Farewell from the Bookshelf!
Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.
All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.
Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!
“I don’t know, Jack.” Gordon shook his head, a concerned look on his face. “The butterfly bandages should keep the wounds closed, but you should probably get this checked out by a doctor.
Jack stared down at his bandaged hand. “Looks like you’ve got it wrapped up pretty good. I’ll wait a couple of days and see how it’s healing. I bet I’ll be good as new in a week.”
Gordon grinned. “Knowing you, you probably will be. You’re made of steel. Just don’t use it for a few days, if you can avoid it. And no slamming any more walls.” He eyed Jack. “I mean, what the hell was that all about, anyway? Did the wall offend you in some way?”
Jack shrugged, embarrassed. “I don’t know. I just get…edgy. You know? Savakis was in the shop and—”
“Ah, Marcos,” Gordon interrupted with a smirk. “That explains it. Every time the two of you get going at the pub, we just sit back and watch the fireworks.”
“Well, he’s annoying as hell. And who does he think he is—”
Gordon laughed, shaking his head. “Harris. You might as well just admit it. It’s obvious to anyone looking during those meetings. You are so into that guy it isn’t even funny.”
Jack frowned. He could feel his blood pressure rise, causing a sharp ache in his chest. He glared at Gordon. “Is that your idea of a joke, Flanders? You couldn’t pay me to get involved with that prick. Shit, I wouldn’t fuck him with your dick.”
“Uh huh.” Gordon continued to grin, which irritated the crap out of Jack. “Whatever you say.”
Seeking to deflect attention from himself, Jack shot back, “Yeah, what about you? Dennis sure seems to want to get into your pants. When’re you going to give it up for the guy?”
“Dennis?” Gordon looked genuinely puzzled. “Dennis Rutherford?”
“Yeah. To quote you, he’s so into you, it isn’t even funny. Why not take advantage of the situation?”
“You got that one all wrong.” Gordon shook his head. “Dennis and I are just friends. We work together. We’re both way too smart to get involved with a work partner. Kiss of death. ”
Jack couldn’t deny that was true. After a moment, Gordon added, “Back to you, Jack. I regard you as a friend, and I don’t like to see my friend hurting himself. No more of this wall bashing shit, okay? You’re really lucky you didn’t break something.”
Jack knew Gordon was right. “Hey, I really owe you one, man. Thanks for patching this up. Bring in your car next time you need work, or a tune up or whatever.”
“Yeah, sure.” Gordon laughed. “When I win the lottery and buy my Porsche, I’ll let you know.”
“Nah, don’t let the specialty sign fool you. I’ll always have time for my pals.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it.” Gordon stood, hoisting his medical bag over his shoulder. “And Jack? Not that it’s my business, but you might want to get some help—you know, find a better way to deal with your anger. That kind of rage could end up killing someone.”
Gordon’s words kept echoing through Jack’s head that evening. That kind of rage could end up killing someone. His hand was pulsing like a beating heart, a constant, throbbing reminder of his rage.
Yeah, Savakis had pissed him off, as usual, but this wasn’t the first time he’d lost it, letting his anger get the better of him. It was almost like a physical thing—something that rose up like hot lava and burst through him, beyond his control, almost beyond his awareness.
Hitting something eased the pressure. Even when it hurt, maybe especially when it hurt, somehow it made him feel better, calmer. Lately he felt wound up all the time, full of nervous energy that had nowhere to go.
Sex was a good release, but he was forty-two—how much longer did he want to go on picking up guys at the bars, taking them home for a quickie and then sending them on their way? The morning after nearly always still found him edgy, restless, like a boxer in the ring, itching for a fight.
When was the last time he’d felt calm? At ease in his own skin? He closed his eyes, pondering. Man, was it really twenty years ago? He’d just gotten out of the service back then, still wet behind the ears when he’d discovered the scene and fallen in with Alexei. Back then, Alexei had been able to calm him, but Jack had washed his hands of the scene a long time ago.
That whole leather culture smacked too much of the military for his taste. Nobody dictated to Jack Harris who he could talk to and when, or what he should wear, and why it was significant. Alexei, one of the old guard leather daddies, used to coach him on the rules when he took him to scene events—a bottom should never initiate conversation, he should stare with respect at a Top’s boots during conversation, he should walk half a step behind his Top as a sign of respect. There were way too many damn rules—fuck that.
Jack Harris bowed down to nobody, not even Alexei Spiros. Still, he couldn’t deny Alexei had been the one person who could slow him down. When he was with Alexei, the jittery agitation that was such a constant in his life just seemed to slip away. He’d never experienced that level of peace before or since.
“I wonder how he’s doing?” Jack said aloud in the habit of people who live alone. “Maybe I should look him up.” He recalled Drew’s challenge at the last Solitary Knights meeting about looking up an old lover and seeing what had happened with them. Well, he wasn’t sure he’d categorize Alexei as a lover, not precisely. But he had been the one person who could get inside Jack’s head, and the one person who could calm him down.
Curious now if Alexei was still around, Jack went into the kitchen in search of his old address book. He hadn’t looked in the little black book for years. Maybe Alexei didn’t even live in Manhattan any more, but what the hell—it was worth a shot.
He punched the number into his cell phone. “Hello?” It was not the deep, gravelly voice of Alexei, but that of someone who sounded much younger. Shit, it was the wrong number. Jack was about to hang up when the person added, “Spiros residence.”
An employee? A sub boy? A lover?
“Hi. I was calling for Alexei. Is he around?”
“Who is this?”
Just answer the fucking question. Jack took a breath. Gordon was right. He really needed to get a grip. He let out a breath and said politely, “This is Jack Harris, an old friend of Alexei’s.”
“Hold on. I’ll see if he’s available.”
Jack waited. A few moments later the man returned to the phone. “He’s resting now. Can I take a message?”
Worry suddenly shot its way through Jack’s gut. Alexei must be nearing seventy. “Is he okay?”
“You—you haven’t heard?”
“Alexei had a mild heart attack awhile back. I just brought him home from hospital a few days ago.”
Jack’s mind was whirling. Alexei Spiros was made of iron. Nothing could ever happen to him. Even though Jack had lost touch over the years, Alexei had always remained a quiet, steady constant in the back of his mind. He’d been not only Jack’s mentor and partner back when Jack had been active in the scene, he’d been a friend, and maybe the only person who could tell Jack what to do without pissing Jack off.
“I’m so sorry, I had no idea.”
“He’s doing well. Full recovery expected. He just has to take it easy for a while. Did you want to leave a message for Alexei?”
“Yes. We—we haven’t been in touch in a long time.” The guy’s second sentence now penetrated Jack’s head—I just brought him home—whose home? A shared home? Curious, Jack asked, “You’re Alexei’s…friend?”
The man chuckled. “Yeah, you could say that. We’ve been together fourteen years. My name’s Rusty. Rusty Dougherty. You know Jack from where?”
“I knew him twenty years ago. Man, I can’t believe it’s been that long. He was my, uh, that is, he and I…” Jack hesitated, not sure how much this Rusty knew of Alexei’s background.
“You were his sub? One of his boys?”
So he did know. Jack snorted. “I was never anybody’s sub. But yeah, we were in the scene together, I guess you’d say. I think of him more as my mentor. But I walked away from all that years ago. Not really my thing.”
There was a brief pause, and then, “Would you like to leave your number? I’ll let Alexei know you called.”