Shakespeare-loving teacher Elliot Dunn has been unhappy living in the big city for a long time. He yearns for fresh air, visible stars, and stillness, but his relationship with divorce lawyer Mick Hudson keeps him from moving away.
When a dramatic event occurs in Elliot’s class, he’s shaken to his core and suddenly can’t stay anymore. He leaves his partner of two years behind and returns to the tiny town in the mountains where he grew up.
Living in a rented cabin in the woods, with only an owl for company, Elliot slowly regains his peace of mind. But being away from Mick is agonizing, and when a ghost from Elliot’s past pays him a visit, everything comes to a head.
Elliot is faced with a hard decision. Should he stay on the stress-free mountainside alone, or return to the hustle of the city and try to make a life with Mick?
He spent the rest of the afternoon pacing his living room with Lady Gaga blasting from the speakers. He heard his phone ring at some point, but ignored it and kept pacing, rubbing his palms on his head, tousling his short hair. The phone rang several more times, but Elliot walked and walked, until the front door flung open and a wild-eyed Mick stood there, glaring at him.
Mick’s gaze roved over him, making sure he was okay, and then he marched over to the stereo and cut off Gaga in the middle of a rah-rah. “What the hell, Elliot?”
The curse stopped Elliot’s pacing, and he stared at his lover with wide eyes. His well-spoken, hot-shot lawyer partner never used profanities. During their time together, Elliot had heard him swear maybe once or twice, and him doing it now knocked the wind out of Elliot’s fury. He groaned, grabbed his lover’s hand, and hauled him over to the couch where he sank down, pulling Mick with him.
“I’m sorry. But I’m angry.”
“I can tell. What happened?”
“I let them buy me, that’s what happened.” Elliot spat out the words.
“What?” The question was so loud Elliot flinched. Mick sighed, stood and shook off his coat, unbuttoned his suit jacket, and kicked off his shoes. Then he sat back down, turned to Elliot, and wrinkled his nose when he saw the state of his hair. “It looks like you’ve tried to pull it out,” he muttered, and ran his fingers through Elliot’s locks, trying in vain to tame it. “Tell me what happened.”
When Elliot had recounted the afternoon’s events, Mick grabbed his hands and drew him closer, and he followed willingly. He ended up straddling Mick’s lap, arms around his neck, and his forehead leaning on his lover’s shoulder.
“I’m so sorry,” Mick mumbled and rubbed his stubble against Elliot’s temple.
“I shouldn’t have taken the money,” Elliot grunted. “I’m so stupid.”
“You’re not stupid. You had no other choice.”
“There’s always another choice.”
“What else could you have done?”
“I could have told them to go fuck themselves,” he gritted out. He took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. “Or I could quit.”
It was several minutes before Mick asked, “And do what?”
Elliot held his breath for a moment before whispering, “I could go back home.” Mick stiffened. “I hate it here.”
“I know.” The thickness of Mick’s voice hit Elliot like a freight train, but he didn’t take back his words. He couldn’t.
“I have to go home. At least for a while. I need silence.” He caught his lower lip between his teeth to stop it from quivering. “This was the last drop, you know?”
Mick nodded and tightened his arms around Elliot until they felt like bands of steel surrounding him. “What about us?”
“I don’t know.” He hesitated. “You could come,” he whispered, knowing what the answer would be.
He heard Mick inhale a shuddering breath, and a drop of wetness landed on Elliot’s cheek. “I wish I could.” Mick voice trembled.
“I can’t stay. Even for you, honey.” Elliot was crying now too, big hot tears wetting Mick’s expensive wool suit jacket.
When their tears finally dried, they spent the rest of the night making desperate love, saying nothing, letting their bodies do all the talking.
Two days later Elliot was back home, enjoying the peace and quiet in a freezing cabin in the mountains. Trying to stifle the disillusionment he felt with the world and himself, while hoping he would have time to get over it before it was time to go back to work.
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along but let’s face it, she’s not Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a 40-something bisexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, where she spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her life long dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, and wants to write diverse and different characters.
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