TITLE: Dinner at Jack’s
AUTHOR: Rick R. Reed
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
LENGTH: 220 Pages
RELEASE DATE: October 3, 2016
BLURB: Personal chef Beau St. Clair, recently divorced from his cheating husband, has returned to the small Ohio River town where he grew up to lick his wounds. Jack Rogers lives with his mother Maisie in that same small town, angry at and frightened of the world. Jack has a gap in his memory that hides something he dares not face, and he’s probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Maisie, seeking relief from her housebound and often surly son, hires Beau to cook for Jack, hoping the change might help bring Jack, once a handsome and vibrant attorney, back to his former self. But can a new face and comfort food compensate for the terror lurking in Jack’s past?
Slowly, the two men begin a dance of revelation and healing. Food and compassion build a bridge between Beau and Jack, a bridge that might lead to love.
But will Jack’s demons allow it? Jack’s history harbors secrets that could just as easily rip them apart as bring them together.
Maisie quickly gained back some of her composure. She smiled. “Are you ready for something good?”
Jack didn’t answer, not because he couldn’t speak but because he knew if he did, what would come out would be mean-spirited, sarcastic, a way of pushing them both away. And for just this moment, this day, he was fighting mightily against those impulses.
He simply looked over at his mom and allowed his lip to curl up in just one corner to indicate a smile.
Beau came in behind her, holding the white melamine tray he’d grown so used to these past few years as Maisie brought him most of his meals on it. He flattened himself against the headboard as the smells danced across the room to linger under his nose. He breathed in, and their rich, savory notes—garlic, black pepper, Parmesan cheese—ignited something, threw a switch in his brain.
The food not only smelled delicious in an almost transportive way but smelled familiar. Again, Jack couldn’t pinpoint why. Neither could he deny he’d smelled this particular arrangement of aromas at some time in his past—and the association was good. He grasped for it, trying to catch the memory dancing just out of reach in his fevered brain, but he couldn’t catch hold of it. He couldn’t hold it, as it were, in mental hands so he could lift it up, examine it, and place it appropriately in his memory. No, all the smells inspired was a vague nostalgia, as delightful as it was frustrating.
Beau neared the bed. He set the tray down not on Jack’s lap, but next to him.
“I have a feeling you’re going to love this,” Beau said softly, staring into Jack’s eyes.
Jack allowed himself, for only a second or two, to stare back, noticing the rich green of Beau’s eyes, which were the color of moss. He tore his gaze away. Something told him it wasn’t right to stare into another man’s eyes that way. There was something shameful in it.
Instead he looked down at the tray. On it was a white bowl filled with little pillows of pasta he remembered were called gnocchi. They glistened with olive oil, dotted here and there with flakes of red pepper. The tang of the cheese, although barely visible on the pasta, rose up to Jack’s nostrils to remind him it was there. Next to the pasta was a plate upon which was piled a mound of greens, it too glistening with a light dressing. Jack could smell the lemon in it, acidic, tangy, making his mouth water.
He gripped his fists together so tightly he could see his knuckles whiten in his mind’s eye. A sudden urge, powerful, rose up, to push the tray very gently, and while smiling all the while—off the edge of the bed.
No! Why did he want to do such a thing?
He couldn’t bring himself to say anything, especially not anything like “This smells amazing” or “Oh my God, this looks so good.” But he could fight the impulse to fling the food, a gift really, to the floor. Or at least he thought he could….
He looked at Beau, then away quickly, to level a glance at his mother, who was all expectancy and hope. Her hands were clasped together, almost as though she were praying. And maybe she was.
Staring down at the tray at last, he lifted it up and onto his lap. He grabbed the paper towel on its surface and tucked it into his collar. Finally he lifted the bowl up and took in a gnocchi.
The flavors danced, truly danced, on his tongue, an explosion of savory heat. He closed his eyes and reveled in how this simple bite of food transported him, made him one with his body in delight… and again, weirdly, nostalgia. He forced the latter away and continued eating, without realizing right away he was also keeping his eyes closed.
When it dawned on him that he was sitting there, gobbling his food down with his eyes shut, his eyelids snapped up. His mother hovered over him, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Beau stood in the background, wearing a subtle but visible smile of triumph.
Those two ignited a tiny flame of rage within Jack. He glared at them. “Do you think a guy could eat in privacy?” he asked.
“Of course,” Beau said. He grabbed Maisie’s hand and led her from the room. They closed the door softly behind themselves.
And Jack found himself eating every bite. And wanting more….
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.
He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”
Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
You can also email Rick at – email@example.com
Winner’s Prize: Dinner at Home ebook.
Runner Up Prize: Dinner at Fiorello’s eBook.
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