Welcome to the 2nd week of our celebrations for the fabulous
In today's post, we'll take a look at the Better Than series, plus five little-known things about Lane. And all the way at the bottom is another chance to win!
First up, Better Than Good
Matt Sullivan understands labels: law student, athlete, heterosexual. He has goals: graduate and begin his career in law. One fateful night, Matt tags along with his gay roommate to a dance club and everything changes. Matt finds himself attracted to the most beautiful man he's ever seen. All labels go flying out the window.
Aaron Mendez doesn't believe in labels, and he’s leery of straight curious men. He makes it clear that he’ll hide his fabulous light for no one. While Aaron can't deny the attraction between him and Matt, he is reluctant to start anything with someone who is still dealing with what this new label means—especially when that someone has a girlfriend.
I smiled at him. He was charming and full of life. But he was working, and I really had to get to class, so as much as I wanted to continue our exchange, it couldn’t be now. I wanted a chance to really talk to him.
“Yeah. Hey, I have to get to class and I know you have to work, but can I see you, Aaron?”
“Sure!” The answer came off too brightly. Maybe he was pissed after all. “Call me.”
“Aaron.” I couldn’t blow this. He had to know I was serious. I really wanted a chance if he’d give me one. “I’m serious. I…”
“Look, Matt.” He spoke in a soft and slow tone as if trying to be as kind as possible. That sinking feeling was back in full force. “ I don’t’ think this is a good idea. I’ve been doing some thinking, making New Year’s resolutions, etcetera. I can’t get involved with someone who A) has a girlfriend, wife, boyfriend or anyone other than me, period. Or B) is buried in a closet. I’m not hiding for anyone. And if I remember correctly because yes, it has been a while, you are both A) attached and B) not in tune with the side of you that kind of digs getting sucked off by a guy. You’re a good guy, Matt. I’m glad we met, but that’s all.”
He looked me in the eye again, sighing heavily. “Bye, Matt. Take care of yourself.” He turned away quickly and set brisk pace with his head down.
“No, wait, Aaron.” I jogged after him.
“I don’t have a girlfriend. I broke up with Kristin last month.” He stopped walking again and looked at me carefully with his head cocked to one side. I could see he was going to shut me down again, and I felt a desperate need to plead my case, smoothly or not.
“I know I’m a bit of a head case, but I don’t have A and I’m willing to work on B. Just please….will you give me a chance?” Definitely desperate. I wondered if he knew I’d never made a plea like this for a girl. Ever.
“Matt. I can’t. I’m sorry.” I jumped in front of him before he could move away from me and grabbed on to his arm. He looked at my gloved hand on his coat and then at me as if asking “what the fuck, psycho?”. I couldn’t blame him, but I also couldn’t stop trying.
“Friends. We can just be friends.” I pleaded. And the look I received was nothing short of incredulous.
“Huh?” Good. I’d caught him off guard.
“You can’t have too many friends, right? And friends can ask friends out for coffee or movies or even dinner. True?” Aaron nodded slowly as if waiting for the punch line. “If that’s all you can do right now, I’m cool with it.”
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Second in the series, Better Than Chance
Jay Reynolds has a crush on his project leader at work, but an office romance with Peter Morgan isn't likely to happen since Peter is straight. Worse, Jay soon fears Peter is homophobic, and his initial infatuation turns to loathing. But one fateful night, Jay is forced to acknowledge things aren't quite as they seem with Peter. Suddenly, his crush is back and unbelievably, Peter is interested too.
They begin a friends with benefits arrangement, which becomes difficult for Jay when he starts falling for his sexy boss. Peter’s past issues keep him from committing, and Jay has to decide if he can be satisfied with friendship if Peter isn’t ready to take a chance on anything more.
“Close the door, Reynolds.” His tone was sharp and concise. No argument was expected or welcomed. I obeyed and waited for him to speak.
He didn’t say a word. He pointed to a chair and directed me to sit with a simple wave of his hand as he began a slow pace around the perimeter of the small round table. It was like being stalked by a tiger. There was an electric air of danger in this tiny space, and I had set it in motion. I clung to my anger. I wasn’t wrong. Was I?
Peter suddenly stopped. He stood at the other end of the table with his arms crossed over his broad chest. As usual he was impeccably dressed in a gorgeous dark suit tailored to perfection. His dark wavy hair seemed a little longer. I absently wondered if he was growing it out. But his dark furrowed brow and intense stare told me to keep my ponderings to myself. He wasn’t in the mood to chat about hair. He looked pissed.
I blinked twice. I was almost afraid of him, but I knew that was irrational. I had a legitimate reason for my outburst. I just wished I had been a bit more professional about it.
“Fine. I will.” Professional, I cautioned myself. Don’t get personal. “You have given me rather baffling critiques, Mr. Morgan, that I frankly find ridiculous and almost contrived in a way that suggests you want to point out the negative whether or not it has any bearing whatsoever to the project at hand.” Good, well said, I thought.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” He looked genuinely perplexed.
“You know what I’m talking about!” I exploded. “Correct paragraph two, sentence one.... that’s one example! What was today’s going to be? Change the use of my pronoun from direct to indirect? Or is it an adjective that you want me to reconsider? Or...”
I had become so worked up that I didn’t register that he’d moved until he was three short feet away from me. He wore the strangest expression. It was a cross between tempered fury and frustration. He held up his hand in that authoritative way of his, demanding that I stop. Stop everything. Don’t talk. Don’t move. I waited like a deer in headlights to see what he’d do.
A fresh wave of adrenaline rushed through my veins as I found myself literally shoved up against the conference room wall with Peter’s large hand at my throat. I swallowed hard and looked into his dark angry eyes, his face was two short inches away from mine. His breath was warm against my cheek. He pulled back and shook his head as though puzzled by his own actions before he tightened his hold at my neck and covered my mouth.
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Third in the series, Better Than Friends
When Curt Townsend, a successful young DC lawyer, attends his first gay wedding, he doesn’t expect anything more than a great evening out spent celebrating two lucky guys willing to commit to one another. He certainly doesn’t anticipate meeting someone like Jack Farinelli. Fourteen years Curt’s senior, Jack owns two businesses: a gay bar and a motorcycle shop. He’s gorgeous and self-assured, but Curt is positive they have nothing in common.
Jack is comfortable in his own skin. He’s attracted to Curt’s quick wit and easy manner but most of all, to their unexpected mutual love of baseball. As they forge a friendship based on their shared enthusiasm for the sport, they begin a journey which reveals how their differences might be the catalyst behind a growing attraction. Both men have experienced their share of pain, but they realize they need to set aside the past and learn to trust in a future if they are to have one together.
I studied Jack’s strong handsome profile for a moment deciding to ignore his question, though his observation about my pre-conceived notions was astute.
“How did you come to own a “leather bar” anyway?”
“That was cute.”
“That little air quote thing you just did.”
“Cute? Whatever. Answer my question. Or is it personal?” It occurred to me that I felt oddly comfortable in Jack’s company and was probably guilty of being a touch overly familiar.
“No, it’s not personal. I worked as a bartender fresh out of high school. I was green as could be but I looked a mite older than I was. Either that or they were desperate, come to think of it. One week I was moppin’ the floor and the next I was mixin’ cocktails. They were pure shit at first so I studied up till I was decent at it and became the best damn barman around. That first bar I worked at was a true hole in the wall catering to motorcycle men. Gay ones. It was my eighteen year old self’s personal idea of heaven. I was hooked.”
“When did you buy this place?”
“I guess it was about four years ago now. I was co-owner at another club before this one and when everyone wanted to sell, I took my part of the profit and bought this place. That last place was called the Level. You heard of it?”
Who hadn’t? It had been a very hip club in the Dupont area. One of those uber bars where there was so much stimuli between the bar, restaurant and club that you never felt the need to move on. I nodded briefly and Jack smiled slightly. “Huh, I wonder if I ever saw you there.”
“Could have. I liked that place. Why did your partners want to sell? That place was popular.”
“Yeah. I was bummed about it at first. I thought about just trying to buy Peter out but...”
“Yeah, that Peter.” Jack raised his eyebrows at my tone. I sounded a little too inquisitive but I couldn’t help it. I was strangely interested about what type of relationship he and the equally god-like beautiful Peter had had. They were both stunning masculine specimen. No doubt they had made a gorgeous couple when they were together.
“You were together for a while, right?” I prodded.
“You mean like... “we dated”?” Jack teased using air quotes for good measure.
“Yeah, Curt. We dated. But basically the truth of the matter is that we really didn’t do much of the dinner sort of dating you and the accountant did earlier. We mostly just fucked.”
I knew Jack was being purposefully provocative, and it was working. I should have been disgusted or maybe irritated by his manner, instead I was really fucking turned on. His use of the word “fuck” sounded like the deed itself. I could feel my cock swell again and I glad I wasn’t wearing tight jeans like I normally would at a bar. I swallowed hard and turned to face Jack straight on. The wicked look was back, his blue eyes blazing with decadent challenge. I felt a very strong pull. This man was all kinds of trouble.
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And the so far, last book in the series, Better Than Safe
Paul Fallon is a fashion advertising guru. He’s a genius at dealing with difficult editors, art directors, and designers alike. He thrives on the chaotic atmosphere and constant challenges. But in his personal life, he’s hoping for peace and stability. Settling down with a nice doctor or lawyer sounds perfect. Anyone but an artist. He’s been there, done that, and he doesn’t want to relive the heartache.
Seth Landau is a model, occasional guitarist, and aspiring painter. He’s quirky, flighty, and wise beyond his years. Life has taught him some tough lessons, then given him opportunities he never dreamed of. He’s learned to appreciate the fragility of life and to express it in his work. Seth’s flare for the absurd combined with a supple mind and a beautiful body are too alluring for Paul to ignore. Against his best intentions, Paul is drawn to the younger man whose particular brand of crazy challenges Paul to accept that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes taking a chance is better than being safe.
I studied his casual attire as he came closer. Worn black jeans, a white T-shirt with paint stains, and an unbuttoned black and blue striped cardigan. He looked more like a wacky artist than a sophisticated couture model, I mused. His sharp features were undeniably attractive but it seemed as though he’d chosen the basic clothing to downplay his beauty. Or maybe he’d just painted and couldn’t be bothered. There was something ridiculously appealing to me about our very opposite looks. Corporate formal versus art student chic. I glanced down at the sushi and willed my dick to behave.
“There you are. What kind of pasta do you want? I don’t have time to make it myself, but don’t worry, I’m buying pre-packaged but fresh. Your choices are spaghetti, tagliatelle, or pappardelle.”
I looked at the three choices he held up and pointed to the one in the middle. The tagliatelle.
“Really? I was thinking basic spaghetti but—”
“Then why did you ask?”
“I want your opinion. If you want the tagliatelle, we’ll get that one. Done.”
“Good. Let’s go. Do you have wine?”
“Yes. Hmm. I don’t know about the tag—”
“Seth. Get the spaghetti. I’m not bothered.”
“What do you mean by not bothered?”
“I mean….” I took a step forward so we stood toe to toe, Italian loafer to dirty white trainer and gave him a pointed glare. “I don’t give a shit. Pasta is pasta. It doesn’t matter to me what shape it comes in. At all.”
“You’re hungry, huh?”
“What tipped you off?”
“Sarcastic and cranky. Let’s go. You need food.” He turned away, carrying his basket of goods toward the front registers.
“What about wine?” I called after him.
He stopped in the middle of the aisle and curled his finger, motioning me to come to him with a devilish grin on his handsome face. I complied. We were alone for the moment, surrounded on either side of the cramped space by white bread and a variety of colorful cereals chock-full of preservatives and food dyes. I eyed him warily, wondering why he was stalling.
“I told you I have wine. Good wine too.”
“Marvelous. Let’s go.”
“But… there’s a catch.”
I rolled my eyes. “Of course there is. What is it? You need to swing by the dry cleaners first or—”
“Are you crazy?”
“Why is it so crazy?” he asked innocently.
“Here are a couple reasons. One, we’re in the middle of a market in a family oriented part of town and two, we’re barely friends. Not lovers. Friends don’t kiss.”
He grinned. “Sure they do. What they probably don’t do is say something like, ‘you look so fucking hot in that suit, I wish I could take it off you right here next to the Cheerios and Wheat Chex,’ so I won’t go there, but I still think it’s okay to kiss.”
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Lane has also published some short stories in this universe, available for free here.
Five little-known facts about Lane Hayes:
- I did ballet for fifteen years, but couldn’t stand on pointe shoes now to save my life.
- I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the entire world (according to my husband)
- I’m a great cook, but I don’t love it.
- My husband asked me to marry him in Paris (*swoon)
- My favorite color is red, but I almost never wear it.
More about the author:
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.
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Thanks for celebrating with us. Come back next week for more of Lane's books, a personal story she's chosen to share, and another chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!