Cover Reveal: Rise of the Nobleman” by Valentina C. Brin

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Rise of a Nobleman

Author: Valentina C. Brin

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow Design

Release Date: June 10, 2019

Genre/s: M/M historical, dark

Trope/s: Forbidden love, master and servant

Themes: Heartbreak of betrayal, hurt/comfort, possession, falling in love,

revenge, trust issues, murderer, ambition, sexual awakening, self-acceptance

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Blurb

London, 1680. For the young Charles Rochester, Marquess of Bolton and heir to the Duke of Norfolk, desiring another man is unacceptable. His fierce attraction to the new scullery boy must be suffocated at all cost. But it’s not easy to silence your heart when the people who should understand you end up betraying you, and the only one loyal seems to be the one you’re desperately trying to avoid.

But Dorian Pratt knows he’s hopelessly lost the second he first lays eyes on his new master. As a lowly servant, he understands he can never have him, but he can’t stop his body—and heart—from reacting to the dark, handsome nobleman.

When dangerous secrets hidden within the walls of Norfolk Manor come to light, everything collapses. Charles has only one hope for hanging onto Dorian, but to make it work he must be prepared to sacrifice the most valuable gift God has bestowed upon him: his very humanity.

Sins will not be forgiven and there’s always a price to pay when blood is spilled.

Warning: Due to some raw content of a violent nature which some may find upsetting, as well as the depiction of graphic sex between men, Rise of a Nobleman is recommended only for consenting adults.

 

 

Excerpt

Charles was still standing in the doorway, arms at his sides, fists clenched. The semi-darkness was masking part of his face, rendering his expression inscrutable. But Charles was looking directly at him, that much Dorian saw clearly. Too clearly.

“What are you doing, standing there like an idiot?”

“Nothing, my Lord.” Just waiting for my heart to start beating again.

Since he couldn’t tell him he planned to wait as long as it took for Charles to stop staring at him, he had little choice but walk towards him. He did it with his head down again, because he honestly couldn’t bear being close to him, in range of that turbid, caustic essence lurking in his eyes.

“If you have no objections, I’d like to go to bed. It’s late and—”

Lord Bolton didn’t let him finish. He grabbed young Pratt’s arm and twisted it behind his back, shoving him against the door jamb.

“You’re not going anywhere,” he hissed in his ear. The depraved edge to his voice made Dorian’s heart rear up in his chest. Swollen with excitement and fear, it was pushing against his ribs, and he was suddenly at a complete loss. All he knew was that he was trapped, chest pressed against the wooden door frame, Lord Bolton’s hands finally all over him.

“I’ll teach you not to look at me like that,” Charles snarled through his hair before pushing it off his face. “Do you think I didn’t notice? The way you look at me when you think I’m not watching?”

Oh, God!

He had to get out of there. Slip out of his grip as soon as possible, before he lost control of his body. He was already feeling it in his groin—the fire Rochester had lit was already making his balls throb.

His reply was desperate, a whisper, a tiny, brazen lie: “You’re mistaken.”

“Oh, that’s how it is, then? You have the nerve to tell me it’s not true?” The next moment he felt something firm pressing against his buttocks. Something hot and shameless. Charles’s rock-hard erection.

Dorian’s lips parted in a surprised moan. The air escaped his lungs and treacherous arousal rose all the way to his throat, breaking his voice and his willpower.

“No…” I don’t know. “I didn’t mean to. I wasn’t spying on you on purpose.”

“But you did. You always do.”

 

 

About the Author

Valentina C. Brin is a self-published Italian author who lives in Padua with her partner and their four pudgy cats. She enjoys writing both MM and MF books, especially angsty ones. Powerful, dark, sexy stories are sort of her thing, and her psychology degree comes in handy for crafting twisted characters that never fail to surprise her many readers. Rise of a Nobleman is her debut novel and the first in her dark historical MM series.

 

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COVER REVEAL: “Come, Play: An Erotica Charity Anthology”

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Come Play – An MM Erotica Charity Anthology

Authors: Quin Perin, A.G. Carothers, E.M. Denning, Emma Jaye, K.C. Wells,

Lynn Van Dorn, Luna David, Sara Dobie Bauer, T.M. Chris, T.S. McKinney

Cover Artist: Morningstar Ashley

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Genre/s: M/M Erotica, M/M BDSM

Trope/s: Including hurt/comfort, first time, forbidden and others

Themes: Anthology includes BDSM and erotica. It has a wide variety of tastes/themes

Heat Rating: A mix of 4 and 5 flames. This anthology features a collection of erotic MM short stories.

Blurb

Watch and Learn if the Coach’s Little Kitten can be Tamed.

Follow the Doctor’s Orders and read all about Brotherly Love.

Understand Abstract Love and then take a peek at A Kink Chronicles Short.

It’s all about Pretty Boys, The Kiss, and Particular Tastes bundled up in this must-have erotic anthology.

Come, play with us.

Abstract Love by Sara Dobie Bauer

A Kink Chronicles Short by Luna David

Brotherly Love by Lynn Van Dorn

Coach’s Little Kitten by Quin Perin

Doctor’s Orders by Emma Jaye

Particular Tastes by T.S. McKinney

Pretty Boy by E.M. Denning

Tamed by T.M. Chris

The Kiss by A.G. Carothers

Watch and Learn by K.C. Wells

** All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to

💜💙💚💙 𝘍𝘰𝘳 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘰𝘳 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘫𝘦𝘤𝘵 💙💚💙💜

https://www.thetrevorproject.org **

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW

Universal Buy Link

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Quin Perin

A.G. Carothers

E.M. Denning

Emma Jaye

K.C. Wells

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Luna David

Sara Dobie Bauer

T.M. Chris

T.S. McKinney

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COVER REVEAL: “No Ordinary Drakeling” by Jessamyn Kingley.

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: No Ordinary Drakeling (D’Vaire, Book 12)

Author: Jessamyn Kingley

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: LJ Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations

Release Date: May 16, 2019

Genre/s: M/M Urban Fantasy Romance

Trope/s: Fated Mates

Themes: Love, Courage

Heat Rating: 3 flames

 

To have eternity together, they must face the impossible.

Blurb

Emperor Chrysander Draconis rules not only the dragons but the entire Council of Sorcery and Shifters. From the moment Fate selected him, he has devoted himself to ensuring his people thrive and prosper. His life revolves around duty; nothing stands in the way of his dedication to his job. One of the most prominent issues on Chrysander’s plate is the lack of hybrid drakelings that have survived the road from man to beast. When he receives word that one such rare soul is living in an obscure tribe, he races to help. Ellery of the Fen-Lynthi elves is different from the rest of his people. He does not understand why his ears are shorter, why he stands taller than the others. Then his mother explains why the other children mock him and call him a mongrel: his father, a dragon, abandoned her the moment he learned of Ellery’s impending birth. With his mother’s often-fragile mental state, Ellery does not know if he can trust her words, but they are all he has. He spends his days ostracized, doing what he can to improve his lot. Chrysander is overjoyed to find his mate among the Fen-Lynthi, but when it is confirmed that Ellery is half dragon, he is terrified Ellery will be ripped apart by the beast inside him. Regardless, Chrysander proceeds with their matebond ceremony, though he delays the event, believing duty demands they bypass elven tradition. This troubles Ellery, and he wonders if moving forward is what Chrysander truly wants. Their schedules present them with little opportunity to spend time together, which gives him further cause for worry. If that isn’t enough, Ellery is apprehensive over his new role as emperor. Chrysander and Ellery must confront their fears and learn to face the world as a united and loving front. In doing so, not only will they be able to defy the impossible, but they will change the world.  

About the Author

Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite.

Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips.

Visit her website at: www.jessamynkingley.com

Follow her on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/jessamynkingley

She loves to engage with readers there.

 

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Cover Reveal: “Healing Glass” by Jackie Keswick

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Healing Glass

Author: Jackie Keswick

Cover Artist: Pavelle Art

Release Date: May 13, 2019

Genre/s: Fantasy, M/M, Fantasy romance

Trope/s: friends to lovers, two against evil

Themes: fighting oppression, personal responsibility, love is stronger than tyranny, never piss off a man who has something to protect 😉

Heat Rating: 3 flames

 

They thought to bury us. They never saw that we were seeds. Seeds of glass and steel, stronger and more resilient than either.

Blurb A dying city. An ancient, forgotten accord. And two gifted men caught in a web of greed and dark magic. Despite belonging to different guilds, glass master Minel and warrior captain Falcon are friends. Their duties keep them apart, but when Minel falls ill and chooses death rather than the only known cure, nothing can keep Falcon from his side. As their friendship grows into more, old wrongs and one man’s machinations threaten the floating city and leave both Minel and Falcon fighting for their lives. Can they learn to combine their gifts to save the city and its magic, or will everything they know and love perish before their eyes? Healing Glass is an LGBT fantasy adventure with its head in the clouds. If you like medieval backdrops, impressive world-building, three-dimensional characters and a touch of magic, then you’ll love Jackie Keswick’s socially-conscious adventure. Buy Healing Glass to visit the floating city today!  

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About the Author

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat. And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops. For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places.

 

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Cover Reveal: “T.A.G. You’re Seen” by A. G. Carothers.

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: T.A.G. You’re Seen

Author: A.G. Carothers

Cover Artist: Amai Designs Samantha Santana

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Genre/s: MM Thriller Romance MM BDSM Romance

Trope/s: criminals and outlaws, first time, forbidden love, hurt/comfort, rescue, thrill of the chase

Heat Rating: 5 flames

   

T.A.G. You better hope you’re not it!

Blurb Attention: This book contains explicit sexual content between consenting assassins and not so innocent professors. There are depictions of masochistic masturbation, male chastity, breath play, watersports, humiliation, and torture by eighties hair bands with ginger sprinkles on top. Phew! Now, that that’s out of the way, Hi. I’m Mr. No your friendly communications agent for The Assassins’ Guild AKA T.A.G. I’ve been authorized by the head honcho himself, Mr. H, to release approved records from the agent files. Agent Code Name Mr. W was recovering from a near death debacle by way of an easy assignment in a small mountain town. Red flags sprang up immediately around the seemingly innocent English professor. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery Jacob Peters presented, Mr. W made plans to do what he did best, watch , wait , and then capture and interrogate. But even the best laid plans can go awry and what Mr. W discovered derailed his plan to kill Jacob. Find out what brought Mr. W to his knees in this first release from the archives of The Assassins’ Guild.  

About the Author

 

A.G. Carothers is actually a dragon very cleverly disguised as a human. They are a non-binary author of LGBTQIA Romance and Urban Fantasy, who enjoys writing original and entertaining stories. They are very excited to share the worlds they’ve created with you.

A.G. currently lives in Tennessee with their platonic life partner, who is not a dragon. They yearn to live back in Europe and will some day. In their spare time they are addicted to losing themselves in the lovely worlds created by other authors A.G. is committed to writing the stories they see in their head without restrictions. Love is blind and doesn’t see gender, race, or sexuality.

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Cover Reveal: “Eight Lives” by Autumn Breeze & Ashley Chamblee

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Eight Lives: Match Made in Hell #1

Author: Autumn Breeze & Ashley Chamblee

Cover Artist: Raven Brooks

Release Date: May 20, 2019

Genre/s: Urban Fantasy, M/M Romance

Trope/s: Friends to Lovers, Roommates to Lovers

Heat Rating: 3 flames

  Blurb Two Hearts. One Curse. Zero Time. A century ago a spiteful witch cursed Edmund. Ever since, he has lived as an immortal house cat—short one life. Anselm is a mildly depressed vampire with a soft spot for the feline he calls friend. They live together as equals, companions for eternity—or so they hope. Then, the witch who cursed Edmund long ago dies. And suddenly, he is human again. In a race against times cruel hand, Anselm and Edmund must make a decision. Do they find a dark witch and re-enact the curse that plagued Edmund so they can be together for eternity? Or . . . does Edmund give up forever as a cat to be with Anselm for now as a man?   

Excerpt “Hi.” I gave a small wave. “Hello,” Elex said, sounding unsure and confused. “It’s me, Edmund,” I explained. “Surprise.” “Yeah. Whoa. Surprise.” Elex shook his head. “Remember I told you I could talk because I was human, and a witch cursed me,” I rushed to explain why I was suddenly human. “Well I’m pretty sure she’s dead and the curse is wearing off. Anselm is out looking for a new dark witch now.” “Wait. What? Why?” Elex asked. His initial shock seemed to turn into something else. “To re-curse me,” I muttered, watching his eyes widen. “And I thought my relationship was twisted,” Elex muttered, and I laughed softly.  

About the Authors

Autumn Breeze

Autumn Breeze is a bestselling LGBT+ author, and current Radish Content Provider. She is also the winner of a 2015 Watty Award, a former Wattpad Star, with more than 70K followers on Wattpad who was featured in Cosmo in 2017 “My Lessons with the Sexy Dance Instructor.” In 2017 she worked as a Freelance Writer for 20th Century Fox on, “A Cure for Wellness: Seeking A Cure.”

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Ashley Chamblee

Ashley Chamblee is a bestselling author with 10+ years of experience who specializes in writing horror, fantasy, paranormal, and romance with LGBT themes. Currently, she has 35K+ followers on her combined Wattpad accounts EzraWinn and HonestDying. When Ashley isn’t writing she is either working with special needs adults, playing video games, reading or spending time with friends and family.

Blood Prize, her bestselling novel is available on Amazon.

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Cover Reveal & Release Blitz: “Black: MM Kitty Play Romance” by Quin & Perin. Rafflecopter Giveaway Included.

COVER REVEAL AND RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Black (MM Kitty Play Romance)

Author: Quin Perin

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Quin Perin

Genre/s: Gay Erotic Romance

Heat Rating: 4.5 flames

Length: 93 000 words/ 350 pages

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Blurb

“Meow!”

There it was.

The sound that made my knees buckle.

He purred, neck stretched, eyes half-lidded.

With those cat ears, in his hair.

And the tail, that he flicked.

A ray of sun in the drizzling rain. I’d been a traveler, floating adrift, while he’d stayed in one place. How was I supposed to know he’d become my anchor? My light. My everything. But would I ever become his?

***As a standalone romance, “Black” features detailed adult m/m content, a hurt/comfort relationship as well as “kitty play.”

Excerpt

I waited for Tony, curled up on the couch with my cat ears perched in my hair. It had been nearly an hour, and I was starting to get impatient. Every time my hard-on started to die down, a new thought of all the filthy stuff we could get into made it shoot back up. I felt lightheaded from the lack of blood in my brain.

The doorbell rang, and I shot off the couch, buzzing him in.

Moving onto my hands and knees, I crawled to the door and plucked it open, listening for Tony’s footsteps. I recognized the way he moved, and this was surely him. The sound of his heavy yet careful feet against the wood made my heart skip. I sat up with my knees together, palms resting on the floor in front of them. The eager kitty waiting for its Master to come home. If I had a tail, I would have been flicking it.

A sturdy knock faintly vibrated the door in the frame.

“Dima?” Tony called. He pushed the door more as he stepped in.

He made it over the threshold, and then he stopped, sucking in a loud breath. I couldn’t read his facial expression, but I imagined he was gaping. I doubted he expected me to answer the door naked, hard, and with my ears on.

“Dima?” he murmured. “Jesus….”

Meow.” An eager greeting for Tony. I moved towards him, head butting against his legs before I twined myself around them. Once, twice, I circled around his legs. Ending in front of him, I reached out and dug my nails into his thighs. My back curled into a sharp arch as I looked up towards him, cocking my head to the side. I purred quietly.

Tony’s hand fanned through my hair, stroking it. “You’re too much,” he murmured.

Damn right I was.

I wasn’t going to make it easy for him to resist.

My hands brushed up, trailing over his cock. He moaned low, and my lips twitched towards a smirk. I nuzzled into his crotch, meowing again. He swelled under my touch while I scratched my nails down his thighs again. His fingers tried to tighten in my hair, but I turned away from him quickly.

Back facing him, I dropped my hands down and crawled towards the couch, letting him see the plug that peered from between my cheeks. Yeah, he wasn’t going to win this one.

About the Authors

This is Quin&Perin. We are a team of Sultry Gay Romance writers who focus on detailed, toe-curling, and realistic smut scenes with a fair share of dirty talking (Oh, boy). We cannot wait to share our boys with you. Thank you for stopping by!

That said, it is time for the next level of smut: stories featuring fire, lust & desire.

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Cover Reveal: “Becoming D’Vaire” by Jessamyn Kingley

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Becoming D’Vaire (D’Vaire, Book 11)

Author: Jessamyn Kingley

Cover Artist: LJ Anderson, Mayhem Cover Creations

Genre/s: M/M Urban Fantasy Romance

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Release Date: March 14, 2019

Tagline There is nothing ordinary about finding where you belong. Blurb High Arcanist Delaney D’Vaire is the world’s only dark wizard, something that has alienated him from his people since birth. Orphaned as a child, he is shuffled around until the Prism Wizard sees his potential, steps in, and enrolls him in school. Though he never truly feels like he belongs, Delaney excels. Graduating at sixteen, he applies to a unique sanctuary, and his life forever changes when he is accepted. Delaney has the family he’s always wanted; surrounded by love and support, he’s grown into a young man, giving everything to help the people who still scorn him, though he continues to doubt himself. All he needs now is his mate, but Delaney is skeptical that even Fate could come up with his perfect match. Vampyr Lord Grigori Volkov is the genius of his family. Numbers line up in his head, and he loses sight of the world around him. At fourteen, young Grigori creates a nearly synthetic version of blood to sustain his people, saving countless lives. Content to remain out of the spotlight, his involvement is kept from the general public. Since then, Grigori has spent most of his time alone in his lab, learning all he can and pushing his limits. At twenty-six, Grigori is content with his solitude and doesn’t believe Fate has him in her sights. When the High Arcanist and the Vampyr Lord appear at the same event, they are stunned to find that Fate indeed has a plan for them. Reeling from their discovery, the mates set upon the task of getting to know each other. It does not take them long to find common ground, but as Delaney and Grigori build their life together, old foes will test them and their entire family. The path Fate has laid out for them is not simple, but they must be strong enough to trust in each other and stand together rather than alone to learn what it truly means to become D’Vaire.

About the Author

Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite. Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook. She loves to engage with readers there.

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Cover Reveal: “Broken” by Colette Davison

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Broken

Author: Colette Davison

Cover Artist: Colette Davison

Genre/s: MM Contemporary Romance

Heat Rating: 4 flames Release Date: March 5, 2019

Tagline

He was broken. His rules weren’t meant to be.

Blurb

Rule #1: Keep running.

Jag’s rules have kept him safe and free since he escaped conversion therapy, but that was before he walked into Heaven and Hell. A no-strings fling with the club owner, Michael, turns into so much more as Jag finds himself breaking one rule after another.

Michael hasn’t been able to commit to anyone since his partner died, until Jag walks into his club. Falling in lust with the elfin young dancer is easy, and his heart is quick to follow.

Michael gives Jag a reason to stay, but fear rules Jag’s heart more than love. Despite his deepening feelings for Michael, Jag knows he can’t stay. Can he?

**Contains adult themes, content, and language**

Excerpt

Jag started with a crucifix climb, gripping the pole between his knees, one thigh raised, his lifted foot neatly pointed. It was an easy enough starting position, but it got Michael’s attention. He sat a little straighter, sipping the scotch as Jag hooked his knee around the bar and leaned back, arms stretched, almost fully inverting himself. He raised his supporting leg, hooking his ankle around the pole, which he grasped with one hand, so he could pull his back closer to it. The fingertips of his opposite hand grazed the floor, completing the blade. From there he pulled himself up the pole, so he could arch his body into a rainbow, spinning slowly round the pole as he moved back down, into a bridged handstand. Every move was exact and the transitions were fluid.

It wasn’t the sexiest routine Michael had ever seen, but it was definitely sensual. Hell, he was getting turned on and Jag was fully dressed. His mind started to conjure up images of him in much less clothing, under low lighting, with sultry music playing. He could almost see the punters with their mouths hanging open, eyes wide as they ogled the elfin young man. It would be a crime not to put him on show. Maybe in a spotlight of his own. Michael shifted, adjusting his tracksuit a little. The club needed a new angel and Michael felt like he might have found him.

About the Author

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

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Cover Reveal: “In Case You Missed It” by S. M. James

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: In Case You Missed It

Author: S. M. James

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Genre/s: YA LGBTQ romance

Heat Rating: 1-2 flames

Release Date: February 12, 2019

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Tagline

Brooks measured his life in breaths, until Darien took his breath away.

Blurb

Brooks is convinced his life is totally, one hundred percent happy.

Until Darien tracks him down.

Darien was supposed to be the guy he kissed once and remembered forever, but now he’s back in Brooks’s life, with easy smiles and big ideas.

The first of which … show the homeschooled Brooks everything he’s missed out on. But as the pair work through a spring of playing catch up on life, it becomes obvious to Darien that Brooks has a secret.

And as things heat up between them, Brooks’s secret might just be Darien’s worst fear.

Because Darien has always lived in the moment.

But Brooks has always lived for the future he knows is inevitable.

When life is set to tear them apart, will love be enough to keep them together?

Excerpt

“Yo, Dare!” Cameron shouts.

Darien turns toward us in the bleachers and throws up a little wave. From the corner of my eye, I notice Chelsea pointing at me, and Darien double takes. His expression is almost comical.

Darien tosses his lacrosse stick to the side and jogs over to where we’re sitting. His eyes and smile are so wide he looks deranged, but the happiness radiating from him bathes me in warmth.

When he doesn’t say anything, I step in to fill the awkwardness. “Careful. People might think you’re happy to see me.”

He huffs a laugh, slightly out of breath. “Damn, Brooks. You could have given me some warning.”

I stand up and make my way down the few rows until I’m on the one right above him. The others are watching us creepily and it’s weird to have an audience when he’s looking at me like that. I should keep my distance. I can’t. “Are you surprised?”

“Very. You realize this is something you’ve been missing right? Checking out hot guys at practice. We can theoretically check that off your list.”

I pretend to scan the rest of the team. “Mmm … jocks in their natural habitat. My favorite.”

He whacks me in the stomach. “Mean.”

“You said it.”

“Yeah but you were supposed to say, ‘there’s just one guy I’m here for’.”

“I didn’t realize this thing was scripted,” I say, gripping the metal barrier and leaning down a little.

“Don’t be embarrassed. You’re clearly not as well versed in flirting as I am.”

Finallyyour ego makes sense. Too much flirting, not enough criticism.”

He holds his arms out. “What’s there to critique?”

And with that view of his body—his lean legs and loose shorts and tight t-shirt—I have to agree. Damn … the list of reasons why I should give him up melts away. There’s no walking away from this pull between us.

“Mitreski!” his coach calls, snapping me from my thoughts.

Darien ignores him as he drops his arms and steps closer to me. He reaches up to wrap one of his hands over mine. “Wait for me after practice?”

My mind gets loud with warning. What if he’s sick?

What if I catch it again?

What if I end up in hospital this time?

What if.

What if.

What if … he’s perfect for me? Hope surges in my chest.

What if I tell him everything and he doesn’t walk away? What if I get better? It’s an impossible thought, but when I’m with Darien, he makes me want to entertain infinite impossibilities.

“Mitreski, now!”

“Yes,” I whisper. “I’ll be here.”

Darien’s hand tightens around mine. “I don’t want to let go,” he admits.

“There are some thoughts you’re meant to keep to yourself.” But as he goes to pull away, I catch his fingers between my own. Just for a second. Just long enough to show that while I’ll keep the thought to myself, I don’t want to let go either.

As soon as I release him, he jogs back to his team, and I walk back up the three rows to where the others are sitting.

Heat has surged to my face, my ears, my neck. I’m sure I must be embarrassingly red but no one says a thing about it.

Cameron smiles at me, blue eyes twinkling, and it hits me just how much I love my cousin. He’s always been there for me, looking out for me. He knew I needed this.

I nudge him as Darien and the team set up a practice game. “Thank you.”

Cameron shrugs. “I overhead you two today. It was sickening. Really sappy. I had to get you together again, because no one needs to hear that.”

If Cameron told me why he wanted me to pick him up, I probably wouldn’t have come. I would have used the excuse of Darien being sick, and stayed away, intimidated by the thought of showing up—especially with Chelsea here too.

But as I watch Darien run back and forth, with no clue what the rules are, I feel like I’m lit up from the inside. He scores at one point and I’m practically bursting with pride as we cheer and stomp our feet, making as much noise as possible.

Instead of getting embarrassed, he mock bows, loving the attention.

I lean over to Cameron. “I’m going to tell him.”

He jerks around to look at me, all humor gone. “For real? Brooks, are you sure?”

“You’re the one who said I have to.”

He shrugs. “It’s really not up to me.”

“I know.” I hesitate before letting out a sigh. “But it’s not up to me either. I really like him, but he has the right to know what he’s getting into, before anything happens.”

“I hate to agree with you … but it’s true.”

“I’m a lot to take on.”

No, you’re not. You need to stop seeing yourself as a burden. Fuck, Brooks. You’re always going on about wanting to be treated the same as anyone else, but you need to start treating yourself that way too.”

Cameron’s right. It pisses me off that he’s right so I’m definitely not going to agree, but I note his words. Let them sit, percolate. Soak them into my subconscious. “I have to tell him.” I push as much emphasis as I can into the words, trying to convince myself as much as him. “But I have no clue how.”

“Hey, don’t overthink it. The right moment will come up, and whatever happens from there, happens.”

I watch Darien, wishing the world could just slow and give me endless days of school, and watching practice, and making friends, as I plunge into a world of incomprehensible feelings.

“It’s the ‘whatever’ part I’m afraid of.”

But facing it is inevitable.

About the Author

S. M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.

While not writing, S. M. is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI.

Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.

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