Special Exclusive Excerpt Reveal & Giveaway:
Names for the Dawn
By C.L. Beaumont
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.
Exclusive Early Excerpt:
As twilight began to fall, I pulled over in the place I knew it would happen and cut the engine. “Better view from up top,” I said, trying not to wince at my voice in the fresh quiet. I stepped out and placed one foot up on the truck seat, preparing to hoist myself up to the roof.
“If you don’t mind, I . . . I’ve reports to finish.” It was impossible to decipher the flat, careful tone of his voice. “If I’d known you wanted to stargaze . . .”
“We’re not stargazing,” I said, quietly embarrassed that I could have named every constellation, shown him all the stars, if only he had wanted me to. I patted the truck roof, my hand shaking. “Come on, it’ll be quick. Then we’ll get you back.”
He sighed, as if deciding whether it wouldn’t be easier to walk back to Toklat. But then he curled his long legs out of the seat, and swung himself up beside me as I climbed onto the roof, causing the truck to sway with the weight of his body. I made sure we were sitting a careful few inches apart.
“Shouldn’t be long,” I murmured. I stopped myself just in time from saying his name again.
Sure enough, less than a minute later, the first caribou poked its head over the nearest hill. Nikhil noticed it; I sensed the almost-imperceptible straightening of his spine. Then the whole herd spilled over the crest in a wave, clomping through the brush, their coats glittering in the rising stars. I felt like I was showing Nikhil the most carefully guarded secret. Like somehow, in witnessing it, Nikhil could see the first time I was handed a Ranger uniform; the first time I glimpsed Denali’s summit peeking through the clouds.
We watched the herd in silence as the sun slipped behind the peaks. Until moonlight illuminated the scene, flocking the dark grasses with flashes of silver. Our shoulders brushed; I could feel the pull of his ribcage as it rose and fell, the heat of his body alone fending off the sharp chill. Our hands were incredibly close where they rested on the freezing metal of the truck. It was a moment I had quietly dreamed of for years—someone allowing me to show them what I thought was the most beautiful view in all the world. Being alone with me in the dark. Showing the stars that I wasn’t alone.
But it was growing cold, and late, and he had work he needed to finish. He’d indulged me for long enough. Even a single minute would have been more than enough.
“Alright,” I said, trying not to sound disappointed. “We can head—”
“You know, Ranger,” he said, quietly cutting me off. “I can’t decide whether or not I envy your life out here.”
He could have whispered it straight in my ear, his lips brushing my skin, and it would have sounded less intimate. “That so?” I managed to say.
Without meaning to, my hand shifted. My fingers pressed against his between our thighs.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” I should have said, casually, like I’d simply bumped into him in a crowded room. But I didn’t say a word. And neither one of us looked down at our hands.
Nikhil looked up at the night sky, and the moonlight caressed his face. “Which one is that?” he asked.
I followed his gaze to the brightest clump of stars, right overhead. I knew it instantly. I could still see the drawing in the book, clutched in my hands as a kid.
“Hercules,” I whispered.
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About the Author:
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.