Cory loves the carnival. Even as an adult, the lights and color, flashing rides, popcorn and cotton candy, all hold a special allure for him. Especially this year, when the men seem extraordinarily beautiful and Jules, the barker for the Mirror Maze, ran away with his heart from the moment Cory first saw him in his purple-satin and leather uniform.
For Jules, the carnival is life, the other carnies his family, friends, lovers. He can’t think of anywhere else he’d rather be. But the carnival has a secret that, if found out, could bring an end to their ideal existence. What with falling in love with a local man and a detective dogging their heels about the body found on the hill above the fairgrounds, his perfect life just might be changing, and he has no idea if it is for the better.
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Cory yawned and leaned against the counter while he waited for the coffee to brew, knuckling his gritty eyes, his mind sluggish from lack of sleep. Jules had kept him up most of the night. And he did mean up. His boyfriend had been insatiable. Cory wasn’t complaining…not much, anyway. But he’d only been gone for the weekend to Brighton to visit his parents. He hadn’t seen them since he’d moved. Jules had acted like he’d been away for months and was starving for him. God, that wicked mouth…
Jules’s tongue had been everywhere, licking Cory’s skin until his senses screamed; he’d wormed his way into him with his hard silver stud. He’d come unglued, melting into the bed, begging, letting Jules do anything he wanted. He’d never done that with a lover before, transported by the sensations Jules aroused in him. And there had been that one moment, when he’d accidentally caught their reflection in the mirror, when Jules had appeared beyond beautiful, his eyes flashing quicksilver in the light from the hall…
Cory snorted, dick hard as a rock in the cotton pants he’d worn to bed. His eyes must have been playing tricks on him, senses skewed with white-hot pleasure as Jules squatted over him, perfect ass on display as he took Cory deep in his throat, Cory easing a finger inside him… He shivered deliciously. He wouldn’t mind trying that position again!
He’d never get to class on time this way. Glancing around for a distraction while the coffee finished, he spotted Saturday’s paper in the pile of letters on the counter. Plucking it out from under the junk mail, a shudder ran over him when he saw the picture on the front page. Apparently, a body had been found on the hill overlooking the fairgrounds on the edge of the forest near the new development of condos. A young man, killed at the beginning of September and dumped there.
Cory’s heart thumped. The same time the carnival had come to town.
“What are you reading—”
“Fuck!” The expletive leaped from Cory’s mouth as he swiveled toward Jules, pulse pounding. Damnit, Jules could move silently when he chose to. “Sorry. Didn’t hear you.”
“Apparently.” Jules’s smile took the bite out of the word. “What grabbed your attention?”
“Nothing. Just waiting for you.” Cory tossed the paper upside down on the stack of neglected letters, not wanting Jules to see what he’d been reading. He didn’t examine his motive too closely. Jules worked at the carnival as a barker for the Mirror Maze, gorgeous in his uniform of purple satin and leather.
Apparently, the Sky Blue Carnival returned to Cedar Ridge late summer every year and stayed through mid-October. Cory had only arrived in town in January to finish up college, so this was his first carnival here. But he’d made sure to be there opening day. He’d always loved carnivals, the bright colors and laughter and crush of the crowd. The smell of dust and popcorn, candy apples, and sweat. The rides were all light and brilliance and garish sound, rollercoasters, Tilt-A-Whirl, and glittering carousel. The Mirror Maze was still his favorite.
The moment he’d stepped in the long line for the maze he’d been stunned by the beauty of the dark-haired barker, whose green eyes held him captive. Jules had laughed in his face when he’d stared too long, then grabbed his hand and tugged him behind the gaudy attraction. Dazed, Cory could only lean against the rough wood in wonder as Jules slipped to his knees on the long grass, his nimble fingers working the fly of Cory’s jeans.