GRNW and Beyond

Yesterday I arrived home from a two-day trip to Seattle where I participated and benefited from a full day of programming at Gay Romance Northwest 2014. In a way I was wrung out, exhausted from travel and almost non-stop socializing, but in another way I was revitalized.

Like last year’s call to action spurring readers to request authors and books from the LGBT* spectrum if they’re not seeing it on their shelves, this year’s conference came with a to-do list. If we’re not seeing something in the industry that we think we should be–or worse, seeing something we shouldn’t–this year’s follow up is easy. The Amazon marketplace shapes a lot of what we see in the bookseller industry today. The avidly covered war between Amazon and Hachette is proof of that. If you’re not seeing LGBT represented on Amazon the way titles in other genres are, drop a line to jeff@amazon.com.

That’s it, that’s the follow up. And you will get a response, though whether action follows…well, that’s another thing. It’s a process. But the more people in the community ask for what they want to see, the better our chances are at getting action. And the more we ask for what we want to see, the more they know there are people who want that.

Tracy, the conference’s organizer, emailed Jeff to let him know that LGBT romance wasn’t included in the breakout of various romance genres. He referred her email to one of his directors, who said they would look into it. Tracy began to compose a longer response explaining the issue to the director, went to the romance by genre page, and discovered the issue had already been corrected–LGBT romance was appearing alongside vampire romance, steampunk romance, and whatever else. Not every issue, visibility and otherwise, will have a fix. But if you see something on Amazon, or any site for that matter, let them know. How will we get it fixed if we never ask for it? Privilege is invisible, and so are the needs of a minority community when the site runners aren’t a part of it.

The conference was great, but as I also mentioned, draining. At the same time, it gave me fresh hope and determination. Over this past year I’ve been discouraged and distracted by turns. It’s like my fire went out. A variety of circumstances has gotten me questioning whether it’s worth it to keep up this publishing venture and whether I ought to go back to writing for fun. (I swear, it has nothing to do with my increased nightly involvement with Mass Effect and now Destiny.) Work has been leveling up to the point my situation may change, and I may not have the energy or even the time for that second career in writing.

I showed up relatively unprepared for Saturday’s author events. I didn’t bring swag, or cards, or stacks of books to give away. My table at the evening author meet and greet was sadly unadorned and scarcely attended. At events like this for someone who’s barely gotten a foothold it’s like being a mote of light in a roomful of sunshine; how to distinguish myself from the big celestial bodies? I could have left the event depressed and downtrodden, but what I did take away from GRNW was this: there are stories that need to be told in only the way that I can tell them. It may be difficult to get connected with the readers who will love them most, but it’s not impossible.

There are a number of things I can do in order to be better prepared, promote myself, and reach out to find the readers both through this event and all the social media tools available to me. And between now and Gay Romance Northwest 2015 is the time to be doing them. No task, no matter how daunting, is insurmountable when I break it into its small component steps.

So if you’re reading this, thank you for being here. This is the first step on the journey to put myself out there. And here’s what I have coming up next:

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Today is the last day to enjoy preorder savings on Satisfaction Guaranteed through Less Than Three Press.

My story, “My Sexual Superhero,” rounds out the tale of Jessan, mild-mannered and somewhat awkward geek boy who works at a comic store by day, call center by swing shift, and won’t let himself think he’s looking for the right guy rather than someone for right now, even though he totally is. Jessan has a hard time putting himself out there as a minority within a minority, half-Persian and half-Jamaican and all introvert. When he meets Felipe at the local club, his geek-savvy banter is at odds with the flashy club gear and allows Jessan to think he may have found his short, dark, and handsome. Any hope for a happy ending, though, is quashed when he’s all but kicked out the door the next morning.

During Gay Romance Northwest 2014, I was on a panel for worldbuilding and I chose a moderated question that had impact and importance for me. I asked what role diversity plays in authentic worldbuilding. To me, this goes for everything from contemporary on to the science fiction and fantasy that are highly beloved yet so very whitewashed.

Ever since The Fall Guide I’ve asked myself what my character’s background should be. Instead of what kind of white guy (or girl, or trans person) I’ll be writing, the question has become, why not a person of color? Why not someone trans? Why not someone with a disability? Why not someone older? Why not someone ace? I want to see everything represented in LGBT fiction, so this is what I’m putting up.

If this is something that interests you, or anything in my summary strikes you as appealing, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Satisfaction Guaranteed. Not to mention, it’s got many fine authors including my gals Mina and Leona. The theme of the call is service, and the payoff is to leave everyone fulfilled–that’s what it’s all about!

Coming next, a full GRNW debriefing.

Happy New Year PAPERBACK Giveaway!

Welcome to 2014! Let’s get this year started out in style, with a new-in-print fiction giveaway!

These are my two latest paperback releases. That’s right, you can hold this one in your hands! My story Convergence is part of the Proud to Be a Vampire anthology, volume one, and The Fall Guide is my most recent novel. I’ll ship these books anywhere that can receive U.S. mail.

I will be selecting two winners, creating a “pool” for each novel and drawing one winner for each pool. You can sign up for one, or both.

COMMENT ON THIS ENTRY AND STATE WHICH BOOK YOU WANT to be eligible for the giveaway. That’s all you have to do! Make sure to include an email address or means of contact. Winners will be chosen Tuesday, January 21st, morning Pacific time.


Your choices are from the following:

Fall Guide v3 small

    Eric is a popular beauty blogger, and hopes to use the momentum of that to start his own business selling makeup for men—but his first attempt to launch makes it painfully clear he has a lot to learn and a long way to go.

    Unexpected help comes in the form of Devon: Gorgeous, successful, and far too smooth. He is everything Eric would like to be, all the things Eric is starting to fear he’ll never achieve, and the success that Eric is striving for in both his professional and personal life is jeopardized by Devon’s inability to understand that business and pleasure shouldn’t mix, because they can have disastrous results for both.

You can read more about The Fall Guide, and an excerpt, here.

Proud to Be a Vampire: Volume One is composed of Bundle One and Bundle Two. My story is Convergence:

Convergence small

    Chris and Ling travel the world in search of rare, exquisite curiosities, but treasure hunting is rife with danger and comes with a price. In order to retrieve a lost treasure deep within a perilous mountain, Chris hires on a vampire. But traveling with a predator comes with its own risks, and their venture may collapse into absolute loss unless they can each find the opportunity in one another.

You can read more about Convergence, and an excerpt from the story, here.

I would also love for you to promote my giveaway in any way, shape, or form possible, so that others can have a chance to win!

So if you: Make a comment, Tweet, Facebook entry, tumblr post, or any kind of entry promoting this giveaway on your own social venue (any and all – WordPress, LJ, DW, blogspot, just link me and let me know HERE in comments so I can verify) I will count each promo as an additional chance to win.

Questions? Ask away! Thank you for your support, and I wish you a happy and productive week. ♥ May your reading list be long and bring you everything you love!

A Cut Above the Rest Giveaway

Greetings, good evening, and welcome to my giveaway to celebrate the release for A Cut Above the Rest! I’m incredibly proud of this story and so happy to share it with all of you.

01 A Cut Above

Alex always had it easy growing up, indulged by loving, but busy parents as he flitted from one interest to another without settling. Then he discovered the world of fine dining and became determined to be a chef capable of producing such magnificent meals. Despite the doubts of a father who limited his funds, and the difficulties of leaving Germany to live in the United States, Alex stuck to his new goal and graduated the Culinary Institute of America.

Fresh out of school, he is eager to begin work at the restaurant owned by a good friend of his father’s, a restaurant well known for the beautiful, innovative meals its chefs create. He is primed to join the ranks of those masterful chefs—until the day he starts, and learns that he is nothing more than kitchen lackey, lower in rank than even the dishwashers.

Worse, his boss is none other than Nik, the beautiful, infuriating, highly talented classmate that Alex could never best—or resist.

A Cut Above the Rest is available for pre-order for a couple days more at Less Than Three Press here. You can read an excerpt of the story, too.

The Appetite series is near and dear to my heart, not only for all the amazing food but because presiding over the journey that Chef Alex and Chef Nik take over the course of the story is tremendously frustrating, certainly difficult, but ultimately satisfying.

The Giveaway:
I am offering THREE copies of A Cut Above the Rest to three lucky winners, chosen by random numbers selected by random.org from the comments of this entry. This is the e-book version, and I will send a copy in your preferred format; epub, HTML, mobi, PDF.

To enter, drop a comment (you MUST include an email or means of contact or I CANNOT count your entry). Comment between now and next Sunday, March 17th. Winners will be chosen Monday morning.

To win additional chances to enter, you may do the following:

– Promote/share my Facebook post promoting Appetite’s release.
– Post a comment on my/your Facebook about the novel.
– Promote/share my Tumblr post promoting Appetite’s release.
– Like my Tumblr post regarding the release.
– Retweet my author tweet on Twitter regarding the release.
– Become a fan on Goodreads.
– Leave a comment or make a post promoting the novel on your own social venue (any and all – WordPress, LJ, DW, blogspot, just link me so I can verify)

Basically, spread the word in any possible fashion and you can get an additional chance to win your own ebook copy of A Cut Above the Rest!

Many thanks, I appreciate your stopping by, and good luck with the giveaway.

We’ve also got a fun promotional tour this week, so stay tuned for daily updates on where it’s at!

From the Inside Out: reviews and discussion

On tap this evening, I’d like to share lovely reviews I received for From the Inside Out, and a bit of info about the story as well as a short excerpt and purchase info.

Diane of Hearts on Fire gave From the Inside Out a fabulous five hearts! Check out her review to see many of the lovely things that she had to say.

Pixie of MM Good Book Reviews gave it a fantastic four hearts. I’m going to excerpt the review here, because it looks as though it hasn’t yet gone live on the site:

Soren is shy and quiet; he has his job as a barista, he has his close friend Sloane and he has his school, but he breaks out of his shell one day and agrees to meet with his online friend Tru. The meeting doesn’t go as planned and Soren is left wondering just what he should do next. Lucas is a shift supervisor barista and has never really noticed Soren before, but after arranging a date with an online friend, he realises just how much Soren appeals to him.

This is a wonderful finding yourself story for these two young men, both main characters discover themselves as we progress through the book, and they discover the courage to face everything head on. Soren is a character that is very quiet; he will back down or dodge when questioned head on and has made avoiding decisions an art form, when he finally gives Lucas a chance, he discovers that he has to take control of his life and to start standing up for himself. Lucas is a character that is very sure of himself; he knows what he wants and goes after it, when he does notice Soren, he discovers that he wants much more than he ever thought he would.

This story is a journey of discovery for Soren and Lucas, both of them grow as the story progresses, and they face the challenges that are thrown at them. Soren is a slow developing character; he has slow progress as he comes out of his shell, but he makes huge leaps and bounds as he starts to stand up for himself and what he wants. Lucas has his own confusion to work through as he faces the inner struggle to get to grips with how he feels. Both Soren and Lucas face the turmoil of coming out to their parents and the hostility of a co-worker.

I have to say that this is a very involved story, you get to know the characters very well and you become invested in them. The romance is very sweet and is drawn out throughout the book, there is no rushing in this story; it is all drawn out really well. There’s love, romance, angst, misunderstandings, a near miss with danger and some conflict, but most of all there is growth and finding the person you can be.

I will recommend this story to those who want a true finding yourself story, developing love, some parental conflict and a very sweet happy ending.

Author’s thoughts:

As an author, I’m going to say something that I believe I’m not supposed to say — I don’t think this book is necessarily for every M/M reader. This isn’t a quick read, and the characters don’t jump into bed right away. (That’s an understatement.) One of the elements I focused on when writing this was the emotions, the relationship development of the characters involved; and not only the two main guys, but the people around them to a lesser extent. It takes a while to build their relationship at a believable pace, but it’s worth it when they get there.

This story is a low, slow cooker and while the peaks of the story aren’t in frenetic action or surprise twists, there is payoff for both young men, and character growth as well.

I wanted to tell a story that addressed coming out, and growing up, in ways that showed how all of that intertwined with the intensity of real first love. Though it may have taken a lot of words to get there, I told the story that I wanted to.

Whether that’s the story that is for you, well … I encourage you to take a look at some of the other reviews and satisfied customers on Goodreads or Amazon.

And now! An excerpt:


The beginning isn’t so hard; it’s what comes after—that’s the challenge.

Soren Wilkenson stared at the blinking cursor for a moment, and then switched over to his open session of Microsoft Word and the history paper that awaited him. He had the paper outlined, but needed more research to flesh it out. He still had a long way to go.

A soft chime sounded over his speakers, recalling his attention to one of the open IM sessions in his other window.

A paragraph. Finish a paragraph of the paper first. Soren knew he couldn’t wait that long; he never could. He tabbed to the other screen.

    TruBishounen: Homework again?

    Dawntreader: You know it. Can never stay on top of the stuff.

    TruBishounen: *laughs* Well, full time work and school will do that to you.

“Soren? Are you still online?”

Soren started at the knock on his door and fumbled with his mouse. “Damn … Yes, Mom, I’m still online.” He cast his mind over what could bring her to his door at this time of afternoon, when she’d be about to start dinner prep. “Was I scheduled for a chore that I forgot?”

“No … can I come in?”

Soren hesitated.

    Dawntreader: be right back, okay?

    TruBishounen: k.

    Dawntreader: brb

    LizTheGreat: sure

Soren minimized his screens and turned from the computer, leaving the desktop awash in pale blue waves frozen in stiff crests. “Yeah, I guess.”

His mother Claire pushed open the door, tucking her dark hair behind her ears. Her eyes flicked over to the bland desktop screen, then to Soren. “Done with your homework?”

Soren shrugged and flipped a book shut. “Not exactly,” he said uncomfortably. He was twenty, but his mom still came in to check up on whether he had finished his homework or not. It was the price to pay for staying at home while he went to college. “What do you want to talk about?”

Claire sat down on the edge of the bed, trying to smile reassuringly, but ending up somewhere near inquisitive. “Come on, Soren, do I need a reason to talk to my oldest son?” She was looking at his books now, the spines, reading the textbooks he had out for ostensible reference.

“I really have to finish this paper,” Soren demurred, shifting restlessly in his chair. He pushed himself idly back and forth, using the leverage of two fingers on the edge of his desk. “Can’t we talk at dinner?”

Claire’s mouth twitched. “More like a late lunch for you.” She sighed. “Well … it’s the start of a new year, Soren.”

Soren’s fingers itched. He was restless, ready to type, even if it was just to return to struggling over each sentence doled out for the non-inspiration of the history paper. He was also anxious, realizing he hadn’t muted the sound on his computer, so he was glad that his speakers weren’t chiming with more instant messages. If there were so much as a single ping, his mother would know that his online activities had nothing to do with a paper, history or otherwise.

“I know, Mom,” he replied, wondering where she was going with it.

“And …” Claire paused, trying to braid her fingers together. “Well, Soren, you’re a junior already and you still haven’t picked a major that will really help you after college.”

“Not this again.” It took a great deal for Soren to grow irritated with a subject, but his mother’s endless fascination with his future—and its direct correlation with his college major—was one that tired him. He’d already switched majors once, more as a result of his own inner promptings than the discussions his mother began and finished herself. “What’s wrong with English?”

“Oh … well … nothing … Still, you know Angie’s majoring in Accounting. I just want to see you settled in something that will really help you, Soren. Even Cassie, she’s only in high school, but she’s active in the school paper and plans to go into journalism …” Claire broke off and bit her lip.

Soren sat and fidgeted as he tried to figure out what response would satisfy her. After a moment, he sighed and raked a hand through the loose spill of his long dark hair. “Mom …”

“I know.” Claire hitched forward on the edge of the bed, as if she would get up to leave, but Soren knew it wasn’t going to be that easy. “I’m butting in again.”

He shook his head. “I’ll talk to a guidance counselor again, okay? I’m already carrying a full load this semester. At least my major’s not Religious Theory anymore.” He gave her a half-smile.

Claire fussed with a fold of his comforter. “You’ve never given me much trouble, Soren, you know that …” She shook her head. “No, I mean … I’m not doing this to butt in, you probably think so, but I’m not … I want everything to go right for you. If … if you need to take an extra year in school to get the right major down, even that much would be fine.”

She had said all of this to him before, so Soren settled for a safe answer. “I know, Mom.” His feelings were all jumbled up inside. Although he knew Claire was doing what she thought was best, she never took the time to try and understand him. He preferred it that way, in the end. There were some things he wasn’t comfortable with his mother discovering, let alone trying to explain to her. His eyes flicked to his computer monitor.

“So,” Claire said, in the light-hearted manner that heralded a change of subject. “Working with Sloane tonight, are you?”

“You know I am, Mom.” Soren gave her an appeasing half-smile. “She’s picking me up.”

Claire tilted her head. “You know what I’m talking about, Soren.” She rubbed her hands over her thighs, a nervous gesture. “Are you … going … with Sloane?”

It took him a moment. “Mom … no, Mom, no.” Soren shook his head. “Just don’t go there.”

“What?” Claire rocked back. “What did I say? What’s so wrong with that?”

Soren was still shaking his head, astounded, yet not quite. “Sloane and I are not together, okay? She’s just a friend, only a co-worker, really.” He wasn’t sure why he was trying to downgrade his friendship with Sloane, but vaguely thought that if he associated her with work to his mother, she’d let the subject drop.

Claire raised her hands in a defeated gesture. “Okay. Got it.”

Soren turned back to his computer desk. “Mom … paper.”

Claire gave him a brief smile. “Right. And you need an early dinner …”

“Or I won’t get to work on time,” Soren finished. He shrugged. “Thanks, Mom.” He waited to hear the click of the door closing before bringing up all the chat windows on his screen again.

    Dawntreader: Back. Sorry.

    LizTheGreat: You got to go?

    Dawntreader: Soon, for work … kind of trying to write a paper now.

Liz was a good friend of his, and there was no reason why Claire shouldn’t know he was chatting online with her … aside from the fact that she might ask if they were going out. Claire had been a little bemused over the past five years as to how he could have such pretty, nice girl friends and not want any one of them to move into a relationship closer than friendship. She’d get it eventually, just not—he hoped—any time soon.

Soren opened the last chat window, the one he’d waited for.

    Dawntreader: Sorry it took so long.

    TruBishounen: S’okay, I had econ homework. Say … why don’t we meet?

Soren stared at the words on the screen until he thought they might burn into his eyes. It was such a simple, offhand suggestion, but what Tru didn’t know was that Soren had made a career of avoidance. Even though they had been chatting on and off for months now, having originally met on an online community devoted to local gays/lesbians/bisexuals/whatever, they had kept their friendship online, and Soren liked it that way. They were past the heady first days where he’d been willing to stay up online all night chatting with Tru. Besides, he wasn’t … that is to say, he didn’t think he was ready to be that open with a part of himself he’d been hiding from everyone, especially his family, for so long. Tru’s IMs, and others like his, were the reason that Soren was constantly looking over his shoulder when his family entered the room.

    TruBishounen: You there?

    Dawntreader: Yeah … I don’t know.

    TruBishounen: Come on … we’re both in Portland. And I know we probably go to the same campus.

    Dawntreader: What makes you say that?

    TruBishounen: ahh … well, some of the hints you drop. Without even meaning to.

Soren’s mouth quirked. He’d figured the same thing, that Tru went to his campus. It was either his, or the Portland State campus, and that was in the heart of the city, totally different territory.

    TruBishounen: You got quiet. That a no?

The blinking cursor confronted him, and Soren tried to clear his mind and looked to Liz’s empty chat window. He had pictured meeting Tru more than once, although Tru was faceless in every scenario. He simply couldn’t project anything onto the person he’d gotten to know over the past few months.

    TruBishounen: Come on, let’s give it a try. But if you say no … I won’t push anymore. I’ll give up and won’t mention it again.

    Dawntreader: That’s nice of you. I guess.

    TruBishounen: Ahh, I guess I pushed my luck. It’s just that I like you.

    Dawntreader: What, there’s not enough guys you like to invite out?

    TruBishounen: Not like you.

Soren hesitated, and then switched over to his history paper to contemplate the single paragraph he had just begun. It was true that he was afraid … but it was also true he’d had thoughts, more and more often, about the way to seek out a partner, someone safe—or at least meet with someone like him. He needed a friend who wasn’t a girl. He needed someone who could show him the ropes.

Soren’s eyes flickered to his bottom task bar at the blinking message. Of all the guys he had met online, Tru was the one he trusted the most.

Soren returned to the IM session.

    TruBishounen: Sorry … I guess I’m pushing too hard. Forget I said anything, okay? I didn’t mean to creep you out.

    Dawntreader: No.

    TruBishounen: ?

    Dawntreader: No, you didn’t creep me out.

Soren typed with increasing confidence, although his fingers felt clumsy.

    Dawntreader: When would you want to meet?

He moved to his other window, trying not to think too hard. He saved his history paper and gave it up for lost. He was going to have to get ready for work soon, anyhow. He closed the paper and returned to IM.

    TruBishounen: Well, how about tomorrow?

    Dawntreader: I … guess that would be okay. Sometime before noon.

    TruBishounen: I’m glad you said yes.

They decided on a date, a time, and a comfortably public place. Soren signed off, not quite believing what he had done. Even though he was sure the guy wasn’t a psychopath, he knew it was something his parents—even his friends—wouldn’t be able to understand. One just didn’t meet with someone met online. Even though there were an increasing number of success stories from online dating services, there was the fringe factor to be considered. There was still a stigma attached to ‘I met them online.’

Soren dismissed those negative thoughts as he shut down his computer and stood, grabbing the work clothes laid out on the bed. He’d lived so much of his life as an observer, passively shaped by the opinions of those around him. It was past time to get out and do something for a change.


“So … wait, you met this guy online?” Sloane asked, bracing her hands on the cash register.

Soren nodded, giving her a half-hearted shrug. He contemplated her for a moment, looking at her with the appraisal his mother had certainly given her on more than one occasion. If he were going to date just anyone, Sloane would certainly be dating material. She was sweet and perky—good qualities for working at a coffee shop—and her heart-shaped face was framed with layered, bobbed blonde hair, her hazel eyes always sparkling. The two of them had started at their Starbucks store at approximately the same time, the summer before school. Soren had transferred from a Eugene store; Sloane had been a new hire. He had helped her out a lot in the beginning, especially with her espresso bar technique, and they had struck up a friendship based on that and common interests.

One of those interests happened to be boys.

The door chimed, and they looked up.

“Ah, Lucas, it’s just you,” Sloane called out, still gripping the sides of her register and rocking back on her heels. “Get me all worked up, why don’t you?”

Lucas Daye entered the store dressed in neat khakis and a black polo shirt, his pale blond hair tied back at his nape. He had a backpack slung over his shoulder, which wasn’t surprising—Lucas usually brought homework with him to work, or clubbing clothes, or both.

“Hey, Sloane. I really don’t think you need me to get you worked up, huh?” He rounded the bar and nodded at Soren. “Is it the three of us tonight?”

Soren busied himself tidying up the bar, polishing off espresso stains with a rag, before hustling to check the steamed milk. He left Sloane to answer the question and chat. Lucas gave Soren a terrible case of tongue-tied.

Quite simply put, Lucas was one of the most gorgeous guys Soren had ever seen in person and up close. He was a perfect combination of a long, elegant face, strong cheekbones, a well-shaped nose, and sensuous lips. He was funny, friendly, and hot—and Soren couldn’t manage to make himself say more than one or two words to him.

Not like it mattered.

“Yeah, Becky is finishing up the mid-shift,” Sloane answered.

“Good.” Lucas gave her a thumbs-up. “I’ve got the best team.”

Sloane swatted him in passing. “You’re a tease.”

Laughing, Lucas edged past her into the back room. “But you like me like that.”

Soren bent his attention to the temperature of the milk, flicking his braid back when it threatened to spill over his shoulder.

“You can stop trying to disappear, Mr. Invisible, he’s in the back room now,” Sloane said, returning to the cash register and throwing him a look that was half-sympathetic, half-wry. “God, he ties you up in knots, doesn’t he? He sure does it to me, too.” She fanned a hand near her face.

“At least you don’t go mute,” Soren shot back. He was pretty sure half their female crew or more had a crush on Lucas … and he did, too. It was mortifying.

“I can’t blame you. He’s so hot!”

The store doors chimed, and a pair of customers came their way, chafing their hands.

After they were finished ordering, and Soren had placed their double-tall mochas on the counter, he wiped off the espresso bar and glanced in Sloane’s direction. She was giving him a speculative once-over.

“What?” Soren asked defensively.

“So you’re willing to meet this guy, this TruBishounen, a guy you’ve never met … but you’re too shy to say more than monosyllables to Lucas, a real-life guy that you know you like.”

Soren felt himself flush. “When you say it like that, it sounds neurotic …” He shook his head. “It’s totally different, Sloane. I already know Tru, even if I’ve never met him. It’s easier for me this way. Lucas … a guy like him … Besides, he’s really into girls, you know?”

“I know. I’m just saying, if there were someone like Lucas, someone you liked … what would you do?”

“Probably nothing,” Soren said with a shrug. “I’m no good at being gay. Besides, someone like Lucas wouldn’t even know I exist. You know? But Tru and I connect really well.”

“I guess,” Sloane said, but there was doubt in her tone. In the next instant, she bounced on her toes. “Do you want me to be there? I mean, I could set myself up in the cafe with a couple of books and totally look like I was studying …”

“What, to rescue me in case something goes wrong?” Soren said, laughing. “I think I can handle it. I’m a big boy, and we’re meeting in a very public place. It’s not like I’m going to go home with him or anything like that.”

Sloane nodded. “Especially if he turns out to be gross and old.”

Soren was quiet for a moment. “Well … I’m not really expecting him to be a prize,” he confessed. “After all, I’m meeting a guy I met online.” And, Soren appended in his own thoughts, he wasn’t much of a prize to offer, himself. It would work out, as long as he could meet someone like-minded.

“Just let me know if you need a ride or anything.”


The door to the back swung open, and Lucas emerged carrying a till. Soren glanced at him, looked away, and glued himself to the bar. As usual, he would cling to it like a burr for the rest of the evening.

What use was any sort of resolution when he couldn’t even force himself to interact with people that he knew? At least he was doing something different and breaking himself out of the rut he’d been living in. Sloane’s words made him question himself, though. Was it enough?

It didn’t matter. It was a start.

You can buy From the Inside Out at LT3, All Romance Ebooks, or Amazon.