Damned to forever travel the path he used to flee a powerful Voodoo Prince, Jacob falls for Mike, and together, they must decide their own destinies.
Damned to forever travel the path he used to flee a powerful Voodoo Prince, Jacob Foster has used many types of transport. Nowadays, he uses the bus. A particular bus marked CEMETERIES. When Mike Lawson gets on he's the first person to speak to Jacob ever. As they ride the bus, they fall in love, but once Mike learns the truth about Jacob, with that love be enough to withstand their destinies?
This title is a re-release.
It was four o'clock in the morning and ninety degrees with ninety-five percent humidity. Mike Lawson wiped sweat from his brow and leaned out over the curb to check for the bus for the third time. The first day of his new job waiting tables at O'Malley's Irish Bar in the French Quarter had ended an hour ago, and he was bone tired.
He'd tossed his apron over his shoulder, and after the six-block walk up Bourbon Street--still filled with party-goes and out-of-town drunks--to Canal Street, his shirt clung to his back like a damp towel. It wasn't even May yet.
He closed his eyes and dreamed of the air-conditioned bus due any minute.
The rumble of streetcars farther down fog-draped Canal and the occasional clang of their bells roused him from his thoughts. Even the streetcar with the breeze blowing through its open windows as it rocked its way down the tracks would be cooler than just standing here. But he couldn't get home on the streetcar; they no longer ran all the way to the end of the line like they did fifty years ago.
He leaned out again, looking toward the river, and spotted a hulking shape with its large headlights' glow refracted in the darkness. At last. Thank you, Jesus.
Growing larger, interior lights shining through its wide windows, the bus was a relief. As it approached, Mike checked the illuminated front marquee to see if it was the right one.
The bus lumbered toward the curb and halted. The doors swooshed open and the elderly driver gave him a smile and a nod.
"Hey, Mr. Roberts," Mike said, reading the driver's nametag, "where y'at?"
"Right here driving this old bus, just like I been the last thirty years," the old man replied in a sing-song New Orleans accent. "You're new. Working the late shift?"
"Yeah. Got a job at O'Malley's waiting tables," Mike answered.
"Any job's a good job, my momma always said."
"Yeah, you right." Mike grinned and nodded.
He climbed up, swiped his bus pass and looked down the aisle to choose his seat. At this time of night, the bus should be empty and he'd have his pick of the seats, but tonight, a lone passenger sat just behind the rear door exit.
The young man looked up, their gazes locked, and Mike felt the impact to the very soles of his shoes.
The doors hissed shut and the bus pulled away from the curb. Mike tottered down the aisle, hands grabbing onto the metal bars on top of the seatbacks, drawn to the stranger like a lake trout on the end of a fishing line.
The guy was pale, with dark hair that fell in wisps over his forehead and to his shoulders. He wore a fancy embroidered vest over a plain white high-collared shirt with the sleeves buttoned tight at the wrists.
Mike's first thought was, Man, I'll bet he's hot, then his second thought was, Damn, he's hot!
The guy smiled at him, igniting Mike's arousal.
"Hey." Mike swung into the seat across the aisle from him. "Where y'at?"
The stranger stared at him, head tilted like a bird. "Are you talking to me?" He pointed to his chest.
"Who else?" Mike looked around and shrugged.
The man gave a tentative smile. "No one usually pays any attention to me."
"Oh." Mike didn't know what that meant; the guy was sexy. "Just getting off work myself. You?" He had no idea what to say. He just knew he wanted to talk to this guy.
"Yes, my night is ending, too." The guy looked out the window. His hands rested on the thighs of his black pants, fingers out and relaxed.
"My name is Mike Lawson." Mike held out his hand.
The man stared at it and then gave Mike a shy smile. "Jacob Foster." He took Mike's hand and they shook.
Mike registered a cool, dry palm and firm grip, and the shock of pressing flesh to flesh. His cock hardened and he knew what that meant for him; he just didn't know if it meant anything to Jacob.
They rode for a block without speaking, their hands still locked across the aisle and staring at each other. It was so weird, yet he'd never felt anything so right.
"How far are you going?" Jacob asked and let go of Mike's hand.
"To the Cemeteries. I catch the Canal Boulevard bus from there. I stay off Navarre Avenue. You?"
"Last stop." Jacob smiled.
The end of the bus route, the Cemeteries, was one of the most interesting places in New Orleans, or at least Mike thought so. Half a dozen cemeteries converged there, along with numerous bus routes. Of course, in New Orleans, there was always a cemetery close by.
"Where you staying?" The neighborhoods around the cemeteries were mixed, with bars, restaurants, houses, and assorted shops. Without zoning, the city was made up of almost independent neighborhoods linked by a web of bus routes.
"Off City Park Avenue." Jacob smiled at him again, and Mike's heart did a little shake and shimmy.
They grinned at each other, and Mike knew Jacob was interested. Jacob confirmed his hunch when he slid over to the other seat in an invitation for Mike to join him. He didn't have to ask Mike twice; his momma didn't raise no fool.
Mike grabbed the handrail on the back of the seat in front of him, levered up and plopped down next to Jacob.
"Hey." Mike leaned his shoulder into Jacob, and Jacob pushed his thigh against Mike's.
"Hey." Jacob's light blue eyes were so pale they seemed otherworldly.
"I'm a waiter at O'Malley's. It's in the Quarter. Have you heard of it?"
"No. I don't go into the Quarter." Jacob shook his head.
Mike frowned. If Jacob didn't go to the Quarter, where had he been when he got on the bus? The route ran from the end of Canal near the river to the end of Canal where the cemeteries sat. There Canal Street dog-legged and became Canal Boulevard and shot straight to the lakefront.
"Are you working at the hotels? The casino?" Mike asked.
"Did you come over the river on the ferry?" Maybe he worked on the West Bank.
"No." Jacob smiled again, and Mike, lost in pale blue eyes, forgot about work and buses.
Jacob put his hand on Mike's thigh. The touch was so light it barely registered. If he hadn't seen Jacob's hand on his leg, he wouldn't have known it was there.
Mike covered Jacob's hand with his.
The bus continued down Canal and stopped at a red light at Jefferson Davis Parkway.
It was romantic in a weird, foreign film sort of way. Mike put his arm over the back of the seat, and Jacob snuggled under it. Their heads touched.
God, this felt so good. A sense of contentment came over Mike and his eyes drifted shut.
"I think that's my favorite house," Jacob said.
Mike opened his eyes and looked where Jacob pointed to a beautiful, red brick, two-story with wide steps leading up to a white-columned porch.
"It's pretty, for sure." Mike nodded. "My house is a raised shotgun double. Nothing special. What about yours?"
"Nothing special, really." Jacob shrugged.
The bus passed the house, and they fell silent again. It wasn't far now until the ride ended and they went their separate ways. Mike and Jacob both seemed content just to sit side by side, rocking with the sway of the bus. At last, the bus pulled up to the last stop, and Mr. Roberts called out, "Last stop. Cemeteries!"
Mike stood and stepped to the rear door. Jacob followed. They met on the sidewalk next to the wall of the cemetery and faced each other.
"I gotta go. My bus is waiting." Mike smiled at Jacob.
Jacob smiled back, then touched Mike's face with his fingers, as if proving to himself Mike was real. "See you tomorrow."
Mike said, "Later, gator!" and dashed across the street to his connection. When he looked back, Jacob was gone.