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Shadowboxing

Berlin, 1943. An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr. Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.

When Michel contacts the Allies, hoping they can work together, it isn’t long before the so-called “simple” mission becomes anything but. With both men realizing they can no longer ignore their growing feelings for each other, Kristopher and Michel must fight—not just for a chance of a future together, but for their very survival.





Kristopher laughed then stopped, surprised at his reaction. After all, wasn’t being provided for, as the price for at least attempting to live up to his father’s expectations, the very thing about his life that he’d resented? In a twisted way fate had provided him with the opportunity to move on from that and maybe become the very person he’d always yearned to be.

“First things first,” he muttered under his breath, reminding himself of the reason he was here. On the run for murder, theft, and God knew what else, and he was planning his future. He was definitely losing his mind.

His hands twisted the towel over and over while he attempted to calm himself. He took a few deep breaths. There was no point alarming Michel. He had enough to worry about. After returning the now-damp towel to its original hanging place, Kristopher drew himself up straight and walked back out into the main room.

Michel looked up from where he was sitting at the table; he seemed thoughtful. “Feeling better?” Was that concern in Michel’s eyes?

“As much as I’m going to be,” he answered, giving a small smile with his reply. Maybe Michel did really care? After all, everything that Kristopher had seen so far seemed to suggest that scenario. Or perhaps it was just wishful thinking? “Is my being here going to be a problem?”

“You’ve taken a great deal of risks to get this far.”A determined expression crossed Michel’s face, and he shook his head. “I am certain that the priorities of this mission will be changed to include your safe passage out of Germany.” He slid the case back under the bed and looked Kristopher up and down. “You need to change your clothing into something less conspicuous. The cut of your suit draws attention to you, and you want to be able to blend in rather than stand out.” He opened the wardrobe, pondering its contents for a moment. Finally he pulled out a pair of gray flannel trousers and a nondescript cotton shirt, holding them out in front of him as he obviously attempted to gauge the sizing. “These might fit you. Try them on, and let’s take a look.” Turning back to the wardrobe, Michel chose a dark-colored, woolen zip-up sweater to complete the ensemble. “It’s cold. You’ll need to keep warm.”

“Thank you.” Kristopher took the clothing from Michel and headed back into the bathroom, wanting some privacy in which to change. “See you in a minute.” He almost regretted that decision when it brought home just how small the bathroom was, but he managed to only hit his elbow on the side of the sink once. Re-entering the room, feeling quite pleased by his accomplishment and how well the clothes fit he… stopped.

Michel was standing by the bed, clad only in a pair of very form-fitting undershorts. The earlier assumption about his uniform hiding a well-developed physique was quite an understatement on Kristopher’s part. Michel was… extremely good-looking. In fact Kristopher would even go as far as to use the word gorgeous to describe him.

Oh God.

Blushing, Kristopher stammered his apologies and ran from the room, seeking refuge in the small bathroom he’d just vacated. He splashed himself with cold water. What the hell? One look at Michel…. Glancing down, Kristopher willed the bulge in his trousers to disappear. What was wrong with him? This was not the reaction he should be having in response to seeing another man in a state of undress.

His heart was thumping, his skin flushed.

Kristopher groaned.

No, he wasn’t going to allow himself to react like this. He couldn’t, not after putting all this behind him that last time. A small voice whispered to him, reminding him the only other time he’d felt desire such as this was in response to accidently walking in on another man in a similar state of undress. It had to be a coincidence. He wasn’t attracted to other men. He couldn’t be. It wasn’t natural. At least according to what he’d been taught. It was his belief that those teachings had to be right that had prompted him to back away from David in the hope that some distance between them would make it easier to ignore the situation. If he was going to burn in hell it was better he do it alone rather than drag someone he cared about down with him. Hurting David by cooling their friendship was supposed to be better in the long term for both of them.

Yet, he’d still felt an echo of that physical attraction for David the last time they’d met, although the emotions that had once accompanied it were very much mellowed.

That attraction, in hindsight, had at least been easier to hide. He’d never had a physical reaction to David to this degree. David had been, and still was, a good-looking man. Michel…. Kristopher licked his lips, his mouth dry.

Michel looked amazing. He was muscular, yet not overly so; a fine smattering of light brown, almost red hair dusted his chest.

These thoughts were not helping.

“Kristopher, are you all right in there?” Michel sounded concerned.

“Fine. I’m fine. I just needed to um… adjust something.” Kristopher hated lying, but he wasn’t about to admit the truth. He didn’t want to see the disgust he knew would be reflected in Michel’s eyes. There was no need for anyone to know. It wouldn’t happen again.

This had to be a side effect of the stress he was under. Getting out of Germany would be very dangerous. No wonder his body was reacting in ways it shouldn’t. After all, it wasn’t every day that he discovered everything he’d believed in was a lie and the ideals he’d spent his life working toward weren’t worth the paper they were written on.

Seeing David again had also brought back memories and the emotions of the time they’d spent together as friends.

Kristopher walked out of the bathroom, hoping he appeared much more nonchalant than he felt. “Sorry about that,” he mumbled, hoping he hadn’t made a total idiot of himself.


Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
chrissymunder
Jan. 6th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
Ah, so this answers the question re: the meme earlier. Lovely excerpt, especially describing Kristopher's feelings of unrest. And that cover! Congratulations.
anne_barwell
Jan. 9th, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks :) Just over a week until release day now.

Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. I love the cover. Reese Dante did a fantastic job with it.
paranoidpen
Jan. 20th, 2012 12:31 am (UTC)
It comes out tomorrow! \0/
Will it be up on bookdepositry right away or is there a wait again? [forgot] Thaaanks. <3
anne_barwell
Jan. 20th, 2012 08:56 am (UTC)
It's out now on Dreamspinner's site. Not up on amazon or anywhere else yet, but suspect that will come in time as it's very early yet.

When I spot it, I can post links :)
meninaiscrazy
Feb. 14th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
Happy Valentine's Day! Love the excerpt. :)
Cristina
anne_barwell
Feb. 14th, 2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Happy Valentine's to you too :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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WIPs aka the to do list

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One Word
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A Mage to Forget
Double Exposure
Dragon's Price
A Sword to Rule
A Wind of Roses
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