As promised... The First Three Chapters of Hurricane Reese
Thank you so much for helping me reach my Thunderclap Campaign goal... Here are the first three chapters of Hurricane Reese. Enjoy! See you tomorrow for Release Day!
“Jada, honey, can we please just—”
Reese Matheson had been arguing with his girl and banging on the front door of his condo for twenty minutes, and it seemed she’d finally gone ahead with her threats.“Shit.”Reese flew down the steps and around their unit to the pool in time to see his photo album plummet over the railing of their balcony and into the deep end to join his surfboard.Reese focused on his family pictures, quickly sinking to the bottom. He climbed over the iron fence that surrounded the pool, dove in fully clothed, and swam frantically to collect his precious photos. As he surfaced he could practically see the fire in Jada’s eyes as she hurled a stack of his songbooks over the rail.“You love those books more than anything! Now you can swim with them.”On and on it went. She continued to clear the bookshelves of his irreplaceable music collection. He halfheartedly begged her to stop. She tossed them over into the pool. He rescued them. A crowd formed.
Paparazzi snapped pictures.... Suddenly Reese knew exactly why this was happening.
The London photos.
“Jada, please. Can we—”
“We most certainly can
not! We’re through! You can pick up your shit and get out! You want to go traipsing around the world, having fun
without me, hanging all over people? I’m too young to be sitting here
Reese snorted. The drama was too much. “Oh, please. You’re older
That did it. She squealed and disappeared from his sight only long
enough to run back in and grab the pièce de résistance—his Tony.
“No, Jada. Please!”
The hunk of matter of which he was the most proud sailed effortlessly
through the air. It landed in the water a foot out of Reese’s long reach. He
dove after the heavy statue and surfaced in time to see his ex-girlfriend’s
sorrow-filled gaze. She slammed the sliding door shut so hard that he was
shocked the sound of breaking glass didn’t echo through the complex.
“Señor Matheson. Oh, I’ll help you.”
The little old man who tended the grounds took the statue from
Reese and held out a hand to help him out of the water. A pile of soggy
books lay at his feet—books that chronicled his brief but unbelievably
successful music career. He’d gone from jam-band singer, to songwriter
for a pop princess, to her tour mate, to singing a pair of smash-hit singles,
to landing a movie soundtrack, and finally, co-writing a Broadway
musical with his longtime friend and collaborator, Toby Griffiths. It was
that last endeavor that earned them the coveted award.
Reese should be celebrating the end of their London run, not
rescuing his memories from a saltwater pool. But if he stopped to really
think about it, all the warning signs of impending disaster were there—
no cute selfie texts recently and complete radio silence over the past
week. Apparently she’d been building up to a blowout for seven whole
days, during which every television, tabloid, and internet service had
plastered his face and that of the lead in his show, Ethan Bradley, all
over the planet. He couldn’t totally blame her. She was concerned with
appearances, and appearing to be someone’s beard didn’t appeal to her,
even if she knew it wasn’t true.
Reese slowly gathered up his belongings and, with the help of Enrique,
loaded them all into his Tesla Model X. He tried to give the man soggy
money from his wallet to say thank you, but the sweet guy refused it.
So now what? The condo was leased in his name, and he’d been
paying all of their bills for the last two years, but he didn’t have it in
him to fight anymore. He’d rushed home to drop off his stuff as soon
as his flight landed and then planned to go directly to see his beloved
grandfather, with or without Jada. Now he needed a new plan, one that
involved dry clothes. He turned on the car and pointed it in the direction
of the cottage he’d bought for Grandpa on the beach in the gorgeous
Southern California town of Malibu. The little two-bedroom house had
beach access and was perfect for Reese’s passion for surfing. The thought
of working off his frustrations by riding some choice waves appealed to
him. The whole setup appealed to him.
That was it. Since Jada had made the decision for him, he would
move in with Grandpa. He’d already taken an indefinite hiatus to spend
time with the old man. Now he’d be right across the hall.
The catch was that the place had only two bedrooms, and the
other room was currently occupied by the caregiver Reese had hired
for Grandpa, Jude De La Torre. The old man had suffered a series of
minor strokes and then was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just over two
years prior. He was sure Jude would understand. Reese was determined
to have quality time with his grandfather before he’d have to make some
difficult decisions. No time like the present. His heart felt considerably lighter
as he drove toward his next adventure.
“Reese, my boy, I wash my own balls. Don’t think because you’re
taking over I need that kinda help. You got that? And I need you to get
me them underwear from JCPenney, not this designer crap you brought
me. They hold your balls in better, and my boys need all the support they
Reese had been sole caregiver of his grandfather, Thomas Matheson,
for exactly two hours, and the old man hadn’t stopped peppering him
with gems of geriatric wisdom.
“You know, I can deal with diapers, but old man balls is not exactly
the topic of conversation I thought we’d be having right about now.”
“Well you better be ready for it. You reach my age, and your balls
move into a new zip code. Right now it’s time for Jeopardy. I’m not
missing my shows tonight.”
“Old man, Jeopardy doesn’t start until seven. It’s only five thirty.
How about we go to Mulberry and have some pizza?”
“But I’ll miss my show. Jude never let me miss my shows.”
The name alone sent Reese into a whirlwind of guilt,
irritation, and, well, feelings he wasn’t ready to admit. Reese showed up
that afternoon after the debacle at the condo and sprang the news that he
was moving in. Jude had remained infuriatingly quiet.
“Jude you’ve been wonderful, but I need this time with him. I’ll pay
you for the next month, but I’m moving back in today. You understand,
don’t you? Thank you for everything.”
Reese had hoped for some sort of reaction—anything other than
silence. He never knew where he stood with his grandfather’s caregiver,
nor could he figure out why it mattered to him.
Jude crossed his arms, stuck out a hip, and raised a perfectly formed
eyebrow at him. “Very well. I’ll pack my things.” Jude moved swiftly from
the room. He had his things together in thirty minutes and took another
fifteen to carefully type up Grandpa’s medication and schedule.
Grandpa had been confused and downright ornery. The old man
liked his caregiver, but Reese was family. They were it for each other.
“I’m your grandson and I love you. I thought we could have some
time together, just you and me. I’m off tour indefinitely, and I want to
focus on you. We’ve got your music to catalog, and I want us to work on
my next show.”
But Reese had a sinking feeling that he might be too late. Jude had
warned him over the past year that his grandfather’s Alzheimer’s was
advancing at a rapid rate.
Before he left, though, Jude let Reese have it, albeit in his calm
“What do you know about caring for an old man? You only know
about taking care of yourself, Reese Matheson. What’re you going to do
when he wanders? Have you thought about that?”
How much trouble could his grandfather be? Reese was
absolutely competent enough to take care of his beloved eighty-seven-
year-old grandfather on his own. He’d been footing the bills for his care
anyway. Moving in hadn’t been part of his plan, but it was a great idea.
That brought him back to thoughts of Jude. The guy had a big
family. He knew from Grandpa that Jude had aunts and uncles and
cousins in the area. Reese was sure he’d have a place to stay. It wasn’t
like he was making him homeless or anything.
But no aspect of the transition was meant to go smoothly.
A Week Later
Jude De La Torre drove his ancient Nissan Pathfinder along the sunny
Southern California coast toward yet another interview—his third in the
week since he was abruptly let go from his last job as a live-in caregiver.
The sounds of Neon Trees filled the vehicle, and Jude tried to let go of his
stress. It wouldn’t do to go in all wound up and with a frown on his face.
Tita Germaine had set up the interview for him through her contacts
as a labor-and-delivery nurse. Germaine knew everyone in the Santa
Monica nursing community. If she didn’t know them, Tita Gemma had
sold them a house or knew them from her volunteer work with the Filipino
community. Everyone knew everyone, and that was why he needed to be
discreet with his current living situation.
He’d gotten quite adept at grooming using the tiny mirror on the
Pathfinder’s visor. He’d showered at Tito Rommel’s house early that
morning, before his uncle got home from his night job, to avoid looking
like he’d been sleeping in his car—which he had—and thanked the Lord
once again that he still had a set of clean scrubs to wear for his interview.
He’d have to hit the laundromat that night.
Jude needed a break. Ever since that entitled, clueless, spoiled brat
Reese came waltzing in and told him he was no longer required to care
for Mr. Matheson at the job he’d cherished for the past two years, he’d
been in damage-control mode. Jude wet his hair with a spray bottle,
used some product to even out the bedhead, and applied the last of his
deodorant. He’d have to buy some toiletries. His meager savings didn’t
allow for many purchases, but looking his best and being put together
was the only way he was keeping it together.
His phone rang somewhere under a pile of papers on the passenger
seat, and he dug frantically for it.
He’d called Jude several times over the past week with questions
about Mr. Matheson’s medications and where his doctor’s office was
located. The man had a college degree and a successful music career,
but he couldn’t manage to look up a phone number, much less follow the
directions Jude had written out.
He’d warned Reese that he wasn’t capable of taking care of his
grandfather, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s and needed full-time
care. But Reese was adamant. He said he wanted time with him and
could handle it. Jude admired his determination, but Reese was foolish
to think he could do it on his own. But try as he might, Jude couldn’t just
walk away from their situation, nor could he refuse Reese.
Despite how much he hated himself for it, he’d been terribly
attracted to Reese since the day he interviewed for the home health care
position. Reese’s wavy blond hair had hung down past his shoulders and
covered one eye until he pulled it back in a ridiculously self-absorbed
man bun and smiled with those stupid-white teeth and eyes so deep blue
they were ludicrous. Jude had stumbled over his words, but somehow
managed to land the job. He’d spent two long years watching Reese pop
in and out of the house to visit his grandfather.
“What do you want, Mister
Matheson?” Jude didn’t even try to
keep the sneer out of his voice. The man, more like man-child, had taken
away his job and left him homeless with his determination to do things
his way. He wasn’t about—
“I need you.”
Reese’s voice was devoid of the swagger Jude had experienced
from him in the past. It turned his blood cold.
“I don’t work for you or your grandfather anymore, Mister
Matheson. You’ll need to call—”
“Jude, he’s gone. I woke up this morning, and the front door was
standing wide open. I drove all over and called the police, but there’s no
sign of him.”
Jude could hear Reese breathing heavy on the other end of the
phone, as though he were power walking.
“I....” He paused. What did Reese expect from him?
“You know him. You know his routines, where he likes to go, what
he likes to do. I’ve been gone for so long, I don’t even know where to
start looking.” His voice broke on that last sentence.
Jude looked at his watch. He had ten minutes until his interview.
They might reschedule. They might tell him to take a hike. He still had
two more assisted living facilities he could contact, but he was running
out of options. No one in his family had the room or the resources to take
him in or feed one more. He’d been sleeping in the back of his SUV and
parking outside the homes of various family members to be near help if
he needed it. He always claimed to be at someone else’s house so no one
would suspect his ruse.
Nope. Jude was going to find a job and a room to rent. He’d been
on his own for years. He could handle his own business.
But Jude couldn’t walk away from Mr. Matheson. He’d become
like Jude’s own grandfather. When he was having moments of clarity,
they walked along the beach, and he sang to Jude and told him stories.
He’d given Jude life advice that he found priceless. His own parents
had been summoned back to the Philippines to care for his paternal
grandparents, and they’d left him on his own at twenty.
Thankfully he’d finished a two-year Nursing Assistant program so
he could support himself. Living with Mr. Matheson meant he could
continue to take online courses toward his nursing degree and help
financially with his younger siblings. It hadn’t meant saving money.
“I’ll help you on one condition,” he said to Reese.
It was a bit evil to make Reese promise him anything while he was
frantically looking for his grandfather, but it was nonnegotiable.
“When we get him back, we do things my way.”
Jude heard cursing on the other end of the line and what sounded
like Reese fumbling with the phone.
“Fine. Meet me at the house. Please, Jude. I’m so worried.”
That melted his heart a little.
“On my way.”
Reese paced frantically in front of the cottage. The past week had been
exhausting and his sleep deprivation was a serious hindrance. Grandpa
was much worse off than he’d originally thought. Jude had left lists
of medications and routines that could have easily been for an entire
hospital. Reese was never very good at keeping schedules. Even on the
road, he had to be constantly reminded by the tour manager where he
was supposed to be and when. Grandpa was up during the night several
times, trying to get out the door. Once he even got as far as the back gate
to the property, which led down to the beach. Reese had called an alarm
company, but they couldn’t come out for another several weeks. Turned
out that was too late.
It would be hell admitting to Jude that he’d bitten off more than
he could chew. Something about the young man put him off his game.
He was so damned intense all the time. Reese had visited many times
over the past two years, and always admired the quiet way Jude entered
the room, gave Grandpa his medicine, and breezed right out without
even disturbing anything. By contrast Reese moved like a hurricane,
wreaked havoc with his crazy energy and enthusiasm, and then left the
place a disaster in his wake. It was probably one of the many reasons his
relationship with Jada hadn’t worked out.
When Reese asked him how Grandpa was doing during these
visits, Jude always started with the positives and then said, “His disease
will worsen, so it’s important he stay on a routine. It will be easier for
him that way.” His gentle voice sounded older than a twenty-two-year
old’s should. It made Reese wonder why a young man would take on a
job that basically required round-the-clock care. When Reese was his
age, he’d been living the fraternity life at UC Santa Bonita, surfing, and
making music with his friends.
A beat-up Pathfinder parked at the curb, and Reese felt his
stomach clench. He hated the way he’d left things with Jude. He
hadn’t meant to waltz in and disrupt everything, but he really thought
he should finally step up and take care of his beloved grandfather.
He’d been trying to figure out how best to apologize when Jude
climbed out of the cab of his truck and rendered Reese speechless for
a moment. He almost forgot the purpose for the younger man’s visit.
Jude moved with a purpose, every step graceful and efficient. Reese
watched as Jude lifted his chin and sucked in a breath as he walked
“Did you check the pool hall?” Jude called out. “The senior center?
Have you called Lefty and Harry?”
Jude passed right by him and into the house, his sturdy frame
covered in worn scrubs. Reese had only ever seen him dressed that way.
It made him wonder what Jude did with the rest of his life. And if he were
in scrubs, perhaps he’d already found another job, which could be a good
thing for Reese’s guilt, a bad thing if he wasn’t able to help.
“I called Lefty. He said he hadn’t seen Grandpa since Tuesday
when we met him for coffee. Harry didn’t answer his phone. And did
you say pool hall? I don’t know any—”
“The one downtown. I doubt he could have walked it. Did you
check your phone to see if he called a cab? He tried that once with
me when I wouldn’t take him out at night. The guys have a room in
the back at Lucky’s where they play cards every Thursday. Perhaps
he was confused and went down there. What time did you say you
“About ten I think? I don’t know. He’s been getting up at
night. I was up with him last night around three, and then I couldn’t sleep
so I was working on music, and—”
“And you didn’t hear him leave,” Jude finished, irritated. “Let me
go down to the pool hall.”
“I’ll grab a coat and come with you,” Reese said as Jude headed
for the door. He hurried into his room, which had clothes strewn all over.
He tossed piles around until he found a hoodie. Then he dashed into the
short hallway as he pulled it over his head and crashed into something.
“Oh, Jesus. Jude, I’m sorry.”
Jude stood holding a hand to his head with his eyes closed as though
he were taking cleansing breaths for patience.
“It’s fine, Mr. Matheson. I was going to say—”
“Please. Call me Reese. Look, Jude, I’m sorry. I really thought—”
“Let’s go. He’ll be hungry soon, and if no one is there to bring him
food, he’ll wander.”
Jude turned on his heel and left the cottage. Reese cursed his
clumsiness as he watched Jude walk away. He’d run right over the poor
guy so many times. How could he ever get into his good graces?