Please welcome Pat Henshaw with
When Heart Becomes Home
Is there a time limit on love and forgiveness?
Fifteen years ago, Manny didn’t show up to take Wes to the Shelby High School prom as he promised. Instead, Wes found Manny’s letter jacket at their meeting spot without a note or any explanation.
From college to his current job in Monterey, California, Wes has carted the jacket around as a memento of his teenage love and rejection. This year he decides enough is enough. He’s attending the high school class reunion, returning Manny’s jacket, and going home free to find the real love of his life.
When Manny sees Wes at the reunion tour of the new high school facilities, he’s determined not to let his teenage lover leave without them clearing the air and possibly getting back together.
Through reunion activities such as a quiz bowl, meet-and-greet meals, and a formal banquet with a prom-like ball as well as outside activities like the quinceañera of Manny’s niece, Wes and Manny work through the lies and misunderstandings of the past.
With so much to reconcile and forgive on both sides, will they end up together? Or go their separate ways with only memories of the past?
Manny and I had never talked about college or the future. We’d been too centered on sex.
Because of all my wanderings through the past, it took me a few seconds to process what he’d told me. He’d written me a letter, and on the night of the prom, he had put it with the jacket at our prearranged meeting place.
He’d left the jacket—for me. He hadn’t crushed it into the ground in some undecipherable message. He’d left it with a note for me.
What had happened? Who’d come along and taken the note? And tried to blot out the jacket? Why hadn’t he or she taken it, too?
There was still a lot of food left on our plates when we both stopped eating and sat staring at each other.
“Okay, please tell me what happened from your side. What did your letter say? I have to make sense of this.”
He put his hand on the table, open for me to grab it with mine. We needed to hold on as we looked down at the rift that had separated us for fifteen years.
“What the letter said was I was stupid and asked you to forgive me. I knew I was gay. You knew I was gay. Hell, most of the town and the class probably knew, too. Everyone but my mother who insisted I wasn’t. According to her, none of the Garcias or the Escobars had ever been. She had read about homosexuality running in family lines. We had no gay men in the family. Therefore, I could not possibly be gay.” His thumb started rubbing over the back of my hand. “But I am. I knew it then. And I know now she knew it.”
The last part was said so low and his thumb over my skin was so seductive the words at first bypassed my brain. He kept speaking, so I had to scramble to keep up.
“Her big ambition for me wasn’t to get into a good college and have a fulfilling career like some parents wanted for their kids. No, it was for me to be a chambelane for as many of the daughters of friends as she could arrange, pick one of the girls, get married, and have as many kids as the girl would allow.” His thumb stopped, and he stared into my eyes.
“All I wanted to do was go on dates with you and for us to go to the prom. Together. As boyfriends. That’s all.”
His soulful eyes reflected the conflict between him and his mother.
“In the end, she won a tiny victory that has nicked away at my soul. When it came time for me to stand like a man, I failed. I cut myself down to her size. I agreed to play her game of life.” He looked away and sighed. “I learned the quinceañera waltz. I partnered her friends’ daughters. She smiled at me and bragged about her dutiful son. She dangled me by the strings she had woven since I was a baby.”
A short silence descended on us. I had nothing to say and knew he had a lot more to tell me.
Q: Where do you like to write?
A: Where do I write or where would I like to write all the time? Those are two different questions. I write at home in a room that was billed as a bedroom when we moved into our house. However, I can’t imagine anyone using it as such since it’s more office sized. I love the space since it’s cozy and comfortable and very quiet since there is no outside access to the room—it’s in the middle of the house! But if I could write anywhere in the world, I would choose to write at Bookworks Coffee Shop on Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, California. It’s bright and airy with the constant coming and going of customers, so I feel like I’m in the middle of a hub of activity. For some reason, that makes me want to write. Bookworks, as the name suggests, is also attached to a bookstore. When I’m flagging, there’s always the rejuvenation of book shopping. And best of all, Bookworks has wonderful spiced iced tea and luscious baked goods. Want to know how wonderful and inspiring the coffee shop is for me? I wrote Behr Facts there and still consider it one of my best books.
Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
A: Depends on the book. This novel took me five months from writing and editing to submission. The Foothills Pride novellas took me three or four months each to write and edit. And the short stories take me a couple of months to write and edit. Some took longer because of the amount of research I did on the books.
Q: What kinds of research do you do?
A: All kinds. The Internet is such an interesting place! Here are a couple of examples of things I’ve come across that fascinated me and made their way into my books. I now know more than I ever want to know about blacksmithing which I used in the holiday story, Making the Holidays Happy Again. Most of the time, however, my research precedes the plot and characters. In that case, I’m “writing” a book as I’m reading about something that interests me and then the characters and plots come to me afterward. Case in point was Vic’s search for his Native American ancestors in Relative Best. I’d been reading about how Christian groups took Native children away from their parents and raised them as white children. Around the turn of this century, their descendants were making an effort to find their ancestors and reconnect with their roots, which is what Vic is trying to do in Stone Acres, California, where Zeke has an achive of historic photos.
Q: What are you working on next?
A: Currently, I’m writing another Heart/Home novel about a former cop who was wounded in a robbery gone wrong and who is now recuperating in Spindrift, California, a small town on coastal Route 1 near Mendocino. He’s prone to sudden brain glitches that incapacitate him. Worried about him, his parents persuade him into sharing his house with an artist who’s fresh out of a horrible relationship. As well as writing that book, I’m planning the next Foothills Pride books and a holiday short story. In other words, I’m still writing and loving it.
About the author:
Pat Henshaw has spent her life surrounded by words: teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.
Pat was born and raised in Nebraska and since then has lived at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and now Sacramento, California. Over the years, Pat has traveled to Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Stowe, Vermont, where she now has family.
Find out more on her website.
Pat is giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour.