Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A.J. LLEWELLYN



His Happy Place

 

Based on The Legend of Nanaue the Shark Man, one of eight ancient fairytales from the island of O'ahu. Barbara Lyons, Fire and Water, and Other Hawaiian legends.

 

            Peter hadn’t set out for such a long walk that first morning on the island. For a Spring day, the weather was hot. Unnaturally hot. And dry. The trade winds gave them no relief, even though they were right on the beach at Haleiwa.

He narrowed his gaze, staring out at the choppy water. The view took his breath away, but anxiety ate at him as Alexa and Effie bounced from one foot to the other.

“The sand is burning my toes,” Effie whined. “My feet are on fire.”

He wanted to tell his sister to quit griping, but he was shocked when he looked at her feet. They were bright red. Her flip-flops had afforded no protection from the shocking heat. Peter felt bad now. He’d brought the two girls to the North Shore’s sleepy little hippie town under false pretenses. Well, at least, it was only partly false. He had every intention of following through on his offer of lunch at the wonderful seaside restaurant, Haleiwa Joe’s, but he had insisted they start with a walk along the beach.

What he’d really wanted was to start his search for the shark man.

“Where are we going?” they kept asking.

“You’ll see,” he responded, not sure why Zane had never mentioned that the shark man’s beachside house was at least a mile away from the restaurant.

“What are we looking for?” Effie asked.

Peter had no intention of telling them anything about him.

He hadn’t realized they’d have to make it out so far away from everything, but here they were with no place else to look and bam! Nothing. Try as he might, he couldn’t find the trail he’d heard so much about. He stopped in front of Alexa and Effie at the final piece of land on the western edge of the island of Oahu before it met the sea. There was no sign of the beach shack with the thatched roof his best friend, Zane, had described to him.

“It’s just like something out of Gilligan’s Island,” Zane had told him.

And it was true. The end point of Haleiwa could have doubled for the set of the old 70s series. All it was missing was the Skipper, his “little buddy,” and some coconut cream pies.

            “Are we there yet?” Effie whined.

            Peter turned to his sister. “Does it look like we’re there yet?” he snapped. He felt so frustrated.

“Well, I don’t know, do I?” she snapped back. “I don’t even know why we’re out here. I’m hungry.”

“I’m hungry, too,” her girlfriend, Alexa said. “Let’s go back to the restaurant.”

The girls turned and walked away from him with purposeful strides. Effie tripped over the stones that covered one portion of the ground. She let out a painful yelp. Alexa put her arm around her, comforting her as she led her from the shore. She glanced over her shoulder to glare at Peter who followed in meek silence.

“You okay?” Peter called out after a couple of moments. He hated this. He hadn’t told them about the shark man, who went by Nate, because he knew how Effie felt about his rotten taste in men. But he sensed something in Nate, and unless Zane was lying to him, Nate wanted to meet him, too.

Zane wasn’t the first of their friends who’d met the shark man. All of them had been entranced by him and thought they’d become lovers. At last count, it was five different men who’d chased after the elusive man. And always, at the last minute, after winning them over with his good looks and cooked campfire suppers, he’d change his mind, advising them to run. Not walk.

 “Run from me,” he’d say. “And don’t come back. Don’t even look this way.”

It was Zane who’d read about the legend of the shark man on an online blog several months ago. Some surfer had wiped out near Nate’s cottage. He’d almost drowned thanks to a ferocious ocean rip, but Nate had saved his life. The surfer had been straight but had fallen hard for him during the two months Nate had cared for him.

The surfer had left Haleiwa under a cloud of mystery and had written a bizarre story about Nate trying to eat him. He’d returned to the mainland and checked into a hospital in Northern California with injuries the doctors there said were consistent with being hit by jagged pieces of coral or a surfboard. Not shark bites.

The surfer said Nate was the most handsome, magnetic man he’d ever met and in spite of the wild claims, a few of Zane and Peter’s friends had traveled to Oahu and tracked Nate down.

Peter thought Zane was nuts. Until he saw Nate’s photograph. Now he was just as obsessed as so many others had been about the man who lived in solitude at the end of the reef. Only a handful of men had actually met him and according to the online accounts Peter read, the rest had written off Nate as an urban myth.

But Zane had met him but said he didn’t quite click with Nate. “It was interesting, it was fun, but it wasn’t love. He seems to be looking for someone but it wasn’t me. I think maybe it’s you.”

Even though his first moments here hadn’t gone the way Peter had envisioned them, he knew he’d find Nate. Just knew it. He reached the back lanai of Haleiwa Joe’s, where the girls had already snagged an outdoor table and were sitting close together studying the massive menu. They were debating between coconut shrimp and black and blue ahi. He loved both tuna and shrimp.

“Let’s pick out a few appetizers and split them,” he suggested. “And we can have some mains as well.”

“You want iced tea?” Effie asked him as the waiter hovered.

“Sure.” He was beyond frustrated now. Effie and Alexa had invited him on the trip for complicated reasons. Effie and Peter’s mom had no idea her daughter was gay. She knew Peter was, but refused to believe it.

Effie, who’d just turned twenty-one, was in love with Alexa. They wanted to take a trip together, but somehow their mom had gotten the idea that Alexa and Peter were an item. They would tell her the truth as soon as their father was back home from his work in Greece. He’d taken a six-month construction job in Athens. He was the more reasonable one of their parents. Peter had come out to them two years ago. His mom thought he was going through a phase and believed Alexa would “turn things around.”

No, she wouldn’t, but she was giving Peter a great excuse for a vacation. At the age of twenty-five, he spent too much time working. Between his job as a senior executive for an intentional surf company and his rising pro surfing career, he had little free time. She’d forced him to take time off.

“We need this,” she’d said and he agreed, allowing her and Effie to make all the arrangements. On his dime.

He now he had ten whole days to meet and win over the shark man.

Peter bit his lip. I can’t believe I’m here. He’d surfed on the North Shore many times over the last few years and felt an indescribable pull toward Haleiwa—long before the shark man had come to his attention. And filled his mind.

“You want a burger or a fried chicken sandwich?” Effie asked him.

“Mmm. Burger. Thanks.” He was thrilled when the iced teas arrived. He sipped and savored the cool, lemony liquid as it slid down his throat. The girls were so busy canoodling, it allowed his mind to idle over his shark man.

I can come back out here and look for him while the girls are in their room. I’ll convince them they need a nap. He had to stifle a laugh. Not that it would take much convincing.

They’d rented a two-bedroom condo in Sunset Beach. It was nice. But it was no grass shack.

Their appetizers arrived and the three of them tucked into the sashimi and two different shrimp dishes with gusto.

“Great choices,” Peter mumbled.

“I have great taste.” Effie gave him a huge smile.

“Especially in girlfriends.” Alex tittered. His dark-haired sister and her blonde, bubbly girlfriend were so cute and sweet they made his teeth ache. Peter worked hard not to roll his eyes.

His thoughts drifted once again to Nate, who, supposedly had a shark’s jaw—the entire jaw, with teeth and bloody mouth—tattooed on his back. It looked so real according to Zane, that prospective lovers ran from the shark man before they finished stripping off to have sex with him.

Zane never got to see the tattoo but he’d urged Peter to go for it. “He saw a photo of you on my cell phone one night and he couldn’t stop looking at you. I should hate you, now I think about it. Once he saw your face that was it. I was lunch meat.” Zane had clapped his hand over his mouth. “Aw, man. I should never have said that. He has a weird thing about meat.”

“What kind of a weird thing?” Peter had asked.

Zane had shrugged and scratched his head as he recounted the tale. “Well, just make sure he doesn’t have any meat when you’re around him. He says he was born with this weird wound, some kind of growth or something on his back. There was some kind of kahuna, you know, a priest or healer type who told Nate’s mother that it was the result of a family curse and the growth would never get bigger as long as Nate never ate meat. If he did, the growth would cause him utter chaos.

“When he was nine, Nate’s granddad gave him steak for dinner.” Zane had paused. “Nate told me the thing on his back has driven him crazy ever since.”

“What do you mean ‘crazy’?”

Zane had paused. “It made him sex-obsessed from the time he was about twelve.”

It was a story Peter found strange and disturbing. He’d wondered if Zane had been smoking wacky tobaccy during his visit to the islands.

Zane had come to the North Shore for a month of surfing. He’d finally met Nate after two weeks on the island. Just as the others had said, Nate was about the sexiest man alive to him. Zane had told Peter the guy was hungry for love, hungry for a mate, but in spite of some heated make-out sessions, Nate had walked away from Zane one evening saying it didn’t feel right between them.

“It was like a scene out of From Here to Eternity,” Zan had said. Like many Angelenos, Zane’s points of reference were often movies and TV shows. “One minute we’re rolling around on the sand locking lips like Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster on acid. The next minute, he’s freaking out because I’m trying to take his shirt off. He sent me home. I was devastated.”

“Did you ever see his back?” Nate had asked.

“Not really. When it was dark one night, I touched it. I definitely felt lumps but I didn’t care. I really liked him. He’s smart and funny and so damned handsome.”

Peter knew Zane was hurt but he’d already decided Nate was too high-maintenance. “He’s perfect for you,” Zane had said. “You like the tough cases.” He’d showed Peter the photo of the half-naked Nate that he’d taken. The photo was on Peter’s phone at this very moment. He looked at it constantly. Especially since he and Nate had exchanged a couple of emails. Peter was far more pushy in their exchanges. Nate was sedate. Charming. Perfect.

He wouldn’t make a date. Wouldn’t even agree to a quick cup of coffee. Nate emailed, “We will find each other.”

What if we don’t? Peter eyed the delicious-looking burger heading his way with a mountain of French fries piled beside it.

A cool breeze blew past him, carrying the promising scent of flowers and salt air with it.

 

                                                            ****

The girls were in no mood to nap after lunch. In fact, they wanted to shop. Especially for shoes. They told Peter he’d be springing for new sandals for each of them because of their toasted tootsies. They sprang around the streets of Haleiwa like lithe gazelles darting out of the teensy boutiques clutching souvenirs that always seemed like a good idea until you got home then stuffed them in a drawer.

Peter wondered where they got all their energy. He was exhausted. They’d had a five-and-a-half hour, turbulent flight from Los Angeles then a one-hour wait in line at Honolulu Airport for their rental car. They’d argued over how many vehicles to rent. He wanted two. They wanted him to be their chauffer. They then endured a two-hour drive to Sunset Beach. The traffic had been horrendous. On top of that, the instructions they’d received for retrieving the front door key from the lockbox had not included what to do if the previous guests left the island with it.

I need a nap, he realized. I want to be at my best when I come back here to look for Nate.

            He couldn’t even sneak away now because the girls kept asking for his advice.

            “What do you think of these sterling silver napkin rings?” Alexa asked. “They’re only two hundred dollars each.”

            Only? What had been in her sashimi that she thought this was a reasonable price? Alexa was his assistant at work. That’s how he knew her and it was how Effie met the hot-blooded little blonde.

            “I don’t think much,” he said.

            Alexa always trusted his advice and put the napkin ring down, racing to the other side of the store looking at tiny shirts on a rack. They probably had a huge price tag.

            Nate had the sudden thought he was being watched. He shook his head. I’m being ridiculous. A hand clamped down on his shoulder, making him jump.

            “You’re tired.” Effie’s grave brown eyes stared into his.

            “I am,” he said.

            “We should go home and rest,” she said. “You work too hard.”

            He smiled. “I know I do.”

She smiled back, holding up a finger as Alexa waved to her.

Effie was right. He was tired. Bone tired. His thoughts drifted once again when Alexa shuffled beside him. “Effie has her heart set on shave ice, whatever that is.”

            A thread of happiness tugged at his heart. “You’ve never tried shave ice?”

            She looked at him. “My first trip here, remember?”

            “Right.” He nodded, taking her by the hand. “Let’s go.”

            “Not so fast.” Effie pointed to two pairs of sandals she’d placed on the shop counter. Chris paid for them, once again overcome by the eerie feeling of being watched.

            The three of them walked over to the busy square featuring Matsumoto’s, the first shave ice shop established in the Hawaiian Islands. Strawberry had been the original flavor but people lines up for hours for the multiple flavors, and for the fans of Matsumoto’s the extra treat of the icy balls being served in edible baskets. Most tourists had no idea and threw them out. It was one way to tell newcomers from locals.

            They worked on their shave ice, perched on one of the wooden benches outside the store. For the first moment all day, Chris felt the vibe of the islands starting to seep into his pores. He was starting to relax. It came as no surprise to receive a phone call at that moment from their landlord. He was available to meet them and give them keys to his unit.

            “Awesome,” Chris told him. He and the girls tossed their paper wraps and plastic spoons and headed for the parking lot.

            Chris drove the few short miles to their Sunset Beach holiday rental, Effie and Alexa fooling around in the backseat. It felt weird knowing his sister was carrying on this way. He didn’t particularly want to see it and had a hard time dealing with their gale-force love. As they arrived at the gates to the massive complex, Chris felt a longing to return to Haleiwa. He pasted a smile on his face as the landlord greeted them.

            He was a middle-aged man who told them he’d invested his hard-earned wages in Hawaiian rental properties. He walked them inside and showed them around. “There’s a Dog, the Bounty Hunter marathon on TV,” he said. “It’s so hot outside. So weird for April.”

            The girls chose the bedroom with a door and lock on it. Chris got the loft room upstairs with the bonus of an enormous flat-screen TV. He had no desire to watch TV. He went down to the kitchen with the landlord who insisted on showing him how to operate the temperamental dishwasher. He finally left, casting a shocked glance at the closed bedroom doors. Clearly, the women were in there, hunting for bounty of a different kind.

            Chris returned to the kitchen, opened the fridge door and peered inside. He discovered it was empty. The only food in the house was a small basket of tropical fruit the landlord had given them, a bag of Kona coffee, and a small packet of cookies.

            Perfect. I have a good excuse to leave the house. Groceries! He penned a note and left it on the kitchen counter, took the keys and the remote and ran from the condo. He reached Haleiwa in ten minutes, parked and ran toward the ocean. He found the trail this time. This has to be the place. Zane described everything. The abandoned, half-demolished sea wall then a small monkey pod tree and—

His face almost split in two his smile was so wide. And there it was.

            In the distance.

            The shark man’s cottage.

            Chris ran to it, knocked on the door, thrusting it open without waiting for an invitation. He was embarrassed until he realized the place was devoid of the shark man.

            He just wasn’t there.

            Chris felt awkward about intruding on Nate’s privacy and backed out after calling his name a few times. He stood outside the cottage trying to thing.

            I need to relax. I’m working too hard on this. He was an expert at dealing with winning “

            He’d tackled those business deals the way his father had taught him.

            Find out what the other person wants and give it to them.

            That was the problem. Chris had no idea what Nate wanted. He longed to go back inside the cottage and look around, to get a feel for the guy, but he knew he’d already crossed a line. Better wait for an invitation. Get to know him. Find out what need I can fulfill for him.

            Even if I can fulfill it…

            He was about to walk away when he spotted a man walking along the pebble-strewn portion of the beach that appeared uninviting and abandoned. And there he was. Nate looked up, smiling at him. He’d been focused on the ground, though he held a fishing net with a couple of fish poking from it.

            Chris swallowed. In person he was even more spectacular than Chris imagined. His long dark hair fell down his back. He wore shorts and a flimsy checked shirt that remained open. His skin was the color of milky coffee and he was well-muscled but lean.

            “Hey,” Nate said, taking the two short steps to his front door. “You found me.”

            “I did. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t see your house earlier.”

            Nate laughed. “You have to have a sincere desire to do so.” He opened the door and turned to Chris, a look of surprise on his face. “You’ve been inside.”

            Oh, man. How does he know that? At the same time he was filing away information. A sincere desire to find the house. Sincerity. That was something that must have been important to Nate.

            “Yeah, I’m sorry. I just got so excited when I found your place.”

            “Come on in.” Nate led the way and the interior seemed bigger somehow. “Leave the door open. You want coffee?”

            “You want me to leave the front door open?”

            “Yes. I don’t know you yet.” Nate put the fish on the counter. Chris had no idea what kind they were but watched as Nate quickly cleaned them, put them in tin foil, spritzed them with fresh lemon and scattered a handful of herbs over them. He wrapped the foil into a parcel and placed it in the fridge.

            “I’m eating around six if you want to come back.”

            “Ah. Sure.” Somehow he’d work it out with the girls. Maybe they wanted a romantic dinner for two, anyway.

            “You didn’t say if you want coffee.”

            “Um, yeah. I would.” Chris felt jittery and sensed that Nate was nervous too. He made them both cups of instant coffee. Chris hadn’t seen a jar of instant coffee since he was a teenager but his first sip proved surprisingly delicious. They walked outside and sat on the steps together as though they’d been doing this for years.

            “What do you do for a living?” Chris asked, cringing at his own social awkwardness. Asking that question was considered impolite back in LA.

            “I fish.” Nate ran his finger along the rim of his cup. “Any kind of fish the restaurants want, I catch. I collect enough to feed me and my customers. I take enough for our needs. Never more. Never less.”

            Chris could have jumped into the man’s deep blue eyes. His interest in the topic pulled him back to social safety. “Ah. You fish like the old Hawaiians did.”

            Nate smiled. “Exactly.”

            “And you make enough to survive?”

            “Of course.”

            Why did I ask that? Why am I such a romance dunce? Stick me in the corner with a big D on my forehead.

            “I am glad we met.” Nate didn’t look at him.

            “I’m glad we met, too.” Chris had no idea how or when, but he’d finished his coffee.

Nate took the cup from him. “See you tonight.” He got up, walked inside and closed the door behind him.

Chris walked back to his car in a daze. He checked the dashboard clock when he got inside. It was four PM. Somehow, he’d spent two hours with Nate. How? No. It was impossible. He checked his cell phone. No. He had been gone all that time. He returned to Sunset beach and walked inside realizing only when the girls confronted him that he hadn’t bought any food.

He had a hard time explaining that one.

“What’s going on?” Alexa asked.

“I met someone,” he finally confessed.

“You did? How? When?” Effie asked.

“Today was the first time. We’ve been texting and emailing.”

“You went and had sex with him already?” Alexa blurted.

“No. We had coffee.”

“Just coffee.”

Chris squinted at her. “Yeah. And talk. A lovely talk.” He felt suddenly protective of Nate. Nate wasn’t like that. He was a gentle, shy soul. Chris couldn’t wait to see him again.

For two hours the girls interrogated him. They wanted to go out to dinner and it hurt to have to text Nate and cancel.

A few seconds later, his cell phone rang. “Why do you need to cancel?” Nate asked. “I have plenty of food for all of you, and I’d like to meet the women in your life.”

Chris was rendered speechless. It took several seconds to ask, “Um, should we bring more food?”

“Heck, no. I have plenty, like I said. Just bring the women. Oh, you can bring wine if you drink it.”

“We’ll do that.”

“See you soon.” Nate ended the call.

The girls swooned over the idea. “I’ve never had a home-cooked Hawaiian meal,” Effie enthused.

“I’m relieved I get to meet this guy. I’m just hoping he’s not yet another colossal lapse in romantic judgment,” Alexa said.

Chris frowned. She would get pennies, mere pennies for her next Christmas bonus.

They drove back to Haleiwa, stopping at Foodlands for a couple of bottles of wine. One red, one white.

Chris was surprised he found Nate’s cottage quickly this time. He no longer thought of him as the shark man. Just Nate.

His house was ablaze with lights. The front door was open and the smell of baking food greeted them as they arrived. Nate came out, his hair damp from a shower. He wore black board shorts with a black, long-sleeved shirt and he looked more dazzling than he had even earlier that day.

He greeted them all with hugs.

“Oh, my God, he’s gorgeous,” Alexa muttered to Chris when she got him alone.

Chris had no idea where and when Nate got the extra fish, but he had foil parcels for each of them. Nate put on some Hawaiian music and they sat at his outdoor table on his back lanai. He served them salad, fragrant and flavorful purple potatoes and enormous green beans he said came from his garden.

They chatted easily over dinner, working their way through both bottles of wine. The girls flirted harmlessly with him but threw Chris under several buses by making fun of him.

“I like Chris,” Nate said. “And I know you do, too.” That stopped them. He brought out a creamy coconut pie for dessert. He’d even made his own crust.

Oh, man. I’m in the middle of my own fairy tale. I can’t believe how great he is. I bet his pie is better than Ginger or Maryanne’s. Did the Skipper or the professor ever make coconut cream pie?

The pie was amazing and after dinner they walked along the beach together. The girls held hands and kissed and carried on, but Nate didn’t even so much as cast a glance at Chris.

He walked them back to the car and touched Chris’ hand. “Drive safe. Want to come fishing with me in the morning?”

Chris nodded eagerly. “Yes, please.” He hated fishing but he longed for some private time with Nate.

“Is five too early?” Nate asked.

Ha ha ha. “No.” God. I need two alarms for this.

            Chris had the girls’ seal of approval to go back to Nate’s the next morning.

            “He’s amazing and he adores you,” Alexa said the moment they turned out on the highway back to Sunset Beach.

            “Really? You think so?”

            “Yes. I saw the way he was looking at you,” Effie said. “Don’t screw this one up. A man doesn’t get too many second chances.”

            Second chances. Yeah. That’s what Chris needed. He never thought he’d find love. Never thought he’d meet someone who would be shipwrecked without him.

            Maybe that was what Nate wanted too.

            Or maybe not.

 

                                                                        ****

            Nate was waiting for him in the morning. Chris was cold and a little shaky from little sleep but Nate didn’t seem to notice. The sky was still dark, but Chris could see his smile. Nate took him down to a little jetty where he kept a small fishing boat. Zane had never mentioned a boat. Maybe he’d never been on it.

            Chris felt this was somehow a sacred ritual because Nate wasn’t talking. They went out into the ocean and Nate finally spoke when they were out in the dark, inky waters, night and her train of stars still high in the sky.

            Nate was staring up and suddenly smiled. “Did you know that the ancient navigators found their way to Hawaii by feeling the ocean?”

            “No. I didn’t.”

            Nate dipped his fingers into the water. “Put yours in. I’ll show you.”

            Chris did as he was told. He felt nothing at first, then as he stirred the waters slowly and gently, he sensed a shift of energy, like a little rush of warmth. He gasped.

            “See?” Nate kept his voice low. “The fish are coming.” He tossed his net into the water and two fish almost seemed to leap into it. Nate uttered a little chant under his breath as he put the fish on the boat’s floor. He leaned forward and said, “I’ll get the rest later. Right now, I need to kiss you.”

            Chris grinned at him, excitement niggling around the edge of his insecure thoughts. “Please do.”

            Nate reached out and grabbed him. Their mouths met just at the moment dawn seemed to break. He loved the way Nate kissed him. Nate seemed to kiss him with his whole body. He became lost in the taste and feel of him.

            Then just like that, Nate stopped. He took him back to shore.

            Chris was crushed. “Did I do something wrong?”

            Nate looked at him. “No. I need to feel my way. Love is like the ocean. Plenty want sex with me. I’m looking for something more.”

            “I am too,” Chris said.

            “I know. That’s why I’m looking out for both of us. I’ll be in touch.”

            Chris could say and do nothing more. He let the man go. Love sucked sometimes. He went back to his car and returned to the condo. The girls were still sleeping. It was now seven o’clock and they wouldn’t be up yet. He turned on the TV in the living room. Some guy was having a worse day than he was. He was pinned to the ground, his face in the dirt as Dog and his son put cuffs on him. I can’t sit around watching TV. I can’t.

            But he did. He dozed on and off until the girls awakened a couple of hours later. He was relieved because he was now watching some TV courtroom judge berating a man for writing bad checks. Being alone with his circle of self-punishing, negative thoughts wasn’t conducive to his mental well-being.

            “Let’s go to Ted’s Bakery,” Effie said. “We can grab some breakfast. Then we can go to the beach.” She paused. “Wait. Didn’t you go fishing with Nate?”

            “Yeah.”

            She searched his face for clues. How was it?”

            “It was great.” That part was true. It was the fact that Nate rushed him off so quickly. He remembered only then that he tended to tell other men to run and not look back.

            At least he didn’t tell me that.

            He and the girls walked along Kamehameha Highway to the bakery. Chris worked hard to remain in the moment. He was here to have fun. He was here to eat good Hawaiian food. Not eat his heart out. At the bakery, they chose their pastries, ordered large cups of coffee and sat on the wooden deck out front. A small family of feral kittens threaded their way among the diners’ legs.

            “Sorry,” a male voice said. Startled, Chris looked up. It was Nate.

            He picked up a small black kitten and a tiny tabby as well. “I need to take these guys home. I bottle-feed them then find them good homes. Want to come with me?”

            “Yes, he does,” Effie responded. “Give me the car keys.”

            “They’re at the home,” Chris said.

            “Cool. We’ll head out for the day. You can take this demi-god and the kitties and do what you want to do.”

            Nate grinned and picked up the remaining two kitties. As he and Chris drove off, Chris saw the girls high-fiving each other. Huh. Doesn’t look like they’ll miss me.

            At Nate’s house, Chris helped him bottle feed the kittens a special formula he’d made for them. Chris stopped and listened.

            “Where’s that drum music coming from?”

            Nate paled. “You can hear it?”

            “Of course. Why?”

            “Most people don’t.” He looked nervous now. He took the kittens Chris had been holding and put them into a huge crate in one of his bedrooms. The kittens snuggled into a blanket next to each other. They had a dish of water and a small box with cat litter in it.

            Nate set a timer. “We’ll need to feed them again in an hour.”

            This was how their whole day went. Feeding stranded animals, including a red-crested cardinal and a feral cat, which seemed to adore Nate.

            As it grew darker, Nate prepared dinner. This time it was vegetables and what Nate called volcano rice. As he busied himself in the kitchen, Nate had his back to Chris and something seemed to be moving under his shirt. It was beneath his left shoulder blade. Nate stopped moving. Chris stared. Nate put down his knife.

            “He wants to meet you,” Nate said.

            “He, ah, who?”

            “My brother.”

            Chris gulped. “Okay,” he said, feeling as though the room was spinning.

            Nate unbuttoned his shirt and let it fall to the ground.

            Chris’ mouth dropped open and he kept staring. There was a half a human head poking out of Nate’s back. Brown eyes, pale face. Long black hair. It wasn’t a shark. The strange body living on Nate’s body was almost child-like yet seemed adult. The mouth opened and the face broke out in smiles.

            “What’s his name?” Chris was torn between running and protecting the creature on Nate’s back.

            “Ned. He’s my twin. The doctors called him a parasitic twin. They didn’t think either of us would survive beyond the age of twelve.” Nate turned around. “He likes you. I don’t know why. But I like you, too.”

            Chris tried not to remember all the things he’d heard and read but it all made sense. Nate sent men scurrying if Ned didn’t like them. Ned could have bitten the surfer but his teeth seemed tiny and rounded. Not sharp. He suspected now that Ned didn’t like many of the men who found their way to Nate’s door.

            “And I like you. Both of you.” Chris stepped into Nate’s arms and kissed him. He petted Ned’s long dark hair. He wanted to take care of them both. He’d always thought he’d never have children. Ned could the kid he never would have had otherwise.

            Steady on, Chris, he told himself. But love was like a wave. You had to know when to stand up on the board and take the ride, giving it everything you had.

            Nate didn’t stop kissing him except to say, “They couldn’t separate us because we’re joined at the heart. Do you think you can handle this?”

            “Yes, I think so.” Chris’s heart swelled with something deep and true for the two brothers.

            “Take off those shorts,” Nate said out of the blue, surprising Chris. He reached over and rubbed Chris’s obvious erection through the crotch. Chris put his hand over Nate’s, but Nate snatched his fingers away from him. It was as though he’d been burned. “Let me,” he whispered. They fought to undress each other and Chris marveled at the magnificence of Nate’s cock. It was perfect and fit into Chris’s mouth when he bent to suck it as though it had been made for Chris. Nate’s skin was smooth and oh…he was so hard.

Nate’s pink cockhead glistened. He was perfect. Just perfect. Chris knew he was going to spend hours pleasuring him and couldn’t wait to begin.

“Turn around,” Chris commanded.

Nate hesitated but turned and Ned’s face blinked at him.

“I will always treasure you,” Chris said. Ned smiled.

The drumming started again.

“What is that?” Chris asked.

“It’s our ancestors. Letting us know you are sincere. We can trust you.”

Chris leaned into him, already craving the dizzying, honeyed sensation of Nate’s adoring embrace. His cock hardened against Nate’s.

Nate pulled back from him. “Oh man, your cock is so hard. I wanted to do that with my tongue.” He led Chris to the sofa. Chris’s cock was sticking up toward his belly. He felt bashful as Nate pushed him onto the sofa and took in his naked form. “I dreamed about you even before Zane showed me your photo.” He pushed Chris back, holding his legs and pulling them up.

Chris gasped when Nate dipped his head down and licked his cock, which was hot and more than ready. Nate swallowed his shaft in one strike. Chris’s ass bounced off the cushion as Nate drew back his mouth. Over and over, Nate plunged his mouth over Chris’s length then pulled all the way back, keeping just his lips on the head, dipping back down again.

When Chris’s balls grazed the back of Nate’s hand, Nate stopped sucking and he placed kisses along Chris’s thighs, swabbing at his groin with licks and gentle nips then moved down to his balls.

“Oh, man!” Chris screamed.

Ned laughed, which made Chris and Nate laugh.

“Can you handle my sex-starved brother?” Nate’s eyes filled with anxiety.

“Yeah. God. I don’t want to go home.”

“You are home.” Nate frowned. “You found my house. Most people don’t.”

“But—

“We’ll figure this out.” Nate still held Chris’s legs. We have so much to learn about each other. And we have to hurry. I invited the girls to dinner.”

“You did what?”

Nate laughed as he climbed on the sofa and got between Chris’s legs. Once again he drew Chris into his mouth then worked his tongue over Chris’s asshole, moving his tongue inside him deeper and deeper. Chris came and Nate rubbed his juices over Chris’s hole. He was somehow able to suck and fuck Chris. Chris didn’t think he could handle the nonstop pressure in his ass coupled with the ripples of pleasure coursing through his body.

Holy crap. This guy knows how to fuck.

Nate would not stop and ran his hand across Chris’s belly, making him twitch at his touch.

Stick it into me,” Chris begged. He pulled and grasped at Nate who tore into him harder Nate took total possession of Chris, who came a second time, Nate roaring to his own climax. Chris saw red and gold fireworks in his mind’s eye, swamping my senses. Nate grabbed Chris’s cock, shouting Chris’s name as he came.

They grinned at one another. Nate stayed where he was, imbedded in Chris’s ass.

“I wanted it to be you,” he whispered in Chris’s ear. Chris reached up to hold him. He already felt like he would die if he didn’t wake up with Nate every day.

Nate gazed into his eyes and seemed to sense Chris’s thoughts. He dropped his head to Chris’s chest and kissed him.

Suddenly, Chris understood all of the poets, all the song writers, all the movies, all the people who tried to explain their feelings about love. Chris had found his happy place. He thought he’d never find it. He wrapped his arms tighter around Nate and Ned and whispered, “Tell me how to make you happy.”

            Nate lifted his face, his eyes glistening with unshed tears. “You just did.”

~~@~~


Malcolm at Midnight by A.J. Llewellyn

[Erotic Paranormal M/M Romance, Shapeshifter, HEA]

Malcolm Harding yearns for freedom, for the ability to make his own choices and even his own mistakes. Instead, he’s forced to give up college to care for his mother in her secluded home in the windswept California town of Cambria. Miriam’s mind is slipping into the abyss of Alzheimer’s, and she’s becoming increasingly unpredictable and violent. Unfortunately, under the terms of his father’s will, Malcolm cannot institutionalize her or place her in assisted living.

Yet something else keeps him with Miriam—he is desperate to learn the fate of the three beloved horses he left in her care during his one and only college year. But Miriam can’t, or won’t, tell him what she did with them. She calls Malcolm a beast and seems intent on crushing his spirit, if not his mind and body as well.

Gilby McCall is a personal chef with the unusual job of preparing meals for an Orthodox Jewish couple. But soon the work becomes intense and alarming when they pile extra duties on him. When he is suddenly fired, Gilby accepts an invitation to take part in a cooking contest in Las Vegas. Before he leaves, however, Fate brings him to Cambria, where he meets the handsome, mysterious Malcolm Harding.

Although both men clearly have secrets and personal problems to overcome, they are strangely drawn to one another. Yet before they can explore the possibility of a romantic relationship, sinister forces intervene, revealing the beasts hidden deep within themselves…

This book was previously published. It has been re-edited, re-formatted, and re-released.

Available Now ~ Purchase Linkhttp://www.extasybooks.com/malcolm-at-midnight/   

Excerpt:

“You’re kidnapping me.”

Malcolm Harding gripped the wheel of his trusty Prius. God. It was going to be one of those days.

“No, Mom. I’m not. I’m taking you to the hairdresser’s.”

“No, you’re not. You’re kidnapping me!” Miriam Harding reached across the small space between them and grabbed the steering wheel.

“Mom, please!” He tried to steady the vehicle and narrowly missed hitting a car coming from the opposite direction on icy Moonstone Beach Road. The other driver honked him.

Malcolm panicked. The early winter mornings were dangerous for drivers in the Northern California seaside town of Cambria. He took his foot off the brake so he wouldn’t go into a full-scale skid. His mother kept slapping at his arms and face. Not for the first time in his life, Malcolm was afraid of her. She’d accused him of many things, but this time she was out of control.

She jabbed fingers at the dashboard, and the radio suddenly blared. Of all the stations and songs to come on, it just had to be Kost’s nonstop Christmas music that started each year on November 15.

“Oh the weather outside is frightful,” Bing Crosby warbled.

Malcolm turned off the radio. It wasn’t exactly cozy and warm inside the car, either.

Miriam punched at the horn, a frenzied look on her face. He managed to loosen her grip, but somehow she got hold of the wheel again. The Prius swerved and skidded. Malcolm’s mouth fell open in a frozen scream of horror as he almost careened into a senior citizen’s day care van. The other driver honked at him as he veered sharply, almost going over the soft shoulder of the narrow road and heading right into the ocean…

 

42 comments:

  1. Great story!~ now I'm curious what is the real story of "The Legend of Nanaue the Shark Man"... by the way what is the name of one of the heroine: Peter or Chris? thank you for the story...

    maria_lhaine@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting story.

    Brandi
    Scssugar@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting story.
    hidee25@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. a very different story jools61@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fascinating story prmgunn@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Now I'm curious about the folk tale.
    Thanks for the story.
    Mouse63aus at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Interesting story. sheryl1979.10@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am going to have to look up the original story. Thank you. jrobe10689@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I liked it but confused. At the beginning of the story he was Peter then he became Chris. So...what is his name? I have noticed this is the third author to do that...lol..change the name ...I have to keep going back to try and figure out what I might have missed. 😝
    leeann87@outlook.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. that was really good but as another has said I need to look up the story so I know what is going no
    nancyannettehenry@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cherri HollingsworthApril 25, 2018 at 6:22 AM

    Awesome Cherri_hollingsworth@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. A very unique take on this story. I enjoyed it!
    rubindot1953@eastlink.ca

    ReplyDelete
  13. That as such a great story! I wish there was more! Thank ythe u for writing this!
    Treasuret69@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. That was a cool story. Thank you!
    jczlapin@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for sharing this ancient fairy tale. The name change was confusing, but it was a fabulous story nonetheless.
    j dot stonewright at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Very nice. The featured book is intriguing. I went through something similar with my mother.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Interesting story.

    rhondaw1965@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. Never heard of the Shark Man before, but loved this version!
    AliceMLT@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I liked the story I have never read a story quite like it.
    nikita.hobbs@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a wild story, I really enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Definitely need to look up the original story. Great read!

    lrwaz@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Me too, I need to read the old legends now.

    goaliemom0049@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. Very interesting but confusing.

    Chimera2069@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. That was cute.
    Avarney9197@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. Odd little name swap in an otherwise very intriguing story, a fairy tale I’ve never heard before.
    younela48@yahoo.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  26. Very good story.
    chibilibrarian@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Apart from the name changing half way through it was a good story catherinecooper11@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  28. Different story. Thanks for sharing.

    Mindi
    bacchae777@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. Interesting to see a different fairy tale.
    jlshannon74 at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Fascinating story. I enjoyed it.
    The name change distracted me for a bit.
    (Havenfieldwood@gmail.com)

    ReplyDelete
  31. different
    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  32. Changing names threw me out of the story for a bit. Thanks for listing your source material.
    dejamew@centurylink.net

    ReplyDelete
  33. I have to agree.... The switch from Peter to Chris confused me for a couple of paragraphs, however I did enjoy this story

    sorka81@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. thank you so much. A new, to me, fairy tale.
    jckelly_99@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. New fairy tale for me as well. Very intriguing though.
    Thanks for sharing your spin on the story.
    recs5664@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. went from Peter to Chris but still a very cool story love old folk tales thanks...
    blue_fay_wolf@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  37. Liked the story. Neksis91@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. That was really interesting. The name change threw me off a bit (as others have mentioned) but I quickly caught up to speed. It was a bit like an X-files episode I saw once but I still liked it. mksublett47@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete

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