Welcome to author A.R. Barley, who’s sharing an exclusive excerpt with us today to celebrate the release of her new addition to Dreamspinner Press’s States of Love line, The Shore Thing!
About the Book
Sunburned Delaware native Dale Seward spends his summers wrangling lifeguards and cracking crabs. His winters are a whole lot colder.
Nico Travelli’s never even seen the ocean, but when his family’s plans for him get derailed, he realizes his future in their upscale Italian restaurants might be over, and it’s time for something new. He’s hypnotized by his first look at the Atlantic—until a wave takes him out. Luckily, Dale’s there to pull him to safety.
Dale knows better than to fall for a summer person, but that doesn’t mean he can’t show Nico a good time. Between the ice cream cones and the put-put golf, these two lonely hearts soon find themselves in over their heads.
But when Nico is tempted by a second chance at the life he always thought he wanted, will he be brave enough to give it up for the possibility of true love with Dale? And what does the sexy lifeguard do during the winter? In a state as small as Delaware, secrets are bound to come out.
Delaware is a state full of outlet malls, bathing suit stores, and miles and miles of country road. It’s not known for fine cuisine. According to a number of online ‘Best of’ lists the Best Burger in Delaware is Five Guys. But, there is one food you’ll find down by the shores that should have your mouth watering: blue crabs fresh from the water, steamed and spiced. In The Shore Thing, Delaware native Dale teaches newcomer Nico how to eat crabs and the results are explosive. Check it out in this exclusive excerpt:
The crabs were fresh caught and fresh cooked. The leftovers would still be sweet the next day, but they were best hot. Sticky and covered in spice. Burning fingertips and straining eyes to see through the steam.
Ten minutes after Dale’s arrival, the picnic tables were full. Dale was on the end of his table with Becky on one side and Nico on the other. Richard had snuck onto the bench at the other end. It would have been better if he were in the backyard equivalent of Siberia, but Dale couldn’t bring himself to care.
Not when the first crab was already sitting in front of him.
No fancy plates and place settings for a crab fest, not when it was easier to put down newspaper and drink beer from the bottle. There was a bucket of tools halfway down the table, wooden mallets and plastic nutcrackers that wouldn’t work on walnuts but would do fine on a crab’s thin shell. A full roll of paper towels bumped against his elbow as he turned the crab over onto its back. There was an empty bucket on the other end of the table to toss the empty shells into.
“Here.” He leaned across to Nico, flipping his crab over so it was in the same position. “See this here.” He pointed toward the V of shell on his crab’s belly. “That’s called the apron.”
“What if it’s a guy?” Nico asked.
“They’re all guys. Female crabs get tossed back.”
“Now that’s sexist.”
“Probably, but it’s also sound environmental practice. Female crabs make more crabs. These little dudes are dinner.” He pulled back on the apron. “Crabs are hard to get into, but tug on the apron and it’s like pulling down a zipper. Everything opens right up.”
“Good to know.”
“Next you pop off the shell, and then you break the sucker in half.” He cracked the crab into two pieces, then leaned back to wait. “Your turn.”
“I’m not doing it for you.” He nodded at Nico’s crab. “Take a hold of the apron and pull.”
Nico’s fingers were long and capable. It still took him a moment to do as he was told, separating the apron and then tugging off the shell. He rubbed his fingers clean on a paper towel before cracking the crab in two. The expression on his face when he saw the lungs and guts inside was cute.
Distraught… disgusted… and cute.
“It gets better,” Dale promised.
Nico’s lips were pressed together in a thin line.
“Here.” It was the work of a moment for Dale to clean the debris from his own crab, break the cartilage by the back fin, and come up with a large lump of crabmeat. “Taste this.”
“I’ve had crab before.”
“Not like this.” Dale rolled the meat in vinegar and butter before holding it out. Nico’s tongue darted out to lick his lips. For a brief moment their eyes met, and then…. Nico bent forward to accept the meat into his mouth.
Feeding Nico was unthinkably intimate and yet—surrounded by friends and family—it was right.
“Oh.” A soft moan escaped Nico’s throat as he leaned into Dale’s hand. His lips sucked against one finger, wet and eager.
The motion went straight from Dale’s hand to his dick. All those nights spent imagining what Nico’s mouth would feel like against his skin and now he knew. Whatever doubts he’d had vanished in a moment of absolute certainty. He wanted more.
Fuck. He wanted everything.
“Okay.” Nico pulled back slightly. “You convinced me. What do I do next?”
Dale showed him exactly what he’d done. “If you get this part right, then it’s easy sailing. Each leg should twist out with meat attached. If you screw up here, you’ve got to start pulling things apart with your fingers.”
“What about the claw? Wouldn’t that be easier?”
“It is easier. That’s why we save it for last.”
“Wouldn’t it be easiest to buy the crab already picked?”
“Didn’t you ever hear the expression ‘good things come to those who wait’?”
“My grandfather might have told me that once or twice.” Nico tasted the first bit of meat from his own crab and let out a soft moan.
The sound was invigorating. Electrifying. It made Dale’s erection buck and throb.
He started to eat his own crab. All the textured flavors he’d spent his life savoring seemed fresh and new with Nico next to him, experiencing everything for the first time with butter-slick lips and shining silver eyes.
If Dale kissed him now, would he taste like crab and beer and the best nights of his life?
About the Author
A.R. Barley lives in the Motor City with a dog (who’s currently annoying the cat), a cat (who’s doing his best to avoid the dog), and an engineer. She likes hot drinks, hotter novels, and ice cream. She writes seven days a week (when she’s not playing referee to the dog and the cat) and is always happy to hear from readers on Facebook and Twitter.
She loves the ocean.