Hi all, we are so lucky today, Brigham Vaughn has stopped by along with characters from her new book, ‘Bully & Exit’. Lets give them all a big RGR Welcome.
Welcome! Today I’m sitting down with four characters from my newly-released novel, “Bully & Exit”.
Warning: the interview contains spoilers for the book.
Most of the questions were provided by my beta readers who know the story and the characters better than anyone. Big thanks to Allison, Deidre, Eileen, and Helena for their fantastic questions.
Guys, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Caleb: “Um, I’m Caleb Stockwell. I just graduated from Western Michigan University with a theater degree and I’ll be working as an assistant director at a theater in Chicago. I’m dating Nathan and Lowell is my roommate.”
Nathan: “I’m Nathan Rhodes. I graduated from WMU as well and will be moving to Chicago to take a job as a high school history teacher and hockey coach. Brent was my roommate.”
Brent: “Brent Cameron. I played hockey here at WMU and graduated with a mechanical engineering degree and minor in kinesiology. I want to go into designing sports equipment.”
Lowell: *waggling fingers* “I’m Lowell Prescott. Psychology major, sports fan, and Caleb’s best friend.”
Nathan, did you ever try to find Caleb while you were in school? We know that Caleb was avoiding you but were you also avoiding him?
Nathan: *gives Caleb a sheepish smile* “Well … so I have a story about that. Our freshman year, I saw him at the library one night. He didn’t realize I was at a table behind him and I spent hours sitting there, watching him surreptitiously while he worked on some group project. After, I felt so guilty about acting like a total creeper, and was absolutely terrified someone would realize I was interested in him, so I forced myself to avoid him after that. I saw him around campus a few times and I always deliberately went out of my way to make sure he didn’t see me. I did, however, go to all of the shows he assistant directed here at WMU.”
Caleb: “I never knew that. Holy shit, Nathan. That’s really sweet. Um, not the stalking me in the library thing Freshman year, but supporting my shows.”
You’ve both seen each other at your worst when you’ve been drinking.Nathan—at prom in high school—and Caleb—when you were at Metro nightclub. *Caleb and Nathan cringe* Can you describe what the other is like when he’s happily drunk?
Caleb: “Yeah, we’re not going to talk about that night. Either of them actually. When he’s had a drink or two Nathan’s really cuddly. Not that he isn’t always affectionate, but he’s even more cuddly when he’s been drinking. It’s cute.”
Nathan: “Caleb’s affectionate too. Um, very hands on. Very, very hands on.”
*everyone snickers except Caleb who rolls his eyes*
Lowell, how much did you want to smack some sense into Caleb about Nathan?
Lowell: “Soooooo much. I don’t have words for how much I wanted to knock some sense into him. He had the second hottest hockey player around begging for forgiveness and he just ignored it? *shaking his head* Ridiculous. I’m just glad they worked it out.
Brent: “If Nathan’s the second hottest, who would you say is the hottest?”
Lowell: *smiling smugly* “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
Caleb, are you going to miss Lowell once you move? Nathan, are you going to miss Brent?
Caleb:“Oh, you have no idea. I am thrilled that Nathan and I are going to be in Chicago together, but Lowell is my best friend and he’s been an amazing roommate and I can’t imagine not seeing him every day. I predict epically long phone conversations.”
Lowell: “Plus there’s always Skype or FaceTime.”
Caleb: *grinning at Lowell* “That’s true!”
Lowell: “Oooh, we can shop that way too. You can try clothes on and FaceTime with me to see if I approve!”
Caleb: *groaning* “I thought the shopping torture was finally going to be over. That was the one thing I was looking forward to about not living with you. Damn it!”
Lowell: *sticking out his tongue* “It’s not my fault you’re a fashion disaster, and Nathan’s not much better. If I leave you to your own devices, you’ll both end up wearing nothing but jeans and T-shirts. No, I’m sorry, but you just can’t be trusted with your own wardrobes.”
Nathan: *looking alarmed*“Wait, how did I get dragged into this?”
Nathan, are you going to miss living with Brent and vice versa?
Nathan: “God yes. He’s been a great friend and roommate and patient as hell with me while I whined about missing Caleb for four years.”
Brent:*rolling his eyes* “So much whining, but yeah, I’ll miss you too, dude.”
Nathan, what did you think of Lowell when you first met him in the Geology class Freshman year?
Nathan: *shifting in his seat as he runs a hand through his hair* “Umm, can I plead the fifth?”
Lowell: “Oh, just answer it, Nathan. I’ve heard it all before.”
Nathan: “Well, Lowell was so just so …”
Nathan: “I was going to say flamboyant. I just had never met a guy who wasn’t hiding that he was gay before and it made me pretty uncomfortable. I was so paranoid about someone figuring out that I was hiding that I overreacted. I never said anything, but I still feel shitty about being so judgmental. Now that I’m comfortable in my own skin, I think Lowell’s an amazing guy.”
Lowell: *batting eyelashes* “Well after that you’re totally forgiven.”
Caleb, how does your mom feel about you moving away?
Caleb: “Mostly, I think she’s proud of me. She said she’ll miss me of course, and it’ll be weird leaving, but she sounds excited about visiting Chicago and she’s always wanted what’s best for me, so she’s been nothing but supportive.”
How does she feel about your reunion with Nathan?
Caleb: *wincing* “She was pretty shocked and grilled me pretty thoroughly about it, but she’s coming around.”
Nathan: “The three of us had dinner and she was a little … uncomfortable with me, I think, but I won her over.” *shy smile* I can be charming.
Caleb: *muttering under his breath* “Yes you can.”
Nathan, how did your family take the news of you coming out in such a public way?
Nathan: “My mom and sister were fine with it. My dad died last fall, and after Christmas, I came out to my mom and sister, Rachel. She’s older—married and with kids—and I sat down with them and told them. I guess my mom had kinda suspected, and my sister didn’t seem that surprised. Shocked the hell out of my brother-in-law, but he was cool with it. It was kind of amazing after so many years of hiding. And although the way I came out publically came as a surprise, they knew that I’d been wanting to for a while so they were really supportive.”
Nathan and Caleb, if you couldn’t get a job after college in drama/hockey, what do you want to do for the rest of your life?
Caleb: “Oh man, I can’t imagine my life without theater. Um.” *laughing* “I seriously have no idea. I’ve never really had a fall back plan. I always figured a job in the arts wasn’t going to pay a lot, so I am prepared to wait tables or whatever if I need to supplement my income, but I can’t imagine any other career.”
Nathan: “Well, technically I am going to be a history teacher. I love the idea that I’ll be coaching too, but if I had to give up one, it would be hockey. History really is my first love. Well, other than Caleb of course.”
Lowell: *turning to Brent* “They’re really kind of nauseating, aren’t they?”
Brent: “Be glad they haven’t been spending the nights at your apartment. I had to borrow his damn noise canceling earbuds.”
Nathan: *pointing at Brent* “Payback’s a bitch. You and your … baseball player were loud as hell. You have no room to complain.”
Lowell: “Baseball player? Who were you screwing? I wonder if it was one of the baseball players I slept with.”
Caleb: “What baseball players haven’t you slept with?
Lowell: “Hey, some of them are straight. Most, actually. There are a hell of a lot who are more bi-curious than they’ll ever admit in public and I certainly had fun with them, but contrary to popular belief I have never actually been tag-teamed by an entire, well … team.”
Nathan, what’s your favorite period in history, the one you’re most excited about?
Nathan: “Early American history. From early colonization to the Revolution, up until about the Civil War. Although ancient China is absolutely fascinating too.”
Nathan and Caleb, what are you both most excited about moving to Chicago?
Nathan: “Being together.”
Caleb: *nodding* “Starting a life together. As scared as I was before about forgiving Nathan and giving him a second chance, I am really looking forward to building a life together. I feel like Chicago is the perfect place for us to get a fresh start.”
Thank you for joining us today!Looking forward to seeing you again for Brent and Lowell’s story.
Brent: “Wait, our story? What is she talking about?”
Lowell: *patting Brent’s shoulder* “Don’t you worry, sweets. It’ll all be clear soon.”
“What happens when the past won’t let you go?”
Theater student Caleb Stockwell is ready to leave college behind. Too bad his past isn’t ready to let him go.
With less than a month to go until graduation, Caleb runs into Nathan Rhodes at a house party. Nathan is a star hockey player for Western Michigan University and finally ready to step out of the closet. He’s also the guy who broke Caleb’s heart in high school.
Nathan’s determined to make amends for what he did four years ago, but Caleb isn’t willing to risk getting his heart stomped on again. With only a few weeks left before they go their separate ways, it’ll take all of Nathan’s creativity and help from some interfering friends to convince Caleb to give him a second chance.
Nathan’s voice was soft when he spoke, gentle as it’d always been. “Caleb Stockwell. I’ve been looking for you.”
Caleb cleared his throat and ignored him, tipping the bottle up for another long drink. He licked the spiciness from his lips as he debated making another run for it. There was a shrub blocking his way in one direction and a hockey player in the other. Even if he hadn’t been drinking, the odds weren’t in his favor. “Nathan Rhodes,” he managed.
“Damn, I can’t believe it’s you!” Nathan leaned in, and Caleb pulled back, uncomfortable with him being so close.
Caleb laughed bitterly. “It’s me. Now that you’ve satisfied your curiosity, you can run along.” He motioned with his hand, encouraging Nathan to leave.
“It’s really good to see you,” Nathan said, ignoring him. He took a seat on the pile of discarded construction materials, his knees brushing Caleb’s as he lowered himself down. Caleb pulled away as if scorched.
“Yeah? Too bad I can’t say the same,” he muttered, his head swimming as the alcohol began to hit him. He eyed Nathan’s long, long legs and the way he was pinned in by them, remembering the way they’d felt tangled with his as they came, panting shallowly against each other’s skin. It brought it all back: the scent of Nathan’s cologne, the taste of his skin, the way Caleb’s heart raced in his chest when Nathan held him close. It brought back the memories, the ones he’d worked so hard to run from. The good and the bad. The sharp, intense happiness of falling for Nathan. The aching, crushing hurt that paralyzed Caleb for months after Nathan was no longer in his life. Everything he’d buried four years ago and vowed never to touch again.
He caught the first glimpse of doubt on Nathan’s face. “Are you okay, Caleb?”
“Oh, I’m motherfucking peachy,” he snarked and took another long drink. “I’ve made it through four fucking years trying to ignore the fact we’re on the same campus, and with barely a month left in my senior year, I thought maybe I’d managed to pull it off. But, no, Lowell had to drag me to this goddamn party, and, of course, you showed up too. Just my luck.”
He raised the bottle again, but Nathan wrapped a hand around the neck and tugged. He was stronger than Caleb, so Caleb let go, afraid he’d end up getting pulled onto Nathan’s lap if he didn’t. Nathan took a drink and passed the bottle back, licking the taste of rum off his lips before he spoke. “You’re so angry at me.”
“Ya think?” Caleb snarled. “Didn’t it ever occur to you I would be? What the hell makes you think you can waltz in here and pretend like all the shit that went down between us didn’t happen?” He tried to stand, but Nathan’s dark denim-clad knees were on either side of his, pinning him in place. The bottle was pried from his suddenly limp fingers and set aside.
“I don’t think that,” Nathan protested. “I was just glad to see you, and I… I wanted a chance to apologize. I didn’t … I wanted …”
Caleb’s lips parted in surprise as cool fingers framed his face, and for the first time in four long years, Nathan’s lips were pressed to his again. Involuntarily, Caleb’s eyes closed, feeling a rush of heat wash over him, taking him right back to the first time. Before Nathan broke his heart.
Brigham Vaughn has always been a voracious reader with her own stories to tell. After many years of abandoned plots, something finally clicked. Now she’s eating, sleeping, and breathing writing and is excited to have finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up. In the little time that isn’t spent writing or reading, she loves cooking, yoga, photography, and remodeling her ninety-year-old home. Brigham lives in Michigan with her four cats and an amazing husband who has always been her biggest champion.
I would like to give a big Thank You to Brigham Vaughn for taking the time to stop by RGR today.