“Can I help you?” Preston spun around with a gasp, his investigation of the picture halted. He clutched his chest, unable to breathe or speak. Jumpy as he was, Preston would never make it in a war zone. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. My name is Dean Ash. I’m the claustral prior. Can I help you with something specific or were you here to pray?”
Seeing the man in gray robes calmed Preston instantly, and he found his tongue.
“No, it’s fine. My name is Preston Matthews. I’m with the local newspaper, The Daily Tribune. We wanted to do a human interest piece on your church and the renovations you’ve made. I was hoping I could speak to whomever is in charge.”
“That would be Father Abbot Mason, but he is unavailable at the moment. I’m afraid that I won’t be much help, however I’m sure if you leave your business card I can convince Mason to call you when he’s available.”
“Do you mind if I ask you a few questions or at least look around some more?”
“Of course not. If you have any simple questions, I am sure one of the brothers on the grounds will be able to assist you.”
Brother Ash led Preston through the foyer into the main church auditorium. For such a huge structure the auditorium was tiny. It had no more than twenty narrow, but padded, pews.
“The auditorium is smaller than I imagined for such a large property.”
“We don’t have many attendees for the services, mostly the brethren of the church. The entire church building that you are referencing includes individual apartments for the brothers who live here. Our goal is not to get people in the services but to be a help to the community and individuals.”
Ash pushed open another door at the front of the auditorium that led to a series of stone floor hallways. Like the entryway, the walls were lined with art and tapestries. He walked until it opened into an archway. The ceiling overhead was decorated with a mural and Preston groaned that he had left his camera in the car in his excitement.
“Follow me. Most of the brothers are working outside now. Although several are in the kitchens, and I’m sure a few can be found in the art room which is where I should be.”
Ash leaned into two heavy wooden doors that looked like they had survived millennia. The wood was burnished and worn smooth from hands pressing on them over time. Cast iron hinges and framing held the doors in place and whined as they opened. Outside the doors was a garden of both blooming plants and ripening vegetables. Flowers in colors and species Preston had never seen bloomed in clusters overflowing their plots and containers.
Overwhelmed by the beauty of the space, Preston stood frozen and transfixed. He placed his hand to his chest and slowly panned the landscape. His mouth popped open, and he looked for words to tell of the scene’s beauty but found none to do them justice.
Ash pulled Preston back to the present. “It’s gorgeous, no?” Preston’s head nodded frantically. “Everyone reacts the same way when they initially see it. It’s as if you and nature are one, and you can see the splendor in all of the world.”
Preston saw creation. It was a moment in time that would change him. This was beauty in its purest form. The brothers did nothing but remove weeds, water, and fertilize. They couldn’t control the plants or make the flowers, but they nurtured them and gave them the space to grow, and this was the brother’s reward, pure beauty.
Nestled among the flowers were statues of beasts and animals. Some were creatures of fiction, others were common house pets. Each one was cast in clay or carved from stone. There were no wooden statues. As Preston looked closer, he could see the minute toolmarks of hand craftsmanship.
Walking down the nearest pathway, he noticed a statue featuring a mythic creature posed on hind legs, a thin tail wrapped around an ankle. Something small was held in the creature’s closed hands and obviously precious because of the creature’s winsome expression. The wings of this mythic beast were open and shrouding it, creating an umbrella of safety. Preston rested on a smooth boulder near it and traced his finger over each curve and chip in the rock. This piece was his. It was meant to be his, and he knew it.
“What is it?”
A voice different than Ash’s answered, so Preston glanced back to see who was speaking. Standing with the sun behind him was a tall monk, his face hidden in shadow. Preston turned back and resumed his inspection of the piece.
“It’s beautiful. Did you carve it?”
“Yes, I did. Thank you.” The giant’s shadow danced in front of Preston as the monk moved toward him. Preston’s stomach tingled at the attention.
“I thought you might have.”
“Why would you think that?”
Preston smiled. He was pretty good at assessing situations. “You came out of nowhere to protect it when I reached to touch it. It must have had special meaning to you.” Preston continued his study of the form. The muscles in the exposed thighs were taut and well-defined. A cloth tied around his waist covered his nudity. His hands were intricately carved down to the fingernails although the statue was no more than a foot in height. “What’s the gargoyle holding?”
“His beloved’s heart.”
Preston yanked his hand back. “His actual heart?”
The monk rushed forward, waving his hands. “No, no! Like figuratively.”
“That makes more sense.” Now that the monk was facing the sun, Preston was able to get a decent look at him. He was tall and broad shouldered. His jaw was square and his nose straight.
Clay stroked Preston’s face with his knuckles. The soft touch made Preston close his eyes. He gasped as Clay pressed his mouth to Preston’s mouth unexpectedly, but quickly recovered to kiss his aeternus back.
Clay’s touch was as electric as ever, and Preston found himself molding himself against Clay’s body. Clay smiled against Preston’s lips.
“Stop smirking,” Preston chided half-heartedly to Clay but continued to climb over his mate’s body in an attempt to get closer.
“I can’t help it. You want me. No one’s ever wanted me before.” Preston hardly believed that. Clay’s body was muscular and every bit as gorgeous in his fleshly appearance as it was when sculpted from stone.
“You can’t be serious.” Preston glanced down at Clay’s exposed chest and sighed.
“If anyone has ever thought of me as you do, they never acted on it.”
Clay raised one eyebrow. “Jealous?”
“Well, it’s just you’re mine.”
“Yes, I am. And you are all mine.”
Clay practically growled out his words, and Preston hardened at the animalistic sounds of Clay’s voice. Preston tipped his head backward as Clay kissed along his neck and jaw. Preston whimpered and clawed against Clay’s shoulders. The teasing touches were making him light-headed and needy.
“I can’t fuck you, Preston,” Clay protested. Preston opened his eyes to see the distress on Clay’s face.
“Then give me some relief.”
Clay fumbled with Preston’s jeans. The buttons always stuck, and the zipper was snug. Of course, the tightness was the reason he wore them, but now he was regretting the decision. Preston rose up on his knees to unfasten his jeans, but decided to stand in front of Clay and shuck them entirely. He watched Clay’s face as he slid his pants down his frame.
No one had ever wanted Preston the way Clay wanted him. Clay stared intently as each fraction of skin was exposed. Once his jeans lay on the ground, Clay grabbed him round his waist and yanked him forward once more.
Clay’s touch was manic, and Preston relished it. Clay pulled him flush against him and lapped at his lips. Preston groaned and opened his mouth so he could play along with Clay’s tongue. Licking and frolicking, Preston continued to play with Clay while Clay moved his hands slowly southward. They stilled once they reached the edge of Preston’s briefs.
Preston realized that this was all new territory for Clay. Everything that he and Clay did physically was a first for Clay. Clay’s physical form seemed to make Preston think Clay was more experienced. As if size, age, and experience all went hand in hand together.
Preston reached for Clay’s hand and placed it over his hardened cock. The heat of Clay’s hand through his briefs felt divine, and the pressure helped edge him toward the relief he craved.
Tentatively, Clay rubbed over the rough fabric, and Preston groaned loudly to let Clay know how good it felt.
“More,” Preston whispered. His voice was gone, his throat parched from panting. Clay nodded and pressed harder, up and down across the cotton. He stared intently at Preston’s crotch. Preston grabbed the edges of his briefs and slid them lower, exposing himself to his aeternus. Clay jerked his hand back and gulped, making his Adam’s apple bob.
Once his prick was fully revealed, Preston took Clay’s hand and wrapped it around himself. He slowly guided Clay in firm strokes. When Clay tightened his grasp and started his own pace, Preston moved his hands to reach inside the robes that had puddled in Clay’s lap.
Clay wore shorts under the thick robe he had donned to walk from the roof to his room. Preston wanted to feel the thick cock and return the pleasure to Clay.
Clay wrapped an arm around Preston’s back. “Slide them down.” He lifted both himself and Preston up, so Preston could push the shorts down over his ass. Once they were lowered, Preston got his first glimpse of the cock he had felt pressed against his body earlier. Clay’s prick wept as Preston wrapped both hands around its girth. Seeing it all, Preston’s ass clenched with want to feel it buried in him.
“Tell me if I hurt you.” Clay picked up his pace, tugging and jerking Preston’s cock. Preston nodded and registered only briefly that this would probably end quickly for Clay, before he returned to his own efforts of caressing his mate.
Clay’s hands on his skin made him tingle. Preston groaned as he slumped forward, his head resting on Clay’s shoulder.
“Clay. Clay. Clay.” Preston had no thought of anything but the man under him and the pleasure his touch was bringing him. Preston couldn’t continue jerking Clay as he was overwhelmed. He placed his hands on Clay’s waist and thrust up into Clay’s fist.
“That’s it. Let me please you.” Clay held Preston close, one hand stroking rapidly while the other rested on Preston’s ass. Clay slid closer to Preston’s asshole. Just the thought of Clay touching him there was all Preston needed to find his release. With a raspy cry, he clutched Clay tightly and spilled his seed into Clay’s hand.
Slowly, Preston’s muscles loosened, and he slumped against Clay. He tried to grasp Clay’s prick, but his body was unwilling to cooperate.
Clay wrapped his fingers in Preston’s hair and jerked his head up. “Watch me.”