Though The Looking Glass is a series of three books, each one can be read as a standalone, however, there is one character (The Mirror’s Keeper – Simon) who is a part of the first two books, and his story is told in the third. So those reading His Heart’s Desire (The Looking Glass 3) may want to read the first book Choices (TLG 1), and then the second book First Kiss (TLG 2) if they want to get the whole of Simon’s story. But those reading Choices or First Kiss don’t need to read either of the others.
Marc was straight, always had been and always thought he would be, but when shown his true love in a magic mirror he was shocked to find out his true love was a man. Not only that, it was up to him to convince his true love they were meant to be together. All bad enough, but after finding Liam, the only way he’s able to persuade Liam to go out with him is to offer him sex – even though that was something Marc was definitely not ready for.
Liam thought Marc was crazy. Marc was straight and he was talking about true love and making a life together, but Liam didn’t believe in love and he certainly wasn’t going to fall in love with a crazy straight guy regardless of how sexy he was. But he hadn’t reckoned on Marc’s pushy attitude or his offer of sex which, no matter how much he knew he should, Liam couldn’t turn down.
Available at: Amazon
An Exclusive Excerpt from Choices
Eight nights and eight gay bars later, Marc stood in front of another and wiped his sweaty palms down the front of his suit pants. He’d loosened his tie and undone the top button of his shirt, but he still felt hot. He was nervous, as he’d been every night he’d decided to start searching, but at least he was doing something and not acting the coward he’d been before he’d spoken to his sister.
He still hadn’t made that final decision about what would happen when he found the man who matched the image, but for his own peace of mind he needed to at least find him and see if the mirror was right. Then, and only then, would he choose what to do about him.
Ignoring his twisting gut, Marc shoved open the door and walked in. The bar was like the last few he’d been in, clean and filled with music and men. A few merely glanced up at him as he entered, while some took more interest. Marc carefully and slowly looked around the room. He’d quickly learned that if he seemed to be searching for someone in particular, no one approached him. It was only when he looked lost or unsure did men come up to him. It had been embarrassing at first, but after several nights of being sidled up to and offered drinks, he’d gotten used to it. He was getting some pretty good experience in turning men down.
Gazing around the slightly dim interior, Marc noted the dark paneled walls, the timber floors, and the half-crescent booths that lined the walls. Together they all seemed to hint at a bygone era. Quaint, and not what he expected. Marc actually felt a little more comfortable than in the other places he’d been in, and a little more optimistic—until his scrutiny included the faces of the men in the bar and came up empty. He sighed, disappointed, the tension in his body worse than it had been before he’d stepped through the door. Contemplating a future entirely different from the one he’d planned was scary enough, but he was also beginning to worry about what would happen if he didn’t find the man he was looking for. What would his life be like then? Aimless? Lonely? Not wanting to even think about the possibility, Marc squared his shoulders and decided to wait. It was early, and the man might still turn up. Spotting an empty booth tucked away in a corner, Marc started toward it, then stopped dead in his tracks.
A man angled toward him from what appeared to be the bathroom. He was tall, his long, jean-clad legs bringing him quickly across the wooden floor. Slim hips, slim waist, flat stomach, broad chest and shoulders covered in a tight black T-shirt and a loose button-down shirt. As the man got closer, Marc focused on his face. Strong jaw, full lips, straight nose, beautiful dark brown eyes, and dark, almost black, hair.
In that instant, as the man glanced his way, as their eyes met and held, recognition hit so powerfully that Marc nearly staggered backward in shock because the recognition he felt didn’t just come from the physical apparition which strode in his direction, but the absolute and unmistakable knowledge that this man belonged to him.
Stunned, Marc stood rooted to the spot, his body suddenly becoming alive with an awareness he never expected to feel. Something pulled at him, something deep inside that woke up and started a little happy dance while a hot need lit up every nerve ending until Marc thought he’d combust. It was obvious what was happening to him, but even as Marc tried to refute it, his stomach clenched at the sight of those long legs coming toward him. His heart skipped a beat, his mouth went dry, but worse, so much worse, was that his cock undeniably stirred at the interest that suddenly flared deep within those dark brown eyes. What the fuck?
No. No way! He wasn’t gay, he knew he wasn’t, but despite that conviction, Marc wasn’t stupid enough to try to deny his body wanted this man, especially when he passed and Marc turned to watch, awkwardly appreciating that broad back and tight ass and inexplicably wondering how it would feel to run his hands over every muscled inch. He groaned, low and deep in his throat. What the hell was he thinking? But it was at that point Marc realized he was still thinking. Though his body had gone completely gaga, he was still able to process thoughts and feelings and knew he could easily separate the two. Relief flooded him. He could still walk away from this if he wanted to.
But he didn’t want to. Not yet. Marc didn’t need to remind himself he’d gone looking for this, looking for love, but was he going to find it in this man? According to Stella his soul was already bound to him, and the last few seconds had just proved his body didn’t seem to be having a problem, but what of his heart and mind? He hadn’t felt that love-at-first-sight thing, which was another relief, but now he had to make the decision whether he wanted to offer his heart to someone who might not even want it.
He settled his gaze on the jean-covered ass now seated at the bar, and his body gave a small shiver of awareness. Disconcerted at the way his body was reacting, Marc wondered how far it was willing to go, or how far he was willing to let it. Taking a deep breath, Marc took a few hesitant steps toward the bar. His stomach roiled, but he wasn’t sure if it was because of nerves or excitement, until his dick started clamoring for some sort of contact with the hard body he now approached. God. Unbidden thoughts and images made their presence known, ones he would never have contemplated before now. Disturbed, Marc pushed them deep into the back of his mind. His body might want, but Marc definitely wasn’t ready to admit he desired sex with a man. Not even this man.
About First Kiss
The second Brenn saw Joey’s image in the magic mirror, he was hooked. The moment he saw him in real life, Brenn knew Joey was going to be his forever. Joey was flirty, and fun, and he had the most gorgeous smile, but then Joey told him he was dying. Though devastated, Brenn didn’t want to give up on Joey, so he offered to look after him and make his last few days as comfortable as possible, but was that going to be enough when all Brenn really wanted was for Joey to live?
Brenn was everything Joey could have wished for; strong, built, and with the most amazing eyes. Also, Brenn was in love with him. That would have given Joey something to live for, if it hadn’t been too late. He had about three weeks left, but that didn’t seem to matter to Brenn. Brenn wanted to take him home, and Joey was willing to go with him, but on two conditions. He wanted Brenn to make love to him before he died, but no kissing.
Available at: Amazon
An Exclusive Excerpt from First Kiss
BRENN LOOKED INTO Joey’s eyes and grinned. He was glad Joey had still wanted to see him. He’d been afraid Joey might have changed his mind since they’d parted, but the look on his face when he’d walked through the door resolved that.
“So when do you get to have your shower?” he asked, knowing this was what Joey had been aiming at.
“Whenever I like.”
“Do you want one now?”
Joey’s bright eyes lit up. “Yeah, but I need some help.”
“With the getting in or with the soaping up?”
“Why? Are you offering?”
Brenn knew he was crossing the line between flirting and being serious, but he wasn’t about to stop now. “If you want me to,” he said, knowing this was up to Joey. Brenn certainly wasn’t going to force himself on the younger man.
“Help me up.” Joey threw back the sheet and slid his legs over the side of the bed. He held out his hand for Brenn to hold. “I can walk; I’m just a little unsteady.”
Gripping Joey’s hand, Brenn eased him to his feet. Joey was wearing a white T-shirt and boxers. If Brenn hadn’t been so intent on watching Joey, he might have missed what was written on the T-shirt. He probably still would have missed it except Joey pulled at his boxers as they started to slip down his hips, and Brenn’s attention was brought to the unusual depiction on the front of them. For a second he didn’t realize what he was looking at, but then as he glanced back up to Joey’s T-shirt and saw a similar picture, it suddenly clicked, and he grinned.
“I bet the nurses don’t appreciate that,” he said, pointing to the blaze of lettering that read Where are my fucking nuts? while a squirrel sat up, holding out a pair of empty paws with a puzzled look on his face. Perhaps not remarkable on its own, but there was another squirrel on the boxers with something stuffed in its mouth. The words Found them! were written across the front of the crotch.
Joey glanced down at himself and smiled. “I thought it was funny.”
Joey looked up and met Brenn’s gaze. “My nuts disappeared.”
“Pulled up into my body. Probably trying to save themselves.” Joey’s expression was tight. “You sure you want to help me with the shower? I’m not a pretty sight.”
Brenn disagreed. Okay, Joey looked a little thin now that Brenn could see more of him, but he still looked beautiful as far as Brenn was concerned. In answer he tugged on Joey’s hand and led him to the attached bathroom.
The room was small, holding only a toilet, a sink, and an open shower stall. It was white and clean. Clinical and sterile, if he thought about it, but Brenn didn’t want to think about how Joey had to live. He turned on the shower before helping Joey out of his T-shirt. Joey’s boxers came next, and as Brenn slid them down Joey’s legs, he had to inwardly acknowledge how ill Joey truly was. His body was thin, his ribs and hip bones easily visible beneath translucent skin. Brenn tried not to look shocked or show any pity, but Joey must have seen something on his face.
“Told you I wasn’t a pretty sight.”
“You look beautiful to me.” To prove his point, Brenn carefully traced over Joey’s chest, following one of the veins. Joey’s skin was incredibly soft, amazingly silky, and a total turn-on. Brenn continued down to caress the curve of Joey’s hip, and felt a light tingling enter his fingers; as if touching Joey was firing up nerve endings that had so far been dormant.
Joey stared at him, transfixed. “Can you feel that?”
Brenn nodded, surprised that Joey felt it too. “Warm.”
Brenn rubbed his thumb in circles over the hollow of Joey’s pelvis. “Delicious.”
“Damn fucking sexy.”
Brenn gazed into blue eyes that flared with hunger. “Yeah, hot and sexy.” He cupped his other hand to the back of Joey’s neck and started to draw him in for a kiss, but at the last second, Joey pulled away.
“We’re wasting water,” Joey said, moving out of Brenn’s reach.
Surprised, Brenn stood watching as Joey tested the temperature and adjusted it. Why had Joey rejected him? What had he said or done? Confused, he waited for a moment before touching Joey on the shoulder.
“Joey? Are you all right?”
Joey turned to him, his eyes bleak. “I can’t respond to you.”
“I can’t get hard.”
Joey shrugged, looking forlorn. “My body’s reaction to one of the drugs the doctors tried.”
Once again, Brenn tried to hold back a look of pity. This time he thought he succeeded. “Why are you here?” he asked, trying to get things straight in his head.
“What the fuck do you mean by that? Why do you think I’m here?” Joey’s tone was harsh, angry, and though Brenn knew Joey had every right to be, he hadn’t expected it.
He pulled Joey down to sit on the toilet seat, then crouched in front of him and held his hands. “I mean why do you stay here? Why don’t you stay at home?” he asked gently. “Couldn’t you just come in when you needed treatment?”
Joey’s blue eyes blazed at him. “I don’t have treatments anymore. I haven’t for months. There’s no point. The doctors don’t even know what’s wrong with me. Not really.”
Brenn frowned. He hadn’t wanted to assume Joey’s illness, but to hear Joey say they didn’t even have a name for it confused him. “What do you mean they don’t know?”
Joey shrugged, then sighed. “They think it’s a type of immune deficiency which is attacking my body, damaging my organs, but it’s all just guesswork. I had doctors fighting over me to be the first to come up with a diagnosis or a cure.” Anger still simmered in Joey’s eyes, but it was tempered with resignation.
Brenn struggled to accept what Joey had told him and to not question why. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t do this, promised he wouldn’t show Joey how much he was hurting. He took a deep breath in an attempt to hide his grief, but it was hard, almost impossible. How was he supposed to act around Joey, smile around him, when each time he looked at him he knew Joey was dying?
It hadn’t made sense, didn’t make sense. Why would Joey be given to Brenn only to be taken away? Brenn had spent most of last night trying to understand. He couldn’t come to terms with it; however, turning his back on Joey wasn’t something he could do either. But then he’d had to ask himself if he was strong enough to be with Joey for the short time he had. Was he strong enough to love him and then let him go? He still hadn’t known if he was able until he’d walked in the door and seen Joey again. One look into his eyes, one smile from his lips, and Brenn knew.
Joey was his, and Brenn wouldn’t abandon him now or ever.
He squeezed Joey’s hand, feeling some measure of comfort in that small touch. “Is that why you’re here, so they can keep trying to find a cure?”
“No. I’m here because I can’t stay anywhere on my own. I need someone to look after me,” Joey declared, frustration lacing his voice.
“What about family, friends? Wouldn’t they help?”
“I don’t have any family left, and I didn’t want to be a burden on my friends.” Joey’s tone softened to the point where he sounded almost defeated.
“I don’t believe they’ll think you a burden. What about Paul? He seemed to think he was there to look after you.”
“Paul has his limitations. It would kill him to see me looking like this day after day. He also doesn’t agree with—” Joey cut himself off, and then shook his head. “Trust me; Paul is the last person I would stay with.”
“Would you stay with me?” Brenn had played with the idea before seeing Joey again. Now it was something he most definitely wanted to do.
Joey’s eyes went wide, his surprise evident. “You’re kidding.”
Brenn shook his head. “No, I’m not. I’d love to have the chance to spend some time with you.”
“At your place?”
“Yes, unless you’d rather stay here?”
“Of course I wouldn’t, but what if you’re some serial killer with a sick fetish?”
Brenn had expected Joey to question his motives, though he hadn’t quite thought along the same lines Joey had. “If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll give you my driver’s license, and you can get the hospital to file a copy of it so they’ll know where you’ll be.”
Joey’s quiet contemplation was unnerving, and Brenn fidgeted as he waited for Joey to answer. “Please, Joey. I promise to look after you.”
His expression guarded, Joey stared at Brenn. “Why would you want to?”
Knowing he had to be honest, at least about how he felt, Brenn blew out a breath and took a chance. “Do you believe in love at first sight?”
Pushing past his disappointment, realizing it was stupid to even be disappointed, Brenn smiled. “I do.”
Joey’s voice dropped to a whisper. “You love me?”
“Yes.” The word was simple, the feelings behind it more than complicated.
“But why? I mean, you hardly know me.”
“True love is one soul’s recognition of another. Mine recognized yours,” Brenn said, trying to explain without actually going into detail about the mirror. He doubted Joey would understand something that needed to be experienced firsthand.
Joey winced and glanced away. Worried he’d pushed Joey too far, Brenn was about to back off when Joey looked up at him.
“What about sex?” Joey asked quietly.
Thrown, Brenn took a second to answer. “What about it?”
Joey’s gaze very slowly and very deliberately traveled down to Brenn’s groin, his lips turning up in a smirk. “Want to do the dirty with me?”
About His Heart’s Desire
As the keeper of a magic mirror that shows those lucky few their one true love, Simon dreams of the day it will show him his, but he never dreamt of a punk-assed kid with ripped jeans and rainbow colored hair. Devastated, Simon tries to push Alex away, refusing to tell him they were fated, but Alex keeps coming back, showing all the signs of a man drawn to his soulmate. Realizing he’s made a terrible mistake, Simon figures the only way to fix it is to be the man Alex wants because Alex is the man Simon needs if he’s ever to have a future.
Never before has Alex fallen so hard for a man who obviously doesn’t like him, but Alex is sure there’s a passionate man beneath Simon’s prickly exterior. Peeling away Simon’s layers is like ripping off a bandaid, but it’s worth it when Alex finally has Simon in his arms. The problem is, though he may have Simon’s body, he doesn’t have his heart, and that’s the part Alex wants most. Until he finds out Simon has lied to him.
Available at: Amazon
An Exclusive Excerpt from His Heart’s Desire
“Chinese it is.” A slight twist of Alex’s lips snagged Simon’s attention. Alex had full, well-shaped lips, turned up at the edges so even when he wasn’t smiling it seemed like he was. Simon didn’t mean to stare, but it was difficult not to. Those lips looked soft, moist, and seriously kissable.
Alex tapped the screen of his phone once more and then grinned. Simon felt his stomach spiral at the sight and immediately regretted agreeing to have Alex buy dinner. How was it possible to keep Alex at bay if the man kept smiling like that? Simon stood beside his desk, ignoring the impulse to tell Alex he’d changed his mind. Now what was he supposed to do? Did they wait here until the food was delivered? Did he invite Alex into his living quarters? Simon frowned. He didn’t want Alex in his home.
“Why don’t you go and have a shower. I’ll wait here for the food.” Alex propped his hip against Simon’s desk. The small action instantly grated on Simon’s nerves. It wasn’t that Alex was showing no respect for the furniture, but that once again he simply didn’t seem to have any real concerns. He looked totally at ease, as if there was absolutely nothing he couldn’t achieve, nothing he couldn’t conquer. Did that include Simon?
“Get off the desk,” Simon snapped. “That’s probably worth more than you earn in a year.” Knowing he was being rude didn’t stop him from storming off. If he stood here much longer, he was going to totally lose it, and then they’d be back to square one where Alex would insist on pestering him again.
Simon weaved his way through to his apartment, his anger barely tempered. This wasn’t Alex’s fault, and Simon knew he shouldn’t be taking his frustration out on the younger man, but since Alex had walked into the shop yesterday, Simon had felt as if he’d been cut loose from everything he’d ever known.
He opened the door to the place he’d called home for the past ten years. This had been his haven, his refuge since becoming the mirror’s keeper. He looked around the small room. Really looked. All it contained was the kitchenette, his bed and… There was nothing else of his in here. He owned nothing, and that was what his life had now become. One big fat nothing.
While pulling off his tie, Simon walked over to the tiny bathroom and stepped inside. He started the shower and then stripped, needing to distract himself from the pressure closing in around him. Once Alex left, Simon knew he was going to be alone, permanently, but wasn’t that better than not having his perfect man? The man he could love, cherish, and be happy with?
Unwilling to contemplate his future right then, Simon ignored the uncertainties running riot in his head. He stepped beneath the warm spray, intent on ridding himself of the emotional turbulence and the tension he couldn’t seem to purge. The water beat on his head and shoulders, but it did little to ease the sharp pain behind his eyes or the lingering ache in his muscles. He grabbed the shampoo and poured a generous amount into his hand before rubbing the thick liquid through the strands of his hair.
It was an effort to achieve a lather, to put any energy into soaping up and actually getting clean, but after a few minutes, Simon rinsed and turned off the water. Then he stood there, his forehead resting against the tiled wall, wondering if he had the strength to walk out and face Alex.
“Simon?” Alex sounded close enough to be in the bedroom.
Simon sighed, then gave himself a couple of seconds before he slid back the curtain and stepped out of the shower. His suit pants were still hung over the chair where he’d left them, but his shirt had fallen to the floor and was now sitting in a wet puddle.
Great, just great.
He eyed the door, wondering what would happen if he went out there shirtless. Would Alex think Simon was coming on to him? Simon huffed out a small laugh, seeing the funny side of that thought. More than likely, Alex would take one look and demand Simon cover up. Looking down at his torso, Simon realized he should have put a little more effort into building some muscle. He wasn’t flabby, but with his slim form and slight frame, he was certainly not buff. Irritated that he’d let what Alex might think affect him, Simon toweled himself dry, then pulled on his pants, sans underwear. He ran his fingers through his damp hair before opening the door onto what he hoped would be the last time he saw Alex.
The young man was sitting on the bed, which wasn’t much of a surprise since there wasn’t anywhere else to sit. Simon ignored the look Alex gave him and rummaged in the small bedside dresser. The dresser held his clothes and the few small possessions Simon owned from his life before the mirror. They evoked memories he sometimes tried to forget, others he wished he knew more of.
He drew out a white T-shirt and self-consciously tugged it over his head. He could feel Alex’s gaze on him, burning into his back, and though Simon didn’t want to react, he couldn’t help but clench his jaw. It would be stupid to show Alex how disturbing it was having him here. Alex would probably say something about it, and Simon didn’t need Alex to do, say, or feel anything.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Alex said, his voice soft.
Simon turned while pulling his T-shirt partway over his chest. Alex was staring, and Simon’s skin prickled at the heat he thought he saw in Alex’s eyes.
“Wasn’t expecting what?” he asked before remembering it was probably best he didn’t.
“Your abs. I mean, wow.”
“My abs?” Simon frowned as he glanced back down at his flat stomach. There was some definition, but he certainly wouldn’t have said it was noteworthy. He automatically ran a hand over the tight muscles and then realized what he was doing. Embarrassed, he quickly dragged his T-shirt the rest of the way down. “I’m assuming the food is here,” he said, distracting himself from thinking about what Alex’s comment meant.
At Alex’s nod, Simon opened a cupboard and pulled out the two plates that had come with the apartment. Plain white, they matched the two bowls and two mugs that had also been here when Simon moved in. He hadn’t any need for anything else, but as he held the plates, he became aware of how lacking his home really was. There was nowhere to eat. Not wanting to sit next to Alex on the bed, Simon didn’t particularly want to sit on the floor either. He considered the antique dining tables and chairs in the shop, but wasn’t sure that was a good idea. Alex might spill something and—
“I’m not going to bite, you know. But if you feel more comfortable, I can scoot right over to the edge.” Alex indicated the end of the bed, his smile both easy and knowing.
Feeling like he’d already made a fool of himself, Simon didn’t want to appear more of an idiot. He perched as far away from Alex as possible without it seeming as if he was doing just that. Alex untied the bag holding the cartons of food and then flipped open the tabs holding the cartons closed.
“I got a mixture because I wasn’t sure what you liked. There’s chicken curry, sweet and sour pork, Mongolian lamb, satay beef, dim sims, fried rice, and noodles.”
Appreciating Alex’s choice, Simon wanted to thank him, but would that constitute encouragement? Caught between politeness and a need to keep his distance, Simon handed Alex a plate and then, using the provided chopsticks, helped himself to some rice, chicken, and one of the dim sims. He loved the crunchy, deep-fried dumplings stuffed with pork and vegetables. They were his favorite. He dipped the morsel into the plum sauce they came with and then took a bite, unconsciously moaning in approval.
“Good,” he mumbled, glancing up at Alex. Alex was staring again, his mouth slightly open. Simon dropped his gaze, awkwardness suddenly eating at his appetite. He fidgeted, playing with the food on his plate.
“I like them too,” Alex replied. “If I’d known how much you did, I would have ordered more.”
“No, this is fine. Thank you.” Risking another glance, Simon observed Alex as he copied Simon’s movements, dipping the dim sim into the sauce before taking a bite. A drop of sauce caught on the edge of Alex’s mouth, and as Simon watched, Alex stuck out the tip of his tongue and licked the little droplet away.
For the first time in years, Simon found himself completely mesmerized. It had been so long since he’d sat opposite someone while they ate that he’d almost forgotten the simple pleasure of such an act. Alex seemed to enjoy his food. He didn’t rush, but he didn’t delay in trying the different dishes and their flavors.
“Eat up; it’s going to get cold,” Alex said after he’d swallowed a helping of noodles. At least he didn’t talk with his mouth full.
Simon forced himself to pick up a piece of chicken and pop it in his mouth, but he was seriously self-conscious of Alex watching him. Alex smiled while nodding in satisfaction. He leaned back against the wall, seemingly at ease in a situation Simon found anything but.
About Penny Brandon
Penny is a complete romantic who believes everyone can fall in love if only they’ll open their heart to the possibility, which is why she writes those hot, erotic stories that will always have a happily ever after. However, it doesn’t mean she’ll necessarily make it easy for her men to get there. A lover of things that go bump in the night, Penny’s imagination can sometimes run riot, so magic mirrors and evil dolls is only the beginning.
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