Rick R. Reed
Re-Release Date: 12.01.19
Winner of the 2013 EPIC eBook Award for Best Contemporary Romance
It's 1991, and Dan Calzolaio has just moved to Florida with his lover, Mark, having fled Chicago and Mark's addictions to begin a new life on the Gulf Coast. Volunteering for the Tampa AIDS Alliance is just one part of that new beginning, and that's how Dan meets his new buddy, Adam.
Adam Schmidt is not at all what Dan expected. The guy is an original - witty, wry, and sarcastic with a fondness for a smart black dress, Barbra Streisand, and a good mai tai. Adam doesn't let his imminent death get him down, even through a downward spiral that sees him thrown in jail.
Each step of Adam's journey teaches Dan new lessons about strength and resilience, but it's Adam's lover, Sullivan, to whom Dan feels an almost irresistible pull. Dan knows the attraction isn't right, even after he dumps his cheating, drug-abusing boyfriend. But then Adam passes away, and it leaves Sullivan and Dan both alone to see if they can turn their love for Adam into something whole and real for each other.
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He started up the walk, not knowing what to expect, but imagining someone very weak, emaciated, whose skin was marred by KS lesions. No matter how bad he looks, Dan, you will be cheerful and friendly. You will not let the effect his appearance has on you internally show externally. Got that?
Dan rang the doorbell.
When the door swung open, Dan’s grin disappeared and his mouth dropped open, yet nothing came out. He cocked his head. His eyebrows furrowed.
“Well, don’t just stand there,” a seductive, Bette Davis voice intoned. “Get in here. I am not about to pay to air condition the great outdoors, especially not when the great outdoors happen to be located on the Gulf Coast.”
Dan still didn’t know what to say as he followed the feminine figure inside the little stucco house.
Mentally scratching his head and desperately wanting to act as though he was in on the joke, Dan stood near the doorway and took in what he supposed to be Adam Schmidt, since it didn’t appear anyone else was home.
Adam wore the classic little black dress, a string of pearls, black leather kitten heels, and sheer black nylons. His nails were painted a shocking red, a shade the gayest side of Dan was absolutely positive would have been called “Jungle Red.” Adam’s wispy blond hair had obviously been blown dry and sprayed into place. His angular features had been enhanced with a good concealer, a little blush, mascara, pale green eye shadow, and slash of red across his thin lips that perfectly matched his nails.
Adam put a hand on one hip and gave Dan the once-over. “Since you appear to be speechless, I’m going to assume you’re Dan something-or-other, something Italian. You’re going to be my new best friend, my buddy, right? But not my fuck buddy—God forbid!” Adam may have had AIDS, but it had no effect on his ability to weight his words with sarcasm.
Dan smiled and forced himself to move into the room. “Sorry. I, um, the cat had my tongue.” He stuck out a hand, feeling like an idiot. “Yes, I’m Dan Calzolaio. And I’m looking forward to getting to know you better, Adam.” Had a single human being ever sounded more nerdish, more square? Dan felt his face going hot, despite the wintry chill from the air conditioning. He regretted once more his nearly naked ensemble. He looked down at the goose bumps rising up on his forearms.
“Isn’t that sweet?” Adam turned toward the living room, which continued the surreal theme that had begun as soon as Adam opened the door. It was done all in shades of pink and vibrant green, with overstuffed rattan furniture that appeared as though it had been swiped from the set of The Golden Girls. “Come on and have a seat, Dan. I made us a batch of Mai Tais. You like Mai Tais, hon?”
“Oh yes. Love ’em.” Dan tried to recall when he had actually had one of the tropical drinks and drew a blank. He hurried to grab a seat on the couch, hugging himself to keep warm.
Adam observed him with an impish grin. “Cold? I’ll be right back.” Dan expected Adam to go into the kitchen to get their cocktails (Mai Tais at noon?), but Adam headed down a hallway. Dan could hear drawers being opened and shut.
Adam returned and flung a pair of sweatpants and a long-sleeved T-shirt at Dan. “Put some clothes on, sugar. As fine as all that tan flesh is to look at, it pains me to see you so chilly. Why, I can even see you’ve got your headlights on!” Adam giggled and Dan looked down at his chest, where Adam’s gaze was directed. His nipples poked through the thin cotton fabric of his tank like two pencil erasers. He hurried to put the sweats and T-shirt on over his clothes. “Whose are these?” he wondered.
“My boyfriend’s. You and he are about the same size.”
Adam disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a tray upon which were two tall glasses, each garnished with a Maraschino cherry, pineapple wedge, and a lime peel. Adam paused before Dan. “I know. I know. It’s kind of early for cocktails, but when time is short, you reprioritize. And I think the time is always right for a Mai Tai. Don’t you?”
Real Men. True Love.
Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.
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