first excerpt here
The thought made the man come to mind, flashing in front of him like a real person, getting Dan’s heart tripping over himself. Could everyone see him?
He’d nearly driven himself crazy with the image, scared half the time that his gran could see it just as clearly as Dan, but she never mentioned it, never punished him, even in her weakened state, over an affair. A fuck buddy.
Deep male laughter floated across to Dan. He used all his life’s training not to tense against the slightly crazed noise. Dan tried really hard not to relax instantly. He’d been caught, that was obvious, but it didn’t mean he had to show them the laughter—their presence affecting him.
Dan didn’t trust anyone at this funeral, and it wasn’t just because a sadistic woman who trusted no one had raised him, but more because he could feel them watching him, feel those beady eyes intent on getting him in a dark corner and doing with him what they would.
Let’s face it. The only person in the world that would miss him was lying in a pine box, no help to anyone but the bugs that were about to start making her their lunch.
Dan quickly banished the thoughts as the last slip of pink disappeared from the sky, making the world seem a shade darker than what it was. Or maybe it was that the colour was gone from the world as night turned into a bluey-grey black.
Dan shouldn’t still be standing there, not for a woman he hated, and yet, from the tips of his hair to the nails on his toes, he couldn’t seem to leave her be. For the life of him, he couldn’t move his feet off towards the direction he needed to head before they settled the coffin and the dirt started falling on top of her.
Dan wanted to believe it was proof. The only way he’d be able to sleep at night was knowing that she wasn’t coming back, that she was gone and buried, and even if, for some reason she wasn’t dead, Gran was definitely not getting out of that grave.
The priest walked up to him, putting his hand on his shoulder while Dan fought the need to flinch away from the touch. Only one person could touch Dan without him fearing the worse.
And there he was again. Shit. Gene.
Dan wasn’t all that surprised, not really. It had been one of the hardest things to walk away from Gene. They’d been in a…random hook-up that Dan tried not to delusion himself as a relationship, for nearly a year, in which time he had found it impossibly hard not to seek out the other man just so they could bump into each other.
Then, his gran had gotten sick, and sick in a way that there was no coming out of. They’d both known the end was rapidly approaching and Gran had held him close in her clawed hands as she spoke in riddles and delusions while the disease ate at her mind and body.
Dan was sure she’d known about him at one point, though not the gay thing. She had been the one to tell him he liked men before he’d even let his mind slip to that possibility. She’d used it against him, but at that point, he’d been old enough that it would have shocked him to his core if she’d been all sweet and supportive.
No. What he’d feared was her figuring out that those times he’d been an hour later than normal had meant he’d been hooking up with someone, and not just any someone, but a someone who turned into a fucking werewolf.
Dan couldn’t really help it, though. It wasn’t as if they were easy to spot. No. A person generally had to spend at least a month with someone and know the signs to understand, fully, what was under their fingers.
At first, all Dan had noticed was the smile, which seemed to brighten up the world and the red-blond hair that Gene liked to call honey blond.
He’d also talked, his mouth rattling off without a thought or fear of what he was saying, or at least that’s what Dan thought at first. Really, it seemed Gene understood what dribble he spoke and when was the best time to speak it. Still, it was almost as if he couldn’t deal with the silence and always needed to fill it with something or another, and that suited Dan perfectly because he’d been sitting in a dark quiet box all his life.
The hand on Dan’s shoulder squeezed tightly before disappearing, the priest finishing off his, sorry for your loss speech, making Dan hold in the sigh of relief he wanted to share with the world because he was now free.
“Have you got anywhere to go, son?” the priest asked, as if he was homeless, without just coming out and saying that.
“I’m good,” Dan said slowly, steadily. Shit, yeah. He had somewhere else to be, and that place was going to be a fucking bitch to get to, even though it was only a couple of blocks away.
“You sure?” the priest asked again, though this time, something made Dan turn a look at him.
There was an almost panicked look on the poor man’s face, as if he could sense the evil lingering in his church grounds.
“I’m fine.” Dan made sure he emphasised that enough to make the priest understand that it definitely wasn’t Dan who needed to watch his back.
He saw the man swallow hard and look over his shoulder. Dan followed, and wanted to gulp down the lump crawling up his own throat as well. This night was not going to be fucking easy.
The Rub of My Werewolf by Bronwyn Heeley
Publishing on the 15th of June 2014