January 6, 2012
Midia correctly answered the Awakenings contest question about which hotel Adam works at with “the Delano.” Congratulations, Midia! You have won a free copy of Awakenings in e-book format. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange delivery of your e-book.
January 6, 2012
OK, a lovely e-book copy of Awakenings (format of your choice) will be awarded to the first person who can tell me……..
…What hotel does Adam work at?
January 6, 2012
***I WILL ASK A QUESTION AT AROUND 9PM PERTAINING TO THE 4 EXCERPTS I’VE POSTED. THE FIRST PERSON TO ANSWER CORRECTLY WILL WIN A FREE E-BOOK COPY OF AWAKENINGS.***
JUNE had been quietly observing her son over the past couple of weeks. She still had to quash her anxiety about Sean’s “disease,” but she found herself relaxing more and more. He was going to counseling, he was taking the medication she had advocated for, and he was a genuine pleasure to be around. She noted how he relished his role as cook and groundskeeper of the house. She also noted how he never once brought up law school, or Lindsey. She had a nagging feeling that he was hiding something, though… she just couldn’t put her finger on it.
ADAM spent the following weeks with his head down, staying as busy as he could so he wouldn’t dwell on his situation with Sean. He tried to focus on the pieces for his upcoming sculpture show and spent a lot of his free time in the metal-sculpture lab at UM, which he had free access to due to his blossoming friendship with some of the art department faculty members. They had encouraged him months before to show his work publicly and had helped him secure the show he was working toward in the spring in New York. They had also been the ones who talked him into trying out posing for the life-drawing classes, saying he would make a perfect subject with his long limbs and pronounced musculature.
These people were intelligent, successful people, not the opportunistic vampire types that he used to hang out with in the South Beach party scene. He had gotten caught up in that scene a few years prior, when he was entangled in a very destructive relationship. The guy he had dated was named Marco, he was Cuban, and he was a drug abuser. He also was a friend abuser, Adam came to find out.
When they met through a mutual friend, Marco had seemed very charming and seductive. He was a very handsome guy: tall, dark-haired, like Adam. In fact they looked very similar; people used to call them “the twins” whenever they went out. He wore a goatee and had his eyebrow pierced. He had dark brown eyes, which at the time Adam found delicious and mysterious. Later, however, he came to see them as cold and calculating and evil. He spoke Spanish, but together they spoke a mixture of Spanish and English—Spanglish—which was pretty common in Miami for second-generation Latinos who grew up in Florida with foreign-born parents. They frequented the many clubs throughout the hot party scene on the beach together, and Adam often found himself up all night and sleeping all day because of all the drugs he was doing with Marco. He also sometimes found himself waking up in beds he wasn’t familiar with, that belonged to some random third party—sometimes male, sometimes female—that Marco had hooked them up with for a tryst without Adam’s full, lucid consent. He realized that drugs were making his decisions for him when he awakened late one night after having passed out on Marco’s living room couch, only to find Marco in bed with not one, but two other guys in a wild three-way. He left the house when Marco insinuated he should join them, like that had been the original plan all along, had Adam not been such a lightweight and passed out. However, it wasn’t long before Marco wormed his way back into his life again.
Soon after that happened, he also discovered Marco was stealing money from him. Adam’s father had passed away during this period, and Adam, who was lost in grief over his father’s death, didn’t notice at first that Marco had gained access to his bank account. Apparently Marco thought since Adam was now relatively wealthy he should be footing the bill for all their partying and proceeded to pilfer several thousand dollars from Adam, which was promptly blown on cocaine, Ecstasy, alcohol, and expensive clothes. Upon this discovery, Adam realized he’d had it with Marco and his conniving selfishness, and he left him—and the party scene—for good.
It took Adam a couple of months to detox and get over the initial sharp pain of the experience. After he got his wits about him again, he made sure he was disease-free. He had remembered both a guy and a girl from their crowd who had contracted HIV. And there was no telling who Marco had been with half the time. He got a clean bill of health and counted himself lucky to have escaped that whole situation relatively unscathed. It left him with a healthy cautiousness, though, regarding unprotected sex. He knew it wasn’t a harmless activity, especially in Miami.
It was Marco, though, who had helped him get the job at the Rose Bar at the Delano. Marco had a high-profile reputation on the beach as a big spender and a party animal and knew the manager of the hotel well. Adam considered quitting the job when he left Marco, but kept the position, partly out of spite and partly because he really liked the vibe of the bar. It wasn’t an all-night disco, at least, and the hotel was posh; he made good money there and they liked him, so he decided to stay on. He knew Marco would never come in there, anyway; it was too mellow for his tastes.
So, because of the mess he had found himself in with Marco, he reasoned that hanging out with people at the university was a more stable choice than hooking up with unreliable types from the South Beach party scene. It meant a much quieter life, but that was perfectly okay with him. He was determined to live his life as cleanly and as productively as he could now. The only thing that had been missing was someone reliable to share it with.
And then he had met Sean, who seemed to be everything he was looking for and everything he felt like he needed: someone kind and sensitive, who wasn’t a moocher but wanted to be a professional person in his own right, who had artistic interests, and who was incredibly and naturally sensual, despite being an ingénue. He ached over the situation now, with Sean back in Charlotte and being held pretty much against his will by his parents—which to him was baffling. How could a grown man fall prey to such a situation? He reasoned that Sean’s family must have a tight grip on him emotionally for him to even tolerate such crude insensitivity. He also realized that Sean’s family probably wouldn’t be as accepting of him, either—not like his own parents had been toward him. He knew he had to trust Sean to navigate that terrain, as he obviously knew it better than Adam did. It required patience from him, though, and that wasn’t easy to come by. He had to keep busy so he wouldn’t wallow in his thoughts and his anxiety about it.
One evening, while he was in the metal-sculpture lab at UM working out the details of one of his show pieces, his friend Angie, who was also a sculptor, mentioned that he seemed a little distant lately. She asked if he was okay. He acknowledged that he was lost in his thoughts, and then decided to confide in her as to why. She seemed sympathetic to him and wished him well with Sean; she said she hoped to meet him someday. Adam said, wistfully, that he hoped for the same.
IN THE meantime, Marisol could tell Adam was becoming a little depressed, even a little resentful, even though—and perhaps because—he was keeping himself so busy. He would talk about the situation with her, and she knew all the details, but she figured the inability to control the situation was really eating at her son. She knew him better than anyone else.
She confronted Adam. “Mijo, listen to me,” she began. “I see you moping around here, with your eyes all dark and serious, and then keeping yourself so busy you don’t allow yourself time to even think about him. You could be happy and relaxed right now, but you choose to be miserable.”
Adam shook his head. “It’s not that easy.”
“Of course it is easy. Choosing is easy.”
“No, Mom, it’s not. You don’t understand. Sean—he’s special. I feel like he was… like he was gifted to me, you know? I feel like I created this mess—like I created this part of him, like some kind of Frankenstein, I guess—and now I should protect him, or help him, and I can’t. I can’t do anything to help him.”
“Don’t you think he can take care of himself? You don’t think he made his own choices too?”
“Yeah, Mom, I think he made his own choice. But he wouldn’t have even thought about it, wouldn’t have even considered it, if I hadn’t thought, from the moment he walked in that room that night, that he was there for me. I made the moves on him, I initiated it. And now he might be in a shitload of trouble because of it. I feel responsible. And on top of all that, I can’t shake the feeling… the fear that it’s all bullshit, anyway—that he’s just stringing me along. That he’ll never come back. That he’ll never come clean about it to his family or to his girlfriend… that I’ll just be his dirty little secret. That I justimagined everything.” He cradled his head in his hands.
Adam looked up, confused. “What?”
“You are loco, mijo. You might be right, he might have been your gift, but he had all the freedom in the world to choose or to not choose you back. You didn’t force him into anything. You are not responsible for that. You have to let that go. He will be okay. He will find a way back. And you know what? If he doesn’t, then you have to accept that your gift was a momentary gift, not a permanent one. He might have a big lesson for you, mijo. And I think you know what I think it is….”
Adam peered at his mother petulantly.
“Let go… and trust.”
THE Sunday evening before the last week of Sean’s counseling, Sean made a beautiful pot roast dinner with carrots, potatoes, green beans, and fresh french bread. He paired it with a smooth Cabernet Sauvignon and had a tangy, hard cheese and grapes to nibble on for dessert. After he cleaned up, he announced he was heading for his room.
As his father reclined in his La-Z-Boy, watching a news magazine show, June slipped into the master suite to change clothes. She walked into her huge walk-in closet and located the personal belongings they had confiscated from Sean: his computer and his phone. She eyed them cautiously before crouching down to open them and power them on.
SEAN locked the door to his room and sat on the edge of the bed, looking at himself in the mirror above the dresser. He missed Adam. He could feel a distance growing between them and he didn’t like it. He really needed to decide how he was going to handle the next few days of his life and how he could possibly transition to a life with Adam. He knew it was completely over with Lindsey; after she revealed her true self by calling his parents over for an “intervention” to keep him in law school—which would also keep her on the track to being a self-serving lawyer’s wife—breaking up with her would be easy. He would go home this weekend, sit down with her, and explain that he was no longer in love with her, that he would never marry her, and maybe, just for another dig at her, he’d tell her he had been fucking Shannon from the gym after all, just to seal the deal. He would let her live in the house because, well, he wasn’t planning on staying there anyway. He could pack up all of his stuff within a week, get a moving van, and… just drive south to Miami? That’s where things got dicey in his mind. He had no idea how to get past that point smoothly. Maybe there was no smooth way to do it… maybe it was just going to have to be a bumpy ride and he should just accept it, hold on tight, and get it over with?
In the meantime, he knew one thing: Adam soothed him. Even just thinking about him, conjuring up his scent, picturing his cool green eyes, imagining how his full lips felt on his lips, his skin, his cock… his mind always turned that direction when he thought about Adam. He was the most amazing lover Sean had ever had, hands down. And he knew it wasn’t just because it was a new experience, his first time with a man; it was because Adam was so attentive, sensual, and skilled in every way. Gender, or the idea of being attracted to one gender while shunning the other, was becoming a blurred image from the past; like Adam, the soul meant so much more to him now.
He sighed deeply as he felt himself grow hard. He lay back on the bed and shimmied off his pants. He grabbed himself with both hands and just held himself in his own grip for a moment, his eyes closed, picturing Adam naked and smiling his sly half smile. He remembered how he had so deftly fucked Adam in the shower and how Adam had enjoyed it so much. That was their last time together before he left. He began stroking himself slowly as he allowed his mind to remember every detail, every sensation, every smell, every taste….
January 6, 2012
Adam sensed the move was his. He slowly leaned into Sean and pressed him against the seawall. He came into Sean’s personal space, breathing deeply through his nose, and straddled himself over Sean’s upper thigh. He parted his lips and looked down at Sean’s mouth. Sean licked his lips nervously and steadied himself with his hands behind his hips against the seawall.
Adam leaned in close enough to brush his lips against Sean’s gently once, then again, and then once again with his mouth slightly open, giving Sean the tiniest flick of his tongue against his upper lip. Adam’s hand came up to Sean’s face and cupped his jaw as he leaned in for a deeper, open-mouthed kiss. Sean felt himself grow hard. His head was reeling as he kissed Adam, his heart pounding in his chest. He felt Adam’s cock press against him through his pants and opened his mouth in a gasp, allowing a small, low moan to escape. Adam maneuvered his fingertips down the top of Sean’s jeans to find his swollen tip, freeing it from the denim. Sean moaned in pleasure, and the two writhed against each other in the darkness as the ocean purred in the background. As they kissed, Adam caressed and stroked Sean; Sean felt Adam thrusting slightly against his body. Without hesitating, Sean unbuttoned Adam’s black pants and grabbed him in his hand as if it was himself. He instinctively knew exactly what to do. Adam’s mouth opened wide in a soft moan as Sean began to stroke him with his hand, his other hand now behind Adam’s neck.
Both men were now thrusting eagerly into one another’s hands, moaning and hungrily sucking each other’s tongue and lips. Sean marveled at Adam’s technique, how he seemed to know the perfect grip and the perfect pace. Their lengths touched, and Adam pulled them both together in one tight grip with both of his hands. Both of them were dribbling wetness in their excitement; this provided a perfect slippery lubricant for Adam’s hands. This titillated Sean immensely, and he felt like he was about to explode.
“Oh my God,” he said, and Adam knew what was about to happen.
Adam pulled back from their intense kiss and looked down at their throbbing cocks in his hands to watch. He switched his rhythm on Sean’s cock to his right hand while he continued pleasuring himself with his left. Sean’s head tilted back, and he grabbed Adam gently by his hair with both hands as he spilled onto Adam’s hand over and over and over. As he watched Sean climax, Adam exploded over the sand with a loud groan.
Both men moaned as they finished, stroking themselves softly as they began to wither. Adam exhaled and began buttoning his pants. Sean was pleasantly dumbfounded. He felt as if he were floating above the beach watching the two of them in some kind of ecstatic out-of-body experience. Adam smiled and leaned in for one last hungry kiss; his eyes were half-lidded like a proud, satiated panther that had just finished off a graceful gazelle. Sean eagerly accepted it and returned it in kind. He felt a little dizzy and disoriented and wasn’t sure what to make of what had just happened, but he knew one thing for sure: he liked it and he wanted more.
Adam licked his lips and said, “Thank you for that. I, mmm…. I want to see you again. Come see me tomorrow, it’s my day off.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a card and placed it in the front pocket of Sean’s jeans as he buttoned them up.
Sean, suddenly remembering his situation with Lindsey, felt himself jerk back to his uncomfortable reality. The happy buzz was gone. “Um, yeah. Yeah, okay. I’ll try.”
He realized his hotel room was beachside, behind and above them. He got a little paranoid and gathered himself quickly. He imagined Lindsey awakening, wondering where he was and perhaps looking out of the balcony at the ocean under the moon, only to see him down below near the waves with Adam. He shivered at the thought.
“I should go,” Sean said quickly, guilt beginning to overwhelm him, and he turned back toward the hotel.
Adam quietly followed, sensing a strange shift in Sean’s behavior but figuring it was just his buzz wearing off. It was pretty late, after all, and Adam was tired as well, especially after that amazing release. They picked up their shoes and continued toward the pool area barefooted, carrying their shoes in their hands. Sean nervously brushed the sand off his clothes.
They paused as they reentered the hotel property, neither one sure what to do next.
Sean gestured toward the hotel entrance and smiled uneasily. “Well, I think I need to go up to bed.”
Adam nodded, a little uncertain why Sean didn’t invite him up to his room but willing to give Sean the room he needed. He smiled and said, “Yeah, me too. I’d love to hear from you tomorrow. I put my number in your pocket.”
Sean patted his pocket and smiled. “Yeah, thanks. I’ll definitely talk to you tomorrow.”
“Good,” Adam said with a smile.
Sean didn’t know how to act. He felt like people were staring at them, even though they weren’t. He felt exposed and nervous. His fear and guilt were creeping back in and attempting to overtake the newfound ecstasy he felt just a short while earlier.
Should I hug Adam? Kiss him? God, I want to. No, I can’t do that here. I hate to just leave, though. But I can’t risk anything. I will not just shake his hand, that would be weird, Sean thought. So he just smiled and waved good-bye, like he was saying good-bye to a casual friend.
Adam wasn’t a big fan of public displays of affection, so he wasn’t offended. He smiled slyly at him and tipped his head slightly in Sean’s direction, which made Sean blush a little.
As the two parted, Sean’s heart was racing. Adam looked over his shoulder to watch Sean pass through the hotel doors and smiled. Sean turned around and admired him with a slight pang in his heart. He wasn’t sure what this meant, but he knew he had at least found a kindred spirit in Adam, even if he wasn’t the man from his dream. He knew he’d have to find a way to see him the next day.
As he turned to go toward the elevators, he saw Adam look up at the night sky and smile; then the dark, beautiful creature turned and drifted away into the starry tropical night.
IN THE elevator, Sean felt in his pocket for Adam’s card and drew it out to see what was on it. It was a business card of sorts, with Adam’s name printed in an interesting script on the front: Adam Agostini Lucia.
On the back, his address, phone number, and e-mail address were listed. He lived in South Beach, on the corner of Ninth and West. He tried to imagine how his place looked.
The elevator dinged and opened its doors on Sean’s floor. Sean made his way back to his hotel room. Lindsey was thankfully still passed out cold and snoring softly. Sean crawled into bed and tried to sleep. His feelings and thoughts made his head spin.
Oh thank God she didn’t wake up. What in the hell just happened? What does this mean? What does this make me now? God, that was so intense—and awesome, he thought, a smile creeping across his face in the dark. There would be no answers tonight. He knew he had to find a way to see Adam again, if only to see if this was something real or if it was just a drunken experiment—one of those weird one-night stands. But if it was real, what could it become? Some kind of long-distance situation? It was probably hopeless. He should probably just chalk it up to a really cool life experience. But he couldn’t stop thinking about Adam. And then, looking at Lindsey lying next to him, he felt a little guilty too. She should never find out about this…. Confused, he tried to put it out of his mind and catch a few hours of much-needed sleep.
The sun came up too soon. Lindsey never noticed he’d been gone.
January 6, 2012
SOON Adam’s shift was over. Sean, still a little buzzed but functional, followed Adam through the lobby of the hotel and out of the door that led to the pool and the beach, carrying a to-go cup of water with him.
The hotel grounds were amazing. The sprawling lawn, which the Delano formally called the “Orchard,” was ornately lit up and decorated as a tropical, Alice in Wonderland fairy tale, with odd tables here and there surrounded by mismatched chairs and laden with dripping candelabras and odd lamps, a giant chessboard, and an oversized bed in the middle of the perfectly manicured grass. The sound of rustling palm branches murmured overhead and the pool twinkled in the distance. There were people milling about, drinking exotic-looking cocktails and martinis. The warm night air was thick with the salty scent of the ocean and carried the unmistakable aroma of Cuban cigars on the breeze. People giggled and chatted by the pool, some sitting on half-submerged chairs in the shallow end of the sloping, beach entry-style pool with their feet dangling in the shimmering water. On the distant horizon, heat lightning flashed like a disco strobe light, just like Adam promised. It was an outdoor party and everyone was invited.
A group of gorgeous, bikinied ladies in a pool-side cabana caught sight of Adam and Sean as they strolled by and purred a collective, “Ooooh, look at that!” toward the two hunky men. Sean felt a blush of embarrassment, but Adam, in his calm self-awareness, turned toward the ladies in the cabana and gave them a smooth half smile and cocked his eyebrows in their direction in mutual appreciation.
Sean smiled at Adam’s confidence, admiring him. Here was a guy completely sure of himself, completely comfortable in his own skin. Sean was always much more modest than that. And yet, Adam wasn’t cocky at all. He was a perfectly balanced creature, it seemed: half masculine, half feminine qualities, and immensely appealing to all who came in contact with him, apparently.
Sean felt himself letting go. It was an exhilarating feeling. He wanted more. In fact, he never wanted to stop feeling this way. He followed Adam to a set of beach chaises.
Adam said, while removing his shoes, “Let’s leave these here.” The sand felt remarkably soft under Sean’s feet, and he allowed his toes to dig into the sand as he walked. The moon sparkled on the ocean in a white, reflective pool. “So what do you think?” Adam said curiously.
“It’s amazing,” replied Sean. “I never want to leave. I love the ocean. I’ve been landlocked, in every way possible, it seems, for way too long….”
The soft ocean breeze whipped Adam’s hair, and Sean could smell his scent as their steps in the uneven sand brought them closer together. It was an alluring, sweet, woodsy smell, like sandalwood or amber.
Suddenly something in the scent jolted Sean’s memory. He remembered his recurring dream about the glowing angel guiding him to a safe escape behind the musky, glowing wooden doorway. He gasped a little and turned to look at Adam’s face, trying through the darkness to recognize his features from the dream. There was a resemblance, but Sean wasn’t sure it was, or could be, the same man. Not that he believed in fairy tales or anything, but still. It was just too strange a feeling, too strange a coincidence. Adam didn’t notice Sean’s discerning gaze in the dark.
“You should live here, then,” replied Adam, looking ahead of them down the beach, “Seriously. I mean, if you’re so unhappy where you are. Why stay unhappy?”
Sean reflected on his words for a moment and said, “You know, I would give almost anything to be able to do that—move here and start over.”
Adam smiled and looked down at his feet and then out to the horizon over the ocean. “You only live once. Why wait? I don’t believe in regrets. You should go for it.”
It’s got to be him, Sean thought, slightly bewildered. His heart swelled with this new awareness. It feels the same. But what can that mean?
Heat lightning exploded in a spider-web pattern across the far horizon.
AS THEY passed around a seawall they realized they were alone together in the darkness, shrouded by the high wall. They stopped walking, and Adam turned to face Sean; Sean leaned his back against the seawall and turned his head to face the moon. A current of chemistry was building between them; Sean’s heart pounded with nervous anticipation.
Adam took a small step toward Sean and stopped.
They stood silently together for just a moment, Sean looking out over the ocean and the night sky and Adam looking intently at Sean. Adam was a few years older and just an inch or two taller than Sean, but barefoot in the sand, they seemed equally matched.
“I, ah,” Adam began, and he briefly looked out to the ocean to gather his thoughts for a moment before turning back to Sean. “I… like you, Sean Morgan. You seem really frustrated, though, and I hate to see that. I hope you can get to a place where you’re on better footing. It’s just a shame to see such a promising guy feeling so lost in the world.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s true,” Sean said as he turned back to face Adam. He was a little startled by the intensity in Adam’s face. Sean wasn’t afraid of him, he was just surprised. Adam looked seriously hot.
I promised myself I would go with the flow….
“You know,” Sean continued, “I know, I, ah, just met you and all, but… there’s something intriguing and, if you don’t mind me saying so, very magnetic about you. I’ve never, um, well, it’s a little weird for me to say this, but… you make me feel like there’s hope for me, you know?”
Adam smiled in return. “Of course there’s hope for you. Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be or what you should do with your life—no one. That includes me, of course,” he said, chuckling.
Normally Sean would have felt uncomfortable with the closeness between them and would have shifted his weight or stepped away from Adam, signaling his spatial boundary. But he stayed put and just gazed at Adam. He knew this was a silent invitation for something heavier, and he kind of liked it, although he was extremely nervous as well. His heart pounded faster and he held his breath as he waited for Adam to move in. He had no idea what to expect; he had never been like this with a guy before. He was resolved to see where it would lead.
January 6, 2012
Can Sean’s connection with Adam convince him to leave behind his life of pretense? Awakenings by Tara Larson, available from Dreamspinner Press.
Sean Morgan is wealthy, good-looking, and smart, so the world should be his oyster, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Sean’s the one stuck in the tiny shell his rich, conservative family forced him into. He’d love to break away from law school—and his girlfriend—to pursue life as a maybe-gay photographer, but he doesn’t have the guts… until he meets sexy bartender-slash-artist Adam while on vacation with Lindsey.
His connection with Adam convinces Sean he needs to live a more authentic life, but how does his heart’s desire measure up against his family’s expectations? It isn’t in Sean to rock the boat, but Adam isn’t going to wait around forever. If Sean doesn’t stand up for who he is and what he wants, he’ll miss out on what could be his only shot at a happy ending.
January 6, 2012
Hi everyone! Today my first book is being released by Dreamspinner Press. I will be posting excerpts throughout the day and will be giving away copies of the book to some lucky readers out there. I hope you will like it.
Excerpt #1 from Awakenings, by Tara Larson
WHEN Sean walked out of the elevator, he found himself in the bustling,
high-ceilinged lobby that looked like it was ripped right from the pages
of a high-fashion magazine. He remembered seeing a bar when they
checked in and went in search of it. When he found the swanky Cuban-style
lounge, the music was thumping so loud he couldn’t hear himself
think. People were everywhere, and he didn’t think he’d be able to make
it through the crowd up to the bar, much less order a drink. He felt
uncomfortable being there alone, so he turned around and left.
At the other end of the lobby was another bar. The sign above the
doors read “The Rose Bar.” A much milder atmosphere oozed from this
room into the lobby, so he walked in the direction of the soft pink light.
As he entered he instantly felt soothed. The entire room was drenched in
dark-red upholstery, and the lighting was a muted, golden-rose color. A
soft, ambient groove poured into the room from hidden speakers.
He exhaled. Finally, someplace to chill.
In the corner booth, a couple whispered intimately to one another.
Sean started toward the large, espresso-colored, leather-upholstered bar
that had several soft pink miniature chandelier pendants hanging
strategically along the length of it. The bartender looked up at him as he
entered the room, and their eyes met. Time slowed to a crawl as Sean
took in what he saw: a strikingly handsome and exotic-looking man, only
slightly older than him, tall and fit, very tanned skin, with dark, tousled
but cropped hair and sea glass green eyes. He had a chiseled jaw line and
a devilish patch of dark hair that reached from just under his full bottom
lip to his chin. He wore a glossy black button-down shirt that was
unbuttoned just enough to reveal his well-developed chest. He wore two
necklaces that had small silver medallions hanging from them, dangling
on his sternum. Both his ears were pierced, and he wore a small silver
hoop earring in each ear. He’d been cleaning a glass with a rose-colored
cloth and stood frozen in place like a Roman statue, staring back at Sean.
Sean had sometimes found other men attractive, but he usually kept
those thoughts to himself. To him it was completely natural to find
another person—male or female—good-looking or attractive. But the
family environment he had grown up in, and the social environment he
was currently living in, in deep-South Charlotte, strongly discouraged
any open displays of appreciation of the same sex, especially a man for
another man. He’d never acted on any previous attractions before, of
course. He wouldn’t even know where to start. His only experience in
courting the affections of another was with women. But this man, he
thought, was a seriously handsome, even sexy, guy. He wondered how he
could talk to him, maybe get to know him a little, without embarrassing
himself, of course. There was just something about him that seemed
intriguing. Little did Sean know that the bartender was also thinking the
same thing about him.
Sean’s appearance often turned heads, though he was rarely aware
of it. He had a casual, down-to-earth style that most people found
irresistibly disarming. A stud in soft jeans and flip-flops, by all accounts,
he was a knockout.
When Sean arrived at the bar, he chose a seat near the far end,
adjacent to the handsome bartender. The bartender greeted him in a
deeply masculine, yet soothing, voice, with just a slight hint of a Latin
accent. His eyes studied Sean carefully as he sat almost immediately in
front of him. He greeted him formally, but seemed to be speaking the
words out of habit while his mind was busy trying to comprehend this
new stranger at his bar on a deeper level.
“Hi. I’m Adam. What can I get for you tonight? Are you waiting
for someone to join you?”
Sean responded a little embarrassingly, “Oh—no, I’m not. I’m by
Adam smiled a little, but played it cool. “Okay. How about a beer,
then? We have several on tap and a huge selection of bottles in the
cooler.” Adam gestured toward the beer taps.
“No, I’m not in the mood for a beer,” Sean said. “What else do you
have that’s good? I’m in the mood for something… I don’t know,
different.” As the word slid off his tongue he shifted his gaze to Adam,
only to find him staring at him curiously, with his lips slightly parted and
his glass polishing completely stopped mid-polish. Sean felt a little
anxious, a little excited, and a little daring.
Whoa. What is this? Sean thought. Is he giving me a vibe? He
looked around the room, trying to defuse the suddenly hot feeling in his
There was an electric current of chemistry in the air between the
two men. Adam was curious about this intriguing guy at his bar. He
decided to break the ice. “What’s your name?” Adam asked.
Sean’s gray eyes came back around to Adam, who was still
watching him intently. A little uneasily, he said, “Ah, I’m Sean. Sean
Adam paused and narrowed his eyes, as if sizing him up. “I think I
know what you need, Sean Morgan,” he said, turning back toward the
mirrored wall of bottles.
“Oh yeah?” Sean said, curiously and somewhat disbelievingly.
“Please tell me it’s not Captain Morgan’s.”
Adam replied with a chuckle, “Ha ha, no, don’t worry. I know
people, it’s my job. You seem tense, like you need to relax, loosen up. I
know the perfect drink for you.”
“What’s it called?” Sean said, interested.
“A ‘caipirinha’—it’s Brazilian. It’s kind of like a margarita, but
better. You’ll see.” Adam began cutting and squeezing limes into a tall,
frosted glass. He moved quickly, professionally.
Sean was thinking that Adam had an exotic look to him and
remembered hearing a slight accent. Sean asked, “How do you say that
drink again? Are you from Brazil?”
Without looking up from his work, Adam said, chuckling, “Me?
No, I’m not Brazilian. I’m Puerto Rican. Well, half-Puerto Rican,
actually. My father was full-blooded Corsican. And the drink is called
‘kai-peer-een-ya’.” He looked up and enunciated the word slowly for
Sean, his full lips expertly forming around the strange word.
Sean’s eyebrows rose up, and Adam continued explaining while he
prepared the cocktail. He had become accustomed to curiosity about his
unusual lineage and had a rehearsed elevator speech about it. “I’ll tell
you the story if you’d like to hear…”
January 4, 2012
Will Scott’s secretiveness spell the end of his relationship with Brad? Blue Moon by Rowena Sudbury, available from Dreamspinner Press.
Daredevil wrestler Brad Fraser throws his body around the ring to the cheers of the crowd, but when the lights go dark, he throws it from bed to bed to alleviate the boredom of travel. It all comes crashing down one night at the hands of the resident bad guy, but Brad finds himself rescued by the cool, suave Scott O’Doul, and the two men make a pact based on the illusion of control.
Though their relationship begins as an arrangement of pleasure rather than commitment, over the course of a year on and off the road, Brad finds himself trusting Scott more and more. But Scott plays things close to the chest, and Brad isn’t sure where he stands—until the night Scott nearly pushes him too far.
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January 4, 2012
Will Jesse and Lau survive the attempt to destroy their love—and their lives? Fire Play by Dany Sirene, available from Dreamspinner Press.
Fire demiurge Lau had it made until the Mother Goddess banished him for his cruel treatment of humans. Now he’s stuck in a mortal life, trying to cope without his powers—mainly by partying hard and seducing anything with a heartbeat.
Then he meets Jesse Warner.
College student Jesse is new to Montreal. Out from under his parents’ thumbs for the first time, he can’t wait to begin to discover who he really is. He has no idea what’s really at stake when he falls in love with the former demiurge… until a powerful being with a grudge shows up, ready to destroy them both.
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January 4, 2012
Feeling Neighborly by Ellis Carrington
Teagan Matthews is thrilled to discover his new townhouse comes complete with a sexy new neighbor, but plans go south when Teagan realizes that Matt has a child. While that’s normally a dealbreaker for Teagan, his conviction wavers when he and Matt have a run-in that turns hot and steamy. After a sweaty one-night stand, Teagan and Matt agree to be just friends…with benefits. Over time, hanging out turns into occasional dinners that kind of seem like dates, and soon friends-with-benefits is starting to feel an awful lot like… a relationship.
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Length: Short story