A Not so Hollow Heart





Mason’s more scared of love than he is of the walking dead.

Mason’s facing more than one apocalypse. The darkest hours are those spent alone when memories surface and the touch of his lost love can make the most erotic of dreams horrifying. He’d rather face danger than recollect how he loved Antonio, and what he was prepared to give up for him. He’s never going to fall in love again…a vow that wavers when he rescues Kyle.

Although he’s certain luck had more to do with saving Kyle than anything he did now Mason fears something more than the walking dead. He’s afraid giving in to lust may lead to love, if homophobic hatred doesn’t murder them first.

Read an Excerpt…

“Did things go wrong?” Kyle slid down a little in the bed, sinking into the pillows, although he was so lightweight, Mason was surprised he made a dent.

“Understatement. Close calls.” Mason shrugged. “They happen.”

“Ever wonder which are worse?”

Uncertain as to his meaning, Mason looked across into those dark eyes. Darker than Antonio’s, he realized with a start. His subconscious must have picked up on that as well as the slight unevenness to Kyle’s teeth. These were the eyes from his dream. As for the color, he wouldn’t have believed that possible; he’d once believed no one could have darker irises than Antonio. As Kyle settled back, light seemed to fall into his eyes, create pinpoints of illumination. Mason got up and paced, pretending to stretch, though he really wanted to get closer. If he wasn’t mistaken, Kyle’s long eyelashes were the sort for which women contemplated killing. His lashes framed almost black pupils, and those eyes really were possibly the man’s best feature, particularly while he still appeared related to one of the living dead. Even when Kyle put on some weight, his cheekbones would stand out, perfectly underscoring those eyes.

“Sorry?” He’d forgotten Kyle’s question.

“Ever wonder which is worse? The zombies or the humans who hurt each other even though the world’s gone to hell?”

Mason wasn’t sure the world hadn’t always been hell, flashing back on how he and Antonio had fought for acceptance, but he didn’t have the heart to say so.

“The humans,” he replied with only a slight pause.

Kyle swallowed. The scrawniness of his frame made his Adam’s apple bob in both a grotesque and oddly inviting way. “Glad I’m not the only one to think so.” He didn’t sound happy, though.

Mason stared at the man in the bed, and the man stared back. Kyle’s tongue flicked out, then vanished back inside his mouth. He grimaced.

“Doc says licking my lips is not doing them any good. He gave me this.” Kyle shifted, making a weak attempt to reach for something on the bedside table. Almost by reflex, Mason walked over and picked up the object, which turned out to be a small jar labeled with spiderlike writing.

“Some woman—Patricia? She’s making this stuff?”

Mason nodded in answer to Kyle’s questions. The people here had needed to go back to basics for many things—food, drugs, even items like salve. He looked up in time to see Kyle almost lick again, once more resist. Mason focused on the condition of Kyle’s mouth rather than the pink and enticing flash of his tongue. At least his lips had improved—dry instead of cracked, except for a couple of particularly nasty fissures where they’d split and bled.

Kyle’s eyelids fluttered and closed. His head slumped to one side.

Mason unscrewed the lid of the jar, then hesitated, mindful enough to check the cleanliness of his fingers. He’d washed his hands when he arrived—Miles insisted there be no infection in his “hospital”—but still, he checked. Satisfied, he dabbed a small amount of the salve on his index finger. Then he sat on the edge of the bed and leaned over the patient.

Mason had to be careful—Kyle’s lips were dry—but tracing them at first made Mason feel a peaceful connection he hadn’t enjoyed for a long time. He intended nothing sexual, took a simple pleasure from caring for someone. Then as sensation spread out from his groin into his thighs, he almost gasped at the sudden, unexpected, and intense arousal—made even worse when Kyle opened his eyes. For a second they stared at each other. Then Kyle’s mouth unlatched. He took the tip of Mason’s finger between his teeth. Seeming almost unnecessarily cautious to make sure the forefinger didn’t drag over his lips, Kyle applied pressure with his teeth and then used his tongue to lap what remained of the salve from Mason’s fingertip.

The hot, wet, fluttering impression against one of his digits did nothing to make Mason’s erection wither. He wanted to pull free but feared he’d hurt Kyle if he did, even cause his mouth to bleed. Kyle needed to be the one to withdraw, which he eventually did, only to swallow and then say, “Tastes pretty good for an ointment.”

“Salve,” Mason corrected. “I think Pat uses honey in many of her concoctions. It’s healing.”

He vaguely wondered whether Pat made a balm for heartache. He stood up abruptly, screwed the lid back on the jar, and popped it in place on the table. His eyebrows had gathered in the middle of his brow, but he couldn’t stop frowning. A weight took up residence in his chest, and his breathing tightened.

© Sharon Maria Bidwell, all rights reserved.