Release Blitz

Release blitz and #giveaway: Winter Cowboy (Whisper Ridge, Wyoming #1) by RJ Scott

 

Length: 70,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Blurb

Micah Lennox left Whisper Ridge after promising the man he loved that he would never return. But the only way he knows to keep his pregnant sister and nephew safe is to go home. Spending winter in Wyoming opens too many old wounds, but he’s on the run from justice which can’t be far behind, and this is his last chance at redemption.

After a hostage situation leaves Doctor Daniel Sheridan struggling with PTSD, he returns to Whisper Ridge. Joining his dad in family practice is a balm to soothe his exhausted soul, and somehow, he finds a peace he can live with. That is until he meets Micah in a frozen graveyard, and the years of anger and feelings of betrayal boiling inside him, erupt.

Two broken men fight and scratch for their lives and that of their families, and somehow, in the middle of it all, they find each other.

Is it possible that love can be rekindled and become a forever to believe in?

Excerpt

Chapter 1
2009, Daniel

A figure stood beside Isaac’s grave and I knew immediately who it was.

There was no marker yet for the boy who had died two weeks ago and who would forever be nineteen. Flowers marked his resting place, but snow had long since covered them and softened the raised earth so it wasn’t as obvious against the gravestones around the figure. A car accident had taken Isaac, killed him on impact, and his family grieved for a future that would never be realized.

I’d just left my brother, Chris, in the hospital, broken beyond repair in the same accident. At least we had the possibility of a future with him, even though the road to recovery would be hard. He was still in a medically induced coma, not yet awake to know he’d lost his leg, or that fire had marked his face. But he would wake up. They told us he’d live.

No one had asked me where I was going when I’d left Chris’ room, each of us lost in various stages of shock and grief, and we all dealt with what had happened in our own way. I’d needed to connect with Isaac. Needed the peace to balance the loss and guilt that ate away inside me.

Isaac dead on impact, Chris’ future destroyed, and in front of me, hunched over Isaac’s last resting place, was the man responsible for it all.

The man who left my bed in the dead of night to become a murderer.

Micah.

He was huddled into his coat, the January ice bitter by the buried, hands forced into his pockets, and his hood pulled around his face. Micah must have heard me, because he glanced my way, startled, grief written on his face. And then his expression changed.

He stepped toward me, his expression full of something like hope.

“Daniel?” he said. “Is Chris okay? No one will let me see him.”

He stopped walking when I didn’t reach out for him and looked at me uncertainly.

“His leg is gone, down from his knee,” I explained dispassionately, and then touched my face, “and his burns are bad, the left side of his face from his temple to his chin.”

“Shit. Shit.” Micah bent at the waist, as if he couldn’t breathe, and he was crying.

“How is it you don’t have a mark on you?” I asked, still eerily calm, and utterly focused.

He took his hand from his pocket, and pulled up his sleeve, exposing bandages. “I was burned,” he began. He dropped his hand when I didn’t comment, forced it back into his pocket, wincing as he did so.

I imagined the burn hurt a little, maybe even a lot, but he was there, as whole and real as when he’d left my bed on that terrible day.

In my mind I saw Chris in the hospital, the covers raised over the cage which protected his surgical site, then dipping lower where his ankle should have been. I saw a clear image of Isaac the day before he died, knocking for Chris and grinning at me as if he had the greatest secret to tell his best friend.

And here was Micah, telling me he had slight burns on his arm? The same man who’d told me in one breath that he loved me and then had stolen my car, driving it into a bridge and killing one boy, leaving another maimed and in a coma.

My fist flew, clenched aggression targeting Micah’s face, his cheekbone, and I heard a satisfying crunch. He staggered back a step, but he didn’t go down, and he didn’t take his hands from his pockets. I was too fast. I hit him again, blood flecking his face, dissipating into the icy air. He moved again, the force of my blows shoving him back.

Still, his hands remained in his pockets, and he was unnervingly quiet, taking my hits as if they were nothing at all. Another punch connected with his lip and split the skin, and this time he grunted in pain. He staggered backward toward the next grave and bent back over the stone marker with the force of that final blow. I stepped closer. I hit him again, connecting with his jaw, but the hit wasn’t hard. There was nothing to it; he didn’t move away.

“You took my car,” I yelled, right in his face.

“You said I could borrow it,” he pleaded.

I raised my hand to hit him again, but he winced, and closed his eyes, and I wanted him to look at me. “Open your damn eyes!”

He did, and he wouldn’t avert his gaze, naked grief in his expression.

“Daniel, please listen.”

“You’ve destroyed Chris’ life.”

“I know.”

“You need to leave Whisper Ridge, and never come back. I don’t want to see your face, I don’t want Chris to ever see you again. You understand?”

“I understand,” his tone low and broken.

“You will never come back here.” I shook him. He was smaller than me, thinner, lighter, and I shook him so hard his head snapped back. “Promise me!”

“I pr—promise,” he said through tears.

I was disgusted by him, hated him, wanted to kill him right there on Isaac’s grave.

“I hope they lock you up and throw away the fucking key!” I was still shouting, and he didn’t move, just stared at me with those pale eyes, red and wet from crying. He wouldn’t stop crying. “Don’t fucking stare at me!”

I shoved him one last time, and then before I could work out what the hell I was still doing there shouting at him, I pivoted and turned my back on him, and on Isaac’s grave, and the entire carnage.

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

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Release Blitz

Release blitz and #giveaway: Waking Oisin by Grace Kilian Delaney

Title:  Waking Oisin
Author: Grace Kilian Delaney
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: February 26, 2018
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 62700

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, bisexual, gay, genderqueer, new adult, cross-dresser, college student, lawyer, age-gap, piercings & tattoos, dirty talk, toys, spanking, D/s dynamics, light kink, family drama, pets

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Synopsis

Oisin Harrison blames his fiancée’s distrust for ruining their relationship. He blames his father for pushing him into law school. But more than all that, he blames himself for letting other people’s expectations stop him from going after his dream. But dressing in drag with his best friend is the one thing Oisin refuses to compromise.

As Sin, he meets handsome Trenton Fisher, a man who appreciates Oisin’s cross-dressing. Trent upends his world by doing things to his body no one ever has, making him want more than just one night together. That is, until Oisin discovers his hot hookup works at his father’s law firm and is angling for a promotion.

To complicate things, Trent doesn’t seem to recognize Oisin out of drag. Or does he?

Will Oisin and Trent’s magnetic attraction grow to something deeper, or will it threaten to jeopardize their careers and futures?

Waking Oisin contains characters from Seven Minutes but can be read as a standalone.

Excerpt

Waking Oisin
Grace Killian Delaney © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Oisin Harrison

As I walked out of my last class of the day, the wretched feeling grew larger in my stomach, and if it weren’t for the cool January air, I might have puked. I’d failed my first project. My second semester at UNLV’s law school was not going well, and I’d be lucky if I made it through the next four months without getting kicked out.

My father had been disappointed with my decision to attend our home state’s college. Being the senior partner and founder of the most prestigious entertainment law firm, with locations in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, he’d had ridiculously high expectations for his youngest son. When he came home from LA on Friday, like he did every weekend, the news of my being on academic probation would be reported to him by one of his many acquaintances (aka babysitters) before I had an opportunity to plead my side, and a butt chewing would ensue.

I trudged back to my apartment where I found my best friend, Devon Thomson, in the parking lot getting out of his car. His makeup and short brown hair were flawless, and the stylish wrap coat he wore stopped just above his knees, leaving his calves exposed. The ease with which he expressed his femininity had always impressed me.

Devon picked up on my body language immediately. “You don’t look too happy.”

“I failed.” My chest tightened. I’d never failed at anything before. I’d survived an undergrad degree in Biological Sciences and graduated summa cum laude, but I had no heart for law. Lately, I had no heart for anything; I was a zombie masquerading among the living.

Devon hugged me. “It’s okay, Os. You’ll do better next time—you always do.”

That’s why I loved my friend. He was always a hundred and ten percent supportive and affectionate. I missed our nights making love to each other as FWB and hanging out with him like we used to before he met his boyfriend. Whenever he talked about his lover, he glowed with happiness. I’d never seen him so happy, so in love, and it made any nostalgic desires I had seem trivial.

He released me and a wicked grin spread across his lips. “I got something that might cheer you up.”

“I know that look, and it means trouble.” I laughed, and it seemed like it’d been an eternity since that sound had come from me. “I’m in.”

He clapped, his suede gloves dampening the sound. “We got invited to a record release party in Los Angeles next weekend, and I was thinking we could dress up like we used to? It’s been too long since we had some fun together.”

My heart swelled. Seemed I wasn’t the only one missing our together time. I should stay and study. Be a good little student. But what Devon offered was too tempting. Screw it. I was going to LA. “Sounds perfect.”

“Yay! I’ve got the best outfit for you. You’re gonna look so hot, you’ll be swatting off guys and girls.”

“I don’t know about that.” Sometimes I thought being bisexual was a blessing, other times a curse. The curse had happened last semester when my fiancée determined my bisexuality was a cover for being gay and that one day I’d leave her for a man. I protested. She left anyway.

“I do,” Devon affirmed, hooking his arm with mine and resting his head on my shoulder as we walked the few steps to my front door

“Who are you? Susie Sunshine?” I envied the confidence he had; it drew people to him. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt safe or confident in my own skin.

He brought his hands to his face, framing it like a sun’s rays. “Oh, you know me. Just a ray of light wherever I go.”

“Will Stone be there?” Mentioning his boyfriend’s name brightened his smile to megawatt proportions. I’d need sunglasses if he kept it up.

“Yep. And before you even ask—no, Matty will not be there.”

Matty. Stone’s bandmate, who’d brought me to his hotel room, kissed me, and then shoved me away. Last time I saw him, he apologized for leading me on. Alcohol made any hole look good until a hiccup of sobriety hit. Whatever. Matty had been my last attempt at getting laid, and that was so many months ago, I’d reinstated my virginity.

I let out a breath. “It won’t matter if he’s there, Dev. We’re good. He’s over it. I’m over it. It’s not like he’s the first person to reject me.” That sounded more pathetic than I’d intended. Time to change the topic. “Do you mind if we stop by Paws for Love before getting dinner? There’s someone I want to check in on.”

“Wouldn’t be one of those gorgeous redheaded veterinarians, would it?” Dev raised his perfectly arched eyebrows.

“Despite my crush on the twins, no. It’s a female of the four-legged variety—much too hairy. I found a dog, a black lab, with a damaged leg.”

Devon brushed my cheek with his gloved fingers. “You’re so sweet, you know that?”

The familiar touch set up an ache in my heart, but not because I wanted to be in a relationship with him. Devon and I had been there, done that, and decided we were better off friends.

“Being sweet has done nothing for me.”

“Ooh, you could get yourself a leather daddy, go all whips and chains. You know, be bad.” Devon tapped a finger against his lips, his gaze shifted upward in thought.

“Seriously?” I struggled with the lock to the lemon-yellow front door, fighting back the disturbing image.

Devon lightly pushed me out of the way and turned the key twice before it gave. He plopped the key into my hand without acknowledging his triumph over the stubborn lock. “Might loosen you up some.”

“Getting laid would loosen me up, never mind getting a leather daddy.” I shouldered the door and went inside.

“I think we’ve found a goal for our LA trip.” He rubbed his hands together.

I barked a laugh. “My dad always says it’s good to have goals.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Grace Kilian Delaney resides in flammable Southern California where she spends the wee hours of the morning drinking coffee and writing. She identifies as genderfluid and pansexual, though both are recent labels, and a goal of hers is to create stories that include gay, bisexual, and genderfluid characters. When not writing, Grace composes music, pretends she’s an opera singer, plays piano, and practices yoga, though not all at the same time.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail

 

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Book Reviews

Sunday Review

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Happy Sunday, everyone. Today I’ll talk about a book I read a while back, but that I really love. N.R. Walker is one of my favorite authors, and Henry is one of the best characters I’ve ever read. Have you read it? What did you think? 🙂

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The Weight of It All by N.R. Walker

After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of.

He joins a gym.

Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is.

As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him.

Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight.

I find it hard to write book reviews, I could never be a reviewer or a book blogger. It’s somewhat easier if I didn’t like the book very much, because let’s face it: anybody can rant about stuff they don’t like, right? But when I really and truly loved a book, it’s very difficult.

It’s tough for me to find words that do justice to a wonderful book, nothing feels good enough. How do I convey to others what I loved so much about it, what words do I use to convince them to read it? How do I talk about all the feelings I experienced while reading?

What I can tell you about The Weight of it All, is that I absolutely adored the main characters in this book, especially Henry. I love Henry, I adore Henry, I want Henry to be my best friend and I’m genuinely bummed he’s not real. I love his wit and his sense of humor. I love that he decided he needed to change for himself, and I loved the way he took his passion for cooking and adapted it to his new lifestyle. I like Reed too—what’s not to like? —and the fact that he’s pretty much perfect, but doesn’t care about looks in a potential partner…well, that melted my heart.

I died of happiness over all the Harry Potter references. I have a newfound respect for Bee Gees, and when Reed and Henry went shopping and the twinky Chihuahua tried to pick up Reed and Henry says: “His full pedigree kennel name is Shameless Bottom Needs a Muscle Daddy, but he gets called Chihuahua Boy for short” I laughed so hard my husband came out of the home office and asked what was so funny, and told me he’d had to mute his work call because of my hyena like laughter in the background.

This is a very funny book. But what I like most about it is the complexity. One moment I almost fall out of my couch because I’m laughing so hard, but the next second something happens to make me choke on my laughter and start crying instead. I appreciate the humor so much more, when not everything is fun and games, but has glimpses of realness thrown into it.

One of my favorite movies is The Full Monty from 1997It’s hilarious, with a bunch of regular, unemployed British guys trying to become the next Chippendales to earn some money. But there’s one scene in particular that I love. It’s the big guy of the gang, Dave, who’s nervous about taking his clothes off in public because of his weight. And someone tells him you can loose weight by wrapping yourself in cling film – so this scene I’m thinking about has Dave, sitting half naked eating a candy bar and wrapping himself in plastic to lose a few pounds. It’s funny and heartbreaking at the same time.

And The Weight of it All is like that. Funny and heartbreaking, but also heartwarming and uplifting.

I loved it. Read this book, it’s fabulous. Five laughing and five crying stars – that makes ten stars, but frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Release Blitz

Release blitz and #giveaway: Closets Are for Clothes by Addison Albright

Today I welcome my dear friend Addison and her new release here on the blog. I had the good fortune to beta read this book, so I can guarantee it’s awesome. And I adore the title! You definitely don’t want to miss this book!!
Happy release day, Addison!! ❤️

 

 
Length: 43,199 words
Publisher: JMS Books
 
Blurb

Mike’s life is carefully compartmentalized. He’s deep in the closet to his family back in Kansas, but lives life honestly and openly in Austin. He’s unnerved when Wes, his old university crush, turns up at his door in answer to a roommate advertisement, but quickly sees the potential…benefits of the arrangement. Wes has never doubted nor denied his sexuality. With the support of his family he’s an out and proud LGBT activist.

On the scale balancing his self-esteem on one side, and the love of his family on the other, Mike has to decide which weighs more. Is Mike being fair to his parents by not giving them the chance to know his real self? When the delicate balance of his life is disrupted, he decides he’s tired of living a lie. Will Wes understand his concerns, or will their fledgling relationship crumble under the strain of Mike’s uncertainty?

Excerpt
 

I walked down the narrow aisle with a book jammed under my arm and holding my carry-on bag in front of me as I focused on the labels for the rows. Due to the effect my nerves were having on my stomach, I was beginning to regret the meal I’d eaten during the two-hour layover in Houston.

I found my aisle seat, but it was occupied. Nobody sat in the window seat. This leg of my trip used a smaller plane—Wichita was hardly a bustling hub—and there were only two seats on either side of the aisle.

My shoulders stiffened, waiting for the request. My guess was he had a traveling companion, but they’d booked their flight too late to get two seats together. I’d be willing to trade, but I hoped it would at least be to another aisle seat. I wasn’t claustrophobic at all, but I preferred the freedom an aisle seat provided.

I stopped in front of my row and looked at the man, my eyebrows raised questioningly. He stood and stepped into the aisle. I opened my mouth, but wasn’t entirely sure what to say. He hadn’t moved on. He stood as if waiting to sit back down after letting me in. “I’m sorry.” I held up my boarding pass. “Apparently, there’s some confusion. This is my seat, here.”

“You don’t mind, do you?”

My whole body tensed at his tone. As if he simply assumed I’d switch seats for no obvious reason beyond he preferred mine. Which frankly—dammit—was likely to happen because I was non-confrontational and this wasn’t worth the fight. But it pissed me off that he wasn’t asking, acting like it was a done deal, and he didn’t even try to offer justification. He also had the kind of smile you see on people trying to sell you a load of crap, be it a used car or a dubious political position.

“Is there a problem?” The inquiry came from behind—a male voice with a polite but firm tone.

“No problem,” the man in front of me said. The slick politician smile that had come so naturally to him now seemed strained, or rather, a mild sneer supplemented it. “We were just switching seats.”

“Sir, do you want to switch seats with this gentleman?” the flight attendant asked.

“Gentleman” was a generous term for the jerk, but points for diplomacy. I was sure the answer was obvious. I’d booked an aisle seat because that’s what I preferred. But I imagined that wasn’t the real question. I wasn’t sure if the flight attendant would rather, like me, avoid a confrontation, or if he’d like to see the pushy bastard put in his place. I knew which I’d rather see if I were a random spectator, but I wasn’t.

“I’m willing to switch.” But I refused to say I “wanted” to. It was a cop-out, but it would be miserable enough sitting next to the guy for the next couple hours without adding the possibility of his simmering hostility to the mix.

I hefted my carry-on bag into the overhead bin and sidled across to the window seat. I sat with my book in my lap and stared out the window at the tarmac, hoping it was clear I wasn’t interested in making small-talk and wished to be left alone.

The man parked himself back in the seat that should have been mine, and the flight attendant made his way toward the back of the plane.

“Jesus H. Christ. We had it under control,” the man muttered.

Apparently, being left in peace was too much to wish for. As my dad liked to say, you could wish in one hand and—

“Don’t know why that faggot felt he needed to stick his nose in our business.”

My grip on the book tightened and I spun without thinking toward the man. “Excuse me?” My tone oozed with aversion. I didn’t try to hide my feelings, so I’m sure the incredulous disgust I felt at his use of that word showed on my face as well.

Was it Wes’s influence or was I more likely to stick up for someone else than for myself? I wasn’t sure which, but I found I couldn’t let that go without expressing my repugnance at his shameless and vocal bigotry. I didn’t even know if he was simply using the word as a general derogatory insult or if he’d assumed the flight attendant was gay because of his career choice.

His lip curled as a soft snort puffed from between his thin lips. “I said, I don’t know why that fellow felt he needed to stick his nose in our business.”

That wasn’t what he’d said. I hadn’t imagined it. But I wasn’t going to pursue it. If nothing else, at least he knew his prejudice wasn’t always going to be accepted when aired in public. The more people realized it was bigotry that needed to be hidden in a closet, not the targets of it, the better the world would be. Yeah, Wes’s activism was influencing me.

I turned back to the window, closed my eyes, and counted to ten before reopening them. This was the last thing I wanted to deal with on the flight home to come out to my parents. My gut was churning enough without this added stress.

I’d been rather proud of how I’d managed to push aside my uncertainties the past two weeks and return to being my regular normal self. Right up until it had been time to head to the airport, anyway. I’d studied Wes’s pamphlets, and Greg had taken a set of them home, too, so he could be prepared on my behalf. That alone had taken a huge share of the weight off my shoulders.

Even so, now that the big moment was looming, it took a concerted effort to not be that jittery guy on the plane that everyone kept an eye on, waiting for them to crack and brandish a nail file that had slipped by security. Sure, there was a good chance everything would be fine. But there was still a possibility that my relationship with my parents would never be the same, and there was a huge sliding scale of degree for that potential unpleasantness.

Would my dad react similarly to the man sitting next to me? Under pressure, faced with his son admitting to being gay after he’d spent years talking about how wrong he felt that was, would he crack? He’d never used that word—“faggot.” He’d never used any kind of derogatory word.

Thinking back, I knew Greg was probably right about Dad’s apparent angle during his campaign to convince me it would be wrong to be gay. It all boiled down to the motivations behind his efforts. Was it as simple as he’d convinced himself I was making a choice, and wanted the best possible life for me, or did he think there was something intrinsically wrong—sordid, contemptible—with being gay?

Would I lose his respect? His love? Would holidays forevermore be tense? Helen was on my side, thank goodness, but what if Dad were to become convinced that I couldn’t be trusted around her two young children? I shifted in my seat, trying to get comfortable, but it couldn’t keep my mind from picturing him mining for all his arguments from only websites that were biased against LGBTQI+ people and not seeking the truth from a fair balance of sources. If that was the case, then there’d be a good chance he’d bought into a lot of the bullshit they were peddling. The fact he’d held off saying the more disparaging claims didn’t mean he hadn’t read them and thought there might be something to them.

The plane taxied down the runway and took off, and I turned my gaze to my book. I’d brought Andy Weir’s The Martian because I’d read it before and loved it, and I’d figured I might be distracted, so it’d be best not to try to follow a new story.

I opened the book, read the first three lines with the character thinking he was “pretty much fucked,” and closed it again. I didn’t believe in omens, but that summed up how I felt. It was just a question of degree.

About Addison

Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance in contemporary settings. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

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Super Short

#SuperShort

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Happy Friday everyone! It’s FlashFiction time, and also time for part 4 of Alan and Jon’s story. Addison left me a couple words two weeks ago, and I’ve incorporated them in the story. The words are insulated and imagine. (However, I took some liberties with the word imagine, but I figure it’s allowed 😊 ) Someone also wanted to see a kiss between the guys…and I may or may not have obliged! 😊

Here are parts 12, and 3 if you need to get up to speed.

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I stood in my designated spying-on-my-hot-neighbor spot, maybe a little less hidden behind the curtain this morning. Ever since Jon had pressed a chaste kiss on my cheek yesterday, said goodnight, and gone home, I’d debated with myself whether to perv on him as usual. I’d almost decided not to when my phone had vibrated with a text.

CU tmrw. No need to hide. xo

So, there I was. Bouncing on the balls of my feet. Gnawing on the knuckle of my right index finger with eyes flitting between my watch and his door.

He was late. He was never late; usually, I could set my watch after him, so what took him so long today? Yesterday, he’d said he would have to run twice the distance to make up for all the sweets he’d eaten, but that had been a joke, hadn’t it? I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t a work-out kind of person.

I peeked around the curtain, sighed, and stepped into sight. “It’s not like he doesn’t know I’m here,” I muttered and checked the time for the hundredth time. Five minutes late. What if…what if he’d changed his mind? Realized when he got home that I was kind of a geek—kind of, who was I kidding?—who didn’t know when to shut up, and decided he didn’t want to see me again? What if he’d snuck out the back-door or gone to work at the buttcrack of dawn to avoid me?

“Oh em gee, Alan!” I resisted smacking my forehead for being stupid and gripped the counter. How long should I wait for him to show up? When would it cross the line into creep-territory? Or would the only thing I’d see if I waited long enough, be a U-Haul truck, picking up all his things?

I sighed. My imagination was crazier than ever this morning. But maybe it was time to come to terms with the fact there wouldn’t be a Jon-sighting today? I’d better get ready for work. Too bad, my days always felt a little easier after I’d gotten a good look at his chest and all that glorious sk—

Jon’s door flew open and he stepped out and a happy whooping sound escaped my mouth.

But dammit, he was dressed!

He looked right at me as he kicked the door closed, jumped off the porch, and sauntered across the street. His hips swung from side to side and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Was he trying to drive me crazy?

As he came closer he held up two insulated cups and nodded at my door. I got the message, raced through the house, and opened it. Calmly. At least that’s what I told myself.

“Good morning. I come bearing gifts,” he said.

“Why are you wearing a shirt?” As soon as the words were out of my mouth I stiffened. My eyes widened, and I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole. Being boiled to death in magma didn’t seem like the world’s worst idea right now. What the hell was wrong with me?

Jon stumbled but managed to keep himself on his feet. He stared at me for a second with a surprised look on his face before bursting out in a booming laughter. “You’re so cute I can’t stand it.” He shook his head, took the last few steps, and jumped up and joined me on the porch. After a moments’ hesitation, he leaned in and gave me a quick peck on the cheek.

My hand flew up and covered the spot he’d kissed. My skin buzzed, and a shiver ran down my spine. Whoa.

He held out one of the cups to me.

“Eh, I—”

“It’s tea.”

“You brought me tea?”

“Yes,” he said. “I remember that you don’t like coffee.”

I took the offered beverage, unscrewed the lid, and inhaled, happily humming as the scent of sun-ripened strawberries reached my nose. After a sip, I stepped closer to him. The back of my hand brushed against his, and he caught it and weaved our fingers together.

“I can’t stay long,” he said.

“I know.” I had his morning routine memorized after all.

“But I didn’t want to wait to see you.” The words were barely audible, and he averted his eyes.

He was such a delightful mix of cocky and shy and it made my knees week. I wanted to get to know this man. I wanted to learn everything about him and find out if this chemistry that sizzled behind us could be something more.

And I wanted to kiss him. I freed my hand from his grip, turned to him, and cupped his cheek. “Thank you for the tea. I love strawberry.”

“Yeah?” He leaned into my touch.

I nodded. I usually wasn’t this brave, but the unexpected vulnerability he displayed gave me courage. My gaze moved to his mouth. It called out to me, craved my attention. “Can I kiss you?”

Jon’s Adam’s apple bobbed. “Yes.”

I took my time. Stroked my thumb over his lower lip. Bumped his nose with mine. Rubbed my cheek against his and shivered under the scruffiness.

“Alan,” he complained.

Leaning my forehead against his, I slid my hand down to the back of his neck. He shivered under my touch and I squeezed lightly.

When his eyes fell closed, I ghosted my mouth over his. Once. Twice. The third time, I lingered. His lips tasted of coffee, but somehow I liked the flavor on him. After a few seconds, I pulled back. He groaned and hid his face in the crook of my neck.

“Was that okay?” I asked.

“More than.”

“Good.”

“But I have to go.”

“I know.”

He kissed my neck and I gasped. “Can I see you tonight?” he asked and straightened.

A smile bloomed on my face. It seems I didn’t have to worry about the U-Haul emptying his place. Fantastic! “I’ll cook us dinner.”

hearts border

Happy weekend everyone.