Friday, December 8, 2017

Birthday Presents VBT

For Tracey, life has become a nightmare. Kidnapped from a nightclub in Boulder, Colorado, brutalized and raped by the killer known as Crimson, he's held captive alongside Kyle, a young man Crimson keeps chained to his bed and is slowly torturing to death. Though Tracey manages to escape with Kyle's help, he is forced to leave Kyle behind.

Gene has never stopped looking for his brother Kyle, abducted from a nightclub seven months previously. The case breaks open when Tracey comes forward, claiming to have knowledge of the whereabouts of Crimson's hideout.

A manhunt begins, but Crimson's birthday has come and gone, and he will kill again.

Gene knuckled his tired eyes and yawned audibly in the large room crammed with desks and files and very few detectives. No one came in on a Sunday unless absolutely necessary, or in his case, unable to stay away. His gaze wandered again to the closed door of the office on the far end of the room. Craig was in there with the rest of the Target Crime Team. He'd gotten a call a short time ago saying an eyewitness over in Pine Bluff had seen Kyle alive no less than two days ago. God.

Hope trembled in Gene's chest despite Craig's cautionary words that Kyle hadn't been found yet. But this was the closest they'd come since Kyle's disappearance last November. And Gene had the bastard's knife. Hopefully forensics could get something off it, fingerprints or a serial number, anything to link it to a name so they could track him.

He rubbed the back of his neck. Craig had been furious with him when he found out Gene had been prowling nightclubs again. But what was he to do? No one else was looking for Kyle. Craig claimed Gene jeopardized his investigation. Fuck that. Kyle was his brother and he wasn't about to give up on him. And Gene was careful, only going on his nights off. If he happened to stumble on the kidnapper…

The front entrance thumped open and he glanced in that direction, then dropped his gaze to the papers on his desk, scowling. Just what he needed… A low whistle from one of the detectives walking in made his blood boil.

Survivor Guilt and PTSD
Survivor Guilt: A mental condition that occurs when a person believes they have done something wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not. –Wikipedia

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, or other threats on a person's life. The disorder is characterized by three main types of symptoms:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares.
  • Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma.
  • Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.  –Wikipedia

BIRTHDAY PRESENTS is the story of a serial killer who kidnaps and tortures his victims and the people fighting to stop him. Kyle is the young man he’s kept alive the longest, but Tracey escaped him, and we spend the story watching Tracey deal with his PTSD and learning how to have a ‘normal’ life once again.

Survivors Guilt:
"But you escaped," Andi prompted.

Tracey trembled head to foot, the horror coming back. "Sometimes Crimson would take off my cuff so I could help position Kyle. He likes to hurt him, I don't know why." Tears choked his voice and Tracey swallowed them down, needing to finish before the anguish tore him apart. "Crimson likes Kyle sobbing when he takes him." He drew a shaky breath. "Kyle's dying. We both knew it. So we made plans."

He found it hard to continue. "Crimson let me loose, then turned to Kyle. But that night we fought him. Kyle clawed at his face, I scratched his eye. I don't think he was aware of me when I slipped from the bed. Kyle looked at me, but then Crimson bit his collarbone. I still hear his screams."

Tracey covered his face as it all came back, and screamed into his hands, echoing Kyle's shrieks in his head. A red haze filled him mind. It would never be over! Sobbing, he couldn't catch his breath, and it was a long while before the softly spoken words of the counselor broke the chaos inside him.

1. Re-experiencing the trauma…
He'd begun to doze off, the uneasiness of a bad dream creeping up on him, when movement beside him startled him awake. God! What was it? He scrambled to sit up, terror momentarily blinding him. He'd fight Crimson off this time—

"Tracey! It's okay. You're safe."

What? The conference room swept back into focus. Daniel stood next to the couch while Gene looked at him in concern from the table. Shit. He rubbed his face with his hands, feeling sick.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know you'd fallen asleep," Daniel apologized, dismayed.

"Don't worry about it." Tracey rubbed his hands over his jeans, straightened his shirt. He must look a mess and he would kill for a shower and soft bed, anything to distract him from what was happening in the forest at that very moment.

2. Emotional numbness…
They didn't speak on the way to the parking lot, Tracey sliding into the passenger seat after Daniel unlocked the Jeep. Daniel took his place behind the steering wheel, heart thumping. "You don't have to do this," he said to Tracey's averted profile.

"Yes, I really do." Tracey looked at him and the bleakness in his eyes broke Daniel's heart. Then he squared his shoulders, taking a deep breath. "If I'm going out tonight, I'll need clothes and make-up. Will you loan me some money and a ride to Fort Collins? There's a store there with the best leathers."

"Of course." Daniel watched him, but Tracey's eyes skittered away and he stared out the side window. Daniel turned on the ignition and shifted the Jeep into gear, exiting onto the street. Of course Tracey distanced himself. Daniel had been expecting it. But he'd hoped it wouldn't come until much later in the evening.

3. Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating…
Tracey fingered the coat covering him. Daniel must have lain it over him at some point while he slept. He glanced at him and caught his worried expression. Daniel smiled encouragingly but Tracey let his gaze slide away. He absently scraped chipped nail polish from his thumb, watched the rose flakes drift to the floor. It was nice to have someone there, on his side, but he hoped the guy knew he'd have to settle for friendship. No one better fucking touch him.

He huddled under the borrowed coat as a sense of sadness and loss came over him. He wasn't the same person he had been three weeks ago. He missed the confident, sometimes conceited and bratty guy he'd been. The one who'd boldly painted these nails. Now he jumped at everything, always afraid, timid. He didn't like this person very much.

As you can see, Tracey has a long way to go, but with the support and love from his friends, he survives and slowly learns to relish life once again.

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Author Bio and Links:
Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind. She lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee warming her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

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