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Rainbow Alley Series 5: Neat Trick excerpt

This is a small taste of Jamie Samms story ; Rainbow Alley Series 5: Neat Trick.

Neat Trick Excerpt:

The only redeeming feature of jogging was running until I couldn’t breathe or move or think then falling into bed exhausted. No tossing and turning all night replaying my aborted attempt to win Cliff Thatcher into my bed. Or dreaming about where it might have gone had I succeeded.

Not that I was pining after the guy. Handsome and built, strong, athletic, soft-spoken, Cliff was pretty much everything I craved in a Dom. Including, sadly, being honest enough to admit when he couldn’t give a guy everything because his heart already belonged to someone else. And he was honorable enough to say no when he knew he couldn’t settle for an affair that had no future.

I’d have settled for the affair. I prefer the sexy side of submission over the whole twenty-four seven thing that Cliff wanted. That just wasn’t me. I mean, I could picture it. Jacob Briggs—slave. But I had been there and done that for a guy who had been what I needed at the time. He’d known when I’d had enough and let me go. I wasn’t interested in doing it again. Kink in bed? Hell yes. The rest? Emphatically no.

“Just as well,” I huffed, pushing my legs to get me up the steep embankment near the park. I wasn’t going to be content in Cliff’s strict environment under which Jimmy Phillips—the man who had won Cliff—clearly thrived. They’d cheerfully gone about their lives in the months since Cliff had turned me away. If Jimmy didn’t wear a physical collar, there was still no doubt in anyone’s mind to whom he willingly belonged, heart and soul.

Perfectly okay with me. They were happy. I was happy. All good.

“Give your head a shake, Jacob,” I muttered. I attempted to train my mind to stillness and concentrate on the soft thumping of my feet on the grassy verge between sidewalk and road. Shin splints had already sent me back to Cliff. Well, his physiotherapy clinic, anyway. I’d gone in to ask him what was up with my legs and he’d admonished—oh hell, he’d told me off. Told me to be more careful, to stop running my heart out and potentially ruining my knees as well as damaging my legs.

“You’re too young to go wearing yourself out.” Just the sound of Cliff’s voice in my memory was enough to send me back to that moment in time when I’d almost had him.

“Like you care,” I muttered, then instantly regretted it. I didn’t get a chance to apologize, though.

“Of course I care.” Cliff cupped my face tenderly. “If I didn’t care, I would have fucked you into the wall that night and sent you home sore. I hope that isn’t the kind of man you think I am.”

I shook my head, feeling like a complete fool. “No,” I mumbled, then, more idiot me, tacked on a whimpering “Sir” for good measure.

“You’re a good boy, Jacob,” he said softly, patting my cheek then pulling his hand away. Denied. That wasn’t mine. I hadn’t earned it from him, and furthermore, I didn’t deserve it. And a moment later, he’d outlined why I didn’t deserve it. “And I don’t think you’re this petulant, either.”

Not usually.

“Enough is enough, now.” He straightened and spun his stool away from me. “You walked out my door, and you know that. Don’t make me regret inviting you in in the first place.”

God. Disapproval. From him. It had hurt more than it should, but I knew, in my heart, it was all I deserved from him the way I was acting. He wasn’t my Dom. He never would be. He didn’t share. I had to move on.

And because I knew Cliff was not an asshole was precisely why I had such a hard time getting over him. For pity’s sake, we’d never even slept together, barely kissed. Just a few dinner dates, and the feel of Cliff’s hard, strong hands on my ass was apparently enough to send me into a tailspin of wishful thinking.

“Get the fuck over it, already,” I admonished myself, picking up my pace and ignoring the warning twinges in my legs and left ankle telling me my body wasn’t ready for this amount of activity. I concentrated on the soft jangle of the bracelets around my wrist keeping time with my steps instead of thinking about Cliff Thatcher.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” I veered off to the left, over the sidewalk and down the slight hill into the park bordering the north end of Rainbow Alley’s limits.

Backed along the park were a series of tiny houses built between the park and a row of businesses fronting the street. The houses generally belonged to people who owned the businesses, and most of them had a dingy, used-up look to them. The yards were dry and patchy, the gardens either empty or weed infested. Clapboard siding sported fading paint, and porches hung crookedly in some cases, leading from cracked walks to dated front doors.

The narrow lane between houses and buildings was covered in cracked pavement with weeds and grass growing up through the broken lines. It all looked just a little bit desolate and sad.

I passed Doyle’s Garage first, the best of the lot with its new coat of paint and flower beds in front of the house that bloomed in a riot of overgrown color. Pretty, if unkempt. Then a gas station, whose house was long gone, burned down more than a decade ago and never rebuilt, followed by a convenience store and a florist. At that point, a small break in the row of old buildings opened onto a flower bed and benches next to the bus stop, with a path leading into the park. After that was a boarded-up deli with a house in ill repair behind it, a tiny Asian grocer, a used bookstore and a small shop that changed hands every six or eight months. Right now, it held the tacky remains of a souvenir shop with ugly rainbow-flavored novelties in one window, and the new addition of used skateboarding equipment in the other. Beside it, a chain coffee shop marked the edge of respectability as one entered into the Alley confines proper.

Construction had started on the house behind the bookshop, and there were signs that the deli would be next. Maybe someone was moving in. Maybe someone wanted to sell the dump. Maybe it was an attempt to clean up the tiny neighborhood. Who knew?

Not sure I was ready to move my jog back toward my sad little life or empty apartment just yet, I swerved deeper into the park toward the undulating concrete jungle of the skateboarders’ domain.

The loud swoosh and grind of wheels up and down the sides of the main bowl was a welcome distraction from self-pity, and I slowed to climb the hill leading to the entrance of the skaters’ park. I liked watching them. I’d stopped more than once to enjoy the fast swoop of bodies down the curves and back up the other side. It fascinated me how they hung in the air for just that split second, like breaking a moment out of time just for themselves. The twist and gyration of their bodies up there was like that infinite moment of bliss just this side of subspace, only they got to do it over and over, with every pass, while I rarely found that coveted hanging moment in time before I dropped into release.

A really good Dom could give me that, but I’d been told I had issues and barriers and an inability to really let go. I just think those guys didn’t know what they were doing. I was pretty sure Cliff could have done it for me if we’d had the chance to try.

Now I could only dream and watch the skaters and envy them their brand of freedom.

“Lucky bastards.” I scooted down the hill again to watch the show from the bottom lip of the largest half pipe where only one guy was practicing.

I’d seen him before, and had stopped to watch him. He was beautiful. He had a way of spinning gracefully at every turn, a snaking sideways twirl of his lithe body that got me interested. Just watching him, the way he commanded that board and bowl, the very air he sailed through got me hard every time.

I settled into a squat, eventually dropping onto my ass, run forgotten, knees up to hide my erection. The guy’s red hair was a flaming mass of waves hanging to his shoulders and across his face. How the hell he could see anything through the heavy layers was a mystery, but the burnished copper shone in the setting sun. One more facet to him that kept me watching him day after day. I’d never made it close enough to check, but I wondered if his eyes were blue, or that rare, highly coveted green. Did he have freckles? I wanted him to have freckles. And be gay. And dominant in bed.

“Hell of a lot better than thinking about Cliff,” I grumbled. Still, here I was, coveting something else I couldn’t have. Even on the off chance that the guy was gay, he probably wasn’t a Dom, and I was fairly certain he was a good few years younger than me. That meant he was probably barely legal. Not that age, as long as he was, in fact, legal, really mattered. Not with a body like that.

“Hey!” A deep shout echoed from the top of the pipe. The skater spun, mis-stepped a push-off and fumbled off his board.

I looked toward the source of his distraction.

The newcomer was easily in his mid-forties, clad in designer jeans and a sports coat over an expensive silk-screened T-shirt that didn’t quite hide a pot belly. And loafers. Really? Who wore loafers in a park? Definitely too high-class to be hanging here.

The boarder caught my attention when he stumbled, nearly falling as he tried to stop. Seconds before my redhead got there, the old guy hopped onto the lip of the pipe right where he planned to land. The board escaped Red’s grab and skidded back to the bottom of the pipe on its flat surface, wheels spinning in air.

Red dropped out of his headspace with a lurch that made my stomach turn over. His cheeks blanched as he stumbled to get his feet under him without taking his eyes from the jerk.

The guy grabbed the kid’s arm, keeping him on his feet, then hauled him forward until their faces were too close for anything but the deep kiss that followed. The older man’s hand tangled in all that red hair, holding the skater in the kiss.

“Answers the gay question, then,” I muttered, getting hurriedly to my feet and turning my back on the private display.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, brat?” The older man’s harsh voice carried across the concrete, echoing into the dusk.

I froze, embarrassed that they’d caught me watching at all, and slowly turned to face their wrath.

But the man wasn’t talking to me at all. He still had a grip of steel around the younger man’s arm and in his hair, and he was shaking him. “I thought I told you that board was off limits until the tournament!”

Heavy-handed treatment for a small indiscretion. I quickly, quietly slipped down into the pipe to retrieve the board and used it as an excuse to get a little closer in case its owner needed some kind of assistance.

“Had to get used to it,” the skater argued. “I can’t go into a tournament on a new board and expect to get decent points on the first run. Need to know how it handles. Make sure it’s soft enough.”

“Those trucks alone cost more than you make a month in that idiotic shop you insist on keeping.”

The skater snarled and yanked ineffectually against the other man’s hold. “That’s why you’re my sponsor, Douglas. Fuck. You own the damn company. Not like you can’t afford it.”

“I can’t afford it if you screw up the prototype.”

I was close enough now to see the young man’s lip curl. “If it’s that good a product, nothing I do is going to wreck it. If it sucks, that ain’t my problem. Rather know that now, than when I got a thousand cameras on me, wouldn’t you?”

“Watch your mouth.” Another shake, a less than gentle slap across one cheek, and the young man subsided, but not gracefully.

“Fine. Let me go and I’ll go get the damn precious thing, but if I lose the tourney, it’s on you for being a stingy bastard.” He whirled around and I was caught in his sights, board in hand.

“Hey.” I offered a small smile. “Um. Here.” I held out the board.

Green eyes glared from his still pale face, cheeks suddenly infused with two high spots of color amid an incredible mask of cinnamon freckles.

Green eyes. Freckles. Gay. Check, check and fucking check. My attention wavered, caught by the glimpse of throat and a sliver of chest peeking from the loose collar of his T-shirt. That patch of skin was also covered in a sprinkling of pretty dots that had me wondering how far down they went. And he was young, but if the blazing expression in his eyes was anything to go by, not in the least bit cowed by the older man’s rough handling.

“Who the hell are you, and why you always watchin’ me?” the skater snarled in a sotto whisper as he snatched the board.

“Jacob Briggs. And I watch because…” You’re beautiful. “It’s impossible not to. Your hang time…” I trailed off but forgot to loosen my grip on the board.

Green eyes narrowed. “What do you know about it?”

“I just… Nothing. I’m not a boarder or anything. I jog. Just had to stop and watch.”

“Every day.”

I managed a small shrug. “Most,” I agreed, my tone practically daring him to make something of it. Please make something of it.

The red head tilted and hair splashed across one high cheekbone. It didn’t change his wary expression. “Guess I’ll see you around then.”

“Guess so.”

“My board?” He gave a tug on the skateboard making me flinch and I let go in a tinkle of silver bracelets and nerves.

“S-sorry.” I held up my hand as if he needed proof I’d let go. It shook slightly and he stepped closer, blocking my view of the guy waiting above. He closed long, calloused fingers around my wrist.

“Nervous.”

He wasn’t asking, but informing. Like I didn’t know that.

I fluttered my gaze down to his hand around mine and felt it. The unwinding that happened when someone stronger than me, more in control, took that power and control and displayed it. Like a red flag before a bull, it got my attention.

“Sorry,” I said again, unable to control the instinct to drop my gaze to the concrete.

Finally, though, I’d won a smile from him. I could hear it in his voice. “Don’t be. Nervous looks cute on you.”

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