This time I'm gonna do something a little different. I've said a few times that I do stuff other than straight up superpowered love, and a lot of that is fae-oriented. So today I'm going to share a tiny piece of a WiP with an uncertain fate. Its working title is By the River and is one of four books, each for a different element, that are best described as... um, contemporary magical realist fairy tale romances.
I think. That makes it sound more complex than it is when in fact I think this is the simplest love story I've ever written. I don't know. Either way, they're weird and a lot more, um, poetic, I guess than my usual. But no one likes a one-trick pony, right? By the River is about two dudes in a small West Virginia river town -- one of whom, Leith, has a neurotic -- or maybe just magical -- attachment to water.
Again, although this has been thoroughly beta'd (heart you, Meghan!), it is by no means a finished product. [To anyone seeing this on a feed, such as at goodreads or via email: the formatting doesn't transfer, I know. Please click through using the link at the bottom of the post to see it at the blog. Sorry!]
"Back in a sec. Make yourself at home, Adam." And Leith disappeared down the hall.
Adam sat on the nearest couch, trying not to stare at Mr. Marshall. Old, yes. Grizzled, maybe. Dressed normally enough. Didn't seem infirm, or, for that matter, awfully crazy.
Adam allowed himself a glance, and Mr. Marshall stared at him in this strange way. Something like Leith's unending compassion in his eyes. Or maybe it was more like pity.
It set Adam's teeth on edge, just like that. Before he could stop himself, it just came out: "Why don't you want him to see the ocean?"
Mr. Marshall smiled as if this was a very good question. His answer, however, was another question: "You think you know what my boy is?"
Adam's upper lip curled. He shouldn't have spoken. Shouldn't have talked to him. Now it was going to turn into some kind of keep your hands off my son, he's no homo, and Adam would spend the rest of the night being angry.
But he had to answer, now. The old man was staring at him.
Adam said, "He's... Leith."
"It means river. A big, broad river, like ours. She tried to love it, but she was an ocean creature."
Adam clutched at the arm of the couch, knuckles going white.
"She went back to it. Never seen again. And so will he, the second he feels it calling." His eyes, a nondescript, common blue shade, misted over. Crow's feet deepened at the corners of his eyes. "I can't let him go."
Adam's eyes burned, some weird, sympathetic reaction.
Mr. Marshall lowered his voice and leaned forward in his chair as if sharing a secret with an old friend. "He sing to you yet? Hate to tell you, son, but you'll never get over it."
Adam's mouth opened, but nothing came out.
What the fuck?
Mr. Marshall sat back, returned to watching the nightly news as if nothing had happened, nothing had been said.
A door opened down the hallway, and Leith emerged, the edges of his hair wet as if he'd washed his face. He'd changed into a rugby striped Trinity polo. "Okay, we can go."
"Right." Adam stood. He didn't want to look, but his gaze was drawn inexplicably to Leith's father. "Good to meet you, Mr. Marshall."
Mr. Marshall stood, tottered a few steps toward him, extending a hand.
Adam met him halfway and took it, shook. It was a good shake, actually. Firm, but not cockswinging.
Mr. Marshall was all sympathy again when he said, "You too. Have fun, boys. Not too much, though."
When Adam let him go, Leith patted his dad on the shoulder and started for the door. "We got this, Dad. Night."