Finn's been asleep for centuries. He'll need to catch up fast to survive.
Diego's impulse to rescue a naked bridge jumper starts as just that—talk the man down and get him to social services. But there's something odd about this homeless person, more than just his delusions of being a pooka, and something so vulnerable that Diego's determined to help him stabilize rather than see him institutionalized or deported.
Finn went into the Dreaming centuries ago to escape a heartbreak he couldn't bear. Now that he's back, he finds the Veil to the Otherworld closed. The fae courts have abandoned him in a poisoned human world where a displaced pooka has little chance of survival. His human rescuer is kind and compassionate—and shockingly familiar. One thing at a time, though. He needs Diego to believe he's not human first.
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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, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) 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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Copyright © Angel Martinez 2018. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Pride Publishing.
The figure crouched on the bridge shocked Diego so thoroughly he drove a hundred yards before he realized what he had seen.
A man squatted on his heels on the rail, one hand on a cable, the other clutching a ragged blanket at his throat. Threadbare cloth flapped around bare ankles. The persistent wind yanked it this way and that to show flashes of naked legs.
“Holy shit,” Diego muttered, as he wrestled his ancient Toyota into the nearest side street to park. This was none of his business. Didn’t he have enough problems? Even as he argued with himself, he ran, dodging traffic and ignoring angry epithets as he pelted back up the bridge against traffic. The inevitable gaper delay had slowed the flow at least, making his precarious journey easier.
People stared from the safety of their vehicles as they inched along but no one stopped to help.
Diego ignored them. His primary concern was to not startle the man into falling. He slowed his approach, ready to offer soothing words, but the man heard his footsteps. Long black hair whipped and snaked in the wind, hiding his face, though Diego caught a glimpse of bared teeth.
“Did you come after me?” the jumper snarled. “I won’t go back.”
“Go back where?” Diego seized the opportunity to start the man talking.
The jumper shook his head to clear the hair from his eyes and peered at Diego. Black eyes, not dark brown, but black, set in deeply shadowed sockets. “No, I suppose you don’t look like one of those,” he said in a softly accented, weary voice.
“One of who?” Diego edged closer to stand next to him.
“The ones who shut me in the iron cage. I changed. I escaped.” His words seemed to stick in his throat and even above the traffic, Diego heard him swallow hard. “But now I’m too tired. I can’t…and the river is so filthy. I think it might kill me.”
At least he doesn’t sound like he wants to die. “Look, if you don’t want the police catching up to you, or the hospital staff, or whoever it is, this is about the worst thing you could do. You’re upsetting all these people and attracting a lot of attention. They’ll be here any minute.” Diego reached out a hand, palm up. “Please come down. Let’s get you safe and out of the wind. Then we’ll see about straightening all this out.”
The man regarded him through the shifting curtain of hair for a long moment. “What are you called?”
Depends who you talk to. “My name is Diego. Diego Sandoval.” He lurched forward when the man swayed, his stomach plummeting to his feet, but the jumper retained his place on the rail.
The man repeated his name a few times as if trying it out, then nodded. “It’s a good name. Pleasurable to say.”
“I am called Fionnachd.”
Diego tried to repeat it and won a hint of a smile from the man when he mangled the pronunciation. “Could I call you Finn?”
That got a shrug. The blanket fell back from his shoulder to reveal all too prominent bones. “You could. Some have. I don’t mind.”
“Climb down, Finn,” Diego urged again. “I’ll help you. Let’s get you somewhere quiet where you can rest.”
Finn took his fingers in a light grip and Diego caught a whiff of rotten orange rinds as he slid from the rail.
What the hell am I doing? He could have hepatitis or HIV or tuberculosis, or worse. He’s probably crazy. Maybe even dangerous.
The intense plea in those black-on-black eyes silenced his practical objections. Lost and alone, he needed someone. Diego had never been good at walking away.
He slipped out of his trench coat, placed it around Finn’s shoulders, followed it with his arm and led him away. His ‘latest project’, Mitch would have sneered. Not that he should care anymore what Mitch thought.
They reached the car without incident, but here, Finn balked. “They put me in one of those before.”
One of…the car? “Well, I doubt it was as beat up as this one,” Diego tried to joke, but Finn backed up a step. Diego patted the car’s roof. “No lights. Not a police car. Or an ambulance.”
Finn lifted his chin and sniffed the air. “You do smell kind and trustworthy. But some of the others did, too.”
“They probably wanted to help you and didn’t know what would upset you. Why did they arrest you? Did they say?”
Finn rubbed a hand over the side of his head, further snarling the mess of hair over the top half of his face. “Indecent exposure. I don’t know what’s indecent about standing on the dock watching the boats, though.”
Irish. Diego was certain he’d placed the accent. “It’s usually because someone’s stark naked, not because they’re watching boats.”
He had no idea how much of this was a put-on. No one could be that naïve. Though someone could be that deluded. Time enough to sort it all out later. Right now, he had to get Finn off the street before he crumpled to the pavement.
“Look, this goes both ways. I don’t know if I can trust you either,” Diego said, as he opened the passenger door.
A Cheshire-Cat grin bloomed under the flying mass of hair. “Well said. You may be the first sensible person I’ve met since I woke.”
Finn took the two steps to the car and let Diego help him in. He gingerly avoided touching the doorframe but finally settled back with an exhausted sigh.
Diego drove away just as sirens began to sound on the bridge.