Gavin & Morgan

an excerpt

Chapter One

When the massive weather system finally broke apart and the danger of new twisters forming dissipated, Gavin Larson let out a long breath of released stress. He dropped his glasses to the desk and pressed the heels of his palms against his eyes. They burned from lack of sleep and the forced concentration on the various screens spread out in front of him. This had been one of the worst tornado seasons in Tornado Alley ever since the 2011 season spawned the devastating Joplin, Missouri tornado. With six seasons of forecasting twisters, Gavin wasn't sure he wanted to continue.

Why did I ever think it was a smart idea to move from hurricanes to tornadoes?

There was still a massive amount of detail, reports, and predictions. Sure, it was a different type of weather pattern, but still… the damn things killed. At least he couldn't go near earthquakes since he wasn't a seismologist.

"You looked exhausted and drained to the bones, Larson. Haven't they been feeding you properly?"

At the sound of a familiar voice, one he didn't expect in the middle of Oklahoma at the National Weather Service Forecast Office, Gavin shoved his glasses back in place. With his gaze sharpening, he found his old college roommate leaning against the wall of his partial office cube. During their years at Florida State University, his roommate, Clark Rosenblatt, always made sure to get him out of their room or the library and show him what else college life offered. When he turned twenty-one, Clark had dragged him to every bar along Tennessee Street where he got a free shot until he puked in the closest bushes. Since that night, Gavin stayed the hell away from hard alcohol, only indulging in an occasional beer.

"Clark! You're a sight for sore eyes. How have you been?" Rising, Gavin towered over his former roomie. He gave him a typical male type of hug with their hands clasped and an arm around his shoulders. After a few hard smacks on Clark's back, he dropped in his chair. He flicked the back of his fingers against Clark's belly. "Don't think you missed a few meals there."

Tugging another chair over, Clark lowered his sizable frame and rubbed his belly. "Nope, my wife is one helluva cook."

"Umm, since she owns a restaurant, I would hope the hell so. How is your Lucy?"

"She's wonderful. Home in Philadelphia with our boys."

"You have three kids? Right?"

"Three boys who are twelve, nine, and six."

"Busy household."

"Wouldn't have it any other way. How about you? Last I heard, you were with Peter."

Gavin waved a hand to dismiss the name. "Nope. Not anymore. Caught him lying with his pants down. I tossed his shit out in garbage bags and changed the locks."

"Ouch. Harsh."

"What he did was far worse," Gavin said. "What are you doing here?"

"Needed to come out here for a meeting and figured I should drop in to see how you are since you moved from Miami to here. Why the devil would you leave sunny Miami for this place?"

"After the last few seasons I've had here, I don't know. The craziness during the tropical seasons drained me, but things aren't much better here. Ever since the 2011 storms, things haven't been improving, but worsening."

"I heard this from you before you left Miami. You're trying to hold back a burnout. If you keep it bottled up any longer, it's gonna blow."

"I know. I know. I love what I do to help protect folks in the way of a storm." Gavin rubbed the back of his neck. "Things are churning in our atmosphere. It's hell playing catch up to get people out of danger."

"You look stressed to the max."

"A simple way to put it, but I'm feeling it."

"Is your shift over? I want to take you to dinner and talk about something."

"Aww. Are you asking me out on a date?" Gavin pressed his hand to his chest and wiped away a fake tear. "After all this time, my dreams have come true."

"Shad up, gay boy," Clark said as he kicked Gavin's foot. "Dinner. Conversation."

"Once again, I'm heartbroken."

"Poor baby." Clark held up his hand with the golden ring and wiggled his finger. "Remember this? Hmm? Best man?"

"What would your girl have to say about you swinging to my side?"

"Lucy would kick your ass and then mine and toss me in the doghouse for a month."

"You'll love every minute of it." Gavin air-kissed him. "Lucy loves me best."

"Yeah, you're her shopping buddy."

Laughing, Gavin logged out of the system and gathered his things. "You're buying."

Clark rolled his eyes. "Of course."

Gavin waved to a couple of colleagues and wiggled his phone to let them know to holler if another system rolled through. He placed a hand on Clark's shoulder and walked them out. Outside, he stopped and breathed in the humid, but clean air. His gaze studied the horizon then lifted to check out the clouds.

"Are we going to have any more trouble up there?" Clark asked.

"Not for another few hours. Those fluffy ones are the cumulus clouds and peaking at five thousand to ten thousand feet. It's a good sign because they're safe. They're around in fair weather and often what most folks look for to find shapes. The front moved the higher ones out of the area, along with the threat." Gavin pointed to the horizon. "The sky is typical for the growing sunset. No hints of green."

"Good to know, I knew I kept you around for some reason."

Gavin snorted.

Clark thumped his fist on Gavin's shoulder. "My rental is over here. Where should we go?"

"There's a Van's Pig Stands on the other side of the university campus. Damn good barbeque."

"Brisket and ribs?"

Watching Clark rubbing his belly in glee of roasted pig slathered in the divine sauce, Gavin smiled and bumped their shoulders. "Yup and it includes your choice of curly or straight fries."

"We're going," Clark said and raised the remote to release the locks on the dark VW sedan he rented.

Chuckling at the thought of chowing down with his best friend, Gavin stared at the sedan, then his beloved SUV, and grumbled. "Really? It's tiny. Let me drive."

"Nope, get your butt in here."

"Easier said than done," Gavin muttered. He managed to fold his six-foot-plus frame into the car. With a yelp, he reached between his legs for the release and let the seat go back. He unlocked his knees, glared at his friend, then closed the door.

"Oh, sorry about that," Clark said while he lowered his five-eight frame easier into the car.

"No, you're not," Gavin said, locking the seatbelt.

"Nope, sorry, gay boy."

"I'm gonna tell Lucy."

Clark reversed out of the spot, stuck his tongue at Gavin, and shifted gears. "Where we going? I want my smoked and slathered pig flesh."

Gavin pointed the back road to cut across the city. He smacked the button to turn off the blaring alternative music his roomie loved. "How can you think with that racket? I can't believe you're still listening to this crap."

"Please." Clark snorted and drove through the early evening traffic. "It's music."

"You can't even hear the words above the bass and screams. How can you understand the lyrics if you can't hear them?"

"I jam out to it all the time."

"Give me Elton John any time. Hell, even Springsteen. Anything but this…" Gavin waved a hand at the radio. He banged his head back against the seatrest. What else would his unexpected visitor ask of him?

Minutes later, sitting in a restaurant, he got his answer.

Spewing the sip of icedtea he drank, Gavin coughed and pounded a fist against his chest. He coughed a few more times and stared across the table. "Are you-" he coughed again- "completely out of your mind?"

Using napkins to mop up his face and the table, Clark shook his head. "Nope. Perfectly sane. You're the best damn meteorologist I know. Come and work for me."

"I'm not some damn bright-white smile idiot waving his hand in front of a green screen and telling everyone it's going to be sunshine and daisies. Hell freaking no, I didn't slave over all the damn math to get my degree." Gavin picked up a rib, nipped off the meat, and cleaned it down to the bone.

"I'm not asking you to get in front of the cameras, though I'm sure the viewers would adore you. I'm asking you to head the meteorology department for the television station. You'll have the best equipment and a top-notch staff. Your research and forecasts will be given to the on-screen weathermen to relay to the public."

Dropping the bone on a plate, Gavin used napkins to wipe off his fingers. "Why me?"

"Didn't I mention you're the finest meteorologist and one of the most facetious researchers around? I need the help. We're having trouble with accuracy and our usual forecaster is a grumpy ass who doesn't listen."

"What area are we talking about?"

"We cover Philadelphia and the vicinity. The main fella is shitty when it comes to forecasts, but the viewers trust him. I managed to overhaul most of the shows, but the higher-ups want to change more. A major issue repeated by all viewers deal with the weather forecasts. I need your help and expertise behind the scene." Clark grinned. "It'll be less of a shit load of stress on your shoulders. Get us through the winter. If you hate it, we'll move you wherever you want."

Gavin fiddled with the napkin, folded and twisted it between fingers, and stared at the table. "Are you talking about this being a test shot for the winter?"

"Sounds like a good time frame to me to help figure out if you like it. Come on, there's supposed to be a couple of snowstorms and flurries, at max a nasty blizzard. We're not expecting a freezing version of Sandy or a massive nor'easter. It's Pennsylvania. Nothing happens. If you hate it, you can leave and we'll help you go wherever you wish."

"Okay. I'll do it. I'll go to Philadelphia," Gavin said.

Clark whooped to Gavin's surprise and laughter.

"There better not be any shit happening."

"Nah. Supposed to be a quiet one, other stations mentioned a bunch of snow, but nothing major. We know how to handle snow, slush, and ice. Not a problem. Really."

"If there is, you're so going to pay for dragging me along into this madness."

"Nothing, I promise."

Not sure if he should believe it, Gavin worked on the rest of his plate.