By Mae Hancock (Guest Blogger)
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the topic of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In Enticing Hart, it makes up a side issue because one of the lead characters, Oak has a parent with the condition. My first attempt at presenting the topic was in a theatre play I wrote some years ago. It was called Putting Matters Right, and was about a young woman who lived with her mother that had the condition. I guess it’s something quite close to my heart because I’ve experienced someone with OCD first hand, my mother.
In this case I identify with Oak who struggles with his father’s condition, which has grown progressively worse. In this story—as in reality—the person affected won’t seek help for the condition. We all say we’re a ‘bit OCD’ from time to time, and that might be true, but some people still manage to live a relatively normal life whilst struggling with quite severe compulsions each day.
I guess what I wanted to present in Enticing Hart were a number of things which I’ve observed over my whole life during my relationship with my mother. She’s able to hide her OCD really very well most of the time, and because it’s never been diagnosed we’re not really sure if it is OCD or Obsessive Personality. Nevertheless, she’s acknowledged that there is something wrong.
So often during her interactions with others she’s able not to give away any sign of the condition and it’s common for people and their families to often suffer in silence because they can’t reach out for help.
In the case of Oak I wanted to convey the impact it’s had on his life. Having a parent with the condition isn’t easy. It’s stressful doing things the way they want them done, and no amount of helping will relieve the problem. I personally feel that the disorder is exacerbated by stress or something psychological, which bothers the person subconsciously. In the case of Bay, Oak’s father, he’s been a single dad for many years and is putting his work and his children before his own needs. The problem is that ignoring himself is in turn impacting on his relationship with his family and he’s unable to see this.
OCD is not without humor. I’ve spent many occasion laughing with my mother over the funny things she does. I think if she couldn’t laugh about it then misery might ensue. Laughter helps us all to put things into perspective, so if the numbers aren’t even, tea and coffee holders aren’t straight—it feels like the end of the world—but the reality is different. I think this perspective reminds us all that the people who we love, and who love us, are able to help us through difficult times and understand the balance between respecting our wishes and making us realize what is important in our lives.
Hart Emile is tired of cruising for guys, living a soulless existence. He needs a change, so when an acquaintance gives him the number of the Red Fox Ranch, a homestead looking for staff, he heads south hoping to spend the summer somewhere beautiful and hassle free. Little does he know, he is heading for trouble...
Oak Redman is eighteen years old and desperate to explore his awakening sexuality. The moment Hart lays eyes on the handsome young rancher he knows he could be in for a wild summer!
Not only is Oak hot, spirited and very persistent, he is also the ranch boss' son and strictly off limits! Hart tries to fight his feelings and respect his boss and the family who quickly become dear to him but can hedeny himself the most exciting and enticing man he has ever met?
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The distinctive chirps of crickets grew louder as Hart as strolled away from the lakeside. Another meaningless encounter came to an end. He’d told himself he wouldn’t do it again and yet now he had. At least the guy had been around his own age. God I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel, has my life come to this? Cruising around parks and restrooms, no comfort, no intimacy, no love. Climbing into his truck he remembered the ranch name the guy had given him. He checked it out on the Internet, and then realized he’d sat there for too long reading the web site on his phone when a much older guy approached. Oh no, not another one. He turned the key in the ignition and started the engine then sped away.
After traveling around doing casual work for five years, he needed steady employment, a home, and a life. According to the guy, the people at the Red Fox Ranch were gay friendly and hiring. He’d always been quite private about his sexuality, but what the hell. It’d be a change not to hide who I am all the time. Could even be a novelty…could even be…nice?
Hart pulled up to the front of the big, traditional ranch house and stepped out of the truck. A line of tall fir trees stood behind the wooden building and a lake nestled at the foot of nearby mountains. He tapped at the door, the sound of the knocker carried. A young woman, about seventeen, answered. God, am I in the right place? He pulled his hat off.
“Hello, you must be Hart? My dad told us to expect you.” Her baby blue eyes made him feel at ease. She showed him into a study at the back of the house. The waft of baking came into his nostrils and there were family photographs everywhere. He passed the living room where three big sofa’s cried out comfort in shades of cream, coffee and chocolate. Everything was settled in its place in the study and the paperwork stacked in rows standing to attention; files were arranged flush on the shelves.
“My dad’ll be with you in a minute. Would you like a cup of coffee?” She asked.
“Yes, please, miss.”
“I’m Kristen.” Smiling she offered her tiny hand and he took it in his own.
“Pleased to meet you, Kristen.” He nodded as she scooted around the corer of the door into the hallway. She paused at the foot of the stairs, flicking her long, fair hair over one shoulder. “Dad, Mr. Emile is here?” She screeched loudly, the opposite of the ladylike girl who he’d shaken hands with moments earlier; the contrast making him snort.
“I’m coming. Kristen, are you fixin’ him a drink?” A man’s deep, rough tone responded from the second floor.
“Yes!” She faced Hart again and he nodded, unsure what to expect from the owner of the voice. Heavy footsteps thudded down the stairs but still no one appeared. Peering around the door a little more, he caught a glance of a man going backwards and forwards on the bottom step. What the fuck?
He came into the study and smiled as he put his hand out. “You must be Hart.”
“Yes, sir,” Hart replied, accepting the firm handshake.
“I’m Bay. We spoke on the phone. Welcome to the Red Fox.”
With long stubble, hairy arms and chest, Bay was about six three. His inky-black hair and brawny jaw gave him a masculine aura. What’s with the performance on the steps?
“Thanks,” Hart sucked in a bewildered breath as Bay sank down behind the desk in front of him. Then Kristen appeared at his side with two coffees. Bay’s broad hand dwarfed the mug she handed him and he pulled a coaster from the drawer placing it in position on the desk. Then he rotated the square leather a little, moved it again, this time to the other side of the desk. There were more rotations until he positioned it precisely before placing the coffee down. Kristen’s cheeks pinked slightly as she glanced at her dad’s performance with the coaster and she swiftly disappeared.
“Thanks for coming,” Bay rested his elbows on the arms of the office chair, then steepled his fingers as he moved back into the leather. “I’m looking for help until the fall—”
Hart followed his gaze to see an elderly lady in the doorway.
“Have you seen my slippers, Bay?”
“Grandma, no I haven’t. Can you give us a minute?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there, young man.” She peered around the side of the door to Hart then fiddled with a long gold necklace, which had a charm at the end. Snow-white hair curled around her cheeks.
“Grandma, this is Hart, he’s come to work with us—well, maybe—if he likes us,” Bay nodded.
“Howdy, ma’am.” What an unusual interview.
Soft, mischievous, blue eyes met his as she took his hand.
“Grandma, I haven’t seen your slippers. Has Skip taken them again? I told you not to leave them out, didn’t I?” Bay’s fatherly tone crossed the room.
“Oh, yes, but I didn’t realize Skip was around.” She put wrinkled fingers to her lips.
“Skip’s our new Shepherd mix pup, Hart. I’ll take you round to meet him shortly. Grandma, can you give us a minute?” Bay’s gaze beseeched her.
“Oh, yes sorry. I’ll get back to my baking. Did you get Hart some coffee?”
“Kristen did.” Bay nodded to the mug on the edge of the desk next to Hart.
“Okay, I’ll say good day to you, then.” She wandered off down the corridor. God is this the right place? Even if it’s not I’m not gonna say anything-there’s something a bit—different—I like it here.
“Now, where was I?” Bay pulled the coffee from the coaster again, fiddling with it some more.
His cell chirped a ring, “Excuse me,” Bay eased it out from his jeans pocket, “Hello? . . . He’s what?” His eyebrows knitted. “Yes, okay. I’m coming.” He buried the phone back in his pocket and stood as the chair scraped along the wooden floor.
“I’m sorry about this, but Skip’s got one of the chickens again. I’m going to have to go get him. Come with me if you want. Bring your coffee. There’s always some crisis happening here. There isn’t much normal about this ranch, I’m afraid.”
Hart followed Bay across the wooded floors of the house, their steps echoing. At the chicken coop Kristen held a struggling black and brown puppy by his collar.
“What in the hell was he doing in there?” A muscle twitched in Bay’s neck as he opened the coop.
“I don’t know, but he’s mauled another one of the hens,” Kristen barely hid her concern as a hen lay on its side with a wing flapping a little. Feathers scattered across the ground.
“For God’s sake, you’re supposed to be watching him. We can’t have him running wild all over the ranch.” Pushing the gate shut from inside he glanced at Hart. “If it’s not foxes or coyotes or wolves…it’s this damned untrained puppy.”
“Can I help?” Hart asked.
“Go with Kristen. I’ll be back in a minute when I’ve sorted this mess out.”
Hart strolled back to the house and on the porch Kirsten took his coffee mug and passed him the wriggling puppy, which licked his face uncontrollably.
“Wait here. I’ll get the leash.” She disappeared into the house and returned to hook the clip onto the dog’s collar. He jumped from Hart’s arms.
“I’ll bring you a cup of fresh coffee. Yours’ll be cold by now. I’m sorry about this—I’d like to say it’s not usually like this, but it kinda is.”
He chuckled and she slipped through the door again, Hart leaned on the porch railing and watched Bay leave the chicken run holding the now dead bird and hooking the gate closed behind him. He rounded the corner of a shed and moved out of sight.
Kirsten appeared at his side, still holding skip on the leash and handed him a steaming mug. “Please take a seat.” She settled into one of the chairs.
“We have seven ranch hands living here in the bunkhouse. Are you gonna stay there too?” she asked.
“If you’ve got the room.” He tossed his hat in his hands idly.
“I think so—my dad’ll know.”
The house phone rang; Skip followed her inside as she went to answer it. While he waited a wind chime tinkled in the breeze. From down near the barns, a cowboy headed towards the porch, his tall figure backlit by the sun. Broad shoulders tapered to a small waist. The man couldn’t be older than nineteen. The hairs on Hart’s arms stood on end. He’s cute. He mounted the steps and glanced at Hart, lifting his delicate features into a sweet smile. Hart melted.
“Hi. I’m Oak, like the tree,” he reached out taking Hart’s hand. A good, firm handshake corresponded with honest baby blue eyes, which captivated Hart. Those deep pink lips needed kissing and his dark tan contrasted with his fair hair, flattering his even features. The T-shirt showed off a tribal tattoo on his bicep. Hart shifted in the midday heat noticing a bead of sweat trickling down the back of his neck, making him shudder.
I’ve always written stories and enjoy reading all types of literature from thrillers to romance. I’m interested in people who experience social marginalization and these are often themes that appear in my stories. I’ve written erotic literature for pleasure for a long time, but it’s only recently I’ve put romance and erotica together and found I enjoy writing about the exciting journey we all go on when falling in love. My interests include cultural history, particularly in the Greek and Roman worlds.
Author site: http://www.maehancock.com