Excerpt: Quality Assurance

Josh groaned, covering his face with one hand as he rolled away from the invasive, too bright sunlight streaming through his bedroom windows. Oh, yeah, he thought fuzzily as he came face-to-face with a head of dark, tousled hair and a pretty face slack with sleep.

Blinking a few times, he tried in vain to remember the man’s name. All he remembered was the girls dragging him out for their weekly night of bowling, too much beer because his birthday had been Wednesday, and pretty green eyes and a shy smile.

He’d picked up his mystery man at the bowling alley, he remembered that much. That didn’t mean anything except that Elena was going to give him hell on Monday. The rest of the night was a blur, but it wasn’t hard to extrapolate, given the aches he felt every time he moved and the complete lack of clothing between the two of them.

Josh stayed where he was for another few minutes before deciding he needed to get up, if only to use the bathroom. A shower would do him wonders, as well as brushing his teeth and popping some aspirin for what little relief it would give his throbbing head.

Should he wake the man? Josh dithered over that question before finally deciding it was too early to deal with a stranger he’d managed to sleep with but not managed to get the name of. Sliding from bed slowly, Josh winced when the movement caused his head to throb more insistently. Scratching idly at his hip, Josh crossed the bedroom, grabbing a mostly dry towel from where it was draped over his closet door.

Padding across the room, he shook his head at the clothing he and Mr. Mystery had left scattered across the floor: jeans, boxers—and was that a plaid shirt? Really, plaid? Snorting in quiet amusement, Josh glanced back at the bed, feeling like he was sneaking out. Only, it was his apartment. He couldn’t sneak out. Still, he’d be lying if he said he didn’t hope that his half-remembered guest woke up and left while Josh was showering. He wasn’t a fan of his infrequent one-night stands hanging around the next morning.

Slipping into the bathroom, he shut and locked the door behind him then started the hot water running. Digging through his medicine cabinet, he quickly found and swallowed three aspirin with the help of a handful of tepid water from the sink tap.

Coffee next, definitely, Josh decided as he ducked under the stingingly hot water to rinse the soap off. He didn’t begin to feel more awake until halfway through his admittedly longer than usual shower. Coffee, and then he’d roust his mystery man and show him out. After which he’d make a wonderfully greasy breakfast with sausage, bacon, eggs—

Josh winced, jerking his hand away from his neck when the dull ache he’d been feeling there blossomed into a sharp, painful twinge. That hurt. That hurt a lot. Damn it, he hated when he got stuck with biters who bit too hard. They were second only to guys who didn’t keep their fingernails trimmed and liked to dig in during sex.

Making a face, Josh forced himself back under the water. He didn’t want to end up at the doctor’s office because he hadn’t properly cleaned out a bite wound. Josh finished his shower slowly, enjoying the hot water until the need for coffee finally drove him out.

Toweling his hair, Josh ran a hand over his chin, gauging the amount of stubble. He could wait and shave Monday, he decided. It was Saturday, and he was determined to be lazy today. Drying off, he winced when the pain in his neck flared again as he ran the towel over the spot roughly.

Jesus, mystery man must have taken a nice chunk out of his neck. Josh scowled, moving to the bathroom sink and wiping the mirror above it clean—or, well, streaky. Lifting his chin, he peered at his neck curiously.

The hell? Josh stared at the twin puncture marks on his neck. They were both red and raw, but they seemed too small to be causing as much pain as they were. They looked infected, but maybe he’d irritated the wounds in the shower? Josh hoped that was the case; he didn’t want to have to explain vampire bites to a doctor.

It had to be a joke. Josh scowled at his reflection in the mirror. He’d brought home someone who thought they were one of the heroes in that sparkly vampire series or something. He should be lucky his bed wasn’t covered in glitter.

He didn’t remember seeing fangs on mystery man, but he hadn’t been looking at the man’s teeth when he’d woken up and he didn’t remember enough of the previous evening to say whether the man had had fangs then. Shaking his head, Josh finished drying off and wrapped the towel around his waist. Maybe Mr. Mystery was still passed out in Josh’s bed and could answer the question of what the hell was wrong with him.

Josh wasn’t that lucky. His bed was empty—Mr. Mystery had actually made the bed—and the mystery man’s clothes were missing, minus a sock that was half-hidden behind the corner of the dresser.

It was better this way, Josh thought, throwing his towel at the closet door and padding naked to his dresser. No awkward questions, and he didn’t have to deal with the weirdo again.

Coffee, he needed coffee and breakfast, and then he could do nothing but watch movies or play games all day.

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