QSFer Summer Devon has a new MM paranormal book out:
Jake values his solitary life but he didn’t count on Vaughn, who’s made it his goal to pursue and tame the bander.
Jake Bander is a bander, a type of shifter and a notoriously taciturn loner. As a boy, he was rescued by a man who ran an animal rescue preserve and now Jake runs the place. He’s content keeping his secret, and accepts the truth: he’ll always be alone.
Vaughn Prentiss is a trust-fund baby–exactly the sort of summer visitor who gets on Jake’s last nerve. Vaughn is only slightly shaken in his unruffled existence after an encounter with Jake, the cranky loner he’s undeniably attracted to.
Happy-go-lucky, rambling Vaughn plans to stay with his cousin at her beach house for a short time but his plans change forever when his cousin’s husband leaves the country with the family fortune.
When Jake offers the newly-poor Vaughn a job he immediately regrets his decision because he has trouble keeping his paws off his newest employee. To protect his shifter privacy, he needs Vaughn gone. And to help the man he’s learning to admire, Jake takes on the job of tracking the lost fortune and danger.
Vaughn sat. He had no reason to rush home and, even when he thought Jake was chasing a kid half his age, the peculiar curmudgeon intrigued Vaughn. He decided he probably believed Jake’s story about Peter. The tragedy came from the boy’s own heart. Vaughn hadn’t been a particularly troubled teen—but he’d seen a few in his time. Maya suffered love and loss every other day. Drama, drama, drama and about eighty percent came from some deep well of emotion inside their heads.
He’d push more of this Jake’s buttons and see where it got him. Pretty easy job, annoying Jake, he thought, examining the sunburnt, scowling face. The guy reminded him of a bear after a long winter’s hibernation. Lean yet large—and looming. Grouchy and…hungry. Maybe that’s why he believed Jake was telling the truth about Peter and celibacy. Hunger like that hadn’t been appeased for a long time.
Vaughn finished the water and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
Jake watched, avidly.
The man was starving, but not for food. Vaughn shifted in his chair, startled by his own wave of lust.
He said, “I suppose you did more than show sympathy. You probably told Peter about your sexual preferences.” Please God, let him be right. Celibate, but leaning in the direction of dick.
Jake grumbled something under his breath.
“That’s all it would take,” Vaughn tested. He teased Jake by leaning back stretching his arms over his head. The brown eyes watched and Vaughn grew aware of such interesting possibilities. He’d show this Jake what a useless barnacle could do. He continued, “An older man, someone Peter admired, admitting something like that—I bet the poor kid thought he’d hit the jackpot, and didn’t understand he didn’t have a chance.”
Jake’s scowl deepened. He squinted. “You believe me about Peter.”
“Good.” Jake looked around the kitchen—everywhere now but Vaughn. “Good.”
The water in the coffee maker gurgled; the scent filled the air. Vaughn held back the urge to fill the silence. Let the misanthrope take the lead.
After a full minute, Jake said, “So, um. How’s Maya? Ms. Prentiss, right?”
“She’s fine. I didn’t know you knew each other. I’ll give her your regards, Jake…?”
The man didn’t seem to get the subtle hints of conversation. Vaughn rolled a hand in front of his chest, indicating keep going. Jake stayed silent.
Vaughn gave up. “What’s your last name?”
“That’s an old name around here, isn’t it?”
Funny how that made Jake smile for the first time, showing very white teeth. “Yup.”
He jumped up, moving easily for a big man. He leaned over Vaughn, and for a moment Vaughn wondered if he was going to attack. But no, he grabbed up the mug and went to the coffee maker.
His shoulders seemed impossibly broad under the dingy gray T-shirt. And his butt, a thing of beauty. Vaughn swallowed.
“So why did you act like a paranoid idiot last night in the bar?” he asked.
“Um.” Jake froze, one large hand wrapped around the pot handle, the other holding the mug. “Sorry about that.”
Vaughn waved a hand. “Forgiven. Or perhaps I should say I’ll forgive you if you make the attempt to explain why you acted like that. Is it your normal method of greeting strangers? Are you prone to ill-temper?”
“No and yes.”
“Let me guess. No, you normally just freeze strangers with your brown eyes and yes, you are a moody asshole.”
Jake laughed—a fast yelp of laughter, slightly strangled as if he was unused to amusement.
He shoved one of the mugs at Vaughn and sat down slowly. He held up a thick thumb. “I drank too much.” His forefinger shot out. “I’m crap with strangers.” Middle finger now. “You look like someone I knew.” Ring finger. “I’m an asshole.” He picked up his mug. “That enough?”
Vaughn shrugged. “And how’d that combine so you’d see me as barnacle?”
Jake’s thick brows furrowed. “Huh?”
“That’s what you called me.”
Jake shook his head. “Nope. See reason number one.”
“Why’d you drink too much? Do you do that often?”
Jake shrugged, looked away and drank coffee. God, he was the barnacle, damned silent shellfish. Vaughn slapped his hands on his thighs. He was finished here. He needed a shower. He needed to check in with Maya. He needed plans. He did not need a moody, silent asshole who got drunk and messed around with seventeen-year-olds. Except, no, he really did believe Jake hadn’t touched the kid.
The screen door out front thumped and a scraggly mutt trotted into the kitchen. It pushed its nose into Jake’s hand. He bent down and scratched the dog behind the ears. Its chin lifted and its eyelids went half-mast with pleasure. Jake rubbed and stroked. The dog groaned in ecstasy—clearly Jake knew what it craved. Vaughn could imagine those deft fingers doing all sorts of interesting things on his flesh.
So instead of saying goodbye, Vaughn leaned back in his chair. “Was he an ex-lover?” he asked. “Or a homophobic straight-boy you had a crush on? Or a one-night-stand you’d hoped could be more? Or maybe your best friend who turned you down? Your father? Your cousin? Or—oh, God, please, no—did he die?”
Jake’s hands on the dog stilled. He looked up. “Huh?”
“The person who looked like me. Reason number…” He flashed his middle finger at Jake.
“Ex. He lied to me.” Jake gave the dog one more pat then got to his feet, which were bare.
“Why were you running around naked?”
Jake stared at him. “Why are you such a nosy bastard?”
“Seriously. If you knew that kid was going to show up.” Vaughn could feel the stuffiness creeping back into his voice and stopped talking. Of course, Jake didn’t say anything.
Jake ran a hand through his hair, making it an even bigger mess. Vaughn watched and wondered why he felt drawn to Jake. He liked big guys—hell, he liked small guys and medium ones too. Sometimes he even liked women. But he preferred them all to be clean and presentable. This guy hardly qualified as either. And wasn’t that hand in his hair just knuckles-deep in dog fur?
Jake said, “I didn’t know he’d be here.”
The kid. Right.
Jake shuffled his feet, moving toward the door. He shoved his hands deep into his jeans’ pockets. “I need to get back to work.”
Summer Devon is the alter ego of Kate Rothwell who also writes under her own name. Summer writes m/m romances of all sorts, including some with Bonnie Dee.
Email Address: [email protected]mail.com