When we got to the house, I suggested going on the deck. “I know it’s getting colder, but we have lots of warm blankets and pillows, and it’s clear. How about it? We can pretend to be kids again for a little while, camping out.” A little levity would do him good. Me, too, for that matter.
For a second, I thought he’d say “no,” but instead, the corners of his mouth quirked up and he nodded. “Okay.”
Five minutes later, security light turned off for the night, both of us were settled in comfortably on the deck on an old mattress pad with pillows, blankets and everything we needed to stay warm and stargaze.
“You said you’ve lived here how long?” Murphy asked, staring at the sky.
“Ten years or so. I needed a change from what I was doing before, and I’ve always lived by the water, so this was perfect. I bought out the previous owner of this property and setup the bookstore.”
He shifted a little next to me. “What were you doing before this?”
“I worked in a university library. Got bored.”
Silence, then he asked, “Ever been in a relationship with anyone?”
“Nothing long-term. Always been more of a confirmed bachelor. If I needed to get with a guy, it was always a quickie. Lately, though…”
He turned to face me, the moonlight casting shadows on sharp features and making the scars stand out. He hadn’t shaved in a few days and had beard shadow. “Lately what?”
“I’ve been feeling a little dissatisfied with life. Maybe I need a change or… I don’t know.”
“Can I ask you something?” he said.
“When was the last time you had sex with anyone?”
I laughed heartily at the unexpected question. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
“I can see where you’d think that, but there’s always opportunity on the road. Around here, doesn’t seem to be much.”
“You’d be surprised.”
He smiled, and it was like the moon shone a little brighter. “Maybe I wouldn’t. I saw the two guys on the blanket as I stumbled down the beach.”
“There are more of our kind here than you’d think. The folks in this community have adopted a ‘live and let live’ mentality that has served us well. Not to say folks aren’t nosy.”
“I bet. You haven’t answered my question,” he persisted.
“Why are you interested?”
“You intrigue me in spite of myself. You offered a perfect stranger a job and decent money, and even a place to sleep for a couple of nights. I haven’t met anyone like you in all my travels, and despite how standoffish I’ve been, I really appreciated it. I also noticed that there wasn’t anyone in your life that I could tell and hoped you did indeed have a companion. Someone to keep you warm at night and take care of you. You deserve that, and more.”
Happiness Is a Warm Bum by J.D. Walker is now available at Amber Allure.
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