Monday, June 29, 2009

The Rest Of Our Lives: A Novel excerpt by Dan Stone

The Rest of Our Lives by Dan Stone is a lighthearted romantic fantasy about the repeatedly reincarnating relationship between ice-blue-eyed, time-stopping, cold weather witch Colm McKenna and hyper-sexy, psychokinetic, hot weather witch Aidan Gallagher. According to Norse legend, the universe came forth from the collision of the energies of fire and frost. One can’t exist without the other, and all of creation is dependent upon the delicate balance between the two. Just as spontaneously combustible Aidan begins to rock frost-flinging Colm’s world with a magical big bang of a romance, the pair learns that they’ve been playing in each other’s back yards for at least a couple of millennia. Aidan becomes increasingly hot for clues about the lessons their karmic connection can teach them, while Colm feels increasingly like a snowball in hell, wondering if multiple incarnations where he’s repeatedly abandoned by his enchanting fireball of a boyfriend, may be one or two bites more than he’s able to chew.

The Rest of Our Lives
Lethe Press (May 25, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1590211472
ISBN-13: 978-1590211472


The next morning the sun woke me early, a slice of warm, golden delicious light that slipped through our bedroom window. Aidan, usually up before God, was still sleeping. In that soft light, he seemed to literally glow. He looked more like an angel than a witch.

I took advantage of a rare opportunity to study him when he didn’t know I was watching. He was facing me, with one bare arm warming my waist. The crumpled top sheet was draped provocatively over the compelling curve of his bare behind. If I hadn’t known he was asleep I would’ve suspected that he’d arranged himself that way just for effect. But his wide mouth was slightly open, and I could hear the now faint, familiar half whistle/half snore that he made.

He was such a restless sleeper. He moved around constantly during the night and woke frequently. Usually it was me who awoke to find myself looking straight into his always-smiling eyes. But this morning, he was perfectly still. As peaceful looking as I had ever seen him.

I remembered Dr. Nike’s advice to me the day before Aidan and I were leaving, to check in regularly with myself during our time here together. “Just do a ‘PMC’ now and then,” she’d said. A Peace of Mind Check. She’d told me to remember three questions: How am I feeling? What thoughts are behind that feeling? What choice can I make right now that will bring peace of mind?

I looked at Aidan’s body beside me. His arm was lean and solid with surprisingly thick forearms and large hands. Our fingers were nearly the same length but I still felt small in his grasp. My eyes traced his fine lines . . . his faintly freckled shoulder . . . I could just barely feel the rise and fall of his firm belly at my side.

“What else would I need right now to have peace of mind?” I asked myself. As I leaned over to kiss him awake, I couldn’t think of a single thing.

When he realized how late he’d slept he insisted we skip breakfast with the other Tarot Inn guests and see more of the town.

“We’ll grab a couple of slices of breakfast pizza at Spiritus,” he said. “Then we’ll head over to the tower and then the beach for a while before the tea dance.”

But even as we were ascending the cardio workout of a stone stairwell up to the top of Pilgrim Monument, the cloud masses were starting to assemble. They didn’t look friendly.

“I don’t suppose you could blow them back out to sea for a while,” he said as we walked around to the top of the monument with a handful of other tourists casting nervous glances at the sky.

“Who am I, Zeus? What’s wrong with your windmill?”

“Hmm. This could actually be very cool, watching the storm blow in from up here,” he said.

“Cool as in deadly?”

“Cool as in watching the forces of nature flex their muscles and show us their power. Besides,” he said. “Thunderstorms get me hot.”

Less adventurous tourists were already making their way down the stairs. I started to follow but Aidan pulled me back.

“Stay here with me,” he said. “You can get some awesome pictures.”

“We’re going to get soaked and then fried. Streetlights will dim.”

Lightning was already zigzagging out from cast iron cumulonimbus, and a wet wind was spitting in our faces. The drama in the sky and the gray mist starting to shroud the bay were too striking to resist. I pulled my shirt up over my head to protect the camera and started shooting, first just the weather rising and swirling and growling all around us. Then I caught sight of Aidan through the lens. His dark hair was blown back from his face, and his eyes were on fire, wild and determined as a cougar on the prowl.

I shot him from every angle, protecting my camera as best I could as the rain started to pelt and the thunder cracked around us, close enough to raise goose bumps and the hair on the back of my neck. When I refocused on Aidan he was staring right at me. He looked . . . hungry.

“What?” I yelled, looking at him from around the camera, both of us now nearly soaked to the skin.

“Put it away,” he said.

“What for?”

“I don’t want you to drop it,” he said, moving closer.

“I’m not going to drop it,” I said, involuntarily taking a step back.

“You won’t be able to hold onto it,” again moving closer to me. He reached for my camera, gently took it from my hand and slipped it safely into the padded inner pocket of my backpack, which he also slipped off my wet shoulder.

“There’s no one else up here. You know what that means?”

“Death wishes are rarer than we suspected?” He was starting to spook me a little.

“It means we’re alone and two hundred fifty feet above the nearest spectator.” He took hold of the hem of his soaking wet t-shirt and peeled it up and over his head.

“You’re not serious.”

His response was a maniacal grin. He unbuttoned the khaki shorts clinging to his thighs, pushed them and his white Calvins to his feet, and stepped out of them, naked and gleaming wet and wild-eyed, and sporting his own powerfully erect thunderbolt.

There was no mistaking his intention.

“You’re crazy,” I said, as he reached for me.

“Crazed, maybe.” He yanked my own drenched shirt over my head. “There’s a difference.”

“And what would the difference be?” I felt his hands again at my waist, and then unzipping my shorts and rolling them like twin condoms down my legs.

“You,” he said, on his knees now. “The difference is you.”

I don’t know how to describe the rest of what happened up there. It was the first time I could remember feeling so nearly devoured by another person, the first time I had felt such extreme hunger and need coming at me, and from me . . . to the point where I couldn’t tell whose hunger or whose need was driving us . . . pinning us to the stone wall at the top of that tower . . . magnetizing and melting us together. I didn’t know that anything could at once be so violent and so achingly tender.

For every push or shove there was a caress, for every pinch or bite, a sweet kiss. It was a wrestling match and a dance. There were a couple of moments when I could’ve sworn both our feet left the floor, and I couldn’t tell which was the more powerful force—the lightning in the sky behind him or the lightning flashing in his eyes. I had no idea that another body could connect so completely and so perfectly to mine, or that it was possible for two people to arrive at the same awareness at the very same split second, like a single comet streaking across the sky, seen only by two pair of eyes, and to have those most seminal words form simultaneously and appear unmistakably in two minds, transforming everything like the proverbial thunderbolt hitting the tower:

“I love you.”

We finished just as the storm was starting to blow over and with just enough time to wring our soggy shirts and shorts and put them back on before anyone caught us.

“Hey at least we don’t need a shower,” he said as we started down the stairs.

“I still might, after a two hundred fifty-foot walk of shame.”

By the time we wound down the steps of the monument and trudged in sloshy sandals back to the inn, the skies had partially cleared, and we’d at least dried off enough not to drip all over Stuart’s antique rugs.

“Do we need to review the basic principle of coming in out of the rain?” Stuart said from the parlor as we tried to quietly let ourselves in and sneak up to our room.

“We got distracted,” Aidan said, grinning like a milkman who just got lucky.

“Uh huh. Thunderstorms have a way of breaking my concentration, too. You two better get out of those wet clothes. I’ll bring up some extra towels. By the way, tea dance is at four if you want to go with us. You have time for a nap.”

The memory of the scene on top of the tower was still vivid in my mind, and we both seemed a little shy with each other as we undressed in our room.

“Pretty intense, huh?” Aidan said as he quickly hung up his damp clothes and slipped naked under the sheets. He seemed to be studying me.

I took my own wet shirt and shorts into the bathroom and draped them over the shower. When I walked naked back toward the bed he was still looking at me. There seemed to be a question in his eyes, but he wasn’t transmitting. He pulled back the sheet and patted the bed beside him.

As I snuggled in with him I remembered that moment on the tower and the flash of lightning that seemed to drive him into me so deeply, penetrating me physically and emotionally . . . and the words that streaked across both our minds. I wondered what it meant. I had never heard or said or even thought those words with anyone else. I didn’t even know that I felt them until that moment. It certainly hadn’t occurred to me that he felt them. I wasn’t even sure I believed in those words. Were they real? It had only been a thought. A telepathic transmission, not an utterance. A revelation, but not a declaration. I wondered, does it still count if the words “I love you” aren’t said out loud?

Aidan moved beside me, shifted so that my head rested in the curve of his neck, close enough to feel his pulse. Bringing his arm around me he whispered in my ear, out loud, “It counts, Baby.” the gay & lesbian community bookstore in Philadelphia)
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