Today I am so pleased to welcome Elle Keaton to Joyfully Jay. Elle has come to talk to us about her latest release, As Sure as the Sun. She has also brought along a copy to give away. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Hello! Elle Keaton here. Thank you Joyfully Jay for having me, I really appreciate it.
So…I wrote a little book, the fourth in the Accidental Roots series. It is a little different from the first three, needless to say I am proud of my effort.
This particular volume is dedicated to my own Great-Uncle Owen who, tragically, died in a ‘sanatorium’ in the 1940’s where he had been forced to live by his father due to his ‘unnatural affinity for other men’ and fondness for alcohol. Because he couldn’t be with who he wanted he drank and was unable to stay employed. Owen died of alcoholism and, I imagine, loneliness. He died before I was born but he was my grandmother’s favorite uncle and she grieved for him long after his death.
The story I provided Owen comes from my imagination, I have no idea who Owen wished he could be with, I am just glad that times have changed/are changing so that we are free to love as we like. My grandmother never talked about how she felt about same sex relationships, but I feel since she and my grandfather moved from Mercer Island to Broadway on Capitol Hill (even now the epicenter of gay culture in Seattle – but the only such place in the 1960’s) that was a symbolic gesture of posthumous support.
When I began writing As Sure As The Sun I challenged myself to have my characters, Seth Culver and Sacha Bolic, consciously change over the course of the novel. I hope the goal was achieved. It was hard, sometimes it felt like I was trying to hold onto a fire hose that was going full strength – hitting everything but the intended target. Hopefully I hit most of the target….
“Contrary to popular opinion, there were plenty of gay bars in Kansas City. Sacha preferred the quiet ones. Less chance of seeing anyone he knew, or anyone seeing him. He was too old for disco balls, flashing lights, and twinks wearing jeans so tight they needed a can opener to get them off. And explaining to anyone he worked or associated with that he had always been gay, just never out was… beyond his bandwidth. His stomach twisted painfully contemplating his colleagues discussing his personal life behind his back.
He sat at the bar nursing a drink, watching the small crowd of young, and seemingly carefree, men dance and flirt. Sometimes there was a soul brave enough to approach him. Mostly they left him alone.
“Another?” The bartender, tall, with well-defined muscles and heavily tattooed forearms, interrupted Sacha’s wandering thoughts.
“Yeah.” He pushed his empty glass across the bar. “Make it a double.”
The bartender smirked, grabbed the bottle off the back bar, and poured a hefty couple of fingers into Sacha’s glass. “That what you need?” Light-blue eyes lingered on Sacha for a beat longer than necessary, sending a delicious shiver down his spine.
“It’s a start.”
“Day, week, last couple of years, yeah.” Sacha downed most of the contents of the glass in a single gulp this time. The burn felt good going down his throat. He was still alive, still had choices. He hadn’t left his place with the intention of getting drunk, and he wasn’t, really, but the liquor did make his tongue looser than normal.
The bartender wandered off toward the other end of the bar. Sacha watched him walk away, enjoying the confident swagger… and the view of his ass as well. He was probably in his late twenties or early thirties, dark hair clipped close to his skull. Not something Sacha normally liked, but it worked for this guy, accentuating his sharp cheekbones and deep-set eyes.
Sacha stared into space, sipping his drink and listening to the pop-country-whatever music playing in the background, his attention again caught by the couples dancing fearlessly together. Soon enough the bartender was back in his line of vision.
“I’m Derek.” He leaned against the wooden bartop. His tattoos were colorful and intricate, swirling up his arms before disappearing underneath the tight sleeves of his shirt.
“I’m off in an hour.” Derek waggled his eyebrows and winked.
An hour was almost too long. An hour gave Sacha time to reminisce, nearly drowning his desire. An hour gave him time to replay lessons taught to him as a youth. Brutal teachings about what it meant to be a man and what it meant to be slaughtered because of who a person slept with or loved. He hunched closer to the bar, allowing the alcohol he’d consumed to subdue, for now, most of those memories. Only anticipation of another man’s skin and hard body against his own kept him there.
A glittering liquor bottle appeared in his line of sight, and Derek raised his eyebrows in question. “One for the road?”
Sacha tipped his glass slightly. “One more. Thanks.”
Everything was easier in the dark. Easier to pretend he was someone else, someone who was out, comfortable with his sexuality. Easier to let himself grab Derek’s ass and pull his hips closer so their erections brushed against each other.
Derek was close to his own height, which turned him on, and not shy about what he was hungry for. Their mouths came together in a bruising kiss; they’d hardly gotten Derek’s front door shut behind them before he pushed Sacha against the entryway wall and rubbed against him, hot hands groping under his T-shirt and skimming his chest and abs. Soon enough they were both naked and making their way to Derek’s bedroom, where a king-sized bed waited.
Long after Derek faded off to sleep, murmuring something along the lines of “S’okay if you stay, man, s’late,” Sacha lay in the dark thinking about his life. About how he would like to wake up next to someone he cared about. It wasn’t going to be a hot bartender, because he couldn’t stay in Kansas City. Any change he forced onto his life would not happen in the city he had tentatively called home for a decade. Rolling over, Sacha felt around on the floor for his jeans and T-shirt and dragged them on over his tired body. He found his shoes in the living room, looked around to make sure he hadn’t left anything behind, and quietly let himself out the front door.
The next morning dawned painfully bright, the sun shining cheerfully through his bedroom windows. Sacha squeezed his eyes shut against the glare before dragging a pillow over his face. Forgetting to draw his curtains was a rookie move. The bedsheets were tangled around his waist; pushing them further away so he could sit up, he swung his legs out of bed. The mattress shifted under his weight. His bad knee twinged when he stood, reminding him, again, how old he felt. How old he was.
His mind was made up. He was retiring. Taking the first steps toward change. Shuffling over to his closet, he searched for the perfect outfit to hand in his resignation.”
The universe is trying to tell Sacha Bolic something. A fire escape collapses under him, he lands in crap, and a killer barely misses his target… all in the same few seconds. That’s on top of a long list of mishaps and job dissatisfaction. Not one to ignore signals when they’re shoved in his face, Sacha retires and uses his savings to buy an old building in Skagit, Washington. With a little help from DIY videos, he’s going to bring it back to its former glory. And, yeah, it’s a metaphor. If he makes one change, others will follow…
Seth Culver avoids entanglements, romantic or otherwise. Who needs them? He’s learned the hard way that people betray you or leave. Still, Seth finds people compelling. He kind of collects them, learning their secrets before letting them go their own way. His commitment to no commitments may have met its match in Sacha. Handsome and hot, Sacha seems to offer a permanence that scares Seth more than anything ever has. Seth will have to decide if he’s going to grab life by the balls or keep watching from the sidelines.
A box of inconsequential belongings hidden for decades in the old building hints at lives imagined but not lived, reminding them both there are no guarantees in love, or this thing called life.
A standalone in the Accidental Roots series, HEA, and hot m/m. 18+
Author/imaginator & photographer (also rare Pacific Northwest Native), Elle grew up in Seattle, WA., with the Cascade Mountain range to the east and Olympics to the west.
Elle has between three and five cats, depending on who’s counting. She’s lived in four states, London England, and Hong Kong; always knows what time it is, and has little problem finding parking even in the most difficult places.
Elle’s new series Accidental Roots is set in the Skagit Valley of Western Washington and made its debut spring of 2017. Writing has always been a passion but not something she was able to take seriously until recently. Now her head is full of ideas and not enough time in each day.
Elle has brought a copy of As Sure as the Sun to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, October 31st at 11:59 pm ET.
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