Diego

by Angel Martinez

Diego and Finn's peaceful life in Montana shatters when Diego unwittingly rips a hole in the Veil to the Otherworld---mysterious prophecies, dying fae, hostile government agents, and there's so much more that could still go wrong.

After defeating an evil wendigo, a man and his pooka lover deserve a little quiet. Unfortunately, Diego and Finn's hard-won peace is disturbed when Diego, in a jealous rage, unwittingly rips a hole in the impenetrable Veil to the Otherworld.

Separated, stuck on the other side of the Veil where Finn has to face old conflicts and Diego is the only human in a land of fae, the two of them navigate rocky waters between huge egos and ancient feuds. Worse still, some of the fae are dying of a mysterious illness and everyone believes Diego is the key to a cure. Things can't possibly get any worse, can they? Oh, yes---they can when the US government gets involved.

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Excerpt:

"Don't go." Finn glowered down from his lofty height, arms crossed over his bare chest. "I forbid you to go."

"You...what?" Diego blinked at him in shock. "Since when did you decide you wanted to play lord of the manor? You can't 'forbid' anything."

Finn slumped against the wall and slid down until he sat on the floor. "Apparently not. I thought I might try it once. Would begging and pleading alter your ill-conceived decision, then?"

Diego crouched down to take Finn's long-fingered hand between his. "Carino, what is all this? I'll only be gone a week. You left me once for five days and told me it wasn't long at all."

"But I wasn't doing the waiting, now, was I?" Finn said with a sharp bark of laughter. "Oh, love, I can't explain it. I have an ice spear lodged in my spine, and I don't know why."

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"Please don't tell me you've got a bad feeling about this." Diego rolled his eyes. When he had first mentioned the trip to New York, Finn hadn't protested. Now, when it was too late to cancel his plans, his impending absence caused Finn such anguish.

"But I do. Have a bad feeling." Finn put his forehead on his knees, long blue-black hair falling forward to hide his face.

"So come with me."

"No."

"We could take a train. I don't have to fly. Or you could become an eagle or a peregrine and meet me there."

"I won't go back to the poisoned lands. Not even for you."

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't ask you to." Diego leaned in to nuzzle at Finn's jaw. "Are you afraid I won't come back? That I'm leaving you for good?"

Finn opened his arms and pulled him close with a gusty sigh. "It's not that sort of feeling, my love. It's more as if this journey of yours will act as a...catalyst. That we are at some strange turning point I cannot see beyond."

"Even you can't see into the future..." Diego stroked a hand over Finn's hard-packed chest. "Can you?"

"No. No, I can't. Frustrating sometimes."

"Whatever it is, mi amor, we'll work through it. Don't worry so."

***

Finn stared out the bedroom window at the larches. Tamaracks, they called them here. The soft burst of gold as they prepared to shed their summer needles amidst the dark green of the pines should have made his heart sing. They only made him think of Diego's golden skin against the dark sheets and compounded his misery.

"Bloody, blithering fool," he muttered at himself.

Diego would return in another three days, a blink of an eye for someone who had lived for thousands of years. The thought didn't help. He yearned for his love with every scrap of his being, hating the emptiness of

his arms and the empty spot in his mind where Diego's presence usually nestled. He was so cursed lonely without him, which was what made falling in love so gods-be-damned stupid in the first place. Only someone in love truly felt this consuming, hollow pain.

"I need to go out," he told the pillow he held, the one where Diego's scent still lingered. While he liked the new house nestled in the Montana forest, close to the wilderness for him but not too far from the little town for Diego, he had never spent five days sequestered inside a building of his own free will.

There, that was it. He was depressed because of confinement and lack of food. Not that the larder was empty. He just hadn't felt like eating. A nice fat trout sounded good, or perhaps whitefish, cold and shining.

He would swim, feed, and return by nightfall, when Diego might call. Good. Perfect. He hurried down the stairs, poked his head out the back door, and lifted his face to the breeze. No humans lurked nearby to see, so he stepped out onto the wooden porch and wriggled out of his jeans. Clothes were fine now and then, and he wore them to satisfy Diego's sense of modesty, but the best part about putting them on was shedding them again.

The sun caressed his bare shoulders. The cool grass kissed his feet. He spread his arms to the breeze and closed his eyes. A faint blue glow danced over his skin as his body melted, his form condensing, his hair shortening and spreading to cover him in sleek black fur. A river otter soon stood where Finn had been.

Otter Finn galloped for the river, his heart singing as the tumult of its rush and tumble reached him. He stumbled and stopped as another noise drifted over the roar of the rapids-a scream, inaudible but in his mind. Terrible fear knifed through him-the cold panic of a human in mortal danger.

COLLAPSE

About the Author

The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, gave birth to one amazing son, and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.

Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.

She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.


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