Friends are supposed to stick together, but now they can never let go.
Seth and Lars are drawn into the dark world of Arcanium when Seth makes a throwaway wish in front of the circus fortune teller Bell Madoc, who decides that Arcanium needs a little something extra in the ring. The jinni tears Seth and Lars from their lives of university soccer, on-campus parties and bright futures, cursing them to remain in contact at all times.
Now they perform beautiful aerial acts for the circus, but these two otherwise straight men must also adjust to living their lives always touching, sleeping together in the same small bed and never having any privacy.
The curse also alters the way they express and experience desire for others, like conjoined twins Joanne and Jane.
And, to their horror and confusion, each other.
Reader Advisory: This book contains horror-related action and violence, homophobia, racist language, non-sexual whipping, hot MM sex between straight-identified men, MFMF ménage à quatre and an MFM scene with two female voyeurs. There are also scenes of double penetration and anal sex and some scenes of dubious consent due to magical influence, but all depicted sex scenes in the Arcanium series are ultimately consensual, no matter how dangerous.
Publisher’s Note: This book is part of a series but can be read as a standalone. Events in this book take place three years before those of book one, Fortune.
General Release Date: 11th August 2015
Seth’s teammate David, who’d already gone to the circus last week with a few of his friends, had given it a high recommendation. He’d said the Bearded Lady’s tits were amazing.
‘Just ignore all the hair, and the rest of her is a real piece. And you can see the outline of the snake charmer’s nipples and pussy against her leather bikini.’
Those were reasons enough for the rest of the team to visit Arcanium that Saturday night.
Arcanium was connected to the local Ye Olde Faire, which meant they had to go through the whole faire to get to the circus. But since David had said the best stuff happened in the evening, Seth and Lars didn’t mind putting the weird hotties off till then. After all, the faire had an endless number of boobs over corsets on display, plus knife and star throwing and bawdy comedy shows. Nothing wrong with taking their time over turkey legs and a couple of pints.
If Seth remembered his history class right, there probably hadn’t been this much exposed cleavage back in medieval times, but historical accuracy wasn’t that important to him. Especially when the barmaid did that thing that always seemed to short-circuit his brain—leaning over the counter, her elbows close to her sides, smiling, making those flirtatious eyes at him, and framing those beautiful breasts so that they plumped with that intriguing shadow between them. The neckline barely stopped short of her nipples, which just invited his imagination to push her bodice down.
The move worked on him every time, reducing him to a gibbering idiot. But whenever he realized that his tongue wasn’t going to function for conversation, he fortunately had his smile to fall back on, so at least he wouldn’t be alone in his carnal stupidity.
The barmaid licked her lips and blushed, passing him another pint.
“On the house,” she said.
Lars laughed when Seth handed him the free ale. He put Seth in a headlock and rubbed his head, tousling his blond hair.
“You fucking dog,” Lars said. “How do you even do that? Aren’t chicks supposed to con drinks out of you?”
And they did too. The exchange of free drinks was definitely weighted in favor of the females on bar nights, but sometimes it managed to swing his way. And Seth was more than willing to share the boozy wealth with good friends, not that Lars needed the help. Lars’ wallet was probably as light as Seth’s after the weekend—all in the pursuit of a good night’s lack of sleep.
“We all have our talents. You suck on the field. I score with the ladies. That’s just how it is,” Seth said. He took a big gulp of his own ale and grinned when Lars threatened to pour his over Seth’s head.
“It’s that damn smile, isn’t it?” Lars said. “All I have to do is take off my shirt or show them what’s packing, because when you take yours off, they get blinded by your pasty white ass. But I have to wait for soccer season or summer so I don’t freeze my balls off. You can just flash those brilliant whites like a fucking shark year-round, and all the panties come off even in the dead of winter. It’s a sin, a fucking sin, I’m telling you.”
“What can I say? God loves me more than you.”
Seth flashed his signature smile at the barmaid again before he left. Always leave them wanting more.
Sometimes he got phone numbers, but the times he didn’t weren’t a disappointment. He’d remember the image of her tonight, the one that made his tongue heavy and his cock stir, the one that made him warm and prickly across his chest and over his face. Oh yeah, he’d remember—until the next girl.
He’d remember them only a short time, but they were all special, all sweet for their moment. Sometimes he wondered—when he was standing in the shower and stroking off—whether they were thinking of him at the same time. That would make the exchange complete. A brief, blissful memory, hot in their hands, slickened and a little sticky—like the start of summer, when there was nothing but good distractions around him, memories to keep and memories to let go. All that ‘ships passing in the night’ shit. He was twenty-two years old. He could stand to wander, and he enjoyed it when the girls were just as interested in wandering with him.
He liked being nice, but God knew he wasn’t looking to settle down, not yet—not when he and Lars were this close to getting out of college and trying out for the real thing. Sure, Lars was majoring in business and Seth in marketing, so they had their more conventional fallbacks. Buzz about their post-school future had been promising, though, and a person couldn’t settle down when he was traveling all soccer season.
Seth had his whole life to settle. Right now, putting down roots was overrated, no matter how often his aunts and grandmothers asked him whether he had a girlfriend yet. He assumed the shiftlessness would leave him one day, but today was not that day.
His team got it. Lars got it. They couldn’t stop moving. They were briefly confined to a soccer field, but then the horizon was the limit. Seth signed up for marathons with Lars, ran in the ungodly hours of the morning with him. The Earth was a constantly moving body, and Seth liked running with it moving beneath his feet.
Or walking. Seth liked walking, too, and this faire thing seemed to go on forever.
“Where’s the circus supposed to be again?” Seth asked. He couldn’t figure out cardinal directions to save his life, which was okay until he had to go somewhere without GPS telling him how to get there. Lars was the one with an internal compass.
“I think David said it was on the south side,” Lars said.
“Oh, the south side. That clears everything up.”
“Fine, on the other side of the fruity arts and crafts tents, moron. He said we couldn’t miss the gates.”
David had been right. After the pagan jewelry and melodramatic paintings and costume sellers, the scrolled, wrought iron gate that led into Arcanium seemed just the right amount of dramatic—as though they were walking out of the kids’ section of the park and into the real stuff.
Arcanium sure knew how to draw people in. Right at the entrance—next to a large sign that read Adults Only after 8 p.m. Wayward children will be eaten by clowns—a sword swallower on a wooden platform greeted incoming patrons with the sight of hooks going into his nose and coming out of his mouth.
“Fucking sick,” Seth said with equal parts disgust and awe.
The sword swallower did not look well. He had dark circles under his eyes, and his hair had receded almost all the way over his head, barely concealed by being shaved close to the scalp. His tan cotton pants hung low on his bony hips. But he grinned at them with the jagged hook point poking out between his teeth. He swept a bow to Seth and Lars as they entered.
Seth put a dollar in the cauldron near the rack of swords and daggers. Then he put in another. Paltry tip for a man risking the integrity of his sinuses, but Seth only had so much cash and would probably want to share some singles with the ladies too. This was just the opener.
Excitement clenched in his abdomen as he and Lars followed the arrow signs to Oddity Row. Given the low-rent nature of the circus, David’s description of Arcanium had probably been built up to impossible standards by now, but Seth couldn’t help it. He couldn’t wait to see the weirdness, especially if some of the freaks were as hot as David had promised. Hot or not, everyone loved a good freak show, right?
Seriously, the Lizard Man? The average person would think he’d be just another guy with bad skin or wearing a poor attempt at a rubber suit. Instead, the Lizard Man—named Bale, according to the placard—totally looked the part, with crocodile teeth dense in his mouth and scales all over his dome head, bare chest, arms and back. Seth assumed it was prosthetics and makeup, made more real under the softer golden light of the lamps, but it was done really well. It must have taken so long to put it on, Seth wouldn’t have been surprised if the poor man slept in full costume.
And when he went all Ozzy on the dead white mice in a jar… Genius. The guy was a genius. Seth was unashamed of buying a Lizard Man key chain from the vendor next to the exhibit tent to guard his car keys. The guy was pretty damn cool.
As they walked on, it felt a bit like a peepshow, with the individual tents and the theatrical lighting. The tip jars overflowed from all the appreciative patrons as they moved from tent to tent for the next bit of salacious or grotesque exhibitionism.
Seth couldn’t stop staring at the Human Torso, a Chinese woman in her thirties who, according to the placard, had been legless and armless since birth. There were nothing but stumps where her limbs should have been, but she was surprisingly mobile, her abbreviated thighs working her ass under the corseted leather leotard as she walked around the platform. She had to wriggle to climb onto the low chair, but she managed to get up and recline, her leg stumps parted by nature.
He was caught between sympathy and fascination watching her get around the tent. He thought he was probably going to feel that way a lot along Oddity Row. But hey, these people had signed up to be here and be stared at, so he wasn’t going to overthink things too much.
Seth wondered if she and the others realized that almost every single guy that passed them probably thought about what it would be like to have sex with her, with a Bearded Lady and definitely with a snake charmer. What it would be like to have something different. It was an idle but powerful curiosity.