Love’s Trials – Charlottesville and the ‘Unite the Right’ riots.

August 12, 2017 was a momentous day in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was the day that the ‘Unite the Right’ protestors marched their way into history. It was also a day that left most of American feeling disgusted, repulsed and angry.

But for the characters in ‘Love’s Trials’ the ‘Unite the Right’ protest was more than a social or political event. They weren’t simply spectators to the terrible events of that day, they were participants. It was a moment in their lives when they were forced to face some of their most deeply felt prejudices, prejudices rooted in racial and personal memories too profoundly painful to ignore. It was a day when they feared for the safety of the ones they love most. And it was a day of responsibility, duty, and service.

Love’s Magic is set in Charlottesville. Much of the Love’s Magic storyline revolves around the University of Virginia and the politics which are a fundamental part any organization as large as a top tier college. Love’s Trials is set in the same locale and features many of the same characters. Consequently, when the ‘Unite the Right’ protests took place in Charlottesville it was simply impossible for me to ignore an incident which was so fundamentally important to our nation’s history and to the lives of the men who inhabit Love’s Trials’ world. It simply had to be part of the storyline.

Colin, as a Sergeant with the University of Virginia campus police force, would be involved in this conflict as a professional law enforcement officer whose duty was to keep the peace to the best of his ability. But at the same time, because he is deeply in love with a Jewish man, he could not remain indifferent to the vile anti-Semitic tone of the ‘Unite the Right’ protestors. Joshua would experience this incident on an intensely personal level, both because the involvement of the neo-Nazi’s awakened deeply-held historical and family memories and because the man he loves is involved in every aspect of this conflict, a conflict which places him in constant danger.

Knowing Colin as well as I do, I knew that he would not only take great offense at the anti-Semitic rhetoric the Nazi’s were spewing on that day, he would also be frothing at the mouth with anger. One of the things he loves most about Joshua is his Jewish heritage. He believes that the deep reservoir of inner strength which he has always loved and counted on within Joshua flows from that genetic, spiritual source. Hearing the Nazi’s hate-filled, anti-Semitic chants would have set his Irish heart on fire with rage.

At the same time, I knew Colin would be required to remain in control of his emotions. Certainly, he would have longed to batter the Nazis to a pulp. But it’s not Colin’s way to use physical force no matter how angry he might be. He is experienced enough at his job to know that such a reaction would solve nothing. Responding with undue force would certainly have provoked a response from the supremacists in which innocent people could have been hurt. He had to try to stay calm. He had to try to react in a professional manner. He didn’t always succeed.

In Love’s Trials you’ll hear Colin talk about the day of the “Unite the Right’ riots. He’ll discuss what he saw and heard. He’ll discuss about how he responded. He’ll discuss how he felt. And he’ll discuss his thoughts on how well he feels the police force, whose job it is to protect Charlottesville citizens, responded to the dramatic events of that momentous day. However, although he was at the center of every incident which took place in Charlottesville on August 12th, 2017, those events remained very much out of his control. His point of view with regard to this emotionally charged day in his professional life is both personal and deeply felt, but he would certainly never claim that they were unbiased. Colin is at heart a deeply honest man. And as such he would be the first to admit that no one who was present at the “Unite the Right” riots that day could have been less biased than he.

Joshua’s point of view regarding that terrible day was also deeply personal. As a Jewish man who lost family members in the Holocaust, he possessed a unique perspective regarding the ‘Unite the Right’ march in Charlottesville. He overwhelmed with disgust and anger that the neo-Nazis had been allowed to march in his city in the first place, and his first instinct was to join the counter protestors and face down the white-supremacists. At the same time, he knew that his presence at the event would make it impossible for Colin to concentrate on his job. Colin’s concern for Joshua’s safety would have been a distraction which could easily have gotten him injured or even killed.

It was a dangerous situation for everyone involved and Joshua had to make a hard decision. Would he join the counter protestors? Or would he stay home in safety? His desire to be part of what happened that day was fueled by his genetic revulsion for anything connected with the Nazis. The grandfather who nearly raised him had been imprisoned in the camps. Both great grandparents had been Holocaust victims along with many, many other family members. And yet his presence at that ugly event would have placed the man he loved in danger, and Colin had made it clear he was vehemently opposed to Joshua being anywhere near the gathering. Any decision Joshua made meant facing a trial that could possibly change their lives forever.

They both made decisions on that fateful day that altered their feelings about their relationship and about themselves. Colin had been a police officer for a decade but he had never before faced a situation where he was confronted with hatred and bigotry this vicious which also posed a very real threat to the one he loved. Joshua had never before faced a situation which forced him to appreciate and accept how deeply connected he was with his Jewish heritage.

In the end, they both made decisions that would affect they way the lived their lives from that point forward. I won’t share all the details either of that day or of what came afterward for Colin and Joshua. I don’t want to ‘spoil’ you for the dramatic events that take place in Love’s Trials. But I can say this: While this incident doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what they’re go through in this book, it does lay a foundation of love and faith in each other that they will certainly need in the days ahead. And it is a profound chapter in what I hope you’ll feel is a profound story.

Love’s Trials will be released on October 12th, 2018 on Amazon. It is available for pre-order now so run and grab your copy. Colin and Joshua face many trials in the course of this book, the ‘Unite the Right’ protest being only one. And when the trial is deadly enough, love can lose its way.


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Colin and Joshua’s Tarot Cards!! A peek into their nature.

An interviewer asked me this: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that I spent 15 years reading Tarot cards and doing Astrological horoscopes for a living. Not only that, but I taught the very first online Tarot class in the history of the world and this was loooong before the Internet. It was on a service known as Quantum-Line, or Q-link which was the precursor to AOL. I taught classes there, led full moon meditations. It was great, GREAT fun!

And it was the beginning of what is now, of course, a world-wide phenomenon, the WEB. It was more fun back then because we were involved in ground-breaking activities and making our own rules up as we went… always MY favorite thing to do.

I enjoyed reading Tarot cards. I never saw them as a way to tell fortunes or predict the future. I used them much as a psychologist (Joshua?) would use ink-blots. They’re a great psychological tool, and a lot of fun.

I’ve always seen the Magician as the card meant for authors. The Magician lifts his wand toward the skies to call on inspiration and then uses the tools he has been given to make that inspiration manifest in the world. This is what authors do all the time. Even those authors who have yet to sell even one book have created something magical. They have drawn on the power of the Universe and manifested that power on Earth. I don’t care if it’s a children’s book, a cookbook, or a contemporary gay romance novel like mine… they are all a manifestation of what is most divine within each of us.

 

 

Colin’s card would have to be the Knight of Wands. Wands represents the element of fire, and I don’t think anyone would dispute me when I say that Colin is a man who overflows with fiery dynamism. He is the poster boy for primal energy, inspiration, and just plain life force. He’s enthusiastic and courageous. If you wanted to ‘light a fire under’ someone, Colin would be the perfect guy for the job. And as a Knight of Wands he wields that fire as any gallant Knight would… with courage, passion, and in a way that inspires all of us. Joshua likens Colin to Don Quixote since Colin’s quest in life, at least as Joshua sees it, is to defend the helpless and destroy the wicked. But for Colin it’s more than a quest, it’s the driving force of his life. The Knight of Wands is not someone who could ever back down or take a back seat to anyone. He’s at the forefront of every battle and in the thick of any conflict where his ideals are being challenged. Look at him holding the reins, totally in control of the wildly rearing animal with only one hand. And you can bet he makes sure there’s an audience there watching him do it. The Knight of Wands is a showoff!! He likes attention and applause.

I’ll also add that Colin absolutely sizzles with sexual heat. As Joshua noted from the moment they first met, Colin smolders with an almost dangerously seductive quality that makes him nearly impossible to resist. His is ever the ‘knight in shining armor’ charging off to meet whatever danger or challenge is foolish enough to cross his path.

The Knight of Wands will be your champion. But he can also be the chaotic force that dances through your life, leaving a tangled chaotic mess behind him. He’s a force to reckon with. Just ask Joshua.

I see Joshua as the King of Cups a card symbolized by the element of water. Emotional, healing, and always led by love, this card truly represents the rulership of the heart. But at the same time, he is a King and represents authority and responsibility. In this case, the King can feel responsible for the emotions of others and also be very much in tune with what others are feeling. This emphatic nature helps Joshua understand Colin better than Colin understands himself. During their very first get-together in Love’s Magic Joshua startles Colin by speaking with complete understanding about Colin’s most deeply held secret. See this excerpt:

 

“So,” Colin said, “I have a great heart, huh?”

“One of the greatest, I suspect,” Joshua replied.

Colin looked at him thoughtfully. “I’m afraid I may end up disappointing you, Josh. I’m really not all that noble.”

Joshua frowned and shook his head. “I disagree. There is something innately noble about you, Colin. Something beyond the ordinary. You’re not just a cop doing a job. It’s somehow greater than that.” He drew in a deep breath and when he spoke again his voice was low and warm with meaning. “I was serious when I compared you to Don Quixote. You seem to view your work as a personal mission. A way to right some terrible wrong. Like a knight on a noble quest.”

For a moment there was silence.

Joshua’s eyes dropped. “That’s what I see when I look at you, Colin,” he said. “A knight on a noble quest.” He lifted his head and met Colin’s eyes. “And, yeah. I know I sound like a hopeless romantic.”

Momentarily speechless, Colin’s stared at him, his heart stuttering in his chest, his honeyed-green eyes wide with surprise. Joshua knew no more about Colin than any other causal relationship in his life. And yet, without even realizing it, he had just spoken with eloquence and hair-raising accuracy of the most deeply hidden truth in Colin’s heart. “You’re…” Colin hesitated then drew in a quick breath, “…you’re damned insightful, Joshua.”

Joshua’s empathetic nature makes him a natural as a psychologist. And yet the King of Cups can often find that understanding his own emotions is a much greater challenge than understanding the feelings of others. Joshua suffered severe emotional and physical abuse as a child and the roiling waters of his emotions reflect the pain of those early years. Joshua still struggles to understand and overcome the damage done by those difficult years in his life. The King of Cups can be very introverted. He can internalize his feelings and find it difficult to trust others enough to establish real emotional intimacy.

Joshua’s King of Cups can sit on a very lonely throne. He can isolate himself to the point where it becomes difficult to reach out to others. And he can be totally prepared to flee at a moment’s notice when he suspects betrayal or abandonment may lie ahead. Joshua ran away from Colin after their first fight, convinced that offering his love to his magical Knight of Wands was a hopeless flight of fancy. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in Colin. He didn’t believe in himself.

Colin, as Joshua’s ‘Knight in shining armor’ helps him find healing and peace but only after they both face the inner demons symbolized by their Tarot card. Colin must lay aside his devotion to ‘self-image’ and allow himself to be vulnerable enough to go after Joshua and seek his forgiveness. The cool, healing waters of Joshua’s presence quench the fires of Colin’s inner Knight.

Joshua must forget his childhood fears enough to trust in Colin’s love. He must lay aside the lack of self-worth he was taught in his childhood and come to believe that he deserves the love of the Knight and champion who has swept him off his feet.

Understanding the meaning of their Tarot card gives me insight into the motivation, goals, and needs of my characters! And… it’s a fun way to relax when I’ve spent too much time bending over the computer, writing!!

What Tarot Card do you think best represents YOU?


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Which actors would play my characters in the Love’s Magic movie???

 


Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your book?

Now I’m embarrassed. I always have an actual person’s face in mind for my characters. Always. And usually that face belongs to an actor or actress. It’s just easier for me to write when I can see the character living out what’s going on in my mind.

I had Colin and Joshua completely fleshed out in the character development sheets I always use when I first start writing. I knew them. I knew what they were like. I knew what the liked and didn’t like. I knew their faults and flaws and weaknesses. I knew their strengths. And I had a (sort-of) idea what they looked like.

Colin, of course, was Irish. And I wanted him to look Irish. It’s a lot of who he is as a man and it was important to me that the character’s image in my mind convey the deep love he feels for being Irish. So, I went looking for Irish men. And this is who I chose:

Kill me now! Yes. It’s Jamie Dornan. But… BUT… I honest-to-god had NO idea who he was when I picked the image. He just looked IRISH! I am no fan of Christian Grey, had never read 50 Shades of anything, have never seen the movies, had never seen Jamie in anything. He just looked… Irish!  And, of course, he looked hot as FUCK!

As Joshua said when he first saw Colin on hit motorcycle: “Colin sat astride the bike, his muscular frame wonderfully emphasized by his black leather jacket and tight jeans. In his hand was a helmet emblazoned with a shamrock and the words: ‘Go Irish!’ My God, Joshua thought, his breath catching in his chest. He’s just so fucking hot!”

I know now, of course. Trust me to pick the actor playing the most notorious heterosexual on the planet as the mental model for my gay-as-hell Irish cop.

*sighs*

But… once I saw him I was sunk. He just WAS Colin! So I’m stuck with Jamie Dornan… if such a thing is possible. And, frankly, the Jamie Dornan who was and remains ‘Colin’ in my fevered brain is Jamie as Sheriff Graham in ‘Once Upon a Time’. THAT’ is Colin to me.

Joshua. Again, I went on the hunt for an ethnic look. Joshua is Jewish. I needed a Jewish guy. And there he was.

Again, I had no clue who Adam Brody was when I picked him. I had never seen the OC, didn’t know Adam from Adam in the garden of Eden. I just knew he was Joshua. There were the dark, tumbling curls that Colin drooled over. There was the Jewish strength and calm that he relied on.

In fact THIS is the picture that Colin was looking at when he thought: “Alone in his apartment at night, he studied the only picture he had of Joshua, clutching it tightly in one hand while holding his phone in the other. It was a black and white photo which Joshua had given to him some weeks ago. The photo was beautifully lit and the reflective expression on Joshua’s face framed by his dark, tumbling curls tore at Colin’s heart. He gazed past Colin with dreamy eyes which focused on some distant and unreachable goal.”

So those are the two guys I continually saw in my head as I wrote Love’s Magic. I have to confess… once I’d discovered Jamie Dornan (and I admit that I am really late to that party!) I knew Colin couldn’t have been anyone else. And frankly, having he and Adam firmly planted in my brain made writing Colin and Joshua’s romantic scenes a lot more pleasurable. I mean a LOT!

I often wonder if I’m the only author who uses uber-hot fantasy guys as her mental model when they write. Somehow I doubt it.

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Joshua walked away from Love’s Magic…

I thought long and hard about Joshua before I ever began to write Love’s Magic. Some things I knew on instinct from the moment the character emerged in my mind. I knew he was lonely. I know he’d been abused in his childhood at the hands of an alcoholic father. I knew he was damaged.

Another man might have turned his wounded spirit on others, returning abuse for abuse, but I knew this wasn’t Joshua’s way. He wanted to be healed, but he also longed to heal others who had been hurt as deeply as he had. I think one reason he fell so hard for Colin was that his empathetic spirit saw the pain and darkness that kept Colin’s heart locked away and untouchable.

No two men could have seemed more opposite in nature. What could a swaggering, cocky, self-assured Irish cop possibly have in common with a soft-spoken, reticent, Jewish Doctor of Psychology? But from the very beginning Joshua sensed something deeper in Colin’s nature, something beyond the fiercely independent, I-don’t-do-relationships attitude. He sensed something noble and deeply committed. He sensed a man on a quest to right a terrible wrong.

He didn’t know what drove Colin, but whatever crisis from the past held him captive, Joshua instinctively knew it was a huge part of what made Colin the man he was. He wasn’t under any illusions about the future. Colin had made it very clear on their first ‘date’ that he made no promises to anyone… ever, and he offered Joshua a clear-cut choice: see me on my terms or don’t see me at all.

Joshua tried to do it Colin’s way. He tried to accept his role as the sometimes friend and occasional bed-partner. But Joshua’s self-awareness had grown in the years since he was a shy, awkward boy struggling to believe in his own value.

What I admired most about Joshua was his determination not to let anything cheapen the love he felt for his charismatic Irish cop, not even Colin. He would not allow the love that meant everything to him to be treated as a short-term sexual liaison, bereft of feeling or intimacy, bereft of meaning. He knew he deserved more. He knew Colin deserved more.

Colin’s refusal to admit love into his heart did more to help Joshua grow past the pain of his abused childhood than anything else in his life. He simply loved Colin too much to demean what he felt for him. He found the strength and courage to walk away even though it broke his heart.

Even as the author, I honestly didn’t expect him to choose that route. But any other decision meant agreeing with Colin that what they shared could be minimized. I hated writing those scenes. It broke my heart because I knew how much Colin needed him. But… I had to trust in what he and Joshua were telling me and let them lead me to where they needed to go. I had to trust that they’d be together again if that’s what was meant to be.

Joshua knew Colin could never care for a man he couldn’t respect and who didn’t respect himself. And, even in the midst of his heartbreak, he discovered a new sense of self-worth that brought healing to himself and to his family. And as he walked the shores of Lake Michigan, remembering the nights he’d shared with his charismatic Irishman, he allowed himself to hope that Colin would one day realize that in leaving Joshua had offered him the greatest and most loving gift his heart could give and, perhaps give Love’s Magic another try.

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Why two gay couples? And why assault?


I was asked by someone who read Love’s Magic why I tackled the subject of campus assault in my manuscript. They commented that the subject matter seemed tricky and further added that writing a book which featured TWO unique gay couples seemed like dangerous territory for a first-time novelist. In fact that one aspect of Love’s Magic has drawn more attention than almost any other, which rather surprised me.

I can only say this. As someone who has been an assault victim I felt the subject needed discussion. And since I was attempting to offer as many viewpoints as possible on how victims and the persons close to them experience and deal with such a dreadful ordeal, I needed the perspective of both my couples in order to best explore the full range of possibilities.

But Love’s Magic is also a love story. These four men have each found someone who has become… or is becoming… the most important person in their lives. For David and Nate, it’s an already established relationship that gets rocked to its core when Nate is attacked. For Colin and Joshua, it’s working their way past some incredibly high, deep emotional barricades, particularly in Colin’s case, which make finding and keeping that relationship damn near impossible. And all of these issues revolve around the personal experience each of them has had with some form of abuse.

The four main characters in Love’s magic had to deal with assault and abuse, each in their own unique way, and no one of them handles it quite the way the others do. Each of these four men are stumbling toward their own healing and eventually share the best of what they’ve learned along the way with the other three. I needed every single one of these men in order to tell the story that needed to be told. Each of them saw the issue from a different perspective. But before they could find the healing they needed they each had to learn to see it through each other’s eyes.

I wanted to talk a bit about each of the four main characters.

Colin is the cop. He deals with every kind of assault on a daily basis as the man charged with finding and arresting the perpetrators of these crimes. But it also is a deeply personal issue for him for reasons which he will discuss with no one. There is pain buried deep within Colin that no ones sees, feelings he has suppressed for most of his life. But when Joshua cracks open his heart everything comes pouring out, and not all of it is good.

Joshua was abused as a child. He was physically assaulted by a drunken father who broke Joshua’s arm when he was eight. He knows what it’s like to be locked in a dark closet and left alone for hours with no food, no light, no help. He became a Doctor of Psychology in order to help others who had suffered as he had, but also to find his own healing. He could see more easily into Colin’s heart than he could into his own. And in helping the man he loved find healing, he also found healing within himself.

Gay themed romance novel cover images for a special collection.

David was never physically abused. But he was assaulted emotionally and verbally by a cold and critical parent and grew up completely unable to believe in his own worth. These issues haunted him for most of his life and were the primary reason why his marriage failed. His father’s voice was still in his ears, directing his life through constant criticism of everything David did and became. The psychological damage David suffered kept him closeted for many, many years. His relationship with Nate led him to the therapy he needed and at least a partial healing.

Nate was never abused in any way. He had an almost ideal childhood. But he fell in love with a man whose self esteem had been badly damaged by a father’s coldness and constant criticism and had to learn how to cope with David’s resulting insecurities as their relationship grew. When Nate went to the rescue of a student who was under attack on the Tog, a park on the university campus, he was badly, though not critically, injured. The trauma he suffered then was the catalyst which eventually drew all four men together.

No two people experience life in the same way. It’s a unique journey for all of us. And when it comes to dealing with abuse in any form, and there are many, it often takes more than one perspective to lead us to the healing we need. Love’s Magic explores many of those pathways through the lives of four exceptional and dynamic men. I hope you’ll get to know them all. I think their stories will touch your heart.


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Love’s Magic now available! You’ll love these characters!

Love's Magic

I am very excited to announce that Love’s Magic is now available on Amazon.

I have to admit that I fell completely in love with the characters who inhabit Love’s Magic. Meet Colin Campbell, my handsome, dynamic, over-the-top sexy Irish police officer. Colin is a man who refused to ever allow love and intimacy to touch his heart. As a result, no one was more surprised than he when his normal ‘love-um-and-leave-um’ attitude hit a brick wall named Joshua Abrams.

Unlike Colin, Joshua is , steady, introverted, and longing for commitment. Although head over heels in love with Colin almost from the moment they met, he firmly believes this love can only lead to heartbreak. At yet, Joshua proves to be the one man who can break down Colin’s emotional barriers and open his heart to the kind of magic that love can offer.

The freedom-loving Colin never expected to fall in love and certainly had no clue how to handle it. Consequently, when his hot Irish temper created a horribly destructive explosion between them and Joshua flees to his home in Illinois without a word or a forwarding address, Colin found himself lost and adrift.

His struggle to overcome his pride and Irish ego and seek out the love of his life touched even MY heart!I hope you’ll check out Love’s Magic and meet Colin and Joshua for yourself. These two charismatic men personify the idea of ‘opposites attract’, but their love story will touch your heart. Available NOW on Amazon!!

Read the synopsis here!


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Meet Joshua Abrams – He felt Love’s Magic!

Meet the heroes of ‘Love’s Magic’! Introducing Joshua Abrams!

Joshua Abrams’s early years were something out of a nightmare. His alcoholic father treated him with abuse both physical and emotional until, when he was eight years old, his mother put out a warrant for the man’s arrest and he subsequently fled to Canada.

This heartbreaking beginning created a man who was frightened of love, reticent in relationships, even with his family, and inclined retreat from intimacy. His fear of abandonment and poor self-esteem was a stain on his heart that made trust nearly impossible and love difficult to accept.

Hoping to understand himself as well as help others, he pursued his career as a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) with single minded determination, cutting himself off from family, friends, and from his Jewish heritage. Quiet, scholarly, and painfully shy in social situations, he found comfort in books and retreated to them whenever life became to real… too threatening.

His meeting with Colin Campbell, was a bolt of lightning to his heart. The dynamic Irish police officer was everything Joshua was not. Cocky and charismatic, he damn near dragged Joshua out of his shell and into a relationship which, as much as he longed for it, Joshua knew didn’t have a prayer. No one could tame the wild and independent Irishman. He’d made it perfectly clear that he didn’t ‘do relationships’.  But knowing that didn’t keep Joshua from falling hopelessly in love.

My heart ached for Joshua as he struggled to navigate the roiling waters of his relationship with Colin. He knew from the very beginning that ‘commitment’ was not a word that would ever be found in Colin’s vocabulary yet, in spite of this, his own heart was already given over to the handsome Irishman. This, for Joshua, was a journey without any destination other than heartbreak and I constantly tried to put myself in his shoes as he struggled to step away from his feelings for Colin.

Retreat was often Joshua’s default tactic when the fear of abandonment and betrayal loomed over relationships, and though it broke his heart to do it he began to back away, refusing Colin’s invitations, distancing himself from any contact other than necessary work-related meetings. And yet, even as he went through the motions of physically distancing himself from the charismatic Irishman, he knew that escaping from his feelings was impossible.

Joshua is a man who is very internally directed. He views everything through the lens of his own self-doubt. He looked at Colin with eyes which were wide-open and filled with a combination of awestruck adoration and utter terror. He knew this man was his weakness. He knew this was exactly the kind of man who most appealed to his reticent heart. And he knew that this was the kind of man who would never… could never… give him the kind of relationship he yearned to make part of his life.

And yet he couldn’t help but take the first tentative steps which swept Colin to the center of his life. Even the inevitable heartbreak couldn’t deter him. His overwhelming need to be close to Colin, even if the affair was short-lived, drove every other consideration from his mind.

And yet, his experience with Colin only served to reinforce his inner doubts and lack of faith in himself. Convinced by his childhood that he was unworthy of love, it took the greatest heartbreak of his life to prove just how wrong he had been all along.  Colin was his ‘Magic Man’, but the true magic only became apparent when their relationship lay irreversibly shattered at Joshua’s feet, leaving him with nothing but memories of the love which neither time nor distance could destroy.


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