Like Heaven on Earth
Cobalt Winslow lost two loves when his ex-boyfriend, Calvin Denvers, infected him with HIV, taking his health and his place as principal danseur in their New York ballet company when Cobalt became too weak. Now dealing with the aftermath as best he can, Cobalt teaches dance in Toronto with the support of his oldest friends, Conrad and Peridot. The one bright spot in his life is Malory Preston, his brother’s driver and a man who is always there when Cobalt needs him. Kind and attentive, Preston embodies everything Calvin lacks, but Cobalt can’t let go of his unhealthy, long-distance relationship with his ex.
Calvin brings a messy and violent end to their affair, but offers a chance for Cobalt to return to New York—as Calvin's understudy—just when he's on the verge of a real and lasting relationship with Preston. Now Cobalt faces a choice between two loves: dancing and Preston. Preston must show Cobalt that he has the power and support to make the life he wants and deserves, no matter what he decides.
OUTSIDE THE community center, Preston paused on the steps to take in a lungful of fresh air. Despite the cold slush on the sidewalks and the scent of uncovered thawing garbage not yet cleared by the street sweepers, it felt like spring was well and truly on the way. The cold, dry bite of winter chill more and more often gave way to the sweeter, softer hit of damp spring air.READ MORE
He smiled to himself. It would be good when that dampness evaporated. The sooner the better. It put an ache in his own crooked legs and a burden on Cobalt’s overworked system. At least here, with the lake effect off Lake Ontario south of the city, the Canadian winter didn’t last as long as it did out west, where he had last danced. He was glad Cobalt had come home for that reason alone. It didn’t hurt that he now had firsthand knowledge of how his boss’s younger brother was doing. Not knowing if he was staying healthy, looking after himself, had been… wearing.
“Hey, Preston.” The voice shook him out of his thoughts, and he glanced up.
Adam’s happy grin widened. “You bring Cobalt his dinner?”
Preston gave a curt nod.
“Did he tell you off again?” Adam’s younger brother, Matt, clapped him on the shoulder, a wide, sympathetic expression on his face.
Preston grimaced and wasn’t quick enough to hide it. Something about Adam’s little brother made it impossible to keep his professional polish in place.
“Hang in there, Prest,” Matt said. “He’ll figure it out.”
Preston straightened. “Figure what out, sir?” he asked.
Matt only grinned wider as he hurried inside.
“Ignore him,” Adam advised.
“I’m sure I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Preston insisted, but Adam only gave him a knowing look. “I simply do as Mr. Azure requests and make sure Cobalt is looked after.”
“Okay.” Adam stopped on the top step, and suddenly Preston was eye to eye with the short dancer. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you drive Azure Winslow’s limo for a living.”
“Since when does that include being on call for Azure’s baby brother 24-7, bringing him takeout from the organic deli, and spying from the lot across the street to make sure he has a ride home from every rehearsal?”
“I—” Preston cleared his throat, unable to stop his glance across the street to where he had parked the limo in an unobtrusive corner of the library’s parking lot. “It’s just that… his neighborhood is….” Preston stuttered to a stop.
Cobalt lived a few scant blocks from Adam’s own family home, and though these days Adam spent most of his time with his new lover in a much better neighborhood, it wouldn’t do to disparage the place he grew up.
“Sketchy?” Adam supplied.
Preston inclined his head a very small degree. “Sir.”
Adam nodded. “Yeah. I know. And I grew up there, so I’m not worried. But your Coby has no clue. It’s good you look out for him, but I think you probably should realize you’re not actually fooling anyone. Except maybe Cobalt, because clueless, like we mentioned.”
“As you mentioned,” Preston pointed out. “His… clues… perhaps lie in teaching foolish young men not to give up on a dream.” Pushing, he knew. But Adam was much closer to his station in life than Cobalt. And he had no right to bad-mouth Preston’s employer. Sort of employer. Whatever. Cobalt’s persistence in making Adam participate in the modern dance classes had helped to convince Adam not to give up dancing altogether when his dream of ballet had disintegrated. Preston felt a small amount of affinity for the younger man.
Preston knew what it meant to lose a dream the way Adam had. A different dream, perhaps, but the despair had surely felt much the same. It had been Cobalt, way back when, who had kept Preston from giving up, as well.
Adam nodded. “Okay. Good point. I’m just saying, I’m not the only one who sees how you look at him when he’s not paying attention.”
Preston said nothing. He knew Adam had caught him looking more than once. It had been kind of the young man not to rub his nose in it. At least, not until now.
“All I’m suggesting,” Adam went on, “is that maybe you try looking at him like that when he is paying attention. See what happens?”
“I’m sure it’s not my place to—”
“Yeah, well.” Adam winked. “I’m sure you’re wrong about that.”
“He comes from a very different world than you and I, sir.”
“Maybe. But he doesn’t live in that world anymore, does he? He gave all that up and chose to live a block and a half from the worst part of the city. Ever wonder why?”
“Think about it,” Adam said. “Give him a chance to look back at you. What’s the worst that can happen?” He punched Preston’s shoulder lightly and sprinted into the center.
Preston remained on the steps a moment more.
“What is the worst that can happen?” An intriguing thought.COLLAPSE