Ghostwalker Blake Jones dies every day. It’s his job and how he helps trapped souls cross over. But to return to life, he needs an anchor. His new partner, Derek Scott, is a surprise. Not only is he male, but his appearance belies a caring and gentle heart underneath. Despite attraction and a strengthening relationship, they know they shouldn’t take things further.
But there’s a big difference between knowing and doing.
Their growing love presents a problem, though not the one they expect. Blake and Derek have to decide if they should take their relationship to the most permanent level -- an unbreakable metaphysical bond. Doing so offers both risk and unimaginable reward. Can Blake let go of his fears and put his complete trust in Derek in order to have the happily ever after he’s always craved?
Derek closed his eyes again, and Blake asked in a quiet voice, “What are you doing?”
“Meditating. It helps keep me centered and steady all day.” Derek cracked open one eye. “Care to join me?”
Meditation wasn’t exactly Blake’s thing. While Requiem encouraged it for all their employees for the reasons Derek mentioned, Blake had never had any luck with it. He couldn’t get his mind empty enough or something. His mind just wandered until he spent the entire time fidgeting.
Derek opened his eyes, and his gaze bore into Blake. “You don’t have to. Don’t feel like you do. It’s just something that helps me.”
Blake nodded and walked forward. He could try it again in the name of fostering a friendship between them. And if it didn’t work, if he still wasn’t any good at it, he could leave Derek to it and go have his coffee while he waited for Derek to be done.
Derek’s smile was luminous as he tracked Blake’s progress across the room. Blake tried not to feel self-conscious as he seated himself and took a moment to mimic Derek’s pose, but that was easier when Derek stopped staring at him and closed his eyes again.
“Close your eyes. Just take a few deep breaths and let them out slowly.” Derek’s rumble of a voice washed over him, and Blake obeyed without thought. “Now just empty your mind. Focus on nothing. Blank space. Sink into yourself and center.”
Easy for Derek to say. Even though Blake did exactly as Derek instructed, all he could think about was the man sitting beside him. The situation they were in. The long months and years ahead of them as they worked the job, got to know one another, and helped people. And the more he thought about the job, the busier his mind got. He knew all the things that could go wrong. Derek was new to the whole thing, no matter all the training he’d had. What if Derek realized that, gene or not, he didn’t want to do it for the long haul? Then Blake would be left without a partner again and wondering if something he did had made Derek leave.
“I can feel your tension from here.” Derek’s voice was laced with a hint of amusement.
Blake blew out a breath and let out a small, self-deprecating laugh. “Sorry. I’m crap at this.” He stood and brushed off the seat of his jeans. “I’ll just leave you to it.”
“Wait.” Derek reached up and snagged Blake’s wrist. “Let’s try something else.”
Derek tugged gently, and Blake let Derek guide him back down. But instead of urging Blake to sit beside him again, he steered Blake to the spot between his now uncrossed legs. Surprised, Blake sat and let Derek surround him with his big body.
Derek placed a hand on Blake’s stomach and made sure his back was pressed up against Derek’s front.
“This is kind of, uh ... intimate, don’t you think?” Blake whispered. He didn’t know what was going on.
“Yes.” Derek’s voice was almost as quiet. “Which isn’t a bad thing. I expect we’ll often be in each other’s personal space. Good to get used to it now.”
Derek let out a laugh that vibrated Blake’s body. Blake shivered.
“Feel me breathe?” Derek asked, seemingly oblivious to the way Blake reacted to him. “Breathe with me. Relax your shoulders. Just breathe deep. Make my hand move.”
And Blake did. For long minutes all he did was sit and breathe, painfully aware of every point of contact between them. He could feel Derek’s heat, his strong chest, his muscled thighs along his own. He could smell Derek. He had an earthy, wild smell that had to be a combination of body wash and Derek’s natural scent. Blake’s body reacted in the predictable ways, but he tamped it down and focused on inhaling and exhaling right along with Derek.
“That’s so good,” Derek murmured right in his ear. Pleasure tightened in Blake’s gut, and he wanted Derek’s hand to move lower.
“We, uh ...” Blake cleared his throat. “We have to keep it professional.”
“I know.” Derek’s voice was tinged with disappointment. Blake wasn’t imagining that.