Starting tomorrow, I’ll be running a giveaway here on my blog in conjunction with the release of my new book, Raveneye! It will run through the end of the week (until October 28, midnight CST) and the prizes are great – Amazon gift cards, copies of my book Raveneye, a copy of Roman (Saints and Sinners) by Kennedy Streath, and gorgeous silver chopsticks from Sessha Batto! There will be more than one gift card and more than one copy of my book. (Only one from Kennedy and only one set of chopsticks, so cross your fingers hard!
Here’s a bit of the book to whet your appetite. [WARNING: 18+ only]
Edie laughed and retreated to her station. After a few minutes, she looked up and said, “He checked out early. Did you know that?”
“At least you didn’t say, ‘who’. He had booked a month here, Teo, but he left after… Teo, he was only here four days. He checked out on the twelfth.”
The day after I saw him in the desert. Damn.
“Something happened while he was here.” She turned to stare at Teo again. “Do you know what it was? You do, don’t you? Oh my God, Teo, did he try something funny with you?”
“No! He’s straight, Edie, as he was at pains to let me know.”
“Oohh. Did you try something funny with him, then?”
“Do you want those drinks or not?”
“You know I do, sweets.” She glanced up at the clock. “In fact, the late shift should be here any minute. You ready to go?”
“I need to change.”
“Go on and do that. I’ll meet you there, all right?”
He nodded, shut down his computer, and headed for his cottage, arguing with himself until he was standing in his bedroom, jeans and a tee in hand. Why did I agree to drinks? I don’t want to do this. I can’t tell her what happened. Damn. We’ve smoked together often enough over the years, and the peyote isn’t exactly secret from her either, but Raveneye? No, I can’t tell her that. I won’t go. But I can’t stand her up. I’ll have one shot, then make an excuse and come home. I could call her and cancel. I need to know what the gossip mill is churning out. I need to know why he left. My God, he left! Because he saw a bird in the desert? It was more than that. He made us… Raveneye welcome to perch with him. We should have… I should have… damn!
The mirror he’d been avoiding confirmed Edie’s assessment. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his favorite jeans slipped low on his hips. Rode hard, and put away wet, if at all. I can’t let him get to me like this. He was threading a belt through the loops on his jeans when the knock sounded.
“It’s me, Teo.”
“It’s open, Edie.”
“Brought us a bottle, baby. No need to get all dolled up. Or all GI Joe’d up in your case. Shot glasses in the same place?”
“Yeah. Thanks. Be out in a few.”
“Oh, you’re not dressed? I’ll be right there. I know I can’t have any, but I can look, can’t I?” She walked into the bedroom. “Teo, what the hell is that?”
Teo scrambled for his t-shirt and yanked it over his head. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Edie stood close enough to pull up the tee and run her fingers over the marks. “Teo, those are wounds on your pecs. They look like claw marks. Oh, God, have you let some asshole hurt you?”
Edie raised a brow.
“Okay, yes, but the asshole was me, all right?”
“No, not all right.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the living area. “We’re doing twofer shots until you start talking.”
Teo let himself be dragged to the counter while Edie lined up an entire set of shot glasses, and began filling them. She held up a small bag of limes and said, “Wedge them,” as she rummaged in the cabinet for the coarse salt. “Counter?”
“You know I’d rather sit on the floor.”
“Good. It’ll give you a chance to look up my skirt and see I’m not as much a woman yet as you think I am.”
In spite of himself, Teo chuckled. Edie could lighten the atmosphere without really working at it.
“Are you the only gay man in the world without a tray in his kitchen? Help me carry all this to that thing you use for a coffee table.”
“It is a coffee table. A table anyway,” Teo protested as he stacked the plate of lime wedges atop the bowl of salt, and did a finger-dip-and-grip with three of the shot glasses. Edie grabbed the others and followed him to the low table that was simply two planks on cinder blocks, covered with his grandmother’s Navajo blanket. “And don’t start. I know, you want to do that ‘decorate’ thing, but this suits me.”
“Wasn’t going to say a word.” She folded herself neatly tailor-fashion, leaning back against the utilitarian futon Teo was certain she would call ‘boring’. She lifted a shot glass, tipped it toward him and said, “To friends who listen.”
He grunted. “To friends who don’t pry,” he replied and slammed the shot back.
“Another, dude. It’s going to take a lot to get you to spill it.”
“Edie, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You do. You just want me to persuade you. Drink that.”
Four shots later, Teo found himself wishing he’d eaten. Today. Maybe yesterday would have been a good idea, too. The tequila was buzzing between his ears, warm in his belly, and loosening his slurring tongue.
“He’s… It was hard… tough, having him there on my table, naked. I want him, Edie. Shit, I want him.”
“Don’t blame you. Day-yum.”
“No, no, not like that. OK, like that, but after I looked at him with my Other Eyes, it was worse.”
“Yeah, the ones that see the deep stuff, the real and true.”
“I have no clue what you’re talking about, but keeping talking. Maybe I’ll catch on.”
“He’s so beautiful, Edie. And so different. Nobody’s like him.”
“Nobody’s like anybody else.”
“Not him. He’s not-like-anybody-else-r than… anybody else.”
Edie laughed, and the tequila she was pouring sloshed over the edge of Teo’s shot glass.
“Hey, don’t waste that! You brought the good stuff.”
“‘Course I did. Not gonna get my best friend drunk on the stomach-chewers.”
“Am you what?”
“My best friend. Your best friend.”
“Oh, fuck, yes, honey. You accept me, like no one else does. And that’s why… why something. Oh, yeah, why I want to help you. You’re gonna let me help you, aren’t you, doll?” She leaned toward Teo and laid a hand on his arm. “Tell me what happened. Why you hurt yourself.”
Teo focused with an effort, and looked into her eyes. “It hurts, Edie. It hurt then and it hurts worse every day. The only way to make it stop was to… to try to dig the hurting place out. It didn’t work. I quit before I got deep enough.”
“Oh my god, Teo, you were trying to claw the pain in your heart out?”
“Were you tripping?”
“I… not exactly.” I can’t tell her those were Raveneye’s talons. She’ll want to take him away. If he ever forgives me for forcing him to do that.
“You either were or you weren’t. It’s like being pregnant. You can’t be a little bit pregnant. It’s yes or no. Drink this and tell me which it was.”
“I don’t think I can do another, baby.”
Her raised eyebrow told him she hadn’t missed the ‘baby.’ “Sure you can.”
It was futile to argue with her. Or maybe I really need to get out of my mind drunk. He tossed it back. “Set ‘em up again.”
“Good for you. Now, tripping?”
“Coming down. Coming… damn I wish I’d been coming.”
“I can make that happen for you, doll.”
“Shit, Edie, that sounds good. But friends shouldn’t…”
“Bullshit. Friends are the best fuck buddies.” She leaned closer, brushing his lips with her own. “I want it, too, Teo. All my junk is still there, baby. It’s just the boobs, and they’re nice and small.”
“Can you still… I mean, the hormones…”
“I haven’t been on them long. Can I get it up? Touch me and see.” She took his hand and slid it under the skirt that had inched up far enough he’d quit wondering about the surgery and lingerie choices. Commando seemed to be her preference.
“Oh, god, Edie. You’re hard.”
“Yes, baby. Hard for you.” She whispered into his ear. He shivered and she went on, “Yes, Teo, yes. Pull it out, baby. Let me see. God, let me get it good and wet before you fuck me with it.”
“You need it. I need it. What’s the problem?” She fumbled with his belt buckle.
“We work together. We shouldn’t.”
“That’s not stopping you from taking a good grip. And it’s not going to stop me from riding you.” She kissed him, demanding his mouth, as she swung a leg over his lap to straddle him.
Teo groaned. “Don’t. Don’t take that cock out of my hand.”
She threw her head back and ground against him, and Teo was lost.