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Authors: Sarah Madison

Crying for the Moon

BOOK: Crying for the Moon
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Copyright

Published by

Dreamspinner Press

4760 Preston Road

Suite 244-149

Frisco, TX 75034

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Crying for the Moon

Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Madison

 

Cover Art by Anne Cain   
[email protected]

Cover Design by Mara McKennen

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 4760 Preston Road, Suite 244-149, Frisco, TX 75034

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

 

ISBN: 978-1-61581-942-3

 

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition

July 2011

 

eBook edition available

eBook ISBN: 978-1-61581-943-0

Dedication

 

 

 

 

 

 

To vida_boheme,

who really does understand

the concept of “crying for the moon.”

This one’s for you, kiddo.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 


W
HO
the hell is this?” Alexei Novik said when he saw the car turn into his driveway. He’d idly noted the presence of the car as it made its way slowly down the gravel road; there was little enough traffic up on the mountain that any vehicle stood out. Irritation flared when he saw it stop, back up, and begin the long descent down his driveway.

Behind him, Nick snorted. “Told you that isolating yourself up here was a waste of time.”

Alex threw him a sharp look. Nick merely shrugged. His dark sunglasses hid his eyes, but Alex knew Nick was laughing at him by the little smile hovering on his lips.

“Where’s everyone else?” Alex glanced back at the moving van, but no one was in sight.

“Duncan and Tish took the mattress set upstairs. We’re waiting on them for the heavy lifting.” Nick indicated the large rectangular crate sitting at the top of the basement stairs. “Peter went looking for something to drink.”

The fewer people this uninvited guest met, the better, especially if Alex wanted to maintain a low profile in the neighborhood. He cast a narrow-eyed glance at Nick, who was nothing if not memorable.

“Go find Peter and keep moving stuff inside. I’ll get rid of whoever it is.” Alex moved off to intercept the battered-looking Subaru Forester.

“No doubt you will,” Nick drawled, raising his voice slightly. “But remember, you’ve just moved in. You don’t want to be run out of town before nightfall, do you?” He ambled away toward the house with his usual easy grace, laughing as Alex quickly flipped him the bird.

The dark green car had mud splashed up along its doors and a dinged front fender. The personalized plate read PETVET. The driver came to a stop and pulled up the brake, unbuckling his seat belt as he opened the car door.

“Hello,” the man said cheerfully as he got out of the car. “My name’s Tate Edwards. I live at the end of the road.”

Alex suspected the first thing anyone noticed about Tate Edwards was his hair. Its vibrant russet color caught the late-afternoon light like the autumn leaves on the surrounding trees. The tousled curls reminded Alex of the cherubim popularized in paintings during the Italian Renaissance. No doubt the angled cheekbones saved Tate Edwards from having his cheeks pinched on a regular basis. The late-day stubble on his jaw was a deeper shade than the rest of his hair, making the contrast between the two striking. His eyes were an unusual shade of brown, so light they looked gold. If Alex had to describe either hair or eyes, he wouldn’t have been able to name their exact color. Tate had skin pale to the point of near-translucence and a light dusting of freckles that kept him from being downright gorgeous.

Pity he didn’t know how to dress.

He was wearing a blue nylon jacket over a shapeless tan sweatshirt. Mud caked the bottom half of his hiking boots, and Alex had to resist the urge to take a step back as Tate brushed clouds of dog hair off his baggy jeans while shutting the car door.

“Look,” Alex interrupted before Tate could continue. “I appreciate you stopping by, but I moved up here to be left alone. So if you’re the advance guard of the welcome wagon, thanks, but no thanks.”

“I can take my casserole and shove it?” Tate flashed a saucy grin that made his face look sly and foxlike. He had a slight Southern accent, mild compared to most of the locals Alex had met so far. “Relax. I’m not going to set you up with my nerdy cousin or make you join the neighborhood watch. I used to help out the elderly couple that lived here before and—”

Alex said abruptly, “That’s nice. I don’t care. Thanks for stopping by. Don’t do it again.” He turned back toward the house, only to see Nick and Peter approaching instead of returning to work.
Bastards
.

He supposed Nick couldn’t help himself. He probably thought the whole thing hysterically funny, seeing how Alex was determined to isolate himself up here. As long as it didn’t affect Nick’s own circle, he’d find the idea of Alex dealing with the neighbors priceless. Nick was odd like that. He could be charming in some settings and aloof in others. Alex had been surprised when Nick had volunteered his friends to help with the move when the subject had come up. Alex watched him now, walking up with a smirk firmly in place, and he reminded himself that Nick was off limits.

Alex noted Tate’s interested look of assessment as the two men joined them, and he blinked. Not the sort of reaction he’d have expected from any of the locals, to be honest. Certainly not from any of the local
men
.

Alex found himself looking at Nick with a stranger’s perspective, and he had to admit there was a lot to admire. Nick had to be one of the most beautiful people Alex had ever seen. With his Black-Irish coloring, his shock of unruly hair, and his perpetual three-day stubble, Nick was undoubtedly handsome. And dangerous. He had “bad boy” written all over him. An unfamiliar sense of amusement made Alex consider taking Tate aside to tell him he was barking up the wrong tree. Alex only just refrained from snorting aloud.

He shifted his glance to Peter, who was folding a slice of cold pizza into his mouth.

“What?” Peter said, with a raised eyebrow as he chewed. “I was hungry. First rule of having your friends help you move: you have to feed them. Aren’t you going to introduce us?”

Peter was fair where Nick was dark, his sandy-brown hair cut close to his head, making him look more like a high school football player than the college professor that he was. His blue eyes glittered with the humor of the situation.

“He was just leaving,” Alex said.

“I’m Dr. Edwards. Call me Tate. Nice to meet you.” Interestingly, Tate did not step forward to offer his hand.

Alex sighed, giving in. “Nicholas Carter. Peter Mabry.” He indicated each of the men in turn, hoping that the brevity of the introduction would drive his point across once more.  “I’m Alexei Novik.  Alex.”

“As I was saying,” Tate continued with a wry note in his voice. “I noticed as I was driving by that it looks as though you’re moving this stuff into the basement.”

He indicated a stack of boxes and the large crate.

Alex frowned. “So?”

“So, it floods several times a year. Usually in the spring, though sometimes in the winter as well.” Tate was matter-of-fact. “I wouldn’t put anything valuable down there.” He patted his pockets and fished out a business card, holding it out to Alex. “Like I said, I helped out the Beasleys before they decided this place was too much for them. I know where all the bodies are buried, so to speak.”

Nick and Peter shared a glance, their expressions full of amused glee—like twelve-year-old boys who had just heard a fart joke.

Alex reluctantly took the card, conscious of the contrast between his own fingers with their neat, blunt nails and the grubbiness of Tate’s hand.

Tate’s smile lit up his face, as though rewarding Alex for accepting the card. He turned to leave, presumably before Alex told him again to do so.

“Oh, by the way.” He paused with a snap of his fingers as he was getting into the car. “There’s a population of semi-feral cats around here. Don’t feed them; it just encourages them. There’s one brown tabby that acts tamer than the rest. Don’t try to pet him; he’d bite you as soon as look at you.”

“Not to worry,” Alex said dryly. “I’m not the petting type.”

“I noticed.” Tate’s smile was distinctly sly again. “More’s the pity.” He got into the car and started the engine, backing up and turning around to head toward the road once more.

Alex pocketed the card as he watched the Subaru crawl up the drive.

“Yum. There’ll be some good hunting toward the end of the month.” Peter looked a little dreamy-eyed, the way he always did when speaking of food.

“I said you could hunt up here, but you know you guys have to be careful. I can’t have the locals on a witch hunt because you get carried away.” Alex kept his tone light, but they all knew what was at stake here.

“Hell, they’ll probably thank us for cleaning out the area of stray cats.” Peter had a crooked, impish grin on his face that normally would have made Alex smile in return.

“We’ll be careful,” Nick assured him, sounding like the leader he knew Nick to be. “What about you?”

“Me?” Alex asked, frowning.

“Yes, you,” Peter crowed. “I’m thinking the handsome neighbor and you will have plenty to talk about on the long winter nights to come.”

“Don’t be an ass, Peter,” Alex said sharply. “Are you two going to flap your jaws all day or get this stuff moved inside?”

“Remind me again: why’d we agree to do this?” Peter asked plaintively, stretching out his broad shoulders with a wince as he spoke to Nick.

“Free pizza.” Nick shrugged. “Besides, I wanted to see what Alex was signing himself up for this time.”

“Nothing,” Alex said decisively. “That’s the whole point. I’m tired of the Life; I want something different for a while.”

“Well, different you’re certainly getting.” Peter huffed a bit as he looked up at the old house and back at Alex. “I doubt seriously any repairs have been made to this place in the last fifty years. By the way, I put my foot through the back porch stairs when I went inside this last time.”

Alex closed his eyes briefly.

BOOK: Crying for the Moon
2.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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