A Sneak Peek at Hush!


Welcome to this week’s Bauer’s Bytes!

This week, we get a sneak peek at my new novel, Hush! Meet Deputy U.S. Marshal Mike Lucciano!


Simultaneous knocking—banging, like an invading horde was at his door—and a ceaseless rattle of his doorknob broke over his radio belting out Britney Spears on Saturday morning.

Mike threw open the door with a glare, leaning against the heavy wood.

Kris Caldera, his best friend, stood in the entrance, his perfect face curved into a pout, lips pushed out, long eyelashes batting slowly. He held up a key like it was an indictment. “My key doesn’t work.”

Mike held up another key. “I changed my locks. Here’s your new one.”

Kris snatched it out of his hand as he strutted into Mike’s townhome. He was dressed for Paris, for Milan, an haute couture fashion model gracing his apartment with color and style. Shining boots, polished to a high gloss, pointed at the toe and with a heel that was just on the wrong side of scandalous. Tight twill pants, a sunny button-down. A skinny tie, shades of blue competing for dominance. A long Gucci trench coat, and Gucci sunglasses perched on his perfectly spiked hair. Mike swore Kris accented the harsh angles of his face with makeup, dusted his cheekbones with bronzer until they looked like they could cut diamonds. He knew Kris wore eyeliner and mascara. Kris was two years older than Mike, a year away from forty, but he’d cut Mike if he ever said that aloud.

Kris was a walking stereotype. He knew every Tony-winning musical by heart and could belt out Bette Midler, Celine Dion, and Idina Menzel. He was sass on heels, deadly with his tongue, and went through men like a ravenous black widow. Mike had met him out on his first week in DC, after he’d transferred out of the hellhole he’d been working in before. They’d spent the whole evening at the bar trading barbs, verbal repartee that tried to draw blood. Mike wanted to take him home, wanted to unwrap him and devour him, wanted all that sass to shred him to pieces. He’d practically begged. Kris had refused. “You’re too young for me, sweetie.”

They were best friends from that moment on.

Kris stopped in Mike’s foyer, staring at his living room as his perfectly sculpted eyebrows slowly rose. He flicked a hand out to Mike, pushing one slim hip out. “Did you forget to tell me you’re moving?”

Everything from Mike’s kitchen was in the living room, stacked in boxes and bags and piled in haphazard stacks. Half his shelves in the living room were bare, emptied of Silvio’s crap. His hall closet looked like it had been ransacked, jackets and clothes heaped on the floor and spilling onto the hardwood.

“I moved Silvio out.”

Kris pulled his head back, just slightly. His lips pursed. He was being good, so far. Holding his tongue. Waiting.

Mike sighed. Kris would let him have it eventually. “I came home and found him banging some other dude in the kitchen.”

Kris’s manicured hand flew to his neck, his long fingers spread over his throat and across his collarbone. His eyes flared, Spanish fire blazing bright. He blinked, ridiculously long lashes fluttering over his creamy cheeks. “I never liked that bitch,” he finally snapped. “I told you he was no good.”

“I know.”

“I told you he was a fuckboy.”

“I know.”

“I told you you have the shittiest taste in men.”

Mike grinned. “I know.” He reached for a sledgehammer, leaning against the wall of his entranceway.

Kris gave him a flat glare. “What’s that for? Did you keep one of his shitty polyester shirts? Going to whack it to broken threads? I might actually help you with that. Let me grind it beneath my heel.”

Laughing, Mike headed for the kitchen. It was just empty cupboards and bare granite now. His eyes lingered on the spot Silvio had leaned, his elbows braced on the stone, getting drilled by Tall & Swarthy. “It’s time for a remodel.”

“Oh, honey, you know I don’t do manual labor. You called the wrong friend.”

“You’re keeping me company. And your seat is over there.” He pointed to his barstool and a mixing bowl filled with ice he’d set up beside it, perched on his end table. A bottle of vodka rested in the ice and a Martini glass sat beside the bowl.

“Lovely, darling.” Kris sashayed his way across the living room, picking through piles of crap and tossing his jacket over a stack of boxes. He poured a straight vodka Martini as Mike spun slowly in his kitchen, one last survey. It was all coming out. Every last scrap.

“You could at least take your shirt off while you’re being super masc.”

Mike laughed and peeled his t-shirt off. He flung it at Kris, who batted the sweaty fabric down, grimacing and glaring like Mike had spilled paint on his clothes. He brushed his pants, flicking imaginary dust from his perfect pleats.

“Ready?” Mike heaved the sledgehammer over his shoulder.

Mmm hmmm.” Kris lifted his glass and winked at Mike. “Let’s see it, big boy.”




The kitchen was rubble in under an hour.

Granite cracked and smashed, turning to dust. The cupboards splintered, breaking apart into shards. Wreckage and rubble built around his feet. Only his sink and his fridge remained, stainless steel islands in a sea of dust and ruin.

Kris clapped slowly as Mike stood in the center, breathing hard. “Great job, Fred Flintstone. What are you going to do with the mess you made?”

Kris deigned to help him with the rubble, picking through the wreckage and plucking all the medium sized pieces into bags and boxes that Mike hauled out to the dumpster. He went back to his Martini as Mike swept and vacuumed, and then made Mike wipe down his boots after everything. Only when he was satisfied with Mike’s cleaning was Mike allowed to collapse onto his couch.

“Did that feel good?” Kris poured another drink and brought it over to Mike. He perched on the armrest.

“Yeah.” Mike sipped the vodka. “Yeah, that did feel good.” Getting over Silvio was easy when Silvio acted like the biggest bitch inside DC. Anger had a way of speeding up the breakup process. Silvio was just a mistake. Another one. Another in a long line of mistaken boyfriends and bad decisions.

“I assume we’re going out tonight? You’re going to fuck your way through DC again, until you fall head over heels for another fuckboy?”

Mike scrubbed his face, stalling. Why was it always the same? Why did he always end up like this? Alone, pissed off for one reason or another, and left to wonder why he seemed like he was the only guy to want something real. Mike took another drink. “I… think I need to change how I date.”

Kris almost fell off the arm of the couch. He pressed his hand to his chest, feigning a heart attack as he blinked fast. “I hear the cries and wails of fuckboys from Virginia to Pennsylvania. Lamentations. Bottoms going unfilled.”

“Jesus, Kris. Am I that bad?”

“After a breakup? Honey, you put Madonna and Coco Chanel to shame. I think there’s a mass fuckboy alert when you go out. Some bottom booty call, making them all a’tizzy. They come flocking, holes already lubed. They’re hoping to catch you in their nectar—”

“Okay, okay. Look, I’m not doing that anymore.”

“Really?” Kris couldn’t fit another ounce of disbelief into that single word, he really couldn’t.

“It’s hasn’t fucking worked, has it? Here I am again… alone. The last thing that I want to be is alone.”

Kris sat back and crossed his legs, one foot bouncing delicately. Silence strained the living room. “You are a hot mess.”

He looked down.

Kris took pity on him, though. “You want the gay fairytale, Mike. You want Prince Charming and happy ever after. But… Prince Charming is not going to come wrapped up in the packaging of a fuckboy.”

Mike sagged into his couch cushions with a sigh.

“You’re a good guy. A really good guy. Why do you keep wasting time with twenty-four-year-old flight attendants and wannabe models? They’re not good enough for you, honey.” Kris smoothed his hair, tucking wayward strands off his forehead. “You need someone who thinks you are their Prince Charming. Not the pretty face and attached dick that comes with a credit card.”

He stayed quiet, twirling the glass back and forth, making ripples in the vodka. “I don’t know if that guy exists, Kris. I’ve been looking for him. Where is he?”

“He’s for damn sure not a fuckboy!” Kris sat back, pursing his lips. “I cannot believe these words are passing my perfect lips, but…” He sighed. “Why don’t you take a break from the scene? Focus on yourself for a while. I mean, do you have any idea what your Prince Charming is like? What do you really want? Cause you’re not happy with what you’ve had.”

“I do know what I want.” Mike could picture it, could imagine life with the man of his dreams. He wanted a partner, a real partner, an honest to God relationship. He wanted to find The One, the man he’d marry. He wanted someone to love.

Faces blurred together, his exes and his hook ups a haze of haughty smirks and sneers, flashing eyes and slit-eyed glares. Sarcasm, biting tongues, ferocity when provoked. He loved Kris like a brother, but Kris wasn’t who he dreamt about night after night.

“He’s kind,” he finally said. “I want someone kind. Gentle. Loving.” Nights spent alone, or watching his partner texting all night long. Distance, when all he wanted was closeness. He could count the good times with Silvio, the moments where they seemed to be really close and not trying to shred each other with sass and sarcasm that flayed too close to the bone. “Affectionate. He wants me. Really wants me.”

Days he wanted to talk about his work, the cases he saw. The law, politics, and the world they lived in. Being laughed off, or ignored, or talked over. Being told he was boring. “He’s smart. We talk about things. Maybe we’ll stay up all night talking sometimes.”

The truth was, he wanted someone so out of his league his mystery man might as well be a satellite orbiting the earth. And Mike was an ant. He wanted someone intelligent, grounded, and with a heart of gold. Someone who wanted to hold his hand and cuddle with him, watch movies on Friday nights and sleep in on Sundays. Someone gentle with his heart, with his dreams. Someone who wanted him to be their whole world, the way he would be Mike’s.

“Does that sound like a fuckboy?” Kris’s voice was gentle.

Mike shook his head.

“You’re looking in all the wrong, places. You want Prince Charming, but you’re looking in a swamp. Get away from the bars and the apps. I know God isn’t your thing, but there are gay mens groups at some of the churches, and the center has volunteer gigs you can join. There’s a lot for gay men to do, Mike, other than troll for a hook up or look for The One at the club.”

“I know.” He squeezed his eyes shut, rubbing them with his fingers. “We already are doing that, though. I mean, we’re in the league. And we volunteer. That’s how we met Billy and Aaron.”

“Do more. This is our culture. It’s not just bars and clubs and hookup apps. If you want to find someone special, go look for him where you think he’s hiding.” Kris tilted his head. “And, be the kind of guy that you want to attract. You’re a good guy. Stop settling for less. Quality attracts quality.”

“That’s not true and you know it.”

“The flakes will stop hassling you when you stop feeding them your dick.” Kris stood, brushing off his pants. “Doctor Caldera prescribes a cleanse, Deputy Marshal Lucciano. A cleanse of the scourge of fuckboys.” He pointed at Mike, tapping the tip of Mike’s nose with every word. “No more fuckboys.”

“Yes, doctor.” Mike smiled.

“C’mon.” Kris snapped. “We’ve got to get you a new kitchen. And tonight, you’re taking me to the Kennedy Center. Madame Butterfly is playing. I’ll culture you, even if it kills me.”

“Yes, my queen.” He winked as he stood, and Kris tsked at him as he grabbed his trench coat.

He sighed, blowing air out of his hollowed cheeks. “We need to stop by the clinic, too.”

Kris whipped around, his eyebrows disappearing beneath his spiky fringe. True concern poured from his gaze.

“Silvio was banging the guy bare. I don’t know how long he was cheating, but if he was going bare, then I need to get checked.”

Kris turned away and shoved his arms through his trench coat sleeves, bunching the fabric and viciously tugging on the lapels. He took a long time straightening it, smoothing his shirt front, facing away from Mike. When he finally turned, his face was smoothed back to his haughty indifference, but Spanish fire still smoldered in his gaze. “I never liked that bitch.”

“I will listen to you from this day forward about any man.” Mike pressed his hands together and bowed, as if bowing to a master.

“You’re damn right you will. Now go shower and change. We’ve got a busy day.”

Hush releases July 2017!

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The Eagle Has Landed – Jack and Ethan’s Trip to the Beach


Welcome to this week’s Bauer’s Bytes!

Jack and Ethan are headed to the beach, finally. 🙂


Finally, it was time to head to the beach.


Jack trooped out in his itty-bitty baby blue swim squares, and Ethan tagged along behind, in his bright white pair. He’d tanned before their trip, making sure he’d look at least halfway decent next to Jack. If anyone looked at him at all. He was next to Jack, which meant he was invisible.


Jack looked stunning. His stomach was flat, his abs carved into his flesh, canyons running down his obliques with a small divot above his belly button. It wasn’t a six pack, but they were definitely there. And definitely hot.


They planted their towels in the sand and let the waves tickle the ends of their toes. The cove was private, huddled next to their beach bungalow, and the ring of palm trees kept the public away. But, it wasn’t Camp David-level security, and Ethan caught the shine of at least one camera lens behind the line of palms.


“There’s a photographer. Do you want to stretch and show off?”


Jack laughed. He had the decency to blush, at least, before he rose and pretended to stretch to the sky, his baby blue swim trunks falling just below the angle of his hip bones and revealing the barest hint of blond fuzz just above his crotch. His abs seemed carved from marble in the tropical sunlight.


Ethan’s mouth watered.


Jack was right there, an arm’s length away. He’d never put the moves on Jack in public when Jack was the president. It wasn’t presidential, and he wanted to maintain the dignity of the office. Never let anyone have any ammunition to use against Jack.


But Jack wasn’t the president anymore.


He reached for Jack, wrapping both hands around his calves, and stroked up the back of Jack’s legs, tugging him closer. Grinning, Jack shuffled forward, looking down.


Ethan pressed his face between Jack’s thighs. He bit down, nibbling, and then nuzzled higher. His lips dropped kisses around his leg, tracing the line of his swim trunks and his sun-kissed skin.


Jack’s fingers threaded through his hair.


Ethan slid his hands higher, until he had two handfuls of baby-blue fabric covered asscheeks. He grinned, and then tugged.


Jack’s legs buckled, and he slowly collapsed onto Ethan, sliding down until he landed on Ethan’s lap. He draped his arms around Ethan’s neck, a saucy smile curving his lips. “Hello, handsome.”


“I’m not the handsome one.” He stroked up Jack’s sides and let one hand drift over his abs. “These really are amazing. You should be very proud of yourself.”


“I am.” Jack lifted his chin. “I’ve been fending off your pizzas.”


Chuckling, Ethan kissed his chest, pressing slow kisses in the valley between his pecs, around his nipple.


Jack shivered in his arms. “You know the photographer is probably capturing all of this…”


“Do you care?”


“No. Don’t you though?”


“Not anymore.” He winked. “We’re private citizens now.”


“So no more worries about ‘Eagle One and where it’s landing’?”


Ethan laughed at Jack throwing his words back in his face, his caution to Jack to cool their jets while kissing on the sand while celebrating Jack’s birthday weekend. “Well, I don’t think we can call it ‘Eagle One’ anymore.”


“Excuse me? It’s still presidential! I was the president!”


“You love that presidential card.” Ethan laughed and kissed Jack at the same time, his cheeks aching from the width of his smile. “You play it every chance you get.”


Jack grumbled, but he was grinning too.  He settled in Ethan’s lap, making himself comfortable.


Ethan’s body caught fire. He gripped Jack’s hips, stared him right in the eyes.


Jack smirked. His body shifted, just so. “Are you saying I’ve been… naughty?”


Ethan stopped breathing.


“A naughty… president, even?”


He hissed. “Jack… You’re playing with fire.”


Jack chuckled, and then wiggled, and his eyes lit up when he felt Ethan’s reaction to his teasing, his playfulness, and just him being him. “I think that you need to teach me a lesson, Agent Spiers-Reichenbach.”


He tried to breathe, tried to remember that they weren’t really in a private space, tried to restrain himself from just tipping Jack back in the sand and going crazy. But he was just a man, just Jack’s husband, and Jack could always light him up like no one else ever could. He rolled them both, a quick combat tuck and dive that put Jack on his back on the beach, his legs spread and Ethan kneeling between them.


He wasn’t the only one affected.


Jack bit his lip and arched his back. Tipped his head, and reached for Ethan.


Ethan dove down, capturing Jack’s lips, wrapping him up in his arms, bringing their bodies into perfect alignment. The beach, the palms, the sand all faded away, until it was just Jack and his kisses, his warm body, his perfect sighs.


They managed to stumble back to the beach bungalow before they were entirely naked, and before they were in danger of being exposed online in a celebrity sex video, presidential edition. If there was one thing Jack did not need, in addition to the rest of his mottled legacy, it was to be the only president with a sex tape. Ethan drew a hard line in the sand at that.


* * *


Much, much later, as they both laid in bed and listened to the waves crashing, sated and boneless and utterly spent, Ethan’s cell phone vibrated. He fished it off the nightstand. Anderson had texted them.


You know, I’m glad you two are able to enjoy yourselves now that you’re out of the WH. The love you have for each other is clearly evident – I married you. I saw it firsthand. BUT… my teenage son looks up to you both as role models to perfectly emulate. Now I have to explain to him that wildly making out on the beach is just on the other side of what we tell him and Gabe are “wise decisions.” 😊


Attached to his text was a link to a TMZ article. Smoldering Presidential Beach Holiday screamed from the headline. Presidential Bod an Eleven on the Hottie Scale. Grainy pictures followed. Jack and Ethan on the beach, laughing. Jack stretching, showing off his body. Their kisses, and the way that turned to passionate, uninhibited making out. It was a good thing there was a thick fern obscuring most of the interesting bits, or the whole world would have seen Eagle One.


“Oops.” Jack blushed, but laughed.


Ethan texted back. [Oops. 😊 ]


Oops my ass. 😉 And, someone has been working out.


Jack beamed. “See? The rest of the world thinks it’s awesome. I’m an eleven.” He looked very proud of himself. “I’ve never been an eleven. One girl in college called me a ‘beer-seven’.”




“A seven, if she’d had enough beer. I’ve always been slender and nerdy. Especially in college. I was a stick.”


“You’re perfect.” Ethan rolled on top of Jack, cocooning him in his arms. “And you’re a twelve to me.” He kissed the tip of Jack’s nose.


“A twelve, huh? That’s convenient. ‘Cause I think you’re a twelve, too.” Jack winked. “Maybe an eleven.”


Ethan gasped and collapsed on Jack, wrapping him up and burying his face in Jack’s neck, nibbling and kissing as Jack wiggled and laughed, escaping and chasing Ethan’s touch, his kisses. They ended up in a tangle of arms and legs and sheets, cramping from giggles.


“Are you ready to show off that body some more?”


“I guess if we’re vacationing at the beach, we should actually go to the beach, huh?”


“It’s recommended.”


Jack swatted Ethan’s stomach. “You’d better keep your hands to yourself this time, then.”


“No promises. You are an eleven.”

Timestamp: Post Enemy Within and following “Father & Sons“.

Fathers & Sons – Jack and Ethan go to Hawaii


Welcome to this week’s Bauer’s Bytes.

Due to the horrific shooting in DC yesterday, I did not post Bauer’s Bytes.

Today, we’re following up on Jack’s demand request that Ethan take him to the beach to show off his sexy new muscles. Ethan has obliged Jack… and is taking him to Hawaii. Enjoy!


“I’m nervous.”


“You? Nervous?” Ethan snorted. He reached for Jack, though, and laced their hands together. Across the aisle, an older businessman peered over his newspaper at them for a half second.


“I don’t know what to do. Or what to say. I’ve never…” Jack sighed and threw himself back in the first-class plane seat. “I’ve never been anyone’s hero before,” he breathed.


“You’re my hero.” Ethan leaned in close. “You’re a hero to a lot of people, Jack.”


“Not like this, though.” Jack bit his lip. “He came out to his dad because of us.”


Ethan smiled and squeezed his hand.


A minute later, the pilot came on the speaker and announced they were making their final approach to Honolulu International Airport. Jack took a deep breath as he buckled his seatbelt. “Why are we doing this, again?” He rubbed his hands over his face.


“You said you wanted me to take you to a beach.” Ethan kissed Jack’s cheek. “So I am. And we’re going to meet Captain Anderson’s son.”


Jack said nothing. He just squeezed Ethan’s hand, holding it tightly as the plane descended through the fluffy clouds haloing Honolulu, landed, and then taxied to the gate.


* * *


They were staying at a hotel overlooking the beach, complete with a private cordon of pristine sand and crashing waves reserved for the hotel guests. It was a place where people went when they wanted privacy, and the other guests understood that. Even so, Jack and Ethan got more than one head turn when they walked into the lobby.


Beside Ethan, Jack was almost vibrating.


It was their first public outing since the congressional hearings and Jack’s very public resurrection and resignation as president. They’d stayed low all summer, focusing on themselves. Buying their house and making it a home. Being together, without the stress and strain of world politics and the eyes of the media. Enjoying themselves, as husband and husband.


Putting the past behind them, and ignoring the mixed cries from the public. Jack was a traitor and a fraud, according to some. To others, he was a sacrificial hero, willing to put everything before himself, before even his own life, to save the world.


This trip was the first they’d taken outside of their bubble, outside of their protected isolation that they’d hidden in. Eyes followed them everywhere – at the airport, in the plane, in Honolulu, and now in the hotel.


Ethan wrapped his arm around Jack’s waist. “I’m here,” he breathed into Jack’s ear. “We’re okay.”


Jack silently leaned into him.


They were driven out on a golf cart to their beach cabana, a private bungalow at the edge of the resort, resting on a spit of sand with a private, gentle cove of lapping waves. Palm trees ringed the cove, providing a partial screen of privacy.


They changed quickly, stripping out of their jeans and polos and donning khaki shorts and Hawaiian shirts. Pineapples for Ethan on a white background, and sailboats on a blue background for Jack.


“Do we look appropriately touristy?” Jack held out his hands.


“You couldn’t look bad if you tried, Jack.” Ethan took his hand and spun him in a gentle circle, as if they were dancing, and then pulled him close. They swayed for a few minutes, their cheeks pressed together. “You’re going to be great. I’m proud of you.” He kissed Jack’s cheek. “My hero.”


Jack smiled, and he nuzzled Ethan back. “It’s time to head out.”


* * *


Captain Anderson had sent his address to Ethan a few days before, and given him a heads up that his son, Jonathan, was heading off to his homecoming dance that weekend. He and his boyfriend were going together, and Anderson had spent the past two weeks taking both boys to tux shops and florists for their fittings, matching cummerbunds, and coordinating boutonnieres. It was, apparently, a multi-trip excursion when the boys decided to change their color scheme halfway through the process.


Ethan and Jack were going to surprise Jonathan and his boyfriend, Gabe.


Jack fidgeted the whole drive. Anderson lived in Mililani in a house at the end of a private cul de sac on a hill overlooking Pearl Harbor and Mamala Bay. Ethan drove, and halfway there, he reached over and tangled his fingers with Jack’s.


Anderson texted and said they should come straight around to the backyard. Jonathan and Gabe were taking photos, and they had no idea Jack and Ethan were on the way.




Jack looked at him with wide eyes, whites ringing his irises. “I’m not a hero.”


“You are, Jack. You are for so many reasons. For Jonathan, you’re a hero because you’re you.”


Jack squeezed his eyes closed. Took a deep breath. “Jesus. All right. Let’s go.”


Ethan had always marveled at the transformation politicians could undergo, transitioning from growling, furious, temperamental beasts behind closed doors to smiling, glad-handing, gregarious crowd pleasers in public, sometimes making the shift in a blink of an eye. Jack never had a sour side of himself to hide, and he’d always been known for his authenticity in the Senate.


But he still could transform himself, hiding his nerves, his stress, and his panic as if he gathered his strength into a shield that buried his fears. Ethan watched Jack breathe in again, straighten his spine, and then stride forward, leading the way into Anderson’s backyard.


Anderson, his wife Julie, Jonathan, and Gabe were all congregated beneath the covered patio, overlooking the hillside littered with tropical blooms and palm trees. In the distance, the bay beckoned, and the bustle of Pearl Harbor, Navy battleships and carriers, and the marina laid out in long, sprawling lines.


Jonathan and Gabe had their backs to Jack and Ethan. Anderson started smiling. Julie threaded one arm through her husband’s, and they both pretended to not notice Jack or Ethan as they crept up behind their son.


“I hear someone special has a homecoming tonight.” Jack spoke into Jonathan’s ear, and then jumped back, smiling. He stood beside Ethan and waited.


Jonathan whirled around, eyes wider than Ethan had ever seen on someone. He gasped, shrieking as his jaw dropped, and clapped his hands over his mouth. He looked them both up and down.


“Hi Jonathan,” Jack said. “It’s so great to meet you.”


Jonathan burst into tears.


Gabe and Anderson came to either side of Jonathan, both wrapping one arm around him. Jonathan was a slender teen, with sharp lines along his face and a dark, perfectly spiked head of hair. He curled into both his boyfriend and his dad, weeping as he stared at Jack.


Jack reached for Jonathan, holding out his hand.


Shaking, Jonathan reached back. Their hands met, and Jack gently tugged him forward. Jonathan stumbled, and then, as if he’d tipped over the edge of a cliff, he raced for Jack, burying his face in Jack’s neck as he continued to sob.


Gabe stared, his jaw hanging open, blinking slowly as his eyes flicked from Jack to Ethan. Ethan held out his hand. “Hi Gabe. Pleased to meet you.”


“Mr. First Gentleman…”


“Not anymore.” Ethan pumped Gabe’s hand. “Just Ethan Spiers-Reichenbach now.”


Gabe tried to say something, tried to find words, but his lips just moved soundlessly.


Beside Ethan, Jack murmured into Jonathan’s ear, soft whispers that Ethan couldn’t make out. Jonathan nodded slowly after Jack spoke, and his sobs subsided, quieting until he was just sniffling. Finally, he stepped back, but he held onto both of Jack’s hands.


“Mr. President.” Anderson stepped forward, and he wrapped his arm around his son’s shoulders. “I’m so glad you could make it. This is my son, Jonathan. He’s a real big fan of yours, Mr. President.”


“It is an honor to meet you, Jonathan. Your dad has said amazing things about you.”


Jonathan’s lips quivered. “Mr. President,” he choked out. “You… I… You have no idea—“ Tears welled in his eyes again. Gabe reached for him, wrapping one arm around his waist.


“And this—“ Anderson reached for Gabe, squeezing his shoulder. “Is my son’s boyfriend, Gabe.” Anderson had already texted their names, but the boys didn’t know that. “Gabe and Jonathan have been together for four months.” He grinned. “And, I think they’re going to be together for a while longer…”


Jonathan flushed and beamed, squirmed both into and out of his father’s hold. “Dad…”


“You two are good together! I like him. I approve!”


Gabe smiled wide. Jonathan squirmed again.


Jack squeezed Jonathan’s hands. Jonathan hadn’t let go. “Congratulations, you two. Tell me about this dance tonight.”


Jonathan started slowly, stumbling a bit as he tried to put words together into coherent sentences. Gabe chimed in, and then they both were on a roll, describing their homecoming dance on a cruise ship in the bay, and how they both couldn’t wait to dance the night away. Gabe edged closer, holding Jonathan, and the love in his eyes was blindingly obvious to everyone.


“Reminds me of our Christmas Ball.” Jack smiled at both boys. “It was the first time Ethan and I danced together. We almost didn’t. We were trying to be discreet, and trying to avoid the media. I hated hiding. I wanted to dance with him so badly.” Jack chuckled. “When we finally started dancing, I was the happiest man on the planet. My cheeks hurt, I was smiling so much.”


Jonathan’s arms shook as he squeezed Jack’s hands. “I cut out your guys’ picture from the paper,” he breathed. “I wanted that. What you guys have. But I was so scared. I thought—“ He shuddered, his eyes closing as he gulped.  


Anderson gave his son a one-armed hug. His eyes flicked to Ethan, and then to Jack. He’d shared this story with them on Honolulu, his former submarine, on the way to the Arctic.


Ethan spoke up. “Your father loves you, and he always will. Always. No matter what.”


“I know.” Jonathan gave a shaky, brilliant smile. He inhaled slowly. “My dad is the best. Seriously. The absolute best. He helped us get ready for the dance.” He rested his head against his dad’s, and Ethan saw Anderson blink fast and sniff.


“I’m proud of you.” Jack lifted Jonathan’s hands to his chest. “I’m so very, very proud of you. Both of you.” He smiled at Gabe. “Being yourself, and being who you are, no matter what, is the most important thing. Don’t ever hide. Don’t ever let anyone else bully you into hiding who you are, or who you love. Surround yourself with people who love you, and who support you.”


Jonathan nodded fiercely.


“Let’s take some more pictures together.” Julie waved the camera, running her hand down the back of Jonathan’s hair.


Jonathan ducked away. “Oh my God, no way. I have to fix my face. No pictures, God, no pictures.”


“Get in there and freshen up.” Anderson swatted at his son. “Gabe, go help him.”


“Yes sir.” Both boys scampered into the house, sharing a wide smile and looking back over their shoulders at Jack and Ethan.


Anderson smiled at Jack, reaching for him and shaking his hand. Jack pulled Anderson into a quick hug. “Thank you for coming, Mr. President.”


“I’m not the president anymore.”


“You’ll always be the president to me.”


Jack’s chin quivered, but he turned to Julie, smiling wide and forcing himself forward. They shook hands, and Julie took a quick picture of Jack and Ethan together in their backyard. Small talk flowed, chit chat about the flowers in the garden and how Anderson was doing after smashing his sub into pieces against the Russian ice. He’d been reassigned to Pacific sub fleet command, and was waiting on a new boat.


Ethan moved to Anderson as Julie took Jack on a tour of their house. “Captain.”


“Mr. First Gentleman.”


Ethan breathed in slowly. “You… remind me of my father.”


Anderson stared at him.


“We never talked about… me. We never said the words. I never came out to him. But… I think he knew. Or, I hope he knew.” Ethan looked down. “I found some pictures he had kept from when I was young. I barely remember it, but I used to wrap a bed sheet around myself like it was a dress. Apparently my favorite game to play with him was modeling on a catwalk and dancing like a ballerina. Putting on fancy shows.”


Anderson chuckled. He looked Ethan up and down. “You? A ballerina?”


Ethan shrugged. “I don’t really remember it. I was little. But he had some old pictures of me pretending to strut down a walkway in our little trailer.” Him and his dad, living in a single-wide trailer on cinderblocks on the edge of the dairy farm his dad was a farm hand on. He’d been a scrappy kid, seeking freedom on the back of his single-speed bike, and he’d joined the Army to get out of the twenty square miles he’d lived his whole life in.


How had his life ended up like this? How had he become the man he’d become?


He’d tried to emulate his father, follow in his footsteps. Work hard, every single day, and believe in what he did. Be a good man, in all things. Dad… I wish I could have introduced you to Jack.


“I bet he loved every minute of it.”


Ethan’s throat clenched hard. “When I came back to visit, he kept telling me he just wanted me to be happy. He never, ever asked about a girlfriend. He’d only ever ask if I was happy.”


“He knew.”


Ethan took a shaky breath. “I hope so.”


“He knew. I guarantee it. And he adored you, exactly as you were.” Anderson pulled out his wallet and flipped it open. Inside there were two pictures – one of his wife, and one of Jonathan and Gabe, a selfie they had taken, beaming as they laid on their bellies on the sand with their faces pushed together. “Speaking as a dad? We keep what we love close.”


Tears welled in his eyes, heat that blurred the world and stung his cheeks. Ethan turned away, covering his mouth with one hand as he tried to force his tears back, push down the pain. “He, uh.” Ethan cleared his throat. “He kept my picture with him. My official Secret Service picture. In his wallet. I found it after he passed.”


Anderson reached for Ethan. He squeezed Ethan’s shoulder hard. Slowly, Ethan turned into Anderson’s hold. For a moment, he wasn’t forty-one, the same age as Anderson. He was eleven, he was a little boy, and he needed a father’s love. Anderson wrapped him up, a tight bear hug, and said nothing.


I’m happy, Dad. I’m so happy. I wish you were here to see.


Footsteps thundered down the steps inside the house, loud enough that Ethan thought the walls were going to blow off the frame. Anderson shook his head, sighing, and they both pulled back. “Two skinny boys, and they sound like a damn herd of elephants.”


Julie and Jack appeared after Jonathan and Gabe, and she hustled everyone to the yard, lining up the boys and Jack and Ethan for photo after photo. Anderson joined in, and then Jack and Jonathan took a picture together. The sheer adoration, the hero worship pouring from Jonathan’s gaze, made Ethan’s heart burst.


And then it was time for Jonathan and Gabe to head out. Gabe was driving them both to the cruise ship in his bright little convertible. Anderson stood in front of Gabe and squared his shoulders. “You’ll both come straight home right after the dance. I expect to see both of you here promptly at eleven thirty.”


“Yes sir.”


Anderson smiled. He hugged Gabe, holding him tightly. “I’ll wait up for you both. I want to hear about everything. We’ll sit in the back and light a fire, and I’ll pretend I don’t see you two cuddling on the chaise lounge.”


Gabe flushed, but he smiled back. “Yes sir.”


Anderson turned to his son. His expression softened.


“How do I look, Dad?”


“Fantastic. Emerald was a good color choice, when you finally made up your mind.” Anderson winked. He kissed his son’s forehead. “Have a great time. I’ll be here when you get home.”


Jonathan hugged his father, and Ethan caught the whispered, “Love you, Dad.”


All four adults walked Jonathan and Gabe to their car, and then waved and waved as Gabe peeled out. Anderson winced as the tires squealed, and Julie patted him on his arm. Anderson shook his head, but smiled.


“Where are Gabe’s parents?” Jack frowned.


Anderson’s smile turned sad. He said nothing. Jack’s face fell, and he reached for Ethan’s hand.


“Well, now that the boys are off, it’s time for our fun.” Julie beckoned Jack and Ethan into the house. “Are you both ready for dinner?”


Timestamp: Post “Strength Training” and post Enemy Within

Strength Training – Jack and Ethan prepare for their next chapter


Welcome to this week’s Bauer’s Bytes!

This week, we’re taking a look at Jack and Ethan as they train for “what comes next”. 🙂 I feel like I’m posting chapters from a forthcoming novel! I probably am!

Enjoy Jack and Ethan in their post-marital bliss (?) as they gear up for their next adventure. And, Ethan, predictably, puts his foot in it.


Jack grinned as his eyes slid sideways, checking Ethan out. Ethan huffed and breathed through his last set of bicep curls. Sweat dripped down his face, trickled down his neck. His shirt clung to his back, his straining arms. He’d take his shirt off after this set. He always did.


They were in their basement gym, something Ethan had wanted in their new home and Jack had helped him put together. Ethan loved working out, and their relationship had really begun sharing jokes and stories over the treadmill and while lifting weights. Jack loved seeing Ethan like this, at the peak of his power, raw in his intensity, almost animalistic in his strength. Jack responded in a very specific way, desire curling through him like burning fingers scraping through his muscles.


Jack finished his own set of leg raises. He watched Ethan, and waited.


Ethan finished. He shucked his shirt, using it to wipe the sweat from his face. He grinned at Jack.


Jack pulled his own shirt off. He’d been waiting for this, waiting all day. He struck a pose, hands on his hips, and beamed. “Check it out.”


Ethan chuckled. His eyes raked down Jack’s body, pausing on his abdomen. His eyebrows quirked up. “You need to eat more.” Ethan squirted water onto his face before taking a long drink.


Jack’s jaw dropped. “I need to eat more?” He waved one hand over his abdomen, highlighting his newly-revealed chiseled muscles. “Hello? Did you not see the incredible six pack I’ve developed?”


“I see it.”


He threw his hands wide, eyes boggling, non-verbally asking Ethan “What the fuck”.


“You told me you wanted to gain strength, especially with what we’re getting ready to do. Six packs like that are just to show off. They’re for beach bodies and models. They’re not really strong.”


“Not strong? I’m forty-six years old, Ethan, and I can see my abs. This is the third best day in my life.” He glared. “I don’t see your abs!”


Ethan slapped his stomach. His stomach was flat, but not chiseled. “I have abs. They’re just protected by a layer of hamburgers.” He winked.


Jack snorted. “A protective layer of hamburgers?”


“Yes. Because I eat enough to build my muscles. If your muscles are starting to show, then you’re not eating enough to build them the right way. Your body is burning fat, and in danger of burning muscle, too. You want to start giving me the spaghetti jars to open?”


Jack gave him a look. “You could at least show a little bit of interest. I’ve never looked this good. Never.”


“You always look amazing. You’re the hottest man on the planet, Jack.” Ethan looked confused.


“But these—“ Jack pointed at his abs. “—are something that should be given extra special attention.”


A light flicked on in the back of Ethan’s eyes. He smiled and padded across their basement to Jack. He rested his hands on Jack’s hips, his thumbs stroking over Jack’s taut tummy, the defined edges of his abs. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I fully intend on exploring all of these glorious muscles. All of your very, very hard work.”


Jack crossed his arms. He said nothing.


“First, I’ll start with my tongue. I’ll trace every muscle, every inch of your abdomen.”


“…that’s a start.”


“Run my hands all over your body… Kiss every inch of your skin…”


Jack shivered. Ethan’s hands rose, trailing over his abs, his chest. Down his ribs.


“Suck your cock until it’s rock hard, and resting against these muscles. Dripping with my spit.”


Breathless, Jack moaned, rocking into Ethan. He pressed his forehead to Ethan’s neck and closed his eyes.


“I want to bend you in half. Spread your legs and sink into you, and watch these muscles clench as I make love to you.”


“Yes. I want that.”


“And then…”


Jack whimpered.


“After I feed you my cock…” Ethan breathed against Jack’s ear. Jack shivered, and he grabbed Ethan’s arms, his waist. “I’m going to feed you a whole pizza.”


Jack shoved Ethan away, groaning. Ethan laughed.


“Ethan! You really don’t care about this at all?”


“I do care, love.” Ethan came back, holding out his arms. Jack glared. “You’re already the world’s hottest man to me. You’re already perfect. Nothing can change that. No matter if you have chiseled abs or an extra hundred pounds.”


“An extra hundred pounds! What do you think I’m going to do—“


“You are perfect, Jack, and I’ll always love you. No matter what you look like.” Ethan kissed his forehead, gently. “You asked me to help you gain strength. You said we should both be in the best shape of our lives if we’re going to be doing this. Accept the offer. It could be dangerous sometimes, and whether our bodies are able to push ahead through the next mile, the next challenge, or even the next threat could make all the difference. Maybe even between life and death.”


Jack sighed. He reached for Ethan, tugging him close. “You really think things will get like that?”


“It could get like that. On a bad day. A very bad day. Most of the time in the Secret Service, we stood post in the air conditioning and battled boredom. But on the bad days, we had to be Olympic athletes. And that’s what saved us. Saved you.”


“So you’re saying I shouldn’t be proud of these?”


“I’m saying you look gorgeous. With a six pack and without one. I’m also saying that we should feed you more so that you gain real, solid strength. Models aren’t action heroes.”


“Gymnasts are Olympic athletes. They have pretty great bodies.”


“If you want to train to be a gymnast, I won’t complain. I’m teaching you what I know. Military strength training.” He frowned. “Hey. Are you saying I don’t have a great body?”


“No! I—“


Ethan grinned. He kissed Jack, sweetly. “I want to make sure you can handle everything. Everything that could possibly happen out there.”


“I think I’ve proven that I can hold my own. I had an active presidency.”


“There’s the presidential card again.” Ethan winked as Jack shook his head, sighing. “And you have proven yourself. Above and beyond. You are a hero. Now let’s make it perfect. Refine it. Hone it. Turn what you did for survival into your natural instincts.”


Jack was quiet for a moment. “I’m with you all the way,” he finally said, softly. Ethan beamed. “But!” Jack held up one finger. “But, we are going to a beach. Pull out your itty-bitty bathing suit again, ‘cause you are taking me and my abs to a beach. I want to lie in the sun and act shocked, just shocked, that there are pictures of my abs on every magazine.”


“Yes, dear.” Ethan barely held back his laughter. “I’ll take you to a beach, love.”


“And! You are absolutely doing that thing with your tongue. And everything else. Everything you teased me with.”


Now Ethan did laugh. He dragged Jack close, wrapping him up in his arms, and rested their foreheads together. “Well, no time like the present…”


Timestamp: Post Enemy Within