Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Blogtour: Trust Trade by Ki Brightly

Please welcome Ki Brightly with 

Trust Trade 

Gem City Grit #1 


Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.

Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.

I would like to thank My Fiction Nook for having me here today! Trust Trade, my newest book, was released on January 27th.
Originally when I was sitting down to write Trust Trade I thought that I would produce a “hooker with a heart of gold” kind of book. I’ve read several of them over the years, and usually enjoy them. I had some vague Pretty Woman sort of notion of what might go on with the plotline—hooker who is a good guy meets other good guy and decides to stop being a prostitute to be with him. Run the rails off the “protector” trope. The end. Take a bow.
As my ideas about the book progressed that’s not what happened, at all. Honestly, my books are never what I think they’re going to be, so I shouldn’t even be surprised at this point when they take a left turn and detour through uncharted waters.
I like to have realism in my work, so I began researching some statistics on prostitution in the United States. At some point, I stopped because what I found was excruciatingly awful. Most prostitutes die violently, end of story. Most die around thirty years of age. Many are drug addicts, alcoholics, and as a result of their lifestyles, have acquired one chronic illness or another. HIV. Hepatitis. STD’s on parade. The entire health outlook isn’t pretty. It’s simply bad news all around. These stats more than anything forced me to switch tracks with my story. This wasn’t going to be a romanticized version of what being a prostitute is. This was going to be dark.
Vicki Karp said, “When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.” I identify with this statement on an almost spiritual level. I usually have a very particular idea of what I want the book to be about and maybe the main conflict of the story, but a lot of the rest of it evolves as I write. So, instead of writing a book about a prostitute, I wrote a book about a person dealing with the very real aftermath of being paid for sex for many years. I wrote a story about a man trying to put his life back together. I wrote a story about a man fighting for his own self worth and safety, and who, in the process, learns how to protect others as well.
We’re all our own heroes in one way or another, and as much as Jeb needs Freddy to pull him out of the fire, he has to do the bulk of the legwork himself. I hope you take the plunge into Jeb and Freddy’s story and stick with them through the shadows until they reach their light.
Happy reading!
Ki Brightly

Excerpt from Trust Trade
Jeb Birchman
I stand there for another few seconds, not sure what else to do. I try the doorknob just to make sure it’s locked. I can’t take Max with me if he won’t stand up and say what his dad did, especially if the cops get called. Unsteady, my thoughts scattered and all over the place, I square my shoulders and walk down the hallway toward the party.

Why am I doing this? Why don’t I leave now? I take a deep breath and step
I want to vomit.

Cigar smoke tinges the air. The shadows in the large room make it claustrophobic. Clusters of leather couches, brought in especially for the parties, each have floor lamps nestled up to them. Nolan’s glasses are starry with reflections of the soft lights. He’s a big man throwing away bigger money on clients. Nolan smiles that fake smile the public always gets when he spots me, breaks away from the group of men he was chatting up, and saunters over. He directs me with a hard hand on my shoulder around a group of well-heeled guys egging on an older man with his suit pants around his ankles. I try not to look at the old guy’s face as he fucks a naked blonde woman tied artistically with rope to a sturdy ottoman.
I note distractedly that someone must have taken their time to do that.
She looks over her shoulder and, unfortunately, I catch her gaze. Her round nose makes her look younger than she probably is. She has tired, ice-blue eyes and the glazed expression drugs usually bring on. Her name might be Corinne, but I’m not sure. There are so many girls at these parties.
A man jerks her face around and roughly feeds a few pills into her mouth like she’s an empty Pez dispenser. She barely has time to swallow before he shoves his crotch in her face. I glance away quickly, heart pounding, glad it’s not me. Ferris, one of Nolan’s omnipresent musclemen at these “events,” lounges against the back wall near a patio door, the top of his head nearly level with the archway. His position puts him in shadow, making his craggy forehead even more prominent. I can’t see his eyes, but they seem to track me—or rather, Nolan. I try out a halfhearted smile on him. I might as well have smiled at the wall.
I’m brought to a stop in front of an enormously wide man with silver hair seated in the middle of one of the couches. Thankfully he’s by himself. His kind smile and Santa Claus beard officially ruin my winter holidays forever when he pulls a stubby hard cock from his pants and strokes it.
“He’s deaf and dumb, kind of like a dog. Whatever you want, go for it,” Nolan says with a hard laugh that cuts me to the bone, even though I can’t hear it.
I shiver and try to look at this as just another job, but after everything else that’s happened tonight, I can’t fid that professionally detached spot inside myself.
The numbness I rely on to get through has been displaced by outrage.
Poor fucking Max.
“On your knees,” Santa says, eyes sparkling jovially, and a different sort of
disjointed emptiness creeps over me.
I imagine this is what people feel like before they kill someone. I shiver and grab a condom out of my pocket because this asshole doesn’t care enough about my health to have his own. I force myself to suit him up as clinically and dispassionately as I can.
Fuck, I hate the taste of latex.
Five minutes later I’m outside puking my guts out into the bushes near the front door. Nolan, pissed as fuck, glowers behind me. My stomach hurts, tries to toss itself again, but there’s nothing left to come up. I wipe my sour mouth, disoriented, and fall back onto my ass. A hard slap on my cheek surprises me, stings, and brings tears to my eyes. My instinct is to flinch, to throw my hands up to protect myself, but I still and brace for another smack that doesn’t come. My cheek thumps and burns. It’s probably red. A few tears squirt out of my eyes. My cheek may or may not bruise. I work my jaw. Stupidly I wipe at a spatter of vomit on my sweater. My sweater will stink now.
Nolan bends down and pushes my chin up, a cruel parody of Freddy’s sweetness. Two fingers dig painfully into the soft underside of my jaw and force me to my feet. “I pay you a lot of money. I don’t keep you around for your sparkling wit. Go in there and finish the job.”
Grimacing, I wipe at the fine mist of spittle on my face. “Do it yourself.” My raw throat burns with the drag of air through it, and I swallow convulsively. His hand falls away, and he blinks at me, a nasty owl. “What did you say to me?”
I straighten up, fid my fucking backbone, and cross my arms over my chest.
“I fucking can’t, okay? I just… you tossed me out of your bed to pass around. I… you knew what Wally did to me. You said you cared.” Wetness hits my cheeks. I swipe at them and sniffle. I can’t believe I ever let this monster inside me. Can’t believe I let myself care even a little.
His nose wrinkles, and he pushes his glasses farther up onto the bridge of his nose. “I wanted to fuck that tight hole of yours. Of course I said I cared.”
“Found someone I like,” I huff out as my stomach jerks again and I fight nausea. “I’m done.”
Nolan stills, his eyes dangerous, snakelike. “What?”
“Can’t. Can’t do it anymore.”

I pull my wallet out of my pocket and riffle through it until I have his credit card. I hold it out to him. My hand shakes. He snatches it from me, and something I wasn’t expecting happens. He smiles and leans away from me a little, considering me. I think what I’m seeing is respect. That makes me happy and causes my stomach to roll hard like a jet at an airshow. I don’t want his respect.
Max. I should be taking Max with me, just like I should have fought to be able to keep in touch with him to begin with.
Shit, I’m no better than Nolan, nothing but a selfish fuck. This is Jacob all over again.
I shove my wallet into my pocket. Max has my number. That has to be good enough. I can’t do anything tonight, or Nolan will know I was involved.
“It was a good run, Jeb. I’m not pleased, but I understand. Of course, I can’t bankroll you any longer.” His smile widens, becomes nearly friendly. “I need my car back.”
My hand trembles in my pocket. Numbly I hand him the keys. I’m almost ten miles from my apartment. Fuck. “I… I know.”
He pauses, roving his eyes over me. Nervously I shift from foot to foot until his assessing glare lands on my face. “You do know whatever happens in this house is to stay here.”
My stomach freezes into a block of nauseous ice. “Yes.”
“Not a peep.” A dangerous glint glitters in his eyes.
Fuck. What’s the right answer here? I don’t want to show up tomorrow with a black eye. I nod quickly.
“I think… I can see my way to paying for your tuition for the rest of the year.” He pulls out his phone, pokes at the screen for a bit, then shows me a transfer from his bank account to mine that makes my knees weak. “This will go out in January.”
My stomach churns and I force back a gag. Blood money. Does he know I know about Max?
He must.
Nolan steps forward, and I force myself to stay relaxed through the fatherly kiss he presses to my forehead. When he turns around to go back inside, I walk down the sidewalk to the front of the house. While I go, I’m both relieved and swamped with guilt, especially since the light in Max’s room burns bright and accusing. For a frantic second, I consider sneaking around the house to the study and trying to get him to leave through the window, but I know there is a surveillance system on the house. I can’t help him here.
Call the cops.
I take out my phone and consider it. But it would be my word against Nolan’s, and I have dirty money in my account. I squeeze my eyes closed. Shit.

The walk home is long, slow, and it’s dark. Nolan’s house is outside the city on the lake. There’s only one person I could call, and I’m not about to do it. Not tonight. I definitely deserve every miserable mile. All in all, quitting didn’t go so bad, yet was so much worse than I ever thought it could be.
I hope Max is really okay.
Fuck me. I know he’s not.

Get the book:

About the author:

Ki grew up in small town nowhere pretending that meteor showers were aliens invading, turning wildflowers into magic potions, and reading more than was probably healthy. Ki had one amazing best friend, one endlessly out of grasp "true love", and a personal vendetta against normalcy.

Now, as an adult, living in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ki enjoys the sandy beaches, frigid winters, and a wonderful fancy water addiction. Seriously, fancy waters...who knew there were so many different kinds? It's just water...and yet...

Ki shares this life with a Muse, a Sugar Plum, and two wonderful children.


Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.

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