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Excerpt for First Kiss (The Looking Glass 2) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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The Looking Glass 2:



FIRST KISS







PENNY BRANDON

First Kiss - The Looking Glass 2

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © June 2018 by Penny Brandon

Published by Penny Brandon

www.pennybrandonauthor.com


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of author imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


All rights reserved.

This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.


Warning

This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. My e-books are for sale to adults ONLY, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.



First Kiss – The Looking Glass 2 © June 2018 by Penny Brandon

ASIN: B07D8Y2BFS

Published by Penny Brandon

www.pennybrandonauthor.com

Table of Contents

Blurb

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Epilogue

About Penny Brandon

Finding Penny Brandon

Free Short Stories

More by Penny Brandon

Blurb

The second Brenn saw Joey’s image in the magic mirror, he was hooked. The moment he saw him in real life, Brenn knew Joey was going to be his forever. Joey was flirty, and fun, and he had the most gorgeous smile, but then Joey told him he was dying. Though devastated, Brenn didn’t want to give up on Joey, so he offered to look after him and make his last few days as comfortable as possible, but was that going to be enough when all Brenn really wanted was for Joey to live?


Brenn was everything Joey could have wished for; strong, built, and with the most amazing eyes. Also, Brenn was in love with him. That would have given Joey something to live for, if it hadn’t been too late. He had about three weeks left, but that didn’t seem to matter to Brenn. Brenn wanted to take him home, and Joey was willing to go with him, but on two conditions. He wanted Brenn to make love to him before he died, but no kissing.


Prologue

Barely able to see beneath the dark oak dresser, Simon crouched on hands and knees and tried vainly to reach his dropped pen with arms that were way too short for the job.

“Damn it.” That was his second to last pen, and it would be a couple of days before he could order in any more. He thought of getting the broom to sweep it out, but just then the little bell at the top of the door gave off its warning chime, informing him that someone had entered the shop.

Simon quickly pushed to his feet, then wiped off his dusty hands. He checked to make sure he still looked presentable and that his tan trousers and white shirt were dirt free before heading toward the front of the shop.

Never sure whom to expect and what their reasons were for being here, Simon tried not to make any assumptions until he’d spoken to his potential customer. However, as he spotted the man standing at the counter, Simon didn’t care why the guy was here. Tall and broad shouldered, with sandy hair and bright green eyes, the man caused Simon’s mouth to go dry as he raked the stranger from head to toe with eyes gone wide. It was rude; he knew that, but…wow.

He shook his head and reminded himself he was supposed to be here to serve, not ogle, then smiled politely, the way he was supposed to welcome all potential clientele. “May I help you?”

The man stared at him in confusion, those green eyes clouding over with uncertainty.

Simon stood still as he measured the man’s bewilderment. “Don’t worry. I know what you’re looking for.”

“I wasn’t actually looking for anything. I just happened on this shop by accident. I think.”

“No one ever comes to this shop by accident.” On the surface the shop, which was situated in the heart of Sydney, was like any other; it operated as a business, so was open to anyone who wanted to browse or purchase antiques. Occasionally, however, Simon had clients who were there for something different.

“So why am I here?”

Simon straightened his shoulders a little and brushed away a loose strand of hair. He badly needed it cut and was conscious of not looking his best—not that it mattered. For one, he didn’t stand a chance with a man like this, and even if he did, the man wasn’t Simon’s to have; this man was already promised to someone else.

Simon beckoned the man to follow. “Come with me and I’ll show you.”

It was always the same with these types of customers. Though initially confused and wary when they ventured through the front door, their trepidation was quickly overcome by a compulsive curiosity, which allowed Simon to do his job more easily.

Simon glanced over his shoulder. “Ever been in love?” Simon asked, watching the man as he trailed close behind.

“In love? No. Why?”

Simon stopped and gestured for the man to come closer. “I’ve a feeling that’s going to change.” He pointed to a dark recess in the far corner of the room, which housed an old, dusty mirror.

In such a shop the plain, oval, teak-framed mirror looked out of place. Old, yes, but not the kind of antique old that would have been at home among the large and beautiful pieces displayed for the benefit of the store’s normal, discerning clientele. Despite its shabby appearance, compared to the antiques that were sold on their worth, the value of the mirror was beyond measure. It was, quite literally, priceless.

“Take a look,” Simon encouraged, and watched as the man edged toward the mirror to stand in front of it.

For several long seconds the man stood still and silent; then he seemed to gather himself. “Who…”

“Your true love,” Simon told him quietly, unsure how the man was going to react to such news. Not everyone took it well. But Simon realized he needn’t have worried when he spotted a lift at the edge of the man’s lips.

“He’s beautiful.” The man stared at the mirror for a little longer, then turned to face Simon. His green eyes were bright once more. “That’s amazing.”

Simon nodded, though he didn’t have any firsthand experience at how amazing it was.

“Do you know where I’ll find him?”

“No, unfortunately not.”

The man glanced at the mirror again. “How?”

“I can’t answer that either. Even though I’m the mirror’s keeper and it’s my job to show you, I don’t have any answers.” Simon had opinions, but of course they didn’t count. It was best not to complicate matters. Some men who saw what the mirror could do tended to complicate matters all on their own.

“That’s okay.” The man’s deep, melodious tones were soft but confident. “I’ll find him.”

Simon took a step toward the mirror. To him, the dark surface reflected nothing, and he began to wonder if it ever would. “What’s it like?” he asked, suddenly desperate to find out what the other men felt when given the chance to have someone to love.

“Imagine knowing with absolute certainty your life is going to be full and rich and with purpose. Imagine knowing everything you do and say will be cherished and respected. Imagine then you’re going to be able to spend your life with someone you love unconditionally. Now multiply that feeling by ten. That’s what it feels like.”

From the little Simon had gleaned from some of the men who had viewed the mirror, he knew what was supposed to happen, but he’d never heard anyone put it quite so eloquently. “That’s pretty awesome,” he said, hoping he’d managed to hide the jealousy from his voice.

The man turned back to him and smiled. “Yes. It is.”

Chapter One

Brenn wondered if it was possible for a heart to beat so hard and fast and not burst out of a chest. That was exactly what his heart was doing now as he gazed across the crowded bar. He tried not to stare, but found it impossible when the man he’d been looking for, the man who had haunted his dreams and every waking minute for the past few days, was sitting not more than ten feet away.

Brenn had known he’d find him. He’d even known that when he did, the future love of his life would know who he was in some elemental way. However, now that Brenn was faced with him, his confidence fled, and nerves he very rarely had to deal with were fluttering in its place. So he sat, looking at him, while deliberating what to do next.

The younger man seemed to be in his early twenties, about five-ten in height, and slender, which was a sharp contrast to Brenn’s own hulking size. How the other man looked, however, wasn’t an issue. Brenn was already in love with him, had been from the instant he saw him in the mirror. Something magical had happened in that moment, something impossible to deny or undo. It had thoroughly and completely consumed Brenn, making him intensely aware of how this man was now a part of him.

As Brenn watched, the man laughed at something one of his two companions said, then glanced toward him. Brenn felt his heart stop, utterly captivated with the bright blue eyes shining his way. He managed a smile and a slight nod. Those mesmerizing eyes widened slightly, and then the man nodded back. Brenn’s heart restarted itself. With it, his confidence was restored. He got off the stool and slowly walked toward the men grouped around a table.

“Hi.” Brenn stopped about a foot away, though he would have felt more comfortable pulling out a chair and sitting down.

All three men looked up at him. His man smiled, and Brenn wondered what it was about a smile that could leave him feeling weak and so sure of himself at the same time.

“Hi,” the soon-to-be love of his life replied.

“Can I join you?”

“No.” The sharp retort came from one of the other men at the table. Brenn glanced at him, but before Brenn could ask why, a chair was pulled out beside him.

“Of course you can.”

The dark-haired man who had initially refused scowled. Brenn ignored him and deliberately brought his chair closer to the man whose dazzling smile was causing his poor heart to stutter all over again.

“Joey Singleton.” Joey put out his hand and Brenn took it. A tingle started from where their hands touched and traveled through Brenn’s body with lightning speed, igniting heat in his balls and cock. Instantly, he knew this was right, that what the mirror had told him, shown him, was exactly how it should be. Joey was his, now and forever. He smiled.

“Brendon Collins, but my family and friends call me Brenn.”

Joey’s hand remained glued to his until someone, Brenn suspected the dark-haired man, cleared his throat. Joey let go but not without a warm, knowing smile. He leaned in close, enough so the other men could still hear. “Don’t mind Paul. He thinks he’s my keeper.”

“Damn straight I am!” Paul scowled again as Joey laughed.

Brenn’s groin tightened, and he hoped no one was going to ask him to stand up anytime soon because he guessed his erection might raise a few eyebrows. But then, if Joey laughed like that again, an erection wouldn’t be a problem; he’d come in his pants.

“I noticed you from across the room.” Oh, that was cool. Brenn almost groaned as he realized what he’d said.

Joey’s open smile told him Joey didn’t mind. “I noticed you too. I mean, it’s pretty hard not to, being as you’re so big.” His smile changed, and Brenn could have sworn he saw something lewd in the tilt of Joey’s lips and in the unexpected gleam in his eyes.

Suddenly feeling awkward, Brenn glanced at the other two men at the table. Paul was still scowling, and Brenn wondered what he’d done to deserve it. Did Paul have a claim on Joey? Unbidden possessiveness had Brenn scowling back until he noticed the man sitting next to Paul put a hand on Paul’s arm. The touch was intimate and instantly recognizable as one between lovers.

“Leave him be, Paul.”

The man turned to Brenn and held out his hand. “I’m Dave, Paul’s partner.” Dave’s tone was calm, his smile warm.

Brenn shook Dave’s hand and then offered his hand to Paul. Paul took it with a little show of reluctance. Brenn wondered what his problem was. Paul was obviously with Dave, so what was it with Paul and Joey?

“Would you like a drink, Brenn?” Joey’s light voice broke into Brenn’s thoughts. Brenn turned back to him. “No, I’m fine. Thank you.”

“Well, I would. Paul, can you get me a beer?” Joey’s request was both a question and a demand, and it surprised Brenn to hear the authority ringing in his tone. It also intrigued him.

“You don’t—”

“Paul.” The warning note in Dave’s voice stopped Paul from saying any more—so did the grip Dave had on his arm. Paul grumbled but got up. Joey looked at Dave.

Dave grinned. “I’ll go with him.”

Joey watched as both men left the table; then he sighed in relief. “Now that they’ve gone, we can talk. So, how big are you?”

“Big?” Brenn pulled a face. “Six-three, why?”

“No, I mean how big are you?” Joey held his hands apart and indicated a length. The lewd look was back and so was the sparkle in Joey’s perfect blue eyes.

“Oh.” Now that wasn’t a question Brenn had expected to be asked, not so soon anyway. “Um, nine inches.”

“Nine! Are you kidding me? That’s huge!” Joey’s eyes widened, and some color rushed to his cheeks. “How do you cope with something so big?”

Brenn quickly looked around. There was no one within hearing distance. “I’ve never had any complaints.”

“I’m sure you haven’t. Shit, I don’t know if I could take nine inches.”

Not certain where this was going, Brenn smiled. “Well I wasn’t asking you to, but I’m sure you could if you tried.”

Joey’s smirk had Brenn’s dick jumping to attention again. Damn, and he’d only just got it down.

“Pity, ’cause I’d love to try.”

“Are you flirting with me?” Brenn couldn’t help grinning. He hadn’t been sure what Joey would be like, but this cocky attitude was something he found fascinating.

“Flirting? I thought I was coming on to you thick and strong.” Joey leaned even closer and winked. “So where to? Your place or mine?”

“You want to come home with me?” Fuck! Had Joey picked up how Brenn felt about him, or was this how he acted with everyone he met?

“Yeah, I know. Stupid idea, but it was worth a shot.”

Stupid? No, Brenn didn’t think it was stupid. “I’d love to take you home, but don’t you think it’s a bit sudden?” he asked, trying to work out where Joey was coming from. He wanted Joey, but he wasn’t sure if Joey was joking or not. There was something off about this conversation, as if Joey was making fun, but of himself.

“Yeah, I guess so. And I don’t think Paul would let me. He really takes looking after me far too seriously.”

“Looking after you?” That was a strange turn of phrase.

Joey nodded, his smile slipping slightly. “You didn’t notice the wheelchair?” He tapped the arm of the chair he sat in.

Brenn hadn’t noticed it; he’d been too busy gazing at Joey’s face. He peeked down and eyed the wheelchair. Standard hospital issue. “What did you do, break your leg?”

Joey shook his head slowly. “No.”

Brenn glanced back up to Joey’s eyes. They were clouded in sorrow now. “What is it?” he asked, sudden dread filling his heart.

Joey stared at him for a moment as if unsure Brenn was for real, but then he smiled again, though it was twisted with apology and regret.

“I’m dying.”


JOEY WATCHED BRENN’S face pale. Surely the man must have realized. Joey damn well knew he looked sick. He was gaunt, his skin sallow, and there were huge black circles under his eyes. How could Brenn not have noticed? “Are you all right? You look like you’ve just been told the love of your life is dying.”

“I have,” Brenn said, going even paler if that was possible.

Joey leaned forward a little. “Brenn, I’m serious. You’re looking even worse than I am.”

“No, I’m fine. I just didn’t realize. I’m sorry.” Brenn’s eyes misted over. “How long…”

Joey could see Brenn was struggling, and Joey wasn’t sure if he should be honest with him or not. “What’s the deal, Brenn? Why so shocked?” He held up his left arm. It was bruised and bone thin, not the sign of a healthy man.

Brenn winced, then shook his head. “You don’t look ill to me. You look fine. A little pallid, but fine.”

“I wish. Doctors say I’ve got a couple of weeks. Three if I’m lucky.”

Brenn’s gaze bored into his. His eyes were a dark, mossy green. Beautiful, actually. “I’m sorry,” he repeated. He sounded so sincere, so genuinely remorseful that Joey forgot the bravado he usually put on.

“So am I.”

He tore his gaze away from Brenn, suddenly feeling stupid for trying to flirt with him. What the hell had Joey been thinking? He had no right to do that to someone. He looked around for Paul and Dave. As soon as he spotted them, they came over.

“I’m tired. Can you take me back, please?” He glanced at Brenn and held out his hand. “It was nice meeting you,” he said, trying for a smile, but he didn’t feel like smiling, not anymore. He was tired, but he was also feeling off-kilter, as if this meeting with Brenn was something that should never have happened. Brenn looked devastated.

Brenn took his hand, but then slid his fingers slowly up Joey’s arm. His touch was warm, tender. “Where are you going?”

“To the hospital before my curfew ends. We have to bribe the nurses to let me out. It’s costing me a fortune in chocolate and perfume.” He did smile then because smiling was what he did best. It was easier to cope that way.

“Can I come and see you tomorrow?” Brenn’s question surprised him. It surprised Paul too.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Paul said before Joey could come up with something suitable.

Maybe it was Paul’s censuring tone or the look of desperation in Brenn’s eyes, but Joey spoke up. “I’d love for you to come and visit me tomorrow,” he said, ignoring Paul’s sound of protest and his own inner voice of wisdom.

“Good. I’ll be there in the morning.” Brenn let go of Joey’s arm and stroked warm, strong fingers along his cheek. Brenn smiled, though he looked somewhat bemused.

Paul undid the brakes on the wheelchair and pulled Joey away from Brenn’s touch. Joey felt the loss instantly and wondered why. He tried to look back as Paul pushed him across the floor, but Dave had stayed behind and was blocking his view.

When Dave caught up, Joey realized something. “Hey, you guys, I didn’t tell him what hospital I was in.”

“I don’t think he needs to know,” Paul said, pushing him a little faster.

Before Joey could protest, Dave touched his shoulder. “I told him.”

“Dave!” Paul sounded angry.

“What? He asked me because you were rudely trying to get Joey away from him, and anyway, what harm can it do?”

* * * *

“You’re right, you know. Those nurses don’t take cheap bribes.”

Startled at the interruption, Joey looked up from the book he’d been reading, thrilled as he saw who it was. “Brenn, I didn’t think you’d come.”

The big man with the beautiful eyes walked into his room. “Oh, I did, several times. Pretty amazing really, considering you weren’t even with me.”

“Brenn!”

“What? I thought you liked to flirt.”

Joey did, but he was surprised Brenn would do so after last night. Surprised, yet delighted. Joey laughed, pleased that Brenn was here and that he’d been forgiven for his inappropriately sassy remarks and innuendo. “Paul says that’s my problem. I’m a big flirt and a tease.”

“You’re only a tease if you don’t follow through.”

“Yeah, well. I’m not in a position to do that now, am I?”

Brenn smiled, and Joey was startled at what that did to him. Feeling a hell of a lot better than he had for the past few weeks, Joey preened. He quickly ran a hand through his disheveled hair, wishing he’d let Paul wash it yesterday. But whenever Paul touched him, he was a little rougher than he meant to be, and Joey ended up bruised. Pain was something Joey had become used to over the last couple of months, but he wasn’t a masochist, and Paul truly didn’t realize how much he was hurting him.

“I look a mess,” he said, eyeing Brenn’s smart haircut and crisp white shirt left loose over well-worn and very soft-looking jeans. Neither did anything to hide Brenn’s huge size or the muscles he obviously sported in both his shoulders and thighs. Joey stared at Brenn’s groin longer than was appropriate, but hey, who was going to stop him?

“You look beautiful,” Brenn said, sitting carefully on the end of the bed.

Joey patted the bed next to him and was satisfied when Brenn sidled closer. He smelled nice, like lemon and honey, a sharp contrast to the hospital smells of disinfectant, sickness, and death.

“How are you feeling?” Brenn’s smile seemed strained, and his eyes held a touch of sadness.

Joey watched him for a while, knowing he couldn’t give Brenn the truth in case it scared him off, but also knowing he couldn’t really lie. So he shrugged and offered something in between. “Fine, now that you’re here.”

Brenn’s mouth lifted into a grin, and his eyes lost their sadness. He reached to tuck a loose strand of hair behind Joey’s ear. The touch was soft, the lingering fingers warm against his skin as Brenn slid a thumb across his cheek. “Good. Then it was worth the cost of those chocolates.”

After a minute Brenn looked around the room. “Why is it dark in here?”

Joey glanced at the closed blinds of the only window in the room. He generally had them open, the view beyond the hospital window breathtakingly spectacular as it looked out onto the Pacific Ocean. He loved it when the aquamarine water sparkled like diamonds where the sun reflected off the surface. Today, however, he hadn’t felt like looking out onto the endless sea of blue. Today it reminded him too much that his days were no longer endless, that they were numbered. But as Brenn got up and headed toward the window, his hard body and tight ass a nice view all on their own, Joey somehow didn’t think of his time as running out, but as time to be filled.

The dazzling sun danced across the walls and floors, brightening the room with a summer glow. Brenn turned to look at him from the window, his green eyes flashing in the sunlight. “Better?”

“Much.” Joey sat up straighter in bed and self-consciously swiped his hand over his chest, painfully aware of how thin he was now. Ten months ago he’d looked fit and healthy, lean but with defined muscle he’d worked at. Tanned, with his blond hair streaked from the sun, Joey had been proud of his appearance. Now he was a skeleton with sunken cheeks and hollow eyes, his skin pale and blotchy. Ten months ago he hadn’t a care in the world, but ten months ago he hadn’t known he was sick.

Brenn came back to the bed and sat down beside him again. “Got any plans for today?”

Joey shook his head. “Not really. There’s a soccer game coming up later. I was thinking of watching that.”

“Anything else?”

For a moment Joey wasn’t sure what to say; then decided to hell with it. Brenn knew his situation, yet was still here. That must figure for something. He’d long ago given up on worrying about his imminent death. If he didn’t have a problem with it anymore, why should anyone else? “Well, there’s my shower.” Joey eyed Brenn carefully, looking to see if he caught on. Joey knew he shouldn’t flirt like this, but he just couldn’t help it, not when he had someone who would flirt back like Brenn did.

“Your shower? Not a sponge bath?”

Yeah, Brenn caught on all right; there was amusement in his eyes as well as a teasing light.

“Don’t like sponge baths. The nurses tend to skim all the important bits.”

“So what happens in the shower?”

“I make sure they get thoroughly looked after.”

“Thoroughly?”

“Yeah. All soaped up and slippery so they’re nice and clean.”

“How clean?”

Joey bit his lip, trying to hide his smile, but to no avail. “Good enough to eat.”


BRENN LOOKED INTO Joey’s eyes and grinned. He was glad Joey had still wanted to see him. He’d been afraid Joey might have changed his mind since they’d parted, but the look on his face when he’d walked through the door resolved that.

“So when do you get to have your shower?” he asked, knowing this was what Joey had been aiming at.

“Whenever I like.”

“Do you want one now?”

Joey’s bright eyes lit up. “Yeah, but I need some help.”

“With the getting in or with the soaping up?”

“Why? Are you offering?”

Brenn knew he was crossing the line between flirting and being serious, but he wasn’t about to stop now. “If you want me to,” he said, knowing this was up to Joey. Brenn certainly wasn’t going to force himself on the younger man.

“Help me up.” Joey threw back the sheet and slid his legs over the side of the bed. He held out his hand for Brenn to hold. “I can walk; I’m just a little unsteady.”

Gripping Joey’s hand, Brenn eased him to his feet. Joey was wearing a white T-shirt and boxers. If Brenn hadn’t been so intent on watching Joey, he might have missed what was written on the T-shirt. He probably still would have missed it except Joey pulled at his boxers as they started to slip down his hips, and Brenn’s attention was brought to the unusual depiction on the front of them. For a second he didn’t realize what he was looking at, but then as he glanced back up to Joey’s T-shirt and saw a similar picture, it suddenly clicked, and he grinned.

“I bet the nurses don’t appreciate that,” he said, pointing to the blaze of lettering that read Where are my fucking nuts? while a squirrel sat up, holding out a pair of empty paws with a puzzled look on his face. Perhaps not remarkable on its own, but there was another squirrel on the boxers with something stuffed in its mouth. The words Found them! were written across the front of the crotch.

Joey glanced down at himself and smiled. “I thought it was funny.”

“It is.”

Joey looked up and met Brenn’s gaze. “My nuts disappeared.”

“Disappeared?”

“Pulled up into my body. Probably trying to save themselves.” Joey’s expression was tight. “You sure you want to help me with the shower? I’m not a pretty sight.”

Brenn disagreed. Okay, Joey looked a little thin now that Brenn could see more of him, but he still looked beautiful as far as Brenn was concerned. In answer he tugged on Joey’s hand and led him to the attached bathroom.

The room was small, holding only a toilet, a sink, and an open shower stall. It was white and clean. Clinical and sterile, if he thought about it, but Brenn didn’t want to think about how Joey had to live. He turned on the shower before helping Joey out of his T-shirt. Joey’s boxers came next, and as Brenn slid them down Joey’s legs, he had to inwardly acknowledge how ill Joey truly was. His body was thin, his ribs and hip bones easily visible beneath translucent skin. Brenn tried not to look shocked or show any pity, but Joey must have seen something on his face.

“Told you I wasn’t a pretty sight.”

“You look beautiful to me.” To prove his point, Brenn carefully traced over Joey’s chest, following one of the veins. Joey’s skin was incredibly soft, amazingly silky, and a total turn-on. Brenn continued down to caress the curve of Joey’s hip, and felt a light tingling enter his fingers; as if touching Joey was firing up nerve endings that had so far been dormant.

Joey stared at him, transfixed. “Can you feel that?”

Brenn nodded, surprised that Joey felt it too. “Warm.”

“Hot.”

Brenn rubbed his thumb in circles over the hollow of Joey’s pelvis. “Delicious.”

“Damn fucking sexy.”

Brenn gazed into blue eyes that flared with hunger. “Yeah, hot and sexy.” He cupped his other hand to the back of Joey’s neck and started to draw him in for a kiss, but at the last second, Joey pulled away.

“We’re wasting water,” Joey said, moving out of Brenn’s reach.

Surprised, Brenn stood watching as Joey tested the temperature and adjusted it. Why had Joey rejected him? What had he said or done? Confused, he waited for a moment before touching Joey on the shoulder.

“Joey? Are you all right?”

Joey turned to him, his eyes bleak. “I can’t respond to you.”

“Respond?”

“I can’t get hard.”

“Why not?”

Joey shrugged, looking forlorn. “My body’s reaction to one of the drugs the doctors tried.”

Once again, Brenn tried to hold back a look of pity. This time he thought he succeeded. “Why are you here?” he asked, trying to get things straight in his head.

“What the fuck do you mean by that? Why do you think I’m here?” Joey’s tone was harsh, angry, and though Brenn knew Joey had every right to be, he hadn’t expected it.

He pulled Joey down to sit on the toilet seat, then crouched in front of him and held his hands. “I mean why do you stay here? Why don’t you stay at home?” he asked gently. “Couldn’t you just come in when you needed treatment?”

Joey’s blue eyes blazed at him. “I don’t have treatments anymore. I haven’t for months. There’s no point. The doctors don’t even know what’s wrong with me. Not really.”

Brenn frowned. He hadn’t wanted to assume Joey’s illness, but to hear Joey say they didn’t even have a name for it confused him. “What do you mean they don’t know?”

Joey shrugged, then sighed. “They think it’s a type of immune deficiency which is attacking my body, damaging my organs, but it’s all just guesswork. I had doctors fighting over me to be the first to come up with a diagnosis or a cure.” Anger still simmered in Joey’s eyes, but it was tempered with resignation.

Brenn struggled to accept what Joey had told him and to not question why. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t do this, promised he wouldn’t show Joey how much he was hurting. He took a deep breath in an attempt to hide his grief, but it was hard, almost impossible. How was he supposed to act around Joey, smile around him, when each time he looked at him he knew Joey was dying?

It hadn’t made sense, didn’t make sense. Why would Joey be given to Brenn only to be taken away? Brenn had spent most of last night trying to understand. He couldn’t come to terms with it; however, turning his back on Joey wasn’t something he could do either. But then he’d had to ask himself if he was strong enough to be with Joey for the short time he had. Was he strong enough to love him and then let him go? He still hadn’t known if he was able until he’d walked in the door and seen Joey again. One look into his eyes, one smile from his lips, and Brenn knew.

Joey was his, and Brenn wouldn’t abandon him now or ever.

He squeezed Joey’s hand, feeling some measure of comfort in that small touch. “Is that why you’re here, so they can keep trying to find a cure?”

“No. I’m here because I can’t stay anywhere on my own. I need someone to look after me,” Joey declared, frustration lacing his voice.

“What about family, friends? Wouldn’t they help?”

“I don’t have any family left, and I didn’t want to be a burden on my friends.” Joey’s tone softened to the point where he sounded almost defeated.

“I don’t believe they’ll think you a burden. What about Paul? He seemed to think he was there to look after you.”

“Paul has his limitations. It would kill him to see me looking like this day after day. He also doesn’t agree with—” Joey cut himself off, and then shook his head. “Trust me; Paul is the last person I would stay with.”

“Would you stay with me?” Brenn had played with the idea before seeing Joey again. Now it was something he most definitely wanted to do.

Joey’s eyes went wide, his surprise evident. “You’re kidding.”

Brenn shook his head. “No, I’m not. I’d love to have the chance to spend some time with you.”

“At your place?”

“Yes, unless you’d rather stay here?”

“Of course I wouldn’t, but what if you’re some serial killer with a sick fetish?”

Brenn had expected Joey to question his motives, though he hadn’t quite thought along the same lines Joey had. “If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll give you my driver’s license, and you can get the hospital to file a copy of it so they’ll know where you’ll be.”

Joey’s quiet contemplation was unnerving, and Brenn fidgeted as he waited for Joey to answer. “Please, Joey. I promise to look after you.”

His expression guarded, Joey stared at Brenn. “Why would you want to?”

Knowing he had to be honest, at least about how he felt, Brenn blew out a breath and took a chance. “Do you believe in love at first sight?”

“No.”

Pushing past his disappointment, realizing it was stupid to even be disappointed, Brenn smiled. “I do.”

Joey’s voice dropped to a whisper. “You love me?”

“Yes.” The word was simple, the feelings behind it more than complicated.

“But why? I mean, you hardly know me.”

“True love is one soul’s recognition of another. Mine recognized yours,” Brenn said, trying to explain without actually going into detail about the mirror. He doubted Joey would understand something that needed to be experienced firsthand.

Joey winced and glanced away. Worried he’d pushed Joey too far, Brenn was about to back off when Joey looked up at him.

“What about sex?” Joey asked quietly.

Thrown, Brenn took a second to answer. “What about it?”

Joey’s gaze very slowly and very deliberately traveled down to Brenn’s groin, his lips turning up in a smirk. “Want to do the dirty with me?”

“Do the…” Brenn guessed he looked like a deer caught in headlights right then because Joey’s smirk turned into a grin, which disarmed Brenn even more. “Are you in any shape for that?”

Joey blinked, then sighed. “Probably not, but that doesn’t mean I can’t suck you off.”

“Joey!”

“What? Don’t tell me you haven’t given it some thought.”

Brenn groaned because he’d pretty much thought of nothing else, but he had more control than that. “I’m not going to do anything that can hurt you.”

“Going down on you is not going to hurt me.” Joey tipped his head to the side, his mouth twisting into a sly smile. “You can at least let me try.”

The idea of Joey’s full lips and tongue on him had Brenn’s cock filling and straining against the zip of his jeans. He bit back on a low moan, trying to hide his arousal but guessing he hadn’t succeeded when Joey grinned again.

“Get in the shower,” Brenn growled before he changed his mind and agreed to Joey’s proposal.

“Coming in with me? A bit hard to soap me up otherwise.” Joey’s eyes were filled with humor. Brenn had to suppress a chuckle. If there was one thing he was quickly learning about Joey, it was that he rarely let anything put him down for long, bouncing back with humor and his unending capacity to flirt. It was infectious, and Brenn was easily swayed.

“I’ll have to strip.”

“I know.” Joey’s smile was hot. “It’ll give me something to look at.”

Brenn wasn’t stepping over the line; he was pole-vaulting over it. Not even sure why he was doing this, knowing it was going to cause him more grief than pleasure, he quickly unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it down his arms.

Joey whistled. “Now that’s something worth looking at.”

Brenn didn’t need to inspect his body to know what Joey was talking about. Naturally big, he’d deliberately kept in shape, making sure his muscles were well defined and his stomach remained flat. “You like?” he asked, not averse to using a little flirtation of his own by running a hand over his chest and abs.

“Jesus, if I could get horny, I would.”

“You haven’t seen all of me yet.” Brenn undid the button of his jeans and slowly lowered the zipper. It was probably mean to do this, but Joey seemed to want it, and in that minute, Brenn was willing to do whatever Joey wanted. He slid the denim down his legs and kicked off his shoes and socks, then hooked his thumbs inside the waistband of his briefs.

“Sure?” he asked Joey, who was watching him avidly. Joey made a flapping motion with his hand for Brenn to continue. Brenn grinned and got naked.

“Holy crap!” Joey’s eyes went wide, and Brenn couldn’t help feeling smug.

A solid nine inches, thick and hard, Brenn’s cock stood out from a fine mat of curls. His balls felt heavy and full despite him having unloaded them a couple of hours before coming to see Joey.

“Can I touch?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Brenn backed up a step as Joey moved closer.

“Aw, come on, just a little one.”

“Get off and get in the shower.”

“Spoilsport,” Joey mumbled, but he did as Brenn asked and eased under the warm spray.

Chapter Two

Brenn hesitantly got in beside Joey, wondering how much he could handle before giving in to Joey’s wishes. Joey passed him a bottle of shampoo with a smile.

“Can you wash my hair first?”

Brenn nodded and placed a small amount of liquid in his palm. He’d never washed a man’s hair before, and as he carefully massaged the shampoo into Joey’s blond locks, he found the act singularly intimate and sensual. He combed his fingers through the thick strands and allowed himself to pretend this was more than just helping Joey, that his touch was that of a lover, of someone Joey really wanted and not just allowed because there was no one else. Then Joey closed his eyes and leaned against him, and all thought of pretense went out of Brenn’s mind.

The warmth of Joey’s body, the touch of his skin sent a hot tremor surging through Brenn, a tremor he found hard to ignore. Shit. He was supposed to be doing this for Joey, not for himself.

“Your hands are really gentle,” Joey murmured as Brenn moved Joey away from him and rinsed his hair.

“For such a big guy?”

“No, just gentle. The doctors and nurses around here are pretty rough. I know they don’t mean to, but sometimes they hurt.”

“I won’t hurt you.”

“I know.” Joey opened his eyes and stared at Brenn, and then with a light smile offered Brenn the bodywash.

Brenn almost groaned. He was going to have to put his hands all over Joey. “You sure you want me to do this?”

There was something about Joey’s smile that did things to Brenn. “If I can’t touch you, the least you can do is touch me,” Joey said.

“Everywhere?”

Joey didn’t answer, but his blue eyes looked deep and wistful. Brenn gave in and squirted a generous amount on his palm before gently spreading the liquid over Joey’s shoulder. Ignoring how thin Joey was, Brenn concentrated on his soft skin and the lithe muscle that still formed Joey’s shape. He was careful as he smoothed the suds over and around Joey’s chest and arms, taking his time, savoring the sensation beneath his hands. Heat suffused his fingertips again, and as he slid them over Joey’s body he heard Joey moan.

“Joey? Are you okay?”

“Mmm, nice.” Joey had closed his eyes again, the dark lashes ridiculously long over pale cheeks.

Brenn stared at him for a moment, surprised at the depth of his feeling for Joey, surprised also that his physical needs came secondary to an overwhelming need to protect. But he still wanted Joey, still wanted to taste him. He slid his hand behind Joey’s neck and tilted his head back, intending to pull him into a kiss. Joey quickly opened his eyes, blinking against the water.

“No.” He twisted his head to the side, though he didn’t pull away from Brenn’s hold.

“What’s the matter?”

Joey’s gaze evaded Brenn’s. “I don’t kiss.”

Brenn frowned, not sure if he’d heard Joey correctly. “Why not?”

When Joey didn’t immediately answer, Brenn thought he wasn’t going to, but then Joey sighed and looked at him. “You’re gonna really think I’m soppy, but I’ve kind of kept that for someone special.”

“Who?” Brenn’s stomach clenched at the thought of Joey having someone in his life who was so important to him he would never kiss anyone else.

“Don’t know yet. I’ve never met him.”

“You’ve…” Brenn stopped. “You’re saving your first true kiss for someone you’ve never met?”

Joey shrugged, the gesture fluid and graceful despite how thin his frame, how gaunt his shoulders. “Told you you’d think I was pathetic.”

Brenn stroked Joey’s cheek. “No, I don’t. I think you’re wonderful.”

“You don’t mind?”

“No.” Brenn didn’t mind at all, not one little bit. He smiled, suddenly feeling overjoyed. Joey had never kissed anyone. Brenn’s possessiveness took a backseat to satisfaction, and for some odd reason he unexpectedly felt that everything was going to be all right.

He gently turned Joey around and poured more liquid soap into his hand. With his arm still around Joey’s waist, Brenn grazed his palm over Joey’s stomach and down to Joey’s groin. Soft flesh met his searching fingers. Soft, pliable, thick, and, as Joey said, utterly unresponsive.

Joey hitched in a breath as Brenn carefully wrapped his fingers around Joey’s cock.

“I’m only cleaning you.”

“I know.”

With a gentle twist he pulled back on Joey’s foreskin to expose the pink head. Joey dropped his head onto Brenn’s chest.

“This is so not fucking fair. I get a hot man playing with my prick, and nothing happens.”

Brenn chuckled but silently agreed with him. No, it wasn’t fair, on either of them. Wanting to give Joey something else to think about, Brenn bent his head and nibbled along Joey’s neck. He tasted like warm honey, molten against Brenn’s tongue. Joey squirmed and tilted his head to give Brenn better access.

“You don’t mind me doing this?” Brenn asked as he kissed along the smooth expanse until he reached the sensitive spot beneath Joey’s ear. In answer, Joey reached back and hooked his hands around the backs of Brenn’s thighs.

Brenn widened his stance a little, and the tips of Joey’s fingers brushed against the curve of his ass. Already hard, Brenn moaned as his cock pulsed sharp and painful. Joey must have felt the jerk against his lower back because he moaned as well.

“This wasn’t a very good idea, was it?” Brenn asked.

“I’m enjoying it,” Joey answered, angling his hips slightly.

“You enjoy torturing a man?”

“You’re the one who insisted I don’t touch you.” Joey pressed against him. “I could help you with that, you know.”

“Don’t tempt me.”

Joey turned his head to look up at him. “I’m trying to tempt you,” he said, wriggling his body so Brenn’s sandwiched cock rubbed against Joey’s back.

“Joey!” Brenn warned.

Joey sighed. “Trust me to land a virtuous man.”

“This is not easy on me.”

“I know, it’s very hard.” Joey giggled, then clamped a hand over his mouth. “I’m sorry. I can’t help it.”

Brenn looked down into Joey’s face and struggled to hide his smile. “You could try the patience of a saint.”

“And are you a saint?”

“No.” Brenn knew he was anything but.

“Good. I can handle virtue, but not sainthood.”

Brenn shook his head, not finding this conversation any easier while holding Joey’s cock in his hand. He massaged carefully, making sure the soft folds of flesh were covered in soap before sliding his hand beneath to where Joey’s balls should have been hanging. There was only loose skin. Brenn pressed up a little and felt two small orbs pulled deep into Joey’s body. Knowing he was only supposed to be washing Joey and not feeling him up, Brenn still couldn’t help exploring, searching, wishing. He slid lower and stroked along the delicate place below Joey’s balls. Joey closed his eyes again and moaned.

“Is that still sensitive?”

“The way you’re touching it.”

Brenn repeated the light caress, and Joey gasped. “I’m getting that hot tingle again,” he said.

Brenn could sense it. It felt like little pins and needles were piercing his fingertips. He took his hand away.

“No, don’t stop. It’s nice.” Joey opened his eyes again. “I haven’t felt nice in a long time.” There was a look of appeal in Joey’s gaze, and once again Brenn couldn’t resist giving Joey something he wanted.

Bringing his fingers back to Joey’s skin, he rubbed along the sensitized flesh before cupping Joey’s entire groin in his hand. Brenn could feel Joey’s balls slowly drop, filling out the loose skin that was their home.

“Hey, they’re coming out to play,” Joey said, glancing first down at his body and then back up to Brenn. “What the hell did you do?”

“Nothing. My hand is warm. That’s probably what drew them out.”

“Yeah, I can feel the heat.”

Brenn almost pulled his hand away. “Uncomfortable?” he asked, worried.

“No.”

Brenn knew the whole point of him being here was to help Joey and nothing else, but just being able to hold him like this was too hard to pass up. After a couple of minutes, longer than he’d thought appropriate, Brenn reluctantly let go.

“Turn around,” he said.

Joey did as instructed, wrapping his thin arms around Brenn’s waist and once more laying his head on Brenn’s chest. Brenn tried to pretend Joey’s stomach wasn’t pressing against his cock, but he couldn’t deny the desire that surged through him or the primal need to take Joey and possess him. He pulled in a deep breath and let it out slowly. Joey murmured something, but Brenn decided he was better off not knowing what it was.

Palming more soap, Brenn continued to smooth it over Joey’s shoulders and back, spending time tracing his spine before spreading the suds down to his ass. That’s where Brenn hesitated slightly before taking both cheeks in his hands. Brenn was an ass man, and Joey’s was perfect. It was round and firm, and the skin was silky smooth. Joey might have lost weight everywhere else, but the flesh under Brenn’s hands was still lush and tight. Fighting the heat burning inside, Brenn tried to remind himself why he was doing this. Hands slippery, he slowly rubbed the soap into Joey’s skin. Joey moaned and pushed into Brenn’s palms. Brenn stilled and closed his eyes.

“Joey, you’re going to have to stop doing that.”

“Why? I like it.”

“Because you’re breaking my control.”

“Good.”

“Joey,” Brenn warned again.

Joey suddenly pulled back, and Brenn opened his eyes to see Joey looking at him. He was angry again. “I may not be able to get hard, Brenn, but I can still feel, still want. Don’t ask me to stop liking something that everyone else seems to think I have no right to.” His voice had dropped, turning hard. “I might be dying, but I’m not dead yet.”

Ashamed, Brenn shook his head. “Shit, Joey, I’m sorry. I didn’t think of it that way. I just didn’t want to hurt you.”

“You said you love me. Prove it. Give me what I want.” Joey’s words were like little barbs piercing Brenn’s chest.

“And what do you want?” Brenn asked, afraid he might not be able to comply.

“I want you to hold me, touch me, help me forget my life is quickly coming to an end.” Joey’s blue eyes blazed at him like bright jewels caught in a summer sun. “Give me something good to fill my days with. Give me something I’m going to enjoy. If you give a damn, Brenn, then give me you.”

“Oh God, Joey.” Brenn pushed back the wet hair from Joey’s face. “You really want me?”

“If I remember rightly I’ve asked to suck you off, and believe me, if I thought I could take your cock in my ass right now, I would.”

“It would hurt you, wouldn’t it?”

Joey looked at him, his expression careful, and then he sighed. “Probably, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to try.”

Brenn’s stomach tightened at the thought of hurting Joey, but he could understand Joey’s need. “All right, we’ll do some of what you want, but on my terms.”

Joey’s eyes glowed. “What terms?”

“We do nothing that will hurt you or cause you pain. We stop the second you get tired, even if I haven’t come to completion. And you have to leave the hospital and come and live with me.” Brenn was confident he wouldn’t lose control and cause Joey discomfort, so was prepared to allow Joey some leeway. Also, having Joey home with him would not only make Joey’s life easier, it would ease some of the pain in Brenn’s heart.


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