But from the moment Leith Marshall pops out of the Ohio River and smiles at him, there's no turning back. Between Leith's swimmer body, sweet laugh, and gentle soul, Adam is head over heels. Leith lets Adam into his little world bit by bit, from his mother's abandoned aquarium shop to his elderly father's fairy tale delusions.
Which might not be so delusional after all. Leith does have a certain affinity for water. It seems almost to listen to him. The current never pulls him downriver, the tub doesn't splash, and the pool hardly moves around him even at an all out sprint. He can't spend a night away from his river, and then there's the way he sings. Adam has to admit, he'd steer his ship straight into the rocks for that.
So maybe Leith inherited a few things from his mysterious mother. It doesn't mean he'll disappear like she did. That's absurd.
A pale figure floated off a nearby dock that was in good repair, unlike some of the waterfront shit holes. Adam paused, realizing he was seeing the Marshall kid. They had the last house before the park, the one with the old store on the bottom floor. He’d never seen the backyard; it wasn’t much, but the dock was gorgeous, freshly stained, populated by folding disc chairs, cooler, grill, picnic table.
He’d somehow had the impression they were poor. Maybe it was the cobwebbed windows in their first story, though. Maybe upstairs, the real house, was nice.
All this flitted through his brain before he noticed the Marshall boy wasn’t moving. Floating, yes, but perfectly still. Face up. Eyes closed. Hands out. And he was so, so pale—unnaturally pale. Yeah, maybe he’d been pale at the meet, but it had been a while, and people looked different at those things. This couldn’t be right. What if he’d fallen? Cracked his head on the dock? Who the hell would go in there without a life vest on purpose?
With a sick feeling, Adam took a step toward the riverbank. He snapped a fallen twig loud enough to echo over the restless water.
Marshall stirred and sat up, treading water and looking around. The water rippled where the current hit him and had to go around, but he remained stationary. Didn’t even look like he was trying.
Adam sighed, leaning against a tree. “Oh, Jesus.”
“Who’s that?” Marshall called.
“Sorry.” Adam pushed off the tree, emerged from the wooded lot, and waved. “Heard a big splash. And you weren’t moving. You, uh, forgot your vest.”
Marshall smiled, quiet but genuine. “Don’t like the vest.”
“Isn’t that cold at this time of year?”
“Feels good.” Marshall pulled to the bank and emerged, skin pebbling over tight muscle, broad, flat chest tapering into a slim waist, narrow hips, and—
Jesus, he was only wearing a pair of little gray boxer briefs, slipping dangerously low. He’d obviously been waxed during swimming season (TJ used it as an excuse to wax all year round, vain little shit), but hair on his belly and chest had begun to grow back, a faint happy trail stretching down into that distressed waistband. The clingy wet cotton displayed Marshall ’s package even more obscenely than if he’d been naked.
Adam cleared his throat and forced his gaze not to linger. Especially on the crotch area. He only had a pair of shorts on himself, and his dick was already getting heavy.
Damn swimmers and their gorgeous bodies.
Whatever. The guy was probably used to it. Damn swimmers and their shamelessness.
“Were you looking to rescue me?” Marshall smiled, but his gaze dropped as if he’d just noticed that Adam was shirtless.
And kind of liked it, actually.
A trickle of sweat began between Adam’s shoulder blades and ran down his spine, ending up in his ass crack. He cleared his throat again. “Just, you know, river rats. We’re all raised to fear it.”
Marshall’s eyes met his again. His cheeks lit up. He looked down, but now at himself, as if just realizing that he had no shirt on. And not much of anything else, either. “Uh. Shit.”
Adam barked out a laugh, and it shattered his personal awkwardness. He strode forward and held out his right hand. “Adam Kavanaugh.”
“Leith Marshall . You’re TJ’s brother.”
“Right.” They shook, and somewhere in there, Marshall started to relax too. So Adam said, “So weird. I’m older, but I’m always his brother.”
“Maybe just to the team.”
“You’d be surprised. So, seriously? River? No vest? You—” Adam almost asked if the guy had a death wish, but stopped himself. “You that good, huh?”
“It’s home. No point being scared of home, right?”
Okay, so the guy was nice but definitely strange. And yet Adam had to admit, “So I keep telling myself.”
Marshall looked down at himself again. “I…”
Right. “Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt. I’ll just—”
“No, it’s—I mean, if you’re going somewhere…”
“No, just finished my run. But—”
“Thirsty?” Marshall cocked his head.
Adam smiled. “Thanks. If it’s not too much—”
“It’s not. And I’ll, um, put some pants on.” He turned and gestured for Adam to follow to the dock.
Adam almost told him not to go to any trouble on his account but, luckily, couldn’t get the words around the lump in his throat. The wet shorts clinging to that small but muscled, round ass, waistband just low enough to let the top of the crack peek out—Jesus. Disaster waiting to happen.
Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of dark fiction and superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in the D.C. Metro Area. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills. She lives at kateyhawthorne.com.
Katey Hawthorne Superpowered Love