Test of Valor: Chapter One


When people ask if it was worth giving up his Secret Service career to run away with the president’s son, Shane Kendrick tells them: abso-fucking-lutely.

But this morning in their little tent pitched on the beach, a knot cinched in Shane’s gut, his heart thumping. Rafa wasn’t warm and mumbling in his sleep beside him, and Shane fisted his fingers in the empty blanket.

The awful dream images were still too close to the surface—Shane’s feet hopelessly stuck and Rafa snatched away. Waking alone, Shane choked on panic, bile rising in his throat. Naked, he crawled out of the tent and pushed to his feet, ready to run. Ready to fight.

He released a gasp of relief, instantly spotting Rafa a few hundred yards away by the shoreline. It was a Monday morning on a secluded stretch of beach north of Byron Bay in mid-June, and they fortunately had the place to themselves.

Shane’s heart still beat too fast and sweat dampened his brow as he watched Rafa wading through the surf in the distance, foamy water swirling around his ankles. Skin tanned, he looked like a local in a purple hoodie, board shorts riding low on his lean hips. He was fucking beautiful, his curls shaggy and wild around his head.

The tide was returning with a steady rumbling gurgle, the sun already up in the cloud-splattered blue sky. Nearby, a gull shrieked and flapped its wings, bickering with another bird over a treat that had washed up on the golden sand.

Shane inhaled the fresh air deeply, willing the lingering tension in his limbs and the thudding of his heart to ease. The dreams—all right, nightmares—were similar but never quite the same. This time it wasn’t mud in a rest stop parking lot that turned to quicksand, keeping him mired as Rafa was carried away by masked men, screaming for help.

This time, the quicksand was on a sunny, perfect beach like this one. It had sucked him down, freezing him in place. In the dream, he’d tried over and over to get his feet to move, limbs useless as he’d tasted his own blood. Gunshots rang in his ears as he struggled, and he failed miserably as nameless shapes dragged Rafa out of reach.

As he gazed at Rafa, Shane breathed in the fresh sea air again—brine and seaweed and a crisp sunny sweetness. You’re awake. He’s all right. Let it go.

He closed his eyes, counting to five. When he opened them, the time for letting the nightmare bother him would be officially past. They’d had such a peaceful week away, and he couldn’t let anything ruin their last day before heading back to Sydney. At least Rafa had already left the tent when the nightmare hit. Shane didn’t want him to worry over nothing.

The dreams had started recently without warning and for no good reason, and Shane didn’t see why they wouldn’t disappear just as quickly. No sense in making a big deal out it.

Well, okay. Maybe they hadn’t started completely unprompted. The first had come the night after Shane had been told he’d have to testify at a special inquest in DC. His former partner—former friend, his clenching stomach reminded him—had pleaded guilty to treason and was serving life with no possibility of parole. Alan had been lucky to escape the death penalty. He likely only had because Rafa had pleaded for leniency.

Shane’s heart swelled watching him kick at the surf. After what Alan had done, most people would hate him, but not Rafa. Digging his toes into the warming sand near the shrubbery and trees growing at the edge of the beach, Shane watched him and tried not to think about the damned inquiry.

It was reasonable that the Secret Service needed to understand just how such a massive breach of security had occurred under their noses. How one of their agents had been turned by terrorists. Not that Shane could understand it himself.

He tried again to push away the thoughts of Alan’s betrayal and how it had nearly cost Rafa his life. The memory of finding Rafa squeezed into that box…


The nightmares were weak and useless enough—he didn’t need to ruin his days by torturing himself with what-ifs and should-haves. At least the Secret Service had agreed Shane could testify by satellite linkup. He needed to stop thinking about it until his testimony, and then he could put it all behind him. And Rafa would never have to know about the ridiculous nightmares. Shane hadn’t disturbed him with them yet, and he needed to keep it that way.

He stretched his arms over his head, the wind tickling his bare flesh. The Aussies might have found this winter morning on the chilly side, but to him it was perfect—a cool breeze offsetting the heat of the sun.

He ran a hand over his stubble. Not shaving every day was a little thing, but it still made him happy. He still kept his head shorn since his hairline was receding more and more with each passing month. Once he launched his security consulting business, he’d be groomed and back in suits, but for now he would enjoy being naked and scruffy.

After pissing by a shrub and brushing his teeth with a jug of water, he once again studied Rafa down the beach, Rafa stopping every so often to crouch and pick up seashells abandoned by the tide. His collection was in a glass jar on the windowsill in their rented bungalow’s bathroom. Soon, he’d need another jar, and Shane envisioned the sill being squeezed full as the months went by. He smiled.

Squinting at a flash of movement in the distance, he lifted his hand to shield his eyes, spotting a man and dog. He calculated their distance to Rafa, who was still peering intently at something in the sand, then started to jog over before remembering he was naked.

Stop. Breathe. He’s safe.

It was only a man walking his dog—not paparazzi or terrorists. Still, he once again eyed the distances between them all. Shane could be at Rafa’s side in approximately twenty seconds running full-out, taking into account the slowing effect of sand.

A lot can happen in twenty seconds.

Although the clouds were fluffy and white, not heavy and gray, for a few thumping heartbeats, phantom rain drenched his skin, the steady rumble of the waves transforming to thunder. Gunshots echoed in his mind as he collapsed to the mud in the darkness, an utter failure, Rafa taken. His breath hitched, and he ran a finger over the scar on the left side of his head above his ear.

He almost expected to feel the hot slick of blood, the bullet somehow only grazing him, mercifully not piercing his skull. The remembered terror of realizing Rafa was gone swooped through his stomach now even as he told himself Rafa was right there, safe and whole and smiling to himself as he waded in the surf.

Shaking his head, Shane resolutely turned away and tugged on his board shorts. He was supposed to be over the nightmare, not dredging it up again. Besides, Rafa might get irritated if Shane raced over like a mother hen.

It had taken weeks before Shane had gotten accustomed to him being out of arm’s reach, and he still didn’t like it. But Rafa was a grown man, and Shane had to get over himself.

He sat on the log they’d dragged to their fire pit the night before and pondered starting the fire to make coffee. But for the moment, he simply sat and breathed in and out, watching Rafa throw a rock into the water, still trying to perfect his skimming technique.

The man and black Labrador eventually disappeared back the way they’d come, and the remaining tension in Shane’s shoulders dissipated. The paps hadn’t bothered them in a while now.

After US Weekly had broken the story about the romance between the ex-president’s gay son and the older Secret Service agent who’d rescued him from evil kidnappers, there had been a flurry of attention. But they’d laid low, living off Shane’s savings.

Now they were old news, and most Aussies either didn’t recognize them, didn’t give a shit, or were too nice to say anything. Shane had quietly laid the groundwork for his security consulting firm, and Rafa was due to start at Sydney’s Cordon Bleu campus next month.

When Rafa’s parents arrived all too soon for their first visit, it would probably get stirred up again in the press, but hopefully it would all be short-lived. Shane shifted uncomfortably at the thought of making small talk with the Castillos. Ugh. He wondered if he’d know any of the agents on their detail and just how incredibly fucking awkward it would all be.

Before he could run through the litany of horrifying potential scenarios, he forced his mind back to the present. It was just the two of them, miles from anything, with the tide coming in and hopefully bringing breaking waves with it.

He dug his phone out of his duffel in the tent and snapped a few pictures of Rafa silhouetted on the sand. There was barely a cell signal on the beach, but he pulled up WhatsApp and was able to send a pic to Darnell with the caption:

Morning view. Hope it’s a good night in DC.

Darnell usually sent him pictures of traffic jams and overflowing trash cans in return, along with at least one frowning selfie and mock complaints that Shane was rubbing it in. Chuckling to himself in anticipation, Shane tucked his phone in his pocket and watched Rafa walk back, grinning when Rafa waved and picked up his pace.

Rafa reached into his shorts pocket when he reached their little camp. “Got some good ones. Look how purple this one is.” He carefully extracted the shells and held out his flat palm, bending to kiss Shane lightly.

“Beautiful.” Shane ran his finger over the gentle curves of the delicate treasures. “Sure there’s nothing living in these?”

Rafa huffed good-naturedly. “No closed shells, I promise. Only needed to learn that stinky lesson once.” He slid them into a Ziploc and stowed them. “Ready for breakfast? I was thinking bacon. Because…well, bacon.”

Shane’s phone buzzed, and he took it out of his pocket and opened WhatsApp. Darnell’s face scowled from the screen, his tie loosened, the beige and brown detective squad room visible behind him. His normally short afro was getting a little long, and there were bags under his eyes. As the youngest African-American detective on the force, he often said he had to work twice as hard and be three times as smart as his colleagues.

Caught a triple homicide. Glad to see you’re working hard down there, you bastard. Hope you and your boy are good. Stay in touch. Two texts in one week—you’re on a roll. I’ll send you a vext later.

On his commute, Darnell would sometimes record a voice message on WhatsApp—what he called a “vext.” He’d talk about whatever was on his mind, and Shane enjoyed listening to his friend ramble.


He glanced up. “Sorry, what were you saying? Got a message from Darnell.” He showed Rafa the screen.

Rafa’s dark brows drew close. “I’m not a boy.”

“What?” Shane reread the text. “Oh. He doesn’t mean anything by it.”

“Yeah. It’s cool.” Rafa thrust his hands in his pockets. “Um, say hi or whatever. And I was talking about bacon.”

Shane quickly typed out a response that they were indeed good and not to work too hard, then stood and tugged Rafa near. Rafa was tense in his arms, and Shane slid a hand over Rafa’s cheek. “Darnell really didn’t mean anything.”

Shaking his head, Rafa blew out a breath and melted into Shane’s touch. “I know. I’m oversensitive about it. Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry.” He kissed him softly, then murmured, “Maybe bacon can be dessert.”

“I brought passion fruit for dessert.” Rafa looped his arms around Shane’s neck, eyes wide with faux innocence. “Unless you’re talking about something else altogether. In which case, I’m just not following.”

“I’m talking about fucking you. Sorry that wasn’t clear.” Shane ran his hands over Rafa’s ass, nuzzling his neck.

“Oh, is that what you meant? Well. I suppose I’ll let you.” He bit the lobe of Shane’s ear and whispered, “How do you want me?”

“Hmm. So many options.” Shane leaned back and ran his finger over the freckles that stood out beautifully on Rafa’s cheeks and across his nose.

Rafa caught Shane’s finger in his mouth, nipping it playfully. “How about I take a ride?”

Shane’s cock swelled at the thought, and he ground his hips against Rafa. “Giddy up.” He glanced around the still-empty beach. “We should probably go back in the tent.”

“Nah. Not enough room in there. I don’t want to hide.” Rafa shoved down his shorts with an impetuous grin and kicked them free. “No one’s around.” After peeling off his hoodie, he stood naked, fingers twitching.

Shane knew it was unwise, but he couldn’t resist Rafa’s loose-limbed enthusiasm. As the president’s closeted son, his true self had been bottled up for so long. Shane couldn’t deny him anything now.

He stripped off his shorts and wound up flat on his back on a towel with Rafa naked and straddling him, impatiently squirting lube and fingering himself open. Rafa bit his lip in concentration, and Shane ran his hands up and down Rafa’s flexing thighs.

“That’s it. Get yourself ready for me. You’re so fucking beautiful.”

Rafa blushed, and Shane knew it wasn’t because he was naked with his fingers shoved in his ass on a beach where anyone might stumble along. No, even after five months of being together, Rafa twitched with discomfort when Shane told him how good-looking he was, how perfect.

So Shane said it repeatedly, and would say it over and over and over as long as he had breath. “You’re gorgeous, baby.”

“You are,” Rafa murmured, his usual reply.

“Ready for my cock?”

A grin spread over Rafa’s face. “Always.” Impaling himself, he moaned, the sound shooting right to Shane’s balls as heat surrounded his cock.

As the months had gone by, Shane had wondered if the sex would start to get boring. He’d always thought it must after a while in a monogamous relationship. But as he watched Rafa sink down on his cock, squeezing it tightly and sending sparks to Shane’s toes, he couldn’t imagine how it ever would. Not with Rafa.

He pushed himself up on one hand to lick Rafa’s dusky nipples and tease the sprinkle of hair on his chest as Rafa sank all the way. Rafa rocked back and forth, little movements of his hips as they breathed harder. He loved being fucked, and God, did Shane love fucking him.

With his other hand, Shane reached around to where his cock filled Rafa, skimming his finger over Rafa’s sensitive, stretched hole. He’d always enjoyed being inside a tight ass. But with Rafa, it was more than merely pushing into his body—Shane imagined he could reach all the way to his heart.

Barking out a laugh at his own ridiculously sappy thought, he flopped back down to the towel, bending his legs and thrusting up. Rafa gazed down at him with a dazed smile and asked, “What?”

He shook his head. “Just happy.” He stroked Rafa’s cock lazily, glancing left and right to make sure they were still alone on the beach. Pushing down the foreskin, he ran his thumb over the glistening head, gathering pre-cum. Then he lifted his hand to Rafa’s mouth and slipped his thumb between his lips. Rafa sucked it clean with an eager tongue.

“You like that, hmm?” Shane asked. “My little cum slut.” He could see the pleasure ripple through Rafa as he nodded, sucking harder on Shane’s thumb. The first time Rafa had asked Shane to call him that, he’d blushed furiously, eyes downcast.

Shane wondered how much farther Rafa wanted to go down that path of submission, but there was plenty of time for them to explore that. He pulled his thumb free and pinched Rafa’s nipples one after the other, making him cry out.

It was a joy watching Rafa bloom out of the shadow of the White House, and it was sure as hell a joy having a front-row seat for his discovery of sex. Shane had never had it this good, and as Rafa rode him with increasing speed, bracing his palms on Shane’s chest, curls swaying, Shane was the luckiest goddamn man alive.

But for how long? What if he eventually wants more than me? Someone his own age? I’m only getting older, and he’s still so young…

Shane tried to shove the thoughts away, concentrating on Rafa’s gasps and moans as he fucked himself, so tight and hot and breathless. Rafa was heavy on top of him, a delicious weight, glistening with sweat, gloriously alive. His cock throbbed in Shane’s grasp.

He’s starting classes next month. Driving the highways every day. There could be an accident. Anything can happen in a blink. And Jesus, how am I going to face his parents? What if he eventually gives into their disapproval? It’s easy to say he doesn’t care what they think, but he does.

Shane could hear Darnell sighing in his head and saying, “The future will take care of its damn self.”

Rafa frowned down at him, his movements slowing. “What are you worrying about?”

“Nothing, baby. Keep going. I’m close.” He stroked Rafa’s cock with renewed intent.

But Rafa stayed where he was, stilling his motion with Shane’s dick all the way inside him, gently batting Shane’s hand off his shaft. He rubbed two fingers between Shane’s eyebrows, smoothing out the furrow. “What are you worrying about?” he repeated.

“The future. I know, I know.”

Rafa leaned down and kissed him, licking into his mouth. His breath tickled Shane’s lips as he whispered, “Whatever happens, it’ll be okay. Because we’ll be together. It’ll be more than okay. It’ll be amazing.”

Shane nodded. “Glass half full.”

“I’ll make you an optimist, I swear.”

Clutching Rafa’s hips, Shane dug his heels into the sand and thrust up, both of them gasping. Fucking raw was still a revelation, the slick grip of Rafa’s ass like the sweetest fire. The sun glared above, and Shane’s whole body went hot, gritty sand sticking to his slick skin despite the towel.

“You gonna give it to me?” Rafa asked breathlessly, lips parted.

“Fuck, yes.” Shane held him still and rammed up, nudging his swollen prostate on every stroke.

Rafa threw his head back, crying out and muttering, “Uh, uh, uh…” His cock bobbed, but Shane didn’t touch it now, focusing on Rafa’s ass and pounding his gland from different angles. He straightened out his legs, giving Rafa more room to maneuver. “Come on. That’s it. Spray your cum all over me.”

Rafa’s cock strained and leaked, flushed dark red. Leaning his hands back on Shane’s thighs, he arched, squeezing his ass, the sight and tight sensation stealing Shane’s breath. His tan skin smooth to the touch, Rafa moaned, wild rings of curls spilling over his ears. His cry echoed over the beach as he came, splatting Shane’s chest and neck with warm jizz.

After thrusting up a few times, Shane let go, emptying into him with low groans until they were both panting. “Love you, Raf,” he muttered, his orgasm leaving him wrung out and vibrating with satisfaction.

Rafa flopped down, and Shane wrapped his arms around him. They were a sticky, sweaty mess, and the cool breeze danced over their skin. His dick softened, and he slipped it out, tenderly caressing Rafa’s stretched, wet hole.

“I love the feel of your cum inside me,” Rafa mumbled, kissing Shane’s neck. “Sometimes I think I’ll wake up and be back there in my room with wet sheets.”

Shane knew there was the White House. “You’re as far away as you can get. I promise. That cum in your ass is very real.”

Rafa laughed softly. “You sure? I used to have some very vivid dreams.”

Gently inching a finger inside, Shane played with the wet mess. “Positive.” He caught Rafa’s mouth in a long, slow kiss, and they broke apart when Shane’s stomach rumbled.

“What was that you were saying about breakfast?” he asked.

Laughing, Rafa nipped his shoulder. “I was saying you were going to cook for me for a change.”

“Hmm. That’s not how I recall that conversation.”

Rafa lifted his head, an exaggerated frown on his face. “Maybe you’re having a senior moment. Should I be worried?”

“Oh, it’s like that, is it?” He shoved Rafa off him, and they wrestled in the sand, rolling over and over and getting absolutely filthy. They raced into the waves, their laughter echoing with the seagulls’ cries.

Copyright © Keira Andrews

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