Excerpt for Something to Believe In by Sloan Parker
Two young, homeless men fall in love and search for a way to stay off the streets and build a life together.
I exited the shelter and raised the collar on my coat again. There was no sign the snow planned on stopping its assault on the city. I rounded the corner to the alley. I really should’ve been heading to the highway overpass north of the shelter. Someone usually had a fire going. I’d been sleeping there more than anywhere else in the past several weeks, but I couldn’t force myself to walk that far, not with the full stomach and how hard the snow was barreling down. I’d just have to find a doorway to hunch in for a few hours until the library opened. One of those shops farther down on Madison usually worked. The cops didn’t tour that area much and the shops were too small to bother with much security.
I stopped halfway down the alley where the buildings on each side blocked much of the falling snow and wind.
Someone moved in the shadows beside a dumpster. A man stepped into the dim glow from the streetlights just as my eyes adjusted to the darkness behind him where a door was open. A kid not much more than sixteen lay on a couch inside the apartment. His head was propped on the arm of the couch, his eyes rolled back. Another, even younger kid was on the other end, sitting up, a needle in his hand.
For once, I didn’t turn away and take off. I leaned against the brick wall and watched that young man’s face soften as the pain and misery faded away.
The guy who’d walked out of the open door had stopped. “You looking for something?”
I just kept on staring at the kid on the couch.
This wasn’t me.
I was just so cold and tired. The high of the warm food filling my belly hadn’t lasted long. I wanted to forget that I was alone for another Christmas, forget what I’d been doing to survive, and most importantly, forget the memories that stupid string of Christmas lights had brought out.
Just for a little while.
“Come on. You deserve some relief.” He tilted his head to the room behind him where the others lay on that couch completely unaware of the snow blowing in through the open door. “I’ll show you how,” he added.
“Don’t.” Biker Boots was walking toward us from the end of the alley. He was staring me down as he’d done when I’d first seen him in the shelter. He was taller and broader than he’d looked earlier. He had a strong, solid appearance despite his lean frame. Although, that could’ve had something to do with the determination in his stride as he advanced. “Don’t do it,” he said, his gaze still locked on mine.
“Fuck off,” the other guy said. He’d taken a step away but wasn’t backing off completely.
Biker Boots gestured toward the street. “Let’s get out of here.”
I didn’t think. I just nodded and followed him down the alley.
When I’d lost my apartment and had spent the first night wandering the city streets, I’d made myself a few promises. The first...no matter how bad it got, I’d never give in and get fucked up.
Now, four months in and I’d almost done it.
We neared the end of the alley, and my new friend—if I dared call him that—didn’t even stop, just kept on moving along the sidewalk until another guy stepped into my path.
Biker Boots came to my side. “Don’t.” Apparently, his favorite word. He grabbed my arm and dragged me with him, trudging forward faster than before. When we reached the next block, he finally let go.
I stopped to catch my breath. “What’d you do that for? I might’ve gotten enough for a room. It’s practically a fucking blizzard out here or haven’t you noticed?”
One side of his mouth lifted in an amused smirk. “You would’ve been spending the night someplace warm, that’s for sure. He’s a cop. And not one that wants a free blow and will let you go.”
I jerked around to look back the way we’d come. I’d almost gotten my ass thrown in jail for the first time.
Merry Fucking Christmas.
Biker Boots tilted his head in the opposite direction. “Come on. I know a place.” He continued walking at a quick pace, his hands shoved into his pockets, and I followed.
Copyright 2012. Sloan Parker. All Rights Reserved.
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Blurb for SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN:
After running away from the hatred and abuse of their teen years, Sean and Gavin have been hustling to survive for too long now. When some extra cash lands them alone in a hotel room until Christmas, they can no longer deny their feelings for each other. Now neither one can imagine watching the other walk off with one more trick. Even with no money and no job prospects, Sean is determined to not just show Gavin what a real home and holiday is like, but to keep them off the streets for good and build a life together.