Monday, August 31, 2015



Blood and Dirt , by Lloyd A Meeker,  is the second entry in the Russ Morgan investigative series (the first volume, Enigma, is included bundled with the print version  Blood and Dirt). Family squabbles can be murder.

Psychic PI Russ Morgan investigates a vandalized marijuana grow in Mesa County Colorado, landing in the middle of a ferocious family feud that's escalating in a hurry.   Five siblings fight over the family ranch as it staggers on the brink of bankruptcy, marijuana its only salvation.  Not everyone agrees, but only one of them is willing to kill to make a point.

Russ also has a personal puzzle to solve as  he questions his deepening relationship with Colin Stewart, a man half his age.  His rational mind says being with Colin is the fast track to heartbreak, but it feels grounding, sane and good. Now, that's really dangerous ...



Blood and Dirt
Wilde City Press  (August 19th, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-925313-33-8


Excerpt

Setup:

[From Chapter Two of Blood and Dirt. Russ has gone on a hike in the Flatirons outside Boulder with Colin. They’ve flirted, but Russ has resisted Colin’s more direct signals. This is where they finally have The Talk.]

I turned to face him. “We should talk.”

Colin grinned and shook his head in mock amazement. “I was beginning to think you’d never say that.” He pointed to a flat rock at the edge of the lookout and shrugged out of his backpack. “Let’s eat while we do.” It was a little intimidating to see how patient and together Colin was. How mature. I followed him to the ledge, feeling like I was the one who needed extra care.

“So,” I said as he spread out the sandwiches. “I should start by saying that I’m really flattered by your interest in me.”

“But,” Colin said quietly.

“No but. Full stop. I can’t describe how good it feels to be desired by someone as young, smart, and beautiful as you.” I stared into his elfin green eyes, fascinated at their almond shape and hypnotic depth. I felt naked—and not in a good way. I looked away. “It’s also terrifying. I need to tell you a little story.”

I put down my sandwich, knowing I couldn’t eat until I got this out. “Almost fifteen years ago, shortly after I got sober, I met a beautiful young man. I was pushing forty, he was in his twenties. We liked each other. A lot. We dated. We had great sex, we shared a lot of interests in spite of our age difference. I fell hard.”

The memory hurt so much I had to close my eyes. “Fell so damn hard.” My voice cracked, so I took a drink of water and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. I felt Colin watching me, but I couldn’t look at him.

“One day, a few weeks into our affair...” My throat stopped working. In a moment, I tried again. “He’d stayed over, we were having breakfast. I pushed a set of keys to my house across the table to him, and asked him to move in with me. He put down his coffee cup, looked at me, and said, ‘I’ve thought about that, and realized that in twenty years I don’t want to wake up next to a sixty-year-old man.’ Then he got up from the table, kissed the top of my head, gathered up his things and left. We never spoke again.” As painful as it was, it felt good to have said it aloud.

“Jesus, Russ.”

“I felt so incredibly ashamed. I might have been able to change my behavior, or my work, or any number of other things to keep us together, but I could do absolutely nothing about my age. My ‘best used by’ date had long passed, apparently, even though I was so sure it hadn’t.” I laughed because I didn’t want to cry. “And now it’s over a dozen years past that.”

I shifted to face him square on. “It sounds melodramatic, but it nearly killed me. I came within a cat’s whisker of picking up a drink again, and for me to drink is to die. I can’t risk getting drunk again, I don’t think I’m strong enough to survive it.”

I stared at him, cherishing the way the sun lit the sheen of sweat on his ruddy cheeks. “I wish to hell it weren’t so, but I’m just too old for you, Colin. A relationship with you would be wonderful, I’m certain. But I’m not resilient enough to survive another breakup like that, just because I’m too old.”

 “But I—”
“No, let me finish. You’re twenty-five—”

“Twenty-six.”

“Twenty-six. You’ve got your whole life in front of you. I’ve lived most of mine. As wonderful as our life together might be, a moment would come when you looked at me with disgust. You’d ask yourself what the hell you were thinking when you took up with me.” I hoped my smile didn’t show my pain at saying good-bye to something precious. “I’m sorry. But thank you just the same. Your interest makes me feel young, even if I’m not.”

Colin didn’t say anything, just stared out at the prairie as he chewed on his sandwich. I tucked into mine, grateful to have something nonverbal to do. Halfway through my sandwich, I saw him put his down.

“I know how old you are, Russ. I like how old you are. Maybe you think there’s something wrong with me for wanting you, some psychological kink that makes me a freak.” He took a deep breath, sighed it out, and shrugged. “It sure would be more convenient if I could find partnership material in younger men. Believe me, I’ve tried, and I never have.”

He smiled at me, looking sad. “I have a story for you, too. About two men in Ireland. I want you to listen with an open mind. Really open.” He patted the back of my hand like a patient teacher encouraging a struggling child.

“Their names are Patrick Scott and Eric Pearce. Eric was twenty when he met Patrick. Patrick was fifty-six. They were partners for thirty-seven years. Do you know the statistics for any couple staying together that long, regardless of age? They did pretty well. When they got married in October of 2013, Patrick was ninety-three, and Eric was fifty-seven. Patrick died in February of last year. Maybe they knew that was coming, or maybe they just decided to get married because they finally could. Whatever the reason, they did. They had a long and wonderful life together.”

He looked at me, as if checking my face for a sign of agreement, or at least comprehension. “So, don’t tell me it’s impossible. Sure, it’s rare, and maybe we don’t go the distance like they did. All I’m saying is, don’t rule me out just because of our age difference. I’m sorry someone else hit you over the head with that, but I can promise you I will never say what he said to you.”

He gave me his devilish grin again. His teeth were a little crooked, and to me, they made him even more adorable. Mischievous. He patted my bare knee this time, and his warm hand was an angel’s touch.

“There are plenty of other reasons out there for parting ways, that’s for sure. If we break up, it will be for one of them.” He threw his head back and laughed, wild and free. “Here we are talking about breaking up, and we haven’t even started yet. How crazy is that?”

I nodded, forced to agree. “It’s crazy, all right.” His logic was impeccable, even if it didn’t do much to change the knot in my guts. That was the trouble with logic. It can peel away the most rational arguments and still never touch the heart. Below the neck, logic is the flimsiest form of persuasion.

Unpersuaded, my heart was walking along a precipice without so much as a path to follow. One sudden gust of wind, one misplaced foot, and I could be dead. I hated that the beauty of the view from this deadly cliff was so exhilarating.

“I’ll have to go slow,” I said, feeling strangely liberated at giving in. “I can’t... In spite of your story, I’m still scared. I’ll need all your patience. Lots of it.”

His smile was glorious as a sunrise and every bit as triumphant. Without another word, he took out his phone and took a selfie of us sitting side by side on that rocky ledge above a chasm. Our first photo, I thought, as if we were starting a scrapbook. Don’t say that, I scolded myself. That’s way too fast.

****

By the time we got back to Denver, it was late afternoon. We were happily tired, dusty, sweaty, and hungry.
“Thank you for today,” Colin said as soon as we were inside my apartment. “For everything.”
He stepped into my space and wrapped his arms around me, tentative and warm. Our first hug, I thought as my arms hauled him in. He lifted his face to me, asking silently for a kiss. Our first kiss. Sweet and fresh as a tree-ripe peach.
“Let me take a shower here, and I’ll make you dinner out of whatever you have in your fridge.” He wriggled in my arms. “Or maybe take a shower with me?”
I shook my head. “Too soon” was all I could croak out, even though I knew he could feel my erection through our clothes.
“Can I shower here, though? I have fresh clothes in my pack.”
“Sure,” I said, feeling cornered. “I’ll get you a towel.”
While Colin showered, I rummaged around in the kitchen for what we could eat, finding enough for a decent omelet and salad. I was arranging things on the counter when I heard the floorboards creak behind me. I turned and stopped breathing.
He stood wrapped in my towel and nothing else—wide-eyed, vulnerable, lips parted, his blond hair spiked damp and wild, his creamy lean body graceful and glowing. Without taking my eyes from his, I let my loaf of bread land somewhere on the counter behind me.
“My god, you’re... so beautiful.” It was all I could say. I could hear the awe in my voice, but I wasn’t embarrassed by it. It was the truth.
He walked to where I stood paralyzed, put his arms around my neck. His towel fell, bunching around his feet.
My hands found his waist, and the smooth small of his back. Then some dam inside me crumbled, and the crashing flood from behind it seized me. My mouth was on his neck, on his forehead, lips, eyelids. My hands caressed everything they could touch, frantic to discover. He began pulling my shirt out of my cargo shorts.
“I should shower first,” I muttered.
“Don’t you dare,” he said, breathing hard. “I want you just the way you are. Let’s go upstairs.”
****
Significantly delayed, the omelets and salad turned out pretty well. We made them together, navigating in my tiny kitchen with only minor collisions. We laughed at where I’d decided to put spices, staples, and utensils in my kitchen, bantered about how illogical my choices had been.
Dinner itself was quiet, comfortable. It was clear neither of us wanted to be anywhere else. Eventually, we agreed to do the dishes.
“I have to be at work early tomorrow,” Colin said as he stretched plastic wrap over the leftover salad. “Is it okay if I stay here tonight? You’re a lot closer to downtown than I am.”
“Ah,” I joked. “A relationship of convenience. Now it all comes clear.”
He stuck his tongue out at me. “Sure. It’s taken me months of dogged pursuit to run you to ground, just so I wouldn’t have to go home tonight. That was my evil plan all along.”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “Well, I have to go to work tomorrow, too, for a new client over on the Western slope. I’ll have to be out of here by nine and gone for four or five days. Strange business. I probably shouldn’t say more.” His face hardened, and I hurried to head off any misunderstanding. “I’m not holding out on you. I just... I feel protective of you. I didn’t think you really wanted to be burdened with the details of my work, which are seldom pretty.”
I watched his face and aura soften again. He smiled. “I know. It’s sweet of you, really, but eventually you’ll realize I’m not made of glass. Anyway, I’ll be long gone by the time you leave. I have to be at work by seven. Big trial coming up, and all us paralegals will be going through discovery documents for at least a week.”
A fear niggled at me. “Do you think I was a jerk for not talking about my assignment?”
Colin shrugged. “I hope we get to share parts of our work life, too. I want that, whenever you’re ready to do it.”
So the answer was yes, or at least probably. Was my reticence mere habit or real discretion? It wasn’t really a virtue to keep secrets just because I’d had no one to talk to for so long. I’d have to relearn how and what to share.
When we’d finished tidying, I fired up the dishwasher. “Do you want to watch a movie? I have Netflix on my TV. Or the Rockies game is playing on Altitude tonight, I think.”
“We’d have to sit on the bed to watch, right? Is that your only TV?”
I could feel my neck and face heat up. From guilt, mostly, because although I was looking forward to cuddling, I hadn’t tried to arrange it. “Yup, that’s the only one.”
“Good,” he said, running his tongue along his upper lip. “No place I’d rather be right now.”
We locked up, pulled the blinds, turned out the lights, and climbed the stairs. Doing those things with him felt... comfortable, familiar. Was that prophetic? Wishful thinking? I had no idea.
After the third inning, Colin stood up and shucked his clothes, folding them on an armchair. “I can’t stay awake any longer,” he said, yawning. He looked over his shoulder at me, caught me staring at his sweet tan lines, and twerked his perfect little ass at me. “No more of that tonight. Hope you don’t mind. Gotta save my energy for tomorrow.”
In a swirl of lust and relief, I tried to decide if I minded. I didn’t.
“So do I,” I said, feeling stupidly happy. I got up and found a new toothbrush for him.
After I turned out the light, Colin curled himself into my side. I don’t think I’d ever held anything so angelic. I kissed the soft-spiky top of his head, feeling my solitary life ready to scatter into chaos.
Maybe it was a mistake to have him in my bed. What if it was? I wanted him there anyway. I watched over him until his breathing shifted into the languid waves of sleep.
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2 comments:

Neil Plakcy said...

Very intriguing excerpt -- lovely writing, and characters I want to get to know.

Lloyd Meeker said...

Thanks, Neil! I'm thinking Russ has several more stories to tell, so hopefully you'll have plenty of opportunity. lol