The Beast of Bodmin Moor
Jake turned over and clambered onto his hands and knees, hoping to hell that clutching this particular straw wouldn’t break the jackal’s back. Cool fingertips slalomed down his spine in a shiver of flame, igniting sensations so intense that singeing fur might have seemed a far-too fitting scent. For sanity’s sake, at least.
“Hmm…I have the finest view in all of Kernow…” Phin murmured, sandblasting Jake’s skin with blowtorch breath. He wasn’t sure if Phin was thinking aloud or talking to him, but Jake was wound way too tight to rustle up a coherent metaphor, let alone fathom Phin. He could scarce focus on holding them together, his entire self was snarled with anticipation; muscles bunched, tendons tugged so taut he was quivering like a snare drum.
The tongue that started to dapple Jake’s coccyx was a swirl of torture too incendiary to endure. Somehow, they did. Somehow, they remained riveted to the spot and survived Phin’s brain-battering, body blitzing assault on their senses. Intact.
“Ha…your turn for tickle-torture, d’you surrender?” The glee in Phin’s tone was utterly unseemly. Jake must remember to point that out…later.
“Never,” he growled.
“Really?” Phin blew a stream of cool air across damp skin and Jake almost shot through the roof. The one thing tethering him to the planet was his lock-jawed death grip on the pillow when Phin began to meander his tongue in a mind-boggling trickle down the tightly clenched crack of his arse. If Jake so much as relaxed one muscle, he was convinced the rest would unravel with uncontainable consequences.
“Fuck…” he groaned, bowing his spine, arching his hips towards the fiery flickering dead-set on skewering his self control. “Phin…please…” he groaned, despite having no idea what he was pleading for. Christ, he might combust if this didn’t move on sharpish, or stop. Something…anything. Soon. Maddening slithers of moist bliss… coaxing his cheeks apart. Teeth clenched tight. Fists clenched tighter still. “Phin! F’fucksakes… Please!”
A brief flicker of teasing tongue was swiftly followed by a blistering spear that almost blew his mind. It really didn’t help that this first time for everything plunge into new territory went both ways. It definitely didn’t help that his cock was encompassed in a firm grip about a snatched off breath later. The former he’d steeled himself against…the latter was such a shock to his system, Jake damn near passed out.
“Phiiiin!” His head snapped back, every muscle trembling, teetering on the edge of endurance. Phin stabbed deeper still, fluttering the confounded thing while sweeping his goddamn wrist. “Gnnnngggh…” Jake tasted the bittersweet tang of his own blood when his guts convulsed, cramping in spasms too intense to—Fuck no…Jack…help me. The jackal whimpered but hunkered down, the scruff of his neck tremouring to attention, coat twitching as if a thousand fire-ants were scurrying across his skin.
Jake dragged in a jagged breath, then dipped his head to bite down on the pillow; teeth tearing into fabric as if it were rice paper. The blood boiling in his brain was so loud he could scarce hear the inhuman noises crawling up his throat. The back end of his body wasn’t faring any better, his hips were straining toward the tongue still swirling as Phin picked up the pace up front. He couldn’t hold—Jackplease—Jake threw his head back with a hideous howl when the heat crouched in the pit of his guts erupted like lava and scorched his system with an incandescent blitz of bliss. Then the world went black.
Jake hadn’t blacked out since the first year the jackal had entered his life in a frenzy of fur, teeth and claws. Even then, he hadn’t been engulfed in darkness without warning. That had only happened once before.
The night of the sex; the night he met the woman that changed his life…but not in the way Jake had ever expected. The earth had not ‘moved’. His whole existence had…shifted. A place of shadows, darkness, and loneliness so desperate, he’d never dragged himself from the pit of despair into which he’d plunged. Jake had felt safer huddled in his dank cave of depression; the too bright, too loud, too terrible truth dulled. Diluted still further by the drink that deadened his senses—but fuelled the flames of fury—rather than drowned them.
He wasn’t even angry with Her…his rage had only one enemy. Himself. Jake specifically. The jackal was just…being a jackal. Jake would rather he wasn’t one from his own body, but couldn’t blame Jack for that. It was clear they’d become something of a package deal, so it seemed ludicrous to apportion blame, but Jake didn’t initially think of Jack as an…extension of himself. He was just a squatter who didn’t have any more choice in the matter than Jake. That much was obvious; no one with the will to live would have moved in with Jake and his moribund wretchedness. Unless he was a masochist with a death wish.
Glastonbury Festival: 2 years ago.
Jake and a bunch of mates had sallied forth to Glastonbury for a (hopefully) hedonistic weekend immersed in music, mud, drink, drugs, and dreadful toilet facilities.
The weather had been the only thing that failed to deliver. It was actually rather mild and not-at-all muddy. He couldn’t remember a great deal about the Friday night. Suffice to say, Jake didn’t wake up next to anyone he could ever recall meeting before, let alone remember their names. He was fairly sure he’d only copped off with one of the tent’s inhabitants…which may have been wishful thinking; not being a fan of goatee beards, in general.
Saturday had dawned far too early at around midday. It was…bright. And loud. Jake felt a bit better after downing a plastic cup of flat lager and eating something inedible. The best that could be said of that was, it didn’t promptly reappear…at either end.
After a few hours of stumbling around greeting long lost strangers, Jake happened upon his tent rather by chance and was warmly welcomed back into the fold, as if he were a soldier returning from the trenches. The rest of the day passed in a blur of bodies, bands, dope and drink. Jake had a bloody good time. Probably.
Darkness had descended on their last night of revelry by the time he returned from his evening pilgrimage to the portaloo. Jake had been weaving his way through a sparsely sprinkled part of the crowd when he saw Her. She was standing in the shadows; the cool night breeze tugging at her rippling raven hair and the filmy fabric of her dress. She was alone—yet didn’t seem the slightest lonely—just utterly self-contained, absorbed in thoughts infinitely more interesting than anything happening around her.
Jake stood transfixed. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from her lithe form, which hinted at supple grace, even in stillness. Then she turned her head…and stared straight at him, through him. He couldn’t even be sure she was looking at him…except, he was certain of it. This being highly unlikely, nonetheless, he tore his gaze away and glanced over each shoulder to see if someone far more desirable was standing behind him. Apart from a few stragglers meandering in aimless circles, he was the only soul encompassed by her amber gaze. Jake could feel it burning through him like dark flame…as if in beckoning. He had smoked way too much.
Jake had definitely drank far too much, having not been entirely sober since Friday, but summoning ethereal temptresses with come-hither eyes still seemed excessive, as aspirations went. Ah well, at least he was too wasted to be mortally wounded when she (rightfully) knocked him back. So Jake came-hither…
He’d like to believe he glided over and seduced her with a dash of debonair charm and charismatic allure. Jake did not. He stumbled, mumbled something incomprehensible (even to his own ears) and then stood blinking, struck dumb by her beauty and the fiery intensity of her gaze. It was like staring into goblet of whisky back lit by flickering flame.
Jake couldn’t have torn his eyes from her face if his life had depended on it. It did. Or at least, his life as he knew it. Should he have fled? Beyond all shadow of doubt. But never once since that night had Jake believed there’d been a damn thing he could have done to avert the events that unfolded. His fate had been sealed from the moment she…found him.
Those being the words she’d whispered at his lips: ‘I found you’.
Her kiss unleashed a need so desperate it felt as if it would rip Jake to shreds if he didn’t act upon it. Deep, drugging, insistent, impossible to deny, even if he’d wanted to. There was nothing further from his thoughts—he had none—there was only the deluge of desire that encompassed them both. Jake knew she felt it too, he could sense it…smell it…which surely should have seemed strange, but didn’t.
He found himself tugged deeper into darkness and an onslaught of sensation; the scent of her skin, the sound of sighs, gasps and low, rolling groans. There was only lust; lips, teeth, tongues and nails clawing at flesh. They were just two creatures of the night, satiating a need too gnawing to resist. Her arms clutched as if she were intent on imprinting herself on his very bones as she sank her teeth into his neck, and he tangled fingers into her hair to hold her there. More…was the only word Jake could remember, resounding ’round his head, drowning all else. He didn’t think to wonder who she was, why she wanted him, nor what she’d meant. Jake didn’t even ask her name.
The sounds drifting on the night air seemed as fitting as the lush grass he laid her upon. Burying himself in the body beneath his own felt necessary. Yet, even as he took her, Jake knew he’d been claimed too. She rolled him onto his back, eyes nailing him to the ground as her hands grasped his wrists like steel cuffs. Her hips were as hypnotic as the gaze ensnaring his own when she writhed above him—beneath him—when he flipped her over to take her from behind.
This was the sex he’d always craved but feared he might never find. He’d loathed himself for wanting it and coveting something darker, more…real. Basic? No…Primal. Feral. The sort of sex he wouldn’t dream of unleashing on a woman, for fear of being uncouth… cruel. Ignoble.
A need that had propelled Jake into new territory. He’d always found both sexes attractive, so he sought encounters with men, convinced he must have got it all wrong and must crave something other…rather than more. It was certainly more honest—far more fleeting—because they were shags with like-minded men, rather than lovers. It was more satisfying; Jake found that he preferred lean, hard bodies, but it still didn’t salve a soul thirsting for so much more…
His guttural growl alongside that final thrust had been unearthly; echoed in the cries that clawed the air alongside the scoring of nails across skin. The shuddering of his body had wracked his bones when the darkness exploded in a white hot rush that obliterated… Everything.
Jake woke, surrounded by scents of dawn; dew, moss, bark, grass, the ground itself. Scuffling critters scuttled in the undergrowth beneath the rustle of leaves. When he opened his eyes, Jake had to slam them shut, against a light so bright and colours so intense they seemed alive. Something was very wrong…and yet, very right.
There was no trace of the hangover he undoubtedly deserved. Jake felt…new. Renewed. Which was ludicrous, when he should have felt as sick as a dog with a banging head to boot. Instead, he felt…invigorated.
Jake lay there, pondering this for a while, luxuriating in the lush tickle of grass beneath him and the whisper of wind caressing his skin. Before abruptly springing to his feet when it occurred to him that he was stark, bollock naked. Outdoors. On the outskirts of a field. At Glastonbury.
Jake was more concerned about his lack of attire than the fact he’d just moved faster than he had ever done in his life. It customarily took him ten minutes to crank so much as a reluctant eyelid open…which was bloody weird in itself. Nevertheless, a flash of white alerted him a far more immediate concern; the presence of pants strewn artfully across a bush, not far from Jake’s jacket, crumpled jeans and the remnants of his t-shirt. Thank fuck for that; there was only so much coverage to be gained from two bandanas. Claiming festival chic would somewhat stretch credulity as a fashion statement.
Jake donned his pants and jeans and…arranged his tattered t-shirt around himself. Best of all—at least for the next five minutes—was the discovery of a slightly squashed packet of cigarettes and a lighter in the pocket of his leather. Jake parked his arse on a mound of grass and lit up, inhaling deeply. Better…
The strange intensity of the world he’d woken to and the fact he’d been starkers had been rather distracting, but as Jake smoked, memories of the night before finally began flickering to the fore. Quite where they’d been hiding for the last five minutes, he knew not, but once the floodgates opened, Jake was engulfed in the most vivid reel of images ever conjured by his mind’s eye. They were not hazy flickers of memory; it was akin to watching a blue(ray) movie inside his head.
Despite the fact he’d patently had the best sex of his life, he felt no pang of disappointment upon waking alone. There was no instant need to find her, no desire to hunt her down and make her his own. Make her his own? What the hell? He’d woken as Jurassic Jake. Well-weird turns of phrase aside, Jake knew—with bone deep certainty—that last night had been something other. Something that wouldn’t work, couldn’t work, if the world impinged upon it. He’d just doom himself to disappointment if he tried to track her down, but more than that…Jake neither hoped, nor craved, to see her again. That should have seemed strange in itself. It didn’t. It had just been…a moment. A snatch of time out of time; one that could never be replicated nor confined to everyday life. She had left him, after all…she’d clearly felt the same. Best to let sleeping dogs lie…
Jake’s eyes flickered open and he found himself staring into drowning pools of beautiful, bewildered brown. Phin. Cool fingers swept soothing strokes through his hair, smoothing it away from his face.
“Jack…” His angel face lit up with a beam of relief.
“Hi…um, sorry…” he mumbled.
“You don’t say sorry, you daftie. Does that happen lots?”
“No…sometimes. Not for a while. My blood sugar must be shot t’shit…” Jake groaned, hoping the latter didn’t sound too blatant a lie.
“D’you want a cup with a drop of tea in it?”
“Please…” Jake chuckled. Phin grinned and shuffled to the edge of the bed before slithering to the floor.
“D’you need to eat? Bacon, cereal, toast, fruit…” he called.
“Perhaps some bacon later if you’re making some, but a banana will do fine for now.”
“Yup..hang on.” The scent of banana grew stronger, then a couple flew through the air to land on the bed. “Is two enough?”
“S’kay, won’t be a mo…tea’s on its way.” Jake polished off the fruit while waiting for Phin’s return, which was preceded by the tray at the alcove opening. Once Jake had retrieved it from him, the sight of an excessive leg landing on the mattress damn near upended their drinks. Watching the rest of him wriggle onto the bed left Jake in no fit state to focus on whatever Phin uttered while doing so.
“D’you feel okay now?” Phin supplied, settling beside him.
“Yeah, I’m fine…thanks for the tea…I’m sorry I made you anxious.” He could smell the sharp scent of fear, riddled with worry, staining Phin’s own.
“You couldn’t help it. I’m just glad you came round. I…didn’t know what to do, whether I should take you to casualty or—”
“Fuck no!” Jake gasped when a surge of panic flooded his system.
“What…why…are you scared of hospitals?” Phin’s brow knitted with confusion, puzzled by the vehemence of Jake’s response.
“Um, yeah…that’s it. I don’t like the…smell.”
“Jack, you’re a bit of a puddleduck. You worry about hurting me as if you’re a mad-axe murderer and then have a panic about pottering along to casualty. That’s a smidge bonkers.”
“I’ve obviously come to the right place then.” Jake retorted, tongue in cheek.
“Ah! How rude! I was scared though…I thought…well, I was worried it was my fault. That I’d done it Too Much.”
“Phin…nothing is your fault. This is all on me.” The brown muddied with doubt. “Truly.” Jake stated, cupping Phin’s jaw to trap his troubled gaze with eyes that—for once—held only truth.
“Perhaps you need a Neil.”
“I need to kneel? Aren’t you supposed to shove your head between your knees when you feel faint?” Jake grinned. He wouldn’t have been the slightest surprised if informed that sporting a teapot on his head might help matters.
“Noo! Not kneeling down; a Mr. Neil. That’s not right really, I just call him that, it sounds po-lite. He’s Mr. Neil. Kelly. He’s my…I dunno what he is really, they sent me for cognitive behavioural wotsit, but that didn’t work out too well. I think he’s just supposed to keep me out of mischief.”
“…And does that work out well?”
“Er…sometimes? I suspect he just spies on me for my mum, like an NHS minder,” Phin admitted.
“Doesn’t that piss you off?”
“Not really…the fact I go makes her worry less…and it’s better than anything else they’ve rustled up. At least I’m comfy with Mr. Neil…I like him, and I know the right words to say.”
“To keep him off your back?” Jake guessed.
“Yup. I do some listening, say some stuff that befuddles him a bit and then promise to do better concentrating. It’s easy. Jack, why are you laughing?” Phin asked, innocence personified. Guilty as sin.
“You’re priceless…Christ, I almost feel sorry for him,” Jake chuckled.
“Parp. He gets paid to put up with me. It could be worse, he could have wound up with a mad-axe murdering hospitalophobic.”
“True.” Jake fought to keep a straight face, then surrendered to the force of that incorrigible grin. “What am I going to do with you?” he spluttered.
“You could fuck me…but sadly, I think you did a rhetorical question.” Unleashing a sorrowful sigh, Phin turning huge, tragic eyes on Jake.
“I know, I know…it’s too dangerous. P’raps we could do it in a cubicle at Casualty. That would solve matters a treat.”
“How d’you work that out?” Jake snorted.
“Well…you’ll be too spooked to do mad-axing…and if you do go beserker, I’ll be in the right place. Sorted.”
Wolverine? Oh fuck…they were all doomed. This really wasn’t going to end well. Jake had stopped suspecting that Phin was far more lethal than his foxy friend. He was certain of it.
“Well…you’ll be too spooked to do mad-axing…and if you do go beserker, I’ll be in the right place. Sorted,” Phin grinned, triumphant.
“I’m not listening.” Jack indulged himself in a theatrical groan, rolling his eyes as he raked a hand through his tumble of hair. “I have to go to work later, so I’ll need to make a move in an hour or so,” he sighed. It wasn’t one of his ‘despairing’ ones, it sounded regretful? That was wishful thinking too far, Phin decided.
“Okay, d’you want me to drive you home? Or somewhere else, if you’d prefer?”
“Y’sure? I can walk, it isn’t far.”
“I don’t mind. Unless you don’t want me to know where you live?”
“Why on earth would that bother me?” Jake (Phin seemed to be even more rubbish at remembering than usual. It was most odd, he could reel off reams of stuff he’d read just once, but could never recall a thing he was supposed to) asked. As if telling Phin his address was of no consequence whatsoever.
“I dunno…in case I climbed in your bedroom window, hoping you were too drunk to do worrying about being dangerous. Not that I would. At all. Ever. O’course.” Phin blinked, a bit, and aimed for an angelic smile.
“Jaaack, I can’t help but notice you said: ‘you wouldn’t?’ rather than ‘I’m never that drunk’. Does that mean you’re oft too sozzled to insist on safe not-sex?”
“No! It does not. It was an instinctive response!”
“But your instincts would have said ‘fat chance o’that’ or ‘you’d be so lucky. I’m never that legless’. They did not though. You said ‘you wouldn’t…’ So it sounds a lot likely that I might well happen upon you in such a soused state.”
“I think I should walk home,” Jake groaned.
“Oh no, you don’t…you’ve already booked your man-wiv-a-van. It’s too late to do cancelling now.”
“No, it isn’t. I could scarper while you’re in the loo, or leap out whilst you’re driving.”
“That’s a smidge excessive. Are you sure you don’t need a Mr. Neil?”
“Me!? Excessive? You’re the one having your wicked way with a helpless drunk.”
“Helpless? Then you won’t be able to do mad-axing.”
“Hopeless. And yes. I would.” Jack glowered, which was way too sexy to be scary.
“I could tie you up, that would work,” Phin mused.
“F’fucksakes. Phin, just—it would not work.”
“Jack, I can’t help but notice that even though your voice and eyes are cross…not all of you appears thus afflicted.” Phin cast a glance towards the guilty party, making its presence more than a mite obvious in a most pointed sort o’way.
“Oh shit.” Jake snatched at the duvet, nearly upending the tray while trying to tug it over his lower half.
“Why wouldn’t that work? I’m beginning to think you’re fibbing…about all of it. Please be honest…I can’t do working you out. If you tell me you don’t want me, that’s fine. I can understand that, I wouldn’t want me, but…” Phin flicked his gaze towards the fist clutching the covers across Jake’s crotch. “You keep giving me reasons, so I solve them…and then you make up more. It’s like the Krypton Factor. Except, I can’t win…I’ve no sooner popped the last segment into place, than you toss another piece into the pot.
“It isn’t solvable, that’s why…” Jake grunted.
“I don’t believe you. You think I’m a nut job, don’t you? So even though you might want me, you won’t, cos I’m…Too Much. There. That’s what I think. I don’t want to do beating around the bush.” Phin told him, too fed up of faffing about to pretend to be considerate. “Just tell me the truth and I’ll shut up and won’t do anymore asking. I can be just friends…or even go away, if you want me to. It’s just hard to do understanding, when you came here tonight. Then you kissed me…and did the…other things too. Even though I’d been so sure I’d never see you again. It’s…I’m just confuddled. What have I done wrong?”
“No. Phin…please don’t think that—”
“I can’t do choosing about it. I just do think that. I’d do choosing if I could, cos I…don’t want to lose you. Which is doolally daft, when I never had you in the first place.”
Jack flinched, sucking in a sharp breath. Then fixed him with a blue that burned like gas flame.
“Pardon…?” was but a waft of breath, barely audible even to Phin.
“Have me.” Jake clarified, so he must have heard, somehow.
“H-How..?” Phin was more befuddled than ever, because he didn’t have Jake. If he did, then Jake would want him, wouldn’t he? More than that, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. Phin could not, if the decision was his to make.
“Phin…I…” Jake began, then narrowed his eyes and regarded him a smidge suspiciously. For all the world as if he’d just noticed Phin had a ferret secreted about his person, which might get up to mischief.
Then Jake nodded, almost to himself, and lifted his chin with granite resolve (which was hellish sexy). When he continued, his voice was a rich rumble that resonated with surety.
“You know you do. Have me. Otherwise you would have told me to fuck off, or just upped and offed to pastures new. You wouldn’t want to stay if you so much as suspected that wasn’t true.” Jake insisted. Scoundrel. “Why live in a camper van, if not to go wherever you want and leave whenever you wish? Never having to worry that you’ve outstayed your welcome? I refuse to believe you wouldn’t have informed me that: you’ve been here a long time, don’t you want to go home now? Those hypersenses know damn well what I want—need. You.” Jake finished, with a flourish. If he’d had a cape to swirl, he couldn’t have been more magnificent.
“I….” Was he right? He was right about the camper van, of course he was. Phin had bought it so he could potter off as peaceful as can be and follow whatever fancy flitted through his head. But also—yes— he’d wanted to clear off and not cause any more friction for his family.
Phin didn’t believe Jake was his though, did he? If he did, then surely he’d be happy inside, rather than have twisty guts and scratchy skin? And spooks whispering stuff in his mind, which always made Phin have to do Too Much to shut them up.
If he was so sure Jack wanted him, then why did he feel so uneasy? Part of the problem was…he had no idea how such stuff worked; what was what, and what wasn’t, or what he was supposed to do. People were tricky at the best of times, even when Phin was in full possession of his faculties. He had no chance now; he hadn’t even been able to think with his top head since meeting Jake…let alone fathom a man as dumbfounding as he was drop-dead gorgeous.