The Novel Approach welcomes author VJ Summers today, with an exclusive excerpt on her Light a Candle blog tour. And on behalf of Riptide Publishing, there’s also a tour-wide giveaway of a $15 Riptide store credit to one winner. Every comment on this blog tour enters you in the drawing. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 23, 2015. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!
Blurb: Will broke Dusty’s heart their senior year. One unexpected moment of passion between them, and Will freaked out. Not only wasn’t he gay, but he wasn’t kinky either—or so he insisted to Dusty. Their long friendship ended, and Dusty was left with only bittersweet memories of their last movie night together.
Ten years later, out as gay and a Dom, Will auditions for membership at Club Deviant, only to find that he’s been assigned an all-too-familiar submissive. His scene with Dustin feels like fate, and he’s determined to get back what they once had—and more.
Dustin had buried the pain of rejection deep, but playing with Will conjures all his memories of that one electric moment they shared and the friendship it destroyed. He’s built walls around his heart high enough to keep out the Trojan Army, but together, he and Will may find the courage to move beyond their past and face their future together.
Excerpt: Five days later, Will could still smell Dustin. Could still feel Dustin’s velvety skin under his fingers. Every time he closed his eyes, he could see taut muscled skin and pale-blue eyes burning into his own.
It had been the single most erotic scene of his life, and he hadn’t even fucking come.
Well, not until he was home with nothing but his fist and lube and the memory of Dustin—Dustin at eighteen, sharing pizza and insight into ancient Greece that Will really hadn’t been ready for; Dustin at twenty-eight, eyes hooded and voice cool. Made no difference, the man was sex on legs at any age. Then he’d come. Repeatedly. With Dustin’s name on his lips.
Ten years ago, after he’d watched that damned scene a dozen times or more, he’d gone online, had researched Achilles specifically and Greek warriors in general. He’d learned about pederasty—which skeezed him the fuck out—but he’d also learned of the bond between the erastes, the lover, and his eromenos, his beloved.
The ancient Greeks hadn’t looked down on gay men. They hadn’t actually even acknowledged homosexuality. It was all a part of a guy’s education. You rubbed off against your teacher—who hopefully wasn’t a fat, cigarette-smoke-reeking slug like Mr. Todd had been—and then you eventually grew up and married a woman. Easy-peasy.
Of course the fact that he’d kept waking up with the image of Dusty, ass red from the flat of Will’s sword, burned into his brain, and his sheets sticky with his own spend should have been warning enough that there was nothing easy-peasy about this. But he hadn’t been able to face that—the fact that he was gay, let alone what it meant that he wanted to spank Dusty—until well into college.
A decade of experience separated them, and he was every bit as fascinated with Dustin now as he had been senior year. More so even, because now he understood what was simmering between them. They had unfinished business, and Will knew that until they’d dealt with it, he wouldn’t be able to move on. He was pretty damned sure Dustin hadn’t moved on, either. He needed to apologize. There could be no erasing their history—the injury couldn’t be undone, the hurt couldn’t be erased—but there could be forgiveness and, if Dustin’s almost emotionless interactions with him were anything to go by, Will suspected Dusty needed to forgive as much as Will needed forgiving.
Will needed so much more than that, though. They both needed so much more than that.
At eighteen he’d been confused, scared by the power of what he was feeling and what he wanted. He wasn’t scared anymore. Or at least he wasn’t scared of that. No, the thing that tormented him now was the fear that there was only one submissive out there who could give him what he needed, only one submissive he wanted to own and be owned by. Dustin. The one man with every reason in the world not to submit wholeheartedly to him.
Now he was sitting at a small table in Club Deviant, his nerves on edge. Dustin had left his name with the head of security, allowing Will temporary access to the club’s notorious back room. The same room where only a week ago he’d had Dustin strapped down to a table and writhing with pleasure.
He sprawled in his seat watching the open play area before him. He’d come early, curious about the club, and embarrassingly eager to see Dustin again. He’d been approached by subs, both male and female, offering up their services for the evening. Most had worn the indigo leather collar of a club submissive with its distinctive silver entwined C and D, but one or two had clearly been members looking to play.
He knew he could have a submissive, club or member, kneeling at his feet with a snap of his finger. He even knew he could engage in all manner of deviant behavior with the club submissives, short of actual sex while they were on the job. And, of course, with a little negotiation he could go much further in a private room with a club member. But Will had turned them all down, both the direct invitations and the coy, flirtatious glances, without a qualm. Everything in him was keyed to one particular submissive, the man currently making his way across the dance floor in Will’s direction.
Holy hell, but Dustin was a sight to stop a Dom’s breath. Dressed in black leather pants and an iridescent blue shirt that laced up the front and looked painted on, he was the very image of an artist. Or maybe a work of art. Hard pecs and sculpted abs begged to be stroked.
Like most clubs, Club Deviant kept the air cranked up when the dance floor was open and the public play areas were closed. It was early, though, and there wasn’t much of a crowd yet to heat up the space. Dustin’s nipples were peaked in the cool air, clearly visible through the thin fabric of his shirt, barbells making obvious bulges that had Will’s fingers tingling with the need to pinch and twist.
And then there was the collar. Plain indigo leather, about an inch wide, and worn soft with use, the collar marked Dustin as surely as a brand as everything Will needed.
Fuck, he was in trouble. How the hell was he supposed to apologize when his mouth was so fucking dry he knew he wouldn’t be able to get a word out?
Dustin stopped in front of him. Will nodded toward the chair next to him. “Have a seat.” His dick strained against his zipper as Dustin sat across from him.
The man was an odd juxtaposition of submission—the collar wrapped around his throat, the way he had kept his eyes down and nodded deferentially at several other Doms as he crossed the floor—and defiance as he met Will’s gaze with a sort of detached curiosity that made Will crazy to break through and get to some real emotion.
“Did you make it to art school?” Shit. So not what he’d meant to say, but the cool disinterest made a pretty damned hostile environment for an apology.
“I did. Graduated and everything.” One dark brow rose. “I work freelance out of my house. I don’t make any money here, Will.”
That made him blink. Double shit.
“I didn’t mean that—” he started, wondering how the hell his asking about Dusty’s art had turned into some sort of insinuation that he thought the man was a prostitute. Dustin waved his words away with a negligent hand.
“You said on the phone you had something important to talk about.” Pale eyes never left his face as he waited for Will to speak.
“I owe you an apology,” Will began. “A very long overdue one.”
Dustin blinked but his expression remained relaxed, unchanged. “Okay.”
“I didn’t just flake out ten years ago. I panicked.” He could still feel the fear, the way his mouth had gone dry, his lungs had refused to work. The way his heart had jackhammered. Sort of like it was doing now, as Dustin watched him with expressionless eyes. Shit. “I can’t even say which was worse, wanting to tie someone down and spank their ass, or realizing the ass I really wanted to blister was yours and not Marcie’s or Teena’s.”
Dustin shrugged but didn’t react much otherwise. “I figured as much. How could the king of the school be gay?”
His voice was cordial, but Will didn’t miss the edge in Dustin’s words. Impulsively he reached out and grasped Dustin’s wrist, pinning it lightly against the table. It didn’t escape his notice that he wasn’t the only one whose breath caught at the contact.
“Not just gay. Gay and kinky.” He sighed. “I was an ass. I was young and scared, of myself and of what everyone else would say if they found out. It took me a long time to understand what I want, to accept who I am. But being young is no excuse for being a coward, or an asshole. You were my friend, and I treated you like shit, and even after I realized being gay and kinky wasn’t something to be ashamed of, I knew the way I’d treated you was.”
Dustin shook his head and slipped out of Will’s hold with a soft sigh. “If you need to hear it, then fine: you’re forgiven. It was a long time ago, Will. I’m totally okay, and have been for many years.”
He didn’t believe that for a minute. Not when Dustin’s breath caught at his touch, and when his bland expression and carefully neutral voice kept fraying around the edges, revealing hints of a sharpness that could have no source other than pain.
Dustin was moving, pushing his chair back and preparing to leave.
“Stay.” The word was out before he even realized he was going to speak; the need to keep Dustin there with him was undeniable and inevitable. “Please.”
“I can’t.” Dustin picked up Will’s hand, tilted his wrist to look at the heavy silver watch he wore. “I’m working tonight. In ten minutes, actually. I need to go get ready.” He released Will as abruptly as he’d touched him, stepping back before Will could react.
“You’re forgiven, Will. Let it go and move on. I have.”
He turned his back to Will—an action so lacking in the respectful, traditional protocol Club Deviant’s contract promised in their submissives that it grated over Will’s nerves like a metal file—and walked away as casually as he’d come. Never mind that they weren’t in a scene, never mind that their conversation had needed to be between equals, not Dom and sub, Will saw Dustin as his submissive, dammit. He’d felt in his fucking bones ten years ago how good they could be together, and had run terrified. Seeing Dusty again had just brought the feeling back stronger than ever.
Will spun his glass on the table as he watched him go. He’d gotten Dusty’s forgiveness, or at least a reasonable facsimile of it, but it hadn’t changed anything. Not really. It hadn’t eased his conscience, probably because it was so patently insincere. It hadn’t filled the emptiness in his soul, or given him a sense of relief.
No, if anything, the soul-deep need to know Dustin the adult, to see how he compared with Dustin the boy, had grown even more all-encompassing. The need to have Dustin naked and on his knees before him, to see that dark head bowed as the submissive shivered in anxious pleasure, was overwhelming. He felt the ghost of Dustin’s hand in his and he wanted more. He needed more.
And he knew Dustin did too. There was no way the man could react so dispassionately, not the Dusty he’d known. Not unless he was hiding emotions too intense to be dealt with easily.
He scanned the room and spotted Mistress Cynthia. Mind made up, he stood and approached the floor manager of Club Deviant.
About the Author: When not working the EDJfH (Evil Day Job from Hell), obsessing over whether her parents are getting enough to eat, obsessing that her kid is sexting the boyfriend, making coffee, drinking coffee, or feeding the two cats who allow her to live with them, VJ can be found reading or writing erotic romance—either solo as m/m author VJ Summers, or as the shorter, more quiet half of the “Violet Summers” writing team (the tall half is Sierra Summers).