Just finished with college, Jack Alder is on his way to beautiful Maui on a working vacation. Silently breathing a sigh of relief after his relationship with Salvador Moretti was revealed to his parents and Flossie, the girl next door who thought she was going to marry him, Jack has no idea that an adventure he could never have imagined awaits.
Flirtatious steward Randy saves Jack’s life when their planes crashes. When Randy’s boyfriend dumps him, he convinces Jack to join him on a wild ride in an old car he buys.
Along the way they meet Danny, who was rejected by his family for his sexuality, and Missy, who’s halfway toward becoming Mister. Will the four find romance with a little help from the spiritual realm?
On Jack’s second trip to the car, a man he vaguely recognized took the boxes he was carrying and put them in the trunk, making room for more. “Thank you,” Jack said, then added, “Don’t I know you?”
“You were a patient of mine once,” the man said, “but you wouldn’t remember. I do though, because I lost you. You were young and beautiful then, too, and I vowed that if God let me come back, I would protect you, this time around.” The man had a beautiful smile, and the lures on his fishing hat tinkled when he moved.
Jack was confused, and rightly so. The man went on—you know who he is by now, right? From back at the airplane crash? “You’ll be driving when this happens. You’ll see a cougar in the woods, beside the road. He’ll not make a sound, but will climb into a tree as you’re passing it. Pull over right then, way over as far off the road as you can, and just sit there for ten minutes, that’s all, just ten minutes, and the cougar will be watching you. After ten minutes, you can go, and the cougar will leave when you do.” The old man patted Jack on the shoulder and walked around behind Jack to leave.
When Jack turned around a moment later, the man was gone. He shivered, but knew that he would do exactly what he’d been told. It just had that feel to it; that strong. Plus, once back in school, he’d gone to a seer and been told that the mountain lion was his spirit animal. He’d laughed at the time, but what the heck. He wondered how hard it would be to learn how to drive a stick shift.
* * * *
Missy was surprisingly quick to catch the knack of driving a stick shift. Danny took a while; Jack did okay, and Ryan was a total bust, turning squeamish and covering his eyes in turn. After several near misses and too much screaming, they gave up and made him copilot.
After all that crap went on a while, they settled down and got to talking. “I liked your parents,” Danny said, though he hadn’t cared one way or the other and had only met Missy’s mother.
“She sure seemed to like you!” Missy said laughing in embarrassment. “My parents are so embarrassing. I guess they mean well, but they sure messed me up. It’s like my friends’ parents were so much nicer.”
“Mine too,” came several voices at the same time.
“Mine are assholes!” That was Ryan. “When I came out at fourteen, they threated to either throw me out or make me go to that thing where they set you straight. I ran away to a friend’s house. I was so scared. I hate them.”
Danny said quietly; he was driving and relaxed, “I love this car, but my parents not so much. They think I’m the asshole. What about you, Jack?”
“All of the above!” Jack got a laugh. “Well, mostly they try to be good parents, but it’s so clear that they prefer my brother. He’s so normal; you know, straight, gonna give them grandchildren, good at sports, makes them proud. It—hurts more than I can really say.”
“And you can’t talk to them about it, can you,” Ryan added.
Jack shot him a glance and then caressed his cheek. Ryan looked ready to cry, but, then, he was so dramatic, anyhow, who could tell. “Nope. If I did, they back-tracked and brought up how badly they’d been brought up and how much better we boys had it and, suddenly, it was all about them again, as usual.”
“I’ve never had anyone I could talk to like this before,” Missy said. “But my Uncle Greg? He—used to come into my room at night when they’d come to visit. I finally told my dad, and he just said, “Oh, Greg just loves you because he has no little girl of his own.” And I couldn’t get the words out to tell him what all else Uncle Greg was up to.”
Ryan blurted, “Me too.” And then he did cry.
Danny pulled over and they climbed out and had an old-fashioned, sixty’s hippie-type group hug right there by the side of the road. A car went by and honked loudly. They all laughed gratefully.
Danny said, “I’m tired. Who will drive next?”