By Hand and Heart
M/M, Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
[Coming April 2019 / 4,400 Words]
Luis Pygmalion does not usually take commissions. But when offered an intriguing challenge—to sculpt the most beautiful person he can imagine—he can't resist. There's only one problem: the image he conjures is too real, and Luis finds himself falling for a man who exists only in his dreams.
As his masterpiece nears completion, Luis faces a difficult decision. Will he fulfill his contract, or follow his own confused and irrational heart?
That night Luis dreams for the first time in years.
His surroundings are a surreal clash between pub and coffee shop. The bar is one he frequents only when he craves the noise and companionship of a crowd instead of an empty studio. The coffee shop is where he sat only days ago, agreeing to take on his first commission in ages. The mix of locales is strangely chaotic, too many details spliced awry between them. Gray windows hang opposite the bar itself, reflected by a wide mirror along the back wall. The skyway beyond open doors is busy with foot traffic. Yellow light glints from the ceiling, painting the pub brighter than Luis has ever actually seen it.
The booth he occupies is plush, empty but for himself, and the cushions beneath and behind him are cracked with wear.
"Can I join you?" asks a smooth baritone voice, and Luis raises his eyes to find absolute perfection smiling down at him.
He can't answer. His voice has frozen in his throat.
"I'll take that as a yes." The man drops into the booth across from Luis. Mischief glints in dark eyes, and Luis stares in helpless silence, taking in everything he's been searching for. Sharp cheekbones cut across a perfectly symmetrical face, softened by a widening smile. The face is narrow, but the jaw is strong, the nose straight and broad and fitted perfectly to deceptively delicate features. There's an uncanny smoothness to the brow where it slopes beneath dark curls, but the smoothness creases when slender eyebrows rise in amusement.
Generous lips quirk into an even wider smile, and the man asks, "See something you like?"
Luis tries to reply, but he's still too floored. Even knowing this is a dream, he's mortified with himself for staring. It's embarrassingly difficult to summon his voice and answer.
"You're perfect." He means to say more, but a grating alarm sounds, jarring him. When he blinks he's not at the bar any longer, but at home in his own bed, early sunlight piercing between window curtains and his alarm clock a cacophony in his ears.
The grogginess of sleep vanishes in a rush of adrenaline, and Luis reaches for the sketchbook on his nightstand.
(Cover design by Yolande Kleinn)