Today, I have a guest: Holly Day is here to talk about her latest release, Just to Breathe. Be extra nice to her this time, please, because I feel like I’m neglecting her (and the other lovely people of my morning writing crew) with my new day job, so let’s show her some love so she doesn’t think I’ve stopped loving her 😁
Just to Breathe is a friends-to-lovers story. I love friends-to-lovers stories. In fact, I wrote a guest post over at Holly’s about it if you’re interested, or is that too meta? 😁
Anyway. Welcome, Holly!!
Thank you, Nell, for letting me drop by today. Hello everyone! Did you know that on June 8th, it was Best Friend Day? That’s a day worth celebrating, is it not? I believe it is, so I wrote a story…
Just to Breathe was released last week, and it’s about Nico and Matt who have been best friends since kindergarten. For years, Nico has been in love with Matt, but he won’t risk their friendship, so he’s sworn to never let Matt know. Things don’t always go as planned, though.
This is one of those stories that got crazier and crazier while I wrote it. I love those stories – light-hearted and a bit insane.
It all started with a song by Dori Freeman on Spotify while I was walking to work one morning, and then in the evening when I sat on the sofa and turned on the TV there was a documentary about Al Capone.
What do you get if you mix a modern-day singer-songwriter with bluegrass influences with a gangster from the Prohibition era? Just to Breathe – that’s what you get.
Nico is snatched off the street, taken to a warehouse where he’s roughed up some, and then he’s told he has twenty-four hours to bring his kidnappers the item they want. Nico has no idea what it is they want, so he turns to Matt who is a cop. Together they try to figure out who the people who took Nico are and what they want, all with the help of Matt’s family who also are cops – all of them.
One crazy thing leads to another, and soon Nico fears for his life.
Matt got out of the car. “You should stay inside.”
“I got worried. I tried to call you.”
Matt grabbed a bag from the backseat and walked toward him. “You shouldn’t use your phone. They might have it tapped.”
Nico sighed. “I’m not interesting enough to have my phone tapped.”
“I disagree.” He grinned. “Use mine if you want to call someone, okay?”
“You weren’t here, and your mom says you’re not to leave my side.”
Matt nodded. “Okay.”
“I have to do what Mom says, right?” He winked and went for the door. “Oh, it smells divine. Did you cook?”
“Some stuff.” He held out the bag for Nico to take.
Matt put two plates on the kitchen island and tested the temperature of the lasagna. “I think it’s still warm enough.”
Nico nodded, and they sat.
“Do you know anything?” He took a big bite of lasagna, not having realized how hungry he was until Matt got back.
“Nah. I found a man who’s recently moved to Halsworthy whose last name is Allegretto. He’s twenty-two, though.”
Matt rolled his eyes. “If they mistook you for him, they weren’t doing a good job. You might be young looking, but you’re not twenty-two, darling.”
“You’re saying I look old?”
Matt shook his head, a grin playing on his lips.
“And you’re older.” One year.
“I am and therefore wiser. The idiots grabbing you did a shit job.”
Nico guessed it all depended on what their purpose was, or maybe not considering they’d taken the wrong person.
“Did you talk to him?”
Matt chewed and swallowed. “Who?”
He shook his head. “No, but I sent Amber the information I found.”
“They haven’t found it?” What had they been doing all day?
Matt shrugged. “They probably have.”
“What do we do now?” Nico hated not having anything to do.
Matt took a folded paper out of his pocket and handed it to him. Putting his fork down, Nico unfolded it and read the information.
“An auction? In Walman?” Walman was a larger city about a hundred and thirty miles north from Halsworthy. The auction was held tomorrow night, starting at midnight. Nico shook his head. “Who starts an auction at midnight? That’s stupid.”
“Read at the bottom.” Matt reached over the island and tapped at the paper.
“There is a surprise item that won’t be shown until the end of the auction.” Nico frowned. “Why would anyone bid on a surprise item?” The items listed weren’t cheap. There were paintings and sculptures, and a diamond necklace. “Who has money to impulse buy something like this?”
Matt poked at what little food he had left on his plate with his fork. “They wouldn’t be impulse buying it. My guess is they can’t show it on the viewing because they don’t have it… yet.”
Nico gaped. “It’s the it!”
Matt shrugged. “It could be.”
It could be. Or… “It’s not it.” Nico deflated.
“What do you mean, it’s not?” A frown overtook Matt’s face.
“I guess it could be.” Maybe. “But it could also be they, Mr. Cheekbones and the goons, want to grab it before it’s sold.”
Matt nodded. “You’re too good for glitter glue.”
“Nothing and no one is too good for glitter glue.” Nico pushed his plate aside. “You want to go to the auction?”
“We need to survive tonight first.”
Nico frowned. “What do you mean?” Dusk was slowly falling, but it would be a long time before it got dark for real. They’d eaten and now when Matt was back, things were as they should be.
“It’s twenty-four hours soon.”
A chill crept into Nico’s chest. “But they don’t know where I am.”
Matt looked at him. “Perhaps it was stupid of me to go back to Halsworthy. It gave them an opportunity to follow me.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Matt!” Nico threw his hands in the air. “Do you think they did?”
He shook his head. “No, I didn’t see anyone, but I was in your apartment for about half an hour. They could have placed a tracker on my car.”
Nico stared at him. “They would?”
“I don’t know, Nico. Perhaps they’re too stupid to do something like that.”
Nico got up and turned off the light.
“What are you doing?”
“Making it look like we’re not here.”
A smile stretched Matt’s lips. “My car is outside.”
“Move it. Put it somewhere where it isn’t visible from the road.”
“If they have a—”
“Move it!” It wouldn’t matter if they’d put a tracker in it, but he wanted Matt to hide it anyway.
Nico Allegretti has been best friends with Matt Barnes since kindergarten. There is no one more important to Nico than Matt, and while he’s known for years Matt is the one for him, he’ll never tell him. He won’t risk ruining their friendship.
On his way to meet Matt at the restaurant, a case of mistaken identity ends with Nico in the trunk of a car. When he’s released, his kidnappers give him twenty-four hours to give them what they want. The problem is, Nico has no idea what that could be.
Not knowing what else to do, he turns to Matt, who is a cop. Together they go into hiding while looking for clues. Being kidnapped doesn’t change Nico’s resolve to not let Matt know how he feels, but hiding in a small cabin together makes it hard to ignore. Matt’s small touches and compliments must mean nothing. Had Matt felt the same, he’d let him know by now … right?
Contemporary Gay Romance: 15,392 words
According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.
Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.