Author: Brigham Vaughn
Title: Partners (Equals Book 2)
Previous Book: Equals
Cover Artist: Brigham Vaughn
After a rocky first few months, Stephen Parker and Russ Bishop’s relationship is at a crossroads when the death of Stephen’s father forces them to visit Stephen's hometown in southern Georgia.
Estranged from his family, Stephen must find a way to come to terms with his past and say goodbye to the father whose expectations he could never live up to. The small, conservative town provides its own challenges as Russ realizes providing emotional support is one part of being a true partner for Stephen.
Thank you, Brigham. You have a wonderful character interview for us today and I'm very excited about it. So, let's get started.
First of all, I’d like to thank my pre-readers and Viv, a huge fan of Russ and Stephen, for helping me come up with these questions. I wound up with at least double the amount I had in mind and they were all fantastic questions. Allison, Shelly, Shell, and Viv, I couldn’t have done it without you!
Brigham: Once again, I’m sitting with Russ and Stephen in their midtown Atlanta loft. They seem relaxed and at ease with each other. Stephen’s arm is thrown over Russ’ shoulder, Russ’ hand is on Stephen’s thigh. It’s a few weeks after their return from Putnam.
Brigham: Thanks for joining me again, gentlemen.
Russ: We’re happy to be here.
Stephen murmurs his agreement.
Brigham: We’ll start out with a few easy questions aimed at both of you. The first is: what’s your guilty pleasure?
Stephen: Definitely southern comfort food. Especially made by Miss Esther. That woman can cook. All I have to say is it’s a good thing she doesn’t live closer.
Russ: Carbs. I’m impressed by Stephen’s dedication to eating healthy most of the time and I’ve never been in better shape but damn do I miss pasta.
Brigham: What’s your favorite memory together?
They look at each other for a moment while they think
Russ: Probably sailing with Stephen. It was such a perfect day and I love being out on the water. I really want to get out there again.
Stephen: That’s high up there for me as well but I have another. It’s not a specific moment--I couldn’t tell you the date--but probably the first time we went to bed and woke up in the morning together and it felt like a normal routine. It’s not the most exciting answer there’s something to be said for those ordinary moments as a couple. Knowing I could count on having that routine meant a lot. It made me feel like Russ was a part of my life.
Brigham: What holiday are you looking forward to celebrating?
Stephen: Honestly, I’m just looking forward to celebrating the holidays with someone I care about for a change. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s … by and large I’ve spent them alone. There were a handful of times I had a date to ring in the new year with but most of the time I didn’t celebrate much. When Jeremy and I were together, he was with his family at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wasn’t welcome there. We spent New Year’s together but I think we got in a fight that night.
Russ: That’s awful. I mean, my holidays weren’t great either, but damn. I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving or Christmas with my dad and sister since I came out. Either Addie was still not comfortable with me, or I was too broke to come home, or she was busy with school. I spent the last few Christmases with Monty. We splurged and got pizza and watched “A Christmas Story.”
Stephen: That’s equally depressing. Russ, would you like to invite your family to celebrate Thanksgiving with us here in Atlanta this year?”
Russ: I … yeah, actually I would. I’d like that a lot. You’re fine with that?
Stephen: I’d like to meet your family and it sounds like the perfect opportunity.
They smile at each other and I give them a moment before I continue.
Brigham: Stephen, how many suits do you own?
He grimaces then laughs ruefully
Stephen: Many. To be honest, I’m not sure of of the exact number. Probably more than I should. Growing up so poor, I rarely got new clothes and when I did they were plain, long-lasting, serviceable. Suits were a symbol of a man with money, a man who had achieved something, risen above the daily grind of physical labor. I scrimped and saved to buy my first suit and the feeling of finally owning one … it’s something I’ll never forget. Seeing a row of them hanging in my closet is a reminder that I made it. I’m never going to have to live my father’s life.
Brigham: I think that’s a good segue into the more serious questions I have about your trip to Putnam to bury Stephen’s father. Russ, did the town of Putnam meet your expectations? And if not, was it better or worse?
Russ: It shocked me how ordinary the whole town was. I didn’t expect that. Hearing about it from Stephen skewed my perspective of course, made me picture it as this dark, awful place, but it’s just a little town. Not that different than the one I grew up in. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live there, but it wasn’t so bad. Not as bad as I anticipated, anyway.
Brigham: Stephen, what do you think changed most about your hometown?
Stephen: Me. *laughs* I’m not sure anymore how much of the changes there are real, or just how I viewed the town. There’s certainly more development, fewer farms in the area, and a more prosperous downtown, but honestly, I’ve changed so much and so has my view of the town that I don’t know that I can accurately judge that.
Brigham: Russ, were you surprised at how difficult the entire experience of going to Putnam and burying his father was for Stephen? Did you feel up to the challenge of supporting him?
Russ: I wasn’t sure what to expect, to be honest. I had my doubts that I’d be able to support him enough and initially I felt like I was doing a pretty shitty job but toward the end, yeah, I think so. I certainly did the best I could and we made it through it and are stronger now, so I think that’s what matters most.
Brigham: Stephen, what did Russ's support mean to you? Were you surprised at all by how supportive he was?
Stephen: It meant everything to me. I’ve never had that before and it was a huge sense of relief to know that I didn’t have to shoulder it by myself. As men, we like to think we can tough it out in any situation, but this was more than I could have coped with alone. Having Russ there, knowing I could rely on him, was all that kept me from driving straight back to Atlanta and leaving it all unresolved. It wouldn’t have been a healthy way to cope, but without Russ beside me, I think that’s what I would have done. As far as being surprised by his strength and support? No, not really. Would I have blamed him if it was too much? Not at all. But I had no doubt he had it in him, even if he didn’t realize it.
Russ reaches out and squeezes Stephen’s hand.
Brigham: Russ, was there anything in the box of photos that surprised you?
Russ: The box of photos from Stephen’s childhood? No, not really. I enjoyed getting a chance to look at them though, see what Stephen was like younger. I’d had a really difficult time picturing him and this helped. He was cute.
Stephen: Cute? *incredulous laugh* I was an awkward child and it just got worse when I was a teenager. I’d happily burn the college photos. I grew into myself some but they’re still terrible.
Russ: I thought you were cute.
Stephen just shakes his head.
Brigham: Russ, have you heard from Evan?
Russ: Yeah, I have. Although I had to send the first text asking how he was doing. He’s so shy, I think he was trying to work up the nerve to contact me. We’ve been texting on and off occasionally though and it seems like he’s relaxing more now.
Brigham: Stephen, how do you feel about Russ texting another guy. Are you jealous?
Stephen: I won’t lie, I can be a little jealous but ultimately I trust Russ and I know how much he values our relationship. I didn’t have a chance to officially meet Evan but I got the impression he’s a sweet kid, but not at all Russ’ type.
Russ: He’s not. Cute, and I’m sure he’ll make some guy happy, but definitely not my type.
Stephen: I think guys like Evan need all the support they can get. Growing up as a closeted gay kid in Putnam … I know exactly where he’s coming from. At that age, I would have given anything to have a friend who understood what I was going through. If Russ can offer him that, I think it’s great.
Brigham: Would either of you consider going back to Putnam?
Stephen lets out a heavy sigh and Russ squeezes his thigh
Stephen: I honestly don’t know. It would depend on the situation. If Miss Esther needed me, I’d go immediately. I can’t think of another reason that I would want to go there though.
Russ: Not even for a swim in the pond?
Stephen: Maybe. We did have a nice time there, but if my aim is to get you wet and naked, I don’t think that would be my first pick.
Brigham: If you could pick one role playing outfit for your partner to wear, what would it be?
Stephen lets out a short, surprised bark of laughter but Russ’ answer is immediate.
Russ: Work clothes. God, when we were walking on the farm and Stephen was talking about the pecan grove I could picture him sweaty and dirty from working and it was so hot. I want to see him in jeans and a flannel or something.
Stephen’s grin is wry, his tone teasing.
Stephen: I worked all those years to get an upper level management job and you’d rather I was a farmer?
Russ: Just for a day. Normally, I like you in suits but dirty, sweaty Stephen sounds pretty good for a change of pace. Throw in a cowboy hat and I’ll probably come before you get your pants off
Stephen shakes his head, but he looks amused
Brigham: Stephen, what about you? What role playing fantasies do you have about Russ?
Stephen: Hmm, I’ll have to think about that. I can’t say I’ve spent much time considering it. Maybe a scenario where I’m his college swim coach and he’s a swimmer who isn’t performing up to expectations. That could be … interesting to explore. Or one of us could be a personal trainer and the other could be a client in need of help.
Russ clears his throat.
Russ: I think we’re going to need to explore this more.
Brigham: Well, Russ and Stephen don’t even seem to be aware that I’m here anymore so it looks like that’s the end of the interview. I’ll just let myself out.
Thanks for having me here on Diverse Reader!
Brigham Vaughn has always been a voracious reader with her own stories to tell. After many years of abandoned plots, something finally clicked. Now she's eating, sleeping, and breathing writing and is excited to have finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up. In the little time that isn't spent writing or reading, she loves cooking, yoga, photography, and remodeling her ninety-year-old home. Brigham lives in Michigan with her four cats and an amazing husband who has always been her biggest champion.
After the dishes were done and the kitchen was clean, the three of them sat on the front porch, Russ beside him on the creaking swing as Miss Esther knitted and told Russ stories about Stephen growing up. “Before you leave I’ll show you the photos I have,” she promised Russ and he enthusiastically agreed. Stephen’s gaze flew to the elderly woman.
“You have them?”
“Sure do,” she said easily, the clack of the needles never pausing. “Your daddy tried to throw them out when your momma passed but I wouldn’t let him. I’ve been hangin’ onto ‘em for you.”
“Oh,” Stephen replied, feeling strangely shaky. He’d thought every memory of his childhood had been tossed out.
“They’re in a box in the blue bedroom,” she said. “You can get them down from the shelf in the closet for me tomorrow.”
“I’d love to see them,” Russ said, his tone eager as he leaned forward. Stephen was less sure of how he felt. On one hand, he was relieved to know it hadn’t all been destroyed. On the other, he wasn’t sure how much of his past he could face this weekend. Then Russ’ knee nudged his, their thighs pressing together. As the katydids droned in the background, Stephen felt himself relax, remembering he didn’t have to face it alone.
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1 commenter at each stop will win their choice of backlist title from Brigham Vaughn (excludes Dr. Feelgood).
In addition one commenter in all of the tour will win a $10 Giftcard from Amazon. Grand Prize giveaway ends 4 October 2014 @ 11:59pm CDT. Winner will be drawn by random drawing among all entrants on 5 October.
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Hi Brigham, congrats on the release of Partners, I really enjoyed Equals and look forward to reading Partners. Thanks for the giveaway.ReplyDelete
It's so great that you there is another "Equals" book I'm looking forward to reading it.ReplyDelete
I haven't read Equals, but I'm adding both these books to my TBR now. Thank you for the interview and look at Partners.ReplyDelete
I'm really looking forward to giving both books a read.ReplyDelete
Loved the character interview - can't wait to read more of their story in Partners.ReplyDelete