I’ve crushed on my brother’s best friend since I sprouted
hairs on the unmentionables. Once upon a time, he was straight, until he wasn’t… and talk
about bad timing.
And when we’re finally at a place for me to make my move,
sexy rural firefighter Dan clams up and acts weird and I’m left with pants that are too tight
and my heart feeling bruised… but he’s a good friend and I’m grateful he’s in my life.
Because of course Dan is a good guy.
Though him being “good” and ridiculously easy on the eyes and possibly the best man I know only makes me want him more.
When we’re thrust into a situation that brings both of us
close to danger, it’s hardly the time to be chasing first kisses or finally acting on my crush.
But Dan doesn’t seem to mind.
I just know that when the stakes are high and emotions are
running wild, sometimes you have to show your hand and go all in.
And that’s exactly what I plan to do.
The squeal of brakes had me exhaling. Any minute now,
he’d be stepping out of my brother’s Toyota. With just a few metres and steel between us, I
had no idea how to react, not with the nervous excitement thrumming in my veins.
The doors opened, and movement caught my attention.
Dan Madison followed after my brother, his eyes already on mine.
His hand tightened around the pack of beers he carried,
and pink coloured his cheeks.
But that was likely my imagination making a much bigger
deal about this reunion than it really was.
Funny, the things you noticed, though. He had new glasses.
They were thicker rimmed than any style I’d seen him wear before. He rocked the whole hot
geek vibe. Killed it, in fact.
Though there was nothing geeky about him in the
traditional sense. Not when he worked with his hands for a living as a carpenter, and I
doubted so much had changed that he wasn’t digitally challenged beyond a game on the
It took everything in me not to allow my gaze to eat him
Two years—however brief on that one-week visit
home—of not working side by side with the man when I talked him into fitting me some
Two years of not listening to his addictive laugh that made
me smile so big my face hurt.
And two years since once again, he’d left me disappointed
when he’d waved goodbye and headed back to the city—and his boyfriend—where he’d set
himself up with a new life away from the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Never once had I told him about how I felt, the right time
never seeming to arrive. If I’d known he was gay before he’d left town when he was twenty,
perhaps I would have been more obvious with my crushing. At eighteen, I’d been very
definitely out. But Dan’s sexuality came as a surprise. Craig had dropped that bombshell
when I was in my second year of uni.
And hadn’t that been a kick in the gut, swiftly followed by
elation. For the first time ever, I’d considered that just maybe I had a chance.
The chance never came, though.
There was no point when we lived a couple of hours apart.
Long-distance wasn’t something I thought I could handle, even when it was for my brother’s
best friend, the man who’d snagged a piece of my heart when my balls first dropped and my
dick had thickened watching Gerard Butler in 300.
There was also the fact he’d had a boyfriend. Had been the exciting word of the day. Almost a year ago, they’d split.
The gravel under his feet grew louder, and his gaze
remained fixed to mine. Barely a metre apart, and he stopped, shifting the six-pack to his
“Hey, Ross.” Pretty light-brown orbs peered back at me,
wide and just as mesmerising as I remembered. “Bloody hell, you’re a sight for sore
I grinned, uncertain of the words that might fall out of my
I didn’t need to worry. In Dan’s next breath, he said, “Get
your arse over here already and give me a hug.”
I ignored my brother’s snort as he snagged the beer from
Dan and walked on past us.
A deep exhale escaped my lungs as I stepped forwards and
pulled him into my arms. I wrapped myself around him, holding him tight. The feel of his
large limbs, strong and firm, wrapped around my own frame made my heart sing.
“Good to see you too, mate. About time you made the
move back to civilisation.” My grin remained wide when I eased away, his snort making me
“Yep. You better believe it. You know, a Subway opened in
town, and Bunnings got an extension. Civilisation at its best.”
Dan’s laugh washed over me like a familiar hug, the
sensation warming me, much like the log fire already built in my sitting room did.
“Come on.” I gripped his arms, giving a happy squeeze.
“Let’s go and grab one of those beers.”
About the Author
Becca Seymour is the #1 gay
romance best seller of the True-Blue series, having sold more than seventy thousand copies
of book one in the series so far. Known for “steamy and endearing” and “emotionally
profound love stories” (InD’tale Magazine) her books have been nominated for multiple
Becca lives and breathes all
things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being
written at the same time, Becca’s life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so
happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.
Living on her small property
in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and
dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly
FOSTER: “Look out for Zach and don’t hit on him.” My brother’s request sounds easy enough. Keep an eye out for his best friend on campus and keep my hands to myself. Easy. Even if Zach is a quintessential nerd, who I’ve always thought was cute, I don’t have the time to think with my … stick. There’s only one stick I should be focused on this year, and that’s my hockey stick. My goal once I graduate is to get an NHL contract. The last thing I need is a distraction. On or off the ice. Only, keeping to the rules is harder than I thought it would be. ZACH: People confuse me. And no one more than Foster Grant. I’ve barely spoken two words to him in the whole time I’ve known him, but the second I step foot on campus, he’s impossible to shake. I can never anticipate his next move. And whenever we’re together, my next move is a total mystery as well. I want to give in to him, but that might mean coming clean about something I’ve never been bothered about before. I’m still carrying my V-card. And I think it’s time to turn it in.
I throw my helmet against the wall, and it crashes to the ground with a loud thunk.
The anger, adrenaline, and urge to fight still boil under my skin. I didn’t get a long enough shot at Morris.
I should be pissed I’m out of the game, but I’m not. I don’t regret doing what I did one bit. I only regret letting him get a punch in.
What are his knuckles made of? Diamonds?
I run my finger along my eyebrow, and it comes away sticky with blood. Not a lot, but it stings like a bitch.
I need to get my skates off. I need to jump around and pace the room and try to get all this extra energy out.
All I was picturing while I was out there was the Zach I spent the entire day with last week—the one who smiles and jokes and isn’t so tense—being bullied by that dickhead, and I lost it.
As I sit on the bench to undo my laces, the door opens, and I prepare for one of the coaches to yell obscenities at me for the next five minutes while the rest of the period plays out.
I don’t even acknowledge whoever it is. I keep my head down and continue to unlace my skates.
My head darts up at the unsure voice.
There stands Zach, looking sexy as fuck in my jersey. His hair is messy like he’s been running his hand through it, and his nerdy glasses frame his green eyes in a way that drives me crazy.
“How … how did you get in here?”
“Seth. He said we’re your brothers and wanted to check on you.”
Thinking of Zach as my brother makes me feel skeevy and gross, but I ignore it because I don’t really care how he got into the locker room. It means a lot that he’s here. “Is that what you’re doing? Checking on me?”
He takes two tentative steps closer, and then, as if all at once, he decides to go for it.
Zach approaches and drops to his knees in front of me.
My breath catches at the sight.
Long, thin fingers run along the top of my brow and down my cheek. “You’re hurt.”
I huff. “I’ll live.” I might not live if he doesn’t keep touching me; it feels so good.
I want to lean into his hand, but I hold strong. I don’t want to scare him off.
“W-why did you do that?” he asks.
I could lie. I could tell him it’s the sport and fights happen. But everyone out there knows that wasn’t a typical fight. I targeted Morris from the start, and even though we were hardly on the ice at the same time, the second I got my chance to go for him, I did.
“Morris is a dick.”
Zach tries to pull his hand from my face, but I don’t let him. My hand covers his, holding it to my cheek.
He averts his gaze. “Seth told me you know … about him. And me.”
“You and him. Wait, there was a you and him? Like, together?”
“No. He … I don’t know if he’s a special kind of asshole or what, but he …”
“You don’t need to tell me. Seth told me enough.”
His hand finally drops, and I let it. “So out there … on the ice …”
“It was for you.”
“I didn’t ask you to do that.” His voice is so soft. So him.
“You never would,” I murmur. “Morris has to learn karma’s a bitch. He had no right to treat you like that.”
“Will you get in trouble?”
“You shouldn’t have—”
His eyes meet mine.
“It was worth it.”
About the Authors
Saxon James is an author from Aus who’s obsessed with writing queer characters. She has a range of books from YA to adult and they all have one thing in common: swoony, sweet love.
When not writing, Saxon exists on a diet of coffee and chocolate while putting her KU subscription to the test.
Eden Finley is an Amazon bestselling author who writes steamy contemporary romances that are full of snark and light-hearted fluff.
She doesn’t take anything too seriously and lives to create an escape from real life for her readers. The ideas always begin with a wackadoodle premise, and she does her best to turn them into romances with heart.
She’s also an Australian girl and apologises for her Australianisms that sometimes don’t make sense to anyone else.
Doran had a problem, and it wasn’t that he’d been stabbed.
Doran Ó Seanáin, leader of the Black Lung Gang and former Foreman of the mines, is at war with Iole’s City’s tyrannical ruler for his brutal treatment of the miners. Doran is losing, badly, and he fears his relationship with his estranged daughter Grace will never heal following the death of his wife two years prior.
Nathaniel Morgenstern, an apotheker with a mysterious past to whom Doran owes his life, seems to offer salvation. But Nathaniel has secrets of his own that may just tear them apart before they have a chance to give in to each other.
Doran had a problem, and it wasn’t that he’d been stabbed.
Iole City is in turmoil. Doran Ó Seanáin, leader of the Black Lung Gang, is determined to bring the Lord Archon – Iole’s tyrannical ruler – down for his brutal treatment of the miners. But Doran has more to deal with than getting stabbed, a stalemate and city-wide lockdown that’s seeing his gang of ex-miners being slowly starved out of their base – his daughter Grace has turned against him, and the weight of his wife’s death two years prior haunts them both.
Things start to look up when he’s inexplicably drawn to Nathaniel Morgenstern, the apotheker with a mysterious past he owes his life to, but Doran is in way over his head. The fate of the mines hangs in the balance; the clock is ticking and the Archon is closing in. Doran’s plan to break the cycle may very well be his last.
Heart of Dust
This wasn’t out of the ordinary; Doran was accustomed to waking up any given morning with his head aching, his body bruised, his feet swollen, his bones fractured and muscles torn. But this time he couldn’t move, not even to open his eyes. He dimly wondered if he was hungover.
He felt someone prodding at his body. He grunted and forced his eyes open, regretting it immediately at the resulting implosion of pain in his head.
The culprit was a young man – a child, really – who yelped and jumped backwards with wide eyes, clutching a bandage.
“Sir?” the boy called out, over his shoulder. Doran flinched, the sound reverberating through his skull, and clenched his eyes shut again. “Sir, he’s waking up.”
The boy’s voice responded. “But –”
A heavy sigh. “Yes, sir.”
He could hear murmuring somewhere in the background but he couldn’t focus on the words. Instead he let the subtle but heady scent of pinewood and elderflower calm his aching mind.
There were light footsteps – the boy, Gerald – shuffling indignantly up a staircase somewhere to the right, then there was nothing but the sound of his own breathing.
His mind was so sluggish that an eon and a half had passed by the time he felt a cool glass press gently against his lower lip. A strong hand moved under the back of his head to guide him up. He managed a few sips of sweet, crystalline water. It tasted like it was sent from Lady Sionann herself to soothe his parched and aching mouth.
Doran swallowed, then gulped. Water spilled from his hungry lips and the glass was pulled away. He protested, or tried to, but the hand supporting his head guided him back down.
He realised he was lying on a table. It wasn’t hard enough to be stone, or cold enough to be metal. He could feel the grains of smooth wood beneath the tips of his fingers and against his skin, and his head rested on something soft. A jacket, perhaps, or even a pillow.
Consciousness filtered back to him, not quickly enough for his liking. Finally he managed to pry his eyes open.
The man leaning over him couldn’t have been more than a few years older than Doran, in his early forties perhaps, but if Doran thought he carried his own age badly, this man outrivalled him.
The stranger’s brown hair was peppered grey, completely silver at the temples; his face was hard, weathered and lined from years of trauma or poor life choices. A scar extended from the corner of his right eye to the middle of his cheek, destroying any chance of symmetry. Doran couldn’t call him good-looking, not by a long shot, but there was something incredibly striking about his features, in an offensive sort of way.
Doran swallowed thickly. “How long…” he tried to say, the words coming out in a harsh whisper.
The man had a low, coarse voice, like a miner after years of inhaling cigarette smoke and coal dust, but his words were soft.
“Shit.” Doran pushed himself to a sitting position. “What time is it?”
“Early, still,” the man replied, pressing his hand to Doran’s shoulder. His hand was bound in a black band of mourning, not unlike the one Doran wore around his upper arm. “Move slowly. You don’t want to tear those stitches.”
Doran glanced down at himself, and his memory of the previous day flooded back in an instant.
His hand found his side, and instead of a gaping wound his fingers met a firm bandage. He also couldn’t help but notice a distinct lack of blood and – apart from his underwear – clothing.
“…You helped me,” Doran said.
“You were bleeding all over my doorstep.”
The man grunted, though whether this was in dismay or to brush off the apology, Doran couldn’t tell. “Stab wounds do that. You’re lucky it wasn’t deeper.”
Doran thought of Rhian, bleeding to death in his arms while their daughter wept. “Yeah,” he echoed. “Lucky.”
The man moved away, then returned with a bowl of steaming broth and two slices of bread. Doran accepted the meal gratefully. The broth was hot but not enough to burn his tongue. He found himself draining the bowl with desperate gulps, then attacking the bread like a starving wolf. It was better than anything he’d eaten in moons. The bread was warm and fresh, and he used it to soak up the last of the salt and rosemary broth from the bowl.
The man offered Doran a bundle of clothes when he was done.
“These should fit you,” he said, passing them over. “I had to burn yours.”
Doran’s heart seized, a spike of pure panic gripping his body. His hand shot to his chest to clutch for the chain around his neck, calming only when his fingers curled around the locket. He exhaled.
The man’s head tilted at the sudden movement, a small frown creasing his brow as the flash of bronze caught his eye, but the locket vanished underneath the shirt Doran hastily pulled over his body.
“Thanks.” Doran swung his legs over the edge of the table, wincing when he moved too quickly.
“I’d tell you not to engage in strenuous activity for at least a week, but I doubt you’ll listen and the Archon won’t care,” the man said. “Try not to reopen the wound when you’re working the mines.”
That told Doran two things – there had been no revolution, and the mines were still open.
He swallowed his disappointment. “What makes you think I’m a miner?”
Doran glanced down at his hands, the cuticles of his nails and the skin of his palms permanently stained black. He clenched his calloused fists together and tried to keep his tone non-committal. “I hear it’s a hard life.”
“One I don’t envy.”
Book Title: Soul of Ash
Author: H. L. Moore
Cover Artist: Designed by Damonza
Length: 85 000 words/ 336 pages
Release Date: September 2020
Genre/s: Fantasy M/M Romance
Trope/s: Slow Burn
Themes: Addiction, Dark Pasts, Atonement, Forgiveness
Half a year after the events of Heart of Dust, Doran Ó Seanáin now finds himself trapped between two worlds while belonging to neither. Held in contempt by the upper class for the turmoil he caused during Archon Bryson’s reign and resented by the miners for selling out, Leonora Darkwater’s bid to purchase the mines from the crown may be his salvation. But the offer is far more complicated than it appears, and the only person Doran trusts is the same man who threw his life into chaos.
Haunted by his past, held hostage by his debt to the Archon, and a slave to the poison that keeps him alive, atonement feels perpetually out of reach for Nathaniel Morgenstern. Too much damage has been done and too much has gone unsaid for time alone to heal the wounds between him and Doran.
Unfortunately, time is the one thing they don’t have as their lives collide once more. There are vipers in Arajon; the mines aren’t finished with Doran, and the sand in Nathaniel’s hourglass is running out.
Soul of Ash
He was led down a mining shaft illuminated by coal-lit lamps, until they began pushing through a crowd of murmuring men and women held back by other miners. As Lien and Nathaniel were permitted to pass, he heard a hoarse, slightly damaged voice murmuring reassurances beside a derailed dumper tractor raised off the ground by a few metal supporting bars.
“Just hold on,” he heard Doran saying, from where he knelt beside the tractor. “He’ll be here any moment –”
“Doran,” Lien said.
The past few months had seen Nathaniel frequent the mines to deliver his wares or receive miners in his shop where he would be asked to render assistance. Trivial things, usually – scrapes and cuts, the occasional broken bone or beginnings of black lung. But since that day in winter, Doran himself had not returned to the shop, nor had Nathaniel seen Doran in the mines, no doubt by design.
“Good, you’re here,” Doran said when he saw Nathaniel. It was a warmer welcome than Nathaniel had expected or hoped for. “Can you help her?”
On the sooty ground, a woman, with half of her right leg pinned under the full weight of the truck, groaned.
If a woman’s leg been crushed under a truck in the glistening streets of the Bronze, the citizens would probably have thrown up or fainted or run away screaming. At the back of the cavern, the doctor was surrounded by men and women of the mines. They didn’t flinch at the horror scene that was her crushed leg; they’d seen worse. By the looks on their faces, most didn’t expect a happy outcome.
“I’d say good morning,” Nathaniel said as he too knelt beside the doctor, “but you don’t seem to be having one.”
The doctor had dark skin, betraying her as a member of the upper classes like the Harringtons, whose ancestors had emigrated not from the Valley but from the equatorial nations of Pontecorvo and Kedrossos, south of Vaison. She wore a circlet bracelet depicting the Lady Sionann, like many of the descendants of secular immigrants who’d made their fortunes did, embracing the culture of Arajon and generating both prosperity and poverty, while earning the disdain of the Valley population who clung to the old ways out of tradition or spite.
The doctor assessed Nathaniel as he set his bag down and pulled out the sterile cloths and alcohol.
“I don’t recognise this man,” she said to Doran, one hand braced against the tractor looming over her head, the other gripping the thigh of her right leg. Sweat beaded on her clammy forehead. “I know every person who has – nngh – passed through medicine at the Conservatorium. Who is this?”
“This is Nathaniel Morgenstern,” Doran replied. “He’s an apotheker in Methyr – the one who produces our remedies. He’s the closest thing to a healer we could find, given the urgency.”
“Morgenst— an apotheker?” the doctor spat. She arched her neck to glower at Doran through her tears of pain. “You’ve b-brought me some Helvetian herbalist! Are you mad? Those backwards fools didn’t even learn how to wipe their asses until a century ago!”
She was oddly coherent for a woman whose leg was currently crushed under a tractor.
“My mother had surgical training in Haderach,” Nathaniel said. “Her people discovered hygiene thousands of years ago. You’ll live.”
If anything, the doctor’s expression turned fouler. “A mev,” she muttered.
Doran’s hand clamped down hard on his shoulder.
“Mr Morgenstern is here to save your life,” he said, tersely. “Adrian, bring Doctor Lancaster some water.”
The one named Adrian scurried away.
Nathaniel felt Doran’s eyes burning into his shoulders as he examined what he could of the crushed leg under the twisted metal of the tractor. He cut the pant fabric from around Lancaster’s knee, and prodded his finger into the exposed flesh of the leg just below the kneecap, avoiding the bone jutting out like shards. There was no return of blood to her dark skin, and the doctor didn’t jerk with pain.
No blood flow. No feeling. The leg below the knee was as good as dead.
“Well?” Doran asked quietly.
Nathaniel shook his head. Doran uttered a soft swear.
“It would be better if the truck could be lifted so I can remove the limb safely,” Nathaniel said. “This area isn’t sterile.”
“We tried,” Doran said. “It’s too dangerous. The whole thing could collapse on her and crush her in an instant. She needs to be freed first before we can safely dismantle it.”
“How long will the procedure take?” Doran asked.
Nathaniel tilted his head at Lancaster. “Forty-odd years ago, the barber-surgeons in the Helvetic would hold down a patient and hack off their limb in thirty seconds. This was before numbing agents had been introduced, of course – time was of the essence for the patients, to minimise the pain so they wouldn’t go into shock. The wound would then be cauterised with either hot iron or boiling oil.”
“You barbarian,” Lancaster choked, “don’t you dare.”
Barbarian. That was a new one.
Surgery wasn’t his forte. He hadn’t lied – he could amputate limbs. In his time, he’d successfully amputated both limbs and heads, though the appendages usually belonged to different people and certainly hadn’t been for the purpose of saving their lives. If one was strictly speaking about life-saving amputation, his mother had taught him the technique and guided his hand through the procedure.
When he was twelve.
“I can do it that quickly,” Nathaniel said, “but you’ll either bleed to death or die of shock. Caution over speed is preferable. Do you want to be unconscious, or numbed?”
“Numbed,” Lancaster said. “You have done this before, haven’t you?”
“How many of your patients died?”
Nathaniel pulled out Professor Kaufman’s tome on Human Anatomy and Physiology from his bag and opened it to the chapter on amputation techniques. “They were all already dead.”
About the Author
H.L. is an Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (2015) and a Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism (2012), both from the University of New South Wales.
She is a lesbian of Jewish and Middle Eastern (Egyptian) heritage, and is an #OwnVoices writer. She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. She is the author of M/M fantasy romance novels Heart of Dust and Soul of Ash, Books 1 & 2 of the Death’s Embrace series.
She has had two short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.
Konner was looking forward to learning more about his family heritage. What he found was his entire life was a lie.
Konner O’Flattery, a passionate amateur genealogist, has finally gotten back the results of the DNA test he took. He’s been waiting months to uncover what mysteries his DNA has locked inside. But his results aren’t anything like he expected, and he unearths a secret buried since birth. His heart becomes shattered leaving no room for forgiveness. Now, Konner feels compelled to go on a journey to find the truth of who and what he truly is.
Through the miracles of modern technology, Konner meets his distant cousin, Aaron Kirschenbaum. Turns out, he knows exactly who Aaron is, yet they’ve never met. Aaron makes the girls and boys alike swoon from his stunning good looks and velvety voice. Unfortunately, he’s picked up a bad habit of abusing his status for his own personal gain.
Konner’s story pulls on the strings of Aaron’s heart. So, he offers to help Konner, in any way he possibly can. Aaron finds Konner to be incredibly attractive, so the two men are swept up into an intense romance filled with sensuous heat and passion.
Distant Cousins is Eric Huffbind’s second published novel, a Contemporary Gay Male Romance. Take a journey with Konner as he finds heartbreak, intrigue, love, passion, and the importance of forgiveness. If you want to rekindle the euphoric high of falling in love, Distant Cousins is the book for you.
64,000 words / No cliff hanger / HEA
This book is intended for mature audiences
Under the soft, warm covers, the lovers were now engaged in a relaxed, post-orgasm cuddle. Aaron’s head was resting on Konner’s upper chest. Aaron combed his fingers through Konner’s chest hair making periodic stops to enjoy the texture of his nipples.
Konner cradled his arm around Aaron’s torso, holding him snug against his body. He used his fingertips to give soft, intimate caresses over Aaron’s back and shoulders, savoring the feel of the warm body pressed against his own. Without warning, what felt like drops of chilled water, fell onto Konner’s chest. Looking down to investigate what was causing this sensation, he discovered teardrops trickling down from Aaron’s eyes.
In an instant, Konner asked, “What’s wrong? Why are you crying? Was I that bad?”
Aaron let a cute, small laugh slip out, despite his tears. “No. You’re a fantastic lover. And you’re gorgeous to look at. It feels like a slice of heaven lying here with you.”
“Thank you. You’re sweet.” Konner pleaded, “So, then what’s wrong? What’s got you so upset. Talk to me.”
Aaron produced a loud sigh. “I feel like shit! My behavior is appalling, considering what I did to you. You didn’t deserve it! I’m so ashamed of myself.”
Konner wiped away his tears using the pad of his thumb. He pulled Aaron in for a tighter squeeze. “What are you so ashamed of?”
“You mean, you don’t know? Surely, you must know what I did to you?”
Konner wrinkled his brow and slightly cocked his head. “I think I know what you’re talking about, but I want to hear it from you. Tell me. What are you ashamed of?”
Aaron’s body trembled, and he felt a thickness in his throat, making it hard to swallow. Before he could speak, he took in a deep breath, and exhaled. “I’m ashamed of seducing you. You should’ve been treated better. Much better!” He raised his face up from Konner’s chest to look at him with steady eyes and a radiant glow. “You’re sweet and kind, a good person.” With an appreciative sigh, he said, “I’m very attracted to you, and I haven’t been with anyone for a good while. I couldn’t stop fantasizing about having sex with you. After you and I had lunch at Art’s, every time I thought of you, I’d wind up with an agonizing erection”
“That bad, huh?” asked Konner as he giggled. “Well, you didn’t need to let yourself suffer with a hard-on that hurt.”
“Trust me I didn’t. Like every guy, I took matters into my own hands. But now, I’ve made a complete ass of myself, letting my dick do all the thinking.”
Konner felt the sincerity and remorse in his words. “Okay, I accept what you’re saying. But—why did you do it? Because being honest about it, you had me freaked out! You’ve been very generous to me. I would even say, you’ve been an amazing friend. Your friendship means much more to me than being a distant cousin. Can you imagine how you made me feel, when out of nowhere, you’re shoving your dick in my face, blatantly trying to seduce me.” He paused his words for a moment. “Hey look. I’m not going to lie here and pretend to be innocent. Like the old saying goes, ‘It takes two to tango.’ It’s been a while for me too, since I’ve been with anyone. So, I’m not going to let you take all the blame. I have to accept responsibility for my own actions. Even so—you made a deliberate, conscious effort to seduce me. I want to know why? What’s the real reason? Besides the obvious fact you were horny! And please—tell me you didn’t spill the Coke on yourself deliberately?” He looked into Aaron’s face, awaiting a reply, but Aaron’s eyes averted from Konner’s gaze. His chin quivered. “Oh, Aaron!” Konner barked in a sharp voice. “How could you? You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” He received a confirmational nod. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” he said in complete disgust. “It’s one thing, to have thoughts of seducing me, pop into your head while you were showering, but what you did was premeditated! You set yourself up, knowing you could use it as an excuse to take a shower. Then you made an appearance wearing nothing but a towel and your sex appeal.”
Aaron’s eyes pooled, and he laid his head down on Konner’s chest again, his heart yearning for forgiveness. “I’ve been hurt many times in the past. Remember I told you about how people have used me.” Konner used his eyes to signal an answer of yes. “I’ve had countless men who were only interested in the contents of my pants and didn’t give two shits about me. I could sell my body for ten-thousand dollars, and yet I’d only get fifty cents for my soul. I put up a guardrail so I wouldn’t get hurt, but I wound up developing a bad habit. Whenever I saw an attractive guy I wanted…”
Konner interrupted. “Let me guess. You would play your David Kirkman card and seduce him. Is that it?”
“Yes—that’s it. I figured I could use men too. If I enticed them into bed, then I wouldn’t be the one being hurt. I mean, I still have needs. I wanted a sexual outlet for myself.”
Konner pondered Aaron’s words and took a deep look inside his own heart. A willingness to have compassion surpassed his anger. He took in a deep breath and made a conscious effort to calm himself down. “Aaron, I say this with the utmost kindness, but you’re a fucking hypocrite! And you’re not being a good person. Not at all.”
Aaron raised his head up again so he could look Konner in the eyes, “What do you mean? How am I being a hypocrite?”
“Because—you want to be just one of the guys when it suits you, and not theDavid Kirkman, who’s always in the spotlight. You want to be Aaron, just your typical, run-of-the-mill, nice guy. Someone who doesn’t have to worry about the image he projects to the world. I’m sorry—but you can’t have it both ways! I don’t mean to hurt you, I truly don’t. But you can’t use the advantages of your celebrity status only when it suits you. And then you want to be treated like a good, decent person, and not some beautiful china doll that sings.”
Aaron’s tears began pouring again. “Fuck, you know how to sting someone when you want.”
Konner placed his fingertips under Aaron’s chin, and tipped it upwards bringing his lips within reach. Then Konner kissed him to convey the message I care about you. “My words sting for one reason,” he said firmly. “And one reason only.”
Aaron signaled with a nod that he understood and said while sniffling, “I know. Your words sting because it’s the truth. I’m being a total, hypocritical piece of shit!”
Konner reached around with his other arm to bring Aaron into a tighter embrace. “Don’t cry. I’m willing to give you a do over.”
Using his bare hands again, Aaron wiped his tears away, “What’s… What’s a do over?”
“I mean—I’m willing to let you do everything over. If we could pretend this never happened, what would you do differently?”
Aaron reflected, “I’d…,” but he struggled for an appropriate response. He knew it had to be a good one. “I’d say you deserve to be asked out on a proper dinner date.”
Acknowledging the spirit of his answer, he said, “Okay then, there’s your answer. If you had to do it over again, then that’s your answer.”
“So, will you go out with me then?” Aaron begged.
Konner said in an effort to be playful, “Now, you can’t ask me here. Not in bed when we’ve just been fucking. You need to ask me out like a real gentleman would. And I should warn you, I never put out on a first date.”
His good nature made Aaron smile. “Well, when would be a good time, so I can practice being the perfect gentleman?”
Konner gave a knowing smile to Aaron, “You’re a smart guy. You’ll know when.” He paused. “Will you still help me try to find my birth parents?”
“Of course, I will. When I offered to help you, it came from the heart. I apologize for allowing my dick to take over.”
Konner pulled Aaron in for a kiss, “Thank you. I should be going.” He climbed out of bed, walked back to the downstairs family room to retrieve his clothes and got dressed. Then he walked back up the stairs to the bedroom. “Goodbye, Aaron.” Just as Konner turned to leave, he turned back around. “Hey—I want you to know something. Just like you, I’ve been hurt before. It happens to the best of us. I give you my word, I’ll never do anything to hurt you intentionally. I think it is important for you to know that.”
Hearing this, Aaron felt a peaceful calm wash over him. “Thank you. Those words mean a lot.”
“Please, call me when you hear from your uncle. Would you do that?”
“Sure thing. I’ll call you as soon as I hear. Thank you.”
Konner’s eyes narrowed and his head flinched back, “Thank me? For what?”
Aaron teared up while maintaining eye contact. “Just… Thank you.”
Konner gave a quick nod, “You’re welcome.”
“Before you go, I have one question. Now, is that a firm rule of yours, no sex on the first date?”
Konner laughed hard, and poked fun at him, “You mean, I’m not worth a second date?”
“No, not at all. You’re absolutely worth a second date! But the sex we had was mind blowing!”
Appearing mischievous, “Then it should be worth the wait. Right?”
“Yes, you’re right.” Aaron remembered, “Oh, wait a minute. I still need to drive you home.”
“That’s okay. I’ll just get myself an Uber. Talk to you soon. Goodbye.”
Aaron gave him one more smile, “Goodbye.”
An Uber car was close by and came to pick up Konner in less than five minutes. He climbed into the back seat, and off they drove back to his apartment. After about ten minutes of riding in the car, his cell phone started ringing.
“Hello,” Konner answered knowing it was Aaron from the caller ID.
“Hi, it’s just me—Aaron.”
Konner broke into a bright smile, “It’s nice to hear from you so soon.”
“I have a question I want to ask you.”
“Sure, what’s the question?” Konner asked.
“Can I take you out to dinner?”
Putting on his playful charade again, “Out to dinner? You mean, like a date?
“Yes, I want to take you out on a date. Please, say yes,” Aaron begged again.