Baby, it’s HOT outside. Really though, it’s pushing a hundred again today and for the Pacific Northwest, we’re talking heat wave. If you’re in a similar situation, I suggest you read the stories included in this m/m flash fiction blog hop either late at night, early in the morning, or maybe with the A/C cranked up high and something cool and frosty to sip on, ’cause you’re about to get a lot hotter. And if you’re somewhere cool, bonus! These stories work better than a hot water bottle.
My story features Ian and Zeke, the mc’s from my new release Betwixt and Between. Enjoy! And don’t forget to check out the other participants by clicking here.
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Hide and Seek
The scorching June day had bled into a sultry night and although the full moon glistened like an ice crystal along the treetops, Ian could draw no coolness from her presence.
Ever since he’d become aware of his elfin nature, Ian had been acutely aware of the comings and goings of the moon and had developed a knack for tracking other creatures similarly affected by cosmic tides. Solstice eve, with its full moon and strong flux of solar energy, was the best time for catching a glimpse of magical creatures who usually stayed well hidden. Ian fiddled with the recorder on his phone. He hoped to interview the tree sprites who’d been seen cavorting along the shores of Puget Sound.
Bonfires gleamed like rubies along the rocky shore. Laughter drifted to Ian’s lurking spot amongst the trees. He’d settled on a fallen log, letting his elf instincts guide him to a shadowed glen where moonlight pooled on the forest floor.
Once again he questioned what he was doing chasing magic while everyone else celebrated the solstice. It wasn’t like he needed to prove anything anymore. After tracking and catching the ultimate magical creature- Ezekiel the svarta- one would think that Ian could have hung up his reporter’s badge and camera.
But the magic lust hadn’t abated. Only the focus of his quest had changed. Now he was looking for his own kind.
Zeke was a svarta and for the most part, those dark elves would sooner kill Ian and suck all the light out of him than give him the time of day. Ian was a light elf- an endangered species, it turned out. But there had to be some of his kind left out there in the betwixt and between, didn’t there?
Zeke was an amazing lover, but his true home was the dark realm, a place where Ian couldn’t follow. Like Persephone, Zeke had to go home to rebuild his strength and gather his powers. Zeke might be gone for weeks or months. This time, Zeke had been gone for fifty-two days.
Ian plucked at his sweat-drenched t-shirt and looked with longing at the creek tumbling down the hillside. He wasn’t stupid enough to strip and cavort in water with sprites and who-knew-what-else roaming the area. Solstice was a dangerous time, a sure-fire time to get hexed or snatched by mischievous magicals. But that didn’t mean he had to sit and suffer. He stood and walked to the creek’s edge, kicked off his sandals and waded into the water up to his knees. Relief swept through him as his core cooled. He splashed water on his face and ran wet hands through his hair.
He lifted his face to the moon.
“Can’t you guide me home, Mistress Moon? Give me a clue?”
The moon remained impassive. Beneath the dull roar of the sea and the burble of the creek, a soft rustle reached him. The hairs on his neck prickled.
Zeke had warned Ian to keep his light essence under wraps. He was considered a delicacy amongst the denizens of the dark realm, after all. Basking in the light of the moon, Ian might have let a little of his essence seep out. He lifted his hands. They were glowing.
Well, shit. He concentrated on dimming the radiance but his focus intensified the glow. The forest around him grew blacker.
He sloshed toward the bank, blinking to regain his night vision. The rustling grew louder, but he couldn’t see who or what approached. He muttered a protective spell and grabbed the moonstone pendant that hung around his neck.
Unfortunately, touching the moonstone enhanced rather than dimmed his aura. Soon all he could see was shining water, a black sky peppered with stars, and the moon. The forest became little more than vertical black streaks wavering at the periphery of his vision. Afraid to move Ian stopped, feet planted in the icy water.
“Who’s there?” Ian whispered. A flare of heat prodded the edges of his sphere of light. A dark shape searched for a way through. Ian realized the voice came not from the forest, but from the water.
You seek us.
Ian nodded, his skin electrified.
Stop hiding, and we will find you.
Stop hiding? How could he do that?
Release the stone.
Ian furrowed his brows in confusion. The moonstone was a magical connection to the moon, his only protection. Still – he dropped his hand.
The illumination surrounding him expanded upward into a wall of water. A quicksilver being formed out of the wave, ten feet tall with crystalline arms stretching toward Ian. Its diamond chip eyes were anything but benevolent. Ian tried to step back but his feet were rooted in frigid water.
Icy fingers touched him and his heart stalled, lungs frozen.
Suddenly the dark thing in the forest broke through. Strong arms wrapped around Ian’s waist. The water creature shrieked and recoiled. The warmth behind Ian melted the ice encasing his lungs as he was carried away from the stream.
Unceremoniously, his savior dumped him onto a bed of moss.
Zeke knelt beside him, hot energy rolling him off him in waves. He was nude and every coiled muscle was taut, quivering from the effort of tearing Ian away from the creature.
“Can’t leave you alone for a second!” Zeke grumbled.
Ian pushed up on his elbows. “You were gone fifty-two days!”
“Never summon the moon while standing in water. And on the solstice!”
“I was never issued the How To Be An Elf manual, remember?”
Zeke pushed black hair out of gleaming eyes and glared down on Ian with a mixture of anger and relief.
“Solstice is a bonding night. If that nymph had her way with you, you could have been enslaved for a hundred years.”
“That thing is a nymph? Didn’t look very nymphy to me.”
“Don’t you know not to believe fairy tales? Fairies are notorious liars.” Zeke grabbed the front of Ian’s t-shirt and pulled him into a fierce kiss. The last vestiges of nymph frost fled Ian’s body, replaced by a surge of passion. When Zeke finally withdrew his tongue and let him breathe, Ian said,
“Nice save, by the way.”
“It’s Solstice. We must bond.”
“If you insist. Wait, does that mean I’ll be enslaved to you for a hundred years?”
“You already are, or hadn’t you noticed?” A smile crept onto Zeke’s face, lightening his expression. He always looked more eerily elf-like after spending time in the dark realm. He kissed Ian gently this time, tongue exploring rather punishing.
Ian playfully nipped at Zeke’s lips and ran his hands up the elf’s smooth back.
“Why are you naked?” he asked.
“Why are you still dressed?” Zeke countered.
“Uh, splinters. Poison oak. Evil nymphs.”
“Let’s go home,” Zeke whispered.
“And where’s that?” A pang of disappointment pricked Ian’s heart. That nymph had read his longings and tricked him, proving how out of place Ian was in the magical realm that should have been his birthright.
“Anywhere we’re together.” Zeke held him tight. The rightness of his touch soothed Ian’s soul. Although they were total opposites, light and dark, when Ian was with Zeke, he was complete. He was home. No reason to hide and seek.
He wriggled free and pulled the phone from the pocket of his shorts. “Just let me get a shot of that nymph.”
Zeke plucked the phone from Ian’s hand and threw it in the creek. He pushed Ian down and stifled his complaints with kiss. “Don’t worry, Ian. They’ll find you. Whether you like or not.”
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Don’t forget to click the blue box to check out the other writers participating in the hop.