Most people would love Alec’s life… great job… hot boyfriend… and a beautiful brownstone in DC’s gay mecca, Dupont Circle. But within a single night, things change…
His best friend, Demarco, supports Alec’s bold decision of seeking a new perspective… a change that begins across the country, in a cabin atop Beulah Mountain.
Alec was not looking for a man… wanted nothing of the sort. But a strong-willed cowboy named Tyler enters his life as spontaneous as the snow of Montana’s winter.
Unpredictable as a mountain storm, Alec and Tyler soon find themselves entwined in a fierce love affair… raw, real, and unlike any other Alec has ever had.
But Tyler belongs to Montana.
Will their passion be enough to keep them together? Will Alec learn to forgive his past missteps and accept that he deserves the happiness that can only come from a man so genuine… so giving… and so TRUE?
This book contains mature content.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
TRUE (Tales of the Circle Book 1) was inspired by a fantasy I once had… I wanted to isolate myself in a cabin on a Montana mountain and do nothing but write. The novel germinated from that concept into something much more interesting though.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
It's a mixed cocktail… part me, part friends, part past loves, part current love, beloved fictional characters, and a little inspiration. I do almost always have some current celebrity visage in mind while writing respective characters. But I don't reveal those… unless maybe you ask me personally in an instant message.
When the road split, he veered right, up the secondary road that led to the cabin. Penny Lane read the old-fashioned street sign.
Why not, he thought. The town was probably founded by hippies. Who else would name a town Melody?
Once again, the light from civilization was behind him and darkness descended. Despite his vehicular insecurities, the Cruiser had performed well for the excursion so far, slipping only occasionally on periodic patches of snow-hardened ice.
But Penny Lane was steeper and had not been plowed in quite some time.
The GPS now read that his destination was only one and three-quarter miles away. He gripped the steering wheel tight, the tension returning to his wrists and lower jaw as the Cruiser’s upward climb became even steeper. Unknowingly, Alec began chanting a mantra under his breath.
“Come on, baby. Come on, baby. Come on, baby…”
And just as he saw the relief of a slight plateau ahead, the car stopped moving. His foot was still on the gas pedal but the wheels were turning without traction.
And then he began sliding backward.
“No. No. No,” said Alec as he felt the rear of the Cruiser fish-tail right. He turned the wheel into the turn instinctively, but it didn’t matter. The gravity of the descent had taken hold and he felt himself being sucked backward, excruciatingly slow, sliding sideways and down, until the vehicle slipped over an embankment and into a ditch. Through the windshield, his view of falling white flakes in a darkened canopy of snow-covered pines went slightly askew.
The Cruiser died.
Alec didn’t try and restart it. Instead, he opened the driver’s side door, a little heavier with the angle, and slipped out to survey the situation. A blustery gust hit his face and he felt the tiny pinpricks of sleet mixed with snow blast his brow and cheeks.
He walked a few feet up and in front of the vehicle, his loafers sliding with each step. He turned and stared into the headlights. It looked less complicated than it was. The car was off the road but mostly level and the road was wide. Perhaps he could somehow back up onto the road, turn around, and just head back down… find a place to stay for the night.
Who are you kidding? Even if you put it in reverse, somehow managed to turn it around, and slid down without going off the road again—the town was dark, empty… everyone was home, snug and warm.
Alec looked around briefly for something flat that maybe he could slip under the wheel for leverage. There was nothing, just lots of snow. He shivered and quickly got back in the vehicle.
He found his phone and Googled the AAA emergency number, clicking the link. Soon a human voice answered with robotic enthusiasm.
“This is Triple A. How can I be of assistance?”
“Uh, hello. My name is Alec Collier. I am in a rented vehicle… in a snowstorm… stuck in a ditch.”
“Yes, sir. Could you give me an approximate address.”
“Penny Lane,” said Alec, feeling like an idiot. “Just outside of Melody, Montana.”
The woman’s voice grew more sympathetic. “Oh, my. There’s a horrible storm there right now.”
“Uh, yeah. That’s why I’m needing assistance.”
“OK. Bundle up and stay warm. I’m going to contact the local affiliate.”
“I’m in a white Toyota Land Cruiser.”
“Yes, sir. I don’t suspect he’ll have trouble identifying you.”
Shade, Alec thought. She is dishing well-deserved shade.
“We should have someone there within the hour.”
“You’re welcome. Goodnight, sir.”
He set the phone down.
The jacket he was wearing helped, but he was still cold. He cranked the car and left it running for a few minutes to warm the interior, plugging his phone in to charge. He went online to pass the time—checked Facebook and Twitter, but neither retained his interest, both seeming frivolous when compared to his current situation.
While the car was running with the lights on, he looked out into the dark, wondering what kind of animals might be out there. Deer certainly. What about bears? Wildcats? Surely bears would be hibernating in this kind of weather. But were bobcats and cougars native to this part of the Northwest? Were ferocious felines waiting outside the car for him? Was he just a big can of Starkist waiting to be opened?
He turned the car off to conserve gas. The charge on his phone was enough to splurge, so he opened Skype and called Demarco. It took a few rings of the odd tone, but when Demarco’s face filled the small screen of his phone he felt better, relieved to be connected with the world again.
“Hey, girl. It’s late. Are you just getting there?”
“I’m not quite there yet.”
“This,” said Alec, flipping the headlights back on and pointing the camera on phone out to the snowy landscape.
“Yeah. I’m stuck in a ditch on the side of the road, less than two miles away.” He turned the lights off and propped the phone on the dash.
“I’m not exactly dressed for the occasion. Besides, there may be wildcats out there.”
Demarco’s eyes grew large. “Really?”
“I have no idea. But that’s what my subconscious says.”
“Yeah. I bet you’re right… Snow Leopards.”
“Are they indigenous?”
“No idea. But it sounds like they might be. So what are you going to do?”
“I’ve called Triple A. I’m just waiting… and worrying.”
“Well, you’re safe inside a warm car… for now anyway. Just keep an eye out for anything suspicious.”
“Suspicious? D, I’m on an isolated mountain in a snowstorm. The only things I can see are trees and snow—what’s suspicious about that?”
“There could be killers—like Jason.”
Alec laughed. “Yeah… Well, if Jason’s out there he’s frozen stiff.”
“Jason doesn’t die, Alec.”
“Jason doesn’t exist, Demarco.”
“What about the Wendigo?”
“The Wendigo,” he said with all seriousness. “—spirit demon of the native American wilderness.”
“Maybe… but you’re definitely in the right part of the country.
“Well, that’s not what I’m worried about, I’m thinking maybe I made the wrong decision.”
“Thank God. Just turn that car around. Come home to mama, back to the safety of our nation’s capital.”
“Uh… I was looking more for encouragement, not discouragement.”
“Sorry. Your face is kind of hard to read in the dark.”
“I—” Alec stammered, trying to come up with the perfect words to articulate: “I… I feel like I’m at a crossroads.”
“I thought you were in a ditch.”
“Oh. I’m with you… a Beyoncé crossroads.”
“I didn’t tell you, but I realized something when I confronted Mac. I’m kind of in a rut. Career is only part of it. My problem is men.”
“Preach.” He gave fluttering, gospel jazz-hands.
Alec continued: “I always end up being the caretaker. A pretty face comes along and I’m compelled to bring them in off the doorstep. It’s like I have this inborn need to save the handsome losers of the world.”
Demarco, sensing the seriousness in Alec’s tone, engaged. “It’s not a deplorable trait, Alec. But it can be exhausting. It wears on you… and sometimes me. But you need to remember, sister… you’re a good guy.”
“You said I deserve better. I’m not sure.”
“You do… and at least you’re taking steps to get there. If you have to head for the mountains to get your head on straight, do it. But you’re right. You do take in strays. I know it. I’ve seen it. Mac was just the latest.”
“How could I not see it before?”
“Maybe you did… you just chose not to.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Alec, there are some things a friend just knows not to say. Sure, I could have hounded you about it. But you would have continued and eventually grown to resent me, so I stayed back… observe, console, repeat.”
“Is that what you’re doing now?”
“But you’re discussing it with me now.”
“Because you brought it up. Alec, I’m not going to lose you as a friend over this. You’re a smart guy. I knew you’d figure it out. You almost did it last time, after Jake… but Mac swooped in fast… he had rebound power on his side. And he was hot… so hot. It’s not always something you see in the beginning either. Sometimes you don’t know until you’re smack in the middle of it.”
Alec was quiet.
“You still there?”
“I’m here. Just thinking.”
“I just have your voice on this end. Everything’s dark.”
Alec brought the phone up to his face. “That better?”
“I can see your ghost.”
“Thank you, D.”
“It’s not me, girl. You’re the one taking steps.”
“You’re a good friend. The best.”
“Look, I know I was not exactly excited for you running off to Montana. But if that’s what it takes, I’m glad you did it. You do deserve better, Alec. We all do. Sometimes we just… settle. Not just with people, but with situations. We’re an inherently lazy species, Alec. You know that.”
“Now who’s using the two-dollar words?”
Demarco ignored him. “I think you’re on to something. To get out of the ditch, we have to shake things up. Change the scenery. Frankly, I’m curious to see if it works because, as you said, I may be next.”
“OK, professor. I’ll let you know how the experiment turns out.”
“You better. Just because you’re changing the scenery, doesn’t mean I miss my daily dose.”
“Write the book, Alec. I think that’s part of it. Mix it up. Roll the dice. See what happens.”
“Any more clichés?”
“Nope. I’m all out.”
“You’re welcome, Rose.”
“Now… about your turn—” Alec began, but as the words left his lips he saw movement in his rearview mirror.
“Nope. You’re the guinea pig. I can wait.”
It was huge whatever it was, colossal in shape, undulating in the blackness… and growing.
“West Side Story. I love it. Tuesday Tunes—Midwest edition!”
“No,” said Alec. “I mean outside. Something’s coming up behind the car.”
“Maybe it’s Officer Krupke.”
“It doesn’t look human.”
“Oh, girl… what’s it look like?”
“It’s hard to tell in the mirror… but it’s wide and swaying… and tall. At least ten feet.”
“It’s the Wendigo,” Demarco whispered, eyes huge. “It has come.”
Alec pressed down on the brake and everything behind him went aglow with red light. It was a horse, with a big, bundled shape atop, swaying and growing larger as it neared the car. The figure riding was wearing a cowboy hat, scarf, and poncho. It raised its gloved-hand to shield its eyes from the bright, red light.
“I gotta go,” said Alec.
“Are you OK?”
“Yeah.” He released the brake pedal. “Triple-A is here.”
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