Thursday, December 13, 2018

Read the First Chapter of BIGGER LOVE


To whet your appetite, please check out the first chapter of my high-school romance, Bigger Love.

BLURB
Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can't wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first gender-fluid star to ever win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.

Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He's quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman's directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman's mother is falling for Mike’s dad?

Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.

See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self….


BUY

EXCERPT (CHAPTER ONE)

“There’s a man in your room. I can smell him.”

Truman Reid confronted his mom, Patsy, in the kitchen. Early morning sun streamed in brightly through the kitchen window over the sink, making Truman long for the relative freedom of summer that was about to be put to rest that very day.

Patsy glowered at him from the stove where she was scrambling eggs. She didn’t often get up to make him breakfast, but Truman had figured—at least at first—that she was doing so because this was Truman’s first day back at school. He’d be a senior at Summitville  High. First days of school had always been a source of high anxiety for Truman, who’d been bullied and teased mercilessly throughout almost the entire four years. But now Truman wondered if Patsy had risen early to fix bacon and eggs because she was hiding a man in her room. You know, to distract him. This wasn’t a usual experience for his mom, Truman was sure, and he wondered if he’d embarrassed her. But he couldn’t help but wonder how a man in her room might affect his exclusive hold on her. Would he still get her undivided attention, you know, if this was a “thing”?

Of course, Patsy, lovely, diminutive, with curly black hair and wide eyes, had every right to have a man in her room. Even if that man smelled of cigarettes and motor oil. But she didn’t have the right, Truman opined, to keep secrets from him. A mother should never keep secrets from her boy, right? Wasn’t that one of those unwritten laws?

“That may be. Or may not be,” Patsy said, giving the eggs one final push-around with a spatula before dumping them on a plate. She sighed and eyed him. “I have a right to my privacy. You don’t need to be privy to every detail of my life. I show you that respect and expect the same in return.”

She’s reading my mind. Again. “Oh, I didn’t mean to pry, Mama. I just wanted to say it’s okay if you did have a man sleep over. It’s not like I would mind. It’s not like we’re not both adults around here. We have separate bedrooms and separate lives.” Truman almost choked on the words.

Patsy set the plate of steaming eggs before him. Truman saw, to his delight, that the eight pieces of bacon Patsy had fried up before the eggs were all for him.

Patsy smiled, but there was something just a tad bit evil in it. “Thank you, sweetie. I’m so glad to have your go-ahead if I want to whore around.” She chuckled and returned to the counter  where she’d left her mug of coffee. She leaned against the counter, mug in hand, and took a sip. Patsy was all of thirty-four years old but looked at least ten years younger in the dappled morning light, and Truman felt a rush of love for her. The bond they had was kind of a you-and-me-against-the-world one. Truman felt he could say just about anything to Patsy, and he knew she felt the same; witness the “whore” comment. What kind of mother said that to her son?

Truman wasn’t sure, but he was glad he had one who did.

Besides, between raising him, which could be, um, challenging at times, and working at the Elite Diner in Summitville’s tiny downtown, she had little time for romance. Given that Truman’s father was still a mystery to him—and to Patsy—he assumed that, once upon a time, she did have her whoring-around days, but he’d seen little evidence of them.

Until this morning.

“So who is he? Can I go take a peek? Is he hot?” Truman laughed.

Patsy answered the three questions in short order: “None of your business. No you can’t. Yes. Very.” 
She took another sip of coffee and tightened the sash of her white chenille  bathrobe. Truman noticed she was wearing a little makeup this morning—mascara, some blush, a hint of lip gloss. She hadn’t overdone it. Truman would say she looked “dewy” if she asked. “You need to eat up and get in the shower, young man. The bus will be here—” She turned to look at the wall clock on the soffit above the sink. “—in twenty minutes. I know you need your primping time.”

Truman dropped his fork to the table. “Seriously? Only twenty? Good Lord.” He wrapped his bacon up in a paper towel and headed for the single bathroom. Patsy blocked his way. “Since when do we leave our plates on the table? What? You think I’m your servant?”

“Mom!” Truman whined. “You know I need time to get ready. Please, please, please take care of it for me. I’ll love you forever!”

“Okay. This once. And sweetie, I’d thought loving me forever went without saying. But you cook and clean up tonight.”

“Deal.”

Truman rushed to the bathroom, wondering if Patsy would use the time to sneak her man out of the house. Too bad the only window looked out on the backyard. It was frosted glass anyway.

He hoped his mom had found someone to love.

He hoped his mom hadn’t found someone to love.

It had been just the two of them for so long, Truman didn’t know if he could cope with someone else vying for Patsy’s affections. He felt a little sense of violation at the thought.

In the bathroom, Truman laid out on the counter all the stuff a boy would need to make a suitable senior-year debut:
eyeliner,
clear mascara,
blush,
and the lip gloss that added no extra color to his lips but made them shine. 

He stepped into the shower after brushing, flossing, and exfoliating his face.


When  he emerged, breathless, in what he thought was far too little time, Patsy rolled her eyes and then smiled. “The bus is waiting outside. I signaled Fred to hang on for you, but I think he may be losing his patience. Didn’t you hear him honk? Three times?”

“I heard him.” Truman, ever observant, noticed Patsy’s bedroom door, just off the kitchen, was open. It had been closed before. Patsy had hastily made up the bed, from the looks of it. He thought about mentioning it to her but decided to give her some slack. After all, one day he might want a little privacy, although he still didn’t know how he felt about his mom’s newfound  secretiveness. Or why it was even necessary.

Besides, he didn’t have time to interrogate her. A honk sounded outside—again.

Patsy kissed him on the cheek and handed him his lunch in a brown paper sack.

“There’s no carbs in this, right?” Truman asked.

She side-eyed him. “What do you think? Celery, carrots, ham-and-cheese rollups, and a Honeycrisp  apple. You worry about carbs but have no problem wolfing down eight slices of bacon!”

“Thanks, Mom.” He snatched the paper-towel-wrapped packet of bacon he’d made earlier off the table. “Bacon doesn’t have carbs, or hardly any. Carbs are what make you fat.”

“Whatever.”

The bus horn sounded again.

Patsy slapped Truman’s ass. “Scoot!”

Truman hurried to the door. When he had it open, she called after him, “Love you, son.”

He waved over his shoulder and called back, “Love you more.”


When  he boarded the bus, there were whispers. There were snickers. Someone said, “Get her!” which caused an eruption of laughter as Truman headed for the back of the bus.

He was used to it. There was a time when he would have been devastated by the laughter and the remarks, but now? Just another part of the school day, he told himself. Truman knew it was important that they didn’t know they could get to him. So he took a little bow, left, then right. He forced himself to smile at the other kids, who gawked at him. “Please. No special ruckus for the likes of me.”

Once upon a time, he wouldn’t have dared say such a thing. He would have hurried to his seat, face burning and head bowed. That was before he knew the power of claiming your own identity, however different it was. That was before he stopped believing he was worthless because he wasn’t like everyone else. That was before he’d caught on to the lie that being different somehow made you less. Often it made the reverse true.

He headed toward a pair of empty seats near the back of the bus, knowing every eye was trained on him. For his first day of school, he’d paired black skinny jeans with a hot-pink-and-black polka-dot  button-down shirt—he’d raided Patsy’s closet for the blouse. Black Chuck Taylors  completed the ensemble. He thought the look had kind of an eighties vibe, back in the olden days when his mama was born. For Truman, today’s outfit was dressing down. For everyone else on the bus, well, he knew they were stupefied into silence by his ensemble. He couldn’t imagine why. He’d been dressing this way—a style he’d come to term gender-fuck—since freshman year, when the bullying and teasing had reached a tipping point, driving him to the literal edge. He’d almost jumped off the roof of the high school after a particularly humiliating and cruel prank.

What he’d learned that year was not to hide who he was but to claim it—to get right up in the faces of those who dared challenge him, in effect saying, “Fuck you, sister. This is who I am. If you don’t like it, that’s your problem, not mine.”

It took a while, and many days of daring, to come to school in thrift-store treasures that played with the idea of gender with a mélange of male and female options, a little makeup to highlight his handsome yet waifish appearance, and an attitude that one might be tempted to say he’d borrowed from someone like RuPaul. Fierce. When he began saying, with his outward appearance and attitude, that he was different, and that this difference was his right, the bullying and teasing continued but slowed dramatically. It was hard for someone to call him a “sissy,” a “fag,” or a “piss-willy” if he first claimed those terms for himself. It became difficult, if not impossible, for the bullies to challenge what they thought of as his effeminate ways if Truman himself not only didn’t hide them but celebrated them.

Of course, inside, Truman was always terrified he’d be pummeled, teased unmercifully, spit on, or worse, but he tried his best to never let that fear show. He discovered, after a long time of practice, that one could be quivering with fear on the inside while his outside could exude a calm radiance.
No one knew he was shaking in his boots if they couldn’t see it.

Though the bullying and teasing never quite came to the halt Truman dreamed of, it slowed increasingly over the past three years of Truman’s high school career. For this, he was grateful. Yet he always harbored a little anxiety that the front he projected would one day come tumbling down, things would go back to the way they once were, and he’d find himself again on his knees in the dark of his bedroom praying tearfully to God that the hurt would stop, if only for one single day. He’d spent too many nights in the past like that, even wishing his very identity away.

Just like Pinocchio, he’d once been desperate to be a “real” boy.

But Truman, through hard-won self-acceptance, realized he was just as real as any other boy… or girl.

For now all he had to do was stare out the window and wait for the bus to transport him to Summitville High. It was his final year, the year when seniors ruled the school. What would these nine or so months hold for him?

Truman couldn’t wait to jump the hurdle of this final year and get out. He knew that once he put Summitville behind him, with its small minds and judgments, he could really begin to live. He could be the person he was meant to be—somewhere with bright lights, skyscrapers, cosmopolitan drinks, and cosmopolitan people….

He took his gaze away from the view out the window, the sun-dappled foothills of the Appalachian Mountains , and opened the book he’d started a week ago—Letters to a Young Artist by Anna Deavere Smith . The book was fast becoming his bible; it deepened his faith that something bigger lay in wait for him beyond the tree-covered rises of this provincial valley.

Near the last stop before they got to the high school, Truman couldn’t prevent a grin from spreading across his face, because he spied his best friend waiting there beneath the shade of an old maple. Like Truman, Alicia Adams had endured her fair share of teasing over her school years. She’d tell you herself she was fat, black, and sassy, and if you didn’t like it, you needed to get over yourself, because that’s just the way God made her. Hey, if Ms. Oprah Winfrey  could claim those same attributes and be adored by the masses, well then, by God, so could she.

One day.

Like Truman, Alicia put up a brave front but had been tormented a lot—especially in elementary school—until one day a group of mean girls pushed her past her breaking point and she lashed out with fists, claws, and a brick. Alicia wasn’t proud of how she’d sent two of the mean girls to the emergency room, at least not in retrospect; but she was proud of how her actions, decidedly not compassionate or kind, had afforded her a measure of fear-based respect she used to her advantage from about the sixth grade onward.

She and Truman had become pals when she became his first defender and supporter. She knew what it was like to be different, and she celebrated Truman’s courage when he’d shown up one day at school in a “Sissies Rule” T-shirt and makeup. Her defense, and his gratitude, had forged a bond—one that allowed each to be vulnerable around the other. That was something neither could claim with almost anyone else.

A dark shadow crawled in front of the sun when Truman thought of Alicia’s brother, now playing basketball at Ohio State . Darrell. Truman closed his eyes for a moment, thinking of him, of the warmth of his eyes—and his arms. He’d thought they were in love. And, in his naïve way, he’d supposed Darrell would forgo a full-ride scholarship to stay in town and close to Truman. He knew it was horribly selfish to expect such a thing, but Truman read a lot of gay romance, and his thoughts were clouded by their easy visions of happy-ever-afters.

He forced his mind away from the image of Darrell, the two of them pressed close, their contrasts of skin color, height, and weight not mattering. He realized toward the end of that summer after Darrell’s senior year, he had no choice other than to let him go, to wish him well at school. He could still harbor the belief that one day Darrell would come back to him.

He’d gotten disabused of the notion, though, once Darrell was really gone to that metropolis of Columbus, Ohio, and a school with five times the population of Summitville. The fact that their love affair had ended all too quickly became easier to endure as a figure stepped out from behind Alicia. A figure that caused Truman to forget, if only for a moment, all about Darrell.

Wait. A. Minute.

Damn.

Who is that? Truman wondered.

The boy, young man really, was one Truman had never seen before. He’d know if he had! Good God, this one was unforgettable.

There was something about the guy that set Truman’s heart to racing, that erased every logical thought from Truman’s mind as all the blood in his body rushed south.

It wasn’t only the fact that he was gorgeous—which he was, with cropped black hair and a five o’clock shadow—but there was something about him that called to the nurturing side of Truman. 

Even at a glance and from this distance, there was something dark and brooding about him. It set him apart, making him both mysterious and alluring. For just a moment, everything around Truman silenced—the chatter and laughter of the other kids on the bus, the grumble of its engine, the whine of its brakes as it slowed to a stop, and the pneumatic whoosh of the doors opening.

Truman knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that these sounds should be there, but for one brief, shining moment, all that existed was the boy.

He was at least six feet tall, probably a couple of inches above that. Broad shoulders. Beefy. To use one of Patsy’s terms, he was “strapping.” Unlike Truman he dressed not to attract attention to himself. He wore only a pair of faded Levi’s , a plain white crewneck T-shirt that had seen many washings, and a pair of very basic black canvas tennis shoes. Slung over one shoulder was a battered and faded red backpack.

Mesmerized, Truman watched as he made his way to the bus and then disappeared from view for an instant as he boarded. Truman snapped out of his reverie as he realized Alicia was staring at him as she stood a few people back in line. She stuck her tongue out as their eyes met. Truman chuckled. And he went right back to searching for just one more glimpse of that face.

And then he was on the bus, passing close enough to Truman to touch. Truman swore his heart stopped. Their eyes met, and Truman was nearly bowled over by how crystalline blue they were, bluer than Truman’s own, with an icy paleness from which it was impossible to look away. The lashes fringing those eyes were as black as the hair on his head—which, by the way, contrasted wonderfully with the pale blue—and long enough to cause a twinge of jealousy and desire to flare up in Truman.
Truman swore he felt something pass between him and the boy in that smallest exchange of glances. Something charged. Truman actually felt the downy hair on his neck rise, tingling. He would be hard-pressed to say just what that something was, but he knew for certain that a kind of communication definitely took place.

For the fearful, teased boy who still lived somewhere inside Truman, there was a supposition that the good-looking boy met his glance because he was appalled by what he saw. Through those self-hating eyes, Truman would see a boy dressed all wrong, a boy with makeup who should be ashamed of himself. He wasn’t a real boy. Through that lens, Truman saw disgust.

And it made his blood run cold.

But the other—and ever-growing-even-stronger—part of Truman hoped that what had passed between them was recognition, a kind of kindred-souls thing. Maybe a little interest?

Dare he hope for attraction? Even lust?

Alicia plopped into the seat beside him with a sigh. She punched him, hard, in the bicep, which drew his reverie to a close. Frowning, Truman looked over at her and began rubbing at his upper arm.

“Ouch! That hurt!”

“Dude! Where were you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Honey, you were not on this bus. You were someplace far, far away. Over the rainbow, maybe?” Alicia snickered as she settled into the seat, spreading her stretch-pant-clad legs and crowding Truman. Some things never changed.

“Very funny.” Truman had a lingering thought, yearning, about the black-haired boy and had to fight the impulse to turn and look for him in the seats behind. “I was just thinking about the year ahead.”

“I know, right? Seniors. Can you believe it?” Alicia settled her stuff on her lap—her phone, a spiral-bound notebook, and one of those clear plastic organizers that seemed so old-school, which had an assortment of pens and pencils in it.

“It should be an interesting year,” Truman said and thought Especially if he’s in some of my classes. And then he chastised himself. Jesus, pull yourself together. Next you’re gonna be doodling his name in your notebook, right in the middle of a big red heart. Whatever his name was  …. Heathcliff? Gage? Hunter?

“Interesting?” Alicia made a huffing sound. “That’s a good word for it. There’s way too many days ahead of us until graduation, and we can finally break free from this shithole one-horse town.”

“And be the superstars we are meant to be?”

“Damn right.” Their heads canted toward each other as they laughed. “Who you got for homeroom?”

“Mr. Bernard! I am so grateful.” Dane Bernard, although old enough to be Truman’s dad—and could be, for all Truman knew—had come out almost simultaneously with Truman during Truman’s freshman year. That connection helped negate a thirtysome-year difference in their ages. They’d forged a special bond. Truman considered Mr. Bernard, and his new husband, Mr. Wolcott, friends as well as mentors and role models. He and Patsy had even been honored to attend their wedding at the beginning of last summer.

“Lucky,” Alicia said. “I’m stuck with some chick goes by the name of Ms. Waggle.”

Truman cocked his head. “Who dat?”

“I don’t know. She’s new. First job out of school from what I hear.”

“So that means go easy on her. Behave yourself,” Truman said, knowing what he was asking for was hopeless.

“Right. Sure thing.” Alicia snickered. “You know how easy I go on everyone.”

They sat, for once, in silence for the rest of the ride to Summitville High.

Truman didn’t know what Alicia was thinking about. For one, he supposed she was preoccupied with what kind of year it might turn out to be. Remarkable? Devastating? A year in which she might finally find herself a boyfriend, maybe? Would she pull good enough grades to get into a decent college, like her brother, with his basketball full-ride scholarship? Alicia’s family, like Truman’s, could never in a million years afford to send a kid through college, even one of the cheapest state schools, without help. It was reaching for the stars.

He supposed all or none of those things might be cycling through Alicia’s mind. Maybe she was simply thinking about what color to paint her nails. Or nothing at all.

As for Truman, his mind was filled with one thought.

That boy.

BUY


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Author David Dawson Answers 10 Silly Questions



Delighted to have fellow Dreamspinner Press author David Dawson on the blog today. He was a great sport about answering my rude questions....  


10 SILLY QUESTIONS WITH RICK R. REED


RR: If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
DD: I would invite my local butcher Tom Newitt from Newitt’s of Thame and get him to do the cooking. What he can’t do with a sausage isn’t worth talking about… 

RR: Who do you think you are?
DD: That so depends on when you ask me. Today I’m inside the head of Dominic Delingpole, the protagonists of one of my books. He’s got a new mystery to solve, and I’m trying to work out what he’d do.

RR: What’s your problem?
DD: I'm not Rick R. Reed. (RR: Ha! Be careful what you wish for).

RR: If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
DD: For you Rick, anything. (You charmer.)

RR: Where you at?
DD: Wherever you be.

RR: If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
DD: To have as many vices as I like.

RR: What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
DD: Quaker Porridge Oats. I look sweet and wholesome, and I’m so warming once I get inside you. (RR: Oh my! We're talking about cereal, right?)

RR: When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
DD: I’ve been told I look like Tom Hiddleston, but I prefer to think he looks like me.

RR: Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
DD: So you’ve seen my ass?

RR: Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
DD: Now if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that question…

Seriously, please read my latest novel For the Love of Luke. It’s primarily a sexy romance with a mystery running through it. I’m so happy with this book, and I shyly say I think it’s my best yet. So do quite a few readers, judging by the five star reviews it’s getting on Amazon.

Who is David Dawson?
David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers with gay heroes in love at their core. His latest book For the Love of Luke is a romantic suspense about an American who falls in love with a British man in London.

His debut novel The Necessary Deaths won a bronze medal for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. Rainbow Reviews said it was “an exciting read with complex characters".

The second in the series, The Deadly Lies, was published last December.

David worked for the BBC as a journalist. He lives near Oxford in the UK, with his aging Triumph motorbike and two cats.

Website         
Twitter          

BLURB for FOR THE LOVE OF LUKE
A handsome naked man.
Unconscious on a bathroom floor.
He’s lost his memory, and someone’s out to kill him.
Who is the mysterious Luke?
British TV anchor and journalist Rupert Pendley-Evans doesn’t do long-term relationships. Nor does he do waifs and strays. But Luke's different. Luke's a talented American artist.
With a dark secret in his life.

BUY FOR THE LOVE OF LUKE

EXCERPT
“Evening, Mother,” Rupert called as he entered the large scullery off the main kitchen. “I’ve come to give you a hand with supper.”

Lady Cynthia Pendley-Evans peered around the open kitchen door into the scullery. She had a pair of reading glasses perched on the end of her nose. 

“No you haven’t,” she said. “You’re here because Luke told you we should have a little talk.”

She turned from the doorway and stood with her back to him at the large wooden table in the middle of the kitchen. “Although, now you’re here,” she said, without turning around, “you can scrub some potatoes for me. I’m making a potato salad to go with the gammon.”

Rupert could not remember the last time he had seen his mother cook. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in the kitchen. He unhooked a large pot from above the stove and carried it to the sink to fill with water.

“Don’t keep me in suspense,” he said. “What do you want to talk about?”

“Oh, darling, you are funny,” said his mother. “I want to make sure you’re going to carry on seeing Luke, of course.”

Rupert set the pan of water on the stove with a clatter and lit the gas. He turned and leaned against the worktop with his arms folded. “I have no idea. Does it bother you?”

Lady Pendley-Evans put down the large knife she was using to slice tomatoes and looked at him over her glasses.

“Stop being so defensive, darling,” she said. “I asked a perfectly simple question. He’s a charming young man. Your father and I would be very happy to see you two together—”

“Father would?” asked Rupert. “I can’t believe that for a second.”

“And why the devil not?” said a voice from the hallway. Rupert’s father appeared at the kitchen door, a bottle of gin in his hand.

“Ready for a snifter, old girl?” he asked Lady Pendley-Evans. He looked across to Rupert. “What are you drinking, my boy? Gin?”

“I’ll have a gin and tonic, thank you, Father,” replied Rupert. “Can I help with them?”

“No, no,” replied Lord Pendley-Evans. “You stay with your mother. And tell her why you think I’m such an old fart.”

“I didn’t say that,” protested Rupert.

“No, darling,” said his mother. “But we know that’s what you think of the pair of us.”

“Well,” said Rupert, “I have some reason to.” He pulled a bag of small earth-encrusted potatoes from the cupboard and tipped them into the sink. He began scrubbing fiercely with a brush to remove the soil. “You’ve made it very clear for years that neither of you approve of me being gay.”

“Don’t take it out on the potatoes,” said his mother. “They’ll have no skins left if you carry on like that.” She picked up her knife and resumed slicing the tomatoes. “And you’re being grossly unfair. Of course, we were rather shocked when you sprang it on us. But that’s fourteen years ago. Please bless us with a little intelligence to have thought about it since then.”

Rupert set down his scrubbing brush and turned to look at his mother. “Then why haven’t you said anything before?”

“The subject never arose,” replied Lady Pendley-Evans. “Whenever I’ve asked you about your life in London, you’ve told me very little. I learn more from the Daily Mail about your night life than I do from you.”

Rupert laughed. “No wonder you don’t approve of me, if you believe what you read in that rag.”
“Darling,” said his mother, “it’s not that I don’t approve of you—”

“Well, maybe a little,” interrupted his father. He entered the kitchen and set down a tray of drinks on the table.

“Don’t interrupt, Clarence dear,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “It’s not helpful.” She turned back to Rupert. “I’m worried about you, Rupert darling. You go to all those dangerous places with your work. We see you on the television in Yemen or Iraq or somewhere equally terrifying. The next moment we read about you in the newspapers, flitting from one nightclub to another. Then once in a blue moon you come back here and spend the whole time being grumpy.”

She took the drink her husband offered her, and tasted it. “Heaven.”

Lady Pendley-Evans took off her glasses and looked at Rupert. “I just want to know when you’re going to settle down and be happy.”

“And we’d like to think,” added his father, “that this young chap might be the one to do it.”

Rupert could scarcely believe his ears. He accepted the tall glass his father handed him and drank from it. He was grateful Lord Pendley-Evans had been generous with the gin.

“When did you change your mind about me being gay?” asked Rupert. “Because I know damn well you hated ‘having a poofter for a son,’ as you so charmingly put it.”

“Yes, well,” said his father. He coughed loudly. “I suppose I’ve had a few years to think about everything—”

“It helped a lot when Roger told you he had a boyfriend,” added Lady Pendley-Evans.

“Roger?” said Rupert with incredulity. “Your school friend who was in the Guards? You never told me.”

“Well, you never asked.”

“Why on earth would I ask you if Roger was gay?”

“I thought maybe you chaps had a sixth sense about these things,” said his father. “Because I certainly didn’t. Mind you, he seems very settled with Jeremy. So it’s all for the best.”

 “And their wedding this spring was absolutely heavenly,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “All those beautiful young men in uniform. I simply swooned.”

Rupert turned to his mother. “All right. How do you explain me away at All Saints Church these days? Are you still telling them I’m waiting for the right girl to come along?”

“Oh, don’t be so silly.” Lady Pendley-Evans put her glasses back on and resumed preparing the salad. “Reverend Whittaker left years ago. The Reverend Kenneth might be a little progressive for your father’s tastes, but I find him charming. And it’s so convenient that his partner is the organist and choirmaster.”

Rupert nearly dropped his glass. “The vicar of All Saints is gay?”

“I’m sure I’ve told you,” said his mother. But Rupert was certain she had not. “He’s so charming. And he’s marvelous with the flower committee. Anyway. You haven’t answered my question. Is Luke the one?”

Rupert was speechless. Partly because of everything he had just learned from his parents. But mainly because he was unsure of the answer to his mother’s question.

“I really don’t know, Mother,” he said at last. “We’ve known each other for such a short time—”
“That’s got nothing to do with it,” interrupted his father. “I knew with your mother the moment I laid eyes on her. As soon as I asked her to dance, she was the girl for me.”

“And I knew I wasn’t going to get any better than your father,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “He was quite a catch that season. Luke seems to be a lovely young man. And he’s very smitten with you. Are you smitten with him?”

Rupert set down his glass and leaned back against the sink. He thought back over the last few days. He had never felt so happy in his life.

“I suppose I am,” he said. “But Luke’s got a lot of problems in his life.”

Lady Pendley-Evans crossed the kitchen to where Rupert stood. She put her arms around his waist and reached up to kiss him on his cheek. “My darling boy. We all have heaps of problems. Life’s like that. But they’re so much easier to face when you’re with someone who loves you. I think he could be very good for you.”

“Hey, hey,” said Rupert. But he could not help smiling. “Aren’t you rushing ahead just a bit? Let me take things at my pace. It’s been a very eventful week.”

“Of course, darling.” She patted his chest and looked up at him. Her face wore the same expression he remembered when she came into the nursery to say good night when he was a boy. “And when the time comes, Reverend Kenneth will be very happy to offer his blessing on you both.”

“Mother,” said Rupert. “Just….” He put his arms around her waist and hugged her. “Hold your horses, eh?” Rupert dropped his arms and wiped his eyes. “But thank you.”

He turned to his father. “Both of you. I wasn’t expecting to hear any of this tonight. And as for the vicar of All Saints—”

He was interrupted by a loud thumping on the front door.

“Who the devil’s that?” asked Lord Pendley-Evans. He put down his drink as the banging on the front door sounded again. “All right, all right, I’m coming as fast as I can.” He stomped off to the hallway, followed by Rupert.

Standing on the doorstep was Christian. He looked past Lord Pendley-Evans to Rupert. “Thank God I’ve found you. Where’s Luke?”

“What on earth are you doing here?” asked Rupert. “I brought Luke here to get him away from London. Just like you said. What’s happened?”


“It’s Pa,” replied Christian. “I think he’s tracked him down. He wants to kill him.”


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

One of My Most Popular Novels, CHASER, is Now Only 99 Cents at Amazon Kindle!


There's still time to grab CHASER for 99 cents...or 93% off print price! 

Here's a review from Insight Out! that sums up the book in a really cool way:

Caden DeSarro likes more cushion for the pushin’.  He likes them with more to love, a sentiment I fully understand and champion with my ever-expanding waistline.  In a world of twink-orexia and the Muscle Mary Mafia, Rick R. Reed explores what happens when your preference lies on the side of the meatier man.  And what a job he does!

On a regular night on the town with the scene-dream best friend and full-time Adonis, Bobby, Caden encounters the beefy Kevin Dodge, and after a hilariously bad first impression, the men get a chance for their second introduction on the El.  After two great dates and the premature assumption of a future, Caden is called out of town to help his sick mother and Kevin is left for six weeks feeling that he might not be the type of guy good enough for the hunky other man.  So he basically starves himself and exercises to exhaustion and when Caden returns, things get a little tense.  In a society where initial attraction is 100% visually based, what’s a boy to do when the object of his affection re-emerges and is just like all the guys he dismissed before?  Kevin is such a believable character that at times you actually see his good guy persona falter, hints of arrogance threatening around the edges.  He is so well characterised, he is completely human, his thought processes eerily accurate to the standard.

Reed’s descriptive prose is not wrought with adverbs or overtly dripping with meaning, yet the simple descriptions hold their own emotional meanings and after a few short pages, you are right there with the author, dancing down the streets of his hometown like you’d grown up there yourself.  It’s quite a feat to achieve but Mr Reed does it effortlessly and with seamless panache.  So as Kevin shrinks away and Caden is in turmoil as to whether or not he wants to carry on the relationship, what happens to the story?  How do we fill the awkward silence?

Introducing Bobby, the homosexual stereotype that makes you want to Linda Blair just reading about him.  Bobby seems to have no soul, and me being me, I do love a bad guy, especially one pretending so adequately to be a true friend.  We’ve all known a Bobby or two in our lives, the prettier than you guy whose self-worth is based on how he looks and who he takes home.  Bobby isn’t especially deep, his thoughts immediately going to his groin at every opportunity.  He wants what his best friend has, so he tries to take it.  For the sake of this book, that’s all Bobby needed to be, and damn if I wasn’t loving to hate the character from the get-go.  Luckily he wasn’t written off completely, the follow up story Raining Men giving the truth about why he is such an unrelenting so-and-so.

Chaser is light reading, a giggle and a drama all rolled up into two hundred-odd pages and interlaced with humorous references and comedic dialogue like the pro Reed has proven himself to be.  It was such a refreshing change to see a story approached from within, as with writing it’s difficult to ignore the visual.  But Reed defies the ordinary and scrapes away to a deeper level, grabbing the readers hand and taking them into the story with him.  I liked this book a lot, you should read it.

BLURB
Caden DeSarro is what they call a chubby chaser. He likes his guys with a few extra pounds on them. So when he meets Kevin Dodge in a bar bathroom, he can’t help but stare, even if he does make an ass of himself. As far as Caden is concerned, Kevin is physically perfect: a stocky bearded blond with a dick that’s just right. (They met in the bathroom—of course he looked!) But Caden gets tongue-tied and misses his chance.

When Caden runs into Kevin one night on the El train, he figures it’s fate offering him a second shot. Caden manages to get invited back to Kevin's place for a one-night stand that turns into the kind of relationship he’s dreamed about.

But the course of true love never did run smooth, and Kevin and Caden’s romance is no exception. When Caden returns from a few weeks away on business, Kevin surprises him with a new and “improved” body—one that fits Caden’s shallow friend Bobby’s ideal, not Caden’s. Caden doesn’t know what to do, and his hesitation is just the opportunity Bobby was looking for. This isn’t the same Kevin he fell in love with… is it?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Gratitude for What I Can Hold in My Hands

Today, I'm grateful for copies of my books that I can hold in my hands.

The thrill never gets old! 

Here's Kodi and me with copies of my latest, BIGGER LOVE, which just arrived in the mail yesterday from Dreamspinner Press.

BLURB
Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can't wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first gender-fluid star to ever win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.

Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He's quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman's directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman's mother is falling for Mike’s dad?

Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.

See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self….

BUY

Boy Meets Boy, An Excerpt from BIGGER LOVE


Boy Meets Boy, an Exclusive Excerpt from BIGGER LOVE


Bigger Love is, at heart, a love story. It’s about two improbable strangers coming together under the magical spell of first young love. Here’s a glimpse of when Truman and Mike make first real contact…and you just know things will never be the same.

EXCERPT: Boy Meets Boy

Someone was slowing down on the roadway beside him. Truman nearly came to a stop, nerves tightening. Paradoxically he was already wondering how fast he could run. He’d been conditioned to know that the sound of a car decelerating on a lonely road at night beside him could only mean one thing—teasing, bullying, or worse. Fortunately for Truman, he’d never been attacked, but he’d had his share of cars coming almost to a standstill when they spied him. A window would roll down. There’d be whistles, catcalls. A nearly anonymous voice would drift out of the vehicle to accuse him of the crime of “sashaying” or “traipsing.” He’d been called “fag,” ‘fairy,” “girlfriend,” and once even “pretty lady.” He’d been asked if he was in the mood to suck some cock. Cowardly snickering voices from inside a car or truck had wondered aloud if his ass was sore.
So Truman’s whole body tensed, and he poised himself to flee, if need be. He knew that just to his right, the embankment sloped down sharply to a little creek. Growing up, Truman had spent hours playing by himself next to that creek, which, back then he called a “crick,” so he was familiar enough to navigate it even by starlight. He also knew that farther down there was a drainage tunnel he could hunch over and creep through, even if that would mean wet shoes and spiders in his hair.
If necessary, escape was possible.
“Hey,” a masculine voice called out from the idling truck Truman now spied in his peripheral vision. Truman rolled his eyes, bracing for the suggestive remark, the name-calling. Worse, the truck could pull over, blocking his path. And he pictured several guys jumping out of it, swinging baseball bats. He’d read of such things happening in Pittsburgh to the east or Youngstown to the north.
These days, he was pretty much left alone at school despite what some might call his “flamboyant” ways—the girl’s clothes, the touch of makeup—but he knew that out here, by himself on a virtually empty road, all bets were off for being left alone. Darkness coupled with Truman being alone could be very empowering for a coward like a bully—some folks might do things they’d not otherwise consider during the light of day or when others were around to judge.
Truman nervously took a quick glance over his shoulder. He couldn’t make out the face in the dark cab of the pickup, which had now rolled almost to a complete stop. Its tires crunched on the gravel at the side of the road. “Hey,” Truman said back, cursing the feminine lilt to his voice even in that single word. He tried to swallow and discovered his mouth was dry.
“You need a ride, buddy?”
Truman stopped, drew in a deep breath, and even though everything inside him was screaming Run! he moved a little closer to the truck to peer inside. “I know you?”
Before he could even make out features, though, the driver identified himself. “It’s me, Mike Stewart.”
“Oh my God, it’s you!” Truman squealed before he could even think to censor himself, to speak in a deeper register. But why should he bother doing that anyway? Still, he felt heat enflame his face, despite being “out and proud.”
Mike chuckled. “Yeah, it’s me. You need a ride or no? I know you live over by my grandma’s place. Lula?”
Truman let out a breath of relief. “I know her. She’s a sweet lady,” Truman said, even though what he really thought of her was that she was a sad, depressed mess. Some tragic heroine out of Tennessee Williams….
“Yeah, my pop’s staying with her until he can get his own place. I’m supposed to come by for supper. Fish sticks, my favorite. Which reminds me, I’m gonna be late if I don’t get a move on. So, you wanna lift or no? No skin off my ass either way.”
And as Truman contemplated that same glorious ass, he happily opened the truck door and hoisted himself inside. Soft country music, Patsy Cline singing “Crazy,” came out of the radio’s speakers.
Mike took off down the hill. The ride was bumpy, the exhaust noisy. It was just what Truman was used to. Patsy had always been lucky enough to have a car, just not one younger than ten years old or with fewer than 100,000 miles on it.
Truman sniffed. “You smoke?” The interior of the truck smelled like an ashtray.
“Nah, not me. Pop. This was his truck originally. He gave it to me when I turned sixteen. But I could never get the fuckin’ reek of his Marlboros out. Sorry.”
“It’s okay. Just wondered.” Truman stared out through the windshield at the night. He noticed a hairline crack running across the top of the glass.
“Rock.”
“What?” Truman asked.
Mike pointed at the crack. “Rock did that. It was just a little ding to start with, and then it started to spread. Pop’s hunting around in the junkyards to see if he can find a replacement windshield before this one blows in on me.”
“Cool,” Truman said. Sitting next to this guy in his pickup, their thighs almost touching, should have been a wet dream come true for Truman, but suddenly he was very nervous. Or not worthy, or something. He couldn’t think of a single thing to say. He turned his head to stare out the window. They’d reached the bottom of the hill. There was the old American Legion hall, closed now for a couple of years, the Brew and View drive-through, which specialized in beer, cigarettes, and once upon a time, movie rentals. And a bunch of run-down houses—rusting aluminum siding, peeling paint, weed-choked front yards.
Home sweet home, Truman thought, promising himself for the one-thousandth time that he had to get out of this place. Summitville was the poster child for dying rustbelt towns. It was sad, really, because the area had such an abundance of natural beauty.
And then an obvious topic of conversation came to him. “I think your dad is seeing my mom.”
Mike snorted. “Really?”
Was Truman not supposed to say anything? Mike seemed surprised at the news.
“Yeah, Patsy Reid?”
“Oh, I know who your mom is. I eat at the diner where she works once or twice a week. My ma, she don’t cook much. So she gives me a few bucks and sends me on my way, which is fine by me, because Ma can’t cook worth shit.” He laughed, and Truman noticed how deep and melodious it was. Mike’s laugh actually warmed him a bit, made him feel a little more at ease. “But, uh, I didn’t know my dad was seeing her.” Mike stared out the windshield, and Truman wondered what was going on in his head, what was causing those bushy eyebrows to furrow. “She’s pretty. Your ma.”
“As far as I know, it’s only been going on for a little while.” Truman hoped minimizing his mom’s relationship might make Mike feel better. He decided Mike didn’t know that Mike’s pop, George, was now spending a night or two every week at Truman and Patsy’s house. Why didn’t Mike know that? Truman guessed it was because he lived with his mom.
They rode in silence the rest of the way to Truman’s neighborhood. Mike pulled up right in front of Truman’s house. He knows where I live? Truman’s heart skipped a beat.
But then Mike pointed to Lula Mason’s house, just down the street. “Gram’s,” he said.
“Yeah, I know.”
Mike laughed. “Of course, you would. You always live here?”
Truman met his eyes, which shone icy blue, even in the yellowish light from the streetlamp shining down on them. “All my life,” Truman said. He ventured, “I would have thought we might have crossed paths before, what with your grandma being so close by.”
Mike shook his head. “Nah. I just moved here middle of the summer.”
“From where?”
“Shoreline, Washington.”
“Wow,” Truman marveled. “A long way away.” Truman couldn’t begin to imagine the Pacific Northwest, beyond what he’d seen in the Twilight movies.
“Yeah, close to Seattle.”
“Didn’t Frasier live there?” Truman cursed himself. Not everybody had pop culture references for geography.
“Frasier who?”
“Never mind. So what made you move all the way here?”
Mike shrugged. “I didn’t want to, but when my parents were busting up, they decided, for whatever reason, to come back to their hometown. Who knows why? I know my dad wanted to be close to his ma. She’s getting up in years, and ever since Pap-pap killed himself—” Mike stopped suddenly and corrected himself. “Ever since my grandfather died, she’s been pretty low. He’s stayin’ with her.”
“I know.”
“You do? Oh, that’s right. My dad’s seeing your mom. Wonder why he never told me? If he thinks it would hurt my feelings or something, he’s sadly mistaken. Or if he thinks I’m like some little kid hoping Mommy and Daddy will get back together, well, dude, I have news for him.” Mike turned away to stare outside the driver’s-side window. “No skin off my ass if he has a girlfriend.” He snorted with laughter, but Truman detected a bitter edge. “Anyone’s gotta be better than my ma.”
“Do you have one?” Truman asked, a little nervous, thinking the question made it all too obvious that he was interested in Mike, who from all outward appearances was as straight as they come. Looking as he did, Mike could have his pick of any girl at Summitville High.
“What? A girlfriend?” Mike laughed. “Fuck, no. Who has time for that shit?” He looked away from Truman, staring out the window.
“Yeah, who has time?” In the dark, Truman grinned.
“Listen, I gotta get to Gram’s. She’ll be holding supper for me.”
“Oh sure,” Truman said. “I didn’t mean to keep you.”
“No problem.” And with those words, Mike reached across the seat and grabbed hold of Truman’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. Truman all but melted at his touch. I will never wash this shoulder again.
“Hey, Truman. I, uh, don’t really have any friends here. That’s why I signed up for the play thing.” Mike swallowed, and Truman noticed that he seemed a little nervous, which had its own charm. It made Truman feel like they were on the same page. “You maybe wanna hang out sometime?”
This guy, this gorgeous butch guy wants to hang out? With me? This was a once-in-a-lifetime moment for Truman. Well, not so much. Once upon a time there was this butch guy who liked hanging out with me down on the riverbank. But he was a user…. Truman forced the thought—and the images it brought on—right out of his head. He attributed Mike’s interest to being new in town, otherwise why would he give any attention at all to a big sissy like Truman? Now that’s just the kind of thinking that makes you feel less-than, makes you feel down! Even Mom says that you’re just as good, just as lovable—more so, in her opinion—as anyone else.
“Sure,” Truman said. “Anytime.” He barely got the words out on account of his heart being in his throat. He thought of Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey at that moment. He liked the way the gregarious, head-in-the-clouds fellow would always pin folks down when they suggested getting together. So he tried the technique now, guessing his heart was about to be crushed. Of course, Mike had only made the suggestion to be nice…. But in for a penny, in for a pound. “Um, when are you thinking?”
Mike turned his head to smile at him. “How about tonight? After supper? Since I’m already here and parked? Sometimes I couch surf at Gram’s.”
“Tonight?” Truman tried to play it cool, to pause for a moment as though he were considering. But inside his heart was going rat-a-tat-tat-tat like a machine gun. It almost hurt. “Sure,” he said, grinning back at Mike. “No skin off my ass,” he added, then felt like a fool, sure Mike would pick up on Truman’s appropriating his catchphrase.

BLURB
Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can't wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first gender-fluid star to ever win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.

Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He's quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman's directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman's mother is falling for Mike’s dad?

Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.

See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self….

BUY