For the great and dapper detective Luc Orphelin, getting sent out to the remote Northwoods of Wisconsin seems almost like a punishment. Without even a decent hotel, “roughing it” is not anything a proper gentleman should engage in, but needs must when working for the powerful political families of the country, and supernatural mysteries like monster sightings at a logging camp fall firmly into Luc’s specialty. Unfortunately, they are the specialty of the infuriating and devilishly handsome Weston Colt, monster hunter, as well.
Not everything is what it seems in the bustling lumber town of Rhinelander, though, and there’s plenty afoot as Luc must separate fact from fiction with a little help from a young inventor, a recently acquitted murderess, and a monster hunting con man. Can he get to the bottom of it all in time, or will he end up the next victim of the fiendish hodag of Rhinelander?
"You looked scared for a moment there, admit it," Wes said in between sips of whiskey. They sat in Luc's room, loose ends being wrapped up elsewhere.
"But of course," Luc said. He grinned and patted his stomach. "I do hate running."
Wes laughed. "I should be mad at you, you know?" he asked. "You cost me a job."
"You don't need it," Luc said. "You are not a poor man."
"What gave me away?"
"You accent," Luc said. "One spends enough time around you British, one can tell who is lowborn and who is, how do you say, slumming?"
"I've been accused of worse," Wes said. That he was not more upset was perhaps surprising, but given his inclinations he was likely eager to escape from high British society. "Lord Wesley Cockburn, at your service."
It was Luc's turn to laugh. "That explains the alias, I suppose."
"Shut up," Wes said. "It's not like you're who you pretend to be, either. You might act like a proper gentleman, but I know enough to know that you are certainly not from money. Or breeding. And unless I miss my guess entirely, Orphelin is not just a surname."
"No indeed," Luc said. He was indeed an orphan, grew up the poorest of the poor.
"Then why not take a different name, if you don't mind me asking?" Wes asked.
"It is not something I wish to hide from," Luc said, "even if I am much happier now that I can take proper care of my mustache."
Wes put his glass down on the sideboard and stood. He slid free of his coat first, and threw it over the back of his chair. He unbuttoned shirt sleeves, then collar. His shirt joined the coat. Then suspenders. Undershirt. Boots. Pants. When all his clothes were neatly placed on the chair, he just stood a moment, completely naked. Luc admired him, the way his neck flared to shoulders, a muscled chest, a sleek stomach. His cock was half hard already and rising even as Luc's gaze lingered.
Quite a different sight from Luc's own paunch and softer features. But in Wes' eyes there was a reflection of the desire Luc felt rising in himself. He did not doubt that, and would not disrespect it. He put down his glass. He stood.
"Just be careful of the mustache," Luc said.
The most important tool for any detective was observation. So what was happening? Heat, first -- the burning pressure of Wes' body suddenly pressed against Luc's, lips like fire when they met. Luc tried to still himself, tried to keep his hands at his sides as Wes tore open his shirt. Buttons flew. Regret and relief mingled. The shirt was ruined, yes, but at least his second best suit was safely out of the way. Fabric ripped and Luc found himself pushed back, angled toward the bed. He contemplated resisting but pushed the thought aside. He wanted to see where this would go. He was exactly where he wanted to be.