Love Bytes says hello and welcome to author Jake C Wallace joining us today here at Love Bytes to share an exclusive excerpt of new release “Happily Ever After Isn’t Easy”.
There is also a giveaway to participate in!
Welcome Jake 🙂
Hi, everyone! I want to thank Love Bytes Reviews for having me on the blog.
Happily Ever After Isn’t Easy is my first contemporary novel and loosely based on parts of my life. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek.
How do you start a new life when your old one won’t let go? Freed from a marriage he entered because he feared coming out to his judgmental family, Gabe Reynolds feels his life is just starting—at forty-three. But what was supposed to be exciting and wonderful has been nothing but disappointing. The man he’s loved since they were teens broke his heart—again. Gabe has no clue how to meet men who are looking for more than one night, much less date them. Add to that his job as a mental health counselor, helping to keep his mentally ill ex-wife stable, and caring for children that belong to another man, and he has little time to look for Mr. Right. Just as Gabe is giving up, Brandt Sawyer, with his hard body and gorgeous eyes, crashes into Gabe’s life. Brandt pushes all Gabe’s buttons—though he could do without the younger man’s know-it-all attitude. Gabe never thought he could be so torn between wanting to punch a man and wanting to kiss him. Yet, as he gets to know Brandt, Gabe sees past the military-programmed ex-soldier and catches a glimpse of what could be his happily ever after. But with a troubled ex and young children involved, Gabe can’t just walk away from his past. Guilt is tearing him in every direction—maybe even away from the man he’s falling in love with.
Gabe Reynolds wasn’t sure how he’d let the same shit happen to him again. He had to either be the most gullible, trusting guy on the planet or the biggest idiot. Life was supposed to get better, be better, be easier. He hadn’t expected his life after his divorce to be all hearts and flowers immediately, but he’d paid his dues, right?
Twenty-one years with the wrong person, the wrong gender, living the same lie day in and day out, those had been his dues. He’d stayed even when the relationship had been little more than a roommate arrangement. He’d taken his duties seriously, tried to make it all work, done that noble thing, but nobility doesn’t equal happiness. He hadn’t even been the one to end it. But when the divorce fell into his lap, he’d run with it. Well, run was a strong word. He’d hidden for a while, then limped, all the while wondering how to start over, how to come out of that dark, cold closet. Almost three years later, he was no better off than he had been before the divorce.
Focusing back on the computer screen, he reread the private message on Facebook again, had the words memorized by then, each one a reminder of the chance he’d taken and lost.
I’m sorry, Gabe, for everything. Sorry for jumping in too soon after Jeff. I really wanted this to work….
Gabe swallowed hard. There had to be something wrong with him, maybe something that told others he had excess baggage and wasn’t worth the hassle. He wasn’t young anymore. His body was slightly overweight, saggy in important places, because he loathed exercise and loved carbs, and at forty-three, his metabolism had slowed to a crawl. But he never imagined he’d be starting over at that late age with the need to impress anyone else.
According to all those gay romance books, gay guys were supposed to be hard, chiseled, Adonis-like creatures with thick hair and strong chins, beautiful eyes and washboard abs. They were firefighters or cowboys or shape-shifters or vampires or dozens of other things more interesting than him. Gabe could only tick the box next to the thick hair, and even that was sort of a plain ashy brown color, longer on top and cropped close to his head on the sides. Even his eyes were a nondescript brown. Damn, it had been so much easier in his teens. What he wouldn’t give to have that skinny, practically hairless, bony twink body (without the acne and the raging hormones, of course). But without that body, he was too shy to go out and meet men. Shouldn’t he be able to go out, get his flirt on, and then in one heart-stopping moment meet his soul mate and live happily ever after? Even men believed in fairy tales. Yet his happily ever after was currently residing in the toilet with his marriage, one unrealized dream relationship, and his self-esteem. I know you said you thought about me all these years, hoped one day we could be together again and happy….
He might not have been happy in his marriage, but he’d been content and complacent and sexually unsatisfied and frustrated and—oh, who was he kidding—fucking miserable, but he’d managed to bury everything deep inside without having a heart attack or an ulcer or stroke—yet.
Okay, so maybe his self-esteem had taken a hard hit (his wife had gotten pregnant by the furnace guy), and he was a bit rusty in the dating realm (his last date was in 1990). Add to those the fact that he was a middle-aged gay man in a small town in northern New York after his heterosexual marriage had crashed and burned. What was supposed to be easy had become Mt. Everest. And Gabe had become an even lonelier and more confused man than he’d ever been during his sham of a marriage. At that point he’d wished for easy, begged for easy, dreamed of easy.
He rubbed his temples as his stomach twisted in knots. For two weeks, he’d basically gone to work and then home to his little cottage, floundering, wallowing, whatever the term, in the broken remnants of his dream relationship with Tim, the one future light that had allowed him to keep his sanity while living a lie.
I wanted us to be those boys we once were, totally in love and ready to experience life together. Life had been so easy back then, and for a moment, I wanted that uncomplicated forever love….
Gabe now knew that happiness and love were fleeting concepts that weren’t within his grasp.
But I had been foolish to think that we could recreate that past given all we’ve been through. The past is over, and I’m too lost in the now to be anything to anyone….
Maybe someday Tim would be ready, but Gabe was done with relationships and their empty promises. Maybe someday Gabe’s heart would mend and he’d figure out how relationships worked and how to keep one. Until then….
I’m sorry I can’t be your happily ever after.
About Jake C Wallace
Formerly, I wrote under JC Wallace, but recently decided to use my full name. I have been writing all of my life but didn’t start publishing until 2014. In my day job, I am a behavior analyst. At night and on the weekends, I write about all things men. I believe there is nothing hotter than two men finding and loving one another, whether for a night or forever. An avid reader of M/M romance, I love a good twist of a plot, HEA, HFN, or tragic ending. I am owned by my beautiful partner, three kids and two grandchildren. I live in Northern Vermont.