Exclusive First Look!
In honor of my novel being released, here’s a sneak peak to hopefully get you hooked!
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Underneath the Whiskey is the poignant and wrenchingly honest story of a closeted gay man struggling to keep his family and business afloat amidst an affair and alcohol addiction.
Underneath the Whiskey
by Chelsea Lauren
“I found a therapist.” The words sliced through frozen, relatively uncharted territory.
“What?” I choked on a bite of pizza.
We had briefly spoken about what needed to be done, but never about how or when.
“He’s about an hour out, but specializes in mental illness with married men.” I dropped my slice of pizza, raising my eyes to meet hers.
Breathing in through my nose, I paused before breathing out.
“What?” I repeated.
“Ben,” she sighed. “We have a newborn and a three-year-old. We’re in this for the long haul. I know you want to be happy, but your mind is preoccupied. This therapist is perfectly trained to deal with these situations.”
“What situations?” The words felt like tar on my tongue. Situations leaving a bitter taste to linger; causing me to feel unworthy—even criminal.
I coughed on the air that lodged in my throat.
On the verge of choking, I excused myself from the table. I felt my neck tighten as I failed to release the air. Pouring myself a glass of water, I finished it in one gulp. I put the cup down on the island and leaned both of my palms against the counter, looking over at her.
“Ben, we love each other. I know you love me and want to be in this family. Maybe you can change.”
The food solidified in the pit of my stomach. Gay Conversion Therapy. I wasn’t foreign to the concept. I had researched it years prior.
“We’d have to pay out of pocket. Our insurance doesn’t cover it. But his results are outstanding. You’d do this for us, right? For your family?” She paused momentarily. “For Isabella?”
I swallowed the bile that rose in my throat.
“How dare you manipulate me with Isabella.” My voice was low as I tried to understand her thought process. Certainly, this was a joke.
“Ben,” she breathed—calm and collected—like it was rehearsed. “I’m sure that Joshua was just a fluke. You fell for his personality, but not for him.” Chills ran down my spine as her tone changed with his name on her tongue. “I get that. I accept that. He was a wonderful guy. But honestly, Ben. If you were gay, you probably would have dated more than just him, right? You wouldn’t have stayed with me. We wouldn’t have a family.”
“Soph, I—” I started, remembering the night in college when she broke the news she was pregnant. I came back to our dorm room to end things with her. I had made the decision to come out. But then— “Sophia, I stayed because of Noah.”
“You wouldn’t have stayed if you didn’t love me.”
I stared at her confused. I felt as if we were a part of two different conversations. Past and present. I was doing the right thing; the mature thing. I was supporting my now wife and two children. Neither were planned. Noah was unexpected, and Isabella … well, she wasn’t planned either, but she was at least born into an already existing family.
It didn’t matter though. She spoke the truth. She knew I’d do absolutely anything to protect and take care of my children.
Reparative therapy included.
“Okay,” I agreed. Dragging my feet across the hardwood floor, I took a seat at the table again. “I’ll do it. For the children.” She gave me a smug, satisfied smile and I downed my entire glass of wine.