Rory might just be a simple southern boy from St. Antoine’s Parish Louisiana, but he knows what he wants. He’s been in love with the girl of his dreams, reclusive and mysterious artist Ran Yamane since junior high school and now he has the chance to meet her. He’s going to chuck everything and travel 1500 miles to Anime Expo in Long Beach to tell her and no one and nothing is going to stand in his way.
Ran Yamane is not a girl, but he gets that a lot. People come to him with teddy bears and chocolates and disappointment by the truckload. He’s trusted fans in the past and been tragically wrong. So when he meets Rory he’s understandably wary, but resigned. What he’s not prepared for is his magnetic attraction to the young man, Rory’s apparent willingness to overlook his gender, and the fact that their lives are both thrown into chaos when his number one fan (and psycho stalker) shows up to get revenge.
Rory finally meets the girl of his dreams and she’s a damned man. Before he has a chance to figure out what that means, someone’s trying to kill them both. Yamane needs a knight, and Rory? Well. Rory is the only one around.
“You know what’s just nuts? Everything I wanted from you — everything I imagined — has become reality.”
Yamane laughed. “I didn’t think of it like that.” He continued to sketch. “Everything?”
“Yeah…sort of. You’re even much more beautiful than I imagined. It’s just shocking. Someone ought to put a bell around your neck; I’m sure no woman is safe within fifty feet.”
Yamane felt Rory’s eyes on him but didn’t look up.
“There doesn’t seem to be anyone left here. I guess we can really clear a place out. They’re probably waiting for us to leave.”
Yamane said, “Let them wait; I’m not done yet.” He was having a fine time, though he didn’t like to admit it. He closed his eyes. Maybe it was the alcohol, or Rory’s slow, unusual way of speaking that felt like a lullaby. He tried to remember the last time he felt safe. He could feel the warmth of Rory’s admiration like a living thing.
Yamane flushed deeply. He would never be able to explain this to his agent. He realized Rory was talking and came back to himself. “What?” Yamane asked. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
“I just said I’m getting fuzzy-headed. A walk might be good for my brain.”
“Fine, then that’s what we’ll do.” Yamane closed his sketchbook, putting it and his pencil and pens back into his messenger bag. He drank the last of his coffee. They left the patio dining area through a little gate in the picket fence that surrounded it and meandered along the path by the sand.
“I feel boneless.” Rory stretched his large body lazily. “I’m glad I don’t have to drive anywhere.”
“It’s nice to stay in a hotel so well situated,” Yamane commented. “This is my first time coming to Anime Expo. I didn’t anticipate I’d enjoy it.”
“Your bio said ‘the reclusive Ran Yamane travels to Expo at last.’ Are you really a recluse?” he asked as they came to the hotel’s circular stairway.
“Probably.” Yamane walked a little ahead of Rory. “I’m not considered a socially successful person.”
Yamane was almost halfway up already when Rory reached the stairs. “For a guy who’s been drinking you’re awfully light on your feet.”
When he felt Rory just behind him, Yamane stopped and turned around. He looked down and saw Rory bathed in silvery light that crisscrossed his face with striking shadows created by the unusual guardrail of the round stairwell. Yamane shook his head to clear it. Rory was beautiful. There was something honest and compelling and safe inside him, and Yamane responded to it without thinking.
Yamane reached out a hand. “You’ve got something on your lip,” he murmured, rubbing it gently with his thumb.
“What?” Rory froze.
“Me,” said Yamane, closing the distance for a kiss. Yamane kissed Rory tentatively at first, but then, when he found no resistance, he deepened his kiss, stepping into Rory’s body by coming down a stair.
He hadn’t planned a kiss; it came to him spontaneously to do it when he saw the way Rory was looking up at him. He twined his fingers in Rory’s hair and used his thumbs to stroke his high cheekbones. He even coaxed the shocked boy’s mouth open and stroked his tongue gently against his perfect white teeth. Finally, he broke contact and ran up the stairs. He may have been brave enough to kiss Rory, but he didn’t have the courage to face the aftermath of that act. He made it to the top before Rory had a chance to react.
Rory’s knees buckled, and he sat down hard on the concrete step.
Yamane’s voice floated back to him from the walkway above. “Be careful what you wish for,” he said, “and next time, try to use very specific language.” Rory thought he heard light laughter.
“Well,” Rory murmured through his hands, which he held over the mouth that had been well, truly, and expertly kissed by a really beautiful man. “Amen to that.”