GENRE: Gay Romance
LENGTH: 24,851 words
While celebrating the Supreme Court same-sex ruling, Josh hides his deep aversion to marriage. He lets his lover Adam believe they’ll eventually marry. But when his wedding-planner mother pushes him too hard to take that step, Josh declares in anger he won’t ever marry Adam.
Adam overhears and flees. Crushed at having been led on, he takes refuge at his old hangout. There he runs into his ex-boyfriend, who tries to take advantage of Adam’s vulnerability. Things go from bad to miserable, leaving Adam struggling to get through the worst night of his life.
Frantically searching for Adam, Josh is forced to accept he could lose him forever -- a prospect he just can’t face. Can he overcome his fears and propose marriage to save their love? That might work, but only if he can somehow convince Adam to trust him again.
“We have to talk about this.”
“No. What I have to do is take a shower. And some ibuprofen. Then another couple hours of sleep. Then I have an appointment at eleven. That’s all I can handle right now. I just have to keep moving, or I’ll fall apart.”
“Damn it, Adam. What you heard yesterday -- I didn’t mean it that way. I was just trying to get my mother to back off.” Josh started pacing back and forth across the tiny bedroom. “Look, I surrender. We’ll just do it. It won’t be that bad.”
Adam’s brain was not up to decoding the conversation. “What won’t be that bad?”
Josh stopped and looked up, surprised. “Getting married.”
Adam stared in shock. Was the man crazy?
Josh straightened his shoulders, took a deep breath, and announced, “I’ve decided we should get married.” It came out in one big, slurred gush of words. “There, I said it.”
“You’ve decided? I don’t have a say in this?”
“You want me to go down on one knee? Fine.” Josh knelt on the floor. ”Adam, will you marry me?”
Despair washed through him. Damn Josh for putting him through this! “No.”
“No?” The look on his face was almost comical.
“No. I’m not forcing you into something you don’t want. We’ll just keep it casual. Until we drift apart.”
Josh jumped up. “I don’t understand. This is what you wanted. Tell me what’s wrong!”
“I don’t trust you right now. And that colors my perception of everything you do.”
Josh looked like Adam had slapped him. In a small voice he said, “How can I fix this? How can I make you trust me again?”
Needles stabbed Adam behind his eyes. Why couldn’t Josh just leave it alone? “I don’t know. Be trustworthy, I guess?”
Josh looked so forlorn and uncertain, Adam’s heart ached. But he steeled himself to move past him into the bathroom and shut the door. Resting his head against the cool tile, Adam listened. He heard Josh approach and run his fingers down the closed door. He heard the broken whisper of his name. “Adam?”
He fought hard not to yank open the door and fall into Josh’s arms. They could pretend it all never happened. They could go back to the way it was, couldn’t they? Adam felt the air catch in his lungs as he doubled over in agony. There was no going back. Only forward to wherever that would lead.
He moved away from the door and turned on the shower. After downing four ibuprofen and as much water as he thought his stomach would tolerate, he stood by the window overlooking the back yard. The bathroom filled with steam. Finally, through the mist on the window, he watched Josh cross to his car and leave.
Adam sagged, nearly to the floor, as the release of tension left him weak. He’d known he couldn’t take anymore. His emotions were too raw to be filleted open for debate. Thank God Josh had left. And with that thought, new anguish slammed him -- never before had he wanted Josh gone.
He undressed, dropping his filthy clothes into the wastebasket, and got into the shower.
Keep moving -- his new mantra.
Maybe it would get easier with time.
This book was published on February 21, 2016.