Cover Artist: Written Ink
Release Date: November 6,
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Tropes: Friends to lovers
Themes: Coming out, forgiveness, first time
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 45 000 words/ 151
It is a standalone story and
does not end on a cliffhanger.
Can a secret crush who
rejected Johnny be someone he can trust? And why would the richest teenager in town be
Johnny Cunningham had a secret crush on the high school
quarterback, Zach Carpenter. Because of fear and anxiety, he didn’t do anything about it. A
chance meeting after high school brings their paths together again, and sparks fly.
Zach Carpenter was born into the richest family in town,
but since 10th grade he has been attracted to Johnny Cunningham and wasn’t sure if Johnny liked
him too. When they meet again after high school, Zach cannot deny his strong attraction to
Johnny and pursues him, even though Johnny is a Townie and dirt poor and Zach’s parents
have already determined Zach’s path in life.
When Johnny discovers that Zach suffers from bipolar
disorder, and that Zach’s parents have other plans for Zach that don’t include Johnny, can
they overcome these obstacles and make their love last forever?
The drive to their mom’s Waffle House shouldn’t have
taken long but stop and go traffic going to the restaurant added several minutes to their
As they rounded Memorial Park, some campaign
signs lined the road.
“I can’t believe they have election signs up already.
It’s still a year off.” Johnny eyed one small sign. Pete Buttigieg.
“That’s the gay guy, right?” Colton
“Yeah. I heard people still don’t know how to
“He’s not going to win. Look how many Trump
2020 signs there are here.”
“He won this county last time.” Johnny sighed. “He
won the whole state, I think.”
“Could you imagine if a queer man won? Holy
hell?” Colton laughed. “Here we are.” Colton pulled up, and parked.
Johnny and Colton walked quickly into the
restaurant and were greeted by Gladys. Their mom soon appeared from the
“Hey you two, happy birthday!” Sharon beamed.
“Take that booth over there.” Their mother pointed to the corner and Colton and Johnny
took the seats quickly with Johnny taking the seat that faced the entrance.
Gladys came up to them with a coffee pot in her
hands. Johnny turned the cup over on the saucer and let Gladys pour. “I can’t believe you
two are nineteen. High school graduation was just days ago, not a month or so.” She
chuckled as she poured a cup for Colton.
Sharon smiled, and placed her hand on Johnny’s
shoulder. “Glad you could make it Conn — I’m sorry, Johnny. God that’s going to take time
getting use to calling you what your grandpa called you. Your brother said you were like the
dead this morning.”
“Yeah, why sweetie? It took me how many years to
tell you two apart, now you got be called Johnny now?” Gladys laughed.
“What did the boys want?” Dwayne, Gladys’s
“The usual, right” Sharon asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” Johnny said.
“Yeah,” Colton. “Me too.”
Johnny kicked Colton underneath the
Sharon put her hands on her hips and glared at
Colton. Johnny nudged his shoe against Colton.
“I’m sorry.” Colton’s face flushed. “Yes,
“That’s better.” Sharon relaxed her arms. Gladys
chortled as she went back to the counter to take care of a customer who wanted to pay his
“I bought a small cake for you two from Publix to
have before you leave. I have to work until nine tonight. So, we’ll just have to a birthday
dinner another time. Raincheck?”
“That’s fine, Mom.” Johnny smiled. “Chocolate
cake? Yellow cake?”
“It’s yellow cake with fudge icing.” She held her
finger out. “I’ll be right back.”
The door opened with a small bell ring, and Zach
Carpenter walked in with an older man.
Johnny instinctively slunk down in his
Colton’s eyebrows knitted together, “What?”
Colton twisted his body to where Zach stood
Zach was scanning to see where they should
“You can sit anywhere you want honey!” Gladys
shouted, as she took the customer’s twenty and made change from his bill.
“Hey, Zach!” Colton shouted.
Johnny’s neck heated.
“Hey, Colton, Connor, what’s up?” Zach Carpenter
walked toward them; his companion followed him too. Zach stood at least six feet three
inches, and when Colton stood up to greet Zach, it was noticeable that Colton was a couple
of inches shorter.
Zach had three days or so of light brown stubble
that contrasted with his unruly ash brown hair. The grey shirt he wore seemed painted on
his sculpted chest. The shirt further tapered into a V-shape, showcasing his small waist. The
pink shorts he wore showed off Zach’s thigh muscles. Johnny didn’t know what brand of
moccasins Zach was wearing but he was sure he didn’t buy it from Wal-Mart.
The man next to Zach was shorter; thinning salt
and pepper gray; the man’s eyeglasses balanced at the end of the gentleman’s
Before Zach or Colton could say anything, Sharon
appeared, holding the cake in one hand, and another tried to keep the candles on the cake
from blowing out.
“It’s your birthday?” Zach asked, staring at Johnny,
who nodded quietly slightly embarrassed when their mom started singing.
“Our birthday,” Colton corrected.
Luckily for them, Gladys took over when their
mother faltered in staying in tune, and Gladys’s golden voice, trained from years of choir
practice at the local A.M.E. church, got other patrons to clap at the end, right before the
twins blew out the candles. Zach and the older man next to clapped hard.
Dwayne came out with grilled cheese and fries and
gave the plates to Gladys who in turn placed them in front of the boys.
Sharon hugged her boys and went back to the back
office while Gladys and Dwayne went back behind the counter.
“This is my uncle, Roderick,” Zach said. “He’s
visiting from Boston and saw this restaurant from across the bridge from his hotel on
“We don’t have them in Massachusetts.” Roderick
eyed Johnny and Colton’s plate as he scanned the cooking area. “I remember as a kid going
to them in Pennsylvania. We would stop after summer camp in upstate New York just to try
the grits. I haven’t had grits in so long.”
“Well, uncle, I can tell you’re hungry so let’s take a
seat.” Zach waved goodbye at Colton, Johnny, and Sharon as Gladys passed with two fresh
plates for the cake.
Johnny relaxed when Zach and Roderick sat in a
booth several feet away and not in the empty booth right next to them.
About the Author
Immigrant, military-brat, gay
veteran, and former theme park employee, among other things, W.S. Long upon leaving the
military became a lawyer. During the day, he practices law but at night he reads and writes
male-male romance under this pen name. Once in a while W.S. Long travels or dreams
about traveling to wonderful places with his wonderful husband, a mild-mannered college
Social Media Links