The next volume of Gothika was released this week and is available at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and other retailers!
This anthology contains three stories about werewolves and shifters by me, Eli Easton, and Kim Fielding. Here’s the blurb:
“Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.”
My story, Isolation, is a classic werewolf story about a man (Sean) who gave up on a life-long relationship he’d had with his friend, Jack, to go to college and marry a woman. When the life he tries to lead falls apart, he seeks Jack out in a last-ditch effort to rebuild the relationship he foolishly tossed away. But Jack has changed now. He’s living in a cabin in the woods, isolated from people, and though he’s happy to see Sean, he resists allowing him back into his life. I was going for a creepy and mysterious atmosphere, with a little humor tossed in and a good bit of erotic tension.
Here’s an excerpt:
He dreamt of that night when they were camping near Cedar Pond with the best camper accessories he has ever had. They were both fifteen, both randy as hell, and their friendship was still burning with an intensity few adults could understand. So it was little wonder that here, isolated from the rest of the world, they finally gave in to what they’d both been wanting for such a long time. They didn’t talk about it. Sean, especially, was afraid to. Talking might have given it a name, and he was terrified of that name, of the contempt his father and uncle would have had for him if they’d found out. So he and Jack just did… what they did. And when it was over, they held each other in the darkness of their tent, caressing and kissing until they drifted off to sleep.
Later he awoke and was disturbed to find himself alone in the tent. It was still dark, and without Jack’s body heat warming the tent, Sean felt cold. He hoped Jack had just crawled outside for a minute to take a leak or something, but he waited and waited and his friend didn’t return. Finally, with growing trepidation, Sean unzipped the tent door and peered outside. The moon provided a faint light, though the forest floor was thick with shadow.
“Jack?” His voice sounded quiet and a little fearful. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was very wrong.
He crawled out of the tent and stood, wrapping his arms around his naked body in a vain attempt to stave off the cold night air. Then he saw Jack, standing silent and still about fifty feet away. He was naked, beautifully illuminated by a shaft of blue-gray moonlight. But when Sean called to him again, there was no response.
Cautiously, Sean walked on bare feet through the ferns and pine needles blanketing the forest floor. When he drew near, and Jack still hadn’t moved, he reached out to brush Jack’s bare shoulder with his fingertips. Only then did Jack turn his head to give him a strange, enigmatic smile.
“Listen,” he whispered.
Sean was shivering and wanted nothing more than to crawl back into the warmth of their sleeping bags—both him and Jack together—but he cocked an ear and tried to listen. At first he heard nothing. Nothing, that is, except the usual sounds of a forest at night—wind in the trees, the rustling of leaves, the occasional snap of a twig as a squirrel or deer slipped past in the shadows. But then he caught something—a faint sound like people whispering. The voices were elusive and impossible to pinpoint. He couldn’t be certain what direction they came from, or even if he was really hearing them.
“What is it?” he whispered back.
Jack’s smile was rapturous, as if he were hearing the voices of angels. “It’s calling to us.”
The next morning Sean woke to the sound of a vehicle pulling into the driveway. It was light out, and the clock on the fireplace mantle read nearly ten. Bright sunlight was streaming through the open curtains.
Before he could decide whether he was really awake yet, the door opened and Jack came in. Once again he was shirtless, which was a pleasant enough sight to wake up to, but the damp, sweaty T-shirt he tossed at Sean’s head was a bit less pleasant.
“Hey, deadbeat! You ever gonna wake up? I’ve been working for hours already.”
“Fuck you,” Sean muttered, but he sat up, tossing the shirt on the floor. “What have you been doing?”
“Landscaping at the Donnelly’s,” Jack replied cheerfully. He crossed the living room to turn on the water in the kitchenette sink, then started scrubbing his filthy hands. “They want to rent their house out when they move to Florida.”
“Oh.” Sean stood up from the couch, still fuzzy and half-asleep. He was wearing just a pair of tight briefs, and when Jack turned back to him, rubbing his hands on the dish towel, Sean was pleased to notice Jack eyeing his package a bit before looking away.
“Come on. It’s hot as hell, and I’ve got two hours ’til I have to deal with that old bitch, Mrs. Westcott, and her damned flower beds. Let’s go for a swim.”
“There’s a pond, just down the path behind the cabin.”
Sean rubbed his face with his hands and glanced down at himself. “I didn’t bring a suit.”
Jack quirked an eyebrow at him and tossed the dish towel onto the counter.