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 write 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 24 by Freddy MacKay
Cuddled with Harlan on the couch, Cooper wanted to bask in the glory of beard burn and the tantalizing tingle all over his body. Harlan stroked his side lazily with one hand, his head leaning on Cooper’s.
“Okay, I have to admit something,” Harlan said.
Cooper shifted, looking up. “About?”
“Making out—” Harlan kissed Cooper’s forehead. “Is highly underrated.”
“I won’t say I told you so.”
Harlan chuckled and squeezed Cooper. “I think you just did.”
Cooper snuggled closer to Harlan. A part of him wanted to stay awake and enjoy the moment, but his eyes were heavy and wanted to close. He yawned, loud and long.
“Are you trying to say my skills were not up to par?”
“You could use a little practice.”
Harlan pulled Cooper closer. “You want a round two?”
“As tempting as that sounds—” Cooper rubbed over his jaw. “I think I’m going to need some aloe for the beard burn.”
“I didn’t hear you complaining before.”
Cooper tilted his head back and gave Harlan a kiss on the chin. “Nope. No complaints.”
They lingered in silence. Harlan stroked Cooper’s side. The touch ever so light. Almost too gentle. It tickled. Cooper squirmed away only to have Harlan pull him closer.
“Are we going to talk?”
The question made Cooper pause.
“I mean, about what happened tonight.”
Oh. Cooper had hoped to float in his ball of happy a little longer. But it had to pop sometime. Instead of floating through the air he dropped right down into the sludge. And because of the muddiness they were about to wade into, Cooper pulled away.
“So… This means we’re pretending nothing happened?” Harlan’s tone was light, but Cooper saw the forced smile on his face.
“No, no!” Cooper huffed, angry he was already fucking this up. “I-I don’t want that.”
Some of the hurt faded away from Harlan’s face. He opened his mouth, then closed it. He squinted, tilted his head to one side, and opened his mouth and closed it again.
Cooper knew what Harlan wanted to ask. He could see it plain as day. Unfortunately he couldn’t say it either. It sounded so pathetic. Made Cooper feel like a jerk.
Finally Harlan just nodded and asked, “Do you know what you want?”
It was the only answer he could give. A sucky answer for an all too problematic question. Harlan made a face, and a noise, like he was sucking on his teeth, escaped. He did not look happy. Not like Cooper blamed him for being pissed.
Somehow Cooper needed to make Harlan understand. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for kissing me? Or sorry you’re sending me mixed signals?”
“Yes. No. Wait.” Cooper put up a hand. His thoughts were all tumbled together, grinding and bouncing around. He needed a moment to figure out what—if anything—he could say. “Please. I wanted to kiss you. Wanting that. Wanting to touch you is a big deal to me. I haven’t wanted… Just wanted in so long.”
Harlan nodded, looking thoughtful. “Okay. That I can work with.”
“You wanted me. I can work with that.”
“I don’t even know what I want.” Having to say the words made Cooper’s stomach turn, his breath pick up. Shit. He fucking needed out. Cooper stood, turned, sat down then hung his head.
“Hey,” Harlan said. His hand hovered over Cooper’s shoulder before he pulled back. “It’s okay. It is. You do want to be more than friends, right? I mean, that’s why you kissed me, yes?”
“I think so.”
“Then we’re more than friends.”
“I haven’t… ” God, it had been so long. “I haven’t dated anyone since Tabitha.”
Harlan slid so they were shoulder to shoulder. “That’s okay too. Somewhat of an ego-boost if you ask me.”
“Ego-boost? An anxiety-ridden freak like me?”
“Everyone has their issues.”
Cooper growled, hating the response. “But why would you want mine? I have never done anything to…” Cooper motioned to himself. “To make you want me.”
“Yes you did.”
He scoffed, resisting the urge to laugh.
“That first night, at Stubby’s, you could’ve run. You could’ve let that bitch Evelyn get hurt and you stood up for her, you protected her, even though you didn’t even like her. That says a lot about a person’s character.”
“Like they’re an idiot?” Cooper asked, he shook his head again. The world tilted sideways then went upside down.
By the time his breathing was back under control, Harlan had Cooper cuddled back up to him, rubbing circles on his back.
“You’re okay. Everything is okay.”
“You really do have a savior complex, don’t you?”
Harlan chuckled. “Welcome back to the world of the living.”
“Did I black out?”
“A little bit.”
Cooper’s face heated, his chest went tight, and if he had the energy to hide he would. He tried to pull back, but Harlan wouldn’t let him go.
“You don’t need to go anywhere.” Harlan petted Cooper’s side.
“You like doing that.”
“Well, you feel good.”
Was Harlan teasing him?
“And it seems to soothe you.”
Dude had a heart of fucking gold. Didn’t that tear Cooper up?
“So, Coop, just relax and don’t worry.” Harlan kissed the top of his head. “You like being by my side, that’s enough for now. We’ll worry about the details later.”
“Later when?” Sometimes Cooper just couldn’t help himself.
“I kinda think it does.” Because Harlan deserved better. Someone not so screwed in the head.
“Stop, just stop thinking so hard, Coop.”
“It’s kinda hard.”
Harlan shifted Cooper, bringing them chest to chest. “Do you trust me?”
“I think that’s the problem.” It scared the shit outta Cooper too. It made him… Vulnerable.
Harlan dipped his head, bringing their mouths within a fraction of a fraction of each other. “Then maybe you need to be convinced a little more.”
Their lips met, sending a surge of heat and shock through Cooper. Convincing sounded good.
Jesse stood next to Cooper, giving him a stink eye.
“You’re being weird.”
“This is new?”
“Weirder than usual.”
Now maybe Jesse wasn’t so wrong about that. “I kissed Harlan.”
“Remember that guy who showed up the same day Evelyn did?”
“We went out on that date. Nice little outdoor italian food truck. Anyway. It didn’t happen then. After my philosophy midterm I called him up and he came over… And I kissed him. A lot.”
“And we’re not happy about this?” Jesse leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. “Or we are happy about the kiss?”
“I—” Cooper growled and swept a hand over his head. “Maybe?”
“Maybe to what?” Jesse hummed, not looking impressed whatsoever. “To the happy or not happy?”
“I don’t know. I think, I mean, I think I trust him.”
That had Jesse momentarily stunned and silent.
“Wow.” Jesse stood, sighing. “That’s—”
“Big. I know.”
Cooper had thought nothing about it for the past two days. He wanted to be happy that he’d taken this step. He almost called his psychologist because it seemed like news he should share. But Cooper hadn’t. Maybe once he knew where his relationship with Harlan was heading he could be more forthcoming.
“So,” Jesse said. “You’re boyfriend and boyfriend now? Dating?”
“No, but we’re more than friends.” That much Cooper knew to be happy about.
“Huh. Never imagined you for the friends with benefits type.”
“No!” Shit, no. Cooper pushed Jesse away. “Don’t be a jerk.”
“Well you’re not dating, but you’re being a cocktease—”
“I am not a cocktease. We both enjoyed ourselves.”
Jesse smiled, his dark brows rising up. “Now that’s my Coop.”
“No thanks.” Jesse bumped Cooper’s shoulder.
“We’re just taking it a day at a time.”
“Meaning you’re not labeling it so you don’t freak.”
When Jesse put it that way. “Pretty much.”
“Hey, no matter what, I know this is a big step for you. I want you to know I’m proud of you. It’s good to see you participating in life again.”
“Was I really that bad?”
It was a hard habit to break. “Sorry.”
“Cooper.” Jesse sighed.
“So-I mean, yes. I know.”
“Hey, does this Harlan guy know when you’re getting off work?”
Jesse smiled and pointed to the front. “I think your man, your not friend, is here to pick you up.”
Cooper turned just in time to watch Harlan walking through the door with a huge-ass bouquet of flowers.
Jesse leaned in, one hand on Cooper’s shoulder. “I think he likes you, just a little bit.”
“Yeah… I think he does.” The warmth spreading in Cooper’s chest had him simultaneously jittery with excitement and wanting to puke.
“That is one ginormous bouquet of roses,” Jesse said before rounding the counter and moving toward the records. “I’ll see you later Coop.”
“Yeah, later,” he answered absently.
Harlan waited for Cooper to come to him, lifting the roses up. “Hey, I thought we could go another not-date.”
Author: Queer Sci Fi
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Publication Date: 09/21/2016
Cover Artist: Mila May
Genre: Fantasy, Gay, Lesbian
A 300-word story should be easy, right? Many of our entrants say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever written.
Queer Sci Fi’s Annual Flash Fiction Contest challenges authors to write a complete LGBTQ speculative fiction micro-story on a specific theme. “Flight” leaves much for the authors to interpret—winged creatures, flight and space vehicles, or fleeing from dire circumstances.
Some astonishing stories were submitted—from horrific, bloodcurdling pieces to sweet, contemplative ones—and all LGBTQ speculative fiction. The stories in this anthology include AI’s and angels, winged lions and wayward aliens. Smart, snappy slice of life pieces written for entertainment or for social commentary. Join us for brief and often surprising trips into 110 speculative fiction authors’ minds.
**Print books will be available. There are two versions. A B&W illustrated version will be available for $12.99. A full color illustrated version will be available for $TBD.
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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