Gil struggles to hide his loss of status from Jack, but when he finally confesses, Jack turns around and blurts out his own secret. Who can Gil trust now?
Jack knows he screwed up, but he believes in honesty above everything else. Well, almost. Running the risk of losing Gil, Jack must learn to lie convincingly, or he’ll lose SearchLight, his life, and Gil, as well.
Around about ten that morning, Jack’s lover had turned on cello music. Not just classical cello, although there was some of that too, but also cellos playing contemporary songs. The rich, melodic lines were very quiet, but Jack still cued into them as he rested in Gil’s arms.
They’d made love most of the night and into the morning. It was time to rise, shower, and get this new day started. He’d barely slept two hours in the last twenty-four, but Jack refused to shirk his duties no matter how tired he felt.
On the other hand, it was extremely relaxing to lie here, in Gil’s bed, with Gil’s arms surrounding him. He could smell the aroma they’d made together, and he loved it. He felt so very content and safe here.
He’d almost lost Gil. Not to danger but to jealousy and misunderstanding. That isn’t meant to be, Jack thought defiantly. Gil is mine.
He closed his eyes and breathed deeply of Gil’s scent, which was part arousal and part sweat. They needed to rise but Jack couldn’t make his body obey his mind. He sighed contentedly and opened his eyes, gazing at his lover.
Gil rubbed his arm with one dark, broad palm. “Are you awake?” he murmured.
Jack smiled, pushed himself forward, and kissed Gil lightly. When the basilisk tried to deepen the kiss, though, he pulled away. “Time to get up.”
Gil hugged him closer but when Jack still resisted, he grunted, nodded, and let Jack go. Naked, Jack got up and strode to the door of the bathroom. He’d been in here twice, in the middle of the night, to use the facilities, but the lights had been off and he’d been distracted. Now, flicking the light switch, he took in the wondrously huge, almost echoing chamber that held bathtub, shower, toilet, two sinks, and a lounging pool that Jack assumed was for Gil’s nine-feet-long basilisk form.
A moment’s insecurity flashed in his hind brain. Gil was powerful, rich, the ruler, or almost, of an entire country. And what was Jack? A Night Wanderer. A newly changed Night Wanderer who couldn’t always control his shifted form of a Kodiak bear.
Screw that, he thought rebelliously. I will not lose Gil again because of my own feelings of inadequacy. I’m the head of Public Relations, the highest position in SearchLight except for the Founders, and I get final say on everything.
The Founders, the sons of Lady Weinberg, formerly Agent Weinberg, kept their hands largely out of SearchLight’s day-to-day operations. They hadn’t even weighed in when Jack decided to announce and involve all of SearchLight and the heads of most of the magical communities around the world in a discussion of suspicious disappearances.
So, even though he wasn’t a Crown Prince, one miniscule step below ruler of all the world’s basilisks, he and Gil were equals. At least he thought they were.
But this bathroom was spectacular. Extravagant. And Jack felt a little embarrassed about his nudity in such a place. The bed creaked behind him and Gil crossed to him. Jack didn’t want his lover to see the nerves he wasn’t quite sure he could keep out of his expression.
Gil closed his hands on Jack’s shoulders and began to massage. Jack relaxed almost at once as the feeling and scent of his beloved surrounded him.
“Are you all right?” Gil murmured.
“I am now.” Jack glanced over his shoulder, flashed Gil a grin, and pulled away. “Shower or bathtub?”
“Together?” Gil suggested.
“Separately, or we’ll never get out of here.”
“Is that such a bad thing?” But he was teasing because he said at once, “I’ll take the wading pool. I suggest you take the shower stall.”
Jack nodded, padded to the aforementioned, grandiose, glass-walled luxury and busied himself testing the water. There was a towel hung conveniently just outside on a heated rack. He listened to Gil turning on the water in the wading pool. His lover was muttering, “Now, how does she get it to just that right temperature?” That made Jack smile a little. Gil wasn’t used to doing for himself, but he wasn’t a complainer either. He was just a little lost.
As Jack was.
He shrugged off that thought and glanced over his shoulder to check and make sure Gil was all right. But his lover had changed into his magnificent basilisk form, which was nine feet of powerfully built, Komodo-dragon-like scales and girth. Nine feet long from flicking tongue to muscular tail, Gil was glorious.
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