I'm still chugging through the package of short stories meant to benefit doctors Without Borders. Let's see what we have today.
Another Border By K.I.L. Kenny
When his weary lover comes home after a twelve-hour shift on the Alzheimer's ward, Jeff wants to offer comfort. A little banter and some massage are easy, but getting Ed to open up about what's on his mind is a trickier proposition. A teacher's Socratic methods aren't going to work. It will take a lot of TLC and some unorthodox healing methods for Jeff to lull his man into a restful sleep.
Sometimes, as a writer friend says, it's all about the moment. No big illuminating ah-hah insights here, just a sweet and loving glimpse into a long-established couple, taking care of each other, and trying to heal from the wounds of the day. Some of my friends are CNAs, so this had a special bit of resonance for me -- how they care about their charges, who can be sweet, exasperating, and even dangerous before being sweet again, was right on. One bit of the sex didn't sit quite right with me -- tears? -- but other than that, very nice, stinky feet and all.
Where a Hand is Always Needed By Kara Larson
Before Graeme moved east to New Zealand and met a young Kiwi intern named Amiri, he spent a summer in the outback of Australia. Sent to live with an aunt and uncle after trouble in school with another boy, he wasn't looking for adventure, but sometimes adventure finds you. And you never know when a person who'll change your life comes crashing down in the Outback.
Featuring Graeme from And a Chook Shall Lead Them in Family Matters, Sliding down the Pohutakawa Root and Defining Right)
Okay, have a few of those other titles lurking in the TBR pile, better get at them, because this was one nice story and I like Graeme a lot. He's got plenty to make him feel like a fish out of water, and having a couple of role models drop out of the sky heals something in him, although the physical wounds are other people's. This is set in Australia, and I was glad to have encountered a lot of the slang elsewhere or it might have been a more troublesome read, and that left only a little to be deciphered from context, not enough to be a problem.
Between the blurb, the tag at the ending, and the 'you might like' line, there were three separate reminders that "this is part of a series -- go read the rest." That's a little much -- I'd get it after once, okay?
One thing that is generally in Torquere's stories is missing here, but the story is so well done that I started typing this before I even realized it wasn't there. You read and figure it out.
Take It Slow By Taylor Lochland
Graham is determined to run a marathon in honor of his partner, who died two years ago. Unfortunately, a knee injury has sidelined him, and his orthopedist, Dr. Dmitri Markov, tells him not to rush his recovery. Even though he's not ready, Graham runs a 15K race at the Traverse City Cherry Festival, and aggravates his injury again. Dr. Markov is at the festival, and catches Graham in the act. After the doctor gives Graham a hard time for ignoring his orders, the two men spend the day together.
As they get to know each other and the mutual attraction becomes evident, Graham realizes that he isn’t the only one in need of healing. Will Graham be able to slow things down enough to give Dmitri's wounds time to heal?
This actually read a lot more like a coming of age story for one of the protags than a healing of wounds. Which is okay, just not what the blurb promises. The element of 'meet cute' is less okay, it takes a fair amount of effort to accomplish, but let's let that ride. The completely idiomatic and fluent speech of the émigré doctor makes him sound just like the other guy, not a single dropped article or even a sentence without filler words -- the voices are nearly indistinguishable, the doctor's protestations aside. I talk to Ukrainian and Russian nurses all the time and they don't sound like this.
The mismatch in emotional expectations between the two men does eventually resolve in bed, but why would a man who hesitates so much to get involved choose to do it with a man who says he's ready to move on after the death of his life partner but is actually so fixated that he's willing to injure himself in the dead man's honor? I honestly don't see these two as a good idea of a couple, at least for more than about a week. Maybe that's enough for a happy for now?
Buy these stories here.