(E) Steven Macklin wakes up in a ditch one morning in foul, wet weather with no idea where he is or how he came to be there. Seriously injured, he struggles across bleak heathland to find shelter. The only house he finds is weather-beaten and deserted, although he’s too sensible a guy to fall for the cliche of a haunted mansion. Isn’t he?
When he collapses and is taken in by the handsome Eliot, Steven finds himself in a very disturbing situation — and in the bed of this strange, possessive man.
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He came back, in the middle of the night.
I’d obviously settled well enough into that luxurious bed, because I awoke suddenly from the depths of dreamless sleep, cushioned on a mattress that was thicker than any I’d ever slept on before. I was aware of Eliot, standing at the side of the bed and watching me. The lamps were all extinguished and he was a different shade of shadow in the dark room, backlit by a sliver of moonlight from a rare opening between the curtains. His eyes shone in the gloom, a dark, brittle gleam.
“What are you doing in my room?” I gasped. Stupid thing to say, when there were so many other things crowding my disoriented mind.
“It’s my room as well,” he replied, his voice sounding disembodied in the darkness, only the silhouette of his body in clear sight, only the white teeth of his smile glinting. “You’re my gift, so I keep you in my room.”
What? Had he been sleeping here as well? Underneath the sheets, I stretched out a hand, wondering if I could feel the evidence of another body beside me—and the mattress was warm. I realised that I was nude; I could feel the cool linen sheets clinging softly against my skin. All of it.
Oh shit, what was going on here? I felt thick-headed, as if I’d been drugged, but as far as I could remember I’d taken nothing but water since I arrived. For the first time, I wondered if this place was as unfamiliar to me as I’d originally thought. Had I been on my way here, in the first place? It would explain how Eliot seemed to know me, to expect me…although I had no recollection of him. And what was this thing with the bedroom? My skin crawled with a mixture of astonishment and excitement. He undressed you. Undressed you, and lay beside you in this huge bed…
I need some bloody answers, I thought, with a flash of spirit that I dragged up from somewhere in my bemused brain. I need to know where the hell I am, who this guy is, what he wants with me, what he’s done with my clothes…
Eliot smiled again. I felt the heat of his gaze on me, and somewhere along the way I lost the will to ask any of my questions. It was like he knew exactly what I’d been thinking, knew exactly how I was feeling. I felt stripped bare of far more than my ruined shirt.
“You don’t need clothes,” he said softly, confirming my suspicions. “You’re rested now.”
“What the hell’s happening?” I moaned, my hands tightening on the edge of the sheet. I struggled to find the energy to get up.
He leaned forward and his face came into focus, the eyes as fascinating as before, his skin dappled with the shadows. Stretching out a hand to my face, he sighed, the soft pads of his fingertips pressing my lips, hushing me. “I want you. I asked for you, and you arrived. Someone beautiful, I said—someone I can love. Just for me. Someone like you. Someone I can touch…” His eyes glistened, as if with tears. “And now you’re rested and ready for me.”
He climbed onto the bed beside me, the mattress dipping beneath his weight.
I saw he was naked as well.