Talking About Trouble — Eli’s Top Five Scenes in “The Trouble with Tony”
By Eli Easton
“The Trouble with Tony” is a light-hearted, rom-com of a m/m romance novella. In the story, Tony DeMarco, a private eye, goes undercover at a sex clinic during his investigation into a young woman’s murder. He ends up falling for the dead girl’s therapist, Dr. Jack Halloran, a steely-eyed ex combat surgeon who’s PTSD has relegated him to doing therapy work. But before Tony can act on his attraction to Jack, he has to prove the good doctor is innocent of murder and also deal with the little problem that Tony’s lied to Jack since the moment they met.
There are two things I love in a m/m romance story—humor and lots of sexual tension. I did my best to infuse this story with heaping helpings of both. Here are my top five favorite scenes.
Eli’s 5 Favorite Scene:
#5 The ‘you are lying’ scene
Tony is trying to find out if Dr. Halloran, or the sex clinic, had anything to do with the death of Marilyn White. So he decides to go undercover as a new patient in order to sniff around. He’s clicked around the clinic’s website and he knows the disorders they treat, so he has his cover story all ready. What he didn’t count on, though, was that Dr. Jack Halloran is far from stupid. I love this scene because it’s the first time Tony realizes just who he’s dealing with.
““It’s like this, Doc. I’m a sex addict.”
“Oh?” Halloran looked a little surprised.
“Yeah. And it’s starting to affect my work and everything, so, you know, I figured I needed help.”
Tony put on a distraught look. He wouldn’t call himself leading man material, but he was a bullshitter from way back. You had to be with a mother like his. Ma seemed to know by osmosis if he’d clipped his toenails or jerked off that morning, and would be sure to bring it up over breakfast so that all four of his brothers and his father could be in the loop.
“What kind of work do you do?” Halloran asked.
“Insurance investigations,” Tony hedged. It had a thread of truth in it. If you squinted.
Dr. Halloran said nothing for a long minute, just studied him. Shouldn’t he be making sympathetic sounds? Asking questions? Offering helpful advice? Tony shifted in his seat, feeling vaguely like a bug under glass.
“How often do you masturbate?” Halloran asked.
Tony choked a bit, but managed to make it look like a tickle in his throat. “Uh… two, three times a day.” He forced a cheeky grin. “And that’s in my off days.”
Halloran lifted the pencil and tapped it thoughtfully on his chin, those steely blue eyes unwavering.
“And you have partners as well?”
“Oh, hell yeah! Lots.”
Tony shrugged. “Doc, I’ll tap anything. I told you, I’m an addict.”
Halloran’s eyes narrowed. He sucked on the end of the pencil lightly. Still, his piercing gaze never wavered. What was his problem? Whatever it was, Tony was feeling the pressure. It reminded him of being in Sister Mary Frances’s algebra class. That nun had eyes that were like frickin’ pinholes in space-time.
“Do you watch porn?” Halloran asked calmly.
Tony froze. What was the right answer here? But he had to stick with the story he’d already been building. He snorted and made a “come on” gesture. “Why would I need porn when I get laid all the time?”
In a flash, Halloran was out of his seat, around the desk, and in Tony’s space. Tony gasped in shock as Halloran leaned down, quick as a snake, and grabbed his crotch.
And there they were, Tony sitting in the chair, and Halloran leaning over him, his hand grasping Tony’s dick through his trousers. Halloran’s steely blue eyes were far too sharp. Why had Tony thought they were cornflower? Cripes, they were a cold blue, like steel, like ice—inches away from his own. Those eyes were locked on him like a weapons system.
And Tony’s dick, which had been soft in the first place, now tried to crawl back into his body like Napoleon’s army retreating from Moscow. Great. Thanks, you goddamn coward.
Halloran gave him a cold smile and spoke, low and deadly. “You. Are. Lying.” And with that he let go and straightened up.”
#4 The “BM” scene
Tony left behind a big Italian family when he moved from Brooklyn to Seattle. Part of the reason he lives far away from his big horde of relatives is the fact that he’s gay and he doesn’t think his macho brothers would be able to accept that. But despite the distance, Tony’s family is involved in our story (Tony might say overly involved). Here’s part a phone call from Tony’s mother. She’s one of my favorite characters in the book.
“What about you, Tony?” his mom asked. “You feeling good? No colds?”
“I’m good, Ma. Healthy as a horse. It was all that garlic you fed me in utero.”
His mother laughed. “You make fun, but it’s true. I swear! How are your BMs?”
“Ma,” Tony warned.
“Do you go daily? Because it should be daily.”
Tony hit his forehead into the steering wheel with an audible thunk. He was really, really glad he was alone in a parked car on a dark street, and that there was no reason for anyone to bug his car. “Ma, I really don’t want to talk with you about my bowel movements, okay? What am I, three years old?”
“You know what your Uncle Harvey always said, ‘What comes out shows the quality of what went in.’”
“Ma, Uncle Harvey had dementia. That’s what comes from obsessing about BMs.”
“Don’t be so full of yourself! I’m your mother, and I have a right to know these things.”
“My BMs are fine, okay? Peachy! Daily and… fine.”
“Not too hard?”
“If they get too hard, you’re not eating enough fiber. Are you eating plenty of vegetables? And bread. But not that white crap—sourdough, like I make. You should find a good Italian bakery there.”
#3 The prostate exam
Did I saw something about sex earlier? Right. Sex! In this next scene, Dr. Halloran insists on giving Tony a physical exam, as he does every new patient, to make sure the root of his alleged sexual problem is not physical. Tony hates the idea, but thinks he can endure if it he must. This is the first time Tony realizes he’s in trouble because he’s strongly attracted to the man he’s supposed to be investigating.
Jack stood up and went to the door of his office, where a white doctor’s coat hung on a hook. He started putting it on. “As I mentioned, before we can start treatment, I need to do an exam. I have to rule out any obvious physical issues first.”
“I can assure you, Doc, the plumbing is fine down there,” Tony said, now definitely panicking.
“Oh? When was your last physical?”
Tony tried to joke. “Me? I’m Italian, I’m male, and I’m under fifty. I wouldn’t go to a doctor unless my eyeball was hanging out so far I could floss with it, or my piss was the color of pink lemonade, maybe even bloody mary mix.”
Jack turned to him with a raised brow, blocking the door and folding his arms, his feet slightly apart. “Uh-huh. That’s what I thought. Do you want me to treat you or not, Mr. DeMarco? Because if you’re not serious about this, I’d rather you not waste both our time.”
“I… I am serious, Doc. But—”
Halloran pointed to an exam table set against the back wall of the office. His voice was so cold it could have sunk the Titanic. “Then go over to that table and drop ’em.”
Jack walked over. As he drew close, Tony felt a nauseous flutter in his stomach. He closed his eyes.
“That’s fine, Tony. Close your eyes and relax.”
It sounded suspiciously like something a serial killer would say. Tony bit his lip as he felt hands unbutton the lower buttons on his shirt and tuck the ends to either side. A cool breeze wafting over his dick let him know he was exposed. Nice.
There was absolute silence for a moment and then Jack chuckled. “You’re going to make your lip bleed. It’s not all that bad, is it? Didn’t you play sports in school?”
A warm, latex-covered hand rested on his left thigh while another gently, but confidently, lifted his flaccid flesh. He felt Halloran check his slit carefully with the brush of a fingertip, probably looking for discharge.
“Wrestling,” Tony said with a sharp exhale. He squeezed his eyes shut tighter.
“Yeah? High school freestyle wrestling?” Halloran’s gentle fingers prodded along the length of his penis, felt around the base of it, then palpitated along the top of his groin. A hand nudged him to spread further.
“Yeah,” Tony managed in a strangled voice. “Freshman year through Senior. Letter jacket and everything.”
“That right? Did you win a lot of matches?”
A gentle hand cupped him and felt carefully around his scrotum and the space underneath, pressing sure, confident, clinical fingers.
“Better than average,” Tony managed. “My ranking was 80.90.”
Tony knew Halloran was just trying to distract him, but he was grateful to have a reason to think about something, anything, else. “It ran in the family. I had four older brothers and they all wrestled. I guess it kept us from killing each other. When we’d get in a fight, my dad would make us wrestle on the living room floor, college rules.”
The hands vanished. For a moment, Tony felt joyfully relieved. He’d survived it.
“Turn around, please,” Halloran said.
Tony’s eyes popped open. “Oh, hell no! Please, Doc. Say you’re joking.”
Halloran managed not to smile. Much. But his eyes were dancing like it was a fucking jolly holiday. “Don’t be a baby, DeMarco. It’ll be over before you know it. Think of it as a wrestling match.”
“I hate you,” Tony said sincerely. But he turned. He felt like a doofus with his pants around his knees and his bare ass hanging out.
“Lean forward,” Jack said softly. He placed a hand on the middle of Tony’s back and lightly urged him down over the table. Tony went. Halloran pushed the tail of his shirt up to the middle of his back. Then Tony heard him squeezing something, no doubt some medical lube, onto his hand. The edge of Halloran’s thigh pressed into his left leg, and one hand returned to his back as if to hold him steady.
And that’s when it happened. Tony felt a hot rush explode from every place where Halloran was touching him—along the length of the leg that pinned him and the latex-covered hand that was cupped on the small of his back. A rush of lust surged through his body like an express train. His dick went from zero to sixty in about three seconds, and it pushed, hard and heavy, against the edge of the exam table. And just about the time Tony, in total shock, had registered what was going on, Halloran went in for the kill.
The hand on Tony’s back slid down to pull one cheek slightly open and then Halloran’s finger, covered in latex and lube, slid home.
“Fuck!” Tony cursed, loud and long.
Halloran twisted his finger a bit, as if to loosen him. The hand not busy plowing Tony’s ass slid back up and spread out over the center of his back. Perhaps that was meant to be comforting, but it smacked of being held down to be fucked and, damn, Tony suddenly wanted that. That. More than he’d wanted a Dean Martin jacket for Christmas at age twelve or for Aaron to say he was joking the night he’d announced his move to L.A.
“Relax,” Halloran said calmly. “It’ll be over in a moment. So is 80.90 high? How good were you, DeMarco?” It was his index finger; Tony could feel that now, feel the palm of Halloran’s hand pressed against him as that finger stroked and prodded for….
“Oh, fucking hell!” Tony cursed again, his body shaking.
#2 The epilogue
The epilogue takes place on the Skyline Trail at Mt. Rainier, one of my favorite hiking trails of all time. In this scene, Tony and Jack are sitting at an overlook when Tony gets a call from his mother. He’s been meaning to come out to his family and tell them about Jack, and he decides to go ahead and do that right there at the overlook. You’ll have to read the book to see how they respond since I don’t want to spoil it. 😉
#1 The massage scene
And… more sexual tension. My favorite scene in the book is a hot one! Tony breaks into the clinic after hours to snoop around and Jack catches him leaving. Jack misinterprets why Tony is there so late. He thinks Tony is an E.D. patient (erectile dysfunction) and he’s having which Jack calls ‘hallelujah time,’ a rare moment of arousal. With no surrogate on hand, Jack decides to give Tony a little touch therapy in the form of a massage. Tony knows it’s dangerous territory, but he’s been crushing on Jack big time and he just can’t resist taking the good doctor up on it.
He knocked on the door of the massage room and heard a muttered, “Come in.”
Tony was lying on his stomach with the white towel arranged neatly from his waist to upper thigh. He was sumptuous laid out like that, and the low hum in Jack’s gut kicked up a notch. Tony had broad shoulders, very broad, and well-defined arms. His back was strong, golden-skinned, and perfectly smooth. His waist was trim, and there was the shape of a fine ass under the towel. The picture was completed with solid thighs and calves. Yes, Tony DeMarco was a man in his prime. He deserved to be as sexually active as he wanted to be.
Then again, thought Jack, don’t we all?
He noticed that there was a light red flush on Tony’s back, across the shoulders. He must still be nervous and embarrassed. Jack thought the tell was rather adorable. His awkwardness was endearing.
Jack stepped over to him and placed a hand in the center of Tony’s back. “There’s nothing to be worried about. You’ve had a massage before, yeah?”
Tony nodded without looking up.
“Well, this is just like that. Except if you’re able to get aroused, that’s fine. Let yourself go. And if you don’t, that’s fine, too.”
Tony turned his face into the table with a muttered, “Oh God.”
Jack hesitated. Tony was a lot shyer than he’d expected. “Do you want to continue? We can scrap this if you’re not comfortable.”
“Not stopping,” Tony said in a small voice.
“All right.” Jack rubbed his hand soothingly over Tony’s back for a moment and then went to wash his hands and get some massage oil from the cabinet. No latex gloves for this. Skin on skin fostered trust and intimacy.
“Do I need a safe word?” Tony mumbled, obviously joking.
Jack laughed. “For touch therapy? ‘Stop’ will be fine.”
“What about ‘don’t stop’?” Tony said softly and not, apparently, joking.
Jack felt a little heat at the base of his spine. “You can say that, too. I might even listen, depending.” Jack walked to the table and squirted a line of massage oil up Tony’s back and then put some on his hands, rubbing them together to warm them up.
“Depending on what?”
Jack didn’t answer. He froze as he saw the scar tissue on the back of Tony’s left thigh. It was a bullet exit wound, large and raw-looking, covering an area about four inches long and two inches wide. Tentatively, Jack touched it, feeling an emotion he had no idea how to define.
“You were shot,” Jack said quietly.
Tony stiffened. “Yeah.”
“I was… a policeman for a while. But after the shooting, I quit.”
Jack was not entirely surprised. Tony had a certain tough bearing that said “cop.” But it was not unlike a military bearing, and the only full-blooded Italians like Tony he’d ever known had been in the Army. He’d just sort of accepted it as part of the Italian persona.
Jack realized he was lightly stroking the scar.
“Does it gross you out, Doc?” Tony asked. He sounded vulnerable.
“God, no,” Jack said. “I’ve got…. My arm….” His voice cracked. He couldn’t finish the sentence.
“In Iraq, right? What was it?” Tony asked quietly.
Jack swallowed a lump and cleared his throat. “An I.E.D. I was trying to get a kid out of a mess of truck bombs that had driven into our compound. One of the trucks hadn’t yet exploded.”
Tony lifted himself up on his elbows and turned his head to look at Jack. His face looked serious. “You’re an amazing guy, you know that, Doc?”
Jack snorted. With some effort he pulled his mind away from the war. Way to kill hallelujah time. Poor Tony. “What I am is a guy with some amazing scars. Lots worse than this little blemish. Now come on. Lay down.” He patted Tony’s back. Tony laid back down.
Jack let his hands trace lightly over Tony’s back, feeling the perfect, warm skin, getting Tony—and himself, if he was honest—back in the right frame of mind. When he felt Tony relax, Jack placed the heels of his hands on Tony’s lower back and ran them up his shoulders, firm.
Tony shivered. He lifted his head and let it fall with a thunk back down on the massage table. Jack wasn’t sure what the gesture meant, but he kept going. He massaged Tony’s back with firm, sure stokes, alternating that with running light fingertips up and down his sides. The form of massage he’d learned in his surrogacy class was different than most. The goal of touch therapy was to relax the patient, yes, but only to the point of quelling any nerves. The massage was also intended to foster intimacy and to arouse.
He stroked down Tony’s left arm and smoothed out his clenched fist. He rubbed his thumbs into Tony’s palm, caressed the base of his fingers, then folded his own fingers through Tony’s so he could stimulate the space between. Finally, Jack pulled light fingertips up the length of each digit, from palm to fingertip.
Jack noted, with some interest, that his right hand performed the massage with no hint of tremor. Oh, what the body could do with the right motivation.
Tony was growing tense under his hands. “Fuck, you’re killing me.” His voice was shaky and the blush across the tops of his shoulders had deepened.
“Feel good?” Jack asked in a low voice.
Jack ran his hands up to Tony’s neck, rubbing it for a moment before running his hand into Tony’s hair, palm to his scalp, massaging fingers just lightly tugging at his hair.
God, his hair felt nice—so thick and soft.
Tony tilted his forehead farther into the table, as if his scalp was trying to get more of Jack’s hands. He groaned. The sound was clearly that of arousal and it caused an echoing pulse in Jack’s groin. He was completely hard. For a moment he had a flash of a fantasy, himself crawling onto the table and lifting that towel, burying his cock in Tony just like this, his hands full of that hair, mouth on that neck. It was a strong, compelling image.
Jack took a deep breath and let it go. He was only human. That didn’t mean he had to act on every impulse his mind conjured up. “You all right?” he asked Tony, bringing his hands down to rub at his shoulders.
Tony grunted in the affirmative.
Jack did the other arm and hand, spending time on Tony’s palm and long fingers. They were nice hands, slender but strong. Very nice hands. Tony shivered every time Jack pulled his fingertips up one of Tony’s fingers. It was a move that was particularly erotic and suggestive. So Jack did it again. Tony moaned.
“How are you feeling?” Jack asked gently as he moved down to massage Tony’s feet. He picked up a lower leg, braced it against his chest and rubbed circles on the bottom of Tony’s foot with his thumbs in much the same way as he had his hands.
Tony didn’t answer for a while. Jack moved to the other foot, kneading the arch.
“I’m feeling like I’m about to do things to this massage table that are ethically and hygienically questionable,” came Tony’s muffled voice.
Jack chuckled. He moved up to the center of the table and laid a hand lightly on Tony’s back. “We can’t have that, can we? How about you turn over?”
Tony hesitated. “I’m… hard, Doc.”
“That’s good, isn’t it? Come on, DeMarco,” Jack said with a smile. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at “The Trouble with Tony”! Thanks to the lovely Kim Fielding for hosting me.
About Eli Easton
Eli Easton is a new nom de plume for an author who has primarily published mystery thrillers in the past. As an addict of m/m romance novels, she decided to tip her size-nine toe in the water and write in the genre herself. She has various other m/m titles out or soon releasing from Dreamspinner Press. She lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows, and six chickens. You can get news about her books at the links below:
Eli’s Twitter: EliEaston
“The Trouble with Tony” links: