Sequel to Five Star Review
A Review Story
Recovering alcoholic Marshall Ellerbee still grieves the loss of his best friend and lover, Eric. After a year of sobriety, Marshall accepts a new job with the Wellness Center, something else to help him continue cleaning up his life. Things are finally improving when his sponsor has a heart attack. The counselor hired to replace him is none other than Kyle Young, the lost ex's best friend. Kyle has always hated Marshall, but now they must work together and move past their history. When Marshall saves Eric’s life, Kyle suddenly sees Marshall in a new light. But will romance unsettle Marshall’s hard-won new stability…
I LOVED vodka. Vodka martinis; Bloody Marys; screwdrivers. Oh, and I loved green apple vodka. Simply an amazing drink. It was what I went to when I was happy, when I was sad, when I was frustrated. I used any excuse as a reason to practically drink myself into a coma.
“Tequila was my drink of choice,” a chubby man with long, hippy-style hair said as he stood at a podium in the front of the room. “I’d finished off a bottle of Jose when I decided I wanted macaroni and cheese. I’d managed to boil the water and throw the noodles in. I grabbed the pot so I could pour it into a strainer but I tripped on my own feet and the boiling water went down my leg. It hurt like hell, but all I could think about was that it could’ve been Ashley, my baby girl. I’d die if I ever hurt her. I swore I’d never drink again. I fell off the wagon once or twice, but it’s been three years since I touched alcohol.”
The group clapped. Was this what my life had come down to? My chest was tight and I thought my throat was going to close up. My right leg was doing a steady thump- thump-thump.
“I went swimming when I was drunk,” a thin lady at the platform said. “It was two in the morning and I’d come home from one social function or another. My husband and kids were in bed but I wanted to go swimming. So I stripped down and dove in. I did okay for a minute then I tried to dive from the shallow end.” She pulled her bangs back to reveal a scar. “I cut my head open and passed out. I guess Dean, my husband, had been watching me the whole time. He saved my life. That was six months ago and I haven’t had a drink since.”
Everybody applauded again. I couldn’t applaud. My hands were heavy. I’d lied to myself for so long believing I could control my drinking. I couldn’t. Not ever. Other people had seen it early on, I hadn’t. Until after what I did… what I did to Eric, the man I’d been in love with. But not even that horrible accident had been enough to get me to stop drinking. I had to go on and hurt Eric again. This time emotionally; I played a dirty trick, making him think his boyfriend Cade was cheating on him. I don’t know which one wounded him worse. I don’t know which one I regretted more.
The next person speaking was a man I knew well. Walker Reynolds had a clean-shaven head, long goatee and tattoos up and down his arms. In the past we had been drinking buddies. Then a year ago he vanished off the radar and I hadn’t seen him again until earlier that evening. I’d been having a drink at a bar called Vessels and Walker was the bartender. He told me he’d been clean for almost ten months thanks to a counselor named Seth Stanton. Walker dragged me to the Seattle Wellness Center to meet Seth and—coincidentally, I’m sure—there was an AA meeting going on. Seth and Walker convinced me to sit in, telling me I didn’t have to talk if I didn’t want to. And I didn’t want to speak, not at all.
“I had been at a raging party,” Walker said with a sad smile. “I’d been drinking for hours and was so wasted I couldn’t add two and two to get four. I was wise enough to get a cab home but when I got there my wife was furious at me. I lost control, pushed her to the ground, grabbed a vase and almost threw it at her. Thank God for the almost. I don’t know how, but I stopped myself, dropped the vase then fell to the floor myself. I haven’t touched a drop since, thanks to Seth, my sponsor. And my wife, who I praise every day, forgave me.” I swallowed hard while I listened to the last of his testimony. I held back the tears that built in my eyes and I flashed back to the most horrific moment in my life. It had been a long six years since it had happened.
I was late to meet Eric and wasn’t paying attention. I was also more than three sheets to the wind. It had been a really bad day. I’d gotten a B in Calculus and my parents had freaked the fuck out. It didn’t matter I’d studied my ass off and had done my best. It wasn’t good enough for the namesake of the high and mighty Marshall Ellerbee the Third. After getting my ass chewed, I went to a bar and drank ’til the pressure dissipated. I was so drunk I didn’t know how I even made it to the car, let alone across town. I tried to hurry because I didn’t want to be too late meeting Eric. I could barely see. Everything was in slow motion. Then it happened: I’d hit someone. I hit the car so hard it swiveled my BMW around and my car hit a stop sign—the stop sign I was supposed to have stopped at. My head slammed into the steering wheel, and I passed out.
I’d always said I could do that—stay in control. I didn’t want to most of the time. Drinking was my relief, the only way to chill out when I had disappointed my parents once again.
I don’t know how long I was out after crashing into the stop sign, but I woke up as an EMT pulled me out of the car. I could stand, but barely, and only with assistance. I saw two other EMTs placing someone on a gurney. I prayed the person I hit wasn’t going to die. A death would be much harder for my dad to cover up. And then I saw something that made the world drop out from under me. The person I’d hit was wearing a bright-purple jacket. Eric had one like it. As the stretcher rolled past me I saw his face—Eric’s face. I dropped to my knees and everything in my stomach came churning up my throat. I retched until I couldn’t breathe and then I passed out. When I woke up again I was in a hospital room. I wanted, needed, to see Eric, but it hurt when I tried to move. The sun was up, so I knew I’d slept through the night. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again it was dark once more. At first I wasn’t sure where I was, and then I remembered the accident and what I’d done to Eric. I could taste the bile in my throat. I was surprised when I looked around the room and saw my father sitting in the corner. “Is Eric… okay?” I asked. Dad looked me in the eyes and once more I could see the disappointment. “He’s alive, Marshall.” I knew there was more he wasn’t telling me. “Can I see him?” Dad shook his head. “He’s been in surgery all night.” He paused for what seemed like an eternity. “His doctor says he’ll never walk again.”
I couldn’t stifle the sob that came out. Dad said something, but I didn’t hear him. I’d already shut down.
It was getting harder and harder to breathe and sweat was pouring off me. I stared at my hands. They quivered uncontrollably. I realized I was standing at the podium but didn’t remember walking to it. Seth was on one side of me and Walker on the other. “I hurt the man I loved,” I said. “I was driving drunk and running late and hit him with my car. I paralyzed him. He’ll never walk again because of what I did.” My voice was shaky. I don’t know how I could even speak. All I knew was that I had to do it. I turned and looked at Walker who had an encouraging expression on his face. He nodded at me and it gave me the strength to continue.
“My name is Marshall, and I am an alcoholic.”
Who is Lara Brukz? Born and raised in the natural state, Arkansas. Yes that’s right, we have computers too and shoes as well. Shoes are optional especially in this heat, hell sometimes clothes are optional too. So how does a girl from the middle of nowhere end up writing m/m fiction? Hell if I know. I started reading m/m fiction several years ago. Having the option of m/m with 2 dicks, or a m/f with a dick and a parts that I have but don’t care to read about. Of course I clearly choose the 2 dicks dueling. Just gets my groove moving!! Couple of years ago I met the awesome Ethan Stone, he’s like my twin except with a dick and I have a lot more hair on my head :) . We’ve been pretty inseparable ever since. I have helped him (more like arguing) with some stories, you know giving my opinion and stuff. So long story short, he is the reason I started writing. He was the inspiration in my first book. Kiss and hugs to my gay husband. I work full-time crunching numbers and also attend college going for my 2nd degree. Mother of a rambunctious 7yr old and a wife. Yup you got it I don’t sleep a lot.