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Release Blitz: All The Right Moves by Becca Taylor

Title: All The Right Moves
Author: Becca Taylor
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: October 13, 2018

Being called the worst boyfriend can do a number on a man’s ego. 

 

But I handled it the way any full-grown adult male would—by eating copious amounts of carbs and wallowing over whether I was good enough.

 

I admit, it wasn’t the best of moments, but it made me realize I needed answers to the question, what are women looking for inside and out of the bedroom?
After I researched the subject, I compiled my data into a solution.
Thirty days. 

Thirty right moves.
But I needed to test out my newfound theories, and my best friend, Tenley, was going to help. 

 

It was a foolproof plan. 
We would date and act like a real couple, all in the name of research. And when the thirty days were up, we would go back to being just friends. 

Piece of cake, right?
Only, I forgot to take into consideration the multiple outcomes. Specifically, the one where it left me wanting more and refusing to go back to what we were… ever again.

 

 

 

 
Becca Taylor dived headfirst into the world of writing in 2015. As a child, she explored writing songs. As a teen, she wrote poetry until she found a love of all things romance.
 
One night, a dream turned into an idea. An idea turned into a chapter. A chapter turned into a novel and a new adventure began.
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New Release: Say When by Amy Vanessa Miller

Title: Say When
Series: A Misfits Novel
Author: Amy Vanessa Miller
Genre: Contemporary New Adult Fiction Romance
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Emilia Davenport and Oliver Paxton have always had a unique kind of love. It blossomed during childhood and has only grown stronger through the years. They thought they were indestructible, so they promised each other forever.

When someone they trust rips their world apart unexpectedly, both Emmy and Ollie desperately attempt to salvage what’s left of their once unwavering love. What remains is nothing like it used to be – it’s dark and hateful and broken beyond repair.

A new start at Hudson University is exactly what they need, but new friendships prove to hinder rather than fix. Forever just might not be part of their equation anymore.

Maybe love isn’t enough. 
Maybe it never was.

Say When
© Amy Vanessa Miller – all rights reserved
“I’m done,” she said with disgust, moving toward the door.
            “Where are you going?” I called out after her.
            “I’m leaving you.”
I followed her, attempting to grab her arm to hold her back. “Emmy, she’s a nobody. She was grinding against me. I didn’t even give her the time of day. She kissed my neck a few times…that’s all.”
“And you let her!” Emmy growled, turning abruptly and punching me in the mouth so hard that it drew blood.
I stared at her in shock, bringing my fingers to my fast swelling lip. I slowly wiped away the blood seeping out of the cut. Did she honestly just hit me because I let a girl grind on me? How the hell did she figure she’d have the right to go there after everything she’d done to me?
Fucking bitch.
I shoved her hard, slamming her body onto the bed behind her. She let out a gasp as the air escaped her lungs from the impact. I quickly climbed on top of her and pinned her down.
She writhed beneath me.
“You’re mine,” she hissed as she struggled to break free.
“And you’re mine,” I said just as possessively.
“Forever,” she added.
“Yes,” I assured her.
I stared into her eyes as she stared back at me. I couldn’t be sure if I wanted to hit her or to fuck her. I didn’t know which urge was more prominent. But the moment sex occurred to me I began to feel my cock stirring in my pants and I knew that fucking was the dominating urge.
I ripped open her pajama top, scattering the buttons all around us at the same moment that she slammed her mouth onto mine. I yanked off her panties and without hesitation, crashed into her, claiming what was mine and making her feel every ounce of my contempt toward her.
 She groaned, throwing her head back as she allowed her body to submit to me. We fucked hard, panting and groaning through our need.
I lifted her up off the bed and positioned her in a way that she was straddling me while I continued to thrust angrily into her. She held me as close as she possibly could, her legs wrapped around my waist tightly, as I continued to fuck her without conviction. I pounded every ounce of anger I was feeling toward her. I was beyond pissed, and with every angry thrust, she was made aware of just how much. She grasped my hair and pulled it hard as she reached her climax. I began to fuck her faster and even harder than before, bringing myself to my final moment as well.
And then, after it was all over, we collapsed onto the bed together gasping for air and struggling for words. That was dark, and far beyond anything we’ve ever done to each other before.
I reached for her face to stroke it softly but she instantly turned away. “Off,” she whispered quietly.
“Emmy,” I began to protest but she cut me off quickly.
“I said we’re off!”
Amy Vanessa Miller is a Canadian independent author known for her shockingly edgy Misfits series. She loves to push the boundaries with her writing and has always been a fan of angsty stories. She is happily married to a loving and supportive man whom she’d be lost without; they have one son, two cats, and a dog together.When she isn’t being mom and wife, or working at her day job, Amy can be found either curled up on the couch with a good book, writing imaginary characters for others to fall in love with, or binge watching TV shows on Netflix.
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Cover Reveal: Waiting For Autumn by J.A. DeRouen

Title: Waiting For Autumn
Author: J.A. DeRouen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Mignon Mykal of Oh So Novel Design
Release Date: October 25, 2018 


Sebastian

“Race me for it.” 

Four simple words. Five desolate years.

Sebastian Kelly believes he isn’t worthy of redemption, of a chance to right his wrongs. But an unexpected trip home, the place he dreads most, calls in question everything he’s come to believe. And who knows, he may find exactly what he’s been waiting for. 

Autumn

One broken promise. Two pink lines.

Autumn Norris knew in an instant her life would never be the same. Years have flown by in a flurry of sparkles and dress up, and Autumn has refused to let the anchor of regret pull her under. 

Until she lays eyes on Sebastian, and the wave of why, where, and how could you flood her every thought.

Old hurt and new betrayal twist first love into a reluctant partnership, and theirs may be a bond even pigtails and butterfly kisses can’t mend. But the past five years have felt like a lifetime, and Seb is willing to wait as long as it takes.

Because the truth is, he’s always been waiting for Autumn.
J.A. Derouen lives in South Louisiana with her husband, son (aptly nicknamed “The Professor”), and her furry friend, Scout. She has a bachelor’s degrees in psychology and nursing. When she’s not writing or inhaling romance novels by the stack, she works as a women’s health nurse. She’s been an avid reader and daydreamer since childhood, and she’s never stopped turning the page to get to the next happily ever after.

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Release Blitz: FIVE YEARS GONE by Marie Force

Today we are celebrating the release of FIVE YEARS GONE, a romantic standalone title

by New York Times Bestselling author Marie Force.

Check out some teasers and an excerpt for the book below.

 

FIVE YEARS GONE by Marie Force

Available Now

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The most brazen terrorist attack in history. A country bent on revenge. A love affair cut short. A heart that never truly heals.

I knew on the day of the attack that our lives were changed forever. What I didn’t know then was that I’d never see John again after he deployed. One day he was living with me, sleeping next to me, making plans with me. The next day he was gone.

That was five years ago. The world has moved on from that awful day, but I’m stuck in my own personal hell, waiting for a man who may be dead for all I know. At my sister’s wedding, I meet Eric, the brother of the groom, and my heart comes alive once again.

The world is riveted by the capture of the terrorist mastermind, brought down by U.S. Special Forces in a daring raid. Now I am trapped between hoping I’ll hear from John and fearing what’ll become of my new life with Eric if I do.

From a New York Times bestselling author, Five Years Gone, a standalone contemporary, is an epic story of love, honor, duty, unbearable choices and impossible dilemmas.

PURCHASE IT NOW!

Kindle US | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google

Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

PURCHASE IN PRINT: Marie’s Store | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Chapters Indigo

IndieBound | Booktopia AU | Books-a-Million

PURCHASE IN AUDIO: Amazon | Audible US | Audible UK | Audible AU

 

Read this excerpt from Five Years Gone.

Prologue

Ava

We met in a bar, of all places, a dingy hole-in-the-wall favored by military members from the nearby Navy base in San Diego. I went with a friend from school who was interested in one of the military guys. Before that night, I’d never been there, and I’ve never been back. John was celebrating the promotion of one of his buddies. He crashed into me as I left the ladies’ room and kept me from falling by grabbing my arms to steady me.

Just like in the movies, our eyes met, and my spine tingled with the kind of instantaneous awareness I’d only read about but never experienced personally.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, gorgeous and fierce in his fatigues.

I noticed gold on his collar, a hint of late-day scruff on his jaw and the name WEST in bold black letters on his chest. Intense electric-blue eyes made it impossible for me to look away, even when I was safely back on my feet.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

Realizing I’d been staring at him, I blinked and reluctantly broke the connection. “I… Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for the save.”

And then he smiled, and the tingling began anew.

“I’m John.”

I shook his outstretched hand. “Ava.”

Keeping his hold on my hand, he tipped his head. “You come here often?”

“Never,” I said, laughing. “I’m a first-timer.”

“What do you think so far?”

“I wasn’t impressed until about thirty seconds ago.”

As if he had all the time in the world to give me, he leaned against the wall. “Is that right? What happened thirty seconds ago?”

I thought about taking back my hand but didn’t. “I was saved from certain disaster by a man in uniform.”

“The guy in the uniform is the reason you needed saving in the first place, because he wasn’t watching where he was going. Least he can do is buy you a drink.”

“I wouldn’t say no to that.” I was proud of my witty responses and got the feeling he could more than hold his own in the wittiness department. Across the crowded room, I noticed my friend talking to the guy she’d come to see, and her brows lifted in interest when she saw me with John. He guided me to the bar, placing a proprietary hand on my lower back, and told one of the guys to give me his stool.

“Yes, sir.” The younger man bowed gallantly to me as he took his beer and moved along.

“Do people always do what you say?”

“If they know what’s good for them.” His teasing grin kept the comment from being overly cocky. “What can I get you?”

Deciding to live dangerously for once, I asked for a cosmopolitan.

“Go big or go home,” he said with admiration.

“That’s my motto.” I was so full of shit. I wondered if he could tell I was all talk or what he’d think of me if he knew I usually err much closer to the side of caution than the wild side. I wondered if he could tell I was just barely old enough to drink. I’d turned twenty-one only six months earlier.

When my cosmo and his Budweiser had been delivered, he offered a toast. “To new friends.”

I touched my glass to his bottle. “To new friends.”

“So, where’re you from, Ava?”

“New York.”

“I thought I heard New Yawk in your voice.”

I batted my eyelashes at him. “So four years at the University of California San Diego didn’t scrub the New York out of me?”

Laughing, he said, “Hardly. I know some guys from New York. One of them is from Staten Island, which is about as New York as it gets. I know New York when I hear it.”

“I’m from Purchase, upstate from the city. What about you?”

“I’m from all over. My old man is a retired general. You name it, I’ve lived there.”

“Where’s home?”

“Right here.” He turned that intense gaze on me, and I went stupid in the head. I couldn’t see anything but him. We might as well have been alone in the crowded bar for all I knew. Unlike my friend, who loved men in uniform, I was never turned on by the uniform. Until then. Until John. “You want to get out of here?”

I swallowed hard. It wasn’t like me to leave a bar with a man I’d just met. “And go where?”

“Somewhere we can talk.”

“What do you want to talk about?”

He leaned in so his lips were close to my ear. “Everything. I want to know every single thing there is to know about you.”

 

That’s how we started. We were intense from the first second we met until the last time I saw him five years ago today. I can’t believe it’s been five years since I looked into those incredible blue eyes or woke to him on the pillow next to me or heard his voice in my ear, whispering words that’re permanently carved into my heart as he made love to me.

The worst part is I have no idea where he is. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead, being held captive or if he’s living his life somewhere else with someone else. I don’t know, and the not knowing is the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with.

I love him as much today as I ever did. No amount of time could ever change that simple fact of my life. We had two beautiful, magnificent years together, caught up in our own little bubble. He never met my family. I never met his. We didn’t make couple friends. We didn’t talk about the future. We didn’t need to. Our future was decided that first night, and it would take care of itself in due time. I honestly and naïvely believed that.

Now, with hindsight, I realize the bubble was strategic on his part. He gave me everything he had to give, including no promise of tomorrow.

Five years ago today, we watched the horror unfold on live television. A US-based cruise ship blown up by suicide bombers. Four thousand lives extinguished in a heartbeat. Our world permanently changed once again, our country declaring yet another war on terrorists. After 9/11 we thought we’d seen everything. We were wrong.

“I have to go,” he said, grabbing the duffel that stood ready in the front hall closet. He called it his “go bag.” I’d thought nothing of it.

“Where’re you going?”

“I don’t know.”

“When will you be back?”

“I don’t know that either.” He held my face in his hands and gazed at me, seemingly trying to memorize my every feature. “I love you. I’ll always love you.” Then he kissed me as passionately as he ever had and was gone, out the door in a flash of camouflage.

I never saw him again.

I’m not his wife or even his fiancée, so no one notified me of his whereabouts. And three months after he left, when I found a way onto the base in a desperate quest for information, no one there could tell me anything either. I tried to locate his parents and other people he mentioned, but it was like they didn’t exist. I could find no record of a retired general named West in the Marine Corps, Army or Air Force.

Furthermore, an exhaustive search for information on the John West I had known led nowhere. No high school, no college, no military service, no nothing.

Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed the two years we spent together, doing mundane things like grocery shopping, cooking, watching TV and sleeping together after long days at work. But then I’d remember the blissful passion, the scorching pleasure, the desire that ruled us from the beginning, and I’d know I didn’t dream him. I didn’t dream us. We were real, and he was everything to me.

Sitting on the floor in our apartment, surrounded by boxes, I take a few minutes before the movers arrive to memorize every detail of the place where we lived together. I’ve packed his things along with mine, and I’m moving home to New York. Today was my deadline. I gave it five years, and I simply can’t do it anymore. I can’t sit in our home among our things, waiting for something that’s never going to happen.

It’s over. It’s time for me to move on. It’s probably long past time, if I’m being honest with myself. And though I know it’s the right move at the right time, that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t shattering all over again as I dismantle the place where we were us.

My sister is getting married next month. I promised her I’d be home in time to hold her hand through the festivities. Other than occasional trips home for holidays and other occasions, I’ve been gone more than ten years. I bear no resemblance whatsoever to the girl who left home at eighteen seeking independence from her overbearing family at a faraway college out West.

I accomplished all my goals, finishing college, landing a decent job and falling in love with the man of my dreams. I found out what happens when dreams come true and how painful it is when they blow up in your face.

It’s time now to set new goals, to start over, to begin a life that doesn’t have John at the center of it the way it did here. It’ll be nice to be back with people who love me and care about me, even if they tend toward smothering at times. That’s looking rather good to me after years of loneliness and grief.

The intercom sounds to let me know the movers are here. I pick myself up off the floor and steel my heart for the day ahead. I can do this. I’ve been through worse, and I’ll survive this the same way I’ve survived everything else. Despite my resolve, my eyes fill with tears as I press the button that opens the door downstairs to the movers.

It doesn’t take them long to pack my belongings into their truck. I keep with me the things that can’t be replaced—precious photos, gifts he gave me, the clothing he left behind. After taking a final look around the apartment, I pack those boxes into my car, turn my apartment keys into the leasing office and head east, feeling as if I’m leaving behind everything that ever mattered to me.

It’s like I’m losing him all over again. I cry all the way through the desert of Southern California and well into Arizona. I relive every minute I can remember, every conversation, every special moment. I think about what it was like to make love with him and wonder how I’ll ever to do that with anyone but him. Maybe I won’t. Maybe that part of my life ended with him, and even though I’m only twenty-eight now, I’m okay with that possibility. Once you’ve experienced perfection, it’s hard to imagine settling for anything less.

The tears finally dry up somewhere in northern Arizona, but the ache inside… I take that with me all the way to New York, where I will try my very best to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and put them back together into some new version of myself.

After all, what choice do I have?

 

ADD FIVE YEARS GONE TO GOODREADS

 

—————————-

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. In 2019, her new historical Gilded series from Kensington Books will debut with Duchess By Deception.

All together, her books have sold 6.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list many times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction.

Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.

Join Marie’s mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram. Join one of Marie’s many reader groups. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads

Join Marie’s Reader Groups

InkSlinger Blogger Final

Release Blitz: Stone Heart by Ariel Marie

Title: Stone Heart
Series: The Gargoyle Protectors #1
Author: Ariel Marie
Genre: Paranormal Romance Standalone
Release Date: October 9, 2018
An unknown entity, an unexplained power source… Earth was in danger.

Gargoyles, a winged humanoid race of warriors, had spent thousands of years ensuring the survival of the planet. Rhodack Gahnoth, leader of Clan Gahnoth, demanded his gargoyles defend the realm against a new threat. Sending his most trusted warrior to investigate the unexplainable, he was left speechless when the warrior returned with a little wisp of a female with golden hair by the name of Rina Smith.
Her powers were the strongest of any being, and something was hunting her down. To make matters worse, she was under a powerful spell, believed herself to be human, and she was Rhodack’s mate.
Once the spell was removed, Rina’s true identity was revealed, and no one was more shocked than her. She would need a crash course in the world of paranormal to bring her up to speed. One thing she didn’t need help with was her attraction to the tall, brooding gargoyle. He didn’t hide the fact he wanted her. Her hesitance was met with his persistence.
What Rhodack wanted, he claimed.

Because of who she was, a war that had no place on Earth would spill into the realm. It would be up to Rhodack and his gargoyles to meet this new enemy head-on. Rhodack vowed to protect Rina, but as fate would have it, she wouldn’t need his protection after all—he would need hers.

New Release: Trusting You by Ketley Allison

Title: Trusting You
Series: Players to Lovers #1
Author: Ketley Allison
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 8, 2018

Blurb
Carter
My best friend died
tonight and her baby girl might be taken away from me, too, if I don’t find
Lily’s father before she’s ripped out of my life and given to another family.
Unfortunately, I
know who he is. He’s my best friend’s ex, and I hate him in memory and on
sight.
I love this baby,
but I don’t love him. Even if he does whatever it takes to make me trust him,
and it seems he’s determined to do exactly that.
There’s just so
little of my heart left, and I can’t—won’t—reserve any of it for that bastard,
Lachlan Hayes.
Locke
A pro-football
prodigy, success was laid out in golden dollar signs—until an injury so
cringe-worthy it went viral laid me out for good.
Since then, I’ve
discovered booze and sex, and I get both whenever I want.
Until a girl shows
up at my literal doorstep, telling me about a baby I never knew I had.
As she looks at me
with tears her eyes, I have a sick feeling my world is about to spin out again.
I’m in deep sh*t,
because in no life plan did I think I’d raise a daughter, and I sure as hell
didn’t think I’d fall in love with the woman that comes with her.

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited


Excerpt
CARTER
“I’d better go,” I say.
“Yeah.” Locke waves us off. “Go. But make sure to come back,
okay?”
I offer him a small, deflated smile as I push the stroller
through the doorway. “I’m not going to abscond with your baby.”
“I don’t just mean the baby.”
The door’s almost shut, but I catch a glimpse of his face as
he says it, and in those brief seconds, I detect nothing but irritation.
It makes no sense, his words coupled with his expression,
but I’m coming to understand that about Locke. The conflict and layers and
constant upkeep it takes for him to keep pretending everything in his life is
okay.
I lift the stroller the way I saw Locke do it—surprised by
the lightness—and descend the staircase sideways. Lily smacks at my face and
tries to palm my nose. I blow a raspberry at her, but I’m thinking about the
man I left behind, and how I’m coming to learn that sometimes, it’s not
kindness I crave.
Seeing Locke angry is upsetting. But understanding its
impact unearths a sexual lust coiled beneath my bones. 
I’m used to emotional charge. Usually in the rollercoaster
form of grief, thinking everything will to be all right, like when the
treatment’s working and Paige has more energy, before the crash of devastation
when told there’s nothing more that can be done.
But this ride with Locke…the leap from
anger to happiness to sweetness, then back to anger, in such a short amount of
time, has me wanting to lift my dress and deal with the overdrive in an
entirely different way. I want to straddle him, to massage and kiss and tame
him.
I shudder as I drop Lily’s wheels to the ground.
Maybe…
I can keep looking forward to dinner. 

Author Bio
Ketley Allison has
always been a romantic at heart. That passion ignited when she realized she
could put those dreams into words and her soul into characters. Ketley was born
in Canada, moved to Australia when she was thirteen, to California when she was
twenty, and finally to New York to attend law school, but most of that time was
spent sitting in coffee shops and wine bars thinking of her next book.
Her other passions
include coffee, wine, Big Macs, her cat, and her husband, possibly in that
order.
Author Links

Release Blitz: Facing the Beat by Riley Long

Title: Facing the Beat
Series: Young Spades #2
Author: Riley Long
Genre: NA M/M Romance
Release Date: October 1, 2018

 

 

Lead guitarist for the indie rock band Young Spades, Liam Wilson has a shot at big city fortune–or he would, if he wasn’t too busy licking his wounds to admit the real reason his girlfriend left him. Determined to stay single, Liam has no time for anything–or anyone–new. 
 
Jack Newton is used to playing the field. A talented photographer, he knows exactly what he wants and how to get it. There’s just one hitch: when an enigmatic guitar player wanders in front of his lens, Jack feels the tug of a chord he has never heard before.
 
 

 
 
The bathroom was empty, and Liam thanked his lucky stars. He made his way to his favorite shower stall, last in the row, and pulled the curtain behind him. The bench in the little changing area was dry, so he placed his clean clothes on it, and hung his towel on the hook. Liam shucked his clothes and turned on the water, the sound echoing in the tiled bathroom, as he waited a few moments for it to come up to temperature before stepping in.Immediately, Liam sighed. The water was hot and relaxing, and he was glad he’d decided to shower now, in the middle of the afternoon, when there was nobody else around. He had the whole bathroom to himself, which almost never happened. Usually the times Liam was free, the bathroom was teeming with underclassmen. He relished the time alone.

As the surprisingly good water pressure eased the knots out of his shoulders, Liam soaped himself up and washed his hair. He stood there, letting the water rush over his body for longer than necessary and after a couple of minutes, he decided to relax further. He slid a hand down to his groin and palmed his dick, then began stroking.

He let his mind wander to his go-to jerk-off scenes, mostly images from porn he’d mentally filed away for later. Sweat, fingers pressing into flesh, teeth digging into tender places. He pulled up mental images of breasts, legs, asses. Nothing was doing it for him though.

His thoughts jumped to what Shane and Ari were doing after all, then steered himself aggressively in another direction. Ari was his roommate for Christ’s sake. Shane was in his band. It was just fucking weird.

Liam leaned back on the shower wall and dropped his head against the thick plastic divider between stalls, eyes closed. It figured. Too much pot, too much stress, too much on his mind. Way too tired. Way too tired. He sighed and gave up. Just his luck he couldn’t get anything to happen on the rare occasion he was alone and needed to relax.

He gave up on the shower, turning off the water then toweling off. He’d brought a button-down plaid shirt and skintight jeans, which he tugged on to his damp skin with some effort. He planned to wear this particular outfit to the show tonight, and didn’t want to have to go through the effort of changing again.

All clean, dry, and changed, Liam headed back to his room. He gave the courtesy double-knock he and Ari had agreed on before he walked in, hoping Ari and his boyfriend Shane hadn’t taken advantage of his disappearance to have sex. It happened sometimes, and there was nothing worse than coming back to catch them hastily putting clothes on, or to find the room smelling of sweat and cum.

Liam found them exactly as he’d left them, snuggling on Ari’s bed, watching videos on someone’s phone. He felt a pang in his gut.

“Hey guys,” he said, barely able to conceal his grumpiness. He shut the door and dumped his things onto the dirty clothes pile on the floor.

“Hey,” they said in unison, barely seeming to register his presence.

Liam debated lighting up a joint as he climbed back onto his bed. It would certainly improve his mood, but Ellie would be likely to kill him if she found out he’d been getting high before a show. Liam played lead guitar for indie-rock band Young Spades, and Shane was the lead singer. Ari had become their number-one groupie, and appeared front-row at every show to cheer them on, or perched backstage waiting to tell Shane how fantastic he sounded. They’d only been dating about six months, but Ari had become a fixture at their concerts. Liam didn’t mind—Ari was the best roommate he’d had, and he’d gone through a few during his freshman and sophomore years.

He thought about lighting up again, and sighed. It wasn’t even worth it. Shane in particular took serious offense to anyone smoking anything around him. Liam understood—Shane had lost his mom as a kid to lung cancer, and truth be told, he’d almost not dated Ari because of cigarettes. He sighed again. This wasn’t the mood he wanted to be in hours before a performance.

“What’s going on?” Ari asked, after a minute or so of silence from Liam.

Liam shrugged. “Just not in the mood today, I guess.” He lay down, kicking his backpack to the floor, unconcerned about the books and notebooks inside.

The truth was, he’d started to realize it was his senior year, and he’d done almost nothing except get high, play video games, and join a band. Not that the band was nothing—it was great, and they were planning to move to LA once he graduated. But it felt like not much today. He wanted something more.

Probably living with Ari, seeing him happily snuggling with Shane every moment they weren’t in class or working, wasn’t helping. It couldn’t be good to be surrounded by that lovey-dovey cheer all the time, could it? Maybe that was it—maybe he just wished he had a girlfriend or something.

Ari picked up on his doom-and-gloom mood. “You wanna play some video games before your show?”

“Nah, man, I’m good,” Liam said, even though he knew he needed some cheering up. Instead, he was tempted to take a nap. Getting off wasn’t an option so maybe getting some sleep would help.

Actually, what he needed to do was pick up his guitar and run through a few songs. They’d recently added to their lineup, and while they hadn’t taken the full summer off, they had definitely played fewer shows. He worried a little about getting rusty, if not on the instrument then at least on the tunes themselves.

“Mind if I practice a little?”

“Go right ahead,” Ari said.

At that, Shane sat up. “I’ll join you.”

“Aww,” Ari protested. “You left me.”

Shane smiled warmly and kissed Ari. “I’ll come back,” he promised when they parted.

Liam fought the urge to roll his eyes, grabbed his guitar from its stand, and crossed his legs on the bed. Playing guitar always lifted his mood, and Shane chiming in with his vocals didn’t hurt. After a while, he did feel better, ready to put the weird cloud over his head behind him, and kick ass at the show.

#

Jack lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He was going to get up early the next morning and hike to see if he could take some good photos of birds for his class in the morning light, he decided. His phone buzzed.

“Yeah?” he said by way of an answer, without looking to see who was calling.

“What are you doing tonight?” asked the voice on the other end. He recognized it instantly, one of only two people who ever called him. The other was his granddad, the only person in his family who gave a shit about him.

“Liv, we are literally roommates. You could have waited until you got home to ask me that.”

“Fuck you. Now what are you doing tonight?”

“Nothing, really. I’m going hiking tomorrow with my camera so I’m going to bed early.”

“Not anymore. We’re going out.”

Normally he was up for just about anything, but he’d really had his heart set on getting those shots before his Saturday got too far along. “Do I have to?”

“Young Spades is playing. I’ve been meaning to get to a show for ages. I think you’ll like them. And the drummer is hot, so I want to see if I can get her number.”

“Of course you do. And hey, I’m happy you’re over your ex, but why does that mean I’ve gotta play wingman?”

“You’re my best friend. It’s what best friends do.”

“Fine.”

“Listen, you’ve only been out for, what, three years? You’ve hardly hooked up with anyone in months, and you’ve never bothered to have a boyfriend. Have fun. Loosen up.”

“I have fun. I sleep around when I want to get off with someone. I don’t have time for a boyfriend. I’m busy. I wanna build my portfolio so I can get a decent freelance job when I graduate.”

“Photography is great, but have you even had sex before, John Wayne?”

“Fuck you. Keep my real name out of this.”

She laughed—cackled really. “Just because you’re moving literally a bazillion miles away once school ends next semester, doesn’t mean you have to live a cloistered life now. So what time can you be ready to leave? I’m going to work in the art studio until I have to pick you up.”

Jack sighed. “Okay, fine.” He knew he wasn’t going to win this battle, so it was better to give in now than to argue. “What time’s the show?”

“Nine.”

“Oh, God. Nine? Really?” He had zero chance of getting to bed early enough to go hiking the next morning. Not if the show started at nine.

“Yes, grandpa, and you’re going.”

“Hey, my granddad stays up late, like a normal college kid, thank you very much. Come home whenever, eight maybe?”

She snorted. “Sure thing. See you then!” The phone disconnected.

Jack lay there another minute. Young Spades. He’d heard of them, but he didn’t know much about the band. They’d even played at the spring music festival on campus last semester, but Jack never bothered going to those things. His taste in music was pretty terrible by any reasonable standard, so he knew he’d probably hate them, but if it made Liv happy, he’d go. Despite the fact that they shared an apartment and were best friends, they didn’t get much time together, considering they both spent a lot of time with their respective art projects. He didn’t mind sacrificing a single plan of his own to make her happy. Not really, anyway.

In the meantime, he could work on editing some shots he’d taken during the week. Jack grabbed his laptop and camera and transferred the images to his computer, then set to work.

He’d taken some shots around campus, mostly candids of unsuspecting students, because he hadn’t really had time to get out and do much else. The first week of school was usually pretty laid-back, but now that he was a senior, it seemed his professors were determined to make the classes challenging.

The time slipped by, and before Jack knew it, Liv was barging into his room without knocking—as usual. She planted herself at the foot of his bed and stared at him.

“Done yet?”

“I’m never done. You should know that, you’re an artist.” Jack saved his work and set his laptop aside.

“So, you ready?”

Jack glanced at the clock on his laptop. It was significantly later than he expected. “Not exactly.”

Liv sighed.

He closed his laptop and took it to his desk, then began rummaging in his closet for something reasonable to wear. Eventually he settled on a pair of comfortable jeans and a plain black t-shirt. He slipped his sneakers on, grabbed his camera, and stuffed it into its bag.

“You’re taking your camera?”

“When do I not take my camera?”

“Good point. Now are you ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

Liv grinned. “Perfect.”

The End

 
 
 
 
 
Riley Long is a wife and mother living a quiet life in Virginia, with her husband, son, and very silly Pit Bull puppy. She passes her evenings writing, reading, and watching bad television (or not so bad television). For fun, Riley participates in NaNoWriMo, GISH, and reads with her book club, the BAMFs. She likes things with silly acronyms. The craziest thing Riley has ever done involves lots of butter and a time lapsed video.