I’m gonna try something new for you and have my two characters talk to you about themselves and about me rather than spewing stuff about myself. Hope you get to know these two awesome guys a bit through the process.
Interview With Derek and Scott
Beck Schultz (Derek’s best friend): Derek, you sweet-assed lollipop. Come give mama a kiss. You too, Scott, I wanna be the filling in a hot man-sandwich.
Derek: Beck, we’re here to interview, can’t you tone it down for even one second?
Beck (pouts): I swear, Derek, I oughtta…
Scott: Yeah, yeah. We all know how much you love to threaten the male anatomy. What will it be this time? It’s not summer so skewers and barbeques are out of the question. It isn’t quite winter yet, so roasting them like chestnuts on an open fire seams unseasonable. What is a good autumn threat?
Beck: You…I…whatever. Let’s sit and get to business. (Takes out a notepad) Why don’t we start by telling me who this DH Starr character is?
Derek: Doug? He’s a good guy. Kind of quiet and keeps to himself too much, but he’s working on that. He’s a teacher and has this zany personality. I bet I would have loved school if he’d been around to make life fun. He’s also got this awesome positive energy about him. You know, expects the best in people. Like he gets disappointed when people let him down, but he doesn’t let it get in his way of remaining optimistic and hoping for the best.
Scott: I’d have to agree. He once told me that he’s crazy and I was like, whaaaaaatttt? It’s kind of a weird thing to say about yourself. But the more I got to know him, the more I understood what he meant. There’s nothing bland about the guy. Like, he once told me his students love the song Baby Shark and he made up some whacked-out dance that gets the kids giggling and dancing, and then they are all energized to learn. That’s kinda cool.
Beck: Sounds like my kind of guy. Maybe you should introduce us.
Derek: Sorry, Beck, he plays for our team.
Beck: Boo. All the good ones do. Oh well, let’s move on. How are you doing, Scotty? This was a tough year for you with your dad and all.
Scott: Yeah. I’m holding up. It wasn’t easy reconnecting with Dad, but I’m glad I did. I mean, you saw what he was like before, back in high school, when he nearly broke me and Derek up. And then he took off and ditched me and Mom. I wasn’t prepared to open up to him. But in the end, it was the right choice and I feel much better now because of it.
Derek: Scott is underplaying his courage. (Turns to Scott). You really are my hero. I mean, the way you kept pushing yourself when everything inside you wanted to run. No one would have blamed you for telling the guy to screw off and leave you alone forever, but you wouldn’t cave. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about how amazing you are.
Scott: (Kisses Derek’s cheek). You sure those goosebumps aren’t from what we did in the dressing room before this interview.
Beck: Oh, do tell!
Derek: Scott! Let’s keep it PG for at least five minutes.
Beck: I knew there was a reason I called you Downer Derek growing up.
Derek: What? You never called me…whatever, you want to hear about what happened, fine. Go for it, Scott.
Scott: (Snapping his gaze back and forth between Derek and Beck) Uh, how about you ask your next question, Beck.
Beck: Fine. But you better spill once this interview is over. Derek, why don’t you tell me what you love about Scott. And Babe, keep it to two minutes or less.
Derek: (Scowls, then smiles) Scott comes off as low-key and controlled to the outside world, but deep down he’s filled with passion and fiercely defends the people who matter most to him. Being with him makes me feel like I’m the most special person in the world. I mean, right from the beginning, it felt like he could see right into my soul. Like he knew how much I needed to finally come out as who I am for the world to see. As much as he didn’t want to at first, he never stood in my way. His unwavering support is one of the things I love about him. Then there’s the everyday stuff. He’s constantly touching me, giving me private glances when we’re around other people, texting me with goofy messages. You know, just constantly showing me that he’s thinking about me.
Scott: Derek gives me too much credit. Everything he’s just said isn’t even an effort for me. Being there for him. Thinking about him. Standing behind him with whatever he needs. It’s as easy as breathing. Before I met him, I didn’t know what it meant to count on anything. I moved around, as you know, because Dad had to transfer so much. And Dad was always hard, holding me to unreachable expectations and withholding emotions of any kind. Basically, I felt like I was floating through life until Derek anchored me. And his way with people, how he can’t resist helping others in need, I fall in love with him all over again every day just by watching the amazing things he does.
Beck: (Wiping a tear from her eye) Aw, you two are so damn cute. So, this new book about you, Wrestling With Hope, why is it called that? I mean, I get the other three Wrestling With Desire, Wrestling With Love, and Wrestling With Passion. I mean look at you two. You can’t keep your pants on long enough to get ready for an interview. Why is this one focused on hope?
Scott: Well, one thing that stuck with me from spending all this time with Dad is that hope has power. It’s scary to hope, because when you do, there’s a chance you won’t get what you want and that can be crushing. But if you never wish for something, hope for it, yearn for it, then are you really living? Life is all about taking chances. Hell, Derek took one hell of a chance by tying himself to someone like me.
Derek: Quit it, Scott.
Scott: Kidding. Jeez, so serious.
Beck: Don’t worry, I’ll kick him in his nuts later.
Derek: All right. All right. Go on.
Scott: Anyways, like I was saying, I had very low expectations about seeing my dad again. But the more time I spent with him, I discovered a light beginning to grow inside me. This piece of myself which always felt like I was unlovable because Dad never showed me love, was like an empty hole in my heart. Derek filled most of the empty space, but nothing can completely erase a lifetime of rejection from a person who is supposed to love you unconditionally. And as that light grew, I began to realize that the emptiness had shrunk and I began to believe I could heal from the damage of growing up if I managed to get past my own resentment and let Dad in. Wrestling With Hope seems like a perfect title for this one, because that’s exactly what I did. Without it, I never would have given Dad a chance.
Beck: Oh, Scotty. I love you so much and am so happy you finally realize how amazing you are.
Derek: (Snuggling closer to Scott) Me too.
Beck: So, let’s get back to the sexy stuff. Derek, what’s Scott like in bed. I mean we’ve all seen that huge package he can’t hide no matter how baggy his shorts are.
Derek: Well, you know I’m not gonna answer that here, but if you read the first chapter of the new book, Scott kinda ravages me right away. I’m sure you’ll find your answer there.
Beck: Oh boo. I guess I’ll have to purchase my copy right now. That’s all the time we have. (Puts down notepad). Now, about what happened in the dressing room.
About Wrestling With Hope
Forced to move from place to place, never setting down roots, robbed Scott Thayer of any thread of stability during his childhood. No matter how hard he tried, he could never please his distant and judgmental father. If his own father couldn’t love him, who could?
Two years after last setting eyes on the man whose approval he’d never win, he’s found a good life, attending college, become a star on the wrestling team, built a home with his lover Derek, and surrounded himself with people who love him.
An unexpected note from his father, saying, “I want to see you,” turns Scott’s world upside down. Why, after all this time, does the man want back into his life, just when Scott’s wounds have begun to heal? Should he risk his happiness and peace of mind to accept the invitation from someone who’d left him so damaged?
Or will he finally find closure and slam the door on his pain and never look back?
Available at: Amazon
An Excerpt from Wrestling With Hope
The scent of coffee wafted up the stairs to Scott’s room. Ah. Christmas morning. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, slipped out of bed, and meandered toward the kitchen, stopping at the bathroom along the way.
His mother sat at the table reading a newspaper, gripping the sides so they crinkled. “Morning.” She put the paper aside, crossed the room, and placed an awkward kiss on his cheek. “Want some coffee?”
What’s got her twisted in knots? “Merry Christmas, Mom. I can get it myself.” Scott trudged to the cupboard, procured a mug, poured himself some coffee, and heaped two large spoonsfuls of sugar into the steaming black liquid. Heaven. The heat going down his throat. The bitter scent filtering into his nose. The caffeine which seemed to instantly filter into his system. They all melded together into one perfect waking up experience. He propped himself against the counter and closed his eyes. Coffee drinking, a bad habit he didn’t intend to quit. Plus, he needed to mentally prepare for whatever his mother stressed about.
After a few sips, he opened his eyes to find his mother ogling him, her hands folded tightly. The newspaper lay forgotten on the table. “Scott, there’s something I think you should see.” She motioned toward the kitchen table where a white envelope took the place where his breakfast should be.
No “Merry Christmas” or “how’d you sleep?” Scott gripped the edge of the counter, preparing himself for the worst.
His mother continued without any buildup or preliminary warnings. She picked up the card. “This came for you the other day. I wasn’t sure when to give it to you, and it’s Christmas so I’m probably an idiot to give it to you today, but it’s not right for me to hold onto it”.
She’s rambling. His mother handed the card to Scott, then scurried to the sink and rinsed out her mug for much longer than probably necessary.
Scott’s heart skipped a beat, then pounded. He recognized the handwriting. Dad.
“What’s this?” A stupid question, but at least asking gave him a minute to process what he held in his hand. Why would his father, after two decades of never giving him a card or any other kindness, reach out to him now?
“I think you should open it and find out for yourself.” His mother kept her back to him and, upon closer inspection, he noticed her shoulders pulled up close to her ears, her posture as rigid as a board.
What could be so earth-changing his negligent father would take the time to write him? For the past two years the man had dropped off the face of the planet. No phone calls. No nothing.
Scott peeled back the corner of the seal and slid his finger along the top of the envelope. Each act seemed independent from the other. Opening the envelope, retrieving the card, reading the front. Steps to prolong actually seeing what dear old Dad had to say.
No sense in delaying things any further. Scott flipped the card open.
Odd way to begin since his father never called him son before. Sometimes Scott wondered if his dad remembered his name. Their interaction usually consisted of barked orders.
I know it’s been a while and I’m sorry. Mom says you’re doing well. I’d like to see you.
Scott read the words three more times before placing the card on the table facedown. His heart, which had thrashed feverishly moments earlier, slowed to a steady, even beat, eerily slow and calm. Dad asked about me? Apologized? Wants to meet?
The room began to spin. Scott sat where his mom had been sitting. Just when his life seemed to be leveling out, this had to happen? “What’s going on, Mom?”
His mother turned from the sink and scrutinized Scott without saying anything. By the soulful expression on her face and the shimmering in her eyes, no words were needed to let Scott know something big was up. “You’ll have to make a decision about whether you want to call your father. When I spoke to him, I told him I’d let you choose what to do without getting involved.”
“Mom!” Now wasn’t the time for bullshit.
“All right. Okay.” She wrung her hands together, the whites of her knuckles showing. “He doesn’t simply want to reach out. He needs to talk to you about something.”
His heart sped up again. “What!”
Nervous chuckles filled the space between them. “Was that a question or a statement?” Her tightly clenched hands revealed nervousness, but she made eye contact. “It’s not for me to share, but I think you should meet with him.”
Panic clasped Scott’s throat with a vice grip. “Where is he? I haven’t heard from him in two years. Has he been living in Massachusetts all this time?” Scott wasn’t sure what he wanted the answer to be. Part of him hoped he’d moved across the country. At least that might explain why he’d simply disappeared from their lives so completely.
“He’s been living out of state. He came back because…” She closed her eyes, her lips thinning into narrow lines. “It’s for him to share with you, honey. He’s staying at the Marriot in Boston.”
Dad, in Boston, a ten-minute subway ride away. Why reveal all of this on Christmas morning? “When does he want to see me?”
“You’ll have to call him and set something up.” She crossed the room and caressed Scott’s cheek. Despite the fact she’d squished all the blood out of her hands, her palms were warm. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but at least give him a call.”
Apparently, Hell finally froze over. He’d have believed icicles formed on brimstone far easier than believing his father had a sudden change of heart and wanted to get to know the son he’d ignored and used as a personal slave for the entire duration of their relationship. “He didn’t leave a number.”
“I’ve got the number right here.” Mom reached into her jeans pocket and withdrew a tightly folded sheet of paper. “I told him I’d give it to you but made it clear you would be the one to decide to use it.”
“Does he want me to call him today?” Scott looked at his mother’s hand but made no move to retrieve the slip of paper.
Her expression softened to one of silent understanding. “I’ll leave it here on the fridge.” She secured the number facedown to the steel surface with a I Heart My Gay Son magnet.
Scott stared at the tiny slip of paper, silence growing like a storm cloud between them. No words. No thoughts. Just the thrumming of his heart and a lead weight hanging from his shoulders. He left the kitchen, tramped to the bathroom, stripped, and turned on the shower. As he waited for steam to fill the room, he inspected himself in the mirror. Other than his mussed-up hair and a slight flush to his cheeks, this morning seemed like any other. Better. A second holiday in a row surrounded by love and warmth.
Funny how a few words written on a card and ten measly digits sticking to the refrigerator could change everything.
Scott thought he knew his stance on his dad. The guy was an asshole. A cruel, unloving, abandoning butt-muncher who Scott learned to push almost entirely from his mind.
His reflection slowly disappeared from view, erased by a thin layer of fog on the glass. He stepped into the shower. Whatever decisions he needed to make, they could wait until later.
He tried thinking of Derek. Not even his cheerful smile and adoring eyes filled with love could delete the last ten minutes or the image of the slip of paper on the fridge. What in the hell did his father want? Why would he reach out now… just when Scott had finally put his past behind him and begun to view the future as bright with possibility?
“Damn him to hell.” He hadn’t meant to speak out loud, and he certainly hadn’t meant to curse his father to eternal fire. Forgiveness was the best cure… so said all the self-help books espousing the bullshit line. But were the strangers who wrote those thinking of his dad when they sold their psycho-crap?
Clean, shaven, and just as confused as he’d been before he entered the bathroom, Scott made quick work of dressing. Whatever he decided about calling his father, Christmas at Derek’s and a day sure to be filled with holly-jolly-joy awaited him.
About DH Starr
D.H. Starr is an educator by day and an author at heart.
Writing erotic romance in any genre and young adult stories as well, he likes to explore the emotions of discovering oneself while also allowing someone else into your heart as well. His style has been called angsty at times, and he takes pride in torturing his poor protagonists, making them work for their happily ever after.