Taylor V. Donovan
Kevin Morrison had it all. A house he worked hard for, a loving wife, and three beautiful children. But it wasn’t until his marriage ended that he realized what the void he’d felt almost all his life meant. Coming out as a gay man at thirty-six is not an easy feat, but he is determined to be true to his heart. Meeting a man who shares his values, and is good with his children would be a bonus, but when the guy arrives in a uniquely wrapped package, and has very specific handling instructions, Kevin needs to decide if he’s up for that kind of love.
Obsessed with order and symmetry, and a paralyzing fear of germs, Cedric Haughton-Disley has lived with isolation and loneliness as long as he can remember. Desperate to be normal, he makes some much-needed changes in his life. If he can commit to his treatment, he might very well be able to procure some quality of life… even if that’s all he can get, as finding love and having a relationship are only possible in Cedric’s wildest dreams. But when a chance encounter leaves Cedric wishing for more, he decides to take a leap of faith, and pursue the guy he wants.
Together the two men make an unlikely match. Cedric needs organization, and Kevin represents chaos. In order to stay together they both need to compromise, but will they be able to deal with Cedric’s issues and the potential disaster, or let it break them apart?
“Hello,” he answered as he stepped into the office. One
look around and he felt a sharp, throbbing pain in his temple.
Everything was different from last week. “I see you redecorated.”
“I had it done over the weekend. What do you think?”
As focused as he was on his surroundings, Cedric barely
registered Dr. Black’s question and the soft click of the door
closing behind him.
He took a deep breath and tried not to let the new, bulky,
earth-toned furniture, and the trinkets someone had placed on
every surface without any regard for order and exactness get to
him. “It’s fine,” he mumbled. “Functional and soothing.”
“You think so?”
Not really. But he bit on his lip and didn’t say anything.
He eyed the couch that was placed too far back from the
coffee table, the bookcases that weren’t aligned in proportion to
the floor plan, and the desk that was too close to the wall.
He fisted his hands and gulped.
“I like the chaise lounge sofa.” That much was true. The sofa
seemed comfortable and inviting. It had lots of throw pillows
he could either hide behind or play with, and it was blue. Cedric
loved all shades of blue.
The crystal landmarks collection Dr. Black had on the coffee
table caught Cedric’s attention. The White House, the Empire
State Building, the Cristo Redentor, the World Trade Center, Big
Ben, the Taj Mahal, the Arc de Triomphe, the Great Pyramids
and Sphinx… all extremely pretty, and all out of position.
Cedric leaned forward and moved the Tower of Pisa. And
then he moved the Clock Tower of Kremlin and the Windmills
of Holland. They needed to be arranged just right, or he wouldn’t
2 Taylor V. Donovan
be able to concentrate on anything else. “Why did you decide to
change things around in here?”
“I’d been looking at the same decor for two years,” Dr. Black
The Eiffel Tower was too close to the Statue of Liberty.
Cedric lined them up three inches from the edge of the table,
which was how they had to be.
He glanced around the office and decided to fix the furniture
as soon as he was done with the crystal landmarks. The books
had to be next, then the papers on top of the desk.
“Got a little tired of it.”
“I got tired of looking at the old decorations.”
“I liked the black leather couch.” He went to move the St.
Louis Arch, but Dr. Black stopped him by placing his hand on
Cedric’s arm. “A little contrived, but it did the job,” he finished
“How are you doing as far as controlling your urges?”
“Not too bad.” Still, his fingers wouldn’t stop itching, and his
mind demanded he fix the mess around him. “Not too good,” he
mumbled, pushing the St. Louis Arch.
“Have a seat, Cedric.”
It was a herculean effort, but he managed to step back from
the table. “Thanks.”
“How are you doing today?” Dr. Black’s voice was as gentle
as it was firm. Cedric knew from experience he wouldn’t let him
move one more thing.
“I’m fine, thank you.” Cedric sat on the blue sofa and slid
his itchy gloved hands over the velvety upholstery. As usual, he
couldn’t feel anything. “And you?”
“I can’t complain, but we’re not here to talk about me.” Dr.
Black smiled and sat across from him. “How was your week?”
Down to business it is.
They were there to talk some more about his issues, and
whatever progress he’d managed to make…or not.
Cedric grabbed a throw pillow and lay down on the chaise
lounge, more than familiar with the routine, but resistant to
“The week was fine,” he said, knowing he needed to give his
doctor something. He hugged the pillow, crossed his legs at the
ankles and tried to not think about the crystal landmarks on the
coffee table. Or the books. Or the furniture. “Earlier today I
signed the contract to teach another class.”
“That is fantastic!”
“Yes… The students drive me mental sometimes, but I can
handle it,” he said with a smile. Unlike the other psychologists
he’d seen before, Dr. Black didn’t shy away from showing his
pleasure at his patients’ achievements. It encouraged Cedric to
share more. “I’ve also been getting my own tea every day from
this place near the office.” He felt his smile grow bigger. Going to
a coffee shop and ordering a beverage was not a big deal for most
people, but a bloody huge accomplishment for a germaphobe
who couldn’t stand being around many people. “I even sit there
every day while I drink it.”
“I’m very happy to hear that.”
Dr. Black didn’t say another word. That wasn’t unusual. He
always gave Cedric the opportunity to approach things on his
own terms, but if he didn’t, the good doctor would force the
“Have you talked to anyone at the coffee shop?”
Here we go. “No.” Cedric gripped the pillow and avoided
looking at his doctor. “I’ve been thinking about getting another
piercing,” he said after a few minutes.
4 Taylor V. Donovan
He knew what that noncommittal sound meant. Dr. Black
hadn’t forgotten the issues they’d discussed during their last
session, and Cedric shouldn’t expect to be let off the hook. He
knew better than to think he wouldn’t have to talk about certain
things, but he could avoid them for a little longer.
“My nose… or maybe my nipple,” he continued. “I haven’t
decided if I’d like a stud, a hoop or a little diamond. What do
“I think your other piercings are enough proof of the control
you’ve gained over your mind and body in the past year, Cedric,”
Dr. Black said softly. “You might consider pushing your limits by
trying something else now.”
“Like dating?” he asked, and damn if he didn’t feel like
vomiting. “I’ve told you. That didn’t work out the one time I
“You were eighteen years old at the time,” Dr. Black reminded
him. “And you weren’t in therapy.”
“I know that,” Cedric growled, “but what if I haven’t changed?
What if not freaking out constantly in front of people is as good
as it gets? What if I approach a bloke and get invested, only to
have him walk out on me the first time we go to bed together?”
He put the pillow between his legs and nearly squeezed the
stuffing out of it. “What if I don’t want to go to bed with him?
What if, no matter what he does, I feel totally disgusted by him?”
“Have you felt disgusted lately?”
Cedric thought about the last two guys he’d been with and
shook his head slowly. “They did everything I requested. They
were totally clean.”
“Then what’s the matter?”
Normally he didn’t have a problem talking to Dr. Black, as
it was in his best interest. He wanted to get better. He wanted
to be in control of his mind and body, and he was willing to do
anything in order to stop being a bloody wanker.
But this was different.
He suspected relationships in general were difficult, and
often feared a love life would most likely be impossible, which
was something he hated. He dreamt often of a loving partner
and anniversaries. He wanted a knight in shining armor and
happily ever after, but his symptoms got in the way constantly.
Dr. Black thought that, as long as Cedric maintained an open
communication with the other person and involved him in his
treatment, it was doable. But Cedric had yet to meet a man he
wanted to talk to about it, and even if he had, he hadn’t reached
the point where he felt comfortable disclosing his condition to
And if that wasn’t bad enough, there was also a new
development that had him scared out of his mind, not to mention
ready to commit murder.
“I don’t think I’m ready to date.” He sat up and threw the
pillow to the side. “I need to concentrate on getting better.”
While I figure out what the hell’s wrong with my dick. “No need to put
pressure on myself.”
“Do you feel satisfied with the sexual encounters you’ve
Cedric blanched. “Do you mean physically, or emotionally?”
Good Lord. Was his doctor psychic?
Cedric glanced at Dr. Black and moved the St. Louis Arch
closer to the Sydney Opera House. If he was going to talk about
this, he needed to keep his hands occupied.
“I haven’t been all that interested in sex in the past few weeks,”
he mumbled. “But I’ve forced myself to do it anyway, because if
I don’t, it’ll get to the point where I’ll avoid it completely.” He
got up from the chaise lounge and walked to the only window
in the office. The view of Central Park with its green lawns and
flowers in full bloom was magnificent. “I feel like a circus freak
when I’m with a bloke,” he admitted, “and the last time I couldn’t
even finish. Got it up and tried to… you know… but lost my
6 Taylor V. Donovan
erection two minutes into it.” Cedric rested his forehead on the
window and scratched the back of his head. “Bloody hell, this is
“Have you lost your erection before?”
Dr. Black was very professional, but seriously. They were
talking about Cedric’s schlong and his inability to perform. That
was never an easy subject for a man.
“Just this one time.”
“You see what?” Cedric rolled his eyes. “This is unacceptable.
I might not want to have sex all the time, but I want to know I’m
“No need to fret.”
Cedric turned sideways and glared at his doctor. “Easy to say
when you weren’t the one watching your flaccid dick slip out of
Dr. Black didn’t react to his crass statement. He just put his
reading glasses on then shuffled through his medical records.
Cedric put his hands on the window frame and bumped his
head against it. “Is this going to happen again? Am I going to
be impotent before my next birthday?” The more questions
he asked, the more agitated he became. “I can’t take that. I’d
rather slit my wrists than add another brand of abnormal to my
“I see Dr. Hoffman started you on a new SSRI medication.”
Cedric turned around to look at his doctor and crossed his
arms over his chest. “He did.”
“I assume he discussed the possible side effects with you.”
“Of course.” Cedric frowned as he remembered the long list.
Constipation, dizziness, nausea, trouble sleeping, unusual weight
gain or loss, change in sexual performance or desire, and so on. “Do
you think it could be a side effect?”
Dr. Black nodded. “Let’s monitor it.” He made a note on his
file and glanced at Cedric. “Don’t forget to mention this on your
next visit with him.”
Cedric sighed in relief. Knowing the terribly mortifying
episode could’ve been caused by his medication was easier to
“Does your incapability to perform have anything to do with
your decision to not go out on dates?”
“Incapability to—it was once,” Cedric sputtered. “Don’t
question my masculinity again.” He moved to the desk, grabbed
a stack of papers and organized them the right way. “Christ.”
“I’m not questioning your masculinity,” he heard Dr. Black
say. “I’m asking about your reasons for not going out on a normal
“Why do we need to talk about this again?”
“It’s the next natural step after everything else you’ve
Cedric realigned the phone and the laptop on the desk, and
frowned at the cup of coffee. He needed to get rid of it. “You’ve
got to get this place cleaned.”
“Come sit down, Cedric.”
“I hate you,” he mumbled on his way back to the chaise
lounge. “I just want you to know that.”
“Thanks for sharing,” Dr. Black said with a toothy grin. “Now
let’s talk about what you’d like to be able to do the next time you
find yourself interested in a man.”
Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of m/m romantic suspense. She is optimistically cynical about the world; lover of history, museums and all things 80s. She is crazy about fashion, passionate about civil rights and equality for all and shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television.
When she is not making a living in the busiest city in the world or telling the stories of gorgeous men hot for one another, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and their terribly misbehaved furry baby in the mountains she calls home.