In this one-author short story collection, AKM Miles is re-releasing five of her stories: Between Us -- Can the need that Jason and Matt feel for each other on vacation continue once their back to real life; Uniforms -- Jackson is lonely until someone from his past shows up needing help; Between Us Two -- Matt and Jason are settling into their life together until Matt is accused of kidnapping a child; Magic Happens -- while quietly contemplating his life, Trent is scared by a voice out of the darkness and almost loses it falling into the river; and Changes -- Nick can't help himself from stepping between danger and Connor, turns out it's the best thing to ever happen to either of them.
Jason and Matt meet in Gatlinburg and hit it off right away. They find out that they live near one another in their everyday lives, but they aren't sure their need for each other will go beyond vacation good times. Jason thinks Matt is worth the trouble, but Matt's still getting over a lost love. Will they manage to find each other once their vacation ends?
Jason stood admiring the photos on display at the booth. He was really enjoying the art festival and was glad he'd decided to come and check out the local artists' wares.
Gatlinburg was beautiful in October, the colors phenomenal and the weather just right.
"This is just stunning," he said, indicating a large photograph of a church window. The artist had done a great job of placing a different photo into each pane of the window, making it look like stained glass. The edges of the photo were darkened somehow, making the window seem to glow with light and color. It was a very unique piece, creatively executed.
"Thanks," the photographer said, smiling. "I took that at an old church that had long been abandoned. Some of the panes were out, some had different kinds of glass in them, but I liked the shape of the window with the two curved panes at the top."
"I love the idea of putting something different in each pane," Jason told him. He wasn't sure why this piece touched him so much, but he found that he was intrigued by it.
"Thanks again. I saw something like it once and tried my own take on it. I'm glad you like it. My name's Matt, Matt James."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Jason Tyler. Between us we probably have about six first names. I've got an Andrew after Jason."
Matt laughed and said, "Yep, you're right. I've got Alexander after Matthew, so six it is. We have a plethora of first names. We should just use the first two." He reached over the table, and Jason met and shook his hand, wanting to hold onto it.
"You're very talented, Matt. Do you sell a lot of your work?"
"Not enough to live on, by any means, but a few pieces here and there. I'm glad you like it. Here..." He paused, reaching down below the table and thumbing through a portfolio. He pulled out a five by seven of the picture that Jason liked so much and handed it over to him. "Take this. Enjoy it."
"Well, no wonder you don't make your living off your art, if you keep giving it away. But hey, thanks. I do love the piece. I'll take the small one, frame it, and send it to my sister in Chattanooga. I'll take the big framed one for me." Jason liked the happy smile on Matt's face when he realized he'd made a sale.
Jason watched Matt as he began to wrap the photo carefully for him to take. He decided that Matt was as intriguing to look at as the artwork. Matt's body-type was a contradiction, being very thin, almost gaunt, but tanned and healthy looking. His honey-blond hair was long, pulled back into a ponytail with a leather strap. Since Jason was free of any relationships right now, he allowed himself the pleasure of looking.
Matt had really fine eyes, Jason noticed as the breeze caused the leaves to move overhead, letting flashes of light come through, in and out. Matt was watching Jason just as intently, as their eyes kept meeting. Jason smiled and Matt met that, too.
"I'm sorry for staring, but you have really interesting eyes. Are they really two different colors of blue, or is it just a trick of light?" Jason knew he was being rude, but he was truly intrigued.
"Not a trick, just weird eyes, man." Matt shrugged his shoulders.
"Not weird, cool. I like it. Makes me want to look closer..." Whoa. Now that was taking it a little too far...maybe.
"Tell me, Jason, are you a visitor to Gatlinburg, or do you live nearby? This time of year, most people here are visitors."
"That's me. I'm from Nashville. I had planned this trip with a friend, but he had a last minute crisis at work and couldn't come. Instead of scrapping it, I came on alone. Now I'm glad I did."
"Me, too. Uh, do you have plans for supper tonight?"
"I'd like to. Would you like to have supper with me, Jason?"
"I'd love to, Matt. Tell me where and when," Jason said, thrilled with the way things were going.
"I'm supposed to stay here displaying until five, then pack up, clean up, and then my time is my own. This is the last day for me to show. I gave myself tomorrow off as a reward for getting everything ready in time."
"Great. Are you from here?" Jason asked.
"Nah. I'm from a lot closer to you, actually. I'm from Gallatin."
"No way! That's great. What do you do when you're not showing your work?"
"I'm a teacher's aide in a special education classroom."
"Wow. I'm impressed. You keep surprising me." Jason looked at Matt with new respect.
"Why? What do you do?" Matt appeared to be clueless as to why Jason would be impressed with his life.
"Question one, I'm impressed because I have two nephews who are in special education. One, Tim, is learning-disabled and the other, Todd, is emotionally-disabled. I know what you deal with. So, you're not only artistic, but somewhat of an everyday hero in my eyes." Jason watched as Matt blushed at the compliment. "Question two, I work with a company that supplies the needs and requirements of different acts that come in for shows at the Arena."
"Now that's a cool job. I may pump you for info on the strange things people demand. I've heard it can get awfully weird sometimes."
"You have no idea. Hey, I'm gonna go grab something quick for lunch, shop around a little more, mostly for the nephews, and my mom. You need me to get you something to eat? Are you stuck here?"
"Nah, thanks. Not hungry. I had a big breakfast. I'll be fine 'til supper."
"How about I come back at about a quarter to five and help you pack up?"
"That'd be great. Then we can go on to supper from here. Thanks. I'll just keep your photograph here 'til then and you won't have to worry about taking it about."
"Good idea. See you, Matt, with the pretty eyes."
"See ya, Jason, with the sexy smile."
Now it was his turn to blush.