Santa is coming…SOON!

How did this happen? Well… Someone posted a thing on Twitter and I said I would as a joke but I was almost done with All Is Bright and the idea pretty much devoured my brain. It’s practically writing itself and I’m having too much fun. How about an oh-so-unedited peek since I’m wrapping up writing in the next few days? Here you go:

“And the very lonely snowman wasn’t lonely anymore,” Marcus whispered and shut the book. He leaned and his neck stretched as he peeked to make sure she was sleeping. A soft swear of relief escaped from him as he eased off the bed. He slipped off her elf ears and Sam’s eyelashes made Marcus’s heart squeeze. He glanced at the clock on her bedside table and smiled. 11:27. It took three hours and a stack of books but she was finally asleep. “Merry Christmas, princess,” he mouthed as he caressed her cheek then went to turn off the light. It was a touch early but he made the rules, right?

Marcus’s feet dragged down the hall and he yearned for his bed but he headed downstairs because he still had hours’ worth of work to do. He yawned as he flipped on the kitchen light and grabbed the milk from the fridge as he passed it. He poured a glass and picked the best two gingerbread men from the pan and arranged them on a plate. Marcus swiped Sam’s letter off the fridge and chuckled at it as he hurried through the living room and set everything out on the mantle. Marcus took a bite out of the gingerbread man’s leg to make it look like Santa had a nibble then dusted his hands off and went to get the gifts and the tree.

Sam was an angel and cut Marcus a lot of slack but he had to get his shit together. It was his second Christmas as a single father but this year was harder than the first. He was so determined to make last year perfect he overcompensated and got way ahead of the game. This year, depression hit him like a freight train and work fell to pieces so he doubled-up on editing jobs so he could work from home. He should’ve had plenty of time to wrap presents and decorate but Marcus was in the weeds because he turned the living room into a tent fort and gained ten pounds living on takeout and cupcakes.

“The carrots!” Marcus gasped and headed back to the kitchen. Sam thought the reindeer would appreciate them so he bought the kind with the long leafy bits. He pretended to be a reindeer and munched on one of the carrots as he waited for the coffee maker. “That’s enough of that,” he decided and tucked the bundle of deceptively nibbled carrots under his arm and was dunking a cookie in his coffee as he headed back to the living room. “Time to drag out the beast,” Marcus decided. They inherited the tree from Rick’s parents and dreaded pulling it out because he didn’t want to get bogged down in memories. He went to the basement and ignored the tattered old box with the frazzled plastic tree. Wisps of memories taunted him but Marcus ignored all the old jokes and duct tape repairs. He had hid Sam’s presents and stocking in the washer and dryer and there was another squeeze but this one hurt his heart. Sam asked Santa to bring Grandma and Gramps but the storm had flights canceled around the country. She also wanted a Switch but Marcus had to cut his rates because everyone was struggling.

The alarm on his watch told him it was midnight so Marcus sucked it up and grabbed the old rolls of wrapping paper on his way up the stairs. He managed to shut the basement door as he juggled the gifts and wrapping paper then tripped when his heel bumped into something heavy. Marcus grabbed the wall and frowned at the massive red bag. It appeared to be made of very thick velvet and tied tight with a thick gold rope and the bag didn’t budge when Marcus pushed it with his toe.

“What the fuck…?” He whispered under his breath and craned his neck as he made his way past the kitchen and the stairs. He glanced at the front door and it was closed and appeared to be locked so he peeked around the living room wall. “Oh…my God,” Marcus said and dropped the bags of gifts and rolls of wrapping paper. A very large man in a red velvet suit with fluffy fur trim was bent over the coffee table. “Ummmm….?” Marcus squeaked and the other man turned. “Holy shit,” Marcus said then clapped his hands over his mouth to hold in a scream.

“Oh! Hello, Marcus. I hope you don’t mind,” Santa said as he waved the hobbled gingerbread man at him then took a bite. “You’re getting really good at this,” he said encouragingly.

“I’m sorry. What?” Marcus rasped and stomped on his toe but Santa was still there.

“These are just about perfect,” Santa said then took another bite. There was absolutely no doubt that he was Santa. He was just a touch too large to be a mortal man—he was at least seven-feet-tall—and the heady scent of cookies and peppermint radiated from him. His beard was silver and his eyes sparkled with cheer. “Thank Samantha for these!” He said as he tucked the carrots into his coat pocket. “The reindeer always appreciate a snack.”

“The reindeer…” Marcus repeated breathlessly and the room began to spin around him.

“Easy!” Santa laughed as he caught him. “Let’s go over by the fire,” he said and put an arm around Marcus.

“Thanks,” he said weakly.

“Why don’t you have a seat,” Santa offered and pulled the armchair closer to the fire but Marcus shook his head.

“I don’t want to,” he said. Santa’s head pulled back before he laughed.

“You are a delight!” He declared and slapped his knee. “But we should get to work. You’re exhausted and Sam’s going to be up in six hours,” he warned. Marcus choked on a laugh and his brain finally kicked back on.

“A delight? Not on my best day,” he promised and shook his head. “What is going on?” he demanded. Santa’s clear blue eyes glistened as he reached for Marcus’s cheek.

“I promise you, my boy. You’re on the Nice List and it looks like you could use some help.” He gave Marcus’s nose an gentle flick. It tickled and the tingle danced down his spine. Marcus laughed softly because he knew it was going to be ok. It was a soft, warm thing that spread through him and the muscles in his shoulders that never, ever unkinked let go and he felt like he was melting.

“I’m on the Nice List?” He babbled and Santa nodded firmly.

“Of course, you are. You’ve always had a kind, open heart and look at all you’ve done to help me make Christmas magical for Samantha.”

“Really?” Marcus asked but Santa tapped a gloved finger against the side of his nose.

“If anyone would know, it would be me.”

“Right.” Marcus turned and it was still his living room and was sure he was awake. He was also completely sure he was talking to Santa… “I’m awake?” He asked. He could have fallen asleep while he was reading to Sam. It happened pretty regularly. Marcus decided to check again and gave the underside of his arm a pinch then gasped when it stung.

“You’re awake! And we’ve got work to do!” Santa scolded with a chuckle as he opened his coat and slid out of it. Marcus’s eyes widened as Santa tossed it at the armchair. Santa’s ripped? He thought in confusion. Santa was wearing an oatmeal-colored Henley and suspenders and while he was pleasantly thick around the midsection, his arms and shoulders made Marcus feel a little too warm. It didn’t help that the two buttons on Santa’s collar were open and offered Marcus an intriguing peek of snowy white chest hair. Jesus. Get your shit together. It’s Santa! 

“It might be time to start dating again,” he whispered to himself. 

“What was that?” Santa asked and Marcus shook his head quickly.

“Nothing! Just realized it’s been too long since I…” His head bobbled as he wondered if he was actually going to tell Santa that it had been more than four years since he’d touched another man like that. “Since I got out. I haven’t been this close to another adult human in months and it’s warping my brain,” he confessed.

“Ah.” Santa nodded knowingly. “You must be lonelier than usual,” he said gently as he gestured at Sam’s gifts and the rolls of wrapping paper. “Let me take care of those.” He tapped his nose and there was a poof of snow and glitter.

“What?” Marcus laughed as he waved in front of his face and the gifts were perfectly wrapped with big curly bows. “Wow!” He picked up the biggest box and shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t know if I’m more dazzled or relieved that I don’t have to stay up all night wrapping these myself,” he admitted.

“That’s why I’m here!” Santa said then gestured for Marcus to follow as he went to his bag. “I was thinking a fresh tree would be just the thing.” He gave the gold cord a tug and it unraveled easily and a swirl of snow and glitter rolled from the bag and down the hall.

“Seriously?” Marcus asked as he hurried back to the living room and a startled laugh burst from him. He clapped his hand over his mouth and spun to make sure he hadn’t woken Sam.

“Don’t worry. She won’t wake up. Look at the time,” Santa said and Marcus glanced at his wrist.

“Holy…” He slurred. It was still midnight. Marcus blinked at his watch in shock then pushed his gaze to the fully lit and decorated tree. There were so many presents and a Switch was set up and waiting beneath the television. “That’s so… Thank you!” He cried as he threw himself at Santa.

“You’re very welcome!” He said as he held Marcus. He smelled like a Christmas tree and a little like marshmallows and Marcus sighed as he rubbed his cheek against Santa’s chest.

“That’s really nice,” he said dreamily then flinched and jumped back. “I’m so sorry! I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” He whispered loudly. Santa just laughed and threw a hand at Marcus as he went to sit by the fire.

“It happens all the time,” he said as he lowered into the armchair and Marcus winced. The seat was just able to accommodate him as he got comfortable and propped his elbow on the armrest. Marcus was momentarily distracted by Santa’s thick thighs and gave his head a shake to clear it.

“With children, not adults, though. And you can’t even begin to know how wrong it is in here,” Marcus argued and gave Santa an apologetic wince as he pointed at his forehead. Santa laughed and his head fell back as his chest shook.

“I don’t come across a lot of children on Christmas Eve! But I do meet a few parents in my travels and some stops get a little x-rated,” he confided. Marcus’s jaw dropped in shock.

“Really? What about Mrs. Claus?” He whispered, as if he didn’t want to get Santa in trouble. He laughed again and gave his thigh a pat.

“I told you, you’re a delight! Why don’t you come and have a seat, lad?” He offered tenderly. Marcus’s head pushed forward in confusion but his feet still carried him across the room and there was a mortifying heaviness to the front of his pajama pants.

“A seat?” He asked weakly and Santa winked cockily at him.

“You can have a lot more than that if you’ll tell Santa what you really want.”

“Oh.” Marcus looked at the hall and remembered that Sam wouldn’t hear them or wake up then rubbed his lips together nervously.

“Have a seat and don’t be shy.”

“You’re sure Mrs. Claus won’t mind?”

“She’s had just about an eternity of me. We find that a little adventure keeps things fresh and makes coming home even sweeter,” Santa explained as he held out his hand.

“That’s…confusing,” Marcus murmured and his brows pulled together. But he rose on his toes so he could slide an arm around Santa and pull himself up. Marcus was 5’11 but he felt small on Santa’s lap. 

“A strange thing happens when you’ve been alive for as long as we have. You grow up. And she’d want you to have a little fun, Marcus,” Santa said gently and kneaded Marcus’s shoulder. It was firm but affectionate and all the tension drained from Marcus as he became fixated on Santa’s beard and lips. He was as enigmatic and charming as you would expect but there was a frisky quirk to his smile that drew Marcus in.

“Me? Why would she…?” He mumbled as he stretched toward Santa’s lips.

“We’ve both been worried about you. That’s why I’m here,” Santa said.

“What?” Marcus frowned and swallowed hard. “This is nuts,” he whispered to himself and Santa shushed him.

“Go ahead and give it a try,” he urged so Marcus shut his eyes and touched his lips to Santa’s.

“Oh!” Marcus’s lips throbbed and a current of pleasure zipped down his spine and he shivered. “That’s…nice,” he breathed and licked tentatively. “Wow!” He giggled and there was another shiver. Santa’s lips tasted like vanilla and peppermint.

“Don’t lose your nerve now. Take what you want. You deserve a little joy,” Santa crooned as his hands cradled and rubbed Marcus’s back soothingly.


“You outgrew toys a long time ago but I can still put a smile on your face,” Santa said and angled his head so his lips could nudge Marcus’s. His breath was sweet and minty and Marcus’s mouth watered as his tongue swept into Santa’s mouth. Santa groaned encouragingly when Marcus’s fingers twisted in his beard and the kiss became desperate. “Slow down. You can take all the time you need,” he reminded him but Marcus shook his head and kissed Santa again.

“You taste so good!” He said and pushed against Santa’s chest so he’d sit back. He was starving and Marcus couldn’t stop his hands from wandering Santa’s broad chest and round belly. His hands drifted to the front of Santa’s trousers and Marcus squeaked when he found an alarming bulge in the red velvet. “I guess you brought the North Pole with you,” he teased and Santa snorted in amusement.

“You can climb it, if you’re brave enough,” he challenged. Marcus sat back and his chin tilted haughtily.

“You’ve gone and brought my honor into it,” he replied then slid off Santa’s thigh.

“See what I mean?” Santa laughed softly and flicked the end of Marcus’s nose. “Delightful,” he observed but Marcus’s face scrunched dubiously before he shrugged.

“Not as delightful as this,” he said as he braced his hands on Santa’s thighs and kissed him again. “I want to know if the rest of you tastes this good.”

He’s coming December 1st! Pre-Order NOW:


Santa is coming…SOON!

Welcome To Blackhurst. Mr. Blink has been expecting you.

Tell me, reader, have you had misgivings and concerns about Mr. Blink? If so, you’re not alone.

“When I read Grim’s book, I didn’t like Blink. 
I thought he was authoritarian and just plain not worth it. He was the typical villain. I didn’t think he’d be able to get redeemed.”

“We’ve seen glimpses of Cyril in some of the other books and in the eyes of others and what we’ve been shown is a ruthless, cold control freak who isn’t liked by anyone. With a property is as unreachable as his heart…”

“You’ll be aware of his capricious nature, his dark soul, his impersonal manner and you’d be hard pressed to feel that he’s all that likeable to be honest. A difficult man, persnickety, paranoid about his safety, set in his ways, and obsessed with his wealth and his connections and his art work…”

“In Grim’s story, I positively grew to hate him with a major intense burning desire to set him on fire and watch him go down in flames.”

Behold my delight. I wanted Cyril Blink to send a chill down your spine and make your lip curl. Because it’s more delicious when the love conquers the hardest hearts and brings ruthless men to their knees. And I promise, Cyril’s fall is absolutely worth the wait.

How about a tour of Blackhurst and an…intimate peek at Mr. Blink? How about all of Chapter 4?

“I’m sure that feels much better,” Farris said as he settled the delicate sheet of vellum in the protective mat then carefully shut the frame. He traced the vivid ink colors through the glass and told himself he was lucky. How many people got to touch a Carolingian manuscript made in 816? Monks wrote bibles and liturgical documents by hand, decorated with intricate illustrations, and some of the most exquisite examples came across Farris’s table. There was a Cézanne on the table across the platform and a pair of $400,000 Tacca bronze figures were being delivered by a team of mercenaries in a few days. Farris curated and maintained the sort of collection his peers fantasized about. Blackhurst rivaled any gallery or museum in the country and Farris’s budget eclipsed the Smithsonian’s. “It doesn’t feel better,” Farris said and pulled in a deep breath. “Let’s give Blink the good news.”

Farris tucked the flat case under his arm and grabbed his coat off one of the leather armchairs. He dimmed the crystal lamps and chandeliers with the touchpad on the wall on his way out. He took the elevator to the foyer and used his foot to shut the ornate wrought-iron door before he jogged across the marble tiles and up the wide staircase. It was just after 10:00 p.m. and Farris decided he’d change and go for a swim after he delivered the manuscript. He might as well take advantage of a rare early night and sublimate some of his frustrations with laps. Blink didn’t hold Farris to a grueling schedule; he didn’t actually care as long as he continued to make a fortune. Farris sublimated his conscience and his bitter disappointment with work. He considered the selections of decanters in Blink’s office as he turned toward the master wing and shook his head. Blink often invited Farris to help himself but drinking before a late night swim wasn’t a good idea in his current mood. Just drop off the manuscript and get out.

The double doors to Blink’s private rooms were shut but Farris let himself in. Blink had no expectations of privacy or any modesty. He ignored the staff as they came and went and he was just as unconcerned about Farris. So Farris wasn’t surprised to hear a throaty moan when he opened the door and he kept his eyes on the silk Persian rug as he hurried to leave the manuscript in Blink’s private office.

“Ohhhh! Cyril!” It was breathless and shaking and Farris risked a glance at the bed as he passed the open bedroom doors. Blink growled drowsily as he crawled over a woman’s body and sucked on her nipple before he gave her ass a slap and rolled from the bed. He was naked, save for a condom, and Farris quickly averted his eyes as Blink strolled into the bathroom to dispose of it. Farris dismissed the rush of heat that washed over him and plunged into the darkened office and forced out a silent breath as he set the manuscript’s case on the desk. He turned and kept his head down as he rushed through the suite’s foyer. His hand reached for the door and Farris was almost free.

“Stay for a moment, Elliot,” Blink called and Farris groaned as his head fell.

“Can’t it wait until tomorrow morning?” He asked and squinted at the door hopefully.

“Cyril!” The woman pouted. It was a sultry invitation but Farris winced awkwardly. She was nothing. Blink had no interest in pursuing a romantic relationship, preferring to pay for companionship. And he never used the same escort—male or female—twice. 

“I’m done. Pull yourself together and get out,” Blink told her as he tied his robe. He cocked his head at the office and gestured for Farris to follow him. Blink turned on the Tiffany lamp on his desk and went to the sideboard. “Want a drink?”

“I was going to hit the pool for some laps,” Farris said and pointed over his shoulder.

“Have a seat,” Blink ordered as he poured but Farris shook his head.

“I’ll stand. You said it would just be a moment and I’d really like to get in a swim before it’s too late.

“You look tired, Elliot. Stop being difficult for the sake of being difficult and have a fucking seat.” Blink went to his chair and turned the manuscript’s case as he sat. He took a drink then rested his elbow on the desk as he inspected the manuscript through the glass. “I want you to hire another assistant,” he murmured absently but Farris frowned as he lowered into one of the seats opposite Blink.

“Why? I’m not working fast enough for you?” He asked and Blink shook his head as he sat back.

“You work too much and you’re going to burn out. Find someone to fetch your coffee and do your busywork. I thought that was the point of Matteo but you’ve just made more work for yourself because you’re teaching now, too.”

“I’m fine. I don’t need anyone to get my coffee.”

“And I’d rather pay someone fifty or sixty grand a year to keep you from losing your mind,” Blink said and Farris’s head pushed forward.

“You can hire a whole conservation and restoration team for what you pay me,” he pointed out then hissed. “Forget I said that.” He flashed Blink a wide smile and he laughed.

“I have a raw, uncut diamond that’s the size of a doorknob in one of my vaults. I’m not taking it to the mall and asking them to cut it for me, am I?” He asked and Farris shook his head. “The only person I trust is Sam. He’s been handling my diamonds for almost thirty years because he’s the best and I know I can trust him to find the perfect shape and cut and make me the most money. You have dual PhDs in Art History and Archeology and you’re a better than decent chemist. That’s a worthwhile investment for me because I have a very expensive obsession with art and history. This manuscript, in the wrong hands, could be ruined with one wrong stroke or the wrong solution. You have an excellent eye and I know I can trust you. Not to mention the time and worry it saves me, having my own in-house art and antiquities expert. Find yourself an assistant who doesn’t have to be trained,” he repeated firmly. Farris opened his mouth to argue but decided against being difficult for the sake of being difficult. He had a better idea. 

“Fine. I’ll hire an assistant.” A wide smile spread across his face. A little help would be nice but Farris could teach again. “I’m keeping Matteo,” he said and Blink’s brow slid up his forehead.

“Fine. Make sure you train him well so he can take your place once you’ve burnt out.”

“That’s always the point,” Farris stated. He couldn’t wait to find another student and Blink gave him a knowing look.

“You’ve already found yourself a student. Do something that makes your life easier this time.”

“Maybe,” Farris said dismissively. “I could hire an experienced art conservator but then I’d have to teach them how to do everything my way. I’d rather train them myself,” he stated and Blink held up a hand.

“I’ll fire them both if you fall behind or have a nervous breakdown,” he threatened and tapped his fingertips together. Farris snorted defiantly as he pushed off the armrests and stood.

“Watch. We’ll stay on top of things and they’ll be just as good as me in a few years. Maybe not as good. I don’t want to make myself that replaceable,” he said with a wink. “Matteo’s nineteen and he’s hungry to learn. He wasn’t going to work for his grandfather in your gardens for very long. I wouldn’t let him get away. I’ll start looking for another assistant after the new year,” Farris said. “Are we done here?” He asked and Blink chuckled as he rose. 

“We’re done. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He adjusted the front of his robe but he could have been naked. Farris looked away but he knew what was beneath the black silk and velvet and Blink was a striking man. He was tall and broad-shouldered and his body was lean yet well-muscled because he spent hours in the gym with a personal trainer and Alon. Blink lived and traveled with a security team and Blackhurst was a fortress because he took his personal security very seriously. A lot of people wanted Blink dead. For good and bad reasons. 

But, it wasn’t just his body. Blink was in phenomenal shape for a fifty-two-year-old man —he was in phenomenal shape for a thirty-year-old man—but it was the whole package, for Farris. If anyone had cared to ask Farris what his type was, he would have told them that older men with silver or salt-and-pepper hair, a little fur and a lot of gravitas got him hot. He would have laughed at the thought of sex with a student, if anyone bothered to ask Farris.

I might have risked it all for a man like Blink, he admitted to himself as he left. The escort was gone, when Farris passed the bedroom. He wondered if he’d have the nerve to ask her if they crossed paths. He passed a young man on the stairs, once, and walked in as Blink dismissed two women who looked like they might have been twins. Farris wanted to ask what it was like fucking Blink. All that power and experience… All that history. The streaks of silver in his jet black hair and at his temples and the creases at the corners of his eyes drew Farris, even when he didn’t want to look. The dark dusting of hair on Blink’s chest and thighs made Farris’s shirt stick to his body and made him anxious in a way a smooth twenty-year-old never could. And Blink was…impressive in other ways. Farris tugged at his tie as he made his way down the hall and recalled Blink as he dropped his robe as he strode into the bathroom. His semi-flaccid cock swayed and bounced against his thigh and Farris’s mouth watered as he imagined swallowing it.

“Gross,” Farris muttered under his breath. He turned toward his suite and his lip curled. It wouldn’t be gross until the next morning—he corrected—when Ferris had to look himself in the mirror and face Blink in the vault.

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Welcome To Blackhurst. Mr. Blink has been expecting you.

Are you ready to meet Cyril Blink?

If you’ve been following along through See How They Run and Like Grim Death you might be wondering and possibly worrying. Is Mr. Blink a bad guy? Is he secretly a good guy? If you’ve learned anything about me, you know the answer is definitely both. Mr. Blink is a hard, hard man but there’s a lot going on, once you see behind the curtain. For instance, here’s a whole glimpse of Chapter 7, where Cyril’s discovered a very different kind of treasure’s been hiding right under his nose. He’s not one to let something precious and enticing slip through his fingers but he’s deeply conflicted when it comes to a certain cranky professor…

Chapter 7

“You cannot go down there,” Cyril whispered to himself. He already made a complete ass out of himself during his video conference with London. Elliot walked past the study on his way to the elevator and Cyril wandered away from the camera and nearly followed him. He was so desperate to get another look at Elliot’s ass. His coat was draped over his arm and Cyril hurried into the foyer to get a look before Elliot got in the elevator.

“Did you need something?” Elliot asked but he didn’t wait for Cyril to respond before he slammed the gate closed and jerked the lever to the right.

“An explanation would be nice,” Cyril grumbled as he reclined in his seat and steepled his fingers. “It seems like the sort of thing I should know about,” he said under his breath and another shocked gasp burst from him.

Apparently, the professor—Cyril’s professor—was utterly breathtaking beneath his itchy suits. Literally breathtaking, even. Cyril slipped into the pool and found Elliot on his back and panting. He snuck closer to make sure Elliot didn’t need assistance and Cyril was winded as he stood over him. Jesus fucking Christ and the motherfucking apostles. Cyril’s hands dragged down his face and his eyes went to the foyer. His feet longed to carry him to the elevator and his body ached. I would have had him right there on the floor.

Elliot had the kind of body Cyril could really dig into and lose himself in. Cyril stood over Elliot, mesmerized and starving as his brain struggled to get his head around it. Elliot’s chest and ribs stretched and rose as he fought to catch his breath and he was beautiful. His skin glistened in the moonlight and drops of water caught in the stubble along his jaw and the thin dusting of hair on his chest. Elliot’s body was sleek, lean and tightly muscled and Cyril yearned to taste him. Sprawled on his back with his arm thrown over his eyes, he looked like temptation incarnate. And that bright orange bikini…

“Fuck!” Cyril spat and bit into his knuckle. He dreamt that Elliot stuffed it in his mouth and rode him like one of the Furies. Cyril rarely dreamt about sex and assumed it was because he had so much of it, so often. But that dream was hotter than anything Cyril could recall doing with any of his past partners. Then again, he couldn’t remember any of his past partners. The woman from two nights ago was named… Cyril rubbed his lips together as he strained. “Jocelyn? Jasmine? Josephine?” She had dark olive skin and long black hair and her pussy tasted soft like melon. She moaned like a fire truck and Cyril pulled out and came on her breasts but he couldn’t remember her name. The boy the night before was named Simon. Or Silas. He babbled about his student loans and wanted Cyril to pee on him. Cyril sprayed him down in the shower then fucked his throat. Cyril liked variety and he liked forgetting names because sex had its time and its place and that was after dinner and until he said goodnight. Sex didn’t interfere with Cyril’s routine or his work. It certainly didn’t interfere with Blackhurst and Cyril’s other great passion: collecting.

“Was something wrong, sir?” Alon asked as he hovered behind Cyril’s shoulder.

“Why would anything be wrong?” Cyril replied and his attention sharpened. Alon’s head canted and his brows pulled together.

“I heard an expletive,” he said.

“Right…” Cyril nodded and waved vaguely over his shoulder. “Release the dogs,” he said. Alon raised his wrist and paused.

“Should we warn Mr. Grim and Dr. Hawkesworth? They complained after last time,” he murmured but Cyril waved dismissively.

“They don’t pay rent.”

“Fair enough,” Alon replied and his lips tilted into a grin. “Tell Hector to let the dogs loose for a run,” he whispered into his sleeve. “Is there something else I can do to help?” He asked hopefully but Cyril shook his head.

“Everything’s fine. Do you know if the professor’s had a chance to look at the bronzes?”

“According to the logs he accessed his safe an hour ago and left a note stating that he was taking them out for an initial inspection,” Alon said and punctuated it with a nod. He admired Elliot but Cyril wondered how much of that was due to a shared love of logs and procedure.

“I think I’ll see how his initial inspection went,” Cyril decided loudly as he sprang to his feet and Alon’s head pulled back. Why do I sound like I’m up to something suspicious? It’s my house and those are my bronzes. Cyril stuck his nose in the air and gave the front of his coat a tug. “I’m very interested in those bronzes.”

“Of course.”

“Did the oysters arrive for dinner?”

“Of course,” Alon repeated as he bowed and exited through the hidden door behind the suit of armor.

“What the hell am I doing?” Cyril groaned and squeezed the bridge of his nose. He had a very strict policy about fraternization. It didn’t necessarily apply to him specifically but he had one and it stated that employees were not to engage in anything that might be considered sexual congress on the grounds of Blackhurst. They were free to do whatever they wanted off the property on their own time but not while they were on Cyril’s property, while he was paying them to protect it. And Elliot was a consummate professional, despite his extremely prickly demeanor. His taste was unparalleled and his instincts were impeccable. The Blackhurst Collection was renowned and Cyril was getting a better return on investment with Elliot’s picks than with real estate and much of his portfolio. “It won’t hurt to look,” he reasoned. He ignored his brain as it berated him and stepped into the elevator and swung the gate shut then pulled the lever. The antique elevator jumped before it carried Cyril down and he forced his face into a bored mask. The elevator stopped and Cyril took a deep breath before he wrenched the door open and stepped out. His footsteps should have echoed on the marble and bounced off the rows of bookshelves and the tall columns but it was lost as Beethoven filled the cavernous hall while Cyril slowly prowled to the platform in the center. Elliot still heard him coming and Cyril saw him stretch his neck and shoulders. Elliot mumbled something to himself and Cyril bit back a smile. The constant edge of hostility was a turn-on, if Cyril was honest.

“They were worth every penny,” Elliot said but he stayed bent over his table with his eye pressed to his magnifying glass, oblivious to Cyril’s gaze as it clung to the sharp corner of his jaw before it skated down his back. It settled on Elliot’s ass and Cyril licked his lips as he recalled a tightly muscled cheek, dripping and wrapped in garish tangerine.

“I thought so as well,” Cyril said as he drifted closer.

“The detail…” Elliot murmured. Cyril nodded and his head fell to the side as he appreciated the way Elliot’s trousers hugged his ass as he leaned over the table.


“I think so,” Elliot said as he turned and Cyril’s mouth pulled into a dreamy smile as he remembered how well he filled out the front of his Speedo.


“What?” Elliot asked as his head pushed forward. “Don’t lick those things!” He scolded as he pointed at the table. “The oxidized metals…! And the acids in your saliva…! Ugh!” He spun back around so he could search the sculptures with his magnifying glass. Cyril bit down on his lips and shook his head as he begged himself to get out before he said something truly stupid.

“Sorry. I was just thinking of a certain prime minister’s face once I told him how much these are going to cost him,” Cyril said brightly. Elliot’s face fell and he sighed as he went back to his inspection.

“If there’s nothing else, I’ll get back to it. I suppose you want these dusted and polished but you want the patina intact,” he said and Cyril hummed as he backed away.“I trust your judgment.” Cyril replied as he turned the prospect over in his head. It might be worth putting the idea to Elliot. Later.

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They All Fall Down is available October 20th!


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