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?
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A Summer Without Rainreceived 5 Angels and a Recommended Read from Fallen Angels Reviews, 4 Nymphs from Literary Nymphs and 4 Cups from Coffee Time Romance!
Chapter 1 Contact
Shannon looked down at the dust, kicking up like tiny, swirling ghosts under his black boots while he walked. His shoulders hunched and his gait was more determined than necessary. He watched the shadow of his lanky, but graceful frame as it raced over bushes and straightened. There, that's better. Now he looked tough, invincible even.
Thick, black lashes fluttered for a moment over striking, gray eyes before peering up at emerald woods bordering the dirt path ahead of him. Why didn't the whole damned world turn to dust? It hadn't rained for two weeks now. An Irish summer with no rain just didn't seem right. At the moment, lots of things didn't seem right. Like the cruel way Ciaran's mother just up and died. How could it be someone could be so alive and vibrant one day, and cold and pallid the next?
Sweat tickled the tip of his straight, narrow nose and beaded over his full lips. He swiped at it with the back of his hand and shook his head, causing small droplets to fling in every direction from shoulder-length, black locks. The air stifled him. A full day of nothing but sun left heat prickling over his skin.
He shifted his gaze back down to his feet. No point watching where he went. After coming this way so many times, his body knew just where to go.
He looked over his soiled clothes. Charcoal-colored trousers wore thin at the knees and pockets and a black dress shirt wrinkled over a toned chest. The sleeves of his shirt rolled up over his elbows and the buttons were undone, exposing pale skin underneath. He was the son of a long line of potato farmers. Money for new clothes didn't come easy. No matter, he liked his clothes dark. Dark things hid secrets, and of those, he had his share.
Nearing the end of the path, he shifted his gaze back up through verdant oaks and long shadows to see the outline of a battered barn. Exposed cobblestones peeked out between cracks in plaster walls. A high-pitched, thatched roof told of better days. How many times did I help Ciaran fix that bloody roof? A mischievous grin spread over his lips.Too many to remember.
He passed through a low stone wall in front of the barn and halted as a strange sound filled the air around him.. Terns and jays chirped a familiar chorus overhead. That was no bird. He turned in the dirt. It crunched below his boots while he listened, intent, gazing into the outside entrance of the broken building in front of him. The clear wail of sobs echoed off the barn's old walls and timbers. The faint silhouette of a young man, bent over the edge of a wooden pig stall, rushed at him. He whispered, "Ah shite, Ciaran…"
Dashing into the barn, his heart beat a rapid rhythm. He slowed to a stop as he neared the young man. Chicken's clucked at his intrusion, but mournful sobs drowned them out. Stunned, he looked the youngman over.
Mud splattered Ciaran's tan slacks and white dress shirt. His shoulders shook over the pen.
Ciaran's grief took him in its clutch. Panic set in. His mind raced. What should he do? Well, he knew what he should do, but could he trust himself? He shouldn't touch him, should he? What about his rule of no physical contact? He should leave before Ciaran noticed him.
His gaze swept over his friend's shorter, but well-built frame again while indecision plagued him. Anxiety lodged in his chest, forcing him to shift from one booted foot to the next. His nervous cough echoed in the room.
Lifting up, Ciaran whipped around. His sobs silenced as his eyes locked on his dark-haired friend. "Shannon?" His lip trembled, betraying his emotion. Lunging forward, he threw his arms around him.
Gasping in surprise, he stumbled backward before catching his footing. "C-Ciaran, wh-what are you doing?" He held himself stiff, paralyzed, hands clenched in fists at his side. His friend's chest pressed against his, so close, making his heart flutter. Hot tears spilled onto the nape of his neck with renewed anguish. Oh God, he's holding me.
"I'm sorry, I can't help it." Ciaran wept into his chest.
"N-no wonder. You didn't cry at all at the bloody funeral yesterday." His gaze darted around the barn while he fought to calm himself.
"Father Brennan told me I had to be a man. I'm bloody eighteen now. But I can't. I just can't."
"That's nonsense. I'm a year older than you and if I lost my mother like that, I'd be bloody crying, too." As his eyes closed, his arms slipped around Ciaran's waist. The hardness of his muscular chest thumped against him. Ciaran's intoxicating scent assaulted his senses. Terror raced into his heart, keeping him from losing all control. Keep in check. Don't enjoy it too much. Save it for later. You can use the moment for your fantasies. He let his hands run a timid trail up his friend's back. "Hush now. It'll be all right."
"Oh, Shannon, I-I know, but I can't stop," Ciaran's voice wavered. "I-I never told you, what happened. How I found her." His breath hitched. "Her skin was so…gray. Her eyes they were, they were…like the dead fish in the river." A fresh round of tears tumbled from his eyes.
"Don't think about such things. Try to remember how she was, how beautiful her green eyes were." His own tears surfaced with the memory of his delicate mother and the eyes, so much like his friend's. His good looks definitely came from her.
"Without her, it's only me and Da. Th-thank God I have you. You're like a brother to me, you know."
A brother, maybe so, but he loved him. He couldn't even think of a time when he didn't. Gentle breaths puffed against his neck while his friend cried.
Heat rushed his groin. The embrace aroused him against his will. It's not right to feel this way about him. He could be jailed or worse. But it was so good to finally feel him in his arms, to smell his sweet scent. He couldn't help it if being so close made his body hunger for more.
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Forbidden love was only the beginning...
A Summer Without Rain by Christie Gordon.
A M/M Historical Romance Novel Available at eXtasy Books: www.extasybooks.com