Thanks so much Divine Magazine for having me on the blog to share an excerpt from my latest YA title, The Night Screams. Today is the book’s official release day, so if you like what you’re reading, I hope you’ll check it out. Enjoy the read!
Running naked through the woods, Cal flees the sadistic man who abducted and tortured him. When he stumbles upon a convenience store, he breaks in to steal food. A young store clerk, Jake, confronts him, and they get into a fight that ends with Cal being knocked unconscious. He wakes in the home of Jake’s Uncle Gary, the owner of the convenience store. Realizing Cal needs help, Gary tries to communicate with him, but despite Cal’s efforts, he can’t bring himself to speak. Instead, he writes down his experiences. Horrified by the perverse cruelty Cal endured, Gary takes him to the police, who track down his tormentor.
Abandoned by his parents before his abduction, Cal doesn’t have anywhere to go, so Gary and his wife eagerly welcome him into their home. He feels fortunate to be with such caring people—something he’s never had before. Despite their help, he still can’t find his voice, and he wonders if he ever will. And Jake certainly isn’t making things any easier. It’s clear he doesn’t want Cal to be part of their family. But the more Cal gets to know him, the more he realizes Jake might be the very person who can heal the deep wounds left by his horrifying past.
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The click of the door closing assured them that, once again, they were alone.
Cal eyed Jake uneasily. Was he still interested in doing anything with him? Or had the moment been spoiled?
“Well,” Jake said. “I guess we should head to bed.”
He rose and turned to Cal, extending a hand.
When Cal first heard the words, he wondered what Jake meant, but as he saw the look in his eyes, he understood Jake’s intent, and he was thrilled.
They closed the door to Cal’s room and went into Jake’s.
Cal felt uneasy, as if maybe he should rethink this. Yet as Jake turned to him from the door, those beautiful eyes gazing at him, all he could think was how he wanted Jake to have him in whatever way he wanted. Across a desk on the wall adjacent to the door, papers and worksheets lay scattered around empty cereal bowls and half-filled glasses of watered-down Pepsi. A few mounds of jeans, shirts, and shoes made a path to the bed on the opposite wall, placed against a window covered in thick wooden blinds.
Cal expected Jake to attack him as he had at the pond. He expected him to tear off his clothes and kiss him all over, but he approached slowly, scanning Cal up and down. Like he was sizing him up. It made Cal uneasy. What if he was noticing how ugly he was… how unworthy he was of being with someone like Jake? Fortunately his boyfriend’s gaze suggested otherwise.
He turned, guiding Cal with his hand so they swapped places. He backed Cal up against the door. As Jake’s face neared Cal’s, he didn’t move to kiss him, just assessed Cal’s expression, as he had done with his body. He rested his hand on the side of Cal’s face and rubbed his thumb against his cheek.
“If you feel uncomfortable at any point,” he whispered, “just say something, and we can stop. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t ever want to hurt you, Cal.”
A flash of heat rushed across Cal’s face. Jake’s words soothed him. It was as if they’d spoken to his soul to assure it he was safe in Jake’s arms. Jake pressed his lips against his, stirring a fire in Cal unlike anything he’d experienced with him up to that point. Cal’s thoughts scattered so he couldn’t concentrate on anything except that moment. It freed him from so much pain and bondage he’d previously felt.
Jake guided him to the bed and urged him to sit on the edge. Then he stepped back and removed his shirt. Cal appreciated the fine muscles being displayed for his enjoyment. Jake unfastened his belt and unzipped his jeans. He slid them down his legs, revealing his black-and-blue-striped boxers and tiny blond hairs that curled down his legs.
He kicked off his shoes, removed his pants, and threw them down beside him.
Jake stood tall, gazing at Cal as if to say “Here I am.” Jake gulped, tucked his thumbs in his boxers, and slid them off. He added them to his discarded jeans and shoes.
Cal instinctively looked away. The heat on his face wasn’t from arousal. He felt uncomfortable, as if he’d been embarrassed.
As he recovered from the shock of seeing Jake like that, he allowed his gaze to settle on the part that made him so uneasy. Then he looked into Jake’s eyes.
“This is me, Cal,” Jake whispered. “This is all of me.”
Cal knew he was wrong, because he’d seen so much of Jake, and it was so much more than this beautiful flesh.
“And I want to share it with you,” Jake continued.
Cal rose to his feet and threw his shirt back off. Following Jake’s lead, he removed his shoes and pulled his pants and boxers down together, adding them to the shoes. He stood erect, as Jake did, allowing him to scrutinize his body. His imperfections.
Cal now understood why Jake’s gesture had been such a big deal. In that moment, all he wanted was to cover up, to hide his stomach and his legs, to conceal the injuries and scars and wounds that represented the darkest part of his life. He wanted to shield his face. To stand there, exposed like that, was such a vulnerable position, and though it made him wildly uncomfortable, if there was anyone he wanted to see him like that, anyone he wanted to share his body with, it was Jake.
He relaxed. He didn’t have to make his arms hang at his sides. They just rested there, as they usually did on their own. And soon he found himself just gazing into Jake’s eyes.
Jake looked back fondly.
Completely at ease and prepared to share whatever he was about to with Jake, Cal stepped toward him, breaking their restrained positions. When he reached him, he touched his finger against Jake’s pec and trailed it down through the ridges in his abs.
His skin was so smooth.
Cal slid his finger down to Jake’s hip and moved it through the groove in his obliques.
Jake closed his eyes. Like he was enjoying Cal’s probing. He opened them again, moved forward, pressed his body flush against Cal’s, wrapped his arms around him, and held him tight.
Cal’s body surged with heat. Not just the heat of Jake’s body. Some heat that generated within him.
Jake kissed him, and Cal delighted in the touch of his lips, the taste of his saliva, the warm breath that rushed from Jake’s nostrils. Jake pushed him back onto the bed, still unmade, so that Cal’s back arched on the mound of sheets. Jake lay on top, kissing him, running his fingers up and down his body, as he’d done on the couch.
He kissed across Cal’s cheek until he came to his temple, where he offered another single peck.
Cal curled his fingers against Jake’s back. He felt so needy, because he wanted to hold Jake right there forever. To never let him leave. It pained him to know he couldn’t hold on so long—that at some point it would have to end.
And it did. Jake pulled away and abandoned him, leaving Cal reeling in confusion.
Jake knelt beside his dresser, opened the bottom drawer, fished through, and retrieved condoms and lube. It was nice he was prepared, but it reminded Cal that Jake was as experienced as his skills suggested. Something about that made him sad. Jealous. He thought of Keith and Jake together, just like they were now. It made him uneasy.
As Jake turned back around and approached him again, Cal remembered he didn’t have anything to fear, because the look in Jake’s eyes, those green irises that seemed to exist just to look at him, set him at ease. Jake crawled across the mattress. Cal eyed the condoms and lube. He was nervous. He wasn’t sure he was ready.
Jake set them beside them, an act that let Cal know they weren’t in any hurry. It didn’t feel as frightening. It was as if they had all the time in the world. It wasn’t like it had been with Jyre, where Jyre had made him feel like he needed to reciprocate. It felt like the most natural thing in the world. And it certainly wasn’t anything like the painful, forced experience he’d had with his captor.
Jake kissed softly across Cal’s chest, down his torso.
Intense sensations pooled through Cal, surges of energy rushing to every spot Jake touched, every spot he thought Jake was about to move to.
And as he felt Jake’s lips reach his dick, he threw his head back, allowing himself to disappear into the experience.
Review by Elaine White
Book – The Night Screams
Author – Devon McCormack
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 220
Cover – Very nice!
POV – 3rd person, one character POV
Would I read it again – Yes.
Genre – LGBT, Abuse, Kidnap, MM, Romance, Young Adult
This was one heck of a story. At first, it was so difficult to read because experiencing Cal’s fear, escape and memories was just so brutal, but brilliantly done that it actually felt real. I read this with my heart racing, my eyes locked to the page, time passing by me because I couldn’t stop.
After about 10-15% the darkness gave way to relief, lighter moments and a chance that things might be okay again. Still, there were still plenty of times in the book where I panicked and worried about Cal’s safety, because as much as he felt something was going to go horribly wrong, I held the same fear. After all, he’d been through, was it too much to ask that he got a little happiness?
The fact that Cal’s torture felt so real is indication enough of Devon McCormack’s writing. Nothing of that time with his captor was explicit or detailed in the way that I, as a reader, felt uncomfortable or had to skim read past the details. Though it was painful to read, it was because we’d struggled with Cal, fought with him, escaped with him and by the time the very first page was over, I was invested in his character, rooting for a good future, for a lasting escape and for happiness for him.
Jake, similarly, was so much more than he first seemed and I knew that, just as Cal did, when we first met him. The growth of both the characters was beautiful to experience because we got to be there for all the big moments, never missing anything important and yet, never loaded with too much to see or do with them. Gary was just as loveable and a really great support for Cal and Jake, neither of whom had grown up with sparkly shiny lives. Luce, on the other hand, was a dip and flow character; she showed us the difference between acceptance and tolerance, the risk of a small religious town to two young gay teens and how they’d be treated.
Though this story also touched on homophobia, it did so in a very – sadly – realistic way that can still be felt down in the South and all over the world. Intolerance should never be ignored because, like in this story, a bout of name calling can easily turn into something much more dangerous.
Overall, I have to give this one a 10 out of 10 for everything. For the way it handled Cal’s past abuse, the torture, the kidnappings, the homophobia, the religious small town attitudes and, most of all, the way that it offered us moments of pure sunshine to drown out the dark.
Meet Devon McCormack
Devon McCormack spends most of his time hiding in his lair, adventuring in paranormal worlds with his island of misfit characters. A good ole Southern boy, McCormack grew up in the Georgian suburbs with his two younger brothers and an older sister. At a very young age, he spun tales the old fashioned way, lying to anyone and everyone he encountered. He claimed he was an orphan. He claimed to be a king from another planet. He claimed to have supernatural powers. He has since harnessed this penchant for tall tales by crafting whole worlds where he can live out whatever fantasy he chooses.
A gay man himself, McCormack focuses on gay male characters, adding to the immense body of literature that chooses to represent and advocate gay men’s presence in media. His body of work ranges from erotica to young adult, so readers should check the synopses of his books before purchasing so that they know what they’re getting into.