Length: 19,884 words
Publisher: JMS Books
Shakespeare-loving teacher Elliot Dunn has been unhappy living in the big city for a long time. He yearns for fresh air, visible stars, and stillness, but his relationship with divorce lawyer Mick Hudson keeps him from moving away.
When a dramatic event occurs in Elliot’s class, he’s shaken to his core and suddenly can’t stay anymore. He leaves his partner of two years behind and returns to the tiny town in the mountains where he grew up.
Living in a rented cabin in the woods, with only an owl for company, Elliot slowly regains his peace of mind. But being away from Mick is agonizing, and when a ghost from Elliot's past pays him a visit, everything comes to a head.
Elliot is faced with a hard decision. Should he stay on the stress-free mountainside alone, or return to the hustle of the city and try to make a life with Mick?
Mick’s gaze roved over him, making sure he was okay, and then he marched over to the stereo and cut off Gaga in the middle of a rah-rah. “What the hell, Elliot?”
The curse stopped Elliot’s pacing, and he stared at his lover with wide eyes. His well-spoken, hot-shot lawyer partner never used profanities. During their time together, Elliot had heard him swear maybe once or twice, and him doing it now knocked the wind out of Elliot's fury. He groaned, grabbed his lover’s hand, and hauled him over to the couch where he sank down, pulling Mick with him.
“I’m sorry. But I’m angry.”
“I can tell. What happened?”
“I let them buy me, that’s what happened.” Elliot spat out the words.
“What?” The question was so loud Elliot flinched. Mick sighed, stood and shook off his coat, unbuttoned his suit jacket, and kicked off his shoes. Then he sat back down, turned to Elliot, and wrinkled his nose when he saw the state of his hair. “It looks like you’ve tried to pull it out,” he muttered, and ran his fingers through Elliot's locks, trying in vain to tame it. “Tell me what happened.”
When Elliot had recounted the afternoon’s events, Mick grabbed his hands and drew him closer, and he followed willingly. He ended up straddling Mick’s lap, arms around his neck, and his forehead leaning on his lover’s shoulder.
“I’m so sorry,” Mick mumbled and rubbed his stubble against Elliot's temple.
“I shouldn’t have taken the money,” Elliot grunted. “I’m so stupid.”
“You’re not stupid. You had no other choice.”
“There’s always another choice.”
“What else could you have done?”