Once again, a big thank you to the fine folk of Divine Magazine for giving me the opportunity to introduce my latest book to the world.
I began this journey of a published author with my first book Heartache and Hope and Divine’s platform to unveil my boys—Kevin, Rafael and Robbie. Today, less than a year later, Pride Publishing is releasing Hound and Harmony to complete the Beyond Heartache Trilogy.
In Heart and Home, Kevin’s and Rafael’s dreams were realized with their long-time-coming happily ever after. But, theirs was a future that didn’t include Robbie. We last saw him leaving the bright city lights of Vegas to come to terms with his mysterious past.
In Hound and Harmony, Retired Master Sergeant Cassidy O’Connor is asked by a mutual friend to follow Robbie and keep him safe. Reluctantly Cassidy agrees to his friend’s strange request. From the glitter of Las Vegas, the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco, the splendor of the Canadian Rockies, and to the solitude of the New Mexico mountains, Cassidy and Robin follow the stirrings of their hearts.
In this excerpt, Cassidy has trailed Robin to San Francisco and has agreed to spend a couple of days with him to see the sights.
He struggles with the stirrings of his heart.
The welcoming lights of Las Vegas dim when Kevin Monroe and his drag persona Layona Beach leave Robbie Rhythm. Deciding it’s time to face his past, Robin McMaster emerges from Robbie’s shadow, and sets his sights on Canada to reconcile with the mother who abandoned him. But first he travels to San Francisco, intending to mend his broken heart amid red-headed sluts and willing men.
A year after his partner of twenty years left him, retired Master Sergeant Cassidy O’Connor lives alone on his mountain. With his PTSD under control, he is content with his solitude. When a mutual acquaintance requests a favor, Cassidy agrees to covertly trail Robin. With instructions to keep Robin safe, Cassidy is unprepared for his attraction to the engaging young man. But Cassidy has a secret. So, he struggles with the stirrings of his heart for the young musician, over his loyalty to his former partner.
Will Robin allow himself to give his heart to the man called Hound? Can a gruff Master Sergeant find love with a fiery redhead whose past goes beyond heartache? Will the mysteries of their pasts permit a life of harmony?
We reach Market Street and board our cable car for the Castro. Once we locate a seat on the crowded trolley, Red answers my question. I pay close attention, and I listen just to hear the honeyed sound of his voice, now that the seductive tone is back. It helps me to maintain my calm in this cackling crowd of jarring humanity.
“It’s important that we honor our history, Cassidy, and all those who came before us, who fought and sacrificed for the rights we have today.” Red continues our conversation, unmindful of the people crowding us.
“What do you mean ‘our history’? The only sacrifices I know about are those made on the battlefield—in blood. Those sacrifices give you your so-called rights. Those are the sacrifices I honor.”
“Our history. Gay men. Don’t think we haven’t made our share of blood sacrifices, too. And you’re right, absolutely. The others should be honored. But, I’m talking about gay rights. Surely you understand that Harvey Milk’s murder, Matthew Sheppard’s murder, and even Ryan White’s death from AIDS, has brought us to where we are today.”
I don’t understand what he’s talking about, but I admire his passion, and the way he vibrates with its intensity. I wonder if he’s this impassioned in bed. Stop it, Hound!
“I don’t know who those folks are, nor what you mean when you say bringing us to where we are now.” I knew I sounded belligerent, and I couldn’t pinpoint what had set me on edge. One minute, I’m admiring Red’s lips wondering how they’d feel wrapped around my dick, and the next I’m spitting mad.
“Hey, we’re here.” Red’s enthusiasm at his first sight of the Castro district is enough to settle my unexplained and unwarranted anger. He hops from the cable car, holding fast to his guitar case. I toss the duffle bags onto the sidewalk and step off the trolley.
Shouldering the bags, I glance up and down the street. “Where to, Red?” His sheepish expression has me barking, “What’s that look for? Did I do something?”
“Nope. I have reservations there.” He points to a row of houses, all attached to one another. Bright pink flowers decorate the window boxes of the narrow building Red indicates. The colorful blooms seem out of place on the busy thoroughfare. I take a second gander and notice the lacy curtains hanging in the windows. Lace, for God’s sake. The sign above the door, Castro Bed and Breakfast, is hand wrought. The place screams expensive, and likely costs more than a retired Master Sergeant’s pension can justify.
“I don’t know, Red. Strikes me as kind of classy, and out of my price range.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ve got it covered. That is, if you don’t mind sharing a bed.” More of the ‘get in trouble’ behavior Logan cautioned me about?
I wonder what it is about me that says I’d be okay sleeping in the same bed with him. I hadn’t mentioned that I’m gay. In fact, that’s what pissed me off earlier. Red assuming I’d know all his gay icons, and that I’d be fine sharing his bed. It’s true, I wouldn’t mind Red sleeping next to me, but that’s beside the point. I’m a big bull of a man, wearing Wranglers, an old T-shirt, combat boots and a D-back ball cap. There’s nothing about me that shouts, ‘gay man here’. Besides the fact I like sucking dick, I’m ‘straight’ as an arrow.
“The room I booked has a king-sized bed, and you can see I’m not exactly king-sized. You won’t even know that I’m there. Please, Cassidy. I don’t want to be alone.”
His begging and pretty eyes has my heart and stomach doing double-time calisthenics. I have my doubts about this, but if I get a room somewhere within my budget, I may lose him. Besides, I don’t know where in Canada he’s going, and I can’t afford to lose him. I mean I can’t lose his tail…trail. I mean trail. Besides, I understand loneliness more than most. So, reluctantly, I agree.
About the Author
C.L. Etta, born to a bartender and his wife, became the apple of her parents’ eyes at her first ear-splitting cry. Developing a lifelong passion for reading, C.L. spent summers riding her bicycle to the library, where she filled the handlebar basket with books, before riding home. Much to her mother’s chagrin, she often found C.L under the bedcovers, with a flashlight, reading in the middle of the night.
Fast forward to college, where C.L. spent good times burning bras, working summer-stock theater, trying out potential husbands, then starting a family. Having raised three kids and a husband, and with careers as a credit union loan veep, a software support representative, a mortgage broker, and a nurse under her belt, C.L. decided it was time for a break. So, she retired.
It wasn’t until life, had slowed, that she heard voices. Alarmed, she listened, and discovered new friends, who clamored for their stories to be told. So, it was back to school, where she stood outside the classroom with students who took her silver hair meant she was the teacher. After completing the creative writing class, she sat at her computer and told her boys’ stories. Eighteen months later, C.L. has contracted with two different publishers for four books. The voices in C.L.’s head are still talking, and giving C.L the impetus to keep writing.