Teaser Tuesday: Heavy Hitters
by Taylor V. Donovan
Hey, guys! As you all know, a while back Tuesday was designated as the official “Teaser” day in Romancelandia. Every week authors post excerpts from their works in progress or upcoming releases, and that’s exactly what I’m here to do today. Thanks to The Blogger Girls for having me over and giving me a platform to talk a bit about my newest book.
I am a fierce supporter of civil rights. I’m an even fiercer supporter of LGBTQ rights. I was born and raised in a beautiful island were people are friendly, family oriented, extremely lovable, and, yes, mostly Catholic. Our culture is rich. The folklore, the food, the music… all of it is spicy, tasty, and ingrained. Sadly, we also have our negative side.
You know what else is ingrained in Puerto Rico? Machismo. Chauvinism too, but not to the same level, thank God. The majority of our men are hard workers and fiercely protective of their families. They are raised to get married and be the breadwinners in their homes, and they take that responsibility seriously. They become “men” at an early age, and husbands and fathers in their teens and early twenties. That’s the norm. It’s our way.
Another thing that’s ingrained in Puerto Rico is religion. Now, I don’t have to tell you religious people aren’t exactly jumping on the equality bandwagon, do I? Down there men act like men. Anything different and there could be hell to pay. So, what’s a Catholic boy to do when he realizes he likes other boys and his church tells him acting on his attraction is a mortal sin? And what about a boy who’s a nurturer, likes pretty things, and wants nothing more than to take care of the boy he likes? How do they go through life repressing their true selves for fear of losing everything they hold dear if someone found out they’re gay?
Growing up in Puerto Rico in the 80s with a gay best friend allowed me to gain almost firsthand experience in discrimination, mockery, bullying, and downright abuse. I saw my friend go through things other people can’t even fathom, and I haven’t been able to forget.
Caribbean Tales, my new(est) series, aims to explore the life journey of my Puerto Rican characters in a country closed-off to their orientation. All the stories are on the island, but they’re standalones. Heavy Hitters is the first title in the series, and it spans a lifetime. You’ll meet Santi and Luca when they are kids, and follow them through the years until they reach their thirties and find their happily ever after.
Once again, thanks to The Blogger Girls for having me. The book doesn’t come out until October, but I’d like to do a giveaway anyway. Share your experiences and observations about acceptance (or lack thereof) toward the LGBTQ community in your neck of the wood for a chance to win a copy of Heavy Hitters. I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you.
And now I leave you with an excerpt from Heavy Hitters 🙂
About Heavy Hitters
His toughest opponent is himself.
World Boxing Champion Santino Malavé has been fighting since he was a kid. Poverty, domestic violence, and emotional abuse were early contenders. Guilt and self-loathing were beaten into him by his homophobic dad at an impressionable age and now machismo, an integral part of the Latino culture, rules his life. In the ring he’s undefeated. Outside the ropes life constantly hits him below the belt. It takes a sucker punch from his best friend to finally knock the denial out of him and force him to face his true nature like a real man.
A natural born entertainer, Luca Betancur has grown up laughing, performing, and celebrating life among his tight-knit family under the scorching Puerto Rican sun. He has also dedicated years to deny his sexuality, study what the Bible really says, and pursue fame. Singing the wrong note on stage is not a mistake the multi-platinum award-winning singer would ever allow. Falling in love with a man is not a transgression his devout family would ever accept. The ties that bind him are strong, but the pull toward his childhood best friend may just be enough to tear it all to shreds.
Anger, mistakes, bigotry, and the need to conform put up a good fight. Can they break down the walls erected by Catholic teachings and a chauvinistic society, or will their relationship lose by technical knockout?
Heavy Hitters is coming soon in mid-October!
An Excerpt from Heavy Hitters
The soft light of Luca’s bedside lamp illuminated the room. The mattress shifted when Santi plonked down next to him. They weren’t touching, but Luca held his breath. Santi’s scent always went to his head.
He buried his face in the pillow, then slipped his hand between his body and the mattress and wrapped his fingers around his cock, praying Santi wouldn’t notice he was hard.
Being the same age, they both had to deal with untimely erections neither of them ever mentioned, but this wasn’t just a case of morning wood. He wasn’t awake enough to pretend that it was as simple as that. He was afraid Santi would put two and two together if he saw the guilt and shame Luca felt reflected in his face.
Get it together… Get it together…
“I know the submission deadline is approaching, but the song isn’t ready yet. Hundreds— maybe thousands of experienced lyricists will enter their songs into this contest, and I’m just a sixteen-year-old music student. I’ve got to make sure my song is great.” He traced the blue stripes of his bed sheet with his fingertip, swallowed his self-consciousness, and looked into black, soulful eyes. “I think I captured the true spirit of Puerto Rican culture and folklore. I like the lyrics a lot, and Mateo helped me with the beat, so I know it’s sick. Plus you’ve told me it’s a great song, and you’d never blow smoke up my ass.”
Santi licked his lips and gave him a once over. “So what’s holding you back?” He blinked quickly, folding his arms over his chest.
Jesus, what was that about?
Taking a shuddering breath, Luca lowered his gaze and willed himself to calm down.
Looking Santi in the eye in a room full of people never failed to send his heart into a tailspin. Looking Santi in the eye when they were alone in his darkened bedroom had an even bigger effect on him.
It made him forget his religious faith. It made him painfully aware of the desires he worked so hard to ignore. That was something he couldn’t allow. He couldn’t go against God and lose his soul.
He wasn’t checking you out. He didn’t look at you like he wanted to kiss you. It was your imagination. You know he’d never want something like that and you must remember the heart is more deceitful than all else. Jeremiah 17:9 says so, and the Bible is always right.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said out loud, blocking completely impure—not to mention impossible—images of Santi climbing on top of him. “I mean, Desiree Coll will include the winning song in her next album, and everything she sings climbs to the top of the charts. The contest is getting media attention. The music industry will notice the song. It could even win a Grammy or something like that. Do you know how amazing that’d be for my future singing career?”
“I know it’s a big deal.” Santi flashed one of the smiles he seemed to reserve for the people closest to his heart. Luca was forever grateful to be one of them. “You’ve told me like a million times.” Santi put his hands behind his head, raised his legs, and started doing bicycle crunches.
“I’d die.” Luca closed his eyes and thought about himself getting out of a limousine, sitting among stars like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Bon Jovi at an award show, and giving an acceptance speech that his friends and family would be able to see on T.V.
His daydream came to an abrupt end when Santi nudged him with his knee. Luca’s body hair stood on end.
Please, God, please. Make this stop. Make me stop feeling all tingly and hot whenever he touches me. Make me stop thinking about him in a sexual way.
“Is Mom up?” Santi’s presence in his room didn’t necessarily mean that anyone in the house was awake. He knew where to find the spare door key and could let himself in.
“She’s in the kitchen making coffee and freaking out over everything she still has to do before Rebeca’s Quinceañero tonight.”
“That’s great. Not that she’s freaking out, unnecessarily, I might add, but that she’s making coffee.” He threw a pillow at Santi, using the momentary distraction to roll on his back and sit on the edge of the bed, thus avoiding embarrassing himself. He stuck his hand down the waist of his shorts and pinched the tip of his cock. He offered a silent thank you to Papá Dios, Jesucristo, and la Vírgen de la Guadalupe when it started going down. “I can use a cup… maybe five, considering I’ll be helping her all day and won’t be able to catch a nap.” He fixed his gaze on the Freddy Mercury poster taped to his wall.
Did you ever try to suppress your urges, Freddy? Did you ever feel you had a chance before giving up and kissing a man?
“You’re addicted to coffee.”
I suspect that’s not the only thing I’m addicted to…
“Mom gave me a poster of The Three Tenors last night,” he said. “Apparently Freddy’s is getting old and she thinks it’s time I replace it.”
“Well, you know she hates that poster.”
Mom had been saying the poster of Freddy Mercury was inappropriate for a teenage boy’s room since Mateo gave it to him for Christmas four years ago. Freddy was mostly covered by a leather jacket and long pants, but Mom thought the stretchy material made his idol’s lower body look obscene. The fact that his sexuality wasn’t a secret was yet another strike against poor Freddy in Mom’s book. As far as she was concerned, he was a terrible role model for good Catholic boys. She wasn’t a fan of anyone who chose to live in sin, greatest musician of all time or not.
Luca knew Mom would love it if he took the poster down, but he liked what he liked. So what if sometimes he noticed the black lycra outlined Freddy’s package perfectly? He wasn’t blind. He couldn’t help it. Fortunately for him, she wasn’t a my-way-or-the-highway kind of mother. Even if she couldn’t understand what it was that he found so appealing about Queen’s music. She suggested he found more suitable inspiration every other day, but imposing her opinions and beliefs on her kids wasn’t her style.
Thank God for that.
A pillow hit him on the back of his head, promptly followed by a second one. “Earth to Luca,” Santi said in a robotic voice. He was well aware of Luca’s tendency to space out.
He glanced over his shoulder. “What do you think of Freddy’s outfit?” he asked before he realized he’d opened his mouth.
“Gayest thing I’ve ever seen.” Santi’s face contorted in disgust. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in those pants.”
Heart shrinking, Luca bit the inside of his cheek and turned to pick up a T-shirt from the floor. “I kind of like them,” he admitted quietly. “I’d wear them.”
“Are you nuts?” Santi sputtered, lowering his legs and sitting on the bed. “People would think you’re a maricón if they saw you.”
“Tight pants are like a rock star’s uniform.” He shrugged. “Everyone knows that.”
“Our friends would make fun of you. They’d wonder if you’re gay.”
“Since when do you care what they say?”
“I’d care what they said about that particular subject.”
“What about you?” He looked Santi straight in the eye. “Would you make fun of me too, or would you have my back?”
Santi opened and closed his mouth several times. He was clearly at a loss for words; looking for a way to speak his mind without sounding like he wasn’t a supportive friend at the same time.
“I’d never let you out in public wearing fag clothes, not even to play a gig with your rock band,” Santi finally said in a taut voice. “Don’t rock stars wear jeans and leather pants as well? You could wear leather if you’re tired of only wearing black jeans. That’s not as bad as that thing Freddy Mercury liked. You can’t be too much like Freddy. People might think—” He fisted the blankets. “Do you want to get disrespected like that? Plus, they’d probably think I’m a maricón too for hanging out with you. They’d call us names and I’d have to beat the hell out of them.” He shook his head. “It’s better to behave like the machos we are.”
The room was dimly lit, but he noticed the blank look in Santi’s eyes and his trembling chin. He didn’t know what to make of Santi’s reaction. He couldn’t tell if Santi was mad at him for asking what he would do, or ashamed over his own lack of support. Santi was a master when it came to hiding his thoughts.
“You’re right,” Luca croaked. “Jeans are better in this weather anyway.” He sniffed the T-shirt to make sure it was clean, but also to hide his disappointment from Santi. He loved his best friend more than he could say, but he’d rather Santi didn’t have such a homophobic mentality.
Luca didn’t care that despising gays was the norm in their country, or that God himself was against same sex love. He didn’t think men deserved to be humiliated for being attracted to other men, and just once he’d like to hear his best friend say he felt the same.
Just once… Just in case…
“Are you mad at me?” Santi whispered.
“Nah…” He put on his T-shirt and forced himself to smile. “I was thinking Mom would have a fit if she saw me wearing something like that.” He gestured at the poster in passing when he walked to his dresser. “You know modern pop music isn’t exactly her thing.” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Santi release the blanket and take a deep breath.
“That’s true.” Santi gave him a tentative smile. “Did you decide if you’re going to tell her and Don Agustín about the Desiree Coll contest?”
“I’m not going to tell them.” Luca let out a long sigh. “Mom wants me to be a piano concertist or the next Plácido Domingo. She doesn’t want me to do anything related to the music business until I’ve graduated from college, but she has me learning French and Italian in the hopes I’ll take opera seriously. I never will. She should listen to me and stop wasting money.”
“Is there a chance you’d change your mind?”
Luca gave the same answer he did whenever the subject came up. “Singing opera is challenging and fun, but my heart is set on pop music.”
“Good. You don’t have to move to Italy to study pop music with the best.”
Luca smiled reassuringly. “You know I’d never live so far away from you.” Santi was terrified their goals would send them in different directions. Deep down, so was Luca. But he intended to stop that from ever happening. Things wouldn’t be right in his life if he couldn’t see Santi every day.
“And neither would I.”
Luca’s smile got bigger. “I know.” He took underwear and a pair of socks out of a drawer. “I hate keeping important things from my parents, but I don’t feel like fighting with them over something that, most likely, won’t go anywhere.” He walked over to the closet and grabbed his jogging pants. “I don’t have a chance of winning the songwriting contest. I’d love to win, but there’s no way, so why tell them I entered and get into an argument? There’ll be a lot of drama when the time comes to tell them which university I want to attend, so might as well spare us all the aggravation until then.” He stopped by the door and looked at Santi. “I’m going to brush my teeth and get dressed. See you downstairs, okay?”
Santi got up from the bed. Four long steps later he was standing almost nose-to-nose with Luca, making him twitchy and faint.
“You will win the Desiree Coll contest,” Santi enunciated, deep black gaze glued to Luca’s, fresh minty breath fanning his lips. “You’re the most talented person on this island…” Santi gripped Luca’s shoulders and brushed his collarbones with scratchy burning thumbs. “And you’re going to take the music world by storm.” Santi shook him quickly, then gave him what had to be one of the broadest, brightest smiles Luca had ever seen in his face. “You got that?”
Luca’s vision clouded and the air rushed out of his lungs. “I got it.” His knees wobbled at Santi’s closeness and unwavering faith in his talent, but he managed to stay put.
“That’s what I like to hear.” Santi grazed his jaw with his fist so softly, it felt more like a caress than anything else. “Don’t make me wait too long.”
As soon as Santi disappeared down the hall, Luca closed his eyes and bumped his head against the door. He forced himself to breathe again. He told himself he was shivering because it was cold in his room. He reminded himself devout Catholic boys couldn’t be attracted to other boys. He congratulated himself for not giving into temptation and stealing a kiss from his best friend.
Father Benicio would’ve been proud of him… had Luca not jerked off to the point of blindness for the past five nights. He hadn’t looked at porn, but masturbation was still morally wrong. That was a teaching Luca resented. He honestly didn’t understand why the Lord would rather his children busted a nut when it was so easy to shoot their load when they were in the shower.
Rubbing the back of his neck, he went to the bathroom, and got dressed. He concentrated in his morning routine, all along thinking it was at times like this he wished Santi didn’t treat him differently than everybody else.
Not that he’d change their closeness for anything in the world.
Santi was quiet and intense. He was withdrawn for the most part and sometimes he even looked uncomfortable when they hung out with their friends. But he was completely different when he and Luca were alone. There were no limits between them. ‘Boundaries’ was nothing but a word that had never applied to their friendship.
Luca loved being the only person Santi trusted with everything. He was also the only person Santi voluntarily touched, and that was great too. Even though it was torture, he had no intention of asking Santi to stop. But he couldn’t deny things would be far less complicated if Santi kept his hands and hugs to himself. Luca wouldn’t be overcome by erotic feelings the second they touched. He would actually have a shot at convincing himself he wasn’t gay.
Because, there was a chance he wasn’t gay.
If he were gay, he’d want to kiss, fondle, and dry-hump some of the other hot dudes he knew, as opposed to only fantasizing about Santi. That surely meant something, right? It had to mean something.
About Taylor V. Donovan
Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of gay romance and suspense. She is optimistically cynical about the world; lover of history, museums and all things 80s. She is crazy about fashion, passionate about civil rights and equality for all, and shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television.
When she’s not making a living in the busiest city in the world or telling the stories of gorgeous men hot for one another, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and their terribly misbehaved furry baby in the mountains she calls home.
Taylor has graciously offered up an eBook copy of Heavy Hitters to one lucky winner once it releases!! The giveaway starts now and ends September 29, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.