I learned a male-male romance story I submitted in June has been accepted. In His Sights will be in the Serviced anthology, upcoming through Breathless Press and will give me the chance to work with the lovely and talented editor Megan Martin.
This short story (less than 7,000 words) delves into the bitterness one man, Dalton, feels when he and a partner enlist after college for a stint in the service and his partner is killed in Afghanistan.
Anger develops and shortly before his commitment to the service ends Captain Bruce Shafter has noticed the man becoming consumed with anger and has withdrawn.
Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on the expected publication date. In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt when the Captain is once again trying to find a way to Dalton’s heart and relieve the pain.
EXCERPT In His Sights
Twenty-Nine Palms’ nightlife brought the desert alive when the sun dipped west and the glowing moon took its place. The Oasis was a favorite hangout. Bands would make the two-and-a-half hour drive from Vegas or wind up the roads from Palm Springs and even unknown acts from Los Angeles trying to build an audience found a hospitable spot. The woman belting out an original country song had a twang that Dalton found endearing. The guys playing the acoustic guitar and man on bass weren’t half bad, either. She pranced in the tiny stage area belting out lyrics and occasionally fingered the keyboard. She was obviously comfortable in front of the crowd and the sound of billiard balls in the adjacent room added to an ambiance Dalton termed a charm. He sipped his first pale ale of the night and it settled perfectly.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
Damn. Captain Shafter slid onto a bar stool right next to him. He had traded his official slacks and shirt for blue jeans that did justice to his ass and a polo shirt that beautifully displayed his biceps. “Depends on what it is.” Dalton smiled and took a long sip from the icy mug.
The bartender in a tight shirt that pronounced the curves of her breasts slid toward Shafter. “How you doing, babe?” Brown hair flowed over her shoulders and bounced with each movement.
“Doing well, thanks. Guinness.”
“Draft or bottle?”
“You got it.” She answered in a cheery tone, winked, and slid away to fill a mug.
Dalton took another sip and rolled his eyes. “Everyone sounds so sincere with all the how’s it going and how you doing.” He was sick of the casual greetings and couldn’t answer in the expected few seconds. He replied with grunts, flashed a quick smile, and walked on. Everyone shouldered their own problems.
“Here go, sweetie.” The bartender returned with her equally peppy mannerisms.
“Thanks, darling.” Shafter cradled the mug and the woman moved along the row of patrons, chatting and laughing. He turned to Dalton and smiled. “You don’t think there’s sincerity in a bar?”
Dalton didn’t respond but instead turned to the singer hitting her final note and drawing friendly whistles and applause from the crowd.
“Thanks, y’all.” She curtsied in her jeans and sequined blouse that shone in the glow of two solitary stage lights. When she spoke, the microphone gave her voice a tinny sound and squealed from feedback. “Sorry about that.” The sound man potted down the mic. “We’re going to take us a l’il break and wet our lips before we get right back up here.” There was a smattering of more applause and the musicians made an exit.
“So what part of it is going well?” Shafter brought the conversation back to Dalton’s original answer.
Dalton laughed. “You’re pretty damned persistent.”
Shafter circled his finger in the condensation on the mug. “I like helping when I can.” He moved his face close to Dalton’s and spoke in a low voice. “I know you didn’t come back unscathed. I just want to make sure you’re fine.”
A flat screen television showed a baseball game in progress with the closed caption scrolling along the bottom. Someone pumped money in the jukebox and a Keith Urban tune blared. Nature abhorred a vacuum the saying went, and the noise in a bar was proof of that. If the live band took a break, a recording had to jump in its place. Maybe Shafter knew it as well. There really was no such state as simply okay in the life of a warrior.
Dalton took another sip of beer and didn’t try to craft a response. “I’m not fine.” Lying wasn’t going to get him anywhere. He had invisible wounds like so many others and somehow Shafter noticed his.