Thursday, December 31, 2015

Never Have I Ever (A Belonging Ficlet)

Happy New Year!

Newsletter subscribers received this treat a while ago, but I wanted to post it here for all to enjoy, since it's a NYE story featuring your favorite Belonging boys. 

Jaime gets his first experience playing "Never Have I Ever" and learns quite a lot about his friends....

Never Have I Ever

A trip out to Pot O Gold usually ended with Jaime Winters having to half-carry his drunk boyfriend, Alessandro Silva, the two block walk to their friends’ apartment. And considering tonight was New Year’s Eve and Alessandro didn’t have to get up early to open the bakery tomorrow, Jaime had expected to need extra hands wrangling Alè home. 

Alessandro had surprised him by only ordering two whiskey sours, then sticking to water until he shared a glass of champagne with Donner Davis at midnight. The fourth side of their quartet and Donner’s partner, Ezra Kelley, had helped himself to two glasses.

It had been months since their foursome had haunted Pot O Gold together. Not since Ezra and Alessandro opened up their coffee shop and bakery, Half-Dozen, back in July. The business was thriving enough for them to toss around words like “expansion” without actually making plans, and Jaime had never been prouder. Alessandro was a business owner, he was happy, and he made Jaime stupidly happy, too.

Life was pretty great for all of them at the moment, so he was a little confused over why his friends hadn’t let loose more at the Pot.

Please, God, don’t tell me we’re all getting old.


Jaime had just turned twenty-four that summer, same age as Ezra now. Alessandro would be twenty-four in February. Only Donner could be honestly teased about being old, since he’d already hit the big 3-0 and was inching closer to 3-1.

“I still can’t believe you wore that shirt,” Donner said, pointing at Jaime’s chest. He was probably the least intoxicated of the three who’d been drinking. Hanging off his arm, Ezra wasn’t exactly drunk but he was definitely extra-happy.

Jaime glanced down at the black sleeveless tee hiding under his open winter coat. The words “Versatile Boys Have More Fun” was printed in blocky white letters. Alessandro had given it to him a few weeks ago to celebrate Jaime finally graduating college, along with a promise to take him out to the Pot as long as he wore it. 

New Year’s Eve had been the perfect excuse. The Pot had been jammed, and the shirt got Jaime the kind of attention he loved. Alessandro had helped him discover and nurture his inner exhibitionist, and while he still wasn’t comfortable with the idea of having full-on anal sex in front of other people, he and Alessandro got pretty damned frisky, both in the club and at Ezra’s apartment.

Once they’d even sucked each other off on one couch while Ezra and Donner did the same on the other.

Good times.

“Verse guys do have more fun,” Ezra said, his voice only slightly slurred. “I’m sure all four of us can agree to that one.”

Alessandro stumbled slightly, his brow creasing. “Wait, when did you start letting guys stick a dick in your ass, Mr. I Only Top?”

Ezra flashed a wicked grin at Donner. “When I met him.”

While the mental image of the slender, totally gorgeous Ezra going to town on Donner was crazy hot, the opposite made Jaime’s stomach wobble in funny ways. Maybe because in the sixteen-ish months they’d all known each other, Ezra had always been about control. The fact that he could give that up to Donner was pretty intense. He loved seeing his friends so happy together.

All of his friends, which included the two who’d begged off for another gig. Romy and Brendan had only been together for a couple of months, and they seemed totally mismatched on the outside, but they also completely complimented each other. And they were busy at a New Year’s party at Brendan’s mother’s house, surrounded by Brendan’s extended family.

Romy was probably nervous as hell around so many people, but he’d put up with it for Brendan’s sake.

The walk back to the apartment never took long. Donner and Ezra shared the renovated second floor of a three-story brownstone. The bathroom was a tiny pain in the ass, but the living area was huge, and it had two bedrooms. 

Jaime planned to make good use of the extra bed tonight.

“Who’s up for Cards Against Humanity?” Ezra asked once they were all inside, shedding coats.

Jaime blinked at all of the snowy, silver Christmas decorations still in place. Ezra had gone all out.

“You lent that to Brandy last week,” Donner said. She worked at the bakery with Ezra and Alessandro.

Ezra’s face dropped. “Fuck. I did, didn’t I?” Then brightened. “How about a drinking game?”

“Jaime can’t drink,” Alessandro said. He came up behind Jaime and slid warm arms around his waist from behind. Pulled Jaime’s ass right into his crotch. While Jaime had lost his wood the moment cold air blasted him the face outside the club, Alessandro was still hard in his jeans. 

Jaime melted into his boyfriend’s arms. “Jaime can drink soda while you guys do booze.”

“Never Have I Ever!” Ezra whooped and darted for the kitchen cabinets. He produced a bottle of Fireball and four Dixie cups. Then a can of soda from the mini-fridge that came with the place.

Jaime let Alessandro manhandle him over to one of the two long couches that took up living room space, hoping his face didn’t away he had no idea what game they were talking about. Okay, so he’d been sheltered growing up. Extremely sheltered, which wasn’t a surprise when he told folks about the heart disease that nearly killed him more than once, or that the only reason he was alive today was because of a heart transplant.

Hence no drinking anything stronger than soda. Ever.

Small price to pay for someone who’s never actually tasted alcohol anyway. 

While Donner found some music on Ezra’s space-age sound system, Ezra arranged the cups and booze on the coffee table, then immediately poured three shots of booze, and a shot of soda for Jaime.

“Have you guys played before?” Ezra asked.

Affirmatives came from Donner and Alessandro, and suddenly all eyes were on Jaime. His face got hot, probably scorching red from his neck to the tips of his ears. 

Ezra made an amused noise. “So that’s a no from Jaime.”

“It’s pretty basic,” Alessandro said. “Someone makes a statement, such as ‘never have I ever been bitten by a snake,’ and if anyone in the room has been bitten by a snake, they drink.”

“Except most of the time the statements are sexual, so it’s the sluts among us that get wasted first.”

Donner poked Ezra in the ribs and gave him what seemed to be a disapproving look.


“Damn,” Jaime said. “The list of things I’ve never done, in bed or out of bed, could fill a phone book.”

Alessandro smoothed a warm palm over his chest, across the long surgical scar hidden beneath his birthday shirt. “You had a good reason, babe.”


“Still, nothing,” Ezra said. “The game doesn’t have to be all about sex.” He waggled his eyebrows, the silver brow stud winking in the lights from the Christmas tree. “Most of it, but not all.”

“Fine.” Jaime settled in with a hand on Alessandro’s thigh. “You go first.”

“Hmm…” Ezra glanced around the room as if his question was tacked to the wall somewhere. “Never have I ever…had sex with a stripper.”

The declaration surprised Jaime for some reason, but he was even more surprised when Donner downed a shot.

Ezra squawked. “Story!”

Donner worried his lower lip with his teeth while he refilled his cup. “It was years ago. Jacob and I went to Philly one Saturday to blow off steam, and we hit up some clubs. We were both eyeballing one of the strippers, and after his set, we approached him.”

“Oh my God.” Ezra’s eyes nearly popped out of his skull. “You never told me you had a threesome.”

“You never asked.”

Jaime stared at Donner, impressed by the story. Jacob was his late boyfriend, who’d been killed almost three years ago. And Donner Davis was the quiet, responsible one, so the threesome thing earned him mad respect from Jaime. While Jaime loved playing around and frequently fantasized about a threesome, he wasn’t sure he would, in reality, ever want to have full-on sex with anyone except Alessandro.

Ezra tipped an imaginary hat at his partner. “Fine, you scoundrel you. Your turn.”

Donner tried to a find a comment on the back of his hand. “Um, never have I ever had sex in the woods.”

Jaime and Alessandro reached for their cups at the exact same time. The soda fizzled down his throat. Alessandro pressed a cinnamon-scented kiss to his cheek. The first time Alessandro blew him, it had been in the woods near an unfinished development, Jaime’s back against a tree. He still remembered how that rough bark had felt against his naked skin.

“Phone book my ass,” Ezra said. He still hadn’t touched his shot.

“Never have I ever shaved my balls,” Alessandro said.

Ezra downed a shot.

“Why would you do that?” Jaime asked. “I mean, a razor that close to your junk?”

Ezra shrugged. “The novelty. I was with a guy once who swore his nuts were more sensitive if he shaved them. Personally, I didn’t notice much difference, and it itched like hell when the hair grew back.”

Donner nuzzled Ezra’s neck. “I like your balls just the way they are.”

Jaime picked his question out of genuine curiosity. “Never have I ever smoked weed.”

All three drank.

“Didn’t want to, or never had the opportunity?” Donner asked.

“I guess more I didn’t care, because I was sick all the time, and then I got better and sometimes I’m terrified that anything at all unusual could trigger my body to reject the heart.”

Alessandro slid an arm across his shoulders, and Jaime sank into the warmth of his chest. “If it helps, both times I tried it I didn’t like it.”

“That does help. Thanks.”


Ezra switched it up with a benign, “Never have I ever owned a pet.”

No one drank. Donner hesitated in reaching for his cup. Last spring his sister’s dog, Lex Luthor, had to be put down due to old age and terrible seizures. He hadn’t been Donner’s dog, but Jaime and Alessandro had been with Donner and Ezra the night Lex had died, and Donner had been a wreck. Like he’d lost a family member.

Ezra ruffled Donner’s hair. “Sorry, I wasn’t thinking. But he was your dog, as much as theirs.”

Donner nodded, then did the shot. “Never have I ever been handcuffed in bed.”

Alessandro drank.

“What?” Jaime’s entire body lit up like a live wire at that confession. The visual of his Alessandro, naked and handcuffed to a bed, gave him all kinds of dirty ideas. Very, very dirty ideas.

“Uh oh, me thinks he likes the idea,” Ezra said.

“I love the idea.”

Alessandro’s dark eyes glittered, and his smile went almost feral. “Oh yeah?”

“Oh yeah.” Jaime’s dick started waking up again, taking note of his super hot boyfriend and all of the sex talk. “This is happening in the very near future.” Jaime nearly hauled Alessandro into the spare room so they could get down to business, but the more his friends drank, the more interesting things he learned about them.

Plus, handcuffs.

“Your turn, babe.” He poked Alessandro in the ribs, which made him laugh.

“Um, never have I ever done karaoke.”

Ezra polished off his third shot, and Donner his fourth.

Ezra had a little trouble pouring the next round, and Alessandro had that rosy-cheeked thing going on that said he was tipping past the point of drunk and maybe two more shots away from wasted. Donner had a pretty good poker face when he drank, but he’d downed the most since they got back.

He was also the biggest guy in the room in terms of body mass. Ezra was taller, but super thin.

Maybe it was the fact that all three of them were on the road to serious Drunk Brain and less likely to take his next statement seriously, but Jaime still blushed hotly when he said, “Never have I ever had sex with Ezra.”

He squirmed under the intensity of the three wide-eyed stares directed at him. Donner and Alessandro did the shot, and Jaime felt new tension in Alessandro.

“Does masturbation mean I had sex with myself?” Ezra asked.

“Sure,” Jaime replied, because booze.

Ezra drank, then said the most obvious thing in the universe. “Never have I ever had sex with Jaime. But I did feel him up once.”

Alessandro drank with a slightly slurred, “Felt him up plenty of times too.”

The comment was kind of funny, but no one laughed. Jaime felt the intensity of Ezra’s stare but couldn’t make himself meet it. He couldn’t lift his gaze higher than the liquor bottle on the coffee table.

Alessandro nuzzled his ear with his nose. “Does it bother you? That I slept with Ezra once?”

“No.” It didn’t. Not really. Except Jaime’s mind frequently circled back to the night they first met Ezra and Romy at the Pot. The way they’d all danced, grinding and feeling each other up, and having an amazing time. An amazing time that kept going all the way back to Ezra’s apartment, and to the fraction of a moment the next morning when Jaime wouldn’t have said no to a threesome with Ezra.

Except now that was impossible. Jaime had Alè and Ezra had Donner, and even though Donner seemed to enjoy watching Ezra dance with other men at the Pot, there was a huge gap between dancing and fucking.

“Then why bring it up, sugar?” Ezra this time, all curiosity and no accusation. Still sharp despite the amount of alcohol he’d consumed.

“I don’t know.” The words had escaped Jaime’s lips before he could think them through. “It’s true, though. That’s the game, right? We say stuff we haven’t done.” And maybe deep down, if he was really honest with himself, it bothered him that Jaime was still the least experienced person in the group. His list of sexual partners stopped with Alessandro. “I’ve never even kissed anyone else.”

Crap, why did I say that out loud? I’m not even drunk.

Alessandro dragged his lips from Jaime’s ear to his Adam’s apple, and good grief, that felt good. “You want to kiss Ezra, babe?”

Jaime wanted those teasing lips around his cock as soon as possible, but he had three drunk people staring at him, waiting for an answer. The idea of walking to the other couch, straddling Ezra’s lap, and sliding his tongue into Ezra’s mouth held a lot of appeal. The fact that both Ezra and his boyfriend were two shots from completely wasted kept Jaime rooted firmly next to his boyfriend.

He didn’t want to say or do anything they’d all regret in the morning. He wasn’t that guy.

“Sometines I do,” Jaime replied. “But not tonight.”

“Why not?” Ezra asked, practically pouting.

“Stretch your right hand out, then bend it at the elbow and touch your nose.”

Ezra managed to poke himself in the eye.

“That’s why.”

“Don’t think so hard about the people you never got to fuck around with,” Donner said. “You lucked into something a lot of guys wait years, maybe decades to find. You skipped all the frogs and found the prince.”

“Aww.” Ezra planted a sloppy kiss on Donner’s mouth. “That was super romantic, you know. I’m done kissing frogs, too.”

“Won’t kissing frogs give you mouth warts or something,” Alessandro asked.

Jaime patted his knee. “Not literal frogs, babe.”

“I’ve never heard of those.”


“Literal frogs. Do they live in the rainforest?”

Ezra started cackling. Drunk Alessandro was hilarious Alessandro, and that was probably Jaime’s cue to suggest everyone go to separate beds.

Donner leaned over and started whispering in Ezra’s ear, and whatever he said made Ezra’s eyes light up. Purple contact lens-covered eyes latched onto Jaime’s, and the seduction in them made Jaime’s stomach wobble. Ezra slunk off the sofa and plunked himself right onto Jaime’s lap. While Ezra was taller than him, he was also super-thin so he wasn’t very heavy.

“What—?” Jaime’s question was cut off by a finger against his lips.

Ezra’s finger. “My boyfriend seems to think we could alleviate some tension between our little quartet if I went ahead and kissed you.”

“Really?” Damn, his voice squeaked high. Jaime glanced over at Alessandro, who was watching them with wide eyes and very keen interest. His gaze swung to Donner, who didn’t appear drunk in the least, despite Jaime knowing better. Donner gave him a mock salute that didn’t do anything to soothe Jaime’s buzzing nerves.

“Why not?” Ezra traced a light touch across his cheek. “We’ve gotten pretty damned close a few times, but you always turned away.”

“I didn’t want to.”

Ezra leaned in close enough for Jaime to smell the whiskey on his breath. “Why not?”

“Because that’s only for Alessandro.”

A deft hand caressed his collarbone, then spent a moment outlining his pecs. “Is that right?”


“You’ve really never kissed another man?”

“No.” Jaime stared at Ezra’s pink lips, torn between loyalty to his boyfriend and curiosity over what it would feel like to kiss someone else. Grinding on a dance floor was one thing. Getting felt up still another. Somehow, in Jaime’s mind, kissing had become the one line he didn’t want to cross. The one thing, other than fucking, that was only for him and Alessandro.

“Do you want to?” Ezra scraped light nails across his throat, waking up his nerves. “Because I’m right here, and I think it could be a lot of fun.”

“You’re drunk.”

“I can’t touch my nose with my finger but my mind is clear enough. I’ve wanted to kiss your pretty red lips since that very first night at the Pot. When you were so green you attracted every dominant guy in the bar. You were magic that night.”

Jaime had never forgotten the joy he’d felt from dancing and being watched, being wanted by so many other guys. He’d only had eyes for Alessandro, despite the advances from various men, including Ezra. Sometimes he regretted settling down with the first guy to show him any real sexual interest, but that rarely lasted longer than a few seconds.

His relationship with Alessandro was everything.

He looked past Ezra, at Donner. “If I ever kiss Ezra, it’s because you’re all sober and we’re not doing it because Drunk Brain thinks it’s a good idea.”

Donner gave a slow not. Ezra pouted.

Alessandro relaxed completely next to him, and yeah, right call.

Ezra planted a wet kiss on the middle of Jaime’s forehead, then climbed off his lap and re-deposited himself onto Donner’s. The pair immediately started making out. Alessandro wrestled Jaime around until Jaime lay on his back on the couch, Alessandro draped all over him from above. His eyes were bleary, and yeah, he was past the point of great decision making. Good thing Jaime didn’t drink.

“Would have been hot,” Alessandro whispered. He left a trail of soft kisses along his jaw. “But glad you didn’t.”

“Me too.” He bit at Alessandro’s lower lip. “I don’t mind that I never had to kiss a frog.”

Alessandro lifted his head, eyebrows knitted together. “What is the obsession with frogs tonight?”

Jaime laughed. “I’ll explain in the morning.” Right now he had his very hot boyfriend to take care of. "Happy New Year, babe."

"Happy New Year."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Out With 2015, In With 2016

Since everyone else seems to be doing a look back at 2015/look forward to 2016 post, I decided to be one of the cool kids and do one too. 

2015 was an amazing year for me. Probably the best of my career so far, as an m/m romance author, and I couldn't be happier. I am so grateful for my publishers, my blogger friends, and my readers. More than I can properly express with words, and since I can never get .gifs to work for some reason, here's a photo:

2015 was a pretty busy year for me. I finally started up a newsletter (sign up link in the sidebar), opened a CafePress store (sidebar), and had five books published with two presses.

I released another complete trilogy with Carina Press this year with Restoration. I loved watching readers discover and fall in love with James, Boxer and Elliott, and their patchwork family as they each found true love in Getting It Right, Finding Their Way, and Taking A Chance. 

Full disclosure: Finding Their Way was the most frustrating book I've written so far, and it went through the biggest editing round of my life. It brought me to tears and drove me to drink, but in the end? WORTH IT. I adore this book now, and all of the stress was worthwhile in the end, because it made Boxer and Riley's journey the very best story it could be.

This year also brought you guys Tristan Lavelle. 

You first noticed him in The Truth As He Knows It back in February, when the first Perspectives book released with Samhain. And I was already hard at work giving Tristan his HEA when fans started asking when he'd get one.

During my blog tour this past fall for The World As He Sees It (Perspectives #2), I was frequently faced with the question of "how did you come up with Tristan's character?" And I never had a good answer. Tristan is one of those rare characters who blew into Noel's back story and kind of...well, he took over. He dominated every single scene he was in during TTAHKI. He broke my heart, and he kept breaking it until the final pages of TWAHSI, when I knew he and Gabe would be okay.

They'll also be back, in some form or another, because Perspectives isn't over. After all, Jon "Boomer" Buchanan is the hero of book three, and he's Gabe's best friend. Expect cameos.

I also recently found out that the first three Perspectives books will be released in audio format through Tantor books! 

2015 also brought me an amazing first: an editor at St. Martin's Press contacted me about doing a series together for their new digital-first imprint, and I swooned. I've never had an editor at a Big Five house reach out and ask to work with me! Thus, Off Beat was born, and these books will be rocking their way onto your digital readers in 2016! 

Everything about this year has given me the chance to ring in the New Year as a brand-new full-time author! Saturday is my last day as a full-time retail employee, and while it's terrifying, it's also thrilling. And I couldn't have done it without each and every reader out there who bought, reviewed, and spread the word about my books.


And 2016 looks to be plenty busy with releases:

The Heart As He Hears It (Perspectives #3, Samhain) April 19, 2016
Come What May (All Saints #1, Carina Press) May 16, 2016
Body Rocks (Off Beat #1, SMP Swerve) June 2016
Fractured Hymns (Samhain) September 2016
Steady Stroke (Off Beat #2, SMP Swerve) October 2016

Say It Right (All Saints #2, Carina Press) doesn't have a release date yet, but expect it in the Fall 2016.

In the works right now:

With four contracted books due this year, I'm currently nearing completion on Steady Stroke. Then I get to jump back into my Wilmington world for Say It Right, which has about a chapter and a half finished.

I've also been blessed with an opening/story idea for the next Cole/Jeremy book, so I hope to be able to work on Discovering Me #3 sometime this winter/spring. 

I still plan on reissuing both Prodigal and Frozen, as well as a third paranormal book in that world. This is going to be fit in around other stuff, but it will happen, I promise! There will also be at least two more Perspectives books coming down the pike at some point. I finally worked one of the kinks out of the plot of #4, so that definitely helps.

Next year I also hope to read more. I didn't read nearly as many books as I wanted to this year, and my Nook is crammed full. So are my physical bookshelves. I need to tackle both.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Body Rocks (Off Beat #1) Snippet

For this week's Teaser Tuesday, I'm offering up a snippet from chapter two of my upcoming book Body Rocks, the first in a new series with SMP Swerve. This is my first rock star romance, featuring heroes Dominic Bounds and Trey "Coop" Cooper. 

I had a lot of fun writing these two and their friends, and I'm having twice as much fun writing book two, Steady Stroke.

In this scene, Dom and Coop have only recently met and are hanging out doing guy stuff, like racing go karts around a track. And flirting. Lots of flirting.


“So you play bass and keyboard, and you have an amazing voice,” Dom said. “Anything else I don’t know about?”

“I have a pretty cute ass, too.”

The flirty remark made Dom’s dick twitch with interest. “Is that your personal opinion, or is this coming from a secondary source?”

“Both.” Coop’s lazy smile combined with his very open appraisal of Dom’s body kind of made Dom want to skip the go karts and find a private place so he could nail Coop’s cute ass. “You want to find out for yourself?”

“Oh, I am definitely finding out for myself.”

Coop’s gentle laughter sent excited shivers down Dom’s spine. 

The go kart track was on the west side of town, tucked in behind a bunch of chain stores. Bright lights all around the perimeter and in various places inside of the fenced in area made it practically daylight. Half a dozen karts were racing around the far side of the track. The humid air had lost the scent of the ocean, replaced by burnt rubber and gasoline.

Coop took the lead, man-hugging a guy their age that he introduced as Gray. Gray set them both up with helmets and karts, then showed Dom how to run the thing. Seemed simple enough. He got it going and followed Coop out onto the main track. It seemed pretty crash-proof, with bumpers on both the kart and the edges of the track. Wide enough for three karts at a time. 

“Ready, set, go!” Coop said, then hit the gas.

He shot off. Dom jammed his own gas. The kart surprised him with the power of the initial lurch, and he belted out a sound that was half-fear and half-laughter. Once he figured out how to apply pressure, he started to enjoy himself. Coop slowed down so Dom could catch up, and they began a high-speed dance around each other. Dom would lead, then Coop would take over. Every time he caught a glimpse of Coop’s face, Coop was grinning like a fool.

Dom was having a blast, too. They were probably supposed to have a time limit, but they raced around the track for what felt like hours. Dom lost himself in the chase, until Coop signaled that they pull over. Coop’s eyes were bright, his cheeks flushed, and Dom had never seen someone so completely alive from something as simple as go kart racing.

Dom pulled off his helmet, grateful to get the heavy thing off and some air on his face. 

“So what did you think?” Coop asked. He bounced on his feet like an excited puppy.

“It’s killer, man, I loved it.”

“Sad you waited so long to try it?”

“Nah. Then you wouldn’t have been able to pop my cherry.”

Coop’s eyes widened briefly, then he laughed. “Happy to help.”

On their way back to the car, Dom asked, “Anything else you want to do?”

Coop leered at him. “Anything  you want to do?”

Blood started going south, and Dom was glad they’d reached the car because he didn’t want to be walking through a parking lot with a boner. “Dude, your ass better be ready to cash the check your mouth is writing.”

“Oh it’s more than ready.”

Dom unlocked his side, climbed in, then reached across to unlock the other door. “You know a place we can go?”

Coop glanced at Dom’s lap, then licked his lips. “Up the highway there’s an old, overgrown drive-in. Great place for parking.”

“Yeah? Been there a few times?”

“No, but one of my roommates has. She told me about it.”

Dom kind of wanted to call bullshit, but Coop had no reason to lie to him. And who cared if Coop was a total slut or pickier than a vegan in a steakhouse. Dom was getting fucking laid tonight, and he was very, very eager to judge Coop’s cute ass for himself.

He would have totally overshot the entrance to the drive-in if Coop hadn’t pointed out the rusty old sign half-covered by bushes and wisteria vines. There wasn’t really a road anymore, mostly narrow tracks through thick underbrush, as if someone had taken a Hummer and plowed through it all to make a path. Dom kept as much of his attention on the non-road as he could, but Coop decided to distract him by rubbing himself through his shorts. That simple image got Dom’s own dick straining against his already tight jeans. He cranked up the air conditioning, because things were about to get steamy.

The forest finally gave way to a moderately open space that had been mostly overtaken by nature. The remains of a small shack was off to the right, and the remnants of a movie screen were straight ahead, full of holes where it had fallen apart over time. The place had a slasher movie vibe to it that was at once creepy and exciting.

Dom shifted into park, but left the car idling for the air. The last thing he wanted to do was open the windows and end up with mosquito bites all over his ass.

Coop wasted no time curling strong fingers around the back of his neck and hauling him into a kiss. Dom’s surprise fled the instant their mouths clashed. Something electric surged between them, so strong he actually gasped. Coop licked at his parted lips, then slipped his tongue into Dom’s mouth. He tasted like lime and spice and everything nice, and goddamn he knew how to kiss. Dom cupped both sides of Coop’s neck, as much to keep him there as for balance because kissing Coop was a little like falling.

He could have sat there and kissed Coop all night.

Coop pulled away first, his cheeks red and eyes glistening. “Backseat.”


Dom was tall and the space between the seats wasn’t huge, so climbing over it had both of them laughing by the time they collapsed on the backseat. Coop tugged his shirt off, revealing a slightly tanned torso, a nice little happy trail, and a tattoo of a Gerbera daisy on his left pec. Defined abs, but not super-cut, which appealed to Dom a lot. Meant Coop wasn’t a gym rat. And he loved that Coop had ink.

Coop tugged at Dom’s shirt, and he let Coop pull it off. Coop’s bright smile was worth the reveal. Dom was crazy proud of the tattoo that spanned across his abdomen. Coop traced a finger over it, and the touch sent goose bumps across Dom’s shoulders. “What’s it represent?” Coop asked.

“An artist friend created it for me. It’s a combination of the national emblem of Italy and the Philippine eagle. My birth mother was from the Philippines, my birth father from Italy.”

“Birth mother?”

Dom nearly slapped himself. “I’m adopted. All of my siblings were adopted by our parents.”

“Oh wow. Have you ever met your birth parents?”

“Nope. No desire to, either. I know and embrace my heritage, yeah, but I also know who my parents are, and they’re the people who raised me.” Dom touched the daisy tattoo on Coop’s chest. “How about this? Special meaning?”

Coop’s smile dimmed. “Someone I loved who died too young.”


“It was years ago.” He surprised Dom by swinging his leg over and straddling his lap. 

A hard cock ground into his. Dom tugged Coop into another kiss, his body aware and sparking everywhere they touched—mouths, hands, legs, groins. So good. Dom shoved both hands into Coop’s shorts, past the elastic of his briefs to clasp warm skin. Coop gasped into his mouth. Dom squeezed and kneaded, urging Coop to rock into him. Coop pulled off to lick and nibble his neck.

“Shit,” Dom said when Coop found a sensitive spot. “Can’t wait to fuck you.”

Coop straightened, his green eyes so intense in the near-dark. “Tell me you brought stuff.”

“I brought stuff.”

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Coming in 2016

Newsletter subscribers got the lowdown last month, but seeing as 2015 is quickly drawing to a close, it's time to let everyone in on what's coming in 2016 and early 2017 (and I think you'll be pleased).

Samhain Publishing

I've got two books coming out with Samhain next year. First up is The Heart As He Hears It (Perspectives #3).

Love can slip through the smallest crack in the door.

While most of his friends have moved on to "real" careers, Jon Buchanan is content skating through life as a part-time waiter and gay porn star. Firmly single thanks to a previous relationship disaster, he focuses his spare time on Henry, a dear friend dying of cancer.

And with Henry's happiness paramount, Jon is on a mission to help Henry meet his recently discovered grandson.

Isaac Gregory hasn't set foot outside for the last year. He has everything he needs delivered, and his remaining family knows better than to visit. When a complete stranger shows up claiming to be his grandfather--with a distractingly handsome younger man in tow--his carefully structured routines are shaken.

Despite his instant attraction, Jon senses Isaac is too fragile for a relationship. Yet tentative friendship grows into genuine companionship. And when Henry's health begins to fail, they realize Fate brought them together for a reason.

Warning: Product contains a neurotic porn star with body image issues, a virgin hero with severe agoraphobia, and a fluffy ball of gray cuteness you'll want to take home and cuddle. Also contains references to past abuse some readers may find disturbing.

The Heart As He Hears It releases April 19th, 2016!

Also coming from Samhain in September 2016 is Fractured Hymns. This is a standalone novel featuring Ethaniel Shockley, who was introduced to readers in Foundation of Trust (Cost of Repairs #5). He intrigued me enough that eventually he earned his own story and HEA (and he definitely earned it, considering this book took me over two years to write). It's certainly the most spiritual book I've ever written, and it deals a lot with personal faith and understanding what that means to you as an individual.

I can't wait for you guys to meet Angel. 

Carina Press

I've signed on for another trilogy from Carina, and I couldn't be happier. Still set in my fictional version of Wilmington, DE, that is featured in both Belonging and Restoration, All Saints shifts back into a younger, New Adult set of characters.

Book one, Come What May, releases May 16th. No cover yet, but I do have a blurb!

Jonas needs Tate. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Or at least, he doesn't want to admit it. Because there is no way Jonas Ashcroft is gay. He’s a straight, care-free frat boy player, just like any good son of a conservative state senator. If only his struggle to convince everyone—especially himself—didn’t leave him so miserable. No matter how many girls or bottles he drowns himself in, Jonas can neither escape nor accept who he is.

Enter Tate. He’s smart, confident, and instantly sees right through Jonas’s surly exterior. Sure, he’s done things in life he’s not proud of, but he knows who he is and what he wants. And what he wants is Jonas. As their easy friendship intensifies into something more, Tate introduces Jonas to a life he’s never known. One filled with acceptance and sex and a love that terrifies and excites them both.

But some inner demons refuse to be shaken off so easily. When Jonas’s old life barges in he faces a shattering choice, one that could destroy everything he and Tate have fought so hard for. Sometimes love just isn’t enough—and sometimes it’s exactly what you need.

Jonas is one of those lost characters that you just want to wrap up in a big hug until it all gets better for him. I also enjoyed revisiting the boys at Half-Dozen, and a few other familiar faces make brief appearances throughout. 

Book two, Say It Right, will release in the fall of 2016, with book three releasing in 2017. As is pretty typical of my series, all books will feature a different pair of heroes, with characters overlapping. 

SMP Swerve

St. Martin's Press has recently announced the launch of a new digital-first romance imprint, Swerve, and I was very lucky to have been approached by one of their editors to write for them! So I stepped out of my small-town comfort zone to write some rock star romances, and thus the Off Beat series was born!

I've contracted three titles: Body Rocks (June 2016), Steady Stroke (October 2016), and Hot Licks (March 2017).

Body Rocks has a cover (which I've been swore to secrecy about for now) and no official blurb, but if you follow me on Twitter you probably saw me tweeting about Dominic and Trey back in early summer. Chance meeting + insane chemistry = amazing sex and strong attraction. Too bad they are in rival bands that are both competing for top prize at a summer music festival--and Trey is still in the closet. 

This book also has one of my favorite sex scenes I've ever written.

So yeah. That's....*counts*....six new books coming from me next year, with two already scheduled into 2017. 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Release Day: The World As He Sees It (Perspectives #2)


I might be almost as excited by this book's release as my readers. It's been more than eight months since The Truth As He Knows It came out and y'all were first introduced to Tristan and Gabe, and their HEA has been a long time coming. Tristan was such a fun and unique character to write, and I had such a great time getting him out of his depression and funk in this book, and Gabe was the perfect guy to help Tristan live again. 


Today also kicks off a month-long blog tour with Pride Promotions. Working with Will is always a joy. He is way more organized than I ever could be. I'll be all over the blog-o-sphere for the next few weeks doing interviews, blogging and pimping this book. There's also a fantastic giveaway attached to the tour. A goodie basket containing signed paperbacks of both Truth and World, plus all sorts of assorted notepads, sticky notes, and pens!

Two character interviews are going on right now. Gabe is chatting it up over at The Novel Approach Reviews, and both Gabe and Tristan have a few things to say at Love Bytes Reviews. Then I'm yacking it up at Hearts On Fire Reviews. All of the links give you a chance to enter the giveaway!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cover Reveal and Teaser: The Heart As He Hears It

Newsletter subscribers have already seen the beauty that is the cover for The Heart As He Hears It (Perspectives #3), and now it's your turn. Lyn Taylor continues to give me the best covers!

I'm not going to post the blurb, because apparently what I sent subscribers isn't the final copy, and this time I'm waiting to make sure the right one goes out to the world.

Instead, I'll post a teaser from the book, so you guys can still get to know Jon, Isaac, and a fluffy gray kitten named Bear.


Once Isaac had finished his snack and washed his dishes, Jon asked, “Do you want to feed Bear a little more?”

He turned in the process of drying the plate. “You said three times a day.”

“Going forward. We don’t when she’s eaten last, so a few more times today can’t hurt. And the vet might tell you something different.”

Isaac fumbled the plate, catching it before it could fall. “The vet.” Jon had never actually seen someone go pale until that moment. “Right.”

“Hey, it’s okay.” Jon scooped Bear up as he stood. “If you want, I can find a vet and take her in for a checkup. I’m not going to force you to leave the house, Isaac, I promise.”

His skin didn’t pink up any, but Isaac looked less likely to vomit at any moment.

Way to go, asshole.

Jon stopped an arm’s reach away, Bear cuddled to his chest. “I’m sorry I keep saying things like that.”

Isaac shook his head side to side. “It’s not your fault I can’t act like a normal person. I can’t even take the trash down to the curb without having a panic attack. Sometimes I wish I was different, but since I’ve lived alone, this is all I know.”

Hope dangled on the end of that final statement, and Jon latched on to it. “I’m the first person to say fuck normal. There’s no such thing. All we have is reality, and sometimes reality really, really sucks. And sometimes it’s really, really scary. But we don’t have to accept limitations. It’s okay to push against them and try to be happy.”

“But pushing means getting hurt.”

“Sometimes it does. Human beings are amazingly resilient creatures, especially when we’re fighting for something we want.”

Isaac’s eyes glittered, damp with tears. “What do you fight for, Jon?”

Jon’s heart beat harder. Something thick settled in his throat, and he had to swallow hard several times to dislodge it.

He excelled at donning the persona of Boomer Black and dazzling his fans, whether on film or social media. He even found that persona bleeding into his private life, giving him the courage to say and do certain things. Like picking on Gabe for having what Jon had stopped dreaming of—a loving relationship with a genuinely kind, gentle man who’d rather die than hurt him. Jon had enough issues to sink a battleship, and he had a feeling Isaac’s could sink a dozen more. But Jon also trusted that he could be honest with Isaac and not fear being made fun of for his words.

Even if they were kind of cheesy.

“I fight for the hope that today will be better than yesterday,” Jon said. “And I fight for the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.”

“I don’t know how to hope for those things.” Isaac sounded so small, so lost.

Jon mentally flailed, going for instinct and hoping he didn’t fuck it up. “It’s not as hard if you have someone to help you. Let me help you.”

Isaac’s dark gaze flickered down to Bear, then back up to meet Jon’s. The raw emotion in Isaac’s wet eyes made Jon’s insides somersault. Instinct said to hug him, hold him until it got better, but any movement like that could scare Isaac away. Jon didn’t ever want to scare him. He wanted, more than anything in his life, to see Isaac break away from the fear holding him prisoner inside of his own home. He wanted to see Isaac outside, smiling into the sunshine.

He wanted Isaac to be free.

“I’m so scared all the time,” Isaac said in a fractured voice so soft Jon almost missed it.

“You don’t have to be.”

“I want to believe you.”

“And that’s a good start. You have to want to try. When I was at my lowest point, I got better because I wanted to. I didn’t want the person who hurt me to win. Getting my life back meant he lost.”
Isaac rubbed the heels of his palms into his eyes. It left them damp and red, but somehow more clear. He reached for Bear, and Jon handed her over. Their fingers brushed together for an instant, and the connection slammed into Jon’s balls. Isaac glanced up, openly startled. He cradled Bear in his hands. She nosed his thumb, then licked it.

“I don’t want my father to win,” Isaac said.

Jon’s heart kicked. “He doesn’t have to. You don’t have to let him win.”

Determination burned in Isaac’s gaze. He stood straighter, shoulders back, jaw set. The change made him look years older, in charge. Nobody’s victim. “I’m still terrified.”

“That’s okay. We can work on that. Baby steps, all right? No rush.”

“All right.” He wilted a bit. “But no more today. I can’t handle anything else.”

Jon smiled. “It’s cool. Like I said, baby steps. I think Bear is enough adventure for anyone.” His shredded hands agreed with him. “I’ll find her a vet, and I’ll message you when I’ll stop by and get her for her appointment.”

“Thank you, Jon.”

“It’s what friends are for.”

Isaac tilted his head to one side. “I haven’t had a friend in a long time.”

“You have one now.”

Monday, October 5, 2015

Awesome $.99 Deal!

To celebrate and help promote the release of The World As He Sees It (Perspectives #2), in only TWO MORE WEES, the lovely folks at Samhain have put The Truth As He Knows it (Perspectives #1) on sale!

Only 99 cents! At that price, if you already have it, gift it to a friend. Tell them all about the angst, the drama, and Tristan (can't forget him)!

And spread the word!

Lies are the chains that keep you weighed down at rock bottom. 

Officer Noel Carlson isn’t out to anyone in small-town Stratton, Pennsylvania, only to distant friends and family, so a relationship is out of the question. That doesn’t stop him from wanting one, though.

When a night-shift call brings him face to thonged butt with a hired stripper whose girl-party gig went terribly wrong, Noel takes pity on the guy and lets him go. But he can’t get the encounter out of his mind.

Shane has big-time debts to repay, especially to the brother who sacrificed nearly everything for him. His two jobs, in a deli and as a stripper, leave him no time for a social life. But a non-date of hot sex and takeout food with Noel? He can squeeze that in.

The bond they form is stronger than either expected or wanted. Especially since the step Shane’s about to take to put his brother—and his soul—back in the black isn’t quite legal. And he never calculated just how much his determination to make things right will cost him in the end.

Warning: This book contains a closeted cop who's looking for love, an indebted stripper who doesn't believe he’s worthy, and a tasteful abundance of dirty guy sex. Also contains references to past physical abuse some readers may find disturbing. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

First Three Chapters: The World As He Sees It (Perspectives #2)

Eeeee! I can't believe there are only three weeks left until The World As He Sees It is finally out! It's been forever since Tristan's debut, and I'm so excited for you guys to finally be able to read his story.

To celebrate, here are the first three chapters! Enjoy!

Chapter One

Gabe Henson picked at the label on his bottle of Samuel Adams lager, more interested in getting the square of paper off in one piece than in drinking the mostly full beer. The club’s pulsing music seemed far away, not penetrating like it usually was. He ignored the throng of good-looking dancers behind him and shut down the occasional attempt by an unfamiliar face at buying him a drink. The regulars knew him, and they knew when to leave him the hell alone.

Like right now.

He hadn’t come out to Big Dick’s to find a hookup. His boss preferred his models not to have sex for a few days leading up to a scene, and Gabe had one tomorrow. He only was at Big Dick’s, surrounded by other gay men, so he wasn’t sitting at home with his mother, worrying about the upcoming scene.

And yet that particular anxiety had taken a backseat to another incident less than an hour old. He couldn’t scrub his memory of the image of the frightened, golden-haired boy who’d cowered in a corner of the break room, completely unaware of anything except the name of a friend who’d know how to help him. Although “boy” wasn’t very kind. He was at least twenty-one if he’d gotten inside. Bear hadn’t let a fake ID slip past him since the day the bar opened.


The name didn’t suit. It conjured up images of a long-haired Brad Pitt riding horses and seducing Julia Ormond. The Tristan from tonight reminded him more of Alex Pettyfer, minus at least fifteen pounds and with shaggier, slightly blonder hair. Not to mention a healthy dose of fear in his eyes. Eyes haunted by something that was none of Gabe’s business, but had caused Tristan short-term memory loss, according to the friend.

Gabe couldn’t imagine living with such a debilitating condition. What sort of desperation had sent Tristan into the bar alone, knowing sooner or later he’d forget where he was and why?

And why the hell can’t I stop thinking about him?

He’d extended an offer of free drinks to both Tristan and the friend—Joel? No, Noel—but he doubted they’d take him up on it.

“What’s up, bub?” Pax asked while he scooped ice into a shaker. “Who pissed in your shoe?”

“Fuck off,” Gabe retorted without anger. Pax had been bartending at Big Dick’s for over four years, and they’d always gotten along, despite Pax’s mystifying habit of changing his hair color once a month. Last month he’d gone full-on skunk black and white. This month it was cobalt blue.

Pax snickered over a bottle of tequila. “Someone’s going through a dry spell.”

“I don’t need details of your personal life, thanks.”

“Oh, bub, I didn’t mean me.”

Gabe rolled his eyes. He wasn’t going through a dry spell—exactly. He’d been having pretty regular sex for the last eighteen months. It just wasn’t the kind of sex he wanted to be having—the real, nonporn kind. Even his very occasional hookup didn’t count, because he felt as disconnected from his partner afterward as he did when he left a scene.

Not that he disliked or regretted his job. He liked sex. He liked having sex, and getting paid for it was a bonus. Even porn sex could have its own levels of intimacy. He was best friends with one of the guys he regularly did scenes with. But at the end of the day, that intimacy wasn’t real. It didn’t keep him warm at night. It didn’t go out for coffee with him after a movie. It didn’t turn into an actual, trusting relationship.

And maybe that was the point.

“There’s a hot blond number at the other end of the bar,” Pax said while he shook his drink. “Don’t think he’s a regular, if you’re looking for fresh meat.”

“I’m not looking tonight, thanks.” Gabe pried another few inches of the damp label off the glass bottle. Nearly done.

“If you say so.”

Pax moved off to pour his drinks, replaced almost right away by Gabe’s dad. The white sequined vest cast a sparkly reflection all over the bar, and Gabe tried not to squint too much. He loved that his adopted dad, Richard Brightman, was comfortable enough in his sexuality and with his looks to wear something as hideous as Richard Simmons-inspired sequins, but that didn’t stop Gabe from having fantasies of burning them all in a bonfire.

“What’s got you tied up in knots, kiddo?” Dad asked.

Lying to him was harder than lying to Pax. “Thinking about that Tristan guy.”

“Yeah, that boy has got himself a case of real bad luck. At least he’s got a friend to look out for him.”

“Right.” Another bit of the label came away. Then another. Aware of eyes on him, Gabe looked up. Dad hadn’t moved or redirected his attention. “What?”


Irritation prickled his scalp. “Don’t what? It’s not against the law to peel beer labels.”

“That isn’t what I mean, and you know it. Leave this Tristan kid be, he’s not your problem.”

“I am not making him my problem.”

Dad leaned in so he could lower his voice. Keep family shit private and all that. “You hanging out here with that look on your face means you’re thinking about him. You want to fix him, don’t you?”

“I don’t even know him.”

“Yeah, well, I know you, Gabriel.”


“Meaning you can’t fix your mother, so you keep looking for other people you can fix.”

Gabe’s hand jerked, tearing the label off and leaving the last corner. Angry now, he wadded up the ruined label and tossed it onto the bar top. “I do not want a lecture about Debbie, okay? Leave it.”

Dad raised both hands in mock surrender. “I don’t want to lecture you. You’ve listened to all of my lectures, kiddo. I just wish you heard me sometimes, is all. We both do.”

“We” included Richard’s partner and Gabe’s bio dad Bernard “Bear” Henson. He’d been Bear all of Gabe’s life, and he always would be, even though technically he should be “Dad”. Dad had as much history with Gabe’s mother Debbie as Bear did, and they both understood the burden Gabe continued to bear. Gabe couldn’t give up on her. She didn’t have anyone else.

“I do hear you, Dad. I hear you both when you talk, and then I make my own decisions. Isn’t that how you guys raised me? To think for myself?”

Dad let out a frustrated grunt. “You’re a pain in the ass, you know that?”

“You raised me that way too.”

He grinned. “Damn right, I did. Now are you going to drink that beer or let it go flat?”

“It’s probably already flat, but I get the point.”

“Good. It’s Friday. Actually, it’s Saturday but let’s not get technical. Go have fun.”


Gabe spun his stool around so he could watch the dancing bodies while he sipped his warm, slightly flat beer. He really shouldn’t be indulging the night before a shoot. Beer didn’t make him bloat up the way it used to, especially if he stuck to one, but he had to look his very best on camera, no exceptions.

The beer was more of a prop than anything else. The last time he indulged a little bit, he’d let the person he was there with drink himself into a blackout. Shane had seemed like a decent guy on a run of bad luck, desperate to let loose a little, and he had. The demons Gabe had seen in Shane’s drunk eyes were the only reason Gabe had decided to forgive him for being an asshole about waking up in Gabe’s bed. So hungover he’d practically accused Gabe of sleeping with him and lying about it.

That had pissed Gabe the fuck off. Maybe they’d fucked twice on camera for a payday, but Shane—or Colby, his stage name—didn’t fucking know him. He had no right to judge Gabe. Gabe didn’t need to get a guy drunk off his face in order to get laid, and he hadn’t been wasted with a hookup in more than two years. He’d learned his lesson.

And Shane/Colby could stay the fuck out of his life.

So why the hell had Gabe agreed to bottom for him tomorrow?

The usual reason he took risks: money. They’d get a lot of downloads for a badass top like “Tony” finally taking one up the ass.

He’d been stretching all week with his fingers and a plug, but damn if he wasn’t still nervous as hell. The only time in his life that he’d ever bottomed had been a painful disaster—probably not unusual for two drunk and inexperienced fifteen-year-olds.

A mop of shaggy golden-brown hair caught his attention, far out on the dance floor. Gabe sat up straighter, straining to catch the man’s face, pulse jumping. Surely it couldn’t be—no. The face was all wrong. Chiseled and tanned.

You’re an idiot. Tristan isn’t coming back, and he’s definitely not doing it tonight.

Gabe checked his watch. After two in the morning. Last call was at two forty-five anyway, and he had to be up early for a ten o’clock call time. As much as he preferred the chaotic peace of Big Dick’s, it was past time to go home.

The unlocked front door didn’t surprise him anymore, but it had instilled a new instinct to enter his home slowly and carefully. Check around for open cabinets or upturned couch cushions. New damage that wasn’t caused by a drunken rage and might indicate an intruder. Debbie didn’t remember the little things like locking the front door and flushing the toilet.

He prayed for the day when she forgot how to walk to the nearest state store.

The front room didn’t appear much different than when he’d left eight hours ago. A pile of unfolded laundry on the couch. Pizza boxes on the coffee table already overflowing with Debbie’s magazine subscriptions. The familiar odors of cigarette smoke and sour wine mixed with something greasy and old. He locked the front door, then followed the smell into the kitchen. Half a dozen white takeout boxes littered the kitchen table, some of their contents sprawled on the old metal table. A few black flies buzzed around the mess.

“Fucking fantastic,” Gabe said to the ceiling. Her room was overhead, but she’d probably drunk enough to sleep until noon the next day. She always ordered lo mein when she made a conscious choice to try for a blackout. Something had upset her tonight, and he’d hear all about it when he got home from his scene tomorrow.

The trash can was overflowing. He pulled that bag out and tied it off. Shoved the Chinese cartons into another bag, along with the box of red wine on the counter. It was half-full, and he’d catch hell tomorrow, but he didn’t care. Tonight he seriously didn’t fucking care. He hauled the trash bags out the back door and stuffed them into the cans by the steps. Then he spent ten minutes tracking and smashing the black flies with a plastic swatter.

He fucking hated flies.

After a quick blast of air freshener, he turned off the lights and went upstairs. Debbie’s room was the first door, and it was wide open. He peeked inside because the bedside lamp was on. The bed was messy, the sheets all over the floor, but no Debbie.

Irritation overrode concern. It was late, he was exhausted, and he had to deal with her wherever she’d passed out for the night.

His room was out of the question. He kept the door locked when he wasn’t home—not only so she didn’t unearth his porn stash and sear her eyeballs, but also because he simply didn’t trust her. He didn’t trust her not to steal the Burberry watch he indulged in after his first scene and hock it for booze money. He didn’t trust her around any of his things, so he kept them locked up when he wasn’t home.

At the end of the hall, the bathroom door was ajar. He flipped on the light. Debbie was asleep on the bathroom floor, wrapped up in her yellow robe. He dropped the toilet lid with his foot, then flushed the evidence of her dinner and drinking. She hadn’t vomited on the floor or herself—good luck for which he was insanely grateful.

As much as he wanted to leave her there, he needed to shower in the morning, and that wasn’t happening with his mother passed out on the linoleum. In these moments, Gabe thanked the universe that he’d gotten his build from his father. All six foot two and 210 of him could pick up five foot three, buck-nothing Debbie with little fuss or stress.

The woman couldn’t eat six cartons of noodles in a week. Such a waste of money.

She didn’t stir during the short walk to her room, or when he put her down. The sheets took a minute to get in order. He checked that there was a trash can on both sides of the bed, turned off the lamp and shut the door.

Business as usual in Debbie Harper’s house.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Bear gave him a sad smile and said, It’s not your job, Gabriel. It’s not your job.

Gabe didn’t disagree. He also didn’t know how to quit.

What else did he have to do with his life if not take care of his alcoholic mother?

He had to give Colby credit for being as gentle as possible. Agreeing to bottom for the first time since he was fifteen had been an agonizing decision for Gabe, but the payday for first bottom during a three-way was his deciding factor. Chet even had mercy on him by allowing him to pick who topped him. Even though Gabe was good friends with his other scene partner Jon “Boomer” Buchanan, Boomer was sometimes a clumsy top.

Colby—he still had a hard time referring to him by his real name while working—was a decent guy who did porn like someone was holding a gun to his head. His story intrigued Gabe, but he’d never asked. Today had been Colby’s last shoot, anyway, so it didn’t matter. If Colby/Shane came to work at Big Dick’s as a dancer, then Gabe would make an effort.

Gabe had prepped for a long time in the shower that morning. Colby did quite a lot of manual prepping on-screen, and Boomer had rimmed him for a while, which had felt fantastic. The actual penetration had hurt, but not unbearably so, and Gabe managed to come. Chet was happy with the footage, so Gabe chalked it up as a win and escaped to the upstairs shower to clean up.

Jon would call him later to make sure he was okay with how everything went, because he was a good guy like that. They regularly worked out together, and even though they’d filmed more than half a dozen scenes, there was zero romantic anything between them. And that worked for Gabe. He liked having a friend who listened to his crazy family problems, didn’t judge and didn’t expect sex in return for his time and attention.

After a quick shower to wash away the day’s sweat and bodily fluids, he slipped into a pair of running shorts and a T-shirt from his gym bag. His phone flashed at him. Six missed calls, all from Debbie. No messages. Gabe glared at his cell phone, wanting his sudden flash of irritation to erase every single call record. When it didn’t, he used his finger.


Chet was waiting for him by the set house’s front door with a check in hand. “Excellent work today, my boy, very good film. Here’s the advance you asked for.”

Gabe hesitated in taking the check. Chet was an anomaly in the porn industry because he paid his models one of two ways. First was cash upfront, no royalties, which was industry standard and the get-money-fast option that people like Colby usually took. Gabe was a royalties guy, which usually meant no money upfront, but he earned a decent percent back on all downloads. Debbie’s latest stunt with the unsecured loan had made Gabe stoop to asking Chet for an advance against today’s video.

“I appreciate it, Chet.” Gabe tucked the slip of paper into his gym bag.

“If things are getting tight, I can fit you in more than twice a month.”

“I’ll think about it.” He still received regular monthly payments from his library of past scenes, but padding his collection might move that decimal point over one more place. “Call me when you need me again.”

“Take it easy, Tony.”

Gabe took in a deep breath as he left the house, and exhaled long and slow on the walk to his car. It was a ritual he used to shed himself of Tony, the guy who walked into that set and did his job, fucking like a champ and always with a smile. Sure, Gabe enjoyed himself. Regular sex without any of the baggage, and always, always safe. All of the models were tested for STDs regularly, and nobody fucked without a rubber at Mean Green Boys.

Two years ago, Gabe had contracted a pretty gross case of oral gonorrhea from a hookup he’d blown and then fucked. Despite Richard’s status, the incident had finally wised Gabe up to the dangers of casual sex, and he’d gone without for a while. He met Jon at the gym one afternoon, and after their paths crossed several times in one month, they started regularly working out together. Gabe had enjoyed the friendship, and he’d learned Jon was fastidious about avoiding infection.

One day after showering together, Jon had joked about Gabe “being in porn with a cock like that”. Gabe had laughed it off, even after Jon went on about the benefits of good, regular sex with very little risk. A few days later, Gabe got a call about doing a modeling interview with Chet Green. It went well, Chet threw dollar signs at him, and that was that. Signing on with Mean Green Boys had been a bit of a no-brainer—plus he needed the money that he couldn’t get as a career waiter.

His drive from the residential home in Camp Hill, across the Susquehanna on the Capital Beltway, and then north to his place on Harris Street took about twenty minutes. He tried to ignore traffic and the other drivers, tried to ignore whatever his mother wanted so badly that she’d called him six times without leaving messages. He rolled down the windows and concentrated on the hot July air and the humid, oily odor of the city.

He’d worked up a good sweat by the time he parked in front of the aging blue house. The yard needed to be tended. He put that on this afternoon’s mental to-do list. Physical exertion would help him forget the faint discomfort in his ass.

Something inside the house shattered before he could slide his key into the lock. The knob turned, which told him she’d been out at least once since he’d left for the shoot, because he always locked the door behind him. They had a basement full of old QVC packages from before he’d wrangled all of Debbie’s credit cards away, and they didn’t live on the best side of town.

He stepped into chaos. The complete opposite of the relative order from the night before. Cushions were off the sofa, magazines littered the floor. A dining chair was on its side. Movies and books were scattered across the carpet near the television. From the door, he couldn’t see the source of the shattering sound.


Debbie stormed out of the downstairs bathroom, her robe fluttering like a cape, curly red hair wrapped around her head like a frizzy shower cap. She stabbed a finger in the air as she sailed toward him like a snorting bull. “Where is it? Where did you put it?”

Gabe held up his palms and took a step to the side. “Where did I put what?”

“My wedding ring! You took it off while I was sleeping, and you hid it somewhere. Where is it?” Wine-soured breath puffed in his face. He had nearly a foot of height on his mother, but she still somehow managed to seem bigger than him. More domineering, just like when he was a kid and she knocked him around.

“I didn’t take your ring,” Gabe said. “You hocked it when I was thirteen, and you accused me of stealing it then just like you’re doing now.”

“I had the ring last night.”

He despised these mornings. Hangover-inspired rants about events from long ago, usually something that she’d decided was Gabe’s fault. The wedding ring had gone missing more than ten years ago after a particularly nasty fight between Debbie and Bear, and she’d blamed them both for taking it. Bear had eventually tracked the ring down to a local pawn shop, whose owner swore Debbie sold it to him herself.

One of the fun side effects of excessive alcohol abuse was memory loss.

“You haven’t had the ring for ten years,” Gabe said. “All that happened last night was me picking you up off the bathroom floor and putting your drunk ass to bed.”

Her hand snapped out, quick as always, and cracked hot across his cheek. His head didn’t move because she didn’t have that kind of strength anymore, but the slap hurt. She tried again, and he caught her wrist, his temper flaring. He squeezed until she whined, and then he let go.

Her big green eyes filled with tears. Her chin trembled. On a long wail, she fled the living room. Her footsteps thundered upstairs, ending with the slam of her bedroom door.

Gabe rubbed his face where his cheek still stung. Then he started cleaning up her mess.


Chapter Two

Big Dick’s. Big Dick’s. Big Dick’s. Big dicks. Big dicks. Big—why I am I thinking about big dicks?

Tristan Lavelle blinked out the windshield at the scenery going by, somehow both familiar and new. He wasn’t driving, which was a good thing. He hadn’t driven a car in a long time. Since the accident. The accident was why he couldn’t remember why he’d been thinking about…something. Dicks?

Except it hadn’t been an accident. It was simply easier and less rage-inducing to think of it as an accident instead of what it had been. Or what he’d been told it had been, since he didn’t remember that, either.

Noel was driving. Noel was his best friend in the world, and they hung out on a regular basis even though they didn’t live together anymore. College was over. He and Noel weren’t roommates with Billy and Chris, but they visited sometimes too. At least he was pretty sure they did.

He studied Noel’s profile, hoping something hit him. A familiarity with the situation, or even with what he was wearing. His short-term memory was pretty much nonexistent but he knew he had moments of familiarity. Mostly with people, now with a few places. They happened a lot with Noel, and a lot in…that place he lived that wasn’t with Noel and Billy and Chris.

Benfield. Yes. He knew that. Mostly old people. Not many like him.

Noel’s clothes struck him as odd. Noel was a police officer, and he wasn’t wearing his uniform. When he came to visit, Tristan couldn’t remember but he was pretty sure he didn’t wear skin-tight black jeans and a dark green sleeveless tee. Party clothes.

Tristan glanced down at this own attire. Dark blue jeans. Not really tight, but then again none of his clothes really fit right. His black tee said “Kiss Me, I’m Cute”. Billy had given him that shirt for his nineteenth birthday.

Nighttime. Party clothes. They were going out.

His notebook was open in his lap. Tristan didn’t want to refer to it yet. He wanted to try and get this on his own without the copious notes he’d probably taken. His entire life since the accident was chronicled in a never-ending series of spiral notebooks. Notebooks and sticky notes all over his bedroom walls. Calendars and reminders on his laptop to do everything from take his meds to eat breakfast.

I’m completely broken, but everyone keeps trying to fix me.

Especially Noel. Noel had been there that night. Noel had been hurt too. Tristan’s family had written him off for being gay, but Noel had always been there.

“Can you turn the air up a little, babe? It’s hot back here.”

Tristan flinched at a voice both unfamiliar and totally déjà vu. He and Noel weren’t alone. A lot of the times recently they weren’t alone because Noel was seeing someone.

Think. Think. Think. I know this.

Noel fiddled with the air conditioning buttons on the car’s dash. “Better?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Noel turned off the highway and into the brightly lit city. Harrisburg. They’d gone to college here. He knew the city, and he loved coming to visit. He didn’t need memories of trips to know in his heart he loved this city. The museums and the river and City Island and everything about it.

He glanced at the person sitting behind Noel. Dark hair and eyes. Super cute. Boyfriend. Tristan had been studying certain portions of his notebooks, trying to absorb details of this guy. Name. Occupation. Family. So many little things his damaged brain couldn’t record. Specific details lost forever, unless inked onto paper.

He did know the man, though. He felt that familiarity in his heart, not with his mind. Tristan also knew something terrible had happened to him recently.

Don’t ask. Read the notebook.

Aug.8—Going to Big Dick’s with Noel and Shane. Late birthday celebration. Missed birthday last week because Shane’s brother died. Be sensitive tonight. Shane. Big Dick’s. Birthday.

Oh. Duh.

He’d never met Shane’s brother—even without checking his older notebooks, Tristan felt the truth of that in his heart. But Tristan’s own brother had died in high school, and he knew some of that pain. His wasn’t the same as Shane’s. No one’s loss was ever the same. Everyone grieved differently. He was glad that Shane had Noel.

“I said I’m sorry, right?” Tristan asked before common sense could censor the words.

Shane stared at him, eyebrows knitted together. “For what?”

“Your brother. I can’t remember his name, and I can’t remember if I’ve seen you since the funeral, and if I didn’t say it, then I’m really sorry for your loss.” The word vomit made him feel idiotic, and like maybe he had said that all before.

If he had, Shane didn’t mention it. He smiled, but his eyes stayed sad. “Thanks, Tristan.”

“I wish I’d met him.”

“Everyone liked him, so I’m sure you would have too.”

Something in Shane’s tone made Tristan drop the conversation. They were going out to Big Dick’s for Tristan’s birthday. Happy thoughts only. And Shane probably didn’t need the reminder. He lived with the pain every day. For a few hours tonight, he needed to forget.

Forget. Ha ha.

Tristan focused on the nighttime city streets, catching the occasional glimpse of something he knew from before. An exit sign. A restaurant. A busy intersection. His focus slipped, and he glanced at the notebook entry for a reminder.

He’d been twenty when the accident happened, so he’d never been to Big Dick’s before. Rumor was the bouncer was an expert at catching fake IDs, so he and Noel had never bothered trying. And he didn’t feel like flipping back through hundreds of pages of handwritten text to find his answer. “Have I been to Big Dick’s before?” he asked Noel.

“Once,” Noel replied. He squirmed, uncomfortable with the question.

That made Tristan nervous. “What happened?”

“About two months ago, you decided you wanted to go to Big Dick’s on your own, to prove to yourself that you could.”

Tristan dropped his forehead into his palm. He was impulsive on the best of days. His memory problems only exacerbated the stress those impulses put his friends through. “I freaked out, didn’t I?”

“A little bit. You lost your notebook, and you didn’t know anyone. The owner called me, and I drove out to pick you up. Nothing happened to you, Tris.”

I bet I wanted to get laid.

Tristan didn’t need to check his notes to know he hadn’t had sex since before the accident. Three years was a long damned dry spell. Not that he could remember the dry spell, exactly. He sensed the passage of time, of course. He could look at Noel and the ways he’d changed and know it was way past college, only it would take a while to remember exactly how long past.

Somehow he innately knew three years. Déjà vu sense at work?

So yeah, dry spell. Then again, who’d want to have sex with a guy who’d probably forget what they were doing halfway through and freak the hell out on him? No one.


At least I can dance for a while without forgetting. And Noel will be there. I’ll be safe.

Noel was his touchstone. No notebook needed to know that. Or to know his parents weren’t around. Noel had been his one constant through everything. Tristan wouldn’t be able to function without him.

“I must have felt terrible for dragging you all the way to Harrisburg in the middle of the night,” Tristan said. “You don’t live there anymore.”

Noel nodded, his cheeks pinking up like they did when he was remembering something he didn’t like. “You did feel terrible. But I didn’t mind.”

“Yeah, right. You shouldn’t have to babysit me. And I shouldn’t have gone out alone.” Tristan considered flipping back through his notebook to see if that night was in this one. To figure out his mindset. Except he knew what it was, because he felt like that most of the time.

Lonely. Horny. Scared.

Sick and tired of his broken brain. Desperate to be whole again.

All of the above. All the time.

“If I make a scene tonight, I am so sorry ahead of time.”

Noel squeezed his knee. “I called the owners last night. They remembered you and they know we’re coming. Their employees know.”

Humiliation flamed his face. “Shit, Noel, really?”

“I didn’t do it to embarrass you. I did it to keep you safe. It’s actually a good thing, other people knowing about your disability.”

Dark eyes flashed in his mind. They didn’t belong to anyone in particular. He saw them occasionally and for no good reason. Kind, dark eyes. A warm smile.

“Have I made any new friends lately?” Tristan asked.

“Friends? No.” Noel took an exit into another part of the city. “I mean, you’ve been meeting new people when we go out places. You’ve met some people in Stratton.”


Noel parked in a pay-by-the-hour garage instead of on the street. Tristan took another look at his notebook for additional clarification, then used a marker to write Noel, Shane, dancing on the backs of both hands. He’d look kind of silly but it would help.

The late hour didn’t diminish the sweltering August heat, and Tristan worked up a good sweat walking. Shane and Noel both looked crazy sexy in their club clothes, and even sexier walking side by side. He was happy for Noel. Happy his best friend was in love and enjoying himself.

He was also stupidly, insanely jealous.

He stuck close with his stupid, insane jealousy because the streets were teeming with people of all ages, heading into and out of the different restaurants and clubs. They turned down a quieter side street that was more like an alley. Halfway down the block a few guys hung out against a stone wall, most of them smoking cigarettes. An industrial door with no sign or markings was being guarded by a big, burly bear of a man in a black leather vest.

“Hey, Officer Carlson,” the bouncer said. He had a deep voice to match his broad body. “Nice to see you again.”

“Hi, Mr. Henson,” Noel said.

“Bear, son. Everyone calls me Bear.”

“Right. This is my friend Tristan Lavelle.”

“A right pleasure.”

Tristan shook Bear’s hand, surprised by the gentle grip. “Hi.” He glanced at Shane, who didn’t seem at all annoyed at being left out. “Um, that’s Shane. Noel’s boyfriend.”

Bear grinned. “Yeah, I know that one all right.”

“You do?” He reached for a notebook he didn’t have, then looked at Noel for answers.

“Shane dances here once a week,” Noel said. “He got the job through Bear’s son Gabe.”

“Oh.” He didn’t bother asking if he’d already been told that. Probably. Every single piece of information that was mildly important to his life had been repeated to him at least, oh, eighteen times. Minimum.

“Enjoy yourselves, boys,” Bear said. “First drinks are on the house.”

“Thank you,” Tristan replied.

Noel pulled the door, and what had been a distant bass became an impressive thumpa-thumpa in Tristan’s chest. The interior of the club was wide and deep, with a high ceiling decorated in strands of red and blue lights. Strobes and other lighting flashed around the dance floor, which seemed to make up most of the floor space. A small U-shaped bar stood to the right. In the rear were what looked like raised platforms. Two hot guys in red short-shorts were gyrating together on one of them.

This is the kind of dancing Shane does? Shit.

He was probably twenty kinds of hot up there.

Someone jostled past them, reminding Tristan to keep moving forward. Noel was hustling them straight for the bar. Tristan couldn’t drink alcohol because of his antidepressants and anxiety medications, and Noel was driving so the only person able to drink much was Shane.

Lucky bastard.

Not that Tristan was going to mourn his dry night. Men. Everywhere around him, a sea of hot men. All kinds of eye candy. Every age, height, weight, shape and body hair amount. He observed and mentally drooled over the flesh on display. The air smelled of liquor and sweat and sex, and good Lord he was starting to get lightheaded from it all.

Noel nudged them closer to the bar. A middle-aged man with gray hair and a pink sequined vest gave them all a big, toothy smile. “Noel and friends,” he said. “Richard Brightman, pleased to officially meet you, Tristan.”

“Hello,” Tristan said. Officially meet you implied they’d interacted before, but the man’s name meant nothing to him.

“I’m Bear’s husband. We own the place.”

“Oh. It’s a great place. I’m pretty sure this is my first time. I like it.”

Noel flinched.

Okay that was wrong. When was I here before?

“So what are we drinking tonight?” Richard asked. “First round on the house. Samuel Adams for you, Shane?”

“Yeah, thanks,” Shane replied.

Richard knows because Shane works here.

“I’ll have a vodka tonic,” Noel said. “Tris?”

“Virgin margarita,” Tristan said. He loved margaritas, and while a virgin wasn’t as good as one with Patrón, he couldn’t mix with his meds.

“Coming up,” Richard said.

The music changed to a faster, sharper beat. Tristan’s hips rolled in tiny motions, instinct bringing out his love of club dancing. Of getting into it with another dude, all writhing bodies and gyrating hips. Arms and legs. Sweat and heavy breathing.

Wonderful arousal stirred in his gut, heating his blood already. He might not be getting laid tonight, but damn it, he was going to have some fun.

“Hey, you guys made it,” said a sexy, sultry voice.

Tristan glanced over his shoulder to see who the voice had spoken to, only to find himself staring into a pair of kind, dark eyes. Kind, dark eyes belonging to a stunningly handsome face. Black hair. Tan skin. Tall and well-built. A walking wet dream who was smiling like they were old friends.

Holy fucking hell, he’s gorgeous.

“Hey, Gabe,” Shane said.


Those kind, dark eyes never broke from his, and Tristan couldn’t look away. Gabe was a stranger, and yet somehow familiar.

His eyes. The eyes I see. We’ve met.

“We’ve met,” Tristan said before he could think twice.

Gabe’s eyebrows twitched. “Yes, we have. Do you remember that?”

“I remember your eyes.”

“You remember my eyes?” He didn’t sound surprised or weirded out by that. More like pleased that a detail had actually stuck.

It pleased Tristan all over the place. “That’s weird, right? I remember your eyes, but I couldn’t tell you what I had for dinner tonight.”

“I guess I made an impression.”

“It’s easy to see how you might.” Hell yes, Tristan was flirting. Hot guy. Dry spell. He was out to have a good time. “I’m guessing we met here?”

“Yeah, we did.” Gabe glanced at Noel, who apparently knew this story, because he nodded at Gabe. “About two months ago, you came to the club alone.”

Dread crept over him. “How badly did I embarrass myself?”

“Not badly. Once my dad called Noel and he explained everything, it was okay. I’m glad I was here to help.”

He was leaving out a lot of details that Tristan wouldn’t remember in half an hour, and he wasn’t entirely sure he needed to hear them. Possibly for the second, third or tenth time. Instead of pressing the issue, he took a long sip of his margarita, savoring the pop of lime and salt on his tongue. Then he looked Gabe in the eye and asked, “You wanna dance?”

Gabe’s grin was immediate and blinding. “Definitely.”

Tristan chugged the rest of his drink, then plunked the glass down on the bar. He grabbed Gabe’s hand and led the way into the sea of moving bodies. Arms and hips bumped and brushed. Music poured through him, setting the beat as he turned to face Gabe, who was already moving. A white tee clung to what was probably a perfect six-pack. Black jeans hugged his ass and outlined a nice package.

So fucking hot.

And his for now, so Tristan let go of Gabe’s hand, closed his eyes and danced.

Noel Carlson leaned one elbow on the bar top while his free arm snaked around his boyfriend’s waist. He and Shane stood there watching Tristan come to life on the dance floor.

Fun, flirty and impulsive, Tristan had been impossible not to love from their first encounter in college six years ago. Occasionally lovers, always the best of friends, they’d spent the first three years in each other’s pockets. Helping each other study, picking on each other’s choice of dating material, being a shoulder to lean on in the hard times. Noel treasured every memory of that Tristan.

The summer before their senior year, he and Tristan had been walking home from a late movie and were jumped by four drunk assholes. Noel ended up with his chest carved to pieces from a broken whiskey bottle. Tristan had been left with a traumatic brain injury that compromised his short-term memory. Thirty minutes was usually the maximum amount of time before information or a moment between them was lost to him forever.

In the three years since, Tristan had improved in some ways. Shane coined the term déjà vu sense. He innately knew certain things, such as the time period since the bashing, the fact that Noel was a police officer and lived in a different town than him, and that he was in a relationship.

Hearing him say he remembered Gabe’s eyes had been a shock for Noel. The night Noel received a call from Richard, telling him that Tristan had gone to Big Dick’s alone and was freaking out, was burned into his memory forever. The fear over what had happened and the state Tristan would be in. The anger at himself for not thinking to take Tristan out. Horror at hearing Tristan say he wished that he’d been killed by that whiskey bottle.

Noel had heard that tearful remark more than once, and it hurt every single time. He knew Tristan was unhappy living at an assisted living center surrounded by the elderly. He didn’t know how to help him, except for small steps like tonight’s outing.

“He looks so happy,” Shane said.

“I know.”

Tristan was writhing to the beat of the song, occasionally snaking an arm around Gabe’s shoulders or waist. Gabe had a few inches in height and a solid thirty pounds of both weight and muscle. Tristan was five ten, but he was skinny as hell because he accidentally skipped meals frequently enough to piss Noel off. He’d spoken to the staff at Benfield about it more than once, and most recently he’d threatened legal action if they didn’t make sure Tristan was properly taken care of.

Noel had that kind of power, only he’d never told Tristan. Because of Tristan’s mental state, his parents had maintained power of attorney and paid for all of his medical expenses. Last week, a lawyer for Justin Lavelle had couriered over documents giving Noel the power of attorney for Tristan. His parents would continue to pay for his room and expenses at Benfield, but they no longer wanted to be informed about or responsible for his care.

After Noel had spent ten minutes ranting his rage to Shane, he’d signed the papers. At least someone who genuinely loved Tristan was in control of his health and future.

He just hadn’t figured out how to tell Tristan about it. Yet another reason for Tristan to consider himself a huge disappointment to his parents.

Tristan’s dancing faltered. He looked around, a little wide-eyed, then down at his hands. Gabe said something. Tristan smiled, and then everything went on like normal.

Memory slip.

“It’s kind of weird,” Noel said, practically shouting into Shane’s ear to be heard over the din.

“What’s weird?”

“Tristan out there dancing with a porn star.”

Shane choked on his beer hard enough that Noel had to snag a napkin off the bar so he could blow his nose. “Asshole.”

Noel laughed. “I wasn’t trying to kill you, I swear.”

“Yeah, right.” He leaned in, his breath tickling Noel’s ear. “In a few minutes, you’re going to be out there dancing with a porn star too, you know.”

“Former porn star.”


Shane had gone into Internet porn a few months ago as a means to pay off a huge debt he owed for medical expenses, and to take the burden off his ailing brother Jason. The porn had torn at Shane’s soul and nearly kept him and Noel apart. But in the end, the debt was paid and Shane was free of it. He’d even landed the dancing job at Big Dick’s thanks to his association with Gabe on set. The only thing it hadn’t done was save Jason’s life. He’d passed away from a massive heart attack while Noel and Shane were making a birthday cake for Tristan.

Some days were harder than others, but Shane was putting the pieces back together, and Noel would do anything to make it easier on him.

“The word former is very important to the label,” Noel said. “It says that no matter what happened before, now you’re all mine.”

Shane’s soft smile was worth more than a hundred verbal “I love you’s”. “Yeah, I am. Let’s dance, officer.”

Noel finished off his vodka tonic before joining Shane in the throng. He’d seen Shane dance. He wasn’t getting out of this club without a hard-on.

Chapter Three

During the next three hours of ridiculously frenetic dancing, Gabe reminded Tristan of his surroundings four more times. Not bad really, since Noel said the memory usually went after thirty minutes or so. Maybe it was the energy, the dancing, or even Gabe himself. It didn’t matter, because the blond man in his arms was having the time of his life, and Gabe was thrilled to be a part of it.

The first time he saw Tristan huddled on the floor of the break room, red-faced and freaking out, Gabe had wanted to comfort him. To hug him and try to figure out why he was so scared. But Tristan had flinched away from him, like he’d flinched away from his dad, so he’d let him be. It wasn’t until Noel arrived and fully explained the situation that Gabe started getting angry.

Angry that Tristan was living such a difficult life, and that an attempt to go out and find some companionship had ended in fear and tears. His anger had only been compounded by Tristan’s confession, overheard as Gabe was leaving the break room. “Why didn’t they just kill me with that fucking bottle?”

So many things in one sentence. He’d wanted to make it better somehow, even though Tristan wasn’t his to fix.

He never imagined he’d end up dancing with Tristan at Big Dick’s, both of them sweaty and sporting wood. And judging by the hard length currently thrusting against his thigh, Tristan had been blessed in that area. Tristan’s hands were everywhere. Clutching his shoulders, raking down his back, occasionally dipping low enough to squeeze Gabe’s ass. Gabe returned the favor, enjoying his own manual exploration of Tristan’s writhing form. On the thin side of lean, very little muscle definition, but so much control.

Most of the time Tristan danced with his eyes closed, seeming to rely on instinct to keep him from bumping others or stepping on Gabe’s feet. But the moments when he did open his eyes, flashes of bright blue sparkled and showed his utter joy at what they were doing. He was nothing like the scared boy from their first meeting. This Tristan was confident and alive.

And ten kinds of hot.

Don’t go there.

He couldn’t help it. Tristan was exactly his type: blond hair, fair skin, a few inches shorter. Smaller enough in stature that Gabe could really get his arms around him to snuggle after a nice, long fuck. The kind of postcoital time that usually came with relationships, and it had been a long time since he’d tried his hand at that. Not that he was contemplating a relationship with Tristan. He’d known the guy a grand total of four hours, all of which Tristan would forget by morning.

Christ, that must suck so bad for him.

“Hey, stranger!” Marty Gibbons bounced his way past Noel and Shane, grinning to beat the devil. And he’d spoken to Tristan.

Tristan faltered on the beat. “Hi?”

Marty picked up dancing right next to them, as though he’d been invited into their bubble. “I’m so surprised to see you. I figured after last time you’d never set foot in here again.”

“We’ve met?”

“Sure have, but don’t worry. Gabe told me about your memory problem, so I don’t mind that you’ve forgotten me. I’m Marty.” Marty spoke in a flirty way that made Gabe’s skin prickle with irritation. Sure, maybe the pair had been about to get something on before, but tonight Tristan was dancing with Gabe. And even though he liked Marty well enough, Marty was far too self-centered to be good for someone like Tristan.

Tristan needed attention and focus, not a guy whose favorite topic was himself.

“Gabe told you?” Tristan asked.

“Well, you did kind of freak out on me, and he didn’t want me to think you were high or anything. Memory problems suck, yeah?”


“Wanna dance?”

“I’m already dancing. With Gabe.”

Something like pride made Gabe’s chest swell. He liked that Tristan was enjoying their time together.

“You sure?” Marty asked with a jerk of his hips. “We had a pretty good time before.”

“I’ll have to take your word on that,” Tristan replied, with just an ounce of sass.

Gabe stole a glance at Noel, who was watching them intently while his body still moved with the poetry that was Shane dancing. Shane was a natural and he’d been a fantastic addition to their Monday theme nights. He’d gotten a lot of attention all night from regulars who recognized him, but he was staying firmly in his boyfriend’s arms.

That kind of devotion made something deep inside of Gabe ache for a connection to someone.

“Well, if you change your mind,” Marty said, “you come find me.”

“Uh huh.”

Gabe silently cheered when Marty drifted into the crowd. Tristan’s arms snaked around his waist, forcing their chests and groins together. Pleasure tickled its way down his spine at the pressure against his erection. A sliding, grinding pressure that was taking things from nice to wow. The tempo of the music changed from frenetic “must dance” to a sexier “oh yeah” that signaled the start of the last hour of business.

Tristan danced like a man with a very definite plan for how things were going to proceed, and Gabe didn’t know how to throw on the brakes. He didn’t want to, not really. But he also didn’t want to take advantage or put Tristan in a position to freak out again. He’d hated seeing Tristan so upset. Gabe wouldn’t allow himself to be the cause of another episode.

Because, as expected, Tristan’s motions faltered and his expression went distant, confused. He stared at Gabe, then glanced around him until he spotted Noel and Shane. He looked down where their erections were grinding together, and his face flushed.

“Gabe,” Gabe said before Tristan could ask or wonder. “We’ve been dancing for about three hours.”

“No wonder I’m so sweaty.” Tristan relaxed and fell back into the beat. His arms were looser around Gabe’s waist, and that was okay.

“Want something to drink?”

“Yeah, actually. I’m kind of feeling the burn.”

Gabe missed the press of Tristan’s lean body the moment they pulled apart. He kept hold of one of his hands, though, threading them through the throng, over to the bar. Dad already had two bottles of water waiting.

“Thanks,” Tristan said as he accepted one of the bottles. “Do you have an open tab?”

“Yep. Plus that’s my dad, so I get a hefty discount.”

“You don’t get served on the house? That seems like the best perk with a parent that owns a bar.”

Gabe laughed. “No, I insist on paying something. It was a battle, believe me. My other dad hates it but he understands. I like standing on my own two feet.”

Something in Tristan’s eyes shuttered. “Must be nice.”

“Which part?”

“Both. Parents who care about you and being able to stand on your own feet.”

Hell. Way to go, idiot.

“I never came out to my parents before the accident,” Tristan said. “It would have just been another way I disappointed them. After the accident, they obviously found out. Noel says they haven’t visited me once, and I know in my heart that it’s the truth.”

Accident. Getting bashed wasn’t an accident.

A flash of anger at Tristan’s nameless, faceless parents settled in his gut. “I’m sorry.” Trite but Gabe didn’t know what else to say.

Tristan shrugged, then sipped his water. “It bothered me for a long time. I don’t really think it does anymore. Everything from before is so clear in my head, but it also feels distant. It’s weird.”

“I bet it is.” Gabe couldn’t imagine the immense frustration of restarting your life every half hour. Not knowing who you were with, or why you’d walked into a room. It would drive him crazy. “Noel seems like a good friend.”

“He’s the best.” Tristan sought out his friend in the crowd, his smile brightening. “We met our freshmen year in college and we’ve been best friends ever since.” That smile dimmed. “Noel was hurt too that night. He doesn’t like to talk about it so I don’t know what happened to him but he was hurt.”

Gabe glanced out in time to see Shane spin Noel around in a complicated move that had a few folks watching. Curiosity demanded he ask Noel more about the “accident”. His complete enjoyment of this conversation with Tristan kept him still. “I’m sorry that both of you were hurt.”

“Thanks.” Tristan tilted his head in an assessing way. “I don’t think I do this a lot.”

“Do what?”

“Talk about myself with complete strangers.”

“Well, we’re not complete strangers.” He glanced at the clock above the bar. “We’ve known each other at least five hours now.”

Tristan chuckled, a soft, raspy sound that sent tingles down Gabe’s spine. “So I can upgrade you to incomplete stranger?”

This time Gabe laughed. “I don’t mind, if it means we get to keep talking.”

“Definitely. I don’t think I’ve made very many new friends these last few years.”

“Then consider one made.”

“Excellent. As long as you’re not offended when I forget your name in a little while.”

“I haven’t been offended yet.” Gabe leaned in so he didn’t have to speak so loudly. “Anyone who gets offended once it’s been explained to them isn’t worth your time or your friendship.”

Tristan’s broad smile was a thing of beauty. “Thank you. Sometimes I forget the world is bigger than my room at Benfield.”

“The world can be anything you want it to be. You have a limitation, sure, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it hold you back from experiencing things.”

“I know. It’s one of the reasons I’m seeing Noel more. I know I’ve been to see him where he lives. I don’t remember the trips, exactly, just a sense of having been there.”

“That’s definitely a start. So is coming here tonight.”

“Yeah.” Tristan fiddled with the plastic ring around the bottle’s neck. “I wanted to get out and to dance and be normal for a while. I honestly don’t think I expected to make a friend.”

“Well, I’ll tell you a secret. I’m a pretty introverted guy, so making new friends isn’t something I do easily.”

“Really? You seem like the guy who knows everyone and talks to anybody.”

Gabe shrugged. “I can be that guy. I guess growing up with two dads who own a bar helps you get to know people. And people know me by association. Doesn’t mean I’m actually friends with them. Like Marty.”


Shit. “Not important.”

“Please don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

Tristan’s smile was gone, replaced by an intense stare that was almost accusatory. “If I ask a question, please answer it. Don’t treat my memory problem like it doesn’t matter.”

“That’s not—” Except it was what he’d done. “I’m sorry. Marty’s a regular here. He came over while we were dancing a while ago. He’s someone I know, but not someone I’d hang out with or call a friend.”

“Thank you.” His expression smoothed out. “So what do you do when you’re not hanging out here? Are you in college?”

“No, I graduated a few years ago. Communications degree that I’ve yet to use.”

“So what do you do for a job?”

“I’m a waiter. And I have a bartending license so I help out here once in a while when they’re shorthanded. Nothing fancy but it helps pay the bills.” No way on earth was he going to admit to his other job. Gabe wasn’t ashamed of doing porn, but the job wasn’t something for casual conversation.

“Is there something you’d rather do?”

“Sorry to say, no. I got a Communications degree because I could do almost anything with it, maybe go to grad school. I just never found a passion for anything.” Plus his home life was exploding all over the place, and keeping his mother under control had become another full-time job. “What about you?”

“I never graduated.” Tristan tapped his fingers on the bar top. “I was premed because that’s what my parents told me to take. One of their sons would be a doctor no matter what.”

“You have a brother?”

His whole face went blank. “I did. He died when I was thirteen. Alex was my parents’ pride and joy. He was smart, athletic, had scholarships. When he was gone, all of their expectations for him got dumped on me.”

“Man, that fucking sucks. I’m sorry.” Gabe needed to refocus the conversation. “If you’d had a choice for a major, what would you have picked?”

“Animation.” The excitement was back in his voice and his blue eyes. “I loved drawing and Pixar films, and I wanted to get into animation and storytelling. But my dad wouldn’t have ponied up tuition for that, so I did what he wanted. Didn’t get either one of us anywhere.”

“Have you tried taking classes?”

“What’s the point? I’d never remember what the instructor said. I can’t concentrate on anything long enough to complete a project. I’d forget what the hell I was doing or why I had to finish it.”

“Sorry, I didn’t really look at it that way.” Gabe felt like an ass for constantly highlighting Tristan’s limitations. He wanted Tristan to be happy, to find something he enjoyed doing, instead of wasting away his life in an assisted living center.

“I see things differently than most people,” Tristan said. “Don’t worry about it.” He gulped down the rest of his water. “You know what really sucks?”

“Tell me.”

“I’m really enjoying our conversation, and I hate that I won’t remember it.”

“I can write it down and email it to you. What’s your cell number?”

“I don’t have one anymore.”

Gabe blinked. He didn’t know anyone his age without a cell phone. “You don’t?”

“I didn’t need it. I never left Benfield, so Noel always called me directly.”

“Oh.” Duh. “But you have an email address?”

“Sure. I don’t really use it much.”

Gabe tugged his cell out of his pocket and opened up his email. “Give it to me.”

Tristan spelled it out for him.

“Brannon Rules?” Gabe had to know. “Who’s Brannon?”

“Ash Brannon. He’s a Pixar animator. He worked on Toy Story and Toy Story 2. A Bug’s Life. Over the Hedge. It’s silly but I’m a fan, and it’s the only email address I’ve ever had.”

“It’s not silly. Not if it’s something you love.”

“The nice thing is that I know those films by heart, so I can still watch them now and not get lost. It’s only new movies I can’t watch.”

“I’m glad you still have something you can enjoy.”

“Yeah. Except watching them is kind of depressing too, because I get all excited about a career I’ll never have.”

Gabe had probably reached his limit of “I’m sorry’s” for the night, so he held another one back. “You feel like dancing some more?”

“Sure. I need to take a piss first.”

“Bathrooms are in the back. Make sure you use the one on the right.”

Tristan grinned. “The one without the favors, you mean?”

Gabe nearly choked on his water.

“Hey, I’d heard of this place long before the accident. I’m guessing by your reaction that it’s true.”

“Yeah, it’s true.” Gabe couldn’t find much amusement in the fact, since the bathroom with the bowl of condoms and lube sachets was where Tristan had had his meltdown.

“You ever use that one?”

“Hell no. My dads are pretty open-minded guys, but I don’t like the idea of having nearly public sex with them both thirty feet away.”

Tristan laughed, then slipped into the crowd. Gabe watched him thread his way through dozens of dancing bodies, occasionally knocking away a grabby hand that made Gabe want to follow him so he could body-check a few guys. He almost did anyway, just in case the memory switch flipped again. But he’d seen the writing on Tristan’s hands. Hopefully that would be enough.

Gabe, waiter, sometimes bartender, no idea for the future, Gabe, two dads, Gabe, hot as hell, my new friend, don’t forget, waiter, Gabe.

Tristan kept the litany going, desperate for every crumb he had tumbling around in his head. Every small scrap of information from his conversation with Gabe, because it wouldn’t stay. He was having so much fun. He hated that it would end, only to restart and end again, until he eventually went home and it was gone forever.

Except he’s emailing me. I’ll have it to read and reread.

He just had to remember to check his email in the morning. He should have asked Gabe to remind him before they parted ways, or to tell Noel to remind him. He’d do that as soon as he got back from the bathroom.

The door on the left was temping, if only to see the infamous favors for himself. Something kept him away, though. A pang of nerves he couldn’t explain.

The bathroom on the right reeked of familiar things—sweat and musk and urine. Men still made out in the corners and against walls, but the single pairs of feet behind the three stall doors told him that heavier stuff was restricted to one area. He slipped up to a urinal, purposely ignoring the interested looks being tossed his way.

Years ago, the interest would have had him flirting up a storm with anyone who was cute enough for the effort. Tristan loved going out and meeting new people. He never turned down a party invitation, and he’d had a pretty active sex life. Memories he leaned on whenever he wanted to rub one out. One of his favorite fantasies was of the first time Noel fucked him. It had been a little awkward because they were already friends, and transitioning from friends to relationship was weird. But they’d laughed their way through it, they’d both come, and good Lord, Noel had a great dick.

Tristan redirected his thoughts before they made it difficult to piss away whatever he’d drunk tonight. He did his business and washed his hands. On his way out, someone crowded him against the wall and put a hand by his head. The guy was his age but obviously intoxicated, and Tristan had no idea if he knew him or not.

“Hey, hot stuff. Did you ditch the bodyguard?”


The guy got close enough that Tristan could feel his body heat and smell the alcohol on his breath. “Gabe. Finally get tired of him? Need new blood?”

“I’m taking a piss, and then I’m going back to Gabe. Do you mind?”

“Sure do. I saw you first.”

Okaaaaay. “Yeah, well, I have a mind of my own and I can make my own choices.”

“Choices you don’t remember making later. How do you know you really want Gabe?” The dude grabbed Tristan’s dick and squeezed.

Tristan jumped, then gave the guy a hard shove. He stumbled into someone else, who kept him from falling over. “Fuck off, guy.” He slammed through the bathroom door, irritated by the drunk fucknut’s grabby hand. He could take care of himself, but goddamn he hated people who got wasted and groped strangers without permission.

Except I guess I’m not a stranger to him.

Still didn’t give him the right.

He glanced around the crowded dance floor, a little uncertain now that his thoughts were flying on a whirlwind of annoyance.


Right. He’d left him at the bar.

“Hey, you okay?” Gabe appeared beside him, that gorgeous face wrinkled up with a frown.


“You sure? You look mad.”

“Something weird happened in the bathroom.”

“Marty again?”

Marty. A regular. Someone Gabe knew but wasn’t friends with. “Possibly.”

“I saw him go into the bathroom, and you hadn’t come out yet.”

“Then yeah, probably Marty.” Made sense.

“What did he do?”

Tristan shrugged it off because he didn’t need Gabe to defend him. “He got handsy. I took care of it. My brain might be scrambled but I’m not exactly helpless.”

“I never assumed you were.”

“No? You followed me to the bathroom to wait.”

It was hard to tell on his tanned skin, but Tristan was pretty sure Gabe blushed. A silent admission that he’d been checking up on Tristan.

“I don’t need someone to save me, Gabe.” His frustration level rose another degree. “Living like this is fucking hard enough without people treating me like I’m a child.”

“That wasn’t…” Gabe flailed for the words. “I’m sorry.”


“And I don’t think you’re helpless, and you are far from a child. I just…I got a little protective. I like you.”

Some of Tristan’s frustration floated away on a little bubble of genuine surprise. Gabe was protective of him. Gabe liked him.

This is some kind of fantastic dream, and I’ll wake up any second.

“In that case, you’re forgiven,” Tristan said.

“Thank you. Like I said before, I don’t make friends easily. I want to keep the ones I’ve got.”

“Hey, guys,” Noel said. He and—Tristan glanced at the words on his hand—Shane appeared beside them, both sweaty and disheveled. “I hate to say it, but time to call it a night.”

Disappointment curled around Tristan’s heart and squeezed an unhappy pang. “Shit, really?”

“I’m wiped, and this one”—he pointed at Shane—“has to work in the morning.”

“Noel, can you take a picture of us, please? I want to remember this. And Gabe.”

Noel quirked an eyebrow, but he did produce his phone as asked. Tristan looped his arm around Gabe’s waist, enjoying the warm press of his muscular body so close. Gabe did the same, giving Tristan’s hip a gentle squeeze. Tristan didn’t have to force his smile for the photo.

“Hopefully I’ll see you again,” Tristan said.

“Yeah. Look for that email in the morning, okay?”

“Noel, make sure I leave myself a note to check my email in the morning, okay?”

“Okay,” Noel said. To Gabe, he said, “Thanks for making him smile like that.”

Gabe nodded. “It was my pleasure. Take care of him.”

“Always do.”

Tristan reluctantly followed Noel and Shane around the dancing mass, toward the front door. He glanced back once to find Gabe still watching from the rear of the club. He waved. Gabe waved back.
Maintaining his connection to Gabe was important to Tristan for so many reasons. Tonight was the first real step toward normal that he’d made in a long time, and even though his memory issue would never go away, he had new hope that the future would be a little less lonely.