Next Cary called Hugh. Forestalling Hugh’s questions about how his trip was going, Cary asked if he knew anything about what had happened to Preston.

“Only what I saw on TV.” Hugh had met Preston a couple of times after the first meeting at the street fair. Once he’d seemed to get it through his head that Preston and Cary really were just friends and nothing more he’d found he enjoyed Preston’s company. He thought he was amusing and very sexy even though not in the least his type.

“Which was?” Cary prompted when Hugh didn’t elaborate.

“That someone dumped him at the hospital and he was cut up pretty badly. Mainly his face.”

“Damn it. Do they know who did it?”

“Not that they said.” Hugh chewed his lip for a moment then added, “Rumor has it he spent a lot of time at one of the sleazier leather bars and might have pissed someone off there.”

“Rumor?” Cary frowned. He didn’t like the idea that there were already rumors spreading about Preston.

“Yeah. I stopped by Artful’s on the way home tonight. He was THE topic of conversation. Most of the guys I overheard were worried that there’s someone out there who may be targeting gays. But a small clique was making it known that he was a regular at Daddy’s.”

“Fuck, that’s so not true. He wouldn’t be caught dead there, that wasn’t his thing.”

“Yeah, well whether it is or not, with his rep and the kind of flicks he makes a lot of the people there weren’t surprised. I think they’d rather believe that some leather freak did that to him than that someone is targeting us.”

Cary sighed deeply. He knew Hugh was right. “Look, I’m going to catch the first flight back that I can get once the weather clears. How bad is it there?”

“Bloody awful. I almost passed on Artful’s but I wanted to see if anyone knew anything. I figured you’d want to know.” He paused before saying, “I miss you Cary.”

“Miss you too.” Cary smiled for the first time since he’d read the paper. “I guess we’ll have to postpone dinner for a couple of days.”

“Just get yourself back here. We can worry about dinner once you do.”

They continued talking for a few minutes longer but Cary’s mind wasn’t really on what they were saying and it didn’t take Hugh long to figure that out. “Get to bed Cary and try to sleep,” he said finally. “You’re going to have a long day or two ahead of you, especially since you’re planning on camping at the airport. If I hear anything more I promise I’ll call.”

“Alright, I will. Thank you for…for understanding.”

“He’s your friend Cary. I know you’re worried and upset. Just get back here so you can be there for him.”

After a few more words and closing endearments they hung up. Cary undressed quickly, crawling into bed. But he knew he wouldn’t sleep. Not until he knew just how badly Preston had been hurt, and maybe not even then.

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