Sleepless in San Francisco
A Ravenous Romance™ Panamour™ Original Publication
A Ravenous Romance™ Panamour™ Original Publicationwww.ravenousromance.com
Copyright © 2009 by Ryan Field
Ravenous Romance™ 100 Cummings Center Suite 123A
Beverly, MA 01915
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher, except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review.
This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Ed said his final goodbye on a Sunday morning in early September, one of those crisp,
late summer days without a cloud in the sky. Ed and his son, Noah, had driven out to East
Hampton to visit the grave of Ed’s deceased partner, Jake. He had been gone for more
than a year, but it didn’t feel that long.
Ed stood next to Noah in front of a dark gray headstone that had a hot air balloon
carved in the center, his hands clasped together and his eyebrows furrowed. Young Noah
kept looking up at him with wide eyes and pinched lips. Noah’s head tilted all the way
back, because he was only half Ed’s size. But they both had the same ash blond hair, the
same slightly bowed legs, and the same strong chin.
A familiar blowing sound was approaching above their heads. There was no other
sound like it. It whished and echoed and rushed. It was loud enough to make them both
look up at the sky at the same time, and yet they didn’t see anything at first. Noah
shielded his eyes from the bright Long Island sunshine with his hand and looked to the
left. Ed put his hands in his pockets and looked to the right.
A moment later, the noise grew louder. And Noah pointed to the sky and said,
“Look, Dad. They’re passing right over us.”
When Ed looked up and saw that a cluster of hot air balloons was crossing over
the cemetery, he smiled for the first time that day. There were too many to count:
hundreds. They dotted the blue sky with the colors of the rainbow, some had stripes and
some were solid. From a distance, they reminded him of upside down toy spin tops suspended above tiny, dark specks. He placed his hand on Noah’s shoulder and said, “I’ll
be damned.” Then he ran his fingers through his hair and shook his head back and forth.
Noah leaned into his father’s side and smiled. “Do you think it’s a sign, Dad?” he
asked. “Maybe Dad’s trying to tell us something.” He’d always called Jake “Dad,” too.
Noah’s mother lived in France, and Jake had been the only other parent he’d known.
“I don’t know, buddy,” Ed said, “But if I were the kind of guy who believed in
signs and things of that nature, this would be a good example of one.” His deceased
partner had loved hot air balloons. He was always bugging Ed to go for a ride in one, but
Ed had a fear of heights. So Jake had gone on balloon rides with friends instead. And
he’d collected small models of them for years. And now his collection was packed in
boxes that were sitting in a storage unit up in the Bronx.
They stood there watching the balloons pass until the last one was completely out
of sight, and then Ed took a deep breath and said, “I guess we’d better get moving, buddy.
We have a plane to catch this afternoon.”
They were leaving New York for good. He’d closed his veterinary practice in the
Village and he’d sold the townhouse in Turtle Bay. Their house in East Hampton had
been rented for a year. Without Jake around, nothing was the same anymore. And they
didn’t have any extended family. So he’d decided to move to San Francisco—as far away
as possible—to make a fresh start.
Noah stared down at the granite headstone and frowned. He reached forward and
placed his right palm on the top and held it there for a moment, then turned to his father
and said, “I’ll wait for you at the car, Dad.” “I’ll be right there, buddy,” Ed said. Evidently, ten-year-old Noah was smart
enough to know he wanted to be alone for a few minutes.
When Noah was gone, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small rock. He
wasn’t Jewish, but a Jewish friend of his had once told him to always leave a rock on top
of a headstone when you visit a grave because it was a sign that someone had been there.
And Ed knew he wouldn’t be back for a long time. So he placed the rock on the
headstone and said, “Take care, Jake. Thanks for the balloons this morning. I wish I’d
been able to go up with you just once.”
As he turned to leave, his eyes filled with tears. But when he looked across the
lawn and saw Noah leaning against the car watching him, he tightened his lips and
squared his shoulders. He had to be strong. The past year had been hard on his son. Jake
had died suddenly in an automobile accident, and they were both still in shock. So he
shoved his hands into his pockets, loped back to the car, and sighed.
His life felt so disorganized. It wasn’t even his car. He’d borrowed it that morning
from his best friend because his Range Rover had already been shipped.
A few hours later, they were back in Turtle Bay to do a final walk-through of the
townhouse. Tucker, Noah’s black lab, was there to greet them at the door. When his nails
clicked on the wooden floors, the sound echoed through the empty rooms. Their lives had
already been shipped out to the West Coast. The only things left were a stack of brown
leather suitcases in the living room and a chipped soup bowl filled with water in the
kitchen for Tucker.
A woman’s voice called down from the second floor. “Are you guys back?” “We’re here,” Ed shouted. His best friend, Lisa, was upstairs. She’d been there all
morning supervising a cleaning service so Ed and Noah could drive out to East Hampton.
Without her, he wasn’t sure if he would have been able to survive the last year.
She came rushing down the steps, a short, thin woman with long blond hair and
bright blue eyes. She wore tight jeans, a black leather Donna Karan jacket, and black high
heels. When she reached the bottom step, she kissed Ed on the cheek and grabbed Noah’s
hand. “Can I take him out to lunch?” she asked. “It’s the last time I’m going to see him
for a while, and I want him all to myself.”
Noah looked up and smiled. “Can we take Tucker, too?” He’d already attached a
leash to the dog’s collar, and Tucker was wagging his tail.
“Sure, kid,” Lisa said, brushing the top of his head with her fingertips. “We can
go to that little place on the avenue with the red and white umbrellas and sit outside.”
“Hold on,” Ed said, “I don’t know if there’s time. Maybe we should just wait until
the cleaning guy leaves and have something at the airport.” He knew they had to arrive
extra early to get Tucker into his crate and safely boarded.
“But it’s his last chance to have lunch here in New York, the onlyreal
city in the
world,” Lisa said.
Noah gave him a pathetic look and said, “Please.”
Ed smiled. Lisa knew the move to San Francisco was the best thing for them both,
but that didn’t mean she was happy about it. She really did believe New York was the
only real city in the world. “Just get back here in an hour,” he said. “The plane leaves in
three hours, and you’re the one driving us to the airport.”
Jonathan Haynes never had a problem finding a boyfriend. His hair was dark
brown and straight, he got up at five each morning to work out at the gym, and people
often told him he reminded them of a younger Keanu Reeves. He’d always dated one
man after the other without giving it a second thought, and would have continued that
way if he hadn’t met Mike Sanders on the beach in Provincetown the previous summer.
Mike was the serious type, a handsome, refined man in his mid-thirties who was ready to
settle down in a monogamous relationship. And he wanted to do this with Jonathan.
It wasn’t that Jonathan wasn’t ready; he just wasn’t sure he wanted to settle down
He was always honest with Mike, too. He’d never officially committed to
anything but dating. But Mike was one of those guys who called all the time and
devoured his entire life. He took over his Facebook page and poked him; he Tweeted him
on the hour. He also owned an established public relations firm. So he had the money to
buy him expensive gifts and to take him out to fantastic restaurants all over New York.
But there were two inherent problems at the root of their relationship that kept Jonathan
up late at night staring at the ceiling.
One problem was that Mike tended to be slightly effeminate sometimes. He
wasn’t a flaming queen, and his wrists weren’t limp. But every now and then he did this
weird, almost-curtsy thing when he met someone new. And sometimes he spoke with a
lisp. This wasn’t a character judgment on Jonathan’s part. Some of his best friends were extremely feminine. It’s just that when it came to dating, he preferred men who didn’t
extend their pinky fingers and didn’t shave their legs every day.
The other problem with Mike was in the bedroom. They never actually slept
together because Mike preferred to sleep alone. And if the sex between them had made
Jonathan’s mouth water like the filet mignon at Le Cirque did, Jonathan imagined that he
could have fallen in love with him. Mike was tall and lean, his hair was thick and blond,
and he had a massive penis. But they were both bottoms. And when Jonathan quietly
pointed this problem out to him (he knew who he was) one night after dinner in late
October, Mike clenched his fists and swore up and down that he was versatile in bed, and
that he could indeed be an excellent top guy. Then he dropped his pants, yanked out his
big penis, and told Jonathan to get undressed and bend over.
Jonathan smiled and did what he was told with a huge smile. He tore off his
clothes, got down on the floor on all fours, and spread his legs as wide as they would go.
He was smaller than Mike, and his body was lean and wiry. He knew how to spread his
legs and arch his back in an exaggerated way that most men couldn’t. When Mike
grabbed his hips and pulled him back, he closed his eyes and prepared for the mount. And
when Mike covered his penis with a lubricated condom and pressed the tip to his opening,
he took a deep breath and sighed. It had been a while, and there were few things in life
Jonathan loved more than this.
But the moment Mike entered his body, his lips turned down and he stopped
arching his back. Mike didn’t grab his hips and squeeze hard like some guys; he touched
them lightly with the tips of his delicate fingers instead. It was just like all the other times
they’d tried to do this. So while Mike tried to buck his pelvis, Jonathan opened his eyes and looked at the clock on the nightstand to see how long it would take. The time before
this it had only lasted five minutes.
This was bad. Mike bucked his hips without a set rhythm; he pushed in and out
with awkward jerks and painful thrusts. His penis didn’t slide in and out with ease. It
invaded Jonathan’s body with sharp pokes and misplaced moves. And the harder he tried,
the worse it became.
Three minutes later, they both climaxed and Mike pulled out. Then he smiled and
said, “See? I can be a top when I have to be.”
Jonathan raised his eyebrows and forced a smile. “Ah well, I see that,” he said.
But the wordswhen I have to be
repeated in his head for a long time.
Then late one Friday night in early October, Jonathan stumbled across an e-mail