We’re so pleased to have author Marie Lark joining us today on the tour for her latest release, The Second First Date, from Loose Id. We’ve got an exclusive look at the songs that inspired both this and The First Morning After, and there’s also a chance for you to win an e-copy of The Second First Date, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for entry details.
Hello, and thank you for having me back at The Novel Approach!! I’m excited to be here and to share my new book, The Second First Date. It’s the direct sequel to The First Morning After and takes Danny Rojas and Mitchel Finch’s romance to its next step—whether they can be more than just a one-time thing. Whether they can be together for real, coming from such different worlds. Mitchel remains the closeted former-darling of their hometown of Peach Blossom, while Danny has made a life for himself in the big city. The Second First Date follows Mitchel to the city where he meets Danny on his own turf.
For me, music was a big part of that meeting, and I want readers to have a sense of what it sounded like—particularly the mix of city and country, empty space and close beats. So, pop in some headphones, and let’s go for a spin!
- Lucero – Sweet Little Thing
/Your friends say I’m no good
They never understood
The way I’d stay up all night
The way I tremble in your arms/
This is the ultimate country slow dance. It’s Danny and Mitchel’s wedding song if they ever decide to get married. I imagine this is what they dance to alone in their first apartment together, no need for skill or rhythm, just a living room floor and hands holding each other close.
- Jason Isbell – Speed Trap Town
/It never did occur to me to leave, ‘til tonight
Sign my name and say my last goodbye, and decide
There’s nothing here that can’t be left behind/
Jason Isbell is the king of wide open spaces and melancholy; therefore, this is Peach Blossom’s song. The rural, small-town setting is so important for Danny and Mitchel’s context—I feel like this song perfectly captures the importance of leaving and at the same time understanding and keeping where you come from.
- Sufjan Stevens – The Only Thing
Should I tear my heart out now?
Everything I feel returns to you somehow
I wanna save you from your sorrow
Sufjan Stevens writes the strangest, loveliest, holy songs that might also be about sex of anyone I know. Though, to be honest, that’s not a difficult title to earn. This song is Mitchel and Danny at their most desperate and lonesome, apart and longing for each other.
- Ryan Adams – My Winding Wheel
/So, buy a pretty dress and wear it out tonight
For all the boys you think could outdo me/
This is a sweet, sad take-me-out-dancing song, and I love the gendered imagery of the pretty dress with the image of Danny and Mitchel together, out on the town.
- Taylor Swift – Out of the Woods
/You took the polaroid of us, then discovered
The rest of the world was black and white
But we were in screaming color/
Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift can evoke all that is wonderful and terrible about love. This song captures that feeling of danger and the exhaustion that comes from constant vigilance and fear of discovery.
- Ryan Adams – I Just Might
/Lost out in the darkness
Looking for the light
Think I’m gonna run, baby, I just might/
This song is all the late-night drives taken on the verge of reckless decisions. This is the buildup to every brilliant mistake.
- Lucero – Nobody’s Darlings
/Now, we got together just a little too late
Spent our early days, spent our early days
Just fucking up/
Here’s another slow dance for the last song—after last call, the band has gone home, and the chairs are up. Danny and Mitchel both think they’ve let down their families and communities. Whether there’s any truth to that, they feel like they’re nobody’s darlings but each other’s.
So that’s it! That’s the music that inspired both The First Morning After and The Second First Date. Now look what I did—I’m super emotional about Danny and Mitchel all over again. I hope you give this a listen, and thank you for reading!
About the Book
After years of an unrequited crush and exchanged secret looks, Mitchel Finch and Danny Rojas had one weekend of sex and self-discovery at a friend’s wedding. But when the morning after came, Danny got to return to his life in Philadelphia while Mitchel was left to deal with the fallout of publicly defending Danny from his high school bullies. He wasn’t quite dragged out of the closet, but he’s clinging to the door frame with the tips of his fingers and stubbornness.
Having grown up terrorized for his sexuality, Danny can’t imagine Mitchel ever choosing to be with him–even if the nights they shared were the most intensely amazing of his life. He knows Mitchel won’t risk his life or position in their small home town. No matter what Danny hopes for, he doesn’t expect they’ll get another shot.
Now, after weeks apart, they have two nights to explore their feelings for each other without fear of discovery or consequences. Is it enough to pull Mitchel out of hiding–and to convince Danny their connection is deeper than sex?
It’s all riding on their second chance at a first date.
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Coming around the other side of the bar, Danny neatly insinuated himself behind Mitchel. He snuck an arm around his middle and got a good nose full of his smell when he nuzzled in close behind his ear. Mitchel froze against him for a moment, then tipped his head back to look up at him.
“Come outside with me,” Danny told him. He could feel when Mitchel relaxed and exhaled.
“Yeah, all right.” Saying a hasty good-bye to Chuck, Mitchel slid off the stool.
As usual, whiskey made Danny brave, so winding their way through the crowd to the door, he slid his hand into Mitchel’s and took the lead.
As they emerged from the air-conditioned bar, the humidity of a July night slapped against their skin, and Danny briefly wondered how much cooler it’d be in Peach Blossom right now without all this concrete and blacktop to trap the heat. The breeze that came off the river was just about the only thing he missed about their hometown aside from Mitchel.
“Ugh,” Mitchel grumbled, tugging his shirt away from his skin. “Summer in the city.”
“Exactly,” Danny huffed, casting about for a square of open sidewalk. People milled around everywhere, town bumping at midnight on a Friday. Maybe too many people. “Come on, this way.”
Still holding his hand, Danny pulled him around to the side of the building and into the alley. It smelled a little like sun-heated garbage, but not too bad, and letting go of his hand, Danny fished the half-empty pack of cigarettes from his back pocket. It was smashed flat, but the one he pulled out looked all right. Not that it mattered.
“I didn’t know you smoked,” Mitchel said, eyes narrowed as he watched Danny light it from a book of matches also dug out of his pocket.
“I don’t.” When the cigarette caught, he took a quick puff to keep it going and blew the smoke out without really inhaling. “But it’s hard to get a break otherwise. And if you want gossip, the smoker’s circle is the place to find it.” Also, it gave him something to do with his hands while he got the measure of Mitchel finally alone with him, out here away from curious bar patrons.
He didn’t have to wait long.
Mitchel snatched the cigarette from his hand, carefully stubbed it out against the brick wall next to Danny’s shoulder, and slotted it back into the pack when he held his hand out for it.
“Thoughtful,” Danny murmured, watching him.
“Don’t wanna be wasteful.” Then Mitchel shoved the pack into his own pocket and pushed Danny firmly against the side of the building. “’Specially if you’ve only got ten minutes.” He rucked Danny’s shirt up and slid his hands in along his ribs, raising goose bumps all up and down his sides, even in the heat. Danny shivered hard and thought, Fucking finally.
Mitchel looked straight at him, his eyes weird and silvery in the light slanting in from the street. “How much longer till your shift’s over?”
“Two hours,” Danny answered breathlessly. “That’s, uh, if I can get the waitress to close for me. Otherwise it’ll be three.”
“What, you don’t like getting hit on by every single person in a three-block radius?”
Mitchel leaned in, shut him up, and answered his question all in one go, kissing him like he was ready to go right here. He shoved his leg in between Danny’s, and abruptly they were pressed flush together, shoulder to shin. Danny remembered this so vividly—if there was any question that they’d been here before, that their bodies remembered how to do this, it was answered. It felt so good, Danny ached.
“Didn’t come here for that,” Mitchel said, voice rough and intimate against Danny’s lips. “Why, are you jealous, Rojas?”
“No. I bet beautiful people are always hitting on you. If that bothered me, I’d be jealous all the time.”
And he wasn’t. Danny was far too pragmatic to feel jealousy. Jealousy implied a claim of some kind. Some reason to believe. And as ready as Danny was to get Mitchel back to his apartment and naked on his bed—as happy as he was that Mitchel wanted to come out and see him—Danny Rojas was not naïve.
Mitchel huffed a laugh, his gaze lowered. “Yeah, you saw all those beautiful people lining up to be with me when you visited last month. You’ve got so much competition.”
“I’m not just talking about last month. I’m talking about our entire lives.”
“Well, I don’t wanna talk about anything before last month, and I don’t know why you would either.” He looked up at Danny, still pressed all along him. Before losing his scholarship and the game he loved, Mitchel had been the heart and soul of Peach Blossom, along with the rest of his team. Hell, even with a busted knee, he’d drawn guys to him, magnetic in his sadness and bitterness.
Could Danny really say he was any different from the rest? With an internal shake, he got his head firmly back where it belonged—here, in the present. “Well, you’re not gettin’ what you came here for until I get off work, so have another drink and try to enjoy yourself, all right? Everyone loves you in there.”
“I’m not here for their attention,” he said, a note of stubbornness in his voice Danny’d never heard before. Mitchel regarded him with a mulish, earnest expression and nudged his hips in a little tighter, like they might help with the convincing.
No matter how convincing his hips were, Danny owed Mitchel the benefit of the doubt. He was here, after all. Wriggling his arm up underneath Mitchel’s, he touched Mitchel’s face, the full curve of his lower lip.
“I believe you,” he said quietly.
Mitchel closed his hand around Danny’s fingers where they still brushed against his jaw. “Good.” He didn’t let go as he pulled him out of the alley. “Let’s go back in, all right? I’m sweatin’ my balls off out here.”
“Wait till you’re in my apartment. You’ll probably want to be naked the whole weekend.”
Mitchel finally cracked a smile. “Works for me.”
About the Author
Marie Lark is a part-time teacher and rest-of-the-time writer. She lives in New York with her very respectable husband and tiny dog. She writes contemporary New Adult and LGBTQ romance, but loves love stories of all kinds. Romance is like kung fu—it’s in everything. Jackie Chan said that, right?