At eighteen Christopher is restless and longs for something he cannot name. His mother vanished when he was very small and after spending more than ten years travelling on the rivers and canals, drifting between towns and schools, with mostly only his dad and brother, Jay, for company, he is desperate to escape that claustrophobic existence. When they return to settle in Arlow, a town they haven’t been back to in over a decade, everything changes.
Malachi has given up on love. He lost his heart when he lost his innocence. Now at twenty nine he just exists–getting drunk, fixing cars and playing the music he loves.
When their paths cross one night at a gypsy camp, Christopher thinks he’s found what he’s been looking for, but Malachi is afraid. He is afraid their love will destroy everything Christopher has ever known. They are both ghosts from one another’s past, and if Malachi’s secrets are revealed more than just innocence will be lost in their wake.
Malachi stops playing. I know he’s looking at me.
Gently he puts his guitar down on the floor and leans it against the bed.
I close my eyes, because I am not going to fall apart in front of him again. But as soon as his hand circles my shoulder and his warmth presses against me, there is nothing I can do to stop it.
I bury my face in his soft shirt and grip him tight like I wanted to do this morning.
When his hand strokes down the back of my neck, making me shiver through my tears, I won’t let myself imagine there is anything more to his touch than comfort. And it is comforting. Everything about this comforts me: the feel of him, so solid and unwavering, and the scent of him, faintly engine oil and wood smoke mixed in with a scent that is uniquely his. It’s a scent I can’t replicate in my dreams, but that I recognize almost as if it’s part of me nonetheless, and a fire burns deep in my gut because of it.
His heart thumps steady and strong against my shoulder, and I try and deepen my breathing in time to the rise and fall of his chest, knowing that in a minute he is going to realize I’m okay and will let go of me.
But for a long time, he doesn’t, and I begin to wonder if we can get in a more comfortable position or if getting close to him really is so far out of reach.
“Lie down with me,” I murmur, fully expecting him to ignore me and pull away.
I keep my eyes on his shirt, where the dark fabric meets his neck, and lower down around his collarbone, at the dark hairs there. For the past two weeks I’ve not even woken up with a hard-on, but I’m beginning to feel a familiar heat below my navel, and though my cock doesn’t swell or stiffen, being close to him like this makes it come alive to the possibility.
Without saying a word, we clamber up the bed until we’re lying side by side, his arm still slung round me, my head on his shoulder. Cautiously I place my hand on his hip, wishing I had the guts to shift closer.
With the hand that’s not round my back, he strokes my hair again. It makes me want to purr and push against him like a cat.
“I went to see Jay this afternoon.” My words sound muffled against his top. If I turn my lips until they press against the soft material, it’s as though I’m kissing him.
Suki Fleet grew up on a boat and as a small child spent a lot of time travelling at sea with her family. She has always wanted to be a writer. As a kid she told ghost stories to scare people, but stories about romance were the ones that inspired her to sit down and write. She doesn’t think she’ll ever stop writing them.
Her novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014 Rainbow Awards