Welcome to the Exclusive Cover Reveal of Mickie B. Ashling’s Being With Him, a Horizons Series Novella from Dreamspinner Press. Mickie is not only debuting the cover today, but she’s also offering the chance for one lucky reader to win a $20 store credit at Dreamspinner, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget for entry details!
I’d like to thank The Novel Approach for giving me the opportunity to present the striking cover created by KaNaKa for my upcoming release, Being With Him. This Christmas novella features Alex Boulet and Zeb Araneda, whom you first met in Through My Own Lens. Their story can be read as a standalone and releases on December 27th.
Falling in love for the first time is equal parts terrifying and special. Zeb and Alex experience the highs and lows of their budding romance as they spend Thanksgiving and Christmas away from the watchful eyes of their well-meaning but nosy roommates.
My sincerest thanks to all the editors, readers, bloggers, reviewers, and fellow authors who have supported me this year. I wouldn’t be celebrating the release of this novella without your help. I bring a special gift to add to your Christmas stocking along with the exclusive excerpt. Enjoy!
About the Book
Zeb Araneda leaves his privileged but closely supervised life in the Philippines to study architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where his new roommate is openly gay Luca Dilorio.
Alex Boulet is a successful print model who appears to have it all, but on closer inspection, the ready smile never reaches his mesmerizing green eyes. Tired of living alone, Alex moves in with fellow model Chyna Davidson, Luca’s boyfriend.
Away from his father’s watchful eye, and with Luca’s help, Zeb learns to navigate his new environment, and experiences freedom of choice for the first time. This fresh perspective allows him to step out of his comfort zone and act on his attraction to Alex.
The holiday season has always been difficult for Alex. Sappy commercials tug at his heart, and storefront windows depict idealized scenes that remind him of what he’ll never have: a loving partner willing to accept his truth. Will this Christmas be another disappointment, or will Santa finally make his wish come true?
At the club, Zeb got a firsthand look at Alex’s celebrity status. People crowded around him when they walked in, and eyeballed Chyna, who was newer on the scene. They hardly glanced at Zeb and steered clear of Luca, who glowered at anyone who dared to approach his boyfriend.
Alex returned each greeting politely but stayed by Zeb’s side, guiding him through the throng of Saturday night revelers with a steadying arm around his waist. The overt flirting from interested men and women didn’t merit a second glance, which made Zeb feel valued and respected. As the only one in the group who could legally order alcohol, Alex offered to grab some beers, but Zeb confessed he wasn’t much of a drinker and would prefer a toke instead. Alex gave him a wry grin, took his hand, and tugged him toward the restroom. That’s when everything got a little crazy.
The tiny stall could barely fit one person, let alone two. Alex lit the joint he’d pulled out of his pocket and took a long drag. He bent down and captured Zeb’s mouth, shotgunning the strong fumes and turning the experience into delicious foreplay. They did that a couple of times, then flushed the last of the weed down the toilet. Alex lifted Zeb’s chin, waiting a second to see any signs of rejection, but Zeb opened up eagerly. The gentle nibbling gained momentum, turning hungrier in response to his reaction. When Alex’s hands slid down to his asscheeks, Zeb didn’t shy away. He moved closer and began grinding against Alex’s hard thigh, which he’d inserted between Zeb’s legs. Zeb never stopped to wonder what the end result would be. All he knew for sure was that he was craving release, and the corresponding growl rumbling from Alex’s throat told him his feelings were reciprocated. By the time Alex led him to the dance floor, he was painfully hard and looking forward to whatever was coming next.
Blaming weed on this sudden urge to climb all over Alex would be easy, except that was only a part of it. Granted, it had broken down self-imposed barriers and given him the extra boost of confidence to listen to his body instead of his brain. For the first time in recent history, Zeb had acted on impulse, and the result wasn’t unwelcome, just surprising.
He’d had sex with a few women, but none of them had left an indelible mark. Sure, he’d gotten off and could proudly state he was no longer a virgin, but that was it. The physical release had been welcome but the connection that was supposed to follow was missing. Deep in his heart, he felt cheated. Which had led him to the next logical conclusion. Would it be better with a guy?
Fantasizing was one thing, but acting on the attraction was a game changer. He’d never dared to experiment back home, but what could stop him now? Only his scruples, and those faded away as soon as Alex kissed him. The hot lick of desire coiled around his guts like nothing in recent history. Zeb wasn’t sure when the spark between them had been ignited. It could have started that afternoon during the emotional tour or afterward at lunch, when Alex cleared up a few misconceptions about transgender men. Zeb knew his thirst for knowledge was oftentimes misinterpreted, but Alex had been patient instead of telling him to fuck off and mind his own business. He’d also kept his criticism of Zeb’s situation to a minimum. Privately, Alex might have thought the worst, but he’d only exuded sympathy, which had made it easier for Zeb to discuss his father’s draconian rules.
Empathy notwithstanding, there was something about Alex that made him irresistible to Zeb. It wasn’t his eyes, even though they were heart-stopping green, or his generous mouth, which begged to be kissed. His broad shoulders and ripped arms were definite eye-pleasers, but they weren’t what pulled Zeb. Alex could have easily been a domineering asshole, given his size and fame, but he wasn’t. Admittedly, he commanded your full attention when he walked into a room, but he was quietly watchful, preferring to keep to himself, instead of brazenly taking up center stage. It was this humble, almost reticent side of him Zeb found most appealing.
About the Author
Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.