Maxxed Out: Max is in college and ready to show his family and friends he’s grown up and able to make mature choices — and to tell them he’s gay. He could use a little help, though. With his big brother gone forever, Max turns to Daniel, who was his brother’s best friend. Daniel seems solid and reliable — the opposite of Max. But for some reason, he seems terrified of what Max might do next.
Inside Daniel: Max finally has the summer to actually live with Daniel instead of visiting on weekends. But while Daniel loves Max desperately, he knows he’s no good for Max — he has way too much baggage. Max needs to get inside Daniel and heal him from the inside out.
Available Now at Changeling Press
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Copyright ©2022 Treva Harte
Excerpt from Maxxed Out
Go, Max! Go, go, go!
Instead of obeying the voice screaming in my head, I ran my hand through my hair. The still-damp tips of it clung to my fingers. The shower had helped. The coffee had helped. I still felt like shit, but I was hoping — God, I was hoping really hard — that this visit would help the most.
I went through names on the apartment mailboxes — Andrews, Wilson, Sullivan… Rocco. Funny that I didn’t know exactly where Daniel lived nowadays. I suppose it was funny that I thought I should.
It wasn’t like we hung out all the time. I hadn’t seen him for years, except sometimes at the tail end of Christmas, when he’d show up to see Mom and Dad. After all, he wasn’t my friend. Well, not exactly. I hesitated before I pressed on the buzzer. Should I forget it?
Go, Max. Go on.
All that didn’t matter. Daniel would help if I needed it. And fuck. I needed him to help. I pressed down hard on the button, telling myself I was ready to take the first step. Anything had to be better than what I’d been doing — not doing — for years.
“Daniel? It’s Max. Max Richards.”
“Yeah?” There was a slight pause. He had to remember me, right? I shuffled my feet, trying to think of how to identify myself to my brother’s best friend. It had never occurred to me that he might not know who I was. Damn it, there was a good reason why I never planned ahead. Things never worked according to plan.
“Well, hell. Come on up.”
My breath whooshed out. If Daniel really hadn’t remembered me, I’d — I don’t know what I’d have done or felt, because it hadn’t happened, thank God — but it wouldn’t have been good.
My legs were shaking as I headed up the stairs to 2C. There he was — one arm curled over the door, one on the door frame — big, wide, with a scowl on his face. He looked even larger than I remembered, which was weird. Didn’t you usually discover people and places were smaller in real life than in your memory?
Just my luck that Daniel was even more imposing now than he’d been when I was twelve and first really noticed him. I would have laughed but kept it in since it would have come out as more of a terrified giggle. In a way, this visit was all Daniel’s fault for being larger-than-life.
Then I realized something strange had happened. The adrenaline that usually buzzed in my body slowed down at the sight of him. I think I stopped breathing when reality finally met up with my plan.
Here I go. This is it. The moment stretched out, stilled, froze. All I could see was Daniel looming over me. For once in my life everything was settled and calm. Perfect.
Then I took a deep breath, and time hummed back to normal speed.
Go, go, go.
“Can I come in?”
* * *
Jesus. So this was Max.
Before the time I’d gotten my hand off the door, he was inside. He was here, all right, but I still hadn’t gotten used to the idea.
The kid was… well, not really a kid anymore. He sat on my sagging old sofa, sprawling out his long legs to brace himself. He needed a shave. Wasn’t that a kick? Little Max needing to shave.
I could remember back to when he was born. Matt and I had already met at grade school, and Matt had decided we were friends. I stayed over for the first time to keep Matt company while his parents were at the hospital.
That was a long time ago. I tried to see Matt’s baby brother with new eyes. After all, this Max wasn’t a baby. He was tall, a little awkward and geeky, but growing into his frame. He was still pretty. We’d teased him about that when he was at the age when it was hard to tell boys from girls — they were all high voices and long legs. But he was definitely masculine now.
And he looked hungover. No surprise there. Drinking was what college kids did, right? Kids not in college too, for that matter. His brother and I used to sneak booze when we were younger than he was.
He tapped the arm of the sofa, stopped himself, and then tapped again.
Yeah. He also looked wired. Scared wired. I wondered if he was abusing more than booze, but decided that wasn’t it.
Max had something eating at him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Treva Harte has always been an overachiever. She also collects things. First it was degrees. First a B.A. in English, then she decided to go back for a Master’s degree. Not content with that, she added a J.D. Since then she’s added a husband, also an attorney, and two children to her collection. She’s continuing her ways as an overachiever, writing her wonderfully offbeat tales of passion and possibilities — in her spare time.
Visit her website at www.trevaharte.com.