As promised here’s an excerpt from Wings of Love, my second book released today.
Renowned oncologist Dr. Bradford Mitchell sat hopelessly in the cold, sterile Seattle hospital room, clinging to the hand of the man he loved more than anything in this world, more than life itself. The man he couldn’t save—no matter how hard he tried—from the terrible cancer eating away at his body. As Jeffery Owen, his partner and lover of fifteen years, lay unconscious and seemingly peaceful, Brad watched him draw in and exhale short, steady breaths and listened to the constant blip-beep blip-beep blip-beep of the heart monitor, the only sign that Jeff was still alive.
He tried to remember happier times when their lives didn’t involve daily doctor’s appointments, harsh rounds of chemotherapy, and the many other experimental treatments he’d selfishly forced Jeff to endure. He tried to remember back to when Jeff was a healthy and strikingly handsome young architect with a client list envied by every other architect in his firm. A time when his own thriving practice, now sold, his research, and Jeff were all he needed in this world. They were happy and had the rest of their lives to look forward to.
Then that dreadful day came, with the news of stage four colon cancer. Their entire world was turned upside down in one day. After two years of fighting and enduring one experimental treatment after another, Jeff made the decision to stop everything. Brad had tried unsuccessfully to convince Jeff to keep fighting, but Jeff had had enough. Brad knew that the side effects of the treatments were probably worse than the effects of the cancer, at least early on, but he just thought that if they kept trying, something was bound to work. In the end, however, it was Jeff’s life and his decision, and like it or not, Brad had to accept it.
Everyone at the hospital knew Dr. Mitch and gave them as much privacy as Jeff’s medical needs would allow, which had been a blessing over the last couple of months. Before Jeff slipped into the coma, they’d had long hours just to be together and enjoy the time Jeff had left. Although Brad did his best to hide his breaking heart and grief, he knew Jeff was brutally aware of what he was going through. Jeff had once told him that if their positions were reversed, he couldn’t imagine how he would cope. Jeff had done the best he could to prepare and calm Brad, and to assure him that he was at peace with his decision. Jeff had also made him promise to go on with his life, to eventually accept the love and happiness that would surely come his way if he was open to it. He reluctantly promised, as he could never deny Jeff any request no matter how big or small, but he knew the promise was as empty as his heart. He couldn’t go on; he couldn’t imagine a life without Jeff, nor could he fathom falling in love again.
As Brad sat in the same uncomfortable hospital chair in which he’d sat for the last two and a half months, he didn’t feel anything but the empty world around him. Hand in hand and with his head on Jeff’s lap and his ear listening to as much as feeling his breaths, he noticed that Jeff’s breathing was becoming more and more unsteady and knew that his time on this earth was running out.
Suddenly, as if Jeff were forcing memories of happier times into Brad’s defeated body, events of their fifteen years together started to flash before his eyes. The smile on Jeff’s face when they moved into their first home together, that he had designed. How every Christmas morning Jeff made them wear goofy flannel pajamas and sit cross-legged around their Christmas tree, opening gifts. How funny Jeff looked at their Halloween party two years ago when he was in a wheelchair and insisted they dress up as Blanche and Baby Jane Hudson from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? How hot he looked in his scuba gear on their last diving trip to Bermuda. How happy and relaxed he was when they were on their yearly trip to Alaska. They’d had such a full, wonderful life, until …. They both thought they had a lifetime together, but fate had other plans. So here they were, Jeff unconsciously fighting for every breath and Brad not knowing which breath would be the last. God, how did it all come down to this and how will I ever survive?
Sensing that the end was near, Brad removed his shoes, climbed into the bed, slid his arm under Jeff’s neck, and held him close. For the first time since the diagnosis, his tears fell freely. Then the rise and fall of Jeff’s chest stopped, and the heart machine indicated a long, flat beep. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and calmly reached over and turned off the heart machine. Stone-cold silence.
With Jeff still in his arms, he gently kissed him on the lips and whispered, “So long, my love, rest well.” He got out of the bed, picked up his shoes, and backed away from Jeff’s bed, never taking his eyes off his lover. When he reached the door, he stood there for what felt like hours; finally he turned and opened the door to what was left of his life.
The next few days were a blur. Friends consoled him, surrounded him, and tried to feed him, but he was just going through the motions. The memorial service and burial were exactly as Jeff wanted, simple and sweet; their friends saw to that. But as he thought back, he couldn’t remember a single detail or anything he’d said or anything that had been said to him. All he remembered was seeing a coffin holding the other half of his empty existence.
When the services were over and he’d forced his friends to go home, he was finally alone in the house he and Jeff had lived and loved in. He looked around and immediately knew he couldn’t stay in this house any longer, at least not right now. Everywhere he turned, something reminded him of his love and his loss.
He spent the next three hours packing his clothes, and he placed four suitcases at the front door. He wanted to take something to remember Jeff, but what? He took one last look around and decided to take the picture of him and Jeff on one of their many vacations to Hiline Lake in the Alaskan mountains. They both loved the wilderness and especially this spot; they often referred to Hiline Lake as their spot. They looked so happy then, and that’s all he wanted to remember. He put his suitcases on the front porch, called a cab, and closed and locked the front door. He didn’t know if he would ever be back, but he knew where he was going.
“Wings of Love” along with “Final Encore” are available at www.dreamspinnerpress.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and most independent gay bookstores. And you can always find me at www.scottycade.com, Facebook, and on Twitter. Coming soon, “Treasure of Love” “Bounty of Love” and “Foundation of Love”.