Artist Ted Armstrong lives a solitary and eccentric life. The survivor of child abuse disguised as religion, Ted has cut himself off from the world.
Then Ted meets Anderson Taylor, and it’s like being struck by lightning.
Anderson is a cardiac surgeon whose passion for his work has consumed him. He fears he’ll never find a partner—until he sets eyes on Ted. It’s happening fast, but both men know what they feel is right.
Confronted with an angry preacher, a scandal, and an act of God that threatens to destroy everything, their relationship will face it’s first true test.
The wind chimes danced in the gentle sigh of the night, but for some reason Ted jerked awake. He wasn’t sure why at first but he was alert. Slowly, he sat up and took in his surroundings. Anderson who had rolled onto his back was unusually tense. His eyes shifted hard behind closed lids, and a light sweat had broken out on his head. His body jerked once, twice, three times.
Ted moved to touch his shoulder but hesitated when Anderson shouted.
Anderson started thrashing in his sleep. Not wanting to startle him, Ted reached out and rubbed his face.
“It’s okay, Anderson. It’s just a dream.”
Ted smiled to himself. Anderson was calming down. His lips were pursed, and his hair was sweaty against his forehead, but his breathing had slowed.
“It’s just a nightmare. I’m right here,” Ted whispered gently.
Anderson was caught in the twilight, halfway between wakefulness and dreams.
“… the storm….”
“There is no storm, Anderson. It’s a nightmare. Okay?”
Anderson rolled over in bed toward the reassuring voice and placed a hand on Ted’s chest. Ted took the hand and kissed his knuckles, then his fingers, the open palm and then put it on his own face as if he could absorb the talent and know-how, the brilliance that it took to do what Anderson did. Ted marveled at the softness of it, the warmth and tenderness, and was moved. Carefully, he got out of bed and disappeared through the door, only to return carrying his sketchpad. Anderson stirred again, and the blankets slid down Anderson’s body to where they just covered his hips. He was on his side, snuggled deep into a pillow, his mouth partly open. Ted sat in the wingback chair opposite the bed. Moonlight streamed through the window bathing the scene in silver light. He turned on the dim side table lamp to add shadows and definition to Anderson’s sleeping form. With one eye—his right eye now completely swollen shut– with a bruised hand, he sketched the sleeping form furiously. He worked, inhaling deeply over and over again as adrenaline rushed through his body and down his arm to his fingers.
He paid attention to the curve of Anderson’s shoulder, the slope of his arm resting on the mattress where Ted had lain just moments before, the gentle slope of his side as it dipped down toward his hips, and the cleft of his buttocks. He painstakingly captured the slight openness of his mouth, the tender eyelashes, his chin jutted out defiantly in his sleep, and the curls spilling over his pillow.
When he was done, he wiped sweat from his forehead with the back of his aching drawing hand and smiled softly at the man who was in his bed.
Outside, the wind picked up and the night called out its lonesome song of crickets and the rustle of trees. He had the window open and watched as the curtains sucked to the screen, suddenly billowed outward as the breeze shifted direction, and assailed the room with the fragrance of coming rain. With that change of direction in the wind, Ted had a realization that made his heart hammer slowly and deliberate. As his body relaxed, cooled by the breeze and lonesome for the comforting warmth of another person, and the bed became more and more attractive to him, he said aloud something only he and the night heard.
“I’m falling in love with you.”
Anderson murmured in his sleep and rolled over on his back, throwing his hand above him before settling down. His chest was bare, and Ted reached out to stroke it. He knew his drawing was good. Yet he lamented silently that no matter how good a work of art could be, it was a mere reflection of the realness of the man. His silky skin. The way he smelled. The observer would not understand the tone of voice nor the mind that lay dormant beneath closed eyelids. In a way that made Ted sad, but then again, it also made him happy in the place where he kept his jealousy bone. That place that was always tender to the touch, easily made sore.
His eyes—or rather, his eye—was getting droopy and he wrote a title above the drawing before setting it on the floor next to his bed. He crawled underneath the covers once more and reached for the light to turn it off. The rain clouds rolled in, and darkness washed over the room. He wrapped an arm around Anderson, who turned turn his back to him. Easy, as not to disturb him too much, he pulled, and Anderson scooted back until his ass was flush to Ted’s groin, which twitched its appreciation. The night sang, and the rain began to fall. Mr. Jefferson leaped onto the bed. As Ted closed his eyes, he felt the cat curl up at his feet, and with a slight smile tugging at his lips, he bid farewell to the day.
Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/When-Heaven-Strikes-F-E-Feeley/dp/1521910529/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
F.E. Feeley Jr was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and lived there for twenty years before joining the military. He is a veteran of the US Armed Services; having done a tour in support of Operation Iraq Freedom in 2002-2003, he turned college student, pursuing a degree in political science. He now lives in Southeast Texas where he is married to the love of his life, John, and where they raise their 1½ year old German shepherd, Kaiser.
As a young man, reading took center stage in his life, especially those novels about ghosts, witches, goblins, and all the other things that went bump in the night. His favorite authors include such writers as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice, whose work allowed him to travel to far off places and meet fascinating and scary characters. As a gay man, he wishes to be able to write good fictional literature for those who love the genre and to write characters that readers can relate to. All in all, he is a cigarette smokin’, whiskey drinkin’, rock and roll lovin’, tattoo wearin’ dreamer of a man with a wonderful husband who puts up with his crap and lets him write his stories.
F. E. Feeley Jr