Egads, I really need to do more with this site than just say ‘hey I’ve got a new release!’ >.<
But guess what? Yep, I’ve got a new release.
Well, actually, it’s a bit of an old/new release. It’s a tale of two dolphin shifters in Key West and was originally a short story published through Storm Moon Press. Even at the time of its release I knew there was a lot more I wanted to say, both about the two main characters, Nathan and Jacob, and about the world they inhabited, one of various shifters living in secret alongside a contemporary Key West. So shortly after the short story was released I set about expanding the story. It went from a 12,000 short to a 54,000 novel, my very first novel!
I’m quite excited by it and by the entire world it’s set in (in fact I’m already working on the next novel/novella). So here it is, ‘Eye of the Storm.’
Once that last sentence was out, Nathan found he wanted to stop.
But he couldn’t. He was tired of all the secrets, all the lies.
Jacob waved him to silence as the waitress came and gave them the check. Before he could say anything, Nathan had laid a few bills on the table. Jacob nodded to Nathan and guided them out of the restaurant. They were silent as they walked up the quaint brick sidewalk, past the squat little houses painted in cheery pastel shades. Jacob’s house was in the tiny lane where no tourist ever knew to go, the one that had no cute sidewalks, where the white picket fences more times than not gave way to breeze block walls. But even here there was an air that said this was not mainstream America, this place as much Cuba, as much the Caribbean, as it was Papa Hemingway and Tennessee Williams and Robert Frost.
Jacob’s house was as unexpectedly cute as the man himself was tall and handsome. The tiny cream building with its sky blue trim peeked out from a jungle of hothouse trees. Red hibiscus vied for attention along with the fuchsia bougainvillea, while a stately fiddle fig stood sentry over it all. There was a warmth about it that Paul’s place didn’t have.
Maybe because this was where Nathan’s mate lived, not in that old shipmaster’s house on Caroline.
Though he hadn’t said it to anyone—he dared not even really admit it to himself—Nathan felt the pull as surely as Jacob must. He had known it even when Tyler had said those words that had rolled through his head ever since, there’s a new guy in town, just your type.
He wandered through the minute garden and into the cool shade of the house, which was positioned so that the sea breezes blew through the wide windows, sheltering them from the stifling heat that said the hurricane had formed far out in the Gulf and was beginning its journey to their shores. Jacob was silent as he went into the kitchen and returned with two beers in hand. He gave one to Nathan with a, “I think we’re going to need this,” and sat down close to Nathan.
Right, so now it was time. Time to tell someone who was not Aisha or Toby. But the words had escaped him, they deserted him when he was most in need of them. There was a lump in his throat that refused to let them slip past. He found he needed all of the beer to loosen it up. In a silent acknowledgment Jacob handed him his own, barely drunk, bottle. Nathan would need that as well.
“It was…” His voice was shaking. He stopped to clear his throat, hoping that would help, and carried on. “It was just after the pod went away. My best friend Ruben—he was a rough toothed dolphin—had just given up all hope. He had gone to the mainland and even there gave up on his shifter side. I wanted to follow him, but his despair was so terrible. Then I met Paul.” He looked down at his hands lightly holding the green beer bottle. “He seemed really nice, at first. We fell in love—or maybe just into bed—and it was as though it was all going to be okay. But then one day he hit me.” Nathan took a quick drink. “He hit me and I didn’t know what to do. I was living in his house, I had quit working on his advice, I had turned my back completely on all the shifters here. To them, I was nothing more than some strange shadow wandering through their lives from time to time. I no longer shifted, in fact, I hadn’t shifted for over a year. I was helpless, like a silly little child. Paul had me right where he wanted me.
“The only thing I had was art, so I started collecting things thrown away, things like me, I suppose. Then I found my dog, Maggie. She had been thrown away as well. Paul wouldn’t let me keep her at first, so I smuggled her into the back garage that hadn’t been used in years. Then he heard her barking one day. I was beaten for that, the first time he ever actually beat me up. It was so bad he let me keep her afterwards.” Nathan shrugged his shoulders. God, he sounded so pathetic. That’s because you are pathetic. Swallowing hard against that mean little voice, he continued on.
“I knew then that I was in trouble. I couldn’t even leave the house after that, not for a long while. Paul’s respectable in town, he couldn’t let anyone know what he’s really like. But I had had one friend I thought I might be able to turn to, and that was Jose. He’s a seagull, so it wasn’t all that hard to still find him.”
“Ah shit, I think I was being stalked by a seagull a few days ago,” Jacob muttered.
“Well, that could have been anyone, there’s a big bird shifter population all up and down the Keys. But maybe it was, who knows?” Nathan downed the rest of his beer and went on. “After a few weeks, I managed to find Jose. I let him know that I needed to see him. He watched the house, he came in once Paul had left for work, and I told him everything that was going on. He went and got Aisha and she suggested I try to touch my Inner Self that was animal and not human. So I did…as you do.” He shrugged his shoulders. “And I remembered how wonderful it was. God, it was like coming up for air after years and years of drowning. And then the fucking bottlenosed pod showed up. I was all alone, there was no protection for me. I’m only a spotted dolphin, they’re all so much bigger than me. So I let…it…happen. And I let it happen…again and again. And I found I liked it. By that time it was usually only Tyler and Sam, the others had gotten bored of me.
“I didn’t go out much, and I didn’t run into them every single time. But when I did…” Again, he shrugged his shoulders and stole a glance at Jacob. The man’s face was pensive. There was no trace of condemnation in his eyes. Maybe it was okay? Would he still like Nathan, after this?
Jacob cleared his throat. “Now, during all this, what did Paul do?”
“To me?” Nathan pulled a face. “He didn’t care, not really. Either he doesn’t know or…yeah, I don’t know. But if he knows, he never beats me for it, and he doesn’t know…” Nathan shrugged his shoulders. “He doesn’t know anything about my being a shifter. With Paul, it’s all about appearance. He just wants the cutest guy on his arm to show off to his friends. Even the art stuff. I do it for my own sanity, Paul allows it because then he can show me off to his fancy friends who come down from Miami for a long weekend. It’s all just a game to him.”
“Do you love him?”
“No.” God, it felt so good to say that word. “I never did. He was a safety net once, but he’s become my prison. Typical dolphin, eh?”
Jacob sighed and sat forward. “I think I need that beer. Want another one?”
As much as he wanted to say yes, Nathan shook his head. Getting drunk wasn’t the answer to this mess. He had to take it on the chin, like a man. He watched, silent, as Jacob went with purpose into the kitchen and came back out again, beer in hand. Instead of coming to sit by Nathan, he leaned against the doorframe, his face impassive, his eyes almost lost in thought.
Finally, he said, “So what are you going to do, then?”
“With Paul?” Jacob nodded and took a heavy swig. Nathan sighed. “I can’t go on, I can’t live like this anymore. And…”
“And then there’s you.”
Jacob nodded “Well that, there’s me, as well.” He grinned. “Is that okay?”
Nathan breathed a sigh of relief. “I want you, I want to be with you…if you want me, that is.”