Betrayed by a lover, Jamie rents an isolated cabin on Lake Huron, wanting only to be left alone. Instead, he is pulled from his solitary existence as an artist and tumbles headlong into the legend of Saint Nicolas.
As a young man, Nicolas accidentally killed a man intent on murdering three children, only to have the man’s malicious spirit rise up against him. Fleeing through the centuries from the Krampus, the evil troll-like creature that dogs his steps, Nico finds refuge with the young artist who takes him into his home and bed. But Jamie has questions. Who is Nicolas, and why does the Krampus want to destroy him?
When the Krampus begins to torment and torture anyone Nico comes in contact with to punish him, Jamie’s life is put in danger. And Jamie isn’t sure whether he can help Nico defeat his nemesis or if he’s merely a pawn in the Krampus’s game.
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Agonizing minutes crawled into an hour, Jamie starting a dangerous sweat under his layers of clothing from the added exertion of half carrying his suffering guest. But then Nico slumped to his knees, head bowed while a barking cough shook his body. Jamie knelt in the snow, lifting his goggles to look deep into Nico’s feverish eyes. The hazel gaze showed no recognition, only pain, and then the heavy lids closed, and Nico collapsed.
God, what was he to do? Sleet mixed with snow pattered against his back and fear jolted through him. He could never carry him. His gaze went to the surrounding trees. Maybe he could find two broken branches and drag Nico to the cabin. Pulling his pack from his shoulders, he dug in a side pocket for his knife, then lifted his head. What…? He blinked at a faint sound on the wind, the improbable tinkle of silver bells.
He waited as the chimes grew closer, and then a snowmobile emerged from the trees and swept toward them. Jamie shook his head, wondering why he hadn’t heard the roar of the engine before, then forgot the question as the vehicle came to a stop beside them. The driver lifted his goggles, and Jamie’s mouth fell open at the glitter of amazing green eyes.
“You!” He instinctively drew back, shielding Nico with his body. The stranger’s low chuckle made his stomach churn.
“You remember!” He sounded pleased as he dismounted and walked up to them. Jamie rose to his feet and the man crowded close, his warm breath brushing his cheeks. He licked his lips as his gaze seemed to strip Jamie naked. His voice dripped honey tinged with desire when he spoke. “I, for one, can’t stop thinking about you.” He peered behind Jamie. “What have you done with our lovely Nico?”
Jamie fought off the irrational fear whispering in his mind. This was the man he’d dreamed of the other morning. But how could he be here? Was he real? Jamie had never seen him before. He wouldn’t have forgotten those striking eyes and face.
Dread slithered along his nerves. Had the man been in his room after all? How had he gotten in? Jamie’s heart lurched. Had he somehow been drugged?
The man watched him, amused, and leaned forward, pressing his mouth to Jamie’s through his scarf. “Shall I show you just how real I am, baby?”
The sensual tones wound through Jamie, draining his strength and leaving him panting with want. Damn, the man was dangerous. Could he be using hypnosis? Jamie felt bewitched. But he also sensed the falseness behind his smile and clung to that despite his traitorous body’s reaction.
“Can you help me get Nico to the doctor’s? The cabin’s nearby but I don’t think he has the strength to walk any farther,” he asked, not trusting the man, but he had few options at the moment.
Brilliant green eyes looked into his and his scarf was tugged from his face. “I can, but you will owe me something in return.” The man gripped his chin and kissed him, a hard thrust of tongue and a nip on his lips. He pulled away and smiled at Jamie’s obvious confusion. “I’m Piter Rupert, by the way, an old friend of Nico’s.”
Jamie blinked at him, unwilling to make him any promises, even at the risk of Nico’s health. There was something about the man he found frightening.
Piter gave him a knowing look and put a thumb on Jamie’s bottom lip, pulled it gently down and kissed the tender lining. Moving his head, he drew the full upper lip into his mouth and sucked, plucking a response from Jamie’s dick. He laughed under his breath when Jamie jerked his head to the side. “We’ll discuss this later, darling. For the moment, help me get Nico on the snowmobile.”
Jamie swallowed the unwanted desire. Damn the man! He seemed to know exactly what Jamie liked. His thoughts strayed to what other things Piter might know he craved in his deepest fantasies. Heat flushed his face under the man’s lurid gaze, and he turned quickly away, putting a hand under Nico’s arm. Piter took his other side and together they half carried the feverish Nico to the vehicle. Jamie kept him balanced on the seat while Piter sat behind him, pulling Nico against his chest.
“See you at the cabin, love. Don’t dawdle.” Piter gave him a lewd wink then turned on the engine and guided the snowmobile away from him.
Jamie’s fear mounted when they disappeared into the trees. It was obvious they knew each other, but was Nico safe with the outrageous man? He scowled in the direction they’d gone, acknowledging that part of his mistrust came from jealousy. Piter was breathtaking, his face that of an angel, though the glint of wickedness in his eyes sent a shiver through him. Had Nico and Piter been lovers at one time? His heart stumbled at the thought, though Nico had made it plain his affections didn’t include Jamie.
“I’ll make sure you’re safe, then stay out of your life,” he told the sounds of the engine, which faded incongruously with the chime of silver bells. Wind-driven ice stung his face, and he pulled his scarf over his mouth and adjusted his goggles. It would be another hour before he reached the doctor’s cabin. Without looking at the heavy gray sky, he drew a breath and trudged along the snowmobile’s tracks.