Preview: Beau and the Beast

EXCERPT:
Beau and the Beast

Coming February 26, 2017, exclusively to Amazon.com

• • •

Beau had held himself back all day. Wolfram hadn’t even acknowledged that anything was different between them, keeping their normal schedule perfectly, staying on task as they worked on the manuscript.

After dinner, Beau decided he’d had enough.

He didn’t wait to be asked back to Wolfram’s study—simply followed the man back there—and as soon as they were on the other side of the door, he grabbed Wolfram by either side of the vest and pulled him into a kiss.

Well. Pulled was an exaggeration. Beau pulled himself toward Wolfram’s significant bulk, standing on his tiptoes and waiting to receive the kiss that Wolfram gave into immediately.

Wolfram was surprisingly urgent, hungry, and Beau wondered if he’d been holding himself back all day, too. If he had been thinking of Beau—kissing him, touching him—he was certainly better at keeping himself together than Beau was. He’d had a look at the notes he’d taken that day before dinner and they were nearly nonsensical.

The only thing he’d been able to think about was Wolfram, the night they’d spent together and then the morning after—his plush fur, the safety he felt in Wolfram’s arms, all of the different ways that Beau wanted to please him, to return the favor.

Beau wasted no time, reaching for the waist of Wolfram’s breeches. Wolfram growled and leaned in, pressing himself against Beau, pinning him to the wall and writhing against him, his mouth hot and insistent on Beau’s.

“God damn it, Beau—”

They broke abruptly, Wolfram groaning and stepping back from Beau as if he was suddenly repulsed. Without a word, he put more distance between them and began to pace, his lion’s tail cutting the air behind him and an erection straining against the dark fabric of his breeches. He breathed hard, golden eyes gone a little wild in the way that they sometimes did.

It shouldn’t be appealing to Beau, knowing that there was something else inside of Wolfram that he couldn’t understand. Something other than his own senses. It was, though.

“I’m sorry,” Beau said from his place against the wall. “I can’t stop myself—I’m sorry.”

Wolfram shook his head, his dark mane reflecting the lamplights as he paced.

“It’s alright,” Wolfram said.

“I want to make it up to you, Wolf,” Beau said gently. “It’s my turn to make you come.”

Wolfram let out a sound at Beau’s words that was half whimper, dragging his hands through his dark mane.

“I can’t let you.”

That was news to Beau. How was this whole thing going to work if Beau was the only one who would ever get off between them?

“I don’t understand why not,” Beau said.

“Because I don’t know what’s going to happen if we do. I bit you the other day—and I wasn’t even the one coming.”

Beau ghosted a hand up to the mark that remained on his shoulder. He’d spent too long admiring it in the mirror earlier. He hardly minded.

“Do you think you’re going to… what, Wolf?” Beau asked, hitching an eyebrow. “Turn into an animal and rip me apart after you come?”

Wolfram shot him a hard look. “This isn’t a joke, Beau.”

“You need to lighten up,” Beau said.

“You’re going to tell a man with ram horns and canines as big as your thumbs who hasn’t had sex in ten years and casually shares brain real estate with something inhuman to lighten up?

Beau deflated a little, crossing his arms. “Touché.”

Wolfram crossed to the nook by his bookshelf, picking out a book and sitting down, as if the conversation was over.

“Can we talk about this, at least?” Beau asked, kneeling on a cushion next to him.

Wolfram thought it over and finally gave in. Beau was relieved that they could stop pretending like they were going to get any more work done on the book that night. He went to the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of wine.

Wolfram was pouring them both a glass when Beau asked him what it was like.

The question was vague but they both knew exactly what he was getting at. What was it like to be what Wolfram was—to have a beast’s brain?

He caught Beau with a steady look. Beau had held himself back from asking questions like this because he didn’t want Wolfram to feel like his privacy was being invaded.

But if this thing is going to stand between us, Beau thought, I have a right to know.

Wolfram sat back and massaged his temples, considering how to answer.

“I had this little dog growing up on 8th street,” Wolfram said. “His name was Pippin—don’t ask. My mother brought him home as a puppy—a purebred Jack Russell terrier, probably smarter than half of the people I used to work with. I’d try to take him for a walk but there was nothing he didn’t want to chase. Birds, bugs, cats, sure—but bigger dogs, people, cars. It drove me up a wall. He was impossible to deal with, but we had a ground floor unit with a real back yard, so we’d just let him out and we skipped the walks.”

Wolfram leaned on the small table, swirling the wine in his hand and not looking at Beau.

“Pippin got out one day and never came back. I’m sure he took on something bigger and meaner than he was.”

Beau frowned but didn’t interrupt.

“Pippin was a great dog, other than that. But you knew from walking him that if something moved the wrong way, he’d be off and chasing it. There’s a piece of this—of me—that’s like that. Pippin didn’t go dumb when he saw something he wanted to chase. He just couldn’t stop himself.”

Finally, he looked up at Beau, his eyes golden and flashing in the warm lamplight.

“When I’m awake and I’m myself, I’m aware of what I am enough that I can override it. But the longer I’ve lived with it, the more it finds a way to take over. It’s almost painful to control, in those moments. I don’t know how to explain it—it hurts.

Beau reached out, stroking fingertips over the plush fur on the back of Wolfram’s hand. He couldn’t imagine trying to live life with those extra layers of awareness, of instinct.

“And it’s worse when I kiss you?” Beau asked.

“Infinitely,” Wolfram said without hesitating. He reached behind himself to still his tail where it had begun thumping irritably against the floor. “I’m scared of what it wants. I don’t want to be Pippin chasing a goddamn dump truck.”

“I’m not afraid of it,” Beau said quickly.

Wolfram gave him a cautioning look but spared him the obvious scolding: You should be.

“I want to kiss you anyway, Wolf,” Beau said, not even attempting to keep the begging edge out of his voice. “I want to make you come.”

Wolfram closed his eyes and breathed deeply, as if it was painful just to hear Beau say the words. Maybe it was, Beau realized. Wolfram had been alone for so long.

He swallowed hard around nothing and let his eyes drift down to the floor between them. “I wish you could feel what it’s like. It’s hard for me to want to do anything else, now that I’ve felt it—touched you.”

Beau blushed. He didn’t want to diminish what Wolfram was going through—but it had been the same for him, even without enhanced senses or a decade-long dry spell.

“Will you tell me more about what it’s like?” Beau asked. “Maybe I can understand.”

Wolfram considered that.

“We’ve talked about my senses,” Wolfram said, his eyes catching Beau’s in the dim light. Beau nodded. “Before the curse, kissing was just jumbled sensations. Mostly lips—lips sliding on lips. That’s nice. Wasn’t my favorite thing in the world or my favorite thing about sex, but it’s nice.

“With you—like this—kissing you is… Better than a conversation. It’s information. Everything I taste and smell and hear from you is… How can I describe it? I know what mood you’re in—what mood you woke up in this morning. I’m so close that I can smell who you spoke to before you came to my study. I know if you talked to Violet and Geoffrey and where in the penthouse and for how long. It’s like looking at jumbled signatures on a page.

“When you kiss me, I can feel your heartbeat change. Of course, I’m aware of it normally. Right now I’m aware of it.”

Beau’s heart sped up just at the mention of it. He didn’t know Wolfram had always been able to tell how fast it was beating.

“But I goddamned think I feel it when you kiss me. It pounds away until it falls into a rhythm with mine. And then it changes… when I know you’re getting hard.”

He trailed a little, serious eyes drifting almost bashful down to the floor again.

“When your blood starts moving different like that, it’s like feeling the current of a hot river reversing direction around my body. I feel it all over myself.”

Wolfram worried his bottom lip with one enormous canine, shaking his head slightly.

“I shouldn’t keep talking about this.”

“What’s wrong?” Beau asked. He’d been hanging on every word—the last thing he wanted Wolfram to do was stop.

Wolfram frowned. “Because it’s turning me on,” he admitted, puffing an ironic laugh through his nose.

“I know,” Beau said. “Me too but… could you—I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to but. Just give me this. Just keep going?”

Wolfram massaged the wide bridge of his nose, thinking it over.

“I won’t touch you,” Beau said. “And if it’s too much, you can stop. But maybe… think of it as a trial run.”

“What, the two of us being equally turned on in the same room?” Wolfram said, chuckling and hitching an eyebrow at Beau. “I think we accomplished that particular brand of dress rehearsal the other night. And the next morning.”

Beau hitched his shoulder. He didn’t have a rejoinder for that. He’d never been so turned on in his entire life, and he had a feeling that it had been mutual. All he could do was beg with his eyes and hope that Wolfram decided to keep talking.

He let them sit in silence for a moment before he gave in.

“Well. Where was I?”

Beau couldn’t keep his face from lighting up. “You were talking about my blood,” he said cheerfully.

“Christ,” Wolfram said, puffing a laugh though his nose and shaking his head. “Right.”

He looked at Beau as if he could see right through him.

“It’s happening now—I know you can’t help it. I don’t have to kiss you to know, but it’s better when I do,” Wolfram said. “When I kissed you before and your blood started moving differently, it was like every part of you wanted me, down to a cellular level. Your body abandoned everything to divert all of its resources to prepare. For me.

A pleasant shudder rolled through Beau’s body.

“I know that you’re helpless against it—and even though I don’t pretend to understand how you could, I love that you’re helpless against how much you want me.

“There’s a part of me somewhere between the old me and what I am now that wants you on an illogical level. That me and not-me—we both want to have you. It’s an instinct I had before but more intense—to possess you in any way I can.”

Beau drew a deep breath. He knew what it was to be wanted—and he knew what it was to want to submit. But Wolfram was right—there was something between them unlike anything Beau had ever experienced, too.

“And it’s gratifying to me and it’s gratifying to what’s inside me that even as your cock is hard and straining for me without a touch, you’re submitting to me too. Because there are things I never notice about you until I’m that close to you, kissing you—the way you turn every vulnerable piece of your body, angling it to me, even knowing what I am. The curve of your spine when you arch into me. How your eyes dip when I catch them for a moment. Fuck, Beau.”

Wolfram trailed off and Beau knew that a flush sat high across his own cheeks. He wished Wolfram’s expressions betrayed more of what he was feeling. It was beyond erotic to hear him talk through what this was like for him. At the same time, he felt like he’d been laid bare.

“I don’t know if you know you do it, but you start shifting your weight once you get hard. Everything suddenly centers on your ass—like you need me so bad, you’ll take anything, any pressure. The piece of me that enjoys knowing that—it’s all me, Beau. It gives me that chasing impulse so bad that I don’t know what to do with myself. When I stopped us, that was why.”

He drew a ragged breath.

“I could feel you lean back and rock your hips—such a small thing—but when I know you want me in you, everything in my head bleeds together and it feels like maybe I’m not using my hands right—like maybe I’m going to hurt you or force myself on you—”

“You can’t force the willing, Wolf, Christ,” Beau said, laughing. “We don’t have to have sex. I just want to make you feel as good as you’ve made me feel.”

“And what if I still go too fast and you change your mind?” Wolfram asked, pushing a few inches away from where Beau sat near him on the floor. His eyes had gone wild again and Beau could tell just by his posture that it was taking self-control to stay seated where he was.

Against his better judgment and his promise not to push it, Beau leaned in to lay a steadying hand on Wolfram’s thigh.

“I trust that you won’t go too fast. And I’m not going to change my mind.”

“I don’t think you understand how much it becomes everything I am—the desire to have you. Just from kissing you, Beau.”

“You’re right. I don’t,” Beau said. “But I understand how long it’s been since you felt good at all, Wolf. And I can see that it scares you.”

Beau moved slowly, then, coming to sit in Wolfram’s lap. He felt Wolfram hold his breath, but he didn’t pull away. Finally, he drew in a measured breath.

Beau pulled him into a kiss, armed now with the knowledge of what he was doing, of exactly what the transaction did to Wolfram, trying to imagine what it might be like to be on the other side of the kiss as their mouths opened together to each other in a way that still wasn’t familiar but felt so right.

Beau tried to imagine what he could learn about Wolfram if he had the same senses—what knowledge he would take from the pressure of Wolfram’s lips, the slide of his tongue, the way he gently worried Beau’s bottom lip between the blunt parts of his teeth.

It was Beau who broke the kiss this time. He leaned back, watching Wolfram’s eyes: rich gold and blown wide and not entirely his own.

“I’m not scared,” Beau said. “I want you to remember what feeling good is like, Wolf.”

Wolfram’s eyelids dipped. His mouth fell open.

“Will you let me remind you?” Beau asked.

Wolfram nodded. At last, he would try.

• • •

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