Saturday, December 2, 2017

Holiday treats for your sweet tooth


 Holiday romances

Thanksgiving is behind us and we're coming up on that holiday sweet spot--early enough in the season we're still feeling warm and fuzzy, before we've been exhausted by holiday shopping and baking and what can seem like an endless parade of parties and family visits.

Or maybe that's just my introvert showing. 

At any rate, it's time for sweet holiday treats, classic movie marathons, and best of all, cozy holiday stories! It's no secret that I love writing holiday stories. My first book was a short in the Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar collection in 2012 (Traditions from the Heart), which means I celebrated my five-year publishing anniversary on Dec. 1. Hard to believe I now have 20 books out with Dreamspinner! (And five of them are holiday stories!) And how fitting is it that book 20 was also a holiday short story for the Advent calendar? It was so awesome to have my 20th book come out on the 5th anniversary of my first release. *g*

                                                                                             AMAZON   BARNES AND NOBLE  DREAMSPINNER   KOBO


What I'm reading

AMAZON  BN  KOBO
AMAZON

I've been working feverishly on Under a Blue Moon, the sequel to Camp H.O.W.L., and now that it's safely in the hands of my editor at Dreamspinner I can gorge on some holiday reads. 

I've already read (and LOVED) the holiday offerings from Caraway Carter and Hunter Frost. They're both feel-good reads that are a little outside the traditional holiday story. 

We'll be working on getting our Christmas decorations up in the Baker household this weekend, and I always make a batch of peppermint bark to sustain us. I bought the expensive stuff for years until I realized how easy it to make yourself. Though now we probably eat way too much of it through the holiday season. *g* Once you make this for friends I promise it will be what they ask you to bring to holiday parties forever after. It looks impressive and tastes great, and you don't have to tell them it's dead simple to make!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Christmas in June

If you follow me on Facebook you know I've been in a self-imposed holiday music hell for the last week or so as I finished up my Dreamspinner Press Advent submission. I'd been working on it on and off for months and found I needed to buckle down and focus or I'd never make the deadline.

My kids were beyond tired of Christmas pop, so they were thrilled when I picked them up from camp yesterday blasting the Hamilton soundtrack. That's right, my Advent draft is finished!

I'm so excited to introduce you to Grant, Josh, and Aubrey in today's excerpt. As you can see (that's them in the snowglobe), Josh and Aubrey are ridiculously adorable together, so I'm sure you can sympathize with how irresistible Grant finds them when they walk into his art studio looking for Christmas craft lessons.

Audiobook news


Between that and the Tall, Dark, and Deported audiobook coming out on Monday, it's been an exciting week for me--and it's only Wednesday! Dorian Bane does an amazing job on it, so I hope you'll listen to the sample. I love the way he makes Crawford and Mateus come alive and infuses both of them with so much personality. This is my first title to be released in audiobook and I thought it would be weird to hear my words but it was so much fun to listen to. (And now that I don't have to listen to holiday music in the car on my commute, I can listen to the entire thing today when I head in to work later! *g*)


Excerpt

The wreath Thing 2 and I made last Christmas.
And now, enjoy some crafty Christmas fun with Josh, Aubrey, and Grant from my latest WIP. Grant is talking Aubrey through making an ornament wreath (see the picture) while Josh listens. He's been flirting with Josh for several lessons and decides it's time to double down on his innuendo...even though he's pretty sure Josh is straight.

❄❄🎄❄❄

Grant rooted around in the basket and found the set of glittery rub-on letters he’d put in earlier. “You said you were giving the wreath to your aunt, right Aubrey?”

Aubrey shifted her focus to him without missing a beat. “My Aunt Jo.”

“Well, if you think she’d like it we can monogram the wreath with her initials. I think it would look great with the frosted ornaments you’ve picked out.”
 
Aubrey squealed. “She’d love that!”

“Okay. Well, once we get your wreath glued together we’ll put these letters on the three ornaments that are in the center. What do you think? Top or bottom?”

Josh made a choking noise from the next table where he’d sunk into a chair with his coffee. Grant looked up, startled, and then caught the accidental innuendo. Instead of backing away from it as he should have, he dug in deeper. “If it was for me I’d say bottom. It’s my favorite position for things like that. It’s always better on the bottom.”Josh’s coffee sloshed when he put it down abruptly, spilling over his knuckles as his coughing fit continued. Grant didn’t know if that was a good thing or not, but at least he’d tried.

“I want to put them at the bottom,” Aubrey said, blessedly oblivious to the undertones. “Monograms are the things with the letters from her name, aren’t they?”

Aubrey’s wreath was all arranged, so Grant turned on the glue gun to warm it up. He’d gone with an assortment of bright colors for his, laid haphazardly. It was a big contrast to Aubrey’s carefully laid pattern of understated colors. They looked great next to each other. He’d have to take a photo for the studio’s Instagram when they were done. And maybe a few with Aubrey and Hot Divorced Dad for his own personal scrapbook of students with their art.

“You can do monograms two ways. You can do the first letter from her first and last name only or you can add her middle initial, too,” he told her. Josh had recovered from his coughing fit and was watching them with a veiled expression, his long legs splayed as he lounged in a chair that was meant for someone much smaller than him. Grant’s knees were practically touching his ears, so he could sympathize.

Aubrey studied her wreath. “It would be nice and centered if we do the one with three.”

The kid had great instincts. Grant hoped she’d become a regular, and not just because Josh came with her. He didn’t know if she had any natural talent for drawing or painting, but her eye for color and design was well beyond her age. He’d bet that carried over into artistic talent, especially given how well her father could paint.

“We’ll do three, then. You’ll need to find her initials in capital letters.”

Aubrey talked to herself as she chose the letters. “Josephine Clarke.” She frowned and looked over her shoulder at Josh. “What’s her middle name?”

“Lynn,” Josh said without hesitation.

That must mean this aunt was his sister. Between the shared last name and his certainty about her middle name, it made sense.

“Hmm.” Aubrey dug through and found an L. “Mom’s middle name is Lydia.”

“And mine is Leonard,” Josh said.

Aubrey giggled. “So you all have the same monogram?”

Josh’s ex hadn’t changed her last name? Didn’t women usually do that after a divorce? And her name started with J, too? They’d probably had one of those weddings with their initials engraved on everything. It would have been cute. Grant kind of hated her for that.

The light on the glue gun clicked off, signaling it was ready to use. Was Aubrey ready to handle it on her own? Grant flicked his glance from the glue gun to Josh, who shrugged.

“She’s used one before, but I don’t know how closely Jill supervised.”

So the ex’s name must be Jill. Josh and Jill. It’s too adorable to hate them. Ugh.

“I’m allowed to hold the pieces together,” Aubrey said. She waved a hand dismissively.

“You have to put the glue on.”

Well that settled that.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WIP Wednesday to celebrate the upcoming release of Tall, Dark, and Deported!


It's almost release day for Tall, Dark, and Deported, and I admit I've been spending most of my time writing blog tour posts instead of working on a WIP. I'm going to share a favorite scene from the book for #WIP Wednesday instead.
I hope you'll join me at my tour stops for a few video readings, a killer recipe for homemade hot pretzels, and a tongue-in-cheek look at what an author does on release day, just to highlight a few. *g*

Tour stops:

March 25: MM Good Books: A primer in our favorite category romance tropes

March 29: Kimmers Erotic Book Banter: Why Crawford and Mateus's story makes good fiction but bad reality

March 30: Open Skye: Meet Mateus and Crawford

March 31: My fiction Nook: Video reading

April 1: Alpha Book Reviews: Top 10 things authors do on release day

April 3: Novel Approach: The Auntie Anne's copycat recipe you never knew your life was missing

April 4: Love Bytes: Video reading (featuring those delectable pretzels)

April 5: Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words: Interview

April 6: Boy Meets Boy: Video reading

April 6: Kimi-Chan Experience: LA Times Festival of Books and what's next

And now for the promised excerpt: Mateus and Crawford met only hours ago, but they're already married. It was a ploy to keep Mateus from being deported, but Crawford is finding it has some bonuses for him, too. Namely, making his ex-husband and co-worker Davis cattily jealous. 


Tall, Dark, and DeportedRelease date: April 1


“I had no idea you were getting married,” Davis said when he finally tore his eyes away and looked at Crawford. His cheek twitched, just like it always did when he was annoyed, but that was the only giveaway to show he wasn’t as enthusiastically pleased as his tone suggested. Davis always had been excellent at reading situations and acting exactly as he should. “And that you were bringing your new husband along to Vancouver.”

“They were just married today,” Michelle said helpfully.

The twitch grew more pronounced. “Is that so?” he asked, giving Crawford a speculative look. “Well, then, I must agree with Michelle. We insist you take the penthouse suite. And you’ll join me for dinner tonight, won’t you? I was planning to dine here at the hotel with some of the management staff, but since this is a special occasion, I think that can wait. We can have the concierge secure a reservation somewhere appropriately festive.”

Crawford’s mouth fell open, but before he could let loose a scathing retort—leave it to Davis to make Crawford’s remarriage all about him, Jesus—Mateus spoke up.

“That is so kind of you, but I have plans for my husband tonight.” Mateus’s voice was like velvet, making it clear that those plans he so glibly referenced were definitely not for public consumption. He ran a proprietary hand up Crawford’s back and down his arm, twining their hands together.

Davis visibly flinched, his eyes widening. “Tomorrow, then. I insist. My treat, to celebrate. It really is amazing to see Crawford married again,” he said, his composure returning with his smirk. The look he gave Crawford was speculative, like he could see right through him. He’d always been a lot better at reading people than Crawford had. After all, he’d correctly sized Crawford up as a chump, hadn’t he?

“Ah, I don’t know if I’ll be done with him by then, but I don’t want to keep him from his work. I suppose I can share,” Mateus purred.

Davis colored a bit at the insinuation that he was nothing but a coworker. “I do wonder why you chose to get married right now,” Davis said, a gleam in his eye. “The timing is a bit curious. I mean, you hadn’t said anything about your husband-to-be in any of our conference calls, and then you get married the day you’re going to see me?” He turned to Mateus and lowered his voice conspiratorially. “Surely you know who I am. I can’t imagine Crawford hasn’t told you about me.”

Crawford felt like he was in the middle of a tennis match or a particularly vicious argument on some Real Housewives spin-off. He knew he should intervene, but he couldn’t seem to make himself speak. It would be so easy to smile and shrug Davis off, claiming they were tired and needed to get up to their room. It would be totally plausible that newlyweds would want alone time, but it was also mortifying that the clerk and the entire lobby would assume he and Mateus were going upstairs to have sex.

“Oh, he has,” Mateus said, his smile still firmly in place. He squeezed Crawford’s hand. “Shall we go up, meu amor?"

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Something a little different

Today for #WIPWednesday I'm changing lanes a bit and sharing something from my first foray into lesbian romance. (No worries if that's not your genre--we'll be back to gay romance next week with more from my werewolves, Tate and Adrian!)

Not only is it a lesbian romance, it's a Regency historical, which is also something new for me. It's a novelette, so it was a low-stress way for me to dip my toe into both genres. I had a blast with it and it has been well received, so it likely won't be my last. *g*

This is also my first time self-publishing something, so I don't have my usual channels to get the word out about a new release. (If you have any tips, drop me a line!)



Heart's Thaw


Release date: Dec. 4, 2016

Calliope snickered, earning herself a dark look from Helena that only served to make her laugh harder. It really was quite amusing. On her end of things, at any rate.
“I told you not to bait him, but you did it anyway,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest, hoping the restriction would help her gain her breath and stop chuckling.
Helena’s lips pursed but she didn't respond to Calliope’s taunt. It was something Calliope could get used to, and a fresh gale of laughter threatened.
 But Helena’s reflexes were still her own, afflicted as she was, and Calliope barely had time to duck before a riding boot went soaring over her head, smacking into the wall behind her with a loud thump.
“Do you want to rouse Baron Thane?” Calliope asked, lifting an eyebrow challengingly.
Helena’s teeth clicked together as she bit back a retort, her blue eyes cold as steel as she glared out from under a wispy fringe of long, blonde locks that had escaped their binding and framed her face. Smooth, soft cheeks that were usually rouged and powdered when Calliope saw them twitched with the effort of her restraint. Her lips had been bitten to a fetching cherry-red, pressed into a pout that looked more seductive than quelling.
Calliope straightened her back, unsuccessfully trying to school her features into a look of regret. How long had she fantasized about this? Having Helena beat down her door at all hours, hair in wild disarray and eyes sparkling with lust?
Of course, in the fantasies, things went a bit differently. Fantasy Helena was there because she truly desired Calliope, not because an angry incubus had bespelled her with a curse that she trusted no one other than Calliope to help her lift. In her fantasies, she and Helena shared long, intimate chats tangled up together in the bedclothes, enjoying the afterglow.
More importantly, in the fantasies, Helena wasn't half-mad with panic. She barely looked like herself, her hair mussed and falling from the meticulous braid that Calliope knew Helena's maid twisted it into nightly. Helena looked like a caricature of herself standing there in her plain night shift, her chest heaving and cheeks flushed from her frantic dash from her own quarters to Calliope’s.
She also looked a good five years younger. Calliope had never seen Helena without the careful coif and artfully applied paint that Helena usually wore like armor. Standing there freshly scrubbed and clad in plain cotton that didn't look any fancier than what Calliope herself was wearing, Helena could have been mistaken for one of the chamber maids.
Except for her sharp tongue. That was definitely the same. The story Helena had just woven in her usual soft, lilting tones—marred by a gratuitous use of profanity and several completely unnecessary affronts on Calliope’s intellect and general person that assured Calliope that Helena was indeed herself—seemed too far-fetched to be believable.
In fact, had Calliope not been with Helena when the two of them had come upon a comely young gentleman in the woods during their late afternoon ride, Calliope wouldn't have believed her.
But Calliope remembered well how eagerly the man bid for Helena's attention, and how shocked and angry he had been when he had been primly rebuked. He had the look of someone who'd had never had his advances rejected before, and given his ethereal beauty and fine linens, Calliope thought he probably hadn't.
Helena hadn't held her tongue then, either. By the time she'd finished dressing the gentleman down for having the gall to speak so frankly to someone of Helena's station, the man's face had practically been puce.
Calliope had thought it a trick of light when his features changed, but one look at Helena's terrified face had put paid to that. Somehow they'd had the luck to stumble across an incubus, and Her Ladyship, daughter and only child of the Duke of Keering, Helena Alexandra Gertrude Heart, had mortally offended him.
He'd flashed to Helena's side before Calliope could even pull the dagger she wore at her belt whenever they left the safety of the estate, but he didn't strike. He merely whispered something to her, something that had Helena's face draining of what little color it had left.
She and Calliope had fled, of course. And even with his preternatural grace, the incubus hadn't been able to catch them as they'd galloped away on their mounts, two of the stables' most reliable and fleet-footed steeds. Calliope had assumed they'd escaped him, but apparently she'd been wrong. Perhaps he hadn't given chase not because he knew he couldn't catch them, but because he'd already exacted his revenge. Not that Calliope could get Helena to tell her exactly what the spell was. She'd said only that she it was base and abominable and that she needed Calliope to help her break it before the effects became permanent.
You can find out what happens by picking up Heart's Thaw for .99 cents on Amazon!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Meet Adrian, an adorable fail!wolf

Last week I shared a snippet from Camp H.O.W.L. so you could meet Tate, a Were psychologist who works as a camp counselor helping teenagers who need to learn to master their Shift. This week I'm introducing you to his toughest challenge yet--Adrian, the 27-year-old son of the Portland Alpha who never hit his Werewolf puberty. Weres Turn when they're nineteen, so when that year came and went, Adrian and his family adjusted to the news that he was human.

Until his 27th birthday rolls around and he finds himself hitting Were puberty--in the middle of a crowded city street. Adrian's pretty much the definition of a fail!wolf. I can't wait for you to get to know him! *g*

Camp H.O.W.L.

Adrian stopped at the crosswalk and took a sip of his coffee as he waited for the light to change. He nearly heaved when the bitter liquid spilled across his tongue. He’d ordered this drink dozens of times and it had always been sweet and smooth, nothing like this awful concoction. The taste of burnt coffee lingered in his mouth, held there by a syrupy residue that he could feel like a weight against his tongue. 

He licked against his teeth, trying to rid his tongue of the sensation. This entire day had been a nightmare, and he’d only been up for an hour. Even the hot shower he’d taken to try to loosen his tensed muscles and ease his headache had been a disaster. The hotel must have been having water pressure problems because the rain shower head had been anything but relaxing. The water had hit his skin like tiny missiles, leaving him feeling tender and raw afterward. 

The light changed and Adrian moved across the wide street with the smattering of people who’d been waiting near him. The man nearest him must have had his Bluetooth headset turned up to eleven--Adrian could hear every word. He glanced over, surprised that the nicely dressed businessman wasn’t more concerned about privacy. From what Adrian had heard, it sounded like the man was listening to an audiobook or pod cast that was describing a sex scene in lurid detail. No one around them looked the slightest bit scandalized, which made Adrian reevaluate some of his assumptions about Indianapolis. The book would have raised some eyebrows even in his liberal hometown of Portland, but it got nary a sideways glance here in the Heartland. 

Adrian brought his foot down hard on the curb and almost went sprawling, but the businessman he’d been watching grabbed him by the elbow and kept him on his feet. Adrian’s satchel swung forward and slammed into the man, the impact knocking one of his earbuds out. 

Adrian’s face flamed when a long, loud moan split the air, but no one noticed. The businessman gave him a concerned glance once he’d steadied Adrian on the sidewalk, but Adrian waved him off with a quick thanks. The book continued to play, muted slightly when the man tucked the earbud back into place.

Adrian stopped short, stepping to the side when another group of people went by. No one had heard. That’s why they hadn’t reacted. Because the man had been listening at normal volume, and even when the earbud had fallen out, no one had heard because it hadn’t been audible. 
Except he’d heard.

Adrian rubbed his hand across his face. What was going on? He was used to seeing his Packmates react to to things that were outside the register he could process, but he’d obviously never experienced that himself.

He'd never given much thought to what Were senses must be like. Sure, he'd seen his sister flinch when fire alarms went off, or noticed how irritable his family could get when they were in a loud, crowded restaurant. But mostly, the Weres he knew adapted to their heightened senses.

That couldn't really be what was happening, though. He didn't know anyone who had Were senses but not the ability to Shift. Not that he personally knew anyone born to Were parents who was a human—like him. But still. No one hit Were puberty at twenty-seven. Did they?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Introducing Camp H.O.W.L.

It's been forever and a day since I had a WIP to share with you, so I'm really excited to be back today with a WIP Wednesday from my current manuscript, Camp H.O.W.L.

I'm starting NaNoWriMo off strong with help from Tate and Adrian, two werewolves in their late twenties who are spending some quality time together marooned in the middle of the forest with a bunch of teenage werewolves who are adjusting to their werewolf puberty.

Unfortunately, so is Adrian. A quirk of his genetics prevented him from maturing into his wolf when he was nineteen, as almost all Weres do. He'd accepted his fate as the lone human in his pack, but his twenty-seventh birthday changed that. And now he's going through werewolf puberty, with all the embarrassments and frustrations that entails.

His mortification only escalates when he arrives at Camp H.O.W.L., which is basically a high-end boot camp where baby Weres learn control, and finds that his assigned counselor is hotter than the sun.

Tate has been helping teens master their urges for years, but Adrian is a new and unexpected challenge. Today's WIP Wednesday showcases just exactly how exasperating his job shepherding the Werewolf elite's brats into wolfdom can be. *g*


Camp H.O.W.L.

“For the last time, Ryan, we aren't keeping you prisoner here. You are an adult, and if you choose to leave we can't stop you.”
They really couldn't. The kids Tate worked with at Camp HOWL weren't prisoners—they were Weres who were adjusting to their wolves. Technically, since the change came on the first full moon after a Were's nineteenth birthday, they weren't really kids, either. Everyone at the camp was a legal adult, but it was often difficult to tell from the way they acted. Camp HOWL catered to the elite in Were society. A month at the camp cost more than a year's tuition at most colleges. He'd heard rumors that some parents signed their kids up as soon as they were born and started making paying the exorbitant fee in monthly installments nearly two decades before their precious little wolfling would ever set foot on the manicured grounds.
It wasn't the raw juice bar or the Pilates machines that kept the kids from leaving camp, though. 
Every single one of them knew they'd be roasted by their Alpha if they walked away from the camp before the counselors released them. Guarding their secret from exposure was every wolf's highest priority, even these stuck-up, pampered pseudo-adults. And if any of them thought they knew best and tried to leave, well, that was between the Weres and their packs. In his seven years at the camp, Tate had never seen a Were leave before they graduated. There had been a few close calls, but all it had taken was a few words with the recalcitrant Were's Alpha to turn things around. 
He had Ryan's on speed dial, since it was his job to know how to spot trouble and Ryan had walked through the camp's gates with trouble written all over him. Tate hoped it wouldn't get that far, but it was a nice ace up his sleeve. 
Ryan had his phone in his hand, his fingers clutched around the nearly indestructible case most kids arrived with. They weren't fashionable, but the wolf-proof titanium was a necessity while the young wolves learned how to deal with their heightened strength and volatile mood swings. 
Pexels
“I called an Uber,” he sneered, his gaze locked on Tate's in a blatant challenge. 
Tate held his hands up, placating the teen. “That's your call, man,” he said, trying his damndest to project an air of calm detachment. Ryan's senses weren't honed enough yet to pick up on Tate's racing heart or the faint tang of salt in the air from the cold sweat that had broken out down his back. 
He'd called an Uber. Jesus Christ. Some day these kids were actually going to kill him. An emotional, angry baby Were in an Uber? 
Luckily they were miles and miles from an Uber driver, and that was assuming Wade Watkins could get his scuffed-up Ford F150 to start in the wet autumn chill. A kid like Ryan would probably take one look at the dented, rusted out truck and turn tail and run.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Fresh out of the shower with Connor and Jake

It's been quite awhile since my last #WIPWednesday post! I've had some health issues that forced me to take a step back from my writing for awhile, but I'm back with a vengeance now. I'm a month and a half into my two-month treatment, and I'm finally starting to feel more like myself. And that means I'm back to writing. There were even a few hairy weeks there where I wasn't drinking coffee...what a relief to be past that dark time! *g*

I'll be at #RT16 next week (YAY!) so right now I'm in the midst of packing and gathering up all the awesome swag I'll be taking. Keep an eye out next week for a chance to win one of the messenger bags I'm giving away there. (And if you're attending #RT16 in Vegas next week, come find me! I'll have messenger bags, travel mugs and a bunch of other fun stuff.)

Last week I submitted my novella Better than Okay to my publisher. I spent the week at Universal with Thing 1 and Thing 2 (and no Hubs, so frazzled isn't a strong enough word to explain how stressed I was...) and only barely made my deadline. I always overestimate the amount of time I'll be able to write while on vacation, which when you're talking about running herd on a 9 year old and a 6 year old at a theme park, is pretty much zero. But I did manage to finish up Connor and Jake's story, and I'm sharing some of that here with you today for #WIPWednesday.

This picks up just after Connor and Jake have come home from a night out at a karaoke club and indulged in some fun times in the shower (one of my favorite places for sex scenes...).

Credit

Better than Okay,  release date October 2016

The shower spray had gone a bit tepid, but Jake didn’t care, too consumed with nipping and biting at Connor’s lips. It had been awhile since they'd indulged in playful kissing. When he’d finally had his fill of Connor’s mouth, he moved on, mapping the contours of Connor’s face with tiny, closed-mouth kisses that made Connor laugh. 
“We’ve wasted enough water for the night, don't you think?” 
Jake chuckled at Connor's admonishment, pushing up off the shower floor and holding a hand out to help Connor up as well. He reached behind himself, turning the spray off with a flick of his wrist. Connor was already out of the tub, and Jake grinned as a hand shoved a towel inside the curtain. 
“Back there, at the club, were you OK? It seemed like—” Jake began, as he stepped out of the shower, but Connor stopped him by flicking his own wet towel out, catching Jake across the torso. Jake took the motion as the challenge it was, rubbing the faint sting away as he tore off after a completely naked Connor into their bedroom. 
There wasn’t anywhere to go in the small confines of the room, and Jake caught him easily, tackling him and pinning him to the bed. The springs made a loud protest, and they stilled their motions, waiting to see if Gavin would notice and yell at them to be quiet. When no loud bangs on the wall or shouts resulted, they resumed their tussle, struggling for dominance as they rolled around on the generously sized bed. The match was over as quickly as it started when Connor managed to wedge a sharp elbow against Jake’s groin, exerting just enough pressure to prove he had the upper hand. 
Jake surrendered, flopping onto his back, his head propped up by the mound of pillows. Connor collapsed next to him, arms folded behind his head as he studied the ceiling. 
“At the club?” he prompted, and Jake was tempted to tell Connor to forget it, that he’d rather spend his time screwing than talking. Then again, that was what they normally did, and Jake couldn’t help but worry that attitude was to blame for the uncomfortable moment they’d had at the club. 
“The song,” Jake said, wondering how the hell he was going to explain it without sounding like a sap. “I'm being serious, Con. It just seemed like the stupid song we had to sing upset you.” 
Connor captured the hand Jake had thrown the pillow with, pressing a soft kiss to the palm. “And I’m seriously telling you not to be serious,” Connor said. 
Jake was silent for a moment, studying Connor’s eyes, their blue depths darkened with arousal and crinkling around the edges like they did when he was amused. 
“But—” 
“For Christ’s sake, Jake,” Connor huffed, dropping his hand and rolling to his back, resuming his survey of the ceiling. “I know what you meant. I just don’t feel the need to make this a thing. Everything's okay. We're okay.” 
Jake’s silence filled the room, and Connor gritted his teeth, turning over again to face him. 
“Let's not ruin a good night, alright? I'm tired, you're tired—let's just go to sleep.” 
Jake was quiet for another few seconds, wondering if he should pursue things or just let it go. He'd been doing a lot of that lately. It was infinitely easier to shut up and pretend everything was fine than to argue with Connor, especially since he saw so little of him lately. The remnants of his buzz and the languid contentment of satisfying sex evaporated. 
“Okay,” Jake muttered, swallowing his irritation as best he could. It helped when Connor curled around him, skin still slightly damp from the shower. Jake relaxed into the loose embrace, falling asleep before he could second-guess things anymore.
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