The Beast of Bodmin Moor
Now shurrup, and let me luxuriate in peace. Then I’ll sit through season two of Sherlock, later, if you like. Unless…there’s something else you’d rather do, o’course. Like say…apologise most profusely for being such an utter—
Okay! Christ…you’re relentless. What makes you think Phin will even open the door? Let alone allow me to apologise?
He’s not you?
What the hell is that supposed to mean?
Aside from the fact Phin is not a fuck-wit? If he wants to see you he’ll open the door, if he does not, he will not. Simple. No point scoring…playing it cool…making you suffer because you deserve to. He’ll just follow his instincts, so y’won’t be judged and found wanting—which is fortunate—seeing as you’re a tosspot an’ all…
Let’s suppose you’re right for a mo. On which planet is apologising a perfectly good reason for popping ’round someone’s campervan at two a.m.?
I dunno, perhaps, say…a planet where the fact someone’s borrowed your bathrobe is a matter of more immediate import than the fact you’ve never clapped eyes on them in your life? The very same stranger you’ve woken to find squatting in your van, watching you sleep like a stalker perv?
I thought so. You’ll owe me for this, just so y’know… I’m really quite comfy and Phin doesn’t seem in any rush to leave. So. Sausages. For breakfast.
What happened to the compromise on malnourishment matters?
I’m prepared to renegotiate later. But, the minute I leave this moor, the sausages are on the table. It’s not my fault if you mess it up, so I’m not starving and suffering your consequences. Fair’s fair.
I haven’t won anything worth anything yet…so. In the words of the divine Dame Ru: Don’t. Fuck. It. Up…
Thank me later if we get our don’t-deserves. Right…time we were off, I reckon.
The jackal lifted his head, cocking it slightly, as if listening to whispers on the wind.
“What is it, Foxy?” Phin asked, instantly alert, hyper-present, despite all appearances to the contrary seconds before. Jack huffed a heartfelt sigh in response, then clambered to his feet and swiped a lick along a moon pale cheek.
“You’re off, now? Oh, okay then,” With a brave attempt at a ‘considerate’ smile, Phin lifted a hand to scratch at Jack’s ear. His scent was tinged with sadness, but those starry eyes were serene with understanding. “See ya, Foxy…”
With a second slurp goodbye, Jack turned tail and shot off into the night.
Less than five minutes later, Jake leapt over the garden fence, grabbed a pair of pants from the shed and pulled them on before letting himself into his cottage. He could get dressed, have a swift drink and arrive at the campervan in fifteen minutes flat, which should be about perfect. Time enough for Phin to get back and make a cuppa before so much as thinking about bed.
Was this wise? Of course not.
It was inevitable.
Jake dragged on a pair of black jeans and a white t-shirt, then fiddled with his hair, which looked not-at-all-artfully windswept. It would look a helluva lot more so on arrival, so quite why he bothered, he knew not.
The whisky was a necessity; Jake’s nerve-endings were all but shot-to-shit. Thus, in a much better state than the rest of him. His lust levels were radioactive. The scotch took the edge off the tension fizzing through his veins, but didn’t do a damn thing to crank Jake’s brain into gear. What the hell should he say? If Phin deigned to open the door, of course. It was pointless to ponder what might happen, when that was dependent on Phin.
What Jake should allow himself to do (or not) after darkening Phin’s doorway was more to the point…but having less than a one-third stake in subsequent matters meant it was a moot one at best.
He just wanted to be near Phin. An ache so visceral it felt as if it was devouring Jake from the inside out. Hold him close…luxuriate in the extravagant expanse of his skin. Feel Phin’s fingertips skimming flesh, not fur. Touch him in return.
They had not hurt Phin earlier, which was a miracle too terrifying to contemplate. Miracles being extraordinary, inexplicable, beyond the bounds of expectation. By definition. A lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice probability of recurrence.
It was doomed to disaster. Destined. To it? Or destined, full stop? The word had inserted itself into Jake’s consciousness with the same involuntary clarity as Jack’s ‘voice’. The jackal hadn’t put it there; Jake hadn’t thought it into fruition. It had just…presented itself. Right…well, that sounded rational. Not. Jake had, quite possibly, gone quietly insane. He had hoped that might feel a bit more…
Melodramatic? Shakespearean? Magnificent? Gothic? Glorious?
F’fucksakes, must you be so bloody—
Right? Honest? Stop moaning and save your vainglorious aspirations for Phin. Do something dashing; arrive with a rose clenched between your butt cheeks, sweep him off his feet, prostate yourself at them…do something, anything. Just quit cussing and fix it, fuckwit.
Ten minutes later, Jake was pacing on the verge, listening to Phin’s movements within the van, trying to gauge whether he was about to turn in, make a meal, maybe watch something…read… He’d just poured a most pungent glass of brandy and was now rustling around in the mini fridge.
What am I waiting for? Jake was never going to be ready. He could pace about until next Christmas and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference to his state of readiness. Jake might combust but he sure as hell wouldn’t feel less uncertain—nor any more sure—of having any right to be here.
A two a.m. visitor was worrying in itself, even if you knew who the fuck had deemed it a cunning plan in the first place. He couldn’t rely on the element of surprise, nor hope that simple curiosity might persuade Phin to respond. It wouldn’t be fair.
Jake tapped, twice. Rat-tat. “Phin?” There…at least he knew who’d knocked. Whether that would make Phin more, or less, likely to answer was impossible to predict.
Phin’s “Jack?” sounded as if he believed he’d heard a non-existent noise in the night.
“Yeah…um… I’ve come visiting?” Jake quite possibly unleashed a rising inflection.
“Oh, okay. I thought I’d…I—”
“It’s customary to open the door ’round about now, if you’re going to…” Jake noted, unable to stand still for a second longer without seeing Phin’s face. Breathing him in.
“Oh, sorry, I forgot.”
“Did you…‘forget to remember’ or really forget?”
“Ja…ke, don’t be daft.” Phin chuckled, as if Jake had mooted the most demented notion that had ever rifled his eardrums.
The door swung open. Fuck. Jake sucked in a sharp breath. He had not prepared for the possibility that Phin might be clad in naught but tight, black pants. If Jake had stood there for a whole heartbeat, he may have noticed their red waistband. He did not. He’d sprung forwards before registering that he intended to, let alone pondered the wisdom of it. Jake was pure instinct; just a blur of leather and legs that launched himself at Phin. The heady scent of cinnamon spice was a sledgehammer of heaven when he buried his nose in the curve of Phin’s neck after clasping his nape. Jake inhaled; long, slow, deep, as if suffocation had been but one breath without him away.
“Phin…I…” His arms were wrapped around Phin’s waist, lips fastened at this throat and Jake hadn’t decided to do either.
If the cinnamon had soured, or Phin frozen, en route? Jake would have stopped dead, that much he knew. Neither had happened…Phin’s willowy frame all-but sighed against him, engulfing Jake in the warmth of apple strudel and brandy butter; the scent of all his Christmasses come at once.
“Jack…you’re here. I thought…” Halting words, breathless with wonder.So much more than Jake deserved. As was Phin. Who, for some inconceivable reason, seemed to want Jake. Here, now, at least. ‘Now’ was all that could be allowed to matter in the world.
“I’m sorry, so sorry—” Jake’s apology was garroted by a groan when the tip of Phin’s tongue slipped out to moisten lips too incendiary to resist. Too irresistible to renounce. Ever. Their mouths melded in a cherry brandy kiss as potent as absinthe. Infinitely more lethal.
Jack was here? Really here…? Had he forgotten something yesterday? Surely not—he hadn’t brought anything with him to forget—having not had so much as a pocket about his person. He hadn’t even snaffled the robe to return, Jake had abandoned that as summarily as Phin. It had been left on the bonnet for him to find. Rain had rendered it as soggy as the dishrag Phin felt far too much like, when he woke up and saw it there.
“Yeah…um… I’ve come visiting?”
Phin had been so certain he would never see Jack again. He’d been so eager to go, he hadn’t even said goodbye, which was the po-lite thing to do when taking your leave at the end of a visit.
“It’s customary to open the door ’round about now.” Oops.
Phin had zoned out, again. Jack, the cheeky devil, had the brass neck to ask if he’d done forgetting on purpose. How rude. He would never do such a thing, that would be inconsiderate. There may have been a teeny white lie in there, somewhere.
When Phin did tug the door open, he sure as strewth hadn’t been prepared for the sight that greeted him. Jake had already been in the van when he’d woken that morn, so Phin had nary a wild ‘n’ windswept, lust ‘n’ leather clad Jake in his mental stash of images. Would that have made a jot of difference? It didn’t seem possible that a sight so breath- snatching could be diminished by familiarity. Phin had been eating the same food every day for a decade and his taste buds still tingled as if they’d been treated to a rare delicacy for the very first time.
Most folk thought that was weird. He was supposed to get ‘sick’ of his favourite foodstuffs along the way. Most of them had children. And pets. Nope. Phin had not. He was too po-lite. Unlike certain variety is the spice of life types and their promiscuous proclivities.
Phin had been a bit befuddled and bleary-eyed when he woke to discover himself being visited. Jack may have been the most beautiful man Phin had ever seen but—by the time he could see straight enough to absorb that fact—Jake had been sitting there for a wee while, sporting Phin’s snaffled robe.
That was a helluva lot different to finding Jack standing in his doorway wearing jeans so tight it looked as if he’d painted his legs black. Glinting in the light that glanced off the silversharp zips ‘n’ studs of his gleaming leather jacket. Phin may have stood there for quite some time, too bedazzled to blink. Much to his relief, he promptly found himself encompassed by arms so strong, tight, they snatched away the air he’d sucked in. Phin felt about fit to swoon, but couldn’t tell if that was down to the squishing itself, or the fact he was being squished by the most luscious man alive.
Tendrils of toffee ‘n’ honey hair were tickling Phin’s skin, plush lips scorching his neck; Jack was a hurricane of heady heat and smelled like fresh air and danger. His breath tasted of whisky and want.
The strangest thing of all was that he made Phin feel…safe, and yet, he oozed raw power and scarcely constrained strength. Jake oozed a lot of things. They all banjaxed Phin’s brain and boiled the blood in his veins.
“Jake…you’re here…I thought…”
“I’m sorry, so sorry—” Jake forgot finish his sentence. Then Phin’s brain turned to mush and his bones to butter. It was some time after being kissed senseless that Phin remembered he should have worried about doing it wrong or too much. Or doing anything at all, ever again, except kissing Jake.
All he could think was Mmmore. A word that summed matters up with a literal and onomatopoeic economy that left the rest of Phin’s faculties free to feel. A fact they celebrated more excessively than ever before. It seemed hyperpossible that Phin was about to be sexed to death. He couldn’t have felt more chuffed about that if he’d tried. Mmmore...much more. Phin wasn’t sure what he wanted, he just knew he wanted it. Very much. Too much. Jack didn’t seem to mind, so Phin forgot to fret about that too.
Jake only had two hands when he’d arrived, but he seemed to have far more than that now. It felt as if they were everywhere, all at once. Inside and out. Jake was all heavy heat, but not heavy enough…Phin needed more. Need not want. A need as necessary as his next breath. There was a knot in the pit of Phin’s belly that needed tugging tighter. None of that made any sense whatsoever, but that’s how it felt.
The cool contrast of leather and feverish flesh was as lush as ice cream served with hot fudge sauce. The deranging drizzle of Jake’s fingers sizzled across his skin, setting Phin’s senses aflame…a too-much intensity of touch that was nowhere near enough. Never, ever enough…