To what was? That’s the premise around my friend, erotic thrilled author DH Black’s upcoming piece. What Was is a reminder of what we have and how monsters can yank away love, friends, life and your very sanity in a split second. Coming on June 17th. Please enjoy a taste of…
No! Please…God no…
Shuddering, Cody Banks clenched his fingers together, pounding his fist against his thigh until he grunted. Dear God, why wasn’t he dead, why? He’d give anything to be the one six feet under. He could swear he’d seen the face, his face, the very face of his lover, on several occasions. No matter what he did he couldn’t lose the vision, shake off the feeling of dread and utter guilt. Why? Why was he being haunted? Why was he falling into his own despair after this long? Because you’re to blame for what happened. And of course he was. There was no getting around the fact any longer. He had to face what he was, what he’d done. He had to and…
Unclenching his fist, he exhaled slowly as he looked down at the sweet dog and the quiet reflection of love covering his gorgeous muzzle. “Oh Shadow, what would I do without you?”
Woof. A single wine erupted from Shadow’s mouth. He nuzzled into Cody’s leg before wiggling and taking several steps backwards, his entire body shaking from the movement of his tail.
“Stop trying to cheer me up. It’s not going to work.” As he studied the way Shadow sat back on his haunches, tilted his head and gave his master a look that screamed, don’t be an idiot, he burst into laughter. He was lucky to have the baby try and keep him sane. At he moment he was beginning to wonder if he was losing it completely. How could he be seeing Ryan’s face? He didn’t believe in ghosts, refused to buy into horror stories about souls needing to be freed. “What am I doing here, Shadow?” Perhaps waiting for some sign to go on with life.
The breeze was light, wafting across his face as he stood on the very precipice of death, something he’d thought about several times over the last year. The sweet sound of barking made him cringe. Living was a hell of a lot more excruciating than instant death, a pure bliss of never having to feel blinding agony again. Grit flew into his eyes and he blinked as tears formed, but he refused to wipe them away. At least he felt something. No matter the discomfort, this wasn’t the usual abyss, endless days and nights of suffering and feeling guilty. He clenched his fist, wishing for so many things.
Finally wiping away the tears, he glanced down at his constant companion, the single creature he was able to open up to any longer, and shook his head. “I know, boy. We’ll go home in a few minutes. It’s about time for your dinner. I’ve got some gookies for you tonight.” Gookies. Shadow loved treats of any kind, especially people treats. His beloved Golden Retriever was the only comfort he allowed himself, preferring to live on the fringe. He deserved no better. Shivering even in the heat of the afternoon, he glanced at the sky as an ugly series of emotions and thoughts seemed to be invading every waking moment, every damning nightmare. God, the horrid dreams were killing him. He was going through the motions in his life and in truth hoping the anguish would end soon. No matter how.
As Shadow continued to bump his leg, a not so gentle reminder there was something to live for, he groaned and fisted his mouth. Somehow living a life as a Canyon Ranger wasn’t as fulfilling as it once was. Coming to Arizona over five years before had meant such an incredible change, one he’d longed for since his early twenties. The air was clean and crisp, the community embracing with open arms, and the pay scale damn good. He’d had life by the balls – until one horrible night.
Well, right now he didn’t have the time to think about anything personal. He had one very important event to plan for the future. The Mayor himself had tasked him to create and head the celebration because of his outstanding service to the community. That was been over two months before and still he was stymied about what to do. The incredible nod was something most people would consider the recognition of a lifetime. The Fourth of July was less than a month away and the concept of commemorating the men and women lost either from battle or disease was a damn good one. The honor bestowed on him was so amazing and being asked to host was spectacular.
There was no way Cody could manage the task. Not a snowball’s chance in hell. Grabbing Shadow’s leash, he forced himself away from the edge, every nerve in his body on fire. No, he wasn’t going to die today. Breathing in the dry air he glanced at the sky, a fireball of colors sending shivers through him. Morning used to be the favorite time, so serene. Now he dreaded the sunrise, the understanding he had to face another day overwhelming. Still, how could he not smile? This was God’s country, such a beautiful gift to live in a sublime location. Somehow he had to get his shit together.
Shadow was his needed reminder. “All right boy. We’ll go home shortly. Then daddy has to go back to work for a little while.” The truth his he didn’t have to go back to the office. There was no burning need, no criminals carousing the canyons, but he had little else to do in his life. Work and Shadow were the only things he could manage right now. He grinned and shook his head as Shadow leaped in to the passenger seat. The pup had proven to be amazing in so many ways, probably saving him from eating the barrel of a gun.
Jerking his keys from his pocket, he eased around the back of the pickup and listened as the rumble of several other cars and trucks floated in the background. He was tasked to make certain tourists as well as the locals were safe, living out their every day lives with little or no hassles. There were days he felt like a failure, a crock of utter bullshit. Maybe because he wasn’t certain he cared about anyone else’s lives or their health and safety.
As he climbed into the truck, he could easily tell a new crop of tourists had arrived, seeking solace on a mountaintop respite and what some called the place of reckoning. Turning over the engine, he switched to a country music station on the radio. Many of his friends said he was nothing more than a glutton for punishment. He knew he was merely trying to rectify his existence. Still, he had to laugh at the country twang song. This was no doubt the only place he’d ever be able to call home.
Snorting, he patted Shadow on the head and drove out of the park, his thoughts drifting to his ex Ryan had been a man unlike any he’d ever met before, a love affair no one saw coming. Least of all him. Ryan Morgan hadn’t been his type. He laughed. Type? As if he knew what kind of man he could really be with. No, Ryan was all sophistication in a suit that cost just about his mortgage payment on his cabin. Ryan had been well-coifed and completely into the finer things in life. Cody, on the other hand, was into a cold brew, a warm night spent outdoors and a solid romp in the hay. Why Ryan had all of a sudden settled in Arizona was beyond him. The answer had never been revealed.
Laughing, he remembered the first time Ryan had come to the cabin. The look on the sexy blond man’s face was priceless – more like horrified. A cleaning company had been hired and paid for by his lover shortly thereafter. Amazing how the cabin remained basically clean, even after all this time. Well, okay neat anyway. He sighed and ran his fingers through Shadow’s thick mane. Life was a son of a bitch.
As Cody Banks stands at the edge of the Grand Canyon, searching for answers, he can see only his haunted past. Tortured by the death of his lover, his only solace is his job and his beloved Golden Retriever and he goes about his days filled with misery. A Canyon Ranger by trade, as the Fourth of July celebration nears, he’s asked to host a very special event – commemorating a memorial site for men and women lost to war and disease. The honor is too much to bear.
Baker Jennings has no idea what to do any longer. His business in shambles, his marriage in ruins, he takes a vacation with his only daughter in search of finding the man who’s been hiding behind a mask his entire life. Selecting a dude ranch in the glorious mountains, he’s determined to have three weeks of peace, finding needed answers and ultimately acceptance of what he can’t have – until he meets Cody.
Sparks fly between the two men and the moment they enter into more than just friendship, tragedy strikes, leaving both unsure of the future. As both men are forced to face not only their hungers but also their greatest fears, reflections of the past remind them both about what’s most precious. But can they accept the truth or remain hiding behind the pain?
I hope you enjoyed…