Hands Of Clay.
While I took a break from writing on my blog, I started on a story that is a throw back. I always wanted to write a story for Brice. If you remember him, he was a side character in 1:05 a.m. An Ice Era Chronicle.
Long ago, I wanted to write a love story for Brice and I created an outline... so while I sat at home, I wrote it. I don't know what I will do with this book or if it will ever be published, but it exists and the novel made me happy. Brice's story (also known as Hands Of Clay) would fall after Grinding My Gears at the height of Snow Flu. It ended up being a male-male and what I love about this story is that it's not about the action. I created this story to highlight how boring life would be too. All my books have so much going on, but for some people, they just work and live and they don't have big grand adventures. For Brice and Clay, that's what it's like for them.
Here is a part of the first chapter. This is unedited and a bit raw, but I hope you check it out.
Place: A ramshackle hut in the snowy areas of the Confederate Territories of North America (C.T.O.N.A.)
Time: 1:45 a.m.
Brice licked the gash on his arm like a dog licking his wounds. When the bleeding stopped, he tightened the knot on his shirt wrapped around his crushed foot. The Originals had broken his toes trying to glean information from him. The cloth looked like a psychiatrist’s ink blob test.
Struggling, he couldn’t bend forward with his broken ribs to tend to the injury. At this point, Brice simply prayed that the appendage would be fine. At least fine in the sense that he didn’t get gangrene. Whether he would be able to walk or run again was too big a question to face right now.
As Brice picked a new jagged cut to close using his saliva, his gaze popped to Agent Toby’s still form. Toby was faced away from him on the other side of the huge boulder in the middle of the sagging hut. The chains attached to the agent were also wrapped around the massive rock and locked in place. Both Toby and Brice had been secured to the five-foot squat stone probably because the little hut would be easy to escape. With the heavy shackles around both Brice’s wrists and ankles, escape was out even if the walls were nothing more than bundles of sticks.
“Toby?” Brice whispered. “Agent Tobias?”
The other man didn’t move. In fact, Brice’s ex-boyfriend hadn’t moved for the last two days. Brice tried to remember when he last saw Toby do anything. On some level Brice knew the agent was dead, he just couldn’t tackle that reality without losing hope.
Before Brice could whisper again, the door to the run-down shack was tossed open with a bang. The wood struggled to stay on its hinges. Two Original members dragged a mangled stranger into the tiny space. The guy was dumped next to the rock and secured like Toby and Brice. The new person’s face was nothing but blood, bruises, and swelling. One eye didn’t even open. For a second Brice met the stare of one of his captors. Not wanting to get beat again, he dropped his glare to the dirt and huddled into a ball.
The two men finished hooking the beat-up man to the boulder and then unlocked Toby. They hauled his ex-boyfriend out of the shanty. The door slammed shut. An ice sickle hanging from the hole in the roof fell and broke in half.
Brice wasn’t sure how long he stayed curled on the dirt floor, but the sound of thunder brought him out of his pain and cold limbs. Raising to a sitting position, Brice eyed the hole in the roof. He pushed the cracked plastic bowl under the opening and prayed for rain instead of sleet or hail or… God-forbid snow.
As the first drops hit the pathetic container, the stranger moaned. Brice turned in time to watch the man roll toward him and try to rise. The manacles rattled as if cackling at the guys effort. He collapsed on his second attempt.
“The chains aren’t long enough for you to stand.” Brice leaned his head against the stone. “Save your energy.”
The man scooted toward the rock. Their eyes met. This man’s one open eye was a green-blue like pictures of the ocean. The color Brice would’ve described as clear aquamarine. The agony in their depth stole Brice’s breathe long enough to distract him from his aching limbs.
“I think The Originals must poop out chains. I don’t know how they always have so many.”
Brice cracked a smile and the stranger returned his grin before he crept closer.
Brice had been beaten too, but this person was covered in more blood than anything else. His shirt was nothing more than two shredded pieces hanging on his biceps. His gray underwear clearly offered no protection from the elements, and he had no pants or shoes. His brown hair was shaved short so not even that part of his body would be warm. One grimy sock held on valiantly to his right foot.
“I…” The man ran a hand over his short bloody brown hair. “It’s cold here. I…”
As a rain-sleet mixture pelted the flimsy walls, the temperature continued to drop. The air that puffed from Brice’s lips was a white mist hanging between them.
“I know,” Brice whispered. “I guess we can talk about the weather.”
“Yeah, the weather or whatever polite conversation you want.” Once more the new guy crawled closer to Brice’s shoulder. “You were here first. Prisoner’s choice.” He made a sound that was a cross between a laugh and a groan. He tried to hug his arms around his middle for warmth. “Are we outside Dallas?”
“I don’t think we’re in Dallas anymore. It’s too cold here. I think we’re further into the C.T.O.N.A.” Brice wrapped an arm around the stranger and pulled him into his arms. Since his shirt was on his foot, the other man’s cheek met with Brice’s naked chest. The bitter chill ate at Brice as well, but a deep part of him told him to help the brunette, no matter the cost. “North.”
“I don’t remember some of the journey here and…” The half-sentence ended with teeth chattering as the stranger hugged Brice’s chest. “Thank you.”
“We’ll be fine. Close your eyes. Or at least close the one that’s open,” Brice directed. “I’m going to use my gift.”
The man did as Brice dictated. As soon as he was no longer looking at him, Brice summoned his added ability. Using his tongue, Brice began to lick at any open cuts on the stranger’s face. There were many. Although Brice hated the taste of blood, and knew that ingesting body fluids carried health risks, he couldn’t seem to stop himself. Gently, he licked and let his saliva stop as much of the flow as he could. The small action was what he could offer other than his body heat.
Moving down the man’s neck, Brice licked at a long wound across the stranger’s chest. When he glanced up, the brunette stared at him.
“My saliva stops bleeding and helps natural clotting and healing for the epidermis. It’s my gift,” Brice murmured in hopes The Originals wouldn’t hear him. His captors had been known to keep people for their extra abilities. “I told you to keep your eye closed.”
“It’s hard when a stranger is licking me.” The man tried to smile but his expression ended in a grimace.
“I will give you an C plus for effort.”
“Only a C plus? Fuck that noise. I deserve an A for keeping my eyes closed while you licked my face.”
Brice found a smile buried somewhere deep and grinned.
“My turn.” The man snuggled into his arms. “Close your eyes. Both of them. I’m going to—”
“Use your gift?”
“Yeah, but the least you could do is let me finish my sentence. I’m freezing to death after all.”
As Brice’s eyes closed, he laughed quietly. The stranger placed his hands flat on Brice’s chest. The move could’ve been to fend off hypothermia, but before he could ask what the gift was, Brice felt the sensation.
A flood of happiness filled him and overflowed into every inch of his soul. Suddenly, Brice could feel the summer breeze on his face and sunshine melting away the chill in his bones. In an instant, Brice was transported back to his favorite place where joy ruled. He was in that spot near the ocean. The rocky area was where he and his brother had built sandcastles. No longer was Brice in the hut, but now he was with his parents before they died. He was reliving the time before him and his brother, Colin, met Keith and became assassins for the Seemyah.
As the feeling of childhood carefree happiness began to fade, slowly Brice opened his eyes and he returned to reality. A little dazed, he glanced down at the man in his arms.
“You have a nice smile,” the stranger said.
Brice wanted to smile more at the compliment. He figured the tingling in his chest and the warmth must be the lingering effects of this man’s gift. The multiplying heat spreading through his arms chased away the frosty air.
As he tried to come up with a thank you, Brice noted the streaks of blood on his pectorals. Those were fresh and wet. He picked up the brunette’s hand. The tips of all his fingers were split open. Red drops gathered on the skin to roll toward his palm.
“The bleeding fingers is my side effect.” The stranger tried to tug his hands away. “It’s no biggie.”
“No biggie?” Brice kept his grip on the other man and brought the brunette’s fingers to his mouth.
“It’s not a big deal. No biggie.” The sentence ended with a shiver, and one by one, Brice licked the tiny cuts until the bleeding stopped.
“You can’t afford to lose more blood.”
“It was worth it to see your face like that.”
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