The Devil was in the details.
Ross pulled off his gloves and shoved them into the pocket of his heavy, gray parka as he strode down the hallway to the rooms he shared with Dorian and Jenna. He'd forgotten Jenna's list. Flexing fingers sore from hauling cans of biodiesel, he grimaced when he saw the muddy prints his boots left on the hardwood floors. He was pretty sure Georgia had cleaned them yesterday. Not that she'd complain.
Late autumn sunlight faded the deeper he moved into the house. The three bedroom wings of the earth-sheltered dwelling were built underground to take advantage of consistent ground temperatures. Whoever had designed the place had been a genius, because the halls grew wider and the underground rooms utilized wide-open spaces to make up for the lack of light. Ross loved the house. Hated leaving it every single time.
Secluded and partially built over a year-round trout stream, the large home had been designed as some kind of artist's retreat. Best of all, it had been built green, using the stream for year-round power. Located in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, it was hard to reach, especially in winter because no one plowed streets anymore. Hell, most of the roads had been overtaken by tree roots and weeds anyway.
Now that their family had expanded to include a married couple, a single woman and two orphaned kids, Ross was glad he'd chosen this place. Because they were the first here, Dorian, Jenna and Ross had already set up house in the west wing, which had two bedrooms on either side of a big den with a fireplace.
The faint rumble of the truck sounded and Ross grinned. Jake was probably growing impatient. They could have left without Jenna's list--he had the damned thing mostly memorized--but he wanted a chance to say goodbye again.
He had a weird feeling about this trip, an unsettling rumble in his gut that made him want to skip it. But they were closing in on the winter months, and he really wanted to have one more hydroelectric generator ready to go before the heavy frosts hit. Winter was a real bitch if they weren't prepared. Years had passed and he could still vividly recall their first cold season here. Never again would they survive on scarce wild game and vitamins eons past their expiration dates.
The Devil, in this case, wasn't about some overly detailed list of supplies he'd be lucky to find--but his need for another hug goodbye.
It wasn't the house he had trouble leaving so much as it was the two people he loved more than anything in this world. He'd wanted to take one or the other with him, but Dorian's talent for healing with herbs meant he needed to stay with the others. Jenna... Well, he doubted he could pry the woman from Dorian since they'd become lovers. But he'd never risk her out there anyway. Not these days.
The sad ratio of female-to-male Crux Virus survivors had turned some roving groups into gangs out for one thing. Their housemate Georgia was heartbreaking proof of how bad it had gotten out there, and the thought of Jenna in that kind of situation made him break out in a cold sweat.
He heard the low moan when he was halfway across the den. He stopped, surprised to hear the sounds coming from the large supply closet off the room. A lacy, blue bra clung to the arm of the couch. His stomach churned and he held his breath. Jenna let out another low moan. Ross closed his eyes. He knew that sound, had heard it before. Muffled, but still sexy and full of something that twisted his heart into knots.
It brought to life every inappropriate feeling he'd experienced over the last couple of years. At twenty-five, Jenna had grown into a stunning woman.
"You have the hottest mouth," she said, voice low and throaty.
They didn't know he hadn't left yet.
Dorian and Jenna always muffled their lovemaking when he was home. He knew it for sure now because these sounds were unfettered and passionate. A deeper noise from Dorian, like a growl, followed, and Ross's body snapped taut. The door to the supply closet was open. He heard the heavy breathing, the gasps...and two seconds later, the slap of a bare back hitting the wall.
"Oh yeah, right there," Jenna said. "Your fingers...yes. Damn, you have great fingers too--"
Her voice broke off, the last word a cry.
"So beautiful." Dorian's tone, strained and hoarse, told Ross so much about the man's feelings for Jenna.
Feelings Ross understood more than he cared to acknowledge.