It's been eleven years since Nick ran off with David for the West Coast. And though his life resembles a blue dream, after more than a decade of bar tending in resorts and cruise ships, Nick is finally thinking of heading home. First, he needs to go see about David in Vancouver ...
When he arrives, Nick finds a community of young men devastated by AIDS. Part of him wants to flee back to Montreal, but David is dying and Nick knows his place is by his best friend's side. In those four days and nights in David's apartment by the English Bay, Nick learns more about himself than he ever did before. When it's all over, he packs his bag and locks up his grief, determine to honor the promise he made to David of opening up his own restaurant.
Five years later, Nick is gaining a reputation in the industry as a chef, but has yet to have any meaningful relationships. Until Derek O'Reilly, that redheaded kid with the avocado-green eyes he used to know, walks into his dining room and ignites Nick's passion once more.
David was watching me with a strange expression. Almost serene. There was a mystery in his eyes. With a motion of his head, he invited me to sit again.
I did, grabbing his hand once more. "What?" I asked, over the sound of the music playing quietly in the background.
"I dream all the time." He shivered and coughed and his expression tightened with pain.
"You should rest."
"And I always dream of you in a chef's jacket." He winced and shut his eyes. "Promise me you'll do that. Promise me you'll open your restaurant. Promise me, Nick."
"What?" There was an edge to my voice. "Forget that right now."
"No, promise me. And you'll get married. And you'll have a kid."
I scoffed, shaking my head at him, and leaned back in my seat, letting go of his hand. "The fever's making you delirious."
He watched me with that mysterious expression again. "You're not a lone wolf, Nico, you're a clan man." He coughed. "That's why you ran. 'Cause you knew once you'd --" he coughed harder, his face flushing red.
"Davie, stop talking. Please." But I was listening to his every word, because he was telling me my truth, right to my face, and it felt amazing.
"You knew that once you'd settle down," he went on with effort, "you'd never walk away from that clan."
"I don't have anybody, but you." I held his hand again.
"Go back to Montreal. To your family. To your people."
"You're my people." I blinked and let the tears roll down my face without wiping them. "They don't know me anymore."
"They'll know you again." Davie closed his eyes and was quiet.
I sat there, my ears ringing, exhausted. I realized I hadn't eaten anything since yesterday afternoon. I touched his forehead. He was hot. I put my hand over his heart. That heart I should have claimed a long time ago. That heart I should have made my home. The regret was so cruel, it made me sick and I thought I'd crack.
Then Davie opened his eyes and fixed them to my face. His fever had peaked. I stood and grabbed the ear thermometer. Gently, I inserted the tip of it inside his right ear and waited for the beep. He was at a hundred and three. Too hot. I checked the clock. Annette would be here in fifteen minutes. Okay, I could handle this. "I'm getting some ice." I hurried out and after I'd wet a rag and wrapped a few ice cubes in it, returned to his bedside. "This is gonna shock you a little. I'm sorry." I placed the improvised ice pack in the crease of his neck and he didn't even wince or complain.
Two weeks ago, I'd been dropping ice cubes in drinks on a beach. And now I was in this sickroom, with death hiding somewhere in a corner, alone with this extraordinary young man sliding down into the abyss, inch by inch, breath by breath, and the only weapon I had against the power of the void dragging him to the bottom, was those same fucking ice cubes and the love in my chest.
"I had a dream just now," he said softly, opening his eyes.
"Just now? But you were asleep for less than five seconds."
He reached out for me. "Come here."
I sat again and took his long fingers inside my hand.
He was silent, watching me with vivid eyes. "Do you remember that boy, that kid who used to be your neighbor?" His eyes were closing again. "He was in my dream. But he wasn't a kid anymore."
"Sleep, Davie." I caressed his hair. "You need to rest."
"He was so beautiful, Nick. He was even more beautiful than you are."
"Shh." I leaned in and kissed his head. "Sleep."
"And he had these eyes... Jade green eyes."
"Yeah, avocado green eyes," I said, without thinking.
"You remember him."
"Of course, he was always at our house."
"He used to stand in the hallway and eavesdrop on us."
I ruffled Davie's hair. "He was just a kid."
"He was in my dream," Davie whispered, drifting back to sleep. "Just now. I don't remember his name..." A few seconds passed and he twitched and mumbled a word, but didn't open his eyes.
I watched over him for five minutes, and then, when I knew he was sound asleep, rose out of the chair. I needed to put something in my stomach or I'd pass out. In the doorway, I turned to look at him. "O'Reilly," I said, tiredly, my heart filling with ache. "That was the kid's name. Derek O'Reilly."