Father Cullen Kiley, a gay Episcopal priest on hiatus from the church, decides to take his boat, T-Time, from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Southport, North Carolina, a place that holds an abundance of bittersweet memories for him. While on a run his first day in Southport, Cullen comes upon a man sitting on a park bench staring out over the Cape Fear River with his Bible in hand. The man’s body language reeks of defeat and desperation, and unable to ignore his compassion for his fellow man, Cullen stops to offer a helping hand.
Southport Baptist Church’s Associate Pastor, Abel Weston, has a hard time managing his demons. When they get too overwhelming, he retreats to Southport’s Historic Riverwalk with his Bible in hand and stares out over the water, praying for help and guidance that never seem to come. But Abel soon discovers that help and guidance come in many forms.
An unexpected friendship develops between the two men, and as Cullen helps Abel begin to confront his doubts and fears, he comes face-to-face with his own reality, threatening both their futures.
Right out of the gate, please let me thank Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy for allowing me to tell you about my latest release, “Losing Faith,” coming on June 10th.
Before you get to the excerpt and giveaway, I wanted to tell you a little about the inspiration for this story and…then you can dive in.
So let me see. I guess I’ll start at the beginning.
Have you ever been in a situation where you did the wrong thing? And maybe it was for the right reasons, at the time, but it was still the wrong thing. I so wanted a do-over for this one, but unfortunately, I never got the opportunity so I had no choice but to write this book so my character had a chance to get it right where I never did.
Now, I’m a little nervous about this book. It deals with religion and faith and we all know how personal those two topics can be. So I tried to read lightly and give an accurate portrayal of the two religions with which I deal. And please know that since I was raised Catholic and then converted to Methodist, neither of these two religions were familiar to me so all of my research came from the internet and is readily available for anyone to peruse.
However, as you read this post and hopefully the book, I hope you’ll keep in mind that I fault no religions as everyone has their beliefs, which may not match mine, but everyone is entitled to their own opinions.
So on with the inspiration. This story was inspired by a single moment in time. One instant when two virtual strangers made decisions that altered their lives. A personal encounter that stayed with me for weeks until I had no choice but to start writing this book.
The only difference in my encounter versus the one in the book is that the fictional character did the right thing where I lacked the courage—a decision I will regret for the rest of my life.
So here’s how it went.
Kell and I were on our boat heading south for our yearly trek to escape the harsh new England winters. The previous year we’d made reservation at a marina in a little town called Southport, North Carolina. To be honest, we were a little nervous about being in North Carolina, especially after all the bad press regarding House Bill Number Two (HB2), but our reservations were already made so thought we’d give it a try.
We left our home on Martha’s Vineyard on a sunny day, had wonderful weather and made it to Southport in eight days. Southport is really a charming town, and we planned on staying there for about a month and a half, before we moved farther south to Charleston, South Carolina, where we would spend the rest of the winter.
And believe it or not, during our time in Southport, we saw no signs of discrimination and were treated with respect and dignity. So hats off to the people of NC for rising above the politics and the opinions of a handful of people.
Sorry, I digress. Anyway after eight days on the water, we were very excited to finally be in our temporary home in Southport. On our first morning at the marina, I went for my usual five-mile run and chose a route that took me along the Historic Southport Riverwalk, which is pictured above. It was a beautiful morning, and the sun was just above the horizon, causing the dew on the grass to sparkle like little diamonds. I remember it so vividly.
So, I was running along at my usual pace, enjoying my solitude with no one else in sight, when I saw a man sitting on a park bench quite a distance ahead of me. Even from my vantage point, his body language seemed ominous and overwhelmed. His elbows were resting on his knees, and he was staring blankly out over the Cape Fear River. As I got closer, I saw the man was extremely handsome, well-groomed, clean-cut, and very nicely dressed in a crisp white shirt, dark slacks, and a tie. The type of guy one might describe as metrosexual. And he was holding a book and rubbing his thumb gently over its cover.
Then the man moved his book a certain way and the sun reflected off of something gold. I knew in my heart instantly; he was holding the Holy Bible. The man really looked like he needed a friend. All sorts of possibilities ran through my head. Death. Depression. Illness. He was clearly struggling with something. And here’s where it all went wrong. I continued running toward him, trying to decide if I should stop, but I looked around, and there was no one except the two of us in the park. There were plenty of open park benches and swings overlooking the river, so I could think of no good reason to stop at his particular bench. In my logical mind, I was fearful if I stopped, he might think I was trying to rob him—or even worse trying to pick him up, especially if he was religious man and I was running in a teal shirt, black shorts and matching teal running shoes. OMG, looking back now, what was I thinking? 🙂
So therein lay my dilemma. Take a chance on being considered a thief or quite possibly a pervert or…offer assistance to help someone who might be in need.
I think you know where this is going. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the courage to stop, and I ran right past the guy. Truly, I don’t even think he even saw me as he was so deep in thought. I did greet him as I passed, but if I got a response, I didn’t hear it.
The next morning, I ran again. The same time and the same route. And I did that every day while we were there—over a month, but I never saw the stranger again. Of course, this sent my mind into a tizzy of guilt. Was the guy sick? Or, even worse, was he so distraught he took his own life? All these ideas plagued me and stayed with me. Even after I started this book. Early on I struggled with where to take his desperation. Do I go the sick or suicidal route or do I take the story somewhere else?
I already told you the book deals with religion, but it also delves into the power of our dreams. Some people believe dreams are an open doorway to our souls or even another place and time and among other things, a way for our lost loved ones to communicate with us. And… I just happen to be one of those people.
But many believe dreams are just our subconscious validating things we want to believe. Things like getting one last look at a lost loved one or simply knowing they are okay and have moved on. Things along those lines. In addition, when some people dream of a tragedy, they take it as a sign and try to avoid a certain situation, while others simply dismiss it as a nightmare triggered by something they saw on television or something someone said. In this book, one character’s dreams are portals, for lack of a better word, for a lost loved one to come back and try to help the one left behind to move on with his life.
I hope you take all of this as it is meant. The story is one of loss, identity, hypocrisy, need, and love. Writing it has helped me gain a little closure by giving my characters the happy ending I so hope my stranger enjoyed and easing my guilt a little for not stopping to help a fellow man in need.
I really hope you enjoy the excerpt!
Now. If you read this blog post and feel comfortable posting a response, I’d love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with missing an opportunity to do the right thing like me. And how you resolved it and if it changed you in some way.
So I’d love to hear from you. Everyone who posts will be entered into a drawing to win a book of their choice from my backlist, so please take a minute and share your story. Maybe it will help someone else who might be struggling with something similar. Before you start reading, here’s a little something about me and where you can find more about me and “Losing Faith”, as well as my other stories.
Shaking off the memories, Cullen rounded the bend where the Cape Fear River ended and the Intracoastal Waterway resumed. To his portside was Bald Head Island and the inlet from the Atlantic Ocean, and directly ahead to starboard was the Southport Marina. The little town of Southport was finally in sight. He slowed to idle speed and radioed the marina for docking information.
The marina gave him his instructions, and he in turn informed them he was onboard alone and would need assistance at the dock. He put T-Time in neutral and once again left the helm to ready his lines. He wasn’t sure if he was pleased or not when they directed him to the main dock and a slip directly across from the slip he and Cole had occupied on their previous trip.
It was nearing three thirty by the time Cullen connected the boat to the shore power supply, water, and cable television, and made sure his boat was secure.
Cullen then ventured down below to clean up the mess left behind by the captain of Knot Nice. He grumbled under his breath as he put all the waterway guides, magazines, books, candles, and the pictures of him and Cole back in their proper places. Then he looked in the direction of the galley. In his shaking hand, he still held one of his favorite pictures of Cole, who was arranging tulips in a small crystal vase and smiling up at the camera. The remains of that vase now covered the galley floor, along with the half-dozen red and yellow tulips that always filled the vase when Cullen was onboard.
Distraught, Cullen dropped to his knees to gather the flowers. He mentally cursed himself for not doing a better job of securing the vase that morning when he’d left Beaufort. But in a moment of anger, he shifted the blame. “No! I wedged it tightly behind the sink where it’s made each leg of this trip unharmed.” He once again looked up. “God! I’m getting really tired of these constant tests. You’ve already turned your back on me, so why can’t you just leave me alone. When is all of this going to end?”
As he sifted through the broken glass, a shard tore at Cullen’s index finger. “Damn!” Blood was now dripping onto the galley floor. “Are you seriously trying to push me over the edge?”
When he reached for a paper towel, Cullen knelt on another shard of glass. “Damn it!” he screamed. “Please! Just give me a break!”
Cullen fought the tears welling up in his eyes. In the last year and a half, he’d been so angry—at God and everyone else—he hadn’t been able to cry. But no matter how determined he was to keep his emotions in check, on this day of all days, he lost the battle in a big way.
Today was the first of his planned attempt at leaving the past behind and finally moving on. But Cullen’s tears had a mind of their own. They freely escaped the prison that had held them at bay for so long. Tear after tear ran down his cheeks, dripping like melting ice and mixing with the blood on the floor.
How I haven’t read a Scotty Cade book yet, I don’t know. Knobs is still up there on my TBR list, and is in my kindle waiting for me (and might just be my weekend read-I mean check out the cover!!!). Anyway, I figured this would be a great place to begin reading his work. And I am mad at myself for waiting so long.
This book intrigued me right from the start, and after reading his guest post about how this book came to be, I knew I needed to read it. A chance at redemption for an author who still feels the sting of wondering “what if”, what a great way to bring it together and find some closure.
These two men, on different paths, both religiously and romantically, took a chance on becoming friends when their worlds could not have been further apart. The grief still pulling Cullen deeply under, and away from the God he had loved for so long was ever present in everything he did. He felt guilty for not having his connection with God any longer, but didn’t know how to reset himself.
And Abel, a sweet man who felt at odds with his faith’s beliefs, in a church that had been there for him during so many challenging times in his youth, trying to find his way to become the man he knew he was. Facing that truth, and finding love were never in his plans until he met Cullen.
Although not angst filled, it was definitely emotion filled. These men found a connection with each other, and were able to draw the best of each other out, despite not wanting it to happen. They were touched emotionally by the other man, and used that to further their own lives, to help find their way.
I cried several times in this book, because the grief that Cullen felt was so prevalent on the page, and the struggle for Abel was so real. I was not only rooting for these men, but hoping that there would be a point where grief could take a backseat to learning to love God again for Cullen. It took time, and I really loved how the author brought that to the forefront in the epilogue. It was an important part of Cullen’s healing.
A beautiful story, that I would love to read again, looking for the nuances that I might have missed in the first reading.
4.5 pieces of eye candy
Scotty Cade left Corporate America and twenty-five years of Marketing and Public Relations behind to buy an Inn & Restaurant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with his partner of over twenty years. He started writing stories as soon as he could read, but just five years ago for publication. When not at the Inn, you can find him on the bow of his boat writing gay romance novels with his Shetland sheepdog Mavis at his side. Being from the south and a lover of commitment and fidelity, most of his characters find their way to long healthy relationships, however long it takes them to get there. He believes that in the end, the boy should always get the boy.