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CURSE ACROSS TIME
Table of Contents
Note to Readers
Excerpt – Last Wish
Other Works by Shelley
Life is a chariot race for Marc Angelo and Tarquin Navona. Friends, rivals and rock stars of Circus Maximus in ancient Rome, they wow the fans with their daring driving and take their choice of lovers. A fine life indeed—if Marc weren’t harboring feelings for Tarquin. It’s difficult to behave normally when he craves physical contact with his friend’s muscular body, but Marc resists his inner yearnings, too afraid of losing Tarquin entirely.
He needn’t have worried. Fate has plans for them. Very long-term plans…
When a powerful sorcerer catches Marc and Tarquin with his wife, he curses them to imprisonment in stone. Centuries pass, and Marc’s love and lust for Tarquin only increase. His friend doesn’t have a clue, but that’s the least of their problems. They have no idea how to escape their predicament—and may be doomed to spend eternity cursed.
Inside Scoop: Marc and Tarquin take a brief dip into M/F/M ménage waters. They discover quickly enough they should’ve contained their lust to each other.
Note to Readers
During a visit to Las Vegas several years ago, I had fun wandering around the various hotels and attractions. A statue caught my attention and my imagination took a wander into the world of “what if”. However, the story didn’t gel fully until a trip to Rome and the Coliseum about two years later. That was when the idea for Curse Across Time became a solid story in my mind. I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing my tale of two Roman charioteers.
Enjoy Marc and Tarquin’s adventure.
Wind tore past Marc Angelo, stinging his face, his eyes, ruffling his hair. He braced, shifted his weight, steering his horses around the bend of the arena. Holding steady, he roared, urging the team forward, reins wrapped around his waist and held in his left hand.
You can do this. Your team has heart.You will beat Navona today.
He flicked the whip, the sharp crack propelling the equine beasts into a burst of speed. Toward the finish line, toward glory. Great riches and fame. Bragging rights.
Hooves thundered behind him. Focus. “Faster. Faster!”
Circus Maximus rang with the cheers of two hundred and fifty thousand Romans. The din swelled until it raged like a dragon. “Blue! Blue! Blue!”
The chant echoed to the beat of his heart. Faster. Faster.
Another charioteer drew beside him, angled toward the wheel of Marc’s chariot. The familiar hail of his best friend and challenger, Tarquin Navona, brought a grimace. The team behind Marc snorted with exhaustion, dangerously close to his vehicle. If either chariot contacted his wheels, he’d wreck.
“Rapido!” he hollered at his horses, whip arcing over their rumps.
The team reacted instantly, inching ahead of his closest rival. Dust swirled, obscuring vision. Sweat trickled from under his helmet into his eyes. The bellows of the crowd rang in his ears yet he closed his senses, focused on the win. Faster. Faster.
Not even the snap of Tarquin’s whip, aimed at Marc’s shoulder, tore his concentration. Marc clenched his teeth in a fierce grin. Bastard would pay for the low shot later.
“Faster, my beauties,” he shouted. “Rapid as the wind.”
They responded with their big hearts, exploding forward, then his four horses raced over the finish line, half a chariot length ahead of Tarquin. Exulted, Marc’s fist pumped in the air.
He slowed his team and the grooms scurried over to unhitch the horses and lead them away for well-earned pampering.
Another charioteer pulled up beside him, and Marc smirked. “Eat my dust, Navona.”
“The gods were with you today, Marc. I wager the next win will be mine.”
Marc snorted even as he acknowledged the truth of the words. Sometimes he won and at other times Tarquin emerged the victor. It didn’t matter if it was chariot racing, dicing, sword play or sex. They wagered on the outcome, both fiercely competitive. Life was a game, a contest to discern the winner. And today, it was his turn to taste sweet victory. Not only would he receive the winner’s purse but also a healthy slice of Tarquin’s winnings.
“Meet you at the bathhouse,” Tarquin shouted before directing his chariot away to meet his grooms.
Another tradition. Both captured as slaves—the spoils of war—their sizes and strength, their abilities with horses, had landed them their present positions as charioteers. Their common interests and competitive natures cemented their friendship.
Hours later Marc strode into the bathhouse, a spring in his step. In the changing room, he stripped off his sweaty tunic and wrapped a cloth around his waist. In the doorway of the steam room, he paused to scan the obscured corners. The low hum of conversation halted as the men in the room squinted to identify the newcomer.
Marc turned toward the familiar voice and dropped onto the bench beside Tarquin.
“Good win today,” someone said.
Marc grinned. “Thanks.”
After more congratulatory remarks, the men returned to their conversations.
Tarquin clapped Marc on the back. “I should keep my money. I’ll win it back next week.”
“I aim to spend it meantime.” Marc rolled his shoulders, sore from holding his team of horses, biting back a groan at the flash of pain.
“You intend to piss my money away?”
“My money,” Marc countered. “I was thinking of a massage and perhaps a fuck.”
“I heard Augustus has new blood. Beauties, according to gossip. You can pay for me.”
Marc snorted, shifting on the bench. His thigh jostled Tarquin’s and a dart of awareness surged straight to his cock. He stilled, reveling in the sensation. A deep breath drew in damp heat, a trace of sweat and Tarquin’s musky scent. Marc’s shaft hardened further. He ignored it, stretching again and repositioning his body.
Tarquin leaned back. “Augustus has a beautiful wife. Rumor says she loves to bed gladiators and charioteers.”
“Augustus will slice off your balls if he catches you.” Marc’s cock settled at the thought.
“You think I couldn’t bed her?” Tarquin’s loud whisper slid across Marc’s ear, bringing sweet temptation. Damn.
“It would be a risk.” Marc’s glance took in the men eavesdropping on their conversation. He winged a glare in their direction and the men rose, moving on to the next room. “People listen. You should be careful of whom and where you speak.”
“Life is a risk,” Tarquin said. “We could break our necks in the arena. One chariot wreck and our horses would drag us to our deaths. I wager I can bed the wife before you.”
Marc imagined the devilry sparkling in Tarquin’s face, the arch of his dark brows and the challenge that would quirk his full lips upward. His dark-blond hair would be in disarray around his head and—
By Jupiter! Marc kept his eyes closed, not wanting to see the temptation he knew awaited him. “This isn’t a good idea.”
“But we’ll visit the brothel after this? Or do you want to go drinking?”
“Both.” Maybe he could fuck this yearning away or, failing that, drown it in wine.
A plunge in the frigidarium took care of the immediate problem and a massage pummeled away his lingering tension. Dressed in a clean tunic and cloak, Marc followed Tarquin from the bathhouse.
They picked their way across the muddy cobblestone road to the walk on the other side. The wheels of a heavily laden cart squeaked as the driver urged his donkeys toward the nearby bakery. The scent of fresh bread filled the air and Marc’s stomach rumbled.
“Food,” he said.
“I know a place near the brothel.”
Once they’d sated their hunger, Marc followed Tarquin into the brothel. The front room contained a counter manned by a male attendant. Beyond, a torch lit the passage that led to private rooms. Curtains screened the entrances, giving the illusion of privacy. Masculine groans of pleasure floated on the air, and the muted smack of flesh on flesh. The oily scent of torches combined with sweat and sex to produce a nose-wrinkling aroma.
Marc scanned the pictures above the desk, depicting the various offerings. His gaze wandered across the women in various poses and sexual acts, pausing when he came to the drawings of men. One depicted a man pounding into another, while a second illustration showed a man sucking cock.
“Male or female?” the attendant asked in a bored tone. He seemed more interested in the two men playing dice in the corner.
“Both,” Tarquin said in a decisive manner.
Marc remained silent, content to let Tarquin order from the menu. While Marc preferred men, he wasn’t averse to the sensation of a woman’s snug channel cradling his cock.
“We’ll share a room,” Tarquin said. “Men first, followed by washing water and a woman.”
“Washing water will cost,” the man said sharply.
Tarquin nudged his head in Marc’s direction, his blue eyes sparkling with devilry. “He has coin. He’ll pay. Which room?”
“The one at the end of the passage.”
Tarquin ambled away, leaving Marc to pay the charges. Whispers followed Tarquin, and Marc was aware of the interest in him too. Charioteers always attracted attention, and successful ones even more. Their patronage of this new brothel would likely bring others. Hellfire, he should negotiate a discount.
While he counted out coin, a hooded and masked woman entered. Her dark gaze burned across his face and down his body. He shifted as his cock reacted to her obvious interest. Then she swept past him, disappearing almost as suddenly as she’d appeared.
A mystery woman. Interesting. Probably the bored wife of one of the rich Roman citizens. He’d bedded a few in the past—women who gave their bodies but kept their identities secret.
When Marc reached their assigned room, Tarquin had already started. His choice was a small, dark-haired man with swarthy skin and a cocky grin. Marc turned to the remaining man, also swarthy, but half a foot taller. He was almost delicate in build.