Ash was Texan by birth, but his southern roots only laced his speech when he was too tired to repress them… too tired to block out all the horrible shit that kept an invisible barrier between us.
He was just seventeen when his friend Ellie found him drawing on the streets of Philadelphia. He was homeless and drew comic book characters on the sidewalk for money. The way she told it, he was one of the best street artists in the city, but he said he just did it to survive. Ellie was in college at the time, and she spent the next three years trying to get him to go to a shelter. Eventually, she got her way, and when she moved back to Chicago a few months later, she asked him to come with her. It took him a year of procrastination and pulling his shit together, but after finishing his tattoo apprenticeship in Philly, he did just that.
Living together was a huge adjustment for both of us. Some days I thought we’d cracked it, but others….
I draped the comforter over us and tucked it around his shoulders. He settled against me with his arm stretched out across my torso. I ran my hand absently along his bicep and enjoyed the rare moment. Though he could be tactile when his mood was right, he rarely cuddled up to me so freely. Most times, he preferred our positions reversed—him on his back with his arms around me.
Curious, I pressed a kiss to the top of his sweat-dampened head. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I just missed you.”
I smiled into the darkness. “I missed you too.”
A light hum was his only answer, so I held him a bit tighter and made the most of having him curled against me. After a while, I felt him shift. I opened my eyes and quirked an eyebrow, too mellow to speak. He just stared at me, but his blazing eyes told me what I knew he found so hard to articulate.
I put my hand to his head and nudged it back down with a sad smile.
Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.
Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com
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