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The Dreaming Series 2: Tools of Change excerpt

This is a small taste of Jamie Samms story ; The Dreaming Series book 1: Tools of Change

The Dreaming Series: Tools of Change excerpt:

I’m a jerk. A goddamn fucking jerk.

Daniel sighed. Loud. Long. It felt like his lungs were going to collapse the way he arched his back and caved his stomach. As though he’d never breathe in again. And if he didn’t, right now he couldn’t give much of a shit. He’d fucked up, and a fuck-up wasn’t someone he wanted to be. Couldn’t be. At the time…well, he thought he’d been doing the right thing—thought he’d still had everything under control—but last night, everything had changed.

And then some.

He’d been the one to call the shots in his relationship with Jase. The twink was submissive in many ways, allowing Daniel to direct where they went, what they did and for how long. It wasn’t as if Daniel had meant it to happen like that either. It just had—the way some relationships do—the way things form a pattern without your knowledge until it’s too late. It was too late now, Daniel knew that as surely as he knew he’d get up off his bed in a minute and take a shower, and he could kick himself for not spotting the signs.

Fuck, he’d loved Jase—still did—but his little blond guy had moved on. Found someone else. And who could blame him? Daniel hadn’t been supportive enough of those weird-arsed dreams Jase had been having. Didn’t believe, like Jase did, that the dreams seemed too real not to be real.

Who the hell dreams real stuff? Who the fuck watches people die then sees the dead guy’s story on the news a couple of days later?

It freaked Daniel the hell out, and he’d concentrated on how it made him feel, rather than being a support to Jase. Was Jase a freak? Was he one of those psychic people? Was he—God forbid—in on the murders? Could Daniel cope with that? In the midst of it all, he reckoned he couldn’t, thought he’d go mental every time Jase woke in a sweat, gripping Daniel’s arm so tight his nails sometimes drew blood. But then the morning always came, with Jase back to normal, going about his life as he’d always done. And Daniel had taken it for granted that Jase would always be there. Until that one morning when Daniel had spoken out, had ridiculed Jase. What kind of partner did that to someone he claimed to love, eh?

A bastard partner, that’s who.

“So,” he’d said as Jase sat up in bed beside him, “you had another one of your real dreams last night. It’s got to stop. I can’t go on like this much longer.”

Jase had let his mouth drop open, and he’d widened his eyes—eyes full of hurt and incomprehension. “It’s got to stop? I wish it fucking would! And you can’t go on like this much longer?” He’d scrubbed his head, the sound of hair shifting against his fingers kind of obscene right then. “How the fuck d’you think I feel? I’m the one having the dreams. I’m the one struggling to make them stop and not being able to. I see shit, Dan. See people being killed. Feel every stab, every bullet ripping through them. Through me.” He’d laughed, a dry chuckle that had nothing to do with mirth and everything to do with incredulousness. “Yeah, I’d say you had it pretty damn easy only hearing about it.”

It was the first time Daniel had seen Jase angry and it hadn’t sat well. It had bugged the shit out of him, to be honest. The usually calm twink had ruffled feathers, and Daniel wasn’t quite sure how to handle that. Daniel didn’t like being at a loss, not knowing what to do, how to fix every situation. Reminded him too much of how he used to be when… But that morning he’d struggled to come to terms with Jase acting like he had.

Jase had gotten out of bed, shoulders hunched, arse presented to Daniel, and totally out of context, Daniel had had the urge to follow him and fondle that arse until Jase submitted, forgot the idea of his dreams being real. Daniel had wanted the anger gone, wanted to take away the rigidity in Jase’s muscles, and in the past his hands had smoothed hurt away. He’d touched Jase with care, made him forget.

More than anyone ever did for me.

Liar. Jase did the same for you and you know it.

Fuck off.

Daniel remembered that morning with such startling clarity it was like he was living it all over again. He saw the tic flickering beneath Jase’s left eye as his lover turned slightly to bend down and pick up the jeans he’d left on the floor the previous night. He saw Jase slide the denims up his legs, button them with slim fingers. And he saw the resentment in Jase’s features as he turned to face Daniel fully, eyes watery, mouth quivering.

“You know what?” Jase had spat. “I don’t need this fucking shit. You don’t care about me, only your goddamn self. It’s all about you, always has been, and I can’t go on like this much longer. I can’t help the dreams, can’t help it that I know inside me they’re real. Can’t explain it either, and if you’re honest—and let’s face it, you always are, no matter how much it hurts me—you think I’m nuts.” He’d bunched his hands into fists by his side then unclenched them again, like he worked his fingers over imaginary piano keys. “Look, we’re done. We both know it. We’re only together because of the fucking rent—for this place, for somewhere to live. I don’t need this crap.”

Fear—real fear—had gone through Daniel then, and he’d leaped from the bed to stand before Jase, suddenly apprehensive about touching him, for his hands to work their magic. But he’d reached out anyway, and Jase had lifted his arms, shoving Daniel in the chest.

That push had said more than Jase ever could. And it hurt. Not in the painful way of hand against flesh, the sting of skin on skin, but the other way. The one Daniel didn’t like to dwell on too often because it meant he was weak. Meant he cared.

“No, it won’t work this time,” Jase had said. “You can’t support me in this—it’s not in your nature. It’s better I go on by myself. Cope with the dreams myself. We’ll sort this place out, give up the tenancy and go our own way. If you don’t understand what I’m going through—don’t even seem to want to understand—then our relationship isn’t worth shit anyway, right?”

What Jase had said struck deep, burned more than the shove. Daniel, usually so forthcoming with the right words, silver-tongued and assured, having taught himself to be a different person to the one he was years ago, had been stumped for something to say. That Jase had come out of himself like that had shocked the shit out of Daniel. The bathroom door slamming, the lock being snapped across in annoyance, was the last time he’d seen Jase while they’d been a couple.

Daniel had left their apartment, waiting until Jase made his way to work before returning to gather his stuff. He’d put half the rent and utility bill money on the sideboard in the kitchen—a sideboard they’d fucked against in happier times—and had gone straight out to find the dump he currently lived in.

Christ, if he’d only taken a step away and looked at the bigger picture back then, he wouldn’t be sitting here now in this crummy, one-room-plus-a-bathroom joint with roaches crawling up the damp beige walls. He wouldn’t open the shabby, holey brown curtains and see a red-brick wall as his view, stained from the weather and multiple hues of birds’ shit. He wouldn’t look down to the alley below and see arced piss stains from the local hobos or men having been out on a bender, too lazy to wait.

He wouldn’t be aching like a bitch—the kind of ache that left him numb from the inside out. Loneliness, that’s what it was—all-out loneliness and regret, scoffing him whole. Before long it’d get rid of him all together if he wasn’t careful, chewed up and spat out, the unpalatable bastard that he was.

Yeah, he knew he’d been wrong, but how the hell was he supposed to make it all better now? How did he learn to care more, to show it more without constantly battling with feelings that it wasn’t right? Oh, he knew why he couldn’t fully let go and tell Jase how he felt, to even admit it properly to himself, but he wasn’t ready to explain that. Yet.

But you’ll have to fucking learn to. He won’t take you back if he thinks you’re like you were before.

“Dickhead,” he muttered, thinking a stream of other nasty names for himself. There was no one else to say them to him, no one to make him feel a worthless piece of shit.

No one to say the things he’d heard virtually his whole life.

Yeah, yeah, feel even sorrier for yourself. Dredge it all up, arsehole.

He shook himself, shrugged the memories away about…that. If he thought about the past, his childhood, it led to thinking about another ‘that’. God, he’d drifted from one abuse to another, hadn’t he? What a prick.

Shut up. I don’t want to be a prick. Can’t. Got to prove I’m not.

He shrugged again, concentrated on what he needed to focus on now. The past could wait. He’d analyze it one day. Just not today.

So he’d finally thought about the day he’d moved out of their apartment—the one they’d shared for two years, seven months and four days. The one they’d fucked in, laughed in, argued in. The one Jase had started dreaming in. The memories… Christ, they were other demons who ate Daniel alive, and here he was, messed up with no way of sorting himself out without acknowledging every other damn hurt he’d ever felt.

He’d followed Jase ever since he’d left, discreet distances between them, just so he could get a glimpse every day of what he’d lost. He was punishing himself—yeah, he was doing a good job of that all right. But on the days he didn’t see Jase, he went a bit nuts. Like he had to see him in order to get through his long hours. And they were long—drawn-out bastards that made a pact with time to go slow, be agonizing. Taunting him for being such a selfish jerk. A game show with the host gleefully patting the loser on the back and saying, “Come and see what you could’ve won.” Rubbing it in. Salt in the goddamn wounds.

Daniel shook his head, breathing stuttered, and pushed up off the bed. ‘They’ said time healed all wounds, that hindsight was a wonderful thing, that there were plenty more fish in the sea. Hindsight could go fuck itself, and he didn’t want any other bloody fish. He wanted Jase back, and if what he’d seen last night was to be believed, he’d have a long wait.

What the hell have I done? What the fuck do I do now?

He went into his bathroom, a small affair that had just about enough room to hold a tub, sink and toilet. The wall tiles, grout stained with mold and God knew what else, needed a good scrub, as did the bath, with its outline of a slim limescale mountain at the far end by the taps—taps that dripped constantly no matter how tight he shut them off. But what was the point? There wasn’t a point to anything these days. Daniel went to work—that damn demoralizing cell phone factory driving him more mental by the hour, sought out Jase after—yeah, just to spy on what he was up to—then returned home to wallow on his bed. It was all he had left to do. No energy to do anything else.

You need to get the energy. To do something. Anything.

In the tub, he washed all over, mind not on the task but on where he should go next. Last night came to mind… The worst of his life, he reckoned. Beat the abuse hands down—and he shuddered at the recollection. It was bad enough that Jase had moved in with some older guy—one Daniel had later found out was an ex-cop P.I. named Barry Whittaker—and made Daniel think Jase had gone for a father-figure type, but to then realize this Barry was a fag whose partner had also moved in? Shit, he’d thought all sorts. Were they a trio? Did they all fuck nightly in the same bed? What? What the hell was going on? But finding out that wasn’t the case proved even worse. Jase wasn’t fucking them. They weren’t fucking him. No, from the looks of it, Jase had been taken under that Barry dude’s wing, given time to get used to his new life.

And Jase had gotten used to it all right. Last night…

Shit. Stop thinking about it. You messed up. It’s over. Really over.

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