Joam is a varnal, a shape-shifter endowed with otherworldly sexual powers, but his talents go untapped because he fears the beast within himself -- not to mention he can’t let anyone know he’s gay. Working a dirty job for slave wages, Joam is unaware that his boss at the auto shop, Higgs, has his own reasons for keeping him a virgin. Higgs is part of a cabal of evil sorcerers who control the tiny, isolated town of Beulah, and they’ve made a deal with Gregor Walsh, a powerful varnal from the big city who needs a special sacrifice for an arcane ritual.
The last thing hustler Blake ever wanted to do was discover that Walsh, the most dangerous pimp in the city, is secretly a varnal. Now, Blake is running for his life. When his car breaks down outside of Beulah, he finds more than just a mechanic in Joam. Blake has done it all, but when it comes to making love with a varnal, he’s a total virgin. Soon, Higgs and Walsh discover that their pristine sacrifice has been deflowered, and there’s hell to pay. Joam and Blake must confront their demons, within and without, if they are to survive.
At last, the door opened and Joam stepped inside. Blake stared. The tall, gangly mechanic wore a suit and his hair was combed. He held a deck of playing cards in his hand and the smell of aftershave rolled across the room. Blake blinked, dumbfounded.
Joam took in his expression and blushed. This was the best light he had seen Joam in so far. His skin was tawny, eyes hazel, hair a beautiful, muted shade of soft brown. His prominent nose complemented his wide, fairly thin lips perfectly. It wasn't a face most would call handsome in the conventional sense, but it balanced elements of strength and sensitivity in perfect harmony. Joam was beautiful.
The suit, on the other hand, was another matter. It was too small for him, for one thing. And the gray pinstripe did nothing for Joam's coloring. Joam, still blushing, shrugged and looked at the floor. "I haven't worn this suit in a while. I guess I shouldn't have --"
"No. No, it's fine." Blake hurried to his side and shut the door before he bolted. "I'm glad you're here."
"These are for you," said Joam, handing Blake the cards, which were encased in a plastic box.
He smiled and accepted them. There were grease smudges on the box, and the backs of the cards read "Gleeson Auto Parts, Since 1957."
"I was going to pick you some flowers but I thought that was stupid," said Joam. "You don't give a guy flowers. I don't know what you give a guy." He looked at Blake from beneath his eyebrows. "So I had these and…"
Blake clutched the cards in his hand, his throat closing with emotion. He had to take a deep breath to steady himself as tears threatened to cloud his vision. When was the last time anyone had given thought to what he might like? But Joam had obviously gone to a great deal of trouble to make himself up for Blake. He'd put thought into a gift for Blake, as if Blake were a debutante on the night of the ball. Someone to be courted, not a street whore that anyone could have for a few bucks.
"Thank you," he said, his voice thick. He rubbed his thumb across the scratched surface of the plastic before placing the cards carefully on the nightstand. He would cherish that deck forever.
He turned and sat down on the bed. Joam stood by the dresser, staring at him, nerves written in every angle of his body. Blake wished he had some liquor. This guy needed a drink. But they'd just have to get along without it. "Why don't you come over here and sit down next to me?"
Joam nodded. The bed sank as he sat down next to him, their thighs not quite touching. Blake shifted position so that they did. Joam's leg against his was warm, but the muscles were tense.
Joam bent his head, staring down at the floor beneath his feet, but occasionally, his eyes darted toward Blake. "Hey," said Blake, reaching out and taking his chin in his hand, gently turning his face so that their eyes met. "It's okay. I know what to do. You don't have to do anything but relax, okay?"
"Okay." His eyes were soft, dazed.
"Can I take your jacket off?"
Blake climbed onto the bed and knelt behind Joam, pulling the tight-fitting jacket off his shoulders and down his arms. He freed his wrists from the garment and tossed it aside. He massaged Joam's shoulders and smiled as he got a soft moan of appreciation from him. "Your muscles are like rocks," Blake told him. "You must work hard."
Joam nodded, a deep breath expanding his chest. He let it out slowly. Atta boy. Blake could feel the tension easing in his muscles. He scooted closer, pressing his chest against Joam's back and bringing his hands around to the front of Joam's chest to work at the buttons of his shirt. "How old are you?" he asked.
He rested his chin on Joam's shoulder and slipped one hand inside his shirt to stroke his smooth, nearly hairless chest. His hand came to rest on one of Joam's nipples and he circled it. Joam gasped. "Nineteen," said Blake. "Me too." It was funny, he thought. He felt older than Joam. "Have you ever been with a guy before?"
Joam shook his head.
Blake nuzzled the back of his neck and finished unbuttoning his shirt. He pulled the garment off and then ran his hands down to Joam's belly and up his sides. Suddenly, Joam jerked and gave a little gasp.
Blake looked where his hands had been. An ugly bruise purpled Joam's right side along his ribs. How did he get that? Blake tilted his head to peer at Joam's face. Joam looked away. He was tense again. Sudden protectiveness flooded Blake. "Something tells me you didn’t get that changing engine blocks."
Joam gave a little, jagged shake of his head. "It's nothing. Just ignore it."
He wasn't going to ruin this for Joam by pressing him about it. In another day, his car would be fixed and he'd be leaving. Whatever was going on in Joam's life, Blake wouldn't be around to help him with it. It wasn't fair for him to try to draw him out. Still, he wished things were different.
Instead he smiled for him. "Can I kiss you?"
Joam nodded solemnly and Blake shifted position so they were facing each other. What was he doing? He never kissed a trick. He leaned over and pressed his lips to Joam's.
The kiss was soft at first, tender -- just velvety lips and the slightest slip of tongue. And in the next moment, they were delving into each other's mouths, tongues hungrily exploring, tasting, licking.
Joam's arms went around him, locking Blake in a tight embrace. Joam rolled and pushed Blake down on the bed and lay on top of him, his rock-hard erection pressing against Blake's equally engorged cock. The sensation was exquisite. He could feel the heat of Joam's cock like a burning brand. Joam's hips bucked, grinding his shaft against Blake's. From the guttural sounds Joam made Blake could tell he was going to come soon. "Wait," said Blake, breaking their kiss. "Let me suck you."
Joam nodded and lay back, his hands shaking as they fumbled at the catch of his trousers. Blake knelt beside him, stilling his hands and taking over. He undid the pants and pulled them down around Joam's knees, grabbed the cuffs and pulled them the rest of the way off. Joam's boxers quickly followed and then he lay there, full length on the bed, naked.
Blake drank in the sight. The tan, smooth skin was marred here and there with scars and old bruises. No, not marred, illustrated -- each one telling a story Blake might never hear. But he didn't need to. He knew each and every one was a testament to Joam's strength, his endurance, and the humanity that allowed him to live the life he'd led and still look at Blake with longing and trust.
Blake's eyes strayed to Joam's cock, bobbing in need. It was huge, proportionate with his nose and hands and feet. And it curved just a little to the left. Blake wrapped his fingers around it and relished the silky smoothness of the skin, as well as the moan that issued from Joam's lips. Ignoring his own intense arousal, he swung around to kneel between Joam's legs and lowered his mouth over the head.
copyright © 2008 by Jessica Freely