The Arrangement
Digital

Soulmates Book 1

Release: July, 20 2016

ISBN: 294-015682653-7

Price: $4.99

The Arrangement
Audio

Soulmates Book 1

Release: December, 26 2016

Listening Length: 7 hrs and 1 min

ASIN: B01MQYTWNV

Price: $19.95

The Arrangement
Print

Soulmates Book 1

Release: July, 13 2016

Page Count: 298

ISBN: 978-1-5352-1797-2

ASIN: 1535217979

Price: $11.99

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Excerpt

Chapter One

“Come on, Jackson, you know it’s only for a few days. I’ll be back late Sunday night.”

Carter Haywood kneeled on the front stoop of the house he shared with his ten-year-old half-brother and forced a smile. As he did every month, Carter wrestled with his guilt and wondered if he was being selfish by leaving for the weekend. He loved his little brother dearly, and where most of his acquaintances spent their nights and weekends either hooking up at bars if they were single or being all domesticated and cute if they were married, Carter went straight home and did homework, worked on therapy exercises, and before he fell asleep, jerked off to nameless, sometimes even faceless guys whose profiles he saw online.

With certainty, Carter knew if he didn’t get away on these monthly jaunts, the pressure of not only his job, but being the sole caretaker of a child with special needs would consume him, and he might end up resentful and angry. Carter had precious little time to call his own. Not to mention it was the only opportunity he had carved out for actual physical sex with a person instead of his hand. And tonight would have to be the only night this weekend for fun and games, as he had a charity function on Saturday night that as a board member, he had to attend. Alone.

Sex with whatever man he’d find this weekend was the furthest thing from Carter’s mind at the moment, with Jackson’s soulful gray eyes gazing up at him, glittering with unshed tears. Carter felt like an absolute shit and was about to say fuck it, and stay, when Helen, knowing how he tortured himself every month, took control and said in her most cheerful voice, “Jackson will have the best time this weekend. After therapy tomorrow we’re going to go to the Hall of Science, right?” With genuine fondness, she placed her hands on Jacks’s shoulders and gave him a gentle squeeze.

In a flash, Jackson’s mood shifted, and his face lit up. “Yes.”

Carter relaxed at his brother’s spoken word. From the start, Jackson had been heartbreakingly silent, only occasionally verbalizing in school and at home. Recently, the paraprofessional who sat with Jacks during school reported he’d begun to participate in classroom discussion, and it gave Carter a little more positive reinforcement that all the therapy and help he’d given Jacks worked. And their neighbor Helen, a retired special education teacher, was probably the one person in the world he trusted to leave Jackson with.

“Go on, Carter. You know we’ll be fine.” Her reassuring smile took the edge off the constant worry that gnawed at him that no matter how much he did—the different therapies, the psychiatrist, the medications—it was never enough. That he wasn’t equipped to handle a child with problems. The last thing he wanted to do was fail his brother; all they had was each other.

“I’ll bring you back a present, Jacks. A surprise.”

Carter wasn’t certain Jackson always understood him, but by his bright smile and unexpected hug, he knew he’d been given the green light to leave. Swallowing down his emotions, he passed his hand over his eyes in an attempt to brush away the wetness and was met with Helen’s tender look.

“I’ll call you tonight and send you a video as usual. Maybe we’ll make cookies; how about that, Jacks?” She deliberately turned them both away to head back inside the house as Carter juggled his garment bag and small overnight case and hurried down the steps to the black car idling at the curb. Traffic into the city on any night was a bitch, but on a Friday night it could actually take an hour from his house in Brooklyn to the hotel he always stayed at in Times Square.

“Sorry to make you wait, Harry, but we’re ready to roll. I’m gonna take a nap.”

“Go for it, Carter. I’ll wake you up when we get there. Might as well rest up for the weekend.”

What used to stir his blood in his mid-twenties didn’t set him off now that he was thirty-two. Attracting guys had never been a problem for him; he’d been fucking guys since he was sixteen and walked in on Troy Latham jerking off in the shower after football practice. His dick hardened at the memory of Troy’s wet lips sucking him off as hot water spilled down over them and him sinking into Troy’s tight ass later on in the back seat of his car.

No, finding guys to fuck wasn’t an issue. Over the years, it had been easy enough to walk away in the morning before the man had the chance to walk away from him. He’d learned long ago to hold on to that power; never let them see you cry or hurt. Never let them think you might care—it made you vulnerable, weak, and at risk. The problem was, how long could he go on taking one weekend a month to screw his brains out, leaving the rest of his life devoid of human touch?

Yet Carter smothered any thoughts of a relationship or even dating. He couldn’t take the chance and disrupt Jackson’s life by bringing a stranger into their little family unit. It had taken almost a year for Jacks to learn to trust him after their mother dumped him off and ran, and Carter wasn’t about to jeopardize his young brother’s health for a random piece of ass.

The car bumped its way onto the entrance ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge, and Carter slouched in the soft leather seat, the prospects of a nap long forgotten. In his twenties he’d been busy building up his business; he’d meet someone in a bar, and they’d hook up once, never twice. His schedule of late night meetings and constant travel precluded any serious dating. Then it seemed he blinked and here he was in his early thirties and alone.

His phone buzzed, and his lips curved in a smile when he saw Helen had uploaded a video of her and Jacks already making the promised cookies. How wrong he was—he wasn’t alone. No matter how crappy a day he had, coming home to the innocence of his little brother always chased away the darkness inside, if only for a little while.

Harry pulled up in front of the hotel in Times Square, and Carter, still watching the video, opened the car door and absentmindedly said, “Good night, Harry. See you here on Sunday.”

“Have a good one, Carter.”

“You too.”

Hefting his bags, Carter kept walking and watching the video. God knows, he didn’t ever want kids of his own and barely tolerated other people’s children, but when Jacks faced the camera and gave him a shy wave, Carter’s heart seized up in his chest. He touched the screen as if it would bring him closer to the little boy he’d left behind.

Restless and edgy after checking in, Carter knew it was too early to go out, so he stripped and got into the shower. The hot water beating down on his tight shoulders achieved its desired effect; his muscles loosened and conversely his dick hardened. He might as well take the edge off now, Carter mused as he took himself in hand and with practiced strokes that had him quivering within minutes, brought himself to a climax onto the shower floor. His breath hitched in his throat, and he blinked several times to bring his surroundings back into focus. His strength sapped, Carter watched the running water mixed with his semen swirl down the drain.

A familiar lassitude stole through him, and Carter now craved that nap he didn’t catch on the car ride over. After a quick soap and rinse off, he wrapped himself in the terrycloth robe kindly provided by the hotel, then lay down on the king-size bed and let sleep overtake him, wondering who’d be sharing the bed with him tonight.

Six hours later, Carter sat hunched over his drink at the last bar he planned on hitting up that evening. Although he’d danced and drank at several other places, no one had caught his eye long enough to make him look twice. This place wasn’t a gay bar, but it happened to have an extremely good-looking male population, and Carter spotted some potential bed partners, including the sexy bartender he believed had been sending him signals, although he seemed delightfully shy about it. He liked the man’s strong neck and full, plush lips and imagined them wrapped around his cock.

Noticing his glass was empty, Carter lifted it to catch the bartender’s attention and winked when their eyes met. At the sight of the blush staining the bartender’s face under the obligatory scruff, Carter surmised he might have found his playmate for the evening.

Carter’s eyes narrowed in appreciation as he watched the man approach him in skinny black jeans and a tight white T-shirt that clung to his muscular forearms and chest. Imagining this man on top of him in bed, sliding inside him, Carter nearly shivered in anticipation. His body pulsed with the familiar slow rise of hunger.

“Wow. Either you really want another drink, or…” The bartender quirked a brow. Carter wondered if he waxed or kept his natural happy trail down to his groin. Carter loved investigating that line of hair down a man’s sculpted abs with his lips and tongue.

“Both.” Carter flung a fifty on the bar. “I want another Grey Goose on the rocks now,” said Carter, crooking his finger at the bartender, who sidled closer to hear what Carter had to say over the boom of the music. “And when I finish with the drink I want to take you back with me and drink you down.”

Startled, the man ran his hand through the golden-brown waves tumbling over his forehead and gave a shaky laugh. “That’s crazy. You’re not serious.” At the sight of Carter’s unsmiling face, he swallowed hard. “You are serious. Shit, I can’t—”

“You can do anything you want.” Carter gripped the man’s wrist, then slowly rubbed the pad of his thumb up and down the underside of his arm. Almost immediately the man responded, his amber eyes shooting off fiery sparks of gold. Carter pulled him closer, and the man yielded until he leaned over the bar and his lips came dangerously close to brushing Carter’s. “What’s your name?”

“Reed.”

“Well, Reed,” said Carter, pausing to lick his lips and in the process touching Reed’s pouty bottom lip with his tongue. “What do you say?”

Almost laughing at the dazed expression of lust in Reed’s eyes, Carter took a chance and kissed him, sucking that plush lower lip inside his mouth. Reed rewarded him with a moan of pleasure so deep and guttural, Carter almost climaxed in his pants.

When they finally broke apart, Carter made sure to keep a tight hold of Reed’s wrist. “So? Are you coming with me?” Out of every man he’d seen tonight, Carter wanted Reed with an urgency he hadn’t anticipated. There was nothing extraordinary to set him apart from the other good-looking men standing about the bar. Yet Carter couldn’t let go of his wrist, and even now, with his heart still stuttering and Reed regaining his composure, Carter wanted to kiss him until the rest of the world spun away, rendering them both senseless again.

“Um.” Reed consulted his watch. “My shift doesn’t end for another hour.”

“I’ll wait,” said Carter without hesitation. “And I’ll take that Grey Goose now.” He stroked Reed’s fine, thin skin. “But with a twist this time.”

Reed’s eyes widened, and his nostrils flared. Unconsciously he leaned forward and triumph surged through Carter.

Yeah, that’s right, baby. Smell me; you know you want it. Carter quirked a brow, and Reed jerked back to awareness and pulled his arm away. Shooting Carter frequent dubious looks, Reed made him his drink and proceeded to set it on the bar quick enough that Carter couldn’t make a grab at him again. He backed away and began to twist at the cords of his leather bracelet.

Chuckling to himself, Carter sat there for the next hour and sipped his drink, getting just the right buzz on to the point where he could forget everything else in his life except the man who’d be coming back to his room tonight with him.

He looked up from his now-empty glass to find Reed standing beside him, wearing a beat-up leather jacket. “I-I’m finished with my shift now, but I’m not sure—”

“Not sure about what?” Carter stood and slipped his arm around Reed’s waist, inside his jacket. His warmth enveloped Carter, and strangely enough, he wanted desperately to sink into Reed’s arms. Reed tensed, and Carter felt the flex and play of his muscles underneath his clothing.

“I want you, you know that. And you want me too; it’s obvious. It’s only sex.”

“Yeah, I know that, but still.” Reed chewed his lip, suddenly looking very young and vulnerable, and an uneasy thought crept into Carter’s mind.

“How old are you?” Carter asked and held his breath.

“Twenty-seven. I know I look younger, but…”

Relief poured through Carter. A nervous lover he could handle. Still holding Reed around his waist, Carter moved even closer, fitting their hips together, letting Reed feel the weight of his arousal through his jeans.

“I want you to fuck me,” he whispered into the startled man’s ear. “Make me scream.” He bit Reed’s earlobe, and that gasping groan was the only sound playing in his universe. “And then I’m going to do the same to you.” Reed sagged in his arms, and Carter laughed his victory into Reed’s curls. “Let’s go.”

The two of them threaded their way through the crowd, Carter keeping a strong hold on Reed. It seemed his chosen companion for the evening proved very popular, and Carter noticed more than one man shooting him envious looks.

That’s right; he’s mine. Look but no touch.

Yellow cabs idled outside, waiting for the outpouring of customers exiting the bar. Carter opened the door to one, pushed Reed inside, and followed him, squashing him up against the far door.

“The West Hotel, Times Square.”

The cab lurched forward, and Carter used the opportunity to cage Reed between his arms and kiss him until his head swam. This part of the game, learning the other man’s mouth and tongue, was Carter’s favorite part of foreplay, and he took advantage of the short traffic jam to cup Reed’s face in the palms of his hands and deepen his kiss.

What he didn’t expect was the intensity of Reed’s response—hesitant at first, then a shift toward acceptance where their tongues slid together. Their mouths slanted across each other, feeding off a mutual need to taste and possess. The softness of Reed’s lips intoxicated, his warm, heady scent aroused him to an almost feverish excitement, and Carter found himself drowning in a desire so thick and overpowering he nearly stopped breathing.

Only the jerk of the cab stopping brought Carter back to reality.

“Yo. We’re here, buddy.”

The fog of lust that addled his brain lifted, and Carter fumbled in his wallet for his credit card, then ran it through the machine. It didn’t matter that he was in the back of a smelly New York cab. If he could’ve, he’d have remained there tasting Reed’s lips all night.

He pulled Reed out of the cab, and with that same surprisingly protective arm clamped around Reed’s waist as before, Carter strode to the elevator, his nerves buzzing with anticipation. His lips still tingled from their earlier kisses. Reed remained silent, his eyes wide with curiosity, taking everything in. He hadn’t said a word since they left the bar.

The elevator whooshed up to his floor, and within moments they reached the door to his room. Carter swiped his card key, and they tumbled inside, ripping off shirts, pulling down zippers, and tugging off jeans and shoes until the clothes all lay in a pile at their feet. Neither of them had moved from the entrance, and Carter, fully naked, plastered himself against an equally naked and fully aroused Reed. Carter’s fingers curled against the doorframe, and he buried his face in the curve of Reed’s neck.

“Fuck, I want you.” It wasn’t that he hadn’t been with another man in a month. It was Reed. Carter wanted him. Now. The smoothness of Reed’s skin, his thick cock pressing against Carter’s, the feel of his stubble scratching and burning as their cheeks slid together amped up his arousal to the point where he was about to splinter apart. Helpless, he thrust his rigid cock against Reed’s, shamelessly pinning him to the door until with a shuddering cry he came, spurting all over Reed’s stomach.

To his surprise, Reed took him around the waist and led him farther inside the hushed room. The maid had been in and turned down the sheets, and in a corner a dim light glowed golden, casting shadows. Carter lay face down on the bed, his head turned to the side, watching Reed watch him.

“What do you want from me?”

Spreading his legs in a silent invitation, Carter kept his gaze on Reed’s face and registered his surprise.

“Oh. I thought you were kidding before.”

“I never kid. I don’t have the time.” With a tip of his head Carter indicated his duffel bag sitting on the floor next to the bed. “In the outside pocket are condoms and lube.”

Somewhere in the distance, a radio played soft music, and Carter let the familiar, post-sex languor steal through his body. Reed gave him a hard look but said nothing; he reached over to unzip the pocket and pull out a box of condoms and a tube.

“I see you came prepared for the weekend.”

“Yeah,” said Carter, a mirthless smile thinning his lips. “I’m a real boy scout.”

Reed put his knee on the bed and leaned over to kiss the back of Carter’s neck. Within moments, Carter found himself unashamedly moaning and writhing beneath the efforts of Reed’s eager and agile tongue as it left a warm, wet trail down his spine.

“Oh, fuck, that’s good. Don’t stop.” His hands scrabbled at the sheets, twisting them into sweaty knots. Everything in Carter’s mind—his home, his business, even Jacks—faded away as Reed’s mouth licked, sucked, and nibbled at his quivering body.

“Please,” he moaned. Carter hardly recognized that desperate and needy voice as his own, and was so far gone he didn’t care. “Please.” A ceiling of gold shimmered above him, growing brighter with each sweep of Reed’s tongue. Reed’s cool, slick fingers parted his ass, and a finger brushed his hole, then sank inside, working its way in and out. It was soon joined by another, and they both kept up a steady, pumping motion while his body hummed, on fire.

“Fucking hell,” he cried out, his cock once again painfully hard. His ass was up in the air, his legs spread wide, and Carter opened himself with complete abandon as he worked himself on Reed’s hand, uncaring how he might look. Sparks flew from that golden ceiling, and Carter trembled in anticipation of it shattering.

“No hell,” whispered Reed in Carter’s ear. “I’m about to take you to heaven.”

Then he was empty and bereft, Reed having removed his fingers. Carter wanted to protest, wanted to be filled again, when the head of Reed’s cock pushed into his hole.

“Uhh.” He grunted with the effort to relax. “Fucking shove it in me. I want it all.” It was as if knowing he only had tonight, Carter wanted it as hard and fast as he could, to wring as much pleasure out of his body as possible before he had to shutter it all down for another four weeks of darkness.

If he thought Reed was about to listen to his demands though, Carter was mistaken. Reed pulled him on his knees to the edge of the bed while he stood and fit his body to the curve of Carter’s back. Their torsos pressed close, and with his arm firmly wrapped around Carter’s chest, Reed began a slow, sensual rocking motion, his thick cock sliding inside Carter’s body, deep and strong. A wave of hunger, incredible in its neediness, rose within him to be taken, and Carter leaned back against Reed, blindly searching for his mouth. With a strong hand on Carter’s face, Reed took his lips in a bruising kiss while his other hand slid down to grab hold of Carter’s now-straining cock.

They kept up that rocking, sliding, stroking motion, Carter trembling with the effort of holding himself together until that golden ceiling eclipsed, showering bright shards of light behind Carter’s eyes. He came again, though it was a much sweeter, less fiery release. Reed lasted only moments longer, pumping hard, coming hot and heavy inside the condom, sobbing out his climax as he collapsed on top of Carter, pushing him face down on the bed.

They lay together, the sweat on their drenched bodies drying off in the air-conditioned cool of the room, and Carter found himself dozing once again, drained from the emotions of the day and the incredible sex he’d experienced. Reed pulled out of him, and with one eye cracked open, Carter tracked him as he tossed the used condom in the trash, then went to the bathroom. He heard the sound of the toilet flush and water run, and he used the last of his strength to wiggle under the covers. For a moment he considered asking Reed to stay, but that would get awkward in the morning. Besides, Jacks always got up early, and they had breakfast together over Skype.

“Make sure when you leave that the door shuts behind you. Thanks for everything.”

He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

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