Book Title: Life Support (Crush #6)
Author: Elouise East
Publisher: Elouise East
Cover Artist: Maria Vickers
Release Date: March 11, 2021
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Tropes: Friends to lovers, Hurt/comfort
Themes: Sexual harassment in the workplace
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 75 000 words
It is a standalone story, although characters from other books in the series do appear throughout
Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited
Secrets give others more power. Now is the time to fight back.
What can they do when their safety and self-worth are compromised?
Casey’s usually bubbly, cheeky demeanour is diminished by sexual harassment from a colleague. When Casey becomes scared for his safety, he seeks out a trainer to teach him how to escape. Withholding the secret is stifling, but he sees no other option if he wants to keep his job. Spilling those secrets to an almost stranger changes his life in a way he never thought possible.
Luke spends his time training people in evasive tactics. He loves his job, but feels inferior to his more successful siblings. How can he compete with lawyers, police officers and teachers? When Casey comes to him for training, Luke knows he’s hiding a secret and wants to get to the source. Finally, Casey confides in him, and Luke sets his sights on helping.
Can they win the fight against people who bring them down?
“How are things going with Marcus?” Chloe asked as they packed up the equipment, ready to drive back to the hospital. “Still in the lovey-dovey stage?” She grinned, nudging his shoulder.
He shoved her back, good-naturedly. “Yes, as a matter of fact. Everything is going great.”
Casey had met Marcus four months ago and had persuaded him to bring a friend along for a double date with Casey’s best friend, Alex. So far, as he’d told Chloe, everything was working out well despite his shift patterns. Or maybe because of his shift patterns. Twelve-hour stints, two days, two nights, four days on, four days off. The hours were crap, but it was part of his job, so he couldn’t complain about it. He’d known the times before he agreed to the role.
They climbed into the ambulance, Chloe in the driver’s seat. Casey didn’t mind driving, but most of his colleagues preferred being in control of the ambulance, so he let them have it. He was happy to navigate instead. The engine’s loud rumble reverberated beneath his feet and ass while he clicked his seat belt into place.
“Who was the guy I saw you with earlier today?” Chloe asked, pulling out onto the road.
Casey frowned, then smiled. “Oh, outside the deli? That was Craig.” His heart felt heavy when he thought of the guy. “He’s been through a lot, and I’ve spoken with him a few times at the hospital.” He wasn’t about to divulge Craig’s personal details despite Chloe being bound by the same confidentiality rules. “He knows Alex, too. I was inviting him to meet some friends. I thought it might help him to socialise a bit more, rather than exist in his own little bubble.”
“That’s nice of you. Everyone needs friends. I’m not sure where I’d be without mine.”
Chloe had also been through a difficult time. Eight months ago, her husband had left her with two young children. It had taken a lot of organising for her to be able to come back to work. Casey glanced at her, seeing her blonde hair tied back in a ponytail; pale, blemish-free skin; dainty nose and rosebud lips. Her blue eyes sparkled all the time—except for the first few months after her husband took off—and she thoroughly enjoyed her job. If Casey had been heterosexual, he would’ve flirted with her. He did flirt with her, but they both knew that was the extent of it.
“How are the munchkins?” Casey asked with a grin, turning the subject to something he knew raised her spirits.
Chloe blew a hair out of her face. “Growing up too quickly. I know I have to give them time because of what’s happened, but Gemma is a nightmare.” Chloe shook her head and sighed. “She refuses to sleep in her own bed, which means I rarely get a good night’s sleep—not that I’m complaining, I’d prefer her to be happy and settled. It’s difficult. As for Jerome, he’s carrying on as if nothing happened.” A frown crossed her face.
“They’ll process it in different ways, you know that. Just be there for them and ask for help when you need it. Don’t do this alone, Chloe.” He reached over and squeezed her leg gently, hoping to convey how much she meant to him.
“I know, and I do ask. I hate having to rely on so many people.”
“I understand that. It’s nice to be independent, but sometimes, it’s just not possible.” He looked at his watch. “Almost dinner time. I’m starving.” As if his words reminded his body, his stomach growled.
Chloe snorted and flicked her gaze to him briefly. “You’re always starving. If I remember right, you were starving half an hour after the deli.”
“What can I say? I have a fast metabolism.”
They both laughed, the sound echoing around the small cab. Their Terrafix Responder chimed with a new incident, and Casey checked the details, relaying the information to Chloe, who sped up as Casey flicked on the sirens and lights. He brought up the route they’d need and directed Chloe to the house.
Two hours later, at the end of their shift, they finally managed to grab some food from the hospital restaurant. It was one of the downsides to the job, but if he didn’t eat while he had a spare minute, he might not get to eat
for hours. A paramedic’s schedule is based around people’s bumps and bruises, not around when it’s lunchtime or dinnertime.
Slumping at the table, his body and mind felt drained, and they sat in silence. Once he’d devoured his shepherd’s pie, he clapped Chloe on the shoulder and said goodnight, heading straight for the staff locker room. He’d checked his phone as he was eating and had seen a message from Marcus, asking if Casey could visit him that night. Normally, Casey would have agreed, but he was exhausted. He hadn’t replied yet because he’d wanted to see whether he felt better after eating. He didn’t.
The staff locker room was a large space with individual lockers for each member of staff. They weren’t particularly big lockers, but with the amount of staff at the hospital, they’d need a whole floor just for them if they made them any larger. The room also housed several showers, toilets and a couple of changing rooms. As it was a gender-neutral zone, all people used it.
Casey moved to his locker, quickly opening it and grabbing his bag, the need for sleep dragging at his movements. Usually, he’d have a shower, but tonight he wanted to get home.
“Have you had a good shift, Casey?” Dr Simon Acker’s voice made him flinch, and goosebumps rose on his arms as his muscles tensed.
Casey glanced out of the corner of his eye and hurried his movements, his heart rate increasing. “Yes, thanks.”
“Word on the grapevine is you’ve managed to keep hold of your boy toy.” Acker’s voice practically growled the last two words despite the smile on his face that didn’t seem to reach his eyes.
“Yep, still with him.” His voice was strained, each word pushing out with the effort and the hope of dispelling any other comments but to no avail. His whole body stiffened when Acker stepped closer.
“Looking good, Casey,” the doctor whispered, and he squeezed Casey’s shoulder, sliding his hand across his upper back too slowly for Casey’s liking. Acker left the locker room, and Casey leaned against the metal boxes, blowing out a breath, his muscles relaxing enough to send him to the floor if he allowed it.
“That guy gives me the creeps. If he hadn’t got a wife, I’d say he was gay.”
Casey spun around, piercing the other paramedic with his gaze, annoyance flowing out of him. “Really, Kinton? And there’s no way he
could be bisexual, is there?” Casey glared at him and slammed his locker shut, the sound loud in the narrow space.
“I didn’t mean… He could… Shit. I didn’t think, Casey,” Kinton stammered, his face flushing, and his eyes widening.
Casey deflated, sighing and shaking his head. “Nah, it’s okay. I’m feeling shitty. Sorry, man.” Casey gave a half-hearted smile and exited, keeping his eyes peeled for the doctor who gave him some seriously weird vibes. Acker had made similar comments to Casey since Acker had started working there about a year ago. To begin with, it had been nothing more than nice words about how well he did his job, which Casey had appreciated, but they had become steadily more personal as time went on. There was nothing he could do about it, so he carried on with his job and tried to avoid the man where possible.
Q & A With Elouise East
How long have you been an author?
I have always been a writer, ever since I was younger, but I never thought about making it into a career. When I first started publishing in 2019, I did it because I was told I should try it and see what happened. From there, it snowballed and has turned into a full-time job for me. I love bringing characters to life. For me, writing is a joy and is hardly ever a chore.
What/who inspired you to start writing?
A friend that I was beta reading for suggested I try to publish what I had been working on. It ended up being my debut book, which has recently been re-edited.
Tell us about your new release. What inspired you to write it?
It’s a subject that isn’t acknowledged very often in books, I believe, and even less so when it comes to LGBTQ+ genre. I wanted to be able to shine a small spotlight on a subject that can often be happening right before people’s eyes. All it takes is for the right questions to be asked or the right person to be there at the right time.
How did you decide on the title?
I had been trying to think of titles for this story for weeks. I wanted something that related to not only Casey’s job, but what he and Luke meant to each other. Life Support is something you may need when your body is failing you, and it’s also something that a lot of people need when they’re going through a difficult time in their life. The final title seemed fitting.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Remembering that, although I might like ‘that’ idea or scene, it might not actually fit in with the storyline. I need to remind myself that my reader is a different person to who I am and what I like. Deleting scenes from a manuscript is always difficult for me, but I know it makes the book better. I still don’t like the words being removed though.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write every day. Even if it’s just a few words to describe something that was floating around in your head. Even if it’s a description of what is outside the window. Just write. Get into a routine and write every day. It will help take your writing to the next level. My other advice would be to never stop learning. Read craft books, read blog posts, watch videos, watch webinars. Learn everything you can about the author and publishing world. There is never too much information.
Are there any genres you prefer to write and if so, why?
At the moment, I love writing contemporary romance. I love bringing real life experiences into a story and twisting them to make them fit the characters within that story.
Do you have any genres you prefer reading, and if so what are they?
I will read pretty much anything in all honesty. My favourites are werewolf shifters, which I cannot get enough of. I also read a lot of contemporary romance. I love reading and have yet to find anything I don’t like.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Tidal Waves by EM Lindsey.
What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow?
I love CJ Bishop, Lucy Lennox, JR Ward, Christine Feehan, Suzanne Brockmann, GR Lyons and many more.
Do you have a favourite character and/or book you’ve written? Who, what and why?
I don’t actually have a favourite anymore. Before writing Life Support, I would’ve said Deep Down, which is another difficult subject I chose to write about. Now, though, I’m finding that every book I write, I find the same enjoyment in writing it. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m not enjoying writing the book, I shouldn’t publish it. The same has been the case for all the books since Deep Down. I’ve enjoyed each one for different reasons.
Do you get emails asking why characters didn’t get together and whether you’re going to write more about them?
I do, yes. Casey from Life Support was one of those characters. I received a lot of emails and comments about him and his story came about from that.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
If you had asked me several months ago about my writing process, I would have said I was very much a pantser. More recently, I have found something that has worked for me which is a bit of a mix between just writing whatever happens and planning the story. When I first have an idea about a book, I will write out all the details about the characters that I know, this could be their physical description; any tells they may have, like biting their lip; their age, job description and any previous jobs if its notable; whether they drink tea or coffee; and any other tidbits that they might tell me.
Do you write often? Do you have a schedule?
I write every day without fail, unless I’m feeling poorly. Even if it’s just 100 words or a scene, I try to get something down. I find that once I start, that plan to write 100 words, turns into 1,000 or 2,000 or more because I get into the flow of the story and the words just go.
Are you obsessed with stationery? And if so, what and why?
I love stationery. I have no idea why, haha. I remember when I was around 10 or 11, my parents gave me a washing machine-sized box full of every possible piece of stationery you can think of. It was the best present ever! Although, if my kids ever asked, their presents are the best! As for what, I love notebooks, post it notes, any kind of paper based items.
About the Author
I am a bestselling author of contemporary MM romance. I write a variety of themes: sweet and fluffy to high angst to taboo, but friendships are integral to each character’s experience. I write books that are emotionally realistic, even if liberties are taken with other aspects of my stories.
Reading and writing have always been a part of my life, although my debut book wasn’t published until July 2019. My experience has come from reading thousands of books over the years and being a perfectionist when it comes to trying to make things right. I live in the centre of the UK with my two children, who make life worth living, keep me (in)sane and make me laugh every single day.
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