Check out THE CARNY, available from InkSpell Publishing!
Here's an excerpt to wet your whistle....
“Here. Wrap up in this.”
Vin wrapped a plaid wool blanket around my shoulders and helped me get settled down on a log, before starting to stack driftwood in the fire pit he’d dug out. I watched as he bent over the pit, a sliver of his skin showing above the waist of his pants as he reached. He’d pulled on a black fleece jacket after offering me his nubby grey sweater, and I was enjoying his aroma wrapped all around my body.
“Do you know how to start a campfire, city boy?” I teased him from my perch.
Vin cast a glance over his shoulder. “I was a boy scout, I’ll have you know.”
“A big city boy scout.” I nodded knowingly. “Surely they didn’t have real rustic places to make campfires in Chicago.”
“Chicago suburbs.” His grin widened, and he blew on the tiny flame at the end of his match. “We had grass and trees.”
I wrinkled my nose. “I’ve never pictured Chicago green and spacious.”
“Well, Chicago’s got nothing on the Oregon coast in the green and spacious department, but I learned how to climb a tree and start a campfire.”
“Around these parts, they taught me how to make a proper campfire in the first grade. Right around the time they taught me how to say the word ‘sauna’ like a proper Fin.”
Vin chuckled. “Are you Finnish?”
“Only one sixteenth.” I shrugged.
As soon as the other sticks ignited, I held the blanket out, and Vin settled himself on the log next to me. Though I was afraid that things between us had changed since our date the night before, everything between us flowed as naturally as if we’d known each other for years. As the fire crackled and hissed at our feet, Vin and I talked about our childhoods.
I told Vin about my college days in Seattle. The evenings spent in coffee houses listening to poetry readings, and Sunday’s spent at Pike Place Market buying fresh flowers and freshly made baklava. He laughed as I recalled the time I went to the top of the Space Needle and threw up because I made the mistake of looking down on the elevator; and winced when I explained the dorm I shared with the insomniac roommate who played the piccolo all night long.
And Vin told me about his choice to continue his education after college ended, by applying to Rosalind Franklin Medical School. My mouth dropped open in shock as he detailed his reasons for choosing to go into medicine. His mother had battled, and survived, cancer when he was in junior high, and after nearly losing a friend in a car accident in high school, Vin decided that he wanted to become a doctor. His desires to help people, to lighten their suffering and ease their pain, were all reasons that contributed to his medical career.
“I’d just settled on a specific medical field when I found out I needed to come back to Oregon.” He explained, his arm snaking its way around my back and pulling me against him warmly. “I was going to go into emergency medicine, and Riverside Medical Center offered me an entry level position after my residency was over.”
Now would be a good time to mention that I was shocked. And by shocked, I mean shocked. I mean, there I was, sitting next to a fire, on a beach, on a clear night with a doctor…who worked as a carny. To say I was surprised would have been an understatement. It wasn’t like I thought there was anything wrong with running the carnival. It was honest work, and brought joy to all of the towns it visited. It was an honest, hardworking profession. But a doctor was running Young’s Blood Entertainment?
“Are you planning on going back to medicine?” I looked up at his dark eyes that reflected the orange licks of fire across from us.
Vin shook his head. “I haven’t decided whether or not I will.”
“Do you like working with the carnival?”
He scratched his hand across the back of his neck. “Not especially.”
“You shouldn’t forfeit your dreams for the sake of a family business you can’t stand.”
Vin gave me a pointed look. “You’re one to talk.”
My throat tightened. “Touché.”
He brought his free hand out of the blanket to cover mine. “Maybe we’ll inspire each other.”