He didn’t hear the door of C Block opening, nor did he hear the faltering of steps as he was spotted by two pairs of eyes. Instead Alex only turned around when he heard a bone-chilling cough tear through the air towards him, as if somebody’s lungs desperately searched for something to hold onto because the body they were in wasn’t suitable enough anymore.
Eleanor had her arm around Will’s back, as he was bent over ever so slightly. His shoulders were tense, straining with the inner turmoil of wanting, but not daring to throw off the caring hand. His body was turned to the left and his head bent down, while he continued to cough into his hand.
Alex was glad he was allowed some time to get over the initial shock. He was glad he could spare Will from that first look of pity; the one he, Alex, had a minute to work on hiding. If he would have heard that kind of cough in school, that child would have been sent to the doctors or even the hospital without hesitation and with the biggest fuss.
‘Breathe in,’ demanded Alex silently.
Will stopped coughing, a wheezy drawing of air concluding his attack. Eleanor looked up, immediately found Alex. Even from the distance, Alex could see the worry lines across her forehead. He knew she allowed herself the same short moment as he had just done.
Lowering his hand away from his face, Will straightened up but before he’d turned towards him, Alex had already started walking towards C Block with a confident stride, trying to plaster a genuine smile on his face. A blunt bolt of lightning shot through his body as he saw Will’s eye; as he saw the deep red bruising like make-up daubed across a fragile canvas, two healing scars that looked as if they were drifting away from the deep red and a white film covering the pupil like a diffusion filter on a camera lens. It was obvious on Will’s face that he had seen the momentary shock and as they crushed together, Alex wasn’t sure whether he was holding on so tight to comfort and reassure his boyfriend or whether he needed more time, just… more time. Nobody had told him anything. The coughing, yes, that was to be expected. He knew enough about chemical weapons to know that chlorine gas caused strong irritations to the lungs. Nobody had told him about the eye.
He suppressed the urge to take a deep breath, afraid it would make it seem like a chore to pull back and look at Will.
“Hi.” Alex was conscious of trying hard to look into both eyes just as Will avoided his completely. One of his hands automatically wound itself upwards to lay across Will’s neck, who looked up, eyes wide and searching Alex’s face, recognising their little ‘welcome home’-ritual: a family-friendly kiss while Alex’s hand calmly rested at the back of his neck; the lips and the hand functioning as stabilisers.
The kiss was interrupted by another bout of painful-sounding coughs; a tanned hand clinging to his arm forcefully.
“Let’s go home,” suggested Eleanor and Alex nodded, even though all he wanted was to hug Will again.
This is just a small teaser of my newly published novel. ‘Insight’ is now available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Insight-Maren-Klement/dp/1789552427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537472446&sr=8-1&keywords=insight+maren+klement
I also have a goodreads author page now. Go have a look.