Today’s excerpt is from the quarter point of my popular contemporary novella, TACTICS.
He couldn’t answer the question and it was driving him crazy. He needed a resolution and thought the only way to get one was to move forward, even if that meant forcing the pace.
The problem was that he was nervous of what the pursuit might reveal. What if Colin was way off the mark and Michael didn’t feel that way about him? How much damage might he do to their friendship? Should he take the risk? Damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t. Fuck!
It took longer than Colin expected for Michael to arrive and, when he finally walked in, Michael was flushed.
“Sorry, I’m probably a lot later than you thought,” Michael said, voicing Colin’s thoughts. He dropped a bag on the foot of the bed. Colin was sitting on the bed in a robe he’d managed to scrounge from one of the nurses.
“I’m just pleased to see you now,” Colin replied. Michael smiled and warmth spread through Colin at the expression in the dark brown eyes regarding him; Colin couldn’t help but return the smile.
“The thing is, I’m late because there was an emergency at work just as I was going to leave, wouldn’t you know it! Still, I’ve got your stuff,” he indicated the bag, “but after I drop you home, I won’t be able to stay. Have to catch a plane to Chicago in a couple of hours.” Michael shrugged apologetically.
“Damn,” Colin retorted, “I was really looking forward to spending some time with you.” As soon as he said it, Colin wished the words back, but Michael simply smiled.
“Me too. I was looking forward to thrashing you.”
“I trust you meant at chess?” Colin grinned.
Michael raised an eyebrow. “Now, what else could you be suggesting?”
“Me?” Colin asked, all innocence. Colin stood and pulled the curtain partway around the bed and began to dress.
“I’ll probably be away for a few days. You gonna be okay at home alone with that shoulder?” Michael raised his voice a little, wishing he could see through the damned curtain. The shadows only revealed how much he was missing.
“I’ll manage,” Colin replied. “The doc gave me some painkillers and I have to see a physical therapist every day at first.” The curtain was shoved back. “I could wish you didn’t have to go, but I know it goes with the territory.”
“Gonna miss me?” Michael asked softly, a touch of amusement in his voice.
Colin did a double-take, held Michael’s stare for moment, but he didn’t answer. Michael had hoped for something more, and he wistfully watched as Colin turned away to check that he hadn’t left anything in the drawer beside the bed.
Then, as he turned, Colin said, “I’ll miss finishing our chess game.”
“Yeah, it was getting interesting,” said Michael.
“We could still play, if you want,” Colin offered quietly, and Michael lifted an eyebrow in query. “You’re taking your laptop, right?” Colin asked and Michael nodded. “Okay, I can transfer the positions to my computer, send you the file and then we can continue our game over IM. If you want to, that is?” The question sounded simple enough but Colin’s voice was husky.
“Right, sure, would like to see a result… from the game,” Michael replied, automatically taking a step toward Colin, who, at that moment, reached for his bag and grimaced when he pulled his injured shoulder a little. The movement brought Michael up short, reminded him that Colin was hurt and that they were still just friends; anything else was only wishful thinking.
“Here, let me get that. Let’s get you home,” Michael said, picking up the bag and helping Colin from the room.
Colin was seated at his computer, waiting for it to finish loading their interrupted chess game. He had to work slowly, mostly typing one-handed so as not to jar his injured shoulder.
At last, the small icon flashed as his computer beeped to inform him the download was complete and the program was ready. He could pass the file on to Michael whenever he was ready.
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