Excerpt - Not His Kiss to Take

Here's an excerpt from Not His Kiss to Take:

“This is a stupid game.” And kinda boring. Jamie slouched over the table, feeling miserable with an upset stomach he was never gonna admit having. Doctor Twisted-As-Fuck, sitting across the table and looking particularly smug, probably knew ten painful and undoubtedly embarrassing treatments for it. “Stupid,” he mumbled.
“It is not,” Evan argued. Lord, the man loved to argue, like it was a second language or something. “Chess is the greatest game ever invented.”
Slouching further, Jamie rolled his eyes. “It’s boring. Nothing ever happens! You just move a bunch of pieces around the board. You can’t even shoot anyone. What fun is that?” At least bugging the doc provided some amusement. When Evan relaxed, he was great company. That was also when his wicked sense of humor came out to play.
“It’s a mind game. A game of strategy. Of outwitting your opponent.”
“Outwitting?” Really? Yeah, okay. “You outwitted me just by talking me into learning this stupid game. Can I gracefully concede now?”
Evan gave him one of his best smiles, the kind that lit up his whole face. “You sure you want to? You’re actually doing pretty good this time. Look, you’ve still got your queen.”
That’s good? Maybe if you called not getting checkmated in less than five minutes good. “Yeah, I’m sure. Before I fall into a coma from the boredom of losing to you repeatedly.” He tipped over his king and dramatically fell across the table in defeat. “You win.” Jamie propped his head on his arm. “Again.”
Better than bugging the doctor was hearing him laugh. Looked like he didn’t do it often enough, if you asked him. Jamie’d have to think of more ways to draw him out. When he felt better.
“You hungry? Want some hot chocolate or something?”
Sighing heavily, Jamie answered with, “Maybe some hot chocolate.” Better to agree to something fast before he ended up with another plateful of those quinoa-flour cookies—nasty, oh goddamn. Tasted like dusty cardboard ripped from the floor of somebody’s smelly garage. But Evan’s homemade hot chocolate was to die for. “Thanks,” he said as Evan moved to make a fresh batch, leaving him to put away that horrid game that was possibly less entertaining than watching paint dry.
The way Evan constantly tried to stuff food into him drove Jamie nuts. Maybe he thinks I’m a skinny runt or something. Or he thinks he’s papa bird. Except most of the food wasn’t quite fit for human consumption and he should know, since he’d worked in many a restaurant and seen what they dished out to unsuspecting diners. They ate strange things—some with unpronounceable names—that goats couldn’t gnaw through. Most of it tasted okay ’cause Evan could actually cook, but Christ, no wonder his stomach hurt. Too much organic love going on—his guts weren’t used to it. Mac and cheese made up one of the four food groups, but Evan just had to go and ruin his using whole wheat pasta. Gag.
Not only was Evan a little pervy—okay, a lot pervy—he was also weird. Sunny skies meant keeping the blinds closed. What the fuck? They never saw the sun as it was in winter. If anything had a perfume or scent to it, it had to be all natural, essential oils and all that crap. Everything was organic, including the laundry soap, which, bizarrely, Evan made himself. And the man never went anywhere unless he absolutely had to and planned it out with military precision beforehand. No wonder he beat Jamie’s ass so fast at chess.
Kinda made him sad to think that Evan lived in fear of things like bright sunshine and food additives, all because he had a headache that never ended. Jamie couldn’t imagine enduring that for years. Years! Not that he wanted to go anywhere either right now. It’s not safe out there…
“…fucking cocksucker…”
They’d talked, that day after. Evan said he could stay as long as he wanted—and how Jamie wanted, with a desperation he hated to admit even to himself. Cocooned in Evan’s sheltered nest, he felt safe.
It had been just a week since…it happened. Remembering that night caused him to sweat profusely and feel all weird inside, so he tried very hard not to think about it. I couldn’t even fight back. Didn’t mean snippets of darkness didn’t sometimes catch him unawares. Nighttime was the worst. Evan always caught him freaking out. Christ, did the man sleep with one eye open?
But he’d sleep better tonight. Last night, after Jamie had woken Evan at three a.m. by knocking the lamp off the night table, the doc had removed the bandage from around his ribs. They’d only been bruised, he confirmed, not broken. Thank God. His lip felt better too, and so did the inside of his mouth where he’d gnashed the shit out of it with his teeth—that one guy who’d hit him, the one who’d given him the concussion, he’d had…big fucking fists.
“Like that, faggot…”
Of course, Evan had a yucky mouthwash for fixing sore mouths too. And Jamie could breathe through his nose again. Best of all, Evan removed all but one of the funny bandages on Jamie’s temple, and it no longer felt like his eyebrow was glued to his forehead.
But down below?
Still sore. Jamie adjusted his slouch, easing the pressure against tender, healing flesh. Dr. Horny-pants wanted him to see some specialist friend of his. Yay, a penis doctor. Probably cost thousands just to walk through the door and get eye-bleed from the crappy artwork…but…? Yeah, but. Can’t afford it. And Evan says it looks okay to him.
And I trust Evan, even if he gets a hard-on every time he touches me, the sicko.
Evidently, whipped cream came in an organic variety. His cup fairly sloshed with heaps of it as Evan set the mug down in front of him. Dark chocolate and sweetness exploded on his tongue as he took the first sip. Delicious, delightful empty calories—yum. “This is really good,” he said with a groan of contentment.
“Thanks,” Evan said. “Dark chocolate can be healthy in moderation.”
“Yeah?” Jamie teased. “Would that be before or after that addition of half a cup of sugar?”
Sheesh. How could the guy blush over getting caught falling for the evils of sugar and yet act like having catheters lying around for kinky sex games was nothing? “Um…” Evan said.
Despite his unhappy stomach, Jamie laughed. “Someone’s got a sweet tooth…” he sang.
Evan scowled at him. “It’s for medicinal purposes only.”
“No more cookies for you, mister.”
Hallelujah and amen to that. “Thank God.”
Oops. Evan looked offended. “You don’t like my cookies?”
“They need chocolate chips in them.”
Evan perked up again. “Maybe. You know…that’s a good idea.”
Though the kitchen sparkled, Evan tidied anyway, putting the chess set away in a cupboard where it would hopefully stay. Jamie was starting to think the cleaning thing wasn’t because Evan was a neat freak; he did it because he needed to fill up empty hours with something and scrubbed madly out of habit. Not that Jamie would ever ask why Evan never had company. Didn’t take a genius to notice how lonely Evan was—how alone.
Evan’s house—the penthouse, because the doc was obviously rich as shit—was the nicest home Jamie had ever been in. The kitchen alone was bigger than his entire rental and was, by far, his favorite room. Slate, carved wood, warm copper—Jamie loved it all. It had its own gas fireplace, for Pete’s sake. Not the kind of decor you’d expect from someone like Evan. Meeting him, you’d imagine stainless steel, white paint, and cold sterility.
Evan was like…two separate people crammed into one body. Hot and cold. Prim and proper and break the kink-o-meter. Jamie’d admit to being fascinated. He’d never met anyone like Evan Harrison. And he found himself getting fascinated all over again watching him move around the kitchen, all that grace and power, that steely confidence. Everything he was not. Then his stomach grumbled.
“You feeling okay?” Evan asked.
Shit. The guy had frickin’ eyes in the back of his head and ears like a bat. “Just not used to all this health-food stuff.” Admitting anything was gonna cost him, but Evan seemed concerned. Couldn’t repay that kindness with a lie. “Upsets my stomach.”
Evan’s eyes narrowed and raked over him, doing that doctor-assessment thing Jamie’d grown to hate.
“And those pills you gave me…” But he hadn’t had any of those in days, and even then, he’d only had a few. Junkie doc was actually kinda stingy with the drugs. What the hell was with that? Never did get along with Oxy-whatever anyway.
“Ah,” Evan said.
Oh crap. How could one little word be so scary? “I’ll be fine,” he hastily added.
“You want something for it?”
Groaning, Jamie rested his head on his arm and continued slouching. “No thanks.”
Doc eyed him suspiciously. “Suit yourself. But if you change your mind, let me know.”
“I won’t.” Please let me dodge this bullet.
Still watching him, Evan sipped his cocoa. Made him squirm in his seat. “You know…” Evan began.
Shit. Here comes the bullet.
“I’ve taken those pills myself. They’re quite constipating.”
Decidedly cranky, Jamie wasn’t feeling charitable. “So’s that cement you made those cookies out of.”
For a second, Jamie thought he’d gone too far. But then Evan’s eyes sparkled. They always did before he smiled. He grinned hugely. “They are kinda dry. They really do need chocolate chips.”
“Then they’ll be perfect,” Jamie lied.
“Your mama never washed your mouth out with soap for lying, did she?”
“Nope. Neither did the hundred different babysitters.”
“Hundred babysitters?” Evan looked positively scandalized.
“My mom works—worked—all the time. Since my dad split and never paid a penny of support, she had to. I hope he’s rotting someplace unpleasant.” Jamie scowled. “With lots of roaches. And honkin’ big mosquitoes drilling him full of deadly diseases.” Jamie barely remembered his father, and what he remembered had long since been tainted by his grown-up knowledge that he’d been abandoned by his deadbeat dad. Probably why I can’t stand Derek. Two of a kind. When ya gonna smarten up, Mom?
“Sorry. About your dad.”
“S’all right. I don’t even miss him anymore.” But he did.
For a moment, Evan just sat and watched him. Such kind eyes. When was the last time someone looked at him like that, like he was worth something? “Wanna watch a movie?” Evan asked, breaking the spell. “We could finish Planet Earth. I think we left off somewhere on the way to China.”
Maybe it was Evan’s ginormous TV, or maybe it was the stunning scenery in every episode, but Jamie loved that series. They’d been watching it for days, especially when he’d been too sore to move farther than from the couch to the guest bed and back, and had been looking forward to the China episode in particular. “I’d love to go there someday. China, I mean. I really wanna see the Great Wall. I’ve only ever blown the shit out of it in a video game.”
“It’s fantastic,” Evan said.
“What? You’ve been there?”
“Yes. I went with my parents when I finished high school. Grad present for finishing early.”
Lucky bastard. “Got any pictures?”
Like he’d just said magic words, Evan’s eyes lit right up. “Many.”
Most people would probably be rolling their eyes about now, but not Jamie. Checking out pictures of faraway places with the person who took them was a rare treat. “Let’s watch the show first; then you can show me your secret stash of vacation pics.” Would be interesting to see where he’d been, plus he secretly hoped to find out what Evan looked like as a teenager. “Please tell me you were tall and geeky and had zits and braces in school, just like everyone else.”
“Well, I was tall.”
“I hate you, Evan.”
“Come on, angel. I have boxes of pictures to show you. Plus digital.”
“I wrote notes on the back of all of them too.”
Realizing what he’d gotten himself into, Jamie groaned. “You’re a nerd, Evan. You don’t look it, but you’re just a closet nerd without the thick glasses. I bet you have a pocket protector and everything.”
Not arguing his accusation at all, Evan grinned. “Yup. But even nerds can do stupid things. If you do go there one day, remember this: no matter what anyone tells you, no matter how curious you are, do not get it in your head to try eating dog meat.” Evan shuddered visibly. “I have never been so ill in my life.”
Dog? “You ate a dog?” Revolting. “Who the fuck eats dogs? Serves you right.”
“That’s what my dad said. Dog meat on a stick—don’t do it. I haven’t been able to eat souvlaki ever since. Anytime I see lamb on a stick, I get these horrible flashbacks of me projectile vomiting. Ugh. But that could have been from the vile stuff the Chinese naturopath poured down my throat in between the bouts of violent puking and the burning diarrhea. My memory’s kinda hazy on the subject. And if you get sick, don’t trust village doctors over there either.” Evan cocked his head. “Come to think of it, I’m not even sure he was a doctor.”
Déjà vu. Jamie’d harbored the same suspicions about Evan at first. Don’t say it. Don’t. But it was so very tempting to tease Dr. Perv-a-Lot. Easy pickings. Jamie refrained. Over the past couple of days, he’d gotten the sneaking suspicion that not being able to practice medicine ate away at Evan’s soul, that he’d lost something that meant a great deal to him. Maybe everything. “Come on then, Doc. I can’t wait to see the pictures of whatever back-alley dive served you someone’s pet Fido on a stick. Or did you buy your barbecued puppy from some doggy—pardon me, I meant dodgy—street vendor? Off the back of a truck? Or was it one of those carriage things? What do they call ’em, rickshaws?”
Evan managed to swat him on the ass before he leapt out of the way. “You’ve got a smart mouth, boy. And you swear too much. I should do what your mama failed to do and soap out your filthy mouth.”
Unwilling to hide the smirk, Jamie flashed it unrepentantly. “Shit, your organic-oatmeal-and-mint soap probably tastes better than your cookies. Bring it on.”
Fortunately, Jamie was quicker, and, after a few sock-slippery spins around the kitchen, Evan gave up trying to wash his mouth out with his minty-good, fair-trade organic soap. But it was close. Could’ve been dessert.
Notes on the back or not, Jamie enjoyed thumbing through all of Evan’s photos and watching the videos. They were filed in order, by date. Catalogued and in pristine condition. Saved in folders by date and location. Yup. A total nerd. Nice looking, but still a nerd. Jamie wasn’t sure he’d outgrown that gangly stage yet and felt self-conscious about his body compared to Evan’s Pilates-toned bod. I hate being small and skinny. And…pretty. I should probably ask Evan what a twink is.
From the photos it was obvious Evan had gotten his looks from his dad, especially that stern expression Jamie loathed. His parents didn’t look like very warm people. No wonder Evan had rebelled, scaring the crap out of them doing every wild thing he could conceive of on their lengthy trip: whitewater rafting (he fell out and almost drowned); climbing up a cliff face strapped in a flimsy-looking rope harness (goaded by the locals, he admitted); and eating roasted puppies on a skewer (and no stinking picture of that, damn it).

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