A couple months ago, I shared a snippet from what was then a work-in-progress, a male/male romance novella called Last Chance Tattoo. The novella has since been accepted for publication, and last week I did first round edits on it, so I wanted to share again. Last Chance Tattoo is a follow-up to I Should Tell You, and will release on September 2, 2014 from Loose Id.
The shop was far from the right place to indulge in fantasies, let alone to get himself off. Dorsey had to keep it together. The weather was better than the day before, sunny and windless, so customers might actually show up.
Rad might come back. Anything was possible.
As the thought crossed his mind, the shop door opened. Dorsey hadn’t even noticed anyone approaching. He’d been too tangled in his daydreams and horniness.
Startled, he looked up. The one person he’d hoped to see had just walked through the door. The little jump his heart gave surprised him. “Rad. I wasn’t sure you’d be back.”
Nothing like sounding too eager. Scare the kid off, why don’t you?
Fortunately, Rad didn’t seem to notice the excitement in Dorsey’s tone. “I wasn’t sure I would be either.” He walked over to the counter and leaned on it, on the opposite side from Dorsey. “I’m still not sure I’ll actually get a tattoo, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to come in and talk more about it. Maybe design something?”
“Sure, we can do that.” Dorsey took out a pencil and pad of blank paper from under the counter.
“I…” Rad glanced over his shoulder.
“Is someone following you again?” Dorsey asked. Rad didn’t appear as nervous as the day before, but he was definitely acting as if he were hiding from someone.
“No one was following me yesterday.” Rad sighed. “It’s hard to explain. Basically, the only members of my family who know I’m in town are my grandmother and one of my cousins. The rest… When I left five years ago, they pretty much told me not to come back. Yesterday, I saw one of my brothers across the street. I had to get out of sight before he saw me. Everyone knows—everyone in the family I mean—that Gram kept in touch with me, and they aren’t happy about it. So they would give her a hard time if they find out I’m here.”
Dorsey tensed. Of course Rad’s family would have thrown him out of town. Of course people could be that backwards and assholistic. He would have hoped that nowadays, Rad would have gotten at least some acceptance and tolerance. Especially from his family. Even if they were closed-minded, surely they would have wanted to give the peasants in town the impression that all was well in Morrisland.
“That sucks,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady despite the anger and fear swirling in his brain. The anger made complete sense. Anyone who treated one of their own as crappy as it sounded like Rad’s family treated him deserved anger.
The fear was less rational. Rad’s family might be a bunch of jackasses, but that didn’t mean they would hurt him.
Rad shrugged. “It is what it is, I guess. They’ve always been that way. If you don’t completely fit their expectations, you hear about it. A gay kid who decides to move to Boston and become a drag queen doesn’t fit.”
Dorsey took a moment to register the statement. “You’re a drag queen?”
“Was. For a few months.” Rad paused. “I didn’t do so well at it. It took me over four years to even get a shot at it, and then I kept screwing up. That’s one of the reasons I came back here. The jobs I had barely paid the bills, and I quit them to work at the club. Once I realized I wasn’t going to make it there, I had a choice of taking more money from Gram to make ends meet while I found another job, or coming back here and figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, then giving it another try.”
“Shit happens.” Dorsey didn’t know what else to say. The only things that came to mind were either cliché or sounded like Rad should have expected to fail, and Dorsey didn’t want to make the guy feel any worse than he already did.
“Yeah. It would be nice if it was good stuff for once.” Rad took a long breath and blew it out through pursed lips. “Hiding in here yesterday was a good thing, I think. You’re easy to talk to.”
“I try.” Slightly embarrassed by the compliment, Dorsey picked up the pencil and doodled on the notepad. Nothing specific. Just little marks on the paper so he had something to look at besides Rad.
Rad chuckled. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to say something good about you.”
“No problem. I’m used to it.” Dorsey grinned. “I’m glad you barged in yesterday. You definitely made the day more interesting.”