Today’s excerpt from a quarter way into one of my stories is from THE LOST TEMPLE, which is the second book in my contemporary series, The Tomcat Line, when Ian learns a little more about Mac’s background.
“No, Mac I don’t…” Ian was interrupted when a car horn blared to remind the trucker that the lights had changed.
“Wait,” Mac said hurriedly as he got the truck under way. “We can’t talk about this now. We’re almost at the drop; we can talk while they unload.”
“Sure, but it’s all right, there’s nothing really wrong,” Ian replied concerned that he’d worried Mac unnecessarily.
Mac harrumphed, not reassured and Ian subsided for the moment remembering that Mac had said the drop was on the outskirts of the city. Mac was right, now was not the right time to talk. It wasn’t long before he turned the truck into the entrance of a large distribution center and reversed into one of the loading bays. He glanced at Ian before picking up his clipboard from the dash and jumping down.
Sitting quietly in the cab, Ian watched in the wing mirror as Mac spoke to one of the supervisors who seemed to know him quite well, judging by the smiles and banter between the two men. The man checked the paperwork as Mac opened the rear doors to his truck. Ian knew that Mac was carrying specialized medical equipment and the responsibility for unloading rested firmly on the recipient.
Leaving the supervisor to organize the unloading, Mac returned to the cab and nodded at Ian to get down, leading the younger man to the rear of the large building where there were several rough hewn tables and benches set under a small stand of trees. They were obviously supplied for the staff to eat lunch but as it was still mid-morning the area was deserted so they sat down comfortably facing each other.
“Let’s get this out into the open,” Mac said. “I don’t like the idea that you still don’t think you know ‘all about me’.”
“I know all the facts, Mac but certain aspects of your life are still a mystery to me. I understand that you probably can’t discuss details that have to remain secret, but I don’t like the way you just shut me out.”
Mac frowned for a moment not understanding what Ian was referring to then his face cleared, “You’re talking about my Special Ops days aren’t you? What brought that up now?” He suddenly paled. “I didn’t say anything last night, did I? When we were… Or…” He sounded confused, puzzled. “No, I’d know if I’d been dreaming.”
“No, no,” Ian said, spooked by Mac’s attitude. “You never said anything, certainly not during sex. Why the hell would you think that?”
“I don’t know why I said that. Damn!” The truth was he did know why he had said it. He dreamed occasionally of things he would rather forget, things he never allowed to encroach on his everyday life; things that invaded his nights when he had no control over his subconscious. That was bad enough but over the years he had mostly learned to cope with it. What he had never learned to cope with was the nightmare over Andrew’s death and Matt’s capture.
Officially the mission had been a success because he had brought home the mark, safe and undamaged. There was commiseration for the lost men, an apology for the fact that the intelligence was incomplete and praise for the success against such odds. Success? To him it had been unmitigated failure; he had left a man – a friend – behind to face prison, maybe even torture. He had also lost Andrew. How did he describe Andrew, an old friend, a special old friend he engaged in sex with? They weren’t partners; he didn’t love Andrew, at least not like that. He was a great guy and they both just happened to be gay. It was less than a relationship but more than a buddy fuck, much more.
That night haunted his dreams, the night he’d knelt beside Andrew as he died because some enemy soldier had got past him and somehow managed to slit the man’s throat. He found it hard to forgive himself for that mistake and his guilt was multiplied because while he was with Andrew, Matt had been captured. Matt had tried to help Andrew by chasing off the enemy and warning Mac of the danger and it had cost him his freedom. Was it any wonder he sometimes woke up shouting and sweating because he couldn’t help either of them? Was it any wonder he occasionally dreamed of the good times he and Andrew had shared?
“I think you do,” Ian said softly, dragging Mac back to the here and now. “Who was he? Is he…?” Ian swallowed before he could continue, “Do you dream about him?”
“Ian, no,” Mac said reaching a hand and rubbing up and down Ian’s arm. “At least not the way you mean. Please don’t think that. I meant what I said, you are the first man I have ever loved, this is the first time I have ever had a real relationship.” He felt Ian relax somewhat and he continued, speaking carefully, “I have nightmares about Andrew.”
“Andrew? Can you tell me anything about him, about the two of you?”
“Andrew and I served together a couple times, we were very good friends and early on we discovered we were both gay. We had a fling and then we went our separate ways. That was just the way it was in the Navy. A few years later I was in command of a team and Andrew was assigned to me. It didn’t seem that we hadn’t seen each other for almost five years, the friendship was as strong as ever and we soon slipped back into our old ways. I have to admit it was good, we were really good friends.”
“Not just… what do you call it, a fuck buddy?”
“No, it meant more than that. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t love Andy but I did care about him, you understand?”
“Yeah, I think I do.”
“Then about six months later, he died under my command.”
If you want to read what happens next you can purchase the novella in ebook and print here