Today I am so pleased to welcome C.L. Beaumont to Joyfully Jay. C.L. has come to talk to us about his latest release, Names for the Dawn. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving C.L. a big welcome!
I changed into a warmer jacket before joining Nikhil at the cook site. He was aimlessly whittling a broken-off branch with a hunting knife, his arms around his knees. I did a double-take at his sweater, wool knit with ‘Cambridge’ stitched across the front—because of course, he couldn’t have just gone to some ordinary college; he apparently had to be associated with a college that was internationally famous for being difficult and expensive. I couldn’t believe he’d never mentioned it before. Or maybe he had, and I’d been thinking something embarrassing and hadn’t heard him. Maybe he’d thought I wouldn’t even know what Cambridge was.
“Tent’s all ready for you to set up your stuff,” I said.
He gave a disinterested hum, slicing off another layer of wood. I watched his calm, competent hands, his fingers curled around the bony wood. I felt that his mind was unreachable, leaving me behind as a small speck on the earth. He was running with the wolves, or back in his fancy university offices. Places I could never join him. Places I wouldn’t be allowed.
Then I realized—he wasn’t just slicing off strips of wood. There were unique divots, some sort of pattern, the stick beginning to twist in his palm.
“You making a snake?”
“No, an elephant,” he said, but not sharply. He finished carving what looked like fangs in what was clearly a snake’s open mouth. They were the first words he’d said to me in close to an hour. I told myself I felt annoyed by his teasing as I cupped my hands around the gas flame, that I wasn’t watching the hypnotic movements of his hands out of the corner of my eye. I had never been as alone with him as I was now, and the thought both terrified and warmed me—a fragile, fluttering pulse deep inside my chest that was alternately warning me away from him, urging me closer.
There was a chill in the breeze as the sun continued its slow descent behind the peaks. I dropped tea bags into two tin cups and passed him one. He took a small sip and immediately gagged.
“What is this?” He was holding the cup away like it could bite.
I frowned. “Tea . . . ?”
“You call this tea?” He looked at me incredulously. “I’ve lived my whole life in places that worship tea. This is not tea.”
I turned my face to the breeze, hoping the wind would stop my face from heating. “You seem to choke down my coffee every morning without complaint.”
He was back to carving his snake, his tea balanced on a flat rock as far away from him as possible. “Only because I add sugar.”
“You mean because I add sugar for you.”
“No, I mean because I add the proper amount of sugar when you aren’t looking.”
I sputtered on my own tea. “What—every morning? You add extra?”
He was focused on his carving, the barest grin in the corner of his mouth. “I take it you haven’t noticed, then.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or curse, staring at the man who was suddenly a stranger beside me. I reached for his tea and dumped it into my own cup to drink, having finished mine too quickly to enjoy it. “Add your own fucking sugar then from now on. Stop wasting my rations. Or better yet,” I said, cutting him off. “Get Head Office to ship you in some fancy tea. A golden tin encrusted with diamonds. They’d do it for you.”
He scoffed. “Who says it has to be expensive?”
“You do, with your . . .” I gestured at his shoes, realizing too late that of course he was wearing worn hiking boots. “ . . . patent leather shoes.”
His tone was careful, thin. “You make me out to be some upper class snob.”
“Well . . . aren’t you? Rich?”
He peered across the tundra, swirling mists which formed a cauldron of silver cloud. “I told you I was raised in a village.”
I wanted to kick myself. “Right. You did say, I just wasn’t thinkin—”
“It was called Bhojpura,” he said, as if I hadn’t spoken.
Seasoned Park Ranger Will Avery has found his home in the Denali wilderness, cherishing his solitary routines for the decade leading up to 1991. The trade-off that no one knows of his identity as a transgender man feels worth it for the comforting assurance he finds in the towering glaciers.
Until Will discovers an unexpected passenger in his truck—the visiting wolf biologist everyone in the Park is ecstatic to meet—Nikhil Rajawat.
Nikhil doesn’t return his new colleagues’ fervor. He’s dreamt of Denali for one reason: the pinnacle of his research, and it isn’t anyone’s business that this is the last year he’ll get to chase the wolves. He doesn’t expect to fall for the grizzled Ranger who forces him to carry bear spray in the backcountry. Just as Will doesn’t expect to ask Nikhil to share his bed.
But when their dreamlike summer comes to an end, and Nikhil resolutely leaves on a plane bound for India, a devastated Will pretends he didn’t just plead for Nikhil to stay. And one year later, when Nikhil suddenly re-appears in Denali without explanation, Will must decide if Alaska is his solitary refuge—or if perhaps there’s a home somewhere in the world for two.
C.L. Beaumont received his B.A. in South Asian Linguistics and Art History from the University of California, Berkeley, and now volunteers as a crisis line counselor while he delves into his true love: writing. When he isn’t hiking or checking another National Park off his list, he enjoys devouring crime fiction, cooking new vegetarian recipes, and working on way too many cross stitch projects at once. C. L. Beaumont lives in Montana with his gorgeous partner and their chickens.
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To celebrate the release of Names for the Dawn, C.L. is giving away a signed paperback copy of the release! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!
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