Book Title: Surrounded by Silence
Author: Eric Huffbind
Cover Artist: Eric Huffbind
Release Date: October 14, 2020
Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Male Romance
Trope/s: Billionaires, Hurt/Comfort, Post-Divorce, Middle Age
Themes: Learning what it means to be selfless rather than selfish.
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 71 000 words/259 pages
This is a sequel to The Rescuer, but can be read as a stand-alone.
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
Lonely billionaire, Samuel Barron, has finally met someone he finds himself falling for, but can he handle a romance for a gentleman whose entire world is surrounded by silence?
After public humiliation, Sam Barron has come to the realization his billions can’t buy him love or happiness. Despondent and feeling like his life is in a downward spiral, he comes to realize he needs some professional help. Despite trepidations, Sam turns to Jason Parker, a social worker who at his heart, is a rescuer. Even though Sam had been so hateful towards him in the past, Jason can’t help but think Sam deserves to suffer. Jason tells Sam straight out, “You’re a spoiled brat without a shred of humility!”
Jason has deep concerns about helping Sam, but might be willing, if Sam volunteers at a soup kitchen. Grudgingly, Sam accepts Jason’s condition, and while performing his volunteer work, meets the flirtatious Noah Wagner. Noah is close in age, attractive, and Sam likes the way he feels whenever he’s around him. Noah is the first person Sam has known who is profoundly deaf. So, how is Sam to navigate a romantic interest with a man who can’t hear a word he says?
Surrounded by Silence, a Contemporary Gay Male Romance, is a sequel to Mr. Huffbind’s debut novel, The Rescuer. However, this book can be read as a stand-alone. If you enjoy a story where the villain becomes the hero, you will love Surrounded by Silence.
Coming through the front door of their apartment, Jason called out, “Honey, I’m home. Where are you?”
Poking his head out, Christopher announced, “I’m in the kitchen making dinner.”
Strolling into the kitchen, Jason gave Christopher a kiss, and asked, “How was work today?”
“Oh, it was okay, same old same old. Not particularly exciting. How about you?”
Jason took a small step backwards and began rubbing his eyebrows. “Well, an old friend of yours came to see me today, without any forewarning, of course!”
“An old friend of mine? I can’t imagine what old friend of mine would come to see you.”
“I’m being facetious,” Jason said. “Calling this man a friend is a bit of a stretch, and he’s someone I wasn’t happy to see.”
Christopher’s eyes narrowed as he squinted. “Please, tell me it wasn’t Sam Barron?”
“I’d be happy to tell you it wasn’t Sam Barron… but I would be lying. Yes, it was Sam. Admittedly, I was floored! And as you can imagine, especially since he showed up unannounced, I was less than ecstatic to see him.”
“Dear God, almighty! What in the hell did he come to see you about?”
“As you might suspect, I was a bit miffed. Not trying to change the subject, but something smells awfully good. What’s for dinner?”
“Just a frozen entrée of lasagna. Don’t get too excited, but it’s your favorite brand. So, go on, why did Sam show up at your office?”
Jason took a seat at the small dinette table. “As hard as you might find this to believe, he came seeking my professional help. As far as I can gather, ever since all the bad press in the media hit the airways, he’s fallen into a deep depression. Perhaps, a deep depression isn’t the best choice of words. Significant emotional distress is more accurate. Complains of loneliness and being guilt-ridden.”
Christopher said sharply, “And why should you care if he’s guilt-ridden? He deserves to feel guilt-ridden!”
“You’re not going to get an argument from me. Still… I felt bad for him. It was as if he was pleading for forgiveness, and begging for my help. He says he wants to become a better person. The guy was crying. Sounded desperate.”
“Christopher responded, “It sounds like he needs a psychologist, not a social worker.”
“Exactly! That’s what I told him, but he insisted he wants me.”
“No offense, but why does he want your help?”
“You know Sam,” Jason answered. “He always wants the best. In his mind, I’m the best. In addition, I’m gay, which is especially important to him, and I get that.”
Christopher started shaking his head in utter disbelief. “Wait now! Wait just a minute here! After the way that man treated you! And treated me for that matter! He has the gall to come and ask you for help!”
“He said he was a nervous wreck coming to see me! He knew damn well I wasn’t going to be happy having him show up on my doorstep. The thing is, honey, I felt bad for him, and believe me, I hear myself saying this, and yet, I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth.”
Christopher crossed his arms against his chest. “Let me guess! Your inner rescuer kicked in.”
Jason nodded his agreement of his husband’s quick and accurate assessment.
Jason waved his hand in a gesture to encourage Christopher to sit down with him. He pushed the chair away from the table giving Christopher easier access to sit.
“He saw how much I helped you. So, he trusts me. That’s why he wants my help. You’re right, of course, my inner rescuer did kick in. I told him I had to speak with you, and I would only help him if you granted me permission to. I wasn’t going to do it without your consent. The guy looks pitiful. He said I could name my price! He even offered to pay me five hundred dollars an hour. Mind you, not during my regular working hours. He knows this is something that must take place outside the realm of my job. He was willing to come here, or I could go to his home. Tell me, what do you think? How do you feel about it? Would you be okay if I worked with him? Trust me, I have my own reservations, and… I can’t lie, the money does sound appealing. I’m not a licensed therapist, but what I do isn’t such a stretch from what a psychologist would do. So, I’m asking, would you be comfortable with this?”
Christopher asked, “The question you should be asking yourself is, how do you feel about it?” Although, I must admit, I know that man. If he wants you bad enough, he’ll pay you whatever price you want. Ever since you sold your condominium and decided to live in my apartment, you’ve wanted to buy a house for us. Remember the model home we saw? The one built by Kirkland Home Builders. That money could help a lot towards a down payment. It’s just so ironic! This is the same man who sent you into a panic attack, and now he comes crawling to you for help. Although, I know what you’re talking about. There’s a side of Sam Barron he doesn’t let people see. I’ll be okay with it—if you’re okay with it.”
Q & A With Eric Huffbiind
Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
To be perfectly honest, I have found the one thing people are most surprised to learn about me is the fact I have written a novel, let alone more than one. I write under a pen name to begin with, so unless I actually point out my work to people, they would never know the work is actually mine. People are amazed at meeting or knowing anyone who has written an entire book. Of course, to me, I think, don’t get too excited, It’s just me.
Q: What’s your favorite scene in your latest book and what makes it a fave?
It’s a scene between my two main protagonists, Samuel Barron, and Noah Wagoner. Of course, I need to point out upfront that my character Noah Wagoner is profoundly deaf and has been since birth. Thus, my title, Surrounded by Silence. The following excerpt is taken from this scene, and although it is an emotionally explosive scene, the scene represents a pivotal moment for Sam and Noah that shines light on a very deep-seated belief in the pride held by the deaf community. Each character will ultimately learn a big lesson on a key challenge of a burgeoning love affair between hearing and deaf communities.
Would you care to share an excerpt from the scene with us?
Noah stayed seated in a relaxed position, between Sam’s legs, with his head resting against Sam’s chest, Noah’s attention stayed riveted on the television screen. Sam kept himself distracted by planting kisses on Noah’s neck, cheeks, or ears. He nibbled on Noah’s earlobes, which would tickle him to the point he’d have to squeeze his head towards his shoulder, forcing Sam’s amorous advances to cease. Once Noah was relieved of the tickling sensation, Sam could go back to planting his steady stream of kisses. Just as long as Noah could keep his eyes on the screen, he’d let Sam do whatever he wanted.
Sam reached around undoing the buttons on Noah’s dress shirt, about halfway down. It was enough to allow Sam’s fingertips to graze through Noah’s chest hair and over his nipples. This kind of intimacy was pure bliss. For the next twenty minutes, Sam remained in a heightened state of romantic relaxation.
Removing his hands from Noah’s tantalizing chest, Sam re-buttoned the dress shirt. Noah took his eyes off the television, turning his torso to Sam, figuring something was up. Sam reached for the television remote, hitting the power button to turn it off. He scooted himself from sitting behind Noah, putting his feet on the floor, and standing. He took a seat on the chair adjacent to the couch, so he could face Noah. Sam was beginning to realize the necessity of changing body positions was sort of a nuisance to him. It would be so much easier if Noah could just hear him, then he could’ve simply remained seated on the couch with Noah lying against him, but that made it impossible to conduct a conversation with him.
“Can we talk?” Sam asked using sign language.
Noah shrugged with his shoulders and signed, “Yes. What’s up?”
Sam picked up their cell phones that had been placed on an adjacent coffee table. He handed Noah his phone. Then using his own phone, he sent a text to Noah.
Sam: I need to use texting as I still don’t know enough ASL to have an extensive conversation. I hope that’s all right?
Noah: That’s fine. I understand. Is everything okay? You look serious.
Sam: Everything is fine. I apologize if I’m acting melodramatic. Are you familiar with cochlear implants?
Noah: Yes, I know what cochlear implants are. What about them?
Sam: Have you ever thought about getting implants? Having the surgery to have them placed?
Noah: No, I don’t want cochlear implants. I’m perfectly happy as I am. I’ve got my ASL.
Sam: I understand that. No one’s taking it away from you. But think about it. A whole world of sound would open up to you. You could hear more than just speech. You could hear music and people singing. You could hear the birds chirping in the morning, or the sound of the wind blowing, or thunder rumbling.
Noah: I’m fine the way I am! I don’t need music or birds.
Sam: How do you know? You’ve never heard music, or the chirping of birds.
Noah: I’ve spent my entire lifetime without hearing music or birds. Why is this so important to you? Cochlear implants are completely unnecessary.
Sam: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you. I just thought it would make it easier for us to have a conversation.
Noah’s eyes glared at Sam, and his face reddened like he’d gotten sunburned. Without warning, his fist punched an adjacent couch cushion. His lips flattened into a sharp, thin line. Then he bolted to his feet and crossed his arms against his chest. He held up his right fist, flipping his middle finger. This was one gesture Sam didn’t require an ASL dictionary for translation.
“Hey now! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to upset you, but there’s no reason for you to be so hostile towards me!” Sam said, hoping Noah could still read his lips during a fit of anger.
“Go home!” Noah shouted. “I go home!”
“Sweetheart, I don’t want you to leave. Please stay. I’m sorry. I don’t know why you’re so upset.” But the scowl on Noah’s face was fuming like a bonfire. “Okay, okay. Just calm down. I’ll have Gordon take you home,” Sam said, speaking in a soft, quiet voice. Even though the tone of his voice was lost on Noah, nevertheless, his body language was clearly trying to communicate he wanted Noah to relax. Sam picked up his telephone, and dialed Gordon’s phone number. “Hello, Gordon. Sorry to call you at this late hour, but Noah and I just had a fight. He’s terribly angry at me and he wants to go back to his apartment. Could you please take him back home for me?”
Q: If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose and why?
If I had such an opportunity, I would pick Noah Wagoner to spend time with. Although it’s more challenging, since I don’t have the luxury of sign language to communicate with. Still, I have never let that stop me before when communicating with an individual who is deaf. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way. With the kind of heart he has, he would make an amazing friend. Plus, with his talent for teaching, I could learn to master a new language.
Q: Let’s talk tropes: do you have a few favorites that you enjoy both writing and reading? If so, what are they and what makes them your favorites?
Apparently, I find myself with a love for the Billionaires trope. As to why it is my favorite, I suppose like many other people, who hasn’t flirted with the fantasy of having endless amounts of money. Yes, I know, people say money doesn’t buy happiness, but like my character, Noah Wagoner said to Sam Barron, my billionaire, “Really! You think money doesn’t always buy happiness. I’d like to test the theory out, thank you very much. Just gift me a million dollars, and I’ll let you know if it makes me any happier.”
Q: If you could be any animal in the world, what would you choose? Why?
A seagull. As to why, I think it would be amazing to be to fly! Additionally, I love the ocean, so a seagull would give me the best of both.
Q: Star Trek or Star Wars – both or neither? Explain.
Star Wars. I have loved Star Wars since I was 12 years old, and now I’m 57. As for Star Trek, the television series used to bore me to no end! I can’t explain why, it just never did a thing for me.
Q: If you could be any fictional character who would you like to be and why?
Harry Potter of course! Who wouldn’t love to have access to all that magic? Not to mention needing nothing more than a broomstick to fly.
About the Author
Eric Huffbind is a man of many talents. Over the course of his lifetime, he has worked as a Registered Nurse, a Travel Agent, and an Uber driver. He characterizes himself as a hopeless romantic and is the eternal social butterfly. Among his passionate interests are history, genealogy, romance books, and travel.
Although his novels focus on the romantic relationship of two gay men, regardless of your sexual orientation, his stories are meant to rekindle the spirit and euphoria of falling in love.
Eric is a lifelong resident of Southwest Ohio. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he currently resides in West Chester, Ohio with his husband Paul and their Pomeranian, Linus.
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