GENRE: Gay Fantasy Romance
LENGTH: 50,139 words
They have to find him ... but how?
A former member of an elite military special forces unit, Leo Bailey can handle anything life throws at him. Except maybe approaching a certain gorgeous, purple mohawk-wearing, heavily pierced artist. Not without his three eye-rolling wingmen along to push him in the right direction.
One look at the mouthwateringly muscled, military buzzcut-sporting man with the endearing blush, and Vincent Noland is in love. Or at least in lust. Love comes later. Then marriage ... and sweet, adorable Oscar.
Life is perfect -- the stuff of fairy tale happily ever afters -- except for Arthur Fletcher, whose unsettling reactions to them threaten to upset the happy balance of their lives. But it isn’t Arthur who throws their lives into turmoil.
A freak event causes Oscar to go missing and leaves both men frantic to rescue their son. As they piece together the clues, they discover that Oscar isn’t somewhere. He’s somewhen. And Arthur Fletcher holds the key -- or rather the glass beads -- to their one chance of finding Oscar.
Will Leo’s training, Vinnie’s determination, and Arthur’s knowledge help them find Oscar, or is the little boy doomed to spend the rest of his life at the mercy of a primitive civilization? Could there be a third possibility?
They reached the quivering wall of air and rushed through it to the sound of the old woman on the bench screaming as their shoes found purchase on the park’s pervious rubber pathway, and they surged forward ... then tumbled headlong onto the surface as the counterweight they’d been pulling vanished.
Leo grunted as his forearms scraped along the path. He stared uncomprehendingly at the stroller’s handlebar, still clutched in one hand. The handlebar and about six inches of pole on either side ending with a clean cut.
Leo gaped, unblinking and breathing heavily, at the path behind them. The wavering air ... it was gone. The air was normal.
The woman hadn’t stopped screaming. Vinnie was panting -- hyperventilating? -- and snatching at bits of light green fabric that matched the stroller’s canopy.
“Oscar?” Leo’s voice came out in a squeak. Louder, he repeated, “Oscar?” He sat up and scanned the area. An unrelenting hand clutched his heart. Squeezed it. Squelched it. Liquified it. Oscar was gone. The entire stroller, other than the handlebar, was ... gone.
Leo shoved his sunglasses to the top of his head. His breath caught in his throat, and he looked around again. He shouted, “Oscar!”
“No, no, no, no ...” Vinnie chanted as he stumbled to his feet and spun around, fruitlessly looking everywhere ... anywhere. He snatched another bit of green fabric floating on the air. “No, no, no, no ... this isn’t happening.”
“Oscar!” Leo yelled again. His stomach lurched, threatening to heave because their actions were pointless. Wherever they’d been, that’s where Oscar still was. The portal had snapped shut, cutting them off, but every cell in Leo’s body screamed in denial of this reality. “Oscaaaaar!”
The woman stopped shrieking but sucked in rattling breaths behind her hands that now covered her face. Behind them on the path, voices broke through Leo’s focus.
“Oh, my God, did you see that?”
“What the hell just happened?”
“They just disappeared ... into ... thin air.”
“What happened to the kid?”
“Somebody call 9-1-1!”
In the field, the people who’d been kicking soccer balls had stilled and were staring, wide-eyed.
Vinnie crumpled to the ground, hugged his knees to his chest, bits of green fabric clutched in his hands, and rocked. Leo barely heard Vinnie’s words as they tore his heart in two. “No, no, no, no ...”
Leo doubled over and retched. He’d failed Oscar. He’d failed Vinnie. He’d failed. Utterly and completely failed.
He hadn’t cried since middle school, but a garbled sob escaped him now. He dragged a forearm across his mouth and turned back toward where the wavy air had been. “Oscaaaaar!”
“Where did it go?” Vinnie choked on a rattling sob of his own. “Where did it go? We’ve got to go back and get him! Where did it go?”
Leo lifted his face to the sky. “Oscaaaaar!”
The faintest of echoes was the only answer to Leo’s agonized plea.