J.D. didn’t miss what he didn’t have, including family. He barely remembered his mother and had never known his father. Following the death of his grandfather, he becomes the neighborhood pass-around-kid, raised by a group of caring church members.
When traveling evangelists Brother Bob and Sister Tina hear him play the piano, they quickly take him into their fold, where his talent and tragic story tear at the hearts of churchgoers across the Bible belt.
A hit on the revival circuit, J.D.’s talent and Bob and Tina’s showmanship soon turn their straw of a show into pure gold. Brother Bob and Sister Tina are becoming more than financially secure, but they need J.D.’s talent and story to keep their ministry going and their money growing.
When a clash between the old time religion and J.D.’s sexual orientation becomes a crisis, he runs to the military to hide, where he finds love with Ethan. But sweet, sexy Ethan, has a dark secret of his own, a secret that involves someone near and dear to J.D., which may keep the two men apart forever.
Ethan was a P.K., Preacher’s Kid, out of Tampa. I had been around other Preacher’s Kids, some of whom were so restricted they did nothing but rebel and lash out. Ethan was just the opposite. There was a goodness that came out of him naturally. He was as caring, honest, and kind as he was cute, and that guy was a whole bucket fulla cute. Ethan was quite the total package and made a damn fine looking soldier.
The beginning of fall had come to the southern base where we were stationed, and we could see that some leaves had begun to change as we walked slowly through the night together. In the darkness, we had not seen clouds gathering above us. The skies suddenly opened, a gusting wind pushing the falling rain over us in waves. I was content to cavort like a fool in the downpour, but Ethan, who was very good about letting me be silly, quickly pushed us off the sidewalk to a barracks we were near and into an open doorway. We stood looking at the rain for a moment, waiting for it to let up, with me grinning at Ethan.
“You are drunk. I shouldn’t have let you have that beer.”
“And you are cute,” I said, lightly pressing a forefinger into his chest.
“Stop, you’ll make me blush.”
“And nice, and kind, and..,”
Ethan cut me off while I was speaking. “Stop. You don’t know me, man.” Ethan was suddenly dead serious, his face tightening and going dark. “I’m not the good guy you all think I am.” There was a moment of silence between us as I took in this new side to my buddy that I had never seen. Then just as suddenly, the Ethan I knew came back to the surface, “Hey,” he said, his warm smile back on his face, “you’ve never told me about your life.”
“It’s a long story,” I said, wanting to get back on track with where my little engine was heading.
“We’ve got time,” he said, patting the concrete next to him.
I tried to change the subject, but Ethan was having none of that. So I talked, catching him up on the gory details of my life to date, everything but why Bob and Tina were going to send me to Costa Rica.
“You were the only guy in basic who didn’t talk about family, so I’ve kind of been figuring that you might have had it rough,” Ethan finally answered.
I just gave him a shrug. “It’s all I knew,” I said. “Besides, Bob and Tina weren’t all that bad. They were just doing what they knew.” We sat for a few more minutes before I found the courage to say what I had been waiting to say. “Ethan, I, I’m in love with you,” I finally stuttered out.
There was a long pause. Ethan stared blankly straight ahead into the rain before standing. We had been in the niche for about two hours by then, but it seemed only seconds because I was with him.
“We’d better get inside.”
“I just said I love you, man,” I gently chided, hoping for something that deep inside my heart I knew was not going to be returned.
“I know,” he said quietly, looking me in the face.
I could see tears welling up in his eyes and I wanted to reach up and stroke them away with my fingers.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” he finally said in return, and a tear fell to trail down his cheek. “But that can’t ever happen,” he said, without looking at me or saying anything more as he stepped away from me and headed toward the barracks.
“Key Maneuvered” by James Brock, a gay romance novel set in the deeply religious, evangelical Bible belt, is available exclusively from Amazon. Click Here or on Cover Above to Purchase. Also available in print from Amazon. Cover art by Syneca Featherstone, http://www.syneca-originalsyn.com.
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