Book Title: Facing the Curse
Author: Patrick Bryce Wright
Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs
Release Date: December 2, 2023
Genres: Contemporary M/M Romance, paranormal thriller
Tropes: Sexy neighbour, psychotic ex
Themes: Found family, surviving abuse, healing from trauma
Heat Rating: 1 flame
Length: 70 375 words/281 pages
It is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger.
When Tito and Leo meet at a Wiccan event, they feel the spark. But Tito’s abusive ex-boyfriend Matt stands in the way. As Matt’s behavior becomes increasingly unhinged, can Tito and Leo survive?
Tito Russell and his boyfriend Matt move into an apartment together despite past problems. Then Tito meets their new neighbor, Leo, who is Wiccan like Tito, and they strike up a friendship. Matt unleashes violent rage at Tito for even looking at another man, and Tito dumps him for his own safety. Matt’s behavior becomes progressively unhinged. He stalks and threatens Tito, even as Tito falls in love with Leo. Can Tito and Leo survive to live happily-ever-after?
Tito was struck by half of the secondary title of Ancestral Tarot: “Uncover Your Past.” Tingles erupted over his scalp, down the right side of his face, and then down his right arm. “I can’t tell you what’s happening to me, but I feel so drawn to this book.” He looked at the other one and felt a similar pulling sensation.
“Cool.” Leo dropped into the chair across from Tito and sipped his coffee. Half a bagel sat on a plate in front of him. “You seemed pretty into it last night.”
“I did a tarot reading when I got home.” Tito thumbed through the table of contents of Ancestral Tarot. “I can translate the reading as ‘Yes, totally do this.’ And there seems to be some kind of focus on my past or my childhood memories.” He flipped through the chapters, stopped on a tarot spread, and scanned the page. A website might give him some sample pages to look at, or it might not. He was glad he could just sample the book in person.
Leo made a “mnph” sound in his throat. “You’re talking to someone who works with abused teens. Trust me when I say a lot of things go back to childhood trauma. Not everything. Adults get traumatized, too. It can alter their entire life course when it happens. But childhood trauma is my focus, so my brain always goes there.”
Tito glanced out the window, checking to see if Matt’s car had arrived or was in sight. I can’t afford to get caught up here. He’ll never believe I’m just looking at books, and he’ll say I should have just sampled them online.
A chilling thought swept through Tito: Will Matt try to stop me from working with my ancestors? He got super upset when I tried my first spirit summoning spell by myself. He said I was too much of a rookie and that I should never cast it without him, but when I ask him to do the spell with me, he won’t.
“Well, I believe you.” Tito scanned another sample page. “All my friends when I was a kid were abused. When I was nine, I saw my best friend’s father beat up his brother. My best friend in middle school told me his father hit him. My best friend in high school said her father raped and molested both her and her brother, and she fantasized a lot about killing him. Then she ended up on drugs and died of an OD.”
“Jesus! I’m sorry.” Leo set down his cup.
Tito glanced up. “Oh, we weren’t friends anymore. She went psycho all over me, and I had to run away. But a friend of a friend told me last year that she’d ODed.” He switched to Ancestral Grimoire and read the table of contents. “But it is sad. I always believed her that she’d been abused. She was a wreck. The OD was believable, too.”
“God.” Leo sighed. “There’s so much avoidable tragedy in the world. Why do so many parents abuse their children?”
Tito flipped to chapter two and scanned it. “Too few people care. They’ll fight to the death to make sure a baby gets born, but then they don’t give a flying fuck what happens after the baby arrives. Children in the U.S. have less rights than children in most other first world countries, and Social Services is drowning. Plus very few people agree to foster kids. So abusive parents get their kids back or their kids are never removed in the first place.” He felt the explosion of rage he associated with triggering off.
“The statistics are much worse than what we have recorded.” Leo leaned forward. “We can only track child abuse cases that are reported. And most cases aren’t reported. The same thing is true for rape statistics. It’s all much worse than we think.”
Tito’s stomach knotted so hard he couldn’t sip his coffee. He glanced out the window. Still no Matt. “This stuff always blows me up. I’ve never been raped or molested, and my parents didn’t abuse me. But it doesn’t matter. I guess I just have that basic human decency old people claim our generation lacks. This stuff hits every rage button I’ve got.”
Leo’s gaze rested on Tito. “It should piss off everyone. Always.”
“Yeah.” Tito forced himself to sip more coffee. Good coffee should never go to waste, and I should be a good guest. His grandma’s obsession with social etiquette was still burned into his brain.
The sound of a car door closing jerked Tito’s attention to the window. Shit! I’m in trouble.
About the Author
I’m a quirky English professor with tattoos, piercings, and an addiction to supernatural thriller, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. I'm proudly neurodivergent, third gender, and a trauma survivor, all things often reflected in my novels. I have degrees in both English and psychology, both of which inform my writing. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, off-road biking, and pyrography.
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