Tuesday, November 21, 2017

(42) When all else is lost the future still remains



“Yes!” Race pumped a fist in the air when he and Shan entered the bathroom and found a pool of water sitting on the shower floor and dripping from the showerhead.

“Don’t cheer too soon,” Shan chuckled. “That’s not nearly as much as we poured into the opening of the pipe.”

“But still some of it made it this far. Maybe the pipe’s got dirt or something in it that soaked up the rest.”

“Only one way to find out,” Shan said.

“Pour more water in and see what comes out. But we gotta get the showerhead off first.” Race reached for it, managing to wrench it loose with Shan’s help. “Fuck,” he shouted as he jumped back. He was drenched in slimy, dirty water.

“Guess you were right.” Shan shook his head. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.” He resisted looking at the shorts and shirt now plastered against the younger man’s body, accenting everything in high relief. “Strip,” he ordered, tossing Race a towel. “I’ll get you a clean pair of pants.”

“Then what?”

“Then you get to find out just how cold that stream is below the surface, where the sun doesn’t hit.”

“Oh hell.” Race shivered at the thought. “You know,” he said with a sly grin. “You could use a bath too.”

“Naw, I’ll just shift. That’ll do it.”

“Not fair,” Race grumbled as he pulled off the sodden shirt and worked at untying the strings on the shorts. 

Shan turned away swiftly. He didn’t need to see this. Didn’t want to, he told himself, even though his body was saying otherwise. “I’ll be back in a second,” he almost growled, his voice low and rough.

“I’ll be here.” Race bit his lip as he watched Shan hurry away. At least I know he’s a bit interested. He finished undressing and wrapped the towel around his waist.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

(41) When all else is lost the future still remains



“Race.”

The young man felt someone shaking him gently and sprang awake immediately, finding himself staring into dark brown, concerned eyes. “Where…what?” he asked before he realized he’d fallen asleep at the edge of the trees surrounding one side of the Compound.

Shan smiled, sitting back on his heels now. “Bad night?”

“More like morning,” Race admitted. “I couldn’t get to sleep so…” he shrugged.

“So you came out here to commune with nature. I’ve been known to do that a time or three, though usually in my leopard form.” He searched Race’s face. “If you want to go back inside and get some more rest that’s fine, I can handle what I was planning on my own.”

“No. I’m not going to be slacker and I sure don’t want you coddling me.” Race licked his lips, realizing they were dry and he was thirsty. “Just give me a few minutes to go get some water.”

Shan smiled, handing Race a bottle of water that had suddenly appeared in his hand.

“Whoa,” Race whispered, even as he uncapped it and took a long drink.

“Faster than your way.” Standing, Shan held out a hand, pulling Race to his feet when he took it. For a long minute they stood there looking at each other. Then, with a shake of his head Shan turned away. “We have work to do even if some of it can be accomplished using my magic.”

With a soft, frustrated sigh, Race followed as Shan started up a narrow path between the trees. Soon he heard the gurgle of water and then saw a small stream. “This is going to be our water?” he asked.

“Once we divert part of it, yes. Before I woke you, I did a bit of searching and found one of the pipes leading into the Compound. As far as I can tell it seems, somewhat miraculously, to have survived the explosion undamaged, though we won’t know for certain until we get water running through it.”

“It leads to the lowest level?”

“Another thing we’ll need to determine. So…” with a flick of his fingers two buckets appeared. “We pour some water into it and see what happens. If we’re really lucky we’ll find a puddle of it somewhere in the bathroom.”

“If not?”

“Then we punt.”

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (19)

"Oh no, you don't," Evan growled. "You're not setting yourself up to be grabbed again."
Vic smiled wickedly. "Why not? Paddy's got my back now. They get me, take me to their boss, and…"
"It could work," Paddy agreed, almost gleefully.
Evan looked at Vic in dismay before returning his attention to driving, muttering, "You're crazy."
"I have to stop the blackmailer before he forces Frank Marshall to pull out of the primary race and like I said, I only have a couple more days to do that. So unless you have a better idea…"
Evan sighed. "I don't."
"Then drop me off back at my office. That's where they got me last time."
Dom, who had been fairly quiet during most of the discussion, spoke up now. "Unless I'm mistaken, someone's following us."  
"For how long?" Vic asked, glancing in the sideview mirror. "What's he driving?"
"A green car. I don't know what kind. It's"—Dom turned slightly to look out the rear window—"four behind us right now. I noticed him when we turned. He sped up to make the light. Maybe I'm being paranoid but…"
"Easy enough to find out. Evan, turn right at the next corner." Evan did and Vic told him, "Now a left onto Elm and another left onto Franklin."
"He's still behind us," Dom said a couple of minutes later.
"Yeah, I see." Vic chuckled. "He's an amateur at this."
"Should I lose him?" Evan asked.
"No. Do like I said, drop me off at my office building."
"What about Paddy?"
"He can… come with me, but only as far as the entrance. Then he'll take off in the other direction, do his thing, and meet me inside."
"I don't like this, but I suspect I'm out-voted," Evan grumbled.
Vic reached over to pat Evan's leg. "You are, but it's really the only way to do it."
Before Vic could move his hand, Evan took it, holding it tightly for a moment. "Just be damned careful. Okay? And Paddy"—he looked at him in the rearview mirror—"if anything happens to him…"
"It won't," Paddy replied firmly. "Believe it or not, I've been watching over my various charges for more years than I like to think about and I haven't lost one yet."
"Good." Evan released his grip on Vic's hand. "Maybe Dom should go with you too."
"I already told you. I have to stick with you," Dom said. "I wouldn't be here if there wasn't the possibility that you're in danger as well, which we know you were, at least for a while. I seriously doubt that's changed."
Evan blew out a long breath. "I suppose not." He veered off the street into a vacant spot in front of Vic's building.
Vic and Paddy got out, but not before Vic said quietly, "I have plans for taking you out for dinner when this is over."
"Then catch the bastard, without getting the shit beaten out of you again." Evan's lips turned up in a weak grin. "I gave up being a medic years ago… well, until I met you. I really don't want patching you up to become a habit if we can help it."
"I'm not too fond of that idea myself." Vic leaned closer momentarily as if he was going to whisper something, shook his head, and he and Paddy got out of the car. 
Evan watched them play out their roles, talking briefly before Paddy walked away and Vic went inside. "Just…stay safe," Evan said under his breath. "I want that dinner you promised me."
As he pulled the car back out onto the street, Dom said, "You'll get it. And by the way, our follower was watching from across the street, so with luck, this might be over soon."
"Your words to God's ears," Evan said in reply.
Dom laughed. "That happens. Rarely, but sometimes."

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Release day for 'Bill and Erik'!

Bill and Erik
 
Bill Hawkins owns a bed-and-breakfast in the small mountain town of Middleton. He loves his life, his family, and his friends. The only thing missing is someone to call his own. A man he can love who will love him in return.

Erik King takes off when he catches his boyfriend in bed with another man. He's looking for somewhere away from that city. Perhaps a small town where life is less hectic and the people are friendly. What he is not looking for is a new man in his life.

When a winter snowstorm lands Erik at Bill's B&B, he finds the younger man too interesting, and goes on the run, again. The question becomes, will he realize he can't run from his feelings and return in time to celebrate Thanksgiving—and admit to Bill that he cares for him -- giving them both a reason to be thankful?

EXCERPT:
    When Erik woke Thursday morning, it took him a few seconds to figure out where he was. Then it all came back to him. If I never see the bastard again, it'll be too soon.

    He dressed in a fresh pair of jeans and a heavy sweatshirt, once he'd checked the weather, which predicted the high would be in the mid-fifties, with possible rain. He wasn't all that surprised, considering the time of year. He topped everything off with his leather chaps and jacket, packed up, and headed down to check out. By then, it was just after ten.

    He got back on Sixth, heading west, looking for a fast food place where he could get something to eat. He ended up at a subway shop. After ordering a chicken and bacon melt and coffee, he found a table away from a family with three noisy kids. As he ate, he contemplated what to do next.

    Go back and find a new apartment? I've got a job, which is a plus. The minus is, the bastard knows where I work. If he shows up there, trying to apologize, I might knock his ass into next week. End of job, and probably an assault charge on top of that. Head back home? That idea held no appeal at all. He'd left years ago to get away from his smothering parents.

    Keep on moving west. Who knows what's out there? Maybe I'll find a vacant mountain cabin and settle in to live off the land. Uh-huh. More like starve to death, if I didn't freeze to death first. Winter is a coming in.

    Still, the idea of the mountains appealed to him at the moment. Something very different from what he was used to. Taking out his phone to check what there was in the way of small towns, the first thing he saw was that he had four voicemails -- all of them from his ex. He deleted them without listening to whatever the SOB had to say. Then, because he knew it was something he should do, he called work.

    "Pat, it's Erik," he said when the day manager answered the phone. "I hate to do this on such short notice, but I got a call from my mother. My dad's real sick and I've got to go back home." He listened and a moment later said, "No, I don't know when I'll be back, or if I will." He nodded. "Yeah. Thanks. I hope so too."

    After the call ended, he brought up a map of the mountains to the west of Golden and planned his route. He figured he could check out a couple of the towns along the way and make a decision once he'd seen them and what they had to offer.

    Probably not much in the way of jobs, this time of year, unless they cater to skiers. Not sure I'm up for dealing with them, since himself spent half the winter on the slopes.

    He finished eating, got a fresh coffee which he poured into his travel mug when he got back to his bike, and took off.

    * * * *

    "The weatherman loves us," Mrs. Greene said, as she and her husband checked into the White River B&B Thursday afternoon.

    "Yep," Bill agreed. "Maybe we should keep you around all winter to make the snow stays away."

    She laughed. "If only it was that easy."

    Since they were a pair of his favorite guests, Bill personally escorted them to their room. He smiled when, as soon as they entered, Mrs. Greene gasped in surprise. A large vase of flowers sat on the dresser. Next to it was an ice bucket holding a bottle of champagne. A banner hanging over the dresser proclaimed, Happy Anniversary.

    "Oh, Bill, you shouldn't have," Mrs. Greene said, hugging him.

    "It wasn't me. It was the winter elves," he replied with a grin.

    "Whoever it was, thank you," Mr. Greene said. "This added to the celebration."

    "I presume you're having dinner at the Dusty Rose."

    "Of course," Mr. Greene replied. "I called to make reservations a week ago. You're invited, if you want."

    "Thank you, but this is your special day. Candlelit dinner, a romantic walk along the river afterward…"

    "Freezing our asses off," Mr. Greene said. "Maybe there's no snow, but it's colder than sin out there."

    Bill chuckled. "I noticed. Anyway, happy anniversary. If you need anything, anything at all, let me, Mattie, or Roger know."

    "We will. Not that we ever do. It's one reason we like coming up here. You anticipate everything and there's never a problem."

    With a slight bow, Bill thanked him and left, going back to the foyer.

    * * * *

    Bill sighed as he watched from the front window of his house while snow began to drift down, just after dinner. "Let's hope it stays light," he said to War. The dog didn't seem to agree. Instead, he pranced to the door, looking back at his owner. "Right. Now you want a walk. An hour ago, I had to drag you outside."
 

Friday, November 17, 2017

(40) When all else is lost the future still remains



The ‘high-class sleeping arrangements’ as Addie had called them turned out to be three small connecting rooms that she told Race had been used for counseling when the fighters at the Compound got overly stressed. She’d pushed the desks in each one to the side walls to serve as dressers, and then swept them out and put down the workout pads, topped with sheets and blankets.

Now, Race lay on his ‘bed’ staring up at the ceiling. Not that he could actually see it as it was pitch dark, but he knew it was there, looming over him, the weight of the destroyed Compound just above. And it felt like a weight—not in reality but the history behind it that had shaped the lives of Addie, Shan, and so many others who had once lived there.

Despite what the others had said, he didn’t belong here and he knew it. In case of trouble, and he had no doubt that before this was over that would happen, he’d be more of a hindrance than a help. If he were anywhere else but here he’d leave, but he didn’t even know where ‘here’ was. Restless, unable to sleep despite the fact that he was bone tired, he got up, lighting the stub of the candle he’d used earlier before inching his way to the door. He opened it as quietly as possible and slipped into the hallway.

From there he made his way to the first tunnel and started up the incline. When he reached the top, he carefully slipped through the brush he and Shan had put at the entrance to hide it and stepped out into the early morning light. Shivering as a chill breeze hit him, he realized that the clothes he’d taken from Shan’s island home were no proof against the high mountain temperatures at this hour of the day, even though it was summer. Wrapping his arms around himself he moved to the closest tree and settled against its leeward side, out of the wind’s path.

He had to admit that it was beautiful up here. Even the ruins had a sort of strange grandeur, covered as they were with new growth and trailing vines. He wouldn’t really mind being here if he could be more than the stray kid Shan had taken under his wing. And therein lay the main problem, as far as he was concerned. He didn’t know how he would deal with living here for however long it took, knowing that all Shan saw him as was a kid, and a possible student if he really did have the magic potential Kayne though he had.

As the sun rose, beginning to warm him finally, his thoughts went around and around with not resolution. Finally exhaustion took over and he slept.