Forbidden love was only the beginnning...
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A Summer Without Rain
© Copyright Christie Gordon: www.christiegordon.com
All rights reserved, eXtasy Books
In 1920’s Ireland, Shannon understands all too well that the love and hunger he feels for his best friend, Ciaran, is forbidden. He’s already shunned by his town and emotionally damaged from enduring painful confessions after a male teacher’s molestation at age fourteen. But when he finds Ciaran in a barn, grieving over the sudden death of his mother, a hasty and desperate embrace shatters an unspoken boundary between them. Then, Shannon and Ciaran are sent on a journey to Dublin to bring a family heirloom to Ciaran’s aunt. Along the way, a drunken evening leads to an illicit act in a hotel room, confusing Ciaran and forcing them both down a treacherous path of deceit and desire. Can love overcome the obstacles of Irish society, the Catholic Church, and political unrest?
Ciaran strolled into the stuffy tavern first and Shannon followed. “Jaysus, it’s bloody crowded in here.”
He scanned through waitresses scurrying and patrons ambling about chattering, for an open table. “There’s a table over there.” He pointed to a long table with one bench seat in the corner.
Ciaran nodded and strode over to the table with him close behind. He sat down next to a wood-paneled wall.
Sighing, he took a seat beside him. Of course there wasn’t a separate chair available. It was bad enough he had to figure out how he would sleep tonight. Now he had to sit right next to that lovely body. His knuckles rapped on the ragged table surface and his knee jerked up and down as anxiety flooded his nerves. He just had to get some sleep tonight. He wanted to be wide awake when they reached Dublin tomorrow.
A pretty, young, blonde woman approached the table and looked them over. “What’ll you have and make it quick. We’re bloody busy tonight, if you can’t tell.”
“Ah, I’ll have a pint,” he said, rapping his knuckles harder.
“All right, how about supper?” She tapped her pen on her hip.
“What’s good here?” Ciaran asked.
The waitress sighed as if they were taking too much of her time. “Most people like the shepard’s pie.”
“Well, I’ll have that then,” Ciaran said.
“Same for me.”
The waitress nodded and trotted off.
Ciaran leaned over to him. “She was pretty, wasn’t she?”
Jealousy stabbed his heart. Why did Ciaran always have to talk about the women he was interested in? “I suppose. She was bloody rude though.”
Ciaran shifted in his seat to look directly at him. “Do you ever find women you like?”
He focused on his hand, still rapping on the table surface. What was he supposed to say to that?
The waitress returned, setting pints in front of the young men. Pausing, she smiled at Ciaran before leaving.
He watched the short flirtation with disdain eating away at him. He brought his beer to his lips and gulped down a good portion of it, relishing the calming effect it had on him. Wait a minute. If he got drunk enough, his senses would be numbed. Then he wouldn’t care if Ciaran flirted with the waitress and maybe he’d pass out and wouldn’t have to think about his beautiful, naked body sleeping next to him. Yes, it’s a brilliant plan. Raising his pint to his mouth again, he gulped down the rest of his beer.
Grinning, Ciaran’s gaze followed the tilt of Shannon’s pint. “Bloody thirsty, aye?”
His rapping on the table surface renewed along with the jerking of his knee. “You could say that.” He held up his empty glass, catching the eye of the waitress. After a few minutes, another beer was set in front of him.
“Shannon, stop it, you’re making me nuts.”
Reaching over, Ciaran covered his hand with his own and looked directly into his eyes. “What on Earth is bothering you? We are on an adventure here. You can bloody relax.”
He stared at their hands covering each other on the table and gulped hard. “N-nothing’s bothering me, really.” What the hell was Ciaran doing?
Ciaran brought a leg over the bench, straddling it, and scooted up close to him, putting him between his legs. His hand stayed over Shannon’s.
“Um, wh-what are you doing?” His gaze stayed on the hands in front of him.
“You have something in your hair. I wonder how long it’s been there?” Ciaran reached up over his head.
Light tapping danced on the top of his head. A slight tug pulled at a lock of his hair. Licking his lips, he closed his eyes for a second. His heart pounded in his chest. It beat so loud, could Ciaran hear it? As he opened his eyes, a hand grasping a small piece of bark shoved its way into his vision.
“Look, it’s bleedin’ bark. You must have carried it all the way from home,” Ciaran said, chuckling. He removed his hand from Shannon’s, but stayed close.
His nonstop rapping and jerking ceased. He slowly brought his gaze from their hands to his friend’s beautiful face and down to his lips. Oh, how he wanted to kiss them.
Ciaran let out a soft gasp, softening his expression, letting his jaw grow slack and his gaze rest on gray eyes. “Shannon,” his voice was a husky whisper.
His name flowed out of Ciaran’s mouth in a way he’d only heard in his fantasies. Desire mixed with horror to sweep through his senses. I have to stop thinking this way! He had to get a handle on himself. “Um, I-I need to go take a piss.” Jerking up, he jumped from the bench and fled to the restroom.
* * * *
Ciaran gazed at the other patrons in the bar. There was that look again. The same one he’d seen in the barn. Why was Shannon looking at him like that? Why did it make him feel so strange?
He fingered the edge of his pint. His relationship with him was changing, wasn’t it? It was as if an unspoken boundary was broken and he could feel comfortable touching him. He did feel much closer to him now and it felt good. After all, his mother just passed and he needed the physical contact, right? That was all it was. Why had Shannon always been so adverse to it anyway? It was always such a bizarre trait of Shannon’s, so unnatural. But for some reason, he was just like that.
The waitress walked up to the table carrying two plates of shepard’s pie. “Got your food here.”
He smiled at her.
* * * *
Shannon entered the restroom and paced the floor. His head reeled with questions. Why did Ciaran sit so close to him? Why was Ciaran suddenly touching him all the time? And how the hell was he going to sleep in the same room with him tonight? Holding up his fists to his temples, he shut his eyes tight against his frustration. He’d just have to stick with his plan, get drunk and pass out.
Turning, he stared at himself in the reflection of a cracked mirror. The cracks sent a misshapen face staring back at him. Pieces of him were larger than normal while others were missing altogether. A monster, that’s what he looked like.
Shaking his head, he went to the urinal and hurried to do his business. When he finished, he halted just inside the door. One, two, three. Reaching out, he tugged the door open and stepped into the tavern.
He stopped just outside the restroom door. Damned Ciaran was carrying on with that waitress again. Jealousy filled his heart. It was only a matter of time before he’d lose him forever to marriage. He shuddered at the thought. How alone and destitute would he be then? He strode to the table.
Giving Ciaran one last flirtatious smile, the waitress walked away.
Relief washed over him.
“Food’s here.” Ciaran looked up.
He took a seat at the end of the bench, not too close to him. “Yeah, looks good.” He gulped down his beer and held up the empty glass for another refill.
The two ate in silence for a moment. The waitress returned with Shannon’s pint.
Gazing up at her, he noticed her smiling at Ciaran again. “Keep them coming.”
The waitress placed her hands on her hips. “Intend on getting bulloxed tonight, aye?”
He glanced at his friend. “Yeah, well, we’re on a bloody adventure, right, Ciaran?”
“Yeah, I hear you two are on your way to Dublin. That would be an adventure,” the waitress said.
Ciaran gazed at her, smiling. “Keep them coming for me, too.”
“Sure thing.” The waitress trotted off into the crowd.
Ciaran shoved his plate close to Shannon’s and slid in next to him, hips and shoulders touching. He shoveled mashed potatoes, ground beef and carrots into his mouth.
His eyes widened, but he remained silent and focused on his food. Just eat, Shannon.
After a few more beers and conversation, Ciaran paid the tab and they both left the pub. They walked next to each other through the lobby of the inn, their gait unsteady.
Ciaran bumped into the table in the lobby. The lamp jostled and tipped. Lunging forward, he caught it, fumbled with it and set it upright again. “Damn-it Shannon, help me out here, will you?”
“What do you want me to do?” Slurring, he turned a little too quick.
He stumbled over to his friend, weaving in front of him. He stared at him. He hadn’t the foggiest why Ciaran would request such a thing.
Ciaran rose up and wrapped a sloppy arm around his friend’s waist. “Help me.” His voice echoed in the small lobby.
The sudden feel of that heavenly body pressed against him pulled him out of his stupor and sent his senses reeling. The sweet scent of Ciaran floated into his nose. How it made his pulse race and his body shiver. After a brief hesitation, he regained his composure. At least the beer dulled some of his senses. Holding him up, he assisted him up the stairs.
They stumbled every few steps, swore a bit, leaned on each other and maintained an uneven gait to their room.
Once inside, he shoved Ciaran away from him.
Gasping, the blond fell into the dark room on the floor on his hands and knees between the beds. A glow from the hallway light illuminated him.
Snickering, he brought his hand up to his mouth.
Ciaran twisted his neck, straining to look at his amused friend from the floor. He glared back. “Thanks a lot, bloody bastard.”
“Oh come now. It’s sort of a nice view, with your bloody arse pointed at me.” He gasped in disbelief at what he’d just said. Rushing to straighten up, he feigned a cough.
Ciaran plopped his rearend on the floor and studied him as if confused.
Discomfort swept through him as Ciaran inspected him. All this physical contact and the beer was indeed making him say things he probably shouldn’t say, he realized, too late.
Ciaran swayed, though still seated, and his brows tensed into a befuddled stare. He opened his mouth as if to speak and shut it again. He climbed up to standing, clicked the lamp on and fumbled with his shirt.
He closed the door and walked to the side of his bed. His fingers worked at his buttons.
Glancing at him, Ciaran pulled his arms out of his shirt.
He wiped at a droplet of sweat while it meandered down his forehead. Oh God, Ciaran was undressing, right next to him. The room sweltered around him while he tried not to watch, struggled to keep his eyes fixated on his own buttons.
Stealing a glance at Ciaran, his eyes fully digested the sight of Ciaran’s broad back. His heart pattered at the way the muscles tucked into his small waist. What he’d give to run his tongue along the smooth, toned flesh. Stop it, Shannon. His desire took control and heat rushed his groin, making his cock harden. How could he possibly take his pants off now? Ciaran was sure to see it.
Ciaran undressed down to his boxers and took another quick glance at him. A puzzled expression returned to his face. He shrugged and pulled the covers down. As he positioned himself to climb into bed, he took a double take at his suitcase lying open on the floor behind the footboard. He went to it, bent over and picked up his mother’s locket. He rubbed it between his thumb and fingers, closing his eyes. He brought it with him while he climbed into his bed. Pulling up only a white sheet, he turned onto his side toward the wall. “Hurry up, will you?”
His hands rested on the button of his trousers. How the hell and exactly when was he supposed to take off his pants? His erection pushed against the inside of his boxers.
A loud, sorrowful sob filled the room.
Whirling around, he stared at him in disbelief.
Ciaran’s shoulders shook while grief consumed him once more.
He rushed to him and sat on the edge of his bed. He reached a hand down to the grieving young man’s side in a gesture of comfort.
Rolling onto his back, Ciaran reached up, seized him and yanked him down into a tight embrace. “It…hurts…Shannon,” Ciaran said, through hitched breathing.
Immediate skin-on-skin contact stunned him while his bare chest pressed sensually against Ciaran’s. The scent and warmth of the embrace flooded his senses.
A few broken sobs escaped Ciaran. “Oh, Shannon, I-I could see her, the morning before she died. Sh-she made me breakfast, just like always. Why didn’t I see it? Why couldn’t I have known that it would be the last time I’d see her like that. Alive…not gray and dead.”
He struggled. He must get away from him. He didn’t know what to say. He just had to remove himself from his friend’s naked chest. Wriggling and squirming, he shoved himself partway up, positioning his face directly in front of Ciaran’s. He allowed a deep, lust-filled glimpse into sad, wet eyes.
He dropped his head downward, crushing his lips against Ciaran’s. With eyes closed and brows furrowed, he relished in the forbidden kiss, taking all he could from it, letting it soothe the longing in his soul.
Ciaran’s eyes widened inside a dark veil of hair. Slowly, they closed again.
His kiss lingered over Ciaran, hard and passionate. His lips parted and he brushed against the blond’s mouth with an insistent tongue. As Ciaran’s mouth opened, he drove his tongue inside, deepening the kiss. His pulse hammered in his chest. A lustful fire ravaged every part of him. He couldn’t think, didn’t want to think, just wanted to feel. He tasted the part of his friend he’d never had, but always craved.
As Ciaran mimicked his movements, a faint realization washed over him. The kiss was returned. He let out a soft moan into silky flesh. Tight arms clung to his torso, pulling him downward, a never-ending spiral into an obsession he no longer had any control over.
Ciaran slid his body underneath him.
No! He wouldn’t do this to him. He wouldn’t violate him this way. He wouldn’t be like Mr. Flannigan. He thrust himself up to sitting at the edge of the bed and whirled around, turning his back on his beautiful friend. He slapped his hands over his face. “Oh God, Ciaran, I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m so sorry.” Fear and sorrow laced his voice. He jumped up from the bed and rushed to the door. He popped it open, lunged into the hallway and slammed the door behind him.