LOVE IS FOUND
AN ONLY IF NOVEL
COVER DESIGN: Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art
COVER MODEL: Parker Radcliffe
RELEASE DATE: 07.04.16
“My love for you will never die.”
A story based on true events of love, self-acceptance, and the turmoil of companionship.
“Love is Found” is the moving story about coming-of-age in suburban New York and discovering the broad concept of sexuality and love.
Based on true events of love, the story’s protagonist, Robert, finds himself thrown into the realization that upon entering graduate school he is beginning a new chapter in his adult life. Comfortable with being gay, he yearns for love but dwells on the ideal of being alone while being consumed by the world of academia. Upon starting a new job he meets a coworker, whom he begins an unlikely relationship with considering this man identifies as straight.
When sex is introduced and emotions run amok, the routine of Robert’s life is thrown into chaos with unexpected outcomes. Will Robert realize his true limits and whether he can conquer the strife of new love? Little does he know if his heart can survive the overwhelming desire and how this man will alter the course of his life just not now, but for the next decade.
The first novel in the debut “Only If…” series by R. Paone introduces the heartbreaking portrait of one young man finding love in all the wrong places while exploring themes of one’s sexual identity, passion, and nostalgia.
This edition of “Love is Found” has been newly edited and expanded containing over 10K of added content.
This contemporary work of fiction is approximately 78,000 words and contains strong thematic material that is intended for adult readers only.
What a brutal display of honesty on his part. See this is what I fucking loved already about Mitch’s character. He could say anything and be unfazed by his audience. I am sure a lot of people would be turned off by the admittance of such truths this early on in the game of getting to know someone. I appreciate that sort of honesty and candor from someone I just met.
“Totally. I was about to fall asleep so you saved me from that impending doom.”
“That bad?” One eyebrow perked up.
“Oh, no no. It’s not that. I can never really fall asleep. Even if I am tired, I will lay there for hours tossing and turn completely restless. Most of the time I will stay up as late as I can until I get bored. I’m probably an insomniac but don’t want to admit I have a problem with my sleep schedule. I need more discipline in that department.” It was the damn truth. I hated sleeping but didn’t do much to pass the time when it would come time to fall asleep unless planned otherwise.
“Night owl, huh?”
“Completely.” I took another sip of the alcoholic drink in front of me hoping it would relax me sooner than later. After twenty minutes of nursing it I finally thought it was beginning to help me relax.
“Oh shit, dude. Me too. You can always find me sitting up in bed or on the couch chain smoking, probably reading some Hemingway or Boroughs. It probably adds insult to injury when I am consuming five cups of coffee a day.”
“Oh, I can’t drink that much coffee. You’re a trooper.”
I raise my glass to him cheering together as he just laid down a five-dollar bill for his pint of Guinness. A quick flash appeared in front of me, I expected to him to have the weathered skin and discolored teeth of a full-time smoker and caffeine addict. His appearance proved me wrong, as he did not look like he was approaching 30. I didn’t smoke myself, but there was always something about being attracted to a guy that does. I thought it was punk or badass to find someone like that. Kissing someone that tasted of wine and cigarettes was always a goal of mine since I heard those Sinead O’Connor lyrics provoking me on my hunt. It gave me goose bumps thinking of locking lips with someone that just downed a glass of red and tasted their mouth as they kissed me. I’m going to have to keep looking because Mitch’s mouth was off limits to me and reserved only for his girlfriend.
As the hour came and went I got entirely lost in the conversation we were having about divulging facts about each other. It almost felt like speed dating for new friendships. The questions we asked each other was as if we found each other on some online dating site filled with those generic inquiries about the person’s likes and dislikes.
I found out he was born here in Buffalo and went to the private university on the other side of town. His father and mother both had been married for thirty years and met in high school. How adorable, high school sweethearts. I didn’t think that was a real thing. He and his younger sister were both raised in the same house that his parents still reside in. He told me he graduated college a couple years ago completing his undergraduate degree in English but dropped out a couple of semesters into finishing his master’s. Even though he wasn’t in school now he said maybe someday he would go back. He had zero motivation to put himself through the stress of that. The private loans and bank debt were also his reasoning behind not going back, which is completely understandable as he didn’t get any financial help from his parents. It is almost like I am thinking and going through the same thoughts and experiences of what he went through before me. For a moment I questioned if I should drop out and try something different rather than putting myself through another year and a half of this stress.
During our conversation, it was hard to read if he was happy, but I could tell that Mitch was determined to do something different, moving towards some personal achievement. There was the conviction in his voice.
From what I could tell, his girlfriend, who’s name I learned to be Liz, was very much in love with him considering the only thing I knew up to this point was that they were currently living together. To me, moving in with a significant other was a solid commitment, a true testament in the idea of trust and your love in that person. It was admirable how much Mitch talked about her in such a positive manner different than Phil’s obviously needy girlfriend.
He said he definitely would like to introduce us sooner or later, thinking that we would get along. Great! Building friendships with others without even trying. As Mitch continued to indulge me on his relationship with Liz he waved down the bartender to order another round of drinks. He was already on his fourth and I had just about finished my second.
“You want another?” Pointing right at me.
“Uh, sure.” I wasn’t drunk by any means, but I was feeling the buzz slowly overtaking me. I needed this either way. He was right; I had to unwind after this week including school and work running around. I knew I had to watch what I drank because I was a lightweight when it came to these things. I always weighed the same for the last several years, which I give thanks to the cross-country scholarship I had during my undergraduate. Running eighty miles a week does a body good.
I barely drank to start but right now I was enjoying his company tonight. It was nice to get away from the rest of the bullshit. I was allowing for this alcohol to act as the social lubricant that it was. Maybe I should switch to some red wine. I couldn’t make up my mind.
“Let me know if I’m going too fast for you.” He threw back a huge gulp and proceeded to take off his cap and scratch his head vigorously.
“No, I can take it. I rarely get the chance to drink and go out so all I have to do is pace myself.” Who was I kidding? I was having a good time.
“Hold that thought, kiddo. I got to run to the bathroom. Watch my drink.” He patted me on the back again, his already signature way of communicating a friendly gesture with me.
“You got it.” I saluted him as he headed off to the restroom on the other side of the bar.
There still was not that many people lingering inside Bob’s and I wondered where the nighttime crowd was. I could get used to coming to a place like this purely based on the atmosphere where I don’t have to scream to get the bartender’s attention. Hell if it were always like this and I wanted to enjoy a drink, I would come here to read during the week for happy hour.
The bartender asked me if I was ready for another, staring at my empty glass. I ordered one more because they were so cheap and I still had some change left over from the twenty in my wallet. I still was buzzed enough to be coherent to carry on a lively conversation with Mitch so I was good to drink one more. I knew my limits, right? I wasn’t a connoisseur of beer so whatever was the cheapest, I was game for whatever was given to me.
“You started without cheering that drink with me?” The whisper was so close to my ear I felt the warm breath on my neck making the tiny hairs stand on end.
“Fuck! Dude, you keep doing that! Stop sneaking up on me!” I was only half-serious as I am sure he got his kicks doing this, and I wasn’t that pissed off. I still had quite a shiver from that scare.
“I’m sorry,” he laughed. “It’s just gotten too easy now that I know I can ruffle your feathers.” He shook me gently after putting both of his hands on my shoulders and squeezing.
About the same time I was about to grab my drink, he turned me around making me face him looking right into his eyes. I felt like something inside me was about to regret the next thing that spilled from my mouth. Deciding to let him speak first, there was a moment of silence just looking at one another. It felt an eternity sitting there but it was in fact only five seconds.
“I need a smoke.” Standing up straight off his stool he began to dig into his front and back pockets looking for his pack of cigarettes.
“Okay, I will hang back here for now.”
I was lying to myself knowing full well that I wanted to go outside with him and keep the conversation going.
“Don’t be stupid Robert, get off your ass and just come chill outside with me while I smoke. I won’t be long, I promise.” He grabbed my arm and tugged on it gently.
I couldn’t resist and neither could my best judgment as I felt I was crossing over to more of a buzzed state of mind. The beers were catching up with me. I misjudged the amount I was drinking. Who cares, I was still in control.
“Fine. I’ll come out if you insist.” I scooted off the stool and put coasters on top of both of our glasses as I followed right behind Mitch. As I turned around, I found he already had made it outside leaving me to tell the bartender we would be back.
The temperature outside was perfect hovering around the low sixties that the weather channel predicted on my phone as I went to double check. Mitch had already lit his cigarette and was teetering on the edge of the curb while standing on his tiptoes making him look so much taller from a few feet away as I approached him. Something in me was sparking a sense of jealousy for Liz. Why the hell couldn’t I find a guy like this? My selfish and one-sided attitude was beginning to rear its ugly head.
“You liking it here so far? Buffalo, I mean.” He widened his eyes between drags of his cigarette.
“Yeah, I’m liking it. I’m easy to please. It’s quiet enough that I think I can get most of the shit done that I need to. Scheduling and making sure I balance my time is a quality I take seriously in myself.”
He chuckled, “Yeah? I see.”
“Definitely,” I admitted. Fuck, was I really painting myself as such a square? If someone told me they enjoyed organizing and keeping their daily planner in check, I would possibly have a hard time controlling my hard on. Then again, I was probably in the minority in this perspective. Hoping not to paint myself as odd, I saw it as quirky.
“Well, someone has to be. I have a hard time myself keeping shit in order, so that makes me nervous for you to see the state of my place. My girl is the same way. We both cannot stay on top of the simplest things like chores. I have to give you praise on keeping order to your life.”
He stomped out the last remnants of his cigarette while pulling out another at the same time.
“You want one?” he asked after lighting up another.
I contemplated for a moment. Again, I wasn’t really into the idea of getting hooked on smoking. I was a runner for Christ’s sake! In some way it was as if he was making it sound tempting in the most convincing way. Was I giving into peer pressure? Or was this something that was predicted in the fifth grade? Oh, the hell with it, I didn’t think I had an addictive personality. I promised myself I wouldn’t let it happen again. I should at least try it.
“Sure, why not?” I pulled one from the pack and took the lighter from his hand. My first time lighting a cigarette and I felt like such a fucking bad ass. How well was this going to go since I’ve never used one of these things other than to light candles. “Don’t fuck it up”, I thought as I flicked the lighter and taking in a breath of my first taste of nicotine.
Without warning, it backfired and I almost retched. Why would I never have thought smoking would look cool? I was giving into peer pressure at its’ finest but who could have resisted? He made it irresistible and at that point, I was drunk enough not to think really about what I was doing. I began coughing almost immediately dropping the lighter on the sidewalk. Not letting go of the burning cigarette in my hand, I bent over trying to catch my breath resting on one knee while choking. This can’t be what smoking is like. It’s worse than I thought. To think it was addicting and people were hooked on this shit. I might have been oblivious to the whole concept and the trend but I was trying to impress my friend here. I don’t think Mitch was too impressed that I was ready to cough up my lungs.
“Shit. You okay?” He came up to me as I could see his feet making his way over from my view looking down at the ground. He kept hitting me on the back as if that would help suppress my coughing fit. “You want me to run inside and get you a glass of water?”
I stood straight back up, “No. I’m cool. Thank you though.”
My eyes were watering, I could feel them clouding up.
“Well, alright.” He did not sound too convinced of my proclamation. Putting both hands on my hips trying to steady myself while taking in deep breathes slowly. This time, I brought the cigarette to my lips and inhaled deeply. Feeling the burn as the smoke filled my lungs I let it out almost as fast as taking it in. I was shocked that on the second try that I did not throw up at the same time. Oddly, part of me felt proud that I “accomplished” this.
“Hey! There you go. You’re a champ at it now!” He sounded excited.
“Yeah, I’m sure that is something I should be proud of.” I wasn’t trying to make him feel guilty. I think that my drunken sarcasm was getting the best of me.
“Ouch.” He put his hand up to his heart in a display of exaggerated defeat dropping his head.
“Oh, don’t be dramatic, dude.” I reached out for the hand on his chest wanting to pull it down just to prove to him I knew he was trying to call my bluff.
Then it happened before I had a chance to react.
Mitch grabbed me by the wrist quickly and wrapped his arm around my waist. I was about to take another drag before his advances came out of nowhere. Tilting my head back like that would create more distance between us. I was left looking into his grey-blue eyes frozen in sudden shock. He had pulled me violently up against him so close that I could feel the throbbing of his heart against me. I felt like mine was going to tear itself from my chest and jump out of my throat.
My breathing became erratic and I was confused, but my feet stayed planted to the ground. I was going nowhere. Dropping his cigarette out of his other hand saying, “fuck it,” he leaned in and kissed me passionately without haste.
Paone is the author of LGBT fiction, coming of age, and contemporary romance including the ongoing “ONLY IF…” Series. Writing is his passion as his stories stem from real life experiences and real moments of love. A writer for the last fifteen years, he started working on his first full length novel in June, 2014. That novel slowly transformed into “Love is Found,” Part One in the “ONLY IF…” Series. He currently resides in New York City. When he isn’t writing, you can find him getting lost in bookstores, a movie theater, or jamming out to music of the 90’s.