First off, a shout out to Anders for the opportunity to introduce myself and Heartache and Hope to Divine Magazine’s readership. My foray into the world of writing is exciting so far, with Anders playing a big part as the vehicle for my very first guest appearance. Thank you.
After too many decades working, I stepped away from the working world and into the world of rest and relaxation. Needing something to nurture my creative side, I took a look at my options. I’d already been through many of the crafts—macramé, ceramics, crochet, painting. This time, I needed something that would not cost a king’s ransom to get into, and if I wanted to move on to something else, I wouldn’t have a cache of unused supplies growing mold and taking up space.
Now, I’ve always been an avid reader. I drove my mother crazy, reading at night with a flashlight under my bed covers, when I should be asleep. Once I discovered romance novels, I became addicted. Three years ago, I discovered gay romance and fed my addition. I thought I could satisfy my creative muse by writing for my pleasure. So, I took a creative writing class at the community college and started on a story about two boys who lived next door to each other.
Three chapters into my story, I had trouble sleeping as the boys spoke to me. Now, I used to laugh whenever I read about other authors experiencing this phenomenon. Let me apologize to them, because I’m here to tell you it’s a real thing. My boys wouldn’t let me rest until I told their story. With the support of Pride Publishing, Heartache and Hope was born.
Kevin Monroe and Raphael Delgado are neighbors, and meet when Kevin’s eleven and Raphael’s in high school. Bullied as a child, Raphael wants to go through his life without being noticed. He’s happy with his books and his Mama for company. When Raphael’s sexuality is awakened, he’s afraid and determined to live life in the closet. Kevin’s known he’s gay ever since he watched a soap opera character profess his love to the heroine. In his mind, Kevin was that heroine. Abandoned by his mother and ignored by his dad, Kevin’s the boy who refuses to go through life unnoticed. With his aspirations of becoming a drag queen and his love for Raphael, Kevin fights for his dreams and to bring Raphael from the closet.
Life’s highway is never a straight road. It’s filled with curves, potholes and detours. Heartache and Hope follows the journey of Kevin and Raphael along their life’s highway. I hope that you join them on the ride.
Book one in the Beyond Heartache series
After heartache comes hope…
At eighteen, Kevin Monroe has learned that mothers don’t always love their sons, Dad’s fists can break your bones and a closet gets mighty crowded with two. After the boy next door breaks his trust and his heart, Kevin departs Albuquerque, New Mexico, determined to live his life out and proud as the man he is meant to be. With Diamondback tickets in his pocket, Kevin leaves his heartache behind to pursue his long-time hope of entertaining as a drag queen.
Fear has ruled Raphael Delgado since he first realized he was gay—fear of discovery, fear that he can’t support his disabled mama and fear that he has lost Kevin forever. Against a backdrop of familial love and obligation, Raphael struggles to find the courage to accept his sexuality, while hoping to leave the fragile confines of his closeted life.
While watching a Diamondback game on television, Raphael spots Kevin kissing a man in the crowd. His first reaction is fear for Kevin’s safety and his second, fear that Kevin will never come home.
Can love be restored long distance? Will love’s key be strong enough to unlock Raphael’s closet door? And who is the red-haired beauty wrapped in Kevin’s arms?
Reader Advisory: This Book contains some flashbacks to physical assault, and homophobic slurs.
The restlessness grows within me, even as we sit here wrapped in each other’s arms. Almost a man, I can see that my feelings for him have evolved. How can I make him recognize and accept the change? Once, I was happy to be the boy-next-door who was included in his family of two—a mother and son who loved and nurtured me as if I were the ‘little brother’. Yet, although his mother will always be my Mama D, I am no longer content to be called hermanito, his ‘little brother’. Call me querido, or call me your boyfriend. In turn, I will call you mine.
“Raphael?” I break the silence using his given name, rather than Raffle, the nickname I gave him when I was only eleven. Now I choose to abandon the name of our childhood and speak to him as a man, because I am a man desiring love’s first taste from the banquet I hold in my embrace.
“Yes, Kevin.” The languid purr of his voice sweeps through me, setting my libido on fire.
“Will you kiss me?”
“Not tonight, herm—”
I stop him with a touch of my fingers to his lips. Hermanito. Once, the word soothed me like balm applied to a burn. Now it does nothing but provoke me. His arms encircling me, keeping me safe, are not the arms of a big brother but rather the embrace of a cherished lover. As if reading my mind, he kisses my fingers and removes them from his lips. “Not tonight, Kevin. Let’s sit here quietly and appreciate one another. It is enough for now.”
It isn’t enough—I long for more than this make-believe relationship we have created. Yes, I say ‘we’ because I have been a willing participant through my acquiescence. I was fearful that if I were to push for more than this enforced celibacy, he would once again ask me to leave, and this time it would destroy me. So we go on, with each night blending into the next. Even as my body burns for more, he is content with the status quo. The more content he is, the more discontented I become.
Gone is the innocent child whose happiness was defined by Raphael’s contentment. Sometimes I long for those carefree days when he led without regard for what I wanted and I followed, satisfied to be in his shadow. If he was happy, I was happy. My life was centered on that mantra, which defined us. What happened to that boy? When did he change into this mass of unfulfilled wanting? There is a quiet anger kindling in my soul, its destructive tendrils seeking the impetus to burst into flame. But for tonight the fire is banked, albeit smoldering within the fragile walls of my heart.
Meet C. L. Etta
With a shriek heard from sea to shining sea when her first book, Heartache and Hope, was accepted for publication, C. L. Etta began her journey into the world of storytelling. Having raised a husband and three children, C. L. spends her free time reading and enjoying her life. After acquiring a wealth of experience in consumer and mortgage finance, software support, and nursing, C. L. is ready to nurture her creative muse.
A self-described romance novel junky who considers tequila a food group, C. L. began hearing voices and was alarmed until she realized there was a cast of characters banging around in her head, demanding their stories be told. Not wanting to let them down, she keeps her laptop nearby and her thesaurus handy.