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Will is finally braced to bring Taylor home to meet the folks. Unfortunately, not every member of the Brandt clan loves Taylor the way Will does. Then again, not everyone loves the Brandts. In fact, someone has a score to settle — and too bad for any former DS agents who get in the way when the bullets start to fly.
NOTE FROM AUTHOR:
The first four stories in the Dangerous Ground series are fairly angsty, given that Taylor and Will — especially Will — are struggling with the transition from partners and best friends to lovers. There are tender, quiet moments between them, but mostly there’s a lot of running, jumping, shooting, and arguing. So one of the pleasures of writing Kick Start was that their personal and professional lives are now more stable and there was a lot more opportunity to show them relaxed and playful with each other.
I hope you enjoy this snippet!
“Here you go.” Will tossed the plastic bottle of Tums to Taylor, who was already in bed and looking very much at home. Taylor popped the lid and shook two tablets out. He grimaced, chewed the orange tablets, and set the bottle on the bedside table.
“What do you think of Cousin Dennis?” he asked.
It was nearly midnight and everyone had retired for the evening. In fact, Grant had turned in not long after dinner, claiming he wanted to get an early start fishing the next morning. It was disappointing that Grant was being such an ass, but Will was hopeful once he’d had a little time to think things through, he’d come around.
Or maybe he wouldn’t.
Painful to think, but it was possible.
Will shrugged. “Seems harmless enough. Hopefully the marshals will yank him out of here tomorrow.” He opened the cedar chest at the foot of the bed and pulled out a heavy wool Indian print blanket. The blanket smelled of camphor and wood and something he couldn’t quite place but that reminded him of his boyhood. Liniment? His first aftershave?
“He’s no wise guy, but he’s no innocent bystander either,” Taylor commented.
“He’s also not our problem.” Will shook out the red zigzagged folds and let the blanket drift down and settle over the bed. “You warm enough?”
“You want a pair of wool socks?”
“It gets cold in this house at night.” Will pulled an extra pair of socks out of his suitcase and dangled them enticingly. “Pop doesn’t run the heater.”
“Thanks, but they make my feet sweat.”
Will went around to the side of the bed, pulled the blankets back and slid between the blue flannel sheets. “My, this is cozy.”
Taylor laughed. At home they shared a king-sized bed, so this was definitely a tighter fit. “If I wasn’t your boyfriend before, I would be now.”
Will snorted. He reached over and turned off the lamp.
The darkness was instant and all encompassing. For a few moments they lay quietly, simply absorbing the depth and silence of night in the forest.
“That is one beautiful moon,” Taylor remarked as the window slowly filled with bright silver light.
“Yeah. Nice.” Will turned his head on the pillow, trying to make out Taylor’s features in the uncertain light. “So what do you mean you’re not going fishing tomorrow? I thought that was the plan. You love fishing.”
“I do, yeah. But I don’t want to break Grant’s heart.”
Will said tersely, “Grant is going to have to adjust. ”
“Sure. And tomorrow you can break that news to him.” Taylor yawned, wiggled his jaw. “Anyway, there’s plenty of time for you and me to go fishing, right?”
“Yep. What are you going to do then?”
“I’ll find something to keep me busy.”
“Don’t wander off into the woods.”
Taylor spluttered. “Right, because going for a long hike by myself in the woods is the first thing I’d think of to amuse myself.”
“I know, but you can’t do the other thing all day. You’ll go blind.”
Taylor started to laugh.
Will’s feet brushed Taylor’s and he jumped. “Christ, MacAllister. Your feet are like popsicles!”
“You’ll take care of that.”
Will did his best, folding Taylor’s feet between his own and rubbing them.
Taylor, who was extremely ticklish, gave a little gasp. Actually, it was kind of a squeak. Almost a squeal.
“That was manly,” Will muttered, trying not to laugh.
Taylor started to respond, but there was a heavy thump against the wall, as though someone had kicked it or thrown a boot at it.
“Are you kidding me?” Taylor lunged up and whumped the wall back, hard. Will winced, but Taylor was in the right. Grant was pushing his luck.
Taylor flopped back and gave that little irritated huff he made when he was nervous or worried.
“Hey.” Will wrapped his arm around Taylor’s bony shoulders and tugged him still closer. “I’m going to have another talk with him, don’t worry.”
“He’s my only brother. Please don’t kill him.”
“I won’t touch him. I won’t touch a hair of his backwoods head.”
Will grinned fiercely into the darkness and pressed a kiss on top of Taylor’s city boy head.
They lay in companionable, warm silence.
“What’s funny?” Taylor mumbled.
“I can feel you smiling.”
“What about me?”
“I don’t know. Something about you being here now. All those years I used to lie here and think about…I don’t know.”
Taylor tilted his face up, as though listening for what Will wasn’t putting into words. “What?”
“The usual stuff, I guess.”
“Homework? Football? Girls?”
“Yeah.” Will added softly, “And boys.”
Taylor gave a little shiver, and Will squeezed him tighter. “See. I knew you’d be cold.”
“Cold? The opposite. Do you think –?” He rocked his hips insinuatingly against Will’s.
“No! I sure as hell don’t. With Grant’s ear pressed to the wall?”
After a pause, Taylor said, “I hope you’re kidding.”
“I’m kidding. But we can’t. You know that. We’ve got to –”
He floundered, and it was Taylor who drawled, “Slow their ascent so they don’t get the bends?”
Will laughed, but he couldn’t deny — and probably hadn’t been able to hide — that instinctive surge of panic. Panic at the very idea. He was ashamed of it, but there was no denying the idea of having sex within earshot of any member of his family was more alarming than exciting.
Taylor snorted. “Relax. Your virtue is safe with me.”
Will groaned softly. “It’s only a couple of days. If it helps, I’d feel the same if you were a woman.”
“Uh, no, Brandt. Actually, that doesn’t help. At all.” But Taylor was laughing, and Will began to laugh too.
After a bit Taylor said, “It wasn’t easy for you, was it? Growing up here. Small towns, small minds. You had it tougher than I did.”
“It was okay,” Will said, uncomfortable with Taylor’s sudden sympathy. “It was tougher being the son of the local sheriff.”
“Yeah. Every so often some asshole, usually one of the Dooleys, would accuse me of being a narc. You know what kids are.”
“A narc,” Taylor’s tone was derisive. “I bet. But you were the big varsity guy, right? Quarterback of your high school football team, then the big college star, then the marines.”
“I did okay,” Will admitted. “It was probably tougher for Grant.”
Taylor said unexpectedly, “Probably, yeah.”
Will thought that over, frowning into the darkness. After a time Taylor turned his face into Will’s shoulder and began to snore softly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon has been writing gay mystery and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction and a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Gay Mystery. Josh is also the author of the definitive M/M writing guide Man, Oh Man: Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks and Ca$h.
But, really…do you care? Probably not. More to the point, Josh writes gay or M/M romance — usually within the context of a mystery / romantic-suspense or action – adventure. Lanyon’s particular brand of erotic romance features sexy cops and smartass writers, tough Navy SEALs and sensitive artists, hard as nail special agents and…other hard as nails special agents.
Josh is an EPPIE Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his Significant Other. You can find out more about Josh at the Just Joshin blog on Livejournal/Blogspot or through Josh’s mailing list.
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