Sunday, August 25, 2019

Fear - 55


Laughing softly, Gene replied, "I'm sure you can."

It puzzled him, as it had from the beginning, that after all he'd been through Shawn could still be so flirtatious. He remembered back when he'd finally broken away from his abusive lover. The last thing he'd wanted was to get into another relationship.

And that's been the case ever since, until now

"Let's go eat before the pot roast turns into a chunk of dried up meat and shrunken vegetables."

"Sounds good to me." Shawn walked past Gene into the hallway, turned and waited. "You coming?"

Gene nodded as he looked around the bedroom, trying to see it through Shawn's eyes. It belongs to a confirmed bachelor, books and all. He smiled ruefully as he closed the door and joined Shawn.

A few minutes later, they were sitting at the island in the kitchen, full plates of food in front of them.

Shawn had insisted they eat there, not in the dining room. "I don't understand why you even have it," he'd said, "since you never have company. You could turn it into one hell of a media room or something."

Gene winced inwardly at the 'never have company' statement, turning his reaction to it into a joke. "With my eighteen inch TV as the only media? It would be real lonely all by itself."

"So you buy a computer and stuff to keep it company."

"I have a computer, at my office. It's the only one I need."

Shawn chuckled softly. "Gene, you're a stodgy old loner."

Gene smiled. "You've just discovered the secret I've been trying to hide all these years. I am."

"But you're not," Shawn disagreed. "Not really." He rested his elbows on the island top, staring at Gene. "You have tons of friends."

"I have a lot of people I know well, mostly patients and their families. I'm not certain I'd call many of them friends the way you mean. Max and Linda, yes, and a couple of others and that's about it."

Picking up his fork again, Shawn took a bite of the roast, asking casually after swallowing, "Have any of them been here?"

"Max, once."

Shawn arched his eyebrows. "Just once? Did you give him the grand tour?"

"Nope, coffee in the living room while we talked… business."

"Damn." Shawn took another bite, shaking his head

Yes, damn. But it's how I am. It's easier to keep control over my life that way. I fought hard to get it back. I'm not willing to give it up Gene stared down at his plate, wondering if it had been such a good idea to let Shawn in. Into the house, into my life…

Saturday, August 24, 2019

'The Beast Within' has arrived. (A re-release)

The Beast Within





GENRE: Gay Mystery Erotic Romance
LENGTH: 42,863 words
RATING: flame rating 3

A cannibalistic serial killer targeting gay men is on the loose.

Devin, who has become increasingly erratic in the last two months, just split up with Gary, his lover of three years. Vanni, a habituĂ© of the gay clubs, makes extra spending money on his knees in the club johns. Is one of these men the killer? Or will one of them instead become the killer’s next target?

Detective Hollis Robbins is in charge of the case. He intends to stop the killer, if he can.

When the killer strikes again the four men’s lives intertwine as the search for the murderer intensifies. Will the attraction that two of them begin to feel for each other survive the hunt? Do they have the strength to continue on after tragedy strikes and teaches them that love can be bittersweet?

EXCERPT:
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.
    "Didn't know you hung out here."

    Gary turned slowly to look at Vanni. "Why shouldn't I? Is this your private stomping ground? No one allowed unless they pay your 'cover charge'?" Gary's lip curled up in a sneer.

    "Look, bitch, you might be able to get away with talking to Devin like that but I'm not him."

    "Bitch?" Gary growled.

    "If the shoe fits," Vanni told him with a smirk of amused condescension.

    "I don't know who the hell you think you are but…"

    "I'm the one who's watched you push Devin to the brink then walk away. He was a good man 'til you got your hands on him."

    "He still is a good man when he's not ... when he gets control of his anger. If he gets control of it."

    Vanni rested one foot on the rung of the barstool as he rolled a bottle of beer between his hands. "So what are you doing that makes him angry? Not putting out? Putting out to other men too?"

    "It always comes down to sex with you, doesn't it, Giovanni?" Gary used his full name when he replied because he knew Vanni hated it.

    "It's what makes the world go 'round they say." Vanni's brown eyes flashed dark with ire as he took a deep drink and set the bottle down on the bar. "No wait, it's love that does that but you wouldn't know since you don't love him, at least not the way you should."

    "What the hell do you know about my feelings?"

    "Like I said, I've watched you with him."

    Gary shook his head. "No, you've watched him with me and there's a difference. We come to the clubs because they're the only thing that seems to relieve his stress. We come, we dance, and if I'm lucky we go home together and maybe fu ... make love."

    "You're first choice was probably the more accurate one. You fuck him then you go home and leave him wanting more."

    "When the hell did you become an expert in love?" Gary glared daggers at Vanni. "You wouldn't know it if it came up and introduced itself to you, Mr. Fucking Sex Machine, down on your knees half your life in some filthy john." The next thing Gary knew he was on his ass on the floor. He looked up at Vanni in shock while he rubbed his jaw. "Hit to close to home there ...H Giovanni?"

    Vanni fisted his hands again then shook his head. "You aren't worth a trip to jail," he snarled. He turned quickly, strode to the door of the club, and vanished through it onto the sidewalk.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Fear - 54


Shawn paused, took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. As if he'd been waiting right there, Gene opened the door then stepped aside to let him in.

"Nice," Shawn said once the welcoming kiss from Gene was finished.

Gene chuckled. "The kiss or the room?"

"Both?" Shawn grinned, finally looking around.

The living room was larger than he'd expected from looking at the house from the outside. It had a hardwood floor, extending into the dining room which Shawn could see through a large, oak-framed arch. There was a fireplace on one wall and, just as Gene had promised, Shawn's drawing of him hung on the wall above it. Facing the fireplace was a dark blue, upholstered, semi-circular sofa with a beige-toned Native American designed rug between them. The painted walls matched the color of the rug, with oak baseboards and cornices. At least I think that's what the trim at the top of the walls is called.

The dining room was a smaller version of the living room, but with a circular, glass-topped table and four antique-looking chairs set in front of another fireplace.

"At least you won't get cold in the winter," Shawn commented before Gene led him into the kitchen. "Whoa, now this I didn't expect, as much as you eat out."

Gene laughed. "It came this way, but I do use it."

Oak cabinets and counters, a large stainless steel refrigerator, and matching oven took up three of the walls, with a long bank of windows on the fourth. In the center of the room was an oak island with a marble countertop which Shawn figured served as the kitchen table since there were two tall stools on one side.

"A roast?" Shawn asked, sniffing the air.

"Yep. Pot roast, which should be ready in about twenty minutes."

Shawn grinned. "I'm not sure I can wait that long." Then he sighed dramatically when Gene told him he didn't have a choice. "In that case, show me the rest of the house."

Gene did, taking him up a narrow flight of stairs at one side of the front door to the second floor. There were two bedrooms, one small one, which Gene said was the guest room, "Although I never have guests," he told Shawn with a slight, tense smile.

"Why not?" Shawn blurted out without thinking.

"I like my privacy," was Gene's taut reply. He obviously regretted his tone of voice because seconds later he quickly apologized. "I'm just not big on entertaining unless it's someone I feel very comfortable with, like you."

Shawn hesitated, remembered Max's advice about being open and honest with Gene, and replied, "Because this is your sanctuary, the place where you feel safe." He tensed when Gene frowned, instinctively taking a step backwards.

"Hey, none of that," Gene said, reaching out to take Shawn's hand as his frown faded away. "I wasn't angry. I was just surprised you…you understood." He smiled, putting his arm around Shawn's waist. "Though I guess I shouldn't have been. You're one smart young man."

"Who's been there too, so why shouldn't I get it? And before this turns into 'poor us', show me your bedroom so we can go back downstairs and eat."

Gene shook his head, his gaze as he looked at Shawn full of amusement. "I have the feeling you're going to be good for me. Not that I didn't know that already. You have a way of…"

"Making you see what's important, like dinner." Shawn grinned as he moved away to open the door next to the guestroom. "Okay, I found the bathroom," he muttered, "which isn't too shabby. So this door"—he opened the one across the hallway—"better be your bedroom."

It was. The room was light and airy, thanks to the west-facing windows. Hardwood flooring and beige walls matched the downstairs rooms. There was a large bed, covered with a deep brown comforter, a dresser, and a tall bookcase filled almost to overflowing. Beside it hung three crossed swords, which Gene said had been part of a collection for sale at the Farmer's Market the previous summer.

Shawn saw a pile of books on the nightstand and jumped to the logical conclusion. "You read in bed."

Gene nodded. "Always."

"I can think of better things to do." Shawn grinned wickedly.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fear - 53

"You've never been inside his house?" Max didn't seem too surprised when Shawn told him that.

"No. I think…" Shawn shrugged. "I think maybe it's his private place if that makes sense—where he can go to be alone and feel safe."

"That's very observant of you."

"Well, in a way, I know why." Shawn frowned, unsure if Max knew Gene's history well enough to get what he was saying—or not saying.

"He's afraid," Max replied. "Having been through the same things you have, he's got the same fears you have. The problem is he's been carrying them for so long, they're deeply ingrained into his psyche, even though he might not realize it. I'm fairly certain he didn't have someone to help him get past them the way you do."

"The way he's helping me." Shawn nodded. "But he can't be afraid of me. I mean damn, look at me. I couldn't knock out a fly, to say the least of a larger man, even if I wanted to which I don't and I never would."

"Of course you wouldn't, but you know there's more to being abused than just the physical part."

"Yeah, I do. From what happened to me—and to him. He told me about it—how he stayed with the dude even after he quit beating on him. About the mental and emotional stuff the guy put him through. But damn it, Max, I'm not going to pull something like that." Shawn smiled wryly. "I'm not a control freak. If I was, I wouldn't have stayed with Jared for more than a day or three."

"You know that; I know that, and so does Gene. But there's knowing and there's believing. I'd be willing to bet even though you're sure Gene would never hurt you, you still react sometimes as if you thought he might. It's instinctive right now. Duck or cower when you say something that would have had Jared coming after you verbally or physically. Right?"

"Right." Shawn nodded slowly. "I try not to but sometimes I can't help it."

"Exactly. Gene's well past that at this point, but like you said, his house is his safe haven. He's built walls, physically with the house, as well as emotionally. You're breaking through the emotional ones from what I've seen, and now he's giving you permission to get inside the physical ones."

"If I screw up…"

"That will only happen if you're not honest with him. If he does something that upsets you, tell him. The same goes when he does something you like."

"Oh, I do that all the time, the liking part."

"And if he upsets you?"

Shawn chewed his lip. "Not so much so. Maybe never?"

"Understandable, but you can't build any kind of relationship without honesty." Max chuckled. "Maybe I should get him in here and have this same talk with him."

"Oh boy. Still, you do a good job of it so—"

"I had two very good teachers, my father and Linda. But that's neither here nor there. Just remember what we've been talking about, if and when he tries to put the walls up again. He's in the same boat you are, so trust comes hard. You're learning to trust him, with good reason. Just don't give him any reason not to trust you."

"I won't, I promise."

Monday, August 19, 2019

Fear - 52


Gene wrapped Shawn in a tight embrace, wiping away the tears. "You don't have to tell me. I understand," he said softly. "But never again. No one is ever going to do that to you again."

"You don't know that."

"I do, because I'll never do that, and I'll be here to protect you from anyone else who tries. Well"—he pressed a kiss to his forehead—"at least for as long as you want me to be."

"Forever?" Shawn's voice was both wistful and hopeful as he gazed up at Gene.

"Until I'm in a walker. Then you're on your own in the protection department, I'm afraid."

Shawn's laugh was watery, but it was a laugh. "I can deal with that."

"I know you can. Now, do you feel well enough to go back inside? I don't think it's a good idea for the guest of honor, meaning me, to just vanish without saying goodbye to everyone."

Shawn nodded, wiping away the last of his tears. "But first…" Putting his arms around Gene's neck, he kissed him, whispering 'thank you' against his lips.

* * * *

"Wait a minute, please," Shawn said, in what Gene thought of as his 'cautious' mode. The one he still manifested too frequently, as if afraid he might upset him.

Gene had brought him back to Max's after the party and walked him to the door where they'd shared a few kisses. Shawn seemed up and excited, not only from kissing but for some other reason as well. Gene had the idea he was about to find out what.

"I'll be right back. Honest." With that said Shawn vanished inside.

Gene leaned against the porch railing, staring up at the starlit sky. The moon was just peeking over the mountains on the east side of town. It's going to be too cold to do this soon. Fireplace weather in a month. He smiled to himself, envisioning sitting with Shawn in front of a blazing fire, the snow coming down outside. And I'm getting ahead of myself here.

He turned around when he heard the door open and saw Shawn standing there, one hand behind his back. Shyly, Shawn brought it forward, giving Gene a thin, brightly wrapped package.

"It's nothing special. Just, well… I wanted to give it to you in private."

Intrigued, Gene carefully unwrapped it. "Okay," he said softly, "this is very special."

"You like it? I…it took time to get it so it really looked like you. I think I filled the wastebasket twice over with ones that didn't work."

"I couldn't have asked for a better gift." Gene looked again at the drawing Shawn had done of him, smiling with pleasure. "Thank you." Holding it carefully, he used his free hand to cup the back of Shawn's head and kissed him deeply. When they broke apart finally, he said, "This is going to hang in my living room. Maybe, yes definitely, over the fireplace."

Shawn turned pick with pleasure even as he protested, "It's not that good."

"Actually, it is, so that's where it's going."

Shawn grinned. "You're going to have to prove it."

"Oh?"

"Uh-huh. And that means I'll finally get to see the inside of your place."

Gene chuckled. He could almost hear the unspoken 'So there'. "It's a deal. As a matter of fact, maybe next Sunday. I'll even cook supper."

"Really?"

"Yes, really. But for now, you'd better get to bed. We'd both better. As it is, we're only going to get a few hours of sleep before we have to be at work."

"All right." Shawn stepped closer, close enough to kiss Gene again. "I'm glad you like it," he whispered a moment later.

"The picture or the kiss?"

"Both?" Shawn ginned, spun around and headed inside.

Definitely both, but more than anything I like the artist who gave them to me.