Hi guys, we have Andrew Grey visiting with us today with his upcoming release Fire and Fog, we have a short guest post from Andrew and a great excerpt so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Fire and Fog
Carlisle police officer Dwayne knows what Robin is doing the moment he lays eyes on the young man at Bronco’s club. But he doesn’t know that, like him, Robin also comes from a family who cast him out for being gay, or that he’s still lugging around the pain of that rejection. Robin leaves the club, and soon after Dwayne decides to as well—and is close by when things between Robin and his client turn violent.
When Dwayne finds out Robin is the victim of a scam that lost him his apartment, he can’t leave Robin to fend for himself on the streets. Despite Dwayne’s offer of help and even opening up his home, it’s hard for Robin to trust anything good. The friendship between them grows, and just as the two men start warming up to each other, Robin’s sister passes away, naming Robin to care for her son. Worse yet, their pasts creep back in to tear down the family and sense of belonging both of them long for.
Will their fledgling romance dissipate like fog in the sun before it has a chance to burn bright?
Release date: 11th July 2017
Pre-order: Dreamspinner Press ebook | Dreamspinner Press paperback | Amazon | Barnes and Noble
Today of all days to have a guest post on independence day. So I wanted to spend my time talking a little about heroes. In this country, we have many, the men and women who serve in the armed forces to protect our freedoms. There are also many others, firemen and rescue personnel who come as fast as possible during times of need, doctors and nurses, as well as police officers. This story is about the last of those heroes. I live in Carlisle and I love this town and the people in it, but every day I’m grateful for the local heroes who help keep Dominic and I safe and secure in our home. I appreciate the fact that they are willing to put their life on the line for us. Now Carlisle isn’t a hotbed of crime, but it has its problems like every town. But the officers are on the job day and night to provide the best protection possible. To me they are heroes.
In the Carlisle Cops series I take some news item and that’s where I start with the story and this story is no exception. There was a scam being perpetrated in the area a while ago regarding rental properties and I used that as the starting point for this story. People were ending up on the street, just like in Fire and Fog. Only not all of them had a hero to come to their rescue.
The capitol complex shone like a beacon, and Dwayne headed in that direction. Light meant safety, and this wasn’t a familiar neighborhood for him. There were others on the street, some couples walking close together. It was a great summer night to be outside. He walked a block or so, the beat from the club still pulsing through the ground at his feet.
“That’s not what—” a voice called. Dwayne listened for more. “No!” Fear spiked the air, and Dwayne was on alert, listening for where the sound had come from. He heard the rip of fabric between passing cars. “I said no!” The voice got louder, and Dwayne picked up his pace.
“I paid, and you’re going to put out.”
Dwayne reached the alley entrance, stopped, and peered around the corner. A huge guy stood near a dingy brick wall. It was hard to see, but Dwayne could just make out another man pressed to the brick, the side of his face against the unyielding wall.
“Get out of here. He and I have business,” the guy growled.
Dwayne stepped closer, ready for action. “You need to leave now!” He used his cop voice and saw the guy flinch. He might be big, but as Dwayne got a closer look, he saw the beer gut and flabby arms. This guy probably was used to throwing his weight around, but there really wasn’t much to him.
“Fuck off. I paid and I’m getting my money’s worth.”
“So you’re admitting to soliciting someone for sex… to a police officer. That makes my job very easy.” Dwayne pulled out his phone, and the lug took a step back and then ran the other way. Well, he sort of waddled fast, but the response was the one Dwayne wanted. He made sure the guy was gone and then helped the smaller man, who had crumpled to the alley floor.
“It’s all right. He’s gone.” Dwayne lifted the guy, who wasn’t verbally responding, off the concrete and carried him out to where there was more light. As soon as the glow from the street shone on golden hair, Dwayne knew who it was.
“Robin.” He caressed his cheek, and Robin groaned. Dwayne set him down and waited for the shock to wear off. “You want to tell me what happened?”
Robin managed to stand and rubbed the side of his face, then pulled the remains of his tattered shirt together. “No.”
“I’ve got a pretty good idea already.” Dwayne half expected Robin to try to bolt, but instead he just shook, and Dwayne held him upright. “Let me guess. For all the bravado, this was the first time you’ve done anything like this.”
“Shit… I can take care of myself.” The defiance was back, and Dwayne was glad Robin was able to manage it, even if he knew it was all just a front.
“Like you did back there.” He wasn’t in the mood for nice at the moment. “I’m not dumb. I know what you were doing and what nearly happened. So you can tell me about it, or I can call some friends of mine and you can talk to them about prostitution.”
“You’re a real jerk, you know that?” Robin’s stomach rumbled loudly, and he put his hands over it as though it ached.
“No. The jerk was the guy in the alley. I’m the man who saved your ass from God knows what.” Dwayne saw some of the fire go out of Robin’s eyes. “And you’re acting defensive to the guy who saved your ass, quite literally, from what was about to happen. So I think you can open up and tell me what’s really going on.”
Robin quivered once again. “I was about to leave the club because I wasn’t going to get anything in there. Too many people watching. That guy approached me and asked if I was up for a little fun. We left, and he paid me fifty bucks. I figured I could blow him as long as I was careful, but it turned out he wanted more than that, and I wasn’t going to give it to him, so he was planning to take what he wanted anyway.” Robin sniffed. “He stank and shuffled all the time, like he might have been sick or something, but fifty bucks will feed me for like two weeks. And….”
“How long has it been since you ate?” Dwayne asked.
“I don’t know. Probably yesterday.” Robin suddenly seemed even smaller and weaker. Dwayne knew he should be a little ashamed, but Robin’s vulnerability seemed to make him more attractive.
“Come on, then.” Dwayne guided Robin down the block to the corner. “There’s a diner just that way. We can get something to eat and then you can tell me what’s really going on.”
Robin snickered. “I could get you something.” He reached into his pocket. “I still got the fifty bucks.”
Dwayne pursed his lips and kept quiet. He wasn’t happy about how Robin got the money, but if it meant he could eat for a while, then so be it. “Come on. I’ll buy and you talk.” That was the deal, and he wasn’t backing down from it.
He guided Robin to the all-night diner, and they went inside the island of light. Dwayne blinked in the brightness and found a table. The server, who looked as old as the diner itself, approached the table. Dwayne ordered two burgers, fries, and two coffees. She took the order, turned away, and returned with their drinks. Dwayne waited until she poured before meeting Robin’s gaze. It was time for some answers.
“I got kicked out, okay?” Robin hissed. “My dad found out I was queer and kicked my ass to the curb.” He nearly knocked the cup over as he tried to slide out of the seat.
Dwayne held his arm, tilting his head to the side. He wasn’t letting Robin off that easy. “Settle down, Cisco.” He waited while Robin crossed his arms over his chest, staring defiantly back at him.
“My dad, well, stepdad… is a real douchebag. Like I said, he kicked me out, and my mom didn’t say shit about it. She let him put me on the street like I was a sack of garbage. I have, well, had a job and got a room to live in, but I got ‘laid off’”—he made air quotes—“last week. The boss said it was cutbacks, but I know it was because I didn’t say yes to his extracurricular activities. I don’t have any money and I’m going to get kicked out… so I needed cash and I figured I….” Robin put his hands over his face.
“It’s all right.”
“Bullshit, man. It’s not all right. My mom didn’t do anything. Don’t you get that? Yeah, my stepdad is a real tool, but my mom….” The pain in his voice rang in Dwayne’s ears. “She was supposed to take my side. How could she just turn away like that?” He leaned forward. “I’m her son. She raised me. Am I so useless and unlovable that she could simply give me up without a second thought?”
Dwayne didn’t have any answers for him. He wished to hell he did. “People do shit to each other all the time. I see it every day at work, and I don’t know what to tell you. Except that self-destructive behavior is something you’ll regret and pay for later. It comes with a cost, and it’s usually something you don’t understand until it’s too late.”
“What the fuck would you know about it?” Robin’s gaze raked over him.
“You’re not the only one who’s had to pay a price for being who they are,” Dwayne told him. “And I know it hurts like hell. But you have to figure out a way to get past it.”
“How in the hell do I do that? I have no job, and in a few days, I’m going to be homeless. The fifty bucks I traded my dignity for is all I have between me and starvation.”
The server brought their plates and set them on the table without a word. Robin stopped his grousing and ate a french fry before reaching for another. Soon his hands moved with a speed Dwayne didn’t know possible. The fries disappeared, and the burger didn’t last very long either. Dwayne ate his burger and put most of his fries on Robin’s plate, and he ate those too. By the time he was done, there wasn’t a crumb left.
“Come on.” Dwayne paid the check, and then he and Robin left the restaurant. “My car is over here, and I’ll take you home.”
Robin hesitated, but then followed Dwayne to his dark blue Focus. They slid inside and Robin gave him directions. Dwayne eventually pulled up to a run-down house on Fourth Street with half the shutters missing, and those that were there hung haphazardly as though they, too, were waiting to give up the ghost. The paint was peeling badly and the soffit had holes in it, allowing God knows what to get access to the attic.
Robin got out of the car. “Thanks for the ride and the food and, well… for everything else.”
Dwayne hated leaving Robin in a location like this. As he looked at the forlorn building, he wondered just what was up with the place. “Who’s the landlord?”
“It’s the guy who owns the building,” Robin answered.
“Does he live there?”
“No. There are six people, and we each have a room. The owner comes each week to collect the rent, and we better have the cash or we’re out.”
“How come there aren’t any lights?”
“Wait…. The power must be out.”
Dwayne looked up and down the street, but the lights were on everywhere else. “I bet your landlord didn’t pay the electric bill.” He put the car in park and got out.
“What are you doing?”
“Going in with you.” Dwayne followed Robin to the door, where he inserted his key and pushed it open to reveal complete chaos. The inside of the house was trashed, with stuff littering the floor everywhere. Robin raced inside and up the stairs, feet pounding. Dwayne trailed behind more carefully and caught up with Robin as he unlocked the door to a back room. “You need to get your things out of here.”
“What’s going on?”
“I’m willing to bet your ‘landlord’ doesn’t own this building and has been scamming all of you. He put you up here and collected rent. I suspect the owner got wind of it, had the power turned off, and cleared everyone out while you were gone.”
“Shit….” Robin groaned. “Now what do I do?” He started shaking again.
Dwayne sighed. “Get your things together and we’ll load them in the back of my car.” It didn’t look like there was much. Robin had been sleeping on some sort of foam mattress pad, with a few blankets. There were some boxes stacked in the corner, but otherwise the room was empty.
“Hey!” someone called up the stairs. “Anyone in here needs to get out before I call the police.”
“Are you the property owner?” Dwayne called back.
“Yes. I’m clearing all you squatters out.”
Dwayne’s suspicions had been confirmed. “I’ll go talk to him while you get your things. You can stay on my couch for tonight and figure things out in the morning.” He turned and carefully made his way down the stairs.
“We’re clearing out,” Dwayne said as he reached the main floor. “The people here were told the guy who rented them the rooms was the owner.”
“He wasn’t,” the owner snapped. “I reported him to the police, and they said they’d watch for him. Meanwhile, the building has been trashed and I’m going to have to clean it up before I can sell it and…” He went on. Dwayne didn’t pay too much attention to his grousing. The house had obviously been neglected for some time. Dwayne figured the owner would use the squatters as an excuse with his insurance company. “Now clear out so I can lock the door up and get out of here.”
Robin came down the stairs with his arms full.
“Is that it?” Dwayne asked.
“There’s one more box.”
“I’ll get it.” Dwayne hurried back up and got the box from the room. Then he went down and followed Robin to the car. They loaded his things into the trunk and headed out of town. Dwayne drove and wondered what in the hell he was doing. This was a guy he’d just met, and fuck all if this wasn’t going above and beyond just because he found the guy amazingly attractive. Maybe he needed to have his head examined. He’d just invited a complete stranger to stay at his house. This could turn out badly, very badly.
“Where do you live?” Robin asked as Dwayne made for the freeway.
“Carlisle. I have a single-bedroom apartment there.”
“I get it,” Robin said quietly. “You saved me so I could warm your bed instead of the slimebag’s.”
“No,” Dwayne said firmly. “You’ll be sleeping on my sofa until we can figure out what we’re going to do. I’m not going to leave you to stay on the street. And remember, I’m a police officer. I don’t bring guys home to ‘warm my bed,’ as you put it, in exchange for something. I don’t prostitute people, and you aren’t a prostitute—at least not yet.” He turned, letting Robin see his anger, then focused his attention on the road as the light in front of him changed to green.
“Then what do you want?” Robin crossed his arms over his chest.
“How about a little gratitude and maybe letting go of the chip on your shoulder? Oh, and a small attitude adjustment would be in order. People are more likely to help you if you don’t act like a dick to them.” He reached the freeway and took the on-ramp toward home.
Robin sat silently as Dwayne drove, arms still folded over his chest as though he was just waiting for something bad to happen. “Fine,” he eventually muttered. “How long you been a cop?”
“I moved here a few months ago, and just because I’m a cop doesn’t mean I’m your enemy.” Hell, he’d stopped Robin and pulled his ass back from the brink of what could have been a life-altering or ending mistake. “I could have ended up exactly where you are.”
“Then why didn’t you?” Robin asked.
“Sheer luck. My family wasn’t too happy I liked guys, but they never talked much about stuff, and when they found out, they figured it was a phase or something and it would somehow go away. I never brought it up with them, and as long as they didn’t see it, the gayness didn’t exist. I guess silence and denial were my friends until they weren’t.” Everything had fallen apart very quickly. “The thing is, I’m not someone out to take advantage of you. I don’t want anything other than for you to be on your best behavior. I have some friends who might be able to help you if you let them.”
“Yeah? What will they want, ’cause everyone wants something and no one does shit for nothing.” The skepticism rolled off him as he turned away.
Dwayne tightened his hands on the wheel. “First, clean up your mouth, and second, my friends are cops who’ve seen enough bad stuff that they try to help those they can. They aren’t going to want anything from you other than you not acting like a dick. Are you starting to see a theme here?” He tightened his hands on the wheel.
“Fine. I’ll pretend you’re my mother and put on my best manners, waiting for when you, like everyone else, decide I’m not worth anything.” Robin turned away, looking out the window as lights passed by.
Dwayne didn’t have an argument for him. He couldn’t change Robin’s past, and though he’d do his best to try to help him, Dwayne wasn’t sure what he could do. “Take things one day at a time.” That was what the counselor had told him after all hell had broken loose at home. It had been really helpful when the shit kept getting deeper and deeper by the day, with no end in sight.
“Just try a little gratitude and less snark. It isn’t going to hurt you, is it?”
“No.” The answer was short but without the accompanying commentary, so maybe that was an improvement.
The tires hummed as he continued down the freeway. It took a good twenty minutes to get out to the Carlisle area, then off at his exit and through the traffic lights to the main intersection of town. Dwayne made the partial trip around the block to his parking space. It was late and he was tired, but he needed to get Robin settled.
“Let’s get your things,” he said, popping open the trunk. He grabbed a box and left the other one for Robin. “You can leave the bedroll. You won’t need it, and it’ll be fine in the trunk for now.” He closed the lid and led Robin around the block to the front of the building. He unlocked the door and climbed the stairs, listening to the heavy trudges of Robin’s feet. For God’s sake, he wasn’t leading him to the gallows.
“Where do you want my stuff?” He indicated the box he held.
“Set it by the side of the sofa. I’ll get you some blankets. The bathroom is right in there, and I’ll see if I can find some things for you to use if you need them.”
“I got stuff,” Robin said, putting his box on top of the one Dwayne had already set down.
Dwayne went to his room and found his extra sheets and a blanket and a pillow, then took them to the living room and set them on one end of the tartan plaid sofa. “I’ll get you a bottle of water and then I need to go to bed.”
Robin looked so confused as he stood and stared at the sofa and then back at Dwayne, as though he really couldn’t believe that Dwayne didn’t want something from him.
Dwayne got the water and handed it to him. “Just get some rest, and we’ll talk in the morning.”
Robin nodded but seemed lost.
Dwayne made up the sofa and finally left the room, went to his bedroom, and closed the door. He undressed and pulled on clean boxers and a T-shirt. Then he used the bathroom and returned to the bedroom to get into bed. He listened to the sofa springs squeak a little in his otherwise quiet apartment. Dwayne tried to imagine what Robin was doing, and then footsteps sounded outside. The door to the bathroom closed, and Dwayne shut his eyes. He was nervous as hell. Dwayne had actually brought a near stranger home to his apartment and was letting the guy sleep on his sofa. Good Lord, had he completely lost his mind?
“Good night, Dwayne,” Robin said once the bathroom door opened again. Then soft footfalls headed to the living room, the light switched off, and the sofa springs squeaked again.
Dwayne sighed and tried to go to sleep. The problem was, every time his mind started drifting off, he saw images of blue eyes and blond hair, and Robin swinging his backside as he danced. He knew the dancing part was all his imagination, but the danged thing kept him up well into the night.
Carlisle Cops series!
Fire and Water (1)
Fire and Ice (2)
Fire and Rain (3)
Fire and Snow (4)
Fire and Hail (5)
Fire and Fog (6)
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.