The Lifecycle of the North American Love Virus

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Dr. Oswald Culpepper is an island unto himself. A respected infectious disease researcher, he is used to doing things his way and everyone else going along with it. When the new dean demands Oswald take on an apprentice like all the other researchers, Oswald is forced to agree. And when he sees Aiden Pearse walk into his lab, Oswald knows he’s in trouble.Aiden is everything Oswald isn’t. Entertaining, gregarious, tall, dark, and gorgeous. Oswald should hate him on general principle. So why does he watch his new assistant when he thinks the young man isn’t looking? And how is he going to make it to the end of Aiden’s apprenticeship with his dignity intact?

Transcript of The Lifecycle of the North American Love Virus

This is a work of fiction. Characters, places, and incidents are products of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This work may not be sold, manipulated, or reproduced in any format without express written permission from the author. The work contains graphic language and explicit sexual contact between two men. Intended for adult audiences only. Not intended for anyone under the age of 18.

The Lifecycle of the North American Love Virus 2012 Kerry Freeman Cover Photo Joe Biafore, Licensed from iStockphoto 2

Dedication For Gina, who gave me a great prompt

Acknowledgments Thanks to Becca and Trinity for beta-reading and listening to me talk about my ever expanding list of plot bunnies. Thanks to the Goodreads M/M Romance group for organizing another great writing event in Love is Always Write.

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Exposure of the Host "I warned you, Culpepper. If you didn't pick an apprentice, I'd pick one for you." Phone in hand, Oswald paced the short length of his pristine kitchen and worried his bottom lip with his teeth. "I've never had to have one before." The dean wasn't giving an inch. "That's because my predecessor babied you. I'm not going to do that. We are a teaching hospital, in case you'd forgotten." Not for the first time, Oswald wanted to strangle his old friend, the former dean, for doing something stupid like retiring to spend time with his wife. "Fine, but I don't want him to live with me." Oswald scanned his small apartment. It was sterile, white, and precisely arranged, just the way he liked it. No one could effectively maintain the space except him, which was probably why he'd been alone for so long. He shook his head and reminded himself that it didn't matter. He was better on his own. "Too bad." The dean's words were becoming more clipped, his New Jersey accent more pronounced, a sure sign he was tiring of the conversation. "We pay for your condo, and you will house the young man until he finds his own apartment. Unless you'd like to start paying your rent yourself." No, Oswald didn't think he'd like that at all. "It appears I don't have a 4

choice." "Correct." "When will he be at the lab?" Papers shuffled in the background. "Noon." "That's not good for me. I've" "Noon, Culpepper," the dean growled. "Be there." When the line went dead, Oswald growled and threw his iPhone against the far wall. It exploded on impact. He immediately grabbed a dustpan and broom, swept up the remains, and threw it all into the garbage can. He was sure another new phone would be the least of his worries today. *** The black granite countertops were shiny and spotless. Petri dishes, test tubes, and beakers were perfectly arranged everywhere. Oswald, wearing his pressed white lab coat, sat on his stool and wrote experiment notes in tiny, all-cap print. He didn't look up when the door opened. "Excuse me, Dr. Culpepper?" Oswald continued to write. He adjusted his round glasses and failed to raise his head or reply. 5

"Dr. Culpepper?" Oswald sneered. "I heard you the first time. Can you not see I'm busy?" A large hand with thick, long fingers plopped down on Oswald's notebook and blocked out almost the entire page. "I can certainly see that you're rude." Oswald finally looked up, directly into dark chocolate eyes set into a face framed by shaggy black hair and a hood. Mesmerized, he watched as the frown on the man's rosy full lips deepened. He wanted to lick those lips, maybe even see them wrapped around his cock, which began to harden at the thought. "Who are you?" The man's gorgeous eyes rolled, and he shook his head. "Well, if you're Dr. Culpepper, I'm your new apprentice, Aiden Pearse." Oswald instantly knew he was fucked.

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Attachment Oswald ticked off the house rules as he led Aiden to the guest room. "No food or drink in the room. No loud music. No clothes left on the floor. No guests. Understood?" Aiden threw his duffle on the bed. "Just one question." Oswald waved his hand. "Yes." "Am I allowed to sleep on the bed? Or should I just curl up on the floor so as not to muss up the sheets?" "The bed will be perfectly fine. Just make it each morning." Aiden chuckled. "Sure thing, Doc." Oswald sighed, irritated at Aiden's nicknaming habit. He'd already corrected Aiden twice that day. "Just be downstairs in thirty for dinner." He spun on his heel and dashed for the door. "Yes, dear," said Aiden before shutting the bedroom door. In the kitchen, Oswald slammed one cabinet door after another. He'd originally wanted spaghetti for dinner, but he could only imagine what kind of mess Aiden's burly hands would make trying to eat it. Grilled chicken and vegetables it was, then. 7

He was already furious, but the "Yes, dear" had just taken the cake. Aiden was like all the rest. He saw Oswald's slight body, average stature, and delicate features and immediately assumed he was submissive, needed taking care of. Oswald didn't even question that Aiden was gay. Oswald was never wrong about that. He heard heavy steps approaching as he plated dinner. Turning with foodladen china in hand, Oswald was again mesmerized by the bottomless eyes staring at him. Aiden's tongue swept across his lips, and Oswald momentarily wondered what it would taste like. "Wow, that smells delicious!" Aiden smiled and patted his stomach. "I'm starving. Haven't eaten since I got to the airport this morning." Oswald tried not to be happy that his efforts were appreciated. He placed the food on the small breakfast nook table and took a seat across from Aiden. Aiden saw the full tea glass next to his plate and took a huge swig. Oswald watched Aiden's prominent Adam's apple bob up and down as he swallowed. "Oh, that is good." Aiden smiled. "There's no substitute for good sweet tea. One of the best things about being back in the South." "You didn't like San Francisco?" "I loved it. Nothing like being able to walk down the street and be yourself, 8

you know?" Oswald didn't know. He'd never been to San Francisco. Come to think of it, he wasn't sure he'd been anywhere he'd felt comfortable being himself. "So why did you leave?" Aiden stabbed his chicken with his fork and cut off a hefty chunk. "I missed my family. My sister is getting ready to have twins, our family's first grandchildren. I didn't want to miss them growing up." Picking at his food, Oswald thought back to his own family. An only child raised by older parents who were both scientists, he'd had no living grandparents as a child, and both his parents had long since passed away. At forty-five, Oswald was completely alone in the world. "Hey, Doc," Aiden muttered with a mouth full of chicken. "You gonna eat?" Oswald looked down at his plate and his perfectly cooked and impeccably arranged food. He wished he'd made the spaghetti.

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Penetration "Come here little flu virus. You talkin' to me? Yeah, I'm talkin' to you. You talkin' to me? Yeah, I'm talkin' to you." Oswald bowed his head over his notes and tried not to laugh at the crazy giant working next to him. Over the last several weeks, Aiden had proved to be a talented student and eager worker. His huge paws were surprisingly gentle with the equipment, and he was certainly entertaining. Aiden made coming to work fun, not that Oswald would ever admit it in a million years. "Oh, what do I see there?" Aiden pinched Oswald's cheek. "Is that a smile? Is the dour, sour Oswald Culpepper M.D. PhD MS BS PITA actually smiling?" Oswald turned his head away and buried his burning face into his shoulder. "Leave me alone. I'm trying to work." Aiden simply danced around Oswald. "I've finally done it. I've infected you with my silliness!" Oswald covered his mouth with his hand, muffling his laugh. "A scientist in an infectious disease laboratory should never joke about infection." "A smile and a laugh. This is a great day indeed!" Aiden grabbed Oswald's stool and easily spun it around until they were face 10

to face. There they were again, those big chocolate eyes. They were Oswald's kryptonite, and their effects were growing stronger every day. A chill travelled Oswald's spine, and the shiver that followed was impossible to suppress. Aiden pulled back as a look of shock flashed on his face. His ever-present smile quickly returned. "So, I never did get to take you out to dinner to thank you for letting me crash at your place." Oswald shrugged. "It was no problem. It also wasn't exactly my choice." That the condo seemed unearthly quiet now was another thing Oswald wasn't about to admit. "Still, you were very hospitable, and I'd like to show you my appreciation." Turning back to his notes, Oswald scribbled away for several seconds. "Fine," he mumbled. Aiden returned to his station, humming happily. Oswald wanted to slap some sense into himself. Ever since Aiden entered his life, Oswald wasn't the same. He still liked having time to himself, but he often wished for company. Not just any company. Tall, brown-eyed, shaggy-haired company. His condo was too still, his bed too big, his body too untouched. Oswald shook his head. He was being stupid. Someone like Aiden -towering, strong, outgoing -- would never give Oswald the control he needed and 11

craved. And Oswald knew how ridiculous the relationship would look. He was middle aged, a respected researcher. Aiden was his twenty-four year-old apprentice, for Christ's sake. Could it be any more gauche? In his peripheral vision, Oswald could see Aiden staring at him. He was becoming a clich, and he didn't know how to prevent it. He could only hope to maintain his dignity as he fell. "Is tomorrow night okay?" Oswald scribbled faster. "Hmm?" "Dinner," Aiden replied. "Since it'll be Saturday, we wouldn't feel rushed." Oswald waved him off. "Fine, whatever. Get back to work."

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