1 Chapter 1


In space, no one can hear you scream.


I remembered the line but didn’t know if it was factual.


Technically, 12,000 feet up wasn’t space. Hurdling toward Mother Earth my first time skydiving, stuck upside down with a parachute that wouldn’t open, who had time for semantics? One thing was certain; I could sure as Hell hear myself.


All I wanted was to be on the ground, barefoot in the Hawaiian sand again, to continue my honeymoon with Shawn, the love of my life. Considering how quickly that sand was now approaching, I rethought my goals.

“Stay in the sky, Otto! Stay in the sky!”

Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to be an option. The jump was supposed to provide a wedding day rush. “It’ll amp up the sexual thrill when we consummate our marriage right after,” Shawn had said. “Do something adventurous for once in your life, Otto. Do something bad.”

Being naked beneath my jumpsuit was my idea of bad. I’d planned a big reveal—”Ta-dah! Let’s fuck.”—just my birthday suit and my wedding bowtie. Now, all I could focus on was the fact my last birthday wasmy last birthday, that and my former nanny being mortified by the fact I wasn’t wearing clean underwear when I died. Any underwear. How embarrassing.

I could count the number of times Shawn and I had fucked on one hand and still have a pinky left over to amp up the sexual thrill another way. Did our sex life really need a boost after barely a third of a year as a couple, most of that time in different countries?

“How romantic will it be to just see each other at the wedding after so long,” he’d said, “then come together in bed on our honeymoon…We’re talkin’ kaboom time, Smarty.”

Whenever Shawn called me Smarty, I was putty in his hands.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans. My ripcords had malfunctioned, the primary and the backup. The wedding was beautiful, but now, instead of kaboom, I was looking at splat!

“So much for romance!” I yelled up toward Shawn, who was floating through the clouds, like an angel, like I should have been. Then, I rethought my anger. “I love you.” It was better to end our relationship—to end my life—on a happy note, I figured.

Thirty-one and a half years on Earth, I wondered why they weren’t flashing before my eyes. Was my existence that dull? Were there no highlights to replay? It felt like that sometimes, especially before I fell in love.

Our romance was whirlwind for sure. It was literally thirty seconds from salutation to penetration in Shawn’s trailer.

* * * *

My half-brother, Rex, introduced us. “Otto, this is Shawn Slate.”

“Hey, I’m Shawn Slate.”

“Yeah. He just said that.”

Second lead in a superhero TV pilot with a good shot at receiving an order to series, Shawn would be playing the sexy villain. Wavy black hair, dark bedroom eyes, lean and muscular, he was everything a TV star should be—a movie star—which was his ultimate goal, according to his Instagram profile.

“I mean, I knew who you are, anyway.” I’d looked Shawn up the moment I’d heard my father’s production studio had cast him as Lightning Bolt’s arch nemesis, Todd Thunder. “I’m Otto Brennington.”

“I know who you are, too, Smarty,” he told me. “The big man’s son.”

I was the on-set tutor for all the minors on the massive Cooper Brennington Television and Movie Productions lot. That was the genesis of Shawn’s nickname for me, I assumed, me being a teacher and all.

“You all blond, blue-eyed and pale,” he continued, “me all tall, hung, and handsome, we’d look good fucking, don’t ya think?”

Shawn was of age, old enough to buy cigarettes and alcohol and run for president in another eight years. Eight years according to our marriage license, eleven per the info on the back of his headshot.

“I’m supposed to be over at the Family of Fifteenset pretty soon,” I told him.

“Come on, Otto.” He grabbed for my hand and tugged. “Don’t be such a goody two shoes.”

It didn’t take much convincing. The kids on that sitcom were monsters, all fourteen of them. It was no wonder the woman who played their single mother had to be recast in the second season. “Okay. Ten minutes.”

“I’ll get you off in five.”

I almost came just peeling him out of his bad guy black latex onesie.

* * * *

Though we started dating exclusively right away, Lightning Bolt’simmediate pickup for a full twenty-two episodes also meant an immediate move to Vancouver, Canada for Shawn.

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