Author: Charlie David
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance, New Adult
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Chase never had many friends, but at college, he meets and forms close ties with straight jock Tyler Davidson—a connection he fears he’ll lose if he tells Tyler he’s gay. Keeping his sexuality secret becomes harder for Chase as he joins Tyler and his family at their idyllic lake house for the summer. It grows more and more difficult for Chase to avoid Tyler’s attempts to set him up with girls, and he’s tired of making excuses. Chase is ready to embrace the man he is, but he’s afraid of what it will cost him.
The Davidsons seem like the perfect family, but Chase soon realizes there’s trouble in paradise. Tyler’s dad, Nathan, has done everything to make a good life for his wife and children—including suppressing his sexuality and denying his needs for years. But like Chase, Nathan is growing weary of living a lie. What begins as an offer of support from Chase grows into an unexpected attraction that will have profound effects on everyone. Chase and the Davidsons are about to learn that there’s no such thing as a perfect family, but that perfection isn’t a requirement for friendship and love.
Jarod’s blue truck idled in the driveway as Chase walked around the corner of the house. Jarod’s attention was focused on the stereo, but he looked up and smiled when Chase tapped on the passenger window. He leaned over and opened the door. “Welcome to the finest sightseeing tour available around Prospect Lake.”
Chase climbed up into the truck and was surprised to hear what was on the stereo. Rich violins and cellos were dueling between the left and right speakers. He knitted his eyebrows quizzically at Jarod.
“Yo-Yo Ma on Bach’s Cello Suites. You don’t like it?”
“No, it’s beautiful, just not what I was expecting,” Chase admitted.
“Just because I wear a jersey doesn’t mean classical music doesn’t bend my ear,” Jarod said defensively. “Obviously we have a lot to learn about each other. Where do you want to start?”
“How about you show me your favorite spots around the lake,” Chase suggested, buckling up.
Yo-Yo Ma’s cello soared as Jarod pulled onto the street and headed down the twisty tree-lined road. Chase unrolled his window and let his hand play in the wind, trying to match it to the fluctuations in the music, dipping down as the music retreated and then climbing in a crescendo. He was lost in the perfect mathematics of the music when he felt a warm hand on his.
Chase turned and Jarod smiled, his eyes meeting Chase’s for a moment before returning to the road. Chase looked down and interlocked their fingers, liking the way the different skin tones made a pattern. Feeling Jarod’s rough skin excited Chase, and he rubbed his thumb over the back of his date’s hand, enjoying the intimate detail of the little dark hairs there. Allowing his eyes to wander up Jarod’s arm, he noticed the thickness of his forearms and how the muscles naturally stretched the cotton sleeves of his T-shirt. He wanted to run his hands up to Jarod’s bicep and feel the firmness there. He blew out a breath and brought his eyes back to the road. His head was already swimming with all the pheromones in the truck.
“So where you taking me?” Chase asked.
“I was kind of thinking it would be safest for us to park as soon as possible. I’m having trouble keeping my mind on the road.” Jarod laughed. “There’s a great scenic spot at the top of Little Saanich Mountain to look down on the lake.”
“Sounds good to me,” Chase responded, and suddenly his heart was beating somewhere up near his throat. A lookout spot? That sounded conspicuously like the type of place where people went to make out. A bunch of cars with steamy windows parked in a row on a cliff. Hands tensed like cats’ claws raking down through the condensation on the glass and a psychopath lurking in the woods with a murder weapon ready to cut them all to bits. Maybe he had seen too many horror films.
The truck wound up the gravel road on Grouse Mountain, and Chase rolled his window up. The air was getting cooler up here. Through the windshield the star-filled sky was only visible through intermittent breaks in the dense forest. Jarod slowed and turned off the main road onto an even narrower gravel path through the woods. They drove for another few minutes, and all at once the giant fir trees gave way to a clearing on the mountainside. The moon appeared to hang directly in front of them over the lake far below. There was no long line of fogged-up cars, only the two of them and Yo-Yo Ma’s precise fingers recounting Bach’s masterpiece.
“It’s beautiful,” Chase whispered, edging farther up in his seat to take in the view.
“I thought you’d like it,” Jarod said, but his eyes weren’t on the sky or the lake below; he was turned in his seat and looking at Chase. “So you stole my number, huh? Couldn’t even wait for me to give it to you?”
Chase smirked. “Well, if you were a little more on the ball, I wouldn’t have had to go digging. Christie beat you to it. You’re just lucky I’m not out with her tonight.”
“I’d say we’re both lucky,” Jarod said and reached for Chase’s hand again, pulling him closer on the bench seat. Jarod slid over and they sat side-by-side in the old truck, ignoring the view and just taking in each other.
Chase slid his hand up the arm he’d been tempted by and held tight to the muscle there, smiling. “Work out much?”
“A little….” Jarod laughed and leaned in to kiss Chase’s neck.
The warmth of Jarod’s mouth on his throat made Chase’s pulse race, and he closed his eyes in pleasure when the other boy’s tongue flicked and explored around his ears. Chase dragged his hand down Jarod’s arm and grabbed his thigh, massaging the muscle through his jeans. It was obvious Jarod spent a good amount of time training and in the gym; he was well-built all over.
Jarod kissed along Chase’s jawline and paused on his chin, drawing his mouth up until he reached Chase’s lips. They kissed softly, brushing their lips against each other while locking eyes. Chase stuck his tongue out slowly and licked Jarod’s lips, curiously tasting him. Jarod patiently let him explore and then slipped his own tongue out so the two danced together.
Jarod rested his forehead against Chase’s and whispered across the darkness, “Come on, let me show you the best dreaming spot around.” He reached behind the seat and pulled out a black-and-blue plaid blanket, then hopped out of the truck.
Chase followed and watched Jarod climb up into the bed of the truck, carefully lay out the blanket, and then turn and offer Chase a hand up. “What exactly is a dreaming spot?” Chase asked as he grabbed Jarod’s hand and felt himself pulled almost effortlessly up onto the tailgate.
“Let me show you, handsome,” Jarod said and lay down on the blanket, folding his hands behind his head. Chase followed his lead and joined Jarod, one arm crooked comfortably behind his head and the other resting on Jarod’s stomach. The fir trees seemed to stretch on forever into the night, and high above, long strokes of colored light chased each other across the sky. The tops of the trees were like pointed paintbrushes splashing iridescent hues over one another before fading into the blackness and beginning again.
“It’s beautiful,” Chase whispered. “I don’t remember the last time I saw the northern lights.”
“It happens pretty regularly out here, far away from the city,” Jarod said, reaching one hand down and joining it with Chase’s.
“I’m glad you came out to the fire last night. I was considering drowning myself in the lake before you showed up.” Chase turned to look at Jarod. “How do you stand it?”
“The constant lying, the pretending to be people that we’re not.”
“I’m not lying to anyone. I am who I am,” Jarod said casually, but there was a defensive tone beneath the surface.
“Does anyone here know you like guys?” Chase challenged.
“Does anyone here know you like guys?” Jarod echoed.
“So why would they have to know? That’s my business, not theirs.”
“But these people are supposed to be our friends. Doesn’t it feel like the friendship only goes so far when we’re not telling the entire truth?” Chase asked, knowing the question was as much for himself as it was for Jarod. “I guess sometimes I just get tired of all the games.”
Jarod rolled over and started tickling Chase. “What about this game? Are you tired of playing this game?”
“Yeowww! Stop it!” Chase howled as Jarod’s fingers ravished him. “Okay, okay!”
Jarod rolled on top of Chase and held his hands above his head, then leaned down and kissed him. “Don’t get all serious on me. Let’s just have fun, okay?”
“Okay.” Chase smiled back and, with the delicious weight of Jarod on top of him and the northern lights burning across the sky above them, agreed there was nothing to get upset about. How could anyone have a problem with something as beautiful as this?
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR – Charlie David
One of the most common questions asked by readers and from people who’ve seen the film is, “Did this happen to you? Is it your story?”
Thankfully and honestly the answer is no, although I think like all storytellers I drew on my life experiences and some of the most loving and interesting personality traits of people in my own life. Stacey, for example, was named after one of my best friends in high school and is a tapestry woven of four women in my life: my own mother, my grandmother, my manager and best friend Linda Carter, and a friend through my extended blended family—Sandy Webster Worthy, who graciously opened her home to me as a squatter as I penned this book. Each of these women is formidable, strong, and the epitome of a matriarch. Their personal lives and the lives of their children are one and the same, which is simultaneously an enriching experience and the source of a certain “loss of self.”
Stacey, like these women, brings comfort and stability through food and presenting only the positive, whenever possible, to her children. I think the empty-nest syndrome that all mothers face can be a point of crisis in their lives. I happily report to you that these women are each finding things to be passionate about and regaining a solid sense of the powerful women they are, post-child-rearing.
In the film, the role of Stacey is played by Thea Gill. We had first met through a director friend, Richard Bell, and then were able to work together in Hawaii on two seasons of the TV series Dante’s Cove. I timidly handed her the script for Mulligans one day over lunch and asked if she’d read it and consider the part. I of course had been a longtime fan since her work on Queer as Folk. The episode where she has an affair with the artist has always stuck out to me as having truly captured the inner turmoil of having a secret affair. Of course in our film, she would be on the other side of the knife….
The only other role directly inspired by my life is Tyler, played in the film by Derek James. Derek is one of my best friends and coincidentally is Linda Carter’s son. (Yes, the same woman previously mentioned, who produced the film with me, is my business partner and manager. Being best friends with someone AND his mother—well, it’s certainly been an interesting journey, but that, my dear reader, is another book to come….) Tyler and Derek are essentially one and the same. The extremely charismatic, handsome, charming, and funny guy you see in the film is very close to my best friend in real life. This is in no way to take away from the fantastic job he does in the movie. Comedy is a gift bestowed on few in my opinion, and Derek got it in spades.
Nathan in a way is a doppelganger of myself. It’s a reflection on the road not taken for me in trying to live a closeted life. When I was growing up, I always sensed that I was different and desperately wanted to fit in. But no matter how I tried, I always sensed I stuck out. Part of wanting to “be like others” was going through various phases of acceptance with my sexuality, starting with denial! The response to Nathan’s story has been the most poignantly rewarding, as both men and women who’ve come out later in life have resonated with his journey of self-discovery and ultimate acceptance.
We work-shopped the original scripts for the film in Vancouver through the Cold Reading Series, a supportive group of actors, writers, producers, and directors who come together with a live audience to hear new work. Actors are cast on the spot and sit in a semicircle on the stage of the character-filled Anza Club to read the script “cold”—no preparation, no performance—just living and breathing the words as they are. This is an extremely valuable tool for a new writer like myself because I was able to see and hear my story come to life. I was fortunate to workshop the script over the course of two summers and was able to sit in the back of the theatre making notes and drinking beer. Did I fail to mention that? Oh yeah, we drink through this process, just to calm the nerves, of course. In the beginning I drank a lot and wrote little, mesmerized by the magic of hearing actors speak words I’d written. As the series progressed, I wrote more and drank less… okay, I drank about the same but discovered the true value in working with a positively constructive group of like-minded individuals.
The founder of the Cold Reading Series, Lori Triolo, introduced me to actor Dan Payne. They had recently worked together on the Canadian television series Alice, I Think, of which Dan was the star. After seeing Dan read, I knew he was the major contender for the role of Nathan. He had the same easy humor, charisma, and showmanship as Derek—and they looked alike. Some actors previously had presented Nathan in an almost lecherous way. The line here is really drawn in the sand and it’s an easy misstep for an actor to go from relatable to creepy. The intent in the story is never to imply paedophilia. Chase is a grown man, about to enter a master’s program in university. The age difference is important obviously but this is not a “Come here little boy, I have candy” situation. There is enough unfounded media attention thrown at statistically unwarranted correlations between paedophilia and homosexuality. They are far from one and the same. Paedophilia is a disease and homosexuality is a beautifully natural expression of sex and love.
There is, however, a commonality in both gays and lesbians for one partner to sometimes be significantly older than the other. By “significantly,” I’m speaking of approaching or greater than a ten-year range. I think this isn’t uncommon in heterosexual couples either, but we may see more of it in the LGBT population simply because of cases just like Mulligans. Men and women coming out later in life feel like they are experiencing their youth again and are therefore attracted to a similar youthful energy. LGBT youth, often coming from unsupportive homes, and sometimes in fact estranged from their families, seek the comfort and security that someone older can provide for them. It’s not always, but sometimes, a subconscious replacement for supportive parenting.
At any rate, Dan Payne brought vulnerability and honesty to the role without compromising his masculinity and in the process added a whole new slew of male fans to his extensive female fan base. If you haven’t seen his calendar, check out his website and you’ll see why it’s so easy to fall in love with the man.
The role of Birdy was sheer whimsy. She was like a sprite in my mind, spreading her humorous and sage advice at just the right moments. Any subconscious inspiration was most likely gleaned from my younger sister Colleen. She always seemed acutely aware of “what’s really going on” even from a young age and was never afraid to speak up to our commandeering father. In fact she was always ready to have an adult conversation with anyone from the time she was three.
We truly lucked out in casting Grace Vukovic for the role. She was a fresh face on the roster of the talent agency I own with Linda in Vancouver and coincidentally was family friends with Thea Gill. Thea had in fact known Gracie her entire life and held her in her arms as an infant. Grace was an absolute pro on set, arriving every day fully prepared and never failing to make us laugh.
These are the Who’s and What’s but why did I tell this story? First it came from a place of necessity, I suppose. Linda had given me sage advice when I was deciding to come out. I’ve always dreamed since being a little boy of having a career like Tom Cruise—he was my absolute hero. I knew by coming out I was potentially smashing that possibility forever—which I’ve found was actually infinitely more important than following the inauthentic path already laid out by the likes of Rock Hudson, Tyrone Powers, Sal Mineo, and countless other actors who were slaves to the Hollywood system and what it dictated society would accept. Now is a different time, a time of change and growth, and the trail I’m trying to create will hopefully benefit the next generation more than it could ever benefit myself. Linda’s advice was that by coming out I would surely lose some roles and gain some roles (which has proved true thus far), and the best thing I could do was to create my own work.
I had written a few screenplays before Mulligans, but they involved underwater sequences, explosions, and basically the parting of a sea…. Not realistic as a first feature, but I was dreaming big as I’m apt to do. Linda said, “No explosions, no car chases, no animals, few characters, few locations—and roles for you and Derek. Go.”
And so I went and the first incarnation of Mulligans was a frat comedy—seriously. But as I continued to imagine and explore I found that the true core of the story didn’t lie with the characters Derek and I would play at all, but rather in the relationship between the parents. I tried to create an engaging story that we could realistically manifest into our first full-length film and to keep the explosions within the drama and dynamics of the family.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charlie David has been a host for E! Television, NBC, OutTV, LOGO, here! TV, Pink TV, EGO, Fine Living and Slice Networks on such shows as FYE!, SpyTV, Crash Test Mommy and his travel series Bump! which now airs in over 45 million homes. He has appeared as musical guest on VH1, BBC, CBS’s The Early Show, and dozens of radio shows.
In 2005 Out Magazine recognized Charlie in the ‘Out 100’ at their gala in New York. In 2007 the Philadelphia Film Society awarded Charlie with their Rising Star Award. In 2008 the Festival del Sol in Gran Canaria awarded their Best Male Actor Award to Charlie and the male cast of A Four Letter Word. Formerly in a rock band… okay, actually it was a boy band, Charlie opened for Destiny’s Child, Pink, Snoop Dogg, Rick Springfield and Black Eyed Peas.
A love of storytelling led Charlie to start Border2Border Entertainment Inc., a production company whose film credits include Mulligans, Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride, Judas Kiss, I’m a Stripper, Studlebrity and Positive Youth. He was also an associate producer on his travel series Bump!, which shot 120 episodes around the world, garnered a Hugo Television award and two more nominations last year. Border2Border Entertainment’s films have been licensed to Showtime, Super Channel, HBO Canada, MTV/LOGO, Sundance Channel, The Movie Network, Movie Central, Encore Avenue, Out TV, as well as working with international distribution partners in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore and Taiwan.
He is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts and his current passions include motorcycle cruises, high adrenaline encounters with wildlife, SCUBA diving and sports. He resides in Montréal, Canada with his boyfriend when he’s not living out of a suitcase.