Available December 31 from MLR Press.
Drag And Drop
By Kimberly Gardner
Shimmering satins, lipstick and lace
Champagne countdowns and a midnight embrace
One man has a secret he’s too scared to speak
The other has dreams for the future to seek
Will they lay bare their hearts for one chance at bliss
And ring in the new year sealed with a kiss?
“Congratulations, Mr. Castle.” The realtor produced a ring of keys and held them out. He dropped them into Peter’s open hand. “You just bought yourself a small slice of paradise. Key West is a great place. I hope you’ll be very happy here.”
“Thanks, Jeff, I’m sure I will.” Peter closed his fingers around the keys. The metal was warm from being in the realtor’s pocket. “I’ve been here many times over the past half dozen years or so.”
“Hmm, a favorite destination, is it?” Jeff walked with Peter out of the air conditioned office into the brilliance of the Key West afternoon sunshine.
“Actually my dads live here now.” Peter pocketed the keys to his brand new condo with a sense of being on the edge of something monumental. “They moved from Pennsylvania right after I graduated from college. I’ve been vacationing here ever since.”
“Nice.” The realtor chirped the locks open on his Camry and opened the driver’s door. “So you finally decided to buy a place of your own. That’s great.”
More like he could finally afford to buy a place of his own.
“Yeah well, I’m relocating for work so …”
“Lucky for us the hotel business is good.”
“I’m just a lowly project manager.”
“Well, it will be nice to have you on the island. Maybe we can get together sometime. For drinks or coffee maybe?”
Uh-oh. It was not the first time his realtor had made noises about the two of them going out though Peter had thought he’d nipped that hope in the bud. Apparently not.
“Uh, I don’t think …”
“You are gay, right?” Jeff’s cheeks were flushed and he was clearly uncomfortable and afraid he’d made a blunder of epic proportions.
“Yeah, yeah, totally gay.” Peter forced a laugh. “But I’m sort of coming off a bad break-up, you know?”
“Oh sure, I completely understand.”
An awkward silence settled between them. Peter was on the verge of escape by whatever means necessary when the right front pocket of his jeans began to vibrate and his phone began blaring the opening notes of Ice-Cream Truck.
Timing truly was everything.
Peter pulled the phone from his pocket and glanced at the display.
“I’ll let you get that,” Jeff said as he slid behind the wheel of his car. Then as if on a second thought he poked his head out the driver’s side window. “You sure you don’t want a ride over to the condo?”
“No thanks, I’m good.” Peter connected the call and raised the phone to his ear.
“Dad, what’s up?”
“So, are you an official property owner now?” Freddy’s voice had a distinctly tinny quality coming through the phone’s speaker.
“Me and the bank.” Peter spotted one of Key West’s signature pink cabs turning the corner at the end of the block. Stepping into the street, he lifted a hand and waved it down.
“So when can we come see the place?” Freddy asked.
The cab braked. Peter opened the rear door and climbed in. “You probably should wait till I get some furniture.”
“Nonsense! How can we buy you what you need if we haven’t seen the place for ourselves?”
“Dad, I told you, you don’t have to buy me anything.”
“Well, we’re going to, so it may as well match your decor.”
Peter didn’t bother to point out that his current “decor” consisted of off-white walls and bare wood floors and precious little else save the utterly stunning light that poured through the floor to ceiling windows and turned the whole place gold. It was the light that had sold him on the over-priced matchbox in the first place.
His dad was talking again and Peter tuned back in.
“… We’ll see you at the house for dinner tonight, yeah?”
“I actually have plans tonight, Dad. How about tomorrow or the next day?”
“Peter, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.”
“Oh, right. I forgot.”
Freddy tsked. “You’ll be at the club for the show, won’t you? Or do you already have plans?”
Peter grinned to himself. His dad was giving him an out even though he clearly wasn’t happy about it.
“I’ll be there. In fact, I wouldn’t miss it. I’ve never seen a drag queen dropped at midnight.”
“Sweetheart, one does not drop a drag queen. One lowers her, and very gently at that.”
“Right. My bad. Bye, Dad. Love you.”
“Love you too, Petey.”
The cab driver caught Peter’s eye in the rearview. “That’ll be seven-fifty.”
Looking up, Peter realized they had reached his destination. A thrill of anticipation and sheer nerves skittered along his spine and his pulse accelerated. After climbing from the cab’s back seat and paying the driver, he took a moment to calm himself and study the guesthouse where he’d stayed every time he came to Key West— every time but this one. Now he was no tourist, but an actual property owner.
The guesthouse was nice in the way of hundred and fifty year old wooden houses; three stories with two porches on the front, each running the width of the house. The entire building was constructed with wood taken from an old sailing vessel, or so the story went. Fanciful railings trimmed the porches like lace on a lady’s cuff. Oddly shaped little windows peered from under the eaves as if the house inspected each visitor with a critical eye.
The front door stood wide open in welcome as it always did. The scent of baking beckoned to Peter as he climbed the porch steps.
He sniffed appreciatively. Mmm, apples and cinnamon. His stomach growled. He hadn’t had anything since that uber-large cup of coffee at the Philly airport that morning, and now he was starving.
Inside was more wood, the hallway gleaming from decades of polishing by hundreds of loving hands. Peter followed the familiar runner patterned with bright cabbage roses that led deeper into the house. From somewhere he heard the ring of familiar male laughter. His lips curved and a shiver danced over his skin.
Peter quickened his steps, drawn by the sound of laughter as much as he was compelled by his own anticipation. He passed through a small office area that held a desk with a phone and computer, At last reaching the kitchen and stopped in the doorway to take in the sight of the man he loved.
From the back CJ was all lean hips and slim shoulders. He wore a snug t-shirt, baggy cargo shorts and his feet were bare. A sweep of hair the color of sunlight tumbled past his shoulders to the middle of his back.
Peter’s mouth watered at the positively lickable sight of him.
“Well, we’ll be looking forward to it, Mr. Haley. And I’ll be sending you a confirmation email with …” CJ turned, his words fading away and his eyes going wide as he caught sight of Peter in the doorway.
And oh, those eyes!
High summer blue, they were fringed with lashes so long and thick they could have swept the floor, and as dark as soot in direct contrast with all that blond perfection.
So perfect, so gorgeous and so like Peter’s fondest wet dream come to life, he stole Peter’s breath.
Suddenly swamped with the need to touch and taste and take, Peter held himself back. Oh how he wanted to seize that phone, end the call and share his news with this man who had come to mean so much to him.
Share his news? Hell, he wanted to seize CJ, drag him to the floor and show him, in vivid detail, how much he’d missed him.
Of course sex was safe, sex was a sure thing. He knew well that CJ’s lust burned as bright and hot as his own, and had ever since that first time they’d come together nearly a year ago. His news however, might not be so well received. So as hard as it was, he stood still
But for the smile he couldn’t suppress and the desire he knew must show in his eyes.
Was it too soon? Too much? Too fast?
Maybe. Probably. But what the hell? He was twenty-eight-years-old and had never said the L-word to anyone, let alone considered uprooting his life to be near that person.
All these thoughts rattled around in his head as he stood still and waited for CJ to finish his call.
Written by Kimberly Gardner
As early as the seventh grade, Kimberly remembers slashing her favorite rockstars and reading romance. So it’s not surprising that her two passions, romance and putting pretty boys with other pretty boys, should come together in her writing. Moliere said, “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, then for a few close friends, then for money.” Kimberly is delighted to finally be doing it for money.
Visit The Author's Website