Sand-Man’s Family

Wild and Precious Series: Book Three

by CJane Elliott

Sand Man's Family - CJane Elliott
Part of the Wild and Precious series:
Editions:ePub
Pages: 125

When Sandy Nixon’s conservative Catholic parents discover he’s had sex before marriage, they are furious. But when he blurts out he’s bisexual, they go ballistic. After they threaten him with conversion therapy, Sandy does what many queer kids long to do—leaves his homophobic parents in the dust. He moves in with his Uncle Phineas and Phineas’s partner Cody in Portland, Oregon, and is finally safe to be himself. Sandy misses his siblings, though, and decides to visit his former home in Rockford for Thanksgiving. On the train, he runs into Jade Byrne.

As the only out gay kid in their Catholic high school, Jade has stared down homophobes while being fabulous in the school musicals. He’s crushed on Sandy for years. But he’s made sure never to show it, even after they had a onetime hookup, because Sandy’s the good Catholic kid, the altar boy, and the apparently straight athlete—all the things Jade isn’t. Traveling back to Rockford together sees the start of a month of adventures, a blossoming attraction, and a chance for Sandy to learn what it means to have a family that hurts and to choose a family that heals.

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Published:
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artists:
Genres:
Tags:
Pairings: MF, MM
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 3 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Adopted Child, Bad Breakup, Coming of Age, Coming Home, Coming Out / Closeted, Everyone is Queer, Families/Raising Kids, First Time, Hurt / Comfort, Interracial Relationship, Lone Wolf, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Rescue, Reunited and it Feels So Good, Second Chances, Smartass Twinks, True Love, Wide-Eyed Innocence
Word Count: 37,600
Setting: Amtrak train Portland to Chicago, Rockford, IL, Portland, OR
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Excerpt:

Chapter One

SANDY WALKED down the aisle balancing snack box and drink as the train gently lurched from side to side. He entered the compartment just in time to catch Cody and Uncle Phinney stealing a kiss. Those guys were so storybook—it was enough to make him barf. Seeing his Uncle Phinney happy more than made up for having to watch him and Cody act all gooey, though. Uncle Phinney had been sad for years over Allen’s death, and now look at him—all smiles as Cody messed with his hair and said something to make him laugh.

“Hey, dude.” Cody grinned at him, and Sandy grinned back.

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Cody Bellstrom was awesome. He’d befriended Sandy on a train much like this one eight months before, when they’d both been headed west to Portland, Oregon—Sandy running away from his homophobic home, and Cody doing his own brand of running. But then Cody had met Phinney, and boom. Instant attraction. Sandy had watched them fall in love, and the best part was that Cody had settled down to live with Uncle Phinney, and Sandy got to make his new home with both of them.

“That looks delectable.” Uncle Phinney arched a sarcastic eyebrow at the bright orange cheese on Sandy’s pile of nachos.

“Yep.” Truthfully, it looked kind of gross. Cheese probably didn’t come in that color in nature. Or, wait—did cheese exist in nature? You had to make it, so that meant it didn’t exist until then. Which brought up philosophical questions Sandy was too lazy to pursue. Anyway…. “Yeah, well, get your own if you want any.” Sandy made a show of protecting his snack box.

“You wound me, child. That means I have to walk all the way to the cafe car, and at my advanced age.”

“C’mon, old man.” Cody gave Uncle Phinney a nudge. “You could use the exercise.”

Grumbling good-naturedly, Phinney unfolded himself from the seat and landed a soft punch on Sandy’s shoulder. “You got all you need? Sure you don’t want another serving of orange cheese glop?”

“Nah, ’m good,” Sandy mumbled through a big bite of nacho. Hmm. It wasn’t as bad as he’d feared.

The door slid shut, and Sandy munched, watching the scenery flash past the window. They were in Washington State, a few hours into their two-day journey to Chicago. Once they got there, they’d drive the rest of the way to Rockford. “Going home for Thanksgiving,” Uncle Phineas had told Blaine and Gemma, excited and nervous about introducing Cody to the relatives. But Sandy didn’t call where they were going “home” anymore. He’d gotten himself out of Rockford for good.

He hoped he wouldn’t change his mind and get all sentimental once he was actually home… at my parents’ house, he amended. Oh, who was he kidding? He’d always think of the house he grew up in, with his four siblings and his parents, as home. It was going to be hella weird to see the family for the first time since April.

Sandy slumped in his seat as memories of those last awful days at home assailed him. Dread began to eat at his insides. Or maybe that was the lump of nachos now sitting in his stomach. Maybe he should have gone with the hot dog instead.

Eight Months Earlier

SANDY FOLLOWED his parents up the aisle of St. Ignatius Catholic Church and out into the lobby, trailed by his brother, Connor, and sisters Maureen, Bridget, and Caitlin. He thanked the various adults congratulating him on his acceptance to University of Chicago while mentally rolling his eyes that Mom had just had to stand up and announce it to the whole congregation.

Brittany waved at him from across the room, and Josh came over to give him a high five. “U of C all the way, buddy!”

“Yeah, I’m stoked we both got in.” Sandy nodded at Brittany, who pantomimed “call me” with her hands, then gave him a thumbs-up. Good. He hoped that meant she’d arranged for them to go to her family’s cabin next weekend. He wanted time alone with her to continue what she liked to call the sexcapades of our fallen Catholic youth. “Still wanna be roommates?”

“Absolutely. Who’re you nodding at?” Josh looked across the lobby. “Oh. Your honey. Big deal.” Josh failed to see what Sandy saw in Brittany. She was a little too alternative/edgy for his taste, which ran to the St. Ignatius cheerleaders who hung around Sandy and Josh and the other star athletes in their small high school.

“You’re just jealous,” Connor said, which made Sandy smile. His younger brother stuck up for him as a matter of habit. Only a year apart in age, they’d stuck up for each other all their lives.

“Sandy!” Mom stood by Father Gilhooly and Dad, beckoning to Sandy. “Father wants to speak to you.”

“Lucky you,” Josh said before escaping with Connor to wait outside. Sandy made his way to where his parents stood with the parish priest as his younger sisters chased around behind them.

Father Gilhooly gave him an unctuous smile, his bald pate gleaming under the light. “Sandy, son, I wanted to congratulate you on your college acceptance.”

“Thank you, Father.”

“It’s good to see our Catholic school students holding their own. I’m sure you’ll make us all proud.”

Whatever that means. Sandy shook hands with Father Gilhooly while Mom beamed. When Dad clapped him on the shoulder, Sandy almost flinched before he realized it was an approving hand, not a punitive one.

“Yep, we’re proud of him,” Dad told Father.

Sandy blinked. It had been a long time since he’d heard anything like that from him. They’d been close when Sandy was younger. Dad had taken him camping and fishing in the summer, and had coached his and Connor’s ice hockey teams in the winter. He’d taught Sandy about cars and home repairs and other manly pursuits, making his points in his gruff manner. A sports fanatic, Dad still made it to most of the St. Ignatius games.

But Sandy no longer got along with him, in fact, hadn’t in the last several years. Dad—who had always loved his beer—had started drinking more heavily around the time Sandy hit puberty. When he was drunk, the father Sandy had known and loved in childhood disappeared, and a berating tyrant appeared in his place. Suddenly nothing Sandy did, no matter how stellar, seemed good enough for him. He targeted Sandy for his tirades, when he wasn’t yelling at Mom, and sometimes he used his fist to make a point.

After schmoozing with Father Gilhooly for a few more minutes, they left to have a celebratory lunch at Sandy’s favorite restaurant. Dad’s rare genial mood continued through the meal, leading him to recount funny stories from his years as a traveling salesman, and everyone laughed more than they had in a long time.

It was the last memory Sandy would ever have of uncomplicated enjoyment with his family. The last time Sandy was still a good kid in their eyes—former altar boy, current class president, shortstop for the St. Ignatius baseball team, model student with a GPA high enough to get into U of C, and all around popular guy.

Sandy had long been told he looked like Opie from The Andy Griffith Show with his freckles and strawberry-blond hair. His appearance, along with his sunny nature, reinforced his squeaky-clean image, so Sandy imagined it had been quite a shock to his parents when he fell off his pedestal.

The trouble started later that day. When Sandy and Connor got back from hanging out at Josh’s house, Mom and Dad called him into the living room, and what he saw on the coffee table made his mouth go dry. His laptop sat open, his e-mail program on the screen and all the messages from Brittany with their suggestive subject lines out there in plain sight. Fury at the invasion of his privacy mingled with cold dread. He gazed nervously at his father’s hands.

“What are you doing with my laptop?” he blurted, then winced as Dad closed his hands into fists.

“Don’t take that tone with us, young man,” Mom snapped. “It was open on your desk when I went in to get your laundry. And when I saw the… those….” She pointed at the screen, her face pinched, and compressed her lips.

Sandy didn’t have to look. Brittany loved to include the word “sex” in her e-mail titles. For one wild moment, he thought about lying through his teeth, denying everything and pinning the blame on Brittany having some kind of mental health issue. That might be as believable to his parents as the truth—their upstanding oldest son with the purity ring (never worn and now stuck in a desk drawer) was having sex before marriage.

“Are you and Brittany doing what we think you’re doing?” Dad thundered.

“Keep your voice down—the girls are upstairs. And Connor.” Mom glanced at the ceiling, then at Sandy. “Answer your father.”

“What if I am? And that’s between her and me.”

Mom drew herself up with a glare. “Not while you’re our son and under our roof! We raised you better than this. I can’t believe you would take advantage of her like that!”

Sandy almost snorted at Mom’s words. Although he’d had girlfriends since he was in seventh grade, Catholic (lack of) sex education and purity ring morals had kept them from doing much beyond kissing and a few fevered gropes. Brittany had been different from the start. She didn’t play games. She’d told him straight up she wanted to sleep with him, in fact had selected him to be the one with whom to lose her virginity, and they’d been each other’s firsts to “go all the way.”

“Sorry, Mom.”

“‘Sorry’? That’s all you have to say? We’ll be confiscating your laptop after you remove all those e-mails. And we’ll be having a talk with Brittany’s parents. Consider yourself grounded until further notice.”

“No arguments,” Dad warned as Sandy opened his mouth.

Sandy knew the futility of arguing about them talking to the Livingstons or being grounded. His laptop, though…. “I need my laptop for my classes. I’ve got all the data for my final science project on there. And my graduation speech.” He watched Mom’s face soften as he knew it would. His school success made her happy, and she even stood up to Dad when he started bitching about the cost of this or that school activity.

“Well, you can keep the laptop, but I don’t want you on e-mail or Facebook or any of those other things you kids do without supervision. I’m very disappointed in you. You will come straight home after school and stay home on weekends for the time being.”

“What about baseball practice?”

“Goddammit, stop arguing and listen to your mother!” Dad’s sudden yell made Sandy jump. “I should throw this damn thing in the trash!” He slammed the cover down on Sandy’s laptop. “That’s all you and she are! Goddamned trash!”

“Bob….” Mom did her useless cowering thing as Dad advanced on Sandy, fists curled.

Keeping his face stony, Sandy tensed to ward off Dad’s blow. He could smell the liquor on him as he got closer, stronger still when Dad opened his mouth to continue reaming him out at the top of his lungs.

“I oughta knock you into next Wednesday! Knock some sense into you, you little shit.”

Before Sandy could reply, he heard footsteps on the stairs. Connor ran into the room and stood between him and Dad. “Stop it, Dad! Leave him alone.” At six feet, Connor stood a few inches taller than either Sandy or Dad, and he’d bulked up this year to make the varsity football team.

Dad’s face purpled with rage, but instead of taking a swing at either Connor or Sandy, he turned away, swaying, and lurched toward the table and Sandy’s laptop. Sandy darted around him and grabbed the computer while Mom put a restraining hand on Dad’s arm, only to be thrown back when he shook her off violently.

“Fucking leave her alone!” roared Connor, running to her side. “Leave us all alone. Go sleep it off and leave us the fuck alone.”

“Connor, language.” Mom’s voice was weak and shaky.

“Mommy?” Ten-year-old Maureen stood in the archway, mouth trembling.

That ended that particular family drama. Dad slunk away to his den and his bottle of Jameson, Mom went to comfort Maureen, and Connor and Sandy took shelter in their room.

“Why’re the ’rents going ballistic?” Connor asked as they flung themselves onto their beds.

“Wait a minute.” Sandy grabbed his phone and shot off a text to Brittany, warning of the impending parental explosion. “Mom saw Brittany’s e-mails, and they all have ‘sex’ in the subject line.”

Connor shook his head. “Jesus. So now they know their perfect firstborn isn’t a virgin?”

“Yeah. According to them, I’ve destroyed Brittany’s innocence.”

“Right.”

Sandy grunted in agreement at Connor’s snort of disbelief. Sandy had been the innocent one. He’d mistakenly thought he and Brittany must be “in love,” because they were supposed to be in love to have sex, weren’t they? But Brittany had scoffed at the notion. He’d been hurt until he’d realized he wasn’t in love with her either. It had made more sense after she’d disclosed she was queer and pansexual and planning to widen her experience now that she’d gotten rid of that pesky v-card. And when she’d encouraged Sandy to experiment too, he’d done something completely out of character—something he hadn’t told anyone else about, not even Connor.

Sandy sat up. “Let’s play Mass Effect. I need to chill, and Dad’s hogging all the whiskey.”

Later, after he and Connor had turned out the light, Sandy lay in bed staring at the darkness and thought about Jade—his other experiment in sex. Experiment? More like one of those seismic shifts they’d studied in Geology.

He’d been aware of being attracted to other guys since elementary school, but he hadn’t ever planned to act on it. Not after years of Catholicism had drummed into him that same-sex attraction was a sin. As a devout preteen, he’d prayed to be relieved of his sinful urges and been grateful that girls also turned him on. But by the time Brittany cracked open the door to sexual exploration, Sandy had become considerably more jaded about the Catholic Church and religion in general, especially after watching Dad and other supposedly religious adults being assholes. He knew good people like Uncle Phinney who were gay, and he couldn’t believe that they were going to hell just because of who they loved or slept with.

Still, when Brittany had told him she was queer and pansexual, he’d been jolted—and for a moment those old voices had risen up in judgment, especially at how unrepentant she acted. Shouldn’t she be wracked by Catholic guilt? Wasn’t having premarital sex enough of a sin? Then he’d realized he was jealous at her ease with sex and sexuality. Could it really be no big deal that he wondered about doing it with guys? Could it, in fact, be okay to act on those urges? Brittany obviously thought so, and when he’d confessed his “sinful” attractions to her, swearing her to the utmost secrecy, she’d given a delighted laugh and told him to go for it. Then she’d told him to shut up and let her figure out the best guy for Sandy to experiment with.

“Aha! Jade Byrne!” she’d cried after only a moment’s thought.

“No way.” It had been an automatic and doomed denial, because he knew as well as Brittany that Jade Byrne was the perfect guy for this “experiment.”

Jade Byrne—the decathlete of performing arts at St. Ignatius. He sang, he danced, he acted, he played the saxophone in the school band. Jade, whose real name was John, was also one of the few Asian kids in school. His mother must have been the Asian one of his parents. She hadn’t been around since Jade was little, and Sandy didn’t remember her, but Jade’s dad was as white and Irish as they came. Jade walked the halls with pride, seeming to have no problem with being the only out gay guy in their high school. Androgynous and “fabulous,” to use his own word for himself, Jade made no excuses for who he was.

Sandy admired Jade’s fearlessness, but he couldn’t conceive of being so unconcerned about what other people thought of him. Sometimes he wanted to shake Jade and tell him to stop being so free. Jade made Sandy laugh with his wittiness and dazzled him with his acting and musical chops, but he also scared him by being so damn alluring. A huge flirt in general, Jade seemed to love flirting with Sandy and watching him squirm. Sandy had been able to overlook Jade’s attractiveness, set as he was on his heterosexual path, until senior year when Jade showed up at school sporting eyeliner and an edgy new hairstyle, and Sandy suddenly had fantasies of kissing his pouty lips.

Despite the fact that Jade set off heat waves in Sandy every time he passed him in the halls, Sandy wouldn’t have approached him if there hadn’t been that other thing about Jade—the fact that Jade was a truly nice and decent guy. Sandy had seen Jade stick up for other kids who were being bullied. He knew Jade drove his elderly neighbor to the grocery store and helped her with her shopping every Saturday. And whenever Jade settled down enough to have a real conversation with Sandy, they connected surprisingly well, and Sandy could tell that Jade respected his opinions. So he’d figured Jade wouldn’t laugh in his face or spread it around the whole school, even if he rejected Sandy’s proposition.

Still, Sandy—usually confident in social situations—had never felt so awkward and ridiculous as when he’d taken Jade down a deserted hallway and broached the subject of having sex with him. Jade had made it easy, though, saying, “My God, Sandy! Are you kidding? I’d be honored. I’m elated you asked me!”

Shifting under the covers, Sandy pictured Jade—lithe, dark-eyed, quick-witted Jade, who had surprisingly soft lips and a wickedly talented tongue, and hadn’t let Sandy harbor second thoughts. The very next day, backstage after drama rehearsal when everyone else had gone home, they’d had their tryst, but not before Jade had interrogated Sandy about whether he’d had straight sex before, and if so, had he used condoms. Sandy had replied yes to both questions, without mentioning Brittany’s name, rather indignant that Jade could think Sandy was stupid enough to forego condoms. Jade had made up for the awkwardness when he’d laid Sandy down on the old couch in the dressing room and showed him just how talented he was at giving head. Then he’d had Sandy help get him off with their hands. The whole experience had been so mind-blowingly hot, Sandy had immediately wanted a repeat.

And that freaked him out. He’d look at the nuns and Father Gilhooly and think, If you only knew…. Hell, if Josh knew, or Connor, what would they think? No one at St. Ignatius but Brittany and Jade had any inkling that Sandy swung both ways. He wished he and Jade had talked more right afterward, but they’d both had to get home. I need to talk to Jade, he thought now. Maybe Jade could help him sort out the confusion he’d been plagued with ever since they’d gotten together.

Girls still attracted him. He played sports and joked with his fellow teammates about the cute cheerleaders. He’d planned to take Brittany to prom, and their parents had cast approving glances at them when they sat next to each other at Mass. But then he’d catch sight of Jade sashaying down the hall, and… it kind of fucked with Sandy’s head how much he still wanted him. Jade hadn’t approached him for an encore, though, much to his (secret) disappointment. Then he’d feel relief that he didn’t have to deal with anyone knowing. Brittany told him he was probably bisexual and to own it with pride.

Pride? Being gay in his neighborhood and school was not only considered a terrible sin, it was akin to a social death sentence, if not a literal one. He didn’t know how Jade stood the taunting. The only reason Jade had avoided getting beaten up on the regular was because his dad was a cop. Sandy watched them together in church when they came, which wasn’t all that often. They made an incongruous pair—black-haired and dark-eyed Jade with his slender gracefulness sitting next to white-haired and blue-eyed Mr. Byrne with his Irish stockiness. But they smiled and laughed, and appeared to be the best of friends.

Listening to Connor’s soft snores, Sandy thought about what his own dad would do if he ever found out that Sandy swung both ways. Probably try to kill him. He shuddered and moved his body around in the bed to find a comfortable spot.

SANDY STOOD in his room, filling his backpack for school. It had been a crappy couple of days since the big showdown. Brittany’s parents had thrown their own shit fit, and she was not only grounded but had had her computer confiscated and was being driven to and from school by her mother. Somehow her parents hadn’t made the connection that her smartphone let her stay in touch as much as the computer did, so she and Sandy were able to compare notes on their twin jail sentences. Sandy’s parents were serving up nightly lectures complete with Bible readings and threats to sic Father Gilhooly on him. The only thing keeping him sane was plotting his getaway to U of C with Josh.

His hand fell on a copy of Out magazine Brittany had lent him, which he’d been storing under his mattress. Last night he’d read an article about suicide rates for queer youth and how so many had been forced onto the streets by their religious families. It had made his heart ache. Anger flared through him at all the homophobic assholes in the world, his own parents included. He thought of Jade being unapologetically who he was, standing up to the sanctimonious jerks at their school and church who condemned him as the worst kind of sinner. Mom had taken to snooping in Sandy’s room every day when he was at school. A part of him watched as he dropped the magazine in full view on his desk and left for the bus, then mused dispassionately about his destructive tendencies.

The end of the end happened that afternoon. Dad and Mom didn’t wait until school was over—they came and picked him up, yanking him out of history class while his friends and teacher looked on in puzzlement, then drove him home, their faces set and furious.

“What are you doing, having this filth in our home?” Mom cried, throwing the magazine on the living room table.

“It’s not filth. I find it educational.” Sandy clapped his mouth shut, at a loss as to why he kept challenging them when he was already in the deepest shit he’d ever been with them. He glanced at his dad, but he had his head bowed and his eyes closed as if he were praying for something. Maybe he was.

Mom glared. “What do you mean? Homosexuality is a sin and a sickness. You know that! What on earth has happened to you?”

Sandy’s heart was beating so fast he thought he’d pass out. “Nothing. I don’t believe what the church says anymore, that being gay is a sin. There are millions of good people in the world who aren’t straight.” Like Jade. Like Uncle Phinney. Like me. “I can’t believe they’re all going to hell.”

“You stop saying that crap to your mother.”

“It’s not crap, Dad. It’s what I believe. People are born whatever way they are, and God made them that way. Gay, straight, or bisexual.” He braced himself, but Dad didn’t move.

Mom piped up again. “God doesn’t mean for them to be that way. It’s like being born with a birth defect. Those people need help. They’re sick. Thank the Lord you’re not like that.”

Later, Sandy couldn’t figure out why he said it. Something came over him in his rage at his mother’s ugly assertions, and the words came out of his mouth. “But I am like that. I’m bisexual.”

Dad’s face darkened. “The hell you are!”

“Stop it, Sandy. You’re confused, and you’re… not well. You’ve gone down a bad path, but we’re going to help you.” Mom looked at Dad. “This just confirms it. Should I tell him or do you want to?”

“You tell him.” Dad folded his arms, and Sandy watched the muscle jump in his jaw.

He turned his gaze to Mom. “Tell me what?”

“We’ve decided you’re not going to University of Chicago.” Mom talked rapidly, not meeting his eyes. “We don’t think you can handle it right now, what with everything that’s been happening.”

“Are you kidding me? You guys were thrilled I got into U of C! That’s all you could talk about! Now you’re not letting me go?”

“We’ve talked to Father Gilhooly, and he’s suggested Canticle College. It’s a small Catholic college near here.”

“What? Why are you doing this?”

 Mom twisted her hands together, looking pained. “You aren’t well. You need to deal with that before you go to a high-stress university like U of C. We think Canticle is the right school for you.”

Sandy could barely see her through the haze of his rage. “I’m not sick! And this is bullshit.”

“Don’t talk to your mother like that!” Dad took a menacing step toward him.

“Fine. I’ll stop talking. But I’m not going to Canticle. I’m going to U of C.”

“You’ll do what we tell you to do, damn it!”

“What the hell do you know about any of it, Dad? It’s not like you went to college.”

The blow caught Sandy square across the jaw, causing him to stagger backward, and he raised his hands to cover his face while Mom shrieked and Dad yelled some more. He escaped up the stairs and into his room, slamming and locking his door behind him, then threw himself on the bed and fumed.

He couldn’t believe they’d actually take away U of C. They’d been so damn proud about him getting in. Stupid Father Gilhooly and his stupid ideas. He texted Josh and Brittany with the news. Josh sent back a commiserating text while Brittany’s was more to the point: Get the hell out of there while you can. Oddly, he’d never even considered running away until that moment.

 

THAT EVENING Mom and Dad delivered the final edict that spurred Sandy into action. They called him into the living room—their favorite spot for bad news—and Mom launched in.

“We talked to Father Gilhooly again and told him what you said today. He’s very concerned about you, and so are we. But you can… overcome this sickness and be forgiven if you get yourself on the right path. Father thinks you need to get some counseling through New Beginnings. They also have a summer camp that we’re enrolling you in.”

Sandy opened his mouth to protest, then closed it. New Beginnings was one of those “pray away the gay” centers. He wasn’t setting one foot in there or going to their creepy camp, either. A future of fighting with his parents over his sexuality stretched bleakly in front of him. Canticle College? New Beginnings? For a second, Sandy thought about taking it back about being bisexual. But what good would that do now? They were already saying he couldn’t go to U of C. Fuck this. Sandy wasn’t going to let them mess with his life anymore. He turned toward the hallway.

“What are you doing?” Dad stared at him challengingly. “Did you hear your mother?”

“Yeah, I heard her. I’m not going to New Beginnings. I’m eighteen now, and you can’t make me go.”

Dad raised his voice. “You’ll do what we say as long as you’re under our roof!”

Then it’s time to not be under your roof, you shitheads.

“Okay, Dad. Whatever you say. Can I go to my room now? I need to do some homework.”

After peering at him suspiciously, they nodded, and he took off. Safely back in his room, Sandy paced the floor, one thought repeating itself incessantly.

I have got to get out of here.

COLLAPSE

Reviews:Meredith on Diverse Reader wrote:

This is novella number three is CJane Elliott’s Wild & Precious series. Now, I didn’t read the first 2 books and I was told this was a standalone and I want to let everyone know that it is in fact a standalone. There are mention of characters from the other books and you see them but at no time are you lost. The author fills in gaps where you might wonder.

Something I found cute was the title of this novella. Sand Man’s family. I didn’t really get it off the bat but then I met the MC Sandy. And it all came together. He has horrific parents. They are the worst of the worst. Bigots, uncaring, unloving. Waste of space if you ask me. But Sandy doesn’t need them. He has built such and amazing support system.

This support system is the ensemble to this novella. There’s his boyfriend, partner Cody, his Uncle, the band… I go on and on. There’s a strength behind him and it makes up for all his parents lack… and it’s a lot.

Sandy is an adorable character. Genuine and lovely. I can’t imagine not loving him.

This ensemble in the story really brought so much to Sandy’s tale. I loved them. An ensemble can make or break a book and this one was golden!

While a little angsty, it’s romantic, sweet, sometimes sexy, and a lot of fun.


About the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is bisexual, an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality, and is particularly fond of coming out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards. Her contemporary novel All the Way to Shore was Runner Up for Best Bisexual Book in the 2017 Rainbow Awards.


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