As you'll recall, I said that last week was my last week for Trapped in Time II. This week I start a new story. Well, relatively new. You might remember Dallas in Wonderland. I ran it here before, then ended up publishing it with Xtasy Books. Now here comes the sequel, and the tentative title is The Wonder of Dallas. Enjoy! And don't forget to visit the other Briefers and enjoy their offerings! Their links follow my tale!
Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter One
Dallas hated working the night shift.
He hated the drunks who spilled into the restaurant after the bars closed, at loose ends with themselves and having nothing better to do than to eat. And fight. And puke. Sometimes all at once.
It was a noisy, disgusting shithole. But it’s what he had to look forward to every night. Although sometimes he got lucky and found himself on the day shift, when the drunks were busy at their places of employment. Pretending to be upstanding citizens of the sober variety.
Dallas hated the Rusty Heifer with a passion. What kind of name was that anyway? Named by a drunk, for drunks, it was a far cry from the fine dining establishment where he’d been a sous chef six months ago.
Only six months, but it felt like a lifetime.
In the past six months, he’d lost his job, lost his lover, put his culinary classes on hold, and watched helplessly as his whole world shattered around him. He’d lived with his sister, Paris, and her young son Oz, for the first six weeks. And every day, she made sure he kept his appointment with his doctor. His psychiatrist, actually. Doctor Samuel Levi.
And that was a whole other can of worms.
The bus let him off near the converted Victorian mansion he still called home. At least that hadn’t changed, although not for lack of trying on Paris’ part. She said he should move, start over, but he resisted her advice. It was good to have a constant in one’s life. He liked the building, strange noises and all. Even if it was where he had met Samuel.
Or at least he thought he had.
Dallas wasn’t actually sure of many things these days. Best not to analyze. That only hurt, and Dallas surely didn’t need the pain.
He trudged wearily up the steps to his apartment on the third floor. His hands smelled like antiseptic. Every night, when he got off work, he vigorously scrubbed away the scent and the texture of the Rusty Heifer from his skin. Better the sting than the stench.
He supposed he was lucky that Dr. Levi was willing to accommodate Dallas’ fluctuating schedule. He was willing to work around it, to see Dallas whenever Dallas was available. At least he was only going to the office only three times a week now. Did that mean he was improved?
Hell, he didn’t even know what he was supposed to be improved from.
“You need coffee.”
No, he wasn’t hearing voices of people that didn’t exist, and he wasn’t hallucinating. Dallas glanced at the apartment across the hall from his. His previous neighbor, Mrs. Mayhew, had passed on a few months back... to a retirement community in Florida. Her apartment had been quickly let to another tenant, a young man by the name of Campbell Cain. Campbell worked as an OB nurse in a large nearby hospital. He was cute and bubbly and entertaining. He and Dallas had hit it off right away.
Sadly, Campbell was no substitute for Samuel, even if he was willing to be.
Dallas flashed Campbell a tired smile. What he needed was a good healthy dose of Samuel Levi, something beyond the formal limbo they found themselves in when Dallas visited his office—had there ever been anything more between them? The evidence said no, but Dallas’ weary heart insisted yes. Who to believe? Whatever, he was in no imminent danger of getting more of the same any time soon.
Sleep sounded good too, except that it didn’t, because sleep led to other problems. Such as dreams he couldn’t control, dreams of the strange world he referred to as Wonderland where he’d spent a little time with Samuel once upon a time.
Or had he?
Sometimes the dreams were of Dallas’ ex, Quentin Mandrake. These dreams he spelled n-i-g-h-t-m-a-r-e-s.
He hadn’t seen Quentin recently, not since the one time in Samuel’s office, and he wasn’t really sure he’d seen him then. That day was more than confusing, and everything he did then was suspect.
Oh yes, Campbell had invited him for coffee. Part of their daily ritual, whether offered in the early morning, late afternoon, or at any time of an evening.
“Yeah, I do,” he answered the implied question at last, turning his steps toward his neighbor’s door instead of his own. He didn’t worry about the caffeine intake. He could sleep through any amount of caffeine. The trick was to tire himself out so much that when he fell asleep he would bypass the dream stage completely. At least that was his fervent hope.
Campbell was still in the early stages of living on his own for the first time. What little furniture he had was cheap, as he couldn’t afford much, but he made up for that by having terrific taste in what he was able to get. And he knew how to accessorize with a vengeance. In the short time he’d been there, he managed to make his living space more warm and homey than Dallas ever had.
Campbell’s apartment was Dallas’ refuge. A haven from his troubled life.
Campbell had long dark hair that fell down his back when it wasn’t tied up beneath his nurse’s cap, and warm skin the color of heavily creamed coffee. Add to that eyes like emeralds and a smile that wouldn’t quit, and you had quite the pretty package.
And yet Dallas couldn’t get past seeing Samuel long enough to enjoy the view.
He shuffled inside the apartment and flopped onto the sofa. It was tan and comfortable, and Campbell had added throw pillows in fall colors. It felt good to Dallas’ weary bones.
“Here you go, hon.” Campbell handed him his cup—by now, he knew just how Dallas like it. Dallas gratefully sipped at the warm liquid. Campbell took a seat beside him with his own coffee.
“Did you know you had a visitor today, sugar?”
to be continued
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Sarah Hayes ****FLASH VIRGIN*****