Horizons by Mickie Ashling

7_12 promo Horizons2ndEdHorizons-Book One in the Horizons Series
College football player Clark Stevens, a popular wide receiver with a potential NFL contract, has a few problems. He’s got a jealous girlfriend, a narrow-minded and controlling father, an attention problem, and an unexpected and powerful attraction to the trauma doctor—the male trauma doctor—who treats him for a broken bone.
Dr. Jody Williams is getting some really mixed signals. He can’t ignore how much he wants Clark, because it’s obvious Clark feels the same way. For the out and proud doctor, the solution seems very simple. For Clark, it’s not! His world is not gay-friendly, and the obstacles he’s faced have led him to deny his sexuality for years.
It’s the Super Bowl of disasters, no matter how you look at it. In the end, Clark has to decide if he’s going to stick with the only life he’s ever known or take a chance on a new one with Jody.

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Enjoy an excerpt:
A week passed before I saw the sexy doc again.
I was back in the emergency room, sitting in the small cubicle I’d sat in before. “What are you doing here?” Jody asked, obviously surprised to see me again.
I had hoped there would be another doctor on duty, but of course that hope died as soon as he walked in. “I had a fight with an immovable object and I lost.”
“What?”
“Oh, forget about it! Just look at this and tell me it’s all good.” I stuck my right hand out, practically shoving it in his face. The only reason I was here was because one of the coaches witnessed my meltdown and insisted that I have it examined.
Jody sighed deeply, and he reached out. “Let me see.”
I reluctantly placed my hand in his, noticing how his eyes were more caramel than chocolate today, and he had that scruffy five o’clock shadow, even though it was only three in the afternoon. He was even hotter than the last time I saw him. He bit his lower lip as he examined me. and I tried to imagine what it would be like to kiss him.
“This one isn’t broken, but your knuckles look like ground beef. What did you hit again?”
“My locker.”
“Why?”
“You’d never understand.”
“Try me.”
“It’s a school thing. I got a note from the English department, and I kind of lost it.”
“What did they want?”
“To tell me that I’m about to flunk a required class, and if I didn’t get my ass in gear, I may not fucking graduate, let alone play football. Not that I can right now,” Clark observed, “but that’s beside the point.”
“I see.”
“How could you possibly? You’re a fucking genius who went to Stanford.”
“Clark,” he said, putting his hand on my knee, “you need to calm down.”
I looked up at the ceiling and silently cursed the tears of frustration that always showed up at the worst fucking time. I swiped at them angrily. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Jody said gently. “Why don’t we talk about this?”
“No!”
“Why not? How can I help if I don’t know what’s going on?”
“You can’t do anything, Jody. I’m a goddamn loser.”
“Hey, come on now,” Jody said, looking surprised by my words. “You’re Clark Stevens, football star. That doesn’t sound like loser to me.”
“Maybe not in football, but I’m definitely a loser in other areas of my life.”
“Tell me,” he said, coaxing it out of me.
“I’ve got ADD, you know, attention deficit.”
“I know what it is, Clark. It’s not the end of the world.”
“It is if you can’t pass a fucking English class!”
“Do you have a problem with reading or retention?”
“Both! The reading makes me sleepy so then I zone out and forget everything I’ve read. It’s always been an issue.”
“There are drugs to help with this problem.”
“I know, but my father never wanted me to take them.”
“Why the hell not?”
“He said they’d stunt my growth.”
“Bullshit!”
“He said they would make me stupider than I already am.”
“Your father said this?” Jody was clearly shocked by that statement. “Where did he ever get that idea?”
“I’m not sure. Probably from one of his friends.”
“Didn’t your parents ever take you to see a legitimate doctor? He would have set them straight about the medication.”
“They did, except the bottom line was my football career. My father didn’t want anything to affect it, and since this problem of mine never surfaced while I was playing football, he chose to ignore it, hoping it would go away.”
“Oh, that was really brilliant on his part. Didn’t he realize it was only going to get worse?”
“No, he thought that if he screamed loud enough and pushed hard enough, I’d get my head out of my ass and pass my classes.”
“I swear, some people should never become parents,” Jody muttered under his breath.
“Hey,” I said, reaching out to touch his arm. “He did what he thought was the right thing. I’ve made it this far, something I never thought I’d be able to do.”
“You have a natural gift, Clark. Your father had nothing to do with it.”
“If I’d gone on the drugs, I may not have developed to my full potential. Who knows?”
“You’re buying into his bullshit as well.”
“Will you just patch me up and let me go?”
“What’s the point? You’ll be back here again after another temper tantrum.”
I turned away from him and looked out the small window. The frustration was getting to me again, compounded by intense shame, made worse by the hot tears that blinked out of my eyes.
“Clark, look at me.” Jody cupped my face and wiped the tears away with his thumb. “I’m going to help you.”
“How?” It seemed like an impossible task.
“I’ll tutor you.”
“Really?”
“Yes. I’ll get you through this. I can’t believe he didn’t let you go on the meds.”
“Don’t start again.”
“I won’t. I’ll drop it for now, but this is not over.”
“Thank you.” I looked into his eyes, sure that I’d see pity or scorn. Instead, I only saw concern, which made me more grateful.
“You’re welcome,” he said softly. “Come to my house tomorrow night and bring your books. In the meantime, put that paw of yours on ice and try not to lose your temper again.”
“Yes, sir,” I agreed, easily responding to his gentle, but firm, bedside manner. I wrote down his address, and we settled on eight o’clock. I left the hospital a much calmer man than I had entered it.

*****

Jody stood at the entrance of the ER, watching Clark leave. He turned and went into his office and poured a cup of the sludge they called coffee, grimacing after taking a sip. He swallowed it just the same, knowing there wasn’t anything better in the cafeteria.
He shook his head in disgust, thinking about all the things that Clark had revealed to him. The damage that some parents caused in the name of love or good intentions was enough to make him want to quit his job sometimes. He’d seen it all at this place: people who were victims of physical and mental abuse, yet somehow, human nature continued to surprise him with its resilience. Listening to Clark defend his father’s actions had not come as a shock. He’d stood over countless victims who were battered and broken, who continued to defend abusers, thinking somehow that they deserved it. And why was it always the beautiful ones who seemed especially susceptible?
He couldn’t get over Clark’s father arbitrarily deciding to keep him off the medication for attention deficit disorder. Even though it wasn’t a cure, it offered relief, helping people to focus and function in a world many considered overwhelming. That Clark had been able to get this far without drugs spoke volumes of his tenacity, but at what price? He was obviously very fragile with regards to his mental ability, clearly impressed when he’d heard that Jody had gone to Stanford.
This made Clark even more appealing. The combination of beauty and vulnerability created an irresistible pull. Jody had never been able to say no to anyone in need, but he wondered if he was making a big mistake in offering to tutor Clark. Were his motives purely altruistic or was he honest enough to admit he was jonesing for the man in a big way. Clark had been on his mind ever since they first met, and the physical attraction was getting worse instead of better. The icing on the cake was this new development. Now he was even more attracted, the healer in him galloping to the rescue.
Lil would argue that it was more than that. He would tell him to walk away from another lost cause. Clark had more baggage than Jody could handle. Being a closet case was bad enough, but a jock on the verge of an NFL career was a recipe for disaster. Adding the ADD to the mix was a trifecta of loss. Lil would probably go through the roof!
They’d both seen friends crash and burn when forced out of the closet. No amount of convincing or support would help. It was a personal decision that every gay man had to deal with at some point in his life. Somehow though, Jody didn’t think that Clark was anywhere close to dealing with his internal struggles. He wondered if he ever would be.
The phone rang, snapping him out of his melancholia, the business of patching up broken bodies grounding him again. He spoke into the receiver, telling whoever was on the other line that he’d be there in five minutes.

About the Author: Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.
By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world.
Her novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
http://mickieashling.com/

Comments

  1. Penumbra says:

    So this book is written in first and third person? I don’t think I’ve read anything like that before.

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

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