Rider:Howling Cavern 2

By: Lynn Hagen

(The Lynn Hagen ManLove Collection)

Howling Cavern 2

Chapter 1

“So, I was thinking, we could go swimming in the creek later or drown ourselves under the water hose.” Kenny licked his ice cream as he and his best friend strolled down the street. “You got any ideas?”

The sun was already starting to set, painting the sky beautiful shades of blue and pink. Too bad he couldn’t reach up and pluck the cotton candy from it.

“We could hang out in the grocery store all day,” Felix suggested. He tripped, turned, and glared at the uneven sidewalk as if it had tripped him on purpose.

“We already tried that and got kicked out. The owner thought we were being creepy in the produce section.”

Kenny gave his ice cream a long lick, ignoring the guy walking toward him, who was checking him out.

“I told him I was squeezing the melons to see if they were firm, not pretending I had boobs,” Felix complained.

“You’re such a liar.” Kenny snickered. “Anyway, I gotta get home. Let me know what you want to do later.”

“Peace out,” Felix said before crossing the street and heading toward Grant Street.

As Kenny passed trash cans on tree lawns, he dropped his cone into one of them. Ice cream had been a great idea at the time, but now he was thirsty. He wiped the sweat from his forehead, wishing he could walk around naked. He would if he didn’t think he’d be arrested for indecent exposure.

Howling Cavern was just too uptight. His neighbor, Mrs. Hattie, thought Kenny scandalous when he walked around his backyard without a shirt on. She always called Kenny’s grandfather and complained. Once, she’d even called the cops on him.

Kenny might have a reedy body, but it wasn’t against the law to show off his pale skin in the sunlight. Just as long as he kept his shorts on.

Little did Mrs. Hattie know that Kenny sat out in his backyard in the middle of the night in the nude. He snickered to himself as he headed up his driveway. Sure enough, Mrs. Hattie was on her porch, giving him the stink eye.

He smiled and waved to her and her scowl deepened. Whatever. He stepped into the house and groaned. The interior felt like a hotbox. Kenny found his grandfather sitting next to a pedestal fan, wearing nothing but his boxers. He’d gotten over seeing his grandfather with his beer gut hanging out and the rug attached to his chest. The guy was as furry as a bear, and the black had nearly turned fully gray.

“Hey, Pops.”

“Can someone turn hell down?” He waved a hand in front of his face. “Why didn’t you turn the central air on?”

“Because it stopped working three years ago.” Kenny went into the kitchen and grabbed the ice tray from the freezer. He split the ice into two glasses, then filled them with water before taking one to his grandfather.

“Why can’t we get the central air fixed?” His grandfather drank his water down in one gulp. “This tastes like shit.”

“We ran out of bottled water.” Kenny didn’t bother arguing for the hundredth time that repairing the unit out back would cost too much. Pops was on a fixed income, and Kenny’s job barely paid the bills. But he wasn’t one to complain. He had a roof over his head and food on the table, which was more than most had living in this poor town.

Kenny walked to the bathroom, then set his glass on the counter before filling the tub with cold water. If he couldn’t go swimming in the creek, he would drown himself in the bathtub. Just as he started to get undressed, Felix called.

“It’s not later,” Kenny said when he answered his cell, sticking his legs in the tub and wiggling his toes under the little bit of water that had so far filled it. “I thought we’d meet at the creek after the sun went down.”

Though they probably wouldn’t. Felix had a strange reaction to mosquito bites. His skin swelled in the spots where he’d been bitten, and he scratched the bites until he bled. But Felix was lucky. He was a fox shifter and could heal in an instant after he shifted. Kenny was only human, and the mosquitoes at the lake loved attacking him.

Felix told him that was because Kenny had such sweet blood. He didn’t believe him.

“I have to cancel on you,” Felix said. “My dad found out I was hanging out with you, and now he’s throwing a fit.”

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