Johnnies: Book Four
John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible—and left John to clean up his mess.
Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John's craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory's neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen's been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory's life.
The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn't hurt that they're both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative—and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.
"The coke habit had started to keep him awake through college. Tory had succumbed because he’d been weak and sad, and the other drugs had given him solace and dreams, but John was smarter than that. He’d been able to just use it, just use it, just use it…. Until suddenly he owed his dealer so much money he’d rather sell out his best friend than go without his next hit."
Amy Lane has told me, more than a few times, that I love her most broken boys the best. She's probably right. The more damaged they are, the more my heart gets involved, and since her writing is practically incomparable, it's a given that the 'Johnnies' series is near and dear to my soul. When Amy told me that John was going to tear me up and spit me out, I did not take that warning with a grain of salt. I mean, seriously? The author knows her characters better than anyone. The fact that Amy gave me a warning did not fall on deaf ears. I got prepared to read 'Black John', book four in the series, by opening a brand-new box of Kleenex, and a family-size box of double-stuff Oreos. Trust me when I say I needed them both, and I finished them in one sitting.
“Didn’t happen. Won’t want this again.” He sighed and wrenched himself back.
“Yeah, we will,” Galen said soberly.
John swallowed, legitimately afraid. “I’m a recovering addict—”
“And I’m not recovering,” Galen said. Those luminous green eyes narrowed and glittered. “Not yet. But I want you. And you need someone. So you need to decide how this is or is not going to happen, because it’s an issue.”
John has always been around in the Johnnies world. Hell, it’s his business. He created it from the ground up, and almost managed to lose it, if it hadn’t been for Dex. In ‘Black John’, the author finally shows us who John is, why he’s done the stuff he’s done, and, in doing so, she shows us so much more than just a pornographer. Because John could never be called "just a pornographer". Not when it’s so apparent how much he cares about his guys, and his fundamental reasons for starting this business in the first place. For John, porn is more than just a good wank in the dark while staring at images. Sex is wondrous, miraculous, beautiful, and not dirty. Or at least, not always dirty. If John can show that, can have his guys having fun while doing it, then it’s all worth it at the end of the day. But it all began with Tory.
Beautiful Tory with his gorgeous face and deep brown eyes. A large Italian family and a load of Catholic guilt. Tory, who needed everything, and more was never enough. More sex, more men, more drugs. Nothing ever filled the giant hole inside Tory, and although John always hoped he'd be enough, nothing and no one was ever enough for beautiful, tragic, Tory. For you see, John is so in love with Tory, he'd give him anything, and do anything for him. But Tory never loved anyone as much as he loved himself, and the tragic life he leads. He destroys John in a way that a truly beautiful person can do, to someone who only believes that they're average. Tory takes, and takes, and takes some more, until John finally leaves, believing that Tory will get better by himself, without John enabling him. In the end, though, Tory leaves in the most selfish way possible, one final time leaving John to clean up his mess.
"I can’t pretend anymore that I didn’t do this to myself. I can’t pretend I’m not old and tired. And I keep dribbling poison into my body, a little at a time, telling myself that it’s like a drink after work. I’m done, John. I mean, I blamed you at first because my family—” He broke off and obviously decided he couldn’t talk about that. “I’m sorry. You thought too much of me, you know? I’m not sure if I’ve loved anyone in my life, but I know I came close with you.”
So here’s John, fresh out of rehab, dealing with a shit storm of memories and emotions, all the things that make him want to just find a dealer and shove some blow up his nose. Except there’s Galen. A corporate lawyer shark who suffered a bad motorcycle accident three years before, and lost his career, his boyfriend, and his home, all before leaving the hospital. He’s been Tory’s neighbor, and his fellow addict, although Galen’s drug of choice is pain pills, namely oxy. It’s inconceivable to believe that these two broken men could find in each other that which they’d been searching for, for so very long. But they do. They manage it because even as broken as they are, these two souls would have found each other no matter what, because they belong together.
I imagine it doesn’t come as a shock that I fell in love with both John and Galen. I loved how real they were with each other. I loved how Galen took every opportunity to show John that he wasn’t worthless, he wasn’t a horrible person, and that John deserves the same kind of love that he’s always given. I loved how John showed Galen that his scars didn’t mean anything, and John didn’t even see them. I loved how Galen was strong enough to make John get back to his life, and leave Galen to recovering, and I loved how strong John was, to finally be able to have faith and believe in hope.
“Galen’s smile was justifiably proud. “But I had to know I could improve,” he said simply. “I had to know that I was the best man I could be for you.” His pale pink mouth trembled under his stubble. “You… you’d spent your whole life being second, thinking that was okay. I wanted to be the best so you’d know that’s what I thought of you too.”
Thank you, Amy.
Black John is a story about finding a way to forgive yourself for something you have believe for years you were the cause of the problem and due to that the cause of the ultimate ending to that situation.
John is fresh out of rehab and has to clean up his act more and go tend the mess left by his first lover Tory.
While in Florida He meets Galen, even tough, deep in his own “prescription” pill addiction becomes somehow a friend and voice of reason in John’s life.
Letting the past go, letting the future become what he needs teaches John so much about self-importance and that loving someone unconditionally is sometimes letting that person go so they can become what they need to be and be what you need.
I must confess at the beginning of reading this story I wanted to be mad a John and the more I read his story he became a hero … he became someone that finally saw his Johnnies as what they really are a family, his friends and he finally saw that Galen love him like he deserved.
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