First love has never been so dangerous.
War is in love with Denver, but he discovers his boyfriend is more than he seems when he turns into a supernatural creature made of fire.
Denver has grown up on his Aunt’s made-up stories of demons and sin, but he never wanted to believe her until he turns into a firebird. He has to give up everything, including his boyfriend, War.
This new ability threatens to tear their love apart.
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Blue Eyed Dreams
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: First Time
Word Count: 18000
Setting: Desert, Navada
Languages Available: English
The dirt was not brown, but more of a reddish yellow and hard packed. Sneakers would make me slide and possibly fall on the loose scrabble of pebbles and sand layered on top. I was thankful I had a good pair of hiking boots to keep me from sliding. Up ahead, I could see the ropes outlining the dig. It wasn’t my first time at an excavation site, but I was still pretty new on the scene.
When I approached the few people inside, digging around, I cleared my throat. “Hi, I’m Warren. Where do you want me?”
A girl with long, dusty golden hair that might have been full of sand, turned to me from where she squatted next to a small wall cutting through the area. “Oh, right. New recruits. I’m Valerie. Call me Vee.” She blew a strand of hair out of her dark eyes. “I need work on this area here.” She gestured to the wall, then pulled a small brush out of her toolbelt and extended it toward me.
I took the brush and got comfortable in the dirt. “You got it.”
“In front of the wall. Here. Like this.” She showed me what she was doing, and I mimicked her. “You got it. What’d you say our name was? Warren?”
“Mmhmm, yes. War.”
“All right then, War, let’s do this.”
The process would be exceedingly slow, like trying to dig the Grand Canyon with only a plastic shovel like the kind you took to the beach. The brush was only a bit stiffer than a regular paintbrush but perfect for this arduous task. The debris needed to be removed carefully so as not to damage anything.
It was boring work, but it gave me the experience I would need. I only wished Denver could have come along. There wasn’t a call for anthropology students, though. Still, he would have loved this, probably more than me.
My thoughts rolled out without much else to yank them back in. Thoughts of Denver, our relationship, how much I wanted him but wondered if we’d ever make it to the bedroom. I loved running my fingers through his dark, silky hair and kissing those plump lips. He was heavenly and exactly my type with his tall sinewy body. We were pretty close. We’d met on campus in a few shared classes, then he quickly became my best friend, my main squeeze, and so much more. But he was damaged goods.
And I was an asshole.
Denver made me want to be a better person, though.
Vee made sure we all kept hydrated. The sun was freakin’ hot, beating down on us poor slobs like it had nothing better to do than make us miserable. I rubbed the cool water bottle over my forehead and the back of my neck before taking another drink.
Then I made the unfortunate error of setting the bottle on the wall, and Vee immediately blasted me. “What do you think you’re doing? That’s part of an ancient adobe home. Don’t touch it.” I heard her mumble newb under her breath.
I lifted the bottle. “Sorry.”
She crinkled her nose. “Look.” She pointed at a few people around the other side who were carting away debris in a wheelbarrow. “Go help them.”
Yep, I’d blown it. Not that I cared much. The slow uncovering of clay structures with nothing more than a tiny tool was not on my list of fun activities. I handed it back to her.
“No, you keep that. For later.”
I gave her a curt nod, pocketed the brush in hopes of using it some other time, then carefully picked my way out of the excavation area. I approached a guy who looked younger than me, loading big rocks, the size of gallon milk jugs, into the wheelbarrows. “Hey, I’m War. Vee sent me to help.”
“Great.” He pointed around the area. It looked like they were clearing a small field a few yards away from the main dig. “She thinks we’ll find pottery and stuff out here, but we have to get through the top layers first, and that’s mostly hard rock.” He scowled at the ground. “I’m Jay, by the way. Nice to meet you.”
“Great.” Just what I’d signed up for—breaking rocks. I spent the next few hours with gloves on, breaking up the hard-rough surface with a pick, and loading it up for Jay to cart off.
We broke for a late lunch around two. My back hurt. My fingers were splitting around the knuckles. Dirt covered everything. Yeah, I totally would have preferred to share this experience with Denver.
After lunch, we went back at it. Dirt and rocks. Dirt and rocks.
Then I uncovered something new. A chunk of rock in roughly the shape of a heart that fit in my hand—red with black strips. That was a human heart shape, not the Valentine. “Hey, Jay. Look.”
He leaned over my shoulder. “Nice. If you polish that up, it’ll be pretty.”
“Is it significant?” Had I discovered something?
“No.” Jay chuckled. “It’s a bit of igneous rock. They’re all over. Not unusual, but also not an easy find. I don’t normally see them in this area. Not like that one, anyway.”
“Can I keep it?”
“Sure, whatever floats your boat.”
I tucked it in my pocket. I thought Denver would like it. Maybe a sweet gift like this to show how much I was thinking of him today would finally get me in his bed.