Spinning by Jaime Samms
urban fantasy/gay romance
Cover Art by Winterheart Design
Ken has fallen in love twice in his unnaturally long life. He's spent the rest of it trying to forget what falling out of it feels like. Not even the end of civilization has distracted him from his own misery, and now, desperate and achingly lonely, he calls the one person who's never hung up on him.
Mikko lost Ken once, letting life get in the way of love, and ever since the day Ken ran, he's been trying to track him down. He's honed his skills over the years, tracking Ken through the morass of men and ugly affairs, waiting for the chance to make things right.
Ken thinks his messy past is a secret from Mikko, and is too ashamed to admit any of it. Mikko has secrets of his own, things he's discovered about their very nature he's sure Ken's not ready to hear. Back together, after years of cat and mouse, Ken has to learn to trust a man he knows isn't telling him everything, and Mikko has to figure out how to fix something his own negligence might have destroyed beyond hope of repair.
Ken gazed out the back window of the house to the waves; dark, rolling mounds lifted the horizon and dropped it again into the abyss on a rhythmic schedule. Gulls wheeled and cried over the water, white dots between the grey overcast and the darker ocean.
"Newfoundland?" The incredulous accusation jerked Ken's attention back to the phone call, "Seriously?"
"What about it?" Ken tossed his soccer ball up and caught it one-handed. Held in his other hand, the cool plastic of his ancient cell warmed against his ear.
"Um...it's a rock, for starters." Mikko's indignation echoed thinly across the poor Atlantic connection. "Nothing grows there."
Ken's breath caught and his grip on the phone tightened. "So?" Belligerence, he noticed, had no echo. "You can't re-grow a broken heart, anyway." Gardening is for idiots who fall in love. He fixed his gaze on the barren rocks outside the window, taking comfort in their never-changing strength. The waves rose and fell on the same cadence as his breathing. Or maybe it was the other way round.
Silence didn't echo either, strung out along the line. He hung up. Sea waves splashed up over the rocks. He gulped in great breaths around the jagged edges. After a moment, the chirping ring tone soothed over his uneven breathing, and he flipped the phone open.
"I know it's tough, Kenny."
"You don't know fuck all." He snapped the phone closed again. A minute passed. Another. His knuckles ached. If he loosened his grip, he'd throw the damn thing. It wasn't Mikko's fault. Or the phone's. Still, he turned it to vibrate and tossed it onto the coffee table as another minute ticked past. The ring's vibration carried it almost to the floor before he lunged after the phone. His momentum carried him to the window and he leaned his forehead against the glass. The waves rolled in steadily as he opened the phone and held it to his ear.
"So where are you staying?" Mikko's voice drifted, soft over the connection. He never stayed properly hung-up on.
"Why does it matter?" Ken turned away from the ocean view and tossed the ball. This time it thumped off the wall, onto a bare table behind the couch, and obediently back into his hand, just like a soccer ball should. Gravity was predictable that way. Not like men.
"Because if I know you," came Mikko's reply, "and I do, you searched out some pre-furnished dump of an apartment and are sitting on someone else's lice-ridden mattress bouncing that ball of yours against paper-thin walls. Any moment now, an irate neighbour's going to come screaming down on you, and I should know where to send the cops after your bruised and bloodied self."
"It's a room, actually." Ken caught the ball on its second trip and hugged it against his chest. "I'm not sitting." He glanced at the grungy couch and grimaced, turning back to the comfort of the watery view. "No one wants to live this close to the ocean since the Wave hit. It was cheap."
"What difference does it make?" You let me go. He smothered the logical, unwelcome follow-up that he'd been impossible to stop, and Mikko had never been far, oceans notwithstanding. He always, always, answered his phone. Maybe he was a bit more like gravity than he was like other men.
"Kenny" Mikko's voice caressed his soul, even over the crappy connection. "Talk to me. Tell me what happened." He could be so gentle.
Ken's fingers shook as he closed the phone on that sweetness—that gentle caring.
Not even a minute passed before the phone amplified his trembling with its vibration. He opened it, brought it to his ear. This time, Mikko did not speak.
"Everyone leaves," Ken whispered at last, into the waiting silence.