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Saturday, February 9, 2019

All He Needs by Ann Grech 💕 New Release Spotlight & Print Book Giveaway 💕 (M/M/M Romance)

I didn’t think it’d turn out this way: my life story in a nutshell. Life, Karma, whatever—it was testing me. Pushing me to the limit of what I could endure and beyond.

But in the steaming pile my life had become, I felt it. The spark. Like my soul met its counterparts, or whatever the corny saying was. I didn’t think it was possible. For a closeted guy, falling for not one but two men was never going to be easy, but I couldn’t deny its truth. Mace and Rick were….

Then I had to leave. My sister needed me. Having a baby alone was out of the question and I couldn’t wait to be an uncle. But going to stay with her in Florida meant leaving them. New Zealand and the USA couldn’t be further apart.

I’m not a saint. I’ve screwed up more times than I can count. But I was trying to redeem myself. Gracie, my niece, needed me to be a better man. If only there was a way I could have both—men to love and a family close by.

This is my truth, and this is all I need.

Caden, Mace, and Riccardo interview with Levi

I sat down on the three seater sofa between Mace and Rick, exactly where I loved to be while Rick motioned to Levi to sit on the armchair. He was in a triad relationship too, dating both his childhood best friend, Connor, and his long-time girlfriend, Katy. Since they were spectacularly outed by Katy’s brother he’d undergone a few life changes. Levi’s show biz experience had translated into a great podcast series. Spectrum now had a cult following in the LGBTIQ community worldwide and raised much-needed funds for the LGBTIQ homeless youth shelter he volunteered at. We were his latest subjects.

With microphones attached to our lapels and the digital recorder Levi was using all setup, we were ready to go. Dad was looking after Gracie for us so we had a few hours of free time and I was looking forward to the post-Levi part of the night. But I had an interview to get through now. It was the first and only I’d done since being suspended after testing positive for THC during my last season snowboarding. Nerves assailed me. My palms were sweaty as I contemplated the royal mess that this interview could turn into. I didn’t know Levi, other than his boyfriend was Ford’s cousin, a friend of ours. Since his followers had expressed an interest in Levi interviewing me after Reef’s interview, he’d reached out. Levi came with Reef’s recommendation and if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be sitting here. Reef had assured me he was good people, so I was hoping I wasn’t getting stitched up for a shitty return to the public eye.

Levi played around with the recording, testing its volume before setting the small device down and pausing.

Levi: Caden, before we get started, I just wanted to say thanks for agreeing to this interview. It means a lot that you trusted me. I know Reef gave me a good word, but I appreciate being the only person you’ve agreed to speak to.

Caden: Yeah. (I cleared my throat, my nerves getting the better of me.) I don’t have an agent anymore to vet the questions so I’m hoping you don’t screw me over with them.

Levi immediately handed me the sheet of paper he was holding. On it, there were half a dozen questions listed which were all pretty harmless. Until the last one. I grinned and shook my head, handing the paper back to him without worrying about showing it to my men. They’d find out soon enough.

Levi: These interviews are always pretty casual. More conversational than anything else. If you don’t want to answer a question, tell me straight up. I won’t push you. This isn’t some exposé. I don’t want a scoop. It’s not what the purpose of the podcast is. This series is about inspirational people overcoming challenges.

Mace: Caden is one of the strongest people I know. You’re right, he’s perfect to send a positive message. (Rick squeezed my hand, silently sharing his strength with me. I appreciated their support more than either could know. I wasn’t sure I was the poster boy for inspiration, but I’d certainly seen enough things go wrong in my life that I’d had to pull myself up from my lowest points.)

Levi: You ready, mate? (I gave him a nod and waited for Levi to hit record before he started speaking.) Welcome to another episode of Spectrum. Thanks for listening. This season’s theme is all about inspirational people who have overcome challenges life has thrown at them and today’s interview is a real privilege for me. I’m in Queenstown, New Zealand to see a man who has undoubtedly overcome the odds. Former world snowboarding champion, Caden Lambert.

Caden: Thanks for having me, Levi.

I smiled, silently thanking Levi for not introducing Mace and Rick yet. I wanted to do that. I’d never actually come out, so Levi knowing that impressed me.

Levi: So for anyone who doesn’t know you, Caden, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Caden: Sure. I, ah, won the world championship for freestyle snowboarding in 2014, ’15 and ’16 and gold at the Sochi games. I was going to retire from pro-boarding in 2017, but got suspended when I tested positive to a banned substance. After that, my sponsorships dried up and so did the job offers, so I’ve changed careers altogether.

Levi: Tell us about your suspension and the lead up to it.

Caden: In 2016 my mom lost a very quick battle with breast cancer. It was an aggressive form and only a few months after she was diagnosed, we lost her. (My voice wobbled and the familiar heartbreak of losing Mom washed over me like a violent storm. I sucked in a breath and tried to calm myself down, but it didn’t work. They say time heals all wounds. It hadn’t yet. The pain was still there whenever I thought about her, overwhelming and all-encompassing. Rick wrapped his arm around me and I leaned into him, soaking in his support while Mace closed his hand over my knee, gently squeezing. Their simple touches meant the world. Without them, I couldn’t have continued. But that’s what our relationship was like. They gave me so much.) I was a mess. Overwhelmed, stressed out, pushing myself too hard and trying to do it all without grieving properly. I regret so many things about that time, but one of the things I’ll regret the most was the thought that if I could just get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep and a decent meal in, I’d be able to honor my mom by winning the championship again. (I shook my head, disgusted with myself. Sitting forward, I rested my elbows on my knees, trying to separate myself from my guys. I didn’t want them contaminated by that part of my history.) It was the opposite of what she would have wanted, but I was desperate and not thinking straight. I got away with smoking a joint once during the 2017 season. Then when I’d hit the wall again because I still wasn’t handling things, and it was affecting my position on the competitor board, I smoked another one. That time though, I wasn’t so lucky. I was subject to a random drug test and my results came back positive for THC. I was suspended at the same competition I was going to announce my retirement at.

Levi: What’s the fallout been since?

I huffed out a laugh that held no humor and shook my head. How did I describe my life in the months after being suspended? There was one word—fucked.

Caden: As I said, my post-retirement plans went out the window, so I found myself jobless, homeless and struggling. I handed back all my sponsorship money, so I needed to go back to work pretty quickly. But with my suspension, it meant I couldn’t earn anything from snowboarding. I had no choice but to look for a new career. Then with everything else that happened… well it’s been hard.

Levi: If you could describe those months in a nutshell, how would you?

Caden: You know how at the end of a really shitty year you think to yourself on New Year’s Eve, ‘thank god that year’s over. It couldn’t possibly get worse’? Well, my year got worse. Then it got worse again. I hit rock bottom. And then something happened which changed my world forever and I think I’m getting back on track. I’m happy again. It’s something I never thought I’d be during those dark days. (I looked to Mace and Rick and smiled at each of them, grasping their hands in mine, before continuing.) Of course, that happiness has a lot to do with finally being true to myself, you know?

Levi smiled at the lead-in I’d just given him and he asked the question I’d seen on the sheet.

Levi: I think I do. What’s your truth, Caden?

Caden: I’m gay and I’m done hiding. I’m proud of who I am and seeing what the world looks like today—all the fighting and hatred toward a community just because of who they love? Because of who we love? Well, it’s about time I stand up and add my voice to not only my LGBT brothers and sisters, but to those calling for equality and an end to the violence.

Levi: Have you been subjected to that?

Caden: Not directly, no. Ironically, being in the closet had its advantages for me. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been consistently, although unknowingly, ridiculed by other competitors, and even people on my own team. Snowboarding is uber-masculine. ‘Faggot’ and ‘that’s gay’ get bandied around all the time. It’s like the go-to insult, so to be in hiding in that sort of toxic environment gave me a daily reminder of feeling like an outsider. Like an other. (The detachment from everyone, especially those in my own camp was one of the things that made dealing with Mom’s death so hard. I had no one. Until Reef, and then Mace and finally Rick.) What I didn’t realize was that there was another person on the competition circuit who was in exactly the same position as me. Reef and I weren’t always friendly, but it changed in our last year competing. He was great about helping me fundraise for breast cancer research and then I saw him with his boyfriend, Ford, and I started spending more time with him and his crew. (I smiled and I knew I looked like a man smitten.) That’s how I met my two guys.

Levi: Mason and Ricky, hi. (They responded with hellos for Levi and smiles for me.) Mason, perhaps I can start with you. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you meet Caden and Ricky?

Mace: (Mace chuckled a little awkwardly.) Well, I was Reef Reid’s coach. I trained him for years and I toured the world circuit with the pro-league. I’ve known Caden for almost as long, but there was never anything between us back then. (Mace rubbed his thumb gently over my palm and the move had me squirming in my seat.)

Caden: It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, but it was a conflict that Mace couldn’t resolve. Training Reef meant that any kind of physical relationship with a competitor was something that couldn’t happen. It was a line Mace would never have crossed.

Mace: It was a line I didn’t even know I wanted to cross until I started to realize that my sexuality was more fluid than I’d understood. Caden made me question everything I’d wanted and I figured out pretty quickly it was him.

Levi: You just described yourself as sexually fluid rather than bisexual. Is that a label you prefer?

Mace: It is. (He nodded thoughtfully.) But not because I don’t want to call myself bisexual. It’s more because I’m not sure what I am. To be honest, though, I’m not all that fussed about a label. I’ve always been pretty live and let live, but not being freaked out about the realization probably surprised me the most. It was a little intimidating when I found myself attracted to both Caden and Ricky, but there was no way I was passing up either one of them. It’s a real shame this is a podcast rather than television interview—your listeners can’t see what I mean.

Levi snorted out a laugh and Rick chuckled. I took advantage of the scorching stare Mace was directing my way and lifted his hand to my lips, taking his forefinger into my mouth and sucking on it. The groan that left his lips was illicit and it was barely a second later that Rick shifted beside me, no doubt trying to tamp down his boner. Levi cleared his throat and blinked a couple of times. The flash of desire I saw in his eyes made me wonder where his boyfriend and girlfriend were because he’d be wishing they were close.

Levi: We can take a photo. (Levi cleared his throat and continued.) Ricky, where do you fit into this story?

Rick: I met Caden and Mason in Italy for Christmas a few months before they both finished touring. We all converge on the village I grew up in for Christmas. They were extended an invitation through Reef. From the moment I saw them, I knew I wanted more time with both of them. It took a little while, but I managed to get them both here to Queenstown and the rest is history.

Levi: So to explain to the listeners, you all live in Queenstown now?

Rick: Yes, I’m a helicopter pilot here in Queenstown. I go home for the holidays, so yes, we’re based here.

Levi: What inspired you all in your careers?

Rick: Mine is easy—I love flying. I wanted to be a pilot as a child. That desire never left me. I did what I had to do to get my licenses and then find work. When I got the job offer from the tour company here in Queenstown, I jumped at the chance and moved here. After a few years of flying, the owner wanted to retire so all of us pilots bought her out and we now own the business.

Mace: I think I fell into coaching more than anything. I was a snowboarder myself, but when I retired I wasn’t ready to walk away completely. I was lucky enough to find a few up and coming competitors who needed some pointers and then I started training Reef and luckily enough he wanted me around until he’d won the championship.

Caden: I was a little like Rick except in relation to snowboarding. Dad identified a talent for staying upright on my water skis when I was young, so I started practicing more. Then Mom wanted to go on a snow skiing holiday. (I smiled at that memory. I could still see Mom’s open-mouthed stare as I flew past her like a bat out of hell down the beginner slope on my snowboard. I never wanted that first day to end. Even after spending the rest of the week on the slopes, I didn’t want to leave. I remember crying as we drove away, vowing to go back as soon as my seven-year-old allowance would let me). I never looked back after I’d strapped on a snowboard. Never wanted to do a single other thing until I started thinking about retiring.

Levi: Do the three of you feel like you have a good balance? Actually, before you answer that, let me ask a different question. We’ve spoken about this off-air, Ricky, but can we talk for a moment about how you identify?

Rick: Sure. I’m pansexual. People still don’t understand what that means so there’s always a lot of misconceptions about it. There are the usual questions about being unable to make up my mind, about whether I have a heightened risk of STIs if I’m sleeping with all gendered people, and my favorite was always how many gang bangs had I participated in. I felt like a hypocrite when I suddenly found myself wanting one with these two. (Ricky pointed to us and grinned as Levi burst out laughing.)

Levi: And on that note, let’s go back to my question of whether you have a good balance in your relationship.

Rick: We’ve had our ups and downs. There have been some real challenges that we’ve had to get through. The one thing we’ve learned is that we need to talk more. Communicate much better than we were.

Caden: I needed to open up and let people help me. When I did, it made all the difference. I went from feeling helpless to hopeful. Mace and Rick gave me that—they gave me strength and hope and love. (I shifted and winced, the memory from the night before flashing before my eyes. The three of us had been home alone together for the first time in weeks and we’d taken advantage of it. After the few orgasms we’d each had, I was surprised that Mace and I could sit properly. As if he read my mind, Mace blurted out his thoughts.)

Mace: It has been rocky and yeah, we’ve learned lessons about each other. But now that we’re together, the orgasms balance out those hard times. (I snorted out a laugh at Mace’s bluntness and shifted, trying to hide my semi without putting extra pressure on my tender hole.)

Levi: Last question, guys and full disclosure here, I can’t take credit for it. It comes from Connor. When I asked why, he said he wanted to try it out. (I groaned. The last question. It was all I needed to be thinking about in my present state.) So, what’s your favorite position?

Caden: (I looked at Rick then Mace. I saw the same spark in their eyes that I did when the lust exploded around us and we got naked together. We didn’t do it as much as you would imagine with our crazy life together, but when it did—like the night before as it so happened—it was mind-blowing. We were home alone again for a few more hours, about the same amount of time we’d need for this round. If the look I was giving my men in any way reflected what I wanted to do to them, I was sure it’d be predatory. I was suddenly ravenous. I wanted to devour them whole. To lick every inch of their sweet bodies. But I had to get them alone first. Holding their hands and squeezing, I voiced the PG-rated version of my thoughts.) Exactly how we are now, Levi. Me in the middle of my two men.

Levi: (He let out a laugh and nodded, his smile lighting up his eyes.) There you go, Con, I asked. That’s all we have time for today so thanks for subscribing to Spectrum. You can read more about Caden’s, Mason’s and Ricky’s journey in All He Needs, a novel by Ann Grech. It’s available at all good online stores and her publisher’s website on Feb 9, 2019.

An hour later…

“So you in the middle, hey?” Rick asked as he and Mace surrounded me, undoing the buttons on my shirt and deftly stripping me out of it. I moaned and bucked my hips against Rick, my erection already straining behind the zipper of my jeans. “You know we’ll always take care of you, don’t you?” he asked. It was a rhetorical question. I did know that. They’d proven it to me time and time again.

“Yes,” I hissed as Mace palmed me through my jeans, pressing down in just the right way.

“Good,” Rick murmured as he captured my lips and slid his tongue along the seam seeking entry. I opened to him and met his tongue with my own. Mace’s short beard teasing my throat as he nibbled his way up it had me wrapping my arms around both of them trying to pull each of them closer. Need spiraled through me and I moaned as Rick began swaying to a song only he heard in his head. Mace followed and with the two of them flanking me, I moved too, loving the moment of tenderness among the desire coursing through my veins. I’d never get sick of this, never take a single moment for granted with these two men. We’d overcome a lot to find our happily ever after, but all that heartache and hard times faded into the distance as we lost ourselves in each other’s touch. In our love.
By day Ann Grech lives in the corporate world and can be found sitting behind a desk typing away at reports and papers or lecturing to a room full of students. She graduated with a PhD in 2016 and is now an over-qualified nerd. Glasses, briefcase, high heels and a pencil skirt, she’s got the librarian look nailed too. If only they knew! She swears like a sailor, so that’s got to be a hint. The other one was “the look” from her tattoo artist when she told him that she wanted her kids initials “B” and “J” tattooed on her foot. It took a second to register that it might be a bad idea.

She’s never entirely fit in and loves escaping into a book—whether it’s reading or writing one. But she’s found her tribe now and loves her MM book world family. She dislikes cooking, but loves eating, can’t figure out technology, but is addicted to it, and her guilty pleasure is Byron Bay Cookies. Oh and shoes. And lingerie. And maybe handbags too. Well, if we’re being honest, we’d probably have to add her library too given the state of her credit card every month (what can she say, she’s a bookworm at heart)!


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