw his movements as he stripped off his clothes. His cock was fully erect and swollen with need. Lifting her with his hands at her waist he slowly lowered her onto his shaft.
      “Legs wide, Haley, and wrapped around my waist. Now.”
      She loved the tone of command in his voice. It gave a whole new dimension to their intimacy and aroused her more than she’d have thought possible.
      She tightened her legs around him and sank fully onto his erection, taking him all the way inside her. A sigh of satisfaction whispered from her lips. Somehow not being able top touch him, to be completely at his mercy, intensified every sensation racing through her.
      He shifted so he could back her against the wall, moving slowly so he was still held tightly inside her. Gripping her hard so she wouldn’t fall he pumped into her, his mouth seeking hers, his tongue licking her lips before plunging inside.
      “Ohhh,” she whimpered as he thrust harder and deeper.
      The climax when it broke over them was so intense she wondered if she might shatter. She could feel Tyler’s heart pounding against her, heard the ragged edge of his breath. Felt his arms tight around her holding her in place.
      Finally, when the aftershocks subsided, he kissed her again then helped her lower her legs to the floor before unfastening the rope.
      “I love you,” he repeated, his hands again cupping her cheeks. “Let’s never fight again.”

      “Well,” she said coyly, "maybe just a little if the makeup sex is this great.”

      “Everything between us will always be great. I promise.”
      She nipped his chin. “Maybe you still ought to give me that spanking,” she teased. “Because I was such a bad girl.”
      “And then we’ll make love again,” he murmured. “Because I believe in happy endings.”
      “Me, too,” she told him, and folded herself into his arms. “Always.”

Desiree Holt’s writing is flavored with the rich experiences of her life, including a long stretch in the music business representing every kind of artist from country singer to heavy metal rock bands. For several years she also ran her own public relations agency handling any client that interested her, many of whom might recognize themselves in the pages of her stories. She is twice a finalist for an EPIC E-Book Award, a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, winner of the first 5 Heart Sweetheart of the Year Award at The Romance Studio as well as twice a CAPA Award for best BDSM book of the year, winner of two Holt Medallion Awards of Merit, and is published by five different houses. Romance Junkies said of her work: “Desiree Holt is the most amazing erotica author of our time and each story is more fulfilling then the last.”

You can find her at and


Technical difficulties

Nope, that's not the name of my story, just the story of my life. I guess it started the other day when we had eleven power surges in one hour. before I could get everything shut down on my computer Mother Nature decided to cast her evil spell on me. Beside nearly destroying my email program she also managed to corrupt several of my documents, including today's story.

But never fear. I am rebuilding it as fast as I can and it will be up before midnight tonight.

So all you loyal, wonderful followers, I beg your forgiveness and want you to knowI'm typing as fast as my fat fingers will fly.

Stay tuned.

But meanwhile enjoy the video of Johnny Rodriguez who originally recorded "We Believe In Happy Endings".

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Good Directions, by Erin Nicholas

I'm a huge country music fan so I knew that was the genre I'd go to when I needed a song for my short story. This song came to mind quickly. Good Directions, by Billy Currington, is definitely a twangy, fun country song that's been a favorite since I first heard it. I love the sweet story it told— a love-at-first-sight romance. I've always been fascinated by the idea of love at first sight and the will of the heart to act on that. So, Gabby and Cooper's story was born! And a quick thank you to all my readers who helped me name the hero and heroine! Hope you enjoy!

And, unfortunately, there’s no “official” video on YouTube (what’s up with that???) but there are a couple of fun fan videos you might want to check out. You can definitely listen to the song in a number of places!
(and if you want to know a secret... I pictured Cooper looking an awful lot like Billy :))

Sometimes it takes getting lost to find where you really want to be…

Rated – PG-13, Some mild profanity, violence or sexual situations may be present or alluded to.
Genre - Contemporary
Heat Level - Sensual


Good Directions

by Erin Nicholas

Gabriella Shaw squinted up at the metal pole that should have held a street sign. The hawk that perched on top looked back at her. He didn’t seem concerned that she had absolutely no idea where she was.

A unique spa experience, her ass.

She was not only as far from spa country as she could get—there were corn rows and cows as far as she could see—but she was about to be minus one best friend if this spa turned out to be bogus. Kari Morgan, her BFF since college, to be exact. They’d known each other through job changes, boyfriend changes and hairstyle changes.

But eight years was enough. She could change best friends. Sure, no problem.

“Hi, you need some help?”

Gabby looked over at the blue pick up that had pulled up next to her. The older man grinned at her.

“Maybe. I’m looking for the Blakefield Country Spa.”

The man blinked twice. “The what?”

Gabby frowned. She was having a hard time believing there was a spa here, but Kari wouldn’t have made that up. She was pretty sure.

In the next moment she realized that yes, Kari would have made it up. Her friend was serious about Gabby getting away and relaxing. She would have made up a spa to get Gabby to agree to the trip.

“You’ve never heard of the Blakefield Spa?” she asked the old man.

“The only Blakefield anything I’ve heard of is the Blakefield Dairy.”

A dairy? Like milk and stuff? “Where’s that?” she asked, not sure she cared.

“Four miles east then two miles south.”

She looked down at the paper Kari had given her. Damn.

“Is that east?” she asked, pointing to her right.

“Yep.” The man tipped his cap back and peered at her more closely.

“You sure you want to go to the dairy?”

If he thought she looked like she’d never stepped foot on an actual dairy, he’d be right. Just like she’d never set foot on a farm, period. Or a gravel road. Or in the state of Nebraska.

“I’m not sure I want to,” she admitted. “But I think I’m supposed to.”

“Well, then take a right,” the man said with a chuckle. “Or take a left and go three miles and you’ll end up back on the highway.”

Tempting. Very tempting. But she turned right with a sigh.

Ten minutes later she found the huge sign that read Blakefield Dairy.

Not a spa.

She was definitely telling Kari she could shop, lunch and get pedicures with someone else from now on. As soon as she got her favorite shoes back.


People fell into two categories in Cooper Reed’s life—the ones who just walked into his house without knocking, and the people who never visited him. The latter group was mostly made of people he didn’t know, so that made sense. The bottom line was that no one knocked on Copper Reed’s front door, so he was startled to hear the sound.

“It’s open!” he hollered from where he was perched on a ladder in his kitchen.

Of course someone would show up when he was painting the most pain-in-the-ass spot in the whole house. That little strip of wall between the high kitchen window and the ceiling was also above the sink so he was stretching, reaching and angling his arm in an unnatural position to reach it without falling on his ass and breaking something.

“Um, hello?”

The husky female voice would have been enough to have him spinning around even if he wasn’t on a ladder. Above the ground as he was, the voice was dangerous.

He gripped the ladder and glanced over his shoulder.

Her three-inch white heels were covered in the soft brown dirt of his driveway. He assumed she’d

sunk in with the first step. No one wore heels around here. He couldn’t spare time or energy worrying about her shoes though. There were way too many other things about her to notice.

Like the fact she had lightly tanned skin and that her long legs disappeared under a short skirt which then curved into very nice hips. The pink silky tank top she wore hugged perfect breasts. The low neckline showed off the graceful length of her throat and he suddenly wanted to know if she dabbed perfume in that little depression at the base. Her straight, dark hair hung just past her chin, her lips were a shiny perfect match for her top and as she pressed them together he wanted to find out how they felt under his.

The reaction shocked him.

He knew beautiful women. Liked them. Kissed them. But he never reacted so fast to any of them.
She looked amazing, completely out of place in his one-hundred-year-old kitchen… and very familiar.


She was staring at him, her eyes wide and her mouth open. “Cooper?”

The ladder definitely wobbled then.

“What the hell?” He tried to turn, but the shift made the ladder tilt and he knew he was taking his life into his hands. He shoved the brush into the can of paint and descended the rungs, coming face to face with the woman who’d been haunting his dreams for two years.

“What are you doing here?” they both asked at the same time.

He was amazed. She looked gorgeous and just as he’d imagined her—too covered up, but he’d memorized her naked curves long ago and could conjure those images without effort.

She also looked pissed.

“Is this a joke?” she asked, planting a hand on her hip. “This isn’t funny. I drove ten hours to get here.”

“That’s… great.” He was a dairy farmer. He milked cows for a living. He had a simple life in a small Midwestern town. But he wasn’t stupid.

Gabriella Shaw had been the hottest night of his life. Of. His. Life. And she was now standing in his kitchen. Pissed or not, she was here. And he wasn’t about to just let her go.

He reached out and took her hand. “God, it’s good to see you girl.”

“I think you should know I’m going to murder your favorite cousin,” she said, but she let him take her hand.

Kari was his favorite cousin without question. The other nine were all boys and they’d never done anything so nice as introducing him to Gabby, Kari’s college roommate. Which was how he’d met her two years ago at their joint graduation party. And how he’d ended up with Gabby in his bed for that one amazing night.

“Why? What did she do?” he asked, tugging gently and bringing her closer.

“Sent me here.”

“That’s…” Strange. Amazing. Great. Weird.

“Weird, right?” she asked.

He grinned. “Amazing.” Which was a much better word.

“And weird.”

“I haven’t seen you in two years.” He could tell from the flicker of awareness in her eyes that she recalled the last time they’d seen each other as easily as he did. It was also the first time they’d ever seen each other. And they’d seen everything.

They’d left the graduation party together and headed straight for his hotel room. They hadn’t emerged for nearly twenty-four hours. He’d awakened—alone—just in time to head for the airport home to Nebraska.

They hadn’t seen each other since.

She also hadn’t returned phone calls, e-mails, texts and she’d even declined his friend request on Facebook.

Needless to say, having her appear in his kitchen after all this time was a shock.

But a very pleasant one.

“I know.” She sighed. “It’s been a long time.” She tipped her head to the side. “You’re surprised to see me.”

“Shocked, actually. But happy.” He squeezed her hand. “Please tell me that you’ve been thinking of me.”

Gabby’s eyes widened and she licked her lips. “I, um… thought this was a spa.”

He tried to ignore her lips as he processed her words. But her lips—and his memories—made it very difficult. Which was possibly why what she said didn’t make any sense.

“A what?”

She waved her hand as if to wave the words away. “Forget it. She just—she told me that this was where she came a couple months ago when everything was going so wrong for her. She came back like a new woman, energized, happy, relaxed. She decided I needed the same treatment.”

Cooper felt a number of emotions shoot through his chest. Again, the amazement that Gabriella Shaw was actually standing before him. There was also the heat—the heat he’d felt the first moment he’d seen her, the first time he touched her, kissed her, made love to her. The heat that he’d never felt with anyone else.

And then there was the confusion about what she said. Kari had visited two months ago, stayed with him for a week and partied her ass off. She’d shown up on his doorstep without notice, crashed in his guest room, and had a great time blowing off some steam. Then she’d packed up, kissed him on the cheek and said she was going to pay him back somehow for helping her get her sanity back.

“Well, I can certainly help you with that prescription,” he told Gabby. “Kari slept late, ate a big breakfast, did some work around the place until it was time to go to town, then danced and drank until the bar closed and spent the rest of the night wearing out her old boyfriend, Travis. And yeah, she looked a lot happier and more relaxed when she left than when she’d arrived.”

Gabby’s eyes were huge by the time he was done. “She just slept, drank and had a bunch of sex?”

she asked. “That bitch.”

Cooper chuckled. “It worked.”

“I could have done all of that in Chicago.”

He didn’t like the sounds of that at all. He moved in close and said huskily, “Not like you can here.”

“Better beer here?” she asked with a shaky smile.

His grin was slow and sexy. “Something like that.”


“You sent me here to get laid?” Gabby hissed into the phone once she was shut in Cooper’s bathroom.

Cooper’s bathroom. She still couldn’t believe it.

Kari laughed. “Well not specifically, but if that happens too, great.”

“Cooper said that’s what you did when you were here.”

“I did,” Kari admitted. “And I needed it. But I just wanted you to get away.”

“By sending me to essentially live with the only one-night stand I’ve ever had?”

“By sending you to stay for a few days with a guy I know and trust to take care of you while you let loose a little bit.”

“You told me this was a spa”

“Spas are for relaxing and rejuvenating. This trip will do that for you.”

“What about the shopping?”

“This weekend is the Potterbury County Fair. There will be shopping and dining unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Have fun.” And she hung up.

“Bitch,” Gabby muttered to the dial tone.

Gabby took a moment to just breathe deep. And be amazed and overwhelmed by the fact that she was in Cooper Reed’s house.

All she had to do was close her eyes and she could recreate everything from their one night together. Sights, scents, sounds… it was all right there in her memory.

And this certainly wasn’t the first time she’d relived it since it happened.

Oh, boy. She turned to the vanity and ran some cool water, dabbing it against the hot skin of the back of her neck, her throat and forehead. This was going to be interesting.

She could leave, of course.

She’d have to put up with Kari calling her a chicken—assuming she decided to speak to Kari again after this—but she could live through that. Worse than Kari’s opinion going south was her fear that she would be disappointed in herself for running. She deserved some fun, no doubt about it. She could really use some good, hot, dirty loving. She didn’t want to shy away from it, miss out, regret it later. But she was wary of it being with Cooper.

No, spending a few days with Cooper, drinking, dancing and getting dirty with him, didn’t sound scary. But it was.

Cooper Reed was a threat—to her heart, to her life. Not her physical, heart-beating, breathing-in-and-out life but the life that she’d established, worked for, fought for, wanted in Chicago.

She was a damned good lawyer. She’d been proving herself. She was doing well.

Okay, this last case—this last loss—wasn’t great, but she’d bounce back.

At least that’s what she’d promised the partners.

Anyway, her life, her career, was in Chicago. She’d known the moment she met Cooper that he wasn’t the Chicago kind of guy. She hadn’t known or asked—very much on purpose—what he did or where he lived, but she could tell he wasn’t big city material.

So, even though he was sweet, smart, funny, charming, and sexy as hell, she’d known from the beginning that he was just a one-night stand. Of course, she never had one-night stands. Hadn’t before Cooper and hadn’t since. In fact, she’d only had sex twice since Cooper and neither time had been spectacular—or lasting. But with Cooper, it was like she couldn’t help it.

It had been her and Kari’s graduation party. There had been drinking and dancing. But she’d known before even one glass of wine that if he asked her to go home with him, she would.

And he’d definitely asked.

“Well, I’m here to stay for a few days,” she said, emerging from the bathroom to find Cooper making sandwiches.

“And Kari’s drawing up her last will and testament?” he asked, handing her a glass of iced tea.

“She probably should be,” Gabby said. “But I’m too exhausted to think about driving back to Chicago and kicking her ass today. Or tomorrow.” Or for the next week, probably, she thought looking up into his green eyes.

“You know, she told me she was sending me a surprise,” Cooper said. “I was expecting a box with a bow but this definitely works.” He gave her that good ole’ boy grin that had gotten her out of her panties two years before. “And if you want to put a bow on, I’d be happy to unwrap you.”

She crossed her arms and cocked an eyebrow—even though she was seriously considering losing her panties again. “You can just put that country charm right back in your pocket, ‘cuz it won’t work.”

She was such a liar.

“Oh, it’s not just country charm. It works in the city too, if you remember.”

Holy crap, did she remember.

She tried to seem unaffected by him. “I was hoping you could introduce me to Travis?”

“Travis?” he asked.

“The guy Kari wore out.” She liked the narrowing of Cooper’s eyes.

“Yeah, I know who Travis is. Why do you need to know him?”

“Kari said I need to do everything she did while she was here.”

His eyes narrowed a little further. “Well, that, Gabby girl, isn’t going to happen.”

“No sex?” she asked.

“Oh, I didn’t say that.”


Gabriella had no idea what to expect from the Potterbury County Fair—or any county fair, for that matter. She’d grown up, gone to school, worked and lived in cities her whole life.

There were a lot of lights, a lot of noises and a lot of fried foods.

“Here you go.” Cooper handed her a tall glass of something pale yellow.

“What is this?”

“Lemonade. Fresh squeezed.” He saluted her with his cup. “Drink up.”

She took a tentative sip. Then let her eyes slide shut in bliss. It was the most delicious thing she’d ever tasted.

“So are we going to talk about the last time we were together?”

She swallowed wrong and started choking.

Cooper grinned and thumped her on the back. “So you do remember.”

She shook her head. “We’re not going to talk about it.”


He took her hand and they moved on to other booths.

“I cannot believe how great food tastes when you fry it,” Gabby said twenty minutes later, half a funnel cake gone.

“Amazing.” Cooper lifted a hand and ran his thumb along her bottom lip.

She saw powered sugar on the tip of his thumb just before he put it to his mouth and sucked it clean.

Desire, sharp and hot, arrowed through her and she gasped.

“Delicious.” He grinned down at her again. “You should breathe Gabby.” Then he started moving again, her in tow.

She shook her head. This was too much. The last time they’d been together it had been hot, but fast. An instant attraction they’d both just reacted to. This time she was getting to know him, getting to see him in his own environment, totally comfortable in blue jeans that hugged his butt, a soft gray t-shirt that she wanted to cuddle up to and that grin he flashed constantly.

He didn’t only smile at her. He talked to everyone, greeted people personally and they all seemed happy to see him. But there was something different about the grins he gave her. They were sexy but also warm—like he was just thrilled she was here with him. Like she was something—someone—special.

It was addictive.

It wasn’t that she didn’t date or have guys who liked her. She did. A lot.

But that was part of her recent restlessness. Her life was… big. It was crazy, it was exhausting. She was always on the go. She felt like she was always fighting, trying to get more. She wanted to win her cases, wanted to make partner, wanted to impress people—her bosses, her clients, the men she dated.

Slowing down felt so good.

Being with a guy who so obviously liked her, without her even trying, was so amazing.

And she knew, even though she wanted to ignore or deny it, that she was falling in love with him.

No, that wasn’t right, she thought as they moved among the booths of food, crafts and games.

She’d fallen in love with him two years ago. She just hadn’t wanted to believe it. Because falling in love in one night was crazy.

But now being with him again she knew it was true.

What she was going to do about it was another question.

He bought her earrings when they got further down to the craft section past the food.

“Oh, I can’t.”

“They remind me of the ones you were wearing the night we met.” He held them up.

He was right.

And she was stunned.

“Oops, I’m not supposed to talk about that night, right?”

He didn’t look a bit apologetic.

She kept eye contact as she replaced her earrings with the new ones.

How did he remember her earrings from two years ago? They’d been simple silver hoops. Nothing

flashy, nothing memorable. But she remembered him playing with them as they sat at the bar, him seeming to take in everything about her, studying her face.

Wow. No wonder she’d slept with him.

“Now what?” she asked.

“I’d like to touch you semi-inappropriately.”

Her eyebrows shot up.

“Let’s dance,” he said with a grin.

The dance was outside, in the town square. There was a live cover band, lights strung from trees and poles, and a lot of laughter and conversation.

As Cooper pulled her into his arms, she sighed. He felt so good—strong, warm, protective.

“We fit together so well, Gab,” Cooper said, his voice husky. “I hate that I only get this little taste of you and you’ll be gone again.”

There had sure been a lot of tasting on both their parts the last time they’d been together.
She looked up at him and couldn’t help but smile. “Thought we weren’t talking about that night.”

Heat flared in his eyes and he smiled. “We don’t have to talk about it. I think about it all the time. Like you do. Whether we talk about it or not.”

She took a deep breath and blamed the fried food as she confessed, “You’re right.”

“I can’t let you leave without kissing you.”

Her heart thumped. She knew exactly where kissing would lead. “Good,” was all she could say .

Desire was clear on his face, but he swallowed hard and said, “I can’t start here, because it’s going to get indecent really quick.”

The most they did was hold hands all the way home. But within minutes of stepping through the front door, clothes were flung left and right, lips and hands were everywhere and there was a lot of sighing, moaning and “yes, please”.

They made it as far as the wall in the hallway on the way to the kitchen.

“I wanted this time to be slow,” Cooper said gruffly as he lifted her thigh in one big palm and pressed her into the wall.

“We have next time.” She needed him so much she could hardly think. “But right now I can’t wait.”

She gripped his butt and pulled him forward.

He’d already slipped on a condom and didn’t hesitate to thrust forward, sliding deep. They groaned together and started moving in a steady rhythm that quickly built and sent them over the edge together.


As they stood, sweating and breathing hard, plastered against one another, Cooper knew he couldn’t let her go. Not because the sex was the best he’d ever had, but because she was the best he’d ever had.

But instead of telling her, he tried to show her. All night long. Again and again.

The next morning he left her sleeping, made her breakfast and left it on the stove then went out to get some work done. Working outside had always been like therapy for him. He was at peace, he knew what he wanted, he was focused when he was out in the midst of what he loved and wanted.

But today he felt like something was missing. Well, not missing exactly—it, she, was in the house in his bed.

It was crazy to feel like this. They’d met one night two years ago and had now been together not quite twenty-four hours. But he felt it. She was his. She belonged with him.

And he belonged here.

Would she stay? Could he even ask?

She was just out of the shower when he came back to the house later. They didn’t make it downstairs for several hours.

As they sat together by the bon fire at Cooper’s best friend’s barbecue later that night, he struggled to keep from asking her to stay. She fit in with his friends, she felt so good here with him, so right. But it was a crazy thought. Maybe they could try the long distance thing. They could talk on the phone, they could e-mail and text, they could visit, they could vacation together.

It all sounded great.

But not enough.

He kept his thoughts and feeling to himself at the barbecue, in the car and even as he undressed her that night. Somehow.

They made love that night sweet and slow, like they were trying to savor the time they had. They slept sporadically.

In the morning he knew he had to tell her something. Something that would make her stay. Something that didn’t sound crazy like “please stay even though it feels we barely know each other, we don’t have the same backgrounds, the same lifestyles, but stay.”

No, he couldn’t say any of that.

He put her suitcase in the trunk and they stood by her open car door.

“Thanks for… everything,” she said.

“Well, we drank and danced,” he said. “How do you feel?”

She grinned up at him. “Great. Completely rejuvenated. Must have been the beer.”

“Right.” He chuckled.

“Okay, well… can I call you?” she asked.

Of course she could call him. “Stay.”

She looked stunned. “What?”

He took a deep breath. “Stay.”

“For how long?”

“Forever.” He shrugged.

“That’s nuts,” she whispered.


“I do love it here.”

“So, stay.”

“I can come back and visit.”

“Yeah. Or you could stay.” He was really trying not to push. And he wasn’t succeeding at it very


She licked her lips. “Will you still give me directions to the interstate if I say I can’t?”

He took a deep breath. Okay. He wouldn’t push her any more. This time. The next time he saw her, though, all bets were off. And there would be a next time. “You go four miles to the stop sign. The interstate is to the left. A right will bring you back to me.”

She stood, just staring at him for a long minute. Then she took a deep breath, got in her car and drove off.

He watched until her taillights disappeared. Then he kicked the dirt and headed for the house to look up plane tickets to Chicago.

Ten minutes later he was typing in his credit card number for a ticket out the next day. There was a knock on the door.

No one knocked on his door. He pushed back and stomped to the front of the house.

Gabby stood on the porch.

He grabbed her and kissed her before she could say a thing. If she’d just forgotten her toothbrush he was at least going to remind her of what she was leaving.

“You took a right,” he finally said.

She grinned and nodded. “Right back home.”



Erin Nicholas has been reading and writing romantic fiction since her mother gave her a romance novel in high school and she discovered happily-ever-after suddenly went a little beyond glass slippers and fairy godmothers! She lives in the Midwest with her husband who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books, her kids who will never read the sex scenes in her books, and family and friends who say they’re shocked by the sex scenes in her books (yeah, right!). She writes sexy contemporaries for Samhain Publishing. Anything You Want is Erin’s most recent release, out March, 2011.

For more information about Erin and her books, visit: (including Twitter and Facebook links!)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wond'ring Aloud by Belinda McBride

The song Wond’ring Aloud is from the classic Jethro Tull album “Aqualung.” For those of you old enough (or savvy enough) to remember this album, you most likely associate it with the hard rock sounds of Aqualung and Locomotive Breath. However, there’s a little hidden gem on the album, a simple love song called Wond’ring Aloud. Oddly, this little ditty is one of Tull’s most discussed and debated songs. Is this a beginning? Honeymooners, perhaps? Or is this an established couple who are choosing to move forward in their relationship? To me, this is a song about selflessness; about arriving at a point in a relationship where the other person suddenly takes precedence over self. This is a song about love that’s moved on from the lust of youth to the deep passion of forever. The final line of the song sums up forever love to me: “And it’s only the giving that makes you what you are.”

"Wond'ring Aloud"
Ian Anderson

Wond'ring aloud --
how we feel tod
Last night sipped the sunset --
my hands in her hair.
We are our own saviours
as we start both our hearts beating life
into each other.

Wond'ring aloud -
will the years treat us well.
As she floats in the kitchen,
I'm tasting the smell
of toast as the butter runs.
Then she comes, spilling crumbs on the bed
and I shake my
And it's only the giving
that makes you what you are.

I’m taking the liberty of posting the URL to a second version of the song; the video is from concert in 1976, the link is to a more recent performance by much older Ian Anderson. (who wrote the song at the age of 24!) In addition, the more recent recording is how the song was originally recorde
d: with guitar, piano and a string quartet.

1977 concert footage:

Recent performance, in case you happen to be curious to see how the song (and singer) has weathered about 40 years:

* * * * * * * * * *

Wond'ring aloud, will the years treat us well?

David and Calvin have been ghost hunters for years. They've been best friends for even longer. But now, friendship has evolved into something deeper, and neither man knows how to tell the other how he feels. Enter a pair of hitchhiking ghosts, and the problem just might
become even greater!

Rated PG
Genre: m/m, m/f, paranormal
Heat: mild

Wond'ring Aloud by Belinda McBride

Martin Westborough carefully dipped his pen into the well of India ink. He thought for a moment before setting pen to paper, letting the words run through his mind, uttering the stanza out loud, just to m
ake certain it was right. Once the words began to flow, he quickly filled the page with line after line, letting the rhythm and meter carry him away. He hummed a bit, listening to the birds outside the window and the breeze in the treetops. It was an ideal day in the English countryside. The cerulean blue of the sky was studded with white clouds. The wind carried away the heat of early summer. In the distance, he heard the lowing of a cow. It was as it had always been and would always be. Perfect.

“Darling, did you say something?”

He jumped at the unexpected intrusion. Jane stood framed in the doorway, her loose morning dress failed to disguise the shapely curves of her body. Her hair was arranged in a simple twist at the nape of her neck and ringlets broke free, framing the perfection of her face. Her cherry-red lips curved up in a smile.

He blinked in confusion. Was this how the conversation was supposed to go?

“No, I was humming a moment ago, but no, I said nothing.”

“Oh.” Her smooth brow puckered in a frown. “I thought I heard someone call out. It was a man’s voice.” She turned from the door, starting back down the stairs. He watched as she paus
ed and looked at him. “I believe I’ll take a walk in the garden. The roses are so lovely this time of year. Would you care to join me?”

He looked at her, love surging through his very essence. He’d loved Jane all his existence, it seemed. When
they’d secretly pledged their love, he’d promised her eternity, if she’d only wait for him. And she’d waited faithfully, through schooling and war and finally his homecoming. They’d wed against their parents’ hopes, though both sets had accepted the union graciously.

“I’ve just a bit left to the verse, and then I’ll join you.”

She smiled and left the room, her footsteps echoed down the stairs, until he could no longer hear her. Martin shook his head. She knew not to interrupt him when he was writing, but he couldn’t find it within him to be annoyed with Jane. He looked d
own at the blank page in front of him and began the words to the poem he’d been considering for so long. Pen touched paper and he paused. It wouldn’t hurt to do things a bit differently once in awhile. Martin reached for his hat and coat and then set them back down. It was a lovely day and no one would care if he went outside bareheaded and in his shirtsleeves. After all, this was his home and he was free to act as he wished.

* * *

“Would you look at that?” David Cameron leaned forward, peering through the windshield at the beautiful old estate that rose before him. “Are you sure this place is abandoned?”

Calvin carefully steered the van up the graveled drive, coming slowly to a stop at the back of the property. He checked the photo of the house that the owners had sent and compared it to the house in front of them. “This is it. It’s in great condition, though. They must have caretakers coming in pretty regularly.”

Indeed, the gardens around the house were healthy and well-tended, if a bit overgrown. The cottage itself was a work of art. Cottage? David laughed under his breath. This was t
he wealthy aristocrat’s version of a cottage. It rose at least three stories, and yes, it was more quaint than stately. Still, he’d expected something a bit more humble.

He hopped out of the van, shading his eyes against the sun. It was a brilliant day, much different than what he’d experienced when they’d arrived in London. The rain and fog had been depressing, forcing them to drive slowly on their trek to the coun
tryside near the Scottish border. Last night, they’d stayed at a tiny bed and breakfast inn, and David had lain awake late into the night, clearing his mind so that he’d be ready for his first day at Rosemead.

He and Calvin were ghost hunters. They’d started the business as a hobby in their late teens, using the oc
casional job to supplement their meager college funds. David’s studies had leaned toward history with a minor in psychology while Calvin had remained firmly entrenched in his tech world. When they graduated the jobs kept coming, and they finally got serious a bout the business.

They approached the job differen
tly than other teams. Basically, David went in blind. He’d go in and let the past tell him its story. His results were always backed up by the scientific evidence collected by Calvin. Sometimes they found nothing, and sometimes they struck gold.

He had a good feeling about this place.

He headed to the back of the van and watched Calvin for a moment. Black, razor styled hair glinted in the sun. Cal had always taken his style hints from Canto-pop stars. A fringe hung over one eye and he impatiently pushed it back. David smiled; he’d worked so hard on the effect that morning. Personally, he liked it when Calvin forgot about his hair for a few months, letting it grow out to his shoulders. It was straight and sleek, unlike David’s messy red curls.

Cal wore a white tee-shirt under his bad boy leather jacket. Tight blue jeans were tucked into a pair of lace-up Doc Martins. He wasn’t tall, wasn’t short, and had a body that stopped traffic.

Calvin stood, stretched and put his hands on his hips, looking around the yards.
“Too much work goes into
a place like this. Give me a condo any day.” He leaned forward, hauling out a box of cables. David took the moment to enjoy the guilty pleasure of ogling his friend’s ass, and then took the box from him. “Just leave it there at the back door. I don’t want to set up till we walk through the place.”

David set down the box and wandered into the cottage gardens. Plants grew wild, spilling over neat borders in a
riot of color. Bright scents filled the air and bees lazily hovered over the tiny blossoms of a lavender bush. A path covered with dirty white stone lead to riotous growths of flowers. Further back grew roses of all sizes and colors. Quaint stone benches were scattered around in the shade, and he had no problem imagining people wandering these paths in years gone by.

He walked a bit, listening to the crunch of the granite beneath his feet. When he stopped, he heard only birds singing and the breeze in the treetops. It was as though he was alone. Completely alone. But he wasn’t alone at all. He closed his eyes, listening to the lilt of a voice that just eluded his hearing. Soft laughter an
d then a gasp of pleasure. He flushed slightly and his cock began to rise in sympathetic arousal. He shivered and listened with more than his ears.

“Dave!” Calvin’s voice sounded urgent, so David began to trot up the path, surprised he’d come so far. When he arrived back at
the house, his friend was waiting impatiently. There was a pile of boxes and equipment that he’d already unloaded.

“Sorry!” He could see Calvin was royally pissed. “Just wandered off down the path. Next thing I knew, I heard you calling.”

He tilted his head, looking up into David’s face. “You look pale. You okay?”

“Fine.” David forced a smile to his face. He’d lost at least twenty minutes. Maybe longer. He looked behind
him, down the garden path. He then took a deep breath. “Let’s get inside. Check this place out.”

“After you.” Cal grinned, and let David lead them into the house.

* * *

This place was the real deal. Calvin could see it on Dave’s face. It was in the set of his shoulders as he prowled from ro
om to room, a mixture of excitement and apprehension in his voice. He’d been more distraction than help as Calvin set up monitors and computers, so he’d sent David away to tour the house. For being old, it was in remarkably sound condition. The owners swore that they couldn’t get anyone in to clean or do repairs. They’d purchased it on the cheap, hoping to turn it into an upscale bed and breakfast establishment; the sort that catered to wedding parties and such. Unfortunately, their plans had been a bust. Now they were hoping to draw a different sort of clientele. If Calvin and Dave could verify a haunting, thrill seekers might come calling. Unfortunately, they’d still have to deal with the fact that none of the locals were willing to set foot on the property.

The house was mind-bending. Most of the furniture was gone, but the rooms were in pristine condition. The wall paper was intact, still vividly colored. The wooden floors gleamed, as did the windows. It was slightly dusty, but overall, cleaner than his apartment back in Berkeley. An few pieces remained but it seemed rude to
use the beautiful wooden furniture to hold his equipment, so Calvin brought in folding tables and camp chairs.

They’d debated the merits of staying in the house overnight, and had decided to work until a few hours after dark, and then head on down the road to a busy little inn. To his consterna
tion, and anticipation, there had been only one vacancy at the inn. Two single beds in one single room. But then, he and David had shared the inflatable mattress many times on other jobs, but that had been in the course of work. Somehow, sharing the intimacy of a room was more intimidating.
He knew it was idiotic to view his friend this way. He knew…but still, at some point over the years, Calvin’s pe
rception of David had shifted. One day, they’d partied together, studied together and even dated together. The next, Calvin was looking at David as though he was more…as though he was his.

And that wasn’t okay.

Neither of them was innocent. Neither of them were completely straight, either. He’d seen the looks Davey had given to the occasional man over the years; generally a hunky, tall guy like himself. Short Chinese men hadn’t been on his menu. Maybe he craved someone larger and stronger; someone who could take him, make him cry out into the pillow.

And at some point over the years, Calvin had come to the realization that his friend was the real deal. David was what made their little business different. He was a real, bonafide psychic. A medium. When he’d first realized that, Calvin had been both thrilled and terrified. Not of David, but for David. His scientific skills combined with David’s talent gave them a distinct edge over the completion.

Unlike his friend, Calvin liked to know what he was walking into. He always had some research under his belt. He always had an idea of what they were looking for at a haunting, and when David managed to draw the story from an old building, his ability frightened Calvin to the core. He was not so much frightened of the ghosts or spirits, but of the toll it took on David. Just an hour ago, he’d wandered into the garden, losing a good half-hour down there. He didn’t wan
t to know what the hell had happened; he just wanted that look off of Davey’s face. He wanted him back where he could protect him.

Good God, he loved him. And he couldn’t keep going on like this.

“Hey Davey?”

“Hmm?” Dave glanced over at him, the a
fternoon light caught on the strawberry gold of his hair. With coloring like his, David should be homely, but his blue eyes were bright and surrounded by dark lashes. He never missed a chance to tease him about his pale skin, but in reality, it fascinated him. As he aged, David grew from gawky to handsome. His lanky limbs muscled out and he grew more confident by the day.

“What do you think about adding a couple team members? Maybe take a bit of pressure off the two of us?” Well, it would take the pressure off him if he wasn’t on the road with David, day in and day out. Maybe he could get over this man crush. Maybe he could find someone and get laid. Accept reality and move on with his live. “I’m nearly thirty. I’m thinking I’d like to buy a place, have a home base. Maybe manage the business rather than be on the road all the time.”

David frowned. “I guess. Not many people have your background...” He trailed off, his attention caught by something. Calvin bit his tongue to keep himself quiet. It was starting. David closed his eyes, focusing on whatever it was that had captured his attention. It was pretty lame to have brought this up during a job; Da
vid didn’t need the distraction.

He moved quickly to his bank of monitors, looking at various read-outs. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, except…nothing was moving. All the graphs and monitors had frozen in place. He looked up at David, meaning to speak, but his friend was frozen in place, an expression of intense concentration on his face.

“Hello? Can you hear me?”

The silence vibrated in his ears. He studied the monitors, and suddenly they came to life, graphs and needles and warning lights all flashed in a chaotic flurry of color and movement. He’d kept the sound turned off so it didn’t disturb David.

Suddenly, all the monitors went back to
normal. Whatever had been there was gone. The two men stared at each other.

“It was a woman. Maybe a man too.” David was white as a sheet. As white as if he’d seen…a ghost. And apparently, that’s exactly what he’d seen.

* * *

They lay in their bed, the sheets tangled around sweaty limbs, their breath still coming hard. Martin nuzzled Jane’s hair, enjoying the lavender fragrance of its length. He dropped a kiss on her temple, and then cupped her breast. She was perfect as she’d ever been.

“I’ve had the strangest feeling today.” Her breath stirred the hair on his chest, causing him to shiver. Or maybe he shivered because he shared that strange feeling. He’d heard the soft murmur of voices and had been plagued by feelings…déjà vu. So much felt familiar.
She rose, not bothering with her robe, and Martin enjoyed the sight of her pale skin in the late afternoon sun.

“You worked so hard on your song today, but now the page is blank.”

“What?” He rose and joined her at the small writing desk. Sure enough, the parchment was pristine. He clearly remembered writing; though the words were hazy in his mind. “That’s strange.” Yet it wasn’t. The page was always blank when he returned to it.

And then he remembered. She must have remembered too. They’d broken their routine today. It had jolted them into remembrance. Their gazes met and she smiled winsomely at him.

“Do you mind so much?” He reached out, stroking her skin, remembering a time when it wasn’t so smooth and unlined. Her hair hadn’t always been this color of gold.

Jane moved into his arms, resting her head on his chest. “Mind? What more could I ask for, then to spend eternity with my love?”

He wrapped his arms around her, holding her close. Now he remembered and smiled, nipping the soft skin of her shoulder. For some, being trapped in limbo might be a curse, but every moment he spent with his Jane was a blessing. They moved through their daily routine endlessly, occasionally jolted back to reality when a visitor arrived at the cottage.

“There’s someone in the house. That’s what woke us.” She looked up at him, looping her arms around his neck. “Perhaps…”

“Perhaps we could visit them?” He finished her idea.

“Perhaps we could do more.” She didn’t smile, but a dimple appeared in her cheek. He leaned down, teasing the indent with the tip of his tongue. He knew exactly what she had in mind.
With a thought, they were in the drawing room, blinking past the fog of ages. The room was bare, or very nearly. He was momentarily puzzled at the odd machinery set up on tables, then recognized it as belonging to the present time these people inhabited. Two men stood frozen, one in the center of the room, the other behind the table at the far side of the room. The man who stood nearest them was nearly as tall as Martin. His blue eyes searched the room, finally settling on where he and Jane stood.

“Hello? Can you hear me?”

His accent was unusual, but Martin knew he’d heard it before. Over the years, many men and women had visited their home. None had managed to manifest quite so clearly as this one. The other man was little more than a hazy blur. Jane clasped his hand, pulling him from the room.

“Can he see us?” She looked up at him, her delight mingled with fear. He understood completely; how many years had it been just the two of them? There’d been a medium many years back, a pretentious, annoying man, but nevertheless, he’d managed to connect with them. Jane squeezed his hand, and with a glance to make sure they were both properly attired, Martin took a breath, moving slowly back into the room. They watched the men who now hovered behind the table, fussing with the machinery they’d brought with them.


He pulled it from the mind of the other man, letting the data and facts of the past few years flood his brain. Technology to prove the existence of…ghosts. He looked down at his wife; her expression told him she’d picked up the same thought. Twenty-first century. The lapse of time no longer had the power to surprise them, but he was fascinated by the advances that had taken place since they’d last had visitors.

The ginger-haired man straightened, looking straight at them. His eyes went wide and he started to move, one hand reaching out in their direction. Before Martin could warn him, he touched, his hand passing right through the fine black fabric of Martin’s sleeve. He felt nothing, but obviously, the medium was affected. His eyes rolled up in his head and he moaned, going limp. Just before he collapsed, the other man rushed forward, catching him.

“David!” He looked wildly around the room. “We aren’t here to hurt you! Leave him alone!”

Involuntarily, Martin and Jane stepped back, watching the man cradle the other in his arms. Gently, he stroked his face, running his fingers through David’s hair. He looked up again, seeing nothing. “Come on Davey, wake up!”

He was foreign in appearance; his face had high, jutting cheekbones, his almond shaped eyes angled up at the corners. Martin had seen images of men from the Orient, but had never seen one in person.

“Isn’t he just lovely?” Jane tilted her head a bit. “And so in love.”

Martin moved close, staring down into the man’s frightened face. “Can you hear me?” The man jerked in surprise. Maybe…he reached out, gently touching his arm. The man gasped. He looked up at Martin in awe.

“I can see you!”

Martin let go of his arm, but the visitor kept staring.

“I can
see you!”

“So you said.” Martin replied dryly. He smiled as the man scrambled back, dragging his friend with him.

“I…” He looked around, eyes wide in shock. “There’s stuff in here! Where’s my equipment?”

“It’s still here. You’re just seeing from our perspective.” Jane’s voice was soothing. She smiled happily. “It’s been a very long time since we had visitors. We’re so glad to welcome you. Martin, darling?”

He cleared his throat and performed introductions. “I’m Martin Westborough, and this is my wife Jane. Welcome to our home.”

“C..Calvin Yee. My friend is David Cameron. My…we were hired to come here..” He stammered, clearly overwhelmed. “We were hired to see if the place was really haunted. Owners can’t get anyone to come out here…”

“I see. There have been a few like you over the years. But it’s just the two of us.” He smiled, trying to reassure the young man. “No malevolent spirits; no angry specters. Just an old married couple.”

“Old.” For the first time, Calvin laughed. “You look like kids. Young adults, anyway.”

It was true; they’d taken the form they’d been at in the prime of their lives. Still, they were quite old. They’d lived good, long lives.

“Why are you still here? In this house?” Calvin still cradled the still form of his friend, though the tall man was stirring. His eyes fluttered, and then went wide as he looked around, taking in the situation. He suddenly sat up, holding the other man’s arms in place. He was paper-white, but less afraid than the other man.

“I touched you…” He looked from Martin to Jane and then back. “I felt you, but there was nothing…”

“That’s why you fainted.” Jane smiled kindly at him. When David looked around, he looked ready to pass out again.

Martin answered Calvin’s earlier question. “We don’t know why we never passed over. Perhaps we stayed because we wanted nothing more than each other.”

“Like a wish gone wrong.” David was scrambling to his feet. Calvin followed, steadying him.

“Oh no, it’s not so bad. We live through our daily routine until a visitor disrupts it. That’s really the only time I find myself wishing for more.” Jane smiled, moving to settle into a wing chair. “That’s why we decided to approach you. We wondered if you could help us.”

Martin moved to the edge of the room, peering out the drawing room window. The world was as he’d always known it, but if he looked a bit harder, he was able to see the changes that had taken place in the world since he’d last walked abroad. He let the curtain drop back into place.

“We are happy here, make no mistake about that. But we are restricted to the boundaries of the property. We are unable to go elsewhere. Unless people come here and seek us out, we are quite alone.”

“And we can help you?” David was looking steadier with every minute. He looked a bit wary, though. “How can we do that?”

“When you leave the property, if you are willing, you can carry us with you.” Martin studied their faces, not willing to let his eagerness show too clearly. He craved sound and company, even for just a short time. He knew Jane felt the need as well.

“Like…possession?” Calvin spoke warily.

“No, we would have no influence over your behavior. We would simply observe.” Jane smiled prettily. It wasn’t quite the full truth, but Martin chose not to interrupt. As always, his wife’s charm took them further than his cool, factual demeanor. “And we can’t stay with you very long. In time, we would be compelled to return here to our home.”

The two men glanced at one another. He could see David’s eagerness contrasted with Calvin’s reluctance.

“Give a piggyback ride to a couple ghosts?” Calvin heaved a deep breath and shrugged. “No funny business? No bad intentions?”

“None at all. We simply want to observe the living world for a time. We have no influence over your behavior.” She folded her hands and looked anxiously at the two men. Martin held his breath, and then let it out abruptly as both men slowly nodded.

“Why the hell…heck not?” David shrugged. “I doubt we’ll ever get a chance to do something like this again. So how does it work?”

“Like this.” With little more than a thought, Martin moved, finding himself housed in the body of another. It felt odd and ill fitting. Just a few feet away, David shook his head and he saw Jane’s essence hovering around his, like an aura.

“Jane?” He looked anxiously at her.

“I’m fine.” Her voice came out deeper and oddly accented. Still, it was Jane. He smiled as she patted her temporary body, lingering at the groin. “I never get tired of this!”

“Catching a ride, or inhabiting a man?”

“Both.” She tilted her head just a bit. “They’ll be back soon. Do you notice anything odd in their thoughts? Will they be safe?”

Martin let himself flow through Calvin. Chinese…he was from America, but he was Chinese. And…

“He’s in love. With David.” And so very sad about it. He thought his best friend was oblivious. And oddly, after all these years, it was legal for men to love. Not widely accepted, but not a legal offense.

“And this one is the same. He thinks Calvin would be shocked. Offended.” She walked up to Martin, bending down to settle a kiss on Calvin’s lips. “Silly young men. They have much to learn from us.”

“And we’ve got very little time to teach them.” He felt Calvin’s body react to the embrace and knew it wasn’t just him. Somehow, Calvin was responding to David. Jane smiled wickedly, thrusting their hips together. They ground a bit, their cocks rubbing against the rough fabric of their trousers.

“Time to let go.” Jane stepped back a few feet, her smile on David’s lips. “He’s starting to come back.”

Calvin was returning as well. Martin let go of the body, content to settle in see where these men took them.

* * *

“Damn.” David shivered, still trying to shake off the feeling of the brief possession. Had he imagined it, or had he and Calvin been kissing? No, that was Jane and Martin, the beautiful ghosts of Rosemead Cottage. He wondered if any portraits of the two existed. Before they left Rosemead, he’d have to visit the local museum.

“Can you feel them?” Calvin slipped behind the wheel of the van, just sitting with his hands resting on the wheel.

“I’ve got Jane, I think. But it’s not like I can feel her. I just kind of know.”

“Same here. Martin’s there, but just watching.”

Was it his imagination, or had Calvin just glanced at David’s groin? He’d been hard as a rod when he’d roused, and noticed that Calvin had been as well. Even now, arousal simmered. David slid into the passenger seat, slowly buckling his seatbelt. “So what now? There’s not really a lot to see in the village.”

“Just…we can go to the tavern. He just wants to see faces.” They exchanged glances. “Okay, so that was weird.”

“Jane wants to see fabric…clothing.” He frowned, not really hearing her thoughts, but feeling them. “She wants the same; just to see faces. They have descendants in the area.”

Calvin drove slowly down the narrow roadway, giving their passengers time to look around and see the changes to the countryside. Some of what they saw was unfamiliar. Much was largely unchanged.

“That was her home when she was young.” David nodded toward a handsome old house that was attached to a church. Jane had been the youngest daughter of the local vicar. His gaze lingered as they passed. In moments, they were rolling into the village. Calvin parked the van near the tavern they were staying in. They got out and strolled down to the village, sightseeing and window shopping. The small town was a mish-mosh of architectural styles. Some were like old friends, some were unfamiliar. He laughed when he realized that a disreputable old tavern had been converted into a movie theatre.

David found himself studying clothing and hairstyles, occasionally glancing at the cars that lined the roadside. It was like seeing the world through new eyes. When they’d driven through early in the day, he’d seen a quaint English village. Now, he was seeing details; a familiar storefront with a different tenant. Even faces were comforting.

“Time passes, but I swear I just saw Squire Wilson!” That was Jane speaking. He felt a surge of apology and laughed. Without thinking, he reached down, clasping Calvin’s hand.

Oh damn. He didn’t look, but since his friend didn’t pull away, he left his hand there, enjoying the forbidden contact. They drew a few looks, but not as many as he expected. Later, he’d blame it on Jane. For now, his heart raced as Calvin tightened his grip slightly.

“I was frightened earlier. When you fainted.”

“I didn’t faint!” David looked at Calvin in indignation. “I’d just touched a ghost! I’m a psychic, stuff like that hits me hard.”

“Hmm. First time you’ve said that out loud. About being a psychic. I always knew, but wasn’t sure that you were comfortable with it.”

They walked on, pausing to examine a window with electronics on display.
“When I was a kid, I used to hear voices in our house. Not loud, and nothing I could really make out. No one else heard it. When we moved to a new condo it stopped.”

“Did you miss it?” They walked into a busy little pub. David was disappointed when Calvin finally let loose of his hand.

They took seats at a small round table.
He looked at Calvin, and that’s when he knew that things were changing. Shifting. There was something new there in his friend’s brown eyes…a sense of knowledge. Under the table, their legs brushed together, and once again, he felt his arousal stir.

“Yes and no. Once I figured out that I was hearing stuff other people didn’t hear, I felt…weird. Freakish. But at the same time, it gave me such a sense of peace, knowing that death wasn’t the end.”

They ordered the house ale and a plowman’s lunch. He barely tasted it, but knew that Jane was enjoying the common fare. Did they eat ghost food? They were both dressed in antique clothing, she in a high waisted dress, Martin wore a simple, yet elegant black suit. His brain scrambled to place their era.

“They lived in the 1700s. Jane died of a stroke. Martin passed just a few days later. They were married a very long time.”

Calvin’s hand was flat on the table and David reached out, laying his hand over Calvin’s. He looked up and studied the other man’s face.

“How do you feel about this?” He looked down at their hands. For a moment, it looked as though Calvin was about to cry. David tightened his grip and then started to pull away. Cal grabbed his hand, cradling it in his.

“I feel…good. Right.” He looked up at David. “I was afraid…” He reached up with his free hand, rubbing it over his eyes. “I was afraid to tell you. I’m going to be thirty, you know. I’ve loved you for years and all I could see was being alone. Without you. Forever.”

“Is that why you suggested we expand the business? To get away from me?”

Calvin nodded. “Yeah. I just…it’s too hard, working so close, always worrying, but never being able to show how I feel.” He glanced around the dimly lit pub. “Is this because of them? Their feelings?”

David shook his head. “No, this is us. I’ve been trying to work up the guts to talk to you about it.” He lifted Calvin’s hand, carrying it to his lips. “I love you, Cal. Have for quite awhile now.” His smile felt lopsided on his face.

He looked inside and found Jane, who was brimming with delight. So she had played a role…maybe just a small role in pushing them forward. She’d reached out for her husband’s hand, carrying David along. All they’d needed was a little icebreaker.

With a sigh, he felt her leave. No goodbyes, but he knew where to find her.

“He’s gone.” Calvin twisted his hand in David’s grip, and for a moment, his heart dropped. But then he found his fingers pressed against Calvin’s mouth. “I think I remember us kissing, back there in the cottage.”

“I remember that too. Woke up with a boner.”

“You always wake up with a boner.” Calvin gave his finger a tiny lick, and then blew over it. David pulled a breath, trying to will down the erection that was pressing against the zipper of his jeans.

“Now we’re alone again. We’ve got a room upstairs. I’ll bet those two beds will fit together just fine.”

David rose on unsteady legs. He dug into his pocket, dropping a bill on the table. He looked around the pub. A moment ago, it had seemed quiet and private. Now the noise of a dozen conversations began to rise around them. It felt friendly here. Good. “We could buy it, you know. The house. Give us roots and give them a window on the world.”

Calvin stared at him for a moment. “We could do that. Especially if the owner finds out it’s not haunted.” A smile started at the corner of his mouth and he glanced up toward the stairs. David followed Calvin up to their room and in just minutes, they discovered that indeed, the two beds fit together perfectly.

* * *

Martin finished the poem with a flourish. He smiled down at the page, even though they both knew that once he looked away, the page would go blank.

Jane smiled at her handsome husband. He wore only his shirtsleeves and weskit. His hair was unfashionably long and inky black. She stepped back from the door, hiding the fact that she’d been spying.


She appeared in the doorway, bearing a tray with toasted bread and tea. The fragrance filled the room and sudden hunger flared in his eyes. She sat the tray on the bed and turned, walking into his arms. Martin whirled her into a waltz, humming a lovely tune that was completely unfamiliar to her.

“Martin! The tea!” With a crash, the tray toppled to the floor. They looked at each other and burst into laughter.

“That was your homemade marmalade, I expect.” He looked disappointed at the loss. “I will help you with another tray.” He slipped out of his weskit, tossing it to the floor. “Later.” He pressed her back against the bed, studying her face.

Jane reached up, combing his hair back from his high forehead. He’d always been such a handsome man. She was grateful she’d followed her heart and married her poet, rather than the wealthy landowner her father had hoped for.

Thinking of their courtship reminded her of other lovers.
“I’m glad they found each other. Soul mates are so rare. We did a good thing, didn’t we, Martin?”

“A very good thing.” He smiled and kissed her. “How many does that make for us?”

“At least a dozen couples. And that odd little threesome who came to visit in the last century.”

He smiled. “Ah yes. I remember them. I wonder when our next star-crossed lovers will show?”

“I suppose there’s no telling.” Jane began to work at his clothing, pulling his shirt from the back of his trousers. They could simply think themselves naked, but that took away so much of the fun.

“I finished the song.” He sat up to pull the shirt over his head. “It vanished from the page, but this time…” He tapped the side of his head. “It’s here. No need to write it again.”

“How lovely…that’s what we danced to, isn't it?” Somewhere in the house, a door slammed. She clearly heard footsteps on the ground floor. Martin gave an exasperated sigh, but really, they had forever to make love. They clasped hands and vanished, ready to see who was on their doorstep.
* * * * * * * * * *

Belinda McBride is published at Loose Id, Changeling Press, Passion in Print and Dreamspinner Press. She specializes in erotic romance in multiple genres, including LGBT, m/b, science fiction, paranormal and BDSM. You can visit her website at:

http://www.belindamcbridecom And her blog at:

Her next release is the paranormal menage 'Hunting Holly' in the upcoming Doms of Dark Haven 2: Western Night anthology, coming to Loose Id on May 16!