Published ~ 15th November 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Second chances can appear where you least expect them. An artist: You can’t go home again—that was Nick’s motto for the past twenty years. He was a teenager when he left his abusive, mentally ill father back in Lacland, a small town in the northwoods of Wisconsin. Nick’s made a successful life for himself in New York. Then comes the call—his estranged father has killed himself. Nick flies home to a house crumbling from years of neglect, and one very fat bulldog. And a veterinarian: Jonas doesn’t love his job enforcing university research protocol. His passion is working with dogs, especially volunteering for his boyfriend’s behavioral studies projects. But when he discovers his so-called "life partner" is messing around, he leaps at a job offer in a small town miles away. In spite of the grief swirling around Nick and Jonas, their first meeting is electric. But Nick will be in town for only a short time and Jonas is still stinging from the betrayal. The men try to keep their distance, but that’s easier said than done, especially in a small town where misery and hope share the same address. This poignant story about two mature gay men will warm the hearts of readers who believe happy endings are within anyone's grasp. **This is an author’s version of the original story first printed in 2013 by Amber Allure.**
The man in the coffin was barely recognizable and Nick realized he’d been imagining his father stopped in time. It was a struggle to make out familiar features in the grizzled old man. Nick wondered where they’d gotten the worn brown suit. Had he dressed for the coffin when he hung himself or had a well-meaning policeman rifled through his closets for something appropriate. It didn’t matter, really, like it didn’t matter if the old man had shaved himself or been scrubbed up by the funeral home staff. Given the state of his house, probably the latter.
“Hey, Dad.” He was surprised by a tightening at the back of his throat. He opened the shoe box and brought out Squirrel’s sisters, one all white, the other mottled, and lay them in the crook of his father’s bent arms. He thought about opening their plastic sarcophagi, but he couldn’t bring himself to touch their lifeless, and probably stinking, fur. Still, the whole thing seemed weirdly primal, like giving his father companions for his journey across the river Styx. Nick felt like he should say a prayer or something but nothing came to mind. It was a weird inverse of his mother’s funeral—this time he could see the body but couldn’t imagine it alive.
Squirrel moved inside his shirt and Nick stroked him softly.
He gazed down at the old man. “I guess you weren’t much of a father to me, but then I wasn’t much of a son, either. Let’s hope there’s reincarnation so we can try again.” Nick rested his other hand on top of his father’s, suppressing the shudder that went through him at its clammy coldness. “Bye,” he whispered and turned back to the doorway and the funeral director. “Thanks. I’m done.”
“Are you sure you don’t want a service before the cremation?”
Nick shook his head. “Call me when it’s time to pick up the ashes.”
Outside the air was cold and the snow crunched under his feet. The landscape sparkled in the sunlight. Nick took a deep breath. Surely the worst part was over now.
Meet Dev Bentham
I write contemporary gay romance. My characters are flawed and damaged adult men who may not even know they’re looking for true love, but when they meet their bershert, their true love, their lives are transformed. My stories are set in the real world where gay men have gay friends, families who do or don’t accept them, personal histories they’re not necessarily proud of and a myriad of experiences that have made them who they are. I live in Northern Wisconsin with my Boston Terrier and Chicago spouse. I’ve published short stories, poetry, newspaper articles and academic papers and have worked in nearly every profession from restaurants to retail to open-water diving and now write m/m romance out of my fascination with love, courage and gender.
Giveaway: Win a copy of Dev Bentham’s Tarnished Souls series