The Deep of the Sound (A Bluewater Bay Novel)
Cal McCorkle has lived in Bluewater Bay his whole life. He works two jobs to support a brother with a laundry list of psychiatric diagnoses and a great-uncle with Alzheimer’s, and his personal life amounts to impersonal hookups with his boss. He’s got no time, no ambition, and no hope. All he has is family, and they’re killing him one responsibility at a time.
Avery Kennedy left Los Angeles, his family, and his sleazy boyfriend to attend a Wolf’s Landing convention, and he has no plans to return. But when he finds himself broke and car-less in Bluewater Bay, he’s worried he’ll have to slink home with his tail between his legs. Then Cal McCorkle rides to his rescue, and his urge to run away dies a quick death.
Avery may seem helpless at first, but he can charm Cal’s fractious brother, so Cal can pretty much forgive him anything. Even being adorkable. And giving him hope. But Cal can only promise Avery “until we can’t”—and the cost of changing that to “until forever” might be too high, however much they both want it.
- Runner-Up: Best Gay Contemporary Romance in the 2015 Rainbow Awards
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Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes:explicit violence
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“You going out today, Calladh?” Uncle Nascha sounded surprised. He’d slept in the battered recliner the night before, and the corduroy wrinkles obscured his face so much Cal hadn’t seen his eyes were open in the dark of the living room.
Cal had just come in from the boat dock to grab his forgotten lunch, and he didn’t state the obvious: he was wearing his hip waders and old slicker, and it was five o’clock on a misty, freezing morning in February. There was nowhere to go but out.
“Yeah, Nascha—if I can catch enough freshwater cod, the chef at the Global’ll buy ’em from me.” Nascha knew this. Cal worked two jobs—one was as a busboy at the Global Restaurant and Casino and the other was his own independent fishing business. Between the two of them, he could just barely afford the payments on Nascha’s ramshackle beachfront house and someone to come look after Nascha and Keir.
“Your brother will miss you when you’re gone.”
Cal closed his eyes. “I know, Nascha. But you need to make him take his pills anyway.” Keir didn’t listen to Nascha quite like he listened to Cal, but Cal couldn’t help that. Cal had set the meds out in the little weekly plastic thing, the white one for day and the black one for night. God, he hoped he’d gotten it right. Adderall, risperidone, Cymbalta—ADHD, Asperger’s, anxiety, OCD, possible bipolar—it was a powerful cocktail, and they’d gone through . . . hell, vehicles, teachers, sheriffs, and half the kitchen to get it right. Keir was prone to hitting things with rocks and fire when he was anxious or upset. Nascha used to be able to deal with him, but Nascha had his own drug cocktail now, Exelon ranking high on the list. Nascha didn’t always remember that Keir needed his medicine—morning and evening cocktails—without Cal or a caregiver around. He also didn’t remember to turn off the stove or take the bread out of the toaster or keep Keir inside the house.
Mostly, he didn’t remember that Keir was no longer a little boy running down the street screaming in a voice that would shatter glass. Keir was twenty now, with a powerful body and a fondness for all of Cal’s fishing knives (which Cal kept locked in the safe out by the boat), and a disturbing habit of tracking the girls in their neighborhood.
“Cherry’s rounding the corner, yellow dress, shows her ass when she bends over. Stop yelling, Cherry. Stop yelling, it leads to hitting.”
Keir’s fixation on girls wasn’t limited to the extremely young, but what was Cal supposed to do? He’d told the doctor who dispensed the meds, but his only response had been to up Keir’s medication.
Cal knew—just knew—that his parents would have been able to deal with Keir. His mother and father had been so . . . capable, had such pure hearts and such practical joy in dealing with their fractious, damaged son. But they’d gone for a drive after heavy rains six years ago, and their battered pickup had been washed off the side of a mountain in a mudslide.
Cal’s dreams of college, of playing sports, of meeting a boy the way his mother had met his father—all of that had been washed down the mountain too. At barely eighteen, he’d been left in charge of keeping things together, and part of that was making sure Keir had his medication, and Uncle Nascha got his too. And living with that gnawing worry, every day, from dawn until dusk, past dusk, until he was just too tired to see anymore.
“I don’t mean go out to work,” Nascha said, snapping Cal back to the present through eyes gritty with lack of sleep. “I mean go out tonight. It’s Valentine’s Day this week, Cal—don’t you have a school dance to go to?”
Oh. Okay. So Cal was in high school now. He understood.
“No, Nascha—no dances for Cal. Cal doesn’t go to dances, remember?” Cal doesn’t go to dances because Cal doesn’t really like girls, he thought ironically. Yet one more thing he hadn’t been able to talk to his parents about since their car had gone tumbling down into the river.
“If Cal was on the reservation,” Nascha said, his voice ironic too as they spoke of Cal in the third person, “Cal could dance with the two-spirit children, and nobody would think less of him.”
Yeah, sure, it always sounded like Mecca when Nascha talked about the reservation, but Nascha had left when he’d been not much older than Cal. Cal understood that Indian Gaming had improved things somewhat on the reservation—but that didn’t mean he was a fan of all the changes it brought about in the nonreservation parts of the state.
“Maybe I just want to be left the fuck alone,” Cal snarled, feeling bad even as he did. Nascha and Keir were his family—his only family. He couldn’t afford to piss them off, because they were all stuck in this tiny house together, and they were all each other had.
Cal would lie in bed awake sometimes, exhausted and aching because he needed more.
“Maybe you just need to go dance,” Nascha said calmly, not taking offense. Just like when Cal had been a fractious kid, losing patience with Keir because he’d been fixating on the same damned cartoon for weeks, Nascha had never lost his keel.
Cal loved that about him. It was why, in spite of his increasing anxiety over leaving Nascha alone with Keir, he couldn’t bring himself to put Nascha in a home either.
But God, he was exhausted.
“Well, I’ll let you know if a dance opens up for me,” he muttered, swallowing against the tightness in his throat.
“Calladh!” Nascha spoke sharply, and the long-ingrained habit of responding to his elders with respect crackled through Cal’s bones, snapping his spine erect and widening his eyes.
“Yes, Great-Uncle.” His hip boots were clean, thank God, so he could walk across the worn brown carpet and into the living room. The old television—36”, but pre-flat screen, so it took up about a third of the space in the small room—was set low, but a parade of Viagra commercials and spoiled rich women reflected off Nascha’s face, even as he turned his attention to Cal.
“You listen to me. I know sometimes I forget—sometimes your mother is still alive, and your father, bless their hearts. Sometimes you and Keir are boys and your family is staying with me and I am so happy. But when I remember, I see what time has made of you, and you are old before your time.”
Oh. This was the Uncle Nascha that Cal had loved as a child. The Uncle Nascha who had been young at heart, and kind, and who had offered patience and peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches and native stories about the gods who fought each other while the people watched, leaving behind mountains in their wake. The Uncle Nascha who would wander away when his parents were having money troubles, and come back in a few days, smelling of cigars and whiskey, with more cash than should be legal in this world.
Cal kneeled in front of his great-uncle’s chair. “It’s not so bad,” he said roughly, thinking that it wasn’t anything, any sacrifice at all, as long as Nascha could be like this, be the elder and the confidant and the grown-up all the time.
“You should sell this house, Cal,” Nascha said, and his voice warbled, became fractious. “The reservation would pay money for it, set up a casino and a marina—you could make enough money to put me in a home, to take care of your brother. You could go out and live your life.”
Cal took a deep breath, and then another, willing his face to stay stoic, willing his eyes not to burn. “But what is my life without my family?” he asked, trying hard to smile.
Nascha sighed. “Is that what I say to you when I can’t remember?”
Verbatim. “It’s what I know to be true,” Cal said, finding his feet again, remembering who really was the grown-up. He bent and kissed his uncle’s forehead, hating himself for the brief moment of hope. “Dottie will be here at eight. She’ll feed you both. I’ll try to get her to remember the medicine.”
Dottie was in her sixties—which was good because it made her exempt from Keir’s pathological hatred—but she was also apparently from a time when healthy men didn’t rely on pills to keep them tethered to the earth. She was good at keeping them fed, at reminding Uncle Nascha he needed to use the john, at getting him out to walk around the neighborhood, and at not taking Keir’s shit—but she was just as likely to “forget” the meds and pretend they had no use at all. Those were the days Cal came home to find Keir banging his hand against the wall until it bruised and Nascha in tears because he didn’t know who the crazy man in the living room was.
It was really better for all involved if Nascha, when he was bright and alert in the mornings, could remember the medication for both of them.
“Cal!” Nascha called to his retreating back, and Cal couldn’t take it anymore.
“What?” he demanded, losing control of his voice and his composure. “But make it quick, old man, because my fish today are buying our groceries, and right now there’s only about enough spaghetti left for lunch.”
Nascha’s look of hurt followed Cal out the garage door and into the dory rocking gently on the waters inside.
Some people kept their cars in a garage—but Cal’s battered blue Ford F-150 was parked in front of the mossy lawn of the house itself. His parents had been driving the same kind of vehicle when they’d fallen down the mountain, but Cal had long since gotten over his fear. The truck had been cheap, and it ran, and it was one of three reliable things in Cal’s life since that rainy April when half the mountain had slid away and carried most of Cal’s hopes with it.
The rest of Cal’s hopes—and his father’s only dream—sat in the little docking bay attached to the house. The covered bay protected much of the twenty-foot dory, and Cal hopped in with the ease of someone who had been steering such a vessel for most of his life.
The back end of the dory was flattened, to make the outboard motor effective and keep it going where Cal pointed it, and Cal handled the craft expertly—and with great wariness. Even in the quiet waters of the sound, the unexpected could turn deadly. Given that Cal’s parents had been killed by a simple drive through the San Juans, Cal made that truism his mantra.
He navigated the boat steadily through the mist, grateful for his tightly woven wool sweater. It had been his father’s, purchased from one of the reservations in Alaska, and something about the small-gauged knitting of the high-loft wool made the zip-up sweater almost waterproof—and blessedly, blessedly warm.
Cal liked things old school—he wasn’t a fan of the casinos or the tourists or the television show, no matter how good those things were for the town. He really didn’t like all of the strange people mucking about in the pure vistas he’d grown up in. The way he fished reflected that. He didn’t have a fish-finder or sonar—just himself, and his nets, and his little boat.
And the fishing territory his father had unerringly staked out, year after year. Just his. Cal knew the landmarks, the distance from his home shore, the line of sight to the Canadian shore, the dimensions of the rugged slopes of Mt. Olympus in the distance—Cal knew the relation of all these things to the waters his father had fished, and he knew that within these boundaries, there would, hopefully, be fish.
Cal murmured a prayer to whatever gods his uncle prayed to—Musp the transformer, Bluejay the trickster, and whoever else might be listening—and cast his net. Count, breathe, putter through the black water and mist until the cinch at the top began to close, and stop, allowing the boat to drift while he stood, minding the way the dory would feel like it was tipping over before it recovered.
Then, using a smaller net, he culled the fish, throwing out the salmon because it wasn’t their season, and the hake because they were threatened, and hoping for cod or rockfish in the seine net.
His first haul he pulled in a couple of four or five pounders, and these he dumped in the center of the boat, knowing the dory was made to hold nearly a ton, and that odds were good he’d never fill it with that much fish in a day.
Still, he was making a good haul, sorting carefully, his fingers and arms aching with the work. It was good work, a part of him thought. Honest work. Somehow, when he was out on the sound, he never found himself wondering about the scholarships he hadn’t taken or the places he’d never seen. Somehow, on the bay, it was enough.
Cast, cull, haul, dump—backbreaking and soothing, his day continued, until he thought he had time for two, maybe three more tries. He was just pulling the net tight, the better to cull the purse seine, when he felt it. A force—a terrific, muscular pull, lunging from the side of the boat. The net distorted and the dory leaned dangerously to the port side, and Cal cast about with the culling net, trying to fight off whatever had the seine.
Something huge—gigantic, too big to be in the sound, something that should have been in the open ocean—thrashed underneath his net, knocking it out of his hand. Oh fuck— He floundered, draped half over the side of the dory, trying not to lose a piece of equipment he couldn’t afford to replace.
By luck, the culling net had gotten hung up on the purse seine, and he snagged it, pulling the seine close to him and ignoring the perilous tip of the boat. The waters out here were freezing, deep, and unforgiving. If he went so far as to tip over the dory, the odds of getting it upright with him in it before he froze to death were sad and thin.
He fumbled with the net, trying to open the seine to set free whatever leviathan he’d accidentally caught, and found that it had cinched too tight to open, and the weight on the transom was making the bolts creak with the strain.
Holy fucking hell. He had to catch this fucking fish or it would kill him.
He tossed the culling net aside, grasped the seine net in both hands, braced his feet against the side of the dory, and hauled.
His back, chest, and shoulder muscles popped with the strain, and still that thing fought, trying desperately to escape, trying desperately to live.
Him or me!
Pant by groan, Cal hauled one hand over the other until most of the net was in the boat and the monster’s struggles echoed against the outside of the dory, banging a hollow, pounding tattoo across the rolling waters of the sound.
It made a sudden, frenzied resurgence, and Cal screamed, grabbing the fishing gaff, bunching his body to spear this fucker, still it, make it just fucking stop!
He wrapped the net around his forearm for stability and leaned over the side of the boat.
Oh holy God. It was huge, ugly, a primal vertebrate, a ridge of bone on either side of its body, and a sharp, prong-like snout—it must have been seven feet long, and oh, fuck.
The matte scales were unmistakably green.
Oh no. Not one of those. I can’t sell that!
He went to drop the gaff so he could grab the knife and cut the thing free, but it gave a seismic convulsion, dragging him up and almost over the side of the boat. He dangled, watching the fish submerge again, and behind him, he heard a bolt popping as the transom threatened to burst.
It was tearing his fucking boat apart.
Helplessly, he hauled back on the net and hurled the gaff at the thrashing sturgeon, stunning it. The gaff stayed stuck in the creature’s skull, and he was reaching into his pocket for his knife, thinking it was best just to cut his net and cut his losses, when the fish gave another titanic heave.
Cal was forced to grab the net with both hands again. The damned thing could still pull him over, even with a gaff in its head.
For a few moments all he heard was his own tortured breathing and the echoes of the giant green sturgeon pounding against the boat. With a groan, deep from his stomach, clenching every formidable muscle in his body, Cal hauled the fish over the side of the boat.
It wasn’t dead yet—in fact it threw itself around some more, the rough scales on the top of its body ripping through Cal’s waders and through a sizeable bit of flesh on his shin as well.
Cal’s scream and kick to the thing’s head had less to do with survival and more to do with anger and pain, but it wouldn’t have mattered. There was no way—not for one man—to free the fish from the net and keep the boat from capsizing. As it was, Cal finally had a chance to reach for the six-inch serrated fishing knife in his pocket. He unfolded the knife and hurled it with deadly accuracy, splitting the fish between the eyes and cleaving its prehistoric brain in two.
It continued to convulse in weakening cycles, and Cal stood over it, panting, until it finally played itself out.
Oh hell. This thing probably outweighed Cal two-to-one. Who in the fuck was going to eat this giant fucking illegal fish? And more to the point, how was he going to get it from the boat to the back of the truck?
It took an hour to return to shore because the weight was so great the tiny outboard motor groaned and wallowed like a pregnant sow in a mud bath.
He had ice in the back of the truck, which was great, because he was going to need to replace his fucking net. The damned fish had torn great gaping holes in it that would let anything not the size of a Volkswagen pass right the hell through. He wouldn’t have been able to afford to replace the net and buy ice again that week, so if he was counting blessings, well, he was still fucked, but at least it wasn’t another kick to the nads.
Which were sore, actually, from the herculean effort of hauling that fish over the side of the boat. Jesus, he’d been straining everything, hadn’t he?
And he needed Keir’s help to move the damned fish.
He hated going inside between getting home and hauling the fish to market—usually, he avoided it at all costs. Keir didn’t take well to disruptions of his routine, and Cal always seemed to arrive right in the middle of Keir’s favorite show, Avatar. Cal thought that maybe Nascha had DVRed a bunch of episodes for him and just played them at a certain time because no cartoon ran that long. He was grateful, but having Keir’s routine locked in that tightly . . .
It meant Cal was going to need to beg, cajole, yell, threaten, and reason with his brother to get those powerful shoulders and thick thighs working in service of the giant fucking fish.
“Cal, you’re not supposed to be home right now.”
Keir looked up from the television, cupping underneath his chin the giant mixing bowl that they allowed him for cereal.
“I know. I need your help.”
“You always come in between one and two. It’s only twelve thirty.”
Cal took a deep breath and steadied himself on the kitchen counter. It all hurt. All of it—the fucking rip across his shin hurt the worst, but Jesus. “I know, Keir. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I interrupted your show, but I can’t manage this fish. Could you please help?”
In his head he remembered his mother explaining how sarcasm didn’t work with Keir, and getting frustrated and yelling didn’t work either. Keir was a robot boy—you fed in direct instructions, you gave him a specific schedule, and if you fucked with that, you got a confused, angry, muscular fireplug of a man who liked to batter his fists on things.
“I have to watch my show.”
“Nascha can DVR the show,” Cal snapped, and then took another deep breath. “Please, Nascha, can we tape the show?”
“Yes, Cal— Do you need my help with the fish?”
Dottie was sitting kitty-corner to Nascha on the couch, watching the Cal and Keir show, and when Nascha spoke she shook her head frantically at Cal. But Cal knew—even better than Dottie, probably. The medication Nascha had to take to keep his brain from rotting had the reverse effect on his bones. One slip, and his hip would be shattered, and Cal had heard the doctor when he explained that perfectly healthy people went quickly downhill from there.
“I just need Keir,” Cal said, trying not to talk between his teeth. “Keir, could you please put the cereal down, let Nascha tape your show, and join me outside to help me get this fucking fish out of the goddamned boat and into the motherfucking cocksucking pickup.”
“You’re not supposed to swear, Cal.”
“Keir, please! We need the money, damn it— We’re almost out of cereal!”
Keir actually stood up. “We can’t run out of cereal! I eat cereal in the morning and cereal for lunch and then I eat a healthy meal!”
Oh thank God. “Then get your boots on and get your ass out here so I can move this fucking fish!”
“Can I wear my boots with my pajamas?”
Cal stopped and looked at him. He was wearing one of four pairs of flannel pajama bottoms their mother had made him the Christmas before she died. He rarely wore anything else in the house, and Cal got it. Wearing the pajama bottoms meant that his day inside was not over—just interrupted.
“Absolutely. Just . . .” His shin throbbed, and he got a look at the time on the microwave clock. “Please. Just hurry.”
At least the fish itself proved a distraction.
“What kind of fish is this?” Keir asked. He had round, brown eyes as opposed to Cal’s almond shaped ones, and his hair was straight and black when Cal’s was streaked brown and red from the sun and some of their father’s blond genetics. But they both had the broad cheekbones and solid jaws of Nascha’s people, and the skin that was darker than fair and more fair than rust. Right now, Keir’s brown eyes were intent on the flat, tiny eyes of the monster. Cal was pushing it out of the boat and Keir was pulling, and Cal hoped none of the spines on the tail would get him when it slid out—Keir wasn’t great with physical pain.
“Green sturgeon,” Cal grunted. God, let it come out. Please . . . could he use a winch? Did he have a winch? Could he get the neighbors to help with it? But the neighbors would need to know what Keir had just asked.
“Green sturgeon are protected,” Keir recited. “You can catch crabs, cod, rockfish, salmon in season—”
“I know what I can catch!” Cal snapped. “But that’s not what wanted to be caught!”
“But they’re not in season. Green sturgeon are protected. You can catch crabs, cod, rockfish, salmon in season, abalone, halibut . . .”
Cal tuned him out, got his legs underneath him, and shoved. The dory tipped just that bit more, and the fish went slithering out onto the waiting dolly, sending Keir on his ass.
Keir hollered because he’d scraped his hand, and thankfully the subject was dropped.
An hour later, after shoving the dolly to the truck and then hauling it up a wooden ramp that Cal had made after Nascha’d sprung his knee, Cal managed to transfer the rest of the catch to the back of the truck as well. He’d bound Keir’s hand, and given him stern instructions to comb his straight, black hair out of his face, because he looked feral, like a wild animal, and then Cal took advantage of being home and made sure everybody was medicated before he left.
By the time he got to the Global, it was almost too late to sell the damned fish.
And Smith gave him grief—oh, a fuck-ton of grief.
“What color is this fuckin’ fish, asswipe?” Smith demanded, taking off his greasy white cook’s hat and running his hand through thin strands of what might have been blond hair.
Cal glowered at him, curling his lip in defiance. “None of your guests are gonna see the fuckin’ color,” he snarled. “Nobody’s gonna give a shit. It’s not like I set out to kill it, Smith. Wandered into my net waiting to die—”
“Well, wasn’t that sweet for you, ya fuckin’ fairy!”
A delicate crimson veil slid between Cal and the rest of the world. He pinned Smith to the back wall, which was like a sparrow pinning a vulture, given Smith used to wrestle for a living and it had all run to fat.
“You pay me for this fish, you useless piece of puke, or I am taking my business elsewhere forever!”
Smith’s fetid breath washed over Cal, and his stomach heaved and turned on nothing, because the fish had destroyed his lunch with all its fighting, and Cal didn’t have the pocket money to buy himself so much as a sandwich.
Cal increased the pressure to Smith’s windpipe. “What’s it gonna be?”
“You know it’s probably too tough to do anything but make acres of fuckin’ fish salad, don’t you?” Smith said in disgust, but he dropped his eyes, and Cal knew he’d won.
“Call it a delicacy. Put it in the smoker. Fucking shave it and use it for toilet paper, but I need the goddamned money!”
Keir was down to his last week’s meds, the truck needed a new carburetor, and Cal needed another goddamned net!
“You don’t expect me to buy the rest of the catch, do you?” Smith asked, whining a little, and Cal knew as a businessman that insisting on that would go too far.
He turned his head and spat. “Naw. I’ll take it to the Marriott. It’s all rockfish and sole. They always need more.”
Yeah, the Marriott on the fringes of town took the rest of his catch, but by the time he got his cash there, he was late for his job back at Global. He still smelled like fish and blood as he hauled ass through the back door of the Restaurant and Casino, running for the men’s changing rooms, grateful for the employee shower. He stripped and grabbed a shower sample, lathering up the entire tube in his brown-streaked black hair and under his armpits and creases. The cut across his shin wasn’t bleeding anymore and with luck it would draw together soon and heal closed. Or maybe not. It was red and angry and puffy. Oh please God—he didn’t want stitches and he didn’t give a fuck about another goddamned scar. Just . . . just make it through, he thought somewhat wretchedly. Make it through. If he could make it through, he could get up in the morning, fix the transom, use the money in his pocket to fix the net, to buy the medicine, to pay Dottie, to replace the carburetor, to fix the roof, to buy ice for his next trip out, to . . .
He was holding his face under the spray and trying to order all that shit in his head when he heard George Oswald, supervisor, fuck buddy, semi-scumbag tear-assing through the locker room.
“Cal! Cal—where’d you go, you useless sonuvabitch? You’re supposed to be here an hour ago!”
Cal pulled his head from under the spray and shook the water out of his eyes.
“Gimme a sec!” he hollered back. “Had fish rotting in my truck—had to go sell it to Arvin and Smith!”
“I don’t give a shit what you had rotting in your truck, McCorkle—you’re late for this job! Now get your shit together and— Holy fuck, what happened to you?”
Cal had gotten a look at himself when he’d been driving back and forth—he had a bruise on his cheek he couldn’t remember getting and his eyes were bloodshot from the strain of hauling the goddamned fish on board. And the cut across his shin was aching like a motherfucker.
“Sturgeon wandered into the net,” he snapped. “Outta my way. Gotta go get dress—”
“That’s not the only thing that happened, wait—”
“Outta my way, George!” Cal shouldered past him, not wanting his pity. So much easier to deal with his life if he never had to stop fighting, never had to lay down his swords, ’cause when he did that he wanted to put his face between his knees and cry.
“No, man, you cannot go out there if you’re bleeding and looking like death—did you see your arms, Cal?”
Little cuts all over, damned spines on the damned sturgeon. “Don’t wanna talk about it,” Cal muttered, rifling through his locker for his stuff.
That’s when George did a dangerous thing: he put his hand on Cal’s shoulder.
“Get your hand off me!”
He didn’t like George—didn’t hardly like fucking him—but God . . . touch, human touch . . . Cal craved it and hated it at the same time.
He was almost naked, leaning across the bench to the bank of lockers, and instinctively his back arched, his ass thrust out in an invitation he never would have consciously voiced.
George’s hand on his shoulder shook, and George ran it down the damp line of his back to the edge of the towel Cal was clutching around his waist.
He snatched his hand back, like he was trying to do the right thing, and Cal glared over his shoulder. “Spare me the gentleman shit,” he challenged. “I’m just a piece of ass to you anyway—go ahead and take it! Everyone else’s had their bit.”
George dragged a deep breath in, exhaling it shakily in Cal’s ear. He chewed breath mints between the odd cigarette, so he smelled like a combination of spearmint and tobacco that wasn’t bad, really. Suddenly his animal warmth, his muscle and bone humanity, was a comfort Cal craved until his stomach muscles knotted.
Cal didn’t like to crave anything.
George smoothed his hand over the towel, and Cal knocked it away.
“You don’t get that if you don’t work for it,” he sneered, and George knew this game. This was the only game they played.
That quick, Cal was thrown face-first into the locker while George fumbled for his belt.
“Not worried about getting caught, Mr. Manager?” Cal taunted. “Gonna take the time to fuck me but not lock the fucking door?”
“It’s locked!” George snapped, cracking Cal a good one across the ass. “Now shut up and spread it!”
“Make me, corporate man.” Oh yeah—George thought he was better’n everyone else ’cause he went to college, but when all was said and done, he was head of the busboys, just a step higher than Cal who was digging his life out of the mud in the sound.
George shoved two fingers up Cal’s ass without lube or courtesy, and Cal saw stars with the pain.
Oh God, the glorious pain.
He rode that pain, rode it as George dropped his trousers and shoved his cock in dry, rode it as George grunted and sweat behind him. His face was mashed into the locker so hard his lip bled a little from a particularly hard thrust, but Cal didn’t care.
He was lost in the pain, where bills and duty and family didn’t exist, where he was free, like eagles, like crows, flying the red sky of pain above the misty valley of what his life had become.
It was tremendous; he could almost see forever, past the sprung-up town of Bluewater Bay, past the San Juan Islands, to the open waters of the ocean, across the Pacific, to the world.
The pain, the roughness, the human contact ended, and Cal was left naked, his cock flopping at half-mast, and George’s cum running from the crack of his ass.
George sighed, burying his face in Cal’s shoulder.
“Kid,” he murmured, his voice almost gentle. “Kid, it didn’t have to be like that.”
He cupped Cal’s scalp then, massaging gently with his fingertips, and Cal leaned his forehead against the metal frame of the locker.
“Sure it did,” he muttered back. “It’s all I got in me.”
George dropped an oddly out of place kiss on Cal’s temple, and then zipped up. “You got ten minutes,” he said, his voice flat and uninflected. “Then my boss’ll know we’re one down.”
Cal nodded, not meeting his eyes. “’Preciate it.” He pulled out his clean underwear and his threadbare black slacks and white shirt. Add one more thing to the list, he thought listlessly. One more thing to buy. Clothes for this job he loathed.
No flying for Cal. Just fishing and being a piece of ass for one more lousy fucking day.
Not Like TV
“Are you going out today, Avery?”
Avery Kennedy rolled over in bed and glare