Fourteen years ago, on the banks of Craving’s Creek, Ryde swore to his best friend Alistair he’d never be alone in the world. Though Alistair was destined for the priesthood, there was something beyond holy about the first kiss they shared.
But a fun camping trip went horribly wrong when Alistair was involved in a horrific incident.
Now, at age thirty-one, Ryde’s life is a mess of alcohol and the painful imprint of his last look into Alistair’s desperate eyes. Since the evil they encountered on that shore, his first love has been lost to him ... until he learns a friend’s wedding is to be officiated by a priest named Father Alistair Genet.
Amid the rush of emotions, one thought crystallizes: Ryde’s love for Alistair has never died. It’s stronger than ever. But can it win over the repressed memories slowly tearing Alistair’s mind apart?
I’m looking down at the water below. “Oh, God,” I moan, hating this feeling.
I want to jump. I want to so badly. But every time I think I’m going to do it, I chicken out.
“God has nothing to do with it,” Alistair says, laughing at me. “This is between you and you.” He stands by me, wet and beaming with pride.
Of course, he’s been jumping off this cliff all morning. He’s done it feet first, backward, tried a flip, and finally started diving headlong into the water.
“Yeah, yeah, Mr. Olympic Gold Medal himself.” I sniff and look down again. I used to jump off this very rock when I was eight years old. What happened to my courage? “I’m gonna do it, just gimme some space, will you?” I shove him to the side a little. “Back off. Let me assess this.”
“Well,” he says, stepping back. “While you assess ...” He runs and jumps. And for the hundredth time today, I watch his smooth white body disappear into the bustling waters below.
I move closer to the edge, peering down into the cool green pool, waiting for his triumphant face to emerge.
Seconds pass. I frown, waiting. What is he doing down there?
I stare at the water, adrenaline pricking my palms. I watch the water, waiting for it to speak to me. What have you done with him? I want to ask it.
“Alistair!” I call out, but the noise of the falls drowns my voice. I lean forward, gazing below into the green eye, my heart racing now. “Alistair!” I yell down into the water. “Alistair!” I wait. Watch the surface for his head. There’s nothing there but a giant void. He’s not coming back up again. Oh, God, Oh, my fucking God.
I jump. The air is cold, slapping the soles of my feet. The wind blows upward, into my nose and mouth, and bracing myself, I tighten every muscle in my body, hold my crotch, and wait for impact. I hit the water like a truck, and for a moment, I’m so panicked, I’m not sure I’ll make it back to the surface. I kick and kick and open my eyes, searching the greenish waters around me. I can’t see him. I can’t see him. I need air. I need air right now. I swim up and when my head pops out, I gulp air, screaming his name all at once. “Alistair!” I look around me.
I lost him.
“You did it,” he cries out from the bank. “You finally did it!” He crouches down and reaches his hand out to me. “I knew you’d come after me! I knew it!”
I’m going to kill him. I’m going to drown him. “You fucking asshole!” I roar. I’m going to cry. I quickly swim away, to the other bank near the falls. I manage to pull myself out of the water and collapse on the smooth rocks there. I lie face-first, breathing hard and fast, trying not to sob like a child.
“Ryde!” From the other bank, I hear him shout my name over and over again. “Ryde!”
How could he? I could have killed myself jumping off that cliff. I sit up, wipe the water off my face, and glare at him from my spot. He dives in and swims to me.
When he reaches the rocks where I sit, he stops and clutches one, carefully watching me. “I’m sorry,” he says, out of breath. “It was just for fun.”
I try not to look down at him. He’s too beautiful.
“I’m sorry,” he says again, his cold hand touching my foot. “Please, Ryde, don’t be mad at me.”
I shoot him a mean glance. “I thought you’d fucking drowned.”
I shake my head at him, but I’m trying not to smile.
“I got you pretty good, huh? Can I climb up here with you now?”
“I don’t know.” I stare at him. “Get up here.”
He pulls himself up on the rocks and sits close to me. For a long time, we don’t say a word to each other. The sun is high, burning through the foliage around us and streaking the water with silver and gold. A woodpecker is hard at work somewhere, and in the distance, I hear birds calling out. It’s quiet here. Wonderful.
“I’m gonna miss this place,” Alistair says after a while. “Do you think we’ll ever come back here again?”
I look over at him, at his serious face. “I don’t know.”
“Why do you think they call it that? You know, Craving’s Creek?"