It’s world book day and I spent an hour of it reading on my porch because it’s also ridiculously warm for this time of year. It’s a pretty day and I wish I had time to enjoy more of it.
Still continuing with These Haunted Hills and Josh’s ghost hunting team is outside the ruined murder hotel with Brendan. It’s a little longer than 6 lines sorry to give the context.
“Good, let’s get that ladder up first,” Cassia said. “Might as well get it out of the way before we go tramping around inside.”
“Which of us is going up the ladder?” Hunter asked, hefting a camera.
“I do not like heights” Madison said.
“I’ll do it,” Josh said. “Hunter, Cass you want a try too?”
“How about our guest?” Cassia glanced at Brendan. “You wanted to learn how we do what we do.”
Brendan shook his head. “Noooo, you don’t want me up a ladder. I’ll end up the next ghost in this place.”
“He’s clumsy, well according to him. I’ve yet to see it.”
“Because I’ve kept both feet on the grown. Honestly I’m surprised I haven’t fallen out of that loft bedroom at the cabin yet.”
“You still have time,” Josh returned cheerily as he and Hunter hiked the ladder toward the hotel.
“Thanks.” Now all he could picture was him and Josh getting too frisky and rolling right over the edge. What kind of obituary would that make? Worse, they might live, it would make the news and he’d never live it down. He could just imagine Heather’s reaction. Or Cassia’s for that matter.
Missed yet another week. I was at Rathacon having fun with my airship group (the one I’m loosely basing Joshua’s on) and planned to do it the next day. AAAANDD my students successfully gave me the stomach flu that had been going around.
I’m picking up with Josh and Brendan out at the ruined murder hotel with his ghost hunting team. They are preparing to set up for a ghost hunting session.
Brendan jumped as their partners pulled up. “Fuck, I really am the panicky ghost hunter. This sucks.”
Josh laughed harder, nearly dropping the ladder. “You so are. I’m going to make sure Hunter keeps you in frame.”
“You suck, Josh.”
“You’d know.” Josh pursed his lips at him and Brendan flushed.
“Yeah, I certainly do.” Just what he didn’t need, thoughts of Josh’s full lips wrapped around his cock because the only thing more embarrassing than running from the ghosts would be running around with a giant hard on. If they were alone, he’d think about putting the bed of Josh’s truck to a different use but now the whole team was here bustling about. That was just the wet blanket he needed.
As a hayim—a wanderer—Teman values freedom over everything. He and his best friend, Jasim, are thieves for hire—until they’re caught. Given the choice between an inescapable lifetime dungeon sentence or palace pleasure slavery, they become slaves, but Teman vows to escape someday.
Crown Amir Bathasar doesn’t want the throne. When Teman saves his life, Bathasar requests the intriguing slave—a first, given his disdain for slavery. He quickly falls for Teman who returns the feelings, but their fledgling relationship is strained when Bathasar’s sadistic father Mukesh demands Teman. Bathasar cannot refuse and must sit and watch as Mukesh brutalizes Teman before the court. When the empress of a neighboring nation is outraged at Teman’s treatment, Mukesh gifts her Jasim and Teman’s hopes of escaping with his best friend vanish. With Jasim gone, Teman chooses to stay with Bathasar, despite the abuse he may suffer.
When they discover Mukesh’s plans to invade Jasim’s new country, it’s up to Bathasar to find a way to stop the destruction. If he succeeds—and ascends to the throne—he’ll have the power to let Teman go. And Teman will accept—his free spirit demands it. But perhaps love is a little stronger and Teman will find the wisdom to make the right choice.
Teman and Jasim were taken directly to the palace instead of a holding cell, and Teman wondered if perhaps there was something honorable about their supposed danger to the city that it needed to be addressed immediately. Through a side door and along silent late-night corridors, they were unnecessarily dragged into a large room. Neither of them, up until that point, had even struggled, despite being handled rather roughly and their wrists being bound with rope. They were both well aware of their precarious position, and neither wished to make it worse.
At one end of the long room was an ornate chair, raised on a dais, with several smaller chairs surrounding it, much less decorated than the first. The large chair was empty, but in the one immediately to its right sat an even more imposing man than the lieutenant. Teman recognized him from the few times he’d seen the malik out in public: this was their ruler’s Captain of the Guard and personal bodyguard.
Teman glanced to the side at his friend, but the usual carefree expression on Jasim’s face was conspicuously missing. The import of how much trouble they were in had finally sunk in. Teman turned his attention back to the captain.
“What is their crime?” the captain asked, wasting no time. He wore the traditional black silk of the guards. The sash that encircled his waist was purple, denoting his position in the palace. The only other thing that distinguished him from the others was the gold braid around his collar, indicating his rank.
Teman watched the lieutenant stand a little straighter. “Attempted murder,” he said with a sneer.
Teman managed to suppress his shout though it was close. He was sure his face gave away his outrage, but that turned to shock with the captain’s next words. “I doubt that.”
The lieutenant blinked and straightened indignantly. He opened his mouth to argue, but the captain simply held up a hand. “These two are many things, Hakeem. Street rats, fugitives, thieves… among others.” Teman’s jaw clenched to keep his argument contained. This man held their lives in his hands. If he agreed with the attempted murder charge, they could be killed. “But they have never murdered, and they aren’t capable of it.”
He wanted to get irritated at the man’s assumption. They had, in fact, killed, but the captain was right. It was never in cold blood, never premeditated. And even though he had to admit he wasn’t sure he could kill in cold blood, the confidence the captain displayed in their ability—or lack thereof—still rankled.
“Remove their weaponry,” the captain ordered, and the lieutenant and his guards started patting them down.
I got behind again. At least some of the reason was for fun this time. I got to go to my first in-person con since Covid, the Steampunk Symposium and had a blast.
I’m picking back up with These Haunted Hills with Brendan and Josh outside the ruins of the murder hotel.
“Are you really going to peek into the second story? What if she pushes the ladder?”
Josh grinned. “Now you’re sounding like one of us.”
“More like the on the ghost TV shows, the panicky one.”
Josh chuckled. “That’s the one all the fans love.”
“Guess that’s true.”
Brendan helped haul out the ladder. He still had no intentions of going up the ladder. He was likely to fall off in the best of times. A handyman Brendan was not but here he was, helping with tools and whatnot. Hell, the fact he considered going back into that damn hotel after the last two times proved one thing: he was falling in love with Doctor Joshua Zimmerman. How crazy was all of this? It felt insane and perfectly right all at the same time.