Happy Birth-month to my dear friend Amber. And extra special hugs to her assistant, who probably grinds her teeth at the sight of my name.
I’ve had the chance to put up some fun posts and stories here in past years, and today I’m talking with Shaun from my latest release—very creatively titled, Caleb & Shaun. Enjoy!
Devon: Hey there, Shaun. *hugs* Have a seat. How’ve you been?
Shaun: Doing pretty well, though Caleb is kind of a bear to live with with his broken ankle.
Devon: On the bright side, at least you can outrun him when you get tired of his growling.
Shaun: *gapes* You did not just…
Devon: Oops. Sorry about that. That was borderline ‘evil author’, wasn’t it? Here. *pours a glass of wine*
Shaun: *still eyeing Devon warily* Thank you. So you said something about a birthday memory.
Devon: Yes, exactly. Can you tell us about your best birthday?
Shaun: Best birthday… Well…it didn’t exactly start out that way. *fades to memory*
Shaun walked back from the mailbox, sorting through the mail. No birthday cards, but he hadn’t really been expecting any. His neck ached with tension as it always did after work and he rotated it from side to side as he stood looking at the garden, trying to decide whether it was more lame to pull tomato plants on his birthday or order take-out for one. Caleb had gone to Smith Rock with some of his friends to camp overnight and go rock climbing one last time this season. He’d said he was planning to be back tomorrow to celebrate Shaun’s birthday one day late, but Shaun knew him well, and he’d believe it when he saw him pull into the driveway.
He turned and smiled at the sight of his elderly neighbor, all bundled up against the autumn chill. “Hi, Alice. Do you need some help with something?”
“If you don’t mind—I can’t figure out if my pilot light on my water heater is out. My water just won’t warm up.”
“Oh.” That didn’t sound good. “Well, why don’t you go sit in my house with Toby while I check on it?” He certainly didn’t want her in the house if there was a gas problem, or if he accidently blew up her heater trying to relight it.
“I can go with you. You don’t know where the shutoffs are.”
“I’m sure I can find them.”
Devon: Wait. Whoa, that was weird. First of all, this was supposed to be an interview, not a flashback. And, you’re scaring me with the whole going into a strange house and messing with flammable stuff. Isn’t Caleb the handy one?
Shaun: Well, he wasn’t there, now was he?
Devon: Snap. Okay, point taken. I assume you didn’t blow up Alice’s house or maim yourself since you’re both still around.
Shaun: Nothing blew up.
Devon: *waits* And the maiming part?
Alice gripped the steering wheel tightly and glanced over at Shaun.
“Please, please keep your eyes on the road,” he begged.
“I’m really quite sorry. Do you need another hand towel? That one’s nearly soaked through.”
“We’re almost there.” He gritted his teeth against the pain and tried not to think about his octogenarian neighbor driving his car through the tail end of the evening rush hour. He’d never been happier to see the Emergency Room sign in his life.
Devon: Alice put you in the Emergency room?
Shaun: Well, technically it was Toby.
Devon: Your dog? But he’s the sweetest yellow Lab ever.
Shaun: And apparently he missed me when I was over lighting the pilot, so much so that when Alice opened the door, he ran past her, straight into her garage and jumped me.
Shaun: *shrugs* It was only eight stitches in my scalp where I caught the edge of the metal earthquake stand for the water heater. The worst part was the half mullet where they had to shave me. Well, that and Alice’s driving.
Devon: Okay, so you worked on your birthday and then ended up getting stitches. Yeah, that pretty much sucks. It had to get better when Caleb got home the next day, though. Right?
Shaun squinted at the clock and tried to translate the squiggles there into actual meaningful symbols. Six o’clock…in the morning? Had to be. This time of year, though, it was dark at both six a.m. and p.m. He staggered to the bathroom to pee, then gulped down about three glasses of water at the sink, trying to ignore the throbbing and weird pulling feeling of his injury and the stitches.
Suddenly the overhead light went on and he cried out in pain.
“Hey, hon, you’re up. Oh fuck, what happened to—?”
“God, turn it off. Please.” He fell to his knees with an almost instant migraine. Blessed darkness descended then careful, strong hands guided him to his feet.
“Come on. Back into bed with you.”
“Painkillers…on the kitchen counter.” He crawled into bed and even the slightest pressure of his head against the pillow hurt. “When did you get home?”
“This afternoon. I figured if you were sleeping, maybe you went out and tied one on last night, so I left you be. What did you do to your head, baby?”
Shaun struggled to process that. Did that mean it was six in the evening? God, he’d lost a whole day. He hissed in a breath as he tried to turn toward Caleb.
“Stop, just get comfortable and I’ll get you some pills and water.” Footsteps retreated then returned.
He swallowed what he was given with the water then laid back down, willing the vice grip to ease.
Devon: Aww. He did come home and you couldn’t even celebrate. I’m really not getting how this is the best birthday ever.
Shaun: You know what happened the rest of that night and over the next few days?
Devon: Well, I can guess what didn’t happen.
Shaun: *laughs* True. But it’s not all about sex. Caleb took care of me and the house, and basically made me feel like the most important person in his world. It was the first time, really, that I’d ever been incapacitated and I was pleasantly surprised at how Caleb stepped up. It was the only gift I got that year, but it was sweetest gift ever.
Devon: So now it’s your turn to take care of him with his broken ankle.
Shaun: Ha! Nothing new about him needing me to care for him after he’s been injured. But you know—this was a good reminder of how well he treated me. I think maybe I’ll step up my game a little bit. *stands and sets down the empty glass* Thanks for the chat. I have a man to cheer up. *winks*
Devon: *smiles* Those are two lucky guys to have found each other.
Anyone out there feeling lucky? Just comment below and I’ll be giving away your choice of book from my backlist to two lucky readers. J
When I’m not lost in my imagination, you can find me in beautiful Oregon and at:
Caleb & Shaun blurb:
Sometimes saying goodbye can end up saving a relationship.
Breaking up with Caleb was the hardest thing Shaun had ever done. It left a huge hole in his home and in his heart. But feeling like he was constantly competing with Caleb’s adrenaline-rush hobbies pushed him to make a stand…one he constantly second-guesses, especially now that Caleb’s gone with his Hot Shots team for a big fire in California.
Caleb knows he’s a lucky man. His family supports him and he’s able to do what he loves for both work and play. It took losing Shaun, though, for him to realize that his priorities were out of whack. And now his luck might be running out as his crew gets trapped by a fast-moving fire line.
All they really need is a second chance…if Caleb can stay alive long enough to make it home.