Don’t forget….ONE DAY LEFT for the name a City Tour Contest! Three winners! You only have to comment to enter and you’ll get to name a city for the back of a Sinner’s Gin Tour Shirt!
Now to celebrate… I’m including an excerpt of Whiskey and Wry…which I am hiding under a cut for people who don’t want spoilers.
In other news, the steampunk short story? Yeah, that’s been optioned for a novella so I’m working on filling in the spots I hated leaving limp. *does happy dance* I have no idea what I’m doing with it. Really. So wish me luck. *grins* It at least has an ending.
And a hairless cat. *laughs*
The wet on his face broke through the dream, and Damien lurched up, flailing to fight off the blows. His chest ached from the cold, and the scar running down his breastbone was puckered tight, twisting in until it felt like a line of knots in his skin. He was freezing, and the wind had shifted in the early morning, angling the rain in through the window he’d accidentally left open.
Stumbling to his feet, Damien fought to gain some balance, but his legs were unresponsive, his muscles cramped from the cold and past hurts. The tips of his fingers ached when he latched them onto the window sash, and his shoulders trembled as he tried to shove the frame down. It took him a few tries before the old-fashioned sash window gave in, and the glass rattled when he finally got it to go down.
Slumping back onto the mattress, Damien sat against the wall, too numb and freezing to do anything but shake from the night terrors and the cold.
The hands in his dream didn’t belong to the man who’d come to him at Skywood. No, that man had been polished, an urbane sophisticate whose sole purpose appeared to be to convince Damien he was insane. The woman he’d been with was no better. There was something off about them. Something he couldn’t pinpoint at the time. Sitting against the wall of the cheap rented room, Damien finally realized why they’d seemed so odd.
They were about as far from the truth as could possibly be.
The man in his dream stank, a greasy film of odor and foul language slicking everything he touched, including his son. Nothing was ever good enough… no one was ever good enough. The most fearful place in the world was behind the front door. Outside, Damien was safe, an object of preening pride and boasting, but once that thick white door closed, the calm was shattered and monsters crawled out of the darkness.
Childhood was a tangle of confusion and something Damien wondered if he’d even survived.
Rubbing at his face, he was shocked to find a thick sheen of sweat on his skin. Despite the chill, his body was dripping from the fear he’d brought up out of his memories. It was too early to do anything useful. Wrapping a thick quilt around his shoulders, he sat cross-legged and quiet until the shaking in his limbs eased.
“What time is it?” Too lazy to reach for the alarm clock he’d covered with a washcloth to damp the light, Damien nudged it with his foot, knocking it off a crate. It fell backside down, and the red numbers glowed an ominous too-dark-early for his liking. “Too damned early to play anything. Someone’ll kick my ass.”
The walls were thin. Even tucked away into a small attic space far from the main floors, his playing seeped down to the lower rooms. If he picked up a guitar to play himself into exhaustion, someone would be at his door before he could finish a single song.
Warmth eventually sank through his skin, and Damien pulled his legs up, resting his chin on his knees. His hands still ached, more from long hours of playing, although the cold definitely danced its merry jig on them.
“Can’t wait to see Miki’s face when I tell him I’m playing Finnegan’s.” It’d been a couple of weeks since he’d been offered a corner at the pub’s outdoor café space, and Damien still couldn’t believe it. Anchored on the pier’s walk, he’d scanned the crowd, hoping in some corner of his heart to see his friend’s face amongst the strangers. Shaking his head, Damien whispered, “But you’ve never come. Fucking hell, dude, I’m running out of places to look for you.”
The gas station map of San Francisco he’d taped up against the long wall across his bed was marked up with highlighter ink and notes. He’d spent his mornings walking through neighborhoods he’d barely known existed before he’d begun his search and came up empty every time. None of the warehouses came close to what he’d had in his mind.
He grabbed his pillow, crossed his legs, and hugged it to his chest, staring at the map in the too-bright cherry glow from his alarm clock. His eyes drifted back to the pier, fixating on the green dot he’d stuck over the pub’s address.
He’d only seen the owner a few times since he’d been back, but whenever he caught a glimpse of him, something in him unfurled. After the first time playing on the patio, he’d somehow become enough of the scenery to get a free cup of coffee from the bar. The second time earned him a basket of garlic fries and the company of the manager, a jaded woman named Leigh whose hair seemed in a constant state of unicorn poop.
Leigh turned out to be a source of food as well as gossip, not someone Damien wanted to piss off, especially since she seemed determined to fatten him up like he was a little boy who’d nibbled on her gingerbread house. She rambled on about a lot of things, moving from politics to the state of lettuce, but most of all, she seemed to always come back to one thing… Sionn Murphy.
He’d learned Sionn had come over from Ireland when he was a teen to live with his maternal grandmother and that the man had an aunt living nearby who was getting pissed off that he didn’t come over for dinner. He’d also found out the man had a sweet baritone and knew all the words to “Greensleeves.”
Leigh also felt the need to tell Damien Sionn liked men for more than just a night of drinking and watching the telly.
That gleeful whisper into Damien’s ear seemed to lodge there, worming through the clouds in his memory and spreading its invasive tendrils into the recesses of his foggy mind.
“Guy is hot,” he acknowledged, wrapping the quilt even tighter around his cold shoulders. “Fuck, that damned mouth.”
He’d found himself staring at the man’s hands, enraptured by Sionn’s strong fingers and broad palms, especially when he raked through his mink-brown hair, disheveling the longer strands so they fell forward onto his face. Trapped in the corner of the patio, he’d drift off in his playing, finding himself drawn more and more to Sionn’s wide shoulders and long legs. The man’s deep gray eyes caught his own stare once, and Sionn’s wicked mouth crooked a smile in Damien’s direction, leaving him flushed and hot beneath his cowboy hat.
Thank fucking God for that hat.
It kept the rain out and his blushes hidden. Most of all, it allowed him to sneak peeks at Sionn’s ass when he leaned over to clean a table. He was the kind of guy someone would buy a house with, argue over what color to paint the kitchen, then grumble good-naturedly when he lost. Sionn Murphy would be the man to climb a tree to rescue a kitten, say it could only stay one night before off to the pound it went, then spend the next twenty years coaxing it to let him give it belly rubs.
He was the kind of man someone would keep, holding him close until death came for one of them, and Damie’s heart twisted at the idea someone else—not him—would have Sionn Murphy’s final kiss.
“Holy shit.” Damien didn’t need to cup himself to know his cock was thickening. Its head pushed against the seam of his sweats, rubbing at the stitching along the crotch. A tingle fluttered in his ball sac, and Damien leaned back against the wall, unsure of what to do with his body’s reactions to his memories of Sionn’s toned body.
Suddenly the beatings made sense. Something… everything… made sense. His father… still faceless but brimming with hate… dug deep down into him, trying to unmake the man Damien was determined to become. The wrongness of it all struck him hard, leaving Damie sick to his stomach.
“I’ll be fucking damned. Guess my father was right.” Exhaling hard, he dug the heels of his hands into his stinging eyes and muttered, “I am fucking gay.”