Exclusive Excerpt from Sicarii
by Adrienne Wilder
Ben opened his eyes. A few inches away, Jacob slept, and every exhale brushed Ben’s cheek. The warmth from his skin pushed through Ben’s clothes. And Jacob’s scent mixed with vodka, creating a rich, sensual flavor.
Ben counted Jacob’s breath. Traced the lines of his face with his eyes and the column of his neck. His T-shirt hid the rest, but Ben had already seen Jacob without a shirt, so he knew what was there.
No wonder Marcel wanted to be with Jacob. He wasn’t just handsome, but exotic, like some endangered animal. Now that he slept, he was even more fantastical.
There had been a few guys in Ben’s life he’d looked at twice. But he’d never considered himself attracted to them. He hadn’t even been sure why he’d looked. So the times it happened, he’d never dwelled on the feeling. Oh, he’d thought about what being with another man would be like, but it hadn’t needled his curiosity. Kicked up a desire.
Created a hunger.
Not like Jacob did now.
Was it because of what Marcel had done?
Which was what? Touch Ben but not touch him. Stare at him. Look him over. Grade him like a show animal?
Or was it because last night and well into the morning Jacob had listened to Ben. Listened to his losses, listened to his wants, listened to his failures. And not once did Jacob judge him. Not like Ben had Jacob.
Ben had meant it when he apologized for calling Jacob a whore. Now Ben knew his apology was meaningless.
Because the hurt he’d caused could not be undone.
He wished it could.
Ben ghosted his fingertips over Jacob’s arm, the hairs barely a whisper against his skin. Jacob wrinkled his brow for a moment. Ben moved his hand up to Jacob’s shoulder and made the small jump to his cheek. There Ben hesitated. But only for a moment, then he let himself make contact.
Ben grazed Jacob’s bottom lip with his thumb. Jacob smiled a little and made a sleepy sound.
What would it be like to kiss him? Ben swallowed against the rising need. The longer he stared at Jacob, the more Ben’s will crumbled. It was just a kiss. A press of lips. Then maybe Ben would know if this attraction was real, or born of desperation.
Ben leaned closer.
Jacob stretched, almost clocking Ben in the face with his hand. Ben moved back, and Jacob opened his eyes. “What time is it?”
With the curtains drawn, the only light in the room came from the pitiful lamp nailed to the wall across the room.
Jacob stared at Ben for a moment, then sat up, giving Ben his back. “The clock is on your side.”
The time. Ben glanced back. “A little after four.”
Ben sat up. “What’s wrong?”
“I meant to set the alarm. I’m supposed to be at Marcel’s at six.”
“It’s only a thirty-minute walk.”
Jacob went to the fridge and got out a bottle of water. “Yeah, but I have to eat before I go. If I don’t, he’ll know.” He took a sip of water. “And I need to get a shower and—” Jacob waved the water bottle. “Never mind, you don’t want the details.”
Ben stood. His pulse thumped in the back of his skull for a moment. He pressed his fingers to his temple.
“Here.” Jacob held out a bottle of water and two aspirin. “I’ve got a little experience with hangovers. Although I’m not sure this qualifies as one because I can stand up.”
Ben took both. “Thanks.” He popped the aspirin and washed them down.
“I mean, thanks for everything. Last night. Listening.” Especially the listening.
Ben jabbed a thumb at the door. “I guess I better go then so you can…whatever.” He turned but couldn’t get himself to open the door. Leaving now meant he might not have the chance to know. Ben turned back around and walked over to Jacob.
Ben pressed his mouth to Jacob’s. The contact ate through Ben with an electric shock, and the hunger for more had Ben pressing closer.
Jacob jumped back, eyes wide. He brought his fingers to his lips. The black of his pupils swallowed the blue of his irises. “What did you do that for?” A flush rose in Jacob’s cheeks.
Ben shook his head. “In case I don’t get the chance again.”
“You need to leave.” Jacob backed up.
“I’m sorry, I just—”
Jacob shook his head. “Go. Please, just…go.”
Jacob stared at the door of his motel room long after Ben left. Every so often, he’d touch his lips. The warmth of skin, Ben’s scent, it lingered. Worse, it made Jacob ache.