Title Dry Drowning
Author Sky Burton
Genre Contemporary LGBTQ romance /gay romance
Publisher Leaving Madmen Publishing
The movie, where Josh and I first met as co-stars, had finished post-production. Things had changed. The low-budget movie that was supposed to go straight to streaming was receiving glowing reviews from the early screenings, much of it due to the on-screen chemistry between Josh and I. No one knew that on-screen chemistry had blossomed into an off-screen romance.
We had retreated to Portugal together to relax after the filming ended, or were we trying to escape the rumors that had started? But we were about to get found out. A near-drowning incident at our local beach thrust us into the spotlight as heroes in Portugal while exposing our whereabouts and relationship in the US media. We had decisions to make. Our on-screen love affair that had blossomed to a real-life romance might be good for movie publicity, but exposing it will come at the cost of our privacy. It was time to go home and face the music.
His t-shirt draped casually off the back of the chair that stood in front of the window. It was there I stripped him of it last night, pulling it off his chest and over his head like it might have been on fire. My lips on the curves of his neck. His hands in my hair. The night began and ended with us in each other's arms, as it had so many times before. I held the shirt up to my nose and between sips of coffee and staring out across the dunes to the beach beyond; I breathed him in and lingered on the faint smell of cardamom and his musky sweat.
The night before, I sat across the kitchen counter from him and watched him cook Indian food while we laughed at a few random comments and gifs on Twitter and talked about nothing much at all that was important. I playfully complained about the gecko he found and fed pieces of his orange and expressed concern that he might burn his ass if he continued to lie out naked by the pool. His eyes the color of lapis marbles with the whites of a curved moon holding them up looked up at me as he smiled and winked.
It was those little things that were embedding him in my heart. Every time I looked at him, he creeped further into me until it seemed there could be no more room. He had taken me over heart and soul.
It had been five months since I first met Josh at the cast meeting for the movie—a romance between two men filmed in Santa Cruz, California, and the day that changed everything for us. For the first two months, we spent nearly every moment together, filming during the day and growing into each other every night.
Cast as the leads in the steamy film, our on-screen romance quickly evolved into an intimate bond and ignited an off-screen passion. After the filming ended, the producers decided not to cut parts of the sex scenes and suddenly we had an R rating and a popular movie with the early pre-release screeners, but the media and critics believed we lied to get the parts and were eager to find fault—or at least a steamy story good for a few news cycles.
At the time, we didn't know that. We hadn't even seen the final movie edits. But it didn't matter anyway. Josh panicked. The more our intimacy grew, the more afraid he became. Rebecca, his former girlfriend of six years, was quick to offer a solution. Start a new life with her in Seattle. And suddenly, as quickly as it started, Josh left me to go with Rebecca. Heartbroken and depressed, I decided to go to Portugal for some time alone. At least that's the way it started.
We had come to the edge of a cliff. Were we just two straight men having fun? Well, there was some debate about that. Josh had never had a relationship with a man before and I had just one, just for one week. David, the young gay singer songwriter for the movie score, introduced me, quite accidentally, to a different world. Accidentally? I know how that sounds. I called that into question myself. I was lonely, frustrated with my life, and unable to form a serious commitment to my long-term semi-girlfriend, Ellie. And he was there that night at that party. And he was beautiful and so subtly seductive. A few weeks later, I met Josh at the cast meeting. By then, something inside me had reorganized like the footprints I made when I hiked. Every step behind me was disappearing, and each one forward was creating a new path.
What do you do when you reach the end of the beginning? It all seemed simpler to me. Josh was my best friend, and I loved him—physically, heart and soul.
Two weeks ago, he found me after begging my sister Ashley for my location. He left Rebecca and found me in Portugal depressed and lonely, confessed his love and wanted the entire world to know. Whatever fears he had before, he had left behind.
Sky grew up along the beaches of Orange County, California and, at one time, was a gallery represented artist with work in Palo Alto, California and Los Alamos, New Mexico. When she’s not writing, she’s painting, walking, or reading and always with music in her ear.
Much of her career incorporated her background in behavioral science working with companies in advanced technology marketing in Silicon Valley. She also designed and manufactured one of the first children’s shopping cart seats, started the first Silicon Valley VIP Tech Tour (she was a technology history nerd), and was founder of a public relations firm.
She reinvented her life from business writer to creative in 2014 when she went rogue, became fully self-employed, bought a tiny trailer and traveled alone for 18 months writing and volunteering.
Other books include Road Noise, the three-month road trip memoir; Running With Chickens, (co-authored with her son) published in 2016 but currently expanding and will re-publish later in 2022. She also wrote Leaving Madmen, published in 2001 and updated in 2016, and a variety of other nonfiction including In The Land Of Bugs And Rain and the wildly entertaining International Public Relations Guidebook.
Books in the works: Third book in the Music Of Us series (the MM romance continues) she plans to write while in Italy Fall 2022, Elements (sci-fi Winter 2022), and Essays After A Lot Of Tequila (2023).
She is an eclectic reader from nonfiction, true adventure, and romance to her obsession with all the Dugald Steer pop-up books.
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