It feels so gosh darned good to be writing characters a little bit closer to my own age… in tonight’s (completely unedited but hopefully typo-free) excerpt from the WIP, we get to spend some time with a 20-year-old Lucien, whom we presently know as the barrel-chested, massive-biceped bouncer at Purgatory, and a 30-year-old Mac, Purgatory’s bouncer, who at this point in his life is still a United States Marine attached to Walter Reed Hospital. Enjoy!
Lucien let tbe barbells drop to the floor with a thump that would have pissed off anyone living downstairs, if he didn’t have a basement apartment. His biceps were burning, his triceps felt like a couple of bags of dead mice, and his lats and his pecs weren’t speaking to him or to each other. But damn, it all felt good. And the aches wouldn’t last long, none of his aches and pains ever did. Though a shower would feel amazing right now.
His legs made a ripping sound as he stood up, sweaty skin peeling away from the cheap vinyl of what passed for his weight bench. It would be nice to be able to afford a gym membership, but there was no way, not on a part-time grease monkey’s wages. Small-time service station owners weren’t making the killing everyone thought they were, this summer of ‘crisis of confidence’. National malaise. Whatever. So until he could figure out how to print money, he was on his own, trying to keep up with Mac.
Just the thought of Mac made him grin like an idiot as he headed for the john. His boyfriend was getting some killer workouts lately, part of a new program he’d been assigned to. Mac had already been built when they’d met, and Lucien had always been hot for military types. But Mac was part of a team at Walter Reed that was working on ways to get amputees healthy and keep them that way. And Mac was incredibly fucking healthy.
Lucien shucked off his muscle tee as he headed for the shower. Wearing it in the first place was kind of a pain in the ass. Even below ground, D.C. was hotter than hell in August; he couldn’t afford air conditioning, either, and all the little fan in the corner did was move the hot humid air around. But he was just fastidious enough not to want to leave his short-and-curlies all over everything.
Fastidious. Hell. He was a fussy twenty-year-old queen. Furry cub. And wannabe gym rat.
Laughing, he reached into the shower. The rotating handle sounded like glass being raked down a chalkboard; tepid water sluiced over his hand.
A fist banged on his front door.
Lucien turned the water off, ignoring the screech. “Who is it?”
“It’s me, Lucien. Mac.”
He’d never heard his Marine boyfriend’s voice sound like that before. Like someone was trying to choke him. Lucien sprinted to the door — not like he had far to go, calling his place an ‘efficiency’ was dignifying it — unlocked it, and swung the door wide.
Mac stood there in the dank hallway, scalp gleaming under his regulation brush cut in the light from the crap bare bulb overhead, in what Lucien guessed were the uniform khakis he wore on duty. Guessed, because apart from the day they’d met, Mac hadn’t dared to be seen with him in uniform. Lucien understood. The facts of life were harsh, for a gay man in the United States Marine Corps in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Nine.
And underneath a sheen of sweat, Mac was as pale as paste. “Can I come in?” It sounded like he was having trouble breathing.
What the hell? “Yeah, sure.”
Lucien headed straight for the kitchenette as Mac walked past him. He didn’t have much on hand in the way of food, but alongside the round cardboard oatmeal box and the green box of elbow macaroni in the cupboard was a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels. He grabbed it, and two glasses — Foghorn Leghorn and Pepe le Pew, courtesy of Jack’s Sunoco — and turned around.
Mac stood in the middle of the room, surrounded by the weight bench and the old armchair and the TV set on the chest of drawers and the mattress and box spring, both of them on the floor because Lucien had never been able to figure out why he should bother putting them on anything. And Mac looked as lost as anyone Lucien had ever seen.
Lucien glanced around; not seeing anyplace better, he set the bottle and glasses on the floor and went to Mac. To his boyfriend. As bizarre as that sounded to him. Hesitantly he reached up and rested his hands on Mac’s shoulders, and winced as the taller man flinched. “What is it? Did something happen?”
It almost seemed like Mac hadn’t heard him, for a few seconds. And when he finally spoke, it was like he was remembering how. “Major Rawlings called me into his office, right after lunch.”
Mac didn’t sound like he wanted to go on, and Lucien sure as hell didn’t want to say anything stupid like “And?” or “So?” So he gritted his teeth and waited, and wondered if maybe he should try to grab the bottle.
“He told me… that he had photographic evidence that I’d engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the armed forces.” Mac’s voice was hoarse. Soft. Like he didn’t want to hear what he was saying. “That my court-martial will be convening the second week of September.”