Steve jerked awake, body
stiff and still. Something was different. Something was. . .wrong?
Then it hit him.
There was someone else in his
Slowly he tilted his head
back to look at the man in his bed. Jarod. The epitome of tall, dark and handsome. A part
of him wanted Jarod desperately, another part was scared to death at the very thought. He
shivered with indecision and slipped from the bed, careful not to disturb the sleeping
Dressing quickly in shorts
and a tank top, Steve left the room, very carefully not looking behind him.
Jarod woke up alone.
He frowned, uneasy at the
absence of his would-be lover. Slipping from the bed, he walked to his room and changed
into his jeans before walking downstairs. At the foot of the stairs, he paused, listening
for any sound of Steve then laughed at himself softly. He didn't have to listen for him!
All he had to do was follow that feeling of "Steve" dwelling in the back of his
He hesitated then slowly
walked around the staircase and back toward what had been the ballroom. They were
converting it into a large master bedroom, using plans Steve had borrowed from a cousin
for the general layout. He opened the door and froze, blinking at the sight of Steve
performing what looked like a kind of dance. At the moment, he was in a position that,
from where Jarod stood, looked to be impossible. Of course, it did say good things about
Steve's limberness. Which could be fun in future activities.
Steve said suddenly, looking at Jarod from his current upside-down position. He relaxed
his back and lowered himself to rest on his shoulders then continued down until he was
laying flat on the ground. He laced his hands behind his head. "You were sleeping
pretty good when I got up."
"You should still be
sleeping." Jarod scolded, walking over to stand over Steve. He hesitated then
crouched, moving to first straddle Steve then stretch out on top of him. Crossing his
arms, he rested his chin on them, studying Steve intently. The other man regarded him
"Thank you." He
"For being there. For
Jarod said almost absently. He was feeling something wrong. . .no, not wrong. Just
different. Uncrossing his arms, he laid his head directly on Steve's chest, his ear
pressed above his heart. He heard a deep sound and flinched then realized Steve was
laughing softly. With a mock scowl he thumped the man on the arm then laid his head back
down. After a long moment, he shifted his head slightly, frowning. "Your heart. .
." He said accusingly. ". . .is on the wrong side of your body."
"I mean. . ."
"I know what you mean.
Jim and I are mirror twins."
"Ahhhh. Is everything
laughed, reaching up to idly play with Jarod's short hair. "You planning on letting
your hair grow out some?"
"Maybe. It's never come
up. Guess I'm just used to it being short." He raised his head to look at Steve.
"Would you like it long?"
entwined his fingers in Jarod's hair and pulled him closer, kissing him gently. Jarod
pulled himself up and returned the kiss fervently.
Jarod sighed when they finally parted. He nuzzled the other's cheek gently, enjoying the
feel of Steve's beard against his cheek. "What were you doing?"
"What? When you came in?
A type of martial arts. I've been neglecting it terribly." He shifted absently then
flinched. "Now I get to pay for it." He paused, eyeing Jarod thoughtfully.
"I don't suppose you were ever a masseur?"
"How'd you guess?"
"Good! I'll need you
Jarod grinned and Steve
flushed at the double entendre.
"Come on. Up!"
Steve slapped Jarod's arm lightly. "Let's get something to eat."
Jarod didn't move.
"About last night. About
what happened to you. Don't look at me like that. I need to know."
"No you don't."
"Steve. I have a very
vivid imagination. Extremely so. And well-trained as well. You would not believe what I
can imagine. Knowing the truth is better."
Steve stared up at him, his
thoughts visible on his face. Finally, he sighed. "Let me up and we'll go down to the
beach. I can't talk about it here."
Jarod rose, pulling Steve up
with him. Steve started to pull away but Jarod refused to let go of his hand, holding it
as insistently as Steve had held his on his first day here. His first time down on the
beach where he had told him about his time in the Centre. Now he lead Steve through the
house and down the stairs to the water's edge.
"Hmmmm." Steve said
absently. "Driftwood. We'll have to drag that up out of the water's reach." He
caught Jarod's questioning look and smiled faintly. "A friend carves it into some
beautiful furniture. In fact, he's making the bed for the master bedroom."
"Steve. You're avoiding
Steve remained silent for a
very long moment then began to talk in a low, halting voice. It was Jarod's turn to listen
quietly as Steve told him of a night of sadistic torture at the hands of a madman. The
straight blade that left scars not only on his chest but on his face, an admission that
surprised Jarod. Steve paused in his tale and reached up to run a thumb along his cheek.
"Plastic surgery. Three
operations. He centered mainly on my chest and belly but apparently, toward the end, I
wasn't responding enough to suit him so he started on my face."
"They couldn't do
anything about the scars on your chest?"
Steve shrugged. "I was
sick of operations. And why bother? Never thought anyone would ever see them except my
doctor and Jim." He smiled shyly at Jarod.
Steve." Jarod said gently and Steve looked away, his face growing even paler.
"It's. . .I told you
that he couldn't perform with men any better then he could with women but he could do
other things." He gave Jarod a bitter, twisted smile. "Y'know, it's amazing how
little sexual assault actually involves sex. He used. . .other things. Certain sexual
aids. Frankly, I never knew they made them that. . .large." He looked ill at the
memory. "I needed surgery for that as well. He managed to tear me up pretty
"Steve. . ."
"It's all right, Jarod.
It feels good actually. Talking about it." Then he continued haltingly, telling of
the rest. The obscene things done to him, the sick things his captor made him do, the
things he did to stay alive just a little longer. "One of the serious disadvantages.
. .sometimes. . .of being the type of twins Jim and I are is that we can sometimes feel
what happens to each other. Physically that is. When that psycho started on me, Jim felt
it. Went and pounded on a cop friend's door. They found us before I bled to death. I ended
up in the hospital for a month. After I got out, got my mind back, I couldn't handle the
stress of profiling any longer. Aunt Hennah offered me this place if I fixed it up and I
Jarod paused, searching for
what he wanted to say. "Steve. . ."
"Don't bother saying it.
I know it wasn't my fault. I know I didn't cause what happened. Jim spent a lot of time
telling me that and a whole lot of other people as well."
"But you don't always
Steve opened his mouth to
deny that then saw the look on Jarod's face. "Sometimes. Sometimes I think if I did
this or didn't do that or if I'd just fought harder. . !"
"You'd be dead. Or
worse. You survived, Steve. That's what's important."
Steve stopped, looking out
over the ocean. "I feel incredibly dirty." He said quietly. "Care for a
Jarod didn't answer, just
released Steve's hand and quietly stripped off the t-shirt and shorts he wore, setting
them neatly out of the water's reach. Steve set his clothes down nearby and hesitantly
turned to face Jarod. His eyes drew downward slowly. Jarod smiled faintly, stepping closer
to gently touch the scars on Steve's chest, a move that made the other man flinch slightly
but he allowed the gesture. The touch turned into a gentle caress as Jarod stroked the
pale hair on Steve's chest.
Steve's breathing changed,
growing ragged. Jarod could see uncertainty in his eyes but there was desire there as well
as he drew his hand ever so gently downward, never taking his eyes from the other's eyes.
His fingers reached the curly hair at the base of Steve's belly then slipped even further
downward until he was cupping his genitals tenderly. Steve's eyes widened.
"Jarod. . ." His
voice was hoarse.
breathed, stepping closer. He kissed the man gently, nuzzling his cheek. "It's all
right. You know that."
And intellectually, Steve
did. His emotions were another matter but he held himself steady as Jarod explored him
with his hands. Jarod knelt in the sand, ignoring the grit grinding into his knees as he
slowly stroked Steve to arousal with feathery touches, aware of the other man's wide-eyed
gaze. He leaned forward.
"May I?" He
murmured, his breath caressing Steve.
"I think you'd
better." Steve said in a strangled voice then he groaned as Jarod took him into his
Jarod drew his tongue lightly
along Steve's erection, circling the head tenderly before drawing what he could deeper
into his mouth. One hand he kept wrapped around the base, the other supported and caressed
the testicles. He thought back on his all-too-brief time with Nia, remembering what she
had done to him that felt so good and tried his best to do the same with Steve.
Steve whimpered, raising his
hands to rest them on Jarod's head, entwining his fingers in the short hair. The last time
he'd tried to have sex with anyone it had been a disaster and it had cost him his
then-girlfriend. His sex life since then had been pretty much non-existent until the
dreams started three months ago. He hadn't even been sure he could function sexually.
Well, apparently he could.
Instinctively, he began to thrust with his hips as Jarod used his tongue to increase his
pleasure. He moaned, unaware that he was hoarsely begging Jarod not to stop, to take more
of him, to make him come.
Jarod did his best, using the
hand wrapped around the base of Steve's erection to keep him from thrusting too much into
his mouth at once. A part of his mind was trying to remember if Nia swallowed or spat when
it suddenly became a moot point. Steve let out a loud cry as he came, thrusting as deeply
as Jarod would let him, his grip on Jarod's hair almost painful. Jarod gave a whimper of
protest as he felt the warm liquid flood his mouth then fell silent, trying to swallow
what he could.
Steve's legs suddenly gave
out and Jarod drew back, catching him as he fell to his knees, drawing him close. Gasping
with his own excitement, he moved closer to straddle Steve's thighs, rubbing against him
hard. Steve's hands dropped to Jarod's hips, slowing him down to a steady rhythm, meeting
him thrust for thrust. Their lips meet in a long, satisfied kiss.
Steve flinched slightly at
the odd taste of himself on Jarod's lips then kissed him harder, his tongue teasing
Jarod's mouth open. Despite his initial release, he was still hard and he pressed closer
to Jarod, trapping their respective erections between their bodies. They moved against
each other in increasing excitement until it was Jarod's turn to cry out with pleasure.
The feel of warm semen splashing over his belly sent Steve over the edge and he gasped as
he came again, less violently then before but just as satisfying.
They clung together,
supporting each other, their bodies shaking from the intensity of their release. Jarod was
the first to speak.
"Is. . .is this the
first time since. . .?"
"More or less. Lisie and
I tried but it was a dismal failure." He caught Jarod's look and elaborated.
"Lisie was my girlfriend at the time. It wasn't serious though."
Liar, Jarod thought to
himself but he said nothing out loud. Steve had apparently forgotten about their link or,
most likely, hoped Jarod wouldn't notice the lie. A part of him felt anger at this unknown
woman for hurting Steve when he was most vulnerable and he held the man closer. After a
long moment, Steve stirred and pulled away.
"Come on, let's get
Hands still entwined, they
walked into the surf, scooping up handfuls of water and washing each other off gently.
Jarod studied Steve with a faint smile, enjoying the sight of muscle playing under smooth
skin as he washed their combined fluids from his body then reaching over to help Steve.
"How do you feel?"
He asked quietly.
"Happy." Steve said
after a long moment. He smiled. "Satisfied. It's been awhile since I've done
that." He bent to scoop up a double handful of water and dumped it over Jarod's head.
Jarod sputtered, shaking out
his hair. "Wet." He grinned. "Happy. Horny." He hesitated. "In my
dreams, we usually finished up our love-making with anal sex." He threw Steve a
side-long look, biting his lip at the tight expression on the other's face.
"I. . .yes. In mine as
well." He sighed and relaxed. "I don't think I could handle it, Jarod. Not yet.
I mean. . .you on top. But I'd. . ." He fumbled to a stop and looked away, flushing.
Jarod smiled slightly.
"But you'd like to try being on top."
Steve's flush deepened and he
tried to pull away but Jarod wouldn't let him. "It's all right, Steve. I don't mind.
Steve studied him intently.
"It's not like the dreams, Jarod. It's painful."
"And fun. I'll take my
chances. With you."
"I'm honored. I
think." He brushed the excess water from Jarod's hair and tugged him from the water.
"Come on. Let's get dressed and get some breakfast."
Jarod grimaced as he drew a
hand down his side. "Gritty. Maybe we better shower first. Where are the dogs?"
blinked then whistled shrilly. A howl answered him and the two dogs appeared from around a
cluster of rocks. "We probably scared the hell out of them." He paused then
sighed. "So now what happens?"
Jarod smiled. "I think
we're officially involved." He caught Steve's look and reminded him. "I'm new to
this too, Steve. At least you've had girlfriends."
"True. Frankly I'm not
sure if I should call my mother or if I should call Oprah."
"Oh." A long pause
as the two men gathered their clothes and started for the stairs. "I'd like to meet
your mother." Jarod said hesitatingly and was relieved when Steve laughed.
"Oh, you'd like
her!" He eyed Jarod closely and smiled. "And, I think, she'd like you."
"She won't mind that
you're dating a man?"
"After what happened,
she'd just be glad I'm dating. Y'know, we'll have to go to Scotland and see her."
"Does she ever come
A look of pain crossed
Steve's face. "No. No, she and Da were in a hunting accident some years ago. Left her
in a wheelchair. She doesn't travel much now."
"I'm sorry. Your father.
"I'm sorry." Jarod
"So am I. I think he
would have liked you."
The two men fell silent as
they walked to the small shed off the patio. It was a new addition created to hold
everything needed for swimming, including, Jarod had been pleased to note, scuba gear.
There was an open shower attached to the shed and the two men used it together, washing
away the grit left behind by the sea. They dried enough to pull on their clothes and
walked to the house.
"What do you feel like
for breakfast?" Steve asked as they entered the kitchen.
"Eggs would be good.
Let's see what else we got." Jarod walked into the huge pantry.
Steve was scrambling a second
batch of eggs when he realized that Jarod had not yet returned. He frowned and walked over
to stick his head into the pantry. "What's wrong?" He asked.
"I just realized. You
really don't have any of the kind of food I like."
Donuts. That kind of food. What's wrong?"
Steve had acquired a queasy
expression. "Is that what you eat? No wonder you were malnourished when you first
arrived. Haven't you ever heard of a balanced meal?"
"That's what I had at
"No, what you had at the
Centre was their idea of genius-fodder. A balanced meal is something not totally composed
of nutrients or of sugar." He sighed at the look on Jarod's face. "I'll tell you
what. I'll call the grocer and have them add some treats to the delivery."
"Y'know, it might not be
a bad idea to have them add condoms to the list as well." Jarod said absently.
Silence greeted his words and he looked up to see Steve staring at him, face pale.
"Down on the
beach." He stuttered. "We didn't use any protection. . ."
tested." It was a statement but Steve nodded anyway.
"Right after the assault
and a few more times after. Just to make sure."
"I trusted Nia when she
said she hadn't had any partners since. . .well, she was my first and only."
"But you got tested
"I'm not stupid. I got
tested. Better safe then sorry. But we're still going to need condoms. And
Steve went from pale to
flushing. "Yes, I suppose so." He mumbled. "I'll give them a call." He
turned to walk from the pantry.
"Steve." Jarod said
suddenly, aware of the uncomfortable "itch" in the back of his mind. "Look,
I'm really not used to any of this. I mean, at the Centre, I couldn't be modest. I know
that my. . .bluntness disturbs you."
it's refreshing." Steve smiled.
"If it makes you
uncomfortable getting this stuff from the village, maybe we could go somewhere else and
get what we need."
"You mean sneak around
like what we're doing is wrong? No, it's all right. I trust Lloyd. Let me make the
Jarod smiled, feeling the
"itch" fade. Setting the plates on the table, he joined Steve, waiting for him
to get off the phone before asking the question on his mind.
"So what's on the agenda
for today?" He asked pleasantly.
Steve frowned, staring at his
plate and Jarod got an uneasy feeling.
"I want to talk to you
about something important. I've been putting it off and I shouldn't have. Not if we're
going to be honest with each other."
"Where's that picture of
your mother? The original one. Before you aged it."
Jarod stared at him for a
long moment before he rose and left the room. Within moments, he was back, holding the
picture. He handed it to Steve, who looked it over intently before looking over at Jarod.
"I had a copy of this
made while you were unconscious and gave it to Aunt Hennah." He faltered, not looking
at Jarod. "I think I know this woman and Hennah's working at confirming it."
stared at him in shock. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because I wasn't
certain. I'm still not. But things are starting to happen between us and I can't have that
kind of secret now. Jarod!"
Jarod was having trouble
breathing. He gasped for air then Steve was next to him, holding him, murmuring to him.
"I'm sorry, Jarod. I'm
really sorry. But I didn't want to raise your hopes. Come on, breathe!"
Jarod took a deep breath,
forcibly calming himself. "Her name. What's her name?"
"Jarod, I'm not sure. .
"What's her name!"
Jarod almost screamed and Steve jerked though he didn't release the other man.
repeated, savoring the name as he relaxed. "Who is she?"
Steve hesitated then answered
in a quiet voice. "She's Hennah's daughter."
Jarod's breath caught and
Steve threw him a concerned look. "My god." He said thickly. "And you're
not sure. . ?"
"Jarod, Miranda Moore
vanished over forty years ago."
"What?" Jarod said
numbly. "I don't understand."
"Miranda Moore vanished
in 1958. She was traveling across county with two friends. A last fling before going to
college. All three of them vanished while crossing the desert. Maybe nine years later, the
car was found with one of the girls bodies still in it. Everyone assumed that the other
two wandered into the desert and died but the bodies were never found."
Jarod stared at him, his
thoughts in turmoil. To be so close. . !
"There are ways to find
out." He said. "Blood tests."
Steve flushed slightly and
reached for Jarod's arm, directing his attention to the crook of his elbow. Jarod blinked,
realizing for the first time that there was a very faint puncture wound there.
"Oh." He said
"The tests are being
conducted down at the village, using Hennah's and another of her daughters' blood for
"When will we
"Soon, I should
Jarod stirred in Steve's
arms. "I want to speak to her." He started to stand.
"Don't bother. Hennah's
out of the county. I was suppose to wait for her return. For her to tell you but I
couldn't have that secret between us. Not when we. . ." He fumbled to a halt and
Jarod said nothing, staring
at the surface of the table.
"I'm sorry, Jarod."
"Are you really?"
Jarod said bluntly, not looking at the other man. "Are you telling me now because you
honestly care or just because you want to get laid?"
Steve jerked as if he had
been slapped, his face going white. Releasing Jarod he stood and walked from the room,
leaving Jarod alone.
Jarod didn't move for a long
moment, his thoughts in a turmoil. He had said that to intentionally hurt Steve and he
knew it. Shame overwhelmed the anger he felt and he rose, walking after Steve. He found
him in the ballroom, dancing with quick, angry motions. No, not dancing. Fighting.
"Steve." Jarod said
There was no response.
"Steve." He said
louder and stepped closer to the man. Steve spun, his eyes angry, a hand flashing toward
Jarod. Jarod didn't think, just reacted, brushing the hand to one side then. . .