People don’t just materialize into reality simply because you want them to so desperately that waking up breaks your heart.
by Tempeste O’Riley
a Standalone story
M/M Erotic Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Release Date: May 13, 2016 (ebook/print)
♥ ♥ ♥ Dreamspinner Press ♥ ♥ ♥
Add to: Goodreads
Liam Grady is the owner of the Feathered Quill, a quirky little bookstore in Asheville, and—though he doesn’t realize it yet—a dream walker. His last relationship failed almost a year ago, and he’s not had the interest or nerve to pursue anyone he’s met since.
Cameron Danu is a tattoo artist from rural Georgia. Cameron is left without a job after his boss, Jose, is forced to close the shop after a heart attack. When Cameron learns Jose has set up an interview for him at a small tattoo parlor in Asheville, he hopes for a fresh start in a new town.
Fate brings Cameron and Liam together, and they realize they’ve met before—in their dreams. A chance encounter and a winged tattoo might lead them to their destiny—if fear doesn’t turn their dreams into a nightmare.
Life may not be “a dream within a dream,” but this story both begins and ends with one. Always remember to make the most of each moment.
Chapter 1 (explicit!)
Liam shifted his weight as he straddled Cameron’s hips and positioned himself so his hard cock settled in the valley of Cam’s tight little butt. He loved how Cam’s ass rounded, how there were those prominent little divots near the top that begged for his tongue to dip into. As he looked down at his lover, his gaze automatically traced the tattoo that covered his back and cheeks. He loved the sensual way the wings arched and curled over his shoulder blades and trailed down the sides of his back, the last bit cupping his firm ass. The Celtic knot in the center framed the slight bumps down his spine in such a way he couldn’t help but trace them on his way down. The gold and silver ink contrasted beautifully against Liam’s creamy, pale skin.
He caressed Cam’s neck and shoulders before he moved down Cameron’s back again. Liam molded a palm over one bare buttock. With the other hand, he stroked up and down Cam’s back. Up and down. His fingers paused on different spots of the tattoo and then started again. Liam bent forward, tracing the intricate design with the tip of his tongue. The hint of sweet skin and musk burst across his taste buds, drawing a groan from deep within him. He never could get enough of this man.
Cameron squirmed, pushing up against Liam. “Lee, please don’t tease.”
He chuckled, loving how ready for his touch Cam always was. “Just taking my time, baby. Can’t get enough of your taste… of you,” he added and nipped Cameron’s side.
“Then taste me lower,” Cam panted, raising his ass as much as possible with Liam still sitting on him. “I know how much you like eating me. Please, Lee.”
Liam did love rimming Cam’s perfect little hole. The way he would writhe and whimper was almost enough to send Liam over the edge on its own.
“Dammit,” he groaned.
He rutted against Cam for a moment, but the simple words and friction made him crave more. Liam continued to trace the intricate pattern down Cam’s back, licking and sucking the flesh as he descended. When he reached Cam’s cheeks, he grasped each and massaged, exposing Cam’s tight passage. Each time he pulled them apart, Cam pushed back into the motion, the whimpers and moans enough to tempt Liam to skip the appetizer.
Instead, though, he pulled Cam’s hips up so Cam was on his knees with his chest on the soft, black sheets of the bed. He loved how Cam’s creamy skin looked against the dark colors. Liam licked his way down Cameron’s cleft, not stopping as he passed over his entrance. He grazed Cam’s taint with his teeth, loving the gasp that escaped. He then licked back up, making several passes but never stopping at the fluttering hole he so desired.
When he finally zeroed in on his target, he alternated nibbling and sucking on the tender flesh there with stabbing into Cam with his tongue.
“Liam, I’m begging you, please… I need…. Dammit, fuck me!” Cameron’s voice was high and needy, as it only got when Liam rimmed him. Liam loved that tone.
He reached out and took the bottle of slick, popped the top, and poured a small amount on his fingers before dropping his mouth down to gently suck one of Cam’s balls into his mouth.
“Oh God!” Cam panted, shaking hard.
He touched Cam’s hole, enthralled with the sounds and the shiver that tore through Cam as he first pet, then slowly pushed his middle finger all the way to the knuckle inside Cam’s willing body. Liam switched to the other ball, laving and sucking on it as he pumped his finger in and out of the hottest, tightest body he had ever felt.
Eventually Liam added a second and then third finger, twisting and scissoring as he went. As Cam fucked himself, Liam sat back on his heels, watching as his fingers disappeared over and over again. He was careful not to hit Cam’s happy button, though, wanting to savor how his body tightened around his cock, not his fingers.
“If you don’t get in me soon, Liam, I’m not going to make it.”
“That’s okay, baby. I’ll pound you through your first and keep filling and stroking you until you’re hard and shooting again.”
Cam shuddered at his words, his hands scrabbling on the sheets as he slammed back harder, the sounds coming from him no longer coherent. When Liam couldn’t take it anymore, he withdrew his fingers and poured more slick into his palm.
Cam twisted his head so he could glower, his silver eyes blown wide. “What the—?” He stopped and stared as Liam made a production of stroking the lube up and down his cock, caressing and squeezing the shaft.
“Head down, ass high, Cam,” Liam barked, loving how fast Cam hurried to do as ordered.
When Cam was in place, Liam lined the tip of his rod up to the tight, pulsing hole and gave short, teasing jabs. Cam only tolerated it for a minute or two before he slammed backward, impaling himself on Liam’s hard cock in one violent push.
Desperate not to lose it already, Liam held on tight to Cam’s hips, holding him in place until his need backed off a bit. The pulsing of Cam’s muscles around him made it harder to accomplish, but he wouldn’t change a thing about the man under him. Once Liam was certain he wouldn’t come, he began slow, full slides, reveling in the exquisite heat wrapped around him.
Cam reached back with one hand, clutching Liam’s hip, tugging at him. Liam knew what Cam wanted, but refused to change his pace. Since he still held Cam hard, Cam was completely at his mercy—a fact Liam thoroughly enjoyed.
“What’s the matter, Cam?” he asked, thrusting harder and faster for a moment before slowing down again. “What do you need, baby?”
“Dammit, Lee! Fuck me through the goddamn bed!” he roared, tightening around Liam until Liam saw stars.
Liam released Cam’s hips, took two handfuls of cheek instead, and pulled them apart. He watched for a moment as his cock slid in, but then pulled back and slammed in hard. Over and over again, he drilled into Cam’s willing body, shifting until Cam keened with every thrust. Happy with his angle, he sped up again, his thrusts brutal as he took everything Cam offered and more.
Cam screamed, his body tightening painfully around Liam, but Liam kept pounding through Cam’s release, not ready to end the pleasure for either of them. He slowed when Cam’s body sagged and his channel unclenched, but did not stop.
He reached around Cam and scooped up some of his spend to use as lube. He wrapped his large hand around Cam’s half-hard shaft and stroked in time with his gentler thrusts, squeezing and tugging the way he knew Cam liked best.
The jolt under him from Cameron made him chuckle, as did the begging that started back up again. “God, you’re trying to kill me, aren’t you?”
“Nope,” he argued, adding a twist to the head of Cam’s cock as he stroked and thrust. “But I can never get enough of you, so shut up and let me love you,” he demanded.
He pulled out and flipped Cam over, needing to see Cam. Looking into Cam’s stormy gray eyes wasn’t a want; it was an all-encompassing compulsion.
“What are you—?”
“Keep your eyes open,” he barked. As soon as Cam opened them again and met his gaze, he slammed back inside, thrusting so hard he shifted Cam up the bed in increments. “I need to see you come for me, baby. Please, come.” His voice bottomed out on the last word.
Electricity crackled deep in his gut and spine, his balls pulled up tight, but he couldn’t go over the edge until his lover did. When he wrapped his fingers around Cam’s angry red member again and pulled, Cam arched back and his mouth dropped open, but no sound came out. His dick spewed shot after shot again of viscous white fluid over Liam’s hand and abs.
The sight alone sent Liam hurtling over the razor’s edge he’d been hovering on, his body throbbing in time to his heartbeat as he emptied into Cam’s body. With the last pulse of his dick, his arms gave out and he slumped down onto Cam’s chest, spent.
After a moment Liam shifted and gently withdrew before he collapsed on his side. When Cam didn’t move, he chuckled, pulled him over, and wrapped his body around Cameron’s still-trembling form.
“Liam?” he whispered.
“Hmm?” Liam nuzzled his lips against Cam’s nape.
Confused, he shifted so he could look into Cameron’s eyes. “For what, baby?”
“For being so good to me and always knowing what I need.” Cam leaned in, brushing his lips against Liam’s so softly, they barely touched.
Beep…. Beep…. Beep….
“No! Not yet!”
Beep…. Beep…. Beep….
“Dammit,” Liam Grady growled as he opened his eyes to the early morning sun peeking through his curtains. He turned his head away and tried to ignore the evil little noisemaker on his nightstand. Even though he knew it was useless, he reached out and smoothed his hand over the cold sheets.
Another damn dream.
Dreams were the only times he felt happy or fulfilled anymore, not that it did him any good, seeing as his perfect man didn’t exist outside his imagination.
Rolling onto his back, Liam roughly rubbed his hands over his face, trying to shake the lingering memory of Cam’s touch. Frustrated with life and his lack of a real relationship, he reached out and pounded his fist down on the demonic alarm clock. Satisfied when it went silent, he flipped the sheets off himself. He was annoyed, but not surprised, to see the mess he’d made. It was worse than puberty.
He hopped out of bed and stripped himself and his bed before he headed into the bathroom to grab a quick shower before making it down to the store. The Feathered Quill was a small bookstore he owned near downtown and his pride and joy. However, it would not open itself.
An hour later, he walked the aisles of his shop, breathing in the unique scent of paper and ink that permeated it. The aisles were neat and wide, with a few comfortable chairs scattered about for those who preferred to sit to browse. The carpeting on the floor muted the sounds of countless kinds of footwear, but he also had mirrors in various places so he could see around the store without having to crowd his visitors.
Once satisfied with how welcoming it seemed, Liam headed into the back. He switched on the small CD player he’d set up, the speakers in strategic places throughout the store, and was content when the first notes of Mozart’s Für Elise wafted through the store. He grabbed the first case of new books he needed to put out and carried them out to the floor.
The bells Di gave him when he first opened The Feathered Quill still hung on the front door, and when they jangled, he paused as he put out a new set of erotic romances. Moments later, his best friend since they were both in diapers poked her head around the corner. He remained squatting and watched her as she looked around before finally noticing him. A smile lit up her entire face as she glided over to where he worked.
“Hey, Liam. What do ya got there?” Dianne asked, glancing from him to the tasteful sign designating the area for erotic LGBT romances.
He arched one brow at her but held up one of the books to let her see the cover. “This here’s a book,” he drawled. “Inside it are words, hon. And it’s,” he added with a gasp, eyes wide, “got boys doing naughty things to each other in it.”
She giggled and swatted him on the shoulder before snatching it from his hand. “Brat. I know what it is. I meant who’s it by?” She examined the cover and grinned. “It’s the newest Grey novel! Sweet!”
“Yes, Di, you can get it today, but I already have your copy behind the desk, so hand it over and back away from the smexy boys in love.” He held his hand out, waiting for her to return the book in question.
“Is it signed?” she asked, batting her eyes at him as she finally returned the book in question.
“Duh! I had to order it special, just for you.”
Dianne was all of five feet, maybe. She had blonde hair and bright blue eyes that were made even bigger by the wire-rims she wore, and a smile so big he wasn’t sure how it fit on her little heart-shaped face. She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tight. “Thank you, sweetie. You’re the best.”
A small chuckle slipped out as he watched her, glad he could bring her a little joy. His customers and his best friend seemed to be the only bright spots in his life anymore. Once upon a time, he’d considered his dream lover, Cam, to be one of those, but that was back when it was an occasional dream and he was lonely. Now, torn between wanting to live in his dreams and never wanting to dream again, he didn’t know what to do.
“Oh dear.” Dianne peered at him over the edge of her wire-rimmed glasses. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing, Di,” he said, waving off her solicitous question. He knew if he wasn’t careful, she’d be on one of her “save the nephew” kicks. “Now, are you going to stand there all day or help me here?”
“Hmm…. But watching you work is hot,” she countered, leering down at him.
For the first time in months, he laughed loud and long, unable to get the image out of his head. “God, I love you, girl,” he declared, set the books in his hand down, and stood, scooping her up as he did, and spinning her around.
“So good to hear you laugh again. Now, are you going to tell Auntie Di all about what’s bothering you?”
He set her back down and sighed. “Nothing really. I’m just not sleeping well.”
Her eyes narrowed as she scowled at him. “Still with the dreams? We need to find you a real boy. One that’s cute and sweet and hot as hell between the sheets,” she explained, waggling her thin, perfect eyebrows at him as she smirked.
“No more blind dates, Dianne,” he grumbled. He bent to finish putting the books away. He thought back to her last three attempts at finding him “Mr. Right” and cringed. They had been the worst dates of his life. Controlling, whiny, and arrogant were not his thing in friends, much less in a partner. “Please.”
“Fine,” she snapped. “I just want you happy, Liam. That’s all.”
“I know, and I appreciate it, but—” He stopped speaking when he heard the bells jingle again. “Hold that thought,” he whispered before heading to the front of his store to welcome his customers.
The next few hours were a constant barrage of people coming in to browse or to pick up special orders. When things finally settled, he found himself alone in the store, Dianne having left for work a little earlier. He restocked and cleaned a bit. One of the only things he didn’t enjoy about his store was the complete hit-or-miss of when shoppers would come.
He was sitting at the counter doodling idly when someone pushed open the door and entered, smiling. A short, thin man headed straight for him as he called out his greeting.
“Hey, I’m here to pick up a couple of art books for Andy at the Indigo Dragon. They in?”
“Yep. Give me just a second.” Liam had turned to look through the holds on the shelves behind him, when he heard a gasp. He pulled the book bundle and spun to find out what had caught the man’s attention.
Instead of examining a book or one of the little kitschy, impulse items on the counter, the man—John? Jean? No, Jason, that’s it—held the page Liam had been drawing on, his head tilted slightly. Jason’s eyes flicked from the page up to meet Liam’s. “You designed this?”
Liam set the books down and took the paper to see what had caught Jason’s interest. When he looked at it, he realized he had drawn Cameron’s back, butt, and tattoo. He swallowed hard, not liking someone admiring his Cam—No, Cam isn’t even real, so it’s stupid to get jealous!
“Just something I saw once. Looked cool,” he mumbled.
“Dude, you should totally bring this in. Andy or Bass would love to get their hands on this.” He traced his finger down the wings reverently. “Bet it would be sweet on the biceps too,” Jason added as they both stared at the sketch.
“I’ll think about it. Thanks,” he added, retrieving the sketch before ringing the items up and bagging them.
Honestly, he had thought many times over the last few months about having a small version of Cameron’s tattoo put on his body. He had chickened out every time he had considered the whole needles-and-pain thing, though. However, now that someone else had spoken his secret wish aloud, the idea seemed to haunt his thoughts as he set about helping new customers as they entered behind the retreating man.
“I found it a beautiful tale of unhappiness changed to romance and then love with a happy ending.”
—Rainbow Book Reviews, on “Designs of Desire”
“Designs of Desire is a tough realistic book that is touched by violence countered by the growing love between the two heroes.”
—Sensual Reads, on “Designs of Desire”
“It paints a stunning image of rebirth as Deacon and Kaden’s relationship begins to unfurl, like a rose as it opens its petals to the sun.”
—Carly’s Book Reviews, on “Caged Sanctuary”
“This is my favorite in this series so far. I love seeing how these characters are growing, all of them. As individuals, as couples, as friends, and as a family.”
—MM Good Book Reviews, on “Desires’ Guardian”
“The writer did an excellent job with the characters, they are likable and perfect. Not perfect in the way that they have no flaws, but in a way that they grab you and complement each other.”
—Love Bytes Reviews, on “Temptations of Desire”
“Tempeste created an amazing world for these paranormal species. I got lost in the story and wondering how all the pieces wove together.”
—Molly Lolly, on “Whiskers of a Chance”
*shorts in series +shorts in anthologies
Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud pansexual genderfluid whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what they couldn’t—defy the hate and come out. He has been their hero ever since.
Tempe is a hopeless romantic who loves strong relationships and happily-ever-afters. They has done many things in their life, yet writing has always drawn them back—no matter what else life has thrown their way. They counts her friends, family, and Muse as their greatest blessings in life. They lives in Wisconsin with their children, reading, writing, and enjoying life—especially now that they have joined the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence® (as Novice Sister Eroti-Quill… can’t imagine where that name came from).
Tempe is also a proud PAN member of Romance Writers of America®, WisRWA, and Rainbow Romance Writers. Tempe’s preferred pronouns are they/them/their/theirs/themselves. To learn more about Tempeste and their writing, visit http://tempesteoriley.com.