the Gift by A.F. Henley
Exclusive Excerpt For Books On Silver Wings
He woke to knocking and fumbled for his cell phone. If the lack of lighting in the room was an actual indication of time, someone was going to die. August wasn't sure if he actually spoke the words "It's not even six a.m. yet!" or just thought them loud enough that it seemed like it.
"Auggie? Auggie!" Knock, knock, knock; bang, bang, bang and August frowned in bitter annoyance. If that kept up they were going to be kicked out of the hotel only hours after they'd arrived.
He gritted his teeth and got out of bed, opening the door with exaggerated aggravation. "One," he growled at Doren's grin, "I warned you about calling me Auggie. And two, if you have any fondness whatsoever for your testicles, this better be important."
Doren's smile grew, his eyes sweeping August from top to bottom. "Nice jammies."
August lifted an eyebrow. "What is it, Doren?"
"Come with me," Doren gushed, all excitement and teeth and grabby hands. "I need to show you something."
"It is six in the morning."
Doren's only reply was to snag August's hand and yank him into the hall.
"I thought music people didn't get up this early," August grumped.
Doren turned and winked. "I haven't been to bed yet."
As August was pulled down the hall he rolled his eyes. This had better not be the start of a nasty habit. He liked his sleep. And if Doren was going to be a midnight rover, then Doren better be happy doing it alone. August was pretty sure there was nothing in their agreement that said he had to join his boss on early morning escapades.
"Where are we going? I need a robe or something. I can't wander the halls like this." Doren might have been fully dressed but he was still in pajama pants and a t-shirt, his feet bare. And the hallway was freezing compared to the warm bed.
He hissed at the tile on the stairs and stopped. "Cold! I need shoes. Or socks. Or something—" His arm was yanked, his words disregarded, and August was forced to follow, muttering grumpily, waiting at the heavy door to the lobby while Doren poked his head out.
"Okay," Doren whispered, grinning like a twelve-year-old playing hooky. "All clear, come on."
"We can't go in there," August said when they reached the far end of the hall, suspiciously eyeing the sign on the door that Doren reached for. "The sign says it's closed until seven."
Doren waved him off. "I go where I want." Then he turned to flash another smile. "This is so cool! Just wait until you see it."
There was no other word August could come up with but "Wow!" He stood in awe, staring around at what he was sure was one of the most enchanting spaces he'd seen in his life: concrete walls painted with images of robe-clad bathers and flitting cupids, clouds, flowers and birds. An alluring mist drifted along the surface of a crystalline pool. "It looks like one of those Roman bathhouses. What is it?"
Doren smiled, flicking one of the light switches, and the pool was suddenly illuminated from under the water. "I knew you'd like it. It's a salt-water pool. Neat, hunh?"
"Yes, actually. What makes the water all misty like that?"
"It's heated." Doren's eyes fell to the front of August's pants, smirking. "And as we can both see the room is chilly. So, voila. Fog."
August's cheeks flushed; he crossed his arms and shifted self-consciously. "Mist," he corrected. "Not fog. And you're a pig."
Doren shrugged. "Nah, just a man. One would think you'd understand. Come on." Before August could stop him, Doren popped open his jeans and let them slide down his legs, stepping out of them while he pulled off his top.
Once again August found himself struggling for something more than the "holy crap" that took up every single thought process in his mind. August's face began to burn. Without a word Doren turned, naked as they day he'd been born, and dove into the pool. Water broke to grant him entry, his body illuminated by the underwater lighting, and God but he was beautiful. August had never seen anyone quite like him. Not that he'd spent a lot of time with actual in-your-face naked men. But he'd seen enough porn to know that Doren's body was one of the good ones.
Doren popped through the surface of the pool, shaking water out of his dark hair. "You coming?"
"Uh, no? I didn't bring a suit."
"So?" August wasn't sure whether to take Doren's lifted eyebrow as smug or confused. "Neither did I."
August glared and pursed his lips. "Forget it."
Doren shrugged and leaned back in the water, floating on the surface. "Come in like that then."
The pool did look inviting. And it was pretty cold standing there on the concrete floor. "What if we get caught?"
"Come on, Auggie!" Doren patted the water beside him. "Don't be a suck. When will you ever get to experience something like this again? Besides, what if I start to drown or something? I'll need you to save me." He righted himself and walked towards the edge of the pool, reaching teasingly for August's ankles. "Don't make me come get you."
August cast his eyes around the room, unsure. No one was around. But what if someone came in? Did he have anything to lose other than some soggy clothes? Would they get in trouble? He hovered at the edge of the pool, gingerly testing the water with his foot. "Don't pull me in, okay?"
Doren laughed and before August realized what Doren was doing, he'd grabbed the ankle he'd been threatening and gave a good, solid tug. There was no recovering from it. Attempting grace, failing miserably, August tried to twist into a dive but managed no more than shutting eyes and mouth before he was struggling back to the surface, breaking clear with an angry sputter.
"Don't tell me what to do," Doren said, his voice low and amused. Then he was gone, twisting like a fish and disappearing into the foggy water.
As much as August was ready to kill, he had to admit it was a pretty cool sensation: the warm water, buoyant from the salt, seeming to whisper at him to drop back down into the brine and enjoy the heat, to dip into the swirling mass over the surface. It was a lure August chose not to resist. Doren was floating again with his eyes closed and a lazy smile lifting the corners of his mouth and August followed suit, sighing as quietly as he could manage, lying back and relaxing sleepily in the womb-like aura.
The room was silent but for the echoed swish of moving water and the constant drip of resettling droplets until Doren began to hum: a soft, murmuring chord that filled the room and echoed against the walls, bouncing back to weave together with the new tones coming again. August thought he could place it and yet, when he tried, it seemed to slip away from him. It was like one of those songs from way back in childhood, or in a dream somewhere along the way, but that he hadn't heard for a long, long time since. He listened for a moment, letting the notes sink their way into the depths of his memory before curiosity got the better of him. "What is that? What are you singing?"
"You don't know it?"
The much cooler air pricked August's skin with exhilarating goose bumps while the warm, light water teased around the rest of his body. It was an odd, not entirely pleasant, not entirely negative, sensation. "No. Maybe. It's familiar. Tell me?"
Without opening his eyes, Doren reached for August, his hand trailing through the water, searching, waving, but August didn't let Doren make contact. "Would you believe me if I told you?"
It seemed as though the sounds of the room had faded into one note: a dreamy, pick-you-up-and-take-you-away kind of chord. It had to be the pool, the weird, floaty feeling of the salt-water and the strange warm-yet-cold sensation of the pool versus the air. Because August was starting to feel a little disconnected from the floor underneath him and more than a bit lightheaded. "Of course, why wouldn't I believe you?"
Doren opened his eyes, caught August's gaze and held it. "It's the water, Auggie. This is the music that the water makes. Listen close, maybe you can hear it." He started to hum again and the music slipped around them, as if in time with the swirling water. When Doren spoke again his voice was quiet. "You remember, right? When you were a kid? You'd slide under the water in the tub and listen to that soft thrum, thrum, thrum. And the way the water sounded when it moved: that shish, swish, shish. Can you hear it, Aug?"
And damned but if his memory wasn't tingling with the all but forgotten feeling of it.
"Give me your hand," Doren murmured. "Give me your hand and I'll show you."
August wasn't sure if he reached consciously for Doren. Truthfully, he was almost sure he didn't. It was like something inside him reached out instead. Their fingers touched and a small flash of electricity pulsed through August's blood. And then the softest sound he had ever tried to define slipped into his mind. He closed his eyes, trying to find it, trying to hear it. No, August decided, it wasn't there at all. He'd just been imagining it. Or … perhaps … their hands, their fingers were barely touching … maybe if August slipped their hands all the way together he would hear more …
And suddenly everything was distorted by a loud bang as the door to the pool slammed open and the room filled with the busy chatter of children.
Buy your copy of the Gift here: Purchasing Link
Doren was born with a powerful gift – a gift he's managed to use to put him well on his way to becoming a star. But there is more to that gift than just musical talent, and as careful as Doren is to hide that fact, there are some who know of the power behind the sound, and all the ways they could abuse it.
August's goal in life is simple: make an impact in the music industry. An opportunity to work as the personal assistant to Doren seems to be exactly the kind of break he needs to accomplish that goal. But all too often in life, simple becomes just another complication, especially when there are people whose goal is even simpler: destroy and dominate.
Word Count: 89,000
Content: Contains some explicit content
About the Author:
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica.
A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for 'research purposes' which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions, but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly working with LT3 since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since – an indentured servant to the belief that romance and true love can mend the most broken soul. Even when presented in prose.
Comments, kudos, and signature card requests are happily received at AFHenley.com.
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AF Henley <3
*Read the 5 Stars Review of The Gift on Books on Silver Wings HERE