Re-edited version of 2008 novel ~
Kevin woke suddenly. Some chaos of thought teased at his consciousness. He’d gone from a deep and empty sleep to the kind of alertness that had his whole body tense. Someone, he thought, was having a nightmare; the kind that taps into a reservoir of pain and it doesn’t go away when the dreamer wakes up. Shit. This was what he hated about apartment living.
Kevin sat up and brushed his hands over the stubble on his chin. He was trying to decide whether to open up to the images when they became more insistent. Dougal. It has to be Dougal. He got up silently and padded to the door, opening it and stepping out to the other man’s bedroom door, opposite his. He touched it lightly with the tips of his fingers and felt chaos shimmering off of it like electricity. Bingo.
The question was, always, what should he do?
Dougal wouldn’t thank him for invading his head. A man was entitled to privacy in his dreams, at least, but ever since he’d gotten his gift, the insistence of other people’s dreams had been his constant companion.
Gift, right, the gift that keeps on taking.
His curiosity aroused, Kevin opened himself up, only a fraction, and the images flashed into his mind. Kevin tried to let them simply flicker past. Dougal, asleep as he was now, was a perfectly transparent window.
Dreams could mean anything or nothing. He’d never judged a man by his dreams and he hoped he would never be judged for his own.
Water. Boat. Friends.
Kevin thought that those were probably memories. Sailing…yeah…Dougal was boating; he saw the words Yacht Club on a big concrete sign. Boys sailed in separate boats, and there were some images of a large boat with a crew, working and learning together. Privileged, suntanned boys sailing away their summers in a yacht club.
No wonder he had this impossible apartment on a cop’s salary.
One boy found his way prominently into the forefront of all the images. Tall and thin, he had rich black hair and brown, brooding eyes. When he laughed it was with his dark head thrown back and eyes that crinkled and hanged the whole aspect of his face. He was painfully young. Dougal loved him. Well, shit.
The dream changed then to darkness, in which Dougal tried to find his friend, but couldn’t. He was frantic with pain and loss, and something more. Something sinister. Kevin sighed. Sometimes when people dreamed they told themselves things they didn’t tell themselves when they were conscious. There was more to Dougal’s loss than even he realized on the surface. Dougal was terrified by something, yet at the same time unwilling to accept it.
Dougal dreamed of dark water, rising high over the deck of a large sailboat in a storm. His friend was touching him intimately, holding him, and then a sudden, powerful wave swept him overboard, carried him away, and sucked him under.
Kevin felt the exact moment when Dougal woke up. Dougal was silent, but Kevin knew he’d be sweating, gasping for air. Damn. He ran a hand through his hair and made his way to the kitchen to explore the cupboards for anything he could eat quickly and quietly. He didn’t want to alert his host to the fact that he was awake, but wondered as he raided the fridge and found string cheese and a beer if Dougal had that dream often.
Kevin crept back to his room and sat cross-legged on his bed illuminated only by the light of his laptop. He knew what to look for, and when he found it he wasn’t surprised at all. After a few different Google searches he hit pay dirt when he tried ‘missing persons and Newport Harbor Yacht Club’. Kevin read for a while and grew more interested by the minute. This isn’t your case, he reminded himself. You’re here for Carl and his missing boys.
Turning off his laptop, he plugged it in to be charged. Then he lay back with his arms folded under his head, trying not to think about the dark boy in Dougal’s dreams. He remembered Dougal’s amiable smile and wondered what it cost him to keep up the façade day in and day out. He’d be willing to bet that dream was a visitor Dougal entertained far more than he liked.
Kevin heard Dougal stretch in the living room and then leave again for a run at five a.m. He was certainly dedicated. A few minutes later Kevin got up to make some coffee and breakfast, if there was anything to cook. Neither he nor Dougal had a good night, and breakfast would go a long way toward making it go away.