Friday, June 23, 2017

A Kind of Home by Lane Hayes - Release Blitz with Excerpt, Review, and Giveaway


Title:  A Kind of Home
Series: A Kind of Stories, #4
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 23
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 77k approximately
Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Rock star, NYC, humor, light suspense



Synopsis

Isaac Dalton is the guitarist for Spiral, arguably the biggest rock band in the world. The band’s meteoric rise to superstardom has its perks, but fame and fortune aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Nonstop touring and performing exhaust him, and when an overzealous fan makes it imperative that Isaac travel with a clingy bodyguard, he is ready for a break from the madness. More so when his newly single first crush shows up on his doorstep. The man is strictly off-limits. He’s a memory from a place Isaac would rather leave behind. And he’s straight.

Fun-loving former athlete slash construction worker Adam McBride desperately needs a new beginning. And New York City is the perfect place to start over and think about how to rebuild his life. A short stint as roommates with his brother’s best friend from high school seems like a mutually beneficial arrangement. However, when friendship gives way to fierce attraction, both men find themselves in uncharted and possibly dangerous territory. Isaac has to decide if he’s willing to take the ultimate risk for a kind of love and a kind of home he never dreamed possible.

Excerpt

A Kind of Home by Lane Hayes

“I’ve got it!” Adam sprang to his feet and waved his hand excitedly.

I gave him a weary sideways glance. “Whatever you’re thinking, stop.”

“No, it’s perfect. You teach me guitar and I’ll teach you how to bake something.”

“Tonight?”

“Not necessarily. When we can. The point is I’ll be here if you don’t feel like being alone. We can keep each other sane with wholesome diversions without having to ask ‘What do you feel like doing, roomie?’”

“‘Wholesome diversions’? You’ve been mainlining confectioner’s sugar again, haven’t you?” I quipped.

“Ha. Ha. Don’t overthink. I’ll keep my hands to myself. You’re safe with me. I promise. I just—we’re both adjusting to change. It might be helpful to lean on each other. That’s all.”

“Platonically?”

“Sure. Boston cream pie for a tip or two on how to play a couple Guns N’ Roses classics. What do you think?”

I lowered my eyes as I worked on the row of buttons on my navy shirt. I was touched. I couldn’t remember the last time someone stopped to notice my state of mental well-being and offered to ease my mind. I knew my friends cared, but they were going through the same things I was. All they could say was “Hang on. It’ll get easier.” Adam was offering something more—himself and his time. Platonically.

I wasn’t sure I trusted myself to keep us in the friend zone. Even now I wanted to tackle him to the bed and grind against him. He was solid, familiar, and trustworthy. Just what I needed to keep my mind off my troubles.

“Okay. You’re on.” I chuckled when he let out a whoop before I continued. “But we each get to choose what we want to learn.”

Adam mulled over my suggestion for a moment, then inclined his head. “As long as you know we aren’t making anything from a box.”

“And as long as you know I can only take so many run-throughs of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ before I’ll strangle you.”

Adam gave me a megawatt grin and then held up his hand for a high five. I slapped his hand and then rolled my eyes when he broke into a decent impression of Axl Rose’s version of “Patience.”

“Go,” I said, shooing him out of my bedroom. “I’ve got real-life bullshit to deal with. No more nonsense.”

“A little nonsense is good for you, Isaac. It’s what keeps you afloat so the bad stuff doesn’t drag you under.” He reached for my wrist and pulled me against him so our chests collided.

It was a slapstick maneuver that was too rough to be taken as a sensual overture. Until he backed me against the wall and lowered his head a fraction of an inch, stopping when his nose brushed mine. I held my breath, aware of my thundering heart. My world constricted to the smallest fragment of space. I occupied a place against a wall, covered by a man I’d known most of my life. Someone I cared about and, yeah, lusted after too.

Adam lowered his head again, and this time he didn’t stop. He pressed his lips to mine and went perfectly still as though testing my response. When I didn’t protest, he melded his mouth over mine, careful to keep the connection light. I reached out and ran a tentative hand along his cheek. Adam trembled and leaned into my touch, deepening the kiss ever so slightly. Then he licked my lips in a silent request for entry. I groaned when our tongues glided together and let him pull me under.

I broke for air and pushed his chest. This was ridiculous. We were friends only, and we were destined for heartache if we tried to be something else. “We can’t do this. I told you, I—”

Adam tugged at my belt loop and drew me against him. Then he rested his forehead against mine and went still as though he was wordlessly giving me control. I should have pushed him away, but I couldn’t. I fused my lips to his and moaned into the connection. I shivered when he moved his hands up my chest, then placed them on the wall on either side of my head. He nudged my chin with his nose until I exposed my neck. He traced my jawline with the tip of his tongue and then bit my earlobe before whispering in a raspy voice, “No repeats. I’ll behave. But I gotta admit… I really want to change your mind.”

Purchase

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-kind-of-home



5 out of 5 stars

A Kind of Home is the fourth book in the A Kind of Stories series. While it could possibly be read as a standalone, for greater enjoyment I recommend reading the series in order. 

As I said in my other review for this author's newest novella, I was excited to see two stories coming out in such a short order. I loved the novella but this story... really worked for me and I have to say is probably now my favorite couple out of this author's backlist. Isaac and Adam were just fantastic both as friends and then as they moved into more than friends territory. 

Isaac is the guitarist for the band Spiral, a band who's suddenly found themselves as mega-stars when all they really wanted to do was make music. Iz really is all about the music, not the fame but he's part of the band so he goes with the flow. Except for the overzealous fan who's started to leave him slightly creepy messages. While on tour with the band, Adam needs a place to stay for a while and asks Isaac if he can use his place for a short term place to crash. He's still there when Isaac gets back into town. To say they are friends is stretching it just a bit because Adam is actually Issac's childhood best friend's older brother... one who Iz had a giant crush on before he left town at 19. Finding Adam's red Chuck's sitting on the floor in his apartment, throws Isaac for a bit of a loop, and keeps Iz off balance for the rest of the story. 

That off balance feeling for Iz makes this one of those stories where you want to see where it goes as fast as you can possibly read. Adam is not really lost but is in the process of reinventing himself because of a divorce and losing his job. So him reconnecting with Isaac adds a little extra sweetness to his journey. But as these two men work toward a relationship that will last, their journey is just about perfect. I loved the scenes with Adam and Iz baking, and then when Adam finally banishes Iz to the other side of the kitchen for making a mess it's one of those laugh out loud moments. 

This story is all about finding your home and for Iz, his home ends up being Adam. It just takes him a bit to see that Adam won't leave him like everyone else in his life has before. That moment though when Isaac recognizes what Adam means to him is that moment we all want in our lives. It's that rom-com moment of the one person running toward the other until they collide and say those three little important words. In this case it's not just I Love You...but You're My Home. Which for Isaac means just as much, if not more, than saying he loves Adam. 

For me, this was a perfect, sexy, hot, and even sweet romance story with the secondary theme of the slightly crazed fan. Which really was more of a background story until the last 20% when they finally figure out who the fan is and is then caught. Otherwise this was a well-written, well-paced story with good focus on both the main characters growth and development, and had engaging secondary characters. There were a lot of great moments in this story that all lead up to one fantastic moment at the end with Adam and Isaac. 

This book is one you need to pick up and definitely read this summer. You'll thoroughly enjoy it! I can't wait to see what this author has coming up next for us. 


Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.


Giveaway

$25.00 Amazon Gift Card





Scrap by Josephine Myles - Release Blitz with Giveaway




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 80,000 words


Blurb

In a battle of the alpha males, who will end up on top?

On the surface, Derek “Call me Dare” Nelson’s life is simple. He’s happy doing up campervans while living in a slightly illegal caravan in his riverfront yard. But life gets more complicated when a smooth-talking, handsome property developer offers to buy the land out from under his feet—the very same man Dare had to escort from a party nine months ago for causing a drunken scene.

Grant Matravers is living a double life, attempting to adjust to weekends as a single, soon-to-be-divorced gay man while staying in the closet during the week. The strain of keeping up appearances at work while missing his kids is bad enough, but add in an attraction to the shaven-headed, tattooed, totally unsuitable Dare and Grant finds his emotional barriers wearing dangerously thin.

Dare blasts through those barriers in a way Grant isn’t prepared for, challenging everything he thought he knew about himself as a gay man. But as their chemistry heats up and the intimacy between them grows, Grant edges towards a decision that could blow up in his face. Exposing a mess of complications that could destroy any chance for their happily ever after.

Product Warnings: Contains one sharp-suited man desperately in need of redemption, another whose thuggish exterior does a pretty good job of hiding his heart of gold, frotting in camper vans, a sensual head-shaving scene and several (noisy) guest appearances from Mas.


Author Bio

English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

Jo’s novel Stuff won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Romance, and her novella Merry Gentlemen won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Romantic Comedy. She loves to be busy, and is currently having fun trying to work out how she is going to fit in her love of writing, dressmaking and attending cabaret shows in fabulous clothing around the demands of a preteen with special needs and an incessantly curious toddler.

Website and blog: josephinemyles.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/josephine.myles.author
Twitter: @JosephineMyles
Newsletter: eepurl.com/hrQ4s


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Sum Of The Whole by Brenda Murphy - Blog Tour with Excerpt, Author Q&A, and Giveaway


Title:  Sum of the Whole
Author: Brenda Murphy
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: June 19
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 50000
Genre: Contemporary, Contemporary, BDSM, age gap, interracial, businesswoman



Synopsis

Jaya Pomroy falls desperately in love with Sarah while vacationing at an exclusive BDSM pleasure house. Unwilling to become Jaya’s possession, yearning for independence, Sarah refuses to leave with her and they part after a bitter fight.

Six years later they meet again. Fighting to leave her past behind, but unable to resist her attraction for Jaya, Sarah agrees to try again. Jaya has to cope with new rules and new roles. When a former client threatens to expose Sarah, Jaya risks everything to protect her.

Can their love survive in the real world filled with vengeful ex-lovers and deadly secrets?

Excerpt

Sum of the Whole
Brenda Murphy © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Jaya scrolled through the messages on her phone, rereading the instructions from the owner of the house. Her palms were sweaty in spite of the air conditioning. She shifted her hips, trying to find a comfortable spot on the broad leather seats.

“Do you wish to stop, Mistress? It’ll be at least an hour before we reach the house.” The driver’s husky voice matched her stocky build and ruddy face. Jaya appraised the thick hands wrapped around the wheel and the way the chauffeur’s livery draped her broad shoulders and considered it. The woman made eye contact with Jaya in the rearview mirror, one eyebrow raised and lips in a closed-mouth smile. Jaya imagined saying, “Yes, let us stop somewhere and I’ll flog you until we’re both satisfied,” but the instructions from Rowan House were explicit and interactions with the staff were not permitted outside the house.

“No.” Jaya kept her voice soft and let her gaze rest on the woman’s face in the mirror. “I’m tired of people staring at me.”

“You’re a sight, Ma’am, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

“You’d think they’d never seen a woman in a suit before.” Jaya left out the word “dark-skinned.”

“It’s your height, Ma’am. And you’re fetching in that suit. I imagine out of it as well.”

Jaya looked down. She had not flirted like this in years and it was wonderful, even if she knew it was not going to lead to anything more.

“Do you always flirt with your guests?” She relaxed her shoulders and sat back in the seat.

“Only the ones I find—” The driver looked at Jaya in the mirror. “Stunning.” She turned on the radio and went back to piloting the long, black town car through roundabouts as they left Armadale. As they traveled farther from the city, she was occupied dodging rough spots and the occasional mud-splattered sheep wandering along the edge of the single-track road.

Jaya sank into the soft leather seats, grateful for the distraction of the driver’s banter and the tinted windows, dark enough to hide her face from anyone who might try to catch a glimpse of the car’s passengers. On the ferry to Skye, she had caught more than one mother reminding her children not to stare. The curious faces of the children were better than the hard looks she got from the men on the ship. Half of them looked like they wanted to fuck her; the other half looked like they wanted to kill her. Some probably wanted to do both.

She had not anticipated how angry she would feel under the gaze of the other passengers. She had almost wished one of the rude men would start something so she could finish it. She had worn this suit to her father’s funeral, to her brother’s dismay. An orphan again at thirty-five. The high from the banter with the driver wore off and she slumped in her seat. She sifted through her memories of the last two years. Her father’s illness and slow death, her brother’s anger, and Deidre’s departure blended into an oppressing melancholy. What the hell was I thinking? Why am I looking for comfort here?

She could have chosen another venue for her adventure, but Jaya wanted to experience this house. The house Deidre spoke of as her home. She lied to herself, telling herself she chose this house because it was highly recommended as a discreet, old-school establishment dedicated to unique and personalized experiences.

Deidre. The woman of sorrows. Never was a woman more truly named. Jaya scrolled through the photos of Deidre on her phone. Brutal memories of their life together filled the emptiness of the ride. As they traveled farther into the country, the battery on her phone quietly expired. Jaya tucked it into her bag and let the rocking of the car soothe her as they drove past rough stone walls and rocky pastures.

Purchase Links




Author Q&A 

If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?
I would love to go back to 1931-1934 Paris so I could hang out in cafes with Anais Nin.

We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us right? If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter (does not need to be sexual) between two characters, not your own, who would they be?
Jacqueline Carey’s  Phedre and Melisande from Kushiel’s Dart.

If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?
Milk, bread, peanut butter and jelly, and left over grilled chicken.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Invisability.

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Mac from my next book because she gets to go to travel to Italy and watch the Italian Grand Prix from a private suite. I loved Italy and can’t wait to go back.


Meet the Author

Brenda Murphy writes both short stories and novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. Her non-fiction and fiction work has been published in various collections—most recently, “Whole Again” in First: Sensual Stories of New Beginnings (Ladylit Publishing, 2015).

When she is not writing or teaching cooking classes, she’s attempting to train an unrepentant parrot, much to her Ohioan family’s delight. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog, writingwhiledistracted.com. She shares recipes and celebrates food on her blog, quinbykitchensideshow.com.

Author Links


Tour Schedule

6/19     Love Bytes - www.lovebytesreviews.com
6/19     Boy Meets Boy Reviews - Boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com
6/20     Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words - https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/
6/20     Liz's Reading Life - http://lizjosette.blogpsot.com
6/20     Erotica For All - http://eroticaforall.co.uk
6/21     Happily Ever Chapter - https://www.facebook.com/happilyeverchapter
6/21     My Fiction Nook - http://myfictionnook.com
6/22     MM Good Book Reviews - https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/
6/23     Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews - http://wickedfaeriesreviews.blogspot.com
6/23     Divine Magazine - https://www.divinemagazine.biz/

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive an ebook of their choice from NineStar Press



Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Way With Words by Lane Hayes - Release Blitz with Excerpt, Review, and Giveaway


Title:  A Way with Words
Series: A Way With Stories Series
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Self Pub
Release Date: June 22
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 24k approximately
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Humor, New York City



Synopsis

Tony De Luca is a simple guy. He works for his uncle’s Brooklyn-based construction firm. And he knows from experience that keeping his head down and doing his job is the best way to deal with the meddlesome family members he sees daily. They think he’s quiet and maybe a little awkward but the truth is more complicated. Tony has a secret he isn’t ready or willing to share. He’s an expert at avoiding familial scrutiny. At least he was until the sexy guitar player showed up.

Remy Nelson is a small-town, free-spirited guy looking for a new life in the big city. He stays busy playing his instrument on a busy Manhattan street corner during the day and bartending at night. Remy is more interested in finding steady employment than a mate, but he can’t deny his attraction to the dreamy construction worker with soulful eyes, a kind heart, and a unique way with words. Falling for Remy wasn’t what Tony expected, but keeping him will require courage. And an end to keeping secrets.

Excerpt

“Yeah, that’s no fun. But it’s good to make new friends.” He gave me a sideways grin. “Like us.”

“Yeah, except you make me sweat,” I admitted with a half chuckle. Then I added, “In a good way. I like you.”

Remy hummed softly and sidled closer to me, resting his thigh against mine. “I like you too, Tony. You make me smile.”

We stared at each other for a long moment. All those funny details came rushing at me. Things I never noticed about other people. The gorgeous halo of curls, the shape of his eyes, the freckle on his cheek and those luscious lips. The lone bulb above the back door illuminated him in a yellowish light that shouldn’t have been flattering but I had a feeling Remy would look good with a paper bag on his head. Wait. That didn’t make sense. I furrowed my brow and cocked my head just as Remy set his arm over my shoulder and pulled me forward.

My heart raced when the tips of our noses brushed and our breath commingled visibly in the cool air. With a courage I didn’t know I possessed, I angled my head and slowly touched my lips to his. Just a touch. He had room to pull away. Hell, he even had room to punch me if I got this totally wrong. But when he purred softly and licked the corner of my mouth, I knew we were on the same page.

I cradled the back of his head and gently threaded my fingers through his hair. I held him like he was a fragile flower or something. Then in my typical bull-in-a-china-store style, I plunged my tongue between his lips. Remy gasped at the onslaught but he didn’t miss a beat. He wrapped both of his arms around my neck, drawing me close as he glided his tongue over mine, twirling and sucking feverishly.

I didn’t know how long we made out on that stoop but I could have done it all damn night. He tasted incredible and he felt even better. I loved the way he pressed his chest against mine and those sexy noises he made drove me wild. I wanted more than we were able to do on a cigarette break. Much more.

We broke for air and eyed each other, looking for clues. Or maybe that was just me. I couldn’t be the one in charge of directing traffic here. I was out of my depth. He had to tell me what came next. I’d never figure it out on my own. Remy caressed my cheek and smiled before leaning in to nibble on my bottom lip.

“I have to go,” he whispered.

“Okay. I’ll see ya ’round.” My huskier than usual voice didn’t mesh with the casual vibe I was going for.

Remy pulled back with a smirk. “That’s all you’re going to say? “See ya”? Don’t you want my number or something?”

“Um yeah. Yeah, I do.” I pulled out my cell and handed it to him. “Put it in. My hands are shaking.”

This time when he smiled, I felt it deep inside me. The butterflies in my stomach fluttered like crazy but in a good way.



Purchase Links





5 out of 5 stars
A Way With Words is a novella that is part of the Kindle Worlds series Memories with The Breakfast Club. 

I'm a huge fangirl of this author so it's no surprise I squee'd a bit when I found out she had not one but two offerings out this summer. A Way With Words is the first offering and is a novella featuring two men who are completely different but are absolutely perfect for each other. Bonus is that this novella really gives you a huge amount of story in 6 chapters, so you don't feel like you're missing any of their story. 

Tony has been quietly admiring this cute musician who's been playing his guitar in the park for a few months. One day he finally makes eye contact with him and they introduce themselves, the musician flirting with Tony just a bit. Remy, the musician, is relatively new in town and is trying to give his life a new direction. He didn't really expect he'd meet someone like Tony. They strike up a sort of friendship, casual for the most part, because Tony isn't out of the closet. However they continue to grow closer and closer until they're in a relationship. Of course this still doesn't solve the issue of Tony being in the closet to everyone else. 

I truly enjoyed this story from start to finish. The author does a fantastic job with these two characters, their story, their growth/change in Tony's case, and adding in secondary characters that are important to the story. She does this all in a ~24K word novella without sacrificing the feel of the developing relationship and how Tony deals with coming out to his family, friends, and co-workers. That is, for this reader, pure reading magic when you can make it all work without sacrificing elements, particularly in this length story. 

I definitely can't recommend this story enough as one that you'll want to read, and even pick up and read again and again. 


Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Author Links


Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon Giftcard




Kevin Corrigan and Me by Jere' M. Fishback - Blog Tour with Author Q&A, Excerpt, and Giveaway


Title:  Kevin Corrigan and Me
Author: Jere' M. Fishback
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: June 19
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 57400
Genre: Contemporary and Historical, YA Literature, Historical, memoir fiction, non-explicit, Gay, Bi, Cisgender, coming-of-age, friends to lovers, homophobia, in the closet, coming out, athlete



Synopsis

Ever since their boyhood days, fifteen-year-old Jesse has craved something more than friendship from Kevin Corrigan. Athletic, handsome and cocky, Kevin doesn't seem approachable. But when Kevin spends a summer at Jesse's family's beach home, an affair ignites between them, one so intense it engulfs both boys in a emotional tug of war neither wants to give up on.

Excerpt

Kevin Corrigan and Me
Jere’ M. Fishback © 2017
All Rights Reserved


Kevin Corrigan died two days ago, on a Thursday, at the age of sixty-five. I know this only because I saw his obituary in this morning’s Tampa Bay Times. The obit provided limited information: date of birth, date of death, and Kevin’s place of residence, Madeira Beach. It also said Kevin had no known survivors, but that isn’t really true because I’m still alive and I am very much Kevin’s survivor.

My name is Jesse Lockhart. I grew up in the Jungle area of west St. Petersburg, Florida, in a cinder-block home with a fireplace, casement windows, a weed-and-dirt yard, no air-conditioning, and an ineffective furnace. My parents divorced when I was six years old and my father disappeared shortly after that, so he wasn’t a factor in my life. I lived with my mother and younger sister, Lisa.

Kevin was an only child who lived next door to me with his Boston Irish parents. He was a year older than me, and between my parents’ divorce and the time I reached the age of eleven, Kevin became my primary masculine influence.

I worshipped him.

Always half a head taller than me, Kevin was lanky, with curly blond hair and a riot of freckles dancing across his turned-up nose. His blue eyes twinkled, and he was athletic in a way I would never be. He had a cocky attitude; he wasn’t intimidated by anything or anybody, not snarling dogs, rattlesnakes, teenagers, or any type of authority figure: cops, umpires, or the nuns that taught at his Catholic primary school.

Okay, he wasn’t the sharpest when it came to his schoolwork. I was mostly a straight-A student while Kevin scraped by with Cs, and every time report cards issued, his mom compared mine to his. Then she’d say to Kevin, “Why can’t you be more like Jesse?”

But Kevin wasn’t meant for school and textbooks; he wasn’t designed to perform academic tasks. His world was the palmetto and pine forest near our homes, the baseball diamonds in our part of town, a tree house he built for himself, and the streets and alleys of our suburban neighborhood.

It seems hard for me to believe now, but when I was eight and Kevin nine, he and I often rode a city bus, unaccompanied by an adult, from the Jungle all the way to downtown St. Petersburg, a ten-mile journey, just to see a matinee at the Florida Theater. Afterward, we’d visit a magic shop called Sone’s, a quirky place run by a Japanese couple where we bought stupid things to bring home: fake plastic puke, a whoopee cushion, and cigarette loads I snuck into my mom’s Viceroys; they exploded with a bang shortly after she lit up. Once we bought a tin of itching powder, which I think was simply shredded fiberglass, and then on the bus ride home, Kevin surreptitiously sprinkled some of the powder down the backs of two women’s sundresses, causing the women to writhe and scratch while we giggled and jabbed each other in the ribs.

Kevin’s home life was a mess. His father, Colonel Frank Corrigan, was a wheelchair-bound WWII veteran who’d sustained spinal damage in the Pacific theater. He was in constant pain, and this caused him to be cranky and out of sorts. He puffed on Hav-A-Tampa cigars jammed into a holder he’d fashioned from a coat hanger because his fingers didn’t work very well. He drove a black Cadillac with the accelerator and brakes operated by calipers attached to the steering wheel. He was always yelling at Kevin for one thing or another in a barking tone I could hear a block away. His favorite epithet was, “I’m gonna kill that kid, Margaret.”

Margaret was Kevin’s mother, the Corrigan household martyr who endured Kevin’s mischievous behavior and her husband’s unceasing demands. A bulky woman with auburn hair and a narrow, thin-lipped mouth, she bathed the Colonel, helped him in and out of bed, got him dressed, and cooked the family meals. She washed clothes in an old-fashioned ringer-style washtub, then hung them to dry on a clothesline in the Corrigans’ backyard. She always seemed tired and dispirited to me. I rarely heard her laugh, and I often wondered whether the Colonel and Margaret had once enjoyed a happy marriage, back when the Colonel was healthy and Kevin wasn’t part of their lives.

The Corrigans’ social life revolved around the Madeira Beach Moose Lodge, the VFW, and St. Jude Catholic Church. Every Sunday they piled into their Cadillac to attend Mass with the Colonel’s wheelchair loaded into the trunk by his wife. Once I went with them; I was curious to see how a Catholic service might differ from those at my Methodist church. Much to my surprise, the St. Jude Mass was conducted in Latin; I couldn’t understand a word the priest said. Money was collected from parishioners through use of a metal basket attached to a telescoping aluminum pole operated by an usher. The day I was there, Kevin pretended to put money in the basket, but instead he stole a dollar when his folks weren’t watching, then stuffed it into his pocket after giving me a wink. I felt appalled by his behavior, but of course I didn’t snitch; I wouldn’t have dreamt of it.

Kevin was a natural athlete; he could play any sport—baseball, basketball, or football—with agility and grace. But he couldn’t get along with other players; he constantly got into scraps with members of opposing teams, or even with his own teammates. He had a way of needling guys with sarcastic remarks about their lack of athletic prowess or even their looks. (“Is that your nose or are you eating a banana?”) In fact, he seemed incapable of forming true friendships with anyone other than me.

For reasons I didn’t understand at the time, Kevin was drawn to me just as I was drawn to him. He never teased or threatened or taunted me like he did other boys in the neighborhood. He never called me an insulting nickname. I was by nature a gentle boy who lacked self-confidence in the masculine world, so I never tried emulating Kevin’s miscreant behaviors on my own, but I loved serving as his sidekick and sycophant. I relished my role as abettor.

Many of our neighbors had citrus trees in their backyards: oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits. One night, at Kevin’s suggestion, we snuck into the neighbors’ properties to fill two paper grocery sacks full of grapefruits larger than softballs. Across the street from my house, a huge live oak grew in the right-of-way. One of the oak’s limbs stretched across the road like an arm reaching for a box of crackers in the cupboard. Toting our sacks of grapefruits, Kevin and I scaled the tree and perched ourselves on the limb overlooking the road. When a car passed beneath us, Kevin or I dropped a grapefruit on the car’s windshield, which always scared the bejeezus out of the car’s occupants. Women screamed and brakes squealed. Men cursed. But of course no one could see us up there in the darkness.

Every Halloween Kevin and I dressed as hobos. We scavenged the neighborhood, collecting candy in our pillowcases while pulling the occasional prank. My favorite was one where Kevin scooped up a pile of dog turds using a Sabal palm boot as a shovel. He dropped the turds on someone’s doorstep, soaked them in lighter fluid, and set them on fire. Then he rang the unsuspecting homeowner’s doorbell. The result, of course, was never in doubt. The surprised resident stomped the fire out with his shoe, only to belatedly discover what sort of material flamed. Kevin and I hid in a nearby bush, watching and chuckling so hard I think I might have peed in my pants.

Kevin liked to spy on people at night, on weekends or during summers when we could stay out until nine or ten. We peeped on women undressing, on an old guy who picked his nose and ate the boogers, on a pair of men who slow-danced together in their underwear to Johnny Mathis records, on a high school boy who often pleasured himself while leafing through a girlie magazine. I, of course, had never seen such things before. Kevin’s spying opened up a whole new world for me, one I knew I would never discuss with my mom or sister or anyone else. How could I possibly?

I remember one summer when the Colonel traded in his Cadillac for a two-toned, cinnamon-and-cream Rambler station wagon. The Corrigans took a month-long cross-country trip in the Rambler, all the way to California, where Kevin sent me a postcard from Disneyland. He sent me another from the Alamo in San Antonio. Both were places I’d always dreamed of visiting, but figured I’d never see. That was a miserable month for me. I felt jealous of Kevin’s travels and as lonely as I’d ever been in my young life. I think I was nine then. Of course there were other boys in the neighborhood and I did my best to pass the time with them, but it wasn’t the same as being with Kevin. I longed for the day the Corrigans would return.

The Corrigans’ house stood north of ours. Kevin’s bedroom was at the southwest corner, while my bedroom was at the northwest corner of our house, so Kevin and I always slept about twenty feet apart. If we’d wanted to, we could have tossed a football back and forth between our bedroom windows. But I never spent the night with Kevin and he never spent the night with me because Kevin was a chronic bed-wetter. His mother kept a fitted rubber sheet on his mattress at all times, and this went on for as long as Kevin lived next door. I didn’t know anything about the reasons behind bed-wetting, but even then I suspected it was caused by emotional distress of one sort or another, probably linked to his poor school grades, his father’s withering tirades, and the Colonel’s very obvious disability that surely must have embarrassed Kevin. But I always kept his bed-wetting problem to myself; I never even mentioned it to my mother or sister. I figured I owed it to Kevin to keep his habit a secret from the rest of the world.

When Kevin and I were boys, Catholics were not supposed to eat meat of any sort on Fridays: no beef, chicken, or pork. So every Friday Mrs. Corrigan prepared a dinner featuring Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. These were tasteless little rectangles of processed and frozen cod you heated up on a cookie sheet, and Kevin detested them.

“They taste like cardboard,” he told me, “even when I cover them with tartar sauce.”

At our house, my mom prepared a fried chicken dinner every Friday—the tasty meal was a ritual—and every Friday Kevin would sneak over to our house to dine on fried chicken, unbeknownst to his parents. Of course, my mom knew what was up, but she never told Kevin’s parents he violated God’s law every Friday night. She let him gnaw on wings and legs with abandon because Mom was that way. Within reason, she believed in giving kids the freedom to do whatever they chose.

The summer before my sixth-grade year, I was nearly eleven and Kevin was already twelve. He was almost as tall as my mom at that point—he’d put some muscle onto his frame as well—and I remember very clearly an incident involving Kevin, a truly cathartic experience for me. I had just finished my breakfast and brushed my teeth, and I walked over to the Corrigans’ house to see what Kevin was up to. Their garage door was open, and I heard someone rattling about inside, so I walked into the garage’s shadowy interior where I found Kevin rummaging through the contents of a cardboard box. He wore nothing but a flimsy pair of briefs that clung to his buttocks and displayed a randy bulge in front.

Kevin might as well have been naked.

Right away my mouth grew sticky and my knees wobbled. I lived with two females—I had never seen another boy in his underwear—and the sight of Kevin’s lean physique captivated me in a strange way I hadn’t felt before. There in the garage, I thought Kevin was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I felt so stunned I couldn’t speak. I just clenched and unclenched my fingers at my hips while I kept my gaze focused on Kevin.

When he finally noticed me standing there, Kevin gazed at me with his eyes narrowed and his forehead crinkled, as if to say, “What are you looking at?”

It was then, of course, I realized something about myself that I’d never before suspected: I felt a physical attraction to Kevin; I wanted to touch him in ways that weren’t allowed in the world we dwelt in, and the realization that I harbored these urges frightened me out of my wits. I didn’t know what to do or say, so I turned on my heel and ran back to my house as quickly as I could. I went to my room and closed the door behind me. Then, after I sat on my bed, I rocked back and forth while wagging my knees and cracking my knuckles. My stomach roiled and my heart thumped. Between my legs, I felt a stiffening as I recalled exactly what I’d seen in the Corrigans’ garage. My viewing of an almost nude Kevin had seared his sex appeal into my brain, and I was never quite the same guy after that morning. 
There in my bedroom, I knew I was somehow different than other boys, and though I couldn’t yet articulate how I was different, I was certainly on my way to finding out. Neither Kevin nor I ever mentioned the incident in the garage after it happened. In fact I suspect Kevin had no idea what it had meant to me or how that moment had altered my view of myself.

But I knew.


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Meet the Author

Jere’ M. Fishback is a former journalist and trial lawyer who now writes fiction full time. He lives with his partner Greg on a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. When he’s not writing, Jere’ enjoys reading, playing his guitar, jogging, swimming laps, fishing, and watching sunsets from his deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

Author Links

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jere.fishback


Author Interview - Part Four

How long did it take you to write it?
It took me about five months to write it, which is much less that it usually takes me to write a novel of this size. The words just kind of flowed out of my brain and onto my computer screen.

Is there any particular message you hope the readers grasp in this book?
Yes, the book's main message, I think, is that we cannot allow ourselves to be emotionally abused by the person we love the most in our lives. Even if it's terribly painful to walk away from that person. Jesse endures a great deal of abuse from Kevin during the course of their eighteen-month affair because Jesse can't bear the thought of losing Kevin's physical affection. But in the end he's better off with Kevin out of his life.

How can readers connect with you?

I have a website at http://www.jeremfishback.com/blog1/, and there's a means of contacting me by e-mail through this site.


Tour Schedule

6/19       Bayou Book Junkie - http://bayoubookjunkie.blogspot.com
6/19       MM Good Book Reviews - https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/
6/20       Divine Magazine - https://www.divinemagazine.biz/
6/21       Stories That Make You Smile - https://authoraddisonalbright.com
6/22       Dean Frech - http://deanfrech.blogspot.com/
6/22       Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews - http://wickedfaeriesreviews.blogspot.com
6/23       Love Bytes reviews - www.lovebytesreviews.com
6/23       Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words - https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive an ebook of their choice from NineStar Press