Upon entering his house, Vic stripped off his dark suede jacket, careful not to aggravate the injury
to his arm, and hung it on the coat rack just inside the entryway. He examined
the cut and blood stain made by the knife. Muttering a disgusted, “Damn,”
he shook his head. “Well, maybe that cleaning place down the street can
take care of it.” He turned away, refusing to cry over spilled blood. He accepted that it was his own damned fault for wearing the thing while searching
for a bounty. He tossed his keys into a small bowl on the inside table he also
used for mail and went into the kitchen to get a beer, unable to stop thinking about the last few hours with Kevin.
The conversation with Kevin at the bar only a half-hour ago had been full of mostly silence. A few words of observation on that night’s events, but Vic got the impression
that Kevin simply needed to come down from his adrenalin high. Plus, he had been
scared for Vic when that knife had been thrown. Damn scared.
So much concern from the guy, and they had only been working together for a week.
It made Vic wonder just what was going on between them, if anything, and if he should really let
his wishful thinking get the better of him.
Was Kevin developing feelings for him? If so, then
were those feelings simply from a deep-rooted friendship due to their interactive, though choppy past encounters? A friendship based on similar losses and circumstances?
Did Kevin need to be near Vic as a bonded friend, a brother figure…or was there something
Vic rolled his eyes as he took another swig from his bottle of beer.
He could allow his mind to go where his common sense feared to tread, letting his imagination wander into the forbidden
grounds of hoping against hope, but in reality, no one had ever been able to truly stop their heart from desiring what it
always desired…to fall in love with someone and have that person fall in love with them.
Vic shut his eyes and leaned back against his kitchen sink.
His arm throbbed as the local anesthetic started to wear off. He would
have to take a pain pill in a bit, but not right now, not while he was drinking and thinking…and hoping.
Perhaps it was all part of the ‘friendship’ thing.
It had been forever since Vic had found a friend he could love simply as a friend and nothing more. A friend like a brother. In fact…had he ever had such
Maybe that’s what this was with Kevin—a friendship that could touch the soul of a man
and allow him to take lingering comfort in such a shelter.
Vic stared off at a magnet on his refrigerator door. It
was a small regular magnet, nothing ornate or symbolic, just a black background with white letters spelling out: ‘God,
save me from your followers’. It was just something to focus on as his
brain trampled over all analytical possibilities.
Kevin had needed to be with Vic after the knife incident.
Before that, he had wanted to be at Vic’s side to help him capture the bounty.
It was camaraderie, and both of them seemed to crave it from the other.
Vic could have easily confessed to Kevin that he was gay, given the fact that Kevin, if anything,
had his head on straight when it came to the tolerance issue. But it was too
soon to explore that side of the coin as yet. The time simply wasn’t right. Then again, would the time ever be right?
A shadow swept across the kitchen window that looked out to the backyard, and then the sound of
something crashing to the wooden deck of his porch broke his line of thought.
Vic froze. He focused his hearing and listened intently. The house was dark except for the light in the living room. None of the security lights had kicked on regardless of the fact that something was out in the backyard. He quietly set his bottle of beer on the counter and pulled his .45 from the holster
still strapped to his waist. It didn’t matter that the wound had been inflicted
on the arm he normally used to shoot. Vic had been trained to use a gun with
both hands, and so he gripped the butt of the .45 in his left hand and took in a deep breath.
He stealthily moved out through the back door and examined the area around the deck. He saw nothing, smelled nothing and heard nothing but the normal sounds of outside; crickets singing their
final song before fall hibernation, tree leaves rustling in the evening breeze.
He took a step off his deck and the movement caused the security lights to flash on, yet even with
that extra illumination, he could see nothing except for a planter that had fallen from its wire stand. It was an aloe plant, its broken leaves spilling their healing liquid onto the wood of the deck. As was his nature, he quickly sent up a prayer to Demeter to ask her help in the plant’s healing. He reached down and carefully set the potted plant upright again. Hopefully he could save the rest of the plant later, but right now…he needed to make sure no one
was creeping around his backyard.
It could have been a cat, or a raccoon, or a squirrel rummaging around, sure, but the thing that
had passed the window had been too tall for a four-legged beast.
Vic’s heart pounded against his ribcage, as he moved quietly over to the big pine tree in
the center of his backyard.
Careful to not make a sound, he put his back to the trunk, holding his gun up, and inched around,
listening for anything that didn’t sound like it should belong. A flash
of movement, too quick for him to react, and he felt a hand clamp down on his gun hand, squeezing it with incredible strength,
forcing his fingers to let go of the butt. The gun dropped to the ground and
another hand grabbed him by the back of the neck, pulling him forward.
Everything happened too quickly, and he was suddenly looking into gray eyes and a deathly pale face. He opened his mouth to yell, when the urge to call out was stifled by a vice-like
squeeze at the back of his neck. He winced, pulling in a quick intake of breath.
The hand was cold, like death, and the smell of the grave triggered a nasty memory in his subconscious.
Something…something from a past he wasn’t sure was his own filtered through his inner
vision, and he fought to chase it, to grab it and face it head on. But it was
too elusive, like a specter riding the wind.
“I’m afraid that I’m going to need a bargaining chip in the days and months ahead,
beautiful one. Don’t worry. You
won’t remember any of this.”
The voice was warm and sensual, calculating and confident.
Vic’s body went numb under the heady effects of both the touch on his body and the voice that caressed his mind. He felt cold lips brush over the back of his neck, under his hair, and the sharp sting
of teeth sinking into his flesh.
In seconds everything disappeared into darkness.
The morning sunlight broke through his window, and Vic woke to the warmth with a sluggish feeling
coursing through his limbs. He felt as though he’d been drugged, had gone
to bed and passed out.
Had he drunk that much with Kevin the night before?
He couldn’t remember being that drunk. Relaxed,
yes, but not wasted. There was also the fact that there were no symptoms of a
hangover banging through the inside of his skull. He threw off the covers, and
discovered he was still dressed and his shoes were placed neatly on the floor by his bed.
His gun holster was draped over the chair in the corner of his room, but something was wrong with
it. It looked weird. He did a second
take and realized what was out of place. The gun was out of place. It was on the nightstand by his alarm clock.
Vic gazed at it, now officially worried. He didn’t
remember pulling the thing last night.
He didn’t remember a lot of things.
How in the hell did he end up in bed fully clothed with his gun out of its holster?
And just how did he get into bed to begin with?
And that damn dull throb in the back of his neck wasn’t helping his ability to think. He reached back and rubbed the area, touching a very tender and bruised spot.
“Shit,” he muttered. “What in the
hell hit me last night?”
His phone rang.
Groggily reaching for the receiver he answered with a slurring, “Turner,” which sounded
more like; ‘Durner.’
He groaned. It was too early in the morning to have
wrong numbers. He hung up and rubbed his face.
Shit! Feeling damn woozy this morning.
Then he looked at the bandage on his forearm, amazed that the knife wound didn’t hurt like
he thought it would. He glanced over at his digital clock and saw that it was
seven-thirty. It was past time to apply some antibiotic ointment to the wound. He stood up and went into the bathroom to find some scissors to cut off the gauze. And when he did, and the gauze came off, he stumbled back against the wall and slid
to the floor, shock draining his body of feeling.
The wound was completely healed.