Dealing with Disabilities
Thank you very much for having me on your blog! Dreamspinner Press published my new release Attachment Strings (Jeff Woods Mystery) on June 17th.
Disabilities—that's the theme in Attachment Strings. How do different people deal with disabled people, in this case, especially with disabled children? It's a touchy subject, no doubt about it. Opinions vary greatly and emotions can rise quickly.
I'm a special education teacher and I love my job. I love working with children with disabilities, I have no problem accepting children who outwardly might look strange or can't communicate the way we're used to. Neither do I think a nurse should be the one changing diapers or feeding the children who can't eat on their own. But even in my profession I've encountered many people who, for example, didn't want to touch certain kids because they were always wet in the chest area because they can't close their mouths properly.
When I started studying for my teacher's degree it always irked me when other people asked me why I wanted to spend the rest of my life with deformed creatures. Or they claimed they couldn't do this work because seeing those children would make them either sick or sad.
Honestly? I was—still am—at a loss when I talk to someone with those prejudices. Even some of the parents make no secret of their dislike of their own children. Not all parents of course, most of them are devoted to their kids, but the ones that talked about how much their child is a burden and how their life didn't go the way they had planned, worries me.
Taking care of a child with disabilities, especially if they are multiple and severe, is hard work and I always understand why parents are sometimes at their wits end.. Most parents will take offered help even when they didn't want it initially. Often all the hopes they had during the pregnancy or after the birth of their child are destroyed and everything falls apart. It's a normal reaction but I'm glad that most parents will love their children no matter what.
Detective Jeff Woods and his partner have a new case. Someone has been making threatening phone calls to the mayor’s daughter, vowing to kill her disabled child. Though there have been accidents at the girl’s school—enough to take the threats seriously—the facts are few, and leads are sparse.
Needing a breather from the burden of the case, Jeff heads to a bar, where he meets Alex Fisher. Alex isn’t his type, but he’s young and cocky and perfect for a one-night stand. Or two. Soon Jeff starts thinking about how difficult and lonely it is being a cop, and that maybe Alex could fill a void in his life. But Alex has his own obligations: a disabled brother who is the target of threatening letters.
Jeff isn’t sure he’s ready to play house or overcome his prejudices, but he begins to think Alex might be worth it. Caught between his growing affection and his inner demons, Jeff struggles to focus on the case and protect Alex and his brother as the danger builds.
Excerpt from Chapter One:
I parked near Snake Alley, though not near enough to rouse suspicion if anyone saw my car. I was there early, especially for a Friday night. I hadn’t been to this particular club in a while. The Lion’s Den—whoever had named the club was nuts. But that’s just my humble opinion. Maybe the name was supposed to be a very clever wordplay. Or just a nice paraphrase for 'meat market'. Because that’s what it was. Strangely enough, a lot of the men didn’t get that it was a meat market; they believed in finding their true love here. Damn fools.
I found a good place at the bar and ordered a beer. It wasn’t crowded and from my spot I could overlook the dance floor, most of the bar, and the entrance. Once a cop, always a cop.
For a while, I sipped my beer and let my gaze wander. Around ten the club was filling and I had narrowed down my options to three guys. All of them were tall, broad-shouldered men, able to take it a bit rough.
I fended off a few other guys, though it was a nice ego-boost to be popular. None of the guys who advanced on me were my type: too small, too young, and way too cheerful. I had just finished my beer and decided to try my luck with my main prey, a dark-haired, beefy looking man, when a hand landed on my arm.
“Mind if I buy you another beer?”
I turned around with a frown in place. I was face to face—well, almost face to face, the guy was maybe two or three inches shorter than me—with a very young man. He smiled at me, showing off a line of white teeth, and I blinked. When I was done blinking, I pointedly looked at his hand on my arm, but he didn’t get the hint.
His hand stayed where it was as he ordered two beers. I found myself steered back onto the stool I had just vacated. He sat down on the stool next to me and finally withdrew his hand. Only to hold it out to me. “Hi, I’m Alex. Pleasure to meet you.”
I ignored his outstretched hand. “Thanks for the beer but I’m not interested.”
“No.” I wasn’t interested at all. This guy was way too young and absolutely not my type. Fair-haired and slender in built, almost delicate. I grimaced. He would find someone who’d appreciate his looks; there were a lot of men who’d be pleased with someone like him. It just wasn’t going to be me.
“No? Really? You don’t even know me.”
“I’m not here to get to know anyone.”
“Well, neither am I.”
I snorted. “Why did you sound so offended then?”
Alex answered with a shrug. “I’m not used to getting turned down, that’s all.”
Arrogant little prick. I patted his shoulder in a there-there gesture. “You’ll get used to it.”
“No, I won’t. I observed you for an hour and I want you. There’s no one with you, so I don’t get what the problem is.”
My eyes narrowed again. He had observed me for an hour and I hadn’t sensed it? Either I was drunk, which was very unlikely, or I needed to pay better attention to my surroundings. I took great offense at having been spied on without my knowledge. “Kid, do yourself a favor and pick up someone else. I’m not interested, but I can point out at least two men who are.”
“I can point out at least four men who are interested in me, but I don’t care about them. I already made my decision.”
The kid was incredibly arrogant. It should have been annoying but instead I was amused. He had balls and I liked that. “You did? Tell you what, I made a decision myself and it didn’t include you.”
“That’s only because you didn’t see me before.”
I laughed. “I haven’t met someone that snotty in quite a while.”
He grinned at me. “At least it got your attention.”
The bartender placed our beers in front of us and we both reached for them. We clinked the glasses together before we both turned around to stare at the dance floor. From the corner of my eyes I inspected Alex more closely. The blondness of his hair bordered on white. He had it slicked back, though it was already starting to curl up on the nape of his neck. A loose strand repeatedly fell onto his forehead. Unsuccessfully, he tried to tame it.
He caught me glancing at him when he tried to tuck the stray hair behind his ear. A light flush crept up in his cheeks while he muttered, “It never stays where I put it.”
“That’s why you put a pound of gel into it?”
The light flush turned into a deep red. “It wasn’t a pound, only half of a bottle.”
I grinned at him and stretched out my hand. He took it immediately. “Hi Alex, I’m Jeff.”
“Jeff,” he repeated.
His gaze wandered to our joined hands. His hand almost vanished in mine. There were no calluses on his and the skin was baby-soft. Usually, I would have turned and run away. Oddly enough, I found myself stroking my thumb over the knuckles of his hand.
After swallowing heavily several times, Alex looked at me. “You got big hands.”
“I bet you know how to use them.”
“You need to show me. Really soon.”
I smirked. Even though he wasn’t my type, he was good for my ego. It had been a long time since anyone had looked at me with such open hunger. I said, “I might do that.”
“You might? Didn’t you listen when I told you that you’re it for me tonight?”
“Don’t push your luck. At the very least I’m reconsidering.”
“You like that I’m pushy.”
“No, I don’t. It’s amusing, though.”
“Oh.” He sounded vaguely embarrassed. Maybe now he’d shut up for a while.
He did, but never let go of my hand. Instead, he came to stand at my other side and looped his free arm loosely around my waist. I raised an eyebrow questioningly.
“So far you’re only reconsidering. I’m making the best of it.”
Chris T. Kat
Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there's any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks or does cross stitch.