- Digging Deep
2020 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST IN GAY ROMANCE
Drake Park has a complicated life. As a gay male midwife, he’s used to raising eyebrows. Add Crohn’s Disease and things get interesting - or not, considering the sad state of his love life. Experience has taught Drake that most men are fair weather sailors when it comes to handling his condition - gone for dust when things get rough. Staying healthy is a fulltime job without adding in any heartbreak, so a little loneliness is a small price to pay. If he says it often enough he might even believe it. One thing for sure, the cop who arrested him isn’t about to change that.
Caleb Ashton does not have a complicated life. A senior detective with the Whangarei Police Department, he likes his job and is good at it. He works hard and plays hard, happy to enjoy as many men as he can while he’s still young enough - or at least he was. These days he feels adrift for the first time in his life, and the only thing sparking his interest - a certain prickly young midwife.
Can Drake find enough faith to risk opening his heart again? And does Caleb have what it takes to cope with the challenges Drake’s condition presents?
- 2 To Be Read lists
- 2 Read lists
Publisher: Southern Lights Publishing
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Tropes: Hurt / Comfort, Love Can Heal / Redemption
Word Count: 128000
Setting: Whangarei, New Zealand
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
“You say you don’t date much. And then you tack on ‘obviously’ like I should just understand that. Well, I don’t. I get that you have this—” I waved my hand around. “—condition? That you need to be up close and personal with bathrooms on a regular basis….”
An almost grin cracked his face before he swallowed it quickly, but I’d seen the chink.
I continued. “I genuinely want to understand.” The simple truth of that surprised even me. “If you don’t want to explain, then fine, we’ll go our separate ways, though I personally think that’d be a shame. Why not educate me? I promise to keep my dickheadishness to a minimum.”
This time I did get a smile and I felt like I’d won the fucking lottery.
He pushed his coffee cup aside, leaned back in his chair, and eyeballed me. “You’re an odd one, Caleb Ashton.”
I grinned. “That has to be a step up from a dickhead, right?”
“A smidgeon.”READ MORE
My grin widened. “A smidgeon, huh? I’ll take that.”
He laughed and ran his gaze slowly over my face. My cheeks heated under the scrutiny, but I didn’t move a muscle.
He leaned forward to rest on his elbows. “First you tell me what you know about Crohn’s disease?” There was a decided edge to his voice. “You must have looked it up… if you’re as interested as you say you are.” He leaned back again, arms crossed.
If I wasn’t being tested, I’d eat my fucking hat.
“Wow. Tough crowd,” I half-joked. “Did I look it up? Yes. But when I started reading, I realised I’d prefer you told me. It read like it’s different things to different people and the websites mostly just give worst-case scenarios.”
“How do you know that’s not me? A worst-case scenario?”
I held his eye. “I don’t. But I figure I’d rather hear that from the horse’s mouth so to speak. It didn’t put me off, if that’s what you’re thinking. I’m here, aren’t I?”
He considered that for a minute. “But you read something. So, CliffsNotes?”
“Is this a quiz?” I tried to joke.
He didn’t answer.
I sighed. “Fine. Crohn’s disease. Cause, unknown for certain but there are the usual suspects, genetics, auto-immune responses going haywire and environmental stuff like infections and such.” I paused.
He nodded. “Go on.”
Really? I thought that was a pretty good effort from memory, and I was about done jumping through his hoops to be honest. “It fucks with your bowel and you have to shit a lot. Satisfied?” I sat back and threw my hands up in the air.
For a second he just stared at me, and I thought for sure I’d blown it. “Shall I just leave now and save you the bother of dropping my arse?”
Butterflies rallied in my stomach as Drake seemed to give the option genuine consideration for more than a few seconds. Then his face cracked into a wide grin and he laughed, loudly. It was the sweetest goddamn sound, and I couldn’t help but join in. After a minute he drew breath and wiped his sleeve across his eyes.
“Well, fuck me, Caleb.” He was still chuckling.
I cleared my throat and took a moment. Go big or go home, right? “If I were ever lucky enough to have that opportunity—” I eyed him pointedly. “—I do understand that it may not be as straightforward as I might be used to.”