Title: All That You Can’t Leave Behind
Author: Kirby Quinlan
Publisher: KQ Press
Cover Artist: Kirby Quinlan
Length: 50,000 words
Release Date: October 12, 2015
Let go of the past. Live in the moment. The future will take care of itself.
Tailor Sway is a professional organizer on the brink of divorce. When he is hired to appear on a reality TV show called “Hoarded Houses”, he has three days to help a collector of Christmas decorations clean up her property before it’s condemned by local authorities.
Everything is going according to Tailor’s carefully laid plans. That is, until Brayzen Mapleridge, a mega-famous pop singer known for his wild, daredevil antics, shows up.
Forced to pay for a recent stunt which has turned into a serious legal matter, Brayzen is given the opportunity to avoid jail time by doing some hard labor in front of the cameras. But, it’s not an easy thing to do while being chased by all who trail in the wake of a major celebrity. Is Brayzen sincere about helping, or is it all just part of a well-crafted publicity campaign?
Despite some initial clashes between Tailor’s uptight determination and Brayzen’s carefree attitude, the two develop an unlikely partnership that quickly blossoms into a sizzling attraction.
But, Tailor’s unresolved conflict with his husband, Grant, an emotionally scarred veteran of the Iraq War, still looms in the background amidst a whirlwind of TV cameras, relentless paparazzi, eager fans, and scathing headlines. Despite all these complications, will it be Brayzen’s own meddling mother who puts the brakes on their steamy love affair for good?
At times sexy, laugh-out-loud funny, and tragically heartbreaking; this erotic tale of love, loss and letting go promises to give you a front-row seat on Tailor and Brayzen’s crazy, romantic rollercoaster ride. Strap yourself in!
No matter how much I plan and prepare, shit still goes wrong.
Calling the auto club? Forget it. They’ll take forever to get here and being late today is not an option. So, I get out to grab my emergency tool kit from the trunk.
Motors roaring as they pass.
The choke of exhaust fumes.
It’s Portland, Oregon. Morning rush hour.
A solid stream of traffic speeds past my head as I kneel down on the gnarled roadside.
This is not what I want to do right now. But whatever. After what happened earlier, I need something to take out my frustration on.
Jacking up the car, I unscrew the lug nuts and wrestle the old tire off, replacing it with the spare I keep in the trunk. I pull, pull, pull and push, push, push until sweat is pouring from my forehead and my hands are stained with black grease. The tire iron falls to the road, clattering against the cement. I hope those lug nuts are tight enough.
I think I did it right, but I don’t know for sure.
My husband usually handles this stuff.
Shit like this never happens on regular days, of course. Only on days like today. Like when my husband leaves an envelope full of documents I’m not supposed to see on the dining room table the morning I leave for a three-day business trip.
Looking down at my wedding ring, seeing it covered in grease, I’m forced to wonder if our marriage will survive this episode. Damn you, Grant. You’ve really pissed me off.
From the glove compartment, I take out a plastic sandwich bag full of wet-naps and use those to try to clean myself off. I’d rather not wipe my whole body down with this antiseptic smell, but it’s better than showing up looking like an auto mechanic.
In most cases, I catch a flight to wherever the show is, but this one is local. The production company offered to pay for a rental car. Why didn’t I let them? No, I said, the site’s only forty-five minutes from my house. I’ll be more comfortable driving my own car. My ten-year-old Corolla.
I notice my reflection in the window. Sweat matting down my short, brown hair. The irritated expression on my face. The grease all over my white polo shirt.
Peeling it off with disgust, I walk to the trunk to put my tool kit away and find another shirt in my suitcase. The sight of my naked torso draws a few approving whistles and honks from passing cars. All female, I assume, but I’m not looking.
I grab for a clean polo shirt, settling on a black one. I check my watch. Not much time.
And then: A beige BMW slows down and comes to a stop beside me. The driver is a woman, forty-something. A cougar-type dressed to the nines in a pink business suit, all done up with perfect makeup and hair. A realtor maybe? Cosmetic sales? I notice her vanity plate in front reads LAW-4-U. A lawyer, great.
“Need some help?” Her eyes leer up and down my body. “Nice abs.”
“No, thanks. I’ve got it.” I throw her a discouraging half-smile as I struggle to close my suitcase zipper. She was the seventh person to stop and offer help in ten minutes. That’s Oregon for you, friendliest drivers in the country.
“Hey, do I know you?”
“Probably not.” I don’t bother to check her face again. I hear that question all the time.
I hurry to wipe down the rim of the flat with a rag before placing it into the recess that holds the spare. Then I carefully reorganize my trunk, making sure the jack, iron and everything else are back in place. Being neat and orderly, even when I’m in a rush, always makes me feel better. In control. I check my watch again. I can still make it on time.
“You look familiar,” she says. “I can’t place it.”
Passing cars lay on the horn as they speed by, having to swerve to avoid her car.
I wave her away with a disinterested flap of my hand, not making eye contact. “Thanks anyway. Really. It’s done. I’m good.” I slam the trunk to let her know the conversation is over. Pulling the black shirt on, I stretch it over my chest and tuck the bottom into my jeans.
“You’re sure I can’t help?”
I take a deep breath before answering. Despite my best efforts to be polite, I feel my agitation seep through. “What are you gonna do, file a petition for me? I mean, seriously. How would you help in that outfit?”
Her expression wilts from adoring to appalled.
I’ll admit, it did sound more condescending than I intended. I hate to be rude, but some people don’t know how to take a hint.
I’m about to apologize, when: “Fine! To hell with you then, asshole! Sorry I asked.” Her tires screech as she peels away.
Sliding behind the wheel, closing the door behind me, things are finally quiet.
I like the quiet right now.
I take some hand sanitizer out of the center console and squeeze a liberal amount into my palms, rubbing it into my hands and forearms to make sure I’m completely disinfected.
Time to step on it if I’m going to make it.
With hopes of making movies, he learned the craft of screenwriting, honing his love of storytelling. He quit writing in 2002, however, frustrated he couldn’t promote the diversity-rich stories he was passionate about. But now, in the world of digital self-publishing, he has found an avenue to finally tell the stories he’s always wanted to tell; the types of stories he wishes had been mainstream when he was growing up.
His first published work was the short story “New World” in the Queer Science Fiction anthology “Discovery”. He has plans for several standalone novels, as well as serial works in his favorite genres, including sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, pulp detective and even western. They are hopeful, action-packed tales of strong, positive LGBTQ characters finding love, fighting oppression and overcoming extraordinary challenges in a real-to-life way.
Ironically, Kirby’s own true love came to him in the form he least expected, when he met his female roommate and best friend, Karla. Their marriage in 2013, proved to them both that love is love. It has no boundaries, knows no gender and can’t always be defined by labels. Karla is an author as well and they live a happy life together in Portland, OR.
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