At first, I thought the novel duet “The Renegade and the Runaway” was complete.
And then, damn it, I started to think about the call of the wild—specifically, the wild Appalachian Mountains, the edge of civilization in colonial America, where I last saw David and Gregory in Unbroken.
What follows is a tentative first chapter of a possible new novel. I’m calling it Frontier Highlanders, the third and final installment of the series that started with Unkilted and Unbroken… https://amzn.to/2JXjDcv
What would happen if a pair of Highlanders—one by birth, the other by temperament and training—penetrated America’s true frontier?
What follows is a tentative first chapter. Maybe readers will let me know whether it’s worth continuing! (Warning: erotic content.) It picks up where Unbroken left off, with a few twists.
Go North, Young Man!
Port Bath, North Carolina Colony
Early July, 1772
When David turned from his real father half an hour after meeting him, he did so with a heavy heart and slow step. Daniel Boone was almost bigger than life. He was smart, well educated for a man of his upbringing, tolerant of people whose skin was not so fair as his own. He was quick-witted, observant, even humorous. He was known far and wide for the way he met the wilderness head-on, unafraid of peril.
But you need to face the truth, Davie. He’s not ready to be a father—at least, not your father.
He squared his shoulders and made his way back through the thick-set pines, back to the port settlement he and Gregory had reached this morning in search of the famous frontiersman.
He tried to swallow his disappointment by thinking about his fascinating journey, the people he’d met and cherished, the adventure…and Gregory MacGregor. His mate. Well, at least his soon-to-be mate, if the man was truly ready.
From a tiny island called Ocracoke, they’d taken a barge upstream to Bath, a port on the colony’s Pamlico. River. This morning’s journey reminded him of the way his own Philadelphia nested its harbor miles from the city itself, on the Delaware River. He once thought that was unusual. But Glasgow too was a port city—only by way of the River Clyde. He’d once thought a harbor was merely an inland haven from the ocean. But three out of three port cities had proved him wrong.
What else was he wrong about?
He was wrong to think Redcoats were the enemy only of his own American colonists. He’d learned in his three or so months in Scotland that for centuries the unfortunate Scots had bowed under England’s sword and its oppressive laws.
He was wrong to think that men could be free simply by virtue of their moral rightness and their peaceful way of life. Here in North Carolina, at least a quarter of the people he saw were black of skin and absolutely shackled by their white slave-holders. Or they were brown of skin, like the wonderful Tuscarora Indians he’d met, and still in hiding after being hewn down or moved northward by his own not-so-fair settlers.
And he was utterly mistaken if he thought making love to a man would be a sweet and gentle pursuit. Gregory was the opposite of both those ideas. He was moody, blunt, tough-skinned on the outside yet afraid to show his true feelings. He was impatient, independent, a blasphemer and a proud outlaw.
And I love him completely.
He smiled as he re-traced his path back to the ramshackle town of Bath, where he and Gregory had found a small rooming house a few hours ago. His companion was supposed to find horses and gear while he met with Boone. David quickened his step, eager to see the Scot, yet not so eager to tell him about his new-found father.
So what name can I claim? My foster-father is Adam Campbell, yet I’m no Campbell. I refuse to call myself Boone, when the man who bears that name is ashamed to admit he sired me.
He’d been calling himself Adamson for weeks now. A true son of the Creator’s first man. So why not? It was a grand name, one that a not-quite-Quaker man could bear with pride.
The man who’d adopted him when he was a two-year-old foundling—old Adam Campbell—the skilled printer was a Quaker, and he’d brought up his ward to follow the simple practices of that unusual group: reverence for Christ, abhorrence of slavery, dedication to peace. David thought he could do far worse than be Adamson. At least he could try to follow in the steps of a benign creator and a loving step-parent.
So David Adamson he would be, until a sun-burnt man wearing long hair and animal skins honestly accepted his oldest son.
At the door to the rooming house, David paused. What would he tell Gregory? Where would they go, now that an alliance with Boone was out of the question? And how could they possibly make love in a clapboard room with strangers only a few feet away?
He sighed and unlocked the thin sheet of wood called a door.
The room he entered was no bigger than the saddle-blanket sized cabin they’d briefly shared aboard the Dutch trader Arend. There was barely enough room for a tiny cot and a pot to piss in. Gregory MacGregor lay on the cot, arms and legs splayed, holding a liquor bottle and snoring like a narwhale. Actually, he had no idea what a narwhale looked like—or snored like—but he’d heard about its long stiff tusk. And the Scot’s groin was not exactly asleep.
David could not help grinning. This spectacle was not so different from the first time he’d seen Gregory’s proud lap standing straight up, while the man pretended to sleep in the grass next to a shaded burn in the Highlands.
He stood there for a while, hands on hips, frankly admiring the spectacle. He could smell the liquor. It was an aroma he’d never forget—Bermuda “bibby,” a potent brew made from the palmettos on the island where their ship had stopped for supplies a few weeks ago. Somehow, Gregory had gotten his hands on a bottle this morning. That certain drink, sluicing through his own inexperienced gut, had caused him to commit a very naughty act with this same charismatic man…
“On your belly, sir. Spread your legs…”
Drunk and heedless, David had fallen onto the larger man, his own cock engorged to the point of exploding. How had that tusk fit into Gregory’s tiny opening…? He didn’t know then, and he had no idea now. He only knew the result was a shuddering eruption, a once-in-a-lifetime release…
And then, filled with remorse for hurting the man he loved, David had wanted to shrivel into a corner like a starving weevil. But his victim had loved every moment. At least, that’s what he’d said, and his green-flecked dark eyes had given witness to that astonishing truth.
David wondered whether Gregory had found this present bottle to remind his lover of that carnal act, or was it the only beverage he could find in a pinch?
“A sluggard may die in bed. Is this how you want to go?”
The Scot, offering up his bottle, opened one eye and managed a grin. “Aye. With you between my legs.”
Biting his lower lip to hide a smile, David turned away and spoke to the paper-thin wall.
“You’re too drunk to remember anything at all. I’ll be back when you’ve slept away the fumes.”
And then Gregory was standing behind him. His customary position, close enough that his groin rode the crack of his bum.
“Dinnae leave, David.”
“The people behind these walls, Gregory—they can hear every heartbeat.”
“Then we’ll no’ say a word.”
Laughing, David turned in his arms and kissed his bristled chin. “You’ll probably remember this moment very differently than I. So just let me say this. We’ll wait until we leave the, um, polite society of Bath. In a burn somewhere, far from men’s eyes and ears.”
“But I want to turn ye over, the same way—”
“Shush, Gregory. Save it for our ears alone.”
“Did ye say our ‘rears,’ David?’
He laughed. “So ye agree. I’ll save it for your rear alone.”
He shook his head. “What is it about bums that fascinates you so?”
“Ye dinnae remember the bibby…the way ye seduced me?”
David untangled himself from Gregory’s arms and walked the few paces to the clapboard wall.
“You need to hush, Gregory. I know as much about seduction as I know about…witchcraft.”
Gregory cocked his head, his eyes a deep fire, a small smile playing around his mouth. David’s testicles began to ache.
“I—I need to tell you about Boone. Let’s find something to eat and sit in the woods, away from walls. All right?”
“Whatever ye say, David. I agree. My skin shrivels when a man sits too heavy on it.” He walked close again and whispered in his ear, far too loud, “Unless ’tis you, my braw lad. Then it prickles and tickles and—”
“You are drunk, Mister MacGregor.”
“Aye, but a walk in the fresh air will cure that, eh? Let’s find those woods, verra soon.”
Gregory insisted he hide his blond hair, the way he’d done when the Redcoats and worse were looking for him. Without an argument, he covered it with his friend’s neckerchief before leaving. The man was right. Until they were sure of their surroundings, any danger was possible. And a fair-haired man always seemed to draw unwanted attention.
They found hunks of jerked venison in a nearby mercantile, along with small tin cups. David eyed the sewing supplies…needles, silk thread…and Gregory seemed fascinated by a strange neckpiece made of animal talons.
“We can come back here for our provisions after we get our horses, Gregory. And speaking of horses…”
“Tomorrow at the earliest, lad. No one is rushing to help a rough man dressed like a grizzly bear.”
“Have you ever seen any bear at all, you scamp?”
“Nae. But the stories… Remind me to shave my chin after we find a burn in the woods.”
Privately, David loved the touch of this man’s bristled chin on his inner thighs. But he simply nodded as they walked into the thick trees that surrounded Bath. A clear creek meandered through the spot where they paused to fill their cups with sweet water. In a pile of soft pine needles, they sat cross-legged listening to the call of birds while they chewed the tough meat and drank from their new warrior-flagons.
When his stomach was satisfied, David leaned back against the trunk of a half-grown pine and gazed at his companion over the rim of his bent cup. “My name is still David Adamson.”
“Boone must be radge.”
“Um, no…not crazy. But I think he’s not quite done. Like a biscuit too soon out of the oven.”
“Meaning, he doesnae see you as a son. Not yet.”
“Meaning he knows I’m his son. But he has reasons for hiding it from others.”
“Then, as ye say, he’s only half a father.”
Again, David nodded. The tightness in his throat would not allow him to say more.
“Dinnae fash, David. We can find our way in this wild land without a trailblazer, or a trapper. I’ve trained ye to be a Highlander. And what could be higher than these mountains in this new world?”
David drank again to clear his throat before he dared to speak.
“These colonies are full of peaks and valleys. We can claim them as our own as we travel north.”
“North? I thought we were going west, to the frontier.”
David set his cup on the forest floor and stood, looking down at his mate. “We will, dear Gregory. I promise. But first I need to return to Philadelphia. My old home.”
To give Gregory credit, he simply cocked his head in that endearing way to show his confusion. A lesser man might have argued, or at least frowned. But the clansman had begun to change his growly-scowly ways, somewhere back inside a tiny cabin, on a small Dutch ship, on an endless ocean.
“I told you about the Redcoats. The night they hurt my father, the night I escaped our old home. I need to make sure the print shop is not burned to the ground, or full of vile drunken soldiers.”
His mate’s tone was soft. “And if it is, David?”
“Then…then at least I’ll know what to tell my adopted father when I write to him. And I can stop letting the unknown chew at my heart.”
“No’ a problem, David. I understand.”
David dropped to his knees, in between Gregory’s own widespread legs. “You seem to be a master at…untying knots. You could start with my trewes.”
The man’s deepset eyes kindled. “And those listening ears, lad?”
“The birds, the fish, the squirrels? I’ll take my chance that they don’t understand a word of English, nor care about two men loving each other.”
Gregory’s fingers fumbled with the leather thong holding his fly together. “A master, ye say? More like an auld bauchle who cannae use two fingers at the same moment.”
“Your brother once told me, one task at a time, an th’ work is sublime. Pretend you’re mending a sail. Go slow.”
When Gregory’s hot tongue touched his penis, David forgot how to breathe. It’s been weeks…I’ll never last…
He murmured to the man whose chin was scraping his testicles, “But not too slow.”
“As ivy wraps rowan David, I promise ye true.”
“Nae. Tell me.”
“Damnit, I love you.”
David almost exploded on the spot. But his Quaker sense prevailed. He looked down at his lover’s jade-chipped dark eyes, at the dark curls that matted his forehead.
“If you damn your own words, what good are they?”
“David, I love you. Nou and alw—”
His flesh drowning in a beloved man’s mouth, David rode and shook and bucked until he could move no more.
Chapter Two begins here: https://bit.ly/3b1qLha