Autumn Cliche by R.W. Clinger is now available!
Chad Best, article writer for Artist Trade, is instructed by his editor to head to Haven Island in Lake Erie to interview the famous ashtray artist, Finn O’Rourke. A glassblower, Finn has the reputation of being a monster to the public, particularly the media, but Chad is fascinated by him and can’t wait to meet the artist.
When Chad arrives on the island, he and Finn get things off to a bad start. But Chad soon learns there’s a softer side to the artist, and Finn O’Rourke isn’t the monster his super fans have made him out to be.
To Chad’s surprise, Finn woos the writer and seduces him. Emotionally ensnared by the artist, Chad finds himself falling for Finn. When his visit comes to an end, will Chad choose to return to his busy life, or stay on the artist’s island with a man he might love?
“Chad,” I heard, falling out of sleep. “Chad, it’s me … Finn.”
I opened my eyes and saw the shadowy outline of his figure hovering above me: naked from head to toe with mussed hair. I blinked a few times, rubbed my left eye, and I consumed more of his handsomeness in the dark: broad shoulders, hairy chest, limp and cut cock hanging between his legs like a clock’s pendulum. Thereafter, I groggily whispered, “Finn, what’s wrong?” Perhaps an emergency occurred on the island. The cabin or woods were on fire. An interloper had discovered his or her way to the island and were taking us hostage. Some epic and dangerous event had occurred that he, being the polite and caring host, was bringing to my attention.
Whispering, he replied, “I can’t sleep. Sometimes I just don’t want to be alone. Can I maybe slip in beside you?”
I believed him somewhat insecure, unhappy on his island with his ashtray designs, hidden from his fame and the rest of the world. Like every other person on the planet, he needed communication, emotional and physical release. Therefore, I understood his means, and desires, and moved to the left side of the bed, abandoning its middle, and told him, “I’m right here, Finn. There’s plenty of room for both of us.”
He climbed into the bed next me, laying on his back. His shadowed chest rose and fell, and he said, “This is nice. Thanks.” Then he reached for my right arm and placed it over his chest: my forearm brushed against his hairy pecs; fingertips rolled across a nipple on his left side; my elbow lay against his right side, aligned with a rib.
I didn’t object to that intimate moment between us. I couldn’t. Not after the honesty he had shared with me. Not after he allowed me to make the trip from Columbus, across the reach to his island, and process my executed interview. In truth, he was a man I just happened to be attracted to, desiring, became fond for after meeting him in person, and was eagerly drawn to on many different levels and concerns. I couldn’t push him away that night, not in the slightest, and wouldn’t. Who would have in my position? Who? I couldn’t think of a single soul on God’s green Earth.
“People think I’m a hater,” he said. “But really, I’m not. You can justify that.”
“I’ll tell the truth about you when I write the article.”
Our chests rose and fell at the same crescendo in the dark bedroom. Sounds of the rain and lake’s waves intermingled with our night’s talk. Autumn wind licked at the cabin and thunder drummed in the distant, but didn’t startle either of us. I felt comfortable next to him, at peace, and unharmed from the world around us. He became innocuous in my mind, and my heart. My soul had started to open up to him, emotionally, and I became lost in the night with the man, reaching out to a place called love, even if we had just met a few hours before. He wouldn’t hurt me, I sensed that. He adored me, although he had known very little about me, but seemed willing and interested to learn.
“You’re probably wondering why I like you, Chad. Would you like to know?”
“I would. Tell me. Curiosity killed the cat.”
He chuckled at my cliché and said, “Because you’re brave for coming here, smart, charming, and professional. You have a strong head on your shoulders. And you look good without a shirt on. Tell me one thing I shouldn’t like about you.”
“I snore,” I admitted.
I laughed, brushing a finger over his nipple, and not by accident.
“I think I could get used to that. Tell me something else that I shouldn’t like about you.”
“I have books all over my house. Too many books. I sort of hoard them.”
He laughed again.
I laughed again, brushing two fingertips over his hardened nipple, purposely.
“It doesn’t matter what you hoard, I guess. You seem tender, and patient? Tell me if I’m right.”
“Some guys would say that about me.”
“Men that you have dated?”
“Well, I’d like to have a date with you, if it’s any consolation. Then I can decide for sure if you’re tender and patient.”
“A breakfast date. What do you say?”
“Are you asking me out, Chad Best?”
“Only for the best pancakes I can make on a griddle,” I whispered.
“I accept a breakfast date with you,” he said.
I brushed his nipple again, turned on by the man, semi-hard between my legs, willing and capable of making love with him, but only if he started the action, and agreed to such a plan for morning breakfast between us. I didn’t want to begin something foolish with his body, offending him, and crossing another line that neither of us could revert over, changing time and place and actions that shouldn’t have transpired in the first place. Instead, I simply said, “I’m looking forward to having a date with you, Finn.”
“Likewise,” he said, and rolled on his side, pulling my right arm with him, locking it tenderly against his bare chest. In doing so, he said, “Hold me tonight. Sometimes a man wants that. You’re the man I want to do that with.”
I didn’t argue with him, overwhelmed with our bed time together, next to him. His cabin. His island. His rules. I abided. Happy. Smiling throughout the night as I slept. Next to him.