I love poets. I love Romantic poets. I love Romantic poets that were gay, had gay experiences, or rumored to be gay. My very real fascination with Romantic poets led to this novel. Vivien indulged me in my desire for hot gay poets, hoping it would help me get it out of my system. Of course, it didn't because hot gay poets are hot! And our gay poets, Jefferson Dering and Micah Yardley, are super hot.
Poetry drew them together. Forbidden love bound their hearts.
A student of letters, Micah Yardley wants one thing: To meet Jefferson Dering, a poet he’s long admired from afar. After hearing his idol speak at Harvard, Micah travels to Jefferson’s home in Wroxham, entertaining visions of discussing poetry over dinner and drinks. What he experiences exceeds anything he ever anticipated.
Jefferson finds Micah mesmerizing, passionate, everything he has ever wanted. But ten years earlier, caught in a compromising position with another young man, he exiled himself from Boston and proper society. Now Jefferson represses his desire out of respect for Micah, but his tumultuous emotions stir the restless ghost of Wroxham church—with deadly consequences.
Amid denial, desire, and the villagers rising panic, a single kiss is enough to change the course of their lives…and ignite the flame that could fulfill a generations-old promise.
Warning: Contains explicit male/male sex, men who love poetry, and unrestrained love letters.
And now an excerpt.
Turning on his heel, he grabbed his coat, ignoring Ewan’s frown. “I’m going for a walk. Don’t wait up for me.”
After Ewan’s earlier assessments, Micah half expected to be stopped. But Ewan let the door click shut behind him without argument, and Micah fled the inn for the welcoming night.
Micah went directly to Jefferson’s home, though he suspected it would be a fruitless journey. The windows were dark, and nothing, not even a hint of smoke, rose from the chimney. The house didn’t look empty. It looked abandoned. Micah shook his head and tried to tell himself he was being ridiculous. Jefferson hadn’t fled Wroxham.
Micah narrowed his eyes and surveyed the area. Every window in the village blazed with light, as though nobody wanted to be alone in the dark. Every building seemed brimming with life, with smoke from the fire, with the smells of supper. Every building except Jefferson’s cottage and the church.
Micah didn’t hesitate. He crossed the small town square with long strides. A full moon sat, fat and white, just over the horizon, allowing enough light to move with ease. Even from a distance he could see the church door was not shut all the way. Had the hinges been damaged earlier? Micah certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.
Jefferson’s voice drifted from the dark shadows. “Not tonight, Micah.”
Though he paused on the threshold, Micah squinted in order to find his friend. “Why
not? Would you really send me away?”
“I would. You should go back to your room.” The rising moon cast more light through the church windows, and he saw Jefferson’s familiar form in the middle of the aisle.
“Perhaps we can meet tomorrow.”
“I don’t want to meet tomorrow. I wish to see you tonight.” Even to his ears, he sounded like a petulant child. Micah cursed his impatience and took a step into the church. “You’re my friend, Jefferson. As such, I refuse to look away simply because you wish to shield me from whatever is troubling you.”
Jefferson took a step back, maintaining the same distance between them. “Micah, if you are my friend, you’ll accept my wishes.” After a week of listening to Jefferson speak, he was intimately aware of each nuance in speech and tone. Each word seemed to come with great effort. “My wish is for privacy.”
“Then you would have stayed locked up in your home.” He pushed the door shut behind them, blocking out the moon. “I know you. I know you come here when you seek solace. Why is it so difficult for you to accept my solace instead of a cold, empty church?”
Jefferson made a short, strangled sound that might have been an aborted laugh. “You really have no idea what’s going on, do you?”
At least he wasn’t insisting Micah leave anymore. That was a good start.
“No.” Micah ventured further into the church, until he stood at the end of the aisle. It was then that he realized he’d been mistaken. The church wasn’t cold. It was as hot as an August day at noon, and he had to unbutton his coat in order to relieve the sudden discomfort. “Why don’t you tell me, Jefferson? Why did you flee this morning?”
“Because if I stayed, it would only get worse.” He walked to the front of the church, putting the length of the building between them. “There’s a spirit here, Micah, and I don’t understand how, but he…he responds to me.”
“A spirit?” More than one theory that day had posited such an option, but Micah had dismissed it as foolhardy. It was inexplicable that Jefferson would subscribe to the same theory. “Surely, you jest.”
“Do I look like I’m laughing?”
Since Jefferson still faced the altar, Micah couldn’t discern what exactly he was doing, though the harsh tone of his voice made it clear that laughing was not it. But he still didn’t understand how a rational man such as Jefferson could believe in spirits.
“Does he haunt you then?” Micah edged to the far right aisle. Jefferson might insist on keeping the distance between them, but he couldn’t hide from him completely. “How can you even be sure your spirit is male?”
“He doesn’t haunt me.” Jefferson seemed too distracted to notice him, and Micah inched closer to him. “He haunts the church, but he only manifests himself to me. Usually. I know who it is. His name is…was…Joseph Mather. He was a traveling minister. He helped build this church.”
“You said your grandfather built this church.”
“He did. They built it together. Joseph had been an apprentice to a carpenter before he decided to preach the Word. He died here. Before it was finished. He took his last breath over there.” Jefferson gestured at the pew—their pew as Micah was beginning to think of it. “I found letters of his once, tucked into the Bible my grandfather kept. They…Joseph and my grandfather…were very close.”
The ache in Jefferson’s voice drew Micah irresistibly closer. “Like us.”
“Yes,” Jefferson said hoarsely. “Exactly like us. Perhaps that’s why…”
Micah waited for Jefferson to finish the sentence, but it never came. Pain tore through him. He hated seeing his friend like this, in such obvious torment.
“Is the spirit hurting you somehow?” he asked, hoping to prompt more details.
“No, but I am likely causing him a good deal of pain.” Jefferson looked up and blinked. He moved to take another step back, but he didn’t have anywhere else to go. “And you…Micah, please, just stop. Don’t come any closer. Please.”
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