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Blue Steel Chain
Cover of Blue Steel Chain
Blue Steel Chain
A Trowchester Blues Novel
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At sixteen, Aidan Swift was swept off his feet by a rich older man who promised to take care of him for the rest of his life. But eight years later, his sugar daddy has turned from a prince into a beast. Trapped and terrified, Aidan snatches an hour's respite at the Trowchester Museum.

Local archaeologist James Summers is in a failing long distance relationship with a rock star, and Aidan — nervous, bruised, and clearly in need of a champion — brings out all his white knight tendencies. When everything falls apart for Aidan, James saves him from certain death…and discovers a skeleton of another boy who wasn't so lucky.

As Aidan recovers, James falls desperately in love. But though Aidan acts like an adoring boyfriend, he doesn't seem to feel any sexual attraction at all. Meanwhile there are two angry exes on the horizon, one coming after them with the press and the other with a butcher's knife. To be together, Aidan and James must conquer death, sex, and everyone's preconceptions about the right way to love — even their own.

At sixteen, Aidan Swift was swept off his feet by a rich older man who promised to take care of him for the rest of his life. But eight years later, his sugar daddy has turned from a prince into a beast. Trapped and terrified, Aidan snatches an hour's respite at the Trowchester Museum.

Local archaeologist James Summers is in a failing long distance relationship with a rock star, and Aidan — nervous, bruised, and clearly in need of a champion — brings out all his white knight tendencies. When everything falls apart for Aidan, James saves him from certain death…and discovers a skeleton of another boy who wasn't so lucky.

As Aidan recovers, James falls desperately in love. But though Aidan acts like an adoring boyfriend, he doesn't seem to feel any sexual attraction at all. Meanwhile there are two angry exes on the horizon, one coming after them with the press and the other with a butcher's knife. To be together, Aidan and James must conquer death, sex, and everyone's preconceptions about the right way to love — even their own.

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    Chapter One

    Aidan got a little lost on the top floor. He'd been drifting slowly from cabinet to cabinet, reading the handwritten labels that were giving him increasing glimpses into the world of the Bronze Age Beaker people, when he came to an empty display and then a second. He raised his head cautiously to discover he was halfway down a gallery that petered out into unused cases.

    Grim February light drifted dank through all the tall windows of the museum's third floor and lit a scene that was obviously not meant for the public's eyes. Here, among empty display cases, plastic trays full of dirty-looking broken pots and rusted blobs of green metal lay scattered on the floor.

    Someone was moving among them, hunched like a bear over berries, muttering to himself as he gazed down.

    Aidan froze, ducking his head between his shoulders. Oh God, he wasn't supposed to be here, was he? Muffling his breath, he eased back behind the last full case and concentrated on breathing silent and slow. The man hadn't noticed him come in. If he was careful and quiet he might not be noticed leaving.

    "Oh, where did I put them...?"

    The stranger half rose from his crouch, peering at the ground all around him. Aidan stood very still and his ear tightened, anticipating a smack. He rubbed it as he told himself not to be so stupid. He was in a public museum; he had done nothing wrong. The man would stand up and see him, and if he was angry he would still only dare shout, which would not be so bad.

    Except Aidan didn't want to be shouted at. He had come here to get away from all that, to be left in peace, to be left alone....

    The man was now kneeling in front of a crate full of paper towels, unwrapping something small. If Aidan leaned forward just an inch, he could look down on the man's bent head. Caramel-coloured hair that stood up by itself in spikes — Aidan might have thought the man dressed it that way had he not been wearing those clothes. No one who went to the trouble of spiking their hair with product would then come out of the house wearing pale-tan corduroy trousers and a Christmas jumper underneath a blue corduroy jacket.

    He was a smallish man, Aidan saw with some relief. Not short, but slender — the figure of someone who didn't eat much but who also did very little exercise. Wire-framed glasses were hooked into his collar. There was a smudge of ink on the knuckle of his right index finger and a matching one on his ear. Even as Aidan watched he lifted both hands and pushed his fingers into his hair, dragging that knuckle over his cheekbone and the top of his ear, explaining the smudge.

    Aidan smiled and felt himself uncurl a little inside. He didn't come out of hiding, but his breath came easier and his shoulders unclenched. The psychosomatic stinging of his ear gave way to one last rub and disappeared.

    Sitting back on his heels, Christmas Jumper Man drew an index card out of his top pocket, patting himself all over before he came up with a leaky pen. A rootle around the trays brought up a clipboard, on which he positioned the card. He uncapped his pen and looked up into the distance outside the windows, perhaps towards Wednesday Keep, perhaps ten thousand years into the past.

    The new angle brought his face into Aidan's view, and Aidan liked it. It was a gentle face with a puzzled, intellectual look and something boyish about the smoothness of its angles. Objectively handsome, the colour of his eyes and hair were harmonious with each other. Aidan would have liked to sculpt it, probably in wood to do justice to the impression that there was life going on under the surface of it....

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Blue Steel Chain
Blue Steel Chain
A Trowchester Blues Novel
Alex Beecroft
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