From The Night Gardener
Architect, Dane Lovell takes an off-season vacation in an old New England mansion. One night, the sound of the back door smashing open in the wind and rain shocks Dane from his work.
Spooky, gorgeous, and enigmatic Zachary Yarrow has brought logs for the fire. He brings with him not just passion and a love affair for Dane, but a strange, spine-tingling mystery.
Dane sat in front of his laptop and gazed unseeing at the architectural plan before him. He recalled what Zachary had said about the computer. It struck him as odd that a guy his own age wouldn’t have a laptop or tablet, unless, of course, Zachary had no use for computers. There was still a passable postal service and newspapers, although Dane thought they were probably destined to fade away, eventually. He shrugged.
Zachary’s sweater still lay draped over the radiator. Dane got up and checked it. He read the label on the inside seam as he wondered if it would go in the drier. The woolen mix indicated no tumble-drying so he turned it inside out and put it back onto the radiator.
Dane went back to work. He sat for a full five minutes just staring at the plans on the screen and then he closed the application. Zachary Yarrow filled his head. Dane could think of nothing else but the sight of Zachary’s muscled chest and blue eyes. He spent ten minutes considering how Zachary saw well enough in the dark to prune rosebushes, and if the guy was warm enough out in the night. Then exasperated with his lack of work, Dane opened his sketchbook and picked up his drawing pencil.
After an hour, he put down his pencil and leaned back from the drawing. Dane had added extensive gardens to the plans. He laughed aloud. His usual practice of working until dawn wasn’t going to happen. At one AM, he’d achieved next to nothing. I don’t know why I’m laughing. I can’t write and now I’m doodling gardens...
He stood and walked to the window. The rain had slowed and Dane gazed out into the night, seeing only dark and darker shapes that in daylight were shrubs and small trees.
The back door opened and Zachary strode through.
A wave of happiness put a smile on Dane’s face. He had no idea why it pleased him so much that Zachary was back but it did. “Hey, did you prune the roses?”
Zachary walked to him. “Not even half the bed. For some reason I couldn’t concentrate tonight.”
Dane offered a suggestion. “Maybe it’s the rain.”
Zachary shook his head. “Nope, I’ve been able to work in the rain before, lots of times in fact.”
“Perhaps you’re tired. Do you work here during the day, too?” Dane remembered Zachary saying he liked the peace of night, but not that he didn’t work on the gardens during the day.
Zachary leaned on the sink unit. “Not usually. I work here at night.” He slipped off the old parka that he must have retrieved from the garden shed and tossed it over a chair back.
Dane watched the coat flop over the chair then flicked his gaze to Zachary.
“There’s some brandy in the larder. Do you fancy a nightcap?”
Zachary’s eyes glittered. “That sounds great. I know where the glasses are.” He walked to one of the wall cupboards and opened it.
Dane went to the larder and brought out the brandy. A melody entered his memory and he hummed it as he approached the kitchen table where Zachary had placed the glasses. He poured the brandy and then pushed the fragrant cork back into the bottle.
Zachary picked up a glass and sat, his long legs stretched out in front of him by the radiator at that end of the room. “I don’t often have the chance to sit with someone like this. It’s great.”
Dane joined him and sipped at the drink. “I used to have someone, months ago.” He spoke the words softly, not sure it was appropriate to be so open with Zachary so soon, and yet he wanted to tell him.
“What happened to them?” Zachary sat up and leaned toward Dane, his eyes wide with curiosity and concern.
“They jilted me. The person I was to marry left me waiting at the venue with all our friends and family.”
“Fucking hell, that’s rough. Have you seen him since?”
Dane wondered how Zachary knew it was a man. “No, but he messaged me a few weeks later wanting to pick up his belongings.”
Zachary took a drink of his brandy.
Dane couldn’t resist the question. “How did you know it was a guy?”
His guest smiled. “I saw the way you looked at me earlier. Don’t worry I’m into guys, too. You’re safe from derision.”
A sweep of tenderness and puzzlement went over Dane. It was on the tip of his tongue to ask if Zachary had been the subject of contempt for his sexual preference, but he drank some brandy instead.
Zachary leaned back in his chair with a satisfied sigh. “He’s a fool. His loss, but I get to have your company, so…”
A tingle went down Dane’s spine. “Zachary, do you spend the entire off-season here—gardening, I mean?”
Zachary grinned. “Every night.”
The words were out of Dane’s mouth before he knew it. “I’m here for eight weeks, alone. You can stay here … if you want, instead of finding a hotel or other accommodations.” He cringed just a little. Did I sound needy?
Zachary’s eyes sparkled with happiness at the offer. He smiled and leaned over to place a hand on Dane’s arm. “Thank you, I do want to. I’d love to. No one’s actually offered before.”
A question popped into Dane’s mind, but he couldn’t quite form it. He knew there was something strange about Zachary’s statement, but pushed it away under a spell of attraction to the handsome man.
“That’s settled then. I took the bedroom that looks out on the river, so take you pick of the remaining rooms. There are linen and quilts in the big press at the end of the landing, oh and towels are there, too.”
Zachary gazed at Dane, his eyes ranging over his face. “Your name is interesting. I’ve never come across anyone named Dane before.”
“I’m named after my great grandfather. My mom liked the name since she was a child. She told me she’d always planned to name her son, Dane, if she had a son.” He smiled, remembering his mom’s words.
Zachary’s eyes filled with an emotion Dane read as affection. It sent warmth through him.
“I like it, too. It has a warrior-like ring to it.”
Dane fought a strong urge to hug Zachary. “Thank you, although I’m more of a bard than a warrior.” Dane’s need to know more about his guest’s life had him pick up the brandy bottle and offer Zachary another drink.
Zachary shook his head. “Better not. I’m keeping you from your work. I don’t usually sit for so long myself…”
Dane hurried to assure Zachary. “I stopped work for the night. To be honest, motivation’s deserted me. I don’t know what’s going on.” He laughed softly before he continued. “The place has already worked its magic on me. I came to recharge my energy, and although I wanted to work, I’ll take being refreshed.” He stopped talking under Zachary’s intense gaze.
“You’re the first person to notice the magic.”
A prickle went up Dane’s spine. From somewhere deep inside came an unbidden thought. There’s something magical about Zachary… Dane gave a rapid shake of his head, as if the physical movement could dislodge the strange thought, because he didn’t mean Zachary was delightful, even though he thought that, too—Dane meant supernatural.
Zachary stood and took the pace to where Dane sat. He leaned over Dane, and in a mesmerizingly slow move, he brought his lips to Dane’s mouth. The unexpected kiss set Dane’s heart pounding with the tenderness and extraordinary sweetness it contained. Instinctively, he lifted his hands to run his fingers into Zachary’s hair and hold his head to prolong the kiss. Streaks of pleasure thrilled down his stomach and hardened his cock.
When Zachary drew away, Dane had a difficult time letting him go.
Zachary straightened. His glass still held a mouthful of brandy and he downed it in a gulp. His sigh as he put down the glass held anything but regret. “Sorry, I don’t know what came over me.”
Dane needed to say something. His heart still pounded. His body had gone into overdrive and desire surged through him. “It was surprising, but delicious. No need to be sorry. It’s been a long time since anyone kissed me like that.”
Zachary bowed his head. When he raised his face again, Dane saw tears glisten in his eyes.
“I’ll finish the pruning.” He dragged on the parka.
Dane stood to watch him. “Hey, I’ll leave the back door unlocked for you.” There was no answer and Dane gazed around the empty kitchen. He placed his fingertip on his lips, remembering the kiss. That was so good. I’d sure like more of those kisses. Dane smiled.
He had no idea how it had happened, but it was close to five. By the time I shower, it’ll be dawn. Dane put the glasses he and Zachary used into the dishwasher. He checked Zachary’s sweater. Dry. Dane smiled as he folded it and left it on the table.
Copyright E.D.Parr , Evernight Publishing, 2017
About the story
Zachary Yarrow came to me in the night. There are lots of natural noises in the night where I live. Recently something larger than usual has been padding along the patio and wooden deck at the side. As I listened one night, I suddenly thought, its gardening, the animal is the night gardener, and it made me laugh. Then Zachary dropped into my mind like the hot stuff he is and I had to write. Dane Lovell is the guy who’s had some heartbreak. He’s still shaken by it and perhaps he doesn’t need the paranormal side of Zachary but the tradeoff comes because Zachary is such a happy character and there’s no inkling of what’s really happening with him until they fall deeply in love and Dane asks Zachary to live with him. That’s the catalyst for Dane to give Zachary the support he’s needed all along.
I love them both. They’re perfect for each other. They have the kind of love we all deserve.
By the way, this is a happy story, it can tug on the heartstrings but there's a HEA
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