Sunday, February 20, 2011

Black Swan by Willa Okati

Black Swan

by Willa OkatiCover art: Bryan Keller
ISBN: 978-1-60521-598-3
Genre(s): Paranormal
Theme(s): Shapeshifters, Gay and Lesbian
Series: Auspex
Length: Novella

A tattoo artist who seeks beauty in all things, Paulian has had his fill of man's inhumanity to man, and to the world. In the wake of an Atlantic oil spill, he wishes with all his heart that he could save one. Just one.

And then he meets Adek.

A stranger in a strange land, Adek is a black swan that has lost his wings. Before he can fly again, he needs to find one good man who'll finish the tattoo of his wings on his back. Though he's searched for the right one, he hasn't found him yet.

And then Adek meets Paulian.

Paulian knows that Adek is the one he can save. But if he finishes tattooing the wings of the exotic man he's fallen in love with, Adek will fly away. All he can hope is that Adek will return to him.

Wild things are not meant to be caged, but swans mate for life...

Black Swan
Willa Okati
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2011 Willa Okati

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

"...And in breaking news this evening, the most recent oil spill shows no signs of stopping its progress despite international attempts to --"
Paulian grimaced. He'd only turned on the TV for background noise to keep him company in the studio, alone with no customers and no colleagues needed. With a couple months to go before the weather warmed and the summer tourist season started on the boardwalk, more nights than not the tattoo parlor counted itself lucky to have one, maybe two customers.
Miami Ink they weren't.
Paulian liked it that way. As long as they could pay the bills he could still have quiet hours with nothing else to do but lose himself in drawing at his drafting table. Angled close to the window, he could glance out as the urge came to him and watch the sea flow into and ebb away from the black sand shore. Beautiful in a way he itched to capture with pen and ink, and ink and flesh, but he'd never -- quite -- captured the sense of movement.
He would. Someday. For now, his ears pricked and he abandoned his sketch of spiky tribal swirls and edges to angle his neck and watch the TV sideways. Ugly dark pools, malevolent in their mindless destruction, flooded clean waters.
"...The effect on the local wildlife is --"
Paulian pushed his drafting stool back with a clatter of wheels, stalked across the room in three paces and turned the TV off. He'd spent the better part of his twenties in the Peace Corps. After a point, a man could only break or be broken, stop caring, or walk away. He'd seen damage, disaster he couldn't fix, and though his mind knew it his heart... his heart wasn't satisfied.
He hadn't been able to stop caring.
If he could save one of the injured, he thought, whether they were hurt in mind, body, or soul. Just one. Then, maybe...
Paulian rolled his shoulders to work out a knot of tension between them. Didn't work. Restless now, he pushed his chair back and took the three steps needed to the window, and then sideways to the door. There he propped it open regardless of the chill wind off the ocean and braced himself with one hand on the frame, searching the deepening twilight for the unspoiled blue of these waters.
So much beauty. How could anyone...
The shadows that fell darker and deeper were cut only by the fiery red sparks of a bonfire down the beach. That made Paulian chuckle to himself. Even with all that the world threw at them, nothing fully quenched every spirit. Fire, a passion for dance, for music; these were the good things in life.
Good, too, was the gently surging need for skin against skin. Though it'd been a long time, too long some might say, Paulian remembered what it was like to lie down with someone upon a blanket on the sand in the cool, yielding dark. To close his eyes and surrender himself to sensations of sound and touch.
More, he remembered how good it had been to rest himself upon a firm yet receptive chest both sleek and hard, to press his lips to throat, to collarbone and down. To press himself inside warm and willing flesh.
Yes. Definitely too long since he'd found someone he wanted to indulge with. But not just anyone would do...
Lost in dreams, Paulian's sense of time swirled away as he stood in the doorway. His vision lost its focus too as the sound of the waves filled his mind; he swayed yet kept his balance, moving to the rhythm, idle dreams of masculine kisses and sweeping hands saturating him with a desire, a need he couldn't put a proper name to, but craved.
He wanted tonight, but differently. With a sense of anticipation. As if something, someone, were almost within arm's reach. His grandmother, the woman who'd raised him, had been superstitious-minded. She'd have nodded wisely and said that was a sign, that his senses were learning to reach for what most would call impossible.
After the life he'd led, and the things he'd seen, Paulian was not as inclined as the child he'd been to scoff off her fairy tales. There were more things in heaven and earth than in anyone's philosophy.
So he'd see.
But he didn't see the man approaching; Paulian only noticed him, a stranger, when he was nearly at the door of the studio. The sound of his footsteps on the sidewalk were oddly off, clumsy, soft and hard, decisive and slow. The pace of a man with many things on his mind.
Paulian knew the feeling.
The man walked with his head bent and dark wings of hair fell forward hiding his face. True black hair, so black there would be blue highlights when the sun or moon struck him. He wore a V-necked T-shirt too light for the weather that bared his long, slender arms, and faded denims with artful rips and holes and frayed marks. They betrayed hints of smooth cream flesh and the lithe flex of muscles stronger than they first seemed. There was a power to him that caught the eye and held it. Around his neck, he wore a simple cord of twisted black hemp with a red stone as a pendant that nestled in his hollow of his throat.
Beautiful. Paulian's lips parted. Like no one he'd ever seen; next to him no man could compare.
Though he was steps away from moving past and disappearing into the night, the man must have sensed Paulian's staring at him. He raised his head to stare back at Paulian with eyes as pale as blue-tinted quartz. It wasn't quite a glare; he might have meant it that way but he belied himself with a flicker of surprise, the slowing of his step.
More so with the hesitation in his odd gait when he came close enough for Paulian to see his hair glittered with salt dried after a swim.
Slower still when he glanced at the studio windows and Paulian saw him notice the racks of flash art, the chairs, the gleaming rows of rings and gauges waiting for willing flesh to accept them. He stopped completely when he looked at Paulian, truly looked, and saw the full sleeves of color that decorated Paulian from shoulders to wrists, and over the feet that peeked out under his cuffs.
The stranger, whoever he was, took a step forward as if drawn toward either Paulian or the studio. Still clumsy -- though Paulian didn't think it was drink or drugs -- he missed a rough, slick pool of seawater in a board that needed replacing and stumbled. He knew how to take a fall, palms slapping the ground first and rolling. That was graceful enough; curiouser and curiouser, as they said.
Looked like it had hurt, too. Paulian could see red scrapes on those smooth palms when the stranger rolled back onto his knees and rose. Dark color suffused the man's cheeks, and any smile that might have been forming disappeared.
Paulian couldn't blame him. No man wanted to be made to look the fool, ever. But he couldn't let the man leave -- didn't want to -- and it came to the same thing in the end, without thinking first. He took a step forward toward the stranger, his hand outstretched for -- he didn't know.
Come, stay, be with me.
Too much. The man's pride had been injured more than his body. He turned sharply away and toward the beach, down the sand and into the ever-deepening shadows. Within moments, he was gone.
But not forgotten.

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