Sea Change (Octopian Shifters Book 2)

Declan's love anchors Elliot while their passion permits him to shift back to human from octopian. But their nights together take an increasing toll on Declan and if they can't find answers, Elliot must give Declan up for his own good.


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Chapter One

Declan Fitzgerald splashed through the cold surf on the shoreline and rolled the whiskey cask up the short rocky beach. He could barely see his fingertips when Joey Carrigan took the barrel from him and stacked it atop the others inside a shallow cave hollowed out in the bluff, but he imagined they were as blue as his lips felt. A small lantern lit Joey’s face in a ghostly grimace.

“Colder than a monkey’s brass balls,” Declan commented. He helped Joey stack a dozen or so whiskey casks against the back of the cave. It had been a natural depression in the bluff before Declan’s men had chipped away enough to make a decent hiding place.

“‘Least you can look forward to your man warming you up tonight,” Joey said with a sly smirk. 

Declan cuffed the boy across the back of the head. “Less lip from you, lad, and more stacking. Thomas is right behind me with a half a dozen more of these to get in before the clouds clear.”

Joey ducked his head and hoisted a third barrel atop one of the stacks. Not so much a boy anymore. He was still slight of frame, but the last few years of working as first mate aboard Declan’s ship had built enough lean muscle to handle the heavy barrels of the liquor Declan smuggled into Washington on his frequent voyages between the States and British Columbia. 

He was beardless and short enough to stand upright in the small cave, but his face was sunburned and weathered, making him look older than his eighteen years, and he’d lost the gangling adolescent awkwardness he’d had when Declan first found him stowed away aboard his ship. Joey carried himself with the confidence of a man living life on his own terms now. 

Once they finished unloading the liquor, they’d round the peninsula at Point Wilson, sail into Port Townsend Bay, and declare the goods they’d brought that didn’t have exorbitant excise fees. This section of the beach was inaccessible during high tide, so they’d return during tomorrow afternoon’s low tide in a wagon to collect the liquor. 

In town, they’d tap the casks into plain brown jugs, dilute about half of them with water, and pack the jugs into the wagon for distribution to the restaurants and saloons in Port Townsend, Port Ludlow, and a handful of other towns in Jefferson County. 

Then he’d pack the Black Dove with goods to take back to the various towns in British Columbia he traded with, maybe sail to San Francisco for anything he couldn’t get here, and head back to start the circuit again. 

After a few weeks of shore leave in Port Townsend. Declan stepped out from under the cave’s opening and stretched to his full height. He twisted left, then right, cracking the kinks from stooping under the cave’s ceiling out of his back, then wrapped his arms around himself and chafed his cold hands up and down to warm up. He might be getting a little old for this life. At least he could look forward to a fire and a hot dinner at the Bishop house, followed by some even hotter activities with Elliot later in the evening. A hot meal, a stiff drink, and a good fuck, and he’d be back in form in no time. 

“Speaking of your man.” Joey’s voice sounded behind him. 

“Let’s not,” Declan replied. Joey went on as if he hadn’t heard him. 

“Tomorrow’s full moon is a supermoon, ain’t it?”

Declan glanced at the dark sky above. As if he needed reminding about the supermoon. Thick clouds rolled in front of the nearly full moon, obscuring most of its light, but a faint corona gleamed behind the drifting clouds. The new moon was better for avoiding the revenue cutters, but they’d been delayed by fog at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca a week longer than Declan had planned. 

As proud as Declan was of his first mate, he could do without this newfound habit of sassing his captain. He’d undoubtedly learned it from Thomas Cuevas, the Black Dove’s cook, who was now rowing the small gig toward them with the last of the barrels. On the other hand, Joey could just as likely have inherited his mother’s absolute disregard for authority along with her small chin and delicate features. 

At least the dim light made loading and unloading a little easier. The north beach of the peninsula was only a couple of miles as the crow flies from downtown, but most townsfolk rarely ventured this far. The handful of S’Klallam who remained on the peninsula still portaged their canoes from this beach, over a series of marshy ponds, to the lagoon, then down to the bay, avoiding the riptides around Point Wilson. But more often, the beach was a convenient place to offload wool, liquor, opium, or other items under the noses of the excisemen. Some crews had smuggled Chinese folk from British Columbia since the Chinese Exclusion Act had outlawed immigration, though Declan generally kept to transporting goods rather than people. 

“Not that it’s any of your business,” Declan growled. His crew paid as much attention to the position of the moon and stars as any sailor did, but Joey, Thomas, a handful of others, knew something of the significance the supermoon had to Declan and Elliot.

“We’re just glad you’ll be reunited with him soon. Maybe a walk on the beach, full moon overhead? Kinda romantic, ain’t it?” Joey’s tone was jovial, but the faint starlight reflected the glint in his eyes as he nattered on.

“Jesus, Joey, fucking drop it, would you?” 

“See?” Joey sidestepped out of Declan’s reach quickly, but didn’t quit. “You’ve been madder than a spitting cat for weeks. If you don’t get some soon, Thomas and I was going to drag you from the ship to the nearest brothel and leave you there until your mood improved.”

Joey splashed into the surf’s edge and grabbed the bow of the gig, holding it steady while Thomas disembarked, then helped Thomas drag the craft a few feet up the beach. “Ain’t that what we said, Thomas?”

Thomas cast Joey a dour look, and Declan winced internally. It’d been more than a year since Declan had been with Thomas, and they’d never been permanent. Still, he tried not to rub his relationship with Elliot in Thomas’s face. 

“Drop it, Joey. Drop it right the fuck now.” 

“Sounds like you’re the one in need of a good fuck, Jo-Jo,” Thomas said. He lifted a barrel over the gig’s side with a grunt. He rolled it up the beach toward the cave, tossing over his shoulder, “About time we take him to the Cliff House, don’t you think, Captain?”

The Cliff House, less than a mile as the crow flies, was nestled at the base of a high cliff between Point Wilson and Point Hudson. Declan chafed his hands against each other, trying to rub some feeling back into his fingers. It would be warm there, the whiskey and beer would flow like water, and the sounds of music and revelry that roared within would drown out the pounding of the surf against the sands. The Black Dove’s crew would smoke, drink, gamble, and dance the night away with the rest of the Port Townsend residents who enjoyed the kinds of entertainment the Cliff House specialized in. 

But these enticements paled in comparison to what Declan really wanted. The thought of Elliot’s tentacles wrapped around his waist and Elliot’s thick tentacle cock pushing into him stiffened his own prick. He’d fucked and been fucked by Elliot in his fully human form countless times, and that was always good, but he couldn’t deny a shiver of anticipation at the idea of putting his hands all over the velvet softness of Elliot’s half-devilfish skin, and of the extra limbs that held him tight.

“Keep a barrel to take to the Cliff House and give Oregon Jack my compliments,” Declan said to Thomas. “I’m heading home for the evening.” The crew would have more fun without him, and Declan couldn’t wait any longer to be with Elliot. Even if he didn’t shift until tomorrow’s supermoon, they’d have all night to make up for his months away. 

Thomas nodded, and Joey opened his mouth, no doubt for more teasing. Thomas shouldered him roughly and jerked his chin at the last barrel waiting to be stacked in the cave. “Basta, cabrón,” he said, and for once, Joey listened to his elder. Joey finished rolling the barrel up the beach and disappeared into the cave. 

Thomas offered Declan a drag from one of the vile cigarillos he had a habit of smoking, but Declan shook his head. “Give my regards to your stepbrother,” Thomas said on an indrawn breath, then bent over and hacked out a rusty cough. Declan pounded him on the back until he spit a gob of something on the beach and straightened up. “Tell him he owes me the end of that story he was reading to us last year.”

Declan chuckled. “Will do.” They waited in companionable silence until Joey returned. Still another couple hours until they rounded Point Wilson, guided around its rocky shoals by the lighthouse there, and docked at Union Wharf. But then he’d be home. Where Elliot was waiting for him.

Chapter Two

Elliot Bishop should have known better than to host a supper party on the night before the supermoon. It had been almost a year since a full moon reached perigee, the closest point to Earth in its orbit. And just as the supermoon caused higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides, its gravitational pull tugged at the blood in his fingertips and wrists, pooling in his groin. The same blood he’d learned last year made him different from the other men seated around his dining table tonight.

Different enough that he should have chosen another night for this supper for the trustees of the Port Townsend Southern Railroad and their wives to celebrate the beginning of the railroad’s construction. The whole town had turned out for the groundbreaking three weeks ago, bringing picnic baskets out to the portion of the farm Albert Briggs had deeded to the railroad. Judge Briggs himself had turned the first spadeful of dirt. Elliot had been attending similar celebrations since, but he’d somehow forgotten how hard it was to concentrate on company when he knew what was coming.

And Declan was late. Elliot had been expecting him for days, to give them time to reconnect after his months away at sea. Before Elliot changed, before he needed Declan’s help to change back. 

Elliot turned his face toward Mrs. Lawrence Hastings, seated a few seats down, who was complimenting him on the new electric lights he’d installed. It cost a pretty penny for the new service—forty-five dollars a month for four thirty-two candlepower lamps and another eight sixteen candlepower lamps—but it was worth it. He responded with some pleasantry he hoped would suffice. The incandescent lights in the chandelier over the table made the jeweled combs in her hair sparkle, much like the way the moon’s light glittered on the tips of waves in the small cove he’d be swimming in tomorrow night, assuming Declan arrived in time. 

If he didn’t, well, Elliot wouldn’t think about that now. He crossed one leg over the other, the fall of the tablecloth hiding his half-hard erection, and pushed the remains of his food around his plate. The gold-rimmed Limoges china service had been a wedding gift Declan’s father had brought from France for Elliot’s mother. His mother was able to shift back and forth at will, but Elliot changed only at low tide during the supermoon, when staying out of the water was impossible and he gave in because he had no other choice.

He caught sight of Mrs. Terrell Jackman halfway down the table’s left side, twitching uncomfortably in her chair, too. Her cheeks were flushed pink, and her eyes met his, something knowing in her gaze that Elliot turned away from. Just over her shoulder, his housekeeper, Sally Jenkins, motioned to him from the kitchen doorway. 

“Excuse me a moment,” he murmured to Judge Swan, who had been trying to draw Elliot into his conversation with Mr. Eisenbeis about land values increasing when the railroad made it all the way to Portland.

“Someone waiting for you in your study,” Sally told him. There was a note of suppressed glee in her voice, and her eyes were bright with a happiness he rarely saw on her brown face. 

Hope and relief surged in him. “Declan?” It couldn’t be anyone else. Everyone he’d invited tonight was here, and supper was more than half over. 

Sally gave him a little push toward the door. “Go on, then. See for yourself.”

Elliot rushed through the kitchen and across the hall. The door to his study was open a crack, and when he pushed through it, Declan was standing in the middle of the room, his cheeks above a full, bushy beard flushed pink from the spring evening’s chill and his chestnut hair mussed from the wind. 

“Ellie, my boy!” Declan said, a broad smile crossing his full lips and crinkling the corners of his eyes.

Elliot barely had time to close the study door behind him and open his arms before Declan barreled into them. Declan’s arms wrapped around him, and Elliot tucked his face into Declan’s neck. He breathed in the scent of pipe smoke, sea salt, and something else that was uniquely Declan. Declan’s arms squeezed him closer, and Elliot hugged him back just as hard.

“You’re home,” he breathed, his lips against Declan’s warm skin. He inhaled another whiff, Declan’s beard tickling his nose, then pulled back. Declan held him at arm’s length and glanced up and down his body.

“‘Course I’m home,” Declan said, a twinkling glint in his green eyes. His fingers plucked at the leaves and vines embroidered in blue thread on the charcoal-gray vest under Elliot’s black jacket. The vest had been a gift from Nance Carrigan and matched a version with silver thread that Declan owned. “Bit overdressed for me, aren’t you?”

Declan had clearly come straight from his ship to the house. He was wearing plain black wool trousers, vest, and jacket, all of which were a little the worse for wearing several days in a row. His neckcloth was untied, his collar open, and Elliot wanted nothing more than to put his mouth at the hollow of his throat and taste the brine of sea and sweat there. Declan would probably want a bath and a shave as soon as could be arranged, but Elliot wondered if he could talk him into keeping the beard for a little longer. 

“I’m having a supper party tonight,” he answered. “Judge Swan, Lawrence Hastings, Henry Landes, the rest of the trustees, a few others, their wives. We’re celebrating the progress in finally starting the railroad construction.” 

Declan raised an eyebrow. “Celebrating, eh?” He curled his fingers around Elliot’s jacket lapel and tugged him forward just a touch. “Don’t we have other things to celebrate?”

Elliot’s abnormality wasn’t something he ever wanted to celebrate, but his desire for Declan long predated his discovery of what he really was. He cupped Declan’s face in his hands and took his lips in a hard, bruising kiss. He’d meant to start soft, and take his time with it but Declan thrust his tongue into Elliot’s mouth in matching desperation. He pressed his hips against Declan’s, the answering hardness between the layers of cloth separating them, tearing a low groan from the back of his throat. 

Declan snaked his arms under Elliot’s jacket, then slid his hands down the small of his back and under the waistband of his trousers. He gripped Elliot’s ass cheeks in both hands and squeezed hard. Elliot slipped one hand around Declan’s neck and into his hair, tugging on the silky strands curling over his collar. He tugged a little harder and nipped at Declan’s earlobe, and Declan inhaled sharply. 

Elliot pulled back to catch his breath, and Declan followed him, still seeking his lips. Elliot put his other hand against Declan’s chest. “We can’t right now. Half the town is in the dining room, and I can’t keep them waiting. But join us after you’ve washed up.”

He slid the hand down Declan’s chest, the rough wool of his jacket prickling against Elliot’s palm, and cupped the bulge in Declan’s trousers. Declan groaned and dropped his head against the door behind him. “Later,” Elliot promised. 

“What if I can’t wait that long?” Declan said. “Come on, Ellie, you know it won’t take long.” He palmed Elliot’s own erection, then fumbled the buttons of Elliot’s trousers open with one hand. Elliot opened his mouth to protest, but Declan dropped to his knees, and that was it. His guests would just have to entertain themselves for another few minutes. 

Declan’s mouth engulfed him, and Elliot bit his lip to stifle a sound that might travel to the dining room, where the faint clink of silverware on china echoed across the hall. No, it wasn’t going to take long at all. 

The soft heat of Declan’s mouth sent Elliot over the edge in a throbbing rush, and his knees nearly buckled. Declan swallowed and kept sucking gently until Elliot stilled him with a hand on his head. 

Declan looked up at him, knees spread wide on the carpet, his ass resting on his heels, his lips shiny and wet. Elliot ran his fingers through Declan’s hair, then cupped his cheek, and Declan tipped his head into Elliot’s hand. Then, Declan pushed to his feet with an audible crack in his knee and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth.

“Getting a little old for that,” he grumbled, but his eyes held the lazy happiness that Elliot loved to see in him. He pulled Declan closer and kissed him, curling his tongue around Declan’s, tasting himself. 

The aching need that swelled within Elliot with the upcoming supermoon eased a little, but Declan’s hard length still pressed against his leg. He fumbled the buttons of Declan’s trousers open without ending the kiss and slipped his hand inside. He gripped and squeezed, driving a low grunt from Declan, and passed his hand over Declan’s cock head, slicking his palm with the wetness at its tip. 

He wanted to suck Declan in return, close his lips over that silken thickness and feel Declan thrust into his throat, but he’d stroked Declan no more than three or four times when Declan groaned into his mouth, stiffened against him, and spilled into his hand. 

He rested his forehead against Declan’s until their heartbeats returned to normal. Finally, Declan pushed him a little and stepped back into the middle of the room. He tucked himself back into his trousers and handed Elliot his handkerchief, slightly grubby from being in Declan’s pocket on the ship. Elliot took it and cleaned his hand off. If he used his own, he’d have to go upstairs for a clean one or go back into the dining room smelling like what had just happened. Declan winked as he took the handkerchief back.

“Join us after you clean up,” Elliot offered again. “You must be hungry, surely?”

Declan grinned and looked Elliot up and down lewdly. “I’m always hungry. But I suppose I could have some supper after that first course, before dessert.”

 Elliot pushed him toward the door. “That’s not what I meant, and you know it. Sally can fix you a plate. Judge Swan was just asking after you, so try not to scandalize the neighbors, hm?”

Declan gave him an angelic smile. “I’m always on my best behavior, little brother.” 

Elliot shivered at the tiny illicit thrill Declan’s reference to their relationship always sparked in him. They weren’t related by blood, but Declan’s father had married his mother when he was an infant, and they’d been raised together. Elliot had looked up to his older stepbrother as a boy, until that hero worship turned into a different sort of worship. 

He watched Declan disappear through the study door and listened to him climb the stairs, his boots thumping softly on the carpeted steps. The jaunty tune he was whistling faded when he reached the second floor, and Elliot smiled to himself. Thank God Declan was home again. 

He checked his reflection in the hall mirror on the way back to the dining room. His cheeks were nearly as pink as Declan’s had been, and his eyes were perhaps a little bright, but he otherwise looked normal. 

Lawrence Hastings glanced at him as he resumed his seat, though. A thrum of something passed between them, an extra awareness that wasn’t the covert glance of a man seeking the attention of another man, but there was a knowing quality to Lawrence’s gaze, like he knew what Elliot had just been up to. He raised his wine glass in a silent toast to Elliot. Elliot felt himself blush and looked away. 

Mrs. Jackman was also staring at Elliot again. The weight of her gaze dragged at the edges of his mind. Like she had the same capacity for sensing him the devilfish women he’d met last year did. But that was silly. This wasn’t his mother’s island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where a few hundred half-human, half-devilfish women operated independently, but all for the benefit of the group. He was in his own dining room, safe in Port Townsend, with friends and neighbors he’d known since he was a boy. 

He looked away, and Mrs. Jackman finally turned her attention back to Mrs. Eisenbeis, seated next to her. She looked like what she was—a respectable uptown matron, chatting pleasantly about a husband’s successes, children’s antics, and the upcoming social to be held at the Key City Club next week. But Elliot could still feel her mind pushing at the edges of his, questing for a connection he didn’t want to have with anyone, much less the wife of a business acquaintance. 

Declan appeared at the dining room’s door, hair damp and in fresh clothes, his beard combed and trimmed but still present. The ensuing commotion of greetings and handshakes distracted everyone, including Mrs. Jackman, thankfully. She left Elliot alone for the rest of the evening, and he resolutely put out of his mind anything more unusual than business talk and dessert. 

Chapter Three

By the time the last guest left Elliot’s interminable supper party in the wee hours, Declan was too tired and not sober enough to do anything more than leave his clothes draped over a chair and climb into Elliot’s four-poster bed. Elliot said he’d be in after locking up, but Declan had fallen into a deep sleep before Elliot came to bed. Now he was awake, his head still swimming with all the whiskey he’d drunk and his mouth drier than a hardtack biscuit. Elliot wasn’t next to him, and the small lamp Declan had left burning on the bureau was sputtering with the last of its oil.

Declan glanced around the room. His clothes were still draped over the chair. Elliot’s wardrobe was closed, and the bureau’s surface clear of his collar, cufflinks, or other accessories he’d have left there if he had undressed for bed. 

Declan slid from under the warm covers and shivered in the room’s chill air. He pulled his shirt and trousers on and rinsed his mouth with water from the pitcher on the washstand. He padded barefoot from the room and peered down the stairs. A light spilled from the open door of Elliot’s study, and Declan headed there, figuring Elliot must still be wired from supper and didn’t want to disturb Declan’s sleep. Now that he’d had a couple hours of sleep, he’d see what he could do to get Elliot to relax.

But Elliot wasn’t in the study. Nor was he in the parlor or dining room or any of the other rooms on the first floor. The house was quiet, Sally and her girls long since retired to their own rooms. The fire in the study’s fireplace was banked for the night. After a second round through the empty first-floor rooms, Declan realized where Elliot must be. 

When they’d returned to Port Townsend from the octopians’ den, Elliot had found a secluded spot in the Kah Tai lagoon where he could shift without anyone seeing him. It was early for the shift to come on him, but the day or two before the supermoon made Elliot restless. 

Declan returned to his room to finish dressing. His kit was half-open at the top of his sea chest, and a small, cork-stoppered bottle was under the jumble of other items in it. His stepmother had given him the bottle last year, and he held it up to the kerosene lamplight and flicked a fingernail against it. A small piece of seaweed lay in the bottom, which had kept Marie’s blood from clotting, but there was no blood left now. She’d warned him that it might not be enough to keep the consequences of being with Elliot at bay, but he’d followed her suggestion and taken her blood at the new moon before each supermoon.

Until the most recent new moon. He shook the little bottle again, but no liquid sloshed in it, and the blood-soaked seaweed clung limply to the bottle’s base. He tossed the bottle back into his kit and left the room. Whatever would happen would happen. He wasn’t going to stop fucking Elliot, no matter the consequences. He’d figure it out later.

 He grabbed his greatcoat on the way out the front door and hustled west through the quiet uptown neighborhoods to where the street ended at a tidal marsh. The plan was to build a bridge across the lagoon for the railroad, according to the trustees at Elliot’s supper tonight. He’d joined the men tonight in toasting the railroad’s groundbreaking and listened to Lawrence Hastings and Terrell Jackman argue with Judge Swan about how much property values in town would increase when the railroad was complete. 

He doubted the railroad would ever come to fruition, though. Swan had been an early booster for the Northern Pacific Railroad building an extension to Port Townsend from the Columbia River, but the terminus went to Tacoma more than a decade ago, and no other railroad lines had come knocking since. Declan agreed with his father, God rest the old man’s soul. Port Townsend would be better served by focusing on what it already had going for it—its deepwater bay and unparalleled access to Oriental and Alaskan trade—and relinquishing the pipe dream of an intercontinental railroad connection. 

Elliot was a dark shadow, standing at the end of a short dock that stretched out over the lagoon. When the tide was high, the dock floated just about at the waterline, but it was ebbing now, nearly all the way out, and the waters were barely deep enough for Elliot to swim in. A good thing from Declan’s point of view, since he didn’t have Elliot’s talent for swimming, and the dock’s pilings gave him something to hold on to. 

The thick clouds from earlier in the evening had mostly cleared, and stars winked in and out from the wispy remains over the bay. At least the lagoon’s waters were warmer than the ocean at Admiralty Inlet. 

A small kerosene lantern cast flickering shadows at Elliot’s feet. Declan’s steps thumped against the dock, but Elliot didn’t react to his approach until Declan fetched up next to him. The tension in Elliot’s body radiated from him in waves, like the waves lapping gently at the dock’s pilings. He kept his face forward and his jaw clenched, though his voice was soft when he said, “I didn’t want to disturb you. You looked like you needed your sleep.”

As if Declan would ever stop looking out for Elliot. He put a hand on Elliot’s back, which was rigid with strain, and stroked down from Elliot’s shoulder to his waist. When Elliot relaxed slightly under his hand, he leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to the side of Elliot’s jaw. Then he stripped off his clothes and folded them into a little pile in the center of the dock. He dropped into a crouch at the end of the dock, then eased down until his ass was perched on the end, legs dangling over the side. He shivered, anticipating the cold water, took a deep breath, then pushed off the dock and into the water. At least it was warmer here than other spots near town they’d tried. He grabbed onto a cross brace between the pilings to keep from going under completely and looked up at the dock. “Come on, Elliot. What are you waiting for?”

A heavy, deep sigh came from above, but Elliot stripped off his clothes and joined him. He submerged and swam a little way out and Declan waited for him to get his sea legs, so to speak. The moon shone on the little ripples that trailed in Elliot’s wake, and then the ripples stilled, and Declan turned his face up to the sky. 

He wondered idly whether he could talk Elliot into relocating to someplace tropical. Hawai’i was warm this time of year. Hell, the waters off the coast of Mexico were warmer this time of year too, and closer than Hawai’i.

 Elliot returned, surfacing just before Declan, and slicked back his wet hair with one hand. He crowded close to Declan and wrapped an arm around his waist. A glancing touch of smooth, strong muscle brushed against Declan’s leg, and he chased after it, wriggling closer to press his chest against Elliot’s.

He shivered again, and Elliot kissed his cheek, his lips warm and wet. “We don’t have to,” he said against Declan’s ear. Of course they had to. Once Elliot shifted under the supermoon, there was one way they knew to change him back to fully human. And it wasn’t as if it were a hardship for Declan.

“Shut up and fuck me, Elliot,” he said. He’d warm up when they got going; he always did.

He let go of the cross brace, and Elliot’s other arm wrapped around his waist, keeping him afloat. Two of Elliot’s tentacles immediately twined around his legs, the suckers on the undersides flexing and squeezing against him. Elliot’s eyelids fluttered, like he was concentrating on the sensations from his tentacles caressing Declan’s skin. The shorter tentacle between their bodies lengthened and thickened, and Declan spread his legs to give Elliot’s cock room to slide under his balls. The slick muscle fondled his sac, driving a sigh of pleasure from Declan, then slipped past it and circled his hole. 

Declan breathed out shakily as Elliot’s tip breached the first ring of muscle. God, he’d missed this. Elliot’s arms tightened around him, and he pressed slowly farther and farther in, spreading Declan open and filling him up. He was holding back, Declan could tell, being careful not to hurt him. Declan wrapped his legs around Elliot’s waist and used them to pull himself down on Elliot’s tentacle cock, matching Elliot’s low groan with one of his own.

“Take it, Ellie,” he whispered against the shell of Elliot’s ear. He caught Elliot’s earlobe between his teeth and bit down. “Fuck me hard, like I know you want to. You know I want it, too.”

Elliot’s cock expanded inside him and undulated against that spot inside that sparked sharp waves of pleasure building and cresting from the base of his spine to the tips of his fingers and toes. His own cock rubbed against the wet velvet of Elliot’s web just below his navel. Declan pulled his knees up, opening himself more, and let Elliot fill him until he couldn’t feel the cold water anymore, just Elliot’s hot cock inside him and the tentacles wrapped around him, squeezing and stroking him until he shuddered his release with Elliot’s arms holding him against his chest. 

Elliot followed a few moments later, groaning into Declan’s ear as he pulsed within him. Declan tucked his face into Elliot’s neck briefly, breathing in the sea salt and sweat, then disentangled himself from Elliot’s tentacles and grabbed the cross brace again. 

“Don’t say it,” Elliot said, with a hint of laughter in his voice. The water rippled gently as Elliot’s tentacles shifted back into his two human legs. “You want a fire and a warm bed. You didn’t have to leave those things for me tonight, you know.”

As if Declan wanted to be anywhere else tonight. “Come home with me and prove it, then,” he said, matching Elliot’s light tone. He hauled himself up to the dock platform and rested a minute before pulling his clothes on over his wet skin, wincing a little as he tucked his shirt into his trousers. He wasn’t usually so sore afterwards, but he supposed it had been a while. 

Elliot was putting on his own clothes, and Declan waited until he was dressed and let him lead the way to the Bishop house. He stamped his right foot a few times as they climbed the hill at the end of Taylor Street, trying to shake out a tingling numbness running from his hip down his leg, then ignored the sensation. He was probably just tired, or his leg had fallen asleep while fucking Elliot. Nothing a warm bed and a few more hours of sleep couldn’t fix. 

“Come out to Point Wilson tomorrow.” They trudged up the Bishop house stairs, Elliot stumbling sleepily against him. “There’s something I want to show you.” 

Declan murmured agreement, then pulled Elliot’s clothes from his unresisting body and tucked him under the covers. He shucked his own wet duds and, with Elliot’s warm arms around him, he fell asleep again only minutes after they crawled into bed.

Chapter Four

Elliot woke with a start, his heart pounding, Declan staring down at him. Declan’s hand was gripping his shoulder, like he’d been shaking it, and his eyebrows were drawn together, that familiar look of concern on his face. 

Elliot blinked at him a few times, trying to get his bearings. He was in bed, in his own room. The bed-curtains were tied back at the bedposts. The sheets were twisted in his hands at his waist, damp and clammy. Declan was propped on his elbow, his warm body pressed along Elliot’s damp, bare skin. 

Right, Declan had come home last night. Elliot turned his head on the pillow. He couldn’t see the bedside table clock with Declan in the way, but a thin shaft of bright light jabbing through the crack in the drapes suggested it was well after sunrise. 

“You’re back,” Elliot said, his voice coming out rougher than he expected. He swallowed a few times, moistening his dry mouth, soothing the harsh tickle at the back of his throat. Declan’s green eyes narrowed at him.

“Of course I’m back. Got back last night. You don’t remember? How much did you drink last night?”

Elliot now noticed the dull throbbing over his left eye. He’d definitely drunk too much last night. “Of course I remember,” he said. “Just…” He trailed off, still not quite in the here and now.

“Nightmare?” Declan asked softly. He slid the hand on Elliot’s shoulder up the side of his neck to cup his jaw and Elliot shivered, the sweat coating his body cooling now in the room’s chilled air. He turned his face against Declan’s bare chest, and Declan hugged him closer, stroking his warm hand down Elliot’s back. 

“Yeah,” he said. His lips grazed Declan’s nipple, which tightened into a peak, but Declan didn’t do anything else to encourage him, just stroked Elliot’s back the way he always had when Elliot had nightmares.

“Same one?” Declan’s voice was still soft and even. “Thought those ended last year. After—”

After Elliot learned what really happened to his mother, who had disappeared when he was a boy. After Elliot’s fiancée disappeared the same way, the night before they were to be married. After he and Declan had spent weeks searching for Celeste and found her and his mother, and they learned what Elliot really was. 

“No,” he said. “I mean, yes, I haven’t had one of those since we came back. This was different.” He squirmed a little closer to Declan. Sleeping with Declan was like curling up around the belly of a fully stoked stove, and he pressed against as much of Declan as he could, chasing away the cold dread the nightmare left in his mind. 

“Different how?” Declan tightened his arm around Elliot, his voice rumbling low in Elliot’s ear. Elliot draped an arm around him, running his palm firmly up and down Declan’s back, ignoring the puckered and raised scars that covered him from shoulders to hips. Declan’s other nipple was at the end of his nose, and he licked it, then breathed softly over it. It tightened into a peak, and Declan hummed appreciatively, but still didn’t take the hint. 

“It doesn’t matter,” Elliot said. “It’s over now.” Or he could put it out of his mind, with Declan’s help. He scooted his hips closer and slid his hand down to the curve of Declan’s ass, pressing Declan’s morning wood against his lower belly. His own cock nestled between Declan’s thighs, the tip nudging the rough hairs on Declan’s balls.

A clang of metal against wood sounded outside his bedroom door and a perfunctory knock. “Morning, Mr. Elliot.”

“Good morning, Eugenia,” Elliot called back, after clearing his throat and lifting his head so his voice wasn’t muffled in Declan’s shoulder. Declan pinched a bit of flesh at Elliot’s hip.

“Clarice,” he hissed. “You still can’t tell those poor girls apart?” 

“Not unless I’m looking at them, and half the time, not even then. I swear they do it on purpose to confuse me.” He pulled Declan’s hips closer and nudged his cock against Declan’s balls again. He didn’t want to talk about how to tell his twin housemaids apart. He wanted to roll Declan over and fuck him. In a bed, like a normal man, even if normal men didn’t fuck other men. But the kind of abnormal man who fucked other men was better than his other abnormality.

He slid the hand at Declan’s hip over the curve of his ass and gently probed a finger along the crack. Declan reached back and moved his hand away. “Little too sore for that today, Ellie.” 

He said it easily enough, but Elliot went cold all over, like he’d plunged into the icy waters of the bay. “Christ, Declan, I’m so sorry.” He rolled onto his back, a flash of his nightmare returning. 

Declan beneath him, still and cold, while Elliot pounded into him over and over, tentacles wrapped around him, keeping him still, spreading him wide to take more and more of Elliot. The image did nothing to diminish his erection, but his mind rebelled at the thought of hurting Declan like that. 

He covered his face with one hand. Christ, what was wrong with him? “You said it was alright last night, but I shouldn’t have. I’m so sorry,” he repeated.

Declan scooted toward him and stroked a warm hand down Elliot’s chest. “I did say and there’s no need to be sorry. I’ll be fine by tomorrow. You can pound my arse as hard as you want then.” 

Elliot shook his head, still not looking at Declan. He’d have to be more careful. Last night was only a preview of what he’d feel when the moon was full and the tide was ebbing. It was a mating imperative, his mother had told him, never mind that Elliot wouldn’t be fathering any children on any of the octopian women in his mother’s island home, much less on Declan. 

But being with Declan was the only thing that kept him sane, especially once he’d learned about his true nature; it kept him from becoming the monster in his childhood nightmares. And he’d be damned if he’d give into that impulse to fuck Declan as hard as the blood rushing through him demanded. 

“Hey,” Declan said, tugging Elliot’s hand from his face and turning his chin to look at him. “I’m not damaged, Ellie, just a little tender. You know I like it rough sometimes.” He dipped his head and kissed the corner of Elliot’s mouth, then his jaw, then just under his earlobe. “Like to feel where you’ve been the whole next day, reminding me every time I sit down what we did together.” 

Elliot shuddered, his cock hardening even more. Would he ever stop wanting Declan so much it hurt to breathe? Not likely, since he’d felt this way his entire life. Even when he was a boy, before he’d known anything about sex, he’d wanted to crawl inside Declan’s chest and huddle there, wrapped up safe within. He knew it was selfish beyond words, to constantly take and take from Declan, and yet, Declan always seemed to have more to give. 

“In the meantime,” Declan whispered, kissing the other corner of his lips and nudging his head aside with his nose to kiss along his jaw to his other ear. “There’s plenty of other things we can do.” 

Elliot squeezed Declan’s hand and kissed him back. “I should get up. The water Clarice left is probably getting cold, and I’ve plenty of work to do today.” 

Declan pulled back, propping himself up on an elbow and gesturing lewdly to the erect cock jutting from his reddish bush, a gleam of fluid winking at the tip in the dim morning light. “You’ve got a job you could do here first,” he said.

“You’re incorrigible.” Elliot smiled. The nightmare was receding in the face of the brightening morning light and Declan’s cheerfulness. 

“Big words from that pretty mouth.” Declan smiled back. He tapped Elliot’s hip and twirled his finger in a circle. “Come on. Swivel around and we can suck each other at the same time.” 

He lay back against the pillows and spread his thighs open. Elliot’s mouth watered. He disentangled his legs from the bedclothes and swung one leg over Declan’s chest. There was a bit of awkward fumbling, Elliot navigating where to plant his knees astride Declan’s broad shoulders, and then he was ass up over Declan’s face, with Declan’s cock in front of his lips. 

He glanced back at Declan, feeling his face redden at how much he was exposed. “Nice view, Ellie, lad.” Declan winked at him, then grasped his hips with firm hands and pulled him down into his mouth. 

Christ, that was good. Declan’s mouth was soft and wet, his tongue pressing against the sensitive underside of Elliot’s cock. He turned back to Declan’s and licked the beads of fluid from the tip, swallowing the salty bitterness before sliding his mouth down Declan’s length until he couldn’t take any more. 

It wasn’t the best French job he’d ever done, he knew that. Declan’s steady sucking was distracting, and Elliot kept losing his rhythm. Declan didn’t seem to mind too much. He made encouraging noises around Elliot’s cock, and Elliot pushed Declan’s thighs wider so he could get his hand in between, cupping Declan’s balls and tugging gently, bobbing his head up and down. 

Waves of pleasure built in his groin, Declan’s cock battering his throat and washing the last vestiges of his nightmare away. Declan tipped his own chin up, and Elliot’s cock slipped into his throat, and that was it. He pulsed down Declan’s throat, his own mouth going slack around Declan’s cock, and Declan stroked the backs of his thighs until his whole body quivered with the aftershocks. 

He was too wrung out to stay up on his knees now, and flopped onto his side, planting one foot behind the other knee and tugging Declan’s hips with him to keep his cock in his mouth. Declan’s head was resting on his leg, his beard softly tickling Elliot’s inner thigh. His breath blew hot on Elliot’s damp, softening cock. The angle changed, and Elliot took more of Declan’s cock in his mouth. 

He couldn’t move his own head much, but he had a good grip on Declan’s hip and pulled him closer, then let him slip back a little. Declan didn’t take over, just let Elliot fuck his own mouth, but the low moans and clutch of his arm around Elliot’s lower back and Elliot knew he was close. 

He squeezed a handful of Declan’s ass and relaxed his jaw, keeping his tongue firmly pressing up. Declan groaned and stiffened against him. The hot salt of his spend burst on Elliot’s tongue, and he swallowed until Declan twitched in his mouth and tapped his fingers on Elliot’s side. 

He let Declan’s cock slip free, and Declan rolled onto his back, breathing heavily. He brushed the back of his hand against Elliot’s belly. “That’s a job well done, El.” His voice was huskier than usual, but lazy with satisfaction. “Whatever else you do today, you can take pride in this bit of work.” 

Elliot swatted him, then swung his legs around and got up from the bed. “And what are you working at today, hmm?” He glanced at Declan, still sprawled across the mattress, bedclothes rumpled around him, hair tangled across the pillows, his soft cock still exposed between his spread-open legs. “Or are you planning to stay in bed all day?” 

Declan flapped a hand at him. “I’ll get up in a minute. Try not to use all the hot water, eh?” 

Elliot snorted and reached for his silk dressing gown. He wrapped it around himself and went to the door to fetch the coal and water. “I’m quite sure it’s cold now, thanks to you.” He used the water closet in the upstairs hall, washed and dressed, then returned to the bed, where Declan had at least propped himself up against the headboard and pulled the sheet up to his waist.

He perched on the side of the bed and kissed Declan lingeringly, tasting himself on Declan’s tongue, then pulled away. “I’ll see you at Point Wilson around two, yes?”

Declan nodded. “Tell Sally I’ll be down in a bit for breakfast.” 

It wasn’t like Declan to linger abed in the morning, but they had had a late night. Maybe Declan was relaxing some of the austere habits he’d learned from the Captain. The skin around his eyes was papery and thin, but still crinkled at the corners the same way it always did when he smiled at Elliot. 

“Get on with you. Let a man dress in peace, eh?”

Elliot stroked his hand over Declan’s beard, then pushed off the bed and went downstairs to start his day, resisting the impulse to fuss over Declan. Elliot had plenty of work to get done before tomorrow’s supermoon. If Declan said he was fine, Elliot would have to take his word for it.

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