Sports Week continues! Today, I’m happy to host Lex Valentine, who I also just met at GRL. She’s got a new book out that tackles football. (Tackles, geddit?) Read on to learn how to enter to win a copy of her new book!
What is an author to do when presented with characters who cling to their childhood fears? What do we do when they don’t react as adults? Well, you write a book about characters who let fear rule their lives until they finally grow up, grow a pair, and get down to the business of love.
In my novel Scrambling, my two main characters both fear the same thing, losing their best friend. They will sacrifice anything for that relationship because it means everything to them. What they end up sacrificing is the truth and the chance to be together. You see, they are in love with each other and afraid to say so. They fear that they will lose the one relationship they have come to rely on…their friendship.
So how did a book about the first two out players in the NFL end up being a tale of fear? My characters. They wouldn’t get it together. They stayed locked in their fears, afraid of being alone, afraid of losing a relationship that defined their lives. Each man deliberately gives up the chance to be with the man he loves in order to preserve a friendship he can’t live without. Childish? Yes. Stubborn? Yes. Irrational? Sure. But love isn’t always rational and characters can often do and think stupid things.
Scrambling shows how the PR director of an NFL team spins the coming out of two newly drafted players into a positive thing for the team. My heroes walk the red carpet at every LGBT event she can send them to. They become poster boys for being out. As professional athletes who are also gay, they become trailblazers in an industry that has closet doors firmly shut. And while I originally envisioned this story being about the prejudices that these men have to overcome, once the writing began to flow, it quickly became a story about how even men who are out have things that they still hide in the closet.
Thanks to Kate for having me here today. If you leave a comment here, I’ll put your name in a drawing to win a copy of Scrambling. I’ll draw a name Thursday night at midnight Pacific time.
Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from Scrambling.
Evan McAdam has two constants in his life–football and his friendship with Reed Matthews. From the age of six, Evan’s played football alongside Reed. In his teens, he realized he was gay and loved Reed, but fear kept him from confiding his deepest emotions to his best friend.
When he and Reed are drafted to the L.A. Stars, Evan decides to come out. His decision impacts Reed who’s been in the closet too. The two men struggle with secrets of unrequited love while facing the world as the first two openly gay NFL players.
When injury forces Evan to retire, the love he bears Reed can no longer be hidden. But will Reed be able to reciprocate, or will Evan lose both football and the man he’s always loved?
Excerpt Under the Cut:
Reed held his breath and watched the play of emotion across Evan’s face. He probably shouldn’t have been so blatant about what he needed, but he couldn’t stop himself. All he could think about was that Len lay dying and it could so easily have been him had he ever given in to Len’s whining about his use of condoms. Right now, he needed Evan to make him feel alive, to chase away the specter of death and disease. He needed to feel whole, and only Evan could give that to him.
“You’re overwrought. You don’t know what you’re asking.”
Evan’s voice quivered a little, and Reed could feel the tension in his friend’s body. He could also sense an underlying current of fear in Evan’s voice although he had no idea what Evan could fear.
“Yes, I do. I want you to make love to me.”
There. He’d said it aloud. All his hopes and dreams since he was fifteen years old, laid out for Evan in words of one syllable. No mistaking them for anything except what they were, a blatant invitation for Evan to fuck him. He opened his mouth and made the invitation even more clear, the words driven by the emotion he’d held so long inside.
“I want you. I need to feel you touch me, taste me. I need to be with you. I want your arms around me, your cock inside me. I need to be with someone who cares about me. For sixteen years, it’s been you and me. Even Len and Bryce haven’t come between us. It’s always been you and me.”
Reed poked Evan’s chest with a finger when he said you and his own when he said me. Evan blinked and shook his head as if he were dazed. “I-I don’t understand. Where is this coming from?” he asked with a frown.
“It’s coming from deep inside me, Ev. Whenever something is wrong, you’re there for me and vice versa, although God knows it’s usually me with problems not you,” he said with a tinge of bitterness at the life destiny had given him. “This time, I need more than just hand-holding. Will you give it to me?”
He stared at the man he’d loved since they were kids. The man he’d shared everything with. The one he couldn’t imagine his life without. And he willed Evan to say yes.
A long, soft breath escaped Evan, tension leaving his big body. “Yes. You know I love you. I could never say no to anything you ever asked of me.”
Reed pushed himself against Evan’s chest, his hands coming up to frame the handsome, beloved face of his best friend. “Then just love me. Death is cold. I need to be warm.” He pressed his mouth to Evan’s, and a pleasure like none he’d ever experienced exploded inside him.
Evan’s lips were soft and warm, gentle in a way Reed hadn’t known men could be. He took control of the kiss, took control of Reed, his hands and his mouth leading Reed to ecstasy. Their tongues slid together, tentative in the way of new lovers but without urgency or fear, just a growing awareness and heat. Evan’s hands slipped over Reed’s shoulders and down his back, causing a slow burn in Reed’s veins.
The limo turned a corner, and they rocked, swaying with the movement of the car. Reed pulled his mouth from Evan’s, and they stared at each other, breathing hard.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to push you into something you don’t want,” he asked as pain threatened. He needed Evan, but he could walk away if Evan didn’t want him.
The big man pushed a trembling hand through his sandy hair. “I want it,” he replied, reaching for Reed’s hand. He pulled it toward him and pressed it into his lap.
Beneath his fingers, Reed could feel the hard ridge of Evan’s erection, and his heart sang in triumph. The evidence of Evan’s desire was enough for him tonight. He didn’t need to own Evan’s heart although he yearned to.