Devon Taylor helped fashion a local street magician called Harry Marvel into the well-known illusionist Harry Marvelous. In the seven years they’ve been together, Devon has worked alongside Harry onstage as his apprentice. To Devon, Harry is an incredibly sexy older man, and the love they share is nothing less than pure magic.
But in today’s world, even children find it hard to believe in magic. When Devon overhears a teenager mocking Harry before a show, he invites the boy on stage to help out with Harry’s famous disappearing act.
Unfortunately, the boy really does disappear on his way back to his seat after the performance.
When the show is over, Devon and Harry find themselves confronted by security. Harry insists his illusions aren’t real, but does Devon know something Harry doesn’t?
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This close, there’s a hardness to her eyes Devon didn’t notice before. His disarming smile does little to diffuse it. Maybe he was wrong about her having no kids. “Janine Morris, Landmark Security. I also work part-time with the city police department, so I’ve already put in a call to my unit downtown to give them a head’s up on the situation here. We take missing child cases very seriously in Richmond, Mr. Taylor. Police have already locked down the building and we’re searching the premises. With your cooperation, hopefully we’ll find the boy soon.”
Devon’s smile locks into place. He resists the urge to run a hand through his hair, a nervous habit of his, but he doesn’t want her to read anything into it. “You’re not suggesting I had anything to do with it, are you? This place is full of kids. It’s a magic show. I’ve been onstage the whole time.”
The voice behind Devon is melodious, hypnotic. Even after all these years, Devon still loves the sound of it. When a strong hand touches the small of his back, Devon relaxes as warmth floods his body. Tension drains away. That hand rubs around his waist in a quick, one-armed embrace, then drops away as the magician known as Harry Marvelous leans past Devon to bow with a flourish.
His top hat sweeps out, brushing the officer’s notepad on its way to the ground. His long, salted curls, tied at his nape with a silk ribbon, cascade over one shoulder, but with the hat off, Devon can see how far Harry’s hairline has receded. The magician still dons his stage outfit, an iridescent tuxedo that winks in the light and crinkles when he moves, and the makeup he wears during the show has caked into the lines on his face, making him look less than magical at the moment.
But the effect he has on Officer Morris is instantaneous. When he stands, pulling a single red rose from the depths of his hat and offering it to her, her eyes soften and a smile cracks through her tough exterior. She even giggles a little when Harry kisses the back of her hand. Then he stands, and the officer finds herself holding a fist full of rose petals. She laughs in delight.
Devon elbows his partner in the ribs. “Show’s over, Maestro.”
Harry’s arm finds its way around Devon’s waist again and he leans close to his apprentice. “One never stops performing, love. It’s the only rule I live by. You should know that by now.”
The term of endearment reminds Devon they aren’t alone. Taking Harry’s arm, Devon nods at the officer to remind the magician, as well. The stagehands and backstage assistants might think little if they overheard Harry’s flirtatious banter, but Officer Morris sees the closeness between the two men and her laughter dries up. Devon doesn’t need to be a mentalist to interpret the way her eyes narrow when Harry’s hand folds over Devon’s possessively in the crook of his arm.
“I believe the officer has some questions she wants to ask us,” Devon suggests. At Harry’s blank look, he adds, “About the boy you made disappear?”
“During the show?” Harry turns to Officer Morris, who nods. His smile flashes out, beguiling. “A true magician never gives away his secrets.”
Inwardly, Devon groans. So Harry doesn’t know. Turning away from the officer, he starts, “Harry --”
She interrupts him. “Mr. Marvelous, if that’s your real name, the boy you made disappear during the show never made it back to his seat.”
Devon watches as confusion flickers across Harry’s features -- it starts with a furrowing of the brow he knows so well, then fills those deep-set, chocolate-colored eyes he could lose himself in for hours. Then Harry’s patrician nose crinkles a bit, as if he smells something foul, and one side of his thin upper lip pulls up in a half-sneer that always reminds Devon of Elvis Presley.
It’s unintentionally sexy, that snarl, and Devon has to hold tight to Harry’s arm with both hands to keep from kissing it away. Later, he promises himself, when the officer is gone and the boy found, and he can allow himself the luxury of smoothing out the furrows in Harry’s brow, straightening the curls in his lover’s hair, and kissing away the snarl kinking the magician’s upper lip.