Sunday, September 2, 2018

Week at a Glance: 8/27/18 - 9/2/18

Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: Iron Eagle Gym by Sean Michael Part 2

The Closet Boy #4
Way’ra Bernard is only twenty years old when his parents kick him out of the house. He has been brought up to believe being gay is wrong and he is going to go to hell for it. He tried very hard not to be gay but couldn’t change the way he felt. Now he’s living furtively in a closet on the third floor of the place he’s working as a janitor—the Iron Eagle Gym.

Neal McPherson is an unattached Dom in his midtwenties and a member of the gym. One evening after working out, he notices Way’ra on the stairs, and he’s immediately attracted and intrigued, so he asks Way’ra out. Unable to come up with a reason to refuse, and also interested in Neal, Way’ra accepts.

There are a lot of obstacles to the relationship they attempt to build after their date, not least of which is Way’ra’s upbringing and his lingering doubts about the kinky sex Neal enjoys. But with patience and persistence, Neal might convince Way’ra not only to accept himself, but to loosen his inhibitions enough to explore and find a happy ending together.

The Dom's Way #5
Neal and Way from The Closet Boy are back, only now they’re Dom and sub, and exploring their relationship through the lifestyle. Way is eager to learn everything, and more in love with his master every day. For his part, Neal can’t believe how lucky he is to have found such an innocent but sensual boy.

As they learn what works best for them both, Way has trouble obeying some of the rules Neal imposes. Like the no touching himself rule. Neal wants Way to learn control, but Way, after so long holding back, has trouble not indulging. The two men must work together to find the balance that brings them each the most satisfaction and happiness.

The Closet Boy #4
Chapter One
GOD, HE was tired.

Way’ra finished his shift with the broom and waved to Dalton, the nice night manager sitting at the counter at the front of the Iron Eagle Gym. “Bye, man. I’m going to check the bathrooms, and then I’ll be out of your hair.”

“Have a good night, Way. Don’t party too hard.”

Right. Because he remembered parties. The last four months had been the longest of his young life. He’d been outed, thrown out of his conservative religious college and out of his house without anything more than the clothes on his back and his wallet.

No phone. No laptop. No cash. No shoes. He’d managed to pull two hundred dollars from the ATM before his dad froze the account.

Still, he’d done it, hadn’t he? He had a job cleaning here at the Eagle, and in a month he’d have enough saved to rent a room. All he had to do was wait it out.

Well, wait it out and pray that no one noticed that someone was sleeping in one of the third-floor broom closets. So far he’d been doing it for a few months and no one was the wiser. He’d tried staying in the park, but between the snow and the cold, it had been so nasty. He’d been hoping spring would be different, but there’d been so much rain. He only had the one pair of jeans; he couldn’t show up to work with them wet.

When he’d discovered the tiny broom closet with a layer of dust on the floor, it had felt like magic, like it was meant to be. He wasn’t hurting anything. No one was staying there, and he was super careful to sneak out before one of the day managers saw him in the morning, grab his one meal of coffee and a doughnut, and hang out for a couple of hours before he showed back up to work.

He was headed up the back stairs, quiet as a mouse, when a gorgeous stud suddenly appeared at his side. The guy was tall, close to a foot bigger than him, and with the best muscles. He was wearing a pair of sweats and a T-shirt, gym bag slung over one shoulder.

“Headed up too?” Even the guy’s voice was studly—deep and growly.

“Uh. Uh-huh. Just checking supplies.” He kept his head down, his gaze forward. This man was twice his size, easily, and he wasn’t interested in a confrontation.

“Oh right, you work here. I thought I recognized you. Do you like it?” The guy was taking the stairs two at a time, but doing it slowly enough that they stayed level.

“Yes, sir. It’s a good job.” No one asked questions. No one bothered him. No one noticed him. He didn’t exist, and that was just like he wanted it.

“Good, good. This is a good place. It’s nice to know everyone is family.” It looked like this guy was going all the way up, just like he was.

“Yes, sir.” Dammit. He needed to slip into his closet. He had a dog-eared paperback he’d found in the lost-and-found and a cold Coke.

“Do you work out here too?”

God, this guy was Chatty McChatterson.

“No, sir.” Did he look like he worked out? Ever?

“You look like you could use a few sessions. Oh fuck, that was rude, I’m sorry.”

“No worries. I’ll mop harder tomorrow. Have a good evening.” Go away.

The guy gave him a sharp look. “I didn’t say I thought you were doing a bad job.”

“Yes, sir. I’m sorry. I left my… cleanser. I mean, my pad downstairs. Excuse me.”

The guy stopped and put a hand on his arm. “I’ve upset you now. I didn’t mean to. How about I buy you a cup of coffee by way of an apology?”

“Me? I’m the janitor. You don’t have to apologize.”

“I don’t believe in classes. In fact, without you, my enjoyment here at the gym would be so much less.”

The words were dear and made his cheeks heat. “Thank you. I appreciate it. Honestly.”

“Then let me buy you a coffee. There’s a shop around the corner that’s still open. You’ll be saving me from a lonely evening too.” The guy took his bag off his shoulder. “I’m stuck here for the night. They found asbestos in our building, and we’ve all been kicked out.”

“Oh no. I’m so sorry. Someone’s letting you spend the night here? That’s very cool.”

“That’s what the bunks upstairs are for. Anyone who needs the space.” The guy shouldered his bag again. “You wanna meet down at the main doors in, say, a half hour? Does that work for you?”

“I suppose so. Yes. Thank you.” He could use a cup of coffee, one with lots of sugar and cream.

The guy looked pleased. “Perfect.” Then he held out his hand. “I’m Neal.”

“I’m Way’ra.”


“Yes. It’s tribal. Just call me Way.”

Neal shouldered open the door from the hall and leaned against it. “I like it. What does it mean?”

“A gust of wind.”

Neal looked him over and grinned. “You look like a good gust of wind would knock you right over.”

“You’re not the first person to say that to me.”

“And here I thought I was being all original and suave.” Neal chuckled. “I look forward to our coffee and doing a better job of it.”

“Yes, sir. Thanks for the invitation.” He headed back downstairs, not sure whether to hide out in one of the bathrooms for a little while or what.

He couldn’t believe he was seriously considering this, having coffee with a perfect stranger. More than that—a stranger from the gym.

Neal had been kind, though. Nice. With warm eyes. Plus the guy was hot.

Stop it, Way. You’re a skinny homeless idiot with absolutely no future. You don’t get to date hot guys.

He was going to get the coffee, though. Because it would be stupid to turn down anything free. He would have to keep reminding himself that it wasn’t a date.

It was a free cup of coffee with a whole lot of sugar.

The Dom's Way #5
Chapter One
“COME ON, boy.” Neal’s hand was warm and solid on the small of his back. “Robin and the others are waiting for us.”

Way’ra looked at his lover. The huge, muscle-bound blond looked altogether too pleased with himself, really. They were heading into the Iron Eagle to apologize for Way’s utter meltdown at work yesterday.

He’d been hoping to only suck up to his bosses—Jude and Day—not to the men from the third floor.

“It’s going to be fine. They’re going to understand you were freaked out and that you’ve got a safeword now, and they’ll be happy to honor it.”

“I’ll be right down to work,” he promised Day.

Day waved one hand. “Your shift doesn’t start until noon, Way.”

“There, see? You’re not shirking work or anything to do this.” Neal kissed the tip of his nose. “How is that plug treating you?”

“Neal!” It was weird enough to be wearing one, but to talk about it?

“Yes, love?” Neal looked like everything was normal. Like talking about that was normal.

“Shh.” There. That was clear, right?

“What?” Neal asked. “You haven’t answered my question yet.” Neal led him to the stairwell and they headed up to the second floor.

“I don’t have to wear it to work, do I?”

“You don’t think it would enhance your day?” Neal looked and sounded like he was totally serious.

“It’ll be… so big. So… in me.”

“In you is kind of the point, love.” Neal’s eyes twinkled at him.

“Shh. Be nice. Maybe Robin isn’t here yet.”

Neal chuckled. “Meanwhile, you still haven’t answered my question. How is that plug treating you?”

“You can’t ask those sorts of things, love.”

“Of course I can—I just did.”

He shook his head, his cheeks feeling like they were on fire.

Neal stopped him in the stairwell, tilted his chin, and took a kiss, tongue slipping into his mouth. “I love you. And I want to know how the plug feels inside you.”

“It’s really there. Like pressing on my hole. I’m worried it’ll fall out.”

“You have underwear and jeans to make sure that doesn’t happen. But I think you’ll keep it in under your own power.”

“I can’t believe we’re talking about this. This is where I work.” He wanted to curl into Neal and hide.

“Well, there’s no one around, and this isn’t just any place.” Neal hugged him tight. “Given what goes on here, I don’t think a little conversation about a plug is going to shock anyone.”

Way gave in to temptation and snuggled in. How on earth had he ended up here—on the run from parents who believed he was going to Hell for kissing a boy to working for a gym with a gay BDSM clientele?

He knew his parents would say he’d lost his way entirely, but he liked to think he’d gotten lucky.

“You ready to go find Robin, love?”

“No, but it’ll be better to do it.” He’d messed up badly. Robin and his lover? Master? Top? Dom? Robin and Stack had been having a scene on the second floor, and Way had shorted out—embarrassing both himself and Robin.

“It’s not going to be bad. Not like you clearly think it is. I think Stack and Robin are worried that they upset you so badly.” Neal took his hand and they headed into the gym on the second floor.

“Not to mention Tide.” Master Tide was… intimidating.

“He’s not mad at you either, I swear.”

“I hope not. I wasn’t trying to be an ass.”

“I wasn’t either,” said a voice from behind them. And Way turned to find Master Tide right there.

Oh God. Okay. Okay, breathe. “I’m so sorry. I was scared and stupid and I didn’t mean to do anything wrong. I’m… I’m very new. Like the newest. Like no one’s ever been so new.”

Tide chuckled and put a hand on his shoulder. “You don’t have to apologize, kid. I’m sorry we involved you in something you weren’t ready for. I wish we’d known, you know?”

“Well, Way has a safeword now, and he knows he can use it if a situation like that comes up again.”

“Yeah? That’s awesome. What is it?” Tide asked.

“Asparagus.” He blinked up, knowing he had to be red as a beet. “It was my first…. I never was trying to be friends with anyone before, you know?” He wanted to be friends with Lance, with Robin.

Tide’s smile was warm. “Next time I’ll be more gentle, I promise.” Tide gave him a wink.

Next time?

Neal clapped Tide on the shoulder. “You get it, I know.”

“I do. My boy was very new not all that long ago. You couldn’t find a better friend than my Lance. I know the two of you work out together sometimes.”

“Only on my breaks or after work with Day’s permission. I promise.” He wouldn’t jeopardize his job for anything.

“I wasn’t implying you were shirking your job, kid. Take a breath, huh? You’re not in trouble,” Tide told him.

“I’m going to speak to Day. You deserve to use the facilities.”

“Oh, Neal. I’m fine.”

“Of course you are, but you deserve to use the facilities,” Neal repeated. “I’m talking to Day.”

“You don’t need to talk to Day,” Tide said. “As an employee of the gym, you totally have use of the facilities, and as the submissive of a member also.”

“Doubly validated!” Neal looked pleased.

Way hid his face in Neal’s arm, and both Neal and Tide chuckled softly.

“Robin and Stack are working out. And by that I mean actually working out.” Tide grinned.

“Excellent. Come on, boy. Let’s go speak to them.”

“Okay. Yeah. Let’s do this.” Way took a deep breath. He didn’t suppose there was any reason to delay.

Neal took his hand again and led him into the second-floor gym, and then across to where Robin and Stack were using the equipment.

Every inch of Robin’s body that he could see was shaved bare. All of it. Head. Eyebrows. All of it. Way’s cheeks burned, and he didn’t know where to look.

Robin smiled and waved at him but didn’t stop working out until Stack did and signaled to Robin to stop.

Then Robin bounced right over to where they were standing. “Hi, Way! And Master Neal.”

“Hello, Robin. You look quite striking. Doesn’t he, Way?” Neal asked.

He looked at the collar of Robin’s shirt, absolutely unable to meet Robin’s eyes. “Yes. I’m sorry about yesterday, Robin.”

“Oh, honey.” Robin came right up to him and grabbed his hands. “I’m sorry we upset you.”

“I….” Then he could look at Robin because Robin wanted to be his friend, and he wanted that too. He grabbed Robin and hugged him tight.

Robin hugged him right back, holding on for a long moment. Then he leaned and looked at Way. “Are you okay, honey?”

“I was so…. I mean, I’d never seen. Never.” He knew he was babbling, but he couldn’t stop.

“It was pretty intense, wasn’t it?” Robin fanned himself. “God, I was flying. Just flying.” Robin glanced over at Stack, the look… incendiary.

“I was a little scared for you,” Way admitted.

“Scared for me?”

He looked over at Stack, then whispered, “The… the… the dildo was so big and then… I saw. I’m so sorry, but I looked and I saw everything.”

Robin preened a little. “Did I look good?”

“You looked amazing.” And that was the truth. Terrifying and overwhelming, but amazing.

“Good.” Robin hugged him again. “I wouldn’t have minded if you’d stayed, but I can totally understand not wanting to, especially without your master.”

“I… I’m not used to… I never even knew that… you know? This?” He was still babbling.

Neal slid his arm around Way’s shoulders, and he pulled Way against his strong, warm body. It was comforting. “Way and I haven’t made an official Master/sub commitment yet. But we have discussed that Way’s participation in any of the things that go on here must also include me.”

“Of course. I meant no disrespect, Master Neal.”

Stack growled low in his chest. “Of course you didn’t. Who is the master here?”

Robin shivered. “You, Sir.”

Neal chuckled. “That was rather the point from the other day’s display, hmm?”

“It was. Someone had quite forgotten who was the master and who made the rules here.”

Master Stack sounded so… mean.

Robin cuddled into him, though, nuzzling against the big man. “That would be you, Master. And I love the way you reminded me.”

Stack’s hand wrapped around Robin’s hip, fingers pressing into his ass, and the stern man nodded, cracking a smile.

“Are you feeling better about what happened yesterday?” Neal asked.

Way nodded and tried to smile. He was, he thought. Mostly.

Neal snorted softly. “That wasn’t terribly convincing, love.”

“I’m sorry. Yes. I am. And I’m super sorry. I was stupid. I won’t do it again.” That had to be better, because he was back to mortified, and he wanted to hide in the bathroom for a few minutes now.

Neal shook his head. “Not the apology—the you feeling better about the situation, and I don’t think you are.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” growled Stack. “You’re just really, uh, innocent.”

“I am. No one ever told me men did this sort of thing.” Only demons and sinners.

“Well, we do. And we like it. I know you like it too. But I get that it might be overwhelming. You two want to play with me and Robin sometime, you let us know,” Stack offered.

Way managed a shaky smile and a nod. “I have to get to work, I think. Thank you both, really.” He knew he had three hours, but maybe Neal had forgotten.

“Work? Not until noon today, love. There’s plenty of time for us to talk, work out, whatever.”

“Oh, right.” He went for an apologetic smile. “Excuse me a second. I have to use the restroom.”

Neal leaned in and whispered into his ear, “Don’t run away for long.”

He patted Neal’s arm, nodded, then scampered off to hide himself, wash his face, and maybe have a little cry. When he got to the bathroom, though, Robin was there with him.

“You really okay, honey?”

“Uh-huh.” He shook his head.

“No, you’re not, huh? You wanna talk about it? Have you got questions? You’re a sub like me, I could help you with stuff. Just talk, whatever.”

“I’m just…. I didn’t know what to think.”

Robin walked him into a quiet little lounge that he’d only cleaned maybe once or twice. It was dim and padded, a simple place with overstuffed everything. “This is our space, huh? Somewhere away from the chaos.”

“Our space?”

“A quiet space for submissives. Masters aren’t allowed here.” Robin rubbed his back with a warm hand. “You can talk to me about anything, honey.”

“Were you scared?”

“Me?” Robin seemed surprised by his question. “No, not at all. I trust my master completely. And it was pretty damn hot.”

“But… it had to be so…. He shaved your eyebrows, Robin, and whipped your hole!” And it had excited Way, which was worse.

Robin shared a conspiratorial grin with him. “He did! God, it was so hot.” Robin shivered, and he was getting hard as they talked about it, the bulge in his tight workout shorts unmistakable.

“It seems so… impossible.”

“Now you know it isn’t, because you saw it happening. And that’s what masters do—make the impossible happen.”

“I don’t know how to…. I mean, I’m so worried, you know.”

“God yes.” Robin hugged him again. “I totally know.”

Robin did? But he seemed so… with it.

“The trick is to give your worry to your master. Let him take it.”

“Why did you let him do that to you? Why did you let Tide do it?” That was what he wanted to know—why.

“Because it let me forget about everything but him. It let me relax. It totally put me in my subspace.”

“Am I supposed to know about that?” Way asked. God, he was a baby.

“Not if you and your master—I mean Neal—haven’t discussed it. Subspace is… this mind-set where you can let absolutely everything go and just be. It rocks. It’s peaceful and warm and wonderful.”

“But… how? I hate feeling like I’m slow and stupid. I haven’t done anything and I… I just… I want to understand.”

“I think it’s cool that you’re trying to learn.” Robin pressed closer. “Where do you want to start?”

“I don’t know where the beginning is, Robin. Help me?” He wanted to be a part of this.

“Well, you have a master and a boy, and you have that with Master Neal. You’re definitely more boy material than master material.”

“Yes. That seems to take a lot of… intention.” And stubbornness.

“Being a master?” Robin shrugged. “I like being a sub. We’re all different, and we’re all suited to different things.”

“Yes.” That he understood. Sometimes he wished he knew what he was suited to do, to be, but he was willing to be patient, to wait.

“Master Stack helps me be a better version of me. He helps me concentrate and not be flighty. And the sex is amazing.” Robin grinned at him. “And sometimes he needs to remember that he’s the master. Sometimes he needs me to push him so he can let himself breathe again.”

Way stared at Robin. “But….”

“You think the sub isn’t strong? Doesn’t have power? We so do, Way. It’s a partnership, even if it looks one-sided from the outside. It totally isn’t.” Robin rubbed his palm over his bald head. “I let him be strong, like he lets me submit. I take more than I ever thought I could, and I like it.”

“What do you mean… take more?” That sounded kind of ominous.

“You saw me riding that dildo, honey. I know you did.”

Way swallowed hard and nodded.

“As wide as I was stretched, begging for the whippings in between, pushed me further.”

Oh God. God. He was going to…. “I’m going to get hard,” he whispered.

“Good! I felt strong and hot and sexy. I would be upset if you saw me and weren’t turned on. I like knowing he made me shine like that, he made me so arousing, as well as aroused.”

“I think I need to go see Neal. I need to…. I’m not mad at you.” No, he was hard and aching and wanting and he couldn’t work like this.

Robin gave him a knowing smile and another hug. “I know you think you’re new at this and that maybe you aren’t doing well, but you have all the right instincts—going to your master to deal with your hard-on is totally the right thing to do.”

“You don’t think I’m stupid?”

“No. I think you got dropped in the ocean and you’re swimming. Let Neal rescue you.” Robin hugged him again, then urged him to get up and go. “In a lot of ways, I envy you—you have everything in front of you still. Do me a favor and enjoy all of it.”

“Are we still friends?”

“We are. Go on. I bet, if Neal asks nicely, you might get the day off.”

“Oh no. I can’t do that.” But wouldn’t it be nice?

“Not you—your master. Either way—go!” Robin laughed, pushing him out the door.

Neal was in the hallway, chatting with Day and Tide and Stack, and Way stood there, hoping his lover would notice him.

Neal looked over at him and smiled, the look lighting up Neal’s entire face, making him look so happy. Neal signaled to him to come over.

He headed to Neal, one hand carefully hiding his erection. “Neal.”

Neal’s arm went around his shoulders, pulling him into the protection of Neal’s arms and body. “Hey, love.” Then Neal spoke to the others. “I think we’re going to go upstairs, guys.”

Tide, Day, and Stack chuckled, but the sound wasn’t mean. Still, Way knew they knew what they were going to do.

“Upstairs?” Oh. God, he wanted Neal.

“Yeah. I imagine no one is using the dorms?” Neal aimed that at Day, who nodded.

“They should be private.”

“Good. I need one—” Neal paused. “—for a while.”

Way felt his cheeks go so hot, but the others all nodded and smiled.

“There’s a Do Not Disturb sign,” Stack noted. “As long as it’s not on the door too long, you can use it.”

“Or you could go home,” Day suggested. “I know you’re not far, and then you can take as long as you need.”

“I have work at noon,” Way said.

“Take the day off, boy. You keep the place brutally clean. It’ll be fine missing a day.”


Neal’s hand covered his mouth. “Thank you, Day. I appreciate the time.”

Day chuckled softly while Stack and Tide laughed out loud.

Keeping his mouth covered, Neal walked him to the stairwell, only letting go when they got there.

“Never argue with the boss when he gives you the day off, love.”

“I just…. I didn’t want him to think that… I’m so….” Confused. Hard. Aching.

“I think he thought you needed a day off to process everything. And he was willing to give it to you.”

They went down the stairs and headed home.

He could feel the plug moving inside him, his cock aching in his jeans.

Neal’s hand slid down his back and landed on his ass. He scooted forward, his entire body going tight.

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything right now.”

“You need me to love the confusion away.”

They turned the corner to their street and Neal put an arm around his shoulders again, tugging him close.

“I talked to Robin.” A lot.

“Yeah? What about?”

“Uh. Stuff? Sex stuff?” He was going to burn alive.

“Master and sub stuff?” Neal asked as they walked to the front door.

“Uh-huh.” He chewed his bottom lip, making it sting.

“Did he help you understand stuff?” They went in, and it seemed so normal, so much like home.

Neal drew him over to the couch in the den and they sat together. Neal faced him. “Well, love?”

“He said that I had good instincts and that I should let you help me.”

“Robin’s a good sub. I guess one of the questions should be: Are you interested in being my sub?” Neal put a hand on his thigh.

“I want to learn about things—about these things.”

“And I’d like to teach you.” Neal cupped his cheek, thumb rubbing across his lips. Then, leaning in, Neal kissed him. The connection was sudden and fierce, sparking between them, and he gasped. Whoa.

Neal tugged at Way’s clothing, pulling his shirt out of his pants. Neal’s strong fingers played over the skin of his belly. His abs tightened and that moved the plug inside him. Every move he made stimulated him, both inside and out.

Pushing his shirt up over his head, Neal undressed him. Every move Neal made also stimulated him, aroused him.

Thank God they were home, here, safe and in private.

Neal pressed his thumbs against Way’s nipples, moved them back and forth, and it didn’t take any time at all before they started to ache, to tingle.

Leaning over him, Neal kissed him, pressing him down onto the couch.

He wasn’t sure why Neal was so excited, but he knew why he was, and he moaned into Neal’s mouth. Neal’s moan answered his, the sounds merging together. Like their bodies were trying to. He arched up to meet the pressure of Neal’s body.

“Needy boy.” Neal muttered the words into Way’s mouth, and Way nodded. God yes. He always needed with Neal, and today he was revved up from talking with Robin, from thinking about what had happened to Robin yesterday.

Neal dragged his hand along Way’s side, fingers leaving tingles behind them. He stretched into the touch, his toes clenching as he did. Oh, so good. So hot. And so much easier than talking.

Neal rubbed their groins together, and he could feel the heat and hardness of Neal’s cock against his, denim all that separated them. He nudged the heavy cock as he tried to get to Neal’s belt buckle.

That had Neal groaning and pushing harder against him. “Love your touch.”

That made him shiver, that it was just his touch that made Neal hard.

Author Bio:
Often referred to as "Space Cowboy" and "Gangsta of Love" while still striving for the moniker of "Maurice," Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and persuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to "Chicago."

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.

Barring any of that? He'll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.


The Closet Boy #4

The Dom's Way #5

Release Blitz: Falling into Love by Kris T Bethke & Nell Iris

Title: Falling in Love
Authors: Kris T Bethke & Nell Irish
Series: Family Found #1
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: September 1, 2018
Liam O’Donoughue is happy with his life. He runs V Wilderness Adventures with his best friends, his chosen brothers, and gets to spend his days hiking in the gorgeous Adirondacks. What’s not to love? But when he meets Austin on a hike, he thinks he’s found something he didn’t even know was missing.

Austin Jock is content with his work as a radiology tech and playing bass in a cover band. Someday he wants to find his forever person but doesn’t believe in romantic fireworks and isn’t sure it’ll ever happen. Then Liam comes crashing into his life, igniting sparks. Huge, life-altering sparks.

The connection between the two men is instant, and things move fast. But Austin isn’t sure what to do with everything he’s feeling inside. Can Liam convince him falling in love is the easiest thing in the world?

As Austin relaxed, he smiled more, and his body lost that tight posture. He leaned against me a little as the evening wore on, and when he started to shiver, I put my arm around him. The soft sigh he gave was one of the sweetest sounds I’d ever heard. I wanted to push him down onto the ground and devour him, taste and touch every inch of his delectable skin. But it was much too soon for that, and I definitely didn’t want to do it with an audience.

Eventually, he pulled out his phone, woke it up, and sighed. He turned into me so his entire side was pressed against my chest and tilted his head back, so he could look into my eyes.

“I have to go. I’ve got an early-ish shift tomorrow.”

Acute disappointment flooded my veins. But I nodded.

“Let me walk you to your car,” I murmured.

He nodded and stood. It took a little bit to say goodbye. I appreciated the enthusiasm Everett gushed over him, and I was pleased to see Drew give him a warm handshake. Finally, we moved out of the ring of firelight and ambled toward his car. Neither one of us seemed in a hurry for things to end.

“So, uh.” Austin cleared his throat, and then whispered so softly it was barely audible. “Poop.”

I laughed quietly, and reached out, tilting his face up. “Thanks for coming. I really wanted to see you.”

Austin sucked in a breath and held it, then let it out in a rush of words, “Was this a date?”

It took me a second to understand, because he’d spoken so fast I almost couldn’t make out what he said. But when I did, my grin was so wide my face hurt.

“Well, I certainly thought it was. I definitely wanted it to be. What’s your verdict?”

He gave a shaky laugh. “Me, too.”

“Good.” I cautiously took a step closer, wanting to be in his space, and he let me. He even lifted a hand and placed it on my waist. I cursed the layers between us. I wanted to feel his touch on my skin.

“Do you maybe want to do it again? Uh, go on a date, I mean?”

“No maybe about it. I definitely want to do it again.”

Austin nodded, opened his mouth, and then shut it again. He shook his head, mouthed a word I couldn’t make out in the dimness, and then said, “Can I cook for you?”

“I would love that,” I said fervently.

“Oh. Good.” Austin’s smile bloomed on his face, and for a long minute, I was captivated by his full, kissable mouth. I almost didn’t hear what he said next. “I have Tuesday off. Want to come over?”

“Just tell me what time.”

Austin laughed, and I swore it sounded like music. “I’ll text you as soon as I figure out what to make. You don’t have any allergies, do you?”

“Not to food.”

“Good. Then. Tuesday?”


Austin sucked in another breath, kissed my cheek again with one of those fleeting, butterfly kisses, and then scrambled to get in his car. I couldn’t keep the grin off my face as I waved him on and stood there until his car disappeared around the bend in the drive.

Nell Iris
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along but let’s face it, she’s not Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a 40-something bisexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, where she spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her life long dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, and wants to write diverse and different characters.

Kris T Bethke
Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long. An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project. Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time. A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures. She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head. She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.

Nell Iris

Kris T Bethke


Brought to you by: