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Authors: Larry Benjamin

What Binds Us

BOOK: What Binds Us
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What Binds Us

By Larry Benjamin

Thomas-Edward is only a teenager when he escapes his working-class neighborhood. He’s ready for anything—except the arrival of Donovan Whyte in his life. Sophisticated and dazzlingly handsome, Dondi quickly becomes the center of Thomas-Edward’s universe, introducing him to a world full of drama, passion and feuding families.

When their relationship fizzles, they remain uneasy friends until Dondi invites Thomas-Edward to his family’s summer house. Thomas-Edward is immediately attracted to Dondi’s mysterious brother, Matthew—and finds himself hopelessly drawn to both men.

As time passes, Thomas-Edward develops a unique bond with both brothers as they orbit around each other, although he knows only one of them can be his lifelong love. Will the three of them be able to find a way to hold on to each other? Or will love, its loss and the threat of death destroy their connection once and for all?

60,000 words

Dear Reader,

It’s hard to get excited about the month of March. The weather in this part of the world isn’t quite spring, and if it’s still cold, can make a long winter feel even longer. There are no fun holidays to look forward to except the green beer, corned beef and cabbage of St. Patrick’s Day, and the school season is at a point where the kids are starting to whine about having to wake up in the morning and go.

That’s why I’m excited about our 2012 March releases at Carina Press. The variety and excellence of the stories give us a reason to anticipate and enjoy the month of March! The rich diversity of these books promises a fantastic reading month at Carina.

Kicking off the month is mystery author Shirley Wells, returning with her popular Dylan Scott Mystery series. Joining her book
Silent Witness
at the beginning of March is BDSM erotic romance
Forbidden Fantasies
by Jodie Griffin; Christine Danse’s paranormal romance
Beauty in the Beast;
and a romantic steampunk gothic horror that’s like no steampunk you’ve ever read,
Heart of Perdition
by Selah March.

Later in the month, fans of Cindy Spencer Pape will be glad to see her return with another paranormal romance installment,
Motor City Mage,
while Janis Susan May returns with another creepy gothic mystery,
Inheritance of Shadows.
Historical romance lovers will be more than pleased with
A Kiss in the Wind,
Jennifer Bray-Weber’s inaugural Carina Press release.

I expect new Carina Press authors Joan Kilby, Gillian Archer and Nicole Luiken will gain faithful followings with their books:
Gentlemen Prefer Nerds,
an entertaining contemporary romance;
Wicked Weekend,
a sexy and sweet BDSM erotic romance; and
Gate to Kandrith,
the first of a fantasy duology that features wonderful world-building. Meanwhile, returning Carina authors Robert Appleton and Carol Stephenson do what they do best: continue to capture readers’ imaginations. Grab a copy of science-fiction space opera
Alien Velocity
and hot romantic suspense
Her Dark Protector.

Rounding out the month, we have an entire week of releases from some of today’s hottest authors in m/m romance, as well as some newcomers to the genre. Ava March kicks off her entertaining and hot m/m historical romance trilogy with
Brook Street: Thief
. Look for the other two books in the trilogy,
Brook Street: Fortune Hunter
and
Brook Street: Rogue,
in April and May 2012. Erastes, who can always be counted on to deliver a compelling, well-researched historical, gives us m/m paranormal historical romance
A Brush with Darkness,
and science-fiction author Kim Knox makes her debut in the m/m genre with her sci-fi romance
Bitter Harvest.
KC Burn gives us the stunning m/m contemporary romance
First Time, Forever.
Joining them are new Carina Press authors Dev Bentham, with a sweet, heartfelt m/m romance,
Moving in Rhythm,
and Larry Benjamin with his terrific debut novel, m/m romance
What Binds Us.

As you can see, March comes in like a lion but will not go out like a lamb. All month long we offer powerful stories from our talented authors. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your thoughts, comments and questions to [email protected] You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James

Executive Editor, Carina Press

www.carinapress.com

www.twitter.com/carinapress

www.facebook.com/carinapress

Acknowledgements

I’d like to thank the following people without whom this book would not have been possible:
Greg Howard, who read the very first drafts of this story and was always happy to share his thoughts. Greg, you’re another one gone too soon. I wish you were here to see what this became.
He who went to a fair at Penn and won me a turtle. You know who you are. I owe you so much.
Rhonda Helms, editor extraordinaire. You’ll make a writer out of me yet. Thank you for your expertise, insight and direction. This is a better book because of you.

And finally, thank you to my partner, Stanley H. Willauer, Jr., who tells me I can do anything and supports me unconditionally. Thank you for making dinner every night while I was deep in edits. I love you.

sun: the self-luminous, gaseous sphere about which the earth and other planets revolve and which furnishes light, heat and energy for the solar system. (2) any star that is the center of a planetary system

earth
: the planet that we live on…third in distance from the sun. (2) this world, as distinguished from heaven and hell

moon
: the heavenly body that revolves around the earth…and that accompanies the earth in its yearly revolution about the sun, reflecting the sun’s light. (6) any satellite of a planet

from WEBSTER’S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY, Second College Edition 1982

Part One: Sunrise
Prologue

When I was a child the advent of fall would fill me with hope. Each year I emerged from the heat and ennui of the long, empty summer like a phoenix, not only reborn but reinvented. One year, I came away from the summer with pubic hair. The next with a new chest and biceps. And still another year with a love of the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Now the seasons seem out of sequence so that it’s fall again, after a long, dark winter. A winter without hope. A season without rebirth. There is only death now. Everywhere I see lifeless eyes staring out of gaunt purple faces and men like carelessly drawn stick figures. The air smells like the ashes of attar.

It is a season of black days and blacker nights. An emotional free fall. A tumbling through air. If not for Matthew, I would feel anchored to nothing. Nothing but these empty white pages before me, which I feel compelled to fill with the black indelible ink of memory. Memories of a love lost and a love found. Memories of a life shared and a life lost.

Remembering is dangerous; each memory clear, sharp as a shard of glass, cutting through the healing distance of time, rendering the loss new again.

I must write it all down—quickly, before it leaves me. Like he did. Gone too soon.

Matthew leans over my shoulder, reading. I am grateful for his presence, for the smell of him, for the sounds his life makes as it bumps up against mine.

Chapter One

One Easter Sunday, when I was four, my parents dressed me in a miniature version of one of my father’s suits (my mother sews). The suit was an exact replica right down to the bow tie, which I hated. They either chose to ignore or did not understand my inarticulate shrieks of protest, for they affixed the hated bow tie to my squirming neck. When they went upstairs to finish dressing themselves, I loosed the dreadful thing and flung it into the backyard. When they returned downstairs, they found me quiet and tie-less. Unable to extract the whereabouts of the tie from me, already late for church, they flung me into the back of Daddy’s finned Cadillac and off to church we went.

***

When I was in the first grade our teacher, Miss Franzioni, whose hair was Dippity-Dooed in place over one eye, turning her into a kind of benevolent Cyclops, created a game in which each day, a boy and girl were selected to act out a fairy-tale romance between a prince and a princess. The boy and girl were required to hold hands and dance around the room while the whole class watched and sang. At the end of the song the prince and princess kissed and returned to their seats. When my turn came to act out the bit of hetero-child nonsense, I coolly refused. Miss Franzioni insisted. I cried. Miss Franzioni cajoled. I screamed, “I won’t kiss her. You can’t make me!”

To calm my escalating hysteria, she said I did not have to kiss the princess, a tall, lanky girl named Valerie, who was otherwise my friend. I did not have to kiss her, but I had to dance with her. And I had to hold her hand.

Afterwards I washed my hands until my palms turned pink and my fingertips puckered and wrinkled; if I’d had a knife, I would have cut off my hands at the wrist.

***

When I was twelve my parents—trying to make a man out of me—enrolled me in the boy scouts; I retaliated by falling in love with my scoutmaster’s son, who ignored me. Out of frustration, I flung myself overboard during a canoe trip on our lake. He dove into the water after me and dragged me to shore. When he bent down to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to what he must surely have thought was my lifeless body, I opened my mouth and thrust my tongue into his mouth. Startled, he kissed me back.

My boy scouts career came to an abrupt, if not inglorious, end.

***

At seventeen I escaped the tyranny of my parents’ love and entered into undergraduate service at the University of Pennsylvania. We—my parents and I—were each relieved to be free of the company of the other.

As I’d grown up in New Jersey in the kind of quiet planned community, where the elder sons mowed the lawns on Saturday morning while their parents made discreet love behind the locked doors of their upstairs bedroom, I was startled to find myself alone, a stranger in a strange land without map or tour guide.

It was the fall of 1977, the beginning of everything. I was seventeen. I was at last free. And although I had no need greater than to shake off the shackles of this very freedom, I was happy. And ready for anything.

Anything arrived shortly, in the rather startling personage of one Donovan Dion Whyte.

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