Ken gazed out the back window of the house to the waves; dark, rolling mounds lifted the horizon and dropping it again into the abyss on a rhythmic schedule. Gulls wheeled and cried over the water, white dots between the grey overcast and the darker ocean.
"Newfoundland?" The incredulous accusation jerked Ken's attention back to the phone call, "Seriously?"
"What about it?" Ken tossed his soccer ball up and caught it one-handed. Held in his other hand, the cool plastic of his ancient cell warmed against his ear.
"Um...it's a rock, for starters." Mikko's indignation echoed thinly across the poor Atlantic connection. "Nothing grows there."
Ken's breath caught and his grip on the phone tightened. "So?" Belligerence, he noticed, had no echo. "You can't re-grow a broken heart, anyway." Gardening is for idiots who fall in love. He fixed his gaze on the barren rocks outside the window, taking comfort in their never-changing strength. The waves rose and fell on the same cadence as his breathing. Or maybe it was the other way round.
Silence didn't echo either, strung out along the line. He hung up. Sea waves splashed up over the rocks. He gulped in great breaths around the jagged edges. After a moment, the chirping ring tone soothed over his uneven breathing, and he flipped the phone open.
"I know it's tough, Kenny."
"You don't know fuck all." He snapped the phone closed again. A minute passed. Another. His knuckles ached. If he loosened his grip, he'd throw the damn thing. It wasn't Mikko's fault. Or the phone's. Still, he turned it to vibrate and tossed it onto the coffee table as another minute ticked past. The ring's vibration carried it almost to the floor before he lunged after the phone. His momentum carried him to the window and he leaned his forehead against the glass. The waves rolled in steadily as he opened the phone and held it to his ear.
"So where are you staying?" Mikko's voice drifted, soft over the connection. He never stayed properly hung-up on.
"Why does it matter?" Ken turned away from the ocean view and tossed the ball. This time it thumped off the wall, onto a bare table behind the couch, and obediently back into his hand, just like a soccer ball should. Gravity was predictable that way. Not like men.
"Because if I know you," came Mikko's reply, "and I do, you searched out some pre-furnished dump of an apartment and are sitting on someone else's lice-ridden mattress bouncing that ball of yours against paper-thin walls. Any moment now, an irate neighbour's going to come screaming down on you, and I should know where to send the cops after your bruised and bloodied self."
"It's a room, actually." Ken caught the ball on its second trip and hugged it against his chest. "I'm not sitting." He glanced at the grungy couch and grimaced, turning back to the comfort of the watery view. "No one wants to live this close to the ocean since the Wave hit. It was cheap."
"What difference does it make?" You let me go. He smothered the logical, unwelcome follow-up that'd been impossible to stop, and Mikko had never been far, oceans notwithstanding. He always, always, answered his phone. Maybe he was a bit more like gravity than he was like other men.
"Kenny" Mikko's voice caressed his soul, even over the crappy connection. "Talk to me. Tell me what happened." He could be so gentle.
Ken's fingers shook as he closed the phone on that sweetness—that gentle caring.
Not even a minute passed before the phone amplified his trembling with its vibration. He opened it, brought it to his ear. This time, Mikko did not speak.
"Everyone leaves," Ken whispered at last, into the waiting silence.
© Jaime Samms
Author: Jaime Samms
Publisher: Pink Petal Books
Genre: Urban fantasy/gay romance
Ken has fallen in love twice in his unnaturally long life. He's spent the rest of it trying to forget what falling out of it feels like. Not even the end of civilization has distracted him from his own misery, and now, desperate and achingly lonely, he calls the one person who's never hung up on him.
Mikko lost Ken once, letting life get in the way of love, and ever since the day Ken ran, he's been trying to track him down. He's honed his skills over the years, tracking Ken through the morass of men and ugly affairs, waiting for the chance to make things right.
Ken thinks his messy past is a secret from Mikko, and is too ashamed to admit any of it. Mikko has secrets of his own, things he's discovered about their very nature he's sure Ken's not ready to hear. Back together, after years of cat and mouse, Ken has to learn to trust a man he knows isn't telling him everything, and Mikko has to figure out how to fix something his own negligence might have destroyed beyond hope of repair.
Dawn found them still in the chair, Ken slumbering on Mikko's shoulder, his breath even and deep at last. Mikko rested his cheek against the top of Ken's head and watched the street outside slowly brighten and the cliff transform to gilt-edged, craggy glory. This morning the sea was calm, the wind gone, and Mikko imagined they would be okay. He was glad Ken slept and couldn't see the way he sweat, the shaking of his hands, or his utter exhaustion. The genetic predisposition that made him Ageless also gave him an extraordinary sensitivity to the vibrations of other people's moods, and so much deep emotion as Ken battled had a very real physical effect on Mikko. Now, much as he wanted to stay and hold Ken, keep him within reach and sight, he just couldn't keep awake. As the day began outside their sanctuary, he finally fell into real, resting sleep.
Mikko woke with the essence of Ken infusing his senses and after a minute, realized he was in their bed with no memory of how he got there. Peace suffused the air, and he sat, scrubbing a hand through the sticky, flattened spikes of his hair. Ken was not in the room. His heart fluttered and almost stalled, until he detected the scent of coffee under the overwhelming musk of his lover. Relief flopped him onto his back, and he laughed.
"Okay. Get up, fool." A grin eased the sleep from him and he rolled off the bed and headed toward the shower. He didn't spend long. Just enough time to wash out the gel and rinse the sticky, lingering residue of worry from his skin. The transformation back to human was quick and reassuring. He pulled on a loose pair of ratty jeans and a clean white t-shirt before heading toward the enticing aroma of coffee and contentment.
In their half-renovated kitchen, Ken had bacon sizzling, orange juice and bread sitting on the counter, and was bent to look in the fridge.
His tight white tank hiked up to reveal the bumps of his spine and the denim shorts rode just low enough to reveal a peek of the tattoo across the tops of his ass cheeks. The white strings of the cut offs dangled down the backs of his thighs, and Mikko's mouth watered.
"Morning." The greeting came out husky and gruff, and the air vibrated with Ken's instant attention.
He straightened, turned, and the view of those short shorts from the front did nothing to lesson's Mikko's attraction. He was suddenly glad of the loose fit of his jeans, the extra room they provided.
Ken's nostrils flared, and through the tight shirt, the peeks of hardened nipples showed. "Hey." One arm came across his front, fingers gripping the opposite elbow, wrinkling up his shirt and obscuring Mikko's view. "Sleep well?"
"Yeah." Mikko strode to him, pried his fingers loose and gently lowered Ken's hand back to his side. "Hiding something?"
"No." Ken straightened his shoulders and puffed out his chest a bit. Teeth worried at his lower lip, and it was more than Mikko could stand. He moved into Ken's space and lowered his lips to track kisses along the exposed section collarbone.
Beneath his touch, Ken softened, moaned, leaned in, and Mikko spread a hand over his back, slid it up over the thin shirt and let his fingers play in the thick brown strands at the back of Ken's neck.
"Breakfast—" Ken gasped as Mikko's other hand found an erect nipple.
"Not going anywhere." Mikko moved his kisses up the side of Ken's neck, careful to avoid his throat, and any potential of triggering bad memories, and continued along Ken's jaw until he found lips. There was no hesitation in Ken's surrender. He opened his lips willingly and groaned, sweet and needy, into Mikko's mouth. Mikko gripped his hair a little tighter, slid his other hand around and into the back of Ken's shorts, and his tongue into his mouth, drawing his body close and tight so their erections came under pressure and friction, sliding against rough denim and each other.
Ken's throat worked, emitting tiny, mewling sounds, and Mikko backed out of their kiss, unwilling to miss a single word Ken might want to say.
© Jaime Samms
Author: Jaime Samms
Publisher: Pink Petal Books
Genre: Urban fantasy/gay romance
Ken and Mikko have overcome the hurdle of finding one another and coming to terms with the damage they both had done to their relationship. Happy to submit to Mikko's rule, Ken has come a long way toward finding his own strength again and has decided he must officially end the relationship he'd left when he'd searched for Mikko. Awaiting Ken's return is the hardest thing Mikko has ever had to do.
The solitude forces Mikko to come to terms with his own shortcomings, and confront his own past, the secrets he's kept, and the effect they may have on his lover.
But when that same past knocks on their door, Mikko has to face the fact he might not be able to protect Ken any longer. Whether or not he finds the strength in himself to accept help may mean the difference between keeping their home and their lives safe or losing everything to the man Mikko thought they had escaped.