Welcome to our first week of celebrations for the amazing
In our first post, we'll look at Love Me Whole and Rocky Mountain Refuge, plus a list of Nicky's favorite things. There's also a chance to win one of her books.
First up, Love Me Whole
Twenty-eight-year-old Oryn Patterson isn’t like other people. Being an extremely shy, social introvert is only part of the problem. Oryn has dissociative identity disorder. He may look like a normal man on the outside, but spend five minutes with him, and his daily struggles begin to show.
Oryn shares his life and headspace with five distinctively different alters. Reed, a protective, very straight jock. Cohen, a flamboyantly gay nineteen-year-old who is a social butterfly. Cove, a self-destructive terror, whose past haunts him. Theo, an asexual man of little emotion, whose focus is on maintaining order. And Rain, a five-year-old child whose only concern is Batman.
Vaughn Sinclair is stuck in a rut. When his job doesn’t offer the same thrill it once did, he decides it’s time to mix-up his stagnant, boring routine. Little does he know, the man he meets during an impromptu decision to return to college is anything but ordinary.
Vaughn’s heart defies logic, and he finds himself falling in love with this strange new man. But how can you love someone who isn’t always themself? It may not be easy, but Vaughn is determined to try.
We got out of the car and he unlocked the front door for us to head inside. Somewhat familiar with his den, I followed him and made myself comfortable on the couch. Oryn deposited his bag on a chair by a desk in the corner and came partway to the couch, reconsidered, pivoted, and retreated to a secluded arched doorway that opened to another hallway.
He ran a hand over the back of his head and motioned to the TV. “I have an android b-box, so we can watch pretty much anything. I…” He blinked heavily a few times, rubbed his eyes, then stared into a distant nothing, not finishing his sentence.
“Are you okay?”
He didn’t react to my question. A slow-moving hand came up and he pressed fingers into his temple before washing a hand down his face. He seemed disconnected, and I frowned as I watched him.
He rattled his head and roughly palmed his eyes, rubbing them intently as he licked his lips. Then, as though having cleared whatever confusion had taken hold, he raised his head again and met my worried gaze.
“Are you al—”
Something was different.
The moment he spied me, he smirked, and his eyes shone with a curiosity and energy unknown to Oryn. His stance changed. Everything changed.
Oryn ordinarily carried a nervous, almost awkwardness in the way he stood and walked. That was gone. His hip jutted out and a hand came to rest there as he fixed his hair and scanned me with an alluring smile I’d never seen.
The moment it happened, my heart jumped because I knew what I was witnessing but didn’t know what to do. This can’t be real. Instantly awkward, everything I’d recently read and learned disappeared from my mind.
“Hey, you.” He strutted forward and sat on the edge of the couch, swinging one leg over the other, crossing them and balancing elbows on top where he held up his head on steepled hands. He quirked a brow, his smile shining out his eyes.
“Hi,” I croaked. What did I do? Did I introduce myself? Did he know me? Panic gripped my insides, and all I wanted to do was race out the door. “I’m… Vaughn.”
“I know. Damn, you’re cute.”
I flinched. His voice was different. Higher, and with a slight speech impediment he didn’t have before. His r’s weren’t pronounced and came out almost like w’s. He sounded… younger.
“What’s your name?”
It felt like the most ridiculous question, but the man in front of me wasn’t Oryn. With all I’d researched lost, I remembered Oryn telling me to treat his alters as the separate people they were. And I knew they didn’t share a name.
He sat straighter and offered me a hand to shake. He didn’t present it sideways like a man might shake, but palm down and with a slight downward turn to his wrist. “I’m Cohen.”
Cohen. I searched my mind, trying to recall if Oryn had said much about Cohen. Why hadn’t I paid more attention?
I took his hand and shook. His grip was light and dainty. With the contact, his smile grew, and he wet his lips playfully.
“It’s nice to meet you.” If I had to guess, Cohen was definitely gay.
I didn’t know where to go from there. Oryn and I had planned a movie night and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to continue with that plan—or if Cohen even knew of those plans. Hell, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with our plans. I was on the verge of bolting. Subconsciously cracking my knuckles, I glanced over my shoulder toward where I knew was the front door, out of sight down the hall. Considering my options, it felt like a dick move to abandon ship when I’d distinctly told him only days before that I wasn’t an asshole. Our movie night was my idea.
So, what did I do? Did I wait for a cue from Cohen? It was like sitting in a room with a stranger. The contrast of Cohen and Oryn was so extreme my brain wasn’t catching up. They were polar opposites.
“So,” Cohen slapped his knee and jumped up, “Are we going out? I really want to dance. Let me shower and change and we can get out of here.”
He skipped down the hall and disappeared from sight before I could respond. I stared at the place he once occupied, fumbling to catch up. Going out? Oryn didn’t want to go out. He was a homebody, too shy to consider being so exposed in public situations.
But that wasn’t Oryn. That man was nothing like Oryn. I guess I had my answer. No more movie night.
Grateful for the added time to adjust to such a drastic change of events, I worked to center myself so I could recall some of what I’d been so adamant to learn earlier in the week. Knowing something and witnessing it first hand were entirely different, and for whatever reason, I was nervous. Extremely nervous. The last thing I wanted was to do something wrong. Multitudes of unanswered questions returned and stirred my thoughts until I jumped up and paced the small room.
There was no reason I couldn’t get to know his alters—since they were apparently as real as dirt. When Oryn had told me about his condition, and I’d learned for myself what it meant, I knew, unlike most people, I could look past his differences and be a friend. But I guess my mind hadn’t been entirely convinced of its reality.
And I’m not a dick. I can do this.
So, it looked as though I was going out that night. With Cohen.
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Second in today's line-up, Rocky Mountain Refuge
Run! Hide! We are watching you, Huxley!
Huxley Dempsy suffers from a paranoid personality disorder. After a horrific tragedy five years ago, Huxley is convinced people are out to get him. Taking refuge in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, he is a prisoner to his own mind. If he can think it up, it must be true, and there is no convincing him otherwise.
Wildlife biologist, Aspen Taylor, is on his way north again to close up the final year of the Grizzly Bear Research Project. Studying wildlife in their natural habitat is what sings to his soul. However, who he finds in the mountains is almost as beastly as the bears he studies.
An underlying sense of familiarity draws Aspen to learn more about this Wildman, and a strong sense of attraction binds them together almost instantly. But can Aspen break through the barriers of Huxley’s mind and convince him to go home?
I was about to go investigate when a muffled cough caught my attention.
I jerked in its direction in time to see a man emerge from behind trees farther down. He was a fair distance away and was walking the edge of the stream, deeply focused on the water. He coughed again, holding his plaid, fleece coat to his mouth as he hacked.
Instinct told me to get out of sight, so I hunched down to the ground and shimmied behind a large rock as I watched him. The jacket, bearded face, and knitted tuque all kicked my head into gear, and I flinched at the recognition.
It was the man from the store.
His coughing fit ended, and he glanced about with wild eyes. Before he could look in my direction, I flattened my body behind the rock and remained out of sight.
Was he the person who’d been occupying the cabin? It had to be him. The beaten down path led me directly to this spot.
After a moment, I chanced a peek. The man’s focus was retrained on the water. Over his shoulder hung a rope with a pail attached to the end that rested against his side as he walked. He twined something rhythmically around his fingers, but I couldn’t make out what it was.
Eventually, he stopped and stared intently at the rushing current. He stepped onto a jutted-out rock and squatted as he unraveled the string. He fiddled with the end a moment and lowered it into the water.
He was fishing. Without a rod. I guessed the thread he was manipulating was likely fishing line.
He remained squatted for a long time, his focus intensely trained on his job. His long hair spilled out from under his tuque and partly covered his face. Once, he reached up and scratched fingers through his thick beard as he peered around.
I was so lost in observation, I forgot to move out of sight. The instant his eyes found mine, his fishing was forgotten.
He jumped to standing and flicked his gaze around before it landed back on me. There was no sense in walking away, I’d been found out and figured I might as well introduce myself.
I walked forward, closing our distance, and smiled. It was not returned, and the wildness behind his eyes became almost frantic as he scanned the forest behind me again.
“Hello,” I called. “I’m sorry to startle you. My name is Aspen Taylor, and I’m running the Grizzly Bear Research Project in the area.”
I slowed my pace when the frenzied look in his eyes didn’t settle. He glanced to the rock where he was perched and darted his gaze to the shore and in every direction as though looking for an escape. When he didn’t find one, apprehension turned to hostility, and his face darkened.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sneak up on you,” I added when he didn’t respond.
Again, he scanned the forest, his distrust flooding him so full it leaked into me.
I shuffled and reflexively scanned as well. Years of working with grizzlies made me instinctively alert, but I got the sense that wasn’t why he was intently focused on the surrounding forest.
“I’m alone,” I said, holding my hands open and to my sides. “We saw your cabin the other day, and I wanted to introduce myself and let you know what we were doing in the area so you wouldn’t be startled by our presence.” Like you are now.
His analysis turned to my person, and his gaze trailed my body, taking mental notes before returning to my face.
“Is that code?” His voice was deep and scratchy. It came out a little rough, and I wondered if he had a cold.
“I know who you are. I know what you want. You think I’m stupid, but I’m not.”
He lowered his head to his coat and coughed again. It was wet, thick with phlegm, and it made me cringe. He didn’t sound good, and the cryptic statements made me question his sanity as I waited for the newest fit to pass.
“You don’t sound too well,” I noted when he raised his head again.
He tentatively stepped from the rock back onto land, never taking his eyes from me, his query keeping his brow furrowed. With care, he lowered his bucket on a rope to the ground. The awkwardness of the exchange and curt responses had me grasping for what to say.
“Okay, so, again, I didn’t mean to barge in here or anything. I just wanted you aware we are in the area and will be for a while.” And why are you living in a cabin that doesn’t belong to you?
“You have a team?”
“Yes, there are six of us.”
Weariness grew behind his eyes. I could barely make out their color with our distance, but they seemed dark, maybe brown. There was a vulnerability in his features that was hidden behind the beard, but I saw it.
Under his open fleece jacket was a dark-colored, heavy shirt that fit snug to his body, and I couldn’t help noting the solidity of the man underneath. Like I’d initially observed back in town, he was attractive, in a rugged, outdoorsy kind of way. Which, I’d always admired and been drawn to.
“So, what now?” he said, drawing me from my observations.I suddenly had a hundred more questions. Who are you? Why are you out here? What’s your name? And a stupid spark that came directly from a long time of being without a partner wanted to ask, Are you gay?
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Nicky's favorite things:
Coffee is my drug. I can’t function without it. It’s the driving force that pulls me out of bed every morning. There is always a mug sitting beside me as I write. Milk. No sugar. Hot. I hate my coffee lukewarm so I tend to drink it fast so it doesn’t get a chance to get that way.
I love food, and there are very few things I won’t eat. I’m also experimental and will try anything. My favorite foods are Pho and any kind of sushi. They are treats in my life because my small town doesn’t offer them and I have to drive over an hour if I want to have them.
I’m not a huge movie or TV person, so it’s rare to catch me watching anything. You’re more apt to find me with a book. However, there was a time in my life when I did engage in some programs. My favorites were Friends and Criminal Minds. As for movies, I’d have to go with Labyrinth or Goonies.
I love being alone and being outdoors. Camping is one of my favorite pastimes. I’d rather hit a campground and sleep in a tent than travel the world. Nature understands me, people are hit or miss. Lol.
About the author:
Nicky James lives in the small town of Petrolia, Ontario, Canada and is a mother to a wonderful teenage boy and wife to a truly supportive and understanding husband, who thankfully doesn't think she is crazy. Nicky has always had two profound dreams in life; to fall back hundreds of years in time and live in a simpler world, not bogged down by technology and to write novels. Since one of those dreams is impossible, she decided to make the other come alive on paper. Nicky writes mm romance novels of many varieties. She is a strong advocate for mental health and likes to advocate and spread awareness through her books.
Thanks for celebrating this fabulous author with us. Come back next week for more of Nicky's books, five little-known facts about her, and another chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!