On All Hallows' Eve, when spirits walk the earth, Leonard comes to Andrew for their yearly tryst. The lovers spend all their time waiting for their one chance to come, and when it does they seize it with both hands.
The trouble is, one of them's a ghost, and can't stay longer than midnight.
Praise for Raven
"Willa Okati delivers another... stunner with volcanic m/m intimacy which sears the pages."
5 Hearts! -- Annie, The Romance Studio
"Raven is a lovely tale…that will haunt you long after the last chime at midnight on Halloween."
Multiple O's! -- Isabelle Spencer, Romance Reviews Today
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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2005 Willa Okati
An Authorized Excerpt
"It must be here somewhere." Andrew ran his finger across a row of ancient book spines, wanting to sneeze as the dust flew up around his face like a halo. "I found it the last time I looked for it. I put it back where it belongs. So why can't I find the damned thing?"
Giving up, he pulled a book out at random, measuring the weight and thickness of it. Heavy as his favorite carved marble dildo, and thick as a man's cock. The pages were yellowed and battered with time, crackling ominously as he opened them and glanced in, but what did that matter? He needed something to pass the time.
He wouldn't have to wait much longer, but until then, he couldn't stand the silence. Silence broken only by the raven sitting above the door to his study, shuffling its clawed feet on its perch, shifting its ebony wings, and peering at him through first one baleful eye and then the other. Most ravens could not speak, but then again, few belonged to wizards.
"Well?" Andrew asked, tucking the book under his arm. "Is he on his way? Will he be here soon?"
The raven mumbled something, tucking its head under one wing. A single malicious eye glittered at Andrew. Whatever the bird knew, it wasn't telling. And for a familiar, this was something that just wouldn't do. Andrew crossed the room in a few short strides to stand beneath the doorway, glaring up at his "pet." "Answer me," he warned. "More depends on the question than you know."
The bird shook its head. "Not coming," he rasped. "Never going to be here. No more."
"Why you -- I ought to turn you inside out and use your feathers for a pillow!" Andrew made a grab at the bird, which darted easily out of his reach, higher up onto a marble bust above the door. Flushed, he raked a hand through his hair and swore at his familiar. "He will come," Andrew said mutinously. "He always comes. Maybe not always on schedule…"
"Waiting," the bird snickered. "Waiting here forevermore."
"A fat lot you know." Andrew tucked the book under his arm. "I have more important things to do than sit around and chatter with you all evening."
"Dirty book," the raven observed, stretching its wings wide. "Dirty filthy book. Going to read?"
Andrew's cheeks turned a darker shade of pink. "This is not a dirty book. This is a time-honored classic."
"Says you, says you."
"Yes, says I," Andrew mocked, marching toward his desk. "What would you know about history? This was written by one of the greatest Arabic scholars to ever set ink on paper."
"It is not a -- oh, why do I bother?" Andrew slammed the book down on his desk, wincing when the spine gave a creak and the front cover cracked a bit down the middle. "Be quiet and let me read until he comes. I'm sure it's not going to be long now."
The raven croaked, a funereal sound, and shuffled on its perch. Glaring at it, Andrew pulled out his desk chair and carefully opened the pages. The Kama Sutra, an ancient edition. It amused him to think about the stuffy old gentlemen who would have displayed this with a smirk in their private collections, voraciously read it on the sly, and finally packed it away for him to find so many years later.
He'd loved this from the moment he'd laid eyes on it. The perfect addition to the library he'd spent years building, shelves and shelves full of ancient books with good leather bindings. Opening to a page near the middle, Andrew began to read text he'd all but memorized.
"Wicked boy," the raven suddenly spoke up. "Dirty mind, dirty mind."
Andrew set his jaw in a hard line. "Then you'll truly be shocked by this," he said, standing up to go and find the book he'd originally been looking for. Scanning the shelves once more, he gave a grunt of pleasure as he saw it on a bottom shelf almost behind a beaten-up old armchair, where gentlemen of old would have kept all their favorite naughty books.
He straightened up, waving his antique edition of Let the Male Pleasure the Male. "What do you say to that, then, eh?"
"Nothing more." The raven tucked his beak under one wing and glared.
Andrew flicked his fingers at the familiar, rendering it silent for the moment before retiring to his desk. He opened the book at random, grinning at the antique illustration of a man entering another man from behind. The drawing was rough and rushed, as if the illustrator had hardly dared set ink to paper for fear of being discovered at what he was doing. It wasn't all like that, though. There were some lovingly detailed drawings elsewhere in the book. In fact, if he remembered right…
Andrew's head shot up. He gestured at the raven again. "Is that him? Has he come? There's no peephole on the door. I know you know. Tell me."
The raven shifted and grumbled.
Andrew snatched up a heavy wooden ruler, all ready to throw. "Tell me," he threatened. "Has my lover come to stand outside the chamber door?"
"Leonard is here. Nevermore." The raven looked baleful, as if delivering the news was bitter to him.
Andrew ignored the bird's sourness to cross the room in what felt like a single bound. He snatched at the doorknob, his hand almost slipping in his eagerness, and yanked the door open.
Outside stood the man Andrew had been praying to see all night long. Taller than he was, with a shock of hair dark as the raven's feathers and standing up in short spikes, an open and friendly face, square-rimmed glasses and a hesitant grin. "Leonard," Andrew breathed. "You're here. You came." He reached for his lover's hand. "I was beginning to wonder."
"Nevermore," the raven butted in.
"Birdie, hi," Leonard greeted him with a brief glance upward. He quickly bypassed the raven for Andrew, eyes landing on him. Andrew could feel himself being devoured by the hungry gaze. "That's enough small talk, don't you think?"