YAY! It's October and I loooooove Halloween. So here's part 1 of a 2 part Quickish that I've cooked up for all you Halloween fans. It's not uber spooky, but I loved the main character in this one. He just kind of came to life. So, I guess it was meant to be.
A few things before I give you part 1. A few people have asked about the Knox and Isaac story and here it is:
1. All the other characters - Cage, Nova, Joseph, etc - will all get their own stories. I keep you on the edge for a reason, so chillax and have fun with the 'tying up of ends' as the series progresses.
2. Next chapter will be out next month. I am not leaving the story 'unfinished' and I would appreciate that comments such as "the fucking delays are ridiculous" not be sent to me EVER again. This story is free and if you haven't noticed, I've given you two hundred pages + of K/I in under two months.
To send a writer that kind of crap is offensive. Normally I let things slide but that deserved a shout out or a bitch slap. One of the two. I do have a life. *rolls eyes* Imagine that.
3. No matter how many emails you send me, and I love every single one of them, I will not tell you what happens at the end before I post it. *laughs* Sorry everyone.
That's it for Knox and Isaac. Heart For Trade will post tomorrow night. Telija is on for Wednesday. And everything else is booked up until the end of October. Blog Hop and giveaways to look forward to! :D
Thanks everyone. You're the best! Have a great night.
A Full Moon Cliché: Part One
It had been a long day for Hugh Northam. As an educator, stress and headaches were always part of the job. But add a mindless holiday like Halloween on top of his already heavy workload and none of his students attempted to pay attention. They were more concerned about the parties they were to attend that night. Texts and chirps coming in on bedazzled phones. Music blared from the tiny ear buds around their necks—forbidden devices meant to hide their awful taste from his ears.
Notes passed, chatting disruptively about costumes their mothers would be ashamed of and boys attempted to smoothly return flirtatious invitations. His students had given him hell for eight periods straight. He silently thanked the world for the next two days of teenage free bliss. Monday would bring lost and forgotten homework from at least three out of five students. Another round of crocodile tears from Louisa Hanes who always seemed to have an excuse.
He snorted every time at her Oscar worthy performance, handing her a make-up assignment that would only count for half her grade. She’d pout, slam her tush back into her seat and glare at him for the rest of the hour. Yes, Hugh thought, one day the girl would surely go places. With a roll of his eyes, Hugh walked out into a light drizzle. His bag secured over his shoulder, he booked it for his car.
The high school parking lot was dead at this hour. No sporting events scheduled. No band recitals. No award ceremonies to attend. Thank God. Fumbling with his keys, Hugh managed to unlock the door and slip inside. His car started with a smooth purr—the Audi being his one luxury on a teacher’s salary. He would probably be making payments on the damned thing until he was rotting in his grave. But until then, he was going to enjoy the hell out of it.
His headlights cut through the rain, which was picking up, as he finally started home. A long soak in the tub, he mused, maybe a glass of cheap wine from the bottle that had been sitting on the counter for over a month now to accompany. It all sounded well and good to Hugh, that is until the small screen on the dash rang with an incoming call. He rolled his eyes at the caller ID.
One of his fellow employees, his best friend Marshall, always seemed to know when he was nearing relaxation or already there. Reluctantly, Hugh pressed the screen—answering the call.
Hugh sighed. “Hello?”
“Don’t sound so enthused.” Marshall chuckled.
Passing a rather elaborate Halloween set-up near the school, Hugh slowed down to allow a band of tiny children and their parents to cross the street. Little buckets shaped like pumpkins swayed in their chubby hands. He hoped the trick or treating madness ended quickly and by the time he arrived home, his house hadn’t already been massacred in white rolls of toilet tissue.
“Always good to hear from you, Marsh.” Hugh straightened his tone. “What are you up to?”
“You aren’t by chance heading home are you? Maybe changing into something casual because you knew I was going to call?”
“Ah, so that’s what you’re up to. I thought you had a date tonight. Weren’t you supposed to be Tin Man to her Dorothy?”
“The silver paint wasn’t really my thing.”
“Uh huh and this has nothing to do with her ditching you, does it?” Hugh smirked.
He made a turn down his street, harboring hatred at the rows of jack o’ lanterns lining the curbs. The silly orange faces would only end up smashed on the pavement by tomorrow morning, coating his clean tires in their rotted muck if he happened to leave his home. As if on cue, an innocent candle lit depiction of a cat was hurled in front of his car. An explosion of guts splattered over his windshield as the assailant and his masked friends took off, no doubt laughing over their victory.
“Fuck!” Hugh slammed a fist to the steering wheel. The windshield wipers squeaked away the sacrificial pumpkin.
“Hugh, you alright?” Marshall’s concerned question made Hugh narrow his eyes at the dash.
“No. I am most certainly not okay. My first child free weekend in over two months and I start it on the most vile of holidays imaginable. It’s raining, I just had a pumpkin grenade explode in front of me and guess who did it?”
“Teenagers?” The grin in Marshall’s voice was apparent. “Lighten up, Hugh. It’s Halloween. They’re just kids.”
“No, they’re monsters.”
“Says the man who wanted to teach the children because he loved to fill their brains with knowledge,” Marshall quipped.
Hugh moved slowly over the pumpkin corpse, entering the homestretch to his driveway. “Yeah, well, no one tells you in college that their brains are already filled with crap. That there isn’t any room for things that might be important.”
“Look on the bright side. At least you went for high school instead of say pre-school. Vomit and wetting themselves, possibly knowing how to spell cat at best—you’d implode after forty eight hours.”
“And I’ve been generously gifted with all three of those things from teenage students. One person decides to have a mid-week house party and the eight am aftermath makes me want to take a shower. Still so high or drunk the next morning, they’ve barely managed to dress themselves in last night’s attire, let alone stare at words long enough for them to make sense.”
Marshall snorted he laughed so hard. “Okay, Debbie Downer. Get dressed and have a beer to take the bite off your day. I got ditched, you’re a history teacher—we need a boy’s night out. I’ll pick you up in twenty.”
“Are you serious? It’s Halloween, Marshall. There are sugar high children running amuck. The moon is as full as a cliché and you know I always end up on the floor after your version of a night out. Besides, your taste in venue is always disgusting. I would rather watch paint dry than stare a woman’s naked breasts covered in glitter.”
“Zip your man-gina, will you? You’re starting to sound like my mother. Get yourself presentable and be ready. I’m coming for you.” Marshall attempted to sing the tune from twilight zone and failed miserably. “Whatever, you get the point.”
“Ugh, fine. But I swear if I end up in a place with waitresses named after dessert, I’m gone.”
“You’re such a queen.”
“Over-aged frat boy,” Hugh lashed back.
Hugh pulled into his driveway, listening to Marshall laughing his ass off. “Goodbye, Hugh!”
The dash screen blinked, chiming the end of the call. Hugh put the car in park for a second. Not to watch the screen return to normal but to frown out the window. At least a dozen rolls of toilet paper absorbed rain on the sidewalk. An almost perfect line had formed as if some sort of invisible wall had prevented his teenage tormenters from entering the yard.
His eyes flicked to the mailbox out of habit. For years he had gone to grab Mrs. Gerald’s mail as she was elderly and couldn’t move about like she used to. It had been almost two months since her children had finally retired her to a nursing home nearer them, leaving the ground floor apartment empty until three days ago. He missed her terribly—their late night chats about her childhood, cup after cup of tea, a little routine of theirs. Hugh twitched his nose. A curious habit he did when he was deep in thought.
One last look at the strange array of toilet tissue, Hugh put the car in drive and proceeded to park in the small space he’d been allotted from the split apartment house. He gunned it for the door to get out of the rain. Upon reaching the stairs, his foot caught around something and he went down. Only his hands finding the top step saved him from either an embarrassing fall into the wet grass or his head planting on the concrete.
He looked down at his foot, pulled it up to see a stringed handle attached. “What the hell?”
A plastic bag dangled from his lifted leg. A most awkward position as two women herding a group of young children out of the rain passed him with scowling looks. His ass in the air, a leg lifted, his eyes searching between his legs. He chuckled nervously, attempted to smile.
“Pervert!” One mother yelled. The children immediately took to the title, chanting it over and over.
Hugh groaned his way onto his ass, picking up the offensive plastic bag covered in dirt from the flowerbed. He waved a tired hand at the mothers in arms, officially ridiculed beyond belief. Thankful when their glares were hidden as they turned onto the next street.
“Everyone’s a pervert,” he muttered to himself. “Not just having a fluke accident or anything.”
Studying the bag only made his night seem dimmer. A pair of folded jeans? In a plastic bag? And in the flowerbed? You must joking universe. Hugh threw the plastic covered denim back into the dirt, stomping to his feet.
“Who the hell does that? Fucking drug dealers, that’s who.” This was always the answer for Hugh. He would die uptight and misinformed about his surroundings. Putting his forehead on the front door, he came to a realization. He did sound like Marshall’s mother.
His eyes fell on the mysterious new neighbor’s boxes, still on the porch since three days ago. He hadn’t once seen the guy, if it was a guy. Not when he or she moved in, or at any time after that. As much as he loved a good mystery, in books rather than on his front porch, he had to get ready for his bro-date with Marshall.
Fifteen minutes later, the mysterious neighbor had left his mind. Now he fluttered over the thought of where Marshall would drag him to on a night like this. Surely all the bars would be costume only, running thick with scantily clad college girls and men looking to defend their honor after a few rounds. This night spelled trouble, Hugh thought tiredly.
Despite his reservations, he was now presentable. A little damp in the hair department but it was all he could muster on short notice. His dark brown waves were untamed over his forehead and he cursed his mother’s hair nightmare of a heritage. At least he hadn’t been passed the sloppy midsection or an ass you could serve high tea on like his father’s side.
See, Hugh smiled, he could be positive. His smile was short lived when he heard a loud creak outside his window. His apartment was small. Every little noise amplified in his ears. As logical as he was, Hugh couldn’t help but get the jitters now and again. A leaky faucet in a silent room, the brush of branches against his window, the old heater kicking on—a loud whooshing noise through the vents. Typical horror movie affiliations yet they still spooked him.
Cautiously, Hugh approached the cracked window. Working himself up, he swore he felt eyes on him. Realistically it was a childhood fright, nothing more than his imagination. But the creative part of his brain refused to let go of the feeling, running with it until his heart pounded in his chest. The creaking sounded again. This time accompanied by the wind picking up, howling through the small window and flinging it open.
Hugh clutched his heart like a Hollywood damsel in distress, eyes wide as the tree outside revealed itself. He sighed, letting go of his button up. There was nothing more than leaves and a thick oak branch staring back at him. Just as he was about to shut the window, the wind slammed it shut—rattling the old single paned glass. Hugh gasped in surprise, jumped a little.
His heart wouldn’t quick running a marathon in his chest. Heavy footsteps sounded up his private stairwell. He backed away from the door, waiting for a serial killer to take him in his own home. Grabbing a glass paperweight from the table, Hugh clutched it in his palm—his only weapon against the villain storming the stairs.
The doorknob turned, letting the wood creak open slowly. He raised the glass in his hand, prepared to strike.
“What the hell are you doing?” Marshall stared at him wide eyed.
Hugh let the weight fall onto the soft carpet, taking in a deep drag of air. “What am I doing? What are you doing, scaring me half to death like that!”
Marshall grinned. “Aw, did you think the big bad wolf was coming to blow your house down?”
“That would be heavenly compared to what I had imagined. Serial killers,” he hissed to himself.
“Serial killers? God, you watch way too much Dateline.” Marshall shook his head. He threw Hugh his jacket.
“Come on, little pig. We have places to be.”
Hugh huffed his way to the door, allowing Marshall to step outside before he locked the place up. “I’ll have you know Dateline is a respected and factual program reflecting real life events, no matter how grotesque they might be. The world is a dark place, Marshall. Anything could happen.”
“Wow,” Marshall murmured. “You are so right. I can feel the dark side breathing down my neck as we speak.” He wiggled his fingers.
“Oh shut up.” Hugh slapped his friend’s chest, marching past him down the stairs.
“This is proof you need to loosen your screws, maybe have a social life beyond chatting in some forum all night about the Civil War or yelling out the window like a haggard old woman to kids being kids.”
“You make me sound horrible. If I’m such a hermit, why are we friends?” Hugh raised his brows, casting a look over his shoulder as he opened the front door.
“We’re friends because I get you and you get me, simple as that. There’s too much history between us to question the basis of our relationship. Don’t you think?” Marshall shrugged, shooing Hugh out the door.
The front porch creaked under their shoes. The wind rattled the old doors—one for Hugh and one for the new neighbor. Marshall took a few steps towards the other entrance, curiously leaning forward to peer inside.
“Still haven’t met the new neighbor?” He cocked his head.
Hugh shook his head. “I’m beginning to think Casper moved in—haven’t seen them yet, not even a noise when they moved in.”
Marshall shrugged in acceptance. Something tickled his nose. His head drew back and he sneezed. Another tickle crept up his nostrils. He rubbed his nose and sneezed again.
“Bless you.” Hugh smirked then frowned as Marshall sneezed yet again. “Are you alright?”
“Must have—” Marshall put his hand on the porch railing, shuddering with another loud sneeze. “They must have a dog. I’m allergic.”
“Well hurry up and get away from there before your brain slides out your nose. I think I have a tissue in my pocket. Come on.” Hugh ushered his friend away from the neighbor’s front window with a scowl. Something fishy about that place, he concluded, heading down the drive to Marshall’s car. No way could they have a dog. He’d surely have heard by now.
“I hate dogs.” Marshall wiped his nose with the tissue offered. “Make my eyes water or worse, they swell shut.”
“Never cared for them myself,” Hugh added.
They opened their doors and froze. As if the universe had heard there conversation, a loud howl ripped above the wind and even the rain. A shiver down his spine, Hugh slid into the passenger seat as fast as he could. Marshall followed, gripping the wheel with searching eyes.
“Must have been a dog,” he assured himself out loud.
“Yeah, one hell of a dog.” Hugh looked at Marshall. A slow grin spread on his face. “You’re not scared are you? Because you look a little scared.”
“No, you’ve got me paranoid is all. Serial killers and paperweight weapons.” Marshall threw the car into reverse. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Agreed,” Hugh whispered, suddenly glad to be leaving his darkened home behind.
“I knew you were up to no good.” Crossing his arms, Hugh scowled at Marshall.
The blinking orange lights of Nocturne buzzed above them. A prominently gay club, not that they advertised it such, Nocturne had a line around the block. Costumes ranging from the sweet to the extreme paraded around as if the line itself was a party. Hugh was not amused in the least—not by their colorful costumes or the man staring at him from behind, breathing down his neck.
“Look, I had the VIP card and it was about to expire. I figured, hey, why not?” Marshall leaned in with a shit eating grin. “If you lose the scowl, you might even God forbid attract someone.”
“Oh, I’m attracting alright.” Hugh nudged his head in the direction of the mouth breather. “Just not the sort I’m attracted to. And why on earth do you have a VIP card—” He looked around and whispered. “To a gay bar?”
“It’s not just a gay bar, Hugh. It’s a place where lovely, single ladies bring their gay best friends for a night of fun.”
“You’re despicable. I’ll have you know that those single ladies usually enjoy the company of gay men because they’re trying to escape you and your kind—some handsy Neanderthal with terrible taste in pick-up lines and even worse taste in mixed drinks. Like I said, I should have known you would do something like this. A gay bar!”
A few heads turned. Hugh blushed red and looked away. “See? This isn’t my scene. I’m no good with bars or clubs.”
“Which is exactly why you need to learn how to socialize, Hugh. You’re twenty eight. You haven’t had a date in what, over a year now? That’s not normal unless you’re a monk. I’m sure that bed of yours misses a little action. Look, for a guy, you’re not half bad in the looks department. So, undo a button and let loose. Have some fun for once.”
“Thank you, Dr. Ruth. Talking about my non-existent sex life in public,” Hugh muttered. But his hand fluttered to his collar, absentmindedly undoing a few buttons. He caught Marshall’s smile and frowned. “What?”
They finally entered the club with the card—which allowed them front of the line access. Hugh was surprised to find no remix of the monster mash playing or drinks that wisped with dry ice. It was actually quite normal except for the giant spider web on the ceiling and a few chandeliers with battery operated candles.
The main bar was too packed to get to. The DJ booth was too close for Hugh’s comfort. While the beat might be addictive for most people, he preferred something of a softer tune. Maybe a light guitar or piano. A song that made him shut his eyes with a smile. Bump that ass, grind that what have you, and sex me up did nothing to entice Hugh. Marshall on the other hand bobbed his head to the song, whispering the words. All in search of a poor girl to lure home.
He felt bad for his friend. The wacky science teacher that kids actually loved. A nice head of dark black hair and pretty blue eyes, every woman’s dream Hugh supposed. But then there was his not so pretty mouth and the things that he said—word vomit for lack of a better term. What Marshall needed was a woman more adventuresome than himself. Perhaps Hugh’s friend would do well with a woman that had a stronger personality, one that could handle him and then some.
Hugh knew he needed to keep his hatred for all things clubbing under wraps. Marshall deserved a night out like this once and a while. Although he hadn’t said anything to the contrary, Hugh knew Marshall was also a bit struck by Dorothy ditching him tonight. He’d been planning that silver painted costume for two weeks now. He’d really been excited. After all the funks his friend had carried him through, Hugh figured it was the least he could do to help.
“Come on.” He tried not to shout. Grabbing Marshall’s elbow, he tugged his friend along. “You’ll want a nice girl. Not some floozy that will never call you again. This way,” he instructed.
“Where are we going and why are you suddenly concerned about women? Women for me I might add.” Marshall frowned, following Hugh to one of the smaller portions of the club.
Dark lighting barely kissed the crimson booths lined around a more private seating area. Away from the dance floor, Hugh followed his instincts—there were sure to be a few girls lingering about with their shyer counterparts for the evening. By magic, there happened to be just that. A tall, curvy girl, maybe twenty or so was pulling on her friend’s arm. Dressed in a red cape with a little basket sitting on the table, the woman desperately tried to coax her half closeted friend to go dance.
“He’s come over here three times, Alex. I know you didn’t come here to sit in the back and mope. Go dance with him and I’ll be fine. I promise.” The brunette covered her heart with a sweet smile—probably trying another approach to get the man to exit the booth.
“I can’t leave you all alone. I brought you here and it’s not right.” Alex shook his head, making another excuse for his fear.
Hugh leaned into Marshall. “Why don’t you offer to buy the lady a drink?” He whispered.
Marshall pinched Hugh with a grin. “I owe you one. You’re a genius.”
“Yeah, sure. Go on now.” Hugh pushed his friend toward the woman.
Her eyes snapped to Marshall. There was something predatory about her dark stare. Her nose seemed to flare, exhaling before she scented something she liked. Her formerly shy friend stood behind her. He narrowed his eyes and stepped around her. He too seemed sniff the air. What the hell? Hugh’s brow furrowed.
“Can I help you?” Alex’s voice deepened, no longer insecure with a boyish whine.
“Um, I’m Marshall.” He thrust his hand forward awkwardly. When his hand remained empty after several moments, Marshall put it down to his side. “Okay, um. I was wondering if your friend here would um. Maybe um like to?”
“Bud light,” she purred, her eyes tilting up at the corners with a smile. For a woman, Hugh had to admit, she was rather striking—maybe a little too dominant for Marshall judging by her body language in the moment but striking nonetheless.
“The lady said Bud Light.” Alex glared.
Eyes wide, Marshall nodded. “Sure.” He shared a look with Hugh and set off for the other bar closest them.
Hugh turned back to the tall pair with a cluck of his tongue. “So, the rain out there is coming down—”
“Fuck off,” the woman sneered. She slid into the booth, blocking Alex from his seat. “You, get out there and dance with him. I mean it.”
The man groaned. “Fine, but you better not leave without telling me first. I mean it,” he countered.
She wiggled her fingers at him sweetly. Alex brushed past Hugh with a hard thump to his arm, a glare in his eyes.
“Are you still standing there?” She caught Hugh’s attention again.
“Guess not,” he spat. “Boy’s night out my ass. Trying to be a good friend and get told off by a woman. Fucking lovely.”
The woman watched the man leave with a grin. She spotted her other friend in the crowd. He’d seen their encounter. His eyes fixed on Hugh as the teacher made his way to the restroom. Her eyes flicked back to the man getting her a beer. She rested her chin on her fist and sighed.
Everything you’d expect a club bathroom to be and more, Hugh begrudged, pushing open the sticky metal door. Dim red lighting on one wall with backlit mirrors on the other. Two men were slowly kissing each other, leaning against one of two stalls. Hugh rolled his eyes at the urinals. No way in hell was he about to take a piss next to their heavy petting.
He chose the last stall and pushed it open. It smelled of course. At least the toilet had been cleaned but the lingering scent of vomit and other things had him moving around delicately—careful not to touch the walls or anything else. He stared at the plastic covered ads on the wall while he went about his business. Just as he was about to read more about a new taxi service, he heard the door whoosh open and scampering footsteps.
The heavy breathing and soft giggles of the couple earlier were now gone, replaced with the slow creak of the stall door next to him. That same feeling of being watched when no one else was around made him nervous. He couldn’t shake the goose bumps crawling up the back of his neck or the rigid stance of his legs. Like a deer sensing a hunter, his eyes shot to the partition next to him. His ears pricked at the sounds of a zipper being pulled down.
Realizing he was just standing there like an idiot, holding himself below when he’d already finished up. Hugh shook it off, zipping himself back up when—was that? A soft splattering noise drew his attention to the floor, the pungent scent of urine made him balk.
“Excuse me!” Hugh shied away from the partition. He slapped an angry hand to the metal. “You just pissed on my shoe!”
No reply, only another spritz toward his stall. Hugh grew angrier, reached for some tissue to wipe away the obviously drunken piss from his shoe. “You’re an asshole, peeing on my shoe like a three year old. Grow the fuck up!”
A soft chuckle came from the other stall. The toilet flushed and the stall door opened. Hugh flushed and threw open his own stall door to argue the matter further, only to find… an empty restroom. The metal door was just clicking shut. Hugh narrowed his eyes.
“Didn’t even wash your hands,” he hissed. Washing his own hands, he still smelled the urine on his person. “Could this night get any worse,” he commented to his reflection.
A few minutes later and Hugh was back on the floor. From his corner, he could barely see Marshall making good with his Little Red in the corner. Her friend Alex was now dancing with a tall blonde on the dance floor. Although he longed for some contact himself, Hugh knew this wasn’t his scene. He thought about going home but if he was going to be here, he might as well have a drink before he did leave, which was going to be very soon if this kind of peeing and laughing night continued.
Wandering back over to the smaller bar in the corner, he managed to grab a seat. Hugh hoped to God that no one else could smell the odor on his shoe. How embarrassing would that be? Elbow on the bar, Hugh waited for one of the tattooed bartenders to notice him. He perused the others sitting around the counter. Out of curiosity, he chanced a look at the man sitting right next to him. The guy had his back turned.
That strange feeling returned. Hugh looked around quickly but no one seemed to be looking right at him. Maybe it was his imagination running wild again. First the thing with the window at home, then the mouth breather back in line, now this. When his eyes fell back to the bar, he jumped. The man had turned around, his face right next to Hugh’s. He leaned back with a smile and Hugh frowned.
“Mr. Northam, funny seeing you here,” the man rumbled.
Hugh squirmed, mentally groaning. Louisa Hanes’ much older brother, Shepard, looked back at him. He’d met Shep, as he like to be called, a few weeks back at school conferences. Apparently he was his sister’s guardian as her parents ran a business overseas. The guy had been a little too intense for him at the parent teacher meeting and he was still a little too intense now. Those dark eyes seemed to be looking right through him. Making Hugh feel exposed in the worst kind of way. God, Hugh blushed, why did he still have to be so good looking?
“Mr. Hanes.” Hugh nodded. He’d take that drink any time, he thought to the bartender who still had yet to notice him.
“I told you, it’s Shep.” Shepard set his beer down.
“Too informal for me, sorry,” Hugh apologized. “Better yet, I’ll wait on that drink. I’m sorry, Mr. Hanes. I don’t think it’s appropriate to fraternize with parents of students outside of school events. Especially drink with them.”
“I’m not a parent and damn, I’ve barely said a word and I’m already getting shut down? I apologize, but you’re a little uptight, Mr. Northam.” Shep took a long swig of his beer, combing his hand through his blue black curls. “Don’t teachers let loose sometimes? Seems the science teacher over there is able to enjoy himself.” He nodded to the corner.
Marshall had moved to sit next to his mystery girl. Her leg slid over his as their mouths moved against one another. His hand slipped under her cape and Hugh turned back around. He stared at the counter, trying to erase the image of Marshall with his tongue down a woman’s throat.
“Why come to a place like this if you can’t have fun?” Shep slid his finger over his beer slowly.
The man was devastatingly handsome. Although Hugh could see he shared Louisa’s dark eyes, he was still drawn to him—the teenager pushed from his mind. He swallowed. Studying the square cut jaw wrapped in dark stubble, the smooth skin that was somehow rugged not boyish. Another point for Shep, Hugh tallied, was that the man hadn’t dressed up in a ridiculous costume, favoring a light grey sweater and jeans instead.
“It wasn’t my choice to be here,” Hugh murmured.
“It’s your choice to say yes or no, isn’t it? That’s the beauty of freewill, Mr. Northam.” Shep eyed Marshall in the corner. “I for one believe everything happens for a reason.”
“And what reason do I have for being here tonight?” Hugh scoffed.
Shepard leaned in and inhaled deeply—the gesture not lost on Hugh. “To get something you haven’t had in a long time.”
The eye contact accompanied with Shep’s close body made Hugh nervous. There was no miscommunication or beating around the bush with this guy. His eyes were hungry. Hugh, having been straight laced all of his life, wasn’t sure what to do with that. Shepard Hanes wanted some but was Hugh willing to give into his stale need after a few minutes of conversation, awkward conversation at that?
“Um, I think you have it all wrong.” Hugh shifted in his seat. “I’m not here for that.”
“Really, because you look like you are.” Shep reached out and slowly fingered Hugh’s open collar. “I bet you wear pajamas to bed, don’t you? You seem like that sort of guy—real by the books on life”
How in the world could Shep know that? Hugh looked around to avoid staring back at the other man. It was true, he cringed, long sleeve button up pajamas with his initials on the pocket. How embarrassing to be pegged in all of five minutes.
“No I don’t. You know nothing about me,” Hugh lied. “You know what? I think it’s time I left. The bartender is obviously not interested in another five dollars and it’s getting late.”
“It’s only a little after ten. Let me buy you a drink.” Shep grinned.
“No thank you.” Hugh slid off his stool.
Shepard did not accept the refusal, sliding an arm around the front of Hugh’s waist before he could pass. “Sit back down, Miss Manners,” Shep whispered in his ear. “I’m buying you a drink.”
“I think I said no.” Hugh glared into Shep’s eyes.
What he saw there not only frightened him but aroused him as well. Dark eyes narrowed sinfully, Shep set his beer down. His fingers tucked Hugh’s hair behind his ear. His breath caressed the teacher’s neck. That same heavy feeling of being watched numbed him to the core. Hugh was losing it.
“Let go of me,” he murmured.
“It doesn’t sound like you want me to let you go. Sit down and have a drink. After that, I’ll drive you home. Your friend is obviously busy.” Hugh didn’t even question how Shep knew Marshall had drove. His mind was in another place entirely.
“Home? As in my place?” Hugh shook his head.
“Unless you want to go to mine, Mr. Northam?” When Shep said his name, it was like a dirty nickname between lovers—some kind of student teacher fetish that made Hugh hard in his jeans. Not that he would ever, ever take a student. Unless the student was built like a tank, very sexy and had a name like Shepard Hanes. What! What was he saying?
“I don’t take strangers to my home and no matter how se… I mean I don’t think so.” Hugh blushed ten shades of red. His skin was flushed, hot to the touch. His head started to spin.
When Shep snapped his fingers, he never even looked away. The bartender was in front of him within seconds. “What are you having, Mr. Northam?”
Hugh looked between the bartender and Shepard Hanes. He looked around and swore everyone was watching. He looked to Marshall for help but his face was still attached to his new found female. Feeling claustrophobic, a little sick, Hugh pulled out of Shepard’s embrace.
“No. I’m going home. I’ve had enough for one evening.” He put his hand up when Shepard stood, towering over him with broad shoulders and a look that put Hugh on the menu for dessert.
Without another word, not wanting a bite taken out of him or rather because he was scared he did, Hugh turned. He looked for the closest exit, anxious to get some fresh air. He’d text Marshall later. The man was a grown adult and could fend for himself. Hugh on the other hand felt small—weaving his way through the crowd that seemed to be watching his every move. Hair stood up on his arms and neck, a chill of fear let his imagination out to play.
Making his way to the door, Hugh almost wanted to crawl past the bouncer. The large man stared him down just like Shep had. What the hell was with these people, Hugh thought. He had to get out of here. With fumbling fingers he pulled out his phone to dial a cab service. The nauseous feeling had returned. His back felt hot with the stare of a thousand eyes. Fuck waiting for a cab, he concluded after a glance over his shoulder. The walk home wasn’t that bad. He only hoped that the rain didn’t get any worse than it was. Getting away from this place and these people would surely clear his head. Wouldn’t it?
Checking to make sure he wasn’t being followed, Hugh hugged his jacket to his body and took off across the street. Not a thousand pairs of eyes but close to hundred watching him leave.
To Be Continued…