As a kid, Joseph Appleyard saw things hidden from others. Now he is The Paranaturalist, an investigator and cohost of a television show that seeks to prove the existence of the paranormal. Some think Joe is crazy, but they don’t realize he knows firsthand there’s more to the world than what most perceive. The trouble is, somewhere along the way, Joe lost his vision and it left his world flat and dull. One night an investigation goes horribly wrong, and a powerful ghostly manifestation sends Joe tumbling into a river. Spirit worker Owen Watson saves Joe’s life, and once they are back on dry land, whatever has been blocking Joe’s vision has been washed away.
When a haunting goes from annoying to dangerous, people turn to Owen Watson. He hates those infuriating hacks from TV, but when he pulls Joe from the river, his mind begins to change. Joe is scared and confused, and Owen realizes he might just be the real thing. Together, they work to understand the part of Joe that has been shut away for so long. But just as Joe is reacclimating to his abilities, his career as a paranormal investigator is in danger of being ripped away. Owen would gladly battle a bloodthirsty spirit for Joe, but he’s out of his element in the world of reality television.
“Close your gob or flies will get in there,” Scott says to me while he smirks and scratches at his short stubble.
I do snap my mouth shut. My embarrassment and the strange urge to sayyes war with each other. He’s sprawled out on his back on my bed, ankles crossed, blue Mohawk struggling to fall out of the carefully hair-glued perfection he keeps it confined in. He has a tattooed arm stretched over his head pulling his ragged Def Leppard shirt tight across his chest. I want to touch it. Squeeze the rounded muscles. He’s mouthwatering, and if he weren’t my best friend as well as a player with a capital P, I might be more interested in having his hard body right where it is for something more satisfying than his attempt at witty banter. He tugs on the steel ring pierced through his lip with his teeth, and I frown at the twitch of interest from my cock. His chipped front tooth dug into that plump bottom lip does unholy things to me. God, I could destroy my whole life if I went over there and kissed him.
It would be perfect.
I bet he wouldn’t say no….
“But why my underwear?” I sound meaner than I want to, but these types of conversations gouge their way under my skin. He snickers.
“’Cause, okay, because the smell is—” He fiddles with his lip ring with his teeth while he contemplates. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he does it on purpose. Fuck. Maybe he’s started to realize I’m not as immune to him as I’d like to be?
“Ball sweat and ass crack,” I finish the thought for him with a hard frown.
“Exactly.” He spreads his arms like I’ve just had a eureka moment, and I slam my jeans into my suitcase. He raises his eyebrows.
“I don’t get it,” I mutter. Heat creeps up the back of my neck and to the tips of my ears. My skin is dark enough that it isn’t always noticeable unless you know what to look for, but he’s been my best friend for almost seven years. His laughter is obnoxious and long-winded. I don’t flip him off because it would only egg him on.
“If I can get something with some fuck smell on it and wax my wood through this season, maybe Rob won’t dump me.”
I give him a hard look. He sounds as concerned as he ever does, but the way he chases ass every place we land would say otherwise to any normal human being. Guys. Girls. Other. If it smiles pretty enough at him, off he goes, practically ready to hump their leg. It hurts. A lot. But whose fault is it? I could probably suck him off right now if I asked, but that’s not what I want. I don’t want a wham, bam, see ya later, man. If I had him, if I got to pull on that ring through his lip with my teeth, then I would die, just fucking die, if I had to watch his hotel room door close on my best friend and a stranger. The boyfriend I can tolerate. I’ve learned to do the mental gymnastics to ignore his existence. It’s the strangers who get to me.
There are damned good reasons we’ve never been more than friends. Now if only I can get that message to flow south and kill my erection. I clear my throat and stare into the mess my suitcase has become while we’ve been arguing. What
am I forgetting?
“Filming is only four months, and he can visit. Hell, if he would let you pay his bills, he could come with us. Maybe schlep around sound equipment or something. You can’t keep your fly zipped around the locals for four months?” I’m nearly yelling
by the end of my rant. He snickers through a hand slapped over his mouth.
“You know,” he interrupts himself with another chuckle, “…know me.” He shrugs. My body flashes hot with rage for a moment before I tamp down on it. He’s never been any different. When we first met, I didn’t have the balls to ask him out.
As much as I love him as a friend, hell, just love him, keep his secrets, even, I’m pretty sure my innate shyness has never helped me dodge a bigger bullet.
“I do,” I whisper to myself, a habit from my childhood I’ve never grown out of. Scott’s good enough to ignore it.
“So can I? Just one pair.” Scott wiggles his eyebrows at me, flicking his tongue out to roll the shiny blue ball on its silver hoop. I shake my head no while my groin tightens and my other best friend starts to get uncomfortable in my pants. Dear God,
I need some time to myself today. An hour. My hand. Porn. It’s a must. Please.
And totally not going to happen.
“No. That’s too weird. Live with me forever, but keep your nose out of my… um….” I break off. My discomfort forces my tongue still. I poke through the mess my usually tidy packing has become with a tight jaw. Of all the days. The day we leave to start filming. Sometimes I fucking hate Scott.
Ki grew up in small town nowhere pretending that meteor showers were aliens invading, turning wildflowers into magic potions, and reading more than was probably healthy. Ki had one amazing best friend, one endlessly out of grasp “true love”, and a personal vendetta against normalcy.
Now, as an adult, living in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ki enjoys the sandy beaches, frigid winters, and a wonderful fancy water addiction. Seriously, fancy waters…who knew there were so many different kinds? It’s just water…and yet…
Ki shares this life with a Muse, a Sugar Plum, and two wonderful children.