Unexpected liaisons spir.., p.1
Unexpected Liaisons [Spirit of Sage 3] (Siren Publishing Ménage Amour ManLove), page 1
Spirit of Sage 3
Ernest’s whole family is dead, left to die beneath the tunnels of Sage, Wyoming. He has spent weeks returning to the land of the living after being rescued, just in time, from certain starvation. Now he is ready to find something to live for–love.
His search takes him into the arms of the luscious, studly, and extremely sexy Zane, an Arapahoe who owns the local carpentry shop, which makes custom furniture. Interviewing for a job, Ernest is soon madly in love with the beautiful man who is in love with someone else–Cooper.
Zane and Cooper are quite happy to share, and soon Ernest is the filling in their lusty sandwich...until things take another turn and they add a fourth to the mix.
Luther, a young shifter buried in the same tunnel that took Ernest’s family, lost two of his siblings as well.
Can the quartet find love and contentment in each other’s arms after their first unexpected liaison?
Genre: Alternative (M/M, Gay), Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Paranormal, Shape-shifter
Length: 40,279 words
Spirit of Sage 3
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Amour ManLove
Copyright © 2016 by Jools Louise
E-book ISBN: 978-1-68295-495-9
First E-book Publication: September 2016
Cover design by Harris Channing
All art and logo copyright © 2016 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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Thanks again to all my readers, who keep me going with their wonderful feedback. When I started this journey as a writer I took a gamble that anyone would want to read my stories, biting the bullet, so to speak, before sending off my first manuscript. Now it’s 2016, and I have three manuscripts in the works. I can’t keep up with my brain sometimes since I have new ideas popping up all the time. Which means I’m constantly swapping between stories, trying to get all the ideas down. Anyway, enjoy this one, and look out for the others, which are on the way, I promise. JL xx
P.S Special mention to Shorty and Irene, thanks for your kind words. JL xx
Table of Contents
About the Author
Spirit of Sage 3
Copyright © 2016
Ernest cried silently, knowing he was the only one alive in the tomb. His brothers had succumbed to starvation and dehydration, after months in the dark, dank tunnels beneath Sage. He was fairly sure it wouldn’t be too long until he followed them into death. He still held his last brother’s hand, feeling the rigor mortis set in and smelling the sickly sweet stench of death oozing from his sibling’s inert body. He listened intently, but heard no more calls from the other chambers. Maybe Lomax and Luther were dead also, and what about the caracal shifters? He’d heard no sounds for several hours.
Closing his eyes, he began to face the fact that none of them were going to be rescued. They were already dead.
* * * *
Wolf lay cold in a shiny wooden box that was soon to be lowered into the ground. The gravesite gaped, the hole an open wound in the pristine snow-covered earth. Cooper stood, feeling nothing as he stared at the coffin that was being lowered, slowly and carefully, into its final resting place. Wolf was a man who had epitomized the strong, stoic stereotype seen in old western movies. The Native American, born into the Arapaho nation, had not been immune to the ravages of lung cancer. A smoker since the age of fifteen or so, Wolf had succumbed after many agonizing months to a disease that took no prisoners and gave no quarter. One victim was the same as another. And now Cooper’s life partner, a man he’d spent thirty years loving, was dead.
The coffin came to a stop, bumping gently with only a little noise at the bottom of the open grave. Cooper flinched, and felt a gentle hand come to rest on his shoulder. He knew without looking that it was Zane, his brother-in-law. He’d known Zane for thirty years and loved him as a brother. He knew Zane was grieving, too. He knew he should offer the man comfort as well. For the life of him, he couldn’t dredge up even one molecule of emotion. He felt numb to his soul. The three years of watching his most cherished husband fade away, literally, had stripped him of the ability to feel anything but a deep, wrenching sadness.
Cooper’s eyes were devoid of tears behind the dark glasses he wore. The bright sunshine belied the somber tone of the proceedings. He heard Zane
Zane rode slowly, following trails he’d memorized long ago. At thirty-seven, he knew this land, with its gently rolling vistas, as well as he knew himself. He knew where to catch the best trout, where the herds of deer grazed on their journey down from the high plateaus of the Rocky Mountains when winter began to bite. He knew of grizzly bear dens, beaver lodges, and where the wolf packs roamed. Inhaling deeply, he felt peaceful, listening to gentle clip-clop of hooves on dirt and the occasional snort from the appaloosa stallion under him.
In this age of digital technology, fast food, and even faster motorized transportation, he’d missed heading out into the wilderness and simply enjoying nature. Life had been so busy for the last few years. He’d spent too long forgetting where he came from as he rushed through life, too interested in getting to a destination, rather than savoring the ride itself. He had recently started a new business, in a town called Sage, Wyoming. Carpentry was his thing, making functional furniture from wood, by hand. Sage had made it possible to earn a decent living from a hobby he had begun at school. Today was just for him. Today, he needed the peace that a horse ride through the reservation gave him.
A small lake appeared ahead, and he ambled toward it. Bird song soothed his ears, his eyes picking out the shape of an eagle high up, using the thermal currents to soar effortlessly. A hard winter had given way to a more forgiving springtime, the snow melting away reluctantly under the blaze of the sun’s rays. Zane was looking forward to taking a dip in the cool waters of the lake. It was a place he came when he needed to think. And he had a lot to think about.
Carter, his horse, snorted as Zane reined him in. Coming to a stop, the stallion tossed his head, flinging his mane dramatically. “Easy there, tiger,” Zane said, stroking the horse’s neck gently. He looked intently at the shoreline, wanting to know what had the horse so agitated. He narrowed his eyes and let out a tiny breath of surprise. Cooper was here.
Cooper had been married to his brother. They’d been in love from the age of thirteen, never apart, and so in tune with one another it had been breathtaking watching them together. Three years ago, they had both lost partner and brother to cancer. A long-fought battle that the disease had won. Cooper had nearly died, too. Zane remembered the day of the funeral, seeing Cooper throw himself forward, as though he wanted to be buried as well. Only Zane’s lightning-fast reflexes had prevented the man from falling. Cooper had not been thankful—he had been bitterly angry at not being allowed to die with his lover of so many years.
Deciding not to get into it with the man, not wanting to start a confrontation, Zane turned the horse and headed off quietly, aiming for a different place he knew. Let Cooper have this spot awhile longer.
“Don’t go,” a voice said quietly. Zane froze, jerking his gaze over to where Cooper sat, about fifty yards away, staring out at the water.
Zane remained where he was, not speaking, waiting for Cooper.
No other words were forthcoming, so Zane took the initiative and dismounted smoothly. Ground-tying Carter, Zane walked slowly toward the man sitting so unobtrusively on the shingled beach.
“You’re back,” Zane said simply and then mentally rolled his eyes at the lame comment.
He heard a gentle snort from Cooper and the horse at the same time and shot the stallion a chiding look. The beast was too clever for his own good sometimes.
“I’m sorry,” Cooper said, sounding as though he meant it. Zane closed his eyes, feeling a prickle of tears threatening. Cooper had been like a brother to him for so many years. He’d met the man just after he’d turned twelve, and his brother was fourteen. He remembered being at the county fair, at one of the little stalls, throwing rings over something from what he recalled. Cooper had ambled up with a couple of friends. That had been it as far as Cooper and Wolf had been concerned, their connection instant and forever. When Wolf had died, Cooper had died, too—or as good as. Then he’d left, and Zane had felt like he lost a second brother…and far more.
“You needed time,” Zane replied. He studied Cooper. The man had lost weight, a significant amount. He’d been a healthy one hundred and ninety pounds, in keeping with his height of six feet two inches. He’d carried the weight in a tightly muscled, perfectly ripped package that had drawn Zane’s attention more than it should have. Zane was two years younger than Cooper and had been in love with the man for as long as he could remember, from that one fateful meeting at the fair. Cooper had only had eyes for Wolf, but Zane had looked. Even at twelve, he had been mesmerized by Cooper’s light blond hair, deep azure eyes, and tiny dimple that twinkled when he smiled. Cooper had always been smiling back then, without a care in the world.
Those bottomless blue eyes turned to look at Zane, and Zane was caught in the grief that still resided there, dimmed by two years away, but still gut-wrenching to see.
“I pushed you away—that was wrong.” Cooper’s mouth curved in humorless grin. “I left you to grieve alone. I was selfish.”
Zane let out a cry of distress, the sound driven from the depths of his soul. He knelt beside Cooper and wrapped his arms around the man, feeling a sob leave Cooper as they hugged each other tightly. Zane’s tears overflowed, and he cried hard, the pair of them sobbing loudly as grief united them again. Zane’s dark hair swung forward, a long cloud of inky softness, surrounding them in its fragrant tendrils. His head rested in the crook of Cooper’s shoulder, his arms enclosing Cooper in a bone-crushing grip.
“I’m so sorry, Zane,” Cooper whispered, stroking Zane’s hair gently. “I don’t know what happened to me. I knew the end was near. I knew Wolf was dying. It was still such a shock, seeing that coffin, seeing the finality of him being lowered into the grave. I felt like I died, too.”
Zane’s sobs shuddered to a stop, his breathing choppy and erratic. He sniffed hard, drawing comfort from Cooper’s solid presence, feeling the sinewy muscle beneath his fingers, despite the weight loss.
“I missed you,” Zane said hoarsely, sniffing again. Then he began to sob again, the heartache of the last two years raw and painfully real.
Cooper soothed him with soft murmurs and the stroke of his hand on Zane’s hair and back. The scent of Cooper’s skin, warm and musky, filled Zane’s senses…and his dick reacted predictably enough, embarrassing him.
“Dude, put that away,” Cooper said, sounding amused. Zane literally felt the blush course through his whole body and cringed inside.
“I’m sorry,” Zane stammered, trying to pull away. Cooper held on tightly.
“Never be sorry,” Cooper said, kissing Zane’s temple gently. He cupped Zane’s cheek with his hand, and Zane got lost in the beauty of Cooper’s blue eyes, hypnotized by the gentle humor there. They stared at one another for a long pregnant moment.
Zane’s moved his head forward until his mouth was millimeters from Cooper’s succulent lips, and then he jerked back, dragging himself out of Cooper’s tempting grasp.
“I’m sorry,” Zane repeated, startling his horse as he ran toward it, leapt astride swiftly, and then he wheeled around and galloped off, leaving Cooper staring after him in astonishment. Zane couldn’t believe he was still attracted to Cooper. He’d found a lover, two weeks ago, and couldn’t be happier, the man shy and sweet—pure perfection wrapped up in a small sexy package. What was wrong with him, that he still felt such an intense attraction to Cooper?
* * * *
Cooper strode confidently through town, eyeing the newly opened stores and businesses that lined the streets. He passed a small grocery store and a clothing bou
The café was busy, a lot of tables full, as he headed upstairs to check out the tattoo studio. Four young men sat at their workstations, busy with various people, the buzz of ink guns competing with the voices from the café below.
“Hi,” one of the young men said, glancing over. His hair was cut into a Mohawk, streaked with iridescent blues and greens, like a peacock. Each side of his shaved scalp sported a tattoo, one a wolverine and one a fierce dragon, and his eyes were a pale gold in color.
“Hey,” Cooper responded casually. “Do you have any catalogs I could look through?”
The man jerked his chin over to a small alcove where a bunch of portable stands were positioned. Photographs of artwork adorned the stands, and on a bench in the far corner were a pile of catalogs.
by Jools Louise have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes