The steady rustle of rain on the leaves drowned out small noises, and Alex found himself looking over his shoulder and checking the underbrush more often than usual. Which was saying something. He was thoroughly drenched by now, and still the small blue flag wasn’t up, no matter how many times he scanned the roof of the brand-new embassy building above the fence. He stashed the binoculars in his pocket and wiped the rain off his face for the umpteenth time. His stomach rumbled, but he was used to that by now and ignored it. He’d just decided to give it another ten minutes before it would be too dark, and he’d have to try again the next day, when he noticed movement on the roof. He brought the binoculars back to his eyes. Yes, there was the little blue pennant that told him his contact would be in the market. He stashed the glass again, carefully picked his way down the muddy incline and into the city proper. He immediately felt exposed in the streets, even though the likelihood of anyone recognizing him was small. Still, he kept to the less used side streets and breathed a sigh of relief when the market came into view. He knew the vendor by sight, but the Skanian haggling with him was new. Caray. It pulled the muscles in his shoulders too tight. He hated dealing with people he didn’t know, but it couldn’t be helped. He slipped into the back of the stall and said, “Sorry, I’m late.”
The vendor immediately rounded on him with a perfect show of annoyance. “Finally. I should fire you. The señor has been waiting forever to have his goods carried home for him. Here. Take that, and be quick about it.”
A large pack was dumped on his shoulders, designed to make him bend forward and hide his face. He mumbled an apology and shifted the pack a little so it wouldn’t slip. The Skanian extended a helping hand, and Alex hissed at him to back off. He knew why he hated working with new guys. They were too polite and tried so hard to help that they drew attention to him, when their job was to make him disappear behind them and under the pack.
The vendor murmured something Alex didn’t catch, and the Skanian finally stepped away.
“Lead the way,” Alex whispered, “And stay ahead of me.”
There was another brief hesitation when they came out from under the protective roof and into the rain. The Skanian opened an umbrella, and hesitated between covering Alex or leaving him unprotected. “Go,” Alex whispered. “I can’t get any wetter.”
He couldn’t check the street, bent over as he was, and when a pair of camouflage clad legs in jackboots appeared in his field of vision, his stomach muscles tensed in anticipation, but the securitas kept on walking.
They passed the double gate into the embassy without a hitch, but Alex didn’t let his load slide to the ground until they were behind closed doors. The Skanian made a grab for the pack with an apologetic smile. Alex shrugged. He didn’t mind the weight. Not if it kept the securitas off his back.
He followed the Skanian down a hallway to the backroom that he assumed was Simón’s office now.
“The runner is here.”
“Well, don’t leave him kicking his heels outside, please. Bring him in.”
Alex grinned as the Skanian quickly made room to let him pass and closed to door behind him.
“Alex! I was hoping it would be you one of these days.” Simón held his arms wide, but thought better of the hug when he saw how wet Alex was. “It can wait. You’ll feel better after a shower and with some dry clothes.” Magic words.
A shower and a decent meal later, easily the best things about running messages to the embassy, Alex relayed his info, then leaned back and gratefully accepted a cigarette. “The commandatura three has a new capitán,” he said, blowing the smoke to one side.
“You already heard?”
Mendez shook his head. “No, but I’ve been expecting it for months.”
“The new tenant is theirs as well, but Gijón is ours. As long as he keeps his head down, I don’t think we have to worry about Rajon three. The general populace there is pretty solidly on our side.”
“Aren’t they everywhere?”
The Other Side of Winter
Not all wounds are visible.
Skanian investigator Bengt fell in love with fellow policeman Alex Rukow in a week. But that was a year ago, and they’ve been apart ever since. Then Alex escapes the corrupt and destitute island nation of Santuario and comes to live with Bengt. Happy ever after . . .?
Alex’s lifelong dream of leaving Santuario has come true at last. But he finds himself adrift in a society he doesn’t understand. Worse, past nightmares come back to haunt him, and after so many years of suspicion and self-reliance, it’s harder than he imagined to trust someone else.
Bengt just wants Alex to share his comfortable life. But the more he tries to give, the more Alex pulls away. Their physical connection couldn’t be better, but Bengt can’t seem to get through to his difficult, taciturn lover outside the bedroom. Meanwhile, he has his own demons to confront—not to mention a serial killer on the loose.
Bengt and Alex must dig deep for the courage to face their pasts, but it may be too late to save their relationship or their lives.
About the Author
G.B.Gordon worked as a packer, landscaper, waiter, and coach before going back to school to major in linguistics and, at 35, switch to less backbreaking monetary pursuits like translating, editing, and writing.
Having lived in various parts of the world, Gordon is now happily ensconced in suburban Ontario with the best of all husbands. Santuario is G.B. Gordon’s first published work, but many more stories are just waiting to hit the keyboard.
Connect with Gordon:
·Website and blog