Morgan has worked hard to build a home for himself after a nomadic childhood. When Morgan is called to a fire, he finds the family out front, but their tenant still inside. He rescues Richard Smalley, who turns out to be an old friend he hasn't seen in years and the one person he regretted leaving behind.
Richard has had a hard life. He served in the military where he lost the use of his legs and has been struggling to make his way since coming home. Now that he no longer has a place to live, Morgan takes him in, but when someone attempts to set fire to Morgan’s house, they both become suspicious and wonder what's going on.Years ago Morgan was gutted when Richard moved away, so he’s happy to pick things up where they left off, but now that Richard seems to be the target of an arsonist, he may not be the safest person to be around.
“How on earth did Morgan find me again after all these years?” Richie asked himself as he tried to get his head around the fact that he’d lost everything, it had been Morgan who’d rescued him from the burning building, even though he didn’t remember, and now Morgan had taken him in. What was even more remarkable was that Morgan looked every bit the part of a firefighter rescuer. He was nothing like the thin, wiry boy he’d known when they were kids. There were moments when his smile or the way he bit his upper lip when he was thinking hearkened back to the boy he knew, but mostly this was someone he didn’t recognize.
Morgan was tall, broad, and strong. He did have the same intense eyes and jet black hair. It wasn’t as though he doubted Morgan was who he claimed, but Richie didn’t recognize this person. That is, until he took that trip down memory lane. Once they grew quiet and the fatigue caught up with him once again, he dozed off.
Richard hated sleeping. It was when the memories he’d spent four years trying to run away from caught up with him. During the day he could keep them away—life kept them at bay. Someone had called sleep a minideath or something. Well, for him it was true. Death and destruction haunted and plagued his dreams. He knew them well. Richard had met them up close and personal, and they’d left their scars on both his body and mind.
This time on Morgan’s sofa was different. When he dozed off, they stayed away. He had no doubt they’d return, but for now, this afternoon, he was on a huge beach in a bathing suit. His was green, and Morgan’s was red. His friend carried water in a container so big he rocked back and forth with each step. It had a spout on it, and Morgan set it at the top of the incline. Then the two of them dug a small hole and began digging a raceway for the water to follow back to the lake. All around them were people talking and kids laughing. “Are you ready?” Morgan asked, scurrying up to where Richard was putting the finishing touches on the raceway.
“Almost,” Richard said, hurrying excitedly to finish the bend in the raceway. He handed Morgan a large rock. “Use that as a dam right there. If we got the angle right, it could act like a waterfall on the downward side. That will be cool.”
Morgan dug where he indicated and placed the rock. When Richard finished, he helped, and when everything was ready, Richard turned on the water. It filled the initial pool and then spilled out, running slowly down the raceway, around the various bends and up to the rock dam. It filled the lake behind and then reached the top and spilled over, continuing down. Richard turned to Morgan, who was grinning, and watched as he raced toward him. Suddenly Morgan clutched his chest, smile fading, fingers covered in blood. He gasped and fell to his knees before collapsing onto the ground. Richard stood helpless as the raceway flowed red down to the lake.
He woke with a gasp, sitting up, looking at the grown-up Morgan as he tried to inhale. It was a dream, another reminder of how messed up and freaky his mind worked now. Thankfully Morgan smiled at him and turned back to the television. “You have to be hungry.”
“I guess I am.” He willed the residual images from his mind. “I hate that I can’t remember anything without my thoughts getting all twisted up.”
“Let me guess. You start out down a normal path and suddenly you’re back on the battlefield or it turns gruesome,” Morgan said, and Richard wondered how he knew. “I’ve taken classes. First thing, because we have to deal with losing people under traumatic, stressful situations, and there are times when we deal with someone who’s in a fire but thinks they’re back on the battlefield. Stress can do some wild things to people, so we have to be trained for anything.”
“I was starting to think you were reading my mind.” He stopped short of telling Morgan about his dream. It usually didn’t go over too well when he told someone he’d dreamed their death.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
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