[Siren Sensations ManLove: Alternative Contemporary Consensual BDSM Romance, MM, flogging, spanking, sex toys, HEA]
Although it broke his heart to leave, Douglas never thought he’d see Connor again. Douglas truly believed becoming a priest was the only way to save both their souls. But when a beloved friend from college arrives at his rectory, he can’t turn his back on her. Now he’s newly widowed, and the father of a newborn.
Connor’s heart has never healed from losing Douglas. Despite twenty-five years passing, Connor hopes the old promise he extracted—show up, and he’d never turn his back on him—might one day come to pass. Meanwhile, he’ll raise his daughter and steal what little bits of personal time he can to help ease his lonely existence.
Yet fate is cruelly kind. Connor’s boy has returned…except he became the one thing Connor cannot ever accept. The Church created bottomless wounds in Connor’s soul that have never healed. Is Douglas strong enough to withstand Connor’s righteous wrath, or will both men’s hearts remain forever frozen?
“Anytime, day or night, promise me. If you ever need me, you’ll call or show up on my doorstep. I will never turn you away. I don’t care if it’s been a week or a decade. Promise me!”
“I love you, Douglas. I always will.”
“I will always love you, too. I will always be yours, Sir.”
The words Douglas had pledged so long ago, and had meant every bit as seriously as the two sets of vows he’d taken since.
Vows that, in retrospect, he realized were vain attempts to hide from a truth that had always unavoidably lain in front of him.
The choked and gutted sound of Connor’s voice would never fade from his mind, even as they’d both known it’d likely be the last time they saw each other.
Not even the better part of twenty-five years could drive it out of his heart and soul. A multi-flavored guilt he’d carry to his grave, first for what they’d done, and later—and for much longer—for the pain he’d caused both of them by stupidly thinking he could run from who he truly was.
By wrongly thinking he was saving Connor’s soul by leaving.
He’d only succeeded in damning his own in the process.
He stared at the grille in front of him, not knowing the priest on the other side and thinking in some ways—many ways—that was probably for the best.
“It’s pretty telling that in my entire life I’ve only truly loved three people, and I’m not on that list.”
“Is this your first confession, my son?” the elderly priest asked.
Only then did Douglas realized he’d said it out loud when he hadn’t meant to.
With his right hand, around which he’d wrapped his amethyst rosary, he made the sign of the cross before closing his eyes. “Bless me father, for I have sinned. It’s been…over fourteen months since my last confession.”
Jesus, had it really been that long?
Zee was only three weeks old, so…yeah. It had been.
It felt a shit-ton longer.
Apparently he fell quiet for a while, because the priest spoke again. “Yes, my son? What do you wish to confess?”
On his left shoulder, where he had Zee resting on a burp rag, she fussed a little.
“I’m sorry,” Doug before the priest could speak. “I didn’t have anyone to watch her, and I couldn’t leave her sitting out there.”
“It’s all right, my son. I’m sure God doesn’t mind. I know I don’t. Where do you wish to begin?”
Douglas thought back to his years spent sitting on the other side of the grille, and the fact that there’d been no one else waiting out in the sanctuary because he’d let the four people who came in after him go ahead of him. “How long you got?”
* * * *
The tears in Mackie’s eyes back then as he’d said good-bye, a haunting echo as he’d told her he hadn’t changed his mind and was still entering the seminary, would still become a priest.
“I’ll always love you,” he’d said. “But I’m sorry, I can’t be who you need me to be. I’ve never lied to you about that.”
“I will always be your friend. Promise me, if you ever need me, you’ll come to me. Day or night, anytime. Even years from now. My door will always be open to you. I will never turn you away. Promise me.”
“I will, Doug. I promise.”
How he’d kissed her, the only time they’d ever kissed like that, and what he’d thought would be the last ever such kiss he’d give or receive, hating himself for once again causing someone pain, and knowing the only penance there truly was lay in the path he’d chosen.
And then, eighteen years after he’d last laid eyes on her, answering a late-night knock on his rectory door to find her standing there, sobbing, her body bruised and bloodied.
He resigned from his position the next day, they were married, and he had started a torturously long process to officially withdraw from the priesthood.
Because he was only a man and he wasn’t strong enough to turn his back and walk away from her or what he felt for her a second time.
Less than a month later, she lost the baby.
Two months after that she was pregnant again—with Zee.
They’d left the incense-scented sanctuary and moved to the priest’s office to talk. It was Friday afternoon and his schedule was free with morning mass and confession over.
Father Rowling looked to be in his late sixties and wore glasses, a long-sleeved black shirt with a white clerical collar and his sleeves rolled almost up to his elbows, jeans, and blue-and-grey Asics sneakers. Broad-shouldered, he stood about two inches taller than Douglas’ five-eleven, beefy, like he was used to doing hard work around the old church grounds on a regular basis.
Douglas stared down into Zee’s angelic face. “Does it fall under pride, thinking you can single-handedly save someone in a meaningful way and make a difference in the world?”
“Under the circumstances, you could apply to return, could you not?”
“No.” Douglas sadly laughed. “I’m a father, Father. She’s mine. I’ll never give up my daughter. Not even for the Church.”
“Ah, I’m sorry. I misunderstood. I thought you said she wasn’t yours.”
“She lost his baby a couple of weeks after we were married.” He adjusted her blanket around Zee. “She’s mine. Mackie was faithful to me. We loved each other.”
“But you were prepared to claim her baby as yours when she showed up that night?”
“Absolutely.” He looked across the desk at the elderly priest. “I’d never stopped loving her.” The priest didn’t need to know the full truth. Some stuff he could hold back, some of Mackie’s secrets.
He didn’t want the man thinking any less of her.
Or feeling more pity for him than he could already tell the priest did.
“What are your plans now?” Father Rowling asked.
“A friend of mine passed me a job lead in Sarasota, and after a couple of phone and Skype interviews, they hired me. I start next week. Soon as I can get down there.”
“I know. Long way from Milwaukee.”
“Forgive me, son, but I’m confused how you ended up here.”
“I stopped for gas and saw the church sign. Everything we own is packed in a U-haul trailer on the back of my SUV sitting out in your parking lot right now.”
Father Rowling slowly nodded. “Ah. I was wondering what brought you to Murfreesboro.” The priest settled back in his chair. “And this friend of yours who passed you the job lead is the same one you hope to perhaps…reconnect with?”
“No.” He’d left out the more…intimate details about exactly what he’d been to Connor besides lovers.
And he didn’t tell the priest—had never even told Mackie—the things Connor had tearfully confessed to him so long ago.
Or the things Douglas had done once he’d entered the priesthood to make things as right as he could for Connor, even though Connor might never know that.
“I met Doyle through a mutual professor when I went back to college for my doctorate. We’d interacted over Facebook and became friends. Sorry, I’m exhausted, and not at my best right now.”
Douglas ran a hand through his brown hair, which was longer and shaggier than he usually kept it. He hadn’t had time for a haircut. Ditto the three weeks’ worth of scruff on his face since he’d stopped shaving. Hadn’t shaved since the day before Zee was born.
Zee made a noise in her sleep and Father Rowling smiled. “She’s beautiful. How old is she?”
“Three weeks today.” He struggled to blink back the tears and finally gave up. He wouldn’t be the first person the priest saw cry, that was for damn sure.
“She’s so tiny.”
“I know. She was born small, only four and a half pounds. Babies in Mackie’s family run small. But she was full-term and healthy. Our perfect little angel.”
Father Rowling remained quiet for a moment, looking as if he were weighing something in his mind. “May I ask you a personal question, son?”
“Yeah. Of course.”
“Has she been baptized yet?”
Doug shook his head. “With everything that happened, I…” He shrugged. “I didn’t even bother asking anyone at my old parish, or any nearby parishes. I didn’t want to put them on the spot. I knew there were priests who wouldn’t say no, but if the bishop heard about them doing it, they’d catch a ration of shit for it from him.”
Frequently it surprised people to learn yeah, priests sometimes swore. The younger ones like him, anyway. Or the older ones beyond giving a shit. Not in front of parishioners, of course.
A wry smiled curled the priest’s lips. “Most likely they would have. You didn’t do it yourself?”
Doug thought about all the babies, and a few adults, he’d baptized throughout his previous fifteen-year career.
Of everything involving his former life, it’d been his favorite duty. “Not sure that would count, would it? I’m not a priest anymore.”
“You’re still a priest in the eyes of God, my son.” He stood. “Come with me.”
“I doubt God will tattle to my bishop.”
Doug stood and brought her diaper bag with him. “Not going to make me take a class first?” he tried to joke.
The older man kindly smiled. “I think it’s safe to say you already know the curriculum.”
They stumbled out of the shower once they used up all the hot water. Kissing, biting, hands all over each other, everywhere at once, frantic need burning and building and close to combustion, to flashing over into something Connor knew they couldn’t step away from once it started.
They dried each other off and Connor forced Douglas to hold still, to meet his gaze.
“Please don’t let me go any farther if you’re going to have second thoughts and leave me again.”
Douglas practically wrapped his body around Connor’s in response, his hard, sucking kiss stealing Connor’s soul. Teeth bumped and their tongues pressed, trying to join together, become one.
“I’m yours,” Douglas finally gasped when they came up for air. “I’m yours, I’ve always been yours, and I’m never leaving you again. I swear it.” He pressed his forehead to Connor’s. “I meant my vow to you back then. I’m yours. I always have been, and I always will be.”
Connor led him back to the bedroom, but grabbed his phone and connected it to a Bluetooth speaker on his dresser before calling up a playlist.
The rich guitars and playful mandolins of Brothers Osborne filled the air, and he held his arms open to Douglas.
His boy stepped into his embrace and they danced, the way they had that last night together when it was Lyle Lovett playing on his radio and they’d had the house to themselves.
All the while on that last night, Connor had stared into Douglas’ eyes, trying to memorize them, afraid he’d never have him back in his arms, sensing deep in his gut that this was a final good-bye.
Pushing Up Daisies (Love Alive) played next, and he knew Douglas was paying attention to the words as a sweetly sexy smile filled his face.
Connor sang to him as they slowly swayed in time with the music there in his bedroom, these fragile, new memories slowly pushing the pain and loneliness and anger out of his heart. He’d given up on God decades ago, but if there was grace, maybe it felt something like this sweet, easy peace slowly seeping into his soul.
He was in no rush right now, no need to hurry. They had hours yet before they had to get the girls and this was their time.
They needed this.
He especially needed this after years of never connecting to another person in the way he’d connected with Douglas so long ago.
That song faded into I Don’t Remember Me (Before You) and tears filled Connor’s eyes, his voice robbed from him as he whispered the words. He wanted this moment to last in his memory until his dying breath, an impossible dream, an unthinkable hope manifesting in flesh.
He wanted his boy in his arms, the only man he’d ever really wanted.
The reason no other man could ever suffice.
His reason, his sanity, his first proof in life there actually existed true, pure good in this world, something he hadn’t thought possible, especially after what he’d endured.
Only Kayleigh’s birth knocked everything Douglas had been to him into second place.
They would be.
When 21 Summer played, it pleasantly surprised him when Douglas knew the words and softly sang along with him. At some point it was now Douglas leading their dance and Connor letting him, relaxing against Douglas and resting his head on his shoulder as he closed his eyes and let his tears fall like rain.
Douglas nuzzled his face against Connor’s and continued singing to him even as Connor’s voice failed him.
They slowly swayed in time with the rhythm, and at some point before the closing bars they were stretched out in bed, on their sides, facing each other. Connor rolled on top of him and reached for the nightstand drawer, where he kept a bottle of lube.
His gaze never lost Douglas’ as he lubed the man’s cock, worked some into himself and rose up, slowly impaling himself. No, he wasn’t close to being ready, hadn’t been in a long, long time.
But he needed this and sucked in a sharp breath against the pinching burn, needing it and craving having his boy be a part of him again. He took his time and Douglas’ hands settled on his hips, stroking down to his thighs, up again, gently pumping Connor’s cock for him and easing him through it. Achingly slow, every millimeter hurt in all the good ways, until he finally felt his ass pressing against the other man’s thighs.
Leaning in, Connor kissed him. “No one’s been there since you, either,” he whispered.
* * * *
The air rippled around them, charged with electricity, with hope, with need and love and healing desire—all of it and more. Douglas finally felt true, deep peace and knew that, no matter what, this had been his destined path. Connor was his soul-mate and always had been.
Douglas cupped Connor’s face in his hands and stared up into his blue eyes. Flecks of midnight, of sapphire shone bright, reflecting the light that had been rekindled within him.
This was God around them, His grace blessing them.
No one could convince him otherwise.
Since their good-bye they’d both grown and suffered and maybe back then they wouldn’t have made it.
If they’d never said good-bye, they wouldn’t have their daughters.
Maybe they would have hurt each other in worse ways that couldn’t have healed and it might have driven them apart.
Maybe it’s time I stop questioning God and listen to my heart.
Connor’s body tightened around his cock, feeling so achingly good and so damned sweet, perfection and hunger and deep, dark desire all swirling together and focusing him on Connor’s gaze.
Connor planted his hands on either side of Douglas’ head, caging him with his body. Connor tugged on Douglas’ lower lip with his teeth, sucking on it. “I need to feel you come for me. I need to feel you come inside me.”
Douglas stroked Connor’s sides, his thighs as he started moving over Douglas, Douglas’ hands finally settling on Connor’s gorgeously tight ass. Time had been kind to him in some ways, for sure.
Connor dipped his head again for another kiss and Douglas couldn’t resist the old game, the sweet, dear things they’d shared. “May I please come, Sir?”
“God, yes!” Connor’s strokes slowly picked up speed and force as his body adjusted to Douglas’ cock fucking him.
Except, as good as it was…there was something missing, and Douglas finally realized what it was. He raised his arms over his head, positioning his wrists by Connor’s hands and waiting.
Connor’s eyes widened and he paused, shifted position, clamping his hands around Douglas’ wrists and allowing some of his weight to rest on them.
* * * *
Connor spotted the way Douglas’ gaze softened, and he tightened his grip on the man’s wrists.
He barely dared to blink as he watched Douglas, not wanting to miss a moment of it, of this. Connor rode his cock hard, knowing this was merely the first of many countless times ahead of them, wanting—needing this dark baptism, the only truly sweet and dreamless sleeps he’d ever had coming after letting Douglas fill him and then falling asleep in the man’s arms.
Good memories, the best feelings, the proven antidote to drive away the nightmares and memories he wished he could scour from his brain.
The love of his boy, his cherished, unblemished soul.
Connor didn’t stop, didn’t play games to drag it out, and Douglas flexed his hips, trying to move with him. And when Douglas finally tipped over the edge, Connor watched as his eyes squeezed shut, his whole body stretching taut beneath him, the way his breath grew ragged and uneven, the sounds of his rumbling groans vibrating through him.
The feel of his cock pulsing and twitching inside Connor’s ass.
He didn’t stop until he was sure Douglas had finished. That’s when he slanted his lips over Douglas’ and his boy whimpered, a familiar, sated noise he used to always make when they made love.
“My good boy,” Connor whispered.
Douglas laced fingers with him, squeezing, staring up into his eyes. “I love you so fucking much, Connor. I belong to you. I’ve always belonged to you.”