Title: I’ll Still Be There
Author: Keelan Ellis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Length: 200 Pages/63,879 words
Release Date: 1st June, 2015
The summer after high school, Eli Dunn and Jess Early explore an abandoned brothel in the rural Florida Panhandle. They’ve always kept their mutual attraction unspoken, but in an upstairs room at the end of the hall, everything changes. Suddenly, all the longing Eli and Jess have tried so hard to conceal bursts free, and passion like they’ve never experienced comes to light, along with the ghosts of Clay Bailey and Silas Denton, murdered owners of the brothel. And Clay and Silas have no problem possessing Eli and Jess in order to express their love for each other, without thought for the living.Deeply disturbed by the experience, Eli and Jess part and try to get on with life as best they can. But after several years, Eli returns to Florida, only to find that Jess has made some questionable choices. These eventually lead him back to the abandoned house and a confrontation with Eli. Old scores are settled and Eli and Jess reunite. But Clay and Silas’s ghosts aren’t finished yet, for they’ve always believed in the power of open and honest love.
The front door opened and in walked Thomas Brown. It was unusual for him to enter this way, as the men who were interested in their specialty service only did this one time, and only to make an appointment for a later date. Clay got up to greet him, and Silas stood silently in the entrance off the hallway.
“What’s going on, Brown? You don’t have an appointment tonight.” Clay was blocking his way to the rest of the house.
The smell of booze was evident on his breath from several feet away, and Clay tensed in anticipation. Not quite slurring, Brown said, “Maybe I want to see one of the girls, you ever think of Clay raised his eyebrows at him and replied, “Well, that would be fine, but we’re about to close up. Maybe come back after the holiday, all right?”
Brown laughed, an exceptionally bitter, unhappy sound, and said, “No, it’s not all right you fucking deviant. I want to get laid now.”
“I don’t think so,” Clay said, “I think you need to leave.”
Brown was a big man, running to fat in his middle age, but he had the build of an aging football player, and he was very drunk. Clay was slim, stood only five nine, and the lawyer pushed past him easily and went running up the stairs. At the same moment, Marcus's client opened the door to the boy’s room. Silas had bolted after Brown, Clay following behind, and grabbed him before he could get through the door.
Silas was bigger than Clay, and he’d grown up on a farm. He’d been no stranger to manual labor, nor to fighting, and generally handled things with customers on the rare occasion they got rough with one of the girls. He hauled the man back and punched him hard in the gut. He wrestled him down the stairs while the wind was still out of him and threw him into a chair. Clay stayed upstairs, talking to the fisherman, who appeared to be a little shaken, then checked on Marcus.
Silas had his hand on Brown’s shoulder, holding him down, and he said, “Listen here, asshole. You’re gonna take a break now. If I see you back here before the New Year, I’m gonna break your jaw.”
Clay had come into the room and was now standing beside Silas. He said, “And when you do come back, you’d better be in control of yourself.”
The lawyer sneered at him and said, “You think you’re better than me, but you’re just as sick as I am, or that hick up there, or that damn boy. You’re nothing but a couple of goddamn freaks, and you know it.”
Silas smacked him hard, openhanded, across the face. “Mind your fucking manners. Go home. Go fuck your poor, neglected wife.”
They got him out the door and locked it behind him.
“Jesus Christ,” Clay sighed. “How sad.”
Silas looked at him like he was nuts. “You feel sorry for that piece of shit?” he yelled. “You think he’s anything like us? You think he’s right?”
“No, honey,” Clay said quietly. “But he could have been like us. Or we could have been like him. If either one of us could have passed a little better, if we could have played that part, maybe we would have.”
“No way,” Silas said stubbornly. “You want to think he’s like your boy. David. But at least he tried to make some kind of connection. At least he didn’t hate you just because he couldn’t help loving Silas was breathing hard, clearly furious.. “That man, he’s like… he’s like the one who hurt me. And God knows how many other boys he did that to who didn’t even understand it. He doesn’t even think we’re human.”
“He doesn’t think he is, himself,” Clay said. “But honey, I’m not saying he’s not garbage. I know he is. He knows it too. Just, maybe he didn’t have to be, if the world was different.”
Silas glared at him and then at the floor. Clay came over to him a bit carefully and put a hand on his shoulder. “I don’t want to let him come back,” Silas said in a low, sure voice.
“Okay, Si. Then we won’t. Come on upstairs.” Clay tugged at his hand. “Come on, baby. I’ll give you one on the house,” he said with an attempt at a playful smile.
Silas didn’t smile back, but he took Clay’s face in his hands and stared into his eyes. “We are not like him. I love you.” He kissed him quick and hard, then grabbed his wrist and pulled him upstairs.
Keelan Ellis is a true crime enthusiast, a political junkie, and a comedy fan. Despite a compulsion to sometimes wallow in the depths of humanity’s corruption and sadness, she considers herself a romantic at heart. The stories she really connects with are about love that’s been twisted into hatred, and she believes that with honesty and forgiveness, love can overcome. Keelan loves good bourbon and classic country music, great television and well-prepared food, especially shared with like-minded people. She’s not a fan of parties and large groups of people, but there’s nothing she loves more than a long conversation with friends. Her favorite part of the writing process is the collaborative stage, hashing out plot and characters with smart and talented friends. It’s where she truly comes to understand the people she’s writing about, and often falls in love with them. With the support and encouragement--as well as some serious editing help--Keelan has found the writing niche she’s always searched for.
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