Posts Tagged ‘gay contemporary’
Cover Art: Annie Melton
Genre: Erotic Romance/Gay Romance, M/M
Heat Level: 4
Warnings: This book contains sexual content that may be offensive to some readers: gay sex (male/male), anal sex
A broken engagement, a kiss with a stranger, and now he might be…gay?
Luke Fletcher’s engagement with Sandy has gone bad, and it was all his fault. He’d kissed a guy. And he’d liked it. Luke thinks he can move on and write it off as the drunken, bachelor-party prank it was meant to be, until a virtual clone of Kissy-Face Guy shows up on his doorstep.
Seth Rusko has been a friend of Sandy’s brother for ages, so when he’s asked to drop off a box of Sandy’s ex’s stuff, he figures the least he can do is help the girl out. But he hadn’t planned on Sandy’s ex being so tongue-tyingly, breath-catchingly hot. Of course, being hot is irrelevant—the guy is clearly straight.
At least, he seems straight… until he tells Seth just what he did to cause the breakup… and until Seth remembers the last time he lost his heart to a straight guy who didn’t know what he wanted…
An excerpt from the book
Moonlight flared across the low tide waves, a long sword of gossamer silver on an inky black canvas. Luke stood on his rear deck, able to hear the quiet shush of the rolling waves echoed by the sucking of the tide as they returned to the Gulf. With his hands braced around the railing, he tilted his chin upward, his eyes closed, breathing in the calm of the summer breeze, the scent of the sea and sand. These moments soothed him like very little could anymore.
His phone rang inside the house behind him, but he ignored the jarring interruption. He was sure it was only his mother. He was proven right when the answering machine picked up.
“Luke, it’s your mom.” She sounded agitated. Her normal state. “Please call home. Sandy misses you. We miss you.”
He snorted. Sandy would be the last person to miss him. Obviously his mother was still clinging to the delusion that they were getting married.
“Not happening, Ma,” he groused coldly, gazing out to the beckoning sea. And for the record, he was home. Luke wasn’t going back. Not to have his heart eviscerated by his ex-fiancée all over again. He ignored the rest of his mother’s pleading, or whatever it was she was saying. By the time she’d hung up, he’d lost himself in the swaying constant of the ocean.
* * *
Seth Rusko slid from his car to stand at the edge of the sidewalk, checked the address on the note in his hand against the numbers on the house and mailbox, then shrugged. Taylor wouldn’t send him to the wrong house. He hefted the box from the back seat, then bumped the rear door with a hip. It was midafternoon on a Saturday. The guy might be home. If he wasn’t, Seth would leave the box on the porch by the door. The stuff inside would likely explain who’d sent it.
Bracing his delivery between a hip and the wall, Seth rang the doorbell and waited.
“Whoa,” Seth breathed when the door was yanked open abruptly. Startled to be greeted by a half-naked guy, he shook himself mentally. “Hi. Are you Luke Fletcher?” Damn. Sandra had good taste. If he was going to open the door naked, Seth wasn’t above looking.
“On most days.”
Seth cleared his throat. It was difficult to not ogle the man’s damp chest. Considering he probably stood a good three inches taller than Seth, he was at eye-level standing on the last step. Sculpted pectorals were lightly dusted with short brown hair. Luke was tight, on his way to a six-pack. Sandy had mentioned at some point that her ex-fiancée liked to work out. It showed, and the view made Seth’s mouth water. Short swim trunks molded to his body. The scent of the ocean clung to him and his dark brown hair looked disheveled, like he’d toweled it dry.
“Can I help you?”
It wasn’t exactly a bark, but it was a definite prod.
“Oh! Right. I’m a friend of Sandy’s—”
Luke’s eyes narrowed a fraction, his expression shutting down, becoming considerably less welcoming.
Seth swallowed. Maybe not mentioning that would have been better. He went with a different tack, their mutual friend. “Taylor asked me to deliver this to you. I think it’s stuff from Sandy’s place. I don’t know,” Seth finished, his voice wavering with uncertainty. The longer he stared, the harder it was becoming to speak at all…
It’s finally come to the wire… Well, nearly. We have a month to go, but it’s on the Coming Soon page and will be out in the world on April 10th. My first release with Dreamspinner Press. I have to give kudos to Anne and her team. It’s always nerve-wracking heading into unchartered territory. Glad to say I survived.
So here it is: Second Chance at Love
Coming April 10th!! Woot! So mark your calendars…. The countdown has begun…
The hole in Tony Teagan’s heart is slowly shrinking. Since losing the love of his life, he’s buried himself in running West TonDe Press, but now he can remember the good times. Still, that doesn’t mean he’s ready for a new man in his life. Then he meets nighttime delivery guy Brandon, who appears on his doorstep with Thai food. Tony’s interest is piqued despite their ten-year age difference, and Brandon is all for a new relationship. Relinquishing his hold on his deceased lover is the hardest challenge Tony will face, but if his future is combined with Brandon’s, he may have a second chance at love after all.
CAPPUCCINO jelly beans.
Tony held the front door open for a split second as the scent assaulted him. His lashes fell and he almost spoke the name on the tip of his tongue in response. A quick inhale and it was gone, the imagined scent replaced by a very real frown. He knew he was imagining it, a long-ago memory. Devyn and those same jelly beans were gone. Two years gone. His heart still ached, though not as badly. Time had softened the loss. The hole in his heart that losing the love of his life had created was slowly, though no less painfully, shrinking.
Closing the door of his Glendale home behind him, he began to work the knot of his tie loose as he crossed the room to the kitchen table. Thick pile carpet silenced his step until he reached the wood plank of the kitchen, the crisp tap of his shoes the only sound in the home they’d once shared.
After removing his jacket to hang squarely on the back of one of the chairs, he opened his briefcase to palm the two files within. Submissions to review for two new books. The authors were waiting for the final decision and he didn’t like taking more time than was needed to approve or decline. He knew these two personally and didn’t want to delay. Submitting was enough of a hurry up and wait.
With the files staring up at him from the table, he went to the cabinets and withdrew a bottle of wine from its place in the rack. He delved for the corkscrew in the drawer, then with it in hand, popped the cork free to let the wine breathe. He pulled down one glass, barely the slightest hitch in his motions now, when out of habit he would have set two on the counter before.
Taking a few minutes to retreat to his bedroom, he changed from his work clothes. Dressed in shorts and a lightweight T-shirt, Tony was more comfortable against the streaming sunlight entering through the panoramic windows in the living room.
Once he had his glass a quarter full of wine, he grabbed the files and sauntered to his leather couch, where he could read and relax with the broad lines of his home to one side and the lush greenery of the hills on the other. The blazing sunlight sparkled off the nearly mirror-flat surface of his swimming pool. A single glance was all he allowed himself, knowing his memories would overwhelm him if he lingered.
He flipped open the first file. “Okay, Frankie. What did you send me this time, you goddess?” Tony mused. His staff vetted public submissions, but he handled a few long-timers personally. Frankie, AKA Frank Rogel, was a long-in-the-tooth stable author of Tony’s from their early days together. Rarely, very rarely, did he not accept one of Frankie’s stories outright. Tony had spotted her talent early on, when he was still a struggling agent himself and had snatched her up like a hot commodity. She’d been writing for him ever since. West TonDe Press wasn’t her only home, and he was fine with that. Overlap was encouraged and helped promote names readers might not otherwise see. It didn’t hurt one bit that everyone who read her work believed she was a male author of the hottest male-male romances out there. He needed to get down to West Hollywood and take his best girl out to lunch sometime soon.
Shadows lengthened as Tony was drawn into the story—a wild-animal activist for big cats and the one man who was his nemesis, face-to-face. One who was desired like chocolate-covered strawberries when they could actually sit down to discuss things other than the land they both wanted.
Tony had learned early on that if he didn’t skip the sex scenes, he’d be taking a shower more than once with her work in his hands. Frankie put the steamy back into sex, as far as he was concerned.
A grumble of his stomach drew him out of the story and he noted the time. Not that the long shadows decorating his living room didn’t fill him in to begin with. “Did it again,” he grumbled. He still forgot to eat without Devyn there to get his ass off the couch and his nose out of whatever he was reading.
Dropping the pages on the table in front of the couch, he lurched to his feet to find the phone and hit speed dial.
“Hi, Angela. It’s Tony Teagan,” he said to the hostess at his favorite Thai house.
“Good evening, Mr. Teagan.” Her voice was whimsical, warm. “The usual tonight?”
“Yes, please. Delivery.”
Tony heard the tap of keys on the other end. “Look for our driver in about thirty-five minutes.”
“Thank you.” He hung up and reclaimed his comfy spot on the couch, tucking in firmly to the pillows behind him. Devyn would have had a fit if he knew how often Tony was now eating out. Devyn had been the chef, not Tony. He could manage the coffeemaker and the microwave. More than that and he was proven to be the inept one in their relationship. Why change something at this late stage had been his oldest argument, the kind that always had Dev laughing at him right before he would be engulfed in loving arms for a heated kiss or more.
Tony placed the pages in his hand on his thighs, rubbing stiff fingers over his eyes. Moments of melancholy were rarer. At least they’d had twelve years together to make memories, good memories.
Devyn had been a prince, the sweetest man when they’d met.
Tony dropped his chin to his chest, concentrating to even his breathing before the heat in his eyes turned to tears. “I miss you so much, Dev.”
Sucking in a shaky breath, he steadied himself and grasped the loose pages on his lap, determined to give Frankie his absolute attention. At least he knew she’d give him a happy ending, something he once thought he’d have for the rest of his life.
BRANDON popped through the rear doors of the restaurant and walked toward Mikahl’s driver stand. The restaurant did a booming business out front, but the delivery was well-known for being prompt and personable, which put them in high demand. “Here are the receipts for Dessel and Hopkins.”
“Thanks.” Mikahl palmed them and slapped them into the register account book. He quickly wrote down notes on a tablet by his elbow and then spoke into the headset on his ear. Brandon didn’t really focus on any of it, just glad to get thirty seconds to be still.
The quiet didn’t last long before he was handed another order. “Brandon! My man! I have a hot one.” One of the cooks slid it across the rear chrome counter toward Mikahl, who quickly bagged it up and printed the order tally.
“Where to?” He lifted the receipt and read the address. Lucas Street? He swept a quick look to Mikahl. “Wait. Doesn’t Rodney usually take this area?”
“He’s already out, and Mr. Teagan is one of our best customers.” Mikahl patted a shoulder. “He’s a good tipper. Don’t let the area intimidate you.” He gave a directed push to go with an impatient don’t waste time wave.
“Okay,” Brandon said, hiding his tiredness before Mikahl picked up on it. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do the delivery, but the houses up in the hills did intimidate him. He slipped out the back door to the alley where the delivery guys parked their cars: his, Rodney’s, and Paul’s, who were both already out. After packing the Styrofoam boxes into the insulated cube carrier, he settled it on the passenger seat, and once he was in, buckled it down, then did the same for himself.
Looking at the clock display, he noticed he still had two hours of deliveries before he would be off for the night. After that, he had about an hour to squeeze in some studying and then sleep before he went into his other job at the coffee shop.
He knew finishing college was going to be hard. Putting the car into gear, he refused to think about where he could have been if only he’d agreed to do things his parents’ way.
As in denounce being gay.
Brandon could denounce a lot of things: his love of mystery thrillers, his love of cheesecake—but he couldn’t denounce being gay.
It had been three years since he’d last seen his parents. They’d withdrawn financial aid for his degree, which had put him working two jobs instead of just the one at the coffee shop. He liked both, for different reasons. The coffee shop because there were always interesting customers and discussion, everything from politics to the latest fashion trends to who in Hollywood had adopted a dog or a kid.
As for the delivery night job, that just kept him moving. No matter how tired he was, he never noticed until he was done for the day. Usually an hour or so of studying and reading was about all his fatigued brain could manage before he dumped himself headfirst into bed. He would rise the next morning, before dawn, to do it all again.
It was hard, but it wasn’t killing him, and until then, he refused to give up on his dreams. He was slowly making progress toward his degree. He wasn’t going to let it slip through his fingers now, even without his parents’ help. It would have been easier, but this was life—his life—and he had to work with what he was dealt.
An upbeat song started on the radio and he cranked it. One other good thing about the night job: he could sing to his heart’s content as loud as he wanted. He could be his own rock star behind the wheel, and no one knew anything about it.
Lucas Street appeared in front of him and he made the left, gaping just a little at the large homes. They were beautiful marble and stone creations, with pristine lawns, trimmed bushes and shrubs, and large leaf-filled trees. Paradise in the middle of town, or actually on the north side of town, but no one was that picky, least of all Brandon.
Eyeing the ticket quickly, he released it and hunted house numbers. “Lawdy, Miss Mae. I do hope he’s a tipper,” he drawled in a sultry falsetto. He rolled to a stop at the curb and double checked the numbers.
Brandon hopped from the car in front of the right house and grabbed the insulated carrier in sure palms. He skipped up the four steps to the door and hit the doorbell with a thumb. A moment or two was all it took.
“That was quick tonight, Rod—Oh, sorry. I thought you were Rodney.”
The hunk in the doorway short-circuited Brandon’s brain for about three solid seconds. Sleek, satiny black workout shorts and a soft-as-suede T-shirt that fit his chest like a dream. And that was just what was directly in front of his eyes. He wanted to take all the time in the world to investigate and stare, but the man’s voice dispelled his visual groping.
“How much is it?”
“Huh?” Brandon blinked and shook himself, feeling his face heat like a bonfire on the beach. With his fair skin, he knew it was impossible to pretend it didn’t happen. “Sorry.” He hunted for the ticket, using it as an excuse to get his tongue into the right gear. “Fourteen eighty-three.”
“Sounds right. Are you new?”
Brandon slipped the boxes from the insulator. “No, Rodney was already out,” he replied lamely, hiding his jealousy that this guy was one of Rodney’s regulars. No one in Brandon’s area, as of yet, had turned out looking like this god.
“Oh. Well, here.” He handed over two bills. “Keep the extra.”
“But….” Brandon stared at the two twenties. Forty bucks? Seriously?
A dark-brown eyebrow hiked up over sparkling eyes. “Unless you don’t want it,” he teased.
“Oh! Um. It’s… just… unexpected.”
The man in front of him dipped his head and Brandon realized he was hunting for the name tag on his shirt. “It’s okay, Brandon. I believe in paying it forward. I didn’t always have those two twenties to rub together, much less splurge on Thai food. I remember,” he offered with a smile. “Thanks for bringing it tonight. Maybe I’ll get to see you again.”
He took a step backward and Brandon realized he was going to close the door. Brandon didn’t know how to stop him, so with a final glimpse of the man’s facial features to store and fantasize on later, he spun and trotted to his waiting car.
“God, Rodney. No wonder you love this street,” he muttered when he was sitting behind his steering wheel again.
This week’s Saturday Backlist Love pimpin’.
By: Diana DeRicci | Other books by Diana DeRicci
Published By: OmniLit / All Romance eBooks, LLC
ISBN # 9781936387397
Word Count: 11232
Two men. One roof. Who knew togetherness could be so dangerously tempting?
Korbin is looking for a renter to help make ends meet. Not quite ready to make the offered room a squatter’s paradise with a public ad, he advertises by word of mouth. Turns out he’s doing it at just the right time.
Cage is relocating for a new job and needs a no-hassle place to live. He’s wary about sharing space with a total stranger, but the opportunity to be able to start at his new job without this stress is too good to pass up.
Except one of them is hiding a secret identity and his past has taught him to not talk about it. Friendship brings the men closer, but will the secrets they both carry keep them from exploring a deeper attraction between them?
Korbin tapped the wheel, singing to the radio. His foot even bounced a little, trying to keep the beat while paying attention to the road. Where is that stupid stop sign? Aha! The tree branches moved in the breeze and the stop sign appeared. He slowed and made the stop, the lone car at the four-way, then pressed for gas.
A sudden and very loud pop made him startle as he reached the other side. Then his car wobbled and thunked. “You have got to be kidding me.” He smacked the wheel with a fist.
Checking his mirrors more out of habit than there being anyone else on the road, he limped to the side, then put the car in park on the shoulder. After releasing his belt, he raised his left arm out of the way to snag the door handle with his right fingers. Once the latch was loose, he pushed with his shoulder and the door swung open. It was a practiced move, and had been for the last two weeks. The cast on his arm was a hindrance he’d learned to maneuver around.
He walked to the front of the car and groaned, then cussed a little under his breath while he was at it. Now there was no doubt he was going to be late to meet the renter for the interview at his house. Korbin kicked the tire and flinched at the shot of pain that lanced his toes.
“Smooth, dummy.” Why doncha break a foot and an arm? Well, nothing to be done about it now. Maybe if he was lucky, the guy he was meeting was desperate for a place to stay and would wait.
He could hope.
Leaning through the car window, he popped the trunk and turned on the flashers. The tick-tock of the lights blinking made his teeth clench. Today was not a day he needed this to happen.
What sucked was he was off the beaten path, a back road to his place that would have saved him about ten minutes, making it to his house before his visitor easily. That cushion of time was now destroyed.
Rummaging through the trunk, he pulled the floor cover out of the way to expose the wheel well. He was bent over the trunk lip with his rear in the air when the sound of a car right behind him had him peering over his shoulder. He straightened, taking in the bright blue, small- size pickup.
The man behind the wheel gave him a welcoming smile and opened his door with a metal creak. “Need some help?” he called, standing to his feet on the ground. Korbin had become used to the accents of the area since coming to live there, but this man’s was rich and robust, pure southern hospitality.
“Depends. I don’t have any money.”
The guy standing beside the truck blinked and gripped the door, not coming any closer. “Money? I thought you needed help.”
Korbin crossed his arms and leaned a hip on the car’s bumper. “Unofficially, I do. I have to change a tire and this makes it difficult.” He dropped his chin to his healing arm.
A gaze of sympathy swept over the guy’s face. “Oh, man. What happened?”
“Me and a ladder had a disagreement. The ladder won by dumping me twelve feet.”
The man behind the open truck door winced. “Sorry, but ouch.”
Korbin chuckled. “No biggie. I’m a klutz by nature.”
“Well, I can help with that,” he said, meaning the tire with a pointed look to the car. “And I won’t charge you, though if you could tell me how to get to Honeyhock Road, I’d appreciate it.”
“I can do that,” Korbin replied, though he was more afraid of being mugged than having to pay for the help. The man smiled again and Korbin took in his friendly appearance, still on his guard. A man doesn’t move out of the big city and forget everything he’d learned because he was now in some small everyone-knows-everyone country town.
As he approached, Korbin admitted he was good looking. Solid shoulders with a body that tapered to snug jeans and a firm waist. He was probably a few years older than Korbin. From the distance he couldn’t make out his eyes, other than they sparkled and he tended to squint a little when he smiled. Thick brown hair was trimmed over his ears and was most likely finger combed more than not. It looked rugged but good on him.
“Let’s see what we have to work with.”
All Romance Ebooks
Cage straightened to study him, thinking he’d heard wrong. “Someone punched you?”
Korbin’s eyes slid away and he chewed on his lip as he debated something. He nodded then licked his lips, softening the slightly abused spot. “When I told my best friend I’d had my writing accepted. The erotica. He was appalled that I’d been writing it to begin with, angry when I was already making a name for myself, then…”
“Then?” Cage prompted, lifting a hand to run through his hair. Tight curls that welcomed him, clinging to his fingers, coils of softness. It was everything he’d imagined and more. Korbin didn’t flinch or anything. He almost pushed into the caress. I am so going to kill Patty. The witch was right. Again.
Korbin’s gaze rose and locked with his. “Then… He asked if I was gay,” he whispered faintly.
“He hit you when you said yes.”
Though it wasn’t a question, Korbin nodded.
“Damn, Kor,” he murmured, molding them closer together. “That’s why you didn’t want to be touched in the beginning.” Why he didn’t deny being straight.
Korbin lowered his chin, a light tremble vibrating Korbin’s chest. “I’m sorry.”
Cage lifted him from his hiding with a free hand. His chest swelled at the warm trust gazing at him. He never wanted to hurt Korbin, never wanted to see him hurt again. “Never apologize for someone else’s stupidity.” Cage drew a shaky breath, feeling himself be sucked into the brown of Korbin’s eyes. Longing simmered beneath his skin. “Can I kiss you, Korbin?”
With a hesitant hitch, Korbin crept forward a fraction, his gaze sliding from Cage’s eyes to his lips and back again.
Cage closed the distance when he didn’t retreat. Korbin melted beneath Cage. There was no other way to describe it. Lashes lowered, hiding his expressive eyes. Cage held him close, held him tight and Korbin did the same. His lips were soft and smooth, and so perfect.
Cage licked the curve of his upper lip with the tip of his tongue and Korbin whimpered, opening hungrily for more. Cage gave it, thrusting deep and tangling with Korbin.
He pulled away a few minutes later, trying to breathe. Blood pounded against his ears, a heady rush he hadn’t felt in
years. He hadn’t wanted to feel. Korbin was killing him.
If you’re not quite ready to say good-bye to the holidays, a little Saturday Backlist Love to share. Enjoy!
Holiday 2011 Release #28
|ISBN#||978-1-60820-502-8 (ebook) $5.99|
|Release Date||December 2011|
|Cover Artist||Deana C. Jamroz|
Isaac arrived home not expecting to find anything but his warm bed waiting for him in the dead of winter. A nearly frozen friend from his past brought with him a bad break-up, old memories best left forgotten and one particular problem he hadn’t anticipated. An attraction that he just wasn’t ready for. Not when faced with his friend’s worst problems, it became a priority to help Shawn heal.
Will either be able to accept that they could be stronger as three when they meet Quinn?
One thing they will learn is all things are possible together.
Available at the Publisher
5 of 5 from Talking Two Lips reviews:
a really powerful love story that has very memorable characters. ~~ Tina
Pulling in front of his apartment Isaac didn’t see the movement of the person in the shadows by his door until he was out of his car. He squinted in the bad light, discerning the form quickly. “Shawn?” What on earth was he doing there?
“Thank God,” he whimpered. Shawn bounced from foot to foot. “Can I come in? It’s freaking cold out here.” He wrapped his arms around his body bringing his shoulders in, bouncing from foot to foot.
“No shit. Where’s your jacket?” The sweater he wore wasn’t nearly enough to battle the chill snaps of wind blasting around the apartments. He inserted the key and opened his apartment door, herding Shawn through first.
Isaac took his jacket off to wrap over Shawn, then led him to the couch. “Let me make you something hot, then you can tell me what happened.” Shawn’s teeth chattered and clacked as he nodded in answer.
The best Isaac could do was coffee, even at that late hour. Glancing toward the man on his couch, Shawn rocked with cold, shivering, to dig into Isaac’s jacket as if he wanted to crawl into it and its lingering warmth. Shawn’s ears and nose were bright red. It didn’t really matter how long he’d been there waiting, it had been long enough to cause himself harm.
Isaac wondered what had happened, and knew Shawn would fill him in as much as he could. Shawn was a friend of Jasen’s, Isaac’s ex. Isaac and Shawn had always got along fine, and had stayed in contact even after the split. He wondered why he was here instead of finding friends closer to home.
Carrying the mug to Shawn, he sat next to him on the couch. It was a wonder the man didn’t have icicles hanging off him. At least his shakes were slowing down. “Take slow sips until you begin to warm up,” he cautioned. Shawn only nodded, his eyes closing in bliss as he took the first drink. He didn’t even complain that it was straight black.
“I’m sorry for just showing up, Isaac,” he said, curled up tight beneath the jacket, bent over the coffee mug like he was guarding it. “I left Tam.”
Out of all the possibilities, that was the last he would have expected to hear. “What? Why?”
Shawn sipped again, blinking and taking slow breaths. “He’s doing drugs again.”
“Shit, Shawn, I’m sorry.” Isaac thought Tam got that out of his system after his stay in rehab. He was really sorry to hear that wasn’t the case. Knowing Shawn had been dealing with this made Isaac want to curl him against his chest and protect and comfort the other man.
Shawn shook his head, his lips pressed together firmly. “Don’t be. This time I followed him. I have proof, pictures on my cell.” Shawn stared between his hands, nowhere else. “I sent the information to his probation officer. I…” He swallowed, a hard dry sound. “He’s in jail now. I was gone before I even made that call.”
“Wow, Shawn.” That took guts. “Wait. How’d you get here from LA?”
“I had enough money on me for a bus. I need to go to the bank and clear all that up tomorrow. Make sure he’s off the account. I don’t care about the apartment. It was in his name, his stuff.”
“Isaac,” he croaked. He sipped at his coffee, determined to stay in control. “Can I stay here? I don’t have any place to go.” He ran a quivering hand beneath his nose.
“Of course you can,” he answered while rubbing circles over his back trying to calm the shakes out of Shawn.
Finally Shawn’s hunched shoulders relaxed, the weight of the world dragging him down, evaporating.
“Thanks.” Silence filled the apartment between them. “Jasen was a dick to you, Isaac,” he said softly. “I was sorry to see you leave LA.” He looked over his shoulder at a quiet Isaac. “I know John and Blake didn’t even think about it. They have their own world, but I missed you. You were a good friend.”
Seeing Shawn was close to exhausted tears, he replied, “Hey. We still are friends. You needed me. I’m here. Never doubt that.” He shook his shoulder lightly. “Tomorrow, things will look better. You won’t be freezing your nuts off for one.”
Available at the Publisher
“Okay, bend your knees a little more. That’s it.”
Isaac wasn’t as confident, but if Shawn said he was doing okay, he guessed he’d listen.
“We’ll start on the easy slopes and warm us both up.”
Isaac smiled, though it felt tight, doubting it hid his nervousness. “Sure you don’t want to just go ahead and knock out one of the harder slopes and let me watch from the bottom?” He eyed the snow ahead of them, all that white, and swallowed. It looked far less intimidating on the other side of his room window, or at the bottom of the lifts, or from anywhere but at the top.
“Nope. I told you I’d help you figure this out, and I will.” Shawn braced his poles, bending close to whisper into Isaac’s ear. “The best part is the hot tub tonight. Just remember that,” he purred. Then he had the balls to kiss Isaac’s cheek.
Isaac almost fell on his ass right then and there.
“Not fair,” he growled. The shiver that raced over him had absolutely nothing to do with the frigid temperatures.
Shawn’s laugh was carefree. He lowered his goggles. “Nice and easy, glide, and keep your knees bent like you were earlier. I’m right here for you.”
Isaac checked his poles, positioned his goggles and with a slow and stiff attempt, followed Shawn.
They’d practiced for over an hour that morning already, when Shawn had deemed him bunny slope ready. Isaac wasn’t so sure. One trip in the dark ages didn’t equate to a hell of a lot of experience for him.
Though watching Shawn’s fluid grace made up for a lot of his own misgivings. The man was incredible on skis. Lithe strength and flexibility. Isaac could even imagine Shawn slicing through the air, doing flips and three-sixties that would make many eat their hearts out. He’d have to ask if he knew those kinds of maneuvers.
He focused his attention forward and managed to change direction, whooshing out a breath as his body and his skis complied. Those trees looked a lot thicker and more painful than the snow.
Shawn glided up and steadied him with a firm hold. “You okay?” Shawn brought them both to a stop, raising his goggles to get a clear inspection of Isaac. “Remember you have to lean to turn, right? Use your ski edges.”
“Yeah. Just…” He couldn’t quite meet Shawn’s probing gaze. The only saving grace: He knew the cold rouging his cheeks hid his embarrassment. “My fault.”
Shawn reached up and lifted Isaac’s goggles, Shawn’s eyes sparkling with sunlight and mirth. “If you were thinking about my ass, then we’re both guilty.” His sexy mouth broadened into a huge grin. “And it feels so good to finally be able to even say that.”
Isaac barked a groaned laugh. “I know. And yes, utterly and completely guilty, but I promise to pay better attention to my feet and where I’m going.”
“Good man,” Shawn replied with total understanding. “You’re doing great, by the way. Just don’t zone out. There’s always a chance of something you’re not ready for.”
Isaac nodded and lowered his goggles. “Ready when you are.” Shawn did the same and pushed off to move at a crawl, looking over his shoulder, waiting for Isaac to follow him and catch up.
The rest of the run went easily and without any more near misses. But it didn’t stop him from sneaking peeks at Shawn regardless.
Available at the Publisher
It’s time for a little Saturday backlist love. One of my all time favorites. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this one.
Author: Diana DeRicci
Cover Artist: Anastasia Rabiyah
Genre: Gay Erotic Romance/M/M
Length: Novel, 64,752 words, 182 pages PDF
Release Date: March 18, 2011
Heat Level: Erotic
Warnings: Gay Male/Male
ARe Top Rated #1!
ARe Best Seller Top 10!
an incredible tale that has just about everything you could ask for in a romance story –
Rated Best Book by Myrtle, Whipped Cream Reviews
They are like your best friend who can finish your sentences, order your favorite pizza, and bemoan all your troubles to. I love their heat, their humor, and most of all their heart. This will be one of those stories that will stick with me, and have me coming back for more. ~~ Lototy
Two Lips Reviews
Romancing the Review
What readers have been saying:
…an amazing journey through so many facets of the human persona.~~ Norah S. , Australia
Do you take the chance of a lifetime, for the love a lifetime?
Charlie Baker is recovering, slowly. Nearly dying tends to make a man reflect on each day. Take into account that his injuries were caused by a premeditated murder attempt, and he certainly isn’t looking for a lover. He is barely welcoming to a friend unable to trust anyone, preferring to hide from the world hours and miles away from the memories.
Gregory Anders hadn’t intended to disturb the man in silent contemplation on the beach, but when his pup, Samson, takes matters out of his hands, he’s forced to at least apologize for his pet’s behavior. There’s no doubt for Gregory that Charlie could use a friend. Clearing the air up front that he isn’t gay helps Charlie to relax, allowing for the cautious beginning of a friendship.
Two men, both alone, for different reasons. What happens when friendship bears more? When support and affection turns into attraction?
Charlie Baker held the cell phone in his hand, staring at it blankly. He swept his thumb over the picture on the display, waiting for the old hurt to return, but it didn’t. The emotional pain that had haunted him for months was gone. The agony of betrayal, of being deceived, and ultimately of loss, had run its course. The physical reminders would be with him until the day he died. Gazing at the now-bucolic picture where the pixilated image of his ex had been for three years, all he felt was a hollowness, a vague wish to turn back the clock and do something—anything—different. That was pointless and he knew it.
Sighing, he wrapped his arms around his knees, watching the waves from the sand dunes where he sat. There was a nip of fall in the air. The Texas coast in early November didn’t really get cold, but early-morning breezes, pulses of salt air that came in from the gulf, weren’t uncommon. The oversized fisherman’s sweater covering his frame protected him. The occasional cry of a seagull broke the morning quiet, but that was about it. People didn’t come to the beach in November. And that worked well for him. Charlie wasn’t ready for people, but his wish for solitude wasn’t to be granted.
The spirited barks of a puppy pulled his attention down the beach. He felt a weak smile try to break free at the pup’s antics as he raced in and out with the waves, barking at the water like it was a vicious monster, and he was protecting the coast from it. Folding his arms over his knees, he rested to watch his carefree romping. He noticed the athletic form jogging not too far behind, glad he wasn’t a stray. The closer they came, the better he could make out the pair. The dog looked to be around six months old, still wily but not gangly, and full of life. A yellow lab, if he wasn’t too wrong. The man trailing behind was in his twenties or early thirties, he guessed, with finger-length blond hair. He only wore a pair of dark green jogging shorts and sneakers with a windbreaker knotted around his waist, obviously used to the coastal weather and the beach.
Charlie hadn’t felt warm in months. One of the things he’d grown accustomed to, he supposed. He was surprised when the dog spotted him and changed direction faster than an animal in loose sand should have been able. The puppy charged him, but didn’t bark or growl, his tail wagging like Charlie was just his latest friend—or toy. How long did teething last for dogs?, he wondered.
“Hey, big guy,” he crooned. The dog plopped on his back in instant love, waggling his tail and whining, begging for a tummy rub. “Okay, but I don’t want to get you in trouble.” Charlie stretched out his right arm, glad it didn’t shake too badly, and ran his fingers over the panting body. The animal grunted in sheer appreciation.
“Samson.” Charlie’s head snapped up, instantly withdrawing. The dog’s owner was looking his way. He tucked his hand back into the sweater sleeve, leaving only his fingers visible. Samson rolled to his feet and bounded to his master with a woof.
Then he surprised Charlie, racing back to him. He wiggled closer, like he wanted to climb on his lap. Charlie oomphed when a rather large puppy paw jabbed him in the middle.
The dog whined and blatantly disobeyed. Charlie caught it when the man calling for the dog began to lope in his direction. A rueful scowl seemed to say he’d expected something of the sort from the animal.
“I’m sorry,” they said at the same time.
“Samson is in obedience training and still young enough to be a brat.” The man unfurled a leash that had been stashed in a side pocket, and clipped it to Samson’s collar.
“He’s a very friendly dog,” Charlie offered.
“Sorry he bothered you.” He tugged on the leash and Samson finally deigned to listen, sitting not quite calmly at his owner’s side.
“He didn’t.” Charlie pushed his hands into opposite sleeves, making sure his body was covered.
“Aren’t you hot?”
“Aren’t you cold?” He raised his chin to look up. The man was nearly naked. How could he not be cold?
The blond laughed. “Touché.” He tapped the dog’s head, whose tongue lolled as he panted. “Well, this is Samson. I’m Gregory.”
“Nice to meet you both.” It wasn’t frosty, but it was a far cry from honestly welcoming.
Charlie guessed Gregory took the hint as he stepped away. “Enjoy your morning.”
“Thank you,” Charlie replied. Gregory turned and continued with their run, Samson now trotting at his side on his leash. Charlie watched them go, their forms shrinking to dots on the beach.
He’d been coming to the beach for a few days in the mornings and hadn’t seen the pair before. He didn’t try to postulate why. It wasn’t like he owned the beach, just rented the bungalow across the dunes. His PT had told him he needed to walk more, and Charlie took that to mean walking to the beach counted. So what if he came and sat? His legs got him there, didn’t they?
He sighed, flexing his shoulder, feeling the tightness of the healed skin. The burns had healed, though he still felt the monumental difference along his side and to his shoulder. Twenty-eight fucking years old and on disability. He snorted, disgusted.
“Don’t wallow, Charles,” his physical therapist and psychiatrist had both cautioned him. “You are not to blame. There’s still a whole world out there. You’re young and healthy.”
Except he’d be walking with a cane for the rest of his life.
He wanted to pitch something, but clutched his phone tighter to restrain the impulse. Stretching his legs, he couldn’t help but notice how much muscle mass he’d lost under the thin sweats while laid up in the hospital. He’d always been a little on the thin side, but he’d worked hours every day to make himself stronger, to be a reliable member of the firehouse team.
Charlie never expected his lover to try to kill him by burning down their own house, though. A plotted suicide. A firefighter murdered in his own home. The irony wasn’t lost on him.
The burn scars stretched from his shoulder, down his back ending on his right thigh above his knee. The doctors had grafted some to minimize the largest scars, but he’d lost chunks. Skin and muscle. He shivered, closing his eyes for a moment. Stop it. You’re alive, and he’s in jail along with his fuck toy. They’d both planned it. How sick was that? He couldn’t just break up with Charlie.
Plucking at the top of the sweats, he popped sand off in powdery bursts. With a glance at the phone for the time, not the picture, he reached behind him for the cane he used. He was stronger now, but he kept it close for those times when his thigh gave him problems. It was useless on the shifting sands, but he could manage that much until he hit the hard pavement to walk the few blocks on the sidewalks to his home. After attempting the sand, he knew he’d need it on the return trek.
Charlie took slow, measured steps, concentrating to make his legs work in sync in the soft sand. With the damaged hamstring and tendons, his right leg would never flex and support him the way it had before. He’d always need the cane. What made it hard was the damage to his shoulder. He had to hold his weight on that shoulder when his leg grew tired. For a man who had taken his body for granted before the fire, he knew he never would again.
The doorbell rang, slicing the silence and tension between them like a razor blade. Greg stood, tugging his wallet from his pocket to pay for the pizza. He carried the pie box to the kitchen counter, his taut back to Charlie.
His head sagged and a shudder rocked his frame. “Charlie, I’m sorry. I owe you an apology. And an explanation.”
Charlie studied Greg. He bent over the counter on his elbows, rubbing his face, then stood and slowly spun on a heel, facing Charlie from across the room. Arms crossed over a lean chest, stretching touchable material, raising the sweater to expose the strip of skin between the sweater and his jeans. There was room beneath the exposed belly button. Charlie wanted to lick the flesh winking at him.
“I needed to make sure…” Charlie raised his gaze from that firm playground when Greg trailed off. “I’m not used to this, and I’m not sure how to do it. I’m sorry if I’ve made you uncomfortable tonight. It’s not what I wanted.” He sighed, rocking a bare foot back and forth as he leaned against the wood-covered counter between the living room and the kitchen. “I don’t want to lose your friendship, so I’m sorry. I won’t be upset if you leave tonight. I’ll go change.”
Charlie stood, a flicker of understanding beginning to worm into his lust-addled mind. “You…you dressed like that for me?” Greg had dressed like that intentionally? He doubted he could’ve sounded more shocked.
A flicker of uncertainty chased by consternation shadowed Greg’s face. “Yeah. I guess I made a bigger fool of myself than I had even thought possible.”
He gave a nonchalant, dismissive glance, avoiding making direct eye contact. “Because I thought you were attracted to me. Like I said, it was a mistake.”
Charlie moved as though pulled by a gravitational force toward him, barely conscious of the weight on his leg. “Greg, what are you trying to prove? If you want the truth, yes, I’m very attracted to you, but it doesn’t matter. You’re straight, and you’re right. I don’t want to lose our friendship either. I just don’t understand what this is about.” He waved a hand up and down, encompassing the whole package.
Greg’s chest barely moved, each breath a steady paced action. “Because, believe it or not, I was miserable most of the time I was in California. I was either thinking about you, worried about you, or just wanting to talk to you. Because…” Greg drew a very slow, very deep breath, letting his arms fall to his sides to stand directly in front of Charlie. Something potent began to burn in his eyes. Something Charlie knew he should be fleeing from, but unable to make his body obey. “Because sometimes happiness doesn’t come the way we’re taught to expect.”
Charlie shook his head. “Greg. What are you talking about? Happiness? What are—”
That was as much as he was allowed to say because Greg lifted his palms and cupped Charlie’s face. It wasn’t a sudden move, though the surprise of it stole Charlie’s ability to evade or defy him. Stole his ability to speak and think. He felt himself fall heart-first into the most amazing brown eyes. Charlie’s heart thudded like a freight train into his chest in answer to the yearning heat staring at him.
Greg’s lips hovered over his, warm breath that melted him to his bones. As a first kiss, it was awkward. Neither was sure where to give, neither being the first to succumb.
Then, as if Greg had been his lover for a decade, he ran his fingers into Charlie’s hair and held him captive, tipping him to seal their mouths together, a sweet fusion. There was no strength, no boiling heat, no explosive fireworks.
It went worlds beyond any of that.
Charlie’s eyes sank shut in sheer bliss. He wrapped his arms around Greg, leaning into his strength, and Greg caught him. Every fantasy, every dream fell short of the real thing. Charlie lived in that kiss, in the moment. The press of fingertips in his hair kept him still for Greg’s exploration. Not demanding, not even questing, but learning with the gentlest of steps. It was the most chaste kiss of his life, yet the most stunning for that very fact. It stole Charlie’s strength until he felt weak from his eyeballs down.
Clawed fingers gripped onto chunks of black sweater when Greg released his lips.
Greg swallowed several times, staring into his eyes. “Would I sound completely naïve to say wow?”
Charlie smiled. “Not in the least.” He was breathing shallowly, panting as much as Greg was.
“You’re not mad?”
Charlie massaged him through the fabric of his sweater. “Confused, worried about your state of mind, but no, not mad.”