On the Road near Kirriemuir
Saturday, April 5, 2014
The drive from Ethie Wood to the little burg of Braemar in the Cairngorms was less than seventy miles—well under two hours, even in heavy traffic. Without Alex to share it with, Rory thought it was taking almost forever. From time to time, more than glancing in the rear-view mirror, his eyes sought the familiar profile of a Hunter Green jeep. Sometimes it was right behind. Other times, he slowed until it came into view.
He told himself he was not afraid of losing Alex Dominguez. He simply liked keeping him close.
They had been severed three times.  Once because he’d bloody run away, leaving his man sitting in a cabin on the side of Nevada’s Mt. Moriah.  Once because Rory and his father had a private date with an extortioner in the Parliament Complex while Alex had his own tryst with a killer.  And just a few months ago, he had to crawl on his foogin belly like a snake, alone, to avoid a sniper and try to rescue Alex.
As it turned out, Alex had rescued himself. But they still had to confront a madman. He shook his head, remembering.
What is it about Alejo that invites danger?
His hands fidgeted on the leather-wrapped steering wheel of his father’s baby, the Land Rover Defender that for whatever reason he’d held onto for seventeen years. He thought briefly about the time he and Kenneth were driving like madmen into Edinburgh, when his sire had made a quiet observation that still whirled like a dervish in his mind…
“After today’s business is done, Father, I need to rush back home. Some goddamn voice is telling me to be two places at once.”
His father had laid a hand briefly on his shoulder. “The spoils of loving a cop, son. You also sleep with danger.”
Och, Alex was not a cop—not in the sense that he walked a beat, or drove a police car, or even usually wore a gun. His mate had scornfully called himself a “rent-a-cop,” but he was far more. He was a born investigator and instigator too. He could not look at even a street, or a house on that street, or a wall in that house, without registering every detail on his digital-camera mind; without wondering why, and who, and how, and when. Slowly, over the months of joining Alex on his crime-tracking, even Rory himself had begun to see life around him as more than a blurred photo.
He grinned at nothing in particular and again sought a sight of the Wrangler behind him on the unremarkable highway to the Cairngorms.
Forfar to Kirriemuir to Kirkton…his fingers beat a silent rhythm on the wheel while his arse end adjusted to the unfamiliar seat of the Rover. He’d asked his father once, hell, ten years ago at least, why he insisted on hanging on to an old 4WD, with the market full of sexy new vehicles.
“If I thought that way, lad, I’d have traded you in a long time ago.”
Rory thought about the long line of motorcars…and men…he’d driven into the ground during the last decade. Not a bloody one of them worth keeping. He needed variety, dependability, uniqueness, beauty—face it—he needed Alex. And maybe his father was right. It could be he needed one car the way he needed one remarkable man.
After we get married. I’ll find something both of us like, and I promise I’ll keep it until the foogin wheels fall off.
A darkish sky becoming-primrose told him it was around eight, but he tapped his smartwatch anyway. The Braemar office of Police Scotland would be open in an hour. With one of two men being out sick, the sergeant in charge was pulling twelve- and fourteen-hour shifts. He’d learned that second-hand, through a conversation between Alex and Constable MacHugh when they were being issued their firearms yesterday.
In a way, he was glad they were short-handed. Otherwise, he suspected Patricia Finley would “deputize” Rory Drummond as soon as hell froze over.
Och, I don’t envy those rural cops. Or any of those lads.
For the millionth time he uttered a pagan prayer, thanking the gods Alex was only a special constable, in a hardy force of five or six men. And one rhino-skinned female.
For the two-millionth time he pondered the fact that Alex had not taken the exams to become a full-time constable. He referred to himself disparagingly as a robo-cop and a rent-a-cop, but still he avoided the uniform and badge of a regular constable. What was holding him back?
The lad was positively obsessed with earning his own way, so eaten with the notion that once he even worked for a few pounds a day helping a smokie fisherman…to pay the non-existent “rent” on a tiny stone house in Ethie Woods. So what was stopping him from pursuing that “three squares and a paycheck” he’d once talked about?
Rory scowled and chewed his mustache, thinking.
His mate was always going on about the mountains. More than anyone he’d ever met, Alex seemed almost to crave the solitude of high places. And yet they had never once driven to Scotland’s iconic Highlands.
He’d asked, of course. But when Alejo Dominguez wanted to keep a secret, nothing could pull it, even kicking and screaming, to the surface. So he was content to wait.
Maybe this trip will unleash a few secrets. I’ve not seen the lad so excited since he came to Scotland…
Rory knew at some level that Alex’s quiet nature—his very reticence—was a powerful attraction to a man who’d chased and fucked a thousand men. He longed to peel back the layers of this deep man. Instead, it seemed to him that Alex was burrowing into his soul, laying bare the insecure boy inside the swaggering Scot.
Och, when we are more than lovers—when we are bound by law…what then? Will Alex still need to crouch alone in a stone cave? Will he ever let me inside?
Foog, I hate being alone.
The alone times, few as they were, gnawed at his brain, brought up thoughts he’d rather not deal with.
The beginning chapters are listed on the side —>panel
The series is Nevada Highglander, a bestselling group of (so far) four novels by Erin O’Quinn:  NEVADA HIGHLANDER |  THE KILT COMPLEX |  HUNTER’S POINT  SLEEPING WITH DANGER