Thursday, 5 August 2010

Excerpt Day - His Brother's Keeper © Ali Katz

Excerpt 

Sal recognized the neighborhood the minute they turned onto Western. The Blacklite, a sleazy gay bar his college roommate had frequented, was just up the block. Not a bad place for a pick-up if you liked your men in drag, and probably a reasonable place to look for the boy, considering the half dozen youths loitering under the harsh glow of the halogen lamp at the corner.

“Oh my God,” Jess whispered. “That’s him.” He’d been silent so long Sal startled at the sound of his voice.

“Are you sure?” He leaned forward in the backseat of the rented limo to study the kids. They stood in groups of two and three, except one. His gaze fell on the loner balancing on the curb, watching the car approach, and wearing the face Jess must have worn ten years ago. “Okay, Jess, slow down and circle the block.”

The car crept past the boy. He looked up with a smile. His gaze aimed for the passenger’s eyes through the blackened glass and followed as the car eased around the corner. Two fingers raised in a provocative come-hither before he disappeared from Sal’s sight.

“He looks so young,” Jess whispered.

“That’s what he’s selling, babe.” Sal would have preferred a way to soften the blow for his lover, but if they were going to do this, Jess needed the reality check. One look at that carefully constructed innocence told Sal Jess’s baby brother knew exactly what the customer wanted.

He settled into the seat and checked his setup while they came back around. “Ready, love. Pull over.”

The youth eyed the limo as they drew up next to him. Sal glanced toward Jess in the driver’s seat wearing a chauffeur’s cap and holding the wheel with a white-knuckled grip. “You need to hide your face.”

Jess cast a nervous smile over his shoulder. “Thanks for doing this.”

“Only for you.” Flat-out truth, and even for Jess he’d never have agreed if not for the fear in those baby blues from the moment he’d learned his brother disappeared. What they planned could easily go very wrong for Sal, but he trusted Jess understood that and wouldn’t have asked if he saw another way.

“Be careful. He runs like the wind.” Jess faced forward and eased back against the seat. Pulling the brim of his cap down to hide his face, he turned to watch traffic approach in the side mirror.

Sal pressed the button at his elbow, and his window lowered with a mechanical wheeze.

Still wearing a sultry smile, the boy cocked his head, squinting to see into the dark limo. Sal waved him over. He sashayed up to the window and leaned in.

“Lookin’ for someone, daddy?” he asked in a breathy alto that would make any man’s -- gay or straight -- hair stand on end.

“Pretty sure I found him,” Sal said, keeping his face in shadow. The boy placed his forearms on the door and rested his chin on them to display a smooth, unblemished face dominated by huge, kohl-lined sapphire eyes. My God, the kid has the face of an angel.

“Are you Vice?”

He’s been doing this awhile. Sal made a mental note to check arrest records.

“No.” He added a crooked grin to give his denial some weight. He wasn’t the world’s best liar. Technically, he wasn’t lying. “Whatcha got for me, sweetheart?”

The boy wiggled his rump and gave him a lazy once-over. “Anything you want -- as long as rubber’s involved.” His smile broadened. “Five hundred bucks and I’m yours all night.”

The laugh that burst from Sal’s throat wasn’t even feigned. The little darling definitely had a pair. The going rate was thirty to suck and fifty to fuck -- twice that for a boy and no more than three times that for a pretty boy. Sal ran his finger along the smooth chin and watched those long, dark lashes flutter over flawless cheeks. The silvery light exposed something he’d missed earlier -- a barely there swash of blush across his left cheekbone camouflaged the faded remnant of a bruise.

How two people from the same background could make such different choices was beyond him. Jess was smart, ambitious, driven to succeed. His brother, apparently, had a death wish. What drove a kid like this to place himself in harm’s way? Not drugs -- he was too clear-eyed and fresh faced. Jess hadn’t said, and Sal hadn’t asked.

He forced a smile. “What’s your name, sugar?”

“Teddy.” Teddy, not Ted. Still, close enough to his real name to make tracking him down that much easier. But if the kid didn’t have a pimp teaching him the rules, who, besides the tricks, was watching his ass?

Sal hesitated and hoped Teddy thought he was considering the offer. Nothing they’d done so far could come back to bite him. If he slid over in his seat and invited Teddy into the car, he was 99 percent certain the kid would take the bait. Was the tiny chance they’d lose him worth the risk? The temptation to glance at his lover sitting in the front seat, counting on him, was hard to resist.

No, Jess was right. If Teddy saw his brother and took off, they’d never find him again.

Sweat trickling from his armpits, Sal eased lower in the seat and presented his crotch. “Well, Teddy, sweet as you are, five hundred bucks is a bundle to part with. Do you think you can make me want to?”

Teddy snickered. He slid his hand to Sal’s chest and wormed it into his shirt until a finger brushed the ring piercing his nipple.

“Sweet.” He played with the ring a second, then gave a tug, hard enough to pull a grunt from Sal's throat. “I love surprises.” He freed his hand and walked it teasingly down Sal’s torso. “Do you have one to match down here?”

Oh God! Panic shot through Sal. He fought the urge to cringe and caught Teddy’s arm in a viselike grip before the boy’s hand closed around his cock beneath the linen slacks.

Teddy glanced up, his smile suddenly uncertain. “You’re going to make me work for it, aren’t you?”

Sal used the moment to snap the handcuff on his wrist.

Teddy tried to jerk away, but the cuffs, attached to the frame under the seat, stopped him six inches from Sal's crotch. His eyes widened. Terror replaced his earlier innocence. “What the fuck?”

Before the kid could gather the breath to shout, Sal grabbed him by the seat of his well-worn jeans and pulled him kicking and swinging through the window and into the car.

“Go, Jess!”

The boy was a lightweight, but all arms and legs and stronger than he looked. His flailing limbs landed blows indiscriminately. The car rocked. Sal lost his grip.

The last thing they needed was for one of those kicks to connect with Jess’s head. “C’mon, kid, calm down. C’mon, we’re not going to hurt you.”

“Ted, calm down.” Jess’s voice, high-pitched with tension, cut through the ruckus. “Ted, it’s me. It’s Jess. Sal, I can’t drive like this.” He still managed to keep a light hand on the wheel and merge smoothly.

Sal seized one of Teddy’s arms and tried to manhandle him into the seat. Jess must have used the master switch to close the window, because when Teddy let out a terrified scream, the sound filled the car, stabbing at Sal’s eardrums.

“Ted, stop! It’s me, Jess. Stop!”

How the kid heard him above the noise and the panic, Sal couldn’t guess. Everything stopped. Everything. He’d swear Teddy didn’t even breathe.

“Stay quiet back there.” Jess lowered his voice, soothing the kid with gentle authority. “Like it or not, we’re getting you out of here.” He never took his eyes off the road. “Damn it, Ted. What are you thinking? How long have you been working the streets?”

“Jess?” Teddy squeaked. He was breathing again, but frozen in place.

Sal tried to maneuver the kid’s knee from his crotch and wound up ducking a fist. The blow was halfhearted at best. The kid was too distracted. A glance at his face showed Sal one frightened little boy.

“Jess?”

“Yeah, kid.” The tenderness in Jess’s voice spoke volumes.

“What…? Why…? Let me go.” Teddy began to shake.

“I’m not turning you loose to wind up back on the streets, Ted.”

All color washed from his face, Teddy stared out the rear window with vacant eyes. “Don’t do this, Jess. He’ll kill me.”

Sal had to wonder who he was.

“I'm not taking you home.”

Jesus. The kid’s scared to go home. Not surprising for a stubborn kid about to face some serious consequences, but the level of his fear seemed out of proportion. He knew Jess’s mom had died when he was ten and he’d lived with his father and brother in Fresno until he left for school in San Francisco three years ago. Was Teddy so afraid of his father? Sal glanced at the back of Jess’s head. He’d never given him any reason to believe he’d lived with abuse.

Wait a minute! If they weren’t taking him home, where were they taking him?

“Where are you taking me?” Teddy quavered, echoing his thoughts. The taut muscles beneath Sal’s fingers softened a little.

Good question, he thought, releasing his death grip on the boy’s arm. When Jess came to him and said his little brother had run off, he never hesitated to offer his help in finding him. Finding him and returning him to Fresno where their father would take care of the problem. Or had he only assumed the latter?

“Haven’t decided yet. To our hotel for now.”

“You can’t let him find me.”

“I don't think he’s looking, Ted.” The words came out in a tender whisper, as though Jess relayed bad news.

A deep sigh wheezed past Teddy’s lips. He sniffed back a sob. “Maybe he’s letting you do the legwork, but he's lookin’. It’s invariable.”

“Inevitable,” Sal corrected automatically.

“Fuck you.”

All right, that does it. Sal tired of the boy crowding him. “Sit down, kid.”

Teddy turned to him, glaring. “Who the fuck are you?” But he turned slowly, moving as freely as the cuffed wrist allowed, and dropped heavily onto the leather upholstery on the opposite side of the car.

“Sal’s my friend, Ted.”

Friend. Okay. Sal understood not wanting to overwhelm the kid, though for all the attention Teddy gave the introduction, Jess could have called him lord and master and gotten the same reaction.

Teddy threw his head back and stared out the moonroof. “This is going to be bad,” he said so quietly Sal, sitting right next to him, had to read his lips.

How bad? He’d give anything for a glimpse into Jess’s head right now. The tension in his shoulders pretty much mirrored Teddy’s sentiment. Sal didn’t have any siblings, but he did have an imagination and plenty of experience breaking the bad news to families of kids in trouble. Nobody ever took it well.

Some worse than others.

Another freeway entrance slipped by on the left. They’d gone ten blocks in the wrong direction. He slid across the car’s interior to the side bench behind the driver’s seat to speak closer to Jess’s ear. “Relax, babe. Are you lost?”

At the sound of his voice, Jess’s whole body jerked. He searched the road in front of them with a bewildered expression. “Yeah, I guess I am.”

“Make a left at the light. Drive under the freeway and make another left at the second light. You’ll find an entrance a couple of blocks up.” He reached over the back of the seat to knead the tight muscles in his lover’s shoulders and neck and let the thick blond hair play over his fingers. Soothing for both of them, he hoped. Jess needed to hold himself together awhile longer. “The motel’s about fifteen minutes away. Do you want me to drive?”

“No. I can handle this.” Visibly calmer, Jess followed through on his directions and, within a few minutes, merged smoothly onto the freeway.

Traffic on the 101 was never light even at this time of night, but it moved along without slowing. Sal eased against the seat and glanced back to check on the kid.

Teddy was wound tight as a spring. Jaw clenched until the muscles twitched, he glared at Sal’s hand on the back of Jess’s neck. Every few seconds, he jerked at the restraint -- a nervous tic. The first couple of pulls would have convinced him he wasn’t going to break free.

“Stop that. You’ll hurt yourself.” The cuff had tightened around his wrist, and enough light came in from the moonroof to allow Sal to see the angry red damage. “Let me loosen those.” He reached for the boy’s arm.

“Don’t touch me.” Teddy tore his hand away. The cuffs pulled him up violently. He gasped, more like a whimper, and tears welled in his eyes from the pain.

Sal threw his hands in the air. “Okay, look, no touching. Can you relax a little?”

“Fuck you.” The kid vibrated with tension. He pulled his feet up onto the leather seat and buried his face in his knees.

“Ted, please.” Jess’s hands tightened on the wheel. His brother’s charged emotion was contagious.

“Forget it, Jess,” Sal said. “Just drive. He can’t hurt my feelings.” The last thing Jess needed was something else to worry about. “Our exit’s coming up. There’s the motel.”

“Got it. He doesn’t mean anything --”

“I know. Don’t worry about me. Worry about how we’re going to get him to the room.”

© Ali Katz

His Brother’s Keeper

Author: Ali Katz

Publisher: Loose Id, LLC

Genre:  GLBT

Buy Link

After six months, Jess and Sal are still living the honeymoon -- sex in the hall, sex on the stairs, sex on the kitchen floor. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

Enter Jess’s little brother, Teddy.

A kid is the last thing the lovers need, especially a sullen, troubled teen with far too much baggage, but Teddy needs them. When life throws a curve, real men swing.

A kid in the house, however, means getting together is no longer just a matter of wrestling to see who’s going to top, or stashing little bottles of lube in convenient places. It takes innovation: they haven’t tried the laundry room in the garage yet. And discretion: it's hard to be discreet if your lover crows when he comes.

Still, watching Teddy bloom makes the daily challenges worthwhile. They manage, and their little family is just beginning to take on a healthy new shape when Teddy is viciously attacked and Sal comes under suspicion.

Now, where and when take second place to if and but. The ultimate test begins as they fight to hold fast to love and family while merciless forces work to rip them apart.

3 Speak To Me:

Blodeuedd on 5 August 2010 at 19:22 said...

Great excerpt, this one caught my eye

Chris on 5 August 2010 at 20:40 said...

Hmmm. Maybe.

Lily on 6 August 2010 at 01:49 said...

Interesting...