Lev Baxter’s life has been spent searching for the truth of the world’s dark mysteries, and hiding from his own secrets. Burdened by love and lust for his married best friend, Shaw Montgomery, Lev escapes into the arms of countless, unnamed women in foreign lands, far from his true temptation. But Shaw seeks him out and Lev succumbs. The price he pays lies in a Romanian demon’s curse, and his guilt drives him into hiding. When the curse comes to fruition and Lev has no choice but to carve it from his body, no amount of running or hiding can save him from the truths which find him at last. (M/M)
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Lev’s body shifted before his eyes and he wasn’t moving a muscle. His big belly rolled all on its own. Edges and angles pushed at his flesh from within as it undulated as if something was trying to get out. He’d have been more disturbed if it didn’t happen all the time now. The movements served to remind him, though, how he used to think there was some creature inside of him—a huge parasite, maybe, or an old-world demon, or some breed of nasty looking thing out of nightmares, brought to life by the Romanian demon bitch’s curse.
But that hadn’t been the point of the curse at all.
The point had been sort of an epic double-whammy. He’d always been a womanizer and hardly ever considered the people he used and left behind. Sleep with a girl one night as he passed through a back-woods town, gone the next day. Part of this habit had been borne purely because of his vagabond lifestyle. Sometimes he wanted company. It was as simple as that. But, another part of it’d been a pathetic attempt to run away from who he really wanted to be with.
Lev wanted to be with Shaw, his best friend, who was married to a beautiful woman named Eva, father to Peter, a two year-old little boy who was conceived and born before the marriage took place. Lev wanted to be with Shaw, even if it meant destroying Shaw’s new family to do so. And, really, how sick was that?
Before Eva, Lev had sex with Shaw, once. It was amazing.
Shaw flew to Istanbul for one of his long visits with Lev. They drank two bottles of wine, stood out on Lev’s tiny balcony to enjoy the spectacular view of the city at night. They had to stand closely in order to fit.
Lev’s hand shifted of its own accord, made brazen by the wine, from his glass to Shaw’s hip. Shaw’s hand then moved to wrap the back of Lev’s neck. It was so intimate. It was intense. Lev couldn’t raise his eyes to meet Shaw’s gaze, to dare to hope. Love had always flickered there between them, but the nature of the sentiment seemed vastly different from one man to the other. Lev was secretly obsessed, battling anguished lust. Shaw was stoically devoted.
Just as Lev tried to grasp for a reason to leave, to escape the human intoxication touching him, breathing his air, Shaw set their glasses aside, slipping Lev’s from between his fingers. He leaned in, without hesitation, and kissed Lev firmly on the lips. Shaw’s fingers shifted to clasp the back of Lev’s head, brushing over the short strands of hair. Lev felt the gentle, deliberate caress all the way down to his toes. His skin pebbled with goosebumps. Instinctively, he opened up to the kiss.
Heart racing, sweating lightly, dizzy and drunk, he let Shaw pull his shirt off. When Shaw started to knead Lev’s pectoral muscle, swiping his thumb deliberately over the stiffened nipple, Lev was too overwhelmed to understand. As Shaw walked them back into the small flat and over to the bed which took up most of the room, he worked Lev’s pants loose.