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Exchange of Hearts

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Book: Exchange of Hearts


Nineteen year old, Rick Steele was back home for summer break in Dayton after living at the dorms at Ohio State University in Columbus. He expected three months off to relax and do nothing, maybe swim in his family pool or help out around the house, but that was it.
His mother, Jenny, a divorced teacher, had other plans for the family. She and Rick’s sisters, thirteen year old Connie and fifteen year old ‘Goth’ Rhonda thought having an exchange student from Italy would be just the ticket to revving up their free time.
From Lombardy, Italy, Elia Gianni was thrilled to take a break from college and spend time in America. No, it wasn’t New York, or LA, but still, it was the United States of America. Elia arrived at Dayton airport, ready to live the American experience, which was a chance of a lifetime.
The only problem the host family had upon Elia’s arrival, was…
They expected a woman.
When Rick first set eyes on the fantastic, long-haired Italian stud, he fell head over heels for him. Rick wanted to have sex with this man so badly, he was a walking erection.
With the family in a tailspin, and Rick still not ‘out’ to his family, Elia’s arrival knocked everyone off their feet, most of all, the big, macho athlete, Rick.
Suddenly having to share his bedroom with a gorgeous Italian exchange student, Rick was forced into making too many decisions before he was mentally prepared to do so. He was the ‘man of the family’ ever since his dead-beat dad left his mother for a younger woman. How was Rick supposed to come out? Could his mom handle it?
And for Elia, meeting blond, blue-eyed, muscular Rick Steele, was just what he needed for one heck of an American adventure.
But Elia had been warned by his family back home about not revealing his sexuality. Americans were violent. He would get beaten up, or worse.
How was Elia supposed to hide his attraction for Rick while he shared a small space with him for four weeks?
It only took twenty-four hours for Elia to know that answer.
Exchanging hearts was the reality of their meeting. And only time would tell whether it was a brief summer fling, or the love of their lives.


Excerpt for Exchange of Hearts:

 Why on earth am I nervous?
After all, the guest they were expecting was a nineteen year old exchange student from Lombardy, Italy. She was due any minute. No big deal.
His two younger sisters, Connie and Rhonda had made up the daybed in their room for Elia Gianni. It was as if they had a new doll to dress up or a playmate to whisper secrets to in the night.
Still, Rick Steele was a little envious. He knew when his sisters were younger and had sleep-overs the giggling never stopped until the early hours of the morning. What did he expect from an immature thirteen year old and a Goth fifteen year old? Not a lot.
At nineteen, on summer break from Ohio State University, Rick was the man in the family. His mother, Jenny, had called him that ever since his dad left her for another woman. A much younger woman. Rick hated his dad and was sorry for his mother. He did the best he could to help out, but he was in the dorms in Columbus most of the time now.
His mom called his father, ‘Dick-the-dead-beat’. Dick lived in Arizona with some peroxide-blonde-tattoo-covered druggie, leaving Rick, his two sisters and mother to fend for themselves in Dayton.
Rick had no idea why his mother agreed to house this exchange student with the Rotary club. Yes, his mom was very civic-minded and was involved in every women’s business group Ohio offered, but she always seemed overwhelmed with too much to do. Being a full time mom/dad and paying all the bills, working two jobs, one as a teacher, one as a summer tutor, Jenny had no free time on her hands.
Perhaps it was peer pressure from her teacher friends, or maybe it was Rhonda’s idea. Rhonda with the dyed pink hair, black fingernail polish and nose ring. Wasn’t it Rhonda who brought home all the brochures from Kettering High School? Whatever the reason, everyone in the house seemed thrilled to have someone as exotic as an Italian native in their modest three bedroom middle-American home.
His sisters were still whispering about it in the bedroom they shared.
Rick stood by the doorway to see what they were up to. Pillow fluffing.
“Ricky,” Connie said, “She’s coming any minute.”
“I know. Geez, take a chill pill.”
“She’s so pretty.” Rhonda held a folder which included Elia’s photograph. “Look.” She held it up as if Rick hadn’t already seen it. “I want her to teach me to speak Italian. It would be so cool.”
Yes, Elia was gorgeous. Long brown thick hair, dark eyes, chiseled features, full lips. But Rick had no interest in women, so it didn’t make a difference to him. He imagined sharing a little light conversation over dinner, then minding his own business.
“What time did Mom say the flight arrival time was?” Rick checked his watch.
“Around six. She’s picking her up at the Dayton Airport straight from work.” Rhonda snapped her fingers. “Crap, I was supposed to get the barbeque grille going.”
“I’ll help.” Rick followed both his sisters into the kitchen. Seeing Rhonda’s midriff exposing her ‘muffin-top’ roll, Rick cringed and wondered what poor Elia would think of them. Some typical American family? An AWOL deadbeat dad, a pink haired chubby Goth with more piercings than a loose-leaf binder, and a thirteen year old who still collected made in China plastic toy animals with eyes that were too big for their head.
Rick exited the house through the sliding glass door to the deck in the backyard. The hot humid June air slapped him in the face in contrast to the cool interior air conditioning. They had an above ground swimming pool that was fifteen feet wide by thirty feet long and four feet deep, surrounded by an elevated deck.
Connie removed the metal grate as Rhonda shook the bag of charcoal into the bowl.
Rick heard the vague sound of a car door closing from the front of the house. “Is that them?”
“I don’t know.” Rhonda pushed the sooty charcoals into a mini hill in the center of the bowl.
“I’ll check.” Rick walked around the outside of the house to take a quick look. His mother’s Mazda was parked in the driveway and the trunk was open, obscuring the view to her and their new exchange student.
His mother was talking non-stop and sounded either upset or nervous. Rick knew his mother was slightly neurotic but hoped she wasn’t freaking out the poor girl.
Rick was about to say hello or offer to help with luggage when he stopped short. Holy shit!
“Rick,” his mother said as if she had been running out of air from all her chatter. “This is Elia!”
The way his mother said ‘Elia’ and pointed in panic, Rick felt his stomach churn.
“Hello.” Elia had a very thick accent, and held out his, yes, his hand in greeting.
“Hi.” Rick clasped the offered hand and went into meltdown. No. Elia Gianni was not a girl. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But his photo sure looked like he was.
“I know there’s been a mistake.” Jenny appeared about to have a coronary. “But I suppose it’s all right. I do think the girls will be disappointed though. Rick, open the door, dear.”
Rick headed to the front of their house which was located in a cul-de-sac on a quiet street. The summer air had the scent of jasmine and his mother’s lily’s which were planted everywhere along the house, the garage, and around the shed.
“Come in. My name is Rick.” Rick propped the door open for Elia.
“Grazie, Rick.”
Elia held a small carry-on suitcase, hoisting it over the step and door frame. He wore skin tight black slacks and a black short sleeve t-shirt. Rick almost came at the sight of his tight ass. “How was the flight?”
“Long.” Elia smiled, dimples appeared. Rick imagined licking them.
“I should make a phone call and let someone know.” Jenny raced around like a chicken without a head.
“Mom. Calm down.” Rick hated when his mother went manic.
“Mom?” Rhonda called from the back of the house.
Connie and Rhonda raced in. The minute they saw Elia they stopped short.
“You’re a guy,” Connie said.
“Yes. I am a guy.” Elia’s eyes shined with his perfect smile. “There is a mistake. I know not why they think I am a girl.”
“Mom,” Rick said, “Don’t worry about it.” If you think I’m letting this guy leave, you’re nuts.