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The Flood’s Lover

Liam Drake

Published By Purple Sword Publications, LLC

At Smashwords, Inc.

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

ISBN 9781370246083

Copyright © 2017 LIAM DRAKE

Edited by Shoshana Hurwitz

Cover Art Designed by Traci Markou

For Vincent

Chapter One

A Wish

It had rained for seven days without stopping. That in itself wasn’t unusual for summer in Arizona, or so the receptionist told me. It didn’t mean I had to like it. There was something weird about the weather, about its intensity, that reminded me of fierce love and passion. Not that I would know much about such things from my own experience. I had never been that adventurous, and my tastes weren’t exactly something my family would accept, but I had seen love like that. Torrential. Dangerous. Unexpected. I wanted that kind of love.

I was stranded in Florence, a small town in Arizona. I should have been in Silver City, New Mexico, by now, but the rain was bad, and the news warned to stay off the roads. After watching the fantastic show of lightning streak across the night sky amid a downpour of monsoon rain, I had to agree with the news. I sat in a chair by the large window, the curtains open wide, and watched the rain while I tried to think of how best to make up my lost time. I hated doing these trips, but my brother, Melvin, was sick, and I was the only other guy who knew the route and our contacts.

I worked in sales—promotional items, to be exact—not that it’s very exact at all. My mission for the next two months was to hit all the spots we distributed to and make sure, in person, that they were happy with us. Our company is a small endeavor run by Melvin and me. We had found that these types of runs made the customers feel special, resulting in sales. It was a small price to pay, and it was cheaper to do by car. It made us stand out in an age where all the other companies ran on automated phone systems and Internet orders alone. Sure, we had that too, but we still pushed for the personal touch. But this story isn’t about my prowess as a small businessman. It’s about how I found the kind of dangerous love I thought I’d always wanted.

My cell rang. I picked up. “Henry Beech.”

“Hey, Henry. How’s it going? Storm let up yet?” It was my sister-in-law, Kate.

“Nope, still stuck at the lovely Blue Mist Hotel in Florence.”

“You know there’s a prison out there.”

I nodded and said, “Yes.” Someone was out there in the rain, his shape a shadowy silhouette. A chill ran down my spine. Leave it to Kate to plant ideas in my head. She used to tell my brother and me ghost stories when we were teens, and they had started dating. Kate knew how to scare the piss out of a person.

“How’s my brother?”

“He has strep. The doc has him on antibiotics. He’ll be fine in a couple weeks. Back to his old self.”

“Sure wish it was him here instead of me.”

She laughed. The phone crackled and popped with static. “I’m sure you do. Listen, Henry, you stay—” But the line went dead. I set the phone down without taking my eyes off the man walking through the parking lot to the office. The rain pounded harder. He had to be soaked through. Lightning danced across the sky, illuminating the darkness in a flash of brilliant white. I swear the man turned and stared straight at me. Then, the darkness returned, and he went inside.

Just another customer, I tried to convince myself, all the while thinking he was probably an escaped convict who would break into my room and murder me in the night. Damn Kate. I watched the office for a while, expecting the worst—a blood-curdling scream, breaking glass, but nothing happened. I could see the man inside, standing at the counter while the receptionist waited on him. She was a nice older lady named Ruth or Ruby. I couldn’t really remember.

Sighing, I looked down at my paperwork and went back to my job, filling out forms. Once they were done, I’d transfer it all into the laptop and upload it in the morning. I hoped the rain would let up by then. I wanted to get going and get done with the trip. I’d only been to three cities, and I was already tired of driving.

Thunder rolled across the sky above the motel, shaking the glass in the window beside me. I glanced up in time to see the man leaving the office, striding along the sidewalk as if the downpour meant nothing to him. He stopped at my window, lifted a hand in a nonchalant wave, and then went on his way.

I heard him rattle the doorknob in the room next to mine. It opened and shut, and that was that. I had a neighbor.

I continued working, all the while wondering where the man’s car was and why he had no luggage. A glance to the office. The thunder boomed, and then, the power went out. I stared at my reflection in the glass, lit by my laptop screen. Yay for battery power. In the next room, I heard my neighbor’s footsteps. Something bumped against the wall, once, twice, then only the silence of the rainstorm. I waited a while before I shut my laptop and headed for bed.

Lying in the darkness, I heard my neighbor’s low voice singing. I tried for a long while to make out his words, but soon realized he wasn’t speaking English at all. It wasn’t Spanish. In fact, I’m not sure what dialect it was even close to. His voice pulsed and thrummed, much like the rain or a low drumbeat. It soothed my fear. I closed my eyes and let his song wash over me until I fell into a deep sleep.

I’m not one to remember my dreams, but when I woke up the next morning to a sunrise clouded over by gray skies and pounding rain, I remembered something. Just a scene. A handsome man reaching for me from beneath a shimmering surface of water. I had tried to hold my hand out to him, but I couldn’t touch him, no matter how far I leaned over the boat. He was drowning, and I couldn’t save him.

The remnant of that dream made me uneasy.

Still dressed in only my pajama pants, I pushed out of bed and stumbled to the open window. The sky looked angry. Thunder crackled. I sighed and scratched the back of my head. “That’s it,” I told myself. “I’m out of this place.” The rain increased. Water had pooled across the parking lot, making it look like a river had overflowed nearby.

I flicked on the TV and listened absently to yet another weather alert while I headed to the bathroom to shower and shave. “The National Weather Service has listed a....” I sighed and turned the water on. After stripping, I stepped into a warm shower and let the water rinse away my grogginess. The motel soap was cheap and grainy, but it smelled good enough. Bubbles slicked up my body. I leaned against the tile and wondered what it must be like to take a shower with another person. What if I did find someone? My brother would never understand me. My father never had. I think my mother knew, but she didn’t say anything, offering her polite smile and a few knowing comments over the years. There had been a few guys in college that I liked to hang out with, but I never asked if they were gay. I had known since puberty that I was.

Massaging shampoo through my hair, thunder rumbling overhead in a raucous boom that made the light flicker, I made a wish. I wished there was a man for me, a guy who understood my quirks, who would accept me the way I was and fill the empty void I tried so hard to pretend didn’t exist.

The power went out.

I rinsed away the soap and shampoo, then turned off the water. A shimmer of panic made my heart skip faster. I wanted to get out of that motel. I needed to get on the road and get back on track. Away from wishes that had no chance of coming true.

“Stupid thing to wish for,” I grumbled at myself. “It’s safer to be alone.” Dried and naked, I stood in front of the mirror and spread shaving cream across my chin, cheeks, and upper lip. I liked a clean look, and with each draw of the razor, I made myself less unkempt and more like a businessman a person could trust.

Through the sound of the storm beating on the roof, I heard the now familiar tune my neighbor had sung the night before. After splashing water over my face, I stared in the mirror and saw the silhouette of a man staring at me through the window by the front door. A chill swept down my spine. Tingles made goose bumps prickle all over my body. Someone was watching me, staring straight at my naked ass through the window.

Chapter Two


I shivered and reached over to close the bathroom door. Frickin’ peep. Heat spread through me from embarrassment and something else. That guy had been staring at me with his jaw hanging open—really looking like maybe he was interested. Straight guys didn’t do that. They could care less if another guy was naked.

Didn’t matter. I finished getting ready and threw on some clothes, thinking I’d grab a bite to eat before I headed out. Cereal sounded good enough.

I packed up my stuff in the bathroom and left that little space to gather up anything else that was in the main bedroom-slash-living space. A glance to the window revealed a single handprint on the glass. It faded away like a memory...or a dream. Again, a chill swept down my back. There was something wrong with this place. It was creepy for no particular reason. The motel just felt wrong.

I gathered up the rest of my belongings and made one last sweep through to be sure I hadn’t missed anything. Suitcase in hand, I opened the door to the cool, wet weather and breathed it in. It smelled good, fresh, like the earth had been washed clean of its sins. My rental car was parked a small walk away. I loaded it up and went back for my laptop. After that was safely in the locked trunk, I decided to walk over to the office and have some breakfast. Something niggled at the back of my mind to go—just get out and get a bite at some highway roadside spot, but the image of that guy staring at me through the window buzzed through my mind, too. Was he still here, or had he left?

In the little restaurant, I had a bowl of cornflakes and a cup of black coffee. In the corner of the room was the guy who had spied on me, his face toward the window. He didn’t turn or move but sat there complacently watching the sky cry down. The rain grew heavier, pattering sideways at the glass until it beat so hard that the roof sounded like it would cave in.

I ate and stared, blatantly, at his profile. He was handsome in a rugged, wild way, his dark hair curly and thick. I imagined combing my fingers through that hair, grabbing a handful of it and pulling his face to mine.

At that moment, he turned and fixed me with a stern look.

Heat crept up my face before I focused on the near-empty bowl before me. He’s hot. Damn hot. I wanted to look up again, to stare at him as he had me when I was in the bathroom. I wanted him to come sit with me and talk—tell me who he was and where he had been in life. I guessed he was a little younger than me.

A waitress passed by my table. I stole a peek at the guy.

His head tilted to the side, animalistic in his curiosity. Then, he smiled, and I held my breath. He winked before he looked away.

My heart pounded faster. Was he flirting with me? Just like that? Maybe he meant that for the waitress. That has to be it. I kept my face down and drank the rest of the milk. After my coffee was gone, I left a tip and hurried to check out. A swipe of plastic and a few kind words from Ruth-Ruby, and it was done. I was leaving.

Leaving a chance behind, leaving a prospect in the dust. Running, racing, escaping who I should be but wasn’t brave enough to be.

At my car, I looked toward the office and the restaurant, wondering if he had watched me flee, if he had liked the shape of my body from his vantage earlier, and, if I had been brave enough to talk to him, what could have happened.

“Quit it, Henry,” I said to myself. I jabbed the key into the ignition and started the engine. My skin prickled when I reached the end of the parking lot and saw him standing there. He was leaning against a bus stop sign, the rain drenching his clothes and hair...his skin.

The wipers on the windshield swished and slapped, back and forth, making his image clear and blur over and over again. I should have turned and headed away alone. I should have, but my hand found the button. The passenger window rolled down, and I leaned forth.

“You need a ride?”

He smiled sideways. “Where you headed?” His voice was nonchalant, low, and manly, with that weird accent I couldn’t place. And I was pretty good at guessing where people were from.

“New Mexico.”

He tensed his lips, looked over his shoulder as if the clouds were so interesting, then, he turned back to me. “That’s pretty far. Mind if I tag along?”

“You need to get your luggage?”

He reached for the car’s door handle and opened it. “Nope. Lost it in the flood. Car stalled, and I had to leave everything.”

He got in, settling beside me—so close in that little compact car. I breathed in and smelled him—sweet and clean like the rain. Droplets of water clung to his lips and chin, making me thirsty, making me imagine licking them off. I clenched the steering wheel and looked ahead.

The door shut. His seat belt clicked.

“You want me to drop you off somewhere?”

He sucked in a deep breath before letting out a long, drawn sigh. “New Mexico sounds good, if you don’t mind me along all the way. Maybe Silver City. I have friends there.”

I nodded at the coincidence. He needed to get to right where I was headed. What were the odds? Truth is, I did want him along. I wanted him in a lot of ways, and if he only stayed beside me in that car for the five-hour drive smelling good and looking like he did, I was happy to let that be.

“Name’s Chance River.”

I almost laughed. It sounded like a soap opera name. Maybe I should have listened to Kate. This guy was probably an escaped convict waiting for the right moment to kill me and take my car. Then, he’d be free to continue his murder spree.

“Henry Beech,” I said.

He held his hand across the distance between us. Driving with my left, I clasped his palm with my right. His skin was warm. His hand fit perfectly in mine. I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to pull over and tug him closer to me—act out the countless fantasies I’d kept hidden for so long. To kiss him—that would be enough. Wouldn’t it? Just one kiss? A long, deep, lusty kiss until our chins and lips were raw.

“You’re a salesman.” His hand slowly left mine.

I gave him a quick, sidelong glance. “Yes. Is it that obvious?”

“What do you sell?” He had ignored my question, his eyes searching me.

“Promotional products. T-shirts, mugs, that sort of thing, and we do graphic design, websites. Our accounts are usually with smaller businesses. They appreciate the effort of making house calls. No one does that these days.”

“Ah.” He nodded and made a contemplative frown.

“What do you do?”

“In between jobs at the moment.”

“Oh.” I passed the Safeway, probably the only grocery store in the place, and headed down the road that would get us to the highway. “What did you used to do?”

For a while, he was quiet. I took that as a bad sign. Maybe he was making something up. Then, he slapped his hand across the top of his leg and said, “I’m a rain dancer.” It sounded like a proclamation. Maybe this explained his unusual name.

“A rain dancer? Like in an Indian tribe?”

“Yeah. I do festivals for tips with a few of my friends from back home. It’s a lot of fun. Always good food.”

“So, you’re Indian.”

“Papago...or Tohono O’odham, but only on my mother’s side. Mostly I’m a mix. Dad was white as a sheet of paper.”

“Oh.” My brow crinkled. “You from Arizona?”

He hissed through his teeth. I glanced at his smile and then back at the road.

“I’m from all over. We moved a lot. Kinda like gypsies. Until I moved in with my grandmother.”

“Sounds mysterious.”

“It does, doesn’t it? You like mysterious?”

Ahead, a gray sky lingered, thick with menacing clouds. Streaks of lightning glittered in its midst every so often. We hit the highway, and the rain turned to drizzle. I knew it was a bad omen. That drizzle wasn’t going to let up. It was going to turn into a full-blown torrent the farther we went along. “I guess not. I’m a pretty straightforward guy.”

“You’re a good-looking one, too.” His hand stretched across the small distance and set down on my leg.

Panic threaded through me. I felt the heat of him through my pants. Swallowing down years of reservations and excuses, I only said, “Thanks.”

“I saw you this morning.”

Embarrassment crept up my neck. “Yeah, I saw you, too.”

“Didn’t mean to stare like that.” His fingers trailed down my inner thigh a bit. Things were moving faster than I thought they might. His touch told me he had meant to stare. He meant what he was doing to me at that moment, too, no matter what he said.

I cleared my throat and tried to focus on the way ahead. My pants felt uncomfortable, tight now from the thickening in my boxers. Chance’s hand retreated, along with my burgeoning libido. His touch did magic on my body, awakening it, loosening inhibitions that had built thick and high over the years like scars.

Chapter Three


He talked about dancing in the festivals, sometimes in the middle of a city or at community centers, other times in the fields of crops outside his grandmother’s house. She had lived in a mobile home, poor and proud. She had raised him after his mother dumped him there at the age of eleven and had instilled traditions in him despite his desire to rebel against who and what he was, but what struck me strange was when he said, “When I drank, it would rain for days without stopping. Flood the roads out until they were nothing but mud as far as the eye could see.” He whistled through his teeth, his eyes ahead. “I used to get wasted out back when Grandma was away and just lay there on the hammock watching the clouds dump.”

The rain was thumping at all the windows. Water had edged up the side of the road, not dangerous yet. The way was still visible, but that damnable warning about severe thunderstorms kept playing on the radio. I reached over and shut it off.

“I got into drugs.” His confession sounded guilty. “Peyote at first, then marijuana, cocaine, whatever I could get my hands on. I hitched into town one night high off my ass and danced.” He tapped at the window with three fingers, playing a little tune—the same one I had heard the night before. “I danced, Henry, and the sky heard me.”

His fingers tapped harder.

The rain followed suit in a mesmerizing cacophony of sound. Even the lightning kept tempo, the thunder a bass to ground the melody. Water seeped and rose along the edges of the highway. Clouds blacked out the sun.

He stopped tapping. “It always comes for me. I can’t—”

I slammed on the brakes when the coyotes ran across the road. There were three of them, brown-gray flashes of fur darting before the car. The tires skidded and squealed. I knew I shouldn’t have done it, shouldn’t have tried to stop. But it was too late by then.

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