Welcome to our 2nd week of celebrations for the amazing
In this week's post, we're featuring Disasterology 101 and Heatstroke, plus 20 factoids about Taylor. There's also a chance to win one of her books.
First up, Disasterology 101
Kevin Morrison had it all. A house he worked hard for, a loving wife, and three beautiful children. But it wasn't until his marriage ended that he realized what the void he'd felt almost all his life meant. Coming out as a gay man at thirty-six is not an easy feat, but he is determined to be true to his heart. Meeting a man who shares his values, and is good with his children would be a bonus, but when the guy arrives in a uniquely wrapped package, and has very specific handling instructions, Kevin needs to decide if he's up for that kind of love.
Obsessed with order and symmetry, and a paralyzing fear of germs, Cedric Haughton-Disley has lived with isolation and loneliness as long as he can remember. Desperate to be normal, he makes some much-needed changes in his life. If he can commit to his treatment, he might very well be able to procure some quality of life... even if that's all he can get, as finding love and having a relationship are only possible in Cedric's wildest dreams. But when a chance encounter leaves Cedric wishing for more, he decides to take a leap of faith, and pursue the guy he wants.
Together the two men make an unlikely match. Cedric needs organization, and Kevin represents chaos. In order to stay together they both need to compromise, but will they be able to deal with Cedric's issues and the potential disaster, or let it break them apart?
Cedric cracked his eyes open and blinked until there was no fuzziness. He stretched his arms and legs simultaneously for thirty seconds, then turned his head and glanced at the clock on his bedside table.
Alarm skittered through him. His heart pounded into his throat, and his stomach cramped. He’d slept for over seven hours, and he had no idea if Kevin had stayed or if he was gone.
He turned on the lamp, glanced around the bedroom to make sure everything was in order, then threw his legs over the side of the bed and staggered into the connecting bathroom.
He took off his shorts and sleeping shirt, put his hair up in a bun, grabbed his toothbrush and stepped into the shower. He hit the tile wall and cursed viciously after he dropped the soap for the fourth time.
“Get it together, you bloody twat.”
If only it were that simple.
Anxiety attacks were never easy, but the one he suffered while at the museum with his therapy group had been particularly violent. Cedric couldn’t pinpoint what provoked it, but out of nowhere his body had gone numb, he’d gotten dizzy, and started having hot and cold flashes. Almost eight hours later he was still jittery, his chest hurt, and he had a headache. Sleep should have helped, but he felt like death warmed over.
He needed to relax, drink lots of water, and rest his body. But he knew he wouldn’t be able to do any of that until he’d found out what had happened with Kevin. He had to make sure his disappearing act wouldn’t affect their involvement.
Cedric took several deep breaths and got out of the shower. The possibility of having Kevin walk out on him made him queasy. Realizing he’d be devastated if he lost Kevin almost gave Cedric another anxiety attack.
He was getting attached.
Forgetting a man with his condition was better off alone.
He threw the towel in the hamper and walked back into his bedroom.
He’d let his deepest desires come to the surface and met Kevin, and now Cedric wanted to keep him forever. As if forever had ever been in his vocabulary. As if he wasn’t the poster boy for high maintenance. As if he was in a position to satisfy Kevin’s needs… or to stand by his side and be a good stepfather to his kids.
Cedric sneered at his reflection while he put on running pants and a t-shirt. He’d gone barmy. It was the only explanation for his irresponsible behavior.
Once he was dressed, he went to the kitchen to get a bottle of water. He put the apple he found on the counter back in the refrigerator, and after making sure the rest of the house was in order and the front door locked, he went upstairs to check on what he thought of as Kevin’s bedroom. It was empty, but his boots were next to the bed, and his sweater thrown over a chair. Too weak—and happy—to get mad about his laziness, Cedric put the items in their rightful place, and headed toward the media room.
An episode of Doctor Who was playing on the telly, which meant Kevin had only fallen asleep at some point in the past forty minutes.
Cedric let his eyes slide over him.
Navy blue and white plaid pajama bottoms, but no t-shirt. He was pretty sure Kevin wasn’t wearing underwear either. One of his legs was stretched out, the other bent at the knee and resting against the back of the couch. One arm was draped across his stomach, and the other folded behind his head, showing off thick, silky tufts of armpit hair. His mouth was slightly open, and he was snoring softly.
He looked strong and inviting; every detail of him blunt and masculine, and mouth-watering.
Cedric backed out of the media room and rushed to his bedroom.
He’d been convinced his condition would always make it impossible for him to sleep with anyone, and cuddling was unfathomable. But that was before Kevin showed him how different things could be if he’d only trust him to know what Cedric needed.
The man sleeping in the media room had ripped a veil from the world as Cedric knew it. Thanks to him, everything was better and brighter, and Cedric had never felt so intensely alive.
But tonight he felt unglued. After spending several nights with Kevin without having any major incidents, he perceived the anxiety attack as a setback. It scared him to death, and he craved Kevin’s protection.
He put on a thick pair of socks, a long sleeve t-shirt and a hoodie. The hair he secured under a beanie, and finally added a scarf for good measure. Once he made absolutely sure his skin was completely covered, he put on his gloves and grabbed a comforter from the linen closet.
Kevin hadn’t moved an inch by the time Cedric got back to the media room, but his eyes snapped open the second Cedric stood next to him.
“Hey.” Kevin rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand and squinted. “You okay?”
He didn’t look upset. He didn’t demand an explanation for being left alone. There were no traces of recrimination on his handsome face.
Not babe, or oddball, but honey.
Cedric shivered, and pressed the comforter to his chest.
After a big yawn and a swift scratch of his bollocks, Kevin hoisted himself up on his elbows and smiled in his direction. “What time is it?”
Don’t know, don’t care.
Time and place were irrelevant.
Kevin was there. Oh, God, was he ever.
Giving and affectionate. Mature and reliable. A sensual delight. Attractive in every way possible.
Kevin Morrison was larger than life, and the mere sight of him made Cedric’s lungs constrict, and his heart skip a beat.
“Come here.” Kevin held out his hand to him, and Cedric seized it immediately. “Lie down with me.” He turned on his side, and Cedric aligned his body in front of Kevin’s. Thankfully the couch was big enough for both of them. “Okay if I put my arms around you?” When he nodded, Kevin hugged and pulled him closer. Then he covered them both with the comforter. “You feel any better?”
“Still a little shaky,” Cedric croaked. “Have a headache.” But he was in heaven. “I like this.”
“You mean spooning?”
“Uh-huh.” He covered Kevin’s hand with his own, then sighed deeply when Kevin lifted his other hand and started massaging his scalp through the beanie.
“No cornrows tonight?”
“Took them out when I got home,” he mumbled. “They’re too tight, and make my headache worse.”
Kevin kissed the back of Cedric’s head, and increased the pressure of his fingers.
“Anxiety attack.” His words prompted Kevin to hug him tighter and throw a leg over his hips. Was he trying to shield him? To make Cedric feel protected? Tears stung his eyes, but he smiled happily. “Thanks for waiting, pet.”
“It wasn’t a favor.” Kevin kissed him again, and intertwined their fingers. “I told you I’d wait, didn’t I? I’ll be here, no matter what.”
Cedric knew this now. If actions really spoke louder than words, then Kevin was screaming to the world he cared about him. But Cedric wasn’t up to getting into it. “Let’s sleep now,” he said, Doctor Who and the TARDIS becoming blurrier by the second.
“Sleep? Like—I mean…” Cedric heard Kevin’s gulp loud and clear. “Together?”
Kevin cleared his throat. “Wow… That’s…”
“Unexpected?” he asked, amusement making his tone lighter.
Kevin’s chuckle sounded heartfelt as he nuzzled Cedric’s neck. “Wanna go to bed?” Kevin asked him tenderly.
“No.” Cedric kissed the back of Kevin’s callused hand, and snuggled closer to him. “Here’s perfect.”
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Secondly today, Heatstroke
At twenty-one years old, Richard Lewis Bancroft was on the fast track to fame and fortune. An award-winning start on the Broadway stage led him to the silver screens of Hollywood, where his star began to rise, and his heart fell hard for professional baseball sensation, Manuel Guzman. But there was no script for living out loud with the man of his dreams in the world of 1964.
Then Richard disappeared without a trace.
Forty years later, Michael Spencer discovered a journal in his grandmother's attic that would change his life forever, and quite possibly, solve the mysterious disappearance of Richard Lewis Bancroft.
The first time Michael suspected there could be some skeletons in his grandma’s closet, he was only fifteen years old and away at a very exclusive boarding school in New Jersey. Academic elitists that they were, his parents decided they’d jumpstart his extremely well planned Ivy League education the moment he turned twelve by sending him to a school literally down the road from Princeton University. It was also about three thousand miles away from their home in Silicon Valley, California. Michael knew he’d been sent to that particular school because it had a rigorous academic reputation and the best science program in the country. Luckily for him it also had supportive teachers, an inclusive policy, and a rich arts program. He had loved it.
It was during his third year at Worthington Academy that he got involved in the drama club. He loved the stage, the lights, and the costumes, but more than the acting, it was all the aspects of the production that really fascinated him. Helping things move along backstage made him happy, and he wished for nothing else.
He got it anyway.
During his fourth year at Worthington, he landed one of the male lead roles in the school’s revival of Café Au Lait, a very popular Broadway musical. The director of their drama club swore Michael was a dead ringer for Richard Bancroft, the young actor that had made the character of Bernard Collins famous in the early 1960s. He demanded that Michael take on the role; no buts, no excuses.
Truth was Michael hadn’t made a big deal out of looking like some famous dude from years ago, but his flippant attitude changed a few months later when he traveled home during the school’s holiday break.
For reasons he couldn’t remember, Grandma Elizabeth happened to be staying with his parents at the time, and she lost her shit when Michael mentioned his theater director thought he looked just like this Richard guy. She had screamed that Michael didn’t look anything like that perverted actor and demanded from his father that he put a stop to that theater nonsense. She also said his father shouldn’t allow him to have anything to do with acting, because that world was one of pure evil and sin. She had then looked at Michael and forbidden him from ever speaking that man’s name again, just like she’d forbidden him from going into the attic all those years ago.
Michael’s curiosity had been so piqued by his grandma’s extreme reaction that he had started looking online for information on Richard Bancroft the moment he got back to school. There had to be a reason why his grandma had looked like she’d seen a ghost the moment he mentioned the actor’s name.
He wiped his nose and looked around again. “There’s shit all over the place!” he complained to Charlie. “There’s no way I’ll be able to look through everything.”
“Dude, you gotta stop whining and concentrate, okay? This is a very important thing we’re doing here.”
“What do you mean, we?” Michael kicked one of the boxes and winced when the old carton didn’t give in. “I don’t see you eating dust and sweating your balls off.”
“But you know I’m there in spirit.”
Michael crouched next to the box that didn’t give in, opened it and gasped when he discovered a small trunk under a musty blanket that was filled with pictures and old documents.
“This is what I’m talking about.” He peeked inside, and there was no containing his excitement at the sight of a face that could have been his own looking at him from almost every picture. “Finally!”
“What is it?” Charlie demanded. “What did you find?”
Michael couldn’t answer. He was speechless. Torn between feeling happy over what could only be classified as the most successful treasure hunt adventure of his life, or outraged over what his grandma had done.
Michael kept taking things out of the box. He found old notebooks, a few leather-bound journals, two Oscar statues, a Tony Award, and a bunch of old letters.
He heard his best friend calling, but he didn’t answer. Some of the letters were from a Helen Bancroft. Some others were from Richard Bancroft and the vast majority from a Helen Wallace, all of them addressed to Grandma Elizabeth.
“Dude, are you there?”
“Yeah… Yeah, I’m here…”
There were several letters from a Manuel Guzman addressed to Richard Bancroft. He also found an old baseball signed by the Guzman guy and some tickets to the 1966 World Series. There was nothing from Grandpa George Spencer. Not a damn thing.
“What’s going on? Why are you so quiet? Did you find anything?”
“Hold on a second, Charlie.”
Michael put the house phone down on the attic’s floor and inspected the letters. Many were addressed to Mary Elizabeth Bancroft and sent to some place in Malibu, California. The ones addressed to Richard Bancroft had been sent to the same place. Next he found a black and white picture of two guys making out on the beach. The leaner one was lying on the sand, his arms resting on his sides; his head on the bigger guy’s lap. That guy was leaning over the smaller one, upside-down. Their eyes were closed, but Michael could have sworn he could see the passion between them. Their lips weren’t quite touching, but the intention was obvious. They were about to kiss when the picture was taken.
“Son of a bitch…”
“What the hell’s going on?” Charlie asked so loud that Michael had no problem hearing him. “I’m dying here, asshole!”
Michael ignored the screaming coming from the phone and turned the picture around. “Florida Keys, Summer of ’64,” he whispered. “Jesus…”
“Mike! Get on the phone right now!”
This time Michael grabbed the phone.
“Yeah… I’m here…”
He could not stop staring at the picture.
“What the hell’s wrong with you? For a moment there I thought you’d gotten caught! Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” Charlie yelled. “Why did you leave me hanging like that? Did you find anything?”
Michael wasn’t surprised at his friend’s spiel. Charlie always talked a mile a minute when he was nervous or excited.
“Are you still in the attic? Get out, dude. Now,” he ordered. “You’ve been there for like an hour. They’re bound to be back any minute now.”
“I need you to look up a few addresses for me on the Internet. Service here sucks, and I can’t use my laptop.” Michael knew Charlie wouldn’t hesitate to do as asked. They had been best friends for years and had each others’ back. Not to mention, Charlie was the only person in the world with whom Michael had shared his suspicions, and he knew the guy would do whatever he could to help Michael discover the truth. “Find out who’s living in those houses as soon as you can, okay?”
“You found something. What is it?”
“Letters to a Mary Elizabeth Bancroft from Helen and Richard Bancroft,” Michael said, smiling at Charlie’s excitement. “I’m pretty sure Mary Elizabeth is my grandma. I have something from a Helen Wallace, too. Maybe Helen Bancroft got married. There are also some letters from a Manuel Guzman to Richard. A signed baseball by Guzman and a picture… like a porn picture… Well, not really porn but they’re naked… I think it’s them. One of the guys is definitely Richard, and I’m pretty sure the other guy is Guzman. He looks Latino.”
“You found a signed baseball by Manuel Guzman?” Charlie shrieked. “Gold Glove Award winner, three-time MVP, hall of famer, got his number retired because he’s so fucking good Manuel Guzman? That Manuel Guzman?”
Michael chuckled. “I guess?” Sports were so not his forte.
“Do you have any idea how much that ball would sell for?”
Leave it to Charlie to not bat an eye at the news that some ball player from the past who seemed to be famous had also been gay. Lord, he loved his friend so much.
“Millions, Mike. Millions! I can’t believe your gran—”
“Can we discuss this later?” Michael interrupted him. “Grab a pen and paper and write down this information.”
Michael disconnected the call the second he was done giving Charlie some instructions. A quick look through some of the documents told him he had all the proof he would ever need, so he didn’t waste time searching for anything else. Instead he put mostly everything back where he had found it, then grabbed a bag and filled it with tangible evidence of what he now knew were years of deceit on Grandma Elizabeth’s part.
By the time his family returned home, the bag was safely hidden in Michael’s room and he was lounging on the relatively private rooftop, making his way through page after page of what looked like the not so happy story of a man whose disappearance was one of Hollywood’s biggest mysteries of all time.
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- Puerto Rican food is my favorite. Give me rice, beans, chuletas and tostones any day. Then give me all the pasta in the world.
- I am not a drinker and I have never been drunk in my life.
- Caffeine doesn’t wake me up or give me additional energy. I can have five espressos and go to sleep right after finishing them.
- I have a thing for stationary. The notebooks and pens aisle in any store can be my happy place.
- Writing is my hobby.
- I work around eleven hours a day, which means I only get to write on the weekends and really late at night.
- I don’t have a favorite genre when it comes to music—I have favorite songs, and they run the gamut from classical to Eminem.
- All my research books need to be paperbacks.
- My favorite movie of all time is ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’
- I don’t like chocolate nor wine.
- As a lover of history, I tend to visit old cities and places the few times I actually get to go on real vacations.
- I am not into fine jewelry but I collect watches.
- I can’t swim.
- I’ve always wanted a tattoo but my mom hates them so…
- I can never not spend over a hundred dollars at Target. Every darn time.
- I don’t wear makeup.
- When I’m really tired I start speaking Spanish without realizing it.
- I’m a tough cookie.
- I yearn for time travel gay romance stories. Someone write them for me, please.
- My favorite place to go is Puerto Rico—my home.
More about Taylor V. Donovan:
Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of gay romance and suspense. She is optimistically cynical about humanity and a lover of history, museums, and all things 80s. She shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television, is crazy about fashion, and passionate about civil rights and equality for all.
For more information please visit her website.
Thanks for celebrating this fabulous author with us. Come back next week for more of Taylor's books and another chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!