Hot off the presses, here are the latest releases from Changeling Press. Changeling Press Blog.
I am also planning to put Born for You, (Paranormal B&B One) on sale for 0.99! The book a ghost love story that is perfect with a little hot chocolate, a thick blankie, and your Kindle (or another eReader.) The book should be on sale at Amazon and iTunes, so stay tuned for an official announcement on that.
Here’s a little excerpt of Born for You. I hope you enjoy meeting Matson and Josiah.
I’ve been stuck on the mortal plane for over a century now.
I was a kid when the war started, and I thought I owed it to my family to fight. My older brother joined, all my cousins, even my father wanted to join. Pride and stupidity accounted for too many of my decisions, though I was not alone in those sins.
Can you imagine it? A child of fifteen comes to join your army, and you accept? The truth was, no one cared that I was too young to shave, much less make such a life-altering choice.
Like so many, I was full of idealism and family-fueled patriotism. When I joined, I had grandiose dreams of riding a horse into battle, shooting the damn Yanks, living in tents with my fellow soldiers, and coming home a hero.
What I got were long marches over rough terrain, little to no food, kids like me dying from dysentery, and people shooting at me. There were nights it was too hot, too rainy, or I was too afraid to sleep. I knew if I survived, I’d come home a different person. I wasn’t sure I’d like the man I’d become.
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Just before I turned seventeen, I was fighting the Yanks in Tennessee when my legs got knocked out from under me. The pain in my right thigh was almost more than I could bear. I looked down to see blood running down my dirty pants.
I passed out only to wake up with a Yankee doctor standing over me. Someone had shoved a stick in my mouth and tied my hands to the cot. The doctor was wiping the blade of a saw.
I spat out the stick and began to plead with him not to amputate. I babbled I’d rather die than lose my leg. I meant it. My mama and daddy would need me to recover from the war, and I couldn’t be of any help crippled.
He never said a word to me. He only nodded and dropped the saw. I don’t know where he went, or why he even cared enough to do as I asked. Maybe he was just tired of the blood and screaming. What did he care if a Johnny Reb died from gangrene?
It was just weeks later we heard that the war was over. Most in the prison camp couldn’t believe General Lee had given up.
All I cared about was getting home. I missed my mama, and I wanted to have her tend to my leg.
No one cared how I got home, or if I was too sick or injured to travel. Riddled with fever and pain as I was, I’m not sure how I made it. From what I was told, I passed out on the road. An old man loaded me up on his wagon and took me home. Mama said it was a guardian angel, but I tend to think it was someone looking for food or money.
Mama nursed me back to health as best she could. The house and land were bare as winter, our horses, cows, and crops all gone. Yet there were plenty willing to kill for even as little as we had left.
Daddy did the best he could to keep most of the marauders at bay, but eventually, he ran out of ammunition. It was easier to hide from the thieves. All we had left were my mother’s few jewels, which I buried in a tobacco tin.
Soon the carpetbaggers rolled around. We lost the house because we had no money to pay the jacked-up taxes.
And then it got worse.
In the army, I’d had an experimental shot to protect me from smallpox. Sadly, my parents didn’t have that luxury and the disease struck them hard and fast. Starved and lost in a different world, I think that’s what finally killed my folks— losing everything. Not just the illness, but having no reason to live any longer.
I stayed on the grounds, hiding, biding my time. I became a myth, a scary story parents would tell their children. Eventually, I built a little one-room cabin on the edge of the old family property. The people who owned the land were either too afraid of me or didn’t consider me a threat.
One night, I was in my cabin, sitting by the oil lamp, watching the flame and enjoying the rot-gut moonshine I made.
That’s when they kicked in the front door.
By now, I was in my fifties, and my war wound was infected again. I didn’t even move as my killers charged into my cabin.
All these years later, I vividly remember the last moments of my human life — the three men, the pistol, the pain of the bullet slamming into my chest. I knew I had minutes left to live as the barrel of that gun leveled at my head.
For a moment, I thought I saw another man standing in the doorway, one the others did not. His eyes filled with loss and horror as I took my last breath. For a moment, I thought how handsome he was. His pale face and red beard and hair held my attention as the world went black.
The closer I got to the interstate exit ramp, the more I felt a stabbing, burning pain in my gut. I used to love going to my old hometown, but no more.
I moved from Prenter’s Bottom, North Carolina when I hit eighteen and headed for college. I hadn’t realized how stifled I was in that little rural town until I made it to campus. It seemed I could breathe for the first time.
That, and I could explore my suspicion I was gay. And boy, did I do some exploring. I’d had no idea how sexually repressed I had been until I didn’t have to be anymore.
My first experience left me feeling high for days. Having a man’s hand touching me, giving me pleasure, feeling sharp stubble against my thighs, it was freeing.
Once I got a taste, I never looked back.
But I had to stuff all that back into the closet when I’d go home. I hated living a double life. I hated hiding who I was around my friends and family. They all saw me as the same high school jock who excelled in football, basketball, and track. I saw myself as a lying, pathetic loser.
It wasn’t all that unexpected that I’d do something stupid to out myself. Freud might have said it was an unconscious decision, but I’d say it was one too many beers and an overzealous Mary Anne Watney. She’d been trying to get into my pants all night when I finally reached my limit. Could I have just walked away? Yes. Did I? Nope.
After slapping her hand away from my crotch for the millionth time, I finally blurted out, “Even if I liked vaginas, I wouldn’t be interested in yours.”
It’s amazing how quiet a rural bar can get when someone says something like that. I think even the jukebox stopped.
I thought about playing it off, pretending what I said came out wrong, but I couldn’t bring myself to hide anymore. I turned to the room and announced to no one in particular that, yep, I was gay, then picked up my beer and drained it before strolling from the bar like a boss. It felt good until I woke up with a hangover and twenty ugly text and phone messages from my old high school buddies.
I guess years of coming home drunk helped me to make it back to Granny’s big three-story, plantation-style house. I tripped going up the stairs to the wide, column-lined porch, staggered my way over the marble foyer and somehow made it up the stairs to my bedroom on the second floor.
The next morning, the smell of coffee pulled me from bed. I only stumbled on the steps a few times before I hit the bottom and rounded the corner, passing through the family room. I only realized I was barefoot when the soft carpet gave way to the cold tile floor of the kitchen.
Mom sat at the old long table beside Granny with a mug of strong coffee and a plate of bacon and eggs. Rumors travel fast in a small town. I’m pretty sure the word had reached them before I walked through the door.
“I hear you made a big announcement at Roughies last night.” Mom pushed the mug into my hands as I stumbled toward the dining room table my grandfather made.
“Uh, yeah. I guess I did.” I winced as I took a sip of coffee. I wasn’t sure how they were going to take the news. I stared down at the table’s smooth surface with its old oak grain. Even though I had memorized each line of the wood, I pretended it was the most interesting thing I’d ever seen.
“Don’t you think you should’ve at least warned Granny and me about it? Imagine my shock when Terrance brought in the eggs this morning. I guess he heard from Mike who happened to be at the bar last night.”
When I looked up, she was sipping her coffee while staring at me over the rim.
I immediately dropped my gaze back to the table. “Well, I, uh,” I had to stop and figure out the right words here. In the end, my headache and my beer-soaked brain couldn’t come up with any clever words. “I didn’t plan on saying anything. It just sort of popped out on its own.”
Granny sighed and shook her head. “Matson, darling, it’s not like your mom and I didn’t know. We’ve realized you weren’t into girls when you were a teenager. We understand why you kept it from the small-minded people in this town, but you should’ve come out to us first. We love you for who you are.”
I watched her try to hide her grin, but it didn’t work.
And that’s how it went at home. I could always count on love and total acceptance from my family.
It wasn’t the same around town. You know the drill. The usual name-calling, stares, shaking heads, and a few veiled threats from my former teammates and friends. They thought I’d spent time in the showers after practices, lusting after them or staring at their dicks. Right, like they had anything worth staring at.
Now whenever I came home to visit my family, I still had that moment of pain and fear of how I’d be treated.
It did seem to get better as the years went on and everyone saw that I didn’t grab their sons and force-fuck them on the street. I didn’t leer at any of the guys’ crotches, and I didn’t try to rub against the fine, upstanding men of Prenter’s Bottom. I didn’t fit in with the stereotype of a gregarious, rainbow flag-waving flirt. I was still me. The talented sports star and avid history buff they’d always known.
Don’t get me wrong; I was still looked at with suspicion at times. Walking down Main Street, some of my former friends or classmates would clear their throats and give a quick wave or turn their head and change directions. I guess they thought what I had was contagious.
Ten years after my “bold announcement,” several students started an LGBTQ acceptance club at the high school. The little old ladies and church busybodies had a conniption, but in the end, the school board in Raleigh said the club was legal and that to disband it would be discriminatory. No one wanted the ACLU to infiltrate the polite little town.
But Mrs. Elway Anderson made sure every time she saw me, she told me being gay was wrong and I wasn’t welcome in God-fearing Prenter’s Bottom.
I’d finally decided my parents and Granny were too important to worry about this town’s opinion of me. So, I’d just have to deal with the small-town attitude, if it meant being able to spend time with my loved ones.