Title: Sky Full of Mysteries
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Genre(s): SciFi Romance
Page Count: 220
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
What if your first love was abducted and presumed dead—but returned twenty years later?
That’s the dilemma Cole Weston faces. Now happily married to Tommy D’Amico, he’s suddenly thrown into a surreal world when his first love, Rory Schneidmiller, unexpectedly reappears.
Where has Rory been all this time? What happened to him two decades ago, when a strange mass appeared in the night sky and lifted him into the heavens? Rory has no memory of those years. For him, it’s as though only a day or two has passed.
Rory still loves Cole with the passion unique to young first love. Cole has never forgotten Rory, yet Tommy has been his rock, by his side since Rory disappeared.
Cole is forced to choose between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. How can he decide? Who faces this kind of quandary, anyway? The answers might lie among the stars…
Why Write About Aliens in a Gay Romance?
A Guest Post by Rick R. Reed
I don’t know because I haven’t done exhaustive research, but I would hazard that it’s safe to say that SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES is one of the few gay romances that has, at its center, an alien abduction. The whole concept seems more appropriate for a science fiction book, right?
Well, not so much. The alien abduction in SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES is a plot point around which the romantic question at the heart of the book revolves:
How do you compare new love and long-lasting love?
Anyone who’s been in any kind of love relationship for any length of time will tell you that the excitement of new love fades with time. Now, I would argue that, with that fading, comes a more meaningful connection, if you’re lucky. One that lasts, one that can be described as family, full of comfort and support. But oh! The magic of new love is an experience beyond compare, isn’t it?
I wrote SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES to explore the difference between new love and old, more established love. See my main characters, Cole and Rory, are in a new love at the beginning of our story. They’re wild about each other; they’re in their twenties and have just moved in for the very first time, with another person; the sex is frequent and phenomenal.
So when Rory gets abducted and disappears, Cole is heartbroken and the search for his lost love nearly destroys him.
When Rory is returned twenty years later, he feels as though no time has passed (the magic of time dilation and space travel—Rory has only aged a small amount), he has no memory of being abducted and the earth in 2017 is a strange and disturbing place. And he is still in the blush of new love with Cole, who, unbeknownst to Rory, is now in his fifties and married to a guy he met shortly after Rory disappeared.
The time dilation aspect allowed me to explore the blush of new love with the comfort of old and established love—and it forces both Rory and Cole into a choice that’s truly unimaginable.
Here’s how Cole and Rory first meet after twenty mysterious years apart:
He was nearing the Pantry when he saw him, on a side residential street near downtown Wilmette.
Cole slowed his bike so he didn’t crash, blinking and peering at the young man walking down the street, a couple of books under his right arm. He allowed the bike to coast to a stop and then put his feet on the ground so the bike didn’t tip over—or maybe so he didn’t tip over.
Cole’s heart, ahead of his head by a minute or two, pounded in his chest so hard he thought that, if he looked down, he’d see it cartoonishly pressing the red cotton of his T-shirt up and down as it contracted and released. A line of sweat beads popped up on his forehead, and another group of them formed rapidly in his underarms, to crawl in a tickling way down his side. His mouth was dry. He blinked several times to assure himself his eyes weren’t deceiving him.
He laid the bike down on the grass at the edge of the sidewalk and turned to peer again at the young man, who was now farther away as he headed east and toward the lakefront. He didn’t want to think about it, but the recognition was unavoidable.
He looks just like Rory. Not just similar—exactly.
Cole squeezed his eyes shut tight, trying to clear his head of insane, hopeful, and irrational thoughts, and looked again.
It can’t be Rory. He’s too young. And besides, if Rory came back, don’t you think he’d at least get in touch? Where would he have been all these years?
No. That can’t be him. That guy’s just a kid.
Still, Cole couldn’t help himself. His appetite had vanished. He became consumed with a singular purpose. Quickly he found a street sign to lock his bike to. It wasn’t the most secure way to prevent having his bike stolen, but it was quick, and it would have to do—for now. Besides, this fool’s errand he had in mind shouldn’t take long.
When he turned back around, the young man was gone. At first he thought the passing of a black pickup truck simply blocked his view, but when the vehicle roared away, Rory was nowhere to be seen.
But he had to find out where he’d gone! Everything about the guy, even from the short glance Cole had, was just like his Rory, right down to the slight pigeon-toed way he walked. Cole broke into a trot, heading east on the street, looking down side streets on which he might have turned, heading north or south.
As he got to within a couple of blocks of the lake, he spotted him to the north, a good block ahead. Was this the right one? Cole questioned himself. But the camo cargo shorts he wore and the red in his hair, glinting in the sunlight, helped Cole know for sure he was looking at the same guy.
Wait a minute. Another coincidence. Isn’t this the street where Rory grew up? Where his parents lived?
Cole paused briefly at the corner to look up at the street sign. Fourth Street. Yup, even through the passage of all those years, Cole still remembered that the Schneidmillers lived on Fourth Street. He remembered coming over with Rory for family dinners and backyard barbeques. His mother made the best German potato salad Cole had ever tasted. He remembered walking from the house over to nearby Gilson Park with Rory.
Their house, a large brick bungalow, was just a few blocks up from where he was standing, if Cole remembered right. He stopped for a moment, watching the figure in the shorts and the faded, dirty-white T-shirt head away.
Stop it. Go back. Pick up your bike and get yourself some lunch. You’re just hungry, and it’s bringing on hallucinations. Cole took a few more steps toward the retreating figure on the sidewalk ahead. Yeah, right. Hunger never caused me to have hallucinations before! Just let me catch up and have a quick glance at the kid. I’m sure once I see his face, all doubt will be erased. I’ll know, unequivocally, that it’s not him. Of course it’s not him. It can’t be.
Even as his logical mind was feeding him these very credible and reasonable thoughts, his intuition was telling him no one had a walk like that. It was unique. No one had hair like that, with the cowlick that stuck up out of the crown on his head.
Cole stepped up his pace. As he got closer and closer, his mind sort of went numb, because each step revealed to him that this guy was a carbon copy of Rory. He could tell himself, over and over again, that it couldn’t possibly be Rory, but the resemblance was simply too astonishing. And too on target.
Cole broke into a run, hoping the slap, slap, slap of his Cons didn’t alert the guy that someone was pursuing him. Cole imagined him turning around, looking perhaps a little annoyed, with a face that was nothing like Rory’s.
He slowed as he got really close. He had to stop himself from crying out “Hey, Rory!” just to test and see if he’d look.
Cole almost stopped or he’d run right by the guy. He slowed not because he didn’t want to catch a glimpse of the young man, but because they were now on the block on which Rory had grown up and on which his parents lived, just at the corner of Washington Avenue.
He spied the house. It was essentially the same. The trim had been painted a dark red instead of the cream color Cole recalled. The grass needed cutting. The front blinds were drawn.
Could Rory’s parents still live there? Were they even still alive?
And then the young man did something that sucked all the air out of Cole. He turned at the house and made his way up the front walk. Now Cole’s heart was beating so hard and fast he feared an attack was imminent. He watched breathlessly as the young man mounted the steps and then groped in his pocket, presumably for his keys.
Distantly, he heard the jingle of a set of keys as he brought them out.
And then he turned and looked. Perhaps he felt Cole’s gaze on him.
Oh, my God. That face. It’s him. It’s really him. Their gazes connected for what seemed like a long time but had to have been only a couple of seconds. Cole knew he was the only one on the street.
Cole didn’t see recognition in Rory’s face—only a mild curiosity. He cocked his head, as though to ask “What are you staring at?” And then he turned, unlocked the front door, and went inside.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”
You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
August 14 – Cupcakes & Bookshelves, Gay Book Reviews, Two Chicks Obsessed, August 15 – The Novel Approach, August 16 – On Top Down Under, August 17 – My Fiction Nook, August 20 – My Book Filled Life, August 21 – Joyfully Jay, August 22 – Mirrigold, Bonkers About Books, Lillian Francis, MM Good Book Reviews, August 23 – Love Bytes, August 25 – Gay Book Reviews