A mixed-blood Catholic seminarian struggles to discern his true calling: the priesthood or his ex-lover, a proud but damaged Ojibway man.
Darryl stopped at the big smooth rock they used to sit on. Sometimes he failed to take Gichi Manidoo everywhere. Maybe this was why he couldn’t heal? If Basil had said Creator lived in everything, Darryl should practice what he’d learned instead of talking about tradition at workshops and sharing circles. Each morning when he set aside his smudge bowl to dash into the shower, he seemed to forget about Creator and acted on his emotions.
Emery had always possessed resilient faith. Being a year older, Darryl should be the wiser and stronger of them. He sat on the rock cross-legged.
Birds chirped. Something rustled in the trees.
“I forgot how peaceful it is here.” Emery also sat, looking around. “We used to fish out here. Remember?”
His closed-mouth smile and green eyes sparkling brighter than the sunlight twinkling off the water tugged at Darryl’s heart. “Yeah. After church we’d launch the boat from your mom and dad’s house.”
“I-I said something to upset you last night. It-it kept me awake. I didn’t sleep very well.” Emery picked at his pant leg.
At least Darryl wasn’t the only one on edge. Emery still had to fiddle about if he was nervous. “I didn’t fall asleep until four this morning.”
“We-we had our differences, but we always got along.”
“Yeah, we did.” So where had they gone wrong?
“I haven’t had a real friend since you.” Loneliness pooled around Emery’s irises.
Was he asking for them to try again? Darryl’s body quaked. What about the seminary? “Are you…” He cleared the frog from his throat. “What are you asking?”
“If…” Emery coughed into his hand. “If we can be friends again.”
A boulder filled Darryl’s stomach. Whenever he got his hopes up, his balls received a swift kick. As for the poison on his tongue, that was Emery’s fault, too. This was bullshit. They’d never reconcile their differences, because they had conflicting needs.
Darryl stood. “Everything I said last night… I might as well have talked to a tree.”
“See?” Emery also stood. He blocked the path’s entrance. “You’re doing it again.”
“Doing what?” Darryl’s words hissed like a garter snake. Yeah, he was the evil serpent in Eden flinging chaos all over the good Catholics’ fruit.
“Drawing your own conclusions. Putting words in my mouth. Not giving me a chance to finish. You’re worse than Dad.”
Fire scorched Darryl’s insides. “Don’t you ever compare me to your dad.”
Emery threw out his hands. “You’re not listening again. All you hear is what you want to hear.” He turned.
There wasn’t a chance Darryl would let the passive bastard leave. “If we’re going to talk about how nothing’s changed, what about you? You always give up and walk away. For once, fight for what you want.”
When he gripped Emery’s firm shoulder, the heat of his flesh seared Darryl’s palm. He’d intended for his words to come out sharp—instead, they were puffed cotton balls. “What do you want?”
Emery glanced over his shoulder.
A reckless urge to stroke his lashes, caress his high cheekbones, and melt their lips together invaded Darryl’s juddering insides. He raised his hand. The black outfit screamed like a red siren in the middle of the night.
A drop of sweat slithered along Emery’s forehead. His chest rose up and down. “I-I want us…” He licked his lips with the same tongue he’d once used to explore every inch of Darryl’s skin.