Welcome to our third week of celebrating the amazingly talented
Today, we'll take about The Dating Game, Not Just Friends, and Cold Feet, and Jay will share a personal story with us as well. Plus, as always, there's a chance to win one of her books.
Let's get started, shall we?
The Dating Game
Five sex-free dates—how hard can it be?
When they were at uni, Owen always had a bit of a crush on Nathan. But Nathan was apparently straight, and Owen was too busy with other guys to take his crush seriously.
When Nathan moves back to Bristol after a year away, Owen hears that Nathan has come out of the closet, and he propositions him. Nathan doesn’t want to be just another notch on Owen’s bedpost, though, so he challenges Owen to prove he can be serious: five dates before they have sex.
Owen doesn’t think that sounds too difficult. He’s expecting Nathan to find his charms irresistible anyway. But as they grow closer, Owen begins to care more about proving himself to Nathan than he does about getting him into bed.
“Okay, so what’s your magic number? Try me.”
Nathan’s brow furrowed as he considered the question for a moment.
“Five,” he finally said. “Five sex-free dates. Then when we’ve had a chance to connect, we can take it from there. Oh… and in case it wasn’t obvious, if this is going to be a relationship, I’d expect you to be exclusive.” Nathan sat back in his seat and folded his arms. “So, what do you say?”
Owen glared at him. Nathan’s pink lips stretched further as he grinned, and all Owen could think was how he wanted to come all over Nathan’s smug face.
Nathan’s smile vanished abruptly. “You’re… what, really?”
“Really.” Owen smirked, finding Nathan’s obvious surprise very satisfying. “Five dates with no sex. So, when are you free this week? I can see you every night apart from Thursday, so if you’re free to meet most nights we can be done with all five dates by next weekend.”
“Oh no. No way.” Nathan shook his head. “If we’re going to take things slow, the dates need to be spread out. One a week for five weeks.”
Somehow Owen had thought his loophole was too good to be true.
“You drive a hard bargain, but okay.” He shrugged, conceding some ground, but not defeated. “Next weekend for our first date then?”
“And while we’re discussing ground rules for this… whatever-the-fuck this is.” Owen waved his hand disparagingly. “What are we counting as sex for the no-sex rule? No fucking obviously, but does that extend to no blowing each other? No handjobs? What about dry humping?”
“Shh!” Nathan’s face was flaming, and he moved his chair closer, leaning in so he could talk quietly. “Keep it down, for fuck’s sake.”
To be fair, Owen’s voice had got rather loud, and a group of girls at the next table were looking very interested in their conversation.
“Well?” Owen asked. “We need to be clear what the boundaries are. Can we even kiss?”
“Kissing is fine,” Nathan replied promptly, and his gaze dropped to Owen’s mouth. He paused before adding, “No orgasms. That’s the line.”
Get the book:
Not Just Friends
Leaving home to go to university is an exciting phase in anyone’s life. One that’s full of new places, new friends, and new experiences. But Lewis is not prepared for the sudden and intense crush he develops on his out-and-proud flatmate, Max—given that Lewis had always assumed he was straight. Max starts dating another guy, and Lewis’s jealousy at seeing them together forces him to confront his growing attraction.
When Max’s relationship goes awry, Lewis is the one to comfort him and one thing leads to another. But after a night together, Lewis is devastated that Max wants to go back to being just friends. Lewis tries his best to move on and their friendship survives, but the feelings he has for Max don’t go away. He faces other challenges as he deals with coming out to his parents and needs Max’s support more than ever. But Lewis isn’t the only one who’s conflicted. When Max finally admits he cares for Lewis too, Lewis must decide whether he dares risk his heart again on being more than just friends.
Get the book:
Best friends snowed in together. When the heat rises, will they get cold feet?
Getting snowed in at a remote cottage in Wales with someone he’d fancied for ages isn’t exactly how Sam expected to spend Christmas. His feelings for Ryan are pointless. Ryan’s straight—or so he thought.
Until now, Ryan’s kept his feelings for Sam buried. Why ruin a friendship over what might only be gay experimentation? Playing it cool seems safer, until a cold snap makes sharing body heat vital. In their Welsh safe haven, anything seems possible.
As Ryan’s reserve melts away, Sam wants more than stolen kisses under the mistletoe. But a sudden thaw means making decisions. They could face the New Year together—unless one of them gets cold feet.
Afterwards, Sam denied he’d started it.
He’d been aiming for the tree behind Ryan, not at Ryan himself, he insisted. But whatever its intended target, Sam’s snowball hit Ryan perfectly on the back of his neck, exploding on impact and sending powdery snow down the gap between beanie and jacket.
After that, mayhem ensued. Snowballs flying as they ran and ducked, laughing and trash-talking each other. They were in a small copse with a few trees and bushes for cover, but as soon as one of them ventured out in search of a new patch of snow to make missiles with, the other would take the opportunity to release a fresh barrage of snowballs.
Finally, frustrated by Sam’s surprisingly good aim, Ryan reverted to his rugby skills and tackled Sam, knocking him full length into the snow with an “Oomph!” Of course, Ryan went down too. But by then he was too wet and cold to care.
They were on a slope, and the impact caused them to roll together, over and over until Ryan wondered if they were going to turn into a giant snowball like characters in a cartoon. But they finally came to rest, panting and laughing as the slope levelled out.
Sam ended up pinned beneath Ryan, laughing out loud. He’d lost his hat at some point in their tumble, and his hair was in his eyes. Snow crystals had caught in it, glinting in the sunlight. His smile was wide and infectious, and Ryan laughed too, dazzled for a moment. Then Sam’s gaze drifted over Ryan’s shoulder and focused on something above them.
“Is that mistletoe?” he asked.
Ryan pushed himself up and offered a hand to Sam to help him back onto his feet. Then he tilted his head back to squint at the spherical tangle of leaves in the bare branches of the tree above them. “I think so.”
Ryan met Sam’s eyes again, then realised he was still holding his hand. They each had gloves on, and Ryan wished they didn’t. He wanted to feel Sam’s skin. They stared at each other for a moment, and Sam licked his lips. They were pink, a little chapped from the cold, and Ryan’s gaze locked onto them. His heart surged, and panicky heat flooded him.
Get the book:
Jay's personal story
This is the story of how my husband and I ended up together. It contains angst, second chances, forced proximity and has an HEA (or at least an HFN so far!)
We first got together when we were in our early twenties and had been living together for a couple of years when things got a bit rocky—mostly because of me. I wasn’t in a very good place emotionally, and wasn’t sure I was ready to settle down. We took a break for a while and I moved out to try and work out what I wanted.
We were apart for a couple of months, and I missed him but I still wasn’t sure whether I only wanted to be with him because it was safety/security/what I already knew... or whether it was The Real Thing. During that time we saw each other occasionally because we had lots of mutual friends and it was all a bit awkward and sad. But nothing changed.
Then one weekend we had to spend the weekend together at IVFDF (Intervarsity Folk Dancing Festival) because we were both involved in a morris dancing group at the time. He had a car, and our work schedules matched (we were both teachers), so it made sense for me to get a lift with him. We were stuck together in a car for three hours and it was like we’d never split up. I found myself remembering why we’d worked as a couple, and started to think I’d made a mistake.
On the Saturday daytime, we were out dancing in Sheffield city centre, and somehow he lost his morris dancing hankies (probably left them in a pub—it’s an occupational hazard). He went to the nearest department store to try and buy a pair. When he came back he was bouncing down the street with excitement because he’d managed to find some hankies that had Wallace and Gromit embroidered on them.
That was when I got hit by feelings like a ten tonne truck.
Any man who was that excited by Wallace and Gromit hankies was clearly someone special. He had never been more attractive to me :D
I spent the rest of the weekend feeling sure I’d made a horrible mistake but wasn’t brave enough to start the difficult conversation we needed to have. I finally plucked up the courage to be honest in the car on the drive back on Sunday afternoon. I asked him for a second chance, and he said he needed to think about it overnight. On Monday, he called me and said yes. I moved back in a few weeks later, and we got married about eighteen months after that.
My kids love this story, and are convinced that they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for that pair of Wallace and Gromit hankies—maybe they’re right!
I bought him some new Wallace and Gromit hankies for Christmas last year because the old ones were falling apart <3 data-blogger-escaped-br="">
More about Jay:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.
Thanks for joining us again this week. Check in again next Thursday for our Grand Finale post, with our Author Q&A, a new cover and blurb for The Law Of Attraction, and one more chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!