Monday, December 31, 2012

New Series - Second Chapter

Yes, I actually made the end of the year cut off. Despite my house catching fire (no kidding!) and Literotica turning into the world's biggest doucebags (they yanked Chapter 12 of "Dust & Ash" without notifying me) I have still managed to complete the second chapter of "Holding Out For  A Hero" before the end of 2012.

Which, without a doubt, goes on record as the shittiest year I've had since the death of my mother.

No offense, Mom.

So my trip to Paris got canceled because I had to have electricians come and fix my poor hurt house (we have power now, though, yay!) and soon I will be but a myth and a bad dream to unsuspecting porn writers on Lit (beware the grammar hound - Wicked doth cometh) as I'm removing damn near everything from the site. But without further ado... here's chapter two. You guys know the drill. You comment and tell me what's good and what's bad. Have a safe and happy New Year, all!!


HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO – 2nd Installment

By Tucker McCallahan ©

This is a copyrighted work of fiction.  All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: the following story contains scenes of graphic male/male erotica. This material is fictional, and not meant to be read as advice or information beyond pure entertainment. If you find such material offensive, please stop reading now.

* * * *

Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C. 2010

Kate Stinson moved around the private hospital room at Georgetown University Hospital. As far as hospital rooms went, it wasn’t too bad. The nurses brought in a cot so that whoever stayed with Greg wouldn’t have to sleep sitting up in the chair by the window. That was more than they’d ever done for them at Ruby Memorial.

Kate stared at her boyfriend asleep in the hospital bed. She and Greg had known each other all their lives. They’d grown up together in Star City, West Virginia, a tiny town with less than 2000 people in the northern part of the state near the Pennsylvania border. They’d gone to school together, attended homecoming and prom, lost their virginity to each other, and graduated together. In a perfect world, Kate would be back in Star City with her mother and her sisters planning a June wedding.

Instead she was here with Greg’s family waiting for UNOS, the United Network for Organ Sharing, to find him a kidney while Georgetown tried an experimental therapy that might keep him alive until a donor could be located.

Kate washed her hands in the sink with hot water and antibacterial soap. She looked briefly in the mirror over the sink, examining her face. She’d lost weight in the last three months. Not surprising, really, since June was when Greg pitched over the edge into stage five of Mastelli Syndrome and his kidneys failed. The summer she expected to have – long days at the river, sunbathing, riding around in Greg’s old Camaro listening to Classic Rock while they got ready to start college at WVU – never came to pass. She spent the whole summer learning about dialysis, going to Greg’s doctor’s appointments, and crying.

Greg Rooney was her entire life. She wasn’t about to give up on her dream of a future with him. Not now, not ever.

She rinsed the white wash cloth in cool water and wrung it out, then returned to his bedside and gently wiped his face, removing the frost-like substance that built up on his skin now whenever he slept. She took in his swollen face and made a mental note to tell the doctor it was worse. His skin was like skim milk, perfectly pale and creamy but for the few freckles that dappled his adorably pert nose. Strong, thick brows of cinnamon winged back over eyes that were as blue as a sky at dusk. Greg hadn’t gotten his hair cut since graduation, so it was longer than he usually wore it, but Kate found she liked it that way. The dark red color drove her crazy. Even ill he was so beautiful.

As she sat by his bed wiping his face, he opened his eyes. “Hey.”

“How are you feeling, baby?” Kate reached for the cup of ginger ale on the overbed table. “Good news. Your hemoglobin is up. It was at 9 today. That’s really great!”

Greg held her hand as he took a tiny sip. “I wish that meant I felt better. Where are my parents?”

She looked at the window and Greg sighed. “Let me guess. Going through DonorNet again? Or maybe trying to get that stupid court order reversed? I wish they’d just stop it already and stay here. If there’s a match, the computers will find it. Bugging them isn’t going to help anything.” He stretched and yawned.

“No, it won’t. But I can’t blame them for trying.” Kate leaned down and kissed his cheek. “They love you. They want to do everything they can, Greg.”

“I know.” He gazed at her with those amazing blue eyes. “But Kate… they aren’t going to find my birth mother. For whatever reason, whether she was ashamed or rich or had this condition or just didn’t want to ever know me, that court order has stood up to every judge we’ve gone to since I was diagnosed three years ago.”

Kate put her hands on his swollen face. She smoothed her thumbs over his strong, winged eyebrows and ran her index fingers down the bridge of his nose. She’d dreamed for years of having children with Greg’s nose, a little boy or girl with those blue eyes who would call her Mommy and have Greg’s laugh. She rested her forehead against his. “It doesn’t matter. You know who you are and who loves you. We’ll find you a kidney. If I have to grow you one myself, I will.”

“I love you, Kate.”

“You better.”

Greg chuckled. He let go of her hand and scratched his arm. More of the uremic frost flaked away and he made a face. “That’s so gross. I wish I could take a shower.”

“How about I ask the nurses if I can give you a sponge bath?”

Greg stared at her, quiet for a long moment. “You’re amazing, you know that?”

Kate leaned down and tenderly brushed her lips against his. “That must be all the drugs talking. I seem to remember a very angry little boy telling me he’d never forgive me for breaking his Razor scooter.”

Greg laughed, and winced. He bit his lip, sweat breaking out across his forehead. Kate got up and pressed his call button.

“Where is it this time, baby?”

“Back. My back again.” Greg’s voice was strained as he squeezed his eyes closed.

Kate took his hand and held it as they waited for the nurse to come. They didn’t wait long. An aide came in and turned the call light off.

“What can I do for you tonight, Mr. Rooney?”

“Hurts.” Greg could barely get the word out.

“Breathe, baby. Come on, squeeze my hand. You can’t hurt me. I’m tough like my guy.” The words tumbled out of Kate’s mouth as tears tumbled down her cheeks. She looked at the aide. “He needs pain meds. Now.”

“I’ll speak to his nurse.”

Greg moaned. Kate hated feeling this helpless. She sat by the side of his bed, held his hand, mopped the sweat from his forehead, and waited.


Two floors down Grif Mastrangelo was going out of his mind. He could only watch so much television and the nurses had work to do so they wouldn’t chat with him for more than ten or fifteen minutes. He hadn’t brought his laptop. He hadn’t thought he’d need it for one stupid night of testing at the hospital. Glancing at the clock mounted on the wall he saw that it was almost eleven. Visiting hours were over, which meant he couldn’t even call his roommate or any of his friends at American University to come visit and keep him company. That left him alone, bored, and kind of hungry.

Seven days earlier Grif went to a blood drive at American. He’d never done one before, but he figured it was a good idea and the cool chick in his Ethics class was going. He never got to give blood. The initial screening showed an anomaly, and he had to go to student health for testing. He had something called Mastelli Syndrome, but it was static, not active. A good thing, his doctor said, since active Mastelli Syndrome usually killed its victims by the time they were twenty-five. Regardless, he sent Grif to Georgetown University Hospital for a full round of testing.

Nobody looking at Grif would ever know there was anything wrong with him. At six feet, one hundred seventy pounds of solid muscle, he looked more like a pro running back than a patient of any kind. He itched to get out of his room, and the longer he prowled around the enclosed space the hungrier he got. The night nurse came in as he was bent over, pulling a pair of Adidas track pants from his overnight duffel bag.

“Everything all right, Mr. Mastrangelo?”

Grif froze. His ass hung out the back of the awful gown he wore. He slowly stood and pivoted, the pants in his hands and a huge grin on his face.

“Peachy. How are you, Diane?”

“I’m nifty. Decided you wanted some pants?”

“Yeah, well… you tell me. Think I look better without them?”

The night nurse, who was old enough to be his grandmother, laughed.

“Oh sweetheart, you know how cute your tush is. I’m not going to tell you otherwise. You want compliments? Wait for Jessica on day turn tomorrow. She’s about your age and single.”

Grif laughed. He sat down and pulled the pants on, not bothering with underwear.

“Are you planning to go somewhere?” Diane approached and took his vitals.

“I gotta find some vending machines. I’d kill for a Mountain Dew and a Snickers bar right now.”

“Boy, how can you eat junk like that and keep your fine figure?”

Grif’s grin widened as Diane recorded his statistics on her notebook computer. “If I didn’t occasionally cheat I wouldn’t be able to stand the regimen. Besides, I got a high metabolism.”

Diane finished up and patted Grif’s shoulder. “There are machines up on four, or if you want a food court you can head over to Gorman. But you put your slippers on, mister.”


Diane smiled at him. “You and that red hair. How did a good Italian boy with a name like Mastrangelo end up with red hair like that?”

“My dad always said it couldn’t have been the mailman; he was black.” Grif grinned and winked at the older woman. “But his favorite is that he left it out in the rain and it got rusty.” Grif waggled his eyebrows.

Diane rolled her eyes and laughed. “You be back in bed before midnight, or I’ll send the orderlies to find you.”

Grif stripped the gown off and pulled a plain white T-shirt on instead. “I’ll be back. I have a hot date with radiology at six.”

Diane walked out, still laughing. Grif looked at the disposable slippers she set out for him and grimaced. No way was he wearing those awful things. He pulled socks on and stuck his feet in his sneakers. Grabbing his phone and his wallet, he headed out the door looking completely normal save for the dark cinnamon stubble he hadn’t shaved and the admission bracelet around his wrist.

After ten minutes of wandering the halls, Grif felt better than he had all week. The spring was back in his step and he had numbers from two different nurses. He found the vending machines on the fourth floor right where Diane said they’d be, but the soda machine was sold out of Mountain Dew. Grif bought a Snickers bar that he ate in three bites. Now he wanted a milk and a Mountain Dew. He asked some guy in purple scrubs where to get a Dew and the guy suggested he head over to the east wing where there were more machines.

Fifteen minutes later, Grif found the next set of vending machines. These had sandwiches, and while the PB&J on whole wheat looked damn tempting, Grif was just a little leery of them. Something about vacuum-packed sandwiches in a dispenser put him off despite his hunger. He put his two bucks in the Pepsi machine and popped the Mountain Dew button. The display told him that like the other machine, it was sold out. Grif growled. Really, what was the deal? Were they trying to kill him with a caffeine Jones?

A noise beside him broke his concentration on the machine and he glanced down. The trash can – an ordinary, brown, rubber trash basket with a bag and a flip top – floated a foot off the floor.

Grif’s heart pounded frantically and his head jerked around to make sure nobody watched him. Thankfully he was alone. He leaned against the soda machine, braced both hands on it and let his head hang forward. He took a long, slow breath, counting to four as he inhaled and then blew the air out, again counting to four as he exhaled. He repeated the routine four times, deliberately not looking at the trash can while he did it. Finally when he felt completely calm, he surreptitiously glanced at the garbage receptacle and discovered it was back on the floor.

Thank god.

Grif shook his head. He hadn’t made anything move since he was a kid. He even wondered if maybe he imagined all that stuff. Kids have huge imaginations after all, and he’d been majorly into Harry Potter when he was younger. Looking back, Grif considered more than once that his memories of being able to move things by thought alone had been nothing more than his overactive brain, spurred on by J.K. Rowling’s awesome storytelling.

Now, he wasn’t so sure. That trash can had definitely been mobile, and Grif was pretty sure Georgetown University Hospital wasn’t haunted.

He headed down the hallway, whistling, a hum in his veins. In fact, he felt better and better the longer he walked around the hospital. Man, they must pump something into the air. He remembered reading something about that on a conspiracy site, that hospitals pumped pure oxygen into their air to make patients and visitors more compliant. He wondered now if it was true.

That would make one helluva story. Grif pulled his phone out and tapped out a quick note to investigate it. He could Google the urban legend and then find out the amount of oxygen traditionally used by a hospital in a year and compare it to how much would be needed to actually make people feel as good as he felt at the moment. Cause he felt awesome. A bit of investigative digging with hospital supply would turn up just how much oxygen Georgetown actually bought, and if the numbers didn’t jibe, well… Grif would have a story that would set the students on their ears. Oxygen was cheap; medicine was expensive. Grif bet hospital administrators could save a lot of dough using a cheap therapy like that.

He looked up and realized he was in a sort of lounge area. Sitting down on a couch, he stopped to save his notes, excited to have a new story to work on when he got out of here. As he added things to his notes, grinning and tapping on his touch screen, something brushed his shoulder. He pushed it away and his hand hit something huge.

The cushion from the far side of the sofa floated up by his head, bumping his shoulder like an eager puppy.

Grif jerked back and dropped his phone, laughing out loud. He shook his head and blinked his eyes. He had to be hallucinating. Maybe they’d put something in his dinner earlier. He wouldn’t know for sure that he wasn’t seeing things until –

“Hey! That’s great! How are you doing that?”

Grif turned his head to see a woman in her mid-thirties standing at the edge of the lounge. The cushion smacked him in the head. She laughed. Grif smiled at her.

“Are you a magician?” She took several steps into the lounge. “That’s really amazing. I’ve never seen anybody do a levitation trick up close.”

“So it looks real to you, huh?”


Scratch hallucinations. Grif closed his eyes and concentrated. Instead of trying to calm his emotions and excitement, he deliberately thought about racing his bike, diving off the high board, chasing a good story lead. The cushion soared up to the ceiling. His audience of one applauded.

“Oh! That’s incredible! How are you doing that?”

Grif opened his eyes and thought about telling his father about this. The cushion dropped to the floor beside him. “A good magician never reveals his secret, right?”

“Well you’re good. You’re better than that Criss Angel guy.” She smiled at him. “Cuter, too. I love Mohawks. Can I?”

Grif shrugged. “Sure.”

She sashayed over and reached out. With a very confidant hand she touched the top of his hair, still spiked up from earlier in the day. Grif didn’t wear a traditional Mohawk; the stylist had called it a faux-hawk and showed him a picture of David Beckham before she cut it. This chick action happened all the time since he got the haircut, though, and having chicks pet his hair was just short of totally fucking awesome.

“Mmm… soft.” She smiled at Grif who grinned back.

“I give great hugs, too.”

“I just bet you do. You’re adorable. Maybe next time. Have a good night.” She walked out. Grif bent down and picked up his phone.

He couldn’t believe this. Sticking the phone in his pocket of his Adidas track pants he wandered down the hall until he found a sign and followed it toward the Gorman building. The need for caffeine and a Mountain Dew was every bit as strong as it had been earlier, but now it was tempered by the discovery that his childhood ability had somehow returned.

At the next intersection, Grif stopped. The sign on the wall very clearly showed the direction to Gorman, the food court, and the Mountain Dew he needed. For some unknown reason, he felt inexplicably drawn down the opposite hallway, to the transplant ward and the ICU. His heart raced and the entire surface of his skin prickled. He itched all over. Glancing at the nearby nurses’ station, Grif watched in helpless horror as pens whizzed around the desk, right past a clueless nurse who was so busy sorting patient files she didn’t notice.

When he took several steps toward the food court things seemed to get worse at the nurses’ station. Grif turned and hurried toward the transplant/ICU wing. The quicker he moved, the better he felt. He was more in control, stronger. His breathing eased and his heart rate slowed. The prickling over his skin turned to an arousing tingle that spread from the top of his head to the very soles of his feet. Before Grif knew what he was doing he shoved the door to the ward open and stepped inside.

“Excuse me!” A very attractive lady doctor with blond hair stopped his forward motion. She stood directly in his path, a patient file in her hands. “Visiting hours are over and Greg’s girlfriend is staying with him tonight.” The doctor looked up and met Grif’s bold blue eyes. She looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, I don’t remember her name. You’ll have to see your brother tomorrow.”

“Uh… I don’t have a brother.” Grif stared past her, trying to make sure nothing in the hallway was levitating. “I’m just trying to find a vending machine with Mountain Dew in it. Or the food court.”

Sarah Barnes, exhausted from pulling a sixteen-hour shift and then doing Dr. McKinley’s Hypnomorph med rounds, squinted at the guy in front of her. He was a dead ringer for the patient she just dosed. She flipped the folder open and stared down at a picture of Greg Rooney before he slipped into stage five of Mastelli Syndrome and his kidneys failed. Six feet tall, one hundred seventy pounds, athletic build, with dark red hair and blue eyes, this guy in front of her wasn’t just his look alike; except for the cut of their hair, he was Greg Rooney’s clone.

“You okay?” Grif asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“I’m fine. Uh… Mountain Dew, you said?”

“Yeah. Caffeine Jones.”

“Walk with me.”

Grif wasn’t going to turn down that offer. A lady doctor was even better than a nurse. When she started leading him away from the ward, though, he felt an incredibly powerful urge to stay. It took all of Grif’s will power to deny the urge and follow her. He wobbled on his feet.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Dr. Barnes whipped out her pen light and checked his pupils. He nearly had a syncope episode. She saw his bracelet. “Just what are you doing in the hospital?”

“I’m having tests done tomorrow.”

“Tests for what?”

“Uh… a disease they think I have. Mastelli Syndrome.”

Sarah Barnes gaped at him. “Active Mastelli Syndrome?”

“No! No, no, no. The nurses wouldn’t have let me out my bed if that was true. Static. Found it when I tried to give blood. I’m just, uh, getting baselines tests. Hey, what’s your name?”

“I’m sorry. Barnes. Dr. Sarah Barnes. I’m a fourth year medical student.”

Grif shook her hand. “Grif Mastrangelo. I go to American University for Journalism.”

“It’s a great school for that.”


As Sarah Barnes led Grif to the residents’ lounge, they talked and Sarah pumped Grif for personal information. Since she was young, pretty and female, Grif had no trouble talking about his favorite subject: himself. Once they got to the lounge, Sarah bought him a Mountain Dew over his strenuous objections.

“But I’m not giving it to you for free. I expect to get something for this fine, tasty, carbonated beverage.”

Grif raised his eyebrows and crossed his arms over his broad expanse of chest. “Oh yeah? What are you getting?”

“Your email address. Or maybe your cell phone number?”

Sarah tried to play it cool, like she was interested in him. That wasn’t far from the truth. She was more interested in Grif Mastrangelo than any man she’d met in months, but not for anything romantic. Greg Rooney was going to die if he didn’t get a kidney. Sarah couldn’t believe that it was sheer coincidence that she just happened to run into his look-alike, who also just happened to have Mastelli Syndrome - static Mastelli Syndrome - which meant he could be a living organ donor… if he was a genetic match.

Grif nodded slowly, a sly grin creeping across his face. “I think that’s a fair trade. My deets for a soda. Sure. Want to put it in your tablet, or should I scribble it on your hand?”

Sarah got her tablet out and recorded his information. She handed over the Mountain Dew, then purchased a second one that she gave him.

“Just in case one’s not enough.”

“Oh, you’re awesome.”

Sarah laughed, looked at the clock, and groaned. “I have to go turn in my rounds notes and catch some sleep. It was great meeting you, Grif. You need to get back to your room. Can you find your ward or do you need help?”

“I don’t know… I might get lost…”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Sarah walked him back to where Diane waited, concerned at his long absence. Grif yawned, stripping his shoes and socks off, and then shot Sarah a mischievous grin. “Thanks for helping me find my way home, Sarah. I mean, Dr. Barnes.”

She smiled. “No problem, Grif. Sleep well.”

Sarah left Grif Mastrangelo to get settled and headed for her apartment. She intended to go straight to bed after turning in her notes to Dr. McKinley. Instead at three in the morning she poured over the Rooney and Mastrangelo files, her eyes grainy and her neck sore. She’d been over them three times and compared the lab work and blood samples herself. No other conclusion was possible. Sarah was an avid follower of Sherlock Holmes, Spock, Doctor Who, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, all of whom used Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great maxim: When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

She rushed from the lab back to the hospital.


Kate Stinson cowered in the corner of Greg’s private room, her eyes wide with too much white showing. She tried to push the fear down and get some control back. In contrast, Greg slept more deeply and peacefully than he had in weeks, his body calm and undisturbed in the hospital bed several feet away.

The bed had only now returned to the floor.

Kate wasn’t sure if she imagined it all or if it really happened. The bed came up off the floor like Linda Blair’s had done in The Exorcist. Small items from Greg’s overbed table flew around the room and chased her as if playing tag. His water pitcher silently laughed at her for god’s sake, its lid flapping up and down as she dodged the emesis tray and bedpan! As she panted, everything calmed, dropping back to where it was supposed to be and, well, behaving normally.

Or as normally as hospital supplies ever behaved anyway.

Kate shook her head and hauled her body up off the floor. She was definitely under too much stress. Checking to be sure Greg was all right, she pulled a packet of Sleepytime © tea from her bag and slipped from his room for a cup of hot water. Despite being exhausted, she needed it if she was going to sleep on that cot.

She’d watched it dance.

Suppressing hysterical giggles, Kate went to make tea.


Nicholas Pricewater didn’t like to wait.

The private investigator he hired to look into fourth-year medical student Kazuo Strong was one of the best in Washington, D.C. of those not owned outright by Uncle Sam. In under twenty-four hours, the private Dick came up with a full report including: all of Kaz’s personal information, his complete family background, school transcripts going back as far as grade school, all three of his credit reports, his current record at Georgetown Medical School, and his most recent class schedule.

That might’ve satisfied Nick, but none of that told him where to find Kaz, not really. Nick ended up paying Dick another three days of expenses to get the real deal on what Dr. Hunk was up to when he wasn’t at the university. As Nick sat in the August sunshine and scrolled through the extensive report put together by the investigator, he marveled that Kaz could do so much, and that he’d managed to stay under the radar for so long.

In addition to his schooling and his rounds, Kaz volunteered as a Big Brother, did Habitat for Humanity twice a month, and spent time at three different inner city community centers that provided free health care services for the poor and underprivileged. Nick was amazed and slightly nauseated. He wasn’t sure how one person could be so…good.

The report held all the ammunition Nick needed, though. People at each place where Kaz volunteered should be dead, but mysteriously were not. As Nick pored over the report, he got more excited and intrigued.

Kaz’s Little Brother had an inoperable brain tumor that put pressure on his spinal cord as it grew. When Kaz first met the boy he wasn’t expected to live three more months. That was four years ago. The tumor stopped growing just after he met Kaz, then it spontaneously shrunk. The boy, a recent high school graduate, had enlisted in the Marines after receiving a clean bill of health. Nick looked at the pictures of the boy with the tumor four years ago side by side with the graduation picture he posted on Facebook where he stood beside a smiling Kaz Strong. He was nearly unrecognizable, the change was so dramatic.

Two years ago Kaz participated in a one day Habitat for Humanity event with the rest of his Georgetown classmates. The project manager was a woman with multiple sclerosis. After the one day event where they completed a home, Kaz chose to sign up and come back twice a month, volunteering with the same project manager. Her MS went symptom free within two months. The latest report from her neurologist showed normal myelin levels, which wasn’t possible. The report in Nick’s hands – from a freaking medical doctor – actually used the word “miracle.”

Nick chuckled out loud as he paged through the report. He’d been right about Dr. Hunk. While no miracles walked around at any of the inner city clinics, in a way the clinics were miracles in and of themselves. They had the lowest rates of STDs – including HIV infection – in Washington, D.C. Additionally, those same three clinics also had the highest success rate with their substance abuse programs. His private Dick spoke to one of the substance abuse counselors who told him that after two sessions with Dr. Strong, the addicts left the active use groups. They came in clean and asked to join the employment or education programs. The substance abuse counselor stated that the clinic’s success was based entirely on Dr. Strong’s ability to reach inside people. Dude obviously thought Kaz walked on water.

Sounded to Nick like Dr. Hunk was using some kind of telepathy.

He closed the file and slipped the slim, notebook-style computer into the soft sleeve that anchored it inside his backpack. He checked his phone. Yep, right on time. Nick stood and meandered around the building. Students of every description walked across the Georgetown campus. The Friday before Labor Day weekend, everybody hurried to drop off papers or attend final classes before a long weekend. Nick already knew Dr. Hunk wouldn’t be taking a break this weekend, which made it even more important that he connect with the man.

The sunshine hit Kaz’s black hair and brought out the natural blue highlights in it. He hurried along, his backpack slung over one shoulder, as he tried to decide what he should do with the four hours of open time in his schedule. He could head down to the 3rd Avenue Clinic and see patients for two hours, or he could go over and put three hours in on labs. That was probably the best idea, though he knew three hours on labs wasn’t enough to really get much done. He could catch up on all his notes from rounds. He was so far behind on McKinley’s dictations… Then again, with the way he felt right now toward the entire Hypnomorph project, those dictations probably were the last thing he should work on. Kaz sighed and shook his head.

“Dr. Strong!”

Kaz looked up into a pair of piercing violet eyes in a strong, masculine face. Those eyes seemed familiar, but Kaz couldn’t place the face. “Yes?”

“You don’t remember me.” Nick tried not to be offended, but it was difficult.

“I’m sorry. Should I?”

He didn’t stop walking, so Nick kept pace with him. “Nick Pricewater. You treated my migraine at Student Health on Monday.”

“Oh, of course.” Kaz remembered now why the violet eyes were familiar. “How are you? Any further headaches?”

Nick shrugged. He had a headache at the moment, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t live with, and besides, he had a purpose here. “I was hoping we could talk.”

“I’m sorry, Nick. I’m really busy.”

“I know. You probably have rounds tonight. Or a special clinical. But you have to eat, right?”

“I don’t have time.”

Nick raised an eyebrow. “Really? Dr. Strong, proper nutrition is one of the basic blocks of good health.” He smiled impishly.

“I really do have a whole list of other things that are more important than stuffing my face.”

“You aren’t going anywhere or doing anything fun for the holiday weekend, are you?” Nick halted their forward progress by simply stepping in front of Kaz and stopping. Kaz stuttered to a halt and stared up at him, vaguely annoyed.

“No. I’m a medical student, Mr. Pricewater. We don’t have fun.”

Nick laughed. “You can use whatever distancing techniques on me you like, cutie. Truth of the matter is that you’re overworked and underappreciated, and you’re not even a real doctor yet. You can afford to take an hour and let me buy you dinner.”

Kaz ignored the terror in his gut at Nick Pricewater’s words. He had dealt with overly forward men before; he was used to it because of his looks. Cursed by his Japanese mother with a delicate and feminine bone structure, Kaz had perfectly white skin and beautiful blue eyes. He wasn’t, however, homosexual, and he was certain he’d said as much to Nick the last time they parted ways.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Kaz stepped around Nick and resumed walking.

Nick grinned, spun, and chased.

“I think it’s a great idea.” He stayed right at Kaz’s elbow so that he wouldn’t have to shout to be heard. “Really, Kaz, you should let me buy you dinner. Not only will it be the best meal you’ll get this semester, I guarantee the company will be sublime.”

Despite himself, Kaz smiled. This guy was a megalomaniac. “You’re full of shit, you know that? I’m busy.”

“You need to eat. What do you like? Chinese? Indian? French? We’ll go anywhere you want. My treat.”

“Do you always come on so strong?”

Nick stared at Kaz’s blue eyes with his violet ones. “I do when I see something I want.”

“I know I told you I’m straight.”

“Yeah, whatever.” Nick pulled his phone out. “I’m in the mood for steak. You feel up for steak? Or do you not eat meat?”

“Of course I eat meat. My dad’s a Marine.”

Nick grinned. “So… steakhouse?”

“I don’t remember saying yes to dinner.”

“That’s all right. I imagine most of your patients don’t say yes to half the nasty shit you put them through.” Nick held the phone to his ear. “Carol… car to the western edge of the campus… And could you call J&G and have them get Dad’s table ready? Dinner for two. Thanks!” He hit end and looked Kaz over. “Don’t suppose you’d feel like stopping back at your apartment for a jacket and tie, would you?”

Kaz’s eyebrows shot up. “Invite me to dinner and then insult me?”

Nick shrugged, still grinning. “J&G has an evening dress code. I’d happily loan you one of mine, but you’d swim in it.”

“I didn’t agree -”

“Right, we’ll just play the doctor card. You’ve got credentials of some kind, right?”

Kaz realized Nick had subtly steered him away from his original destination. He stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk.

“Look. Nick…”

Nick stared at Kaz. The force of that violet gaze was unsettling. Kaz had to work to hold the stare but he managed it, despite the uncomfortable feeling in his gut… and lower spots.

“I know.” Nick kept his voice soft. “You’re straight.” He reached out and tugged on the strap of Kaz’s backpack. “But I’m hungry, and I don’t have anybody to have dinner with, so take pity on a poor rich gay guy and have a steak with me.”

This was a mistake. Kaz knew it was a mistake even as he sighed and fell into step beside Nick, who immediately linked arms with Kaz. Kaz gave him a look, but Nick just grinned at him again.

“Thirty minutes.” Kaz looked at his phone. “I can give you thirty minutes.”

“Oh please, bitch. For a steak at J&G you can give me an hour.”

Kaz burst out laughing. “Okay. One hour. Then I have to get back on campus. I’m so far behind on my dictations it’ll take me all weekend to catch up.”

“Okay.” Nick strode across campus, pulling Kaz beside him, his head throbbing. Score!

Kaz wasn’t surprised when Carol turned out to be the chauffeur of a black Mercedes limo. Dressed in a sharp uniform, she opened the doors for them, addressed Nick as “Mr. Pricewater,” and informed him the table would be ready when they arrived. Nick motioned Kaz into the car, and only stared a little at the perfect swell of Kaz’s ass before climbing in after him.

Kaz sank into the leather seats, brooding about the confrontation he had with Dr. McKinley before leaving today. It was no wonder he was so far behind on his dictations; Kaz despised the entire Hypnomorph project. He found the entire premise of the project distasteful, and hated everything about the thesis and the drug. Nick lounged back, the fingers of his left hand pressed to his temple. He watched Kaz who was obviously lost in thought.

“You have another headache.”

Nick’s brows lifted in surprise. “I do. I didn’t think you were paying attention.”

“Let me help you.” Kaz inched closer to Nick, who scooted away as the car pulled up to the curb.

“After dinner; we’re here.” Nick had never been so grateful for Carol’s promptness. He nearly fell out of the car. As much as he wanted Kaz’s hands on his body – and he definitely wanted Dr. Hunk’s hands all over him – he didn’t want Kaz in his head until he knew more about what the doctor could do.

They went into the W Hotel and Nick dueled with the restaurant staff to get them into the skip line sans proper attire. Kaz’s medical permit finally saw them seated at the Pricewater table, a view of the Washington monument in the background. Kaz let Nick order, taking in the opulence of the table linens, the china, and the cutlery. He hadn’t been in a restaurant this nice since his father took the family out for his brother Kenji’s graduation in San Diego.

Nick absently rubbed his left temple. Kaz Strong was too goddamned beautiful for his own good. He had a mouth that was made for kissing. His lips were plumper and more succulent than the cherry tomatoes in the appetizer. Nick couldn’t stop staring at them.

“It’s a little disconcerting, you watching me eat,” Kaz said as Nick pushed his food around and rubbed his left temple. Nick’s headache was obviously pretty bad. Kaz would’ve treated him in the car but Nick prevented it. Now he wasn’t eating. “Are you all right?”

“I’ll be fine. Why don’t you tell me what you were thinking so deeply about in the car?” Nick gazed meaningfully at Kaz. He picked up the scotch rocks by his plate and drained it.

“Nothing. Just some of the work I’m behind on. You should try to eat. How’s the halibut?”

“It’s great. That’s why I order it.” In truth, Nick hadn’t taken so much as a single bite of the fish tonight, but Jean-Georges Vongerichten turned the plain catch into a famous dish here at J&G. “I’d rather hear about your work. You’re on McKinley’s project, aren’t you?”

Kaz shook his head, grimacing. “Funny you mentioned that.”


“That’s the work I’m behind on.”

Nick laughed. “I like Dr. McKinley.”

“That’s right. You mentioned when you were in that you were part of the Hypnomorph trials.”

Nick frowned at the look on Kaz’s face. The fourth year medical student looked genuinely distressed. “Talk to me. I’m a great listener.”

Kaz ate a bite of creamed spinach, savoring the flavor before he met Nick’s unusual eyes. “Understand that this has to stay between us, that I’m trusting you with my personal opinions, something I don’t often do. You get one chance. Break my trust and you won’t ever get it again.”

Nick nodded, serious. He managed to eat a few bites of food while he waited for Kaz to speak.

“I’ve been on the Hypnomorph project since Dr. McKinley got approval for human trials. And I’m just… baffled by it. I don’t understand how it got through the final FDA screens.” Kaz leaned forward, shaking his head. “Hundreds of drugs are developed every year and go through rigorous testing protocols. The percentage that actually makes the FDA cut for human testing? Very small. The factors that go into the choices have as much to do with politics as they do anything else, unfortunately.”

“That doesn’t surprise me.”

Kaz shrugged. “Big business and profit run the world. Sorry to say, some diseases are money makers and some aren’t.”

Nick nodded. “There’s no money in curing a disease that only five people in the world suffer from.”

“You got it.” Kaz wiped his mouth and picked up his water glass. “But usually with a new drug, particularly one that’s still being tested, the formula for the protocols is very specific. You know, it’s a diabetes drug, or it’s an autoimmune drug, or a cancer drug… And the patients have to fit the specific qualifications set forth in the protocols to quality for the project.”

Nick shrugged and took a small bite of his dinner. “Yeah, okay. That makes sense.”

Kaz met Nick’s eyes. “So tell me why I’ve got patients as diverse as you with chronic migraines and another guy who’s kidneys are failing, and yet another guy who’s been treated for ADHD since early childhood? The only thing I can figure that all of you have in common is that you’re all male. Last I checked that’s not a medical condition.”

“I don’t know, man. Sometimes I think it might be.”

Kaz chuckled. “You’re funny.” He abruptly sobered. “I’m worried, Nick. I confronted McKinley tonight. Asked him about the scope of the trials. He told me to mind my place and not get above my station. He’s never spoken to me like that.”

Nick pondered the information Kaz just shared with him. Preston McKinley was a very important doctor, respected by the physicians and staff at both Georgetown Medical School and the University Hospital. One of the reasons Nick was attending Georgetown and not Yale or Harvard was because of Dr. McKinley and his drug trials. Nick had been taking Hypnomorph on and off for almost four years, since the drug was first developed and available. His migraines were unbearable without it.

Well, they had been before he met Kaz Strong.

But that didn’t make what Kaz was saying any less intriguing. Nick wanted something from Kaz. He’d found the best way to get what he wanted was to offer people something they wanted in return.

“Maybe I can help.”

Kaz shook his head. “No. I shouldn’t have said anything to you to begin with. It’s a violation of HIPPAA for me to reveal any of my patient information, and it violates the contract I signed with the med school for me to discuss the Hypnomorph project.”

“Not with me,” Nick argued. “I’m part of it.”

“Don’t bandy words. You know what I mean. I don’t want you saying anything to McKinley or using your family’s prestige or money to try to get information.”

Nick reached across the table and tapped Kaz’s hand. He waited until Kaz looked up and met his gaze. “Hey. I promise I won’t.”

“All right. Thank you.”

They finished dinner together, passing on dessert. Nick didn’t bother getting his food wrapped up to go. Kaz thanked him for the meal several times as they headed back to the University Hospital, but he was distracted, thinking about everything he had to do and prioritizing all of the tasks. Carol pulled the car up on Reservoir Road and Nick got out to walk Kaz to the doors.

Nick’s head throbbed, but he wanted a glimpse of just what was going on inside Kaz Strong’s head. He focused his abilities and pushed, penetrating Kaz’s thoughts and thrusting into his mind.

The sheer volume of information overwhelmed him. Kaz’s brain cooked at high speed, multi-tasking as he moved. The barrage of thoughts buried Nick and he had no choice but to withdraw without really getting a clear look at anything. Nick staggered back a step, his hand under his nose as blood streamed down over his lips to drip off his chin. His head exploded with pain, nearly blinding him on the spot and he wobbled, losing his balance.

Kaz was suddenly behind him, catching him before his ass hit the pavement. He eased Nick down onto one of the benches by the side entrance, a perturbed look on his face as he pulled a napkin from his backpack. He knelt in front of Nick and held the napkin under his nose, meeting those unusual violet eyes.

“That was really fucking clumsy.” Kaz stood and stared down at him. “Next time you want in my head, Nick, try asking.” Kaz disappeared inside the hospital, shaking his head. "Fucking telepaths."

Somewhere after midnight in my wildest fantasy, somewhere just beyond my reach there's someone reaching back for me. Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat, it's gonna take a Superman to sweep me off my feet. I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast and he's gotta be fresh from the fight. I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light. He's gotta be sure and it's gotta be soon and he's gotta be larger than life. ~Bonnie Tyler


  1. I love this story. It's multilayered with a bunch of different characters that are all interconnected, but the basic premise- going back to that 1st chapter accident- is really cool. So far I'm a little confused but I think we're meant to be at this stage.

    1. Oh, btw, I adore the Dust & Ash cover.

    2. Thanks for the Like on the cover! And yes, a certain amount of confusion at this point is expected with "Hero." The cast of characters in this one is pretty large, the intrigue heavy, so the details are important. I really appreciate your comments as the story progresses.

  2. I am loving the diff directions this story is taking. Looks like the'rocks' are having a lot of sweet effects. :o)

    1. Very perceptive, Pat. You'll get the skinny on those "rocks" soon, I promise! There's a lot more that's going to happen under the sea in the Triton lab... but it will be up to Nick and Kaz to ferret the past out. I hope you all enjoy the ride.

  3. I am enjoying the start of this story and the current creation of different story lines and characters. Can't wait to see what happens next.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. This is a huge undertaking for me. While the story most definitely has erotic elements, it's the closest thing to a thriller/mystery I've ever written. It's a big leap and a risk for me. But that's what we're supposed to do as we progress (or so my editors tell me, LOL)... take risks. I'm glad to have my readers on board!

  4. Im hooked!!! LOving where this is going. Cant wait for more!! :)

    1. So glad you're enjoying the story! I hope to have the research for the next chapter completed soon. That's what takes the most time. I may end up with a medical degree by the time I finish this book! (just kidding) Stay tuned to my Facebook or Twitter for updates about postings.

  5. Can someone direct me to chapter 1 please?


  6. I always enjoy your work. :) Hero is starting off great. It is definitely worth waiting for each installment; I need to know what happens under water and then with Nick and Kaz. Are Greg and Grif twins that were separated at birth; reunited to save each others' life?!

  7. I am so intrigued by this story and I want more! I find both characters so interesting and I hope you continue to write!

  8. Just started this story and really lovin it. Can't wait to see how all the pieces come together. Anyone that can use the word HIPAA in proper context and write about igneous rocks, cool.

  9. Hi, i really love this story. Is there any chance you will continue this? Been waiting for years.

    1. Hi Anon -

      Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment. I do hope you come back to see my reply. In the future, please consider logging in or leaving me an email address (or just email me your question at so that I can better communicate with you.

      I posted a series of updates a few months ago and addressed your question, as well as explaining why I haven't been writing as much. You can read the post (1/27/16) if you're curious. However since you specifically asked about this story, I'm cutting and pasting its update in for you.


      This was, by far, one of my favorite stories when I started writing it. I still love the premise, and the outline. What I don't love, and the reason I never posted more, was the amount of research I had to do to create a believable world and scenario. I'm a classically trained writer, which means I don't write what I don't know. So if a story idea grabs me by the guts and demands attention, and it's outside my realm of experience, I dive into research. I've been scuba diving exactly twice - in an ex-boyfriend's swimming pool. Never ended up in even a lake, much less an ocean, and I never got my certification. The scuba apparatus gave me panic attacks. The ex had no trouble diving off the sunken fuselage of a DC-3 off the coast of Honduras, and worked as a rescue diver for the Bahamian Islands. I like to swim... but damn that scuba gear is heavy, awkward, and holy hell do I have more respect for him now.

      What this means is that until I have the time to devote to research, there won't be more of HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO.


      Thanks again for reading and supporting my work. I wish you an enjoyable summer! ~TWM

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