Gay Construction Workers: A Short Story

ZK Carpentry: “The best hand for your wood.”

With his special skill set, as a porn star and a carpenter, Zack wasn’t with grumpy Mike the plumber for money, or for his none existent charisma.

It must have been love. What was Mike’s appeal? 

Construction workers shirtless Depositphotos_45796011_original.jpg

Amateur Site Work © H J Perry 2018 reedited from earlier version

Amateur Porn Site © H J Perry 2016

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the copyright holder, except in the case of brief quotations embodied within critical reviews and articles.  This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

The author has asserted his/her rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book.

This book contains sexually explicit content which is suitable only for mature readers.

This short story was previously published in a collection.

This is the story of the making of the porn film that is watched by Connor in Our Secret Christmas by H J Perry, the second book in the Sky High Scaffolders series.

Helen’s website is HelenJPerry.com for more information about her books.

Or sign up for notifications from Bookbub each time H J Perry publishes a new book 

Site Work – H J Perry

TREVOR

Do you know what’s happening in Plot 23. Fuck all, that’s what. I want a plumber there now.”

At work, Trevor Clarke thought he knew Mike better than most of the other tradesmen. They saw each other almost every day, Monday to Friday, and had regular run-ins with robust language befitting the relationship.

As the site foreman, Trevor’s job would have been easy if all the trades pulled together and did their bit on time. The workmen, however, acted as if their objective was not to create a housing estate for the developer at a rate of ten new houses a month.

Mike was the chief plumber here; he was head plumber at the previous site Trevor managed too. And before that, Mike was a plumber on a site where Trevor utilized the skills of his trade.

A carpenter by background, Trevor’s very first run-in with Mike must have been more than a decade earlier. Trevor could still recall it to this day. Mike cursing, swearing, and demanding cash. He claimed that due to a lack of care when laying the floorboards Trevor had damaged the first-fix, plumbing pipework.

“You tell me, why else would fucking water suddenly start pouring through the fucking ceiling?” Mike pointed to the offending leak.

Trevor shrugged. There was no arguing with the facts. A nail that he’d hammered had been there for all to see.

“I fitted that carcass, filled it, and tested it two fucking weeks ago. It was as tight as your wallet then. You’re gonna have to let the moths out and pay me to fix the damage.”

Big deal, Trevor nailed a pipe, albeit by accident—these things happened in construction.

Ten years on and Trevor didn’t see so many incidents of accidental damage.

Older and wiser now, Trevor knew nailed pipes weren’t always what they seemed. Plumbers damn well damaged the pipework themselves—some of the time. They’d do it as an excuse to cover up their own shoddy work, or to earn a bit extra if they could get away with it.

The foreman needed expertise in forensics to get to the bottom of some of the pranks and scams run on building sites.  

Damn plumbers. They admitted to nothing and always blamed someone else.

As far as Trevor was concerned if carpenters were called Chippies and electricians were called Sparks then plumbers should be called Drips. But that insult never caught on in a workplace where there was too much testosterone and men armed with dangerous power tools.

Trevor traipsed around the site looking for Mike because there were no excuses for lack of action in plot 23. The completion of the plumbing carcass had to happen that day, no matter what, for the electricians to start on time.

At that moment, the first fixer was missing in action. The plumbers installing sanitary ware in plots 35 and 38 all shrugged their shoulders with a couldn’t care less attitude because they didn’t answer to the site foreman. And they weren’t first fixers. And, no, they didn’t know where Mike was.

It was a goddamn laborer who reported seeing Mike going into the cul-de-sac, heading toward plot 17.

Nothing was going on in plot 17; Mike had no reason to be there. Despite that fact, he sometimes joked he was buying it. Most of the guys had 17 down as one of their top five, if they had to choose a house and live on this estate. All the guys on the site, those who’d actually looked at the plan of the estate, knew it was one of the most desirable plots.

Due to a lack of housing in the UK, the government had announced plans to build a quarter of a million more homes within the next few years. It seemed like half of those were being built right here, on these very fields in central England.

When potential home buyers turned up, they were presented with fields, trees, and rural country views. The sprawling estate of tightly packed houses with small gardens and insufficient parking space, as it would be in a few years hence, was not presented. There were so many houses already approved here; they’d be building this estate for years into the future.

Just here and there around the edge of the territory, corner plots were the exception. Desirable, tucked away, and secluded, plot 17 was one of them. It was flanked on two sides by a small patch of wild scrub land that was protected from development. The eventual owner of plot 17 would enjoy twice the land space of most other properties. And an unusual degree of quiet privacy.

It had already sold.

As soon as marketing began, it went off plan before the footings were in the ground. The future owner had already put their deposit down and selected their choice of kitchen and bathroom fitments.

The sales team liaised with people buying properties. If purchasers paid their deposit before the house was complete, they could choose kitchen and bathroom fixtures and fittings, as well as the floor finish and the wall colors.

When Christina from sales had passed on the buyer choices to Trevor, she mentioned this house had been snapped up by a gay couple.

In fact, the whole estate was a popular investment for the pink pound. This amused Trevor greatly when he thought about the fact that plot 43 was destined as the future home of a local notorious homophobe, Liam Bottomley. The pompous bigot stood as an independent candidate in the last general election, taking the opportunity to air his foul, ignorant views. He got slated and gained less than two hundred votes. Still, almost two hundred too many.

Bottomley’s house didn’t have a roof on it yet.

Trevor only spent time with new homeowners if they had problems that needed rectifying and he hoped he’d never have to deal with Bottomley personally.

Trevor marched down to plot 17 and when he reached it, the door was open. Trevor stepped inside.

He could hear voices coming from the kitchen before he saw the men, Mike standing with a stranger.

Trevor didn’t recognize the other man, but guessed he was another plumber. There were loads of them on site; one plumber tended to look much the same as another, and Trevor usually dealt with Mike.

“We’ve an issue, Mike.”

Mike and the other man halted their conversation and looked at Trevor as if he were intruding.

“The first fix at plot 23, it’s gotta be finished today and there’s nothing going on there.” Trevor ignored the other guy.

“What time is it, Trevor?”

Trevor looked at his watch. “Almost nine fifteen.”

“That’s right, not even ten o’clock in the morning. We’ve got all day to finish. I know what I’m doing so you don’t need to be on my case. I’m well aware of the schedule.”

“This is Zack, by the way.” Mike turned toward the stranger. “And you can guess this is Trevor.”

The stranger stepped forward and held out a hand. This would have been perfectly normal if they were meeting in the pub or some other social setting, but Trevor wasn’t accustomed to introductions and shaking hands with every workman who turned up on site. He paid attention to Zack’s handsome face while shaking his hand.

“I’ve heard a lot about you, Trevor. It’s good to meet you, at last. Put a face to the name.” Zack had charming dimples when he smiled and perfect white teeth. “I’ve just stopped by to take another look at our new home.”

Trevor looked from Zack to Mike in confusion. “I don’t get the joke. Every plumber on site claims this is his new home.”

Mike and Zack looked back at him with not a sign of laughter.

“No joke. I’m a carpenter, not a plumber,” said Zack. “And I’m not working on this site. I just stopped by on my way to work.”

There was something familiar about his brown eyes, clear complexion, and the dimples in his cheeks as he smiled. A handsome man, probably in his mid-to-late twenties. The kind of guy Trevor dreamed about and drooled over. The kind of guy he’d beat off to when watching—

Porn.

He was familiar but not as Zack.

Oh my God.

“They can claim what they like about this house. Crave it, and lust over it if they want to, but at the end of the day, it’s ours. We expect to move here in about eight weeks.” Mike moved closer to Zack and placed an arm across his shoulder.

We?

Zack and Mike?

Trevor’s jaw dropped as he looked at the couple in confusion. His gaze settling for too long  on the possessive arm around the carpenter’s shoulder. There could be no mistaking the nature of their relationship.

Zack was a sex God. What could he possibly see in Mike?

In contrast, Mike was more like a monster. He didn’t even have charisma. When he set off to work Mike must have left every endearing aspect of his personality in a box at home so it wouldn’t get lost.

It there was anything good to say about Mike, Trevor couldn’t think of it.

Sure, a fast, first-fix plumber like Mike made excellent bank. In that respect, Mike was a catch for a gold-digger with an eye on the money and a nice house.

But with his special skill set, as a porn star and a carpenter, Zack wouldn’t need Mike for money.

Then what?

Perhaps Mike had a mega donkey dong.

“It’s a nice place and you won’t have far to travel to work.”

Imagine that.

MIKE

They were close in age, mid-thirties, but Zack looked so much younger. Mike would tease him about the suntan cream and sun hats, but they paid off. Going by appearance alone, Zack appeared altogether out of Mike’s league, and they both knew it. No one ever guessed they were a couple, Zack and Mike. It didn’t bother Mike, who considered himself lucky.

“We’re married, Trevor. Zack’s my husband, so you don’t need to wonder about it. When we live here, together in this house, I daresay word will get around.”

Trevor looked more than a little surprised, with his mouth open and eyes ping-ponging between the husbands’ faces. “Okay, when did you get married?”

Mike squeezed Zack’s shoulder silently sending him unnecessary reassurance before he relaxed and drew back his arm.

“We’ve been together for more than a decade. We got married as soon as were allowed to. ” After only half answering the question, Zack wandered over to gaze out of the window. It was a sore point to both of them, the decades of experience of being second class citizens.

“Congratulations.” Trevor shifted from foot to foot and rubbed his hands together. He looked unprepared for this conversation.

“Thank you. There’s no need to look so shocked, Trevor. Gay couples can do that now, you know.”

Blatant homophobia wasn’t something Mike expected on any building site, not in this day and age. He didn’t go around declaring his sexuality, but for fuck’s sake, it wasn’t 1929. They were legally married, and he wouldn’t expect guys at work to make an issue out of it. And if they did, it would be illegal.

As Zach turned to look out of the window, Mike watched Trevor’s eyes sweep over his husband’s body, lingering on his ass.

Mike was used to other guys, and women, ogling his boyfriend—other men who were gay or bisexual.

As he watched Trevor closely, Mike realized the expressions that fleetingly passed over Trevor’s face weren’t homophobic disgust but a combination of wonderment and lust.

“Oh. Sorry if I’ve given you the wrong impression. I’m not bothered that you got married in April 2014. I just can’t understand what he’d see in you, Mike. I mean, you, of all people. You’re hardly a catch.” Trevor didn’t even look at Mike as he spoke to him. He shamelessly drooled over Zack. And for one reason or another, the site foreman knew exactly when gay marriage became possible.

Mike smiled. If Trevor was ready to dish out the insults, then all was good between them. You expected blunt, straight-talking, abusive banter on a construction site. And abusive up to a point was fine. So long as it wasn’t personal, Mike could handle it.

As for the way he checked out Zack… “Talk to my face, Trevor, ‘cause my husband’s arse ain’t listening.”

Wait.

When Mike thought he saw recognition flash across the foreman’s face a few moments ago, he probably did.

Mike enjoyed the way other men, and women, turned to look twice at his incredible husband. He was proud of Zack’s film career, which earned an additional part-time income. It paid for extra luxuries. But mostly, Mike liked to see his man performing in porn. And didn’t mind for one minute that sometimes Zack was recognized by admirers.

Occasionally guys came up to them and said, “This will be embarrassing if I’m wrong, but aren’t you Cody Hardwood?” Zach would grin shyly and get a little embarrassed. Mike would beam with pride. Because any man with balls big enough to approach them like that had to have watched enough of Zack’s films to damn well recognize him and remember his name.

Cody Hardwood! Ha.

If it were real, he’d change it. But it was perfect for a carpenter who also spent a couple of days a month shooting porn.

So guys recognized Zack if they were admirers of his work.

Zack was a gay porn star and a showoff, which was fine with Mike, because for twelve years they’d come home to each other after work. There was no reason to believe they wouldn’t grow old together.

“Well, you two have got one of the best plots on the site. If I were buying here, this is one of the houses I would have been after,” Trevor said.

“Yeah, don’t we know it.”

Zack turned to join in the conversation. “When Mike first got the drawings for this site, we selected this house straight off, long before they were even marketing it.” He walked across the room toward the door.

“I’m not sure what your neighbors will be like around here,” Trevor said. “At least one homophobic dickhead is buying one of the houses we’re building right now.”

“Which one?”

“Which house? It’s in the cul-de-sac where we were just working. It’s not up to roof level yet. Or which dickhead? That would be Liam Bottomley.”

“Fuck, no! Not him as a neighbor.”

“Devalues your property already, doesn’t it,” Trevor chuckled.

“We should baptize his house with something nasty before he moves in.” Brainstorming out loud, Mike didn’t mean it; not really. Although he could think of a load of ways construction workers lay future misery for the house owner if they wanted to.

“You could make a film in there when the house is finished but before he moves in,” Trevor said. “A gay porn film just before the housing developer hands over the key.”

Mike smiled knowingly.

What put gay sex films on Trevor’s mind? That was the Zack effect that Mike was all too familiar with.

Zack had appeared to be on his way out of the door, but he turned around and looked at Trevor with a knowing and determined look on his face. “That’s a great idea, and I’ve got another. What about a series of films while the house is in progress. Each film would show sex in a new location in the house and document the building’s progress. A sexumentary or doc-sex-mentary. We’ll have to work out the right label.”

“We?” Mike raised his eyebrows, wondering exactly what Zack’s project entailed.

“You say the house has no roof at the moment. That lends itself to a topless theme to the film. Trevor has the site keys, so we can get access out of hours when no one is around. And to reduce the risk of being caught, early Sunday morning is the best time to film outdoors and in public places.”

“This Sunday?”

Trevor wouldn’t need to ask if he wasn’t up for the plan.

Zack nodded at them both. While his face beamed with amusement at the plan, his hand absentmindedly adjusted the crotch of his jeans, or what lay within.

Trevor winked. “Mike only knows me as the site agent. He doesn’t know me that well.”

“I’ve gotta get back to my job. I’m working on a site a few miles away. I’ll be coming to check progress on site on a regular basis, Trevor, so no slip-ups.” Zack winked at Trevor.

He was a one hundred and twenty percent dick tease.

TREVOR

It was too early Sunday morning, or was it still Saturday night? Trevor was certain he should still be asleep. His mind and body struggled, and he couldn’t yet get excited about what he was about to do.

Everybody in England should’ve been in bed. As it was mid-summer, the sun was already up and burning off the morning dew.

Trevor and Mike had arranged the finer details over the few days after Trevor first met Zack. The details being the exact time and place they’d meet.

Neither of them mentioned what they’d do when they got there. Making porn was implied but never explicitly stated. For that matter, Trevor had no idea what role he was expected to play. He was up for anything, or at least he hoped he would be UP for anything. He didn’t know whether he’d suffer from soft stuff in front of a camera, having never done that kind of sex performance before.

Mike and Zack were already at the construction site when Trevor arrived. They’d traveled together in Zack’s sign written van, which detailed his careers. It said ZK Carpentry along with a phone number and the tagline, “The best hand for your wood.”

That raised a smile.

Trevor parked, went over to the gate, and unlocked the padlock. It would’ve been easy to break in. Locks and fences didn’t deter criminals. The single padlock was to prevent innocent people and their dogs roaming onto the potentially dangerous building site.

Trevor heard van doors opening and closing behind him as he swung the gates open. He turned and saw Zack and Mike coming toward him carrying various bags and, strangely enough, a wooden carpenter’s stool. Trevor wasn’t about to ask about any of it.

None of them spoke. It seemed as if their voices would wake up the village at that time in the morning. They nodded silent greetings and Zack flashed one of those familiar dimpled, toothy grins.

Together they walked across to Liam Bottomley’s future home. At the moment, it was a bare shell constructed in gray block work and surrounded by scaffolding.

Zack looked up, pointed silently toward the sun, and walked over to where the property’s front door would one day be, which was where he placed his carpenter’s stool down, under the scaffold.

“We thought you’d hold the camera. Is that okay?” Mike asked.

Trevor nodded; he was hardly about to protest. He wasn’t going to confess he envisaged himself in a different role, and that it involved making his porn film debut with Cody Hardwood. The position he had in mind wasn’t cameraman, but behind Zack, all the way.

Whatever Trevor had to do to be a part of this, he’d do it. He was under no illusions about why the men invited him; he was only there because he had the keys to the site.

Since having time to reflect on things over the past few days, Trevor realized his initial reaction was harsh and unjustified. He regretted saying anything negative to Mike, even as a joke. The fact was, these guys were married. They were obviously in love. And it was tough enough being a gay man in construction: Trevor knew that.

Zack wanted to be with Mike, and after things were finished, they’d go home together.

Trevor felt privileged to be there having the most surreal experience of his life.

Mike yawned. “Let’s get on with this. Get it over with.”

“Is there any plan? A script?” Trevor’s first words emerged as a croaky whisper, cutting through the still morning air louder than he expected.

Zack swaggered over. “Yeah. We’ve got a plan.”

There was something so sexy about the guy. It wasn’t just his looks, although he’d certainly make an excellent two-dimensional calendar boy model. It was the way he moved. The slight bow to his legs. The way he looked confident and comfortable even when his jeans hung too low on his hips. The way he licked his lips, suggesting that in his mouth lay blow job heaven. And Trevor had no doubt it did, based on what he’d seen. He may have binge watched the man’s movies since meeting him.

“You’re gonna be behind the camera. I’ll start off on my own, and then Mike will join me.” Zack paused to watch Mike rummage in the holdall bag that he’d dumped on the ground.

Mike stood up and passed a small digital camera to Trevor.

“Film it any way you like. From any angle, any view, but try not to get Mike’s face in it. From behind him or below his shoulder level is fine We don’t want to have to pixelate his face later.”

“You don’t mind having your face on camera?” He couldn’t held commenting though it wasn’t for Trevor to question the men’s arrangement.

“I’m the porn star. Mike isn’t normally in front of the camera. Are you all right with all this Trevor?”

“Oh, yeah, sure. I’ve just never done this before. I might make a hash of it. Make it look more like Blair Witch Project than…”

“It doesn’t matter. It will look amateur and that’s what we’re going for. People love the home movie look. And watching genuine couples,” added Mike, he twisted his wedding band. “Amateur porn is very popular. And it is amateur porn, after all, none of us are professionals.”

“If we’re all happy with the finished product, I’ll put it up as a free-to-view film on Cody’s website.” It was only a little weird to hear Zack talk about Cody as a third person. Zack wasn’t Cody, of course—that was just a character.

MIKE

When Zack peeled his sweatshirt over his head and passed it to Mike, he, in turn, handed over a tool belt and a hard hat. Of course, the symbols of a construction worker. The viewers would be in no doubt about the setup of the scene.

“Trevor, you need to zoom out and get the whole house in, complete with scaffolding, so as to set the scene. If ever Bottomley watches this clip, he probably wouldn’t recognize that it’s his house; it’s too early in construction.” Zack went over and took up position under the scaffold.

“Lights, camera, action,” Mike whispered to Trevor. He pointed out the on, play, and pause buttons as well as the zoom. Simple stuff. Point and play.

Trevor pointed and Zack played, running his hands over his stomach and chest while gazing seductively into the camera lens. The way his hands moved emphasized everything that was good about him. The muscles of his shoulders, chest, and stomach.

The temptation of what lay further was below the waistband of his jeans, just visible above the tool belt hanging low on his hips. Everything suggestive and nothing quite pornographic. Not, yet.

People with money show off with flash cars and big houses. Men like to flaunt what they’ve got. Mike was no exception. He was proud to have a red-hot lover and had no problem showing him off.

Zack was always an enthusiastic exhibitionist and what some people called promiscuous. When Zack and Mike got together, it was something they had in common. Far from causing jealous friction in their relationship, having other people involved in their sex life simply added to the fun.

They’d been living together for several years before a casual fuck buddy invited them to make professional porn. As a couple of fully employed, City and Guilds qualified tradesmen, they didn’t need the money, but went into it for fun. Not that they were going to turn down the extra income.

Because in general, Zack didn’t do it for the money. Mike had been at almost every single porn shoot. There were just a couple he’d missed due to unfortunate circumstances.

Like many guys, Zack had a list of things he didn’t do. He didn’t do bareback, for example—why the hell would he? Why was that even a thing some people expected in porn?

He didn’t perform with straight guys. Not anymore.

If Zack was going to perform sex in private or for the camera, it had to be fun. And that meant only with other guys who were into it. Gay or bisexual men only.

A couple of times in the beginning, when he was new and naive to the industry, Zack had scenes with straight guys. That went down in a list of things never to do again, learned through unpleasant experience.

The final product looked sexy when carefully edited. But straight guys aren’t into men, by definition. There was a whole load of things that had to happen in the background to keep the straight guy ready for his gay-for-pay acting stunt. Straight porn in the background for example. A running reminder that the straight guys were straight at every opportunity. When they were the only men genuinely in to other guys on the set, the experience felt degrading, and wasn’t something this couple cared to repeat or remember.

Zack was happy to work with some guys who had girlfriends, so long as they were bisexual. And, having met the girlfriends too, Mike knew they were enthusiastic about watching their boyfriends with other men just as much as Mike liked watching Zack perform.

Less than a minute in, and Zack peeled off his tool belt.

With a soft thud, it landed on the floor. It’d served its purpose, setting the scene of a construction worker.

His cock clearly strained against the denim as if those jeans had been molded on to a man with a big tool in his pants. The length and girth appeared truly impressive. Anyone who’d seen any of Cody’s films would know there wasn’t just padding in there.

Not hanging about, nor taking it slow with the risk of them being caught, Zack undid his jeans, opened them up, and pulled it out—the mouthwatering erection. Mike would never tire of it. His mouth went dry, and he licked his lips. A considerable volume of blood rushed to his cock as he watched.

Mike hoped Trevor was zooming in for a close-up on that big dick.

TREVOR

The scene was appealing; Trevor was unsure where to focus. He loved the shirtless construction worker look. It worked well against the building site backdrop. The safety hard hat and steel-toed boots, along with come-to-bed eyes and a cute smile.

He’d have liked to suck on those hairless nuts that Zack put out on display at the same time as he pulled out his dick without pushing down his jeans.

Trevor wondered how to get the best footage. Should he move about or did the zoom feature work best? It would be too corny to zoom in on Zack’s dick so soon. Trevor had to remember that Zack and Mike would watch this later and would know exactly what Trevor was thinking by how he’d focused the camera.

They only had to take one look at him to have a good idea of how he was feeling. He’d gone from tired and weirded-out to well turned on and hard enough to fuck in just a few minutes.

There was no hiding how much that carpenter turned him on. Why try to hide it? It was a natural reaction.

“You want to see more of this?” Zack asked.

He spoke directly into the camera. Ever since he’d taken to his stage, Zack had flashed the most flirtatious and seductive looks in his direction.

Trevor hoped he wasn’t expected to respond. His heart pounded a little harder in his chest at the thought of seeing more.

“Yeah, show me that fuckin’ dick, babe,” Mike replied for the entire audience, the two men present, and whoever might view the film in the future.

The men exchanged a few comments about jerking off and fucking, and Trevor wondered what exactly they had in mind.

Zack turned and shook his ass provocatively at the camera and then pushed down his jeans to almost his ankles, resting above his boots.

Remaining bent over, he put both hands on his cheeks and pulled them apart invitingly. Trevor moved close and zoomed in. The online audience would thank him for it. Every man watching would want to imagine Zack offering up his ass in front of them. And getting up close with their fingers, tongues, and, of course, cocks.

“Have you got anything useful in that tool belt?” Mike asked.

Zack pulled out a small, white tube of lube; Trevor would bet there weren’t many carpenters who were so well equipped when on site.

Trevor had seen Zack’s films before, so what happened next should have come as no surprise. With a little lube, Zack fingered his hole in preparation for Mike to join him.

Only now did it occur to Trevor that perhaps this couple had already had sex this evening. Perhaps they’d made love before setting off for the site. Or perhaps they did something in the van. The action was moving along at a swift pace, and maybe this was just the centerpiece of some much lengthier sex game this couple played.

Holding onto the carpenter’s bench with his right hand, he used the fingers of his left in an apparently well-practiced endeavor to lube the area and give himself pleasure.

Trevor clenched his cheeks. He wouldn’t mind Zack giving him some of that treatment.

As much to distract his thoughts, Trevor moved to the side of Zack. His face was hidden, pushed into his arm. If there was any doubt about whether this was an act or something Zack liked, the evidence from this angle suggested he loved it. His hard cock hung freely and streamed with glistening precum.

“I think he wants you to fuck him.” Fuck it! Trevor hadn’t intended to say anything out loud; it was a private thought.

No one spoke. Zack acted as if he hadn’t heard, and Mike said nothing. Perhaps that could be cut from the final version.

A minute later, behind Zack, Mike stepped into the picture. His white T-shirt was pulled up to display his hairy, flat stomach. Mike undid his jeans and pushed them down over his hips. His proud erection was as impressive as that of his husband.

Not used to thinking of Mike having outstanding attributes, Trevor would have to rethink his attitude toward plumbers.

He concentrated on keeping Mike’s face out of view as he moved closer to the couple and returned to a location that would give him a clear view of Zack’s ass. If Mike was going to fuck Zack like this, he wanted to get that clearly on film.

Trevor swallowed hard as he watched.

Mike had hold of his dick and rubbed it up and down Zack’s ass, as if making an introduction, before easing it in. Emphasis on ease. Mike entered Zack with ease. And Trevor could imagine his own cock going in there.

How good that must feel.

Tight, hot, bloody amazing.

Mike was all in and staying still.

And the noises Zack made, the heavy breathing and moans of pleasure seemed real. The sounds would’ve been enough to make Trevor come if he were alone.

Trevor stepped back. He feared he was intruding. He moved so that Zack’s cock was again within view. Zack had repositioned his free hand to hold his dick. “Fuck me now,” he whimpered.

“Wow, you two are so hot together. No wonder you’re married.” The thoughts turned into words and just fell out of Trevor’s mouth.

The lovers paid no attention. Picking up a pace, Mike focused on Zack who in turn appeared too well fucked to care about anything else

When he started, Trevor kept on talking. “I love watching the way he’s pounding your ass. You’re both lucky guys.” Trevor had held back, but his British reserve was swept away. He didn’t think about what he was saying; he just spoke. “Mike, would you let me have a go when you’ve finished?”

Mike stopped thrusting, looked over, and flipped a solitary finger.

That was a no, then.

“No way, José. You can watch, but no touching the goods.” Zack called out. The husbands were of one mind on this issue apparently. Shame.

ZACK

Zack loved fucking and being fucked and just about everything you could do with a guy to get off, or better yet, with a bunch of guys. Yes to all of that stuff.

Nothing compared, however, to intimacy with his husband. Whether they were alone or with other people, once they touched each other, nothing else would do. No one wanted salad after chocolate dessert.

The fucking recommenced.

Sex with Mike wasn’t just something that felt good like it did with other guys. Somehow Mike reached right deep inside him and yanked at his heart. It was such a strong emotional connection that Zack sometimes laughed or cried. He didn’t want to share such emotional intimacy with strangers via the camera lens.

Zack was close to coming.

“Out,” he whispered. Mike would know. It could mean Zack wanted it out, of course, but Mike would know Zack was too close and didn’t want to come like this.

Mike pulled out. “I’m gonna come.”

While the wet splatter of cum fell on his back and arse, Zack held onto his dick and held back everything that threatened to spill over, emotional as well as physical.

A few seconds later, Mike helped him to stand up, and as one, they backed up.

Zack leaned against Mike, with all the wet, sticky stuff still coating him and gluing them together. Mike leaned against the wall of Bottomley’s future home.

Remembering his audience, Zack jerked his dick with slow, firm, determined moves, enjoying the feeling of Mike’s strong presence behind him, his warm breath on the side of his face and his hands on his waist. With his husband at the forefront of his mind and a sharp intake of breath, Zack erupted. The message to Liam Bottomley spurted out like a fountain, landing in front of the house.

The couple stayed still for a few seconds, and then Zack felt Mike push him forward a little and move him around. Fucking with jeans around ankles could be erotic until it came to changing positions. Nevertheless, reeling with post orgasmic euphoria and in need of a shower, Zack was pleased to find himself standing face to face with his man. He almost forgot they were being watched and filmed.

Their lips brushed together.

“I love you,” Mike said, and a little louder, he added, “Trevor, you can put the camera down.”

Zack thought about a series of films they could make, films starring him and his husband. They could be made in every room of the house while it was under construction. Every one of which could be posted on his website.

With their lips still touching, Zack replied, “I love you too. The three of us could make this a regular Sunday morning thing until bigot Bottomley moves in.”

This short story was previously published in a collection.

This is the story of the making of the porn film that is watched by Connor in Our Secret Christmas, the second book in the Sky High Scaffolders series.

By H J Perry:

The Sky High Scaffolds Series:

  1. Our Secret Wedding
  2. Our Secret Christmas
  3. Tread the Boards
  4. A Secret Boyfriend
  5. Friends With Benefits
  6. The Glass Ceiling

Free Lesbian Romance

Hestia is the first in my sex-filled, lesbian romance trilogy Sapphic Soulmates, and it’s now FREE at many ebookstores.

These three books are feel-good fast reads and they are not in KU you can get them at most e book retailers: Amazon, iTunes, Nook, etc… The links and blurbs are below:

 

HESTIA by Helen Jayne

At Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079BPSH45

At other stores: https://www.books2read.com/u/bMQ22a

Suppose you were seduced by an immortal Goddess today. And discover she has devoted herself faithfully to you for centuries, but you don’t remember past life details. What would you do?
Eighteen-year-old Lauren has survived school in her small town, just about. She’s never had a girlfriend, and she doesn’t have a life plan. She does have the devotion of an immortal Goddess.
Hestia might well be the first of the Olympian gods, but her job has been to keep the home fires burning, which means she doesn’t get out much. She doesn’t mind staying in, but it wasn’t the same when her soulmate went missing for hundreds of years.
When they reunite, their passion and desire are enough to light more fires. They can’t keep their hand off each other. Watch out for ebooks melting because of the heat and undergarments bursting into flames.
Hestia is a sizzling fantasy romance. It features lovers reunited, with a happy ever after.

***44,000 words***

CORBY (book 2) by Helen Jayne

At Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079Q4TDY5

At other stores: https://www.books2read.com/u/3L05L1

In her dreams, Corby has no inhibitions. When she meets the woman of her dreams, she has the confidence to do all those things and more.
Corby is not afraid of taking risks, but to give up everything for a new life in a strange land all for the love of a woman may be a step too far.

Blessed by the ancient gods of Olympus, Vick is the raven princess.
Her people, the Corax, have a long history and many traditions. They also have huge black wings for when they need to fly.
Vick didn’t expect to find love through a chance encounter, but she can’t argue with the pull toward her soulmate.

Corby is a sizzling lesbian fantasy romance for adult readers. There is no cheating. No one dies. There are plenty of cute women, and there is a happy ending.

AEGLE (book 3) by Helen Jayne

At Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079YSZ8SY

At other stores: https://www.books2read.com/u/md0YAZ

A sizzling enemies to lovers lesbian romance.
Jade is a flirt. She can’t help it. She doesn’t even realize she’s doing it most of the time. Eventually, she’d like to find her soulmate, but right now she’s young and still in college.

Cocky and sure of herself. Angie is hot, sexy, rich, and ten years older. She’s an arrogant landowner who won’t listen to reason or crazy arguments about protecting the forest.

Development around the small town of Beaumont threatens the woods with destruction. Jade knows the danger in the forest. It’s all too easy for someone to slip through to another dimension and disappear from our world completely.

When Jade tries to bargain with Angie, things go very wrong.

Both women find out more about ancient Olympia than they bargained for

Aegle is a Sizzling HOT steamy erotic F/F lesfic fantasy with a happy ending and no cheating and no cliffhanger.

It is book three in the Sapphic Soulmates series featuring powerful women and the ladies who love them.

Aegle can be read as a standalone but will make more sense if read after the other two books as there is a continuing story.

*** 45,000 words. ***

All books in the series are OTT, sexy, romantic fantasies so be prepared with fresh underwear.

Jade and her best friend Lauren appear in all three books.
Book 1: Hestia
Book 2: Corby
Book 3: Aegle

HIV in gay romance & gay fiction

Creating art is hard work.
Artists should be paid not expected to work for free.
In The Glass Ceiling, Chris is an artist.
Despite HIV blocking an early career opportunity, he went on to achieve great success as an artist.
People bought his original art, and other people bought the reproductions.


Note: *Reproducing the same art in various formats is a standard and vital extra revenue stream for many professional artists who need to make a living.

It was harder for Chris to find love, however. Too many men held irrational fears about dating a guy with HIV and most didn’t seem to know U=U.

“Undetectable = untransmittable”
people living with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy and are undetectable cannot infect others.


When Chris finally finds love, his new boyfriend comes up with an ingenious way to create an extra novel revenue stream linked to the original artwork.

The Glass Ceiling is the latest book in the SHS series.
NB: The two main characters have appeared in previous books, and this is best read as part of the series.

* Some people think I shouldn’t charge money for this novel because I’m “exploiting” people with HIV. They think diverse characters such as those with HIV should be excluded from romance stories.
However, I write about people living in the real world that I know, here in southern England.

In real life many people are HIV+. There are plenty of men in south-east England who are just like the fictional characters in my books.
I love to see diverse characters in gay romance.

Scroll down for Q & A.


The SHS series in KU on Amazon, right here, for now, but not forever.

compressed TheGlassCeiling (2)

How did Chris become HIV+?

That’s not relevant to this story so we don’t know. We meet Chris when he’s at a very good place in his life. And finding out he’s HIV+ and adjusting to taking daily medication is all part of his history and not the current story.

So why write him as HIV+ at all?

I’ve created a world of British gay men in SHS. they reflect the men here in the real world, many of whom are living with HIV. They are a part of the real world and should be in stories.

What are the important messages in this book?

  1. Artists create art because they love to make art. But it it is their career, to pay the bills, they approach their art as a business.
  2. People are living with HIV. Emphasis on the word LIVING. Enjoying life to the full not living lives of tragedy.
  3. U = U.
  4. Couples need to talk and LISTEN.

 

 

 

Some characters in Gay romance are demisexual

Rescued from Paradise has a demisexual gay character. He feels sexual attract only after forming an emotional bond.

 

rescuedfromparadise Compressed

Two hot men. One deserted tropical island.

Mr. Don’t-Touch-Me Wade O’Rourke has never allowed anyone to get close to his heart, or into his bed. Perhaps he’s not wired that way. He’s not gay. He was brought up to know it’s not possible in his family. But he’s not attracted to women either. He keeps up appearances for the sake of his family because it’s the thing to do— never mind his family traumas or that he hates his life. And he has reasons to hate his homophobic uncle, too.

Outgoing, optimistic, and carefree Adam Bennet comes from a long line of earthy people— gardeners and farmers. After his parents died, he was raised by his wise grandmother. He helps her run her shop.

When Wade and Adam meet on an airplane, they don’t quite hit it off. They survive a crash landing on an island paradise where they have to join forces to survive. Will Adam take a chance on love with the seemingly straight man? When love blossoms, can it survive the rescue and return to their American small town?

This full-length, standalone novel contains: Two hot guys and a deserted island. A man damaged by his homophobic upbringing. A virgin who never thought he’d want to be touched that way. Coming out in a small town. Steamy man on man love action and a happy ending. ***58,000 words.

Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from other retailers here.

 

Euro Pride Con for readers & authors of LGBT lit 2018

It’s less than a week away. I’m almost packed and ready and I’ll be travelling Wednesday morning. My teenager is coming as well so they will have 6 days of exploring Amsterdam.

I will be doing a ten-minute reading slot on Sunday morning, which begs the question: how long should my passage be?

mind out of the gutter!

How many words can I read out loud to an audience in 10 minutes?

I only had to refer to my past notes on reading aloud to an audience, on this very blog:

https://helenjperry.wordpress.com/2015/05/

When reading to an audience the pace should be 160 words per minute. Sure you can read faster. But do you want the listeners to be able to hear, understand and enjoy it?

Now, I’m off to find a passage of 1500 words.

There are a couple of other things I find useful:

Print it out in really big font.

Re-edit it for just reading – showing me where to take a breath – which might not be evident in the natural punctuation.

I will almost certainly read a funny passage from one of these two books:

Mestra, Erysichthon’s daughter: Inspired Erotica

The ancient Greek Gods were regularly turning people into bird and animals. Sometimes it was as punishment and permanent. Sometimes it was to help the people do something that they could do better in animal form.

I imagine people who found gods interfering in their lives and turning people into animals were a bit miffed about the whole thing.

In the case of Mestra, the daughter of Erysichthon of Thessaly, she was given the ability to shapeshift as a gift from her godly lover. What a present! That would be hard to beat.

Her father was cursed. He was forever hungry and couldn’t stop eating. To buy more food, he saw the opportunity to sell Mestra over and over (promise her as a bride and receive payment, whatever). She had to turn into a bird and fly away from each one of her new men/owners.

Mestra’s story is one of many like it that were at the back of my mind when I wrote the Sons of Olympus Trilogy (especially bk 1, Ravens).

And

I have paired up with the Queen of historical erotic, Chera Zade to write some short stories inspired by stories like this one. We have ideas for 3 short stories documenting what might have happened to Mestra, only one is complete and published ready for you to read:

Mestra’s Many Men by Helen J Perry & Chera Zade

is a short erotica story of one woman and five friendly men! There is an excerpt and blurb after the cover photo:

600 900 Mestras Many Men Chera Zade

Mestra’s Many MEN MFMMMM erotica:

Mestra’s first and only lover was the God of the sea, Poseidon. He had given her a rare and magical gift, the ability to transform into a bird or animal at will.
Her cursed father, Erysichthon of Thessaly exploited his talented daughter, by selling her several times over. Once he had payment, she would change her form and fly away free.
Mestra’s Many Men imagines what happens to the lady when she ran away from her father and fell into the hands of one of the men she had previously tricked.

He is not alone but has four other men with him. And what’s more, by the good fortune of Tyche, they are all naked.
Erysichthon’s daughter is confident her magical ability will get her out of any unpleasant situation, but this time she doesn’t want to leave. She craves more of the intimate attention that these men bestow on her.

Mestra’s Many Men is historical erotica set in ancient Greece. Approximately 8,000 words. It features group MFMM scenes. All characters are consenting adults over the age of 21.

This book is for mature readers.

As a woman gifted with the ability to shift to animal form, perhaps I was more animal than I realized

Like a wild creature, I remained on my hands and knees while Theo, behind me, coated me with his essence. And my animalistic instinct liked it.

Their action felt ritualistic as if they had claimed me and marked me for their own.

All of them.

Mestra’s Many Men

1

Erastus  

Who’s swimming with me?” Adras asked as he led the way into the water.

The man swam like a fish and took every opportunity to dive into water wherever he went. We’d sometimes joke that Poseidon protected his family. They had a history of being great fishermen who brought in the biggest catch, and their boats survived every storm.

Already naked, I followed him into the running water. “I don’t want to swim; I’m just going to soak,” I replied. The slow-moving water was pleasantly warm as it lapped around my ankles and calves.

On the stony beach, our three companions were still stripping out of their clothes.

I waded out eager to submerge my dirty, sweaty body, and I didn’t flinch when it tickled the sensitive area at the top of my thighs. “Ah. That’s good,” I said to no one in particular. The other men were all engaged in doing their own thing.

Laughter and splashes soon followed. Theo tore past me heading for the deepest cut of water. Moments later, he dove beneath the water and reappeared behind Adras. There was always fierce but friendly competition between the two brothers.

A glance toward the shore confirmed the other two men were staying aloft in the ankle-deep waters.

Bending my knees, I sank down, letting the swirling water wash over me. Submerged in the river, I scrubbed away the remaining dirty that lingered on my skin. And silently I prayed to the gods to rinse away my troubles too.

By rights, I should be a few days married now with a wife to share my life, my stresses, and my joys.

Alas, the beautiful lady went missing only days ago, shortly before the wedding night, leaving me bewildered and humiliated. No one saw her leave. We searched within the city walls but did not find her.

To this day, I do not know whether Mestra ran away of her own free will or was kidnapped.

Breaking back through the surface of the water my thoughts returned to my companions. Two men swam but the other two splashed about in the shallowest water.

What’s the matter? Can’t you swim? Afraid of the potamoi?” I called back at them.  

I’ve no reason to fear the river gods.” Philippos looked all around, nervously. “It’s what’s on dry land that concerns me. I feel like we’re being watched. And I’m a lot happier staying at the edge so whoever is hiding out of sight can’t sneak off with my clothes.”

I have the same feeling.” Bending down, Grēgorios cupped his hands together to form a bowl with which to scoop up water, he released it over his chest. “If we’re not alone, I can manage without clothes, but I don’t want to be at the wrong end of my weapons.”

While I could hold my own in a fair fight, whatever menace the journey held, we couldn’t be safer than traveling with Grēgorios. He was one of our cities champion warriors who had trained with the Spartans. Fearless and skillful, he was the master of all weapon.

It’s settled then, you two are on guard duty.” Momentarily, I sank again beneath the water. The memories of my lady weren’t swimming away with the fish, so I heaved myself up to seek distraction among the men.

As I cut through the water to the self-appointed lookouts, I eyed the shore and asked, “Did you see anything to give rise to your concern?”

Grēgorios shook his head. “No. Nothing moves.”

Once again Philippos scanned the horizon, turning full circle as he did so. Level headed Philippos was my own older brother. As siblings, we were doubly unfortunate in love. Facing me, he said, “There might be a god or goddess, waiting for us, just out of sight.”

2

Mestra

Stepping sideways, I inched closer to the trunk of the tree where I was confident the thick, sturdy timber would hold me.

The journey along the branch proceeded slowly. All the while, my gaze remained fixed firmly on the naked young men bathing in the brook. As they washed themselves clean, I studied every unblemished detail of their fine, muscular bodies and I thanked the gods for my eagle-eyed sight.

As two of them swam, three men splashed about in shallow water, where the river was only knee-deep. Droplets fell from their heads and rolled over their broad shoulders. The glistening beads of water trickled downward until they were caught up decorating body hair.

The man with his broad shouldered-back toward me stooped  splashing water over his torso,

I was helpless. I could only stare at the magnificent view not only of his firm rear thrust out behind him but the man in front of him who’d previously been obstructed.

He was a slender young man, but most definitely a man and not a boy. Even though it was flaccid, his cock nestled among dark curls looked thick and long.

Continue reading: Mestra’s Many Men At Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DQJRRBG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient greek Goddesses and modern girls

Sapphic Soulmates trilogy by Helen Jayne is my first attempt at blending the ancient Greek mythology in a modern setting. And my first attempt at writing longer lesbian fiction #lesfic.

Essentially, the Sapphic Soulmate trilogy is New Adult Lesbian erotic romance. They are light fun reads and long for novellas, but short for novels. Each book would take me between 3 to 4 hours to read, I’m an average speed reader.

From the start, when thinking about this set of stories I thought the main human character in each story could be male or female and pair up with a magical/god-type character of either gender. I decided to write the story twice over, which was an interesting exercise for me, but I don’t recommend you read both versions because it can be anticlimactic when you know the actual story.

The gay male version has an ancient British/Celtic theme whereas I took ancient Greek mythology to flavour the lesfic version.

I absolutely love the covers for these books, though I say so myself. And I want to write more, so we get more covers!

Here’s more about book 1 in the series: HESTIA by Helen Jayne  myBook.to/Hestia

About:

A lesbian fantasy romance.

Suppose you were seduced by an immortal Goddess today. And discover she has devoted herself faithfully to you for centuries, but you don’t remember past life details. What would you do?

Eighteen-year-old Lauren has survived school in her small town, just about. She’s never had a girlfriend, and she doesn’t have a life plan. She does have the devotion of an immortal Goddess.

Hestia might well be the first of the Olympian gods, but her job has been to keep the home fires burning, which means she doesn’t get out much. She doesn’t mind staying in, but it wasn’t the same when her soulmate went missing for hundreds of years.

When they reunite, their passion and desire are enough to light more fires. They can’t keep their hand off each other. Watch out for kindles melting in the heat and undergarments bursting into flames.

Hestia is a sizzling fantasy romance. It features lovers reunited, with a happy ever after.

Prologue

So comes a time that we should part.” The dreaded words, recited many times over the centuries, were still no easier to say.

In the center of the room, the fire crackled and the heat radiated against her skin as she lay in the midst of the warm furs. It made no difference. She heard the words leave her mouth and take on their own chilling independent form. Her insides turned cold.

Fear not, I shall be in your heart.”

The sincere reply acted as small comfort to Hestia.

They didn’t need words—not really.

One woman sworn to the other. Bound in a love that endured and grew over centuries of companionship and commitment.

This parting, like all the others, would be only temporary. As brief as the blink of an eye compared to years of immortality.

With her lover absent, for Hestia it meant loneliness, coldness, and pain, even if it was only temporary. Endless time stretching both ahead and behind didn’t make it any easier to say farewell, though. It was never easy, and she always worried.

Immortality did not make things any less painful but simply made that pain repeat over endless time.

More than you know, my dearest. “You will always be in my heart, my love.” Holding off for just a few more minutes together, she uttered the words slowly, as if dragging them from the very depths of her aching heart, where she already felt the void of her lover’s impending absence. You can never know how greatly my heart and soul yearn for you.

Ready to leave their Olympian dwelling and walk once again in the world of Man, Hestia’s lover approached the doorway.

Before pushing it open and stepping over the threshold, she glanced back over her shoulder. “And I carry you in mine. I will carry your gifts with me; they remind me of you. And know that you are never far from my thoughts.”

She lingered near the doorway as if there were more to say. Proud and tall, she wore clothes suitable for the world of Mankind but carried the first gifts ever given. The pouch, which was strapped to her chest and hung at her side. She wore the cloak, too—the mantle from their world. At least she’d have the cloak with her, even though she refused to take one of the dogs.

Loyal and brave, a dog would protect her from Mankind, but she refused to take one.

Two of their dogs lounged at the foot of the bed where they always slept. Four curled up near the mud-brick walls, a mass of fur, away from the heat of the central hearth. All the dogs ignored the painful goodbye taking place in the room.

A parting like the last one, every time marked by the same, heartfelt words.

Chapter One

Standing in the auditorium wing, eighteen-year-old Lauren Upsdell faced the biggest day of her life. Well, at least the biggest day so far.

She picked at the hem of her bottle-blue graduation robe nervously, working a loose thread between her fingers. The graduation cap she wore felt a little too tight, and it prickled her scalp. Both made of rich wool, the cap and gown were too hot for the final semester of her school life.

The urge to scratch grew stronger, but Lauren ignored it as best she could and rolled the thread against her thumb. A little discomfort meant nothing compared to a future lifetime of freedom away from this place.

Gazing down the line of students, each one a familiar face to Lauren, she felt as apprehensive as any of them. Everyone stood waiting in line for their turn to collect their certificate to thunderous applause. There were a little over sixty kids, and at one point or another, she’d been in class with every one of them.

Stacy Hart checked her reflection in a compact mirror and fingered a curl behind her ear, then winked at herself and tucked the mirror back in her pocket. Patrick Medes elbowed his best friend, Stuart Mendez, as the line advanced. Even shy, introverted Erin Weston had come out of her shell for the occasion, but still not wanting to attract attention, she tried to make herself as small as possible. She stood just behind Lauren.

As the line advanced, Lauren stepped forward with it and stared at the space between Odelia’s shoulder blades.

Only Jade Lidl, Lauren’s best friend in her graduation class, missed the ceremony.

Rolling the thread a little more nervously, Lauren stole another glance in the direction of Odelia Stevens. By virtue of their last names, they stood close together in the line, with only a few people between them.

Thankfully, so far, Odelia hadn’t seemed to notice Lauren’s presence. Odelia was leader of the popular girls, in a world where popular is defined as rich, shallow, and mean. She and her friends had made Lauren’s life hell since she’d come to Beaumont in her freshman year, following the tragic death of her parents.

Graduating meant that Lauren would never have to see them again. The end of school brought the end of shared lunches, a welcome end to forced group projects, and the relief of no more embarrassing hallway incidents.

Lauren wouldn’t miss any of it.

Odelia glanced over her shoulder and directly at Lauren, undoubtedly feeling the eyes burning into her back. Lauren stifled a gasp and looked away, too late. The line had come to a stop again, and with so many other students still waiting to walk onto the stage, Lauren couldn’t escape.

As Odelia cut the line, heading for her, Lauren shrank back and bumped into Erin, who whimpered and scrambled until she backed up against the wall. Lauren couldn’t draw her into this. With nowhere left to go, she had to stand her ground.

She’d lowered her head, hoping that Erin’s technique of shrinking away might save her.

It didn’t.

The shiny polished toes of Odelia’s shoes appeared in Lauren’s line of sight.

Well, well, well, look who we have here,” Odelia mused. The familiar sneer on her face. “The Pipsqueak herself, looking sharp tonight. Did you save all your lunch money to buy those shoes, or did someone take pity on you and buy them for you?”

I bought them myself.” Lauren looked back down at her standard black shoes. “I worked odd hours at the grocery store this semester to make sure I had enough spare cash.” She didn’t owe Odelia an explanation; nerves pushed it out of her mouth nonetheless.

You’re kidding me,” Odelia said with a laugh. She stepped forward, shrinking the space between them. Lauren couldn’t bring herself to look up, but she knew she couldn’t keep backing up, either. Not with Erin and the wall there. “Who would hire the Almighty Uptight-Underbite? Seems like a waste of money to me. Too small and weak to haul things off a truck, and too ugly to put on the cash. What did they have you do? Clean the bathrooms?”

I stocked shelves,” Lauren mumbled and wondered why she was offering an answer.

If the brunt of Odelia’s attacks tonight were verbal jabs, Lauren could endure. Sometimes, the aggression of Odelia and her friends turned physical. Lauren could brush off their hateful words, but she had difficulty handling it when they hit out.

I bet. You know all about fitting things in tight spaces, don’t you?” Odelia sneered.

Lauren cringed. Didn’t know for sure what Odelia referred to and had no intention of asking, thereby extending this conversation any longer than necessary.

It could have been a jab at her sexuality. Although Odelia and her tribe had previously mocked her for being “a lesbo”, as far as she knew, they had no idea of the truth of it. They didn’t often tease her about being gay—Lauren wasn’t exactly out about it, and her nonexistent sex life meant there wasn’t much to tell.

Crammed into lockers, stuffed into toilets, rolled up tight in yoga mats…” Odelia continued, dragged the painful confrontation out further. “They’re all the things you’re good at.”

Lauren said nothing, but she recalled every one of those incidents.

I wonder if it isn’t your true calling in life.”

It wasn’t; Lauren knew this for certain.

All her life she felt she had a vocational calling, a destiny to do good or even great things for the world. She just hadn’t discovered what those great things were, not exactly.

She wanted more and hoped to go to college. Or at least, she thought college would take her further along her path to whatever she was eventually going to do. But to study what? She didn’t know.

For now, without the resources to fund herself, Lauren had struck college temporarily from her list of immediate options in life. Her Aunt Lori and Uncle Joe couldn’t afford to send her on their own dime—but one day she hoped to find a way.

She hoped to discover more to life than high school bullying and dead-end, minimum-wage jobs. She would go out there and do something great.

Odelia clapped her hand against Lauren’s chest and pushed her back.

Erin gasped. Her heels clicked as she scurried sidewards, away from the fight.

Upsdell, Uptight, Underbite, Underdog. You’re always going to be under someone, aren’t you, Pipsqueak?”

No,” Lauren whispered.

What did you say?” Odelia demanded.

Lauren pursed her lips. She didn’t repeat herself.

I thought so,” Odelia said. She grabbed Lauren by the front of her robes and yanked her forward. “Not even your parents could stand being around you; you know that? They’re probably the only people you’re going to stand over, and that’s only because they’re ten feet underground.” Odelia released Lauren’s robe and stepped back.

Odelia!” Mrs. Truman, the history teacher, scolded. “Get back into line! We’re moving. Come on!”

Odelia shot Lauren a look that promised it wasn’t over, and Lauren let her shoulders drop and did her best not to engage Odelia again. The tiniest things set her off, it seemed. Lauren looked forward to the day she wouldn’t have to worry about looking in the wrong direction, or wearing the wrong thing, or saying something that got on Odelia’s nerves.

And that day would be tomorrow, she realized with a smile. Graduation one day meant freedom the next. Freedom from school at least.

She might still run into Odelia and her gang in the streets of their small town. Eventually, Lauren would find a way to leave Beaumont altogether, and with it, every moment of anguish she’d endured in it.

And maybe she’d fall in love in the process.

She wanted a girlfriend so badly.

At eighteen, she’d never so much as held hands with a girl, not in a romantic way. And certainly never wanted a boyfriend. She’d still not shared her first kiss.

Other couples paraded around the school and in the community, and she longed for the same, to do those things with someone special. Over the past few years, her hormones had gone into overdrive. She longed for romance and physical contact with her one true love.

Just as she knew there must be a vocation for her, Lauren also knew that out there somewhere her true soulmate waited for her. She just knew it.

Beaumont wasn’t exactly a haven for nontraditional relationships, and Lauren didn’t dare harbor crushes, let alone allow herself look for love, in such a tight-knit community.

Already the new kid, the impoverished orphan who came to live with her relatives while her life fell apart, Lauren didn’t want to draw herself into the spotlight any further. She didn’t need any other rumors spread about her. She only wanted to blend into the community. To be forgotten and ignored would’ve been perfect.

Lauren shifted her jaw, running a hand along it to try to assure herself that she didn’t have an underbite. Odelia strolled across the stage to accept her diploma and pose with the principal for pictures, leaving just a short wait for Lauren’s turn, followed by freedom.

Sometimes, bullying made it hard for Lauren to remember her jaw issue had been fixed in middle school. She’d been retainer-free for years, underbite a thing of the past. Social media didn’t forget, though, and the bullies at school had seen her old photos.

Lauren. Pipsqueak. Almighty Underbite.

She supposed, at least, they were more inventive than Loser.

From the stage, she heard Gregory Tullen’s name announced, and Mr. Alcorn, the math teacher, ushered the boy through the auditorium wing and across the stage. Lauren stepped up, looking out through the wing and across the audience. Principal Kendrick stood with Vice Principal Dunn as Gregory made his way across the stage. There were only a few diplomas left, the graduation ceremony almost over.

Mr. Alcorn returned to the wing of the stage and recited the speech that Lauren had heard given to every young person before her. “When they announce your name, you’ll cross the stage and shake hands with Principal Kendrick. You’ll take the diploma, and as it’s changing hands, you’ll stop and count to three slowly while also looking toward the audience and smile. When Principal Kendrick releases the diploma, you’ll continue across the stage and take the next available seat in the front row of the auditorium.”

Got it,” Lauren said with a nod.

She craned her neck to glance into the auditorium. With the lights beaming down on the stage and the sitting area plunged into darkness, she couldn’t see the audience, but she knew the hall was stuffed. She could almost taste the unmistakable feeling of too many bodies in a small, humid, poorly air-conditioned school building.

And Lauren,” said Mr. Alcorn.

Yes?”

Congratulations.”

Lauren smiled. All of the teachers at Beaumont had been wonderful—regrettably, she couldn’t say the same for the students.

Mr. Alcorn patted her back, and before Lauren knew it, her name was called out.

Lauren Upsdell.”

That’s your cue,” Mr. Alcorn said. “Go for it.”

Lauren bowed her head and stepped forward, heart racing. Being front and center before a crowd of strangers couldn’t appeal less, but it was the final trial of high school and certainly not the worst. Lauren just wanted it all over and to get out of the place for good.

As she stepped out into the bright lights, the audience applauded politely. Lauren’s cheeks heated, and she focused her attention on walking across the stage until she’d successfully made it to Principal Kendrick without tripping over her own feet.

Hi, Lauren,” Principal Kendrick said softly. “Congratulations.” She held out a hand for her to shake, and Lauren did so.

Flashlights exploded in the audience—school photographers taking pictures for the yearbook, she guessed. Or professional photographers looking to make a buck off parents.

Vice Principal Dunn handed Principal Kendrick the diploma, and Lauren grasped her end of it and slowly counted to three. More flashes went off, accompanied by a single, whooping cheer from the audience.

She grinned at the recognizable sound of her Uncle Joe. Aunt Lori couldn’t make it due to work, but enthusiastic Uncle Joe more than compensated for her absence.

They were terrific guardians, even if they had their disagreements from time to time. Lauren considered herself lucky. Not every teenage orphan got a happy ending. If bullying was all she had to deal with, then her time at Beaumont was a success. A rickety achievement, but considering her circumstances, a success nevertheless.

Go on and take your seat,” Principal Kendrick whispered. She released the diploma.

Lauren smiled at her one last time. “Thank you.”

You’re welcome. And congratulations again.”

As Lauren headed past her for the stairs leading into the audience, Erin Weston’s name rang out, and the attention shifted to the next pupil. Lauren breathed out a sigh of relief, took the stairs quickly, and then dropped into the empty chair next to Gregory.

They’d all finally made it.

Lauren beamed into the darkness and let her head rest on the back of the chair. Her mind wandered. With no idea about what came next, now her school career had finished. She had plenty to think about. She’d intended to find her own way in this big, wide world. At only eighteen, it seemed the right time for Lauren to dream of bigger things. Adventure. Mystery. Suspense. Excitement.

First, Lauren needed to go meet up with Jade to celebrate. In quarantine, getting over an illness, Jade lived in a weird state of in-between where she was well enough to do things around the house and lead a normal life, but not yet well enough to venture outside.

That didn’t mean Lauren couldn’t go to see her.

Once cocktail hour ended and the graduation party split up, Lauren planned a full night ahead, celebrating with Jade.

The end of one chapter in her life brought closer the beginning of another.

What a chapter she intended to make it.

Chapter Two

Cocktail hour was a misnomer.

Sparkling grape juice and water were about as daring as Beaumont High School got, but Lauren didn’t mind. Law-abiding and lacking a rebellious bone in her body, underage drinking didn’t appeal. Besides, it weeded out the problem kids.

Odelia and her crew left the reception fairly early, undoubtedly to celebrate in all the ways Lauren didn’t care for and possibly weren’t legal. That suited her fine. She wouldn’t run into them, and the less she had to worry about, the better.

Before long, Lauren saw Uncle Joe cutting through the crowds and lifting a hand over her head to wave. In response, Lauren lifted her champagne flute filled with sparkling grape juice. She had her diploma clutched firmly in her hand.

Lauren!” Uncle Joe exclaimed once he’d reached Lauren’s side. He opened his arms for a hug. “Congratulations.”

Thank you.” Lauren fitted herself against her uncle’s chest and hugged her, Uncle Joe’s arms locking around her and squeezing her tight. “I’m… Well, I’m glad, really.”

It’s a big step,” Uncle Joe said as she released Lauren from the hug. “I’m so glad you’ve made it. Your mother and father would have been proud.”

The loss still stung—Lauren didn’t believe there’d be a time when the death of her parents didn’t hurt—but she smiled anyway. She’d risen above her loss to accomplish something great. She had every reason in the world to be proud.

So,” Uncle Joe continued, “now that you’ve gotten your diploma, what’s next on the agenda?”

They crossed the room together, walking side by side.

Lauren sipped at her sparkling grape juice. “I’m going to stay here a little with you, return my graduation robes to the people waiting in the gym, then go over to see Jade so she can feel excited about graduating, too.”

Uncle Joe chuckled. “I meant in the long term.”

Oh.” Lauren’s cheeks burned. She shrugged a shoulder, unwilling to commit. She hadn’t brought up the topic of college with Uncle Joe or Aunt Lori because she didn’t want them to feel pressured. They’d done a terrific job of taking care of her after Lauren’s parents had passed away, and Lauren didn’t want them to think she expected a handout. “I’m…um…I’m not sure. I’m going to work for a little while and save up so hopefully, I can go to college in the future, but that’s, you know, not a for-sure thing, or anything.”

College.” Uncle Joe hummed under his breath. They arrived at the refreshments table, and Uncle Joe snagged a flute of sparkling grape juice for himself. “Your Aunt Lori and I were discussing it earlier. I wish we could afford to send you.”

Oh, no.” Lauren shook her head. “You’ve done so much for me already I couldn’t ask you to do that, too. I’ll figure it out. I always do. Besides, I’m going to landscape this summer for Mrs. Nohart, so I’ll be making some money, and if I’m truthful, I don’t even know what I’d study if I did end up going to college. I, um, I never decided exactly what it is I want to do.”

She never told anyone of her ambitions. It seemed too lofty and unreal to explain. She felt it nevertheless, a kind of inspirational draw—she’d felt it ever since a young age. It seemed childish, but rather than growing out of it, the sensation had gotten much stronger in recent years. Like an invisible thread wrapped tightly around her sternum, it pulled her toward…something.

So far, she’d just never managed to figure out the something.

Lauren’s mediocre drawing ability proved it wasn’t art, and it certainly couldn’t be anything academic because she was an average student at best. Sports were out of the question; she didn’t have the coordination or the endurance or the interest.

But now and then, especially when the seasons changed, a thread tugged at her, as though to remind her she had a future elsewhere if she could only figure out where. All through the last year, it had been tugging harder than ever. As winter melted into spring, there’d been a point in time when Lauren had spent a whole weekend in bed, simultaneously filled with wonder and excitement over the boundless energy in her veins, yet anxious, because she couldn’t figure out what it meant.

She had a destiny to fulfill, a vocation. But she had no idea how to find it.

You’ll figure it out,” Uncle Joe promised. “You’re a resourceful girl.”

I know.” They made their way across the room to a quiet corner. “I just don’t want you to feel bad about it. I’m going to figure this out, no matter what it means. You can count on me.”

After polite conversation with teachers, pupils, and other kids’ parents, she was free to move on.

With a bow of her head, Lauren said farewell to Beaumont High. She’d returned her robe and parted ways with Uncle Joe, intending to walk the distance between the high school and Jade’s place.

She didn’t live all that far from the school. Lauren cut across the football field. She wondered, briefly, if Jade would be awake. Bordering on ten at night didn’t seem late, but Jade was officially ill.

As Lauren walked, she pulled out her phone and composed a brief text message.

Hey, coming over. Get ready to celebrate 🙂

The message sent, she tucked her phone back into her pocket and collided with something. Lauren grunted, the air knocked from her lungs, and promptly fell on her ass.

She looked up. Towering over her stood Odelia, with her cronies, her best friend Jill and their boyfriends, Jason and Rhett, flanking them on either side.

Well look at this. If it isn’t the Pipsqueak again.” Odelia’s vicious smirk chilled Lauren to the bone. “Back on your butt. What did I say back there? You’re always going to be underneath us, Upsdell.”

She’s so clumsy; she might as well live on the ground.” Jill laughed. “Pretty sure being so low is her natural state of being.”

Cut it out, Jill.” No one ever called the bullies off. The sickly sweet cruel tone in Odelia’s voice warned this time was no different. “She’s graduated now. We all are. We’re grown-up, young adults with our whole futures ahead of us. I think it’s time to turn a new leaf.”

Like what?” Jason asked. He mimicked the tone, and it sounded as if he were in on the joke. The moonlight glinted off his teeth as he grinned maliciously.

You’re not thinking of helping the Pipsqueak get back on her feet, are you?” asked Jill in a similarly insincere tone.

She made it through high school, somehow.” Odelia shrugged and slipped her hands around her waist. “It’s a time for a celebration. I think we should help her get back on her feet and keep her supported. Teach her how to stand tall.”

Lying on the slightly damp ground, Lauren curled her fingers into the blades of grass. Like the metal blade of a sword, the grass beneath her hand felt cool to the touch, and its sharp points stabbed her palms when she pushed her hands down.

Unable to explain how, she drew the strength for endurance from the endless ground beneath her, feeling her own heart beating against it. She knew she could only feel it because her heart raced from fear, but in the moment, her heart and the earth were as one.

I’m okay,” Lauren murmured. She didn’t attempt to stand. “Thank you for the offer, though. That’s very generous.”

It’s not an offer. We insist.” Odelia reached down and grabbed Lauren by the front of her dress, and instantly the boyfriends were either side of Lauren. Odelia released her grip as the men’s hands went around Lauren’s arms and they yanked her to her feet as if she weighed nothing at all.

In silence, Odelia led the way across the field toward the woods that framed it.

The men didn’t let Lauren go but dragged her along as she staggered and tried to find her footing. Her mind raced to find a solution to her predicament.

She couldn’t fight Odelia, let alone take on all four at once, but if she could spring free, she could outrun them. A hopeful plan started to form. If she took them by surprise, she could escape their clutches. As Lauren braced herself for a struggle, she saw what waited on the edge of the woods.

N-No,” she uttered, digging her heels into the field. “No, you can’t!”

What?” Odelia looked over her shoulder at Lauren and grinned. She strode on forward. “We’re only going to help make sure you can stand up for yourself without falling on your face. In a few years’ time, you’ll thank us for teaching you a lesson.”

The guys following showed no sign of loosening their grip. Lauren didn’t like her slim chances of escape.

A coiled rope waited at the edge of the woods.

It must’ve been left there. Planted.

Rope carefully placed ahead of time turned the event from a prank or an opportunist moment to extend their bullying, to an abduction, something planned and, therefore, far more sinister.

Lauren didn’t know exactly what Odelia had planned, but if it involved a rope and the woods, she expected the worst. She couldn’t let this happen. She couldn’t. She had her whole future ahead of her.

Looks like she’s about to piss herself, she’s so afraid,” Jason said with a laugh.

Odelia pulled out her phone and turned on her flashlight app, lighting up the dark woods that lay ahead. “What’s the matter, Pipsqueak? Afraid to stand on your own?”

They reached the rope at the edge of the woods.

You got her, Jason?” Without waiting for a reply, Rhett released Lauren and hefted the rope into his arm and hung it, coiled, over his shoulder.

I’m serious, you can’t do this,” Lauren said. She struggled against her captors, but they held her tight. “You can’t!”

We’re gonna,” Odelia said. “And you get to decide how bad it’s going to be for you. Keep struggling, and we might tie it around that neck of yours, see how tall you can stand when your feet can barely touch the ground.”

You’re going to kill me if you do that.” Was that what they intended? Lauren’s heart beat like a rabbit’s when caught in a fox’s paws. In desperation, she glanced to the side. Only one man held her by one arm. It might be her best chance. She made a break for it but choked as she was yanked back against Jason’s chest.

Jill laughed. And Lauren decided they must be crazy, drunk, or on drugs. Whichever, it didn’t bode well for her.

You’re going to kill yourself if you don’t stop struggling,” Odelia hissed into her ear. “You want to behave and accept our help, and we’ll only tie you to a tree so you can practice standing up for yourself. Isn’t that right, guys?”

Yep,” Rhett agreed, patting the coil of rope on his shoulder. “That’s right.”

So quit struggling.” Odelia turned the light, shining it directly on Lauren, so it momentarily blinded her and their surroundings went black. “It’s getting old.”

Lauren squeezed her eyes shut, pulse hammering in her ears. She knew she couldn’t trust them, but she didn’t have another choice. The bullies towered over her, each of the men was twice her size. If she couldn’t break away, she didn’t have a shot at running away. She let her body go slack and hoped their mercy would reward her cooperation.

That’s a good girl,” Jason said. “Nice and easy. We’re going to keep walking for a while, find a tree somewhere nice and deep in the woods where no one’ll think to look, and let you get some practice in peace.”

If you tie me up, how am I going to get out?” Lauren asked.

Odelia turned the flashlight to light the way. “Oh, I don’t know.” Odelia marched forward, forcing Lauren to move along, too.

You’re so good at messing things up; you’ll probably just end up falling out of the ropes.” Jill laughed as if she’d said something funny. “Right on your ass.” She giggled some more. “Typical. We set you up so you can’t fail, and then you fail regardless.”

Unwilling to believe this was really happening, Lauren blinked back tears. The longer they walked, the clearer it became: Odelia and her crew intended to take Lauren somewhere so deep and distant that even if she shouted, no one would hear her. After everything they’d put her through, when she finally thought she was free of them, they were just going to tie her up in the woods and leave her for dead?

They had to realize what they were doing.

This wasn’t some prank, and it went beyond bullying.

With a real genuine fear for her life, Lauren could see no way out of the predicament. She couldn’t reason with these assholes.

As they went deeper, swirling mist hid the ground from view, but Lauren’s feet saw for her. They traversed uneven ground, tangled roots, and crunching leaves.

Please, please don’t do this,” Lauren begged when they came to a sudden halt. They’d reached a part of the woods that Lauren didn’t recognize. “Please. I’ll do whatever you want.”

We want you to tie yourself to a tree, then,” Jill said. She hooted at her own joke.

God. And if you could shut up, that would probably be nice, too,” Jason said, and all four of them giggled like preschoolers at a birthday party.

Lauren could see nothing funny in the dire situation.

Jason thrust Lauren forward, and she collided head first with a sturdy, gnarled tree with thick bark. An abrasive piece of bark scraped her cheek, the searing sting intense enough that Lauren was sure it drew blood. Before she could lift a hand to assess the damage, Odelia grabbed her and spun her around, slamming her into the tree. Then Rhett and Jason set about tying her up.

They bound her arms first, tying Lauren’s wrists together. The binding didn’t cut into her skin but wrapped tight enough around so her hands hung uselessly in front of her body. After her hands were secure, they worked in tandem to wrap the rope around the tree, tightening as they went. They wrapped Lauren’s torso six times around until she was pressed so tightly to the tree, she couldn’t move. She could only manage to lift her feet and dip her head; the rest of her mobility was stolen.

Look at this.” Odelia stepped back from the tree and opened her arms wide as if showing Lauren off to the world. “The Uptight Pipsqueak, standing up tall and on her own, for the first time in her life.”

It’s unnatural.” Rhett shook his head.

Jill giggled. “An abomination. Let’s take pictures.”

Chapter Three

Cell phone cameras flashed. Lauren closed her eyes and looked away, trying not to let the humiliation get to her. She knew this would appear all over social media, but at least it meant she might have a chance of surviving the ordeal. Someone would see her tied up and know where to look. She wouldn’t be left out here forever.

Look at this one.” Jill snorted.

It went dark. Lauren lifted her head and opened her eyes to see Odelia’s light illuminating the ground at her feet.

I got it before Uptight closed her eyes. Look at how weird they are.”

They’ve always been weird, like her. So what?” Odelia asked. All three huddled around Jill’s phone, looking down at the screen.

So, with the spooky forest in the background, she looks like an actual freak!” Rhett exclaimed.

The gray one looks normal; it’s just…” Jason scrunched his nose in distaste. “The green one is weird. Ick. I didn’t realize there was such an intense color difference between them. What a fucking bizarre picture. Looks fake.”

Lauren liked her eyes. Most of the time, her central heterochromia was too faint to notice. Although one of her eyes was gray, the other eye had a crown of green around her pupil. Tendrils of color flared out, like green rays of sunshine from the black sun of her pupil, but the colors suited each other.

Put it away.” Odelia shuddered. “It’s weird. I don’t like it.”

This whole place is weird.” Jason slowly swiveled, turning in a full circle on the spot and looking in every direction. “Is there a swamp nearby? I mean, what the hell is with this mist?”

A temperature thing, or something.” Odelia scowled and shuddered again. Or possibly shivered. “It sometimes happens, all right? Especially when it’s all weird and dark and damp, like in the woods. You don’t need a swamp to have mist.”

I’m not so sure,” Rhett said uneasily. “Whatever. We’ve got our pictures. Let’s go. The Pipsqueak can deal with the mist all on her own.”

Lauren squirmed against the ropes, trying to get them to go slack. “You can’t leave me here.”

Thankfully, they weren’t recording her. Lauren knew how pathetic and scared she sounded. She knew begging Odelia to change her mind wasn’t going to work, but she was stuck and desperate.

Stop complaining,” Odelia snapped. “We haven’t gagged you. You’ve been pretty good so far. I thought you were learning something after all.”

Despite it all, Lauren stood strong, attempting to conceal her fear. She wouldn’t let them think they’d won. She couldn’t. Even though it seemed they had.

Let’s go,” Odelia said brusquely, and she turned as if to leave.

We all bow down to the Almighty Uptight Underbite,” Rhett teased, sweeping into a low bow as he backed away. “The only kid in town whose eyes are as messed up as her head is. You’re a total package, aren’t you?”

The bullies all laughed at the joke.

Odelia turned again and took a step toward Lauren. “Yeah, a total package. The only way she’s getting some love action is face down, ass in the air. No one’s going to get off while they have to look at a face like that.”

Untrue words couldn’t inflict pain, and Lauren let them roll off her shoulders. She honestly considered herself attractive, in an unconventional way. Slender and neat, she’d never have the cheerleader aesthetic, but she had a good figure and dressed nicely. Apart from the subtle difference between her two eyes, there was nothing abnormal about her.

It didn’t matter that Odelia and her gang couldn’t recognize it. They weren’t Lauren’s type, anyway. Although at that moment, whether anyone could ever crush on her took second place to the more pressing concern of whether she’d live to see freedom and then find the love of her life.

Odelia turned again and set off toward home with her entourage close by. “Catch ya later, Pipsqueak,” she called out without looking back.

As Odelia, Jill, Jason, and Rhett left, Lauren closed her eyes and worked through a silent mantra. Their destructive words were meant to harm, not meant to tell the truth. She knew she couldn’t take anything they said seriously, and she internalized the thought over and over.

She was worthwhile. She was worthy. She was important.

When the sound of their footsteps faded into nothing, Lauren opened her eyes again. She was well and truly alone.

What are you going to do?” she asked nobody in a whisper, finding comfort in hearing her words out loud against the sounds of the night. She strained against the ropes. “There’s got to be something. You can figure it out. There’s a way to get out of this. C’mon, c’mon…”

Working her shoulders back and forth, Lauren squirmed and tried to duck down. When it failed, she planted her feet against the base of the tree and tried to push herself forward.

The ropes didn’t give.

Of course, they didn’t, and Lauren found it challenging to focus on the positive right then.

There wasn’t much to be positive about in her life as a poor orphan.

A lesbian and mostly in the closet.

A teenager with few prospects and mediocre grades.

Humiliated by bullies. Humiliated no matter what happened. Whether they came back and rescued her, or whether she was found dead or alive by other people.

Life was shit.

She could always yell, but it would most likely be a waste of breath and energy with no one around to hear her.

She could wait until the next morning and hope Mr. Hinsley took a gym class outside so someone on the football field might hear her, but even that was a stretch. They had taken her so deep into the forest Lauren doubted anyone would hear her.

She was worthwhile. She was worthy. She was important.

She had to remind herself. She whispered the words of her mantra out loud. She had to survive.

Lauren breathed in deep and held it, then exhaled slowly. Panic started to build inside her, much as she knew it wouldn’t help.

The more she wore herself out, the worse it would be. She needed a solid plan into which she could invest all her energy. Flailing and screaming didn’t make a good plan and might get her hurt. Without access to water, her throat would dry out, and she wouldn’t be able to call out when she needed to.

She wouldn’t survive long without water anyhow, and she knew it. Lauren needed to play it smart and use the one tool she had that they couldn’t take away: her brain.

The forest wasn’t going anywhere; she wasn’t going anywhere. Unless those jackasses returned, which seemed unlikely, help wouldn’t arrive until morning at the earliest.

A fresh worry formed and took hold of her troubled mind. First and foremost, she needed to relieve the pressure building in her bladder. Already utterly humiliated by everything that had happened in these woods, Lauren didn’t want to add to the ordeal. If she could, she’d like to avoid someone finding her with urine-soaked pants and ammonia burns to her legs.

All right,” Lauren said, bolstering herself. “It’s easy. Your hands are—” She stretched her fingers. Her hands were so close and yet, not close enough. She didn’t have the dexterity required to reach and and do anything useful.

A branch snapped, and Lauren fell silent. Whatever had broken it sounded much heavier than a squirrel. What kind of creatures lived deep in the woods?

Bears. Coyotes. Wolves.

Lauren stopped thinking about it. Instead, she kept very still and turned her head toward the noise. A pair of eyes flashed in the darkness, distinctly animal.

God,” Lauren whispered, unable to help herself. She strained against the rope, but it wouldn’t budge. “Please, please don’t do this.”

The eyes came closer. If it weren’t for the pale moonlight that made its way through the foliage overhead, Lauren never would have seen them. She couldn’t even make out what kind of animal they belonged to.

I will kick you,” Lauren warned. She kicked out her feet to show she meant trouble, but it only stopped the animal in its tracks, not turn it around.

A second set of eyes joined it, both of them glinting in the darkness. Then another. Fur, shimmering like still water under starlight, drew Lauren’s eye. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness of night, she saw them more clearly.

Magnificent creatures.

Wolves?

Movement caught Lauren’s attention. While she hadn’t been looking, three more wolves had approached her other side. They formed a semicircle surrounding the tree. They gazed at her as though curious and afraid to get close.

That’s right.” Although shaken, she tried to sound confident. “I’ll kick you. I’ll kick you, and it’ll hurt.”

Having never seen an actual wolf up close before, Lauren started to think these creatures might not be wolves but foxes. They were big for foxes but small for wolves.

Lauren expected them to charge and braced herself for the assault when something surprising happened. The animals sat. Mist swirled around their haunches, alive despite the still air. Lauren had no way to explain what happened. She didn’t know a lot about wild predators, but she didn’t think a pack of them would just sit and watch their prey.

Would they?

She watched them, alert for the sign of an attack, which she was sure would come at any moment.

If these were her last few moments alive, Lauren wanted to make sure they counted. She took a minute to breathe in the forest air, crisp and humid, perfumed with pine and fallen leaves. She savored the rough feeling of bark against her skin, taking time to appreciate that she could feel at all. The beating of her heart drowned out most of the noises of the forest, but when Lauren focused, she heard the chirp of crickets and the buzz of nighttime insects.

If only for a second, she distracted herself from the danger and said goodbye to a world far more beautiful than she’d noticed before.

The mist swirled in tendrils and parted.

Parted?

Wondering if it were a trick of the light, Lauren squinted. There was no mistake. Moonlight streamed into the small section of forest with startling intensity, illuminating the six dog-like creatures gathered before her and revealing the strange parting in the mist. The wolves all sat to either side of it like they’d anticipated its arrival. It opened up wider, forming a straight passage. A pathway to Lauren.

Farther, into the forest, the shadows moved. A shape emerged, taller than a fox, but narrower than a bear. The human figure stood erect, man or woman, Lauren couldn’t make out from just the silhouette in the dancing light of the night. How could it be human, though? What human walks though the forest in the dark and commands mist and wild animals like this?

The creature stepped into the moonlight.

It was a woman.

A tall and elegant woman.

She paid no attention to the wild animals, acting as if they weren’t there, and they paid no attention to her in return. They sat as still as obedient dogs. Maybe they were dogs, not wolves.

As the figure took a step forward along the mist-cleared path, familiarity washed through Lauren, gripping her chest so hard, it hurt. Lauren’s lips parted, but she had no words to speak. She froze.

She knew what she saw, but she couldn’t believe her eyes. Something about the tall, noble woman seemed familiar. Not only did Lauren’s mind struggle to remember, but her heart ached for the memory, too. It wasn’t just the woman, either, but everything about this weird setting. The mist, the ancient forest, the damp scent of moss, the dogs.

That’s right; they were dogs. Or wolves? She couldn’t tell.

The feeling of purpose, of destiny, that Lauren had harbored for so long, tugged with more force than it ever had before.

The figure stopped several feet away, and she looked Lauren over curiously.

Lauren couldn’t help it. She sobbed, and she had no idea why. Of course, her predicament was reason enough. The relief of being found alive and the surreal, ghostly environment may have been the cause of the strange churning emotions that Lauren didn’t understand and couldn’t control.

The tears came all at once, triggered by whatever had awakened in her soul. She struggled against her ropes as fat tears rolled down her cheeks. The mist. The wolves. The handsome woman. All of it seemed strangely familiar, as if from a dream, or like something she’d loved long ago, but had forgotten all about.

The woman lifted a hand, her fingers extended as if she were about to conduct an orchestra, and the dogs rose to their feet in unison. Lauren wept, fighting to free her hands. Her attempts were in vain. The woman extended the hand slowly toward the tree, pointing a single finger. She moved with grace and nobility, as if the smallest of her movements still bore significance.

No, as if the smallest of her movements wielded enormous power. Lauren knew this but wasn’t sure how.

The dogs moved into action. They approached Lauren, each one of them slow and cautious. The first nuzzled against her thigh; the second mouthed at the rope, then bit and pulled. Soon, all of them were united in their efforts.

Somehow, Lauren knew she was safe, and she watched without fear as they worked at the bindings.

The rope strained, then went slack, and Lauren stumbled as her legs took her own weight once more.

With a strangled cry, Lauren pulled free of the ropes and fell forward. Practicality urged her to run and not look back, but the sickening nostalgic part of her mind and the beating of her heart begged her to stay.

Sobbing and struggling with her choice, she remained still, frozen and unable to flee.

Letting her hand drop, the woman stood, silent and stoic, in front of Lauren for a long while. Surely this had to be a dream? She had to be hallucinating. This could not be real.

As the woman stepped forward, Lauren imagined a soft crunch of twigs and leaves. She didn’t hear any footsteps; they were inaudible over the constant buzz of the music of nature at nighttime.

Lauren lifted her head, the last of her tears streaming down her cheeks. The closer the woman got, the less the insistent tugging bothered her. Step by graceful step, the woman traversed the forest floor until she stood directly in front of Lauren. Close enough to touch.

Ropes still bound her hands. If they hadn’t, she would have run her fingers along the woman’s fine jawline and felt the soft skin there.

In turn, the woman looked down at her, and she did reach out. Both of her hands trailed across Lauren’s cheeks, fingers encircling the back of Lauren’s head. The woman’s palms cupped Lauren delicately, like a lover’s might after a long time apart. It should have felt weird, invasive. It didn’t.

The touch felt right.

When the woman leaned down and kissed her, she stole the breath from Lauren’s lungs and the strength from her knees. Lauren surrendered to her and kissed back, enchanted. For her very first kiss, it seemed so right in the moment, as if they had met already and a long-term commitment existed between them.

The way the woman touched Lauren with reverence and kissed with passion… it was something amazing and new for Lauren. It felt as if they were longtime lovers reunited after spending some time apart. She even tasted familiar, a little bit like fresh salad leaves.

Lauren knew nothing of this person, this lady, yet she trusted her. Instinctively, she trusted her more than anything.

Lauren’s heart beat fast, heavy and full.

Sleep,” the woman whispered against Lauren’s lips, her voice like a lullaby long forgotten.

Lauren submitted to the magic and knew no more.   

CONTINUE Reading by Borrowing or buying at Amazon: myBook.to/Hestia

 

Reverse Harem Romance Books

The Sons of Olympus trilogy is not my first attempt at writing multi-partner romance and I’m certainly glad to return to it.

While books 1 and 2 only show FM sexy scenes in book 3 there is also on the page MM action.

At the moment the books are exclusive to amazon. You can find them here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D7DYSNT

And here are the covers…

 

 

Book 1 Ravens

Book 2 Defenders

Book 3 Architects

There are sizzling hot stories. Can be read as standalones.

New adult meets paranormal romance.

deserted island romance

Two hot men. One deserted tropical island.

Carefree Adam Bennet comes from a long line of earthy people— gardeners, herbalists, hippies, and farmers. His grandmother taught him and his brothers to live off the land, to heal themselves, and above all, to trust their intuition about a person or situation.

Mr. Don’t-Touch-Me Wade O’Rourke wouldn’t dream of something so pedestrian as living off the land. His family is monied and formal. Taking his place in his uncle’s company is the thing to do— never mind that he hates his life, and he has reasons to hate his uncle, too.

When Wade and Adam meet on an airplane, they don’t quite hit it off. But they’re the only two survivors of a crash landing on an island paradise, they have to join forces to survive.
Will Adam take a chance on love with the seemingly straight man? Underneath Wade’s business suit, which he once wore like armor against intimacy, is a hard body and a tender heart.

When love blossoms, can it survive the rescue and return to their American small town?

Buy or borrow it from Amazon here: myBook.to/RescuedfromParadise

This full-length, standalone novel contains:

  • Two hot guys and a deserted island.
  • Tropical fruit too juicy to just eat.
  • A man damaged by his homophobic upbringing.
  • Men falling in love.
  • Steamy man on man love action and a happy ending.

* 58,000 words.

rescuedfromparadise Compressed