Wednesday, April 29, 2020

LEGALLY WED is Officially Re-released from Ninestar Press!

The new, re-edited version of LEGALLY WED is now out (with an awesome new cover by Natasha Snow) from Ninestar Press! 

Love comes along when you least expect it.

That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants―a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life―and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.

Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite.

Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?

Grab your copy of my #Seattle-set love story, which takes place when same-sex marriage first became a thing in Washington State!

Amazon Kindle
Ninestar Press

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Coming on April 17: My Psychic Thriller THIRD EYE

Look what's now available for pre-order from Ninestar Press! THIRD EYE is my thriller about a psychic and his reluctant visions into the murders of young women in small-town Appalachia. It'll be out officially on Friday, but you can pre-order now and get your copy early! 

The awesome new cover art is by Natasha Snow.


Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and a lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head. When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn’t sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl.

When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls’ parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the “third eye.”

Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between them. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.


Third Eye
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved


She was only thirteen. It wasn’t fair she now lay, bound, waiting for death. Before, there had been struggling: clawing and fighting, scratching their faces, pulling at their hair, batting at whatever part she could reach. Her breath had come in choking spasms, adrenaline pumping, burning, anteing up the hysteria so much she thought her air would be blocked. Then had come the dread that made her lose most of her fight, when her terror-addled brain had begun to accept her fate was to die here, in this tiny, hot room, with the only witness to her demise the sparkling eyes of her killers and the maddening, crooked whirl of a ceiling fan long past its prime and wobbling, doing nothing more than blowing the overheated, moist air around the room. The dread had risen up, a nausea twisting her gut and making her afraid she would vomit. And then had come the numbness, a dull tingling throughout her body that precluded movement, stripping her of coherent thought.

They stood above her. Faces she had trusted, faces she had seen before, around her neighborhood. The man she and her friends had had a crush on. He used to drive by her little house on Ohio Street in his old red Mustang, looking the picture of youth, confidence, masculinity. His hair was dark, cut bristle-brush short, and his face always clean-shaven. Thin lips bordered rows of perfect white teeth, and when he had smiled at her, only hours ago, she had lit up. A tingling had started in her toes and had worked its way up until the color rose to her cheeks. At her young age, the interest of a man in his twenties was inconceivable, although it had been something she had hoped for since the first day she had seen him, back at the onset of summer, when the sun had turned white-hot, burning up the grass and making illusory waves rise from the hot, cracked sidewalks.

He had pulled to the curb and sat there, car idling. She sat in the front yard, sorting through Barbie clothes: ball gowns and swimming suits, miniskirts and stretch pants. He didn’t say anything, not right away. She had looked at him once, then looked away, certain his interest could never be in her. Suddenly she felt ridiculous with her metal trunk, her Barbie dolls, and all the outfits she had once been so proud to collect. Swiftly, she returned the clothes to their case and slammed it shut.

She leaned back, resting on her palms, and lifted her face to the sun. Its heat beat down relentlessly, making the skin on her face feel tight.

She felt his eyes on her still. She opened her own eyes a crack and regarded him peripherally. He really was looking at her! The adorable little smile that caused a dimple to rise in his right cheek deepened in the sun’s play of shadow and light. She leaned back more, left hand reaching out to surreptitiously move the Barbie trunk farther away. In this posture, here on the withered and brown grass, she felt that her breasts, little more than two tiny bumps an unkind boy at school had once referred to as her anthills, looked larger. She could be eighteen, couldn’t she? With the right makeup and her hair pulled up….

But now her long blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, clipped with a pink plastic barrette. She wore a pair of cutoff shorts and an oversized South Park T-shirt belonging to her older brother. He would have killed her had he known she was wearing it. But he was away at the Y’s summer camp and would never know the difference.

The idling of the car was like an animal purring.

And then the sun disappeared, and she sat in darkness. Beneath her closed lids, she sensed someone standing over her.

Why hadn’t she heard the slam of the car door? Her eyelids fluttered, but she did not open them. It would be just like her mother to come outside now and stand above her, hands on hips, and ask her what she thought she was doing.


Finally, she opened her eyes and blinked at the brightness of the August day. He was smiling. So unlike the other guys in Fawcettville, he was dressed in pressed black slacks and a collarless white shirt, buttoned to his neck.

“How did you know my name?”

“Oh, I make it my business to know the names of all the pretty young ladies around here.”

Lucy felt the heat rise to her face once more. She grinned and could not think of a single word to say.

“Playing Barbie?”

She shoved the case farther away, until it was completely out of her grasp. The case lay in the white heat, glinting, looking, she hoped, as if it had nothing to do with her.

“What? Oh…no, no. These are my little sister’s. She always makes such a mess of things, and I was just organizing for her.”

“What a good sister.”

“Yeah, well…”

The two said nothing for a while, and Lucy began to grow uncomfortable under his gaze. She shifted her long, tanned legs in front of her, crossing them at the ankle.

“I was driving by and saw you sitting there, and I had to tell you”—he hunkered down beside her—“what a lovely sight you are. It made me stop just to have a better look.”

She laughed and thought she sounded way too much like the thirteen-year-old she was. “Thank you,” she whispered, wondering where her voice had gone.

“No, thank you, for being here, for making the heat of this day a little more pleasant.”

Oh, stop! she wanted to cry out but whispered again, “Thank you.”

He leaned closer, enough for her to feel his breath near her ear. In spite of the day’s heat, his nearness caused gooseflesh to rise on her arms, her spine to tingle.

“Listen.” He glanced around the empty street with eyes like none she had ever seen: green, ringed with thick black lashes. And in his gaze was a conspiracy that included only the two of them. “My car has air-conditioning. I know this is out of the blue and all, but I wondered if you’d like to go for a ride with me.”

Lucy glanced back at her house. She wished suddenly she lived in a bigger house, in a better neighborhood. Here on this modest residential street close to the river, her small white clapboard house was surrounded by other houses very much like it, some of them covered in rusting aluminum siding. She pictured her mother inside, on a vinyl-covered kitchen chair, watching All My Children on a thirteen-inch portable TV on the Formica-topped kitchen table. Her mother, she knew, would never approve of what was transpiring here, right in her front yard.

He stood suddenly. “Okay, okay. I get the message.”

“Wait.” She sat up straighter. A pickup rumbled by and left in its wake a smell of exhaust and a rush of hot air.

He turned. “What? Need to get your mom’s permission?”

“Of course not!” Her voice came out higher than she would have liked, the whiny protest of a child. She stood. “I’d like to come with you. But I can’t stay out too long.” She was about to say “My mom will be worried” but realized how immature that would sound. “I’ve got some people I have to meet in a little while.”

He smiled. And the smile erased any nervousness she had about going with him. After all, she had seen him around the neighborhood dozens of times. He wasn’t exactly a stranger, not really.

“That’s fine, Lucy. I’ll have you back within an hour. I promise. I certainly wouldn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with you.” He winked, and she followed him to the waiting car.

Lucy tripped getting into the car. Her head bumped against the chrome surrounding the upper doorframe, and her hand slid across the black vinyl seat. The laugh that followed came out high and flighty, a little bird. Lucy reddened once more, embarrassed by her klutziness.

He was grinning, already behind the steering wheel. “Don’t worry about it. We are all prey to tiny lapses in coordination.”

He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel while Lucy settled beside him, doing her best to recover her composure. With elaborate care, she positioned herself on the seat and crossed her legs. She admired her legs and hoped he did too: long and tan, smooth, the legs of a woman.

It was then she felt, more than noticed, the presence of someone else in the car. Lucy turned and saw her for the first time. In the back sat a young woman. Her hair, like Lucy’s, was blonde, but more of a brassy platinum shade. She wore a pair of dark glasses with cat-eye frames, bright-red lipstick, and a silk scarf tied around her neck. Her simple white shift contrasted sharply with her peach-colored skin. Lucy thought she was about the most glamorous thing she had ever seen in Fawcettville.

He noticed her looking. “This is my girlfriend, Myra. Sweetheart, say hello to Lucy.”

“Hello, Lucy.”

Did Lucy detect a very slight British accent in the gravelly voice? Whatever it was, this woman seemed so self-possessed and confident, Lucy’s dismay that this man had a girlfriend was almost overridden. Lucy was fascinated.

Lucy turned back to the man. “I don’t think you told me your name.”

He laughed, and Lucy forgot about Myra. His laugh was musical, setting her heart to thumping. She wondered what it would be like to slide closer, to rest her head on his shoulder.

“It’s Ian.” He slid a pair of Ray-Bans over his green eyes and shifted the car into drive. They sped away from the curb.

Lucy watched as her little white house grew smaller in the side-view mirror.

It wasn’t long before they were pulling up in front of a trailer on the outskirts of town. Lucy was disappointed; the dwelling didn’t seem to fit Ian’s character at all. She had expected something more romantic: a houseboat moored on the Ohio River, a high-rise apartment in nearby Pittsburgh, a mansion, a log cabin, anything but a trailer.

And it wasn’t even a nice one. Set up on cinder blocks, the trailer was a big box wrapped in harvest gold and dingy white aluminum. A piece of the skirting had torn loose at one end, and there was rust around the corners.

Ian shut the car off and draped his arm across the back of Lucy’s seat. “It isn’t much, love, but it’s all I’ve got. Care to come inside, or should we take you home?”

“Oh, just take her home, Ian. She’ll be late for supper,” Myra said from the backseat, where she hid behind a cloud of cigarette smoke.

“I’d love to come inside. This is where you live, right?”

Ian laughed. “Yes, for now. Are you sure you have time?”

Lucy glanced down at her watch, embarrassed suddenly by the pink vinyl strap and the Hello Kitty face on the dial. She would have to get a new watch soon, no matter what. Mom would probably be wondering, right about now, where she had gone off to. “I have a little time. Let’s go in. I want to see.”

Lucy followed the two of them toward the trailer. Ahead of her there was a copse of maple trees on a bluff. The Ohio River, looking brown and stagnant in the milky white light, curved as it made its way south.

Inside, the sudden change from the day’s withering brightness to the dark interior blinded Lucy, and she felt her first moment of panic. Neither of them said anything, and she suddenly felt helpless. For the first time that day, she questioned their interest in her and thought herself foolish for not having wondered why a young couple in their twenties would want to bring her home.

But she did look older, didn’t she?

Of course she did. Ian confirmed it. “We’re going to have a glass of wine, Lucy. Would you care for one?”

A flush of pleasure rushed through her. They did think she was older, a peer. Perhaps they were just trying to make friends. Before the onset of the summer, she couldn’t recall having seen either of them before. But what would Mom say if she came home with liquor on her breath? She groped in her pocket, thankful for the piece of Bazooka there.

“Well, maybe I could have just a small one.”

“Excellent!” Ian clapped his hands together and went toward the wall behind him, where a portable kitchen waited. He took a jug of white wine from the refrigerator and poured three glasses.

After they were settled in the living room and Lucy’s eyes had adjusted to the dim lighting, she said, “This is much nicer than I thought.”

The couple exchanged glances, laughing, and Lucy wondered why. The place was run-down. The carpeting, a beige-and-brown tweed, was threadbare, and the furniture was a hodgepodge of mismatched pieces, all of it looking secondhand. The scarred coffee table contained an odd assortment of items: a book called Crime and Punishment, a ceramic skull, and two black votive candles set on tin jar lids.

But the dimness and stale air bothered her more than anything else. Why were all the curtains drawn? “It’s kind of dark in here, isn’t it?”

That remark they found amusing as well; their laughter began to make her uncomfortable. She scratched her arm.

Ian said, “Lucy, haven’t you noticed? It’s hot outside. It keeps things a little cooler if I keep the drapes drawn.”

Of course.

After they had finished their wine—well, after Ian and Myra had finished theirs; Lucy thought it tasted horrible—Ian disappeared for a moment. When he came back, he was carrying a video camera. It was one of those tiny ones you could almost palm in your hand, and the red light on it was blinking.

What was going on?

“Smile for the camera, Lucy.”

Lucy tried to smile, but things were getting too strange. She managed to turn up the corners of her lips in a grin. Suddenly, Myra was on the couch next to her, too close, really. Lucy smelled her perfume. It was too sweet, with a bitter undertone. It smelled like she had rubbed incense on herself. The scent of the perfume combined with cigarettes and wine caused Lucy to lean back, away from Myra. Suddenly, the woman didn’t seem as glamorous as she had in the car.

She put her arm around Lucy and mugged for the camera. “Come on, Lucy, smile!”

Lucy bit her lip, thinking of the Barbie trunk she had left on her front lawn. Kelsey Timmons, just down the street, wouldn’t be above taking the whole trunk home, especially with the golden opportunity Lucy was giving her. Kelsey had coveted Lucy’s Barbie collection since she had moved in down the street four years ago. “I think I’d like to go home now.” Lucy tried to look anywhere but into the lens of the camera. She wished he would turn it off.

“Nonsense!” Ian exclaimed.

“You just got here, dear,” Myra whispered to her. Her lips were too red, and Lucy suddenly felt sick.

“Please, I need to go home now.”

“Just a few more minutes.” Ian hunkered down in front of the two of them, moving the camera slowly up and down their bodies.

Lucy lifted the wine to her lips, just to have something to quell her mouth’s terrible dryness. She began to perspire, dampening at her armpits, her hairline. She whimpered, “You said no more than an hour.”

“Such a pretty girl,” Myra whispered, lifting Lucy’s ponytail and turning it in her hand. “Oh, to have such tresses. What I wouldn’t give to have hair this color.” She giggled. “Naturally, I mean.”

“Jealous?” Ian stood and aimed the camera down at the two of them.

Lucy shot up, heat and fear coalescing to make her sick. The walls of the trailer closed in. “I don’t feel so good. Can we go now?”

Ian set the camera down for a moment and gave her his most winning smile. “The answer to that question, my sweet, is no.”

Monday, April 13, 2020

Autism Blog Hop and Giveaway

I’m honored to participate again in this year’s blog hop for Autism Month, lovingly initiated by RJ Scott. 30 authors will be featuring a fact each day – which you may or may not know already – and sharing their own thoughts on the topic.

I'm giving away an ebook copy of the book this post talks about: Dinner at Jack's.

Today’s fact: Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.

This year’s theme is FOOD.

Writing About Love...and Food

Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on…” I agree with him, except I would paraphrase him “If food be the music of love, cook on…”

People ask why I marry food with love in so many of my stories. One, I believe that food and love, next to air and water, are two very essential things for a happy life. 

Dinner at Jack’s shows how food bridges the gap between love and memory and how providing the care and comfort of good food can solidify a relationship. That’s not just something I believe as a writer, but as a human being.

In the excerpt below, you get a ‘taste’ of the kind of comfort food you’ll find in Dinner at Jack’s and get an insider view into the tenuous relationship between our two lovers, Beau and Jack and how a simple pasta dish begin to forge a spark of recognition and tenderness….

JMS Books
Amazon Kindle

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT (and a recipe!)
Beau neared the bed. He set the tray down not on Jack’s lap, but next to him.

“I have a feeling you’re going to love this,” Beau said softly, staring into Jack’s eyes.

Jack allowed himself, for only a second or two, to stare back, noticing the rich green of Beau’s eyes, which were the color of moss. He tore his gaze away. Something told him it wasn’t right to stare into another man’s eyes that way. There was something shameful in it.

Instead he looked down at the tray. On it was a white bowl filled with little pillows of pasta he remembered were called gnocchi. They glistened with olive oil, dotted here and there with flakes of red pepper. The tang of the cheese, although barely visible on the pasta, rose up to Jack’s nostrils to remind him it was there. Next to the pasta was a plate upon which was piled a mound of greens, it too glistening with a light dressing. Jack could smell the lemon in it, acidic, tangy, making his mouth water.

He gripped his fists together so tightly he could see his knuckles whiten in his mind’s eye. A sudden urge, powerful, rose up, to push the tray very gently, and while smiling all the while—off the edge of the bed.

No! Why did he want to do such a thing?

He couldn’t bring himself to say anything, especially not anything like “This smells amazing” or “Oh my God, this looks so good.” But he could fight the impulse to fling the food, a gift really, to the floor. Or at least he thought he could….

He looked at Beau, then away quickly, to level a glance at his mother, who was all expectancy and hope. Her hands were clasped together, almost as though she were praying. And maybe she was.
Staring down at the tray at last, he lifted it up and onto his lap. He grabbed the paper towel on its surface and tucked it into his collar. Finally he lifted the bowl up and took in a gnocchi.

The flavors danced, truly danced, on his tongue, an explosion of savory heat. He closed his eyes and reveled in how this simple bite of food transported him, made him one with his body in delight… and again, weirdly, nostalgia. He forced the latter away and continued eating, without realizing right away he was also keeping his eyes closed.

When it dawned on him that he was sitting there, gobbling his food down with his eyes shut, his eyelids snapped up. His mother hovered over him, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Beau stood in the background, wearing a subtle but visible smile of triumph.

Those two ignited a tiny flame of rage within Jack. He glared at them. “Do you think a guy could eat in privacy?” he asked.

“Of course,” Beau said. He grabbed Maisie’s hand and led her from the room. They closed the door softly behind themselves.

And Jack found himself eating every bite. And wanting more….

Damn Beau!

Jackson’s Spicy Gnocchi
(Serves 4)

You Need:
8 oz. potato gnocchi
¼ cup good olive oil, more or less
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 anchovy filets
1 t red pepper flakes, more or less
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ cup pasta cooking water
Salt and pepper to taste (seriously—to taste! With the salty anchovies and the red pepper, you may not need either)

To Make:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add plenty of salt when you first see bubbles appear.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in olive oil and allow it to get warmed up, a couple of minutes. Throw in your minced garlic and lower the heat. Allow the garlic to simmer and become aromatic, but be careful that it doesn’t begin to brown—you don’t want that bitterness. Add in the anchovy filets and cook for a couple more minutes. You should be able to break up the filets with a wooden spoon, and they should magically vanish into the garlic-flavored oil. Trust me, this will not taste fishy. Throw in your red pepper flakes.
Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook until they rise to the surface of the water. Do not overcook! This will only take a couple of minutes. Remove from water with a strainer and set aside. Reserve ¼ cup of the water you cooked the gnocchi in.
At this point, you can dump the gnocchi in the pan with the seasoned olive oil. Toss pasta to coat with the oil and add your Parmesan. Toss some more, so every gnocchi is coated.
Add in your reserved pasta water a little at a time. You want to loosen up the sauce a bit with this, make it creamier. Your eye will guide you when to stop adding water. You won’t need the whole ¼ cup.
Serve hot.

Personal chef Beau St. Clair, recently divorced from his cheating husband, has returned to the small Ohio River town where he grew up to lick his wounds. Jack Rogers lives with his mother Maisie in that same small town, angry at and frightened of the world. Jack has a gap in his memory that hides something he dares not face, and he’s probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Maisie, seeking relief from her housebound and often surly son, hires Beau to cook for Jack, hoping the change might help bring Jack, once a handsome and vibrant attorney, back to his former self. But can a new face and comfort food compensate for the terror lurking in Jack’s past?

Slowly, the two men begin a dance of revelation and healing. Food and compassion build a bridge between Beau and Jack, a bridge that might lead to love.

But will Jack’s demons allow it? Jack’s history harbors secrets that could just as easily rip them apart as bring them together.

JMS Books
Amazon Kindle

Monday, April 6, 2020

Shelter at Home with this Heartwarming Read! LOST AND FOUND

LOST AND FOUND, my story of how a lost beagle brings two men together in Seattle is available now from JMS Books. BLURB
On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park. On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle. Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park the next summer, there’s a problem -- who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be -- but that's just what Flynn experienced. A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it ... and along the way, they just might fall in love.

Kneeling on the hardwood floor in the front hallway, Mac Bowersox pulled the harness from Hamburger. “Good boy,” he said, stroking the dog. He then bent a little to give the dog a good, strong hug. The dog wriggled to be free. He’d never liked being hugged. But Mac needed to hug him. He padded after Hamburger as he walked toward the kitchen. Mac stood in the entryway and watched as the dog paused at his two stainless steel bowls and rapidly lapped up almost the entire bowl of water. Mac supposed the poor pooch was tired and parched after the way he’d made him run from the park. But Mac couldn’t take a chance. If that Flynn guy had come after them, Mac didn’t know if he’d have had the courage to continue insisting that Hamburger wasn’t Barley. Because he was. He was Barley. Of course, Mac didn’t know that until just a short time ago. But something weird happened the moment Barley spied the gorgeous man in the gray nylon running shorts and form-fitting lime-green tank top. Mac chuckled grimly. The dog had spotted the succulent morsel of masculinity almost before he did. And Mac could plainly read Hamburger’s reaction -- joy and recognition in one big tail-wagging bundle. At first, Mac didn’t understand the dog’s reaction. He didn’t see Hamburger’s interest as recognition. How could he? He simply thought old Hamburger might have the same eye for the fellas as his master did. Takes one horndog to know another! And Flynn was hotness personified -- with his lean runner’s build and those amazing blue eyes that contrasted so gorgeously with his black hair and those damn long lashes. He was like a god -- someone lifted from the pages of GQ or a fitness magazine. And Mac simply thought Hamburger was reacting in much the same way Mac had to the sight of him. After all, the dog could very well have learned how to ogle a good-looking man from his master, who was, he thought, the absolute champion of ogling. Mac could ogle a hottie like nobody’s business. He could have taught a master class. It should have been a moment of lusty happiness. But it wasn’t. Because now, as Mac looked back on the encounter in retrospect, he did so with deep shame. He felt like punching himself in the face -- repeatedly -- as he watched Hamburger lap up his water. A voice startled him out of his reverie. His deep well of guilt must have been obvious. “What’s the matter, Mac? You look like you just lost your best friend.” Mac looked up to see the wizened and withered face of his landlady, Dee -- short-for-Delores -- Weeda, staring at him with concern in her brown eyes. Mac had occupied her attic bedroom and en suite bath for more than two years now. Mac swallowed. “I almost did. At the park.”

JMS Books
Amazon Kindle

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Trip Down Memory Lane--BLINK and You're in the Early 1980s

When I go back and re-read portions of Blink, my memoirish (I admit it!) gay love story, it takes me down memory lane—and back to my twenties. 

Youth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! I was 23 years old in 1981, when the first part of the book takes place and I was big in denial of my gay self. So big, in fact, that I was engaged to be married to my (female) college sweetheart. A large part of the first section of the book deals with two young men being attracted to one another on one of Chicago’s L trains.

Both of them had issues. The character modeled after me, Andy, had more issues that Carlos, the character Andy lusts after, to his great shame. But even Carlos, out at the time, but still not so proud, struggles a bit with his sexuality, which is evident from this little taste from Blink, taken from Chapter 2 and written from Carlos’ point of view.

The guy obviously has a thing for me. I’ve caught him staring now a couple of times and, hey, I’m flattered. He’s cute. No, maybe that’s not a strong enough word. He’s handsome, with green eyes and dark wavy hair that clues me into some sort of Mediterranean heritage. Italian maybe? Greek?

Whatever. Maybe the word I’m looking for is hot.

I can imagine kissing him and the feel of his dark, bushy mustache against mine.

I don’t ride the train to meet men. I don’t do much to meet men, period, to be perfectly honest. I ride the train in the mornings simply to get to St. Philomena elementary school on the west side, where I teach fourth grade.

I’m okay with being gay. I wasn’t always, hence my stint in the seminary where I studied to be a priest. I learned pretty quickly, by the grace of god, and the hands and mouth of a fellow seminarian, that the priesthood was not work I was cut out for. Not if I wanted to live my life honestly, anyway.

So I left. I had already gotten my teaching degree, concurrent with my seminarian studies, so the job at St. Phil’s, low-paying as it was, was a natural fit.

But I digress. I’m trying to sort out my feelings for this sweetheart on the train. I know he’s gay too. I know he’s attracted. But I also know that nothing will ever come of it.

Why? Because I can see that, when our eyes meet, he’s filled with shame and guilt. I recognize his remorse because I cloaked myself in that dark, heavy fabric myself for many years.

And maybe still do, a little, to this day. The Church teaches us that same-sex feelings are to be avoided. They are not of our natural order. We should turn our sights away from our own sex and devote them instead to loving and pleasing the Lord.

Yeah, good luck with that.

The Lord created that cute guy that gives me the eye on the train, the one I feel this probably misplaced connection with. What is it about him that makes me think of him all the time? Why do I hope he’ll be in my train car every time I step on to it in the morning, even though most times he’s not? Why do I try and quickly scan the windows of the train as it rumbles into the station for a glimpse of him?

Is it just because he’s cute?

There are cute men, hunks, whatever, all around. I occasionally venture out to the intersection of Grand Avenue and Clark to the New Flight bar for happy hour and bring one of them home. Or I head up farther north to the Loading Zone on Oak, where I can watch free porn in the back or dance up front. Somebody usually brings me home.

I never make any lasting connections. I don’t even know if want to. Shame lingers on me like the scent of cigarette smoke after leaving those places.

But there’s something about the guy on the train. He tugs at my heart as well as my loins. Even from the brief glances we exchange, he makes me think there’s the possibility of more than just sex. He makes me think, for the first time in my young life, that maybe I could love another man.

And that terrifies me.

Read more of Blink to see where this flirtation on the train takes these two—does it take them to love? And how long does it take for them to get there?

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JMS Books

Life can change in the blink of an eye. That's a truth Andy Slater learns as a young man in 1982, taking the Chicago 'L' to work every morning. Andy's life is laid out before him: a good job, marriage to his female college sweetheart, and the white picket fence existence he believes in. But when he sees Carlos Castillo for the first time, Carlos’s dark eyes and Latin appeal mesmerize him. Fate continues to throw them together until the two finally agree to meet up. At Andy’s apartment, the pent-up passion of both young men is ignited, but is snuffed out by an inopportune and poorly-timed phone call.

Flash forward to present day. Andy is alone, having married, divorced, and become the father of a gay son. He’s comfortable but alone and has never forgotten the powerful pull of Carlos’s gaze on the 'L' train. He vows to find him once more, hoping for a second chance. If life can change in the blink of an eye, what will the passage of thirty years do? To find out, Andy begins a search that might lead to heartache and disappointment or a love that will last forever….