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Change of Heart

Honored Vow

Trusted Bond

A Matter of Time, Vol. 1 & 2


The Guardian




After the Sunset


Any Closer



The Servant

What Can Be


His Hearth

Tooth and Nail

Heart in Hand



Cherish Your Name



Chapter One

ITWASpouring when I walked outside to use the pay phone. I was so close; I could stop or just catch another bus depending on how he sounded on the other end.


Not Cy, someone else, and it was noisy wherever his phone was. I checked my watch—eight o’clock on a Friday night. He was probably at a club or a bar or even dinner. I was interrupting.


I cleared my throat. “Uhm, sorry, I… is this Doc’s phone?”


“Sorry, I mean Cyrus.”

“Yeah, this is his. He just had me answer it ’cause he’s putting things away in the fridge. Who’s this?”

I swallowed instead of hanging up like I should have. “This is Weber, and I—”

“Weber who?”

“Weber?” My name was repeated distantly.

“Hey, Cy, do you know anybody named—”

“You know what,” I started to say at the same minute there were sounds on the other end of the line, muffled, and then a quick bang, like something dropped, maybe the phone.

“Weber?” He sounded breathless, and my name, because he was the one saying it, sounded amazing.

“Hey.” I smiled into the phone even though the water was coming in under the booth and soaking through the bottoms of my worn cowboy boots. “Sorry to be interruptin’ whatever you’re doin’. I wasn’t thinkin’.”

“You’re not interrupting anything. Where—”

“Are you at a party?”

“No, I’m just at a friend’s house, and we were about to have dinner.”

“Then I’ll let you go and—”

“It’s just a big group, Web, it’s nothing,” he assured me. “Where are you?”

I was starting to shiver. “Not far, so I thought I would—”

“Yes—” He cut me off. “—come see me. I’ll go home right now.”

“Oh no, you—”

“Web.” He caught his breath. “Please. Meet me there.”

“I’ll meet you in the morning,” I told him, because I realized how exhausted I was, and I wanted to shower and shave before I saw him. I always showed up looking like hammered shit, in clothes I had slept in for a week. He deserved better.

“Weber, I’m sorry, okay?”

“Nothing to be sorry for.”

There was a long silence, and after a minute I got it. I wasn’t that bright, but even I could figure things out. “I’m not punishing you. I just look like hell, and I’d like to look better this time. I promise I’ll be there.”

“You promise?”

“Yeah,” I said as my teeth started to chatter.

“Oh God, you’re freezing. Are you… where exactly are you?”

“At the Greyhound bus station in Oakland.”

“Oh God,” he groaned. “You’re that close?”


“Weber.” His voice cracked. “Please don’t make me wait until tomorrow. I don’t give a damn what you look like. Just let me come get you… please.”

“I don’t wanna interrupt your—”

“Web.” He sounded so serious, and I loved it. “I’ll beg—do you want me to beg?”

“You don’t need to beg for nothin’, ever.”

“Listen,” he said, his voice low and gravelly, “just…. I’m so sorry about the last time.”

Seven or so months ago I had been through on my way to Reno, and when I was ready to go, he had given me an ultimatum. Stay forever or go and never come back. He was tired of waiting, which I had no idea he’d even been doing, and he wanted me either to remain with him or lose his number. I had actually forgotten the fight until that very moment. I tended to remember only the good times with him and none of the bad.

“Oh shit, Doc.” I trembled. “I shouldn’t have bothered you. I wasn’t thinking.”


“God, I’m such an ass,” I groaned, feeling more than stupid. Talk about a needy bastard.


No? “Darlin’, are you—”

“Weber Yates, don’t you dare hang up this phone!”

“Yeah, but—”

“I want to see you!”

He had to be making a spectacle of himself at whoever’s house he was at. “Calm down and stop your yellin’. I don’t want no one lookin’ at ya like you’re crazy.”

“I don’t care! Jesus Christ, Web, just—”

“Are you sure you wanna see me?”

He made a strangled noise. “Yes, please. So sure.”

“You ain’t mad no more?”

“No, baby, I’m not mad. I was never mad.”

I coughed softly. “Was that the guy?”

There was a silence before he answered me. “What are you talking about?”

“Well, last time I was here you said you were fixin’ to get serious with a guy who wanted to have one of those commitment ceremonies with you and so—”

“No, that wasn’t him. I tried to make it work with the man you’re talking about, but… turns out you can’t love someone just because you should.”

“So it’s over?”

“Yes, it’s over; it’s been over for the last six months.”

“’Cause I don’t wanna mess nothin’ up for ya. I reckon I put you through enough.”

“There’s nothing to mess up, I assure you. I’m so sorry for how we…. Baby, I’m so sorry for what I said.”

I realized between his tone and how shaky his breathing was that maybe I made a mistake. “You know, I’m kinda tore up. Maybe this wasn’t such a good—”

“It was,” he snapped at me. “It was a great idea. Really nice of you to not let me feel like an asshole for the rest of my life.”

I took a deep breath. “You’re not an asshole.”

“But how I pressured you, the things I said…. I went after you, but you were already gone.”

“You did?” I brightened because that was nice to hear.

“Yes. God, Weber, I really am so sorry.”

“Forget it. I’ll see you.”


He knew me well for someone who had seen me maybe fifteen times in a three-year period—he knew to ask for a definitive timeline. Because when I said I would see him, it could mean either today, tomorrow, or before I died.


I took a breath. “Well, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I reckon you could come fetch me from the station here.”

Deep exhale from him. “Okay. I’ll be right there. Don’t leave. Please.”


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