I'm getting warmed up and into this growing love story. I promise I will be back to these men and soon. I have some plans for Brice and Clay.
Thanks again to all of you who are giving this story a shot. I really wanted this Ice Era Chronicle to be out in the world somewhere.
M. From C.M. Moore
Nancy's friend looked like he wasn't into this whole blind date plan either. The guy's face paled under his tan skin like he'd seen a ghost.
"You. I, it's that, well, I..." The stranger took a shaky breath. "I don't know what to say. It's you."
Now Brice wished he'd kept the light off. Brice probably looked better in the dark. Self-conscious, Brice rubbed the scar on his cheek.
"It's me." Brice agreed. If only he could remember what Nancy said her friend's name was. It started with a 'W.' Widman or Wyatt. Why the hell couldn't he remember?
"This is crazy, right?" The man's voice was deep and husky. "I didn't think it would be like this... here with you."
Brice guessed that his date was around his age but incredibly handsome and out of Brice's league. Already Brice could tell he liked the other man. The guy was Brice's height with muscles to spare. Too bad the attraction didn't appear to be mutual.
"Crazy." Brice agreed again. He sounded like a dope.
"I don't know your name." The guy stepped closer, and his voice was breathless. "Tell me your name. Please."
Brice felt the way the other man sounded. Obviously, neither one of them did many of these set-ups.
Exhaling his tension, Brice grinned. Nancy's friend forgot his name too. Somehow knowing that made this awkward encounter easier.
"I'm Brice O'Fallon." Brice picked up the wine bottle. "And you are?" he added playfully as his shoulders relaxed.
"Claymore Wicks. You can call me Clay."
Wicks. That was the name Nancy said. He exhaled. Brice started to yank on the cork. He tried to calm his shaking hands.
"Claymore?" Brice tried to sound as if he did this dating stuff every day. "Like the Claymore mine?"
"Kinda." Clay grinned back. "But I'm not that explosive."
With his looks, this guy could be explosive. Chuckling, Brice let his guard down a little. This was casual. Neither of them wanted anything here. Even if Brice thought Wicks was too handsome and too sexy, and too perfect, it didn't matter. Their meeting was just for tonight—a hook-up.
When he got the bottle open, he waved to the sleeping bags he'd unrolled for a place to sit.
"Do you want to join me, Wicks? We can talk." Brice thought he sounded like a virginal teen trying too hard to impress. "We can see the stars better without the light." After Brice clicked off the lamp, he turned back to the windows. He prayed Clay would say yes. "Wine?"
Earlier, Brice had tried to pick the best view for this tryst. Brice decided the dumpster fire had its charm. About an hour ago, he figured he got stood up, and no one was coming. Now with Clay here, he was so nervous his palms were clammy.
"Wine sounds great right now. I could use a drink." Clay took off his shoes and socks and then walked across the sleeping bags. "I want to talk." He sat next to Brice but didn't look out the window. Instead, Wicks studied him as he stretched out his legs. "This is unbelievable."
"I'm nervous." Brice fumbled with the glasses. "I feel like a dope."
After a few minutes, Clay took both wine goblets and poured the liquid. He handed the second glass to Brice.
"I'm nervous too," Claymore spoke to his glass and then downed the contents. "I don't know why. Just overwhelmed, I guess. I never thought I'd be doing this."
"You're better looking than..." Brice swallowed the rest of the sentence with a gulp of wine. He probably shouldn't tell Claymore that he was expecting a gorilla since Nancy wasn't the best judge of men.
"Better looking than you expected?" Clay asked. "I didn't think about that." He ran a hand over his smooth skin and then offered an unsure smile. "My face is—"
"Handsome?" Brice interrupted.
"That's not what I was going to say."
"I only mean that I think you look g-good." Brice tried to cover his blunder. "You're hot."
He gulped more of his wine and swore in his head. Maybe the floor would open and swallow him whole.
"You think I'm hot?" Clay set his glass to the side and smiled. The bright shine of his eyes had Brice thinking he hadn't screwed this up yet.
"Affirmative." Brice refilled his glass and decided the next words out of his mouth wouldn't make him sound like he'd just learned English yesterday. He was out of practice in the dating scene, but he knew how to talk to humans.
Once more, Clay's eyes were drilling into Brice. The intensity of the stare stole Brice's thoughts. Maybe he didn't know how to talk to humans. This man was sexy as hell, and he wasn't even trying. Claymore's eyes were a blue-green color, dark and mysterious turquoise. If Brice had to guess, he figured that Wicks was close to his age and damn striking with flawless skin and a killer body. That thick shoulder-length brown hair had streaks of red in the locks. When the moon hit Clay the right way, the red had a shine.
What was a man this good-looking doing on a blind date with Brice? Irritated, Brice touched the long scar down the side of his face. Now he was pissed at The Originals for making him look like he'd gotten into a fight with a sword and lost. The Originals took his foot and now ruined his sex life. Brice had to laugh at that, or he would cry.
"Is everything okay?" Clay asked. "You're glaring as if I insulted you."
"I'm fine," Brice muttered in hopes that Clay liked him. More than hoped, Brice prayed. For some unknown reason, Brice wanted Wicks more than he anticipated. Even if they only had an hour or two, that was enough. Brice wanted Claymore Wicks. He just needed not to mess this up.
"I only have one foot." Brice blurted out and then drank his wine. After he refilled his glass, Brice sipped and stared out the window. He had to explain the injury in case Nancy lied and never told Wicks about the missing appendage. If Brice and Clay took off any clothes, his date would be sure to notice his lack of foot at some point. "The Originals..." Brice sipped on his glass. "They crushed it, and..." Brice emptied his glass to remove the taste of the words The Originals from his tongue. He was out of his mind to think this attractive man would want him. They should talk, finish the wine, and say goodbye.
"We don't have to talk about the hut if you don't want to." Clay took the empty glass from Brice's fingers and set the goblet next to his. "The Originals aren't my favorite subject either." Clay gave a rueful laugh.
"No. I'm fine." When their fingers touched, a tingle spread throughout Brice's chest. Warmth filled him. His eyes met Clay's. "I can talk about it."
"Can I ask how you survived? I think it's damn near a miracle."
"No miracle. They shot me and threw me into a mass grave." Brice slipped off both his boots and then rolled up his jeans where his prosthetic and skin met. "The bullet went wide. It missed vital organs and went right through me. The doc said it was the ideal shot for survival. I was still alive, but they didn't know it."
"I think that's phenomenal." Clay sighed. Nancy must have told the man some of the stories. Tipping his head to the side, Brice gazed at Clay's face as he showed him his missing foot. Clay didn't appear disgusted.
"After they left me in the pit, I waited for night." Brice intently watched Clay's reaction as he ran a finger over the plastic and metal, but his expression gave nothing away. "As soon as it was dark, I climbed over the bodies and out the hole. I crawled for a while and then hid next to an old building. The next morning, agents showed up. It was a big raid, and I was lucky they found me before I froze to death. They brought me to HQ. I had gangrene, and I lost my foot. I was sick for a long time, but I'm fine now."
Tears gathered in Brice's eyes as his mind conjured the dead in that grave. In a way, the number of bodies saved him since the pile got him to the top of the hole. Brice pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to cough out the lump forming in his throat. Everything that had happened, learning to walk again, healing his body after the trauma, losing the shepherd in the hut, suddenly it was all too much.
More tears gathered on his eyelashes. Struggling to keep it together, Brice tried to suck them down. Fighting to hold in the painful memories didn't work. The heavy drops spilled down his cheeks. For Pete-sakes, he was crying on a casual blind date with a stranger. This meeting was supposed to be a hook-up. Brice knew he wasn't ready for romance. Mentally he closed down. This guy was going to leave. Clay would tell Nancy he didn't want to go out with a weeping mess.
"We won't talk about that right now." Clay placed his arm around Brice's shoulder and scooted closer to him. "We can sit, and you can hold me. It's all I've been thinking about."
"You want me to hold you?" Brice cocked his head to the side. He couldn't believe this man was staying on what was probably the worst first date ever.
"I'd like that." Clay pushed himself between Brice's legs. Even though Claymore was a big man, Wicks managed to curl his tall beefy frame into Brice's arms. Clay's muscles flexed under Brice's hands as they snuggled together on the bags. Typically, Brice wasn't much for cuddling, but this felt right. Clay's hands wound around his waist. The hold chased away the murky darkness that threatened to eat Brice's soul.
"What about you? Tell me what you do when you're relaxing or having fun." Clay's lips brushed against Brice's neck when he set his head on Brice's shoulder.
"I like to read. Manuals and training stuff mostly."
"I said when you're having fun," Clay teased.
"I like music." When Brice inhaled, he caught Clay's scent. The soap the other man used had a hint of cedar. He pictured sitting with Wicks on his couch in his quarters and listening to something that would put a smile on Clay's face. He grinned.
"What kind of music?"
"I like it all." Brice used his sleeve to wipe the drops off his cheeks. "I rebuilt this old compact disk player that used to be my brothers. I get agents to hunt for CDs. I clean them and then find out what's on them. While I read, I listen to stuff." Brice tipped backward slightly to catch Clay's turquoise eyes. "What about you?"
"I have two little sisters on my home water base. When I get time to hang out, I like to play with them." Clay rubbed Brice's spine up and down in a hypnotic motion. "We play hide and seek, or we jump rope, or we sing silly songs. Farah has this great laugh, and she's so smart. We do a lot of reading together. And Darby is sweet. I braid her hair, and we play pretend. She is the princess, and I'm—"
"That's not what I was going to say." Clay chuckled.
"She is the princess, and you are?" Brice asked.
"I'm her pet tiger."
Brice laughed at the thought of Clay prowling around a living room. "I'm going to need a demonstration."
"Shut up." Clay playful shoved him. "Whatever. It's fun."
Brice and Clay talked a little more about nothing and everything. As they conversed, he noticed that Wicks made him feel more like himself than he'd been since before his capture. It had been a long time since Brice had laughed or felt peaceful or relaxed. Maybe Essie and the Deans and Nancy were all correct. Perhaps he did need to meet someone and get back out into the world. With Clay, returning to life was easy. Wicks didn't push him or make him talk about anything. It was like Clay understood Brice's history. It appeared like the only thing Clay wanted was to be in his arms.
"About before..." Brice pulled Wicks out of his spot and sat facing him on the sleeping bags. He studied the other man's attractive face. "Thanks for not leaving. I swear sometimes I think I'm fine, and then I act like a dope."
"You didn't act like a dope." Clay's fingers traced the jagged scar down Brice's jaw. "I understand. Don't worry about crying."
"I want to kiss you for being so great about this."
"Then do it." Clay leaned until his lips were a breath away from Brice's.
Brice froze. He'd been half-way joking. He didn't think Clay would want to kiss him... or even stay here as long as he had already.
When Brice didn't move, Clay's hand skimmed up Brice's shirt and settled on the back of his neck.
"Or I can kiss you?"
"We can start there," Brice murmured.
On the second beat of his heart, Clay pulled Brice to his waiting mouth and kissed him. His whole body rocketed to the moon. With that one tiny touch, Brice's head exploded like he'd ran headlong into a Claymore mine. It was as if Clay was made for him. At this moment, it was as if Clay could release all the pain, even if it were only for one night.
Their tongues played and teased. Instantly, Brice floated in a sea of feelings, of light touches, and soft sighs. It wasn't only the heat of Clay's mouth that lit the desire inside his body. Every contact, every breath caused a sensation that was more than he could explain.
Deep inside, an unquenchable thirst for Clay took hold. Brice wanted this meeting to be more than one night. He wished he didn't feel this way, but there was nothing he could do. An overwhelming need for Clay had already begun to grow. The speed at which this attraction moved scared the shit out of him. He should be doing a composite risk management assessment before kissing Claymore Wicks. Instead, Brice was sucking and licking and falling head over heels like the dope he was. He wanted to keep Clay for days, weeks, years, forever.
Ruthlessly, he reminded himself that this was a one-time hookup.
Clay drew Brice down on top of him. The two of them rolled on the sleeping bags until Brice blanketed the other man. He tried to bear most of his weight on his arms so that he could pull his mouth away and ask if this was still okay. He didn't get the chance. Clay's mouth roamed everywhere that he could find skin. His hands unbuttoned Brice's shirt. Wicks kept tugging him closer as he twisted under Brice's frame.
When Clay's mouth sucked on his chest, collarbones, nipples, Brice panted and began to thrust his hips. In this position, Clay's hardening shaft press along Brice's leg. The other man's breath was warm. The air fanned his scars. Unhurriedly, his blind date wrapped his fingers around the back of Brice's neck directly under his hair. His fingers stroked. Brice liquified into the embrace as if he was putty in the man's hands.
This time when Clay's mouth settled on his lips, Brice became aggressive. Brice opened his lips to suck on that soft tongue. The taste was pure heat. A fire started in his stomach and then spread through each limb. Harder and harder, Brice grabbed and shoved closer to the other man's muscular chest. He rubbed along the hard planes of Clay's physique and wished their clothing would magically vanish.
Licking at the intoxicating interior of Clay's mouth, a growing hunger clawed at Brice's insides. Never had he felt this kind of connection with anyone. They ground their lower bodies together. Brice's cock was now so rigid he thought he could saw down a tree with it. He gripped Clay's shirt in his fist. For a second, Wicks pulled his mouth away.
"Kissing you is..."
"Yes." Brice didn't know what Clay was going to say but yes to all of it.
"I was going to say phenomenal." Clay's mouth bit along his neck. His tongue ran along his scar. The wet warmth made Brice shiver.
"You're phenomenal," Brice murmured when Wicks tugged at his shirt. The other man got the garment out of his pants after a couple of sharp jerks. Clay's palm pressed against Brice's stomach before he shoved his hand down the front of his jeans.
Panting, Brice closed his eyes when Clay's fingers brushed over his erection. The grip was electric. Phenomenal was the perfect word. Claymore Wicks was the kind of man that showed up in people's sexiest dreams. This moment was more than anything Brice could've created in a fantasy.
All his well-meaning intentions to talk with his blind date flew out the window. Thank God they both still wore their clothes. Brice had to stop and adequately evaluate the situation.
"Claymore," Brice moaned. Evaluation was waving goodbye.
When Clay ripped his lips from Brice's, he was happy at least one of them had some good sense.
"You can call me Clay." Clay slipped his hand from Brice's pants. "We should—"
"Take a break?" Brice exhaled. That was a good idea. This was their first date, and they should take a breather. Brice could use a minute, so he didn't come in his pants like a teen.
"That's not what I was going to say." Wicks leaned up on his elbows and grinned. "I was going to say we should take off our clothes."
So much for having good sense.