I wrote the novel after watching the movie version of the musical Rent. The romance between Roger, a musician and former addict, and Mimi, an HIV-positive stripper addicted to drugs, struck me. So did their recurring theme, the song "I Should Tell You."
My novel is not based on that musical or song, but they did somewhat inspire the story. In I Should Tell You, Hunter Girard is six years sober after battling alcoholism for several years in reaction to a childhood assault. During the beginning of his recovery, Hunter lived with his supportive but overprotective parents. At age twenty-six, he has only recently moved into an apartment that he shares with a man he describes as an "overgrown frat boy." Conflicts with his roommate, and the roommate's constant partying and drinking, are taking their toll on Hunter. He knows he needs his own place, so to earn some extra money he's auditioning for a gig as a live guitarist for a drag show. At that audition, he meets "Starry Daye."
Mitch Walters is at war with his childhood demons--and they're winning. Between the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father and a gay-bash beating he received not long ago, Mitch is constantly afraid. He self-medicates his anxiety and post-traumatic stress with the prescription painkillers he became addicted to after the beating. His onstage persona Starry Daye is beautiful, strong, and confident, everything Mitch doesn't believe he can be anywhere except in drag.
Sparks fly almost immediately between Hunter and Mitch, but love and lust might not be enough to conquer their pasts and build a future.
When he entered the room, the TV was on, and the bathroom door was shut. He didn’t hear any noise. His heart beat a bit faster. “Mitch?” he called. “It’s me. Hunter. I’m back.”
“Be right out, baby. Just making myself pretty.” Mitch laughed.
Was his voice slurred? Surely not. Surely Hunter had imagined it, or it was the effect of the door between them. “I’ll be sitting on the bed waiting for you.”
“Sounds good, honey.”
Definitely a slight slur. Maybe Mitch was only tired.
Hunter didn’t believe that for a second.
He sat on the king-size bed and turned off the TV, then turned it back on again. Depending on what shape Mitch was in when he emerged from the bathroom, they might need the noise of the infomercials to cover their own sounds. Somehow Hunter doubted it would work out that way, though.
The bathroom door opened. In the mirror behind the TV, Hunter saw Mitch. The man was completely naked, his cock half-hard below tight abs, and he stumbled a bit as he walked out of the room. “Here I come, baby.”
He walked over to the bed more steadily but very slowly. Hunter’s chest tightened. Mitch was definitely on something.
“What do you think?” Mitch knelt on the foot of the bed. “You’re so hot, baby. Take off your shirt so I can see.” He dropped forward onto his hands and started moving up the bed.
Hunter stared at the man crawling toward him. The loose, slack smile. The slight lack of coordination, which might have just been clumsiness if he hadn’t seen for himself how graceful Mitch was. The vacant eyes. He’d been right. Somehow Mitch had gotten his hands on oxy. And while Hunter had been gone, he’d taken the shit.
Hunter should have walked away. He was damned if he’d hang around someone who was high. He should go home and leave Mitch to call a cab or Solara. But he couldn’t, not without confronting the man he’d hoped would be more than a one-night stand.
“You’re fucking high,” he said.
Mitch rocked back on his heels, looking confused. “I’m not. I’m good.”
He slurred his words slightly. Mitch started crawling again, and as much as Hunter longed to have that nude, beautiful body on his, he put his hand up to signal Mitch to stop. “What are you on?”
“The bed.” Mitch giggled, a high-pitched grating sound that hurt Hunter’s ears. “I’m on the bed. Wanna be on you. You gonna let me or not?”
“Not.” Hunter sat up against the headboard and glared. “I don’t fuck druggies. You tell me how much you took and where you got it, or I’m out of here.”
He knew how harsh he sounded, but he didn’t care. Harsh was sometimes the only way to get through to someone in Mitch’s state. Hunter had no intention of leaving, but he wanted Mitch to believe he would. Maybe then he’d get some answers.
“Fucking prude.” Mitch collapsed onto his stomach and looked up at Hunter, anger and laughter mingling in his expression. “What do you care? We fuck, and we leave; no problem. Doesn’t matter if I’m on something or not. I can still make you feel real good, baby. You don’t even have to take me home in the morning. I’ll call a cab as soon as we’re finished.”
“Yeah, and you won’t remember anything tomorrow.” Hunter’s traitor dick hardened in his jeans as he looked at Mitch’s gorgeous ass. He took a deep breath and willed his cock to soften. He wasn’t a pervert, and this was damn sure not the time to think about sex. He’d fucked guys stoned, high, drunk, whatever plenty of times in the past, but never since he’d stopped drinking. No matter how hot Mitch was, Hunter wasn’t about to make an exception for him.
He was pissed. More than that, he was hurt. He’d trusted Mitch and believed Mitch trusted him. He’d told Mitch they didn’t have to do a damn thing tonight, and yet the second Hunter left the room, Mitch had downed at least one pill. So much for trust.