We are thrilled to bring you the new cover for Is This Desire by R. Paone created by the talented Jay Aheer, which is due for release on the 29th August. Go check out it out!
Is This Desire
An Only If Novel
Release Date: August 29th, 2016
Cover design: Jay Aheer
Model: Nicholas Byrne
Genre: Contemporary/MM Romance
“Please don’t try to hold me in your arms."
“Is This Desire?” documents the continuing story of a flourishing love as it grows at an increasing speed. As Robert faces Mitch’s demons, Mitch himself must reclaim his independence and sanity if they are ever to be together.
The moment had passed, the passion burned out, and the high of a first love was left lingering.
How quickly can one fall in love?
How quickly can one fall out of love?
Devastated by the realization of Mitch’s misgivings, Robert has cast himself aside unable to process his current reality. Exposed to a love that was debilitating but also rewarding, he must now face the consequences of secrets, addiction, and desire if he is to continue forward with his heart while disregarding his doubts.
Now, it was happening again.
Sooner or later, Mitch reappears in Robert’s life unable to break away from what he feels deep within as he questions the connection between them both. It is a consuming bond that could break at any moment by the forces meaning to keep them apart no matter what.
What else was Mitch hiding from him and was an attempt at reintroducing those feelings again the safest bet against Robert’s sanity?
He said, "Never stop."
I said, "Never will."
This edition of “Is This Desire?” has been newly edited and expanded containing over 10K of added content.
Phil said he would grab the coffees for us himself.
The summer weather had subsided, and we were finally headed right into the milder months. The coffee would work wonders. I would feel relaxed and revived at the same time and not have to worry about it. The air outside coming in was finally manageable as the summer was in its’ final throws. I could start leaving the windows open. I could take out the air conditioner, not have to throw the covers off or attempt to tear my underwear off in the middle of the night. I could now sleep fully clothed with the fluffy duvet yanked over my head and not wake up feeling sweaty. The sun wasn’t coming out as early as it had when I moved into my place a couple of months ago. Then I didn’t have to set my alarm; one hint of sun through the black but somewhat sheer curtains would snap me out of whatever cycle of sleep I was in. Now I was lucky if I could get up at nine, which I thought would be too late to get anything done especially given my schedule. Timing was vital and important. Everything that happened to me in this span of time has shaped me for better or worst. A lot of the time I tried not to think about certain things that had no relevance today especially since they weren’t part of my life anymore. I wouldn’t bring them up certainly not. I thought about the last semester and what went on trying to close my eyes and hold my breath. I remembered every single word and emotion I have felt up to this moment.
The last two months that have gone by have been harder than the first two. I have ignored or tried to avoid the relevance of the situation. What was the worth of these feelings I was putting myself through? I was torturing what I was capable of regarding how far I would go in the pursuit of obtaining what I wanted. In this case, it was companionship; it was love. The concept of love and the ideal of happiness that I expected to follow suit with these qualities. Nativity was a personality trait that wouldn’t go unnoticed, but I couldn’t avoid feeling overwhelmed by it. I put myself through enough when I was in deep with Mitch. Phil told me not to worry about any of it, the feelings that I couldn’t get past. There was that low hanging sense of abandonment I felt but was I truly abandoned or just forgotten? I couldn’t allow myself to contemplate what he could be or not be doing at this moment. That wouldn’t be fair to me. Those things were out of my control right now but I couldn’t help it. Having the idea that anyone else in my shoes going through this brought a sense of comfort but only to be dashed when I realized it was silly and just a facade. Sugar coating the pain was silly, and it didn’t help as I all I could remember was being brought endless pleasure.
I haven’t heard from Mitch, not one word in those two months which felt like an eternity, a vast plain of time that had passed making our relationship fade away. The moment I ran out after catching him with Deb’s roommate, Janet, I swore that this was it and that there would be no more bullshit. No looking back. I didn’t expect Mitch to run after me witnessing that catastrophe and threw a couple of gears into what was going on. The poor, stupid fool couldn’t make up his mind and whether or not he knew what he wanted whether it was being with me or was it being with a woman. There was no way of knowing for sure because I knew that every time I begun to analyze every small minuet detail, I started to obsess over it and it became overwhelming. I could only read into what I know and what I experienced hands on, what I saw in my eyes. For now the important thing would be to attempt to focus on how I would be able to get over him, to forget. Remembering the moments and the hours he gave me made my head hurt but I had to look into the future ahead.
The coffee was already sitting in front of me. Phil had already come back and I wasn’t paying any attention. I was in my world with my roommate, the casual observer with the glazed over look. He was probably there for a moment before he waved his hand in front of my face to see if I was paying attention, catching me off guard. It would only take me a few seconds to register what was going on and what I was doing. I left my body. My mind was somewhere else making the trip back down to Earth. Before I could even get one word out of my mouth thanking Phil, his phone took the lead distracting him from speaking to me. He got up from his chair letting me know that he would be only a minute, nothing longer by tapping on the counter to get my attention. He stood up taking his iced coffee with him walking in the direction of his bedroom as I polished off my hot (not as hot as it was before) cup of coffee. There was no steam coming off it anymore as I attempted to make it fog up my glasses by getting my face close to the cup. Instead, I rested my head on my arms on the edge of the breakfast counter checking out again, zoning out. He was talking to Jackie or someone else, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to bother asking anymore. It wasn’t right especially now. It most certainly wasn’t Maria on the other line.
That ship has sailed, and I wasn’t entirely sure that Phil was making the right choice cashing in on his relationship for what he would call “great fucking sex” with Jackie. Opening my big mouth wasn’t the best at times since the open wounds were fresh for him and I had a good idea he just gave up and had no fight left in him. Jackie was certainly very exquisite, sexy, and totally uninhibited which I am sure he enjoyed. Sometimes though, I saw Phil struggle. He would bring up something related to Maria whether it be when they would go out to dinner or some conversation they once had. How much he was fucking her and coming inside of her, shit like that. To see someone torn between the concept of what they thought love and lust became a difficult battle to put oneself through.
I looked back again to the cup of coffee, forgetting that the steam was now long gone, I should probably just drink it and stop lamenting. Distractions were becoming my only solace, and I was looking forward to the rest of the day for whatever that may hold. For once I had no immediate plans, not even chores which felt right for once. There was nothing important to focus on besides my current troubles. I didn’t want to go back to sleep as many times I promised myself that would be a smart idea. Having some free time off from school was perfect so the only dreadful thing I needed to worry about was my work schedule.
Damn, the job. What a difference a couple of months makes. Work had changed so much with the season as much as the relationship between Mitch and I. The fact of the matter was that Mitch no longer worked at Cafe Virginia. Was I shocked? No, not really but I was concerned why it happened almost immediately that he took his leave after the final confrontation. Going to work and showing my face was a pain but I made the best of efforts not to be upset at work now that he wasn’t there. The larger part of his absence made the distance between us more real as I recognized the true vastness that was between us. Of course, I knew he was ignoring me, and I really couldn’t blame him since there was no real benefit from being in each other’s presence. Although without having him here pulling the shots and pouring lattes showed me what a hole was left in me. Sometimes when I felt like I was in a mood to torture myself, I would go into the backroom where we kept all of our belongings were. Back there thinking I would find something the traces of him were remotely scarce, there wasn’t much left in his locker except a highlighter and some scrap paper. He took everything else but I was able to find his crumbled up apron hanging on the hook. I knew it was his since he left his initials on the inside of the pocket on its’ front. I took mine off casting it aside and thought if I smelled it I would find some remembrance of his scent. I thought of it as obsessive and desperate for a second even though I couldn’t smell anything on it except stale coffee grounds. No matter, I would still decide to wear it as long as no one found out. I just replaced mine with his on the wall and walked back out.
“Hey, what are you thinking about? Earth to my brain.”
Phil walked back into the kitchen interrupting my thoughts. He looked the same as when I first met him. Most of the time he was hanging around the apartment in his underwear, on his phone and slightly distracted. Phil and I have been through a lot of bullshit these last couple months, which in turn brought us closer together becoming magnificent friends. I was likening him to a brother. I loved him dearly. He counseled me for awhile as I tore myself apart at the same time I wanted to put together the reasoning behind Mitch’s decisions and actions. The same could be said for Phil, he was a goddamn mess since him and Maria called it quits. He broke down more than once throwing himself into my lap out of nowhere balling his eyes out with such deep sobs I could feel him heaving as he laid there. I knew this wasn’t anything to be ashamed of so I would tell him to let it out and just that crying was the best remedy to get whatever he was feeling. The poor guy, he made a string of choices that really didn’t benefit him at all. Janet, his “friend with benefits,” was ambivalent with all of this and she made no effort in coming to his side. I didn’t get why he would just run back to her especially most recently. I tried not to harbor any ill feelings towards the girl about getting involved in their relationship, but I knew she didn’t give a shit about Phil when he was like this. Maybe one of these days I’ll understand why he even bothers with her. She’s a succubus, a contemporary concubine if you will. She’s a bitch, she is. She even called herself one in passing conversation once while she was over. Who was I kidding? I just flat out don’t like her. I would just keep that one bit to myself and not even try to tell Phil what I thought.
“Huh? Sorry, I’m just thinking what I could get done for the day. I don’t have any plans.”
“Are you working today?” he said.
“Nope. I got everything I needed to get done concerning chores and running out for errands.”
“Ah.” He tipped his head back as if he agreed with me that today was, in fact, a lazy day.
I was trying to avoid any conversation that steered towards Mitch lately. Phil and I had promised each other that with the break in school, we should be taking advantage of the doing things outside the apartment instead of staying indoors and feeling sorry for ourselves.
‘That’s a good thing, dude. For us both! You should go for a run or something. You’ve been complaining that you haven’t worked out in a long time so here is your chance.”
“Yeah, man, you’re right.”
“Of course, I am! Get off your lazy ass!” he exclaimed.
He made the motion for me to get a move on while trying to pull the chair from out underneath me. At the same time, I heard his phone start ringing again and he didn’t say anything this time except walk back into his room without saying a word to me. I wonder who is calling him now? Was it maybe Maria or was it Janet again calling him for a hookup? I realized I don’t know everyone in his address book so it could be, well, anyone.
He was right. I should try and get out of the apartment since I always could count on running to clear my mind. I went back into my room and got changed into my workout clothes. Getting a glimpse in my full-length mirror, I realized I hadn’t gotten my haircut since I came out here for school. This would be the first time I really ever decided to let it grow out so I thought of it as an experiment and decided to pull it back using a hair tie I had bought from the discount store last week.
Forget it, I thought. I looked silly. I pulled the hair tie out quickly and just wrapped a bandana over my forehead pushing my hair back and out of my face. Good thing I had a few stashed in my underwear drawer. Who cares how I look while I run? Vanity should be the last thing on my mind while running as I doubt anyone gave a crap how I looked. After putting in my contacts which I only use when I work out, I went back into the kitchen and chugged a large glass of water before heading out. I would go outside of this apartment and come back with a totally clear conscious. Maybe not for a long period of time, but maybe just going running for an hour will do for now. Mitch didn’t care how I looked. What, why the fuck should I care now? Go running, you idiot, I pondered.
The playlists I would come up with for working out were always filled with nineties one hit wonders and loud dance music even though that wasn’t naturally my go to on any given day. Nothing could make me go crazy and want to push myself harder than those same heavy beats, bass lines, or hook. There are those that are distinguishable in every house or dance song to come out years ago. I never bothered to change the set up of my playlist because it always did the trick. The loud, thumping music would do what it was supposed to do: drown everything else out.
I hit the play button and “Stranger in my House” by Tamia came on. Particularly right now I was feeling this song on so many levels. I felt like these experiences made me out to be the stranger in someone else’s house. Specifically just Mitch’s, I was “in hiding” there, keeping things secret from the rest of the outside world. It just took me several weeks to break free and out of there. I hit the ground running deciding to do the length of the campus a few times which I calculated would come out to at least five or so miles total. By the time I was hitting the streets, it was already a little bit past ten, and there were also several other runners I had passed on my laps. By the second lap of the diameter of the campus I was drenched in sweat - thank goodness for the band catching what sweat was pouring freely from my forehead. My tank top clung to my chest, and my running shorts were soaked as I stopped for a moment to free them from my thighs and my balls. There was something gratifying about the amount I was sweating even when I would come to a stand still at a traffic light. I could feel the streams of sweat running down my ass. Fixing my junk became a standard fixture during these runs as my briefs were only serving the purpose of a sponge. I wanted to be drenched head to toe and out of breath and in pain with each muscle twitching. I wasn’t having a hardcore fuck session but getting this wet from a workout was just as good. Still, I felt very fulfilled and satisfied from pushing myself hard the whole time. I wanted to fuck too, but not happening.
I made it home after clocking a good solid hour with the workout. It could be my obsessive nature about overthinking every small detail or maybe that everything is different lately. I saw my reality just recently change back and forth along with others that I was close with who were experiencing the same personal phenomena. I didn’t turn my music off just yet hoping it would act as a distraction to my otherwise wandering thoughts. I decided to walk around the apartment complex once as a cool down to catch my breath. The playlist ended with Pet Shop Boys’ “Screaming” as I heard the sound of a received text message. It was from Phil.
I’m heading to work.
I put your coffee back in the fridge for ya.
Finish it when you get back, asshole!
I’ll talk to you later, ps, I picked up the mail & put yours on your desk.
Now, what was I going to do for the rest of the day? Phil was going to be my buffer with trying to make plans. I was going to ask him if he wanted to go out for brunch. He kept promising that we would try this new place down the street that had a killer Eggs Benedict. No matter, it’s fine. Coming back up I thought I would catch him walking out of the apartment. I must have just missed him as I walked in the front door. His water glass had been washed out and sitting on the drying rack so he must have just left.
I went into the bathroom stripping out of my shorts and tank top while taking out my contacts. Figuring a shower would be best before I figured out what to do next, I went into my bedroom grabbing my bath towel and taking a look through the few pieces of mail on my desk. Two school bills and a small card. I threw the school ones onto my bed thinking that I would deal with them later and opened the letter that had no return sender on the envelope. Opening the card, all I had to see was it addressed to “Robbie,” hand-written. Without bothering to read the whole thing, my eyes went down to the see the signature I was expecting. I knew who wrote it. I just wanted to prove myself wrong maybe this one time. There it was plain as day looking it was harshly written, the writer presses down hard with the pen, darker and thicker than the other words.
It was him.
I didn’t bother reading. I tore it in half and threw it in the trashcan underneath my desk. Reading it was unnecessary and would only result in an agonizing headache and a day of reading into much of the past and those memories. Heartache would follow most definitely. It served me better sitting in the garbage.
Out of sight and out of mind for the rest of the day.
Meet Rocco Paone
R.Paone started on this writing journey in June, 2014. From events that were beyond his control, he decided to start this new path in his life before my 30th birthday. It has been quite the journey mapping out this story arc. He has learned so much writing a novel in that it has been therapeutic and also eye opening as it evolves. He hopes everyone will enjoy what is to come from the "ONLY IF" series as I want this to be something anyone could reach for and say "that could happen to me." Stay tuned! Three fun facts about him is: he live in NYC, has a vast horror movie collection and has a great appreciation for Enya.
Rocco is gifting to one lucky reader an e-copy of Is This Desire on release day 29th August.