ISBN: 978-1-63486-114-4 (Electronic)
Genres: Gay / Contemporary / The Arts / Romantic Comedy
Length: Extended Novella (31k words)
Because of a deathbed promise to his father, Elijah Peck reluctantly left his friends and successful career in Bridgeport to return to Willowby, Connecticut, the small town of his upbringing, in order to run the antique shop that had been in his family for generations. Now, in just the span of two years, Eli has morphed into a social recluse, isolated in what he believes is a stuffy, suffocating nowheresville. With no thriving gay community at his disposal, and with his entire existence wrapped around the store he never really wanted, Eli’s devoted little time to his personal needs. As a result, instead of acting like a man in his mid-thirties, living out his own dreams, maybe even finding love with the right guy, he often feels like just another item in his shop—a dusty, moldy antique that has seen better days. Much as he’d like otherwise, Eli’s sense of family obligation makes it impossible for him to sell the shop. So, pessimistic and frustrated, he’s resigned to merely existing rather than building an actual life for himself in a town that holds better prospects.
But all that starts to change when a stranger moves to Willowby.
One night outside his shop, Eli has a chance encounter with Neville “Gray” Grayson, a wickedly handsome musician who’s purposely left the bustle of New York City in favor of quiet country living. Eli is instantly drawn to Gray, and the flirtatious jazzman stirs dormant feelings inside Eli, reinvigorating his hopes for a brighter future. Not only does Gray make Eli feel attractive for the first time in years, but also makes him appreciate small-town life in a way he never has before. And Eli can’t help but wonder if Gray’s presence also offers the promise of finding much-needed companionship, sexual fulfillment, and perhaps even love…
Read The Reviews…
“This novella is the first I’ve read by this author and I liked it. The writing is solid and the simple well-paced plot worked well. Eli and Gray are likable characters and seemed to compliment each other well. Both are big handsome men with Eli being a bit of a bear and Gray having a definite hair fetish. The sex is a bit raunchy but fits well with the characters…Overall I liked the tone of the story. I also really liked the secondary character of Bertie. She’s Eli’s friend and employee and was very entertaining as she tries to get details on Eli’s private life. The subplot of Eli and his relationship with his father was sweet and has a satisfying conclusion. Overall this is a nice story depicting the beginning of a relationship between two interesting and likable men. It’s nicely told, quite sexy at times and yet also has a certain sweetness to it. I’ll be looking forward to reading more stories from this author.”–Lily, Rainbow Reviews
Read An Excerpt…
…This particular stranger seemed different somehow. With sunglasses shielding his eyes from the fading sunlight, he strode along Main Street without browsing the windows of the closed shops. He acted more like a “local,” a man who had already seen it all before, completely unlike the relic hunters with whom I had grown accustomed to viewing this time of year.
But it couldn’t be possible, could it? Living in a town with a population of less than 2,000 residents, I thought I knew all the males hereabouts and I would have certainly remembered someone who looked like him. Delicious, utterly delicious, the type of guy I’d been hungrily seeking to meet, and a sight for my jaded eyes. Once again, I had the impulse to sink to the ground and sing Hosannas to the gods for sending me this eye-candy to whet my appetite.
Yet I didn’t want to get my hopes up. After all, even though he ambled down the sidewalk in my direction, what were the chances he would strike up a conversation? And even if he did, what were the odds he would have any interest in me, let alone—?
“Excuse me,” he said, his broad, white smile reflecting the rays of the sinking sun. “I don’t mean to bother you, but I wonder if you have a moment.”
“Ah, yeah, sure.” Anything for you, buddy boy. Anything at all. “If you want something in particular inside”—I gestured to the door, then scrounged in the back pocket of my jeans for the keys—“let me know and I’ll be happy to reopen—”
He glanced at the windows of the store, then shook his head. “Oh, no, nothing like that. At least not at the moment.”
“Then what can I do for you?”
“I was wondering…” He slid his sunglasses down the bridge of his slim nose, revealing the most soulful hazel eyes I had ever seen. They twinkled almost as much as the twin diamond studs in his right earlobe. And his gaze looked me over, from head to toe. Meanwhile, a cockeyed smile cut a dimple into his right cheek.
I’d seen that look in a man’s eyes before—quite a lot, actually—prior to moving back to Willowby nearly two years ago. The dude was checking me out, actually cruising me right here in front of my shop like the guys used to do in front of a gay bar in Bridgeport I’d often frequented. Would wonders never cease?
“Everything around here appears closed,” he said, then released a disappointed sigh.
“Yeah,” I answered, giving him a humorless grin. “They pretty much roll up the sidewalks around here when the sun sets.”
“Do you happen to know of anywhere in town where I can still get a bite to eat and an ice-cold beer?”
“On the type of mood you’re in. Do you want lively, fast, and furious”—fond recollections of cruising for cock in Bridgeport came flooding back to mind—“or laid-back, leisurely…and oh, so gentle?”
I’d uttered that last question in almost a growl while giving him a languid once-over myself, and not hiding the fact either. What the hell, I thought, it was worth a shot. If I’d judged properly, his approximate weight as well as his six-foot-two stature matched mine. I would also bet, if compared side by side, my arm and chest muscles had a bit more bulk. So if I’d misread the signals he’d tossed out and he ended up being a homophobe scouting for trouble, I knew I could defend myself. I had on a few occasions many years ago, which was why no one in this town, especially those with a good memory, had messed with me since my return.
To my thrill, his smile widened even more, while one dark eyebrow quirked upward. The sudden twinkle in his eyes conveyed a ribald sense of humor, a clear indication that he’d caught my subtle double entendre, and of greater importance, that he liked it.
“The latter, most definitely,” he said. “Languid…gentle…oh, yeah, I prefer taking my time when it comes to…entertainment.”
“Then you’ve certainly come to the right place, considering the general dreariness of this town.”
“Dreary? Definitely not from where I’m standing.” Another smile enlivened his face as his gaze crawled over my chest and upper arms. For work, I had donned a simple black T-shirt, one tight enough to display the evidence of my daily appointment with the bench press in my apartment. The fact that he obviously approved of my efforts to keep in shape had my blood racing even more. “I want a place to just kick back with a frosty beer, with soft lighting and low music, somewhere I can converse without having to shout over the din. And if I’m lucky enough, maybe I can persuade a sexy stranger into being my dinner companion.”
Holy fuck! Yes, honest, open flirtation, a breath of fresh air, something almost completely foreign to me since returning to this slumberous old hamlet…