Tag Archives: YA

Book Blast: The Killing Spell by Shane Ulrrein

The Killing Spell | Shane Ulrrein

Publisher: Deep Hearts YA

Cover Artist: Story Perfect Dreamscape

Heat Rating: No sexual content

Length: 57,000 words/236 pages

It is a standalone book.

Buy Links

Deep Hearts YA | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble

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Blurb

The Killing Spell is a new young adult fantasy novel that tells the story of Edward Peach, a fourteen-year-old wizard who gets accepted into a prestigious all-boys boarding school for wizards and falls in love with another boy.

Edward and the other boy soon realize their attraction for each other, immediately causing controversy in the academy as the first students from feuding houses to come together, especially in a school where house rivalry can end in murder.

Edward’s new relationship puts him to the ultimate test as he must risk being with the boy he loves even at the cost of his own life!

Excerpt

Chapter I
Accepted

Accepted.
That’s what the letter said. At that moment, I felt a sudden chill go up my spine. I pretended to smile as Mum and Dad became so overjoyed that their little wizard was being sent thousands of miles away to study magic at an exclusive boarding school.
I swallowed hard. Please don’t make me go, I thought.
I took another look at my letter. “Highly prestigious,” “well-accredited,” and “very sought-after” were the different qualifiers used to describe their piss of an academy. There were portraits in a brochure, mostly in sepia-tone black and white, of their most famous students, yet I didn’t recognize any of them. The more I looked at all the rubbish they’d sent me in that big yellow envelope, the more I wanted to vomit.
Accepted.
Everything had been arranged: the meeting place in the Aradian port-city of Navona, our guide who was to see us at the harbor three days from now and take us to the school, and three free tickets for the next available ship from England to Aradia. The whole lot, including my school uniform, was all-expenses paid.
Seeking to break the jovial mood that’d taken over my parents at the breakfast table, I told them that I wasn’t going to that school.
“Not going?” Mum asked me wide-eyed. “Why? This is the opportunity of a lifetime! A prestigious school, fancy uniforms, and a better life for all of us! Are you going to sit there and tell us that you don’t want what’s best for your family?”
Yes, I was, I told her. I wasn’t going and that was the end of it.
My parents then began to lecture me, whilst I kept buttering my toast, about how they never had an opportunity like this when they were my age and how I’d be letting down several generations of our wizard-family if I didn’t go. Dad was especially determined because both he and Granddad got rejected from that school numerous times.
Despite my pleas, my constant whinging, and even throwing a teary-eyed wobbly like I used to do when I was a tiny tot, I was going to that ugly academy. Mum said my name, middle name and all, and insisted that I get packed.
“We’re leaving tomorrow,” she said. “End of discussion.”
And without another word, I stormed into my room, slamming the door after me, and buried my face into my pillow.
Accepted.
It wasn’t fair! Other kids would be pretty chuffed about going to such a distinguished wizard-school, but not me. This sort of thing should’ve gone to those who needed it or wanted it more. Instead, I was the one who got…accepted.
I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be part of the “next generation of great sorcerers,” nor follow in my father’s or grandfather’s footsteps like other wizards my age. I just wanted to be me. I didn’t want to leave my mates or live away from home. What’s more, I’d be going to a foreign country where I didn’t know anyone, much less the language they speak.
Things were much simpler and I was a lot happier before I got that stupid letter!
Accepted.
I didn’t want to study in some shite academy, the name of which I couldn’t even pronounce from the brochure and where mobile phones were prohibited. All I really want to do is enjoy life, hang out with my friends, and go to the beach to listen to its lush, serene music. Yet more than anything, I wanted to do nothing. That’s what I desired most. I simply wanted to do nothing, yet my parents, on numerous occasions, would never hear of it.
I began thinking about turning Mum and Dad into frogs or making them both disappear, but I really didn’t want to do any of that. Deep down, I don’t believe in using magic to hurt or endanger the lives of others. To me, magic was a beautiful yet mysterious thing that was all about me and always brought happiness to everyone. I loved magic, bloody lived for it, but hated the idea that someone could use it for evil when it could be used for good. Not to mention, the last time I’d made my parents disappear, they simply found their way back afterward.

About the Author

Shane Ulrrein is a life-long storyteller and first-time LGBT author currently living in Orange County, California, USA, who one day dreams of leaving his home in sunny Southern California for the wet, dreary weather of England.

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in music composition in California State University, Fullerton and is a proud member of the LGBT community. In his spare time, he likes to draw, read, and write music that he hopes someday will be heard in all the great concert halls in the world.

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Cover Reveal: Shake The Stars by V.L. Locey

Shake The Stars | V.L. Locey

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Pre-Order Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Universal Link

Length: 100,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Sloan J Designs

Publisher: Gone Writing Publishing

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Blurb

Spending time in the Poconos with his family was the last thing Dane Forrester wanted to do over the summer.

He had dreams of spending his last break touring Europe and gathering story ideas for his upcoming creative writing classes before heading to college. Maybe even finding that elusive first love in a small café in Paris, or along the Rhine, or even in a sultry villa in Italy.

But no, he was stuck at the Silver Fir Lodge with his family where his dreams of romance and passion would wither and die a slow painful death, or so he imagined.

When all seemed lost, the budding wordsmith is saved—in more than one sense—by Khalid Novak, a lifeguard at the lodge’s pool. Khalid is two years older, a bit more sophisticated, and the most incredibly alluring thing Dane has ever seen.

The two young men find themselves joyously wound in a searing romance that teaches Dane that love can be wildly intense yet fleeting so one should revel in it when the discovery is made.

Can this summer romance survive the chill of autumn as well as the winds of time?

About The Author

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USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Doctor Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

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New Release Blitz: New Boy at the Academy by Sam Hawk

New Boy at the Academy | Sam Hawk

Tales from the Academy #1

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 25, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 79,800

Purchase:

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Synopsis

Timmy had no clue that the first day of 10th grade at the Academy would rock his world. He thought it would be just like last year, with its endless bullying and recesses spent reshelving books in the library with his best and only friend Carleen. The sissy boy and the fat girl had bonded over their shared outcast status.

But Carleen shows up filled with sassy confidence and declares they’re going to rule the school. By Christmas, the freaks and nerds would be the cool kids, and the mean girls and jocks would be the outcasts. Something had happened to her over the summer, but what?

And then, the two of them lay eyes on the new boy at the Academy. Doug has auburn feathered hair, veiny biceps, and green eyes the color of Sprite bottles. Plus, he’s come all the way from exotic Los Angeles, California. He rocks out to Patti Smith while Timmy loves ABBA. How does someone so cool end up in tiny, conservative Edgewood, South Carolina?

When Carleen immediately declares Doug a fox and her new prospective boyfriend, Timmy is shocked at his jealous reaction. He’s not supposed to like boys in that way, is he? Doug stirs up weird new emotions deep inside him as Timmy embarks on the adventure of his life. He and his hometown will never be the same.

Excerpt

New Boy at the Academy
Sam Hawk © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Edgewood, South Carolina

1980

God didn’t answer my prayers and bring the Rapture on Labor Day, so I had to start tenth grade after all. I stepped in front of the mirror to assess my new back-to-school outfit. I hated it. I’d begged Momma to buy me the alligator shirt from Belk’s, which really cost her a lot, but did it have to hug my body so much? I tried stretching it out, but it would only stretch so far. I thought I’d look like Tom Selleck with his big veiny arms. Instead, I looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy. I was trying to flex my chest when Momma walked in.

“Honey, get a move on. We have to be out the door in fifteen minutes, and you haven’t even touched your Pop-Tarts.”

“Momma, I think I need to change clothes.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked as she pulled and tugged on my shirt. “This is what you wanted. You look very handsome.”

“But it fits so close.”

“Timmy, I have told you time and again you’re not fat. It’s all in your head. You are absolutely average on the height and weight scale and exactly where you need to be at fifteen.” She patted my tummy, causing me to suck in. “You’ll lose that little bit of pudge in no time in gym class.”

My heart sank at the thought of gym class, and I almost lost my appetite for Pop-Tarts. Almost. Momma smoothed down my cowlick at the kitchen table as I bit into the brown sugar cinnamon pastry.

“Thank goodness you inherited the Ashburn hair,” she said. “Such a beautiful chestnut brown and such a noble hairline. It’s a sign of your aristocratic heritage, you know, on my side of the family. All the Ashburn men had beautiful hairlines. Thank goodness you take after me and don’t have your daddy’s stringy mess.”

I guessed my hairline was okay, but my new haircut was way too short. Daddy had taken me to get it cut only after Momma called him ten times to remind him. He and Momma got divorced when I was two, and it was always weird when he came by, which wasn’t often. Naturally, he took me to the awful old barbershop next to the pool hall instead of the new unisex salon in the Augusta Mall I was secretly hoping for. He told the barber to “buzz it” and then went next door for a beer. I managed to talk the barber into keeping a little length, but not much.

“Now go brush your teeth quick as a bunny rabbit,” said Momma. “Carleen’s mother called this morning and said her car’s not running and could I run by and pick her up for school. So, we have no time.”

Carleen’s house was across the tracks, and I knew Momma didn’t like going over there, but Carleen had been my best friend since kindergarten. Actually, you could say she was my only friend. She was the only one I talked to for hours on the phone at night; the only one I hung out with after school; the only one to ever invite me to a sleepover, which Momma had never allowed me to do since boy-girl sleepovers just weren’t done. I hadn’t seen her all summer because she’d been working at her grandparents’ peach farm. I was glad we’d be going to school together on the first day. I needed my friend with me.

We pulled in front of the house, and Carleen came right out.

“Good Lord, Carleen’s put on even more weight this summer,” said Momma.

Momma was right. Carleen had always been the biggest girl in class, and she wasn’t getting any smaller. I recognized her smock top from last year. A smock top was supposed to fit loose, but hers pulled in all the wrong places.

“Hey, Carleen,” said Momma as Carleen got in the car. “You sure do look pretty for your first day of school.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Thompson,” said Carleen. I waited for an eye roll, but she just smiled at Momma like she really believed it. I looked at her more closely, and there was something different about her. Was it confidence? If so, it was new. Was that lip gloss she was wearing?

“Hey, Timmy, did you hear we’re getting a new boy in our class this year?”

“No,” I said, dreading the addition of another redneck bubba to the roster.

“They say he’s from California and he’s real cute.”

“Really? California?” said Momma. “What’s he doing here?”

“I think his momma’s people are here. He’s related to all those Herlongs.”

“Does that explain the lip gloss?”

“Timmy, don’t be rude,” said Momma.

“I just wanted to look pretty for the first day of school,” replied Carleen.

“And you do,” said Momma.

When Momma pulled up in front of Patriot Christian, Carleen looked me square in the eye and gave me a big smile and a thumbs-up.

“Come on, Timmy. We’re gonna rule the school in tenth grade. Let’s do it.”

Meet the Author

Sam Hawk’s fiction is inspired by his experiences at a private Christian Academy in rural South Carolina in the ’70s. He survived his Southern adolescence with his sanity relatively intact and went on to earn degrees from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Law School.

He also served in the US Army as a JAG officer for twelve years. He resigned his commission when it became clear he was expected to persecute homosexuals as part of his job.

Sam then moved to Dallas, Texas where he met the man of his dreams and found his LGBT family. Sam and his husband have been married for over ten years and live with their Corgi and Chartreux cat in the requisite charming old house in a historic district where gay couples are legally compelled to live.

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Everything about this Fae-based fantasy romance worked for me

Prince of Air and Darkness (The Darkest Court, #1)Prince of Air and Darkness by M.A. Grant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantasy has always been my first love and it’s fantastic to be able to add new authors to my list who can turn out fully compelling worlds with characters I desperately root for and fall in love with that have an MM romance at the heart, and with this one M.A. Grant has managed to all that.

It’s a young adult romance, although Roark is ageless as an Unseelie Prince, Phineas aka Finn is only just 21 and, while he might be the most powerful human on the planet, he’s not exactly in control of either his lay line or his feelings.

Everything about this book worked for me. It draws on some of my most favourite (and often overlooked) mythologies and folklore – that of the (mainly) Scottish/Irish Seelie and Unseelie Courts – otherwise known as The Fae Folk.

Now these guys can be utterly vicious and the book’s opening throws the reader straight into the potential for danger which the Winter Court, where Roarke is Prince of Air and Darkness, poses for all who threaten it.

I loved the sense of tension and danger throughout this, the UST and push/pull between Roark’s desires to protect the human he loves and the obedience he owes to his mother Queen Mab.

Both Roark and Finn are fully fleshed out characters, they have multiple layers and are complex and complicated. I loved the secondary group of characters which surround the main players and I was happy to see Book Two is about one of those, Sebastian, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about him.

The book’s complex themes are easy to follow even for those who don’t have knowledge of the folklore they draw from and it never becomes overwhelming in keeping up with the plot. I think the pacing perhaps slowed a little in the middle but it was a necessary lul to bring back up the tensions of the final 20% of the book when things really started to kick in.

A superb all-round narrative made this book difficult to put down!

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Carina Press via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Release Blitz: In Case You Missed It by S. M. James

In Case You Missed It | S. M. James

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Publisher: May Books

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Genre/s: YA, LGBT, romance

Heat Rating: 1-2 flames

Length: 98000 words/400 pages

It is a standalone story.

Release Date: February 12, 2019

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Buy Links:

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Amazon AU

 

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Blurb

Brooks is convinced his life is totally, one hundred percent happy.

Until Darien tracks him down.

Darien was supposed to be the guy he kissed once and remembered forever, but now he’s back in Brooks’s life, with easy smiles and big ideas.

The first of which … show the homeschooled Brooks everything he’s missed out on. But as the pair work through a spring of playing catch up on life, it becomes obvious to Darien that Brooks has a secret.

And as things heat up between them, Brooks’s secret might just be Darien’s worst fear.

Because Darien has always lived in the moment.

But Brooks has always lived for the future he knows is inevitable.

When life is set to tear them apart, will love be enough to keep them together?

All books in the #lovehim series are standalone. The series number is the recommended reading order.

Excerpt

We cross the front of the school, head past the football field, and into the courtyard. It’s eerily quiet, with filtered sunlight and a soft breeze breaching the concrete quad.

Darien heads for a bench that runs along the base of an enormous tree and flops down onto it. I sit next to him and silence settles gently over my shoulders. The courtyard is surrounded by buildings on three sides, and I vaguely remember one of them as the science wing.

“So this is where you’d eat at breaks on a nice day. Cameron and Chels sit there, and some of the others here, and over there.” He points to an opposite bench. “We’d sit right here, of course. Since you’d be in all the nerd classes, we’d be inseparable over break.” He grips the back of the bench and leans into his hands, grinning over at me.

I swing a leg over the back of the bench so I’m facing him. “And you’d be such a shameless flirt, I’d have to find new friends to save you the embarrassment.”

“No point.” He shrugs. “I’d just follow you there too.”

The thing is, I believe him. I don’t know how anyone can be so effortless about how they feel. He doesn’t try to hide it, but he doesn’t push me either, and the fact he can be so unashamedly into me, makes me want to give him more.

But he’ll get over it. And I have to help him.

I lean away from him a little. “So, is there anyone here who’s caught your eye?”

“There’s this one guy …”

His tone makes me arch my eyebrow. “He wouldn’t be me, would he?”

“See? You’re too damn smart.”

I duck my head as I hold back a laugh. “Seriously though. Nothing is going to happen between us, so it’s okay if you find someone else.”

“Yeah, we’re not doing this.”

I frown. “What do you mean?”

“We’ve been over this, like, a thousand times. Jesus, Brooks, I get it. I just want to spend time with you, as friends, and I don’t need you trying to push me onto someone else.”

“Darien …” I reach for his arm and he shrugs me away. “I’m sorry.”

“Good. Now no more mentioning that shit, okay? My memory is fine, I can make my own damn decisions.”

“You’re right.” But how does he make the right decision when I’m keeping a huge part of myself from him? I take a couple of short breaths, the very real possibility of telling him, looming at the front of my thoughts.

“Here.” Darien finally takes off his backpack and unzips it. He’s packed a heap of food, some I haven’t seen before, and he slides away from me on the bench to set it out between us. “Dig in.”

Lunch is delicious, and I try some of everything. Darien talks me through some of the foods his mom made, like zelnik and tulumba, and it’s so damn good, I’d hang out with him just for the food. After a week of barely eating I don’t hold back, but I didn’t bring my enzyme tablets with me, so it’s close to pointless.

Darien takes some more photos after lunch as we explore the school. He fills me in on little bits and pieces about his first two weeks, and we wind up under the bleachers. He dives into his bag again and pulls out two cigarettes.

I give him a flat look. “Fuck no.”

He smirks. “Goodie two shoes.”

“Nope.” I shake my head, trying to think of how I can get him to put those freaking things away. “I just don’t see the point in sucking on something that can fucking kill you.” My words come out way harsher than I mean, but if he starts on one of those things, I’m leaving him here.

His dark eyebrows furrow, and something goes on behind his eyes that I can’t quite make out, but he just shrugs and grinds the smokes into the ground. “Thank the lord. Don’t think I could have stomached it, even for you.”

I relax a little, though I’m not sure I really believe the words.

He steps closer. “You know, there are other things people do under the bleachers …”

It takes me a second to catch up, and my focus automatically drops to his lips. My stomach is a riot as I try not to focus on how good our first kiss was, all those months ago.

Darien smirks and steps back, breaking my runaway thoughts. He pulls a marker from his bag. “We have to mark we were here, otherwise it doesn’t count.”

“That, I can do.” I take the marker from him and uncap it with a click. Reaching above my head, I hesitate a second, trying to figure out what to write. In the end, I go simple.

BL + DM.

“Those letters look good together,” Darien says. His voice is low and warm and reminds me of summer. His fingers slide down mine as he takes the marker from me.

He reaches up and his shirt pulls higher on his back, leaving this smooth strip of brown skin exposed. The pull to touch him is so strong. I need to feel his skin under my fingertips. It’s a physical battle to hold back, and just as I’m about to fold,

To reach,

To touch,

To give in to him, Darien finishes up, and steps back to survey his work. I blink a few times to try and lessen the fog in my head, then turn my focus up.

He’s drawn a heart around our initials.

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About the Author

S. M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.

Author Links

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Big Love and Bigger Love are sweet school-based romances

Big LoveBig Love by Rick R. Reed

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be but what it actually was is a good narrative, if a little bit muddled in my mind about which story it was telling.

I read it because I have an ARC of book two in the series to review, which is Truman’s story, and I wanted to read the set up.

This is a super sweet but also surprisingly angsty story which is all about owning your truths. I’m not usually a fan of the wife dying so a gay man can live his ‘real life’ but it’s handled well in this one.

I never felt like Dane’s wife had been a lesser person in his life and believed he had loved her for herself and not just because he was hiding and fighting his sexuality.

Seth was a sweetheart too and he knew just how to play his cards right to not only help Truman, but Dane as well.

Relatively low steam but still pretty emotionally engaging.

~

bigger-loveBigger Love by Rick R. Reed

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This follow up to Big Love gives us Truman’s story solely and at times it’s as heartbreaking as parts of the first book were and at others, truly uplifting.

It’s rare for me to read a young adult romance, I tend to get irritated with the push and pull that usually provides the drama.

But this is Rick R. Reed, so I know better and sure enough, while Mike has his own fears and internal doubts to worry out, it never felt like it was a conscious decision to pull back from Truman.

Truman himself is as fabulously wonderful as he was in the first book and he’s still the focus of all the disquiet and disgust from people who disgrace themselves with their actions.

Patsy is still awesome, a fierce mama who will do anything for her boy, even turn her back on a potential happy for herself because of the way her son is treated, she is what every parent should be.

It was great to see Truman slowly build up a small friendship base as he got involved in a school production of Harvey and other loved how he threw himself 100% into it.

Mike’s grand gesture went a long way to gaining back my affections after he’d almost blown it with Truman and the lovely Epilogue left the future open with so much promise.

I’d love for there to be more, perhaps as Truman and Mike graduate and head off into the next stage of life but I’m also quite happy thinking of them years down the line in some city block apartment just being happy.

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Buy your copy here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bigger-love-by-rick-r-reed-9967-b

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Release Blitz: To Be Honest by S. M. James

To Be Honest | S. M. James

#lovehim series #3

Publisher: May Books

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Genre/s: YA, LGBT, romance

Length: 81,000 words/380 pages

Heat Rating: 1 – 2 flames

It is a standalone story.

Release Date: November 15, 2018

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Buy Links

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK  Amazon AU

Blurb

2400 miles. Four friends. One big secret.

Angus Reid is pretty sure he’s being catfished.

After spending the last half of junior year talking online to the guy of his dreams, Angus wants to meet. In person. So when Scotty brushes it off with excuses of not being ready, red flags go up.

Determined to either catch Scotty out, or take a shot at real love, Angus embarks on a summer road trip with his adorkable roommate, Tyler. But as summer stretches on, and mixed messages fly between them, Angus finds his heart torn.

His potential catfisher?

Or his straight best friend?

And while their road trip takes them across the country, Angus is headed for one destination.

Either a happily ever after … or a broken heart.

All books in the #lovehim series are stand alones. The series number is recommended reading order.

Excerpt

I pull out of the parking lot and Tyler directs me to the campsite. The ground is rough as anything, and it’s lucky it’s summer, because I can just imagine that in winter we would be driving on ice.

“Just here,” Tyler points to a space ahead, confirming it on the map the campsite admin handed us.

It’s reasonably busy and we’ve had to drive a bit further down. There’s forest pushing in all around us and I can only spot two other tents. Not that those monstrous things could be called tents.

“Just do you know,” I say as I put the car in park and follow Tyler out. “If I get killed, I’ll hold you personally responsible.”

“If you get killed, I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

“I’ve got to tell you though, I’m not planning on dying a virgin.”

He throws a smirk at me over the roof. “Don’t worry, neither am I.”

I open the trunk and start shifting some of our stuff into the front while Tyler lays down the back seats. When I climb in, a thrum of electricity passes over my skin and I have to remind myself to cool it. We’re just friends. Tyler slides in after me.

“Here.” He hands me some blankets and we set to work making it comfortable before lying back, heads rested at the opening.

It’s so peaceful. The night is still and quiet, holding the warmth of the day, and the stars stretch out above us endlessly, smudges of silver blurring them together. I fold my hands behind my head as Tyler takes off his glasses and tosses them in the front.

“And that right there,” Tyler says in a nasally voice, pointing through the back windshield of the open trunk. “Is the ubulla majorious.”

I give him the side eye, not sure if he’s joking or not. “Oh yeah, and what’s that?” I point to another cluster.

“The fibrosious enema.

“And that?”

Ursulla’s Uranus.

I snort, rolling onto my side to look at him. “You are so full of shit.”

“I swear.” He lays a hand over his heart. “See? There’s Angusius’s Titianus.

He finally gets a laugh out of me and I shove his shoulder a little. “I think your brain’s broken.”

“Nope. It remembers everything, remember, Angus?”

“I do remember. Which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if you knew all the actual names of the constellations and were just goofing around.”

He tries to hold back a guilty smile.

We lapse into a comfortable silence, him staring up at the stars, and me staring at everything but him.

I hesitate. “Thanks for not bailing on me.”

“Are you kidding? It was a choice between this and going home. Trust me, it was a no brainer.”

“I’m honored.” I roll my eyes.

He chuckles softly and pokes me in the bicep. Two fingers. Just like the first day we met. “You should be. You’re always my first choice.”

My cheeks heat and my stomach twists painfully. I’m well aware of his teasing tone but somehow my body completely misses it. “I mean, I wouldn’t say you’re my first choice. At least second or third, though.”

“Ho-oh!” He hangs his head back, showing off his long neck. “You’ve wounded me.”

“Need mouth to mouth?”

He cracks up. “I’d probably enjoy it too much.”

He’s teasing. Teasing. But damn it, if I don’t get this flirting under control it’s only a matter of when not if our friendship implodes.

I’m dying to trace my lips over that long, smooth stretch of skin just below his ear.

He rests his head to the side, looking at me, and a chunk of hair flops down in his eyes. “Have you heard from Scotty yet?”

The lust dries up as worry kicks in. “No, actually. I’m trying not to think about it.”

“I’m sure he’s fine.”

“If he’s done something—”

“No. He wouldn’t have. From what you’ve told me it was his choice, you can’t think like that.”

I scrub a hand over my face. “I basically forced it on him though.”

“Hey.” Tyler’s fingers circle my wrist and he tugs my hand away. “Nope. We’re not doing this. You don’t control other people’s choices. Not today, not tomorrow, just don’t.”

“If only it was that simple.” I sigh.

“It is.” He’s so certain I almost believe him. Instead I reach out and pull the back door closed.

“I’m tired,” I say, tucking up my legs. And if my legs are too long for the space, Tyler’s definitely will be.

With the door closed the outside world is cut off. Tyler turns back to the window, looking up at the sky, and for the thousandth time this year, I wish I had someone to share my feelings with. It sounds lame as hell but I could really use a hug. I just want somebody to be my somebody.

And with Scotty gone, I’m further from that than ever.

About the Author

S.M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.

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