Join Prism Book Alliance® as Freddy MacKay goes Outside the Margins today.
Welcome to the Prism Book Alliance Blog today! Freddy MacKay here, one of the contributors to Outside the Margins. For my part, I am writing 500 – 1000 word flash fiction pieces for a story called On the Divide. These are not professionally edited but I do try to catch my mistakes. I hope you enjoy.
On the Divide – Part 18 by Freddy MacKay
Jesse scratched at his dark five o’clock shadow while Cooper closed the store down. To be honest it was more than a little unnerving having his boss watch him check everything and empty out the drawer. So much so Cooper tripped over a cord and face-planted on the floor. At least Jesse howled in appreciation.
“Are you okay?” Jesse asked as he helped Cooper up.
“You’re more nervous then a virgin at Mass.”
Cooper shook his head. “Yes.”
Jesse laughed anyway. Bastard always had a fucked up sense of humor. But the easy expression faded into a serious one.
“Is it Harlan?” Jesse looked toward the front of the shop, a frown emerging. Harlan was outside leaning against the window. “Do I need to get rid of him? I mean, is he going to be another Evelyn?”
“I don’t think so,” Cooper answered.
Jesse looked a little nonplussed by the answer.
“He’s nice, a little too… Persistent.”
Jesse’s frown turned into a grimace.
“I think it was a lot of bad timing and miscommunication. Timing on his part while my paranoia went rampant.”
“I’m not really being reassured here.”
“Sorry.” Cooper shrugged, mainly because he wasn’t sure what was happening between him and Harlan.
Jesse sighed, ran his hand over his scruff. “All right, but if you need an out, call me.”
How… Nice of him? The offer honestly touched Cooper. Shit. A weight lifted off his shoulders knowing someone he could trust had his back.
“Anytime,” he said, making a shooing motion. “Now go on your date.”
“I wouldn’t call it—don’t—fine. We’re hanging out together.”
“What are you? Thirteen?” Jesse gave him an amused shake of the head.
Now that jab wasn’t necessary. It stung more than it should, but Cooper couldn’t turn off how it hurt. “No.”
“I’m teasing. I’m teasing.”
Cooper knew that, he did, but the ball of tension inside him didn’t help things. If only he were normal and could get the fuck over himself. He reacted to too much shit these days.
“No joke, Coop,” Jesse said. “If you think for a second you’re in danger, punch him and run, then give me a call.”
“Yeah.” If only Cooper could get his heart to slow down.
“But I did like what I saw of him.”
With a nod, Jesse began herding Cooper toward the front. “He seems like a decent guy. I haven’t seen you smile often these days. I like that he could do that for you.”
Wow, yeah, that much was true. “Me too.”
After one last shove at the door, Jesse turned around and headed toward the back. “Be good and use a condom!”
“Jesse,” Cooper answered tersely.
Well, there wasn’t much Cooper could follow up with as a retort anyway. He took a couple deep breaths to rein in his nerves then went outside.
“Hey!” Harlan pushed off the glass and greeted Cooper with a smile. “Ready?”
Cooper nodded, fighting the urge to walk back in the store. For all the times his flight response to kick in. A nervous chuckle escaped him, making him wince. Harlan almost said something but chose not to, for which Cooper was grateful. He knew how fucked up his head was better than anyone else.
“So are we doing putt-putt again?” Cooper asked as they went and got his bike.
“No, I was thinking dinner?”
Cooper bent over his bike, concentrating on the unlocking it. “Dinner?”
“Yeah, I know a nice little italian place not too far from my work.” Harlan offered a smile.
“Sure. Okay.” Cooper could that. A restaurant was perfectly fine. Yes. It was.
Cooper did like how Harlan’s eyes lit up, like he was all happy about them going out. Maybe he was. One could hope. Did he want to hope? ‘Cause really, hope led to dangerous things.
Like taking chances. And Cooper really wasn’t sure he wanted to. Not after all the drama lately. Plus he only said they’d be friends.
But it didn’t feel like friends. Shit. Why did Harlan have to confuse him so much? Cooper took hold of his handlebars so Harlan wouldn’t be able to see how much his hands shook.
As they loaded up the car with his bike, Cooper fought the urge to run. To hide away. Friends. They were only hanging out. No pressure. He didn’t need to worry about anything. Just making friends.
Though it didn’t help a static shock sparked every time their fingers met.
“Your car is trying to kill me.”
“It likes you—fuck, ow!—That’s all.”
“It has a weird way of showing it,” Cooper answered with a snort.
Harlan pushed down the trunk, offering another one of his smiles. “Maybe it wants to show off my electric personality.”
“Nothing,” he said as he tucked himself into the passenger seat. “I don’t want to encourage any more punning.”
Harlan fucking laughed. “Too late.”
“I’ve even got an app to help me.”
“Dear god no.”
Harlan proceeded to spout his beloved puns as he started up. Cooper felt only a tiny bit guilty he had to concentrate on driving instead of talking face to face. If Harlan had to watch the road, then he wouldn’t be able to see the fine tremble Cooper wished would go away. Hopefully once they got to the restaurant Cooper would have himself in check.
Doubt it. But Cooper did hope. Stupid as it might be. He hoped the tremors would stop, and that whatever weird ass mission Harlan was on didn’t hurt him in the process.
Because in the end, it was nice to laugh again.
About Freddy MacKayI grew up and went to college in the Midwest where I currently reside with my family. I spend most of my time playing sports and running around outside. And honestly, that much has not changed since I was little, except who is included my activities. I also have a healthy geocaching addiction. It’s so much fun! I enjoy spending my time traveling when I can, and I hold the view that a person should continually to learn about new things and people whenever possible.
My contemporary LGBTQ book, Incubation: Finding Peace 2, won 3rd Place – Best Gay Erotic Fiction in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. In 2013, Internment, won 3rd Place – Best Gay Fantasy in the Rainbow Awards. Feel Me (The Marduck Expanse) was a Gay SF Finalist and Honorable Mention in the 2014 Rainbow Awards.
One random commenter with thoughtful, relevant comments will win a $25 gift certificate each month in 2016.
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