Excerpt of Shifting Sands

“Shay?”

Shay jumped. His heart raced at the unexpected shout, until he realized who the voice belonged to. A shiver shimmied down his spine and he turned toward the other end of the barn, watching Ben’s long, lean frame as it appeared in the door. “I’m here.”

“Are you finished with chores?” Ben strolled up beside him.

“Just have to feed the hogs, boss man.”

Ben nodded. “Okay, when you’re finished, I need you to come to my place.” He turned and walked out.

Butterflies started up in Shay’s stomach. What did Ben want? And why the heck did the man’s presence make Shay feel like a giddy teenager? He had to get over this fascination. Not only was Ben a witch-a-phobe, but he was also the foreman. Sleeping with the boss was always a bad idea…well, assuming that was even possible and Shay had his doubts. Ben didn’t seem the least bit interested. Which was probably a good thing. It was going to be hard enough to keep Ben from finding out he was a witch. Shay sighed and got some feed for the hogs. There was only one way to find out what Ben wanted.

After Shay finished with the nightly feeding he made his way to the foreman’s cottage with more than a little trepidation. As he knocked on the door, he pulled his hat down lower over his eyes. He sure hoped there was nothing wrong. He really liked it here, even if it had been only a few hours.

Ben opened the door to his home and smiled. He wasn’t wearing a cowboy hat; the sexy streak of white really stood out in his black hair. It beckoned Shay’s fingers to comb through it. Would it feel different from the rest of his hair? Shay grinned, hoping his infatuation wasn’t showing. “Hi.”

“Hi.” Ben held the screen door open wide for Shay. “Follow me. I have something for you.”

“For me?” What could Ben possibly have for him?

“Yes, you. Come on.”

Entering, Shay looked around. The place was nice. Rustic and manly. It fit Ben. It screamed cowboy. And if Ben was one thing, it was a cowboy through and through. He could rope, he could ride…he could give Shay a boner just looking at him. Damn him.

As Ben turned down the hall, there was a grunt and a long drawn out moan. He stopped short and stared at the door to his left, then shook his head and continued. “Not used to living with someone.”

Shay stopped, his eyes wide. Was that?

There was a squeaking sound, followed by another groan.

Oh. Heat shot up Shay’s neck. Gordy and Tristan. Apparently, Shay and Ben weren’t the only ones absent from the dinner table. It was one of the awkward things about living here. He’d walked around one too many corners lately to discover lovers lip-locked…or more. It was embarrassing.

Ben turned his head, his gaze drifted down Shay’s body, and one dark brow rose.

Shay looked, too. What was wrong—oh. Shay’s breath caught. He got a funny tickle in his stomach and his cock twitched. His gaze shot back up to Ben’s.

Chuckling, Ben opened the second door and disappeared.

Stunned, Shay stood there for a few seconds. He wasn’t sure how he felt about Ben flirting with him. It was as unsettling now as it had been the day before. Ben made it difficult to think. Shay hurried past Tristan and Gordy’s door to the one Ben had opened.

The big rustic log bed with a red flannel comforter dominated the room. A TV sat next to the door and a dresser that matched the bed took up the far wall. There were two opened doors to the left, one had light coming from it.

“Ben?”

“In here.”

Shay walked farther into the room, toward the open door.

Ben picked up a bag that looked suspiciously like Shay’s, and held it out. “Check and see if it’s all there.”

Shay froze. “You went and got my stuff for me?” Why would he do that? Shay smiled, feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

“Yeah. Didn’t think you needed to go back there under the circumstances. Didn’t seem safe. They’d beat you up once already. I wasn’t about to give them another chance.”

Oh no! What if the men at the Bar W told Ben he was a witch? Shay’s stomach clenched and he felt like he was going to be sick. What if his Book of Shadows was missing? Shay unzipped the bag and dug through it, his heart racing a mile a minute. He felt jeans, shirts, even his belt. He groped frantically until his fingers grazed the familiar bound leather. Had Ben seen his book?

“What’s wrong?”

“Wrong?” His voice came out as little more than a squeak. He took a breath and made himself relax. Zipping up the bag, he put the strap over his shoulder. His book was here and if Ben saw it, he’d think it was a journal, a blank journal that Shay had yet to write in.

Ben’s mouth quirked and he came forward, stopping only a foot in front of Shay. He tipped Shay’s chin up, making him meet Ben’s gaze. “You look so young with that shocked expression on your face.” He licked his lips and his gaze fell to Shay’s.

“I’m not.” Shay’s heart hammered in his chest, the blood pounded in his ears and he got that nervous little flutter in his gut. Ben was going to kiss him. And damn him, Shay wanted Ben, too. It was the worst possible thing he could want. He didn’t need the complication. Ben had been way too vocal about his feelings on witch—

Ben’s warm breath fanned across Shay’s lips as he dipped forward and captured Shay’s lips in a gentle kiss.

Fisting his hands by his sides, Shay tried to remain motionless, if he didn’t kiss back…

Ben’s lips were so warm and firm. Commanding, yet gentle. It wasn’t like any kiss Shay had ever shared. The tip of his tongue traced the seam in Shay’s lips. He took his time exploring and coaxing. His teeth caught Shay’s bottom lip, then released it. He inched back, his eyes heavy lidded. “Open your mouth, Shay.”

“I—”

Ben swooped in for the kill, blocking Shay’s protest. His tongue caressed the sides of Shay’s mouth, his tongue, his teeth.

Shay was lost. He unfisted his hands and tentatively touched Ben’s waist. He tilted his head for better access and tangled his tongue with Ben’s. It was like they had all the time in the world. Ben didn’t rush him or hurry him in any way, just explored and coaxed a response from Shay. Their bodies only touched at their hands; one of Ben’s on Shay’s chin and Shay’s on Ben’s hips. It blew Shay away. He’d had a lot of kisses, but this one was different. It promised more and it scared the hell out of him. He couldn’t do this. He had way too much to lose if Ben found out about him. Pulling back, Shay let go of Ben. His back bumped into the doorjamb.

For several moments, Ben just stared at him. The he shook his head mumbling a curse word under his breath. “I’m sorry, Shay. I shouldn’t have done that. You really are young, aren’t you?”

Shay frowned. He wasn’t that young. Okay, maybe he was young, but he was certainly not inexperienced, but maybe if Ben thought so he’d back off. “I turned twenty-one two months ago.”

Ben nodded. “What do your parents think of you being so far from home?”

“They don’t like it actually, but I didn’t give them a choice. I graduated when I was seventeen and went right to college, so they’re getting used to it.” Sort of.

“How’d you end up at A&M with a BA in agriculture? Seems kinda weird for a northerner.”

Shay shrugged. “I love animals and nature and…I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy.”

Ben smiled, his eyes bright.

Shay grinned, feeling a sudden kinship. A kinship that didn’t help his attraction any, but at least now Ben thought he was too young. That would help them keep their distance…he hoped.

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Author’s Notes

Shifting Sands is a very specail anthology that means quite a lot to me.  It is a colaboration of myself and my critique partners. These women are some of my very best friends and we’ve been there for one another though thick, thin, bad reviews and writers block. Maura Anderson didn’t contribute with a story but she did act as our editor. The only one of my critique partners that missed out is Jade Buchanan but she did critique all of the stories and help with brainstorming.I have high hopes that we can all do this again sometime, but this time with Jade included.

© J.L. Langley 2017