TCO is so excited to bring you 12 Days of Kissmas. We have 12 of your favorite authors ahead over the coming days, bringing you beautiful pictures of men kissing that the authors have chosen themselves, along with exclusive posts, excerpts, and giveaways. The idea sprang from a conversation with an author that just turned into a “what if…”, and when I started asking a few authors, they immediately said they were in. Make sure you enter the giveaways, as there are lots of them! Thanks for stopping by, and a HUGE thank you to all the authors for their generosity, and loving spirit. Happy Holidays to everyone!
I’ve looked at so many pictures for my 12 Days of Kissmas post (which was fun!) and I kept getting drawn back to this one. I could’ve gone for something raunchy and steamy, for something naked and hot that got me all of a fluster…but…this picture is what Christmas, what life is about for me. It’s about waking up in the morning, kicking out under the covers and feeling that other person who means the world to you on the other side of the bed. It’s about those little stolen kisses in the kitchen, just like in this image, that you do automatically without caring whether they’ve got jam or toast crumbs stuck to their lips. It’s about having someone to share the everyday with – the ups and downs, the smiles and tears – and I think that’s what this picture shows.
I see so much in this photo. My mind is set to Christmas because of the time of year and the theme of this post, and so I see them having their first coffee on Christmas morning, just before they head into the living room to open their presents. Then, I see them heading upstairs to get ready for the day, to shower and change into their smart Christmas clothes – or maybe their funny Christmas jumpers, stealing a couple more kisses…maybe more, before heading out to spend the day with family and friends. I see love, tenderness, happiness, and so much beauty all from that one little kiss.
Another reason why this image jumped out at me is because it reminds me of a scene in the book I’m writing right now. It’s the morning after the first full night Oliver and Sebastian have spent together, and Seb begins to realise how special the little things in life can be when shared with someone important. It’s the magical turning point for my new guys, the moment things really start to heat up for them, and I’m sharing that whole scene with you here!
Who We Are is releasing early 2017 (I don’t have an exact date yet, but all will be revealed soon) and I’m so excited for you to meet Seb and Olli…and also, as usual, nervous as hell. I hope you enjoy the excerpt!
~ Sebastian ~
“Ah, I’m glad you’re awake before I plate up,” Olli said when he saw me. Dressed in only a loose fitting vest top that skimmed his thighs, he held up two bottles of sauce. “Red or brown?”
“For sausage, gotta be red.”
“There’s bacon too. It’s under the grill.”
Damn, it was way too early for such big decisions. “In that case I’m gonna need brown too.”
His nose scrunched up into a cute little ball, but he didn’t question my odd flavour combination as he put both bottles of sauce on the round bistro table that separated the kitchen from the living room. Taking a seat on one of the metal chairs, I watched him move around the kitchen, humming along to Ex’s and Oh’s by Elle King on the radio as he danced between the stove and the toaster.
The scene I found myself living in felt awfully domesticated, and I liked it. A lot. The problem was we still didn’t really know each other, and if I wanted this to continue that needed to change. If I wanted more mornings like this he had to know who the real me was. He needed to know that yesterday wasn’t my typical Saturday, that usually I had my fifteen year old son to take care of.
He needed to know that I was bisexual, and that being with him wouldn’t magically ‘cure’ my attraction to women. I’d fallen into the pretending to be gay trap, straight too, before. If I was truthful, I’d been doing the latter for the last four years, and I was tired. Lying was exhausting, disheartening, and honestly I didn’t even know why I did it. I told myself I wasn’t ashamed, but on some level I must have been.
Then I remembered Oliver on that stage last night, so fierce and proud, rocking the shit out of those long leather boots, his voice so damn powerful I wanted to turn it into a blanket and keep it wrapped around me for the rest of my life…and I really did feel ashamed.
If Olli had the courage to reveal who he was to the world then I could do the same to one man. He deserved that. I deserved that. Even after the relatively short time we’d known each other I respected him too much to lie to him, to pretend for him. I knew who I was, and I wanted Oliver to know too.
I could only hope he would accept it.
Just not today. Last night, and this morning, had been perfect, and I wanted to remember them that way.
“Wow,” I breathed rubbing my hands together when Oliver placed a plate, stacked high with sausages, bacon, beans, toast, and two fried egg yolks in front of me. “You remembered?” I said, pointing towards the eggs.
Taking a seat opposite, he smiled and pointed to the fried egg whites on his own plate. “Of course. We’re destiny, right?” he said, pushing my knife and fork towards me.
And just like that, he took another tiny piece of me that I didn’t think I’d ever get back.
“I hope your friend won’t mind that you’ve emptied his fridge.”
Olli shrugged, cutting into his bacon. “I’m doing him a favour. He needs to watch his cholesterol in his old age.”
Laughing, I dipped a piece of sausage in my beans and popped it in my mouth. Mmm. Heaven.
As the minutes ticked by I found myself paying more attention to Oliver than I did my breakfast. He didn’t mix his food, eating one component entirely before moving on to the next. Not a big deal, but it fascinated me, just like everything else about him. He caught me staring several times and at first he stared right back, but eventually he became adorably embarrassed and tried to focus on his food.
“I really like you, Oliver,” I said, reaching out and brushing over his forearm, the skin still mottled with yellowy-green bruises. I didn’t care how cheesy it sounded. I liked him, really liked him, and I wanted him to hear it.
A small smile played on the corners of his lips, his head tilting to one side. “I like you, too.”
“I guess what I’m trying to say is, are we, I mean I don’t know if this is the kinda thing we need to talk about. Like I’ve said before I’m not all that good at this shit. I just…” Jesus, stop rambling, I inwardly cursed myself. “I want to do this again. With you. Only you. I’m not after a bit on the side. I want us to get to know each other. So I suppose what I’m-”
“Are you asking me to go steady with you, Sebastian?” he interrupted, followed by an amused chuckle.
“Well when you say it like that it makes me feel like we’ve slipped into an American high school movie, but yeah. I guess I am.”
“Sorry,” he muttered, grinning. “One too many episodes of Teen Wolf.” Taking my hand off his arm, he laced his fingers through mine. “I want that, too.”
Damn those eyes of his. Those pools of blue did insane things to my body.
“We should-” I was about to suggest we celebrate our official relationship status in the shower when the sound of the flat door opening disrupted me.
We both turned towards the noise to find Oliver’s friend, Rhys, walking through it, looking decidedly less graceful than I remembered him.
“Sorry to interrupt the love fest,” he said. “I had to escape.” Skulking gingerly over to the window, he drew the blinds closed and plopped himself down on the sofa, hiding his face behind a cushion.
“What happened?” Oliver asked. “You had a row with Davey?”
“Stop yelling,” Rhys muttered, peeling the cushion off his face. “And get me some painkillers.”
“I’m not your slave,” Oliver replied in the same quiet voice he’d been using all along, yet he slid his chair out from beneath the table anyway and walked over to the cupboard above the sink, where I presumed Rhys kept the medicines. “So what happened with Davey?” he added, taking Rhys a box of ibuprofen and a glass of water.
“I didn’t go to Davey’s. I went home with that guy. The one with the nose ring.”
“That’s not like you.”
“It wasn’t like me, until a few months ago. I think I’m havin’ a mid life crisis. Anyway, I wake up this mornin’ to the sound of retchin’ comin’ from the bathroom and the most intense feelin’ of gay ja vu washes over me. Then I remember. I’ve been here before. In this same bed. Listenin’ to this same guy. A guy who can tickle his lungs with the tip of my dick without blinkin’ but can’t stand the feelin’ of a toothbrush in his mouth.”
“Oh my God.” Oliver’s hand flew to his mouth. “I, um, I’m not really sure what to say to that.”
“I think I’m gonna give up on relationships and get a cat,” Rhys said before tossing two painkillers in his mouth and washing them down with a glug of water.
“Nah. Cats are evil and they stink,” Oliver said.
“I have a cat,” I cut in.
Oliver’s neck jerked around, his expression sceptical like he didn’t know whether to believe me. Seriously, if I was going to lie to make myself sound interesting I’d have thought of something more impressive than owning a moggy.
“His name’s Marvin.”
“Oh.” Oliver’s lips melted into a guilty line. “Well I’m sure they’re not all evil. Sorry.”
“Don’t be. He’s kind of an arsehole.”
He started to laugh but stopped himself. “Wait…Marvin. So that would make him Marvin Day?”
Finally! Someone who appreciated his name. His vet simply snickered and Lisa looked at me like I was a spanner short of a toolbox.
“I don’t get it,” Rhys said.
“Day. Gaye,” Oliver explained, which really ruined the whole thing. Poor Marv. I thought his name was awesome, which is why I chose it.
“Ah. Cool.” Rhys nodded, but couldn’t have sounded less amused if he’d tried. “I think I’m still drunk. I’m goin’ to bed to think about everythin’ that’s wrong with my life. Later, girls.”
Hauling his weary body off the sofa, Rhys paused by the table where I sat as he made his way to the bedrooms, his gaze raking down my bare chest. “Nice sausage,” he said, winking.
Instinctively, I looked down to my zipper in a slight panic before I noticed his hand reaching out to pinch an actual leftover sausage from my plate. Then he walked away, leaving me annoyed with myself for not thinking of a fun comeback in time.
“Sorry,” Oliver muttered with an apologetic smile as he wandered over to the table and started clearing our empty plates.
“Don’t be,” I said, following him through to the sink, ready to help him clean the epic mess he’d created. “I’m highly experienced in the dickhead best friend department.” My voice was teasing as I bumped his shoulder with my own. Truthfully, I liked his friend. He was funny, flirty, camper than the fairy godmother on an acid trip, and from the way he looked me up and down through narrowed eyes when we first met last night, I imagined he was also fiercely protective of Oliver.
The morning still played out perfectly despite the unexpected interruption. Working together in the kitchen, washing dishes, wiping counters, smacking his arse – which I was pleasantly surprised to discover was naked beneath that long vest…it all felt so normal. So everyday. Like we’d been doing this for years. Like I’d known him all my life. Like we were supposed to do this forever. It made no sense, yet it made perfect sense. We were so different, yet the same. When I looked into his eyes I saw a loneliness there that I’d so often seen in my own. It felt like he understood what it felt like to feel lost, to feel like a diamond in a sea of pebbles.
The difference is Oliver let his diamond shine. He polished it, made it sparkle, let the world see how special it was. His diamond was fucking stunning. Me? I rolled mine around in the dirt and disguised it as a pebble.
“You’re staring,” Oliver said, his back against the open door as I was about to leave.
Pressing my chest to his, I combed his hair behind his ear with my fingers. “You’re hard to look away from, and I don’t know when I’ll see you again.”
“Maybe you could stop by the salon again in your big truck,” he suggested, his voice flirtatious as he ran the tip of his finger down the buttons on my shirt.
I didn’t find out which trips I was on until the night before, but I was sure if I flashed June a nice smile she’d work me in a few Manchester runs.
“You wanna check out my gearstick, eh?”
Tipping his head back and laughing, he pushed me away from his chest. “Okay, you just totally ruined the moment.”
“What! I almost went for ‘do you want to slip your tacho into my card reader?’ but I didn’t think you’d know what that meant.”
“Enough with the driver puns! I won’t be slipping anything anywhere in your truck. Trucks are filthy,” he said with an exaggerated shudder.
“I keep my cab immaculate, thank you very much. I’ve won driver of the month seven times for it,” I told him with a smug nod.
Again, he chuckled. I don’t know why he found it so amusing. I was rather proud of my awards. I had all seven of the little plastic trophies standing in a row on the windowsill in my downstairs toilet.
“I’ll call you,” I said, and then I grazed his lips with mine, letting them linger, not moving, just…feeling. My heart ached from missing him already and the feeling was almost surprising. I’d never considered myself unhappy, or realised just how lonely I actually was until I started spending time with Oliver. I’d been content with my life, happy with the simple routine of work, weekends with Scott, and hanging out with Benny occasionally.
But Oliver brought spontaneity, stirred emotions deep in my chest that I hadn’t felt in years, if ever. He made the world seem more interesting, waking up each day more exciting. He taught me how magical stolen kisses over a sink full of greasy water was, how funny a pointless three AM conversation about kangaroos could be, and how much I’d missed falling to sleep next to the warmth of another person.
He’d shown me that there was more to life than being content, that life could be fucking amazing when you got to share it with another person, and he’d done it so quickly too. A little voice in the back of my head, a rational voice, the one that thought back to my previous relationships, warned me to slow down before I got hurt, before I fell so hard it would take me months to get back up.
But it was too late. I’d already jumped.
Copyright © Nicola Haken 2016
Thank you, as always, to Two Chicks Obsessed for having me, and thank you to you for reading this post! I hope you enjoy what’s left of 2016. Stay safe, stay happy, and I’ll see you next year! Big hugs and smooches!
Oh, one last thing, and then I’m done I swear…here’s all my social media links and all that jazz in case you think I’m worth hanging around 😉 Love you!