Where The Heart Is (a Bay City Paranormal Investigations story) comes out from Samhain Publishing on Tuesday. Yay! This is Dean Delapore's story, something lots of people have been waiting for ever since Dean nearly stole the show in What Hides Inside (BCPI book 2). Read on for more *g*
When Dean Delapore takes a break from Bay City Paranormal Investigations, he doesn’t expect his work to follow him to the eclectic town of Carrboro, North Carolina. The chance to investigate a haunting at the Blue Skye Inn and Winery is more than he can resist, mainly because of the inn’s owner. Deceptively shy and gorgeous, Sommer Skye is not only fantastic company, he’s the best lay Dean’s had in ages.
As Dean probes the misty secrets of the haunted inn, he unexpectedly peels away the layers hiding Sommer’s private pain. Pain Sommer’s not sure he can withstand. By the time Dean realizes just how deep his feelings for the innkeeper run, it’s far too late to turn back.
Now if only he can convince Sommer that falling in love changes everything, maybe for the better. If the bones of the past can be laid to rest…
(Warning: This book contains a melancholy ghost, unusual jewelry, misuse of vegetable shortening and lots of hot, sweet manlove)
From his spot at the table, Dean saw Sommer stop and speak to his friends at the door. Turning around, Kerry waved over her shoulder at Dean, then left the barn hand in hand with Ron. Dean picked up the glass of zinfandel he’d bought and took a long swallow as Sommer weaved around the emptying tables toward him.
“Hi, Dean,” Sommer said, leaning a hand on the chair beside Dean’s. “Walk up to the house with me? I’ll tell you about my ghosts, and I can show you around if you want.”
Dean grinned at the nervous quaver in Sommer’s voice. Oh yeah. I’m getting laid. “That would be awesome. Let’s go.”
Pushing his chair back, Dean stood and trailed Sommer toward a small door behind the bar in the back. He was close enough to smell the man’s musky cologne, underlaid with a hint of sweat. Dean breathed deep, trying not to be too obvious.
They rounded the bar and slipped through the back door into the night. Hunching his shoulders against the cold, Dean gazed around the grounds. A wide, neatly trimmed lawn stretched from the barn to the vineyard. The bare vines rasped together in the light wind. Overhead, the waxing moon shed a soft silver glow over the scene. Dean found it unbearably romantic.
Moving closer to Sommer, Dean gave him his friendliest smile. “So tell me about your ghosts.”
Sommer shot him a shy sidelong grin which made him want to rip the man’s clothes off and throw him down on the manicured grass. “What would you like to know?”
“What exactly you’ve experienced, where and when, and for how long.” Dean accidentally-on-purpose brushed Sommer’s arm with his, savoring the resulting hitch in Sommer’s breath. “Anything you can think of, really. Every detail can help determine what sort of haunting it is, and what if anything can be done about it.”
Sommer nodded, a thoughtful expression on his face. “That makes sense.”
“So tell me all about it.”
Sommer glanced at him again, a mixture of curiosity and fear in his eyes, but didn’t say anything. Dean waited, content just to walk together through the moonlit night. A light, chilly breeze rustled through the bare branches of the trees clustered behind the house, bringing with it the sounds of music and laughter from the barn, and the lingering smell of sun-warmed grass. Finally, as they approached the wide, shallow steps leading to the front porch of the Inn, Sommer stopped and turned to Dean with a determined expression.
“I see a mist forming,” he said, his voice low and quiet. “It rises from the floor in the kitchen, hovers there for a minute, then floats out the back door. It doesn’t make a sound, or interact with me in any way. But I…” He drew a deep breath, his gaze skittering away to rest on the huge wooden swing swaying from the branch of a large oak in front of the house. “I can feel it watching me. Like it expects me to do something, but I don’t know what.”
Intrigued, Dean leaned against the steps’ railing and regarded Sommer with keen interest. “Has anyone else seen this?”
Sommer nodded without looking at Dean. “Yeah. The cook, Lisa, saw it once, when I was in the kitchen with her.”
“Is she the only one?”
“So far, yes.”
“I’ve only had the Inn for four years, since my parents…” Sommer stared at the ground. “Well, they went missing. No clues to where they’d gone, or what might’ve happened to them. They just vanished.” Raising his head again, Sommer met Dean’s gaze with a surprisingly strong defiance in his own. “I’m an only child, there was no one else to look after this place, so I quit my job in Oregon and moved to Chapel Hill to take over the business. I’ve been seeing the mist ever since I first moved in, and no one’s seen it except when they’ve been with me.”
Moved by something he didn’t quite understand, Dean reached out and laid a hand on Sommer’s shoulder. “How often do you see this mist?” he asked, keeping his tone calm.
“A couple of times a week, usually.”
Dean pursed his lips, thinking hard. “Did you live here, in this house, before you lived in Oregon?”
Sommer shook his head. “No. In fact, my parents were—are—from Portland. They moved here when I was fifteen. I didn’t want to leave home, so they let me stay with my Aunt Katherine. I’d never been here until Mom and Dad turned up missing.”
“Hm.” Pushing away from the railing, Dean slid his hand down Sommer’s arm, making sure to brush their fingers together before drawing away. “Hey, can we go inside? It’s getting cold out here, and I’d love to see the kitchen, if that’s okay.”
Sommer’s face brightened into one of those sweet, crooked smiles which made Dean’s stomach flutter like he’d swallowed a flock of small birds. “That would be great. I have a few guests coming in tomorrow, but the place is empty tonight. We’ll have it to ourselves. I can show you everything.”
The implications in Sommer’s words were not lost on Dean. He took Sommer’s arm and smiled up at him, letting his lust shine on his face. “I like that idea.”
Sommer’s eyelids fluttered downward, hiding his eyes. His blush was clearly visible in the bright moonlight. He opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it again and shook his head. His gaze darted up again, meeting Dean’s, and Dean caught his breath at the fire in the man’s eyes. Before Dean could say a word, Sommer’s hand clamped onto the back of his neck and pulled him into a rough, demanding kiss.
For a split second, sheer surprise held Dean immobile. He knew Sommer wanted him, and he was confident they’d end up in bed before the night was out, but he’d expected to take the initiative himself. He never would have guessed Sommer would be this aggressive.
The thoughts fleeted through Dean’s brain in the space of a heartbeat, then Sommer’s tongue darted into his mouth and anything resembling rational thought went right out the window. With a low moan, Dean clutched Sommer close and tilted his head to deepen the kiss.
One long, graceful hand slid down to cup Dean’s ass through his snug jeans, the ones he’d worn specifically because they displayed his backside to best advantage. Dean returned the favor, grabbing a double handful of well-toned rear end and squeezing as Sommer attempted to suck his tongue out. Sommer groaned, the hand on Dean’s neck moving up to fist into his hair.
Dean whimpered when Sommer’s knee pushed between his legs. He rubbed himself shamelessly against the firm thigh.
“Let’s go inside,” Dean breathed the second Sommer broke the kiss to bite at the juncture of neck and shoulder. “God, if you fuck as good as you kiss it’ll probably kill me but I don’t care.”
Sommer’s chuckle vibrated against Dean’s throat. “No one’s ever complained. Not that I’m in the habit of taking men I just met to bed.”
“Mmm,” Dean hummed, arching his neck for Sommer’s nibbles and kisses. “I’d ask you why you’re taking me to bed, but I don’t care just as long as you fuck me through the mattress.”
To Dean’s relief, Sommer didn’t seem inclined to answer the question Dean had half-asked. Pulling out of Dean’s arms, Sommer grabbed his hand and started dragging him up the steps to the porch. “Come on. There’s lube and condoms in my bedroom.”
Dean’s insides clenched. Oh, my. I think I like him bossy. Grinning, he let himself be led inside.