I'm not going to post the blurb, because apparently what I sent subscribers isn't the final copy, and this time I'm waiting to make sure the right one goes out to the world.
Instead, I'll post a teaser from the book, so you guys can still get to know Jon, Isaac, and a fluffy gray kitten named Bear.
Once Isaac had finished his snack and washed his dishes, Jon asked, “Do you want to feed Bear a little more?”
He turned in the process of drying the plate. “You said three times a day.”
“Going forward. We don’t when she’s eaten last, so a few more times today can’t hurt. And the vet might tell you something different.”
Isaac fumbled the plate, catching it before it could fall. “The vet.” Jon had never actually seen someone go pale until that moment. “Right.”
“Hey, it’s okay.” Jon scooped Bear up as he stood. “If you want, I can find a vet and take her in for a checkup. I’m not going to force you to leave the house, Isaac, I promise.”
His skin didn’t pink up any, but Isaac looked less likely to vomit at any moment.
Way to go, asshole.
Jon stopped an arm’s reach away, Bear cuddled to his chest. “I’m sorry I keep saying things like that.”
Isaac shook his head side to side. “It’s not your fault I can’t act like a normal person. I can’t even take the trash down to the curb without having a panic attack. Sometimes I wish I was different, but since I’ve lived alone, this is all I know.”
Hope dangled on the end of that final statement, and Jon latched on to it. “I’m the first person to say fuck normal. There’s no such thing. All we have is reality, and sometimes reality really, really sucks. And sometimes it’s really, really scary. But we don’t have to accept limitations. It’s okay to push against them and try to be happy.”
“But pushing means getting hurt.”
“Sometimes it does. Human beings are amazingly resilient creatures, especially when we’re fighting for something we want.”
Isaac’s eyes glittered, damp with tears. “What do you fight for, Jon?”
Jon’s heart beat harder. Something thick settled in his throat, and he had to swallow hard several times to dislodge it.
He excelled at donning the persona of Boomer Black and dazzling his fans, whether on film or social media. He even found that persona bleeding into his private life, giving him the courage to say and do certain things. Like picking on Gabe for having what Jon had stopped dreaming of—a loving relationship with a genuinely kind, gentle man who’d rather die than hurt him. Jon had enough issues to sink a battleship, and he had a feeling Isaac’s could sink a dozen more. But Jon also trusted that he could be honest with Isaac and not fear being made fun of for his words.
Even if they were kind of cheesy.
“I fight for the hope that today will be better than yesterday,” Jon said. “And I fight for the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.”
“I don’t know how to hope for those things.” Isaac sounded so small, so lost.
Jon mentally flailed, going for instinct and hoping he didn’t fuck it up. “It’s not as hard if you have someone to help you. Let me help you.”
Isaac’s dark gaze flickered down to Bear, then back up to meet Jon’s. The raw emotion in Isaac’s wet eyes made Jon’s insides somersault. Instinct said to hug him, hold him until it got better, but any movement like that could scare Isaac away. Jon didn’t ever want to scare him. He wanted, more than anything in his life, to see Isaac break away from the fear holding him prisoner inside of his own home. He wanted to see Isaac outside, smiling into the sunshine.
He wanted Isaac to be free.
“I’m so scared all the time,” Isaac said in a fractured voice so soft Jon almost missed it.
“You don’t have to be.”
“I want to believe you.”
“And that’s a good start. You have to want to try. When I was at my lowest point, I got better because I wanted to. I didn’t want the person who hurt me to win. Getting my life back meant he lost.”
Isaac rubbed the heels of his palms into his eyes. It left them damp and red, but somehow more clear. He reached for Bear, and Jon handed her over. Their fingers brushed together for an instant, and the connection slammed into Jon’s balls. Isaac glanced up, openly startled. He cradled Bear in his hands. She nosed his thumb, then licked it.
“I don’t want my father to win,” Isaac said.
Jon’s heart kicked. “He doesn’t have to. You don’t have to let him win.”
Determination burned in Isaac’s gaze. He stood straighter, shoulders back, jaw set. The change made him look years older, in charge. Nobody’s victim. “I’m still terrified.”
“That’s okay. We can work on that. Baby steps, all right? No rush.”
“All right.” He wilted a bit. “But no more today. I can’t handle anything else.”
Jon smiled. “It’s cool. Like I said, baby steps. I think Bear is enough adventure for anyone.” His shredded hands agreed with him. “I’ll find her a vet, and I’ll message you when I’ll stop by and get her for her appointment.”
“Thank you, Jon.”
“It’s what friends are for.”
Isaac tilted his head to one side. “I haven’t had a friend in a long time.”
“You have one now.”