KINDRED SPIRITS RELEASE DAY REVIEW!!


WOO HOO, IT'S FINALLY RELEASE DAY FOR ALEXA LAND AND HER NEW SERIES, A SPIN OFF OF HER FIRST AND FOREVER SERIES CALLED CASTAWAYS. I HAVE MY RELEASE DAY REVIEW OF BOOK 1: KINDRED SPIRITS, SO LOOK BELOW FOR MY REVIEW AND THE BUY LINK: 



THIS IS THE PERFECT QUOTE FOR ELIJAH AND CASSIDY! BELOW IS MY REVIEW OF THIS AMAZING STORY! 


Kindred Spirits
The Castaways Series
by: Alexa Land
reviewed by: Becky

Elijah Everett knows he should feel good about the progress he’s made over the last four years, ever since he ran away from a terrible situation at age sixteen. With the support of his loving, adopted family, he recently graduated from college and has a good job and an exciting new life waiting for him on Catalina Island. But his past has left him with little confidence and a list of fears a mile long, and Elijah wonders if he’ll ever fully heal. 

Cassidy Juric doesn’t talk about his past. He doesn’t talk about much at all, actually. And yet, Elijah thinks he recognizes a kindred spirit in the gorgeous young ranch hand. The two are undeniably drawn to each other, and a tentative relationship starts to develop. But when the devastating truth about Cassidy’s past is revealed, Elijah wonders if asking Cassidy to trust him might be asking the impossible.

Can two broken men learn to open their hearts and take a chance on love? Or will the ghosts of their past prevent them from building a future together?

Kindred Spirits bridges Alexa Land’s best-selling Firsts and Forever Series and its all-new spinoff, The Castaways Series. Long-time readers will recognize some familiar faces, along with a new setting and several new characters. This book can be read as a stand-alone. 




Alexa Land is one of my favorite authors, and one of the many reasons why is her talent of crafting a story that is amazing, all while catching us up with characters old and new that we will love for books to come! 

I have been waiting for Elijah's story and I am so glad it is finally here, and Alexa didn't disappoint for sure! Elijah had a lot to overcome, including a painful past and his guilt at hurting his ex Colt. While he may always have faint scars, we see Elijah grow by leaps and bounds in this book, and I couldn't be happier! 

When Elijah takes a vacation to Catalina Island with the Dombrusos he feels more at home than he has in a while, maybe ever, and some of that may have to do with the pull he feels toward the quiet mysterious guy who runs the stables. That may have something to do with the decision Elijah makes to take a job at the Seahorse Ranch! 

Watching Elijah and Cassidy's friendship blossom then maybe grow into more is amazing, and Cassidy will need Elijah when his past comes back to haunt him! 

You will be on pins and needles for the next book about the Seahorse ranch just like I am! 


                                           the 5 Catcher In The Rye rating! 

I DID THIS RATING IN HONOR OF IT BEING ONE OF ELIJAH'S FAVES! GRAB KINDRED SPIRITS TODAY IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY! 

AMAZON LINK

THANKS FOR JOINING ME FOR MY RELEASE DAY REVIEW OF KINDRED SPIRITS, I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU GUYS TO READ ELIJAH'S STORY! SEE YOU NEXT TIME!





RELEASE DAY BLITZ AND GUEST POST! BURIED DESIRES 3!!


WOO HOO GUYS! IT'S THAT CREEPY ( AND AWESOME ) TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! BURIED DESIRES 3 IS A COLLECTION OF STORIES FROM OFELIA GRAND, AMY SPECTOR, AND NEPTUNE FLOWERS THAT ARE SURE TO GET YOU IN THE HALLOWEEN MOOD! LOOK BELOW FOR BOOK INFO AND MORE INCLUDING A GUEST POST AND COMMENT TO WIN GIVEAWAY! 

BELOW IS THE ANTHOLOGY COVER, CLICK IT TO BE TAKEN TO THE BUY LINK! BELIEVE ME, YOU GUYS WANT THIS BOOK! 





Buried Desires 3 – A Horror Anthology 

More tales of love, death and love after death.

Buried Desires is back. And now there’s even more to love. From the ghostly to the grotesque, this time around Buried Desires 3 brings you three tales from horror authors, both old and new, offering up a perfect collection of romance and the macabre.


I CAN'T WAIT FOR YOU GUYS TO READ THESE STORIES! OMG YOU WILL LOVE THEM AS MUCH AS I DO! IF YOU HAVE A HANKERING FOR A HORROR STORY THIS FALL, THEN THIS IS THE PERFECT BOOK FOR YOU! CHECK OUT THE BLURBS AND AMAZING COVERS FOR THESE STORIES! 
***





The Reluctant Ghost Whisperer by Neptune Flowers

All you need is love, or so they say!

Owning a building company means long hours, lonely days and too much physical labour.

When Adam Barrow employs a fit, capable guy, life begins to look up. His business thrives from the extra muscle, and so does Adam. Being around chatty Johnny really helps the time fly past. Adam is shy and inexperienced in ways of the heart, but very soon his awkwardness eases and he finds himself flirting and having fun.

Johnny Sparrow has a mysterious past and seems to have a knack of stirring up inexplicable presences. From the day he arrives on a motorbike, weird things begin to happen, like strange noises and creepy mists. Even motorbike Angus has a personality!

All you need is love, but can Adam find the strength to confront the ghostly goings-on? Can Johnny find a use for the egg whisk, and can Angus really carry them both to safety?

A story of paranormal divas, supernatural aromas and head-over-heels romance.

Barrow and Sparrow book one.


***





The Snowflake by Ofelia Gränd

Nothing inspires art like love.

Theophile Lekas has spent the last seventeen years trying to build a name for himself as an ice sculptor. Ice is his world, but he lives for Dylan Mincer.

But loving from afar isn’t enough, and if Theo wants to win Dylan’s heart, he’ll need to sweep him off his feet. And what better way to do it than with a sculpture that will leave Dylan breathless and the world in no doubt of Theo’s genius?

After an argument leads to murder, Theo is hit with true inspiration. And he has the perfect block to begin his project. For Dylan, Theo will create his masterpiece. And it will be as unique as a snowflake.

Great art requires the perfect muse.


***








Pretty Plastic by Amy Spector

Christopher Minnick is still not a zombie.

Three months after his run-in with the vampire Marcus Gråsson, Christopher’s ankle has healed but his life is anything but perfect. There are people watching the house. Flora’s worried about the scarecrow. And after an unexpected tragedy strikes, Christopher will need to figure out how to deal with the loss without tearing a rift between his brother and himself.

When Victor accepts a job with Pretty, a prestigious private hospital, to work alongside the handsome Austen Poole, Christopher ends up with one more thing to worry about. While it might seem like a dream job, there’s something not quite right in paradise, and when Vic starts acting strangely, Christopher will stop at nothing to get his man back.

When striving for perfection, you sometimes need to get your hands a little dirty.



THEY SOUND CRAZY AMAZING RIGHT?! BELOW IS A GUEST POST, CHECK IT OUT: 

Hello, this is Amy Spector and I’m here with Ofelia Gränd and Neptune Flowers. We wanted to say a quick thank you to Bec for allowing the three of us to take over Bike Book Review for a little while today. We’ll try to behave!

Being that it’s October and Halloween is just around the corner, we thought it might be fun to talk about the kind of spooky books we’re drawn to as readers ourselves—and I supposed as writers as well—and the scary movies we like.

For those of you that already know Ofelia and me, you probably know that the two of us have collaborated on a paranormal/horror double feature in the past. In fact, our third, Buried Desires 3, is out this month, and for the first time it’s a true anthology, as we have roped in the extremely talented Neptune Flowers into contributing.

So, let’s have Neptune, as the baby of our group, tell us a little about what he likes in a scary story.

From a young age, I loved to read and watch scary things. Not just monsters and ghoulies, but dark plot twists and turns, anything unexpected. It’s not that I wanted to see any ghosts, quite the opposite. I’m not the kind of person who ‘sees’ invisible things or senses anything other than what most folks do. Maybe that’s why I’m fascinated by the inexplicable??

Horror films generally bore me silly, though it doesn’t stop me watching. I’m a huge fan of pandemic type films and I don’t mind getting caught up in an end-of-the-world disaster.
The Reluctant Ghost Whisperer is something a bit different. I like to watch Ghost Adventurer and decided to have a go at writing about a duo who, albeit reluctantly, try to help the spookies sort out issues from when they were alive. Imagine a ghost mediator! I got the idea from 2 builder friends who are the least likely people you can imagine to be in tune with the undead. One day they told me about a property they were renovating, about strange noises and creepy goings-on. One of them stood in the middle of the room where all the weirdness seemed to be and asked if he could help. They both swear the floor creaked!

Go on, ask me about Angus the motorbike. He understands Johnny and Adam and when things get tough, can be relied upon to zoom them out of harm's way…But I’m getting too far ahead. I haven’t even written that story yet!

The plan is for TRGW to be part of a series, based around 2 sweet, clueless guys.

What about you, Ofelia? And if I remember right, you don’t even care for horror! *gasp*

Hahaha no, I don’t, at least not to watch. I’d rather turn off the TV  than watch a horror movie...unless we’re talking films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Sweeney Todd because those are brilliant. Not that I would label The Nightmare Before Christmas as horror perhaps, but it has some dark characters, and if Jack Skellington asked, I would marry him in a heartbeat  LOL.

The kind of horror I like is when there’s a shift in perspective, when I’m put in the perpetrator's POV and get to see the world without the rights and wrongs we all (or most of us) have ingrained in us. Like with Theophile Lekas, the main character in The Snowflake, my contribution to Buried Desires #3. He doesn’t see the wrongness in killing people - he does it for art and for love, it’s pure. Well, almost at least. I love writing those kinds of stories, all it takes is a small little shift of reality and you’re in the head of a serial killer.

I also like the kind of horror with body parts. To read! Not to watch. My brain has to be given a chance to adjust the imagery so it suits me, but I love when it gets a little gruesome. I loved reading Anita Blake with rotting vampires and monsters built out of different limbs. I quit the series when it turned more into orgies than fighting nasty creatures.

If we’re talking M/M books with horror influences, Jordan L. Hawk pops up in my mind. Is it Threshold, I think it’s Threshold, with monsters from the mines, that’s the kind of stories I like. So build a monster out of body parts or make the main character crazy and I’m with you. I don’t like horror where I’m put in the victim's shoes, that’s too scary for me. And as I said before, with books I can go gory gruesome because I paint the pictures myself, but I don’t like horror movies where I have no control over the images I’m fed.

But I do know one in our gang who likes horror movies. Isn’t that so, Amy? What do you like to watch, and read for that matter?

I really do! And sometimes I like the cheesy terrible movies better than the good one! LOL

For me, my favorite is to read old horror. I like the birth of horror stuff and the books that were inspired by it. Think The Castle of Otranto, Dracula, and Frankenstein. I love when we get a glimpse of that fear of science and technology clashing with superstition. Real Gothic horror stuff. And I have a real soft spot for Rhy Ford’s Hellsinger series.

The same goes for movies. My grandfather was a huge horror and sci-fi fan, so my mother was taken to all those wonderful drive-in theater atomic-age horror movies from the 50’s and early 60’s when she was a kid. My father loved the Universal stuff. Those were the horror movies my parents showed me and my brother and sister. We grew up on all these old horror movies that none of my friends had ever seen, half the time had never heard of. I enjoy all the weird horror stuff too—haunted houses, creepy dolls, evil children—but I’ve never really grown all that fond of the murder-horror trend that took off with the Brazilian 60’s horror and the 70’s stuff in the U.S..

Oh, and I’ll watch anything with Vincent Price in it!

All of that probably explains Pretty Plastic and all of the Cold Fingers series. LOL

Thanks everyone for stopping by to visit today.  Leave a comment below to enter to win one of three eBook copies of Buried Desires #3.

I LOVE THIS POST! I TOO AM A HUGE VINCENT PRICE FAN ( FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER! NOW THAT'S A MOVIE!) LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AS THEY SAID GUYS, AND THEY WILL PICK THE WINNERS OF THE EBOOKS ON SATURDAY! THANKS FOR JOINING US, LOOK FOR MY REVIEW POST OF BURIED DESIRES 3 LATER TODAY! 








REBUILDING HOPE BLOG TOUR PROMO POST!


HEY FRIENDS, TODAY I HAVE A PROMO POST FOR YOU: LOOK BELOW FOR DETAILS ABOUT REBUILDING HOPE; A KINDRED STORY; BY JESSIE J! I HAVE BOOK DETAILS AS WELL AS AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: SO LET'S TAKE A LOOK! 



AUTHOR NAME: Jessie G
BOOK NAME: Rebuilding Hope
SERIES NAME:  A Kindred Story, Book #1
PUBLISHER: Jessie G Books, Inc.
PAGE/WORD COUNT: 200 pages, 64K words
CATEGORIES: Gay, Contemporary, Shifter
COVER MODELS: TankJoey & Connor Jay
PHOTOGRAPHER: CJC Photography
COVER ARTIST: Andrew Reyna


BLURB: Holden Bancroft was born with a better than average brain and not much else.
Often described as strange and sickly, his attempts to conform only made him look foolish and
a life-long diet of pills hasn’t provided a cure. Deciding to strengthen the only tool in his arsenal was
liberating and learning became his greatest joy. But each episode is another reminder that his time
is limited, and Holden intends to use everything he’s learned to help the small town of Hope before
he dies.


Alpha Crowley Lomond, Zenith of the Americas, isn’t exactly happy with his ascension. Leading isn’t
the problem, it’s acting like he’s somehow better than every other shifter that chafes. But while living
and working beside them may seem noble, Crowley is more than just an alpha. As Zenith, he’s their
example, their teacher and guide, and the one they will turn to when their way of life is threatened.


Meeting changes them in ways they never could have predicted and unveils a web of deceit that began
long before they were born. Together, they will have to unravel the lies and reconcile the
consequences if they are to protect the shifter way of life. Along the way, Crowley will become
the Zenith his Kindred was born to love and their enemies will learn that there's nothing more
dangerous than fated mates.

THIS LOOKS GREAT RIGHT, AND THAT COVER, SO SEXY! GRAB IT BELOW RIGHT AFTER YOU READ THIS EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT!


“Crow.”
Holden was pretty sure he was going to have to stop using that name, though
 Alpha or Zenith sounded strange. Which he supposed was right. They were strangers
 or Holden wouldn’t have been surprised to learn he had slept with the most powerful
 man in the western hemisphere. Talk about blowing things out of proportion. 
What had he said to Abigail? How could anyone live up to the hype?
Question answered.
Crow…no, Crowley. Alpha Crowley Lomond, Zenith of the Americas brushed the 
hair back from his face and pressed warm lips to his forehead. “You’re burning up, 
Kit. Come inside and let me take care of you.”
Holden couldn’t think of anything he wanted more and looking up into those dark 
eyes, it was almost possible to block out the guns that were pointed down at them.
Oh, wait, no, they were still there, and Holden imagined he could feel the intent from
 the men on the surrounding wall. It was every childhood nightmare come to life, 
with his mother’s voice whispering a mournful ‘I told you so’ in the background. 
She said they would kill him given the chance and here he was, walking right into
 their crosshairs.
Completely out of his element, Holden remained mute when Crowley turned them toward 
the house where more soldiers blocked their path. There wasn’t enough great sex in the world
 that would entice him to walk that gauntlet.    

BUY LINKS

Apple Books, B&N, KOBO & More: https://www.books2read.com/u/3J8BJE

THANKS FOR JOINING ME FOR MY PROMO POST OF REBUILDING HOPE, I LOVE THIS AUTHOR SO I KNOW THIS BOOK IS GOING TO BE AMAZING! GRAB IT TODAY!




RELEASE BLITZ AND REVIEW POST: HONEYMOON FOR ONE!!



HELLO FRIENDS, TODAY I HAVE MY RELEASE BLITZ AND REVIEW POST FOR HONEYMOON FOR ONE, BY KEIRA ANDREWS! LOOK BELOW FOR MY REVIEW AND MUCH MORE! 


Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 80,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Design

Blurb

The wedding is off, but the love story is just beginning.


Betrayed the night before his wedding by the supposed boy of his dreams, Ethan Robinson escapes the devastating fallout by going on his honeymoon alone to the other side of the world. Hard of hearing and still struggling with the repercussions of being late-deafened, traveling by himself leaves him feeling painfully isolated with his raw, broken heart.


Clay Kelly never expected to be starting life over in his forties. He got hitched young, but now his wife has divorced him and remarried, his kids are grown, and he’s left his rural Outback town. In a new career driving a tour bus on Australia’s East Coast, Clay reckons he's happy enough. He enjoys his cricket, a few beers, and a quiet life. If he's a bit lonely, it's not the end of the world.


Clay befriends Ethan, hoping he can cheer up the sad-eyed young man, and a crush on an unattainable straight guy is exactly the safe distraction Ethan needs. Yet as the days pass and their connection grows, long-repressed desires surface in Clay, and they are shocked to discover romance sparking. Clay is the sexy, rugged man of Ethan’s dreams, and as the clock counts down on their time together, neither wants this honeymoon to end.


Honeymoon for One is a gay romance by Keira Andrews featuring a May-December age difference, a slow burn of newfound friends to lovers, first-time m/m sex, and of course a happy ending.

MY REVIEW: 


I knew I would get into this book because I love this author, but what I didn't expect was to fall in love with Ethan like I did! 

Ethan walks into his home the eve of his wedding and gets the biggest shock of his life, he is left heartbroken with no fiance and no friend to turn to for comfort. 

He decides to go on his honeymoon himself, he needs some time away, but being hearing impaired puts a strain on him and he is questioning his decision once he gets to Australia. 

Then he meets one of the tour guides, Clay. Ethan and Clay couldn't be more different, but there is a spark there, a spark that throws everything Clay knew about himself into a tailspin. 

Can these two figure out if what they feel is just attraction, or something more, and if it is something more, how will it work when they live so far away from each other? 

These questions and many more will be answered in this lovely story, so don't wait a minute more to read it! 

                 the 5 Australian Outback rating :)

OF COURSE I HAD TO DO THE OUTBACK RATING, BE SURE TO GRAB THIS BOOK WITH THE LINKS ABOVE! BELOW IS AN EXCERPT AND AUTHOR BIO, CHECK OUT KEIRA AND HER OTHER BOOKS, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED! 


Excerpt

As Ethan walked through the resort on Fraser Island the next afternoon after a tour to gorgeous Lake McKenzie, he finally admitted to himself that he was looking for Clay.


Because he’s nice! He’s fun to talk to. Besides, my harmless crush is just that. Harmless. Why shouldn’t I enjoy it? Nothing’s going to happen. He’s apparently straight and I’m on the rebound. But we can be friendly. I like his accent, and he’s a nice guy.


Of course, Clay wasn’t just nice. He was sexy. His accent? Sexy. The Australian slang he used that made him sound like Crocodile Dundee sometimes? Sexy. His broad shoulders and solid build? Sexy. That he didn’t have chiseled abs and was a little soft around the middle? Sexy. Those blue eyes, and how the auburn in his hair gleamed in the sun, especially in his beard and the hair on his arms, and how he had freckles…


Sexy, sexy, sexy.


But the sexiest thing of all was how thoughtful he was. How he made such an effort to make sure Ethan could hear him when he spoke. How he’d told him the secret of the Mission Bay sunrise. How he’d copied the tour guide notes for him. Even back in Cairns, how he’d held Ethan’s backpack while Ethan was snorkeling and watched over him, then later took him to buy a hat.


Ethan was wearing the hat now, and it gave him a giddy little thrill.


Is he straight though?


The question had been niggling at him. Clay had been married to a woman for years and had kids, but of course that didn’t mean he was straight. He could be bi or pan. Although he’d mentioned the right woman coming along.


Still, when Ethan had touched his arm that morning on Mission Beach and looked into Clay’s eyes, he swore there had been a flicker between them. That unnamed frisson of knowing.


Wishful thinking. Don’t be an idiot.


There were four pools at the resort, and Ethan strolled around the first two. It was sunny, and through his polarized sunglasses, the water, surrounding palm trees, and forest beyond were vibrant. He waved hello to Shiv—who was reading on a lounger since there was nothing planned for the day after that morning’s trip to the lake in four-by-four jeeps—and continued on to a smaller, kidney-shaped pool that was more tucked away, and—


Fuck. Clay.


There he was, stretched out on a chaise lounge under the shade of an umbrella and surrounding trees on the deck at the far end of the pool. There were a few adults in the water paddling lazily, others on the more exposed side of the concrete deck sunbathing. Kids seemed to be in the bigger pools, their splashing and shrieks distant noises now.


Oh so casually, Ethan ambled around the pool, stealing glances at Clay from the corner of his eye. The chaises on either side of him were vacant. In fact, that whole shady side of the pool was empty and quiet. There was no music piped in, just the rustle of leaves in the breeze. It was perfect.


Clay wore his sexy-AF aviator sunglasses, navy bathing trunks, and nothing else but his gold-colored watch. It was kind of old-fashioned to wear a watch, and it was sexy. He’d apparently taken a dip, since his hair was wet and darker, and drops of water dried on his skin.


His long, muscular legs were crossed at the ankles. There was a newspaper folded over his stomach, his fingers laced on top of it. His nipples were pink amid the reddish hair on his chest, and as Ethan got closer, he imagined licking those nipples.


Heat roaring through him, he swallowed thickly. This was a bad idea, and he should turn back the way he came. But now he was close enough that if Clay saw him, it might seem rude, like Ethan had turned around and left because he was avoiding Clay. So he kept walking slowly around the curve of the shaded deep end, where one woman in a bikini swam a slow side stroke.


Clay’s chaise was partly reclined, and it was entirely possible he was napping and didn’t have any idea Ethan was even there. Ethan slowed even more so his flip-flops didn’t flap on the concrete.


Okay, if I walk by and he doesn’t notice me, that’s a sign. I’ll keep going and stop being ridiculous.


He was still at least ten feet away when Clay called, “Ethan!” and lifted a hand in a wave.


“Oh, hey!” Ethan replied too loudly. Calm the fuck down. He smiled as he approached. “You found a good shady spot.”


“Yep. Got skin cancer once when I was younger, so I reckoned me and the sun aren’t mates.”


Ethan gaped. “Oh my God. I’m sorry. You said before that you had to be careful, but I didn’t realize.”


“Nah, nah. Don’t be sorry.” He casually motioned to the chaise on his left in invitation. Ethan spread out his striped resort towel and settled in, his heart beating too fast as he took off his hat since they were in the shade. Clay added, “I shouldn’t be so dramatic—it wasn’t melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma. Quite common in Australia. It can’t spread, so it’s not dangerous like other cancers. Still, I had to have surgery to remove it, so it’s not nothing.”


“Wow. I’m glad it wasn’t melanoma. Obviously. Where was it?” he asked before realizing how intrusive that was. Even though Clay really felt like a friend now, Ethan had to remember it was probably mostly in his head. “I’m sorry, I’m being totally nosy! You don’t have to tell me.”


See? This was a bad idea. I’m going to make a fool of myself with this crush. Maybe it’s not so harmless after all.


“No worries. It was on the back of my left shoulder.” Clay leaned forward, angling so Ethan could see. He reached over that shoulder with his right hand, his fingers finding a pale circle of a scar. Just below it was a tattoo, a green sort of shield with a yellow sun rising over a green horizon and five stars dotting the shield. It was a few inches wide and several inches long.


“Cool tattoo.” Ethan had never been compelled to get one, but he enjoyed looking at other people’s. Before he could stop himself, he traced it with his fingertip. Clay’s back was freckled as well, and goddamn, why was that so sexy? The seconds ticked by as he touched Clay, neither of them saying anything.


Finally, Ethan asked, “Does it mean something?” He was still touching, and Clay shivered. Ethan dropped his hand, his mouth dry.


Clay cleared his throat as he sat back. “It’s part of the Cricket Australia logo. On their uniforms there’s a roo on the left and an emu on the right, and ‘Australia’ written underneath.” He laughed and muttered something Ethan missed.


“What was the last part? Sorry.”


“I thought having the full logo was overkill for a tattoo. Didn’t want it too big, but I like having a little something.”


“You really love cricket, huh?”


Clay laughed. “What gave me away?”


Ethan chuckled. “Oh, you were going to tell me about that thing. The…” He racked his brain for the right word. “Ashes?”


“Ah, yes.” Clay tipped his head forward and peered at Ethan over the rims of his aviators with his intensely blue eyes. A thrill of desire shot through Ethan’s veins. Clay asked, “Are you sure you really want to know? No need to humor me, mate.”


“No, I really do!” He laughed, and it came out shaky, so he faked a cough. “I always loved sports when I was younger, and I want to get back into them. Although the Mets were epically bad last season, so I wasn’t very inspired to hop back on the bandwagon.”


“What happened to make you lose your interest? I can’t imagine.”


“Oh. It was…” Ethan motioned to his ears. “I lost interest in basically everything. I was really depressed for, like, four years. But the last year’s been a lot better. I’ve come to terms with it, I guess. But I’m still not the way I was before.”


“Ah.” Clay nodded sympathetically. “I understand. Still finding your footing. It can take a while. When I first moved down to Sydney, it was quite a culture shock. My entire life was upended. Home, work—the whole bit.”


“Yeah.” Ethan hesitated, but the way Clay watched him so patiently and without judgement gave him the confidence to say, “And now, being single again, it’s just so…weird. Like, who am I if… If I’m not with Michael?” Saying his name aloud was painful, but felt good at the same time, to release some of the pressure inside him.


Clay nodded again. “I was half of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly for so long. It hurt to lose that, no mistake.” He smiled sadly. “Hell, I still feel like I’m finding my footing. Thought I should have figured it all out by now, but that’s life for ya, I reckon.”


Warmth filled Ethan’s chest, affection and understanding flowing. “Always full of surprises, right?” And some that were actually good surprises. Like meeting a sexy older man who somehow likes me. Somehow gets me.


“Indeed.” Clay looked at him for a moment. Then he said, “You know, it’s nice to chat about it with someone on the same page. Haven’t really made many mates since I moved, and aside from Facebook, I don’t see the blokes from the Curry. Not that we’d talk much about this sort of thing.”


It made Ethan feel so damn good to be in Clay’s confidence. He had to stop himself from grinning delightedly. Instead, he joked, “Strong silent types in the outback, huh?”


Clay chuckled. “Something like that.” He sipped from a bottle of water. “Glad to have met you.” Then he jolted and looked horrified. “Not saying I’m glad at the trauma you’ve had. It’s awful that your wedding was called off.” He grimaced. “Maybe it’s best for me not to talk about all this after all.”


“No, no. It’s okay. I know what you meant. No offense taken.” He smiled genuinely, relieved when Clay visibly relaxed. But maybe it was time to lighten the subject. Sitting back on his chaise, Ethan said, “All right, tell me all about the mysterious Ashes. Maybe cricket can be my new sport.” And since it was something important to Clay, he really did want to know about it.


Clay grinned. “If you insist.” He sat back and re-crossed his ankles. “What do you know about cricket?”


“Um…nothing? It’s kind of like baseball and takes forever to play?”


Throwing his head back, Clay laughed, exposing his neck. Ethan watched his Adam’s apple. Clay said, “I’ll start at the beginning.”


Ethan nodded and uh-huhed as Clay outlined the basics. Stumps, bats, a wicket, a pitch, creases, bowling—Ethan wasn’t sure he really understood all the info, but he kept nodding, loving the rumble of Clay’s voice.


“Is this making sense?” Clay asked.


“Yes! I mean, it’s a lot to try and take in, but I think I get it.”


“We should watch a match. It’s really the best way to learn.”


Belly somersaulting, Ethan tried to keep his voice casual. “That would be cool, yeah. So what’s the thing about ashes?”


“The Ashes is a test series between England and Australia. Test matches can go five days, as opposed to an ODI—” He cut off. “You’re going to be bored shitless if I go into the overs and innings and all that. In a nutshell, England and Australia play a series every year or so of five matches. It’s very competitive. Lots of patriotic pride tied up in it. The name comes from the late 1800s, when we beat England for the first time over there. Being beaten by the colonies on English soil was quite a shock for the poor pommies, bless their hearts. Our bowler went fourteen wickets for ninety.”


“I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good?” Ethan laughed. Clay laughed as well, and God, he was so hot.


“It was very good. So one of the London papers published a mock obit for English cricket after we won. At the end it said, ‘The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.’ The Brits were determined to get the ashes back, and over the years, mumble mumble.”


A chattering couple walking by made the last part impossible to hear, but Ethan guessed, “Over the years that became the name of the tournament?”


Clay frowned after the couple, who thankfully kept walking. “You’ve got it. Legend goes that when England came back to Australia to play, a lady gave the captain an urn with the ashes of a burnt cricket ball inside. That urn’s in a museum at the MCC in England, but now the winning team gets a crystal version of it to keep until the next series.”


“Are you serious?”


“Mate, I never joke about cricket. Ever.”


Ethan grinned. “I love that the trophy is an urn. That’s awesome. Thanks for explaining all that.”


“I’d give you an ear-bashing all day about cricket if you let me.”


I’d let you do so many things to me.


Before Ethan’s mind could veer too far down the path of wondering what Clay’s beard would feel like against his face if they kissed, Clay said, “Tell me about baseball. Your Mets aren’t doing so well?”


“Not last season. But there was one year when I was a kid? We didn’t make the World Series, but it was still amazing. You know, when everything seems to go right during the season, and the players are all awesome guys and you feel like you know them, and you’re rooting so hard for them. And when they win, it’s just the best feeling in the world.”


Clay grinned. “Nothing like it, mate.” Then he laughed, his shoulders shaking.


“What?” Ethan laughed too. “You get it, right?”


“Absolutely.” Clay looked like he was trying to stop laughing but couldn’t manage it.


What?” Ethan nudged Clay’s bare arm with his fist, resisting the urge to flatten his palm over the firm, hair-dusted muscles. He groaned as he thought back over what he’d said. “Oh, I see. ‘Rooting so hard.’ You know I didn’t mean it like that. ‘Root’ doesn’t mean sex in the US.” He giggled, because he and Clay were apparently twelve.


As they laughed together over the silly joke, Ethan’s hearing aid battery beeped in his left ear. That meant the right likely would go soon too. Grimacing at the loud beep, he said, “Sorry, I need to go change my hearing aid batteries. They beep to let me know.”


“No worries. I’ll try to compose myself. Of course now my mind’s full of stupid jokes.”


Ethan grinned. “Tell me one before I go.”


“Well, did you know Australian’s don’t have sex?”


Hearing the word “sex” come out of Clay’s mouth had Ethan’s balls tingling and his head going light. His voice sounded too high as he said, “No? What do they do?”


“They mate.”


Ethan burst out laughing, and Clay joined in. Sure, it was childish. But he didn’t give a shit. It was fun. Michael would have rolled his eyes because he was always too snobby for puns. And wow, Ethan realized he and Michael hadn’t had goofy fun in a long, long time.


He’d missed feeling so relaxed. Like, he didn’t have to worry about what Clay would think if he made a dumb joke or announced, “that’s what she said” after a double entendre. Because Clay would laugh along with him.


Because Clay was awesome.


Ethan gave him a wave and circled the pool, walking on air. He imagined he could feel the heat of Clay’s gaze on his body. I might have to go jerk off if I don’t get my shit together. He’s only being friendly. Stop imagining things!


The eco resort had raised, wooden, covered boardwalks with guest rooms along them and lots of foliage around. He was smiling to himself—okay, grinning—and waved as he passed Stan and Violet. Inside his room, Ethan kept his suitcases neatly packed and closed since he’d read to never put a suitcase on a bed due to the threat of bedbugs.


A few minutes later, Ethan’s belongings were strewn across the spare bed, his heart racing and mouth dry. His hearing aid batteries weren’t there. “Fuck, fuck, FUCK!”


He pawed through his clothes again. Nothing. Telling himself they had to be somewhere, he tried to be methodical as he searched. Nothing. He ran into the bathroom and looked there again. Nothing. The reminder beeps from his hearing aids as the clock wound down did not freaking help, the right one chiming in now, as he’d expected.


Ethan opened drawers even though he hadn’t put anything away. He dug through the trash bins, which hadn’t been emptied yet by housekeeping. Finally, after searching three more times, he had to declare defeat. His batteries were not there. Trying to catch a ragged breath, he stood in the middle of his room, which looked like a hurricane had passed through.


Then he remembered the little balcony with a forest view. He unlocked the door and slid it open with a bang, his heart pounding. Nothing. He tried to think of when he’d last seen the pack of little round batteries and came up blank. Had he left them in the Whitsundays? He couldn’t imagine doing that, but he’d taken everything out of his big suitcase to reorganize.


And of course he usually kept a couple batteries in his little hearing aid case, but hadn’t replaced them since he’d been on one of the flights when his batteries had gone.


“Fuck!”


If he was on the mainland, it would be easy enough to buy more at a drugstore. Heart in his throat, he rushed out of his room and down the walkway back toward reception. Maybe they had a store. He hadn’t noticed anything—maybe a gift shop wasn’t eco-friendly?—but there had to be somewhere to buy stuff on the island. Right?


Wrong.


The young guy behind the front desk shook his head apologetically. “We only have a few essentials available.” He added something else that was lost in the four ominous beeps in Ethan’s left ear, signaling that battery would die momentarily. Sure enough, after a few heartbeats, it went quiet. The guy was saying something else, and Ethan strained to understand with only his right hearing aid, turning his head and leaning in.


The guy looked at him like he was waiting for a response, and Ethan said, “I’m sorry?”


He waved a hand dismissively, and Ethan easily read his lips since he was used to these words: “Never mind.”


“Can you not fucking—” He caught himself and breathed deeply to choke down the frustration. He lowered his voice, or at least he hoped he did. “Can you please write down what you said?”


Glancing at him warily as if Ethan was a lunatic, the guy scrawled on a piece of hotel notepaper:


I’ll ask housekeeping to go through the towels and make sure nothing was accidentally picked up.


Still breathing hard, Ethan nodded. “Thank you.” He turned and walked away from the desk, his lungs tight. As he descended the wide stairs leading down to a restaurant on one side and the pool area beyond glass doors, he spotted Stan and Violet sitting in the shade outside in an area with padded wicker furniture and tables. He approached them to ask what kind of batteries Stan used.


Of course not the same kind—Stan’s were smaller. He and his wife were very kind and sympathetic, and Ethan was going to fucking cry like the loser he was, so he quickly thanked them and escaped back into the lobby. Where he stood as the minutes ticked by, trying not to completely lose his shit. His right aid was going to go soon, the reminder beep making him wince.


Then Clay was there, his face pinched in concern as he said something Ethan didn’t hear in the murmur of noise from the restaurant nearby and people through the lobby. Ethan told him about the missing batteries and added, “I guess I left them at the last place? I don’t know. Doesn’t matter now. They’re not here.” Clay said something that was probably sympathetic, and Ethan shook his head. “Sorry, it’s hard with only one now. And the right one won’t last much longer.”


Clay nodded and glanced around, then guided Ethan to a little tucked-away corner, his big hand warm and comforting on Ethan’s shoulder before dropping away. Ethan blew out a long breath. “Anyway, I asked Stan, but his hearing aids are different and the batteries won’t fit mine.”


“Damn it.” Clay was clearly trying to speak even more carefully. His sunglasses were perched on his head, and he leaned in, looking at Ethan intently. “Where do you get more batteries? Does it have to be a specialty-type place?”


“No, just a drugstore. But they don’t have one here.”


“I’ll ask the desk when the next boat to the mainland is. If you tell me which batteries, I can fetch them from the chemist and come back as soon as I can.”


Clay’s kindness made Ethan’s eyes burn again with the threat of tears. His right hearing aid beeped, but with Clay’s steady presence, he was able to take a deep breath and calm his spiky pulse. “That’s really cool of you to offer. But no, it’s your day off. I’ll be fine.”


“It’s no bother. I always enjoy a boat ride.”


Clay was amazing. It was entirely a freaking bother, but he was so comforting and unruffled. So sexy. No, no, this wasn’t the time to be thinking about that, but it loosened the massive knot of tension in Ethan’s chest. “I’ll be okay.” He blew out a long breath, glancing around the high-ceilinged lobby. No one seemed to be watching his meltdown, at least. “I’m okay. I can get batteries in the morning. I’m sorry. Sometimes my anxiety just…” He made an exploding motion with his hands.


Clay smiled, and Ethan really, really wanted to kiss him. “No worries. We all have our moments. I can imagine it’s a frightening thing, not being able to hear. Would make a bloke feel awfully…bare. If you know what I mean.”


Do not think about Clay naked. “Yeah, that’s it exactly. Vulnerable, I guess. But it helps—” He broke off. Would it be weird to say it? What the hell. Before he could lose his nerve, he said, “It helps having you here. Thank you.”


Of course now he was a hundred percent thinking about Clay naked, and when Clay slung an arm around Ethan’s shoulders and gave him a manly half-hug squeezy thing, that did not help.


He spoke quietly and steadily near Ethan’s right ear, not shouting like a lot of well-meaning people would. “How about I buy us a couple of tinnies of Four X—they’ll allow those by the pool, but no glass. There’s a bar over by the main deck, and we can take ‘em back to the shade.”


Ethan was pressed against the side of Clay’s big, strong body, a situation his dick was very interested in pursuing further. Afraid of how high-pitched his voice might come out, he simply nodded. Clay clapped his back and let go, and they made their way outside. Ethan tried to get the beer charged to his room, but of course Clay waved him off, not accepting any arguments.


“This shout’s on me.”


Ethan’s brows drew together. “This what?”


“Shout.” He motioned to the cans of beer the bartender put on the counter.


“I thought that’s what you said. A shout’s like a round of drinks?” At Clay’s nod, Ethan grinned. “Cool. Thanks. Then I’ll get the one after.” His smile faded. “I mean, unless you have other stuff to do. You don’t have to hang out with me all day.”


Clay shrugged. “Nowhere else to be, mate.”


Copyright © Keira Andrews

Author Bio

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, fantasy, and paranormal fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said:


“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”


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