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Seth Johnston slowly began to regain consciousness and bravely attempted to open his eyes, even though the strong pounding inside his head wasn’t particularly conducive to that idea. The room was dimly lit by the small amounts of sunlight filtering around the edges of a dark, heavy-looking curtain. There was a stuffiness to the air with the telltale musk of masculine passion hanging heavily about the bed. As he tried to focus and shake off the after effects from yet another bender, Seth gradually came to the realization that he wasn’t alone in the bed. There was a muscular arm draped over his midsection and he hadn’t the faintest idea who it belonged to. Opening his eyes properly, Seth twisted his head around slightly to see a sleeping man with handsome features, tousled, straw-blond hair and sharp cheekbones. Looking around further, Seth also discovered that he had absolutely no clue where he was.

How much did I drink last night? At least this one’s good-looking, better than some I’ve woken up next to. I really need to be more discerning.

With great care, Seth extricated himself from the stranger’s embrace and crept gingerly out of the bed. He paused for a moment to find his balance, his groggy head not helping matters in the slightest. Quietly, Seth then went about the room collecting his clothes from the carpeted floor. Not a particularly easy task, as it appeared that the stranger wasn’t especially tidy by nature and there was also a wardrobe’s worth of clothes strewn about the place. After a few minutes of searching, Seth had managed to find and put on most of his clothes and was warily beginning to open the door, with his shoes and socks in hand, when he heard a sleep-heavy voice coming from behind him.

“Where you going, buddy?”

“Umm…I’m awfully sorry…” Seth desperately thought back to the previous evening but everything after downing that first, deliciously strong cocktail at the Cat’s Meow was a complete blank, so he took a stab in the dark. “Mike?”

“It’s Jock.”

Damn it! Not even close.

Strangely, despite Seth’s error, the man appeared more amused than annoyed about being called by the wrong name.

“Jock…umm…I have to go…thanks for…everything…so many things that I really must do today.”

“Mmm, that accent drives me nuts!”

Why are Americans so obsessed with accents?

“It’s just a plain old English one.”

“I know but it makes you sound so proper. I love it. Corrupting the proper boy.” Jock threw back the sheet to reveal his well-sculpted body, adorned only by a silver amulet on a thin chain around his neck, and a very sizeable, aroused manhood. “You were certainly up for it last night at ManHole. Come on. Surely, you have time for another round, Deacon.”

Seth, who’d been in the process of gradually edging himself through the doorway, froze in place. An unpleasant chill ran along the length of his spine, and his stomach gave a slight lurch…although the latter may very well have been a result of his recent excessive alcohol consumption.

“What…” His voice had become a touch higher and wavered slightly. “…what did you call me?”

“Deacon. I obviously wasn’t as drunk as you and can remember your name at least. Or, it’s what you told me it was last night, at any rate.”

Why would I tell him that? But how else could he possibly know that name? And what on earth was I doing at ManHole again?

“My name is Seth; Deacon was…that doesn’t matter…I have to go!”

Yanking the bedroom door fully open, Seth practically ran through it and instantly collided with another man, who’d been coming down the hallway.

“I’m sorry, I…”

Seth’s words stopped dead upon seeing that the man he’d encountered was a carbon copy of the man he’d just left – granted this one was actually wearing clothes and had a slightly bookish air about him, aided by his thick-framed, walnut-brown glasses.

“That’s, OK.”

Just then the door at the end of the hallway opened to reveal yet another version of the same man coming in from outside. This one was dressed in a tight red singlet and equally snug black running shorts, his body glistening with sweat.

“Don’t run off,” entreated Jock, who’d come to the door of his bedroom, clothed solely in a sheet. “There’s plenty of time to get all your jobs done.”

The bookish one rolled his eyes in response, while the sweat-covered one shook his head and gave a small laugh. The situation made no sense at all to Seth and his hangover was only becoming worse.

Maybe they’re clones. I must be dreaming! But would I feel hungover in a dream? I’ve got to get out of here!

“How are there so many of you?”

“Just the three,” explained the bookish man. “We’re triplets. I’m Jasper. The sweaty mess is Jules and you’re already…acquainted with Jock.”

“Yeah, he is,” agreed Jock, exuding all the charm of a drunken frat boy.

Jasper shot an exasperated look at Jock that made Seth smile slightly in remembrance of his own brother. Unfortunately, this moment of cheerfulness was short-lived as other darker memories also came to mind, taking away his joy and he felt his habitual mask of cold indifference slide back over his features.

Ergh, I’m such an idiot. Clones? What was I thinking? Of course they’re triplets. Yeah, but I am hungover. And getting black out drunk and going home with a complete stranger was a smart move in the first place? I hate when I’m right.

“Oh…I see.” Seth suddenly felt very unsteady on his feet and leaned against the wall for support. “I…I need to go.”

“You don’t seem to be feeling well. How about I drive you home?” offered Jasper, his concern clearly broadcast by his tone and worried countenance.

“No, it’s fine. I’ll just walk home.”

“You sure? Where do you live?”

“By Janeway Park. Why?”

“Because we’re in the outer suburbs and it’s a bit of a way back to the city by public transport, which isn’t what you’d call reliable of a weekend.”

“Then I’ll just get a cab. I can get home on my own. I’ve done it many times before.”

The growing sense of embarrassment at being caught in this rather awkward situation had caused a tone of annoyance to grow in Seth’s voice.

“Really, it’s no trouble,” insisted Jasper in a most cheerful manner. “I’m headed to the Sunday markets just near there. Please, may I drive you?”

Despite Seth’s strong inclination to decline the offer, the constant thudding in his head and the queasiness swishing about inside his stomach wasn’t abating any. He felt wretched and logically knew that the quickest way to put himself out of his misery was to man up and graciously accept the kind offer.

I really can’t deal with public transportation or waiting for a cab. Besides he asked so politely. He seems so different from Jock…not that I can really remember…although his eyes are kinder.

“OK. If you’re sure it’s no bother, that would be good of you.”

Jock grunted his disapproval over Seth refusing to stay and play.

“Your loss, Seth or Deacon or whatever your name is,” grumbled Jock, heading back into his room, and presumably back to bed, shutting the door behind him.

Involuntarily flinching at the mention of Deacon’s name, Seth looked away from the remaining brothers hoping they hadn’t noticed.

“Shower time for me,” remarked Jules, as he wandered off down the hall in the direction of the bathroom. He called over his shoulder as he went in. “Grab some litchis at the market for me.”

“Sure thing.”

The bathroom door closed with a forceful click, leaving Jasper and Seth standing uncomfortably in the hallway together. Feeling much like a caged animal, Seth kept looking towards the front door, focused purely on escape. Thankfully, his silent prayers for salvation were promptly answered.

“Looks like a beautiful day, outside,” proclaimed Jasper brightly, jangling the keys in his hand. “Ready to go?”

Why is he so damn perky? I hate morning people.

“Yes, please.”


Change of Heart

Excerpt:

Ebook ISBN 978-1-911478-02-7  

Cover Price: $2.99

Gay Fiction, Supernatural, Romance, Halloween

Heat rating: 4