Category Archives: Excerpt
I’ve been doing a garbage job of keeping up with my blog, as usual, but for those of you who follow, I did release my newest slow burn gay romance, Secret Seth on February 14th.
Find the sample here.
Secret Seth © Ki Brightly February 2018
Tyler Faulkner lived for his work, constructing Hollywood sets. His designs were perfect, and he expected equal perfection from his crew and himself. But, talented as he was, he felt trapped. A creative clash with a producer left him out of more than just a job, and Tyler decided that maybe a new beginning was exactly what he needed.
Seth Goodwin was reliable. So rock-steady that his father made him a partner in the family construction business over his older brothers. Seth’s job was simple—he took a highly skilled crew out on the road to build ridiculously expensive projects for rich clients. Their success prompted Seth and his dad to hire a new designer.
Seth wasn’t so steady around Tyler. Tyler didn’t simply draw art; he forced it into reality, elbowing his way into Seth’s work crew and life, whether he wanted him there or not. But Seth had a secret he’s been keeping for a long while, and Tyler, flamboyant and verbose, wasn’t someone who fit in a closet, unless he was looking for the perfect shoes to go with his outfit. Would Seth and Tyler be able to make it work? Or would everyone’s secrets catch up with them?
When Brooke Edwards told me what her story was about, mainly cute guys and food, I was excited. As anyone who knows me knows, food is probably my biggest obsession after books and writing. I asked her if she could send me a blog post with recipes in it, and she did not disappoint. I will definitely make these foods this weekend if I can, and post pictures afterward!
There is also an excerpt of her novella below, because that is what we’re here for. Not my extreme love of everything gustatorially related.
Thanks so much for being here Brooke.
Thank you, Kiyle, for the chance to talk about my new release AND have a chat about one of my favourite topics – food. This was a huge part of Sweet Dreams as it was such a major part of Benji’s life and it was a really easy way for me to connect with him. I spent many hours as a child sitting up on the counter while my granddad tried to avoid my accusing gaze whenever he poured wine into whatever he was cooking. Oh, the innocence of childhood! We won’t talk about how much wine I use in MY cooking. There was enough Chambord soaking the cake in my Christmas trifle back in December that everyone stayed just a little bit longer than planned to make sure they were safe to drive.
Benji probably wouldn’t have supported it, but I’m pretty sure Cara and Dane definitely would have been on board. It’s a good thing for Benji’s sanity that Cara took off globetrotting before Dane came crashing into his life, I think. Back on topic, though, and into the real meat of the matter. My parents raised me to always finish my dinner if I even wanted a peek at dessert, so I’m going to talk a bit about one of my favourite comfort foods. Lasagne is a staple for lots of families, I know, and lots of people have their special tricks or ingredients that make it theirs. My tricks are a visit to the antipasto bar at the local delicatessen and home-roasted garlic cloves – I pack a tub full of semi-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, seared eggplant slices and pickled roasted pepper slices and lay those through each layer. It’s a great way to beef up a sauce if you don’t want meat in it, and if you do have meat in it then you’ve got an even heartier sauce. However you make your sauce, whether it’s from a jar or from scratch, I think it’s incredibly important to simmer all the ingredients together to combine them properly. Adding a can of crushed tomato to whatever sauce you have in a jar is always a surefire way to make it richer. I like to cook some onions in a little butter when I brown the mince before tossing the two together with a generous sprinkle of salt and cracked pepper and some crushed roast garlic, then pouring the sauce in and letting it simmer for a while. I know that some people love it, but I don’t make my lasagne with a béchamel sauce. I layer it with pasta sheets, a thick spreading of the sauce and then a generous handful of grated cheeses. Sharp cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan are my three regulars. As long as your top layer has a solid coating of cheese, you’re golden.
No meal would be complete without dessert, and as a special shout-out to Kiyle, I wanted to share some baked doughnut recipes. There are SO many variations on the baked doughnut thing online that you could literally spend days lost in a Pinterest spiral. Pretty sure that’s happened to Benji a time or two, although croquembouches are more his thing. Bring on the cream puffs, am I right? Anyway – baked doughnuts. If you want to Google a basic baked doughnut recipe, there are SO many online that are really versatile. You can add berries, or flavour them in a million different ways. Dunk them in melted chocolate or fill them with salted caramel, it really is incredibly hard to go wrong with doughnuts. Today, I’m going to talk to you about one of MY favourites. Apple Pie Doughnuts.
Quick rundown on the ingredients: you’re gonna need puff pastry, apple pie filling, brown sugar, butter, some crushed biscuits (Australians should use Digestives, Graham crackers for Americans or whatever biscuit you’d use to make a crumble top or cheesecake base) an egg wash and whatever you want for toppings. Some people like caramel sauce and icecream, others like fluffy whipped cream, some people like them on their own with a big glass of milk. I make my pie filling from scratch – diced or sliced Granny Smith apples, brown sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg all over low heat and thickened with a little cornflour. Canned pie filling will do the job just as well for these purposes though! Roll it out and cut your puff pastry into rounds – 2 rounds per doughnut. Lay out your base layers on a parchment lined baking sheet and top each one with a big spoonful of your pie filling. (Protip – sugar lovers might want to drizzle some of that caramel sauce through the inside too) Brush some of your eggwash around the edges, put another pastry circle on top and pinch the edges until you have a nicely filled and sealed doughnut. Sift some of your brown sugar through the crushed biscuits and mix with melted butter until you have a nice crumbly mixture. Brush finished doughnuts with egg wash and sprinkle with your crumble. Baking time will depend on the size of the doughnuts and your oven – puff pastry is pretty telling when it comes to being done. Golden and flaky is ideal, I find that mine usually take around 15-20 minutes. Once they come out of the oven, let them cool off while you debate with yourself over what you want on top (or whether you’re gonna share them at all) and then you’re in for a really good time. On that note, and speaking of a good time, I hope you enjoy this exclusive excerpt!
Dane waltzes in again after three weeks of nonstop texting, flirting and interrogations about “why you’re smiling like a teenager with a new porn stash” from Sienna. It’s Saturday afternoon, right before close, and the only reason Benji knows that the figure coming through the door is Dane is the fact that he’s wearing an orange beanie almost identical to the one he stole from Glen’s head the first day they met, sunglasses and a bright violet NYU hoodie. He looks ridiculous and Benji starts laughing the second he puts the tray of tarts down.
“You missed blending in half a mile back that way,” he says in lieu of a greeting and Dane just grins, wide and bright and plucks the sunglasses off his face when he’s sure they’re alone. Dane locks the door behind him with a sense of familiarity that makes the tiny, hopeful part of Benji squirm with joy.
“That may be true but no one expects a celebrity to dress this terribly,” he says with a wink and with the full force of that grin on him for the first time in weeks, Benji gets a little weak in the knees. The tight, lingering hug that comes after makes him decidedly wobbly on his feet but it’s nothing compared to the butterflies that fill his insides when Dane casually presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth like that’s something they’ve done a thousand times before. Benji still hasn’t managed to get a word out by the time Dane has crossed to the apron rack and fastened the bikini apron around his waist again, turning around with an expectant look on his face and a glint in his eyes.
“So,” he says and Benji blinks. “What’s on the list for tonight?”
Benji glances at the list pinned to the board. “Uh, a bunch of cakes for some business function.”
Dane rubs his hands together as he steps right into Benji’s space. Benji looks at him, eyes wide, and Dane smiles so wide that the corners of his eyes crinkle. “Better get on with it,” he says, brushing up against Benji on his way to the bench. “I was hoping we’d be home in time for Saturday Night Live.”
Benji sucks in a surprised breath. There’s really no alternative meaning to that statement and if that’s where they’re heading without having to have some big emotional reveal or conversation about it, he is so down with it. He has no plans, Sienna scheduled to oversee pickup for the cakes the next day with the business function. Everything seems to have lined up perfectly.
“We can take these leftovers, right?” Dane asks as Benji carefully closes the refrigerator on the completed cakes a few hours later, not able to drag his eyes away from the pile of cake shavings and excess decoration. He licks his lips. “And that frosting stuff. The chocolate one?”
Benji, in the middle of untying the horrible knot he ends up with every time he wears the old blue apron, considers rolling his eyes before he thinks about what they can do with the ganache. The image of Dane licking his lips flashes across his eyes again and once that reality settles in his mind he nods fervently.
“Yes, we can take the ganache,” he says, slightly manic. His fingers tear right through the old, worn string and he wriggles his way out of the apron without even bothering to hang it up.
For the chance to win a $5 Amazon GC, suggest the most delicious doughnut combination you can think of and don’t forget to leave your email address! Kiyle and I will select a winner after 24 hours. Also feel free to find me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or even drop me an email, I am always up for talking about food or pictures of food. Also for chatting about my books, but mostly the food.
Sweet Dreams is available on Amazon and through KU here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSJDGDQ?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660 and you can catch me online in the following places: Facebook at www.facebook.com/brookeedwardsauthor
Website: www.brookeedwardsauthor.com Twitter: @brookeedwardsau Instagram: @brookeedwardsauthor
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org too!
After you read Sweet Dreams check out my newest book Trust Trade!
Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.
Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.
Today I’m hosting Elizabeth Noble during the Excerpt Tour for her book Ringed Love! Take a look! Happy reading!
Hello and thank you Ki for hosting me today. The first chapter of Ringed Love is posted on Dreamspinner Press, so over the next two weeks I’ll be offering the first one hundred or so words of each subsequent chapter.
Today’s excerpt is from chapter 12.
“Is there a sheet soaked in saltwater in the backpack?” Nick asked as he and Todd made their way through the tables and found a place to sit near the back. Their position would afford them a good view of anyone coming in or leaving the bar.
Todd sat at the table, took off his pack, and dropped it to the floor between his feet. “Uh-huh. Sort of.”
He glanced around the bar and pulled menus from a holder on the table, handing one to Nick. “I found a local tourist shop that sells novelties associated with area legends. They had ponchos and wraps made with a dye combined with, among other things, salt, to create different patterns. According to the sign next to the ponchos, they’re supposed to protect you from evil and having your soul stolen. Very pretty. It’s a shame I plan on tossing it into the lake.”
New Colorado Protectorate fell with the assassination of Chancellor Clarke. Like many others, Todd and Nick Ruger left the land of their birth and made a home to the north in Yellowknife. Their world was ever changing. The time came to say a sad farewell to some of their friends and loved ones, but they were taken in with open arms by others and in turn offered shelter to yet more. Through the years they remained steadfast in their duty as sentries to protect and defend those that needed it the most.
Time marches on but through it all they hold each other dear and cherish the love they’ve shared. There are still angry ghosts, Windigos and water spirits to contend with. Their lives change, offering them new roles. When the time comes, they do what sentries have done for generations prior and teach others the skills to carry on as sentries. The Rugers lives were rich and their hearts full with their devotion and love for each other. The tradition of the sentries lived on forever. It was the legacy of Todd and Nick Ruger. That was the way it was always meant to be.
Elizabeth Noble started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into books and fanfiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction. Being able to share her works with Dreamspinner is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming.
Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed breed canine princess and her sidekick, tabby cat. She lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening and winter and summer sports (go Tribe and Cavs!) and stargazing all year long. When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives.
Elizabeth received several amateur writing awards. Since being published two of her novels have received honorable mentions in the Rainbow Awards. Her novel Jewel Cave was a runner up in the 2015 Rainbow awards in the Gay Mystery/Thriller category.
May 16 Kris Bethke https://kristbethke.com/
May 17 Susan Laine https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/11415563-guest-post-elizabeth-nobleMay 18 Meg Harding http://megharding.wordpress.com/
May 19 Jamie Lynn Miller https://jamielynnm.wordpress.com/
May 20 Charlie Descoteaux https://cdescoteauxwrites.com/
May 23 Grace R. Duncan http://www.grace-duncan.com/
May 24 Sarah Madison http://www.sarahmadisonfiction.com/
May 25 Rick R. Reed http://www.rickrreed.com/
May 26 Skylar M. Cates https://skylarmcates.wordpress.com/
May 27 Lou Sylvre http://sylvre.rainbow-gate.com/
May 30 Ki Brightly https://brightlybooks.wordpress.com/
May 31 Shira Anthony http://www.shiraanthony.com/
When you’re done reading all the Excerpts for Ringed Love you can pre-order Ki Brightly’s newest paranormal romance release at the Dreamspinner Press Website! (All e-formats available.)
Released June, 27th.
As a kid, Joseph Appleyard saw things hidden from others. Now he is The Paranaturalist, an investigator and cohost of a television show that seeks to prove the existence of the paranormal. Some think Joe is crazy, but they don’t realize he knows firsthand there’s more to the world than what most perceive. The trouble is, somewhere along the way, Joe lost his vision and it left his world flat and dull. One night an investigation goes horribly wrong, and a powerful ghostly manifestation sends Joe tumbling into a river. Spirit worker Owen Watson saves Joe’s life, and once they are back on dry land, whatever has been blocking Joe’s vision has been washed away.
When a haunting goes from annoying to dangerous, people turn to Owen Watson. He hates those infuriating hacks from TV, but when he pulls Joe from the river, his mind begins to change. Joe is scared and confused, and, Owen realizes, he might just be the real thing. Together, they work to understand the part of Joe that has been shut away for so long. But just as Joe is acclimating to his abilities, his career as a paranormal investigator is in danger of being ripped away. Owen would gladly battle a bloodthirsty spirit for Joe, but he’s out of his element in the world of reality television.
My next book will be out this summer! Here’s the first excerpt from The Paranaturalist!
Hello everyone! Head over to Dreamspinner Press’s Facebook Page if you’d like to live chat with me. I’ll be there until 2 p.m.!
I thought I would get directly into the good stuff with this first post. This is a little excerpt. We’re in Yulian Volkov’s head. He’s a werewolf and an entrepreneur and he takes both seriously…but not too seriously.
Evil. I know I’m being evil, but I grin and wink before sprinting for the shoreline. The water is a frigid shock as I splash in to swim out a short distance. The wind from the lake is clean. The water is clear and shallow. I can see the bottom of the lake in every direction spreading out sandy and dotted with rocks. I have nothing but exuberant gratification for the pulsing life in my veins while I stand dripping in the hot sun. I glance skyward, hoping for a half-cloaked glimpse of a pale version of the moon’s face in the sky, but the sun is too bright or it just isn’t there. I sink under a wave and come up wiping the droplets of water off my face with my hands. Gunshots blast my awareness back to the shore. My heart stutters before picking up double time.
Hell. I turn back to the beach in time to see Rolly finish unloading the Savage on a naked man crawling out of the underbrush near the tree line. He’s a mess, a bloody cracked-bone and leaking-innards mess, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a good while. A battlefield mess. The stench hits me, the rotting, foul stench of serpent. It’s not the same sick sweet of human. I’m almost surprised the blood is the shocking red it is, leaking out onto the sand. The dead man’s face is… gone. The brown hair on the scalp is matted. There were nine shots in the clip, all silver shot, and Rolly fires until the gun clicks dry. A grim satisfaction fills me as I watch him finish our kill from last night, witness him prove to himself and me that he is capable, can take care of himself. He’s an avenging angel with the gun snug to his shoulder. Part of my reaction is the moon. She puts us more in touch with our wolves, and the wolf is far more concerned with protecting our little pack than the right to life of a serpent who dared to slither his way into my territory. His death is… right. He tasted my blood, and my… my Rolly spilled his. I tread water, spread my fingers, and glory in the hedonistic sensations of my body cutting through the lake. Drifting. My erection doesn’t lose strength, fueled on by the happy thought that Rolly’s protecting me. He killed for me. Killed for our pack.
An insistent swirl of want pulses in my shaft.
“Fucking fuck, Yulian.” The way he yells my name sends a spike of worry into my core, dragging me away from my animal mind and spurring me to action. I force myself out of the water. Allowing gravity to tug at my body is unpleasant, but I’m closer to Rolly and his kill and that’s not. The sand is warm and sticks to the bottom of my feet. He’s not happy. I give in to my baser instincts, pulling him close when I reach him, snugging my body tight to his. I nuzzle my face against the cloth covering his shoulder. He’s unhappy? He gasps, whether from my touch or the cold wetness from my dip I don’t know.
“Thank you.” There’s an edge of a growl in my voice. He responds to it, curving his body around mine, sagging against me. He draws me closer to himself, nose in the hair at the top of my head. If he’s uncomfortable with my arousal, he doesn’t say as much. Maybe the dead body has something to do with his distraction? His chest expands under my cheek while he drags air into his lungs over and over, deep breaths. His muscles tremble and, finally, something holding him back breaks apart, and his arms wrap around me and grip me tight. The gun digs into my lower back because he still has both hands on the barrel even though he’s got me so tight to his body I can hear his heart beating. Time slips by and he gradually steps away, separating his body from mine. His eyes search mine, a lost look on his face. The frown tugging down his lips makes the dimple on his chin deeper. It takes a good breeze full of the scent of serpent blood to calm me, bring me back into the moment and away from the desire to ride his body here on the beach.
Dear god, the moon is blanketing my mind today, making this dance much harder.
“It’s a body,” he murmurs into my ear, eyes fixed on a point over my shoulder. The blood from the serpent is starting to irritate my nose. I’d like to scrub it from existence. Maybe we can burn it? No… that will simply put the stench into the air. I might have worked up some guilt over the death, but he’d attacked Rolly. Today he may have been looking for aid, but last night he would have devoured him. Unforgivable.
“Yes,” I answer him with a shrug.
“There’s… there’s a dead body on your private beach.”
“So it seems,” I sigh. I didn’t want to do the work of hiding a body today, but he’s too large to leave as carrion.
“Well, what the fuck do we do with that?” he asks, raising his voice as he drops the gun to the sand. Quickly, I retrieve it, frowning at him. If I make him clean them a few times, maybe he won’t be so fast to leave my guns lying around. Damn it. That reminds me. I scan the beach for the jingal and frown when I see it.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have shot him?” I’m trying to make a point, but he closes off immediately, taking a step back from me. I wish I would have kept my thoughts to myself. He did what was necessary and now I will too.
“I…. Can I have my life back, please?”
“If you hadn’t shot him, we might have been able to find some information first, but if you want a reason why you shouldn’t have done it, that’s the only one I have.” I want to comfort him, but I have no words or patience for it. I consider the body. “And this is making work for us on a full moon. That sucks too.” I squat down to measure the man with my eyes. Maybe we could just wrap him up really well in some tarps and drop him in the basement of the Meadery. Deal with it tomorrow? That seems like a bad idea. “Better go get the shovels,” I mumble to myself.
“You don’t care that I killed a man, do you?”
“He’s the selfsame serpent you were terrified of. He tried to kill us. Now he’s not a worry.” I shrug. No. I don’t care a lick.
“But… he’s a man now… he doesn’t… he’s a man.”
“He’s both just like we’re both.” He stomps away from me and back, taking the gun, slinging it over his shoulder again as he glares at me.
“I don’t want to be both,” he says petulantly. In that moment I can see how much younger than me he is, but maybe that isn’t fair. How is he not more connected to himself? He is his wolf. It makes no sense.
“There’s nothing to be done for it, and there’s nothing to be done for the body. We’ll have to get rid of it,” I say as blandly as possible, trying to keep the irritation out of my voice. I’m not sure I did though when he gives me an assessing look and steps back from me another few feet.
“Bury him, I suppose. I would weight him down in the lake, but I don’t want to swim with him.”
“I’m going be sick.”
“If this makes you queasy, you should refrain from asking me about the war.”
“Ugh. Mother fuck, Yulian. You’re a stone-cold motherfucker, you know that? That’s a dead man.” He squints into the sun, grip tight on his gun.
Frowning at him, I stand as I brush sand from my hands. “Would you like for me to feel badly about it? And what? Call the cops? Call Dean and tell him we murdered one of his men? Ask if they would like to collect the body for a cheap funeral?”
“I… no… I… what the fuck? I can’t expect humanity from you?” He looks hurt, like I’ve betrayed him somehow, but I have to make the decisions that protect us both.
“Not in this.”
That shut him up, and not in a way I would have liked. He’s upset. His musk is tinged with something I don’t enjoy. It isn’t fear, but it’s close, and it’s because of me, or at least because I can’t pretend to care that this creature is dead. It doesn’t take long to trek back out to the barn, taking with me the long rifle Rolly dumped on the beach last night. He will be cleaning it, I decide as I tramp through the woods with shovels. When we’re staring down at the mess again, it seems like it might be easier to dig up the sand rather than dig a hole in the woods. If we hit water, it won’t matter too much because it will make the corpse decompose faster. I start digging beside the body so we can dump it in, my mind wandering back over all the holes I’ve helped to dig over the years. I didn’t think I’d be digging one so soon after bringing Rolly to my home.
“What are you doing?” His tense face squints around the beach as if he expects someone to come charging in to ask what we’re doing with a dead body. The wrinkle between his brows begs me to smooth it with a finger. I stop, jamming the shovel into the sand to lean against it.
“Digging a hole.” I nod to him, then continue, my shovel lifting the sand out of the growing hole and over my shoulder steadily. He doesn’t interrupt me again until the hole is well over my head.
“How are you going to get out of there?” He leans over the opening to look down at me so the only thing I can see is the dazzle of sunlight around his head like a halo.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t leave me down here.” I grin. I’m covered in sweat and sand, but the burn of the physical labor is nice. I can’t wait to take a dip in the lake. When I’ve decided the hole is deep enough, I stop and toss the shovel out. Rolly lends me an arm to help me climb up. I have a fine coating of sand on me. It’s uncomfortable, but the body needs to be at the bottom of the misshapen oblong hole I dug before I can do anything about it, so I wipe my hands on my swim trunks and consider it. With all the gore, I don’t want to touch the remains. I take the shovel to start pushing at the body, but it’s not budging or in enough pieces to shove them down one by one. I’m actually going to have to pick it up to move it. Sighing, I toss my shovel aside and bend down, grabbing a mostly intact leg. When I lift there’s a sickening sucking sound. I stop before I have a leg in my hand , dropping it to the ground.
“Will you—” I cut myself off when Rolly makes a dainty gagging noise behind his hand. Either it came from him or a mouse, but with the unnatural paleness of his face making him look like a blue-eyed ghost, it must have been him. I don’t intend to laugh, but once I start, it gets a little out of hand. He glares at me, giving me a look I don’t know I’ve ever gotten from anyone as he flips me off.
“I’m not a fucking damsel in distress, so stop it, but… I’ll do just about anything in the world if you don’t make me touch…. Why does it smell so bad?… fuck…. Please?” he says widening his eyes and pouting. Oh, he’s used this before, but it works, my gut twisting, my hard-on that had wilted with the physical labor more than happy to start firming back up, accompanied by a warm rush of awareness.
“Oh… now… that’s an offer I can consider. What will you give me?” I’m flirting over a corpse. I… let it never be said something new doesn’t happen every single day. I smile my brightest smile and relax, hands resting lightly on my hips.
“Come, now. You can’t think of a single thing you’d give me after making the offer?”
“Clean your house?”
“You’re already doing it.”
“Work for you at the Meadery?”
“You’ve already technically started there.”
“Well, what then?”
“I’m sure you’ll think of something,” I say with another grin and throw in a wink. I drop down to my knees, put both hands on the largest intact piece of the body, the torso, dig my feet into the sand, and push. It’s not as easy as it should be because of the sand, but there isn’t far to go. Good old-f ashioned ingenuity. Why doesn’t everyone dig a hole beside the corpse? Make life easier? With a solid exertion of effort I tumble the body into the hole, but a leg stays behind. Rolly gags again when I pick it up and drop it down. There’s a wet plop at the bottom. It sounds like water is already filling in the hole. Damn it. We will probably be able to smell this for a month or more. Frowning, I use the shovel to scoop up the bloody sand and toss it down into the hole too. No sense leaving evidence lying around, plus it smells to high hell. Rolly doesn’t seem to mind the blood as much. He uses his shovel to help me scoop the rest of the stained sand into the hole and then comes the easy part, packing the dirt and sand back in where it came from. By the time we’re done, the smell has significantly lessened, and even though there is a rounded mound where the body is, it’s probably going to settle out in a few days, and it doesn’t look that out of place after we toss some dry sand onto it.
“You’re pretty good at this whole… disposing-of-a-body disaster. Have you done this before?” he asks, following me to the edge of the lake. He stares out over the clear water, brushing back bangs that are a little too long. The water seems colder after warming up my muscles, so I wade out carefully. I wish he would strip down and come in with me.
“A few times, but never here.” When the water is deep enough and I dip under the surface. There’s an anxious moment while my ears aren’t tuned to the shore, where there’s nothing but the womb-like silence of the water around me, but when I surface, there are no gunshots. No yelling. My heartbeat slows back down to somewhere near normal. I rub the water off my face so I can be ready for anything, but the beach is as peaceful as it ever is.
“I’m sorry,” Rolly says as he bends down to lift something off the sand. It’s another piece of beach glass. He holds up the small red piece, letting it catch the sunlight, a wisp of a smile on his face, before he drops it into his pocket. How does he keep finding the red ones?
“Not your fault.”
He doesn’t say anything, but wanders farther down the beach. My instincts are yelling at me to track him and comfort him, but I swim out, striking for an outcropping of rocks a quarter mile from shore. When I get there I pull myself up onto them, frightening a few indignant seagulls, who wheel away, squawking at me. Settling in, it’s easy to watch him wandering the beach. He drops the Savage onto a bone-white log, not something I’m happy with while I spy, but he’s out of shells anyway. While I sit, the gentle breeze kicks up into a wind, pulling at his clothes, tossing his hair. It’s nice to see him mostly relaxed, pausing to skip a rock here and there. After a bit he stops, waves at me, and a thumping warmth in my chest spreads out to the rest of my body while I wave back. He’s going to be a large, solid man when he’s done growing. His shoulders are taking on a heavier appearance from what he was last year. His father was a mountain among hills, so it makes sense the son might follow, but he has his mother’s slimness, so perhaps he is done filling out? It will be a pleasure to see either way. I lean back to watch some clouds, my desire firm and heavy between my legs, the moon buzzing in my head as I drop back onto the sun-warmed rock.
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