Title: Love is Found (Only If)
Author Name: R. Paone
Publication Date: July 4, 2016
“My love for you will never die.”
A tale based on true events of love, self-acceptance, and the turmoil of companionship.
“Love is Found” is the moving account about coming-of-age in suburban New York and discovering the broad concept of sexuality and love.
Based on true events of love, the story’s protagonist, Robert, finds himself thrown into the realization that upon entering graduate school he is beginning a new chapter in his adult life. Comfortable with being gay, he yearns for love but dwells on the ideal of being alone while being consumed by the world of academia. Upon starting a new job he meets a coworker, whom he begins an unlikely relationship with considering this man identifies as straight.
When sex is introduced and emotions run amok, the routine of Robert’s life is thrown into chaos with unexpected outcomes. Will Robert realize his true limits and whether he can conquer the strife of new love? Little does he know if his heart can survive the overwhelming desire and how this man will alter the course of his life just not now, but for the next decade.
The first novel in the debut “Only If…” series by R. Paone introduces the heartbreaking portrait of one young man finding love in all the wrong places while exploring themes of one’s sexual identity, passion, and nostalgia.
This edition of “Love is Found” has been newly edited and expanded containing over 10K of added content.
This contemporary work of fiction is approximately 78,000 words and contains strong thematic material that is intended for adult readers only.
He caught me off guard.
His words spooked me like a cheap scare in a horror movie. I wasn’t paying attention as I jumped a good inch out of my seat.
I spun around too fast knocking the thrift store mug clear off the side of the table, turning in my seat. It was one of the moments where you saw everything in slow motion and couldn’t move because your reaction wasn’t fast enough. The mug tumbled fast and shattered into several pieces by my feet. I froze for what seemed like forever as I stared at the broken cup lying there at these feet.
The rest of the patrons fell silent.
The couple turned in my direction, and one of them whispered to the other, mouthing what looked like, “Fuck, that sucks.”
“Dude, I’m so sorry!”
“No, God, no. It was my fault completely. I’m not paying attention and have my head in the clouds. Apparently, I scare way too easily.” I said this all to him as I came to my knees, wiping up the now cold coffee along with the broken pieces of the mug. I felt sorry for the Garfield image on the side that said, “Coffee solves all my problems.”
“Here give me those. I’ll throw them out for you.” He was extremely sociable. I had such a pessimistic attitude towards branching out and meeting new people. This was a pleasant surprise as I was happy with all my coworkers so far. I had no problems. I was off to a great start.
“Thank you. Appreciate it. Yes, sorry. Hey, Mitch. I’m Robert. I’ve been getting set up with Lucy and grabbing my schedule for next week along with paperwork and all the other formalities.” Whatever spook I had left in me had dissipated. Mitch extended his hand, pulling me off the wooden floor and to my feet.
“There you go.” It was the flash of a smile from him that gave me a measurement that my fuck up was not in any way a big deal. The customers were not paying any attention to me and went about their business. I looked around really quick, seeing that lesbian couple left as well.
“So are you working today?”
“Yeah, I’m on a quick smoke break. I was just down the street for a bit taking a quick stroll through the park. I got a couple of minutes left so I thought I would come by and introduce myself. Lucy was pretty descriptive in letting us know what you would look like.”
“Yeah?” I wonder what she said.
“All good things! Don’t stress it. She means well, of course.” He was right. I needed to stop worrying about first impressions.
“I appreciate it, dude. Everyone has been real nice to the new kid on the block, so to say.”
“You’ll get used to it. The older you get, the fewer fucks you give,” he said shrugging his shoulders. This man was not only nice but also wise, in a contemporary sense.
Pulling myself together, I finally got the chance to take in this guy as he made his way into my life just like his coworkers. The moment I laid eyes on Mitch I knew in some context that we would become good friends if nothing else. I wasn’t ready to pass judgments or assume if he was gay or straight. That was for him to tell me. It didn’t matter either way. I really thought this was a cool dude. Between each other I think we both were making a pretty decent first impression.
He had at least five inches on me, as I bent my head at an angle to make eye contact. His brown hair was shaggy and looked unwashed at that moment, but the unruly state made it all the more attractive. It looked like he was the type of guy to attempt to cut his hair to save money. He wasn’t put together and it worked for him. I think that is why I was so drawn to him immediately. There were locks of his bangs that he had to keep brushing out of his eyes. Those eyes almost felt neutral in their color hovering somewhere between gray and light blue. Ash, that’s it. No, too much. Gray with specs of blue scattered about. He looked as if he had not shaved in several days as there was a light dusting of auburn stubble across the length of his face. He could grow a whole goddamn beard and I found that dead sexy in a guy. He was wearing a simple green crew neck tee and cut off black denim shorts. He had muscular, hairy legs, as my eyes briefly looked him up and down forgiving the fact that he had somewhat of a beer belly from what I could see. I saw nothing wrong with any of that. It was the small things like this that caught my attention and held it. The worn slip-on Vans I first caught a glimpse of when he came up to me completed the look.
Fuck, what was it about this guy? There was something about his looks. It was a signal sent straight to my senses that made me weak in the knees. Why couldn’t I attract a guy like this?
“Do you mind if I sit with you? I have a few minutes left on said break.” He parked himself down on the opposite side throwing his Lucky Strikes on the coffee table.
“Go for it,” I smiled, but I couldn’t keep myself from pretending I wasn’t paying attention to his movement, his voice, his legs. It was undeniable that I was attracted to Mitch. Remembering my rule of not hitting on friends, I drew back my morals and ideals and kept an open mind with just being pals with this guy.
“What else you got planned for the rest of the day?” He was twirling the red lighter in his right hand. He had rough looking hands; they looked dry but vigorous and powerful.
“Well, I just moved into my new place. I am staying on one of the on-campus apartments.”
“How do you like it?” He could already sense the hesitation in my voice.
“Oh, they are exactly what you expect. Very generic, it almost looks like an empty dollhouse. No character.”
He nodded. Was he interested in hearing about this incredibly annoying shit? Was he listening?
“I am probably going to just head home after this and finish up some unpacking. I have to meet my parents for a little bit for dinner downtown.” I was honestly very exhausted and almost wanted to stay in tonight, but I cannot bail on my parents especially after they helped me move in today. My mom would kill me.
“Awesome.” He brought up his wrist to check his watch. “Okay, time is up. I got to head back to the grind but let’s catch up when you get in next week. I can give you the lo-down on the Dames.” The Dames bit with him too. “Plus it is sometimes intimidating being the only guy here, so it’ll be good to have you here in the long run!”
We shook hands, and he headed back behind the coffee counter. As he passed Debra and disappeared out of sight, she looked in my direction and winked. I couldn’t read her actions, so I passed it off as her being flirty and silly.
I paid no attention and took a deep breath, slinging my backpack on, and making my way towards the front door.
There were friendly, dependable coworkers and a decent boss. Check.
Was this someone I could consider a new friend?
Whatever. I threw on my headphones to distract myself, drowning out all these random thoughts with “Criminal” by Fiona Apple. I better get my ass home. I have only 45 minutes to get ready and meet my folks at the hotel. They made reservations at a place I haven’t heard of close by, so it’s safe to assume it will be good. My parents would only go out for Italian food when it’s a “night out.”
I better not be late, I thought to myself, biting down on my bottom lip. I was too punctual. I started on my way back home, letting the breeze drag past my face as I picked up the pace. There was a wave of certainty I suddenly felt. The move here and the new job could be a fresh start with all these new characters in my life. I would have to make sure I didn’t royally fuck any of this up. This is my only shot at this life.
R. Paone is the author of LGBT fiction, coming of age, and contemporary romance including the ongoing “ONLY IF…” Series. Writing is his passion as his stories stem from real life experiences and real moments of love. A writer for the last fifteen years, he started working on his first full length novel in June, 2014. That novel slowly transformed into “Love is Found,” Part One in the “ONLY IF…” Series. He currently resides in New York City. When he isn’t writing, you can find him getting lost in bookstores, a movie theater, or jamming out to music of the 90’s.