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Broken Color

Broken ColorResplendence Publishing
ISBN ebook: 9781607358084
Genre: Gay/MM Contemporary
Book Length: Novella
Release Date: September 17, 2014

Read an Excerpt | Order eBook at Resplendence Publishing

Crazy in love isn’t always a good thing.

Frankie Black lives and works at the Isleta Resort and Casino in Albuquerque. He likes the energy and camaraderie at the hotel, and they don’t mind his eccentric behavior. Frankie’s crazy, and he knows it. He also knows people are willing to pay a lot of money for the paintings he painstakingly creates.

When he notices a handsome hotel guest watching him, Frankie thinks the man’s just another art lover observing the so-called “genius” at work. Unfortunately, the stranger’s dark brown gaze reminds Frankie of all he’s loved and lost, and his hold on reality starts to unravel.

Clint Langley is mesmerized by the funny little man in the bright-colored peasant skirt. Unaware of Frankie’s impressive resume, he takes time out of his boring insurance seminars to spend his days observing Frankie from afar. Eventually, he steps out of his comfort zone and reaches out to the painter, but when he notices changes in Frankie’s behavior, Clint wonders if he’s strong enough to give Frankie the unconditional love it will take to make a relationship work.

**Publisher’s Note: This is a revised and updated version of a previously released title.**

Excerpt

Note for Readers: You must be over eighteen to read this excerpt.

As he watched the clock beside the bed, Frankie Black gripped the edge of the mattress with one hand and tapped the seconds off with the other. He’d been awake for over an hour, after yet another nightmare had forced him from the sleep he so desperately needed. The scars on his back still burned from the memories of the fire that had taken his family nearly twenty years earlier.

The digital clock’s display changed to seven, and classical music filled the room. It was finally safe for Frankie to get out of bed. He ran to the bathroom, groaning with relief during his morning pee. It was stupid that he still adhered to his parents’ rules even though they were gone, but he’d never been able to get beyond them.

“Too close,” he whispered to himself as he shook off and flushed the toilet.

Moving to the sink, he ran the faucet then began to scrub the dream from his skin. Satisfied, he turned on the shower and retrieved a towel from the rack. Under the spray, he methodically washed the rest of his body. He followed the same sequence daily, hair, neck, arms, torso, ass, groin, legs, and feet. Always ending his morning shower with his back, he reached for the terrycloth back scrubber. Although soft, the material was still harsh enough to remind him of the night so long ago.

“Good morning, Mom. Morning, Dad.” Frankie took a deep breath. “Morning, Brian.” They were the words he so desperately wished he could say to the people he’d loved and lost. His family had been far from perfect, but they’d been his.

Rock music filled the bathroom, indicating Frankie’s fifteen minutes were up. He shut down the spray and hung up the back scrubber before opening the curtain. Stepping out, he grabbed the towel and turned off the horrible music on his way out. He stopped at his desk and stared at the calendar. “Wednesday.” He picked up a marker and drew a diagonal line on the blocked date.

Committing the day to memory, Frankie opened the dresser, removed a single red crew sock and tossed it toward the bed. He looked forward to summer, but until then, he was forced to wear socks. Frankie smiled. Dreaming about the day he could rub his bare feet against the green grass never failed to get him through the cold spring mornings.

With a sigh, he opened the closet and fingered his way through the dozen or so long peasant skirts. He ended up with one of his favorites in greens and blues that reminded him of the Caribbean. He’d long ago come to terms with the odd looks he received for the clothes he chose to wear, but skirts felt better on his skin than sweatpants or, God forbid, jeans.

The painting in the corner of the room caught his attention. Could it be his imagination or was it mocking him?

“Shut up,” he mumbled, turning his back on the colorful canvas. He opened the sock drawer once again and pulled out a navy crew. Holding it in his hand, he turned and stared at the bed, at the lone sock thrown haphazardly there. Red. He put the blue sock back and retrieved a matching red and tossed it on the bed to join the other.

After adding a plain white T-shirt to the pile, Frankie dressed quickly, only getting distracted from his task twice, once by the sound of a bird singing on his balcony and once by a wayward red string on one of the socks.

He ran a brush through his drying, shoulder-length hair and wrapped a ponytail holder around his wrist, in case it was windy outside. Once he was ready for the day, Frankie finally turned and faced the painting.

Each time he looked at the canvas, he saw something different. He could definitely tell he’d been in a dark mood yesterday. “Hmm,” he hummed. Maybe, it would look different once he carried it out into the morning sunlight. No matter. If his muse took him in a different direction during the day, he’d change the picture.

Satisfied with his decision, he turned away from the painting to gather the rest of his supplies.

Frankie set the heavy cotton bag, which held his easel and room key, by the door before going back for the rest of his things. He opened the large wooden art box and checked his supplies, remembering he was running low on burnt sienna. A trip back to his closet yielded a tube of oil paint and another sash brush.

Prepared for the day, he slipped on his worn pair of brown-leather Birkenstocks and carefully lifted the painting. After all, it represented four months of his life despite his current disgust with it.

He met John, one of his favorite maintenance workers, in front of the elevator. “Morning,” Frankie greeted.

“How’s your morning?”

“Typical. Do you know if they’re serving green beans at the buffet this morning?” The elevator doors opened, and Frankie stepped inside. John didn’t offer to help, Frankie had made it clear to the entire hotel staff he didn’t need anyone else handling his supplies.

John grinned and shook his head. “Not for breakfast, but Phil’s working this morning, and we both know he’ll cook you up some if you ask him.”

The elevator doors opened, and Frankie gestured with the art box for John to go first. “I might do that. I forgot to stop for lunch yesterday, so I didn’t get my full servings of vegetables for the day.”

“Then you should definitely ask Phil.” John waved before rounding the corner. “Good luck today.”

“Thanks, I have to repair what I did yesterday.” Instead of going to the buffet, Frankie headed to TIWA, a smaller restaurant in the hotel. “Good morning, Patty.”

“Morning, Frankie.” Without asking, she led him to the back corner of the room. “Coffee?”

“Yes, please, and can you ask Phil if he’d do me a huge one and make me a double portion of green beans to go with my scrambled eggs?”

“Sure thing.” Patty mussed Frankie’s hair on the way to the kitchen, something the younger woman knew drove him crazy.

With a chuckle, Frankie pushed a chair all the way to the corner and used the walls to keep the painting upright on the seat of the chair. He sat across the table, so he had nothing in his view besides the painting he’d worked on for months. Patty’s treatment was typical. The Isleta Resort staff treated him like a member of the family. It was the main reason he’d come for a visit and ended up staying for over a year. Well, that and the fact he’d found the landscape in Albuquerque, New Mexico breathtaking.

Left alone, Frankie narrowed his eyes and stared at the painting, trying to focus on each brush stroke. He spotted several that needed repair. There were thousands of small dabs of paint on the twenty-four by twenty-four canvas, and Frankie’s mind saw each of them individually.

Out of his peripheral vision, he noticed Patty setting down a cup of steaming coffee. He grinned at the quiet care the woman took not to disturb him. Teasing one moment and gently considerate the next, yep, Patty was like an annoying younger sister.

“Thanks,” he told her, without taking his gaze off the painting.

Patty laid a hand on his shoulder before disappearing.

As he stared at the upper left corner of the canvas, the red, orange and gold strokes of the evening sunset moved, slithering in place like a snake ready to strike. Frankie’s hands curled into fists as the paint turned to flames and crawled its way down the painting. He held his breath as the fire jumped from the canvas to the table, slowly inching closer and closer to him.

Closing his eyes, he tried to block out the images that haunted him awake or asleep. It’s not real, he told himself.

Frankie took a deep breath and tried to calm his racing heart, blocking out the memories from his youth. One step at a time. One day at a time. One painting at a time. He repeated the mantra that had served him well over the years.

When he opened his eyes, Patty stood beside him, two plates in her hands. Frankie knew immediately she’d witnessed his momentary lapse in reality. “Sorry,” he mumbled.

“Are you okay?”

He sat back in his chair and unclenched his hands. “I’m fine. Thanks,” he added when Patty didn’t seem convinced. He shook out his napkin and wiped the sweat from his face. Trying to change the awkwardness of the situation, he turned his attention to his breakfast. “Looks good.”

With a concerned expression, Patty set the plates on the table. “Phil said to tell you if you need more green beans, let him know.”

The double helping looked like more than enough to satisfy his mother. “Tell him thanks, but this should do until lunch.”

“That reminds me, Phil wanted to know if you’d prefer spinach or broccoli?”

“Spinach, definitely.”

He was relieved when Patty nodded then returned to her other tables.

One step at a time. One day at a time. One painting at a time.