Adriano is going home to Waldo, Florida, a town famous for having one of two official US speed traps and a flea market. Not much else is going on… Or is it?
A celebrated chef, Adriano has had to quit his job at a posh Beverly Hills restaurant because during his recovery from stage four cancer, chemo killed his taste buds. He can't even taste his own cuisine. About the only thing that penetrates the dull sensation is coffee, so he's bought a cafe in Waldo, hoping to find a new life in spite of his memory of it being a rigidly conservative town.
Looking forward to recuperating and spending time with his mom, Adriano soon finds that Colin Mackenzie—the first man he ever loved, the only man he has ever wanted—never left Waldo. He apparently hasn't forgotten Adriano either. But Colin, who once seduced then dumped him, seems to be playing games. He keeps coming into the cafe ordering his coffee—tall with room…for milk—but he doesn't seem to have room for Adriano. Soon, the love they once shared is re-ignited in an explosive way, but what is going on in Waldo? Why do things seem so…haunted by the past?
Reader Advisory: This book contains seductive descriptions of southern cooking at its finest, including unusual uses for honey butter!
General Release Date: 22nd October 2012
Her voice crackled through his car radio, Adriano smiled to himself as his mother asked for the third time that morning, "Are you here yet?"
"Almost, Mom. Right on the highway."
"How close? Can you see the windmill?"
Adriano hadn’t been home for seventeen years. As he drove through the outskirts of Waldo, Florida—one of the most conservative cities in the state—he felt grateful that he’d remembered to slow down long enough to avoid the speed trap. That was an achievement considering that Waldo had the dubious honour of having one of two official speed traps in the US. The other belonged to Lawtey, an even smaller town a few miles north.
Waldo was the place tourists loved to race through as they drove between Jacksonville and Gainesville on either route 301 or the 24. A quarter of Waldo’s annual million-dollar income came from speeding tickets. That was the reason for the city’s motto-The Speed That Thrills Pays Our Bills.
A speed trap and a flea market.
There wasn’t much else to the one-point-seven square mile town. Oh, except for the failed gay coffee shop on one corner...and the old, active conservative one Adriano was taking over as of Monday morning.
He gripped the steering wheel of his trusty Camaro, peering at the houses dotting the wide, leafy streets that hadn’t changed one bit since he’d first escaped. He glimpsed the sign-Welcome to Waldo Pop. 821.
Adriano believed the actual number was lower. With the average age being sixty-five and a three-quarter white population, people didn’t come here for kicks. They came here to read the Bible and die.
Or, like Adriano, they came to recuperate from debilitating chemotherapy, take care of an ailing mother...and get better.
Then go back to their chosen homes again.
He was surprised that he remembered exactly how to get to his family house on Northeast 5th Boulevard. The sign for the flea market was still there on Main Road as he turned off the highway.
Just look for The Big Chair, The Windmill and The Big Horse!
He glimpsed the windmill in the distance and it unlocked a batch of sad memories he’d hoped never to relive. Ah...a new bar. Well, new to him. The Oasis. He could get hammered in Waldo if he so chose.
"Yes, Mom, I see the windmill."
"Good. 'Cause I’m hungry."
He smiled at the child-like whine in her voice.
Adriano passed a cottage business, Catering by Anne. That hadn’t been there seventeen years ago, either. He’d have to drop by sometime. He noticed the sign on the front advertising catering and takeout. He realised with a pang there still might not be a Chinese restaurant in Waldo. Not that he’d be able to taste Chinese, or anything whipped up by Anne. His taste buds were shot, thanks to the triple nightmare of tongue cancer, radiation and chemotherapy.
He tried to resist the wave of disappointment that washed over him. He’d had to give up the job of his dreams as the head chef in a Michelin-starred Beverly Hills restaurant because he couldn’t taste his own food. He reasoned with himself that at least he still had his tongue. That was a huge victory. When the small white blemish on the side of his tongue had first appeared, his dentist noticed it during a routine office visit and dismissed it.
Adriano had initially thought it was nothing, too, until it started to hurt. Within months it had become a gigantic lesion and his speech was strangely slurred. People thought he was drunk. It also gave off a foul odour. His dentist biopsied it and two days later gave him the bad news.
Stage four cancer.
Word Count: 16,235
Book Length: NOVELLA
A.J. Llewellyn lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Frequent trips to all the islands, bags of Kona coffee in the fridge and a healthy collection of Hawaiian records keep this writer refueled.
A.J. never lacks inspiration for male/male erotic romances and on the rare occasions this happens, pursues other passions such as collecting books on Hawaiiana, surfing and spending time with friends and animal companions.
A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.