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Eowyn Wood

Copyright 2010 by Eowyn Wood. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews; nor may any part of this book be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other, without written permission from the publisher. The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. Printed in the United States of America.

Publishers Cataloging-in-Publication Data Wood, Eowyn. Afterglow : a novel / by Eowyn Wood. p. cm. ISBN-13: 978-0-977873-81-4 ISBN-10: 0-977873-81-1 1. Gay couples--Fiction. 2. Bisexual men--Fiction. 3. Male sexual abuse victims--Rehabilitation--Fiction. 4. Drug addicts--Rehabilitation--Fiction. 5. Musicians--Oregon--Portland--Fiction. 6. Teenage prostitution--California-Los Angeles--Fiction. 7. Los Angeles (Calif.)--Fiction. 8. Portland (Or.)--Fiction. I. Title. PS3623.O6235A38 2009 813.6 QBI09-600060

PO Box 83066 Portland, OR 97283 www.crookedhills.com / www.eowynwood.com

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint lyrics from the following songs: Bone Machine Words and Music by Frank Black Copyright 1998 RICE AND BEANS MUSIC All Rights Controlled and Administered by SONGS OF UNIVERSAL, INC. All Rights Reserved Used by Permission If Only Tonight We Could Sleep Words and Music by Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Laurence Tolhurst and Boris Williams Copyright 2000 by Fiction Songs Ltd. All Rights in the United States and Canada Administered by Universal Music - MGB Songs International Copyright Secured All Rights Reserved Junebug by MARK LINKOUS 1998 WB MUSIC CORP. & SPIRIT DITCH MUSIC All Rights on Behalf of SPIRIT DITCH MUSIC Administered by WB MUSIC CORP. All Rights Reserved Used by Permission of ALFRED PUBLISHING CO., INC. FOR OUR 100% CONTROL IN THE WORLD The Kiss Words and Music by Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Laurence Tolhurst and Boris Williams Copyright 1987 by Fiction Songs Ltd. All Rights in the United States and Canada Administered by Universal Music - MGB Songs International Copyright Secured All Rights Reserved Leather Words and Music by Tori Amos 1991 Warner Music UK Ltd., a Time Warner Company All rights administered by Sword and Stone Publishing Used by Permission All Rights Reserved Love for Sale (from The New Yorkers) Words and Music By COLE PORTER 1930 (Renewed) WB MUSIC CORP. All Rights Reserved Used by Permission of ALFRED PUBLISHING CO., INC. FOR OUR 100% CONTROL IN THE WORLD

Mother Words and Music by Tori Amos 1991 Warner Music UK Ltd., a Time Warner Company All rights administered by Sword and Stone Publishing Used by Permission All Rights Reserved Precious Things Words and Music by Tori Amos 1991 Warner Music UK Ltd., a Time Warner Company All rights administered by Sword and Stone Publishing Used by Permission All Rights Reserved Silent All These Years Words and Music by Tori Amos 1991 Warner Music UK Ltd., a Time Warner Company All rights administered by Sword and Stone Publishing Used by Permission All Rights Reserved Someone To Die For Words and Music by Tanya Donelly Copyright 1993 UNIVERSAL - SONGS OF POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL, INC., MERCER STREET SONGS AND SLOW DOG MUSIC All Rights Controlled and Administered by UNIVERSAL - SONGS OF POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL, INC. All Rights Reserved Used by Permission Unchained Melody Lyric by Hy Zaret Music by Alex North 1955 (Renewed) FRANK MUSIC CORP. All Rights Reserved When I Die Words and Music by Emma Anderson Copyright 1994 ISLAND MUSIC LTD. All Rights in the U.S. and Canada Controlled and Administered by UNIVERSAL - SONGS OF POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL, INC. All Rights Reserved Used by Permission Winter Words and Music by Tori Amos 1991 Warner Music UK Ltd., a Time Warner Company All rights administered by Sword and Stone Publishing

Authors Note
Afterglow is the sequel to Naked in the Rain. While I would encourage people to read Naked in the Rain firstit is not mandatory. Afterglow also stands on its own.

Part 3

I see the sunrise over the mountain I see the sun rise in your eyes and I know I will always love you. The beauty of your soul shines through your skin, shines through my heart and I know I have always loved you. - Brian OKelly, (Eternity)

CHAPTER 1 I will hold you like this every night for the rest of my life, River vowed as he wrapped his arms around Brians chest and held him tight beneath the sheets. River nuzzled into shiny dark hair that smelled of roses. River. Brian turned over to kiss him and breathed, You are everything. They didnt sleep much that first night after they escaped from the Houses. The boys sat up in the dim light and talked when they werent making love. Talked about little thingshow to decorate their studio apartment, grocery shoppingall the regular, everyday things they hadnt done in years. And they talked about big thingstheir fears, their hopes, their love. River gazed into Brians eyes, lost in their depths. The stunning blue set off long dark lashes and pale skin, eyes shaped round on top, like a half moon. Eyes that reflected the beauty of his soul. River smiled at himself. Now Im turning into a poet, like you. Brian kissed him. They finally drifted off when it began to get light. A noise tugged at Brian. It came again. The front door opened and Stuarts head poked in, his dark hair sticking up in messy spikes. The rest of him followed, tall and lankyhe was starting to grow into his height. Brian smiled at him from the bed. Sorry. Did I interrupt? Stuart asked. Brian sat up and pushed hair out of his face. No. I was sort of asleep, but thats okay. I know its early, but I wanted to make sure you guys are okay before I go to school. Stuart grabbed a paper sack from the porch. I brought you some groceries. Great! Brian got out of bed to investigate. Stuart averted his eyes and pushed his glasses on more firmlya nervous habit. Could you put some clothes on? Oh, sorry. He picked up jeans from the floor and pulled them on. You guys really should keep the door locked. Anybody could come in. Yes, Mom, River said and propped himself against the pillows.

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Were not used to that kind of stuff anymore. But youre right, Stuart. Brian pulled a milk carton out of the bag and put it in the fridge. Cheerios. Cool. And coffee. Ooo, that sounds good. He frowned at the bare laminate counter. Hold on, I brought something else, too. Stuart got another bag from the landing. A coffee maker! Stu, youre great. He shrugged. We had an extra. Dad said you could have it. Thanks! Brian plugged in the machine and stared at it. Ive never made coffee before. Stuart showed him what to do. The three boys sat on the bed and drank coffee and ate cereal out of the paper cups Stu brought. Stuart glanced at his watch and stood up. Ive gotta get to school. Theres a phone booth two blocks away, near the bus stop. He pointed south. Not on Fountain; the other way, on Santa Monica Boulevard. Thats the nearest phone. If you need anything call my pager. Brian reached up to hug him; Stu was so much taller. Thanks for the groceriesand everything. The sheets and blanket, too. I thought wed be sleeping on the mattress. Mom wont miss them. Stuart was almost out the door when River said, Thanks, Stuart. Stu gave him a half-smile and left them alone. Brian checked out the closet. Look, Stuart hung up our clothes. Hes such a great guy. River frowned, but Brian ignored it. The only furniture besides the queensized bed was a rickety wooden dresser and a nightstand with a lamp. Brian opened the dresser drawersempty. The rest of their stuff was in the few boxes against the wall. I brought my yoga tapes, but theres no TV. Doesnt matter; Ive got them memorized. He put his hands on his hips. But I dont have nearly enough clothes. River raised a brow. What do you need clothes for? Brian grinned at the lovely young man on the bed. Good point. He climbed onto the sheets to touch Rivers tanned chest. Ran his fingers through the streaks in Rivers dark blond hair where the sun had bleached it golden. Brian pulled him closer until their lips met. They didnt leave the apartment until the next day, when they piled into Stuarts Pathfinder to go grocery shopping. Stuart stepped on the accelerator. Brian, now that youre sixteen and on your own, want me to teach you drive? Thanks, Stu, but no. He watched jacarandas and palm trees whip past. I dont want the responsibility. Okay. Stuart shrugged and pulled into the parking lot. Were here already? Brian asked. Its only three blocks. But youll need the car to get everything home. Stuart glanced into the cart. I hope you brought enough money for all this. Is this enough? Brian pulled a handful of one hundred dollar bills from his black leather jacket.

 . Eowyn Wood

Stuarts brown eyes widened behind his glasses. Plenty. Put that away, Brian. He stuffed it back into his pocket. River looked in the cart as he pushed it behind Brian. Whats thiscage free eggs? Theyre cruelty-free. Brian shrugged. Thats what the carton says, anyway. Whattheyre caging eggs now? he said with mock horror. Thats terrible! No. Brian slapped his arm lightly. The hens. Oh. River chuckled. He refrained from pointing out that Brian wore leather all the timedidnt want to discourage him from it. Leather was sexy. Especially on him. I cant give up everything, Brian said as if he read Rivers mind, then reached for a bag of sugar. What do we need all this baking stuff for? Brians full lips curved in a slow smile. You want to be able to make chocolate sauce, dont you? Mmmm. River wiggled his eyebrows. Chocolate and sexthe ultimate combination. And dont forget we need soap. Brian turned to Stuart. I took a shower. That is, I got in there and got wet. But there was no soap, no shampoo, no towelsI had to use a tee shirt to dry off. Do they sell towels here? Stu shook his head. Sorry. Ill take you to Target sometime. Where? Brian sat on the cream-colored carpet with his acoustic guitar, alone for the first time since he and River moved in together. Hed felt sad when River left that morning for the beach. I guess we cant spend every moment together. But now he was glad to have the time alone. He plucked a few chords, then turned on the tape recorder and played what came to him. A new song about happiness and love and freedom. Joy. He laid back on the floor when he was done and stared at the plaster ceiling high overhead. I love this place. Its Spanish style, the archway to the kitchen, the way the coved ceiling rounded where it met the walls. He loved that it was old built in the twenties. It had been a regular house once but was converted into apartments years ago. It seemed wrong to do that to a big historic house, but then again, he wouldnt be here otherwise. He sighed and realized he was hungry. He went to the kitchen for cereal, but the milk was empty. Ill go to the store. He smiled. I can do that. He felt terribly grown up as he stood in line to pay for his groceries. He bought pasta, too; he was sure he could make that. Their new kitchen had a few pots and pans, silverware. He wasnt sure if they were left by the last tenant or were supposed to come with the partially furnished studio. I should wash them first. He hoisted the sack and left the store humming. He enjoyed the walk; it was better than driving. Only three blocksor two-and-a-half if you cut through the

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park. He relished the cool air and spring of thick grass under his boots. I think Id go crazy without any nature around me. He tried not to think about missing the grounds at Grants. His gaze wandered over the kids playing, the adults standing nearby. He gasped as he met the eyes of a big black man standing a few yards away. Jeffrey. The paper sack slid from Brians hands. His heart raced in a swirl of joy and pain at seeing him again. And fear. Part of him was horrified at that. Waitif Jeffreys here, then. . . . He turned slowly. Grant was sitting on a bench thirty feet away. Brian glanced at Jeffrey, then moved toward the bench in slow motion. Please dont make me go back with you. He clenched his fists. Sat next to Grant and stared straight ahead. Brian. The sorrow in Grants voice made Brian look at him. His face seemed more lined than it had a week ago, as if hed relived every hardship of his sixty-odd years. Brian. Grant rested his hand on Brians thigh. Id really like you to come home with me. He bit his lip and looked down. Grant said, I dont understand why you left. Its just . . . time to move on. I dont want to be there anymore. I cant really explain why. Because of what happened in San Francisco? No. Itsits a lot of things. I just dont want to do it anymore. Grant leaned back and watched the children play on the jungle gym. Ive known John since he was eight years old. He was a lovely child. Until he was raped. Brians stomach twisted. He couldnt reconcile the John he knew with an innocent child whod gone through that. Grant spoke softly. John was never the same after that. He went dead inside. He turned to Brian. But that didnt happen to you. You grew stronger. So strong. I always meant it when I said I want you to stay, no matter how old you get. Because you have a future at our House. You have a placeat the top. Brian, I want you to be my successor. Brians mouth fell open. You have the talent. The intelligence, the strength. And you wont have to wait too long to be Head of the House. Youll still be young. He grabbed Grants arm. Are you sick? No. Grant rubbed Brians hand where it gripped him. Just tired. Id like you to come home with me. So we can continue your education and preparation to take over. Brian blinked. It had never occurred to him he was being groomed for that. He tried to picture himself in that role. Thought about the young boys. I couldnt do that. So many things he couldnt do. Didnt want to do. He shook his head. Im sorry, Grant. I dont want that life. Grant let out a sigh and rested his elbows on his knees. And what life do you want? What do you expect? Youve never had to cope in the outside world. It wont embrace you, Brian. You wont fit in. The worlds a tough place. A cruel place. Im offering you protection from all that. Security, power, money, love. For

 . Eowyn Wood

a lifetime. How can you say no? Brian squeezed Grants hand, and his voice wavered. Grant, I love you. I always will. But . . . I dont want that. I dont want to be like you. Its time for River and me to be together. What if I said River could come live with us? He can come home with us. The offer gave him pause. Why didnt you say that years ago? But he shook his head. I dont want to do it anymore. Even without Creepy Guy, I would still leave. Its just time. Creepy guy? AhMr. Reynolds. Brian stared at him with brimming eyes. Whispered, I cant do it anymore. He knew Grant saw the resolve on his face. Ive made up my mind. Grants eyes closed. His face turned paler, and his breathing sounded shaky. Are you okay? Grant! He smiled a little and patted Brians hand. Im alright, Brian. Just tired. Very tired. Grant turned on the bench to face him. Your world has been very insulated. But I cant shield you anymore. Ill protect you from the other Houses, but I cannot protect you from the general public. Brian, please. Be careful. If you change your mind you are always, always welcome to come back. Grant gripped his hand tight. Just remember, I wont be protecting you anymore. Grant was making him nervous. But you will protect us from the other Houses, right? From John. Yes. That I can and will do. But I cannot protect you from the world. He brushed the dark hair out of Brians face. Remember, you can come back anytime. No matter what. Grants voice shook. You know where to find me. A tear slid down his cheek. Brian nodded. Couldnt speak. You go be with River now. He wiped the tears from Brians cheeks. I love you. Grant. They hugged each other tight. Brian choked out, I love you, too. He pulled back before he lost complete control. Stood up and turned away. Couldnt look at Grant sitting there, hunched and defeated. Brian walked away without a backward glance. Mr. B! Jeffrey caught up with him. You forgot this. He handed Brian the grocery sack. Brian looked up at him. And they were hugging. Brian buried his face in Jeffreys bulk and cried himself out. Jeffrey held onto him for a long time. When he finally pulled back, Jeffreys face was wet. You take care o yourself, ya hear? Go on home, now. Brian turned and walked away. He was vaguely aware that the door opened. River was home. Brian stayed sitting on the edge of the bed, staring into space. Whats wrong, babe? He spoke in a monotone, drained of emotion. Grant came and talked to me today. What? Its okay. Brian met his grey-green eyes. He didnt try to force me. But he

Afterglow . 

tried to convince me to come back. River whispered, Are you thinking about it? No. No. I have no interest in going back there. No interest in . . . what he offered. I dont want to be like him. River sat beside him and put his arm around Brians shoulders. You okay? Brian took a deep breath and let it out. Yeah. It was just hard to see him again. And Jeffrey. He bit his lip and shook his head. River was quiet for a moment. I ordered a pizza. From the payphone down the street. Brian smiled. That sounds good. Did you have fun at the beach? Yeah! It was great. I bought a wetsuit. Brian saw a plastic bag against the wall and got up to check it out. Ooo, rubber. He leaned against River. Will you try it on for me? He did. Brian slid his palm along the smooth black rubber, tight across Rivers chest. Do you think we have time before the pizza comes? River grinned and pulled him onto the bed. Leah laid awake most of the night, waiting for Brian to come out of Mr. Padreas room. But he never did. Maybe he couldnt come tonight. That would explain why Padrea was in a foul mood today. She sighed, sad not to see her Brian. She wondered what his surprise was. Guess she would have to wait to find out. Her eyes opened again as the sun rose. She heard a sound, threw on her robe and hurried out. A boy was at the front door, about to leave. Brian, wait! He turned. Youre not Brian. He looked up at her with big brown eyes. No, Im David. He gave her a shy smile. Wheres Brian? Her stomach twisted as she waited for the answer. Please, God, let him be alright. Davids smile faltered as he came closer. Brians gone. He lefthe left Grant. What? Where did he go? He moved into an apartment. With River. She laughed and clapped a hand over her mouth as tears spilled down her face. That was the surprise. Im sure youll like it. Grant thinks hell come back, but I dont. When Brian makes up his mind he doesnt change it. Davids eyes filled. Ill miss him. But He smiled. Now Im Number One.

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