He doesn’t believe in the paranormal. Can a gorgeous shifter prove him wrong?
Ethan Wayne is a paranormal investigator for the hottest reality show on TV, Spirit Seekers, but his love life is decidedly lukewarm. Reeling from a sudden break-up, he finds himself heading for France, where his team will be exploring the Château LeBlanc, searching for the ghost of a murdered kitchen maid. When he meets the château’s reclusive owner, Jean-Luc LeBlanc, the attraction is fierce and instant—but Jean-Luc is keeping secrets the skeptical Ethan could never have imagined.
Jean-Luc’s world collapsed with the death of his beloved Benoît. He no longer cares about producing his award-winning Champagne and even his closest family members can’t rouse him from his self-imposed solitude. The last thing he wants is a team of ghost hunters intruding on his privacy and discovering the truth of his nature. The realization that one of these brash Americans is destined to be his new mate seems like a sick joke. But soon Jean-Luc has bigger things to worry about than his distrust of humans. His home and family are under threat—can he do what it takes to save all he holds dear, and let Ethan into his heart in the process?
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, mild BDSM and references to multiple partners.
General Release Date: 7th July 2015
“God, why did I come in here? The walls of this place seem to drip pure evil…”
Ethan looked around the room, gazing in horror at the narrow hospital cots with their ripped mattresses and high metal sides. Those beds would have seemed more at home in a maximum-security prison than a place where people were intended to get well. Though the Silver Falls Sanatorium had been anything but an ordinary medical institution.
Water had formed a stagnant pool on the floor and the air carried a faint tang of rotten vegetable matter. Something scuttled across the tiles, causing Ethan to shriek. He turned the beam of his torch in its direction and saw the pink, fleshy tail of a rat disappearing into a hole in the tiled wall.
Even in the sickly green light of the night-vision filter, he knew the fear in his expression would be all too apparent. For an instant, he caught sight of his reflection in the camera’s lens. His eyes were like black beads in his pale face. He glanced from side to side as he tried to calm his racing heartbeat.
Having gained control of himself once more, he addressed the camera, speaking in hushed, hesitant tones. “This is where those patients were brought who were deemed to be beyond standard psychiatric help. When all other treatments had failed—and sometimes well before that point—they came here to be lobotomized. To have their brains cut into while they were still conscious and be reduced to little more than drooling imbeciles. If you listen, you can almost hear their screams for mercy…”
He crept closer to the cabinet that still contained a number of old-fashioned surgical instruments, now rusted with age. “These drills and hacksaws were used on those unfortunate souls who were placed in the care of the sanatorium’s doctors. Imagine how it would have felt to lie on that operating table and watch as a man in a white coat prepared to open up your skull. No wonder it’s been claimed the dead still stalk the corridors here.”
The beam of his torch chose that precise moment to sputter and die. Ethan put out a hand, seeking to orientate himself in the pitch blackness, and touched a spongy mass of fungus growing on the wall.
“Oh, shit!” he screamed, all rational thoughts fleeing. “Kim, where the hell are you? Seriously, get in here right away…”
“Ethan, are you okay?”
He turned in the direction of Kim’s equally panic-filled voice. Something clattered loudly, followed by his colleague’s high-pitched yell.
“What the holy crap did I just trip over?” Kim exclaimed, her voice dissolving into giggles. “Did some moron leave a loose roll of cable out here? Cut the filming, guys, we’re going to have to go from the top…”
* * * *
In the editing suite, Ethan watched himself switch off the camera before the film jumped and he was shown entering the disused operating theater for a second time.
“Boyd, can we leave it there for tonight?” He sighed and did a couple of neck rolls, feeling his cramped limbs protest at having been in the same position for so long. “We’ve been watching this crap for three straight hours now and I’m starting to get really stiff.”
“And I thought that was just the effect I had on you.” Boyd grinned and flicked his sun-bleached fringe out of his eyes. “But if you need a back rub, you only have to ask.”
Ethan hesitated. As long as they’d been dating, Boyd’s offer of a back rub had always been the prelude to down and dirty sex. But right now they were in a place where any member of the Spirit Seekers production team might walk in and catch them in the act.
The distinct pressure in his groin as his cock hardened made the decision for him. “Sure, I’d like that.”
Boyd went to stand behind the back of Ethan’s swivel chair and kneaded his lover’s shoulders with practiced fingers.
“Mmm, that’s the spot.” Ethan sighed and closed his eyes, shutting out the image of his own face on the monitor screen while Boyd worried at a hard knot in the muscle with his thumbs.
“That stuff you shot in the operating theater looks great, by the way, even if the two of you did screw up the first take. You and Kim do an amazing job of pretending to act like you’re scared shitless.”
Ethan didn’t want to admit his reactions hadn’t all been exaggerated for the camera. In the four years he’d been investigating sites of supposed paranormal activity for Spirit Seekers, he’d never found any evidence of a genuine haunting. But that night in the disused shell of the Silver Falls Sanatorium had still been one of the creepiest of his life.
Boyd moved his hands round to undo the top couple of buttons of Ethan’s Hawaiian shirt then slipped his fingers down inside it. When he caught hold of Ethan’s nipple and gave it a gentle squeeze, Ethan groaned in response.
“We shouldn’t be doing this, you know. What if someone comes in here?”
“Hey, just relax. If it makes you feel any better…” Boyd broke off his sensual massage and went to lock the door from the inside.
“You know, I still think about some of those poor bastards who ended up at Silver Falls,” Ethan remarked. “Nowadays, if some kid’s disruptive in class, the worst anyone’ll do is put them on Ritalin. Back in the day, they’d have been strapped to a table getting bits of their brain removed…”
“Let’s not talk about that right now.” Boyd returned his attention to Ethan’s shirt, unbuttoning it all the way.
Ethan let his mind drift as Boyd massaged his pecs and the taut muscles of his abdomen. They’d been called to Silver Falls by Mario Rodriguez, the director of a low-budget horror movie that was being shot in the abandoned institution. When Rodriguez had viewed the daily rushes, he claimed to have heard laughter and unearthly howling noises drowning out the soundtrack. More than one person had seen lights shining in rooms that no longer had electricity. The lead actor swore he’d been alone in a corridor and had felt someone put a hand on his shoulder.
Despite the conviction with which the film crew spoke of their experiences, Ethan had been skeptical about it all. To him, it had sounded like an effort to whip up some advance buzz for a movie that might otherwise disappear without trace. But Kim, as always, had believed there might be some truth to the stories, and the production company thought the sanatorium would make a great setting for the Spirit Seekers season finale. So they’d found themselves spending a fortnight in that Godforsaken corner of Massachusetts, searching for ghosts.
The only bright spot had been Ethan getting to spend time with an up-and-coming actor called Hayden Skarz. He’d interviewed Hayden a couple of times in the course of filming the episode. There’d been definite chemistry and some heavy-duty flirting going on between them. But he and Boyd Morrison were an item, had been for the best part of a year now, and tempting as the possibility had been, he wouldn’t dream of sleeping with another guy behind Boyd’s back.