Out Of My Mind by M.L. Rhodes
#1 Bestseller at Amber Allure
All Romance Ebooks Bestseller
All Romance Ebooks Best of 2007 Award
For four years Rafferty Jones and Nick Tucker have worked side-by-side as police detectives in their small Maine town. But lately, Rafferty’s imagination has been creating fantasies about Nick—more specifically, about Nick and him together—that have shocked Rafferty. Detailed erotic scenarios a thirty-something, set-in-his-ways straight man shouldn’t be imagining. He’s been struggling to keep them secret, afraid that if Nick discovers the truth it will end their friendship. But with each passing day it’s getting harder and harder to pretend Nick is “just” a friend. And harder and harder for Rafferty to come to terms with the possibility he might not be as straight as he’s always believed.
Nick’s always known he’s gay and he’s had deep feelings for Rafferty for years. But after a difficult experience at his former police precinct in Boston, he decided when he moved to Maine to keep his sexual orientation under wraps on the job. He wants to be acknowledged at work for what he can do, not who he’s doing. And with Rafferty being straight, there’s always been a clear-cut line that Nick’s known he can’t cross with his unsuspecting partner and best friend. And yet…for the past few months it’s become difficult to remember that line. He’s not sure why, he just knows that for the first time in four years his heart and his body are urging him to go for what he really wants…Rafferty.
When a stormy weekend trip on Rafferty’s boat gives birth to an unexpected night of passion, will it be the spark they need to forge a new and deeper relationship? Or will Nick’s past and Rafferty’s fear drive a wedge between them that will destroy not only their barely-begun love affair, but their partnership and friendship as well?
Release date: November 11, 2007
Length: 38K words (extended novella)
Available in ebook formats at: Amber Allure, ARE, Kindle US, Kindle UK, Fictionwise, B&N, Sony, and other online ebook vendors
Available in paperback at: NA at this time
They lay for several long minutes in the dark, the only illumination the faint ethereal glow given off by the masthead light outside that Raff kept on when they were anchored at night. It filtered through the tinted acrylic hatch above them like a pale star. The pounding rain against the boat and the hum of the bilge pump almost, but not quite, drowned out the sound of their own uneven breathing.
Each passing minute seemed to increase the building tension ten-fold, until Nick couldn’t stand it any longer. Everything in him wanted to reach out and touch Rafferty, lying so close, yet not sure what kind of a reaction he might get if he did.
“So are we going to talk about what happened out there?” he said softly.
Such a long silence followed his question, he thought maybe Raff was going to refuse to answer. But then, finally, Rafferty said in a strained voice, “I thought we did.”
Nick rolled onto his side, facing Raff, and tucked a hand under his head. “I don’t mean the storm or my trip into the water.”
Rafferty lay on his back. Nick heard him inhale, then exhale in a slow, stuttered breath.
Nick reached over and laid a hand atop Raff’s…not squeezing or trying to hold it, just a touch to make contact, hoping it would be accepted and not pushed away. “How long?” he asked.
“How long have you been feeling the urge to kiss me like that?”
Another series of ragged breaths escaped his friend, and again Nick wondered if Raff would bail on the conversation.
Damn, he had a right to, Nick supposed. Maybe the kiss outside had been driven by pure adrenaline and now Raff regretted it, didn’t want to be reminded of it. Except… There was also the matter of the words he’d heard Raff mumbling in his sleep. “Please, Nick…do it. I want it. Want you.” Had Raff been dreaming about him? It had sure sounded like it…and no matter how Nick spun it in his mind, he only knew one way to take those words.
Yet still Rafferty stayed quiet, slowly but surely causing Nick to doubt everything.
Confused and more than a little defeated, he was about to apologize for pushing when Rafferty said, in a voice barely above a whisper, “Since I stayed at your house that week.”
The bottom fell out of Nick’s stomach at the other man’s admission.
Jesus. That had been back in August. Over two months ago—
Two months… Of course. About the time Rafferty had started acting oddly, had withdrawn, and had put on the brakes about spending time with him outside of work. Had he been at the root of what was distracting Raff? The thought was dizzying.
“You don’t have to say anything,” Rafferty murmured, finally turning his head toward Nick. “I…I know I’m out of line. I don’t know how or why…it just…I just… I’m sorry—”
His heart in his throat, Nick leaned close and pulled Raff into a kiss, cutting off his apology mid-stream. He kept it gentle and brief, not wanting to scare the hell out of Raff by letting all the passion that had been building up in him for so long overwhelm the man, but unable to stop himself from offering a hint as to what lurked beneath the surface.
When Nick leaned back, he could feel Rafferty staring at him in shock.
“I guess we’ll both be out of line then,” Nick told him, “because I’ve been thinking about kissing you for a long damned time, too.”
“You… Oh…” Rafferty breathed in the instant before Nick found his mouth again.
5 Angels! “Ms. Rhodes has created a story with two strong men who are dealing with very real life issues. The characters of Rafferty and Nick are polar opposites, but complement each other. As the reader becomes involved in their lives, they come alive and almost leap off the pages. Rafferty, like many men, finds himself realizing later in life that he may prefer men over women. That must be difficult to accept after living his earlier life as heterosexual. Nick’s always known he’s gay and knows that it won’t be easy for Rafferty. I hope there will be further stories about the lives of Nick and Rafferty. Thanks go to Ms. Rhodes for a very moving story.”
–Theresa, Fallen Angel Reviews
4 1/2 Hearts! “Out of My Mind is a well-written book, with well-described characters. Like many of Ms. Rhodes’ stories, Out Of My Mind has many layers. There’s Rafferty’s distress about his divorce, and his bizarre dreams about sex with Nick. As we go down through the layers, we come to the core of this beautiful book…the joy of love. Nick and Rafferty have incredible sex as they try to figure out what exactly it is that they feel about each other. The plot is well paced and I could easily have seen Nick and Rafferty as my neighbors. I felt sorry for Rafferty because of the confusion that he felt about his feelings. Ms. Rhodes has a terrific grasp on her writing ability and Out Of My Mind proves that again.”
–Marcy Arbitman, The Romance Studio
4 Stars! “Nick and Rafferty are both scared to come out to one another, each deciding the other would have to be the one to make the first move. It’s particularly hot to read of strong macho men being unsure and uneasy. When the storm forces the issue, this is only the beginning of the story, not a premature conclusion as I first feared.
The author skilfully explores what happens when Rafferty pulls back out of fear, how his decision impacts both men. There are solid and very believably described reasons why each guy reacts as he does.
This is a well-crafted and gripping story. I was eager to keep reading to find out how things would end… I have no hesitation in recommending the story to all lovers of true-to-life contemporary fiction.”
–British Bull Dog, Rainbow Reviews