GENRE: Gay Romance
LENGTH: 17,956 words
As Josh Tully returns home from running errands, he stumbles across a handsome man leaving his apartment complex. Distracted by the charming new stranger, Josh spills his groceries across the front stoop. As the new neighbor helps Josh pick up his belongings, a sudden surge of electricity sparks between the two young men.
When Eddie returns to Josh’s apartment with a fresh gallon of milk, a chance meeting turns into mutual attraction. But a severe case of pneumonia lands Josh in the hospital and Eddie stays at his side, and their budding friendship deepens.
Eddie is not the nesting type, and he does not stay in one place for long. But as days turn to weeks, something in Josh’s laid-back persona draws Eddie to the small Minnesota town of Gordonville and through the door of Josh’s heart.
Will Eddie decide to stay this time ... and for how long?
Standing over his attractive, curly-haired visitor, Josh glimpses a pair of wings spreading out along Eddie’s heavily muscled left arm: the dark tattoo poking out from beneath the ripped edges of his black tee. Josh is stimulated, his hands twitching.
Josh crouches next to Eddie and is close enough for their lips to touch. “That’s really cool.”
“Huh?” Eddie pulls his eyes off Josh and stares down at the winged image on his left arm. “Oh, that.”
Josh sips his lemonade, enraptured by Eddie’s inked skin. “It looks like a raven’s wing.”
Eddie grips the guitar. “It’s corny.”
“It’s beautiful.” Goosebumps pop out along Josh’s arms to the melancholy sounds emitting from Eddie’s guitar playing.
Josh stands, turns, and heads back to the kitchen. Over the sizzling pan, Josh asks, “Why wings?”
Eddie looks up from the guitar, stops as if on cue, and grins mischievously. “Sounds ridiculous but the wings represent freedom to me.”
“How so?” Josh plates the sandwiches and soups, and walks leisurely into the living room, juggling dinnerware in both hands, serving Eddie his spin on a home-cooked meal. Josh sits Indian-style on the floor next to him.
Eddie places the guitar upright against his knee and bites into the hot, gooey sandwich. He moans, delighted. “This is a badass grilled cheese, man.”
They talk awhile longer about hobbies, traveling, and their favorite foods.
Over the rim of his drink, Josh notices Eddie has finished his sandwich. “Another?”
Eddie sounds hesitant, but says, “I’ve gotta keep my manly figure.”
An awkward silence encroaches between them. Then Josh asks, “How long are you going to be in Gordonville?”
He shrugs his burly shoulders. “Until my muse finds me.”
“Where is your next destination?”
More silence. Then, “Not sure.”
“What places have you been to?” Josh almost stops breathing when he looks up and catches Eddie staring at him, an unreadable expression on his stony face. “Sorry. I’m just inquisitive.”
Eddie slants his head to the side as if he has forgotten the question. “Everywhere, I guess.”
Josh nods, biting into his sandwich. “Where are you from originally?”
Josh nibbles the corner of his sandwich. “You said something about Los Angeles?”
“I was only in la-la land for a few days.”
A wink of curiosity in Josh’s voice, “Finding yourself?”
Eddie raises his sleepy eyes to him and smiles weakly. “Yeah, something like that.”
* * * *
Eddie reaches his hand out to Josh.
Josh takes it, his hand trembling, and pumps Eddie’s strong, sweaty grip in his. Their gazes idle, even after Josh walks Eddie to the door. Eddie bends in closer to Josh, as if he is going to tell him a secret, his whispers caressing Josh’s warm skin along the nape of his neck, “Don’t forget our date on Monday.”
As Eddie pulls back, Josh cannot tear his gaze away from Eddie’s chiseled face. Eddie turns around and heads out into the hall. Twelve steps down, Eddie stops and looks up at his new friend. “Don’t forget: I’m a fantastic bowler.”
“A three-hundred,” Josh says, smiling. “I remember.”
Eddie makes a clicking noise with his tongue and points up at Josh, giving him a thumbs-up. “Bring your A-game, man.”
Staring at Eddie’s crooked grin and those attractive eyes, Josh exhales. He is speechless.
And it is not until Eddie rounds the corner and descends another set of stairs to his apartment, his feet hammering like a herd of elephants, that Josh hears him say, “Thanks for the sandwich. See you Monday.”
Wish it were sooner.