Bare Blue Steel

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Short Story (9,000 words)
Ebook Edition (Available in epub, mobi & pdf.)
Publication date: March 3, 2015
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Jimmy adores his boyfriend Tom, with his slick suits, fedoras, and cool demeanour. When Jimmy discovers a revolver in Tom’s bedside drawers, he is confronted with the truth about Tom’s business activities. How did he miss the signs? Or has Jimmy been ignoring the truth about Tom to hide from the truth about himself? (M/M)

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Tom taught Jimmy the basics of poker—using the strip variety rather than money or chips. Jimmy never mastered the poker face, and always found himself naked to Tom’s still clothed body. Not that Tom minded, at all.

“You don’t need to learn how, babe,” Tom told him once. “I like knowing what you’re thinking.”

And Tom’s unreadable, terribly cool expressions were a fair trade. He surprised Jimmy with random gifts, tasty tricks in bed, and impromptu romantic getaways. Jimmy could never guess what was coming next. Just as much as he never quite knew what Tom’s business was up to; when he’d be away, and sometimes, for how long.

Which was… fine, really. It was a bit… odd sometimes when Tom seemed to leave only with wads of cash—he told Jimmy he didn’t trust credit card companies and only ever had a savings account. Tom had his reasons, Jimmy told himself, even when he was a bit nervous about that much cash lying around the apartment.

Not that a break-in would have been easy—burglars would have needed a lorry to break through the locks at the front door. Tom told Jimmy that they couldn’t be too careful—inner city living had its dangers. A fair point.

Jimmy did prefer it when he had some idea of when Tom was coming back. At the very least, whenever he was away, Tom did call him to check up, see if all was well, and tell him to keep his gorgeous self out of mischief. Which Jimmy thought was sweet, since mischief was never Jimmy’s thing. The worse he got into was a bit of pot with friends on nights with the Play Station, or drinking a bit too much and blubbering at Tom how much he fucking loved him. At those times, Tom would brush his hair from his forehead, kiss his temple, and sometimes say it back.

One of those nights, Jimmy hadn’t been that weepy, just overly affectionate, kissing Tom’s jawline, his neck, when the buzzer rang. Jimmy sighed, murmuring disquietly as Tom eased out of his grasp and pressed the answer button near the door. Tom winked at Jimmy, who put on a pout, knowing full well it wouldn’t speed up his return. A bloke’s voice Jimmy didn’t recognise came through the speaker.

Tom responded. “Hey, Gaz.”

“Heya, Tom. Mind if I come up for a bit?” The question sounded like he was trying real hard to be casual.

“Na mate, not a good time. I’ll come down to you.”

It wasn’t the first time Tom had had a conversation in the lobby. Jimmy folded his arms, and waited as Tom left him alone.

Once, when such a visit occurred during the day, Jimmy had crept to the window, peered down onto the carpark below. Tom had been talking with a bloke, tracksuited and blinged up all expressive gestures, while Tom had been doing his usual cool, easy thing. Jimmy had held up his hands as to frame them in a film shot, invent some dialogue in his head about a crazy scheme they were concocting.

This time, Jimmy heard a shout from the window, coming from downstairs. He jerked, broken from his fake sulk, and was about to get up when Tom came back, swiftly opened and closed a drawer, and left with an envelope that Jimmy knew contained one of those wads of cash. Jimmy sat on the edge of the couch until Tom came back.

“What was that about?”

Tom thought a second before saying, “Nothing to worry about, babe. All sorted.”

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