August 31, 2015 1 Comment
This month I bring you an excerpt from author Nya Rawlyns. Her extensive library of written books includes a little something for everyone, with sensual scenes that will have you holding your breath for more.
Here is part of the first chapter in the suspense, gay fiction story of two men—separated by age, by experiences and by their very natures—who begin the first tentative steps toward friendship. They will be challenged by events that shock their small community, events that help them find the common ground necessary to protect the ones they care about, including each other.
Marcus extended the kindness. He kept his eyes on the cash register and muttered, “Josiah,” in response. It was the little dance they did once or twice a month when the burly near-stranger came into the feed store to stock up on ranch necessities.
Josiah looked around. “Slow for Saturday.”
Marcus near bit his tongue. Josiah kept to a few words… mostly howdy, how much, see ya next time. It would have been awkward, but after a bit you got to accepting what the man gave you because he had reasons, a shit ton of them, what with the scarring from the IED and the metal rods holding him upright.
It seemed odd to know the intimacies of a man’s inner workings when the man himself was an enigma, a stranger to the town he was born in, the town where his parents had their farewell service in the cleared out space in Polly’s restaurant amid the savory smells of steak on the grill arguing with stale beer and staler pretzels ground into the wide plank flooring.
Shifting from the cash register to the cluster of sacks just at the edge of the counter, Marcus said, “Hard times,” and proceeded to bag up the pitiful few items. Ten penny nails. Duct tape. Some industrial grade staples. A roll of twelve-gauge electric wire.
The wire was heavy. Josiah reached across the counter and grabbed at the edges of the sack, holding it open. The touch was incidental. Marcus hadn’t meant anything by it. It was just a casual scrape across the man’s knuckles. They both flinched. Marcus would have laughed and said oops or ’scuse me, except he’d clamped his jaw, mimicking the taller man, holding back. A tremor rattled his gut like it always seemed to when Josiah Foxglove was near. What’s with that, anyways?
Marcus asked, “Doing fence this weekend?” He wanted to kick himself. Of course the man was doing fence. That’s what you did when you made do on ninety acres of not nearly enough to support you and yours.
Josiah had shrugged. He was also standing there, at the end of the counter, holding onto the sack. Planted. Like his worn boots had somehow glued themselves to the dusty, cracked linoleum. Grown roots.
It was unseemly. And unprecedented. Marcus decided to go for broke. “You know, Josh, it’d be a hella lot cheaper to go with the single strand barbwire.”
He swallowed, remembering in a gush of oh shit that Fox Ranch ran a small herd of cutting stock and hacks for tourists to take for an hour’s spin around Sheep Mountain. The glint in Josiah’s eyes wavered between are you shitting me and yore a dumbass cracker. While his ears heated to boiling, he tried for a quick recovery. “You know, to keep Paulie’s herd out?” Or not.
Shut up, Colton, just shut the hell up already. “…you know, with things being tight as they…” Fuck, fuck, fuck. Bring up another sore spot, idjit.
Josiah blinked, almost in slow motion, his eyes following Marcus’ lips as the gibberish spewed out, unfiltered and uncontrolled. The front door opened and closed, the overhead bell tinkled, feet shuffled, the sound approached and receded.
Marcus choked back a thank God and meant it. Customer, serial killer, bank robber… didn’t much matter. The distraction was well-timed. He said, “Well, if there’s anything else you need,” and turned away, barely aware his hand still shared possession of the sack. At the last minute, he relinquished control and muttered, “I have to pee,” as he bolted for the safety of his office.
The state of his bladder was only partially true. His belly had cramped up enough that bile flooded the back of his throat, coating his innards with red hot acid. It hurt like hell. He fished a handful of antacids out of his shirt pocket and cursed softly as he tried to peel the covers off the nesting boxes. His hands were too big, too rough, and too arthritic from a lifetime working as hired help to handle the delicacies of the task at hand.
Frustrated, Marcus sank into the creaky swivel chair, letting his ass find the sweet spot that damn near two generations of ranchers and shop keepers had worn into the ancient wood. Of all the things that said family, it was a rickety chair that most grounded him across time and space. But time hadn’t been kind. Now it was just him left. There wasn’t family, hadn’t been for longer than he wanted to think on.
“Oh, Tommy. Why aren’t you here?”
Marcus glared at the blank wall of rough cut lumber. He followed the lines of the distressed surface like he always did late at night, his hand wrapped around a tumbler of whiskey, his heart wrapped around the gravestone in the small plot of land where all the Coltons and the Hendersons were laid to rest.
Following habit, he reached into the bottom drawer and withdrew the bottle of liquor, swiveling it in the natural light. It seemed different, the colors reflecting through the cheap glass, paled out and anemic. Not nearly so rich or so tempting as when, in the hunger of pre-dawn, he poured the amber fluid into the tumbler, swished it around and tossed it back to suffer the burn running full throttle into his screaming gut.
Instinct warned against, but what-the-hell won out. He poured two fingers, measuring the amount precisely with an expert splash. Three years. Three fucking long years. It’d taken him most of that to perfect his technique, night after night of pouring his soul and his loneliness down his maw of despair. Week after week of mourning. Months, then years of grieving bleeding into that single moment when today a stray touch reminded Marcus of what he’d lost.
He almost hated Josiah, really, truly hated him. Hated the broke man the damn military had returned, leaving him to struggle in the assback of nowhere Wyoming. Washing their hands of men who’d not just served, but sacrificed in ways that weren’t obvious. It wasn’t just the steel locking a man’s bones into some semblance of working order, nor was it the flesh wound of pride and self-respect that ripped open skin and muscle and made talking harder than hard. Marcus totally got that it made taking the first step, then the next, seem like too much effort.
But getting it was one thing, doing something about it? Well, there was the trick. He was hardly the poster child for saint of the year, caregiver to the wounded holding on to an existence that, on a good day, didn’t care squat if or how a man got by. Fate played a man false, especially a man like Josiah, prideful hard and duty bound. A man who’d give his shirt off his back. A man who’d donated pieces of his body. A man most had forgot.
Lifting the tumbler, Marcus hissed, “Here’s to you, Josiah Foxglove. You earned it.”
Marcus pushed away from the desk and struggled to his feet, feeling all of his forty-seven years. He still had to pee, so he ducked into the adjoining employee bathroom. After splashing water on his face and doing the sniff test—breath into cupped palm to nose—he deemed himself safe to face any customers who might wander in as closing time fast approached.
As Marcus closes up, he’s surprised to find Josiah Foxglove standing in the doorway.
“Josiah? Did you forget something?”
Having the man in his store twice in the same day would normally have sent Marcus’ libido through the roof, along with a healthy dose of guilt that he was dishonoring Tommy’s memory.
It’s an attraction. The man is… interesting. Nothing more.
“I, uh, I was wondering…” Josiah was at the counter, his face carefully blank, but his eyes gave him away. They’d turned from pale ice to glacial muddy blue, the crinkles at the corners etched deep with worry or concern.
Marcus excused himself and murmured, “Hang on a minute, will you?” He strode to the door, yanked it open and called, “Petilune? Honey?” There was no answer.
He walked outside, leaving the door open. Josiah followed him out, asking, “Anything wrong?”
After pacing around the perimeter of the parking area, Marcus concluded the mystery date had already picked the girl up and whisked her off to wherever.
Josiah asked again, “Is something wrong, Marcus?”
Shrugging, he said, “Probably nothing.”
“Don’t sound like nothing.”
“Shit. Well, it’s just that Petilune has a date.”
Josiah scrubbed at the rough whiskers on his chin. He skimmed over the scar tissue and winced. Marcus wondered if it still hurt. Burns were a bitch and probably took forever to heal. After some consideration, Josiah said, “Well, that’s good, isn’t it? I mean, she’s a cute kid and it’s Saturday night.” The corners of his eyes puckered more.
“She wouldn’t tell us who it was.”
Marcus inhaled, exhaled, then explained, “He picked her up here. Shouldn’t he have picked her up at home?”
Josiah snorted. “With Janice waiting like a vulture at the door? Probably drunk as a skunk. If you was her, would you want your date meeting your mom when she’s already three sheets to the wind?”
Blinking at the run of words coming out of Josiah’s mouth, Marcus simply gawped at the mountain of a man taking up most of the real estate on the steps.
Marcus sighed. “I guess you’re right. I’m sure she’ll be fine. Won’t she?” Since there was no point trying to pull an answer out of thin air, he changed tack and asked, “Is there something I can help you with?” He waved for Josiah to follow him into the store.
At the door the big man paused. “This probably isn’t a good time. I’ll uh… um, never mind. I’ll catch you next time. Have a good night.”
Before Josiah could shut the door, Marcus grabbed the handle and held it open. He winced as the desperation leaked through his pores, making his voice warble and waver as he asked, “Would you like something to drink, maybe? Unless you have to be somewhere…”
“No. I’m good. I mean…” Josiah inched toward the door. “A drink would be good.”
“Okay.” Marcus held the door ajar and stepped aside as Josiah sidled through the opening. After leading the man to his makeshift office, Marcus pointed to the folding wooden chair and wondered if it was sturdy enough to hold the man’s weight. The bottle and tumbler were still on the desk where he’d left them. He reached into the bottom drawer, extracted another glass and poured two fingers into each.
Josiah accepted the whiskey and tilted his chin in salute before tossing it down. Both of them shuddered and grinned. Marcus asked, “Another, Josiah?”
The man extended his glass for a refill. “You can call me Josh. I like that better. Sounds less… biblical.”
Relishing the burn in his throat, Marcus murmured, “That’s good. So, Josh, what did you want to talk about?”
“I need a favor.” He shifted on the chair. It creaked. “Thing is, I don’t got the right…” Josh grimaced, his face a war of emotions Marcus could barely fathom. Finally he said, “It ain’t like we got history or we’re friends or nothing like that. We hardly know each other.”
Marcus listened to his own heartbeat, wondering what was driving a man like Foxglove to come and ask for a favor and to be so obviously torn up about it. So he said, “Friends give favors. That’s what friends do.”
“But, we ain’t friends.”
Marcus held up the half empty bottle. “Then I guess we’re gonna need more of this.”
Where to purchase Nya’s books:
Romancing Words: http://www.romancingwords.com
Love’s Last Refuge: http://loveslastrefuge.com/
The Men of Crow Creek: http://the-men-of-crow-creek.weebly.com/
A Whisper of Wings (Free reads): http://a-whisper-of-wings.weebly.com/
Find Nya’s Titles Here:
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Nya-Rawlyns/e/B004Y80YQ4/
Crossing boundaries, taking no prisoners. Write what’s in your soul.
It’s the bass beat, the heartbeat, the lyrics rude and true.
Nya Rawlyns cut her teeth on sports-themed romantic comedies and historical romances. She found her true calling writing about the wilderness areas she has visited but calls home—in that place that counts the most, the heart.
She has lived in the country and on a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay, earned more than 1000 miles in competitive trail and endurance racing, taught Political Science to unwilling freshmen, and found an avocation in materials science.
When she isn’t tending to her garden or the horses, the cats, or three pervert parakeets, she can be found day dreaming and listening to the voices in her head.
Where to find Nya online:
Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/NyaRawlyns
The Eagle and the Fox online:
Amazon Multilink: http://authl.it/B00Y1WDUCI