Wafflish

Beast of Bodmin Moor 15

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

 

 

 

Jake

 

 

 

Jake crawled the length of Phin’s body and hovered above him on all fours, gazing down into pools of liquid midnight. When berry lips smudged in a smile, Jake dipped his head to trickle his tongue across the lower one, then tugged on it with tender teeth. A miracle as ineffable as Phin himself. 

Everlasting arms wound around Jake’s neck and tightened, so he steeled himself and unlocked his elbows, allowing his weight to be…welded to acres of naked flesh. A soldering of feverish skin to silken ivory that crushed the crippled contents of his pants to Phin’s far more satisfied cock. Jake was clinging to his undercrackers like the last sliver of sanity they were. 

“It’s odd to taste myself on your mouth,” Phin told him, when Jake risked cranking his eyelids open. They had slammed shut on impact, alongside a rifle-shot gasp.

“Odd in a good way or bad?” he rasped, in a voice like ground glass.

“Oh, goood. It’s sort of…sexy, on your lips.” Phin decided, after pausing to ponder the most erotic taste on the planet. Jake was still grinning when he rested his head on Phin’s chest, and lay, listening to the steady thrum of his heart.

Their favourite sound in the world—by far—apparently. A thought that should have been enough to wipe the smirk off Jake’s face. It failed. Dismally. 

“‘Sexy…’” Jake repeated, too charmed to resist…chasing the stick. Clearly. “So…what else feels sexy?” 

 “Your skin squished to mine…making a racket…when your lips do the twerky thing despite yourself…watching you walk…”

‘When your lips do the twerky thing despite’…who you’re fooling no one except. 

“Watching me walk…?” Jake asked, ignoring snarky asides from the backseat.

Ouch. Bitch.

“Hmm…walking’s not really the right word. You prowl…like a panther.”

“I…” Jake didn’t have the foggiest idea what to say to that gem. It was an irony too …beastly for banter. Is Jack evident in my body language now? He had no idea, having assumed that he’d skulked around scowling for the last two years. That seemed far more feasible than the notion that Phin observed the same things as the rest of the word. Even if he did, that bewitching brain saw whatever the hell it wished. How Jake wished he could see himself through those enchanting eyes. 

Remaining still was no longer an option. If he didn’t shift himself, then he might shift full stop. The worst of this was a feat too astounding to fathom; Jack was uncannily calm. So why the fuck do I feel fit to bust?

Your guess is as good as mine?

No. It’s not.

You’re right. It is yours.

What’s mine?

Your guess. 

What are you on about? My guess is as good as mine?

Not quite. Not ‘as good as yours’… IS. Yours.

You. Are doing my head in.

Why change the habits of a lifetime? Just sayin…

Goddamn dog. Too smug to make sense…there’d be no living with him after this. It was with a sigh of resignation that Jake slid a knee between Phin’s thighs in order to lever himself up.

“Hmm, will you do that again…the fidgety thing?” His smile was pornoseraphic. If that wasn’t a word, a lexicographer had never met Phin. Jake’s hips twitched, entirely of their own volition. “Mmmore…” 

Oh god…they’d drill him through the bottom of the campervan. It was all wrong…he couldn’t just…rut against him on the bloody floor, like the mangy mutt he was. Jake could not. Could he not might be the more pertinent question. His hips were in league with the devil dog.

Better a devil dog than a dogged dullard. 

Jake had a horrible feeling that Phin might agree. Jack was far more…congenial company. Far better for Phin than Jake could ever be. 

I think my brain just burped, y’might want to get it looked at.

I might be a bastard, but I’m not deluded. Worse than that; I believe it. Phin would choose you, and I know it.

Aside from the part where I can’t recall ‘choice’ being an option? Phin doesn’t do choosing. He said so. He wants, or he doesn’t. He wants you…and me. Simple.

Are you trying to drive me demented? 

You’re managing that all on your own. Moove, you tetchy tosspot.

“Phin…”

Please…?

God, those eyes. They were more deadly than Jack. Jake screwed his own tight shut, dipped his head and took a deep, calming breath..which promptly proved the most Baldrick worthy of all cunning plans. Inhaling poppers would have been wiser than the concentrated hit of skin/sex/sweat that assaulted their senses. 

Jake’s hips juddered, nudging his cock against the rapidly stiffening one beside it; a friction too far for temptation. He swallowed, a thick, meaty squelch of sound, as lurid as the lust lashing his system.

You thought ‘loins’ first. ’Fess up. 

Bastard.

Odd that. 

*

Jake…girded his loins and gave his hips an experimental twitch. Pure, primal need shimmered down his spine, boiling through his blood, seeping from his pores, as necessary as their next breath.  “Fuck…”  

Really?” How the hell had Phin crammed so much hope into two syllables?

“No!” Jake damn near barked.

“Oh. You don’t want me…that way?” Words as steeped in sorrow as the scent that stabbed Jake in the guts. Higher. 

“Yes! I mean, no…I just…can’t.”

“I-I don’t understand…I’m too muddled.” The dark wings of Phin’s brows crumpled, those eyes huge, imploring. 

“Phin…I don’t just…want. I need you. Too Much,” he groaned through gritted teeth, seizing on the one phrase Phin would recognize as…significant. A Trojan horse secreting so much more. Definitive. 

“‘Too much, too soon’?”

Damn. He’d trotted out a phrase he must’ve had drilled into his head too often to ‘forget’. He’d filtered ‘too much’ to mean far less than it did in Phin-speak, because Jake had been referring to himself. 

“No…in your terms. Too much. To be safe.”

“Oh. Well, I’ve survived m’self. See, I’m not made of china.” Oh, but he’d break just as easily. Phin pinned on an expression best described as ta-dah, sorted. It didn’t quite reach those eyes. 

Slow? He saw more than most. Perhaps in a less…pedestrian way, he was pure instinct. Stripped of artifice. Emotion flayed back to bone. Jack had recognized as much long before Jake caught up. 

Too much crap in the way, that’s why.

So what if I trip then, smart arse? Shatter his hips, crush his ribs, puncture a lung, snap his neck…

Ye of little faith…

In myself? Merited. How the hell do I explain the inexplicable? 

Tell him the truth.

Fuck no.

“I know you’re not made of china…but I-I can’t—whatever I say will sound—”

“If you tell me the truth, that’s how it will sound. Fibs tie knots. That’s why peeps make my head hurt…I have to stare too hard. Picking at knots.”

“Some truths are…impossible to air.”

“Air…or share? With me?” Phin sighed. For the wrong reasons. Crap.

“Impossible, literally.”

“You should forget to do listening to ‘impossible’. How can it be, if it’s your truth?” Phin frowned, lifting a forefinger to brush the space between Jake’s brows. “Jack…why are you so sad?” Words as silken as the stroke. 

“Sad? Because I’m fucked up…and I’ve fucked this up too.” 

“You haven’t fucked anything. I’d better not say ‘Sadly’, it wouldn’t be seemly. You’re a bit befuddling…but it’s very hard to do concentrating.” An illustrative twitch of hips was followed by a question from so far left-field, Jake wouldn’t have seen it coming with a wide-angle lens. Rather than blinded by extreme close up.  “Are you going home now?” 

“D’you want me to?” Jake wondered. That mattered more than ‘why’.

“Not a jot…unless I’m making you sad.”

“No…you’re not. That’s all on me…” Jake sighed, bowing to the inevitable. “I don’t want to leave. But I’m not taking your bed.”

“Will you take half of it?” Phin’s beam was the burst of winter sunlight breaking through clouds. Jake had no choice. Other than four legs or two.

“Yeah…”

“I’m very glad…Jack? Um…” Another twitch. “That can’t be comfy…” 

Jack? Seemed prepared to be patient, for the moment. As long as they were staying put. 

Happy now? 

I’d be a helluva lot happier if you were ‘comfy’. 

Y’such a gent. 

“…And my bum has gone numb,” Phin added, with a wriggle. “It is very late…I should take my tablets. Can we go to bed now?” Big brown orbs blinked up at Jake, innocence personified. Lethal.

“Sure…” Jake planted his palms on the floor to push himself up. Froze. Roll off, or spring up?

Horizontal to vertical in the blink of an eye? You might as well just shift and be done with it, numb nuts.

I hate it when you start making sense. Roll, it is…

*

The moment Phin had clambered up and pottered off to the loo, Jake bounded to his feet and stood for a moment, staring up at the alcove.

You’d rather be dead than deny yourself this, admit it.

If only that was the deal on the table, I’d take it. Rather than risk the exact opposite. 

Jake bent his knees a little, then sprang lightly onto the bed to land in a crouch. There wasn’t much head room, to say the least.

Good job we’ve sorted that, then.

What the fuck? Forget it. Not happening.

Is, too.

I’m not budging. No condoms. No lube.

Aside from the fact you haven’t had sex in forever…use your pea-brain. It might not be as flexible as my spine, but still… 

Christ. Was that visual really necessary?

Some of us don’t have hands, just sayin. But I’m feeling benevolent…I’ll spare you a truth you cannot deny. For fear of being smited, if nowt else.

Thanks.

Did I detect a smidge of sarcasm? Stop overthinking everything, you tedious tosspot…you’re driving me demented. I never once mentioned mating. You’ll find yourself rutting rocks on the way home if you keep this up. Literally. 

What theMating!?

A snigger from the backseat was his only response. From whence I’m supposed to accept counsel? It was all going to hell in a hurricane jet. Next stop, a therapy session with Dr. Lecter.

Still, it was with an inner and outer huff of contentment that Jake crawled beneath the covers. Strewth. Cocooned in purgatory. The scent wafting from the duvet had all-but clobbered him with a breeze block on landing. Now he was swaddled in it. And a sheen of sweat. Jake lay, flat on his back, staring sightlessly at the roof. Every sense aflame with awareness, anticipation coiled hot, heavy in his gut. Ravenous.

“Hiya.” A tufty head poked into the alcove, followed by far too much of the rest of Phin. Still starkers.

“Hiya y’self,” Jake grinned, turning onto his side and backing up a bit while Phin manoeuvred his extravagant self into bed. A feat accomplished with sharp elbows and (too) much wriggling. 

“Oops, sorry…” Phin whispered, once settled to his satisfaction. There was barely a breath of air between their bodies. Heat shimmered in the sliver of space like a force-field. It was akin to being microwaved with a banquet-batch of cinnamon cookies. Drizzled with sex, marinated in naked need. Laden with longing. Longing? That was the least of it. Jake’s veins were ablaze with liquid lust.

He was afraid to speak, for fear of shattering the silence. As if that would be an act of violence…like plunging his fist through a stained-glass window. Instead, he lay, listening to Phin’s heartbeat tattoo his own.

“Jack..?” 

“Hmm?”

“G’night.”

The hollow loss of hope assaulted Jake’s senses. He could taste it. His entire involuntary nervous system spasmed in response, thrusting him forwards in a breath-snatching slam of skin that rolled Phin onto his back. A whimper of want caressed the curve of the neck Jake buried his nose into and inhaled; long, slow, deep, drinking him in. Heavenscent. 

The rush of relief was the spark that scarfed the trail of dynamite.

 

***

 

 

***

Wafflish

Beast of Bodmin Moor 12

The Beast of Bodmin Moor 

 

 

 

 

 

Jake

 

 

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 wantingwhich is fortunateseeing 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?

Good point.

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.

Oookay…you win. 

I haven’t won anything worth anything yet…so. In the words of the divine Dame Ru: Don’t. Fuck. It. Up…  

Thanks.

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 uncertainnor any more sureof 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. 

 

***

 

 

Phin

 

 

 

“Phin?”

“Jack?”

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 butby the time he could see straight enough to absorb that factJake 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…

 

***

Wafflish

Beast of Bodmin Moor 11

 

Hiya 🥰 Here’s Phin’s part with a bit of Jack ‘n’ Jake beneath it…

 

The Beast of Bodmin Moor 11

 

 

 

 

Phin

 

 

Phin nibbled on the end of his pen, staring at the spidery scrawl strewn across the page. Fractured phrases scattered without forethought and far less sense… Plush-lipped, lush-hipped grace…his incomparable face, a toffee tumble of hair, lusty-lidded stare… Paraiba tourmaline…aquamarine dream…topaz azure…nonpareil allure…Too Much at stake… JackJa/keJake.

Wasted wafflings of what might-have-been, had Phin not wanted too much. Or—at leastest of all leasts—not admitted it aloud. Lips like a leaky portaloo. It had felt as if the scratchy might flay the flesh off his bones when Jack fled. How Phin wished it would finally be done with him…but knew he was more likely to be suffocated by the solitude that kept him safe. If only there was a way to syphon off some too muchness, without turning him into the walking dead. Before Phin wound up too dead to be classified a corpse: Immodice mortem. 

When he’d woken, bleary and beleaguered after his fitful nap, Phin felt as if Jake’s touch was imprinted on his flesh and he was an over-tuned string instrument. Strung too tight, sticky with sweat. Smeared in dried blood, his shrink-wrapped skin feverish with sense memory. Phin had even pressed wondering fingertips to his lips, where the imprint of Jake’s mouth still lingered. A sensation that whisked away the floodgates and unleashed a torrent of stuff Phin had nowhere safe to stash; no tried and tested ‘coping strategies’ in place. And even if he had any, there was just too much to sort and Phin felt too messy to make sense of himself. Let alone the tangle of tongues, trickling across skin…the moist heat of Jake’s magical mouth, engulfed in unimaginable bliss…and oh, the taste of him. The husky musk of Jake’s scent, his lush tumble of hair when he’d thrown his head back. The gravel-strewn growl of Phin’s very own name, thrilling through his veins. 

Jake had gone. For good. It felt as far from good as Phin could imagine. 

Left…without a word. Left Phin with? The echo of his own worth ringing in his ears. So whywhywhy come here? 

Here, where it began? It was all a tad twisted, like staring into a murky puddle that mirrored his shame back at him. That was one way of looking at it, Phin supposed, but he hadn’t come to stare at himself. He just…couldn’t help but hope to see his foxy friend. Even if he had hallucinated those eyes of jet blue flame; a flicker of light in the darkness Phin loved. Warming him through as he sat there, shivering his nuts off. 

The memory of Foxy’s face emerging from the shadows was so vivid, Phin actually heard the same soft whimper from the night before. A sound so true it had triggered the fall he hadn’t forgotten to remember, Phin just couldn’t. At all. The only recallable moment was the briefest blaze of blue. None of that mattered when he could recollect every scintillating second of the consequences that ensued, after waking in his van. 

His only remembrance of the fall itself was hearing a whine so unexpected, it had distracted him too much to do concentrating. As clumsy as ever, he’d lost his footing on the tumble of rocks and smacked his head on a stone. He must have conked out for a bit—that much Phin knew—because he’d briefly come around and seen his foxy friend. But then, nothing, until he’d woken in his van. He must have scraped himself up, at some point, then staggered about ’til Jack found him and brought him back. That was the only chain of events made any sense; Jake’s only option other than leaving Phin where he found him. Phin hadn’t got his phone and Jake hadn’t even got pockets; neither of them could’ve called a cab that couldn’t collect them from the middle of the moors. 

“Foxy…?” It was a bit daft calling him that, Phin had to confess. ‘Fox’ meant nothing to him—even if he was one—which he wasn’t. The image of Foxy in his mind’s eye was not a jot orange enough. Phin sure as carrot sick colours hadn’t misremembered that. He’d been shades of creamy caramel and grey, with black flecky bits. P’raps Phin should whistle and say something warm and welcoming instead, that might work.

“Here, boy…” He kept his voice as low, soft, unthreatening as he could, but heard nary a whimper—nor even a low growl of warning—in response. Typical…he’d now segued from rustling up hallucinations to imagining noises to torment himself with, too. Phin huffed a sigh so heartfelt it ruffled the pages of his journal. Abruptly done with suffering the consequences of his hapless hopes for the second time in swift succession, Phin— snapped his head up when a scrabbly scuffle shattered the silence. Foxy?

A furry flurry came hurtling from the shadows and took a flying leap over the rocky rubble. A sight too spectacular to wonder if he was about to find himself with a faceful of teeth and claws. As it turned out, that would have been a waste of wondering, so Phin was glad he hadn’t bothered when Foxy skittered to a stone ‘n’ spittle spraying halt, a few feet away. Phin almost split his kiss-chapped lips, so wide was his grin—but it wasn’t a patch on Foxy’s—which came complete with a dangling tongue so long, he won, paws down. He stood, panting puffy clouds of breath, his eyes so blue and glinty-bright they seemed spotlit from within. 

Phin should consider telling Mr. Neil that he might need his meds upping. Unless he forgot. The urge to stroke Foxy was so strong, it would have been wise to sit on his hands, which was perhaps why Phin didn’t bother. 

Maybe if he just held out his hand, then Foxy could choose? He might not want a stinky human to touch him and Phin could scarce blame him for that. Fearful of frightening him away, Phin raised his arm until his fingers hovered a few inches beneath the tip of Foxy’s tongue. Much to his inner happy dance of delight, Foxy started snuffing them, making small huffy noises when his cool, wet nose smudged Phin’s skin.

“Good boy…hello…” he crooned, hoping it sounded friendly to Foxy, who snuffled a smidge more, then flicked Phin a little lick that skimmed his fingertips.

Perhaps it had been to test Phin’s reaction, because that first, tentative touch of tongue was succeeded by a full-on slosh of Foxy slobber across the back of his hand. It was warm and wet and meant the world to Phin, who was honoured that Foxy even trusted him enough to come close, let alone gift him with a lick. A nudge of nose seemed to suggest that his newfound friend wanted access to Phin’s palm, so he turned the hand over. It was the left one, not his mangled right, so Foxy wouldn’t have to suffer the scabs, which would feel disgusting. After slurping a swipe across his upturned palm, Foxy abruptly lost interest in it and shoved his nose into the cuff of Phin’s trench coat instead. It was barely a huff of hot breath later that Foxy yanked his head back to (this bit may have been a hallucination) narrow his eyes at Phin. It sure looked that way when the space between his tufty eyebrows scrunched up while peering down his snoot. After a staring Phin out ’til he seemed satisfied, Foxy shoved his nose back into the cuff and…pushed, as if he wanted to bare the wrist. There didn’t seem any reason to disoblige him, so Phin hitched the sleeve up a tad. One sniff later, he found himself levelled with an expression so considering it was akin to his mum’s when weighing up whether he’d had a proper mishap or been up to mischief. 

The sleeve was a direct tunnel to Phin’s armpit, which possibly didn’t smell very fresh in a week-old sweaty sock sort of way, so he didn’t blame Foxy one bit. His sense of smell possibly thought it had been clobbered by a niff more noxious than the carcasses he might just litter the moors with. Someone sure did, Phin had seen one for himself.  The stinky pits theory stopped making sense when Foxy stalked behind Phin and snagged the elbow of his coat with sharp teeth and started tugging on the sleeve. 

“What is it, Foxy?” he wondered, a bit bemused. In response, Foxy shot him a knowing look, then returned to Phin’s cuff and crammed his nose into it again. One snuff later, off he went, to repeat his tug-o-war with the elbow of the trench.

Phin had no idea why he had such a bee in his bonnet—that was an idiom, Foxy was not wearing one of those—which did suggest that Phin’s sanity was still salvageable. An excellent thing indeed when the very existence of the bonnet might be deemed a tad too much…even before Phin started wondering whether Foxy had come as Granny from Little Red Riding Hood. 

The upshot of all this was that Foxy seemed to want access to Phin’s arm, which was the part that mattered, his reasons were his own business. Oouch…Phin had forgotten about the gash his jumper promptly grazed with wire wool aplomb when he shoved the sleeve to the crook of his elbow. 

Uh oh. Foxy snorted a sound uncannily akin to a horse’s harrumph. Had this not been accompanied by an imperious squint, Phin might have suspected the wound was a stench too far after suffering the stinky armpit. Said squint ‘n’ stare made Foxy’s next move all the more oddsome. Rather than back off in disgust, he swiped a stinging sluice across the ugly slash. Moonlight was not its best look, it must be admitted; blood blackened and scabby on blanched to bone skin.

The sting was fleeting, it had no sooner sparked to life than faded to a silken warmth when Foxy swept it another lingering lick. It was the strangest sensation; as soothing as the stroke of velvet, as comforting as fleece  (the only two fabrics Phin could wear without being besieged by scratchy). He watched, fascinated, as Foxy kept lapping, as if convinced it could be erased…or washed away with saliva. 

When he seemed satisfied with a job well done, Foxy snuffed a huff, then switched his focus to Phin’s face. A gaze every bit as amazing as it was beautiful; Phin had remembered right. It was a bright, blazing blue—deeper, darker than they’d seemed yesterday—pupils blown so huge they engulfed most of his iris. Phin scrunched his eyes tight shut in a bid to blot out another blue; every bit as crystal clear as Foxy’s, dark with a desire it was hard to believe he’d inspired, even for a second in a man so…unsurpassable.

Foxy—quite why Phin was still calling him this when he was clearly not a fox—was a mystery. It seemed that everyone he met required at least two names, which was playing havoc with his head. He’d lost his thread of thought again now…it was all going to hell in a hurricane jet. Ah, Foxy…that was it. He was too wolfish to be a fox. Too lean, slinky-looking for a wolf. He was honey-hued, dappled with grey that darkened to black along his back. His face was not rusty-coloured at all, it was creamy gold, white and speckled silver. Some sort of wild dog? Coyote? Jackal? No matter which of those his foxy friend might be, he now seemed…sad. Staring up at Phin with sorrow laden pools of baleful blue. 

“Don’t be upset…” Phin told him, pulling his sleeve back down over the wound, which had started to tingle strangely in the wind. “I’m okay…”

With a snuff that would have sounded like a snort of disbelief, had Foxy been human, he rested the underside of his jaw on Phin’s bent knee. The warm weight was comforting in itself, even more so if it meant Foxy was not…miffed. Okay…that did sound nuts, bolts and barking bonkers. It still felt that way though.

“May I stroke you?” Phin dared to ask.

His foxy friend’s lids drifted down, shrouding the blue…in a sinking into a bubble bath sort of way. Or… The flash of memory was brilliance itself—blinding—of Jack’s eyelids; gliding shut when Phin first trailed tentative fingertips down his chest. It hadn’t meant nothen. 

Phin raised his right hand to Foxy’s head and started a smooth stroke. He didn’t seem to mind and it was impossible to resist, so Phin started to fondle his tufty ears. A deep rumble sounded in Foxy’s throat; like a cat’s purr but much, much darker.

One moment he seemed serenity itself, the next, in a too-swift-to-stop-him dart forwards, Foxy shoved his nose into Phin’s crotch. Then snuffed out a scalding breath that scorched straight through his pants. Strewth. 

“Foxy!” he gasped. Crikey, um…that was a bit embarrassing. And most unseemly in the extreme. Phin’s cock had been coshed by way too many surprises of late. He should p’raps ask Mr. Neil for some bromide before matters got out of hand.

For twenty-two years, not a soul had shown the slightest interest in the contents of Phin’s undercrackers, and now, all of a sudden, everyman-and-his-dog were shoving their snoots down there. Foxy just lolled-a-laugh—at Phin—he was sure of it. Utterly unrepentant, as the unseemly scoundrel returned his chin to Phin’s knee.

“Bad boy. No snuffing, it’s rude, you have to mind your manners in company,” Phin told him. A maxim he’d been told he mustn’t forget too many times to remember.

“D’you have a lady friend, Foxy?” he wondered aloud, running his palm down the silky fur of his neck. “To cuddle up with, and keep you warm at night? That was a daft question, wasn’t it…you probably wouldn’t be here, if you did. I’m not very good at minding my manners either, so don’t worry, that makes two of us.”

Foxy huffed, hunkering down to lie beside him. Then fidgeted a bit closer when Phin straightened his legs to continue stroking. He’d scarce started when Foxy raised his head to rest it across Phin’s lap. It felt comforting, cosy. Perhaps he should get a dog. He would far rather have Foxy, but he was wild and free and living his own life. Putting a collar on him would be unconscionable, even if he’d permit such a travesty. 

Phin would never dream of trying to steal his freedom away. It would be cruel, selfish, even if—when—Foxy felt far too much like the best friend he’d never had.

 

***

 

 

Jack & Jake

 

 

 

Jake was dumbfounded. What the fuck?

The last two years had been spent locked in brutal, bloody battle with Jack. In the most futile effort to keep some sort of grip on the jackal, and his own sanity. This had felt much like a dog owner’s attempts to cling to the collar of a runaway rottweiler as it took off after a cat.

Now here was the mangy miscreant: lying serenely beside the jackal whisperer, sighing happy huffs of contentment. This, while being petted by Phin and having his ears…fondled, for chrissakes.

Jake now found himself in the discomfiting position of pacing like a caged animal as Jack (quite literally) pleased himself. How the hell can I be jealous of him, when he is me? 

Finally caught up, have you? Or just admitted what was as obvious as the nose on my face?

Speaking of which…What. The. Effing. Fuck?

Oh, c’mon…you’re not fooling yourself for a minute. Y’know you wanted to… 

I...am a Gent. Not a crotch-pouncing pervert.

That first bit sounds familiar, oddly enough. You’re right, though, you should stick to being a sleep-stalking perv…it’s much more your three cups of tea. Stop nagging. You’re just jealous, you admitted as much yourself. Besides which, I don’t recall cutting your nose off to spite your face. Just sayin’. Now shurrup, I’m busy. Luxuriating.

So…? What if he had scaled new levels of ludicrous? He couldn’t help it—Jake just was—jealous. A bit. Being forced to sit back as Jack basked in Phin’s attention was infuriating. Yes, Jake was here too. Yes, he could see, taste, hear, see…and bloody smell. Feel Phin’s fingers in his fur. But. It was still driving Jake demented. It was also adding a whole new set of worries to his far-too lengthy list of Phin fears:

  1. He was still freaking out about the fact Jack might have infected Phin yesterday.
  2. Jack had just topped up his saliva donation. This might tip the balance if Phin hadn’t received a sufficient dose of jackal-juice last night.
  3. Jake had committed the unforgivable sin of giving Phin the brush off, immediately in the aftermath of his first sexual encounter. Despite the fact he’d never wanted someone so much in his goddamn life. Ever.
  4. He’d done this because he was terrified he might maim Phin in a very real sense.
  5. Jack had just shoved his nose precisely where Jake had vowed it could never venture again.
  6. Jake gone without for two years because Jack had made it quite clear that blood lust took priority over minor matters such as murder.
  7. The very same Jack that had now lapped lavishly at the most delectable blood on earth. Twice. Without so much as a nip. Bastard.

This, was the seven circles of shapeshifter hell. Dante had no fucking idea. Worst of all, Jake was suffering all this because he had tried to Do The Honorable Thing. And achieved bugger all. Unassailable truth that never a good deed goes unpunished.

Phin was a liability more lethal than the jackal. What the hell had he done to himself? He could have hit a sodding artery with whatever he’d used to butcher that arm. It sure as shit hadn’t been inflicted by a blade. It wasn’t a clean enough cut; too ragged, too wide, too naive

Jake could distinctly recall thinking that he couldn’t let Phin out on his own, then chided himself for over-reacting. Pfft. He’d clearly underestimated Phin, who couldn’t be left alone full stop without endangering himself. He was patently every bit as efficient at ‘accidents’ as ‘forgetting’.

Back to tonight…how the hell was Jake supposed to handle this? There wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it; the consequences of trying to prise Jack from Phin were too horrifying to contemplate. Do I truly want to?

He was undeniably jealous, but Jake was still here with Phin, by proxy. Jack might claim that he’d brought them back together, but that wasn’t much consolation when Jake had abandoned Phin because of said mangy mutt.

Some might be inclined to argue that Jake would never have met Phin in the first place, had they not fancied a run on the moors. Jake was steadfastly ignoring said smart-arse opinion.

The next hour was the most exquisite torture Jake had ever endured. Lying beside Phin, aching for all he could never have, yearning for that tender touch on skin, not fur. This, while knowing damn well that safe sex and the jackal couldn’t coexist on the same planet, let alone in the same bed.

Have you considered for one moment that Phin is not a rabbit? Nor some random woman or bloke you picked up in the pub?

You say that now…but how the hell can I trust you? One whiff of rabbit and there’s sod all I can do to stop you feasting your fill. I cannot risk him. I will not.

Was your mouth too full to claim that earlier? Just asking for a friend…

Fuck off.

That ball’s in your court, and well you know it. Or would, if you weren’t dead set on being a self-loathing wanker, o’course…

No. Hell no. Jake should never have allowed earlier to happen. And yet…he hadn’t felt as if he might lose it for even one moment. But what about the bloody table legs? What if they’d been Phin’s? Or his arms…neck? Jake hadn’t been able to control his grip mid-blow job, how the hell was he supposed to trust himself while buried in Phin’s body? Oh gawd.

You could at least try trusting yourself. Coward. Is that what this is really about? You’re terrified, admit it. Scaredy cat. You’re just worried he’ll work out what a tosspot you are and dump your ass. 

It’s you I don’t trust, dogbreath. What if I started fearing for Phin’s safety? Felt I was losing it—couldn’t rein it in—and needed to slam the brakes on? For his sake. Would that even be possible? Or would you snatch the decision out of my hands? Erupt in a fury of fur; as you have a hundred times beforewhen I wouldn’t fall in with your latest whim? 

Whims? Those were missions of vital import, I’ll have you know. Jackal business. I can’t sit and watch you fingering your strings, and Sherlock-on-a-loop, forever. He makes my mouth water, for starters. And main course, please. Phin is not a whim, you pillock. He is…everything. So, suck that up. You may as well, we haven’t got any choice in the matter. One whiff and it was all over. He owns your ass. 

Oh, so, it’s mine now? Make up your mind.

Mine-yours-ours-whatever. ‘Yours’ had a certain…ring to it. Too sassy to resist.

You are ev-il. Monstrous, you know that, right?

I’m sex starved and sausage deprived. That’s not good for my constitution.

Neither are sausages.

If you cannot deduce the compromise in said state of malnourishmentparticularly after all that staring at the Cumberbuttthen I give up on you, quite frankly…  

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…

***

Wafflish

The Beast Of Bodmin Moor

Hiya,

I’m sorry there has been such a barren patch on the writing front. I think my head imploded and refused point blank to do anything useful whatsoever.

Last week, while reading the wonderful Legendary Loves 2, I remembered a story I’d started many moons ago and went for a rummage, hoping to finish it off. Since then I’ve edited/rewritten a fair chunk, so I thought I’d post it here in serial form, as I feel so very rusty.

 

Blurb

Two years ago Jake McCain met an irresistible stranger at the Glastonbury festival. A few days later his life, as he knew it, was over.  Enter Jack. The ‘two’ of them have…cohabited ever since. Much to Jack’s dismay, Jake shows no sign of relenting in his bid to be the most bloody minded human a jackal ever had the misfortune to manage.

Phin Finley has set off on a magical mystery campervan tour of south-west England. Having flown the family nest for the first time, he is determined to prove to his parents that he can manage just fine, despite being a bit too…Phinnish for most folk’s comfort, his mum’s peace of mind and dad’s constitution.

This is the tale of his adventures; a story about finding your (happy) place in the world, making (foxy) friends and the fabled Beast of Bodmin Moor. 

*

It’s a shape-shifter story,  but it is also an own voices tale too. Part 1 (5,000 words).

 

🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

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‘There is no doubt that Bodmin Moor is a creepy place. Should you happen to find yourself alone there as dusk is falling, try not to think about the layers of legend, horror and mystery associated with this wild and rugged landscape, and in particular, whatever you do, try not to let your mind dwell on The Beast… ’

 

http://www.cornwalls.co.uk/myths-legends/beast_of_bodmin.htm

 

Jack

 

Jack inhaled, low and deep, drawing the scent of darkness into his lungs; a lush shimmer of air as laden with riches as the shriek of silence. For all was not still this night, nor any other; the rustle of foraging creatures resounded as clearly as the whisper of wind rifling the scrubby grassland. As audible as every beat of his own heart…strong, sure, steady.

He stood, drinking in the magnificence of a moor drenched in moonlight, bleached to bone and shadow. A rugged, brutal beauty that beckoned to the Need, impossible to resist. An ever flickering flame that flared anew when dusk drew its veil over the day, warming him through as he waited. Waited, watching, every night. For Him to come.

Jack snapped his head around with a sharp sniff, dredging the breeze for its faint trace of that scent. Yes. There it was. As heady as opium, a smell as seductive as a clarion call… as if the very air had been saturated in musk and marshmallows dipped in brandy. The husky warmth of the latter assaulted his system with Jack’s next breath; almost as welcome, though nowhere near as enticing, as his scent. 

‘Speak for yourself…’ grunted Jake, his ever ornery human. ‘I wouldn’t say no to a decent bloody drink.’ 

‘Is this where I humbly apologise for not coming complete with pockets?’ Jack guessed.

‘Pockets?’ accompanied Jake’s snort of disgust. ‘I wish you’d never come at all.’

‘I do believe that was your department, dear sir…’  Jack couldn’t resist pointing out.

‘Shut up…’  This was Jake’s go-to retort when his face would have flushed beetroot red, had he been wearing it at the time. 

*

Jack was beginning to give up hope that Jake would ever come to terms with a fate he found about as fortuitous as herpes. Hope. That was a sore point; a concept Jake had denounced as cruel as the craggy rocks onto which the Wreckers once lured unwary ships. Jack knew all too well that his human was convinced he had none whatsoever. No future when he might ‘doom’ a potential paramour to the fate that had befallen him.

Paramour? F’fucksakes. You’ve been watching far too much French porn.  Tell me…what exactly would be the point of hoping? You sure as shit can’t eat him. I sure as hell can’t talk to him. ‘

Jake wouldn’t even permit them to settle beside Him and luxuriate in His very presence.  Oh, how Jack coveted the slow caress of a palm along the serrated sweep of his spine… as forbidden as the burrowing of fingers into fur. A thought that sent a ripple of phantom pleasure thrilling through Jack’s body, twitching every hair to attention in a ruffling sigh of sound. 

Jack crept forward a few inches, low in the long grass, stomach skimming its scrubby tufts and ancient crumbs of rock as he crawled closer. His prey, as was His wont, had seated himself amidst the ruins of an engine house. Remnants of a time when the Old Men; the tinners and miners had given their lives to the Cornish quarries. Lives that lingered still in the scars they’d left scattered across the moors. 

There were far more obvious places in which He could have chosen to while away a few hours; stone circles, standing stones, tors…even a neolithic burial tomb. None of which had lured him from this very spot since. Jack had expected Him to move on after a few nights when its charm faded with familiarity, but He showed no sign of tiring of this tumble of granite nestled in a bleak expanse of nothingness. To human eyes, at least.

Jack should never have embraced the rush of relief that flooded his every fibre of his being each time that scent assailed his snout. Least of all here—in the one place he felt fairly safe—protected by legend and lore. Where all evidence of his existence was credited to ‘The Beast of Bodmin Moor’. Jack had never seen hide nor hair of a huge black panther, nor caught so much as a whiff on the wind, which did tend to suggest he wouldn’t find himself slaughtered by a five foot feline any time soon. Nevertheless, Jack was guiltily grateful for an ‘existence’ that safeguarded his own anonymity. Better yet, the Beast’s myth had but been enhanced by Jack’s midnight feasts, which was a bonus not to be sniffed at. He had, much to his amusement, become something of a boon to the Cornish Tourist Board… rather than a monstrous predator who left the moor littered with carcasses. 

Jack lay low, watching, breathing, luxuriating in the heady fix now wafting his way. It would have to be enough. It had to be…and yet, the Need was relentless. A yearning that set his senses aflame, prodding him moorward; boiling through his blood, bones, body. Sinews straining with longing. Lust. A desire as devouring as the instinct to tear, shred, take…slake. Claim Him as his own. 

Worst of all was the Want, because Jake wanted him just as much. He was somehow…  unlike other humans. Entirely himself. It was an innate recognition; as inviolate as truth. A certainty gleaned by instincts as sharp as the glint of silver in moonlight.

Who was He, this strange creature of the night who wandered the moors like a wraith? The clumsy grace of those overlong limbs was that of a newborn foal, observing the world through eyes wide with wonder; windows to a soul untainted by the petty trivialities humans prized. There was an air of the ethereal in his fearlessness; his scent carried no taint of unease, nor care for consequence. Might he be…fae? Jack didn’t have the foggiest idea whether faerie folk roamed the Earth or not. He’d never met a Vampire either…and Jake? Jake had been just as oblivious to the existence of his own kind until it was far, far too late…  

 

Phin

 

Phin sat atop a craggy crumble of rock, content as can be in his happy place. 

It was his haven, his very own sliver of heaven. A sacred spot where the twenty-first century had quite forgotten to come charging in like the cavalry, hell-bent on rescuing it from perfection.

He felt more right on this ancient moor than anywhere else. When his camper van had rumbled up the windy road and Phin first clapped eyes on the vast sweep of scrubland before him, he’d felt strangely home, all of a sudden. Strangely, because he’d never had a ‘home’—not a proper, permanent one. His family just followed Major Finley from one posting to the next and set up camp in an endless parade of Army accommodations. Homes don’t have barbed wire. 

Here, Phin could breathe, bathe in blissful isolation. Alone in this tumbledown place but never lonely. Loneliness was feeling alone in a room full of people. Not here. Phin had never been comfy in company. It was tricky to focus on appearing ‘normal’. Impossible when faced with more than one person at a time, when he was besieged by a torrent of Too Much: too loud, too bright, too many colours clashing in a cacophony of sound. That’s how it felt, as if all Phin’s senses had been bunged in the washer and switched to spin cycle. 

All this was befuddling in itself, even before having to pretend that folk were not fibbing, when they were. Fact. Phin liked facts. He found them too fascinating to ignore, which made his mind waft off to ponder matters-far-more-interesting instead. He shouldn’t do this when he should be listening to people try to persuade him they felt things they didn’t instead—to make them seem kind—when they weren’t. 

It was very important to pretend to believe people who portrayed themselves as someone they aspired to be. It was a frustrating waste of time in which Phin could be doing something interesting instead. Or at least less scratchy. 

He hated feeling like a fraud. Most people seemed to prize things Phin couldn’t fathom the point of. The impression they made on others. How they were ‘seen’. A concern that had nothing to do with donning orange jumpers, apparently, which would have been an understandable worry. Phin wouldn’t be seen dead in said detested hue (that was an idiom, not a fact, as it didn’t make sense in the scheme of things). He would be dead, and ergo, unable to see. Let alone be in any fit state to insist that his corpse was not desecrated by a despicable sweater. 

Nope, Phin Finley didn’t much care for the company of people, but he adored animals. They could be trusted—even predators—because they were honest. They didn’t pretend to like you before biting your head off, did they? He loved that the animals dotted across the moor were allowed to roam fairly free. The cows often pottered across the road and parked up when they fancied a rest or a gazeabout. They didn’t give a stuff, just stood there staring over their shoulders with mild disinterest if a queue of cars started honking at them. For all the world as if that might persuade them to shift their furry butts.

An animal’s love was unconditional. They never, ever, made you feel as if you weren’t good enough, or that you’d let them down when you couldn’t help but be yourself. Phin felt that way a lot—even with his family—especially with his family, who had become ever more polarized. With Phin stuck in the middle like an equatorial embarrassment. His poor mum and elder sister adored him despite himself and defended him with lioness finesse. This was far more than Phin deserved and made him feel dreadful when they bore the brunt of consequences that doomed his dad to a son who would never do him proud. Quite apart from subjecting him to social humiliation horrifics that made his younger sister’s hair curl. Despite her heroic struggles with an evil contraption that made her smell like a singed cat. 

The older he got and the more Phin tried to work people out, the less he felt he knew, let alone understood. A confusion too far when his head was already overstuffed with too much— well, too much everything. As far back as he could recall, he’d been sure he didn’t see the same things through his eyes that everyone else saw through theirs. His brain wouldn’t work in the same way, either. It was ‘just wired differently’, his mum said… a belief she’d expounded overandoverandoveragain, ad nauseum to his dad. Who thought this was piffle…so he’d spent the last twenty-odd years trying to rewire Phin in order to prove his point. Efforts that seemed uncannily similar to something called ‘a contradiction in terms’ to Phin. If he wasn’t wired wrong, then why did his dad persist in trying to fix him?

It ate away at his heart that his mum had to endure this endless tussle of wills, so Phin had decided that it was high time she got some much deserved peace. The spoke in their family wheel was as obvious as the nose on Phin’s face (not half as obvious as the rest of him, but idioms need not concern themselves with seventy four inches of trivial detail). The solution was simple; remove said spoke. If Phin took himself off that would free his lionesses from all such friction, and Phin from fretting about being the cause of it. Having determined upon this, he hadn’t been too fussed where he went. Going—the joy of getting there—mattered far more. 

Phin had to admit that landlords, deposits and adhering to contract stipulations might just be a disaster waiting to happen, so he’d bought himself a camper-van with the savings his gran had stashed away for him. He’d always retreated to his inner world when the wider one felt too confounding to fathom, so he’d fixed upon finding that feeling elsewhere. A safe place in which to potter about with less fear of mishaps and making folk miffy. A rural idyll, where traces of ye olde times might linger still. 

His family had latterly been stationed in Dorset, which had swiftly become his favourite place they’d stayed for many a moon. Figuring that the further west he went, the more he might like it, Phin decided to head to Devon and then onward, into Cornwall. A plan that seemed to ease his mum’s fears a smidge; she’d already suffered more than enough on his behalf. Nothing would stop her worrying about whether he’d remembered to pack his bicycle clips and a clean hankie, but that was ‘her job’ she insisted, so Phin would just have to ‘suck it up’. 

Cornwall it was then. Kernow; ancient land of his Celtic kin. Still stubbornly steeped in its own heritage and clinging to its right to remain itself. A feeling Phin had every sympathy with.

 

*
southcaradonmine

Jack 

 

It was with a ghostly glide of muscle over bone that Jack crept a little closer, inching towards Him, nearer than he’d ever dared venture before. Too close for comfort, but far from close enough to sate the craven clawing in his guts.

His prey shifted, perhaps to settle more comfortably, extending his right leg. Long, so long… it stretched across the tumble of rock towards Jack as if the devil himself was hell bent on driving him demented. It was all Jack could do to suppress a whine as he slammed his eyelids shut, which only intensified the need to nuzzle it. To nudge it with his nose, rub his fur along a lavish sweep of thigh… snuffle at the soft skin shrouded in a sheath of tight denim.

A tut pinged from plush lips when He attempted to slip a hand into the pocket of his coat. With a huff of impatience, he clambered to his feet, unfolding himself to his full, glorious height. Towering so tall that the top of his tufty head seemed to brush the stars as Jack gazed up from his lowly crouch on the ground. Once upright, He slipped his fingers inside with ease and rummaged in the pocket of the buff-coloured trench he invariably came wrapped in each night; vast swathes of fabric that shielded him from Jack’s ravenous gaze.

It was then that a whimper of want made an abrupt bid for freedom, shattering the quiet like an air raid siren. He jerked his head up, shooting a puzzled glance over each shoulder, but his pulse rate didn’t spike with anxiety and no trace of fear tainted his scent. When no further sound suggested that aught was amiss, he shrugged, as if suspecting that he’d imagined whatever he thought he’d heard. Then bent to place a palm on the rocks for support as he reseated himself. Shit. With a sudden, horrifying lurch to the left, his foot slipped on the rubble and a snatched-off cry shredded Jack’s senses.

Fuuckaaah!

There was a desperate scuffle as his feet fought for—failed to find—purchase, then a shriek shattered the night and a loud crack splintered the sky when his forehead bounced off a boulder with a hideous crunch. His body crumpled to the rocks in a tangle of limbs, slumping in a sad pile of crumpled cloth. He lay utterly still, like a broken toy tossed onto a trash heap.

Silence.

NOOOOOOO… Jack sprang forwards, cleaving an arc through the darkness to land sure-footed beside him. For a split-second, heart-searing moment, dread obliterated all reason, despite the fact Jack knew with innate certainty that he was not dead. 

After turning his muzzle into the wind, Jack dragged in a huge, clean breath and held it. Creeping closer, he dipped his head low and began to nose gently at a ghostly pale cheek, nudging his face away from the rocks. A large gash glistened above his left eyebrow, gristle gleaming in the ragged tear. Jack watched a bead of blood trickle down his temple, teeth gritted in agony. Nnnngh…that scent…he was still holding his breath, but he could taste it on his tongue; a rich ruby sweetness that lashed at his loins. Jack threw his head back and howled, every sinew straining as he fought to suppress his shrieking instincts.  Nooo…  

Rage blistered through Jack’s veins, clamouring for supremacy with the dull drag of despair, battling it out with instincts that clamoured for more. Wet, warm, as potent as port wine…just a little lick…  For heavensakes, Jack wasn’t going to sink his teeth into skin, there was no urge to rip, tear, hurt. He didn’t think so at least. The shaft of pain that staked his heart when temporal bone had slammed into stone felt akin to being bludgeoned. In that split-second when Jack had thought He was dead, he’d known exactly where the blame lay; an agony far worse than the first time Jake had fought the shift. Worse than his human’s realisation that this is what he’d become…and would ever remain.

It was Jack’s fault. Then. Now. Guilty. The whimper had as good as fired the starting gun of horrors that caused the fall. Lust had led them to this moment, just as it had then…that night. A thought he shoved aside, this was no time to indulge in a self-pity party. He needed Jack. But what the hell could he do? Cocking his head, he contemplated the blood still seeping from the cruel gash that marred his beautiful face. He is beautiful, not merely handsome, Jack noted. A face like a fallen angel, grubby with gravel, crusting at the edges of the wound. Fuck it…hovering about a breath from the wound, Jack touched the tip of his tongue to the angry tear, oh, so gently. Nnnnggh. He snatched his head back, breath clawing his throat as he fought a need so furious it made his eyes bulge as he gulped great gasps of air. No. No…yesss…no… 

The guilt was gutting but he had to get the goddamned grit out. Yes, he wanted…of course he did. But that didn’t make it the wrong thing to do, did it? Or, was he fooling himself that it was the right thing for that very reason? He knew not. Does it matter anyway? Why the hell was Jack conducting a debate on his own dubious morality—with himself—while He bled to death on the moor?

After inhaling a lungful of somewhat less tempting air, Jack lowered his nose to the rivulet of blood and began to lap with infinite tenderness. An impossible feat in itself.  This, as his taste buds erupted in a riot of sensation—like an explosion of Pop Rocks in his mouth—unleashing a blood rush so intense he thought his brain cells might combust with bliss. His brain cells? They were the least of Jack’s worries…his cock was so engorged it might never slip back inside its furry foreskin. It felt fit to burst…and still Jack’s tongue slithered across skin.

Jack had never, ever, tasted anything this…delectable. Divine. Nothing on earth had ever tasted like this. His own blood couldn’t begin to compare. Neither could the blood of the creatures he stalked most nights. The raw rump steak Jake gnawed on for breakfast sure as hell never tasted like this.

He flickered delicately at the jagged edge of the gash until the grit dislodged; senses so finely tuned that each grain felt like a boulder clinging to Jack’s tongue. A sudden thought—one so blisteringly obvious it should have hit him over the head with a house brick before Jack started lapping away at His head like a lollipop—struggled to the surface as Jake’s voice fought through the liquid layers of lust, longing and sheer gut instinct.

‘Are you sure this is…safe? What if—?’ 

No…he couldn’t, surely…? Jack had no idea. He’d been fretting about a bit of grit as his saliva seeped into His system and…no please, no…NO. Jake would never, ever forgive him. Jack wasn’t sure which part of that night had…sealed Jake’s fate. No idea exactly what had triggered his dormant jackal. 

Sex? Blood? Nails? Teeth? The bites? Or…the kiss that led to the rest of it? Crap. He’d lost his tiny mind. It was too bloody late now. So stuupid.

‘Shit for brains jackass.’

Ha. Ha. Very funny. Not. Next stop; the world’s first shape-shifting stand up comedian. They should turn up for the Britain’s Got Talent auditions, that would be a riot. Literally…when everyone rushed for the exits.

It was far, far too late to worry about it now. Much too late to torture himself with the fact that a not-so tiny part of his pea-brain yearned…No. That was despicable, beyond contempt. Jack could not —would not—wish this upon Him. He would detest them both for it.  Loathe his flea-ridden arse enough to bury a spade in body when he discovered what Jack had done. Yet, even as he acknowledged this, his baser instincts were effectively rolling their eyes and suggesting that he shut his trap and have at it, lap away to his heart’s content.

It was hard to say which was more ludicrous: tonguing His forehead while having an internal scrap with his own conscience. Or the fact Jack was considering whether to let Jake carry Him to the campervan and see to his wound properly.

**

A splendid plan, I’m sure. It’s a delightful evening to go for a bare-ass naked midnight stroll across the moors cradling a bleeding, unconscious, six foot plus man as if he weighs no more than a bottle of brandy.

I’ll probably get arrested. The press will have a fucking field day. How ironic, when never, not once since that fateful night, did I imagine that I’d wind up as ‘The Beast of Bodmin Moor’ as a bloody human.

Should I risk it? Not so much the flasher-on-the-moors part; there’s no trace of human scent for miles…but can I risk him waking to find his formerly unconscious self being abducted by a naked man?

The very act of carrying him across the moor stretched credulity, as it didn’t seem highly bloody likely that a 5’ 9” bloke, best described as ‘wiry’, could carry a six-foot-plus man over rough scrubland like a babe in arms.

Is there another option, when we sure as hell can’t leave him here; broken and bleeding on the moors?  The Beast of Bodmin Moor. Christ. A pervert preying on the soon-to-be-drop-dead-gorgeous, if one of us doesn’t do something.

‘I did my best!’ Jack finally protested after enduring that internal monologue for… ever.  

‘Something other than indulge in a surreptitious slurp, dogbreath.’  

*

The gash looked slightly less angry, but blood was still seeping from the wound, so Jack bent once more to lap at the fresh trickle of ruby trailing toward His ear. Nnggrrrh…  

When Jack’s eyes began to roll back in his head, it became clear that the brief interlude had merely made paradise all the sweeter, so he yanked his muzzle back, before he could not. The injury did look a little better; it was now clean, free from crusted dirt and grit, so he might be imagining it…but it did seem less inflamed. Which was something.

‘Not a fat lot, you must admit, but better than bloody nothing. ‘

Gazing down upon him, at a face as pale as moonlight, the sooty sweep of long lashes, plump lips softly parted, Jack knew he’d never had a choice from the start. This realization had no sooner dawned than he was sure he saw the slightest glimmer of movement. Had he imagined it? No. Feathery lashes flickered once, twice more and then, slowly, they parted to reveal a midnight gaze, hazy with pain and puzzlement. Bottomless eyes met his own for a heartbeat… and then fluttered shut again.

Fuck. In the brief second he glimpsed that dark gaze, Jack knew. Knew with inviolate animal instinct that it was… over. The battle lost before it began. Not even jackal-vision had prepared him for the impact of those eyes from mere inches away. It felt as if he were staring into his soul. ‘Those eyes.’ Jack huffed, breath puffing out in a cloud of contempt. Calling those limpid orbs ‘eyes’ was akin to describing His blood as ‘quite tasty’. They were…eternal. Drowning pools of liquid darkness. Deep enough to die in. Into which Jack would undoubtedly dive even if he knew it would be the last thing he ever did. He was ruined.

Jack backed up a few paces and pulled his focus inwards. Changing back was, in fact, harder than unleashing the jackal. This had come as something of a shock to Jake. It had taken some time before he’d been able to comprehend the chaos well enough to understand that Jack simply surfaced, stretching as if from slumber. Much as the subconscious assumes control during dreams; your secret self rising to the fore as your conscious self sleeps.

The power was always present; waiting in the wings for Jake to embrace it, mind, body, soul. It was simply a matter of letting go… allowing it to bloom like a lily until it spilled through his skin, fur flowing like water to ripple over reformed muscle and bone. Jake had denied the truth at first, even as his furred self unfurled from the matter of his own body. Brain. He still, two years on, flinched from the knowledge that the jackal’s lusts were pulled from his own psyche. Worse than the agony of the transformation was Jake’s realization that Jack wasn’t a separate entity. He was the dark self Jake had spent twenty five years trying his damnedest to restrain.

Jack might be a murderous mutt but at least he was bloody honest. He gloried in the joy of the hunt almost more than the satisfaction of sinking his teeth into succulent flesh. Relished the hot pulse of blood filling his mouth. Revelled in his liberation from Jake’s dogged grip on civility. The most ludicrous part of their pact was that Jake was wont to wonder at the fact that it was harder to drag Jack back to his dungeon, rather than fling open its doors. 

Jake had spent a lifetime snarled in self-loathing, suppressed rage and terror as pure as it was toxic. All of which he’d battered into submission, then shrouded in studied cool and self-deprecating wit.

Where his human overthought everything, gnawing away and getting nowhere, Jack’s needs and desires were simple, with clear-cut solutions. His pain was easy to manage. Jackals are creatures of instinct; if he was hungry, he ate. The occasional sting of teeth and claws, when supper fought back was fleeting, his wounds healed in a matter of moments. Every hurt prompted a clear choice to take, and an action to end it. If Jake could be honest with himself for once in a bloody-minded lifetime, he might just admit that it was a relief to let Jack resume the reins. That he relished every minute of liberation from his miserable existence. Freedom from the quicksand mire of his own mind, free to roam as he wished, free to run, run with the wind ruffling his fur in an exhilarating rush of power and pounding paws.

 

Jake

 

Jake focused. It felt akin to pulling on a rippling swathe of silk; tugging it inwards, as if it were sucked deeper inside with every beat of his heart to crouch at his centre. Strangely similar to packing a parachute into a backpack. Or sucking a sock up a hoover pipe. Schllurrrp. It sounded horribly similar too.

Closing his eyes, Jack concentrated on the silent shimmer, on drawing it within, to the  epicentre of himself; the nucleus of all he was. Harnessing his secrets once more, until his human self was all that remained. Visible.  

Jake McCain rose to his feet and stood upon the earth, dragging in a deep lungful of that deadly scent. Still strong, but bearable now. The longing to sink his teeth into ivory flesh was no longer quite so insistent. Not as a snack, at least. Jake’s hair fluttered around his face, flirting with the wind. The only part of his entire self that now felt free.

His skin gleamed like marble in the moonlight as Jake bent to scoop (at least) six feet of unconscious man into his arms and cradle him close to his chest. Lust licked along his veins, an inferno of need boiling his blood. His proximity was incendiary. Intoxicating. Jake was crackling with so much energy he could probably saunter to the summit of Ben Nevis. Fucknows how his human heart was still functioning in the face of so much. Every fibre of Jake’s being had fused to focus on Him.  A focus so fervent, furious, that its rage could raze the world to the ground if it did Him harm.

I am holding Him in my arms…which was so much more than Jake had ever dared dream. Everlasting legs were draped over his left arm, his right curled beneath Him to support His upper body. So far so good. Except for the slight matter of the erection attempting to drill into His back. Jake was now so strong, and his cock so hard, he could probably balance his precious cargo just so, as if serving Him up on a platter. Now there was an image to save to his mental hard-drive. It would certainly make for a spectacular finale to Jake’s Britain’s Got Talent act.

He’d just better hope that his patient didn’t waken before they reached the sanctity of His campervan. The starkers-as-the-day-he-was-born part was bad enough, but Jake clearly hadn’t thought it through. Perhaps he should start praying to Anubis for divine intervention. Or perhaps not. Calling upon the Protector of the Dead—he who ushered souls into the afterlife—thus drawing all-powerful attention to the man in his arms possibly wasn’t the finest idea Jake ever had.

Cradling Him carefully so that He wouldn’t be unduly jolted, Jake began to run.

***

 

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