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Range of Emotion

Survivors Find Love Series

by Lissa Kasey

Range of Emotion - Lissa Kasey
Part of the Survivors Find Love series:
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 3.99 USD
Pages: 281
Paperback - First Edition: $ 10.00 USD
ISBN: 978-1070264684
Size: 8.00 x 5.20 in
Pages: 292

Nate Granger is losing everything to mental illness; his job, his home, and even his sanity. All he has left are his three ancient cats and a best friend who lives across the country. Faced with the choice of trying to piece the tattered remains of his life back together or move in with the man he’s always dreamt could be his and start over, Nate is too afraid of losing Jamie to decide.

After Jameson “Jamie” McKendal lost his wife to cancer, he buried his grief in online video games, which is where he met Nate. Now he specializes in rescues, both as a park ranger, and as an animal rehabilitation specialist. He knows a skittish animal when he sees one, and Nate’s been in need of rescue for a while. A decade of friendship has Jamie thinking he might want more, but he has to help Nate heal first.

Can Jamie convince Nate that his worth lies in who he is and not what he can do for others? Does Nate even dare to hope for a chance to find love in the aftermath of his chaotic life?

This book is on:
  • 2 To Be Read lists
  • 1 Read list
Excerpt:

Prologue

Can you believe I’m on written warning? Nate wrote to Jamie in an instant message.

WFT? For being sick? was Jamie’s reply. Correct. And even though I technically can work from home, I’m not allowed to. If Nate could figure out why in the past six months he’d begun having chronic migraines three to six days a week, he’d have happily fixed the problem so it wouldn’t have threatened his office job. Boss says someone in the past abused it, and they want everyone working from the office.

The office that you have to travel an hour on a city express bus to get to every day?

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Yep. Nate’s job had moved from a suburban nature sprawl on the outskirts of the Twin Cities, Minnesota, to downtown Minneapolis. It was only thirty-six miles, but a world of difference going from nature walks and two floors to a fifteen-story high-rise in downtown. Nate actually suspected his migraines were environmental. Could be stress, could be smog. There was no way to combat those and keep his job. He was the most financially comfortable he’d ever been in his life. Not making big bucks by any means with his just under fifty-grand-a-year salary, but he wasn’t living on ramen anymore. He had no savings because he spent it all to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses and his enormous deductible testing for solutions to his migraines. All for doctors to tell him they couldn’t find anything wrong with his head. Yet he had to spend most days sitting in the dark just to keep it from throbbing.

They had progressed from happening just a few times a year, to monthly, then weekly, and finally several days a week. The pain was so intense sometimes that Nate feared an undiscovered tumor. Only the scans came back with nothing. No explanations. Just more pills shoved in his face. Most of which made him ill.

He sighed and glared at the computer screen. If his head didn’t hurt, he’d actually call Jamie. Sometimes just hearing his friend’s voice helped soothe him. It wasn’t that long ago that Nate had fancied himself in love with Jameson. They’d met years ago, when the internet had still been a primitive thing, through the game World of Warcraft. Of course it had taken them years to meet in person, spending a long weekend together at DragonCon, but they were forever friends, even though Jamie was as straight as Nate was gay. They talked online almost daily. Sent each other gifts for holidays and birthdays, and just understood each other like most others couldn’t. Worlds apart. Yet not.

I’m so tired. Nate typed. He felt bad. Always complaining. He had a decent life. Lived paycheck to paycheck, paying the mortgage on a small townhome, leasing a brand-new economy car, paying student loans. He was average. Sure he had no family, having been disowned years prior. He was introverted and didn’t have a lot of friends. But he wasn’t living in the ghetto or dying of cancer. He didn’t really have a right to complain. He was just tired. Physically. Emotionally. Was it normal to be thirty-seven and just feel ready to be done with everything? He wondered if it was time for another medication check for his antidepressant drugs. Were the pills helping at all anymore?

Come stay with me, Jamie wrote back. It wasn’t the first time he had offered. Jamie lived on an island off the coast of the state of Washington. A place called Friday Harbor. Nate had never been, but Jamie talked about it a lot. Sent him pictures often, and Nate dreamed about it on occasion.

Can’t afford it.

You can. You’re just afraid. You told me last month you had one of those property management places out to look at your townhome. Said you could rent it out for almost twice your mortgage.

I have other bills. Nate reminded him. Not just the house. The car. My credit cards. Student loans. And the cats. Nate was bad. He had the horrible habit of rescuing cats. Right now he had three who were all on special diets. Needy cats, the lot of them. Old and more than a little craggy in Leo’s case, but they were his family.

Nate’s phone rang, making him wince, but he answered it, and put it to speaker. “Bring them,” Jamie said.

“Jamie…”

“Nate, you said your head is often better when you’re outside. I’ll take you into the woods. It will be nothing but us and nature. Maybe that will fix your head.”

Nate sighed. “City boy, remember? Never been camping a day in my life.”

Jamie laughed lightly. “Yeah, I remember. Funny how your head hates the city. But think about it. What do you have to lose?”

“Um, everything.”

“No.”

“You want me to quit my job and just give up everything to mooch off you for a while?”

“Why do you think of it that way? You’re my best friend, Nate. If something happened and I needed a place, you’d make room for me, right? Help any way you could?”

“Of course.” Even if Nate hadn’t at one time been madly in love with his best friend, he’d still have helped Jamie. If anyone had ever been there for him, it had been Jamie. Even after Nate confessed his love and Jamie had apologized for not feeling the same, that had been years ago.

“I love you, Nate. Want you safe and happy. Is that too much to ask?”

Nate smiled at the warm feeling Jamie’s words awoke in his gut. Even if Jamie’s love wasn’t the same as Nate’s. “I love you, too. I’m just afraid that you’ll get tired of me.”

“Not going to happen. I just wonder what it will take to make you realize you need the change. Your manager,” Jamie snarled the word, “insulted you again yesterday in a group meeting. No reason. You texted me from the supply closet, crying.”

“I wasn’t crying.” Nate had been. But it hadn’t been the supply closet. There was no lock on that door, which was odd. It was a tiny room called a ‘Wellness’ room, with a single chair and a sink. Nate often laid on the floor with the lights out when his migraines became too much.

“No one should have to take that from their boss.”

“He’s not my boss. Just a senior of my own position.”

“So why is he allowed to insult you? Belittle you?”

“I just made some mistakes is all.”

“To him, I think breathing is a mistake for you. Christ. I’ve never even met the guy and I hate him.”

Nate often wondered why he’d been chosen for the position. He worked for a student loan company, hearing cases and writing up decisions for defaulted loans and wage garnishment authorization. He saw a lot of people in bad situations. A lot of others who obviously didn’t know how to manage money. He’d been in the position nine months and every day was made to feel like an idiot, whether it was from missing a comma in a decision write-up, or being a few pennies off on a calculation spreadsheet that no one externally saw. He enjoyed the challenge of the job, but hated always being made to feel worthless and stupid.

“You could commit for like a year, maybe,” Jamie went on. “Rent out the house, drive out with the cats, maybe find a local job. Something simple. Less stress. If you get enough from renting out the house, that will pay for your mortgage, car payment, student loans, and credit cards. You could give yourself a reboot. See if it fixes your head.”

“And make it difficult to find another good paying job,” Nate pointed out.

“Nate, your job doesn’t pay all that well. I’m a park ranger and make almost what you do. We aren’t the most well-paid lot. Your office job is not the be all end all.”

“Because you have EMT and prior police training. I’m not exactly park ranger material.”

“Most everything on the island is fifteen-an-hour minimum now. Not ‘cause of any mandate, but because it generates business. The few holdouts are struggling. But I know the diner, bakery, and the grocery store start at fifteen.”

“And I make almost twenty-three per hour.”

“And are too sick to do anything but visit hospitals and clinics,” Jamie pointed out.

“I’m sure your little island doesn’t want a homo like me.” It was the last real protest. Washington State was very progressive, Nate knew that. But he didn’t think a small town like the island Jamie lived on, was rainbow flag waving.

“We’ve got plenty of homos. Bastian and Charlie are always the talk in town because everyone wants Charlie and thinks he’s odd for dating a doll painter. Jason and Graham are in town holding hands at least once a week. There’s the lesbian couple who own the bookstore, and Troy who works in the pharmacy. I’m pretty sure there’s an EMT who’s gay too. And it’s not like you’re so flaming you’re going to set the island on fire. Why are you fighting this? Fear? I’m here, Nate. You won’t be alone. Don’t you trust me?”

He always did pull out the big guns. Jamie was easygoing, but never delicate. He was sort of a bear, physically and personality-wise. He was a good sized guy, stocky, a little scruffy with golden-brown curls and ever-present facial hair of some kind, and could stop a room with his presence. Mostly he was quiet and reserved, preferring to watch rather than dive into the thick of things. But he wasn’t the sort of guy who got shoved around. Nate, however, was. Nate was short in stature and in nerves. He didn’t push back often, no matter how much someone battered him around.

“Of course I trust you,” Nate breathed, letting out the truth. “But what if I get there and you hate me? Or can’t stand being around me? What if the headaches don’t go away and I can’t ever find work again?”

“What if?” Jamie asked. “What if the mountain and sea air clear your head? What if you find working at a bakery more fulfilling than wading through people’s finances? What if taking a break from the city is exactly the step you need to stop crying every night and feel like maybe, just maybe, you can go on?” The silence lingered between them for a minute. “I know, Nate. I hear it in your voice when we talk. I can tell in your posts online and how you avoid certain topics. I know you’re battling your depression. I get it. I just don’t want it to keep eating you until there’s nothing left. So I’m extending my hand. Asking you to take a break and trust in someone.”

And wasn’t that the most terrifying thought—trusting in anyone other than himself. For so long he’d been alone. Every time in his life he’d reached out, he’d been slapped down. “Jamie…”

“Nate, please. It’s killing me to watch you slowly dying out there.”

“It’s supposed to be that easy? Just pick up my stuff and drive?”

“Sure.”

“Would you?”

“If our roles were reversed, yeah. Pretty sure the city has nothing to offer me though. Remember I went to college in Seattle, grew up in LA. Had enough of big cities and people then. I like the Harbor. It’s quiet. Air’s clean. We don’t have giant malls or theme parks, but we have mountains, a couple of state parks, and lots of alpacas.”

“Jamie…”

“Nate. One year. That’s how long you’d have to rent your house out for anyway, right?”

“But…” Nate could only wonder what would happen, with his life and his career. In reality, he’d gone to school to be a writer. For all the good that did him now. A Bachelor’s of Arts degree got him nowhere but this stupid desk job. “Okay.” He couldn’t believe he said it, considered it, even thought a second about it. “But not yet. I just need a little more time.”

Jamie sighed.

“I’m not ready yet,” Nate confessed.

“Will you know when you are?”

Nate wasn’t sure. Everything had gone downhill from that moment. One medication change after another as suddenly his depression was being treated instead of his migraines. Both got worse. He’d had many a phone conversation with Jamie about the same thing. A year and a half passed. Nate had never been ready. He didn’t think he would ever be.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:sjmina on Amazon wrote:

This is such a sweet story. The characters are so complex and so real. You can't help but pull for the two of them. And Harry the hairy goat is a delight, along with all of the four (or three) legged characters you meet along the way.

sea on Amazon wrote:

This is the third story in the Survivors series and I loved them all. This story is about Nate and his devastating depression. It’s heartbreaking for sure until his friend Jamie brings him home to start a new. It’s a struggle for Nate but little by little he begins to heal and start to live again. Beautifully written this story will stay with me.

Chris on Amazon wrote:

Range of Emotions is the third book in the Survivors Find Love series. While you do see characters from the previous books, you could read this as a standalone without getting losing the story.

This was a really good read..but also a tough read as the main character, Nate, lives with mental illness. This is told through his eyes and that gives the story a depth into what living with mental illness really is like, and Nate goes through highs and lows and lots of self esteem issues through the entire book.

As I said, I thought this was a good, solid read, with a very satisfying ending. I liked that it showed you could live with mental illness but still were able to have healthy relationships, even while you were working on getting healthier yourself. Nate's friendship with Jamie and then their eventual relationship are the one thing that Nate can draw on and depend on to be there for him. While the events in this book may not be intrinsic to all who live with mental illness, it shows that we/they are still human beings who need the support, and love of others in their lives.

I loved Jamie's steady presence in Nate's life. Even when Nate was at his lowest he still treated him as Nate. He and Nate as friends and then again as lovers were the best mix together. I'll admit there were a few parts in there that were really swoon-worthy between them.

I highly recommend picking this one up for a not so light read that packs an emotional punch with fantastic characters.


About the Author

Lissa Kasey is more than just romance. Her specialty is in-depth characters, detailed world building, and twisting plots to keep you clinging to your book reader. All stories have a side of romance, emotionally messed up protagonists and feature LGBTQA+ spectrum characters facing real world problems no matter how fictional the story.


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