EXCERPT CHAPTER 3 - ANGUISH: BEN'S STORY

Welcome to excerpt #3 from Anguish: Ben's Story - during a visit home, JC must decide if he can love Ben and admit to him that he is gay or if he will still hide his true feelings. As always, remember that attitudes about being gay are much different now than they were in the late 1990's in small Rocky Mountain West towns. 

“So, what movie are we seeing?” JC asked as they sat down at the table in the pizza restaurant that was surrounded by doors leading to the multiplex theaters.
“I thought we could see Fantasy of Night. The theater gets dark so if we sit in the very back, maybe we can hold hands or something.”
JC smiled. “Is this our first date?”
“Yeah…I mean if you want it to be”
“Sounds good to me. I just wish we didn’t have to hide it.”
“Yeah me too," Ben sighed. “And maybe someday in the future we won’t.”
“I hope so. But somehow I don’t ever see it happening. And that’s what is so hard about making a decision. Do I really want to chose to be gay and let myself fall in love with you only to have to  hide it and live with such a secret my whole life?”
Ben felt like someone was stabbing his heart. JC didn’t seem to get it at all. “It’s not a choice. Either you are or you aren’t. The way I see it is that I can live how my heart tells me to and put up with the backlash, or I can live in a loveless marriage, deceiving a good woman… which also adds up to living a secret life.”
JC had tears in his eyes when he looked up at Ben. “So, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t?”
“Yeah, pretty much. But your attitude about it can make or break your happiness. I can’t live without true love. I refuse to.”
JC’s head dropped to hide his tears. “My name is JC and I’m gay. I think I’m falling in love with an amazing boy but I’m afraid I might be too much of a coward to live the way he needs me to.”
“I’ll help you,” Ben murmured, aching to reach out and touch his friend. “Come on, my dad is working in the kitchen, his office is free.”
As soon as the door closed behind them, Ben locked it. He pulled JC into a hug and let him cry. When he pulled himself together, Ben was there with tissues and then a kiss.
“Is somebody in there?” came Cole Harper’s voice. The two boys quickly pulled apart and Ben unlocked the door. “Sorry, Dad. JC’s upset about going back to California after Christmas so I thought we should talk about it in private.”
Cole nodded and turned to JC. “I take it you don’t like it there, son?”
“No sir,” JC murmured. “The whole family can’t wait to come back here in November.”
“Well, we’ll be happy to have you back. I know Benjamin misses you.”
“Thank you sir. Maybe we should go order our pizza now.”
“Yeah, come on,” Ben agreed, dragging JC out of the room. If his dad only knew how much he missed his ‘best friend’ when he was gone.

As they walked back out to the restaurant, JC turned to Ben with a sad look.  “And so the lies begin.”

EXCERPT CHAPTER 2 - ANGUISH: BEN'S STORY

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Anguish: Ben's Story. We are now getting into the depression part of the story. Ben has a unique, mature yet inured mind that gives him wishes and thoughts that might shock others. 

Please, if you are having a hard time, are battling depression and/or anxiety or need help with your mental health in some way, reach out. There are doctors, friends, teachers, and organizations that are there to help you. Don't give up!



“Hey kiddo, you okay? You’ve been up here for quite a while.”
His trademark bright grin lit his face and he leapt up off the bed. “I’m fine! I talked to JC and read for a while,” he said, pointing to the open book on his bed. “Is it dinner time? I’m starving.”
Evelyn Harper smiled at her son. She was glad to see him being his usual self despite the fact that he wouldn’t be playing football this year. “Well, since your dad is working the late shift, I figured you, your brothers and I could go have dinner with him then catch a movie.”
Free pizza and movies were one advantage of his parents owning the local entertainment hub, Movie and a Pizza Place. Not that he was really in the mood for it now. “Sure, that sounds great. Just let me go to the bathroom first.”
Ben hurried out of the room, more to gather his scattered thoughts than to go to the bathroom.
“Oh son,” Evelyn called after him. “You’ll have to use my bathroom. There’s something wrong with your toilet.”
He backtracked to his parent’s bedroom and hurried through to the bathroom. After deciding to use the facilities after all, he stood in front of the sink washing his hands and looking in the mirror. A sudden glint of metal caught his eye and after drying his hands, he picked up his dad’s straight razor, an antique for sure. Twirling it around between his fingers, he felt his heart beat calm. He’d often wondered what the rush of pain and lost blood would feel like as the sharp blade guided over his skin.
“Bennie, hurry up. I have to pee before we go too,” came Dylan’s voice from beyond the bathroom door.
Ben set the razor gently on the counter and turned to the door, releasing the lock. “Come on in, brat.”
“What was taking  you so long?” Dylan asked as he hurried over to the toilet.
Ben was back at the sink, looking at himself in the mirror. “I was thinking I might try out Dad’s razor,”
Dylan laughed and tried to push Ben out of the way so he could wash his own hands. “You’d probably cut your head off with Dad’s razor.”
“Yeah brat, you’re probably right.” At least then he’d know what it felt like…
“Don’t call me brat,” Dylan pouted.
“It just means I love you,” Ben chuckled. “Now if I stop calling you brat, then you can be upset. Come on, let’s go.” He ushered his youngest brother out of their parents’ bedroom suite and into the hallway where the rest of their siblings joined them.

“Come on boys. Dad takes his dinner break  in half an hour.” The brothers tramped down the stairs with Ben in the lead, his bright smile shining like a beacon to light their way.

WICKED GODS - PREORDER




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Hades’ Halo
by Julia Mills
Hell hath no fury…. And then Hope arrived.
Alastor: The God’s Eternal Love
Garden Of The Gods
By P.T. Macias
An unexpected vortex radically shakes the jaded God’s structured business plans on the Earth realm. The fierce, cheeky, and fearless dragonette tests the tight rein on his emotions.
The young Dragonette furiously defies the King’s dictate to marry. She escapes Dracosmic to hide in the Earth realm.
The Penumbra of the Gods: The Pandora Sanction
By P.Mattern
When you're  a disgraced  God looking for LOVE ...Earth is a great place to be stranded!
It has been centuries since the ancient Gods and Goddesses were active in human lives. The curse preventing them from using their powers in the earthly realm was buried in an ornate brass box on earth and hidden from them by an mysterious and conditional  spell.. …That is until bored junior accountant  Trude Earhart and her three closest friends discover it on one of their weekend  hiking trips…along with two mysterious, muscle bound and alluring males that they mistake for Live Action Role players with bodies to die for and a vicious looking pet that seems to want to eat them.      All hell is about to break lose! But having a front row seat to the hell storm may deliver all the passion, thrills and danger that Trude has been yearning for!
The War Within: Curse of the Gods
By Danielle James
The God of War has a curse to overcome. Will Emma be the key to setting him free or will she be his undoing?
Ares had been cursed to spend eternity on Mount Olympus, away from Earth and away from humans. The God of War did not give acquiescence easily, though and escaped only to find himself on an Earth like he had never known. Humans no longer believed in the Gods of Olympus, much less feared them. As time goes by, Ares finds that his powers, along with his immortality, are growing weaker by the day. Can one human woman help him to break his curse and overcome the war within himself?

The Gods of Rock n Roll
By R.L. Merrill
A Medium, a Muse and a God of Rock ‘n’ Roll walk into a bar… Will this god give up everything for a muse, or will a presence from his past take everything from him?

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EXCERPT CHAPTER 1 - ANGUISH: BEN'S STORY


Welcome to Anguish: Ben's Story. For those of you who know my Harper's Rock series, you will know who Ben is. He is the oldest Harper Brother and I have saved his story for last because it ended first. I hope you enjoy!  

One young man. One desperate decision. Being a teenager is hard enough, but when you struggle with your sexuality and falling in love for the first time, life can almost be too much to bear. Add in a diagnosis of depression and anxiety and sometimes life feels like it is caving in on top of you. Ben Harper is determined to make it all work with the help of his best friend and new love, JC Croft. But when life conspires against him, can he come out on top or will the pressure crush him?

Here is the first excerpt from Chapter 1
Please keep in mind that the attitude and perception of gay youth was much different in this time period and in small town mountain west during this time period. 

November  1, 1997 - Journal entry
My name is Benjamin Harper but everyone calls me Ben. I’m writing in this journal not really because I want to, but because my doctor recommended it. You see, it appears that Ben Harper doesn’t have the perfect life that everyone thinks he does. Believe it or not, Ben Harper is mentally ill. He suffers from depression…I suffer from depression. I’ve admitted that now. I know I do, I just hate everything about it - when I say it, when I read it and especially when I write it down.
The doctor said I need to not only write about day to day stuff but also about past events that have made me who I am today.  Truthfully, it is like my life didn’t really exist until 1996, the year I turned fourteen. Although, I do see the times before that when the depression and anxiety reared its head.
Maybe if I write about what happened in 1996 I’ll be able to figure out why I never really felt alive until then. In a flash, my life changed forever the summer I turned fourteen because that was when I realized I was in love with my best friend. JC Croft…well, he’s adorable and kind. But the best part, the best part is that I recently found out that he loves me too.


July 29, 1996 Harper’s Rock, Wyoming

“Hey man, it’s not going to be the same without you here,” Ben told his best friend as they carried the last of his suitcases out to the waiting truck.
JC grunted. “Tell me about it, man. I’m never going to find another good friend in California. I really don’t believe a good ol’ Wyoming boy is going to have much in common with a bunch of California beach bums.”
Ben couldn’t help but laugh at the exaggerated look of horror on his friend’s face. “Yeah, but just think about all of the pretty little beach bunnies. Maybe you’ll find a girlfriend instead.”
“Uh…sure…sure." JC shrugged and turned to face his friend’s cousin, Abigail, who was standing nearby. “Make sure he stays on the straight and narrow for me, Abby. Lord knows what he’ll do without me.”
“You  know I will,” she said, tossing a look at her cousin. His head was ducked which most likely meant that he was blushing and his face was probably as red as his hair. “Take care, JC.”
“Thanks Abby,” he said, turning back to Ben, his hand thrust out to shake. “Everyone else is in the truck. I…I’d better get going.”
“Okay," Ben said softly, clasping his friend’s hand. As quick as a flash they pulled each other into a hug and then it was over. JC rounded the vehicle and hopped inside. His dad started the engine and pulled away. The two boys, who’d been best friends since Kindergarten, waved until they could no longer see each other.
Abigail stood, watching her cousin as several different emotions played across his face. The one that finally settled in scared her. They’d also been best friends for their whole childhood and she had never seen such a look of terror in his eyes. Why was he so scared? But before she could ask, he took off at a dead run. Her first thought was that he was running after JC, but when she saw him veer off the road and head for the fields that would take him to town in a short cut, she knew something was wrong.
Quickly thanking God that she hadn’t worn her sandals that hot July morning, she took off after him. She knew her cousin well. He was headed for the local playground, which was his closest thinking spot when in town. As her tennis shoes slapped the hardened, dry ground underneath the brush she couldn’t help but hope that this early in the morning the seldom used playground would indeed be empty. Her highly charged, very emotional cousin was headed for a breakdown.
Momentarily he disappeared over the hill that led down into the playground and when she crested it, Ben was settling himself into a rubber and chain swing. She could hear his moaning sobs.
As hard as she tried, Abby just couldn’t imagine what was going on. Of course Ben would miss JC, but this was a bit extreme even for her tightly wound cousin. “Ben. What’s wrong?”
Looking at the ground he was gasping for breath, for control. “I…I…” he tried to say.
“It’s okay,” Abby assured him. “Take your time and catch your breath. I know you’ll miss JC but everything will be…”
A cry tore from Ben’s throat as he looked up at Abigail and slid out of the swing and onto his knees in the gravel.
“Don’t you understand?” he cried. “It’s not that…It’s not… I love him, Abby. I know for sure, one hundred percent, I’m in love with my best friend. Good God,  I am gay.” His last three words came out as a whisper.
There had been times when Abby had wondered. Ben was always so obvious in his affection for JC, but it seemed so natural for them that no one ever batted an eye. And of course she only spent summers with them so she didn’t know how they acted around school friends. God, so much made sense now. She often confided in him about her current crushes but he never did. He and JC never talked about girls. “Yes,” she murmured. “You do love him.”
“I do. God help me, I do.” The tears flowed freely as he rocked back and forth on his knees.
Abby eased herself down next to him. "It’s going to be okay, Ben. We both knew you were different, special. Is it really that big of a surprise?”
“Yes… No…” Ben looked up at her. “You knew?”
“I had an inkling,” she nodded.  "But it’s not like I thought about it much.”
“Deep down, I think I’ve always known,” he whispered. “But what I never knew was that I was in love with the one person I could never have. The guy who is moving to California as we speak. I’ll probably never see him again. God, what guy would understand that his best friend wanted so desperately to kiss him goodbye?”
“I’m sorry,” Abby said softly, hugging him. “But I think JC might be gay too. He might not mind so much.”
“Thanks Abs, but please don’t. I can’t get my hopes up. If my heart becomes any more broken, I don’t know if I can… Who wants to live with this kind of pain or confusion, or whatever it is?”

“Okay,” Abby agreed quietly. “But that’s no way to exist. Sometimes you need to take a chance.”
“Please don’t,” he murmured again. “Enough of this crying shit. It’s time to suck it up.”
Abby smiled and stood up. “What should we do now? We have another half-hour until we need to meet Aunt Evie and Uncle Cole at the diner for lunch.”
Ben had his usual sweet grin on his face again but his turmoil was far from over. “How about we race each other to the Soda Fountain for some ice cream? The loser buys the cones and we spoil our lunch.”
“You’re on!” Abby said, turning to run.
“Hey Abby, wait.”
"What is it?”
Ben held out his pinky finger to her. “Cousin pinky swear that you will never tell anyone that I’m gay. I’ll do it myself when I get to know the new…and the old... me better.”
“We haven’t cousin pinky sworn since we were ten,” she whispered. “I know this must be important to you so of course I’ll keep your secret. Forever.”

Abigail reached out, her pinky wrapping around Ben's, their hands moving in an up and down motion.

COVER REVEAL AND ANNIVERSARY FREE SALE - JJ ELLIS


This Mature Young Adult Novel is a continuation of the contemporary romance Harper's Rock Novel series about brothers from a small Wyoming town. The oldest brother, Ben, gets his turn in this emotional story of a young gay man and his battles with acceptance in small town Wyoming in the late 1990's and the depression that threatens to cripple him. 


Author: JJ Ellis
Genre: Mature Young Adult
Cover Artist: JJ Ellis
Publisher: GimmeLots Publications

One young man
One desperate decision

Being a teenager is hard enough, but when you struggle with your sexuality and falling in love for the first time, life can almost be too much to bear. Add in a diagnosis of depression and anxiety and sometimes life feels like it is caving in on top of you.


Ben Harper is determined to make it all work with the help of his best friend and new love, JC Croft. But when life conspires against him, can he come out on top or will the pressure crush him?
(Previous JJ Ellis books are free Mar. 4 &5...check out links below)




He knew it was coming the minute he opened his bedroom door. But as hard as he tried to turn around and run out to the barnyard to join his brothers, his feet just wouldn’t cooperate. As if he had no control over them, he walked to his bed and laid down.


That suffocating, drowning, gut wrenching feeling swept over him for the first time in a week. And he welcomed it with every particle of his being. As uncomfortable as it was, the sense of normalcy brought a smile to his face – until a new feeling hit him. Anger. Steady unwavering anger settled into his chest. It was anger at himself for being so loathsome, at JC for hurting him and at Abby for leaving him. It was a rage he wanted to scream to the world but couldn’t. (Previous JJ Ellis books are free Mar. 4 &5...check out links below)





(Previous JJ Ellis books are free Mar. 4 &5...check out links below)