Micah Grayson lives in his baby mama’s guesthouse. It’s unconventional and awkward, but he’s happy for a chance to reconnect with his teenage son. He doesn’t have time for other distractions—no matter how sexy, independent, and compassionate that distraction might be. Besides, he’s not good enough for more than a fling—no one would ever take him home to meet their parents.
Adrien Darling has book smarts, but no street savvy—at least that’s what his family says. And after a heart-breaking betrayal by the man meant to love and protect him, Adrien believes them. But then a gorgeous guy with a defeated look in his eyes walks into Adrien’s coffee shop and makes him want to take a chance.
After years of living on the outside as two misfits looking in, both men are afraid to reach for more. But in each other’s arms, Micah and Adrien find out what it’s like to live on the inside. As their tender bond grows and blossoms, old insecurities bubble to the surface. Will their commitment crumble under the pressure? Or will the two find the strength to fight for each other.
***Please be aware that this book contains a flashback of and several references to domestic abuse that may be triggering to some readers.***
Title: Living on the Inside
Author: Londra Laine
Publisher: Independently Published
Release Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Length: About 55,000 words
Genre: Romance, Single dad, gay romance, interracial, ex-con, domestic abuse, work romance
“Is that what we are?” Micah asked quietly. “Friends?”
“Yeah,” Adrien answered. “I hope so.”
Then he was surrounded by Micah’s body. Adrien hesitated for a moment before returning the other man’s embrace, locking his arms around Micah’s torso. A few seconds into the hug all the reasons why he needed to pull away from Micah—now—raced through his mind. But he couldn’t make himself do it.
Adrien had been fighting his attraction, but the man had slipped past Adrien’s defenses. Micah’s earnest joy at making progress with his son. His trust in Adrien as he shared his insecurities. His nonjudgmental attitude. Their growing friendship. All those things made him feel strong and needed. Adrien wanted more of that feeling. He leaned into Micah.
Micah sighed as he squeezed Adrien tighter, and Adrien’s body sagged against him, the fight against his attraction to Micah leaving his body. He tucked his head into the crook of Micah’s shoulder, and gave in to defeat, breathing in the salty sweet scent of Micah’s skin, running his palms up the man’s back.
The scent and feel of Micah was heady, and Adrien’s head swam as he let his eyelids flutter shut, let his lips graze the exposed skin between Micah’s neck and shoulder. Micah tensed against him and his breath hitched, making Adrien wonder if he’d gone too far. But then Micah’s palm slid up Adrien’s neck, cupping his nape, grazing a thumb along his hairline.
Micah moved his other hand lower, resting it right above Adrien’s ass, his fingers lightly grazing the swell below Adrien’s hips.
“Adrien,” Micah grated out. Adrien pulled back, slowly opening his eyes. Micah licked his lips, his eyes skimming Adrien’s mouth, and then he leaned forward.
Adrien met him halfway, their lips connecting in a kiss. The light brush became a firm press then flared, hot and wet, as Adrien ran the tip of his tongue against the seam of Micah’s lips. Micah submitted to Adrien’s silent request, parting his lips to give Adrien access to his tongue and mouth.
Then a loud honk made them jerk apart as a car sped past them, headlights bright and blinding. Their chests heaved, and Adrien took in Micah’s disheveled hair and damp lips and wondered if he looked nearly as enticing to Micah.
Adrien’s gaze skittered away, and he grimaced, embarrassment replacing the intense need he’d felt moments ago. What was he doing? He knew better than this. He’d been down this road before. He couldn’t get involved with an employee again.
Then a terrible thought occurred to him. What if Micah felt like he had to hook up with Adrien? Had Adrien pressured him in some way? Shit. Negative thoughts tumbled through his mind, making him dizzy. He had to nip this in the bud.
“Micah, about what just happened—”
“Our kiss?” Micah moved closer to him.
Adrien’s eyes wandered, unable to meet Micah’s. “Yeah, the kiss. I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to—I’m sorry.” He shook his head and Micah stopped the motion by gripping Adrien’s chin between his forefinger and thumb. He lifted Adrien’s face to his.
“I’m not sorry.” Micah’s voice was quiet in the night.
Second chances all around!
When we first meet Micah, he’s out on a scorching hot day, trying to find a job. Any job will do, he just needs something to help his best-friend and child’s mother raise his son. He hasn’t been an active parent in the kids’ life, because a part from being in prison for several years, he just thought the little family was better off without him. When his “baby mama” as she’s referred to several times in the story, talks him into moving in with her to save on money and be there for their son, he’s down to get any legal job that will hire him.
And before I go on, because he does find a job in a little café, owned by Adrien… we’ll get there in a sec. I absolutely adored the relationship between Micah and his best-friend/kid’s mom, Rhina (I think that’s how you spell her name)…. I love that as a single mother, who knows that Micah made a mistake that sent him to prison… she puts the needs of her son before anything and so selflessly tries as best as she can to help Micah have a relationship with his son. She pushes for them to. I loved that the ex wasn’t petty, and when she finds out that he’s interested in men, she isn’t jealous or upset. She’s so accepting and really a champion for Micah, the literal only champion for Micah because his family is awful and his son is understandable distant, if not a little bratty (again understandably) …. Until he meets Adrien of course.
So, as I said, Adrien owns the coffee shop that Micah applies to and hires him on the spot. He reads the application so he knows about his conviction. Fortunately, he’s got a little experience with a family member who had once broken the law and found a hard time finding work. Just because you make a mistake, doesn’t make you a bad person. Micah was honest about it and didn’t make excuses, so, he hired him. Cute, eh?
So is the attraction that these two feel for each other. It’s slow-going, they’re friendly and then co-workers, and then friends before anything else. With Adrien training Micah and showing him the ropes, they spend a lot of time together, getting to know one another and in turn, trying to deny their feelings for each other. It’s not easy. Adrien seems to have a thing for the broken and misguided types of men, who often times cause him trouble. Like his ex-fiance he lost a year prior. Reggie, you will not like, he isn’t a guy you like. I don’t want to give him away, but I wasn’t upset about his fate in the story.
While Adrien is smitten with the guy with such sad eyes, Micah is taken with the gorgeous business owner who treats him like a person instead of a problem. I hated the way both of their families treated them, though I could understand why Adrien’s just wanted to make sure he was happy. Micah’s are just terrible and I’m glad they don’t get any page time.
It’s a rocky road though, when it seems like all the problems are stacked against them. There’s little angst, and what little there is, is short lived. I’m not sure I all the way forgive Adriens’ brother Gabe, but I could see where he was coming from too, even if his execution was ridiculously out of line and I’d have been hard pressed to forgive him!
All’s well that ends well though, and I wouldn’t mind reading more about these two! They were super cute together.
4 pieces of eye candy from me!
Londra has loved reading since she figured out how to do it. She writes to give her guys the happy ending she wishes everyone––no matter their race, religion, gender, or orientation––could experience in real life.
Londra makes money as a communications manager. She is a former journalist, a runner and a mezzo soprano.
In 2010, she moved from her native California to New York City where she lived in Harlem for nearly eight years. In early 2018 she relocated to Seattle with her spouse.