Chapter 4


The clouds had rolled in, leaving the city bleak. But the flashing lights and screams of children made it anything but dreary. I was still on the far side of the parking lot, and already the smell of cotton candy and fried food filled the air. Checking my phone, I checked the address. I zoomed in on the map. Correct. Now, the clown emoji made sense. I had been scared to ask, not wanting to kink shame nose honkers.

“Since when did the Ward get a carnival?” In all my years here, I had never seen it. But that was the downside of working nights, during the daytime, I could have driven by every day and not noticed.

“Okay, Bruno.” I checked my shirt. Tight, but not so tight. It looked like I was trying. Same for the jeans, though they did curve about my ass as if they were painted on. Alejandro would be proud.

I walked closer. Kids dragged the parents along, eager to get inside. The idea of having our first official date at a carnival spoke volumes about Chronos. Strong-man? Bumper cars? No, I bet he’d be the guy riding the roller coaster until he hurled. I looked forward to finding out.

I had orders to meet Chronos at the ticket booth. There remained a question about who was going to show up. Alejandro warned me that superheroes were slow to get personal and that it might be a date night with Chronos. I was fine with that. But after daydreaming about the man, I was curious to see his face, his whole face.

I slowed my pace, watching as a car full of thriller seekers climbed to the top of the coaster. As it crested, hands reached into the sky and screams filled the park. The grin stapled across my face as I debated which I wanted more, a corn dog or pretzel. Easy decision. Both.

The ticket booth was a small white building shaped like an octagon. Each wall had a window with a barely old enough to drive kid inside, dolling out tickets to parents. Even the too-cool-for-carnival teens walked away with a strip of tickets long enough they dragged on the ground.

“Looking for somebody?”

I froze as a man stepped up to my side. At first, I thought he might be security, and I had that “I lost my daddy” look to me. Yes, I know, the joke writes itself. My eyes widened as I recognized the beard and the almost hidden grin.

“Sir,” I gasped, “Have we met before?” Not my smoothest moment. But did I act like I hadn’t thought about him saving me from being run down by a bus? Naked. He was definitely more naked in my head.

“We have a mutual friend.” He wore the quintessential bear uniform. Red flannel sleeves rolled to where his biceps bulged with buttons open to reveal dark chest hair. I needed a moment as I followed the bulge of his belly and how it turned into another bulge. He gave me a wink and my face turned red.

“Nice to meet you.” Yes, I offered my hand like a stranger, as if we hadn’t leaned on the bar engrossed in verbal foreplay.

“Peter,” he said. “And I forget your name…” The smirk. It held a bit of humor, but it was mischievousness that made me smile. Was it too soon to kiss him? Probably too soon to mount him. But after days of not getting off, I couldn’t make any promises it wouldn’t happen on the bumper cars.


“Rugged,” he said. “Well, where are heading first?”

I assumed we’d wandered about looking at the attractions. If he wanted to partake, I’d let my inner child run loose. Slapping money on the ticket counter, I walked away with enough tickets to keep us busy for the night. He laughed as I dangled them in front of him.

“Let’s get started then.”

For a superhero, I never imagined he’d scream on a rollercoaster. But when the car teetered at the top, he clutched the lap bar tight enough he left fingerprints. He made up for it as we spun about on the Gravitron. While the rest of us were glued to the sides, he stood up and walked about as if physics didn’t apply. And later, as we passed the tea cups, the operator called us over, asking us to fill in the ride for the kids. Harmless fun until two beefy dudes made the cup spin. Being wedged against him was wonderful. The Earth moving under my feet after, not so much.

“You win,” he laughed, plopping himself on a bench. “No more rides. Please, no more.”

“Oh thank God,” I dropped next to him. Closing my eyes only made the spinning faster. “If the guys at work knew the tea cups did me in…”

“You?” He laughed. “I’m going to have villains trying to tie me up in one.”

“I mean… if you’re tied up in one, I might go again.”

“Have mercy,” he begged. “How about we stick to games for a while?”

I bumped my shoulder against his. “Deal.” I lingered. As Chronos, he had this dark mysterious motif going on. The tight leather made him sexy, but it was nothing compared to the handsome man in front of me. Jeans and a flannel shirt suited him. When he pat me on the thigh, I nearly moaned. Did his hand slide higher than necessary? My brain shut down and relied on my cock to do the thinking.

“Easy one,” I said, pointing. He followed my finger to the classic hammer and bell. A test of strength. Not fair against a man capable of flying and punching through walls, but I’d show off my averageness.

We walked toward the teenager, calling for patrons to test their might. “I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun at a carnival. As a kid, you’d get excited when the train came into town and they’d start unpacking.”

“Train?” I raised an eyebrow. “How old are you?”

I dolled out tickets. I handed Peter the hammer, taking a bow and gesturing to the platform. Not fair, the bell rung with a loud clang. He copied my bow and prepared for my attempt. I eyed the big red circle, determined to make it ring. I drew it over my shoulder, tightening my grip.

“One hundred and thirty-seven. I think.”

What? I missed the target altogether. We’d come back to this. I lined up another shot, and throwing my weight into it, the little bar flew up the pole. It hit the bell with the faintest ding. The attraction insulted my ego.

We wandered away, heading toward the food. “You’re going to need to explain.”

“Time Lord. We don’t age. It’s kind of our thing.”

“That sounds amazing.” I wouldn’t mind being locked into forty for the rest of my life. “You must have…” I paused as I caught him staring down at his feet. I had struck a wound. “It’s not so great, is it?”

“I’ve done more than any person could in a lifetime. Six degrees. Visited every continent. I even got married… twice.”

I was about to ask why it didn’t work out when the dots connected. At over a hundred years old, he had already led a lifetime. “I’m sorry.” I didn’t know what to say. Even if he had a full life with his spouses, it must have been difficult to keep going.

“It’s okay. But think twice when you’re asked if you want the ability to control time. It makes dating rough. If it doesn’t work out, no problem, I’ve got all the time in the world. But if it does… there’s a finite amount of time. Ironic, I know.”

Whoa. Suddenly, our near-death experience on the tea cups didn’t rank as the most dire part of the night. Just by going out, he risked another lifetime, my lifetime. Even if it was amazing, it had an expiration date. Did this warrant a hug? A punch on the shoulder? Finger guns?

I opted to hold his hand. On a cool night under the flashing lights, I snuck my fingers around his. We both looked away like awkward teenagers. Too much. Bad timing. I was about to pull away. He squeezed my hand.

I turned toward him. He was already grinning, eyes darting to our hands. Okay, I’ll admit it. Despite all the innuendo about climbing on top of him, there was something about the warmth of his palm and strength in his fingers. I swooned. If he would overlook my mortality, maybe this had a chance of… I don’t know. Having no clue where it might lead was part of the excitement.

“What next?” He asked.

Good question.

He proved an expert at tossing ping-pong balls into fishbowls. But I stood untouchable in the ring toss. Somewhere between the cotton candy and blooming onion, I spotted the bumper cars. My earlier thought of tackling him on the ride made my jeans bulge. It wasn’t as sexy in reality, but I did laugh like a kid as my wheel stuck and I couldn’t stop driving in circles. Pretty sure that seven-year-old smashing into me rigged the ride.

As the tickets vanished, I didn’t want the night to end. Peter had defied every expectation. I suspected the man inside the suit to be like the hero, dark, mysterious, maybe a little pouty. Despite the differences, he made me smile so much that I’d be wearing this grin to bed.

Oh, and he was also a little stubborn. Popping half inflated balloons with dull darts would not be listed under his heroic services. Damn, his expression… the sheer concentration. I’d like to see that with my legs on his shoulders.

“Hobbies?” I asked as he tried lining up his dart with the balloon. Despite his determination, his last two missed the board completely.

“Does trashy reality television count?”

“How trashy?”

He launched the dart. At least this time, it hit the wood paneling. “If there isn’t a cat fight, it’s not trashy enough. Housewives of Vanguard,” he laughed. “It makes me wonder if we should let the villains destroy the city.”

He swiped tickets out of my hand and dropped several more on the counter. The woman working the booth dropped three more darts in front of Peter. “How about you?”

“I’ll have you know…” I leaned against the booth, trying my best to look intimidating. “I’m part of a motorcycle gang.” Ignore the part about us being a bunch of middle-aged men who spent more time fixing old bikes than actually riding them. By fixing, I meant drinking beer and calling the mechanic.

“I mean, I’ve been checking out your hog all night.” The girl behind the counter blushed. “It’s impressive.”

He launched the dart and for a fraction of a second, he vanished. The balloon popped. He returned with that mischievous grin. I was about to call him a cheater when the girl handed him a giant teddy-bear. She shot me a wink and now it was my turn to blush.

“For you,” he handed me the bear. I’m pretty sure it had seen better days. But nobody had worked so hard for a gift, even if he cheated. The blue camo shirt hugging his torso was adorable. Did I casually mention that it’d look cute to the one I slept with, or did I leave that as a surprise when he spent the night?

“Two tickets left,” I said.

“What do you have in mind?”

I had one more chance to make this a night he wouldn’t forget. Come on, Bruno, what would make our friends gush the next day? I spotted it, the perfect end to the night. Tucking the bear under one arm, I took his hand. I knew exactly how this was going to end.

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