Selfie is another installment in the Bluewater Bay series. This series is different in that they can all be read as stand alones and they are written by different authors. How all of these authors collaborated to keep everything straight, I’ll never know. But we are the lucky ones who get to read them.
The book begins with Connor Montgomery, an actor who’s boyfriend died a year ago in a car accident. Because they were both in the closet and very, very few knew that they were involved, Connor has grieved alone. On the anniversary of Vinnie’s death, he posts a rambling youtube video- but luckily the sound hadn’t recorded. His agent puts her foot down and tells him it is time to go back to work. He is headed up to Bluewater Bay to work on a television show up there. He has two weeks to get himself together before they leave.
Noah is the local hired to drive Connor around as necessary because Connor gets lost going around the corner. Many in Noah’s family have different jobs involved with the show so he isn’t starstruck at all upon meeting Connor. He is very attracted to him though.
Connor absolutely broke my heart. To lose your boyfriend of ten years and not be able to tell anyone about it, to not have anyone (save his agent) to grieve with or accept sympathy from was heart wrenching. At times he reminded me of Shayne Cole- the man who’s boyfriend, Tom Bridegroom, died and he was completely shut out of everything by Tom’s family (true story, find the youtube and tissues). I admired the way he threw himself into his new role, but I was mad that he wouldn’t come out. Especially since his agent told him he should and he was working on a tv show with a ton of openly gay actors.
Noah was amazing. He was loyal to his family, friends and his town and very quickly became loyal to Connor. He has the patience of a saint though. He waited, and waited, and waited for Connor to finally admit he was gay. And then to admit that Vinnie was more than his best friend. He gave Connor everything he needed, strength, stability, acceptance and love. But still he waited for Connor to let go of the ghost of Vinnie.
It took half the book or more before sex was on the table for them. There had been a few hot and heavy kissing scenes, but Connor had to overcome a lot before he could be intimate again. The care Noah took was at times gentle but at times super toppy. But again, that is what Connor needed.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but I have to say that the ending was very satisfying. I almost wish it had happened sooner in the book so that Connor and Noah didn’t have that hanging over their heads for so long, but still. A very satisfying happily ever after.
One year ago, actor Connor Montgomery lost the love of his life to a drunk driver. But what’s worse for Connor is what he still has: a lifetime of secrets born of hiding his relationship from the glare of Hollywood. Unable to let go of the world he and Vinnie shared, Connor films a drunken YouTube confession on the anniversary of Vinnie’s death.
Thankfully, the video was silent—a familiar state for Connor—so his secret is still safe. He needs a fresh start, and a new role on the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing might be just that.
The move to Bluewater Bay may also mean a second chance in the form of his studio-assigned assistant. Noah Dakers sees through Connor’s facades more quickly than Connor could imagine. Noah’s quiet strength and sarcastic companionship offers Connor a chance at love that Hollywood’s closet has never allowed. But to accept it, Connor must let Vinnie go and learn to live again.
* * * * * * *
Bluewater Bay stories can be read in any order — jump in wherever you’d like!
There was a terrible sound—a shrill cacophonic assault—and I closed my eyes against the crippling brightness in our—my—beach house and whimpered.
What had I done?
The cacophony erupted again, and I rolled to my side, pulling the covers over my head, groaning. I’d left the patio door open, and the ocean roared carelessly on outside. It should have been a soothing sound, but my brain felt like a land-mine detonation facility. The phone rang again, and another bank of explosives went off, including a few in my stomach that would have sent me running to the bathroom if I could move.
I couldn’t move.
“Vinnie,” I moaned. “Vince . . . baby . . . get the phone . . . Oh fuck.”
My voice pitched on the “fuck,” because I remembered why Vince wasn’t there. Suddenly my hangover was nothing, a torn cuticle, a pimple, a plucked hair, compared to that terrible, terrible voiding pain of the severed half of my heart.
Vince wasn’t there. He’d been gone for 366 days, and he wasn’t coming back.
Nope, Con, I’m not there. You need to get the phone, you lazy bastard.
The phone rang one more time, and I fumbled at the end table and answered it because that beat the alternative.
“Do we need a Bloody Mary?” Jillian Lombard’s voice was like a spring-powered launch of ice picks, all of them driven through my left eyeball to the back of the brain.
“I can’t do bitchy,” I whined. “Why are we bitchy? Make the bitchy stop.”
“I’m sorry, sweetums, am I bitchy?” she asked pleasantly. In the background I heard the sound of a lighter flicking, and a heavily indrawn breath.
“You started smoking again?” I was concerned. Jillian was in her early fifties and built like a fireplug. “That’s not healthy, Jillian—I thought you’d quit.”
“I did,” she snapped bitterly. “I did quit, because you and Vince were happy, and you were making scads of money, and suddenly, my shoestring operation was in the black and I could afford to worry about my health. Things have changed, buttercup, oh how things have changed.”
I wanted to bitch and moan, but I couldn’t. Instead I swung my bare legs off the white-sheeted bed, leaned forward on my knees, and massaged the back of my neck, trying to remember grown-up skills. I’d had grown-up skills once—I was famous for them. In a land where people were prone to excess, where you had to talk your boyfriend into rehab once every three years or so, the guy who didn’t drink too much, didn’t do too much blow, didn’t party too much—he was considered a grown-up. I was that guy. I didn’t get into fights, I didn’t slip up our little cover, I didn’t make scenes on set. I did my job, I did it professionally, and I enjoyed the hell out of it—my God, I worked hard on my reputation as a good guy in Hollywood, I really fucking did.
Or I had.
“I told you yesterday,” I said, after a heavy silence between us. “I’m throwing my hat back in the ring. Go ahead—sell me. I’m product. Auction me to the highest bidder. I’ll do it—I’m raring to go.”
My voice held all of the excitement of a boiled eel. I was not, as I said, “raring to go.” I was, in fact, not raring. And not roaring. And not going.
I was pretty sure that yesterday’s conversation with Jillian, in which I pronounced myself so “raring,” had been the beginning of last night’s bender. I remembered, I was standing on the balcony, looking off into the poetic ocean distance, talking to Jillian and taking healthy swallows from a bottle of Pinot Grigio. In my head I could hear Vinnie chiding me for drinking what he called “flat 7 Up,” because I never had developed a palate, and in my ear, I could hear Jillian telling me that I’d been grieving for a year, and it was time to jump back into the shark pond again.
“You wouldn’t say that to me if we’d been out and married,” I’d snapped, aching. Because you got more time to grieve a lover than a “bro,” didn’t you? With a bro, you were expected to carry on, but if we’d been married . . . if we’d even been dating . . . no.
For ten years Vince Walker had been my shadow, my lover, my best friend, the one person on the planet I could tell my secrets to. I’d chivvied him into rehab and supported him when he came out, and together we’d been the nonparty boys, the most clean-cut actors in Hollywood, hosting clean and sober parties in my place or his. We’d been photographed for three years in a row, having Christmas in his place, with his family, and pretending I only spent the night in his room on Christmas Eve so there could be space for his brother and two sisters and spouses and kids and such to take over his place for the holidays.
We’d bought houses right next to each other in Malibu, but so what? So had Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, right? We were like Alex O’ and Scott Caan, or . . . or . . . oh Jesus, who cared.
Because we weren’t like those guys at all.
We were in love, and we’d started working in this business when you just didn’t fucking come out, not if you wanted to be leading men in big-budget movies, and so we hadn’t. We’d just bought our big fucking houses and took turns sleeping over and quietly building a life together, only it wasn’t together, it was separated by two walls, a hedge, and a big fucking swimming pool.
So, yeah. I may have been bitter when I told Jillian that I was willing to be thrown back into the shark tank.
I must have been bitter when I told her that. Because I remember taking a healthy swallow of flat 7 Up, and then another one.
And then another one.
And then sitting on the balcony, staring into the orange sunset, and thinking about Vinnie.
And then waking up to the phone.
“You’re right.” Jillian’s voice came from an entire continent of pain away. “You’re right. I wouldn’t throw you back into the pit if you’d been married. But do you think you could have said that yesterday?”
“I thought I did,” I mumbled.
“Yeah, and then you said okay.”
“Then why are we having this conversation?” Oh God. When Vinnie was alive I wouldn’t have gotten this drunk. When Vinnie was alive, I’d very, very carefully only had a social drink of wine in company, because Vinnie wasn’t drinking at all and I knew how hard that was on him.
“Because it was most obviously not okay!” Jillian burst out, an exhalation of smoke hitting her receiver as hard as her voice.
“I don’t remember saying that,” I said plaintively. Don’t make waves. Treat your agent with respect. Remember, most people in Hollywood would sell their souls to be you and sell you out in a hot second if they even suspected you and Vinnie were an item. I remember thinking all of that, but I don’t remember saying anything at all resembling the truth.
“That’s because you didn’t!” she snapped, setting off a trash-can chorus in my head.
“Then how do you know it wasn’t okay?” I demanded, because God, it was like “Carol of the Bells” was being played in broken glass between my ears.
“Uh, Connor?” For the first time something akin to sensitivity tinged Jilly’s voice.
“What?” I asked suspiciously. “What’s wrong? Why do you sound like that?”
“Connor,” she said slowly, and I remembered the last time she tried speaking slowly to me.
My stomach wasn’t feeling great, and when my bowels contracted in an icy heave I contemplated running for the bathroom. Oh, dear Lord—no. How bad could this be? I’d already survived the worst, right?
“What? What’s wrong? Who’s dead?” I asked, aware that after the last year this wasn’t hyperbole and not the least bit funny. I needed to know how my world was going to be turned upside down as soon as possible, so I could hide all the hurt and pretend it didn’t happen.
“Who’s dead?” she repeated. “Your career, honey. You killed it last night on YouTube.”
I closed my eyes and tried to think. What had been the last thing I’d done as the wine had weakened that brick wall between myself and my grief? I remember seeing the camera Vinnie had kept on the mantel. He’d been so good at social media—had taken short videos almost constantly.
And then edited them.
On my computer, I had the video of us kissing on a private beach, the camera held selfie-distance away from our faces, my blond hair riotous in the wind and Vinnie’s shorter, darker hair barely ruffling. We’d both closed our eyes at the end, and the camera had dropped as we’d gotten lost in the kiss and the smell of the ocean and the wind and the sand under our feet. The end of the shot had been a ragged series of frames as Vince had struggled to turn the thing off one-handed so that kiss could be the focus of our lives.
The world had the first part of that picture—“Hey, here’s the sunset in Hawaii! And here’s my buddy, Connor, ready to do some surfing!” I’d waved and winked, and lights out.
Last night, I’d looked at that camera, thought of my computer memory, crammed full of what our life had really been, and thought of what the world knew. Who cared, right? Who cared if the world knew we’d been together since our first audition, both of us nervous and cocky at the same time, neither of us getting the part.
It hadn’t mattered—we’d been in Vince’s shitty one-room apartment about thirty minutes after leaving the studio, Vince filling the condom inside me, both of us screaming loud enough to wake the neighbors.
I’d been sleeping in a burned-out car then, two months into Hollywood after leaving my home in Northern California with the scornful injunction not to come back until I’d stopped being a fag. (Well, you know, get caught deep-throating the starter of your school’s basketball team when you were a drama queer, getting kicked out of the house was bound to happen.)
I’d been desperate—desperate enough to blow a photographer to get my headshots. Desperate enough to have blown businessmen for food.
Vinnie had let me move in that day—a little banter, some hot eyeball action, and one quick fuck, and there we were, sleeping on his twin bed and throwing in for rent together. It might not have been love at first—in fact, at first I think it was mostly necessity—but after a year, and a few successful auditions, and a little bit of fucking around on both our parts, we had enough money to each rent our own apartments.
And we’d . . . decided not to.
Because what had started out as lust and convenience had turned into something more. Something bigger. Something that had us both getting tested and giving up condoms (most of the time)—but keeping the lube.
Then I’d landed a supporting role in a small television show on the CW. And then I’d been courted to be the leading man in another one when the first one folded. That gig had lasted three years, and when I’d left it because . . . reasons . . . I’d landed my first movie role. B-level action flick, yeah—but it paid decent, and I got another one, an A-level after that. Vince’s career had taken off too—he was usually the broody guy who got offed, or sometimes the villain—but he worked consistently and got paid well.
Eventually, Jilly (who had signed us by that time—she’d gotten me the gig at the CW) said we had to get houses. If we didn’t, the press would talk, the fan fiction would get out of hand, our careers would be in jeopardy.
I remembered asking, “Can’t we just come out?” Neil Patrick Harris had come out. George Takei had come out. Six years ago there had been enough out celebrities that it shouldn’t have made a difference, right?
Jillian had looked at me, pity in her cobalt-blue-tinted contacts. “Honey, you’re just not that good.” She shook her head. “Those other guys can do it because they’ve got balls-out talent—you and Vinnie, I love you guys, you’re my first big hits and my bread and butter, but you’re . . . you know. Beefcake. You’re decent enough actors to not embarrass yourselves, but mostly, sugar, you’re just a pretty face.”
I’d done a shitty job of concealing my hurt—I’d loved drama in school. I hadn’t wanted to be beefcake, I’d wanted to be an actor, damn it! But Vinnie had let it roll off his back.
“Whatever you say, gorgeous,” he’d purred. “As long as we’ve got backdoor access to each other’s pads, I’m good with that.” But he’d looked at me searchingly over her head, with a little bit of pity and fear. His family still loved him, and I knew because he’d told me that he dreaded, more than anything, losing that support.
Jilly hadn’t seen that look, though. She’d touched his nose like wasn’t he just the cutest thing? Vinnie got that a lot. “You gay guys—you flirt like gangbusters, but do you ever put out? Done, then—I’ll tell the real estate lady to look for properties next to each other, relatively private. No one will ever know.”
And no one had ever known. Ten years of a relationship forged in the crucible of Hollywood, and my only proof was a laptop full of memories that only two people had shared.
And now it was down to one.
I pulled myself back into the present with a sick thump. “Jillian . . . did I post a video last night?”
Her laugh was weak and stringy and hysterical. “Oh, honey.” I heard a shaky draw on the cigarette. “That’s like asking if the Washington Monument is a little bit of an erection.”
Selfie by Amy Lane – Book Review & Excerpt was last modified: May 3rd, 2016 by GGR-Review