Welcome to our Grand Finale celebrations for the amazing
In our final post, we'll take a look at The Summer Of Us and Best Love. We also have our author interview and one more chance to win one of Lily's books.
First up, The Summer Of Us
It’s going to be a long hot summer.
John is an exceptionally good lawyer. He’s driven, arrogant and hides a warm heart underneath a façade of cool politeness. He’s used to people disliking him but for some reason when meeting Matt in London the other man’s open dislike of him bothers him. He’s therefore surprised to find himself offering Matt a place to stay in his villa in the South of France while he’s working nearby. He’s surprised because he’d actually planned to spend the summer working on his book and plotting to get his ex-wife back.
However, his perfect plans take a blow as the long hot summer progresses and the two men get closer, and John starts to nurse an unexpected attraction to his houseguest from hell.
Matt is John’s polar opposite. He’s warm, funny, sociable and scruffy. He loves people and they love him back. However, to his consternation he hates John more than he hates Marmite, and Marmite makes him vomit. He hates his arrogance, his public school voice and the air of superiority that he carries around. The idea of staying in his home with just him for company sounds torturous and not in a good way.
However, as the hot, lazy days slip by he’s forced to realise that maybe he’s not such a good judge of character after all, because underneath that arrogance is a warm, funny, vulnerable man who’s incredibly sexy. The only problem is that while Matt is gay John is completely straight and Matt now wants him more than he’s ever wanted anything in his life.
I shake my head, my thoughts trailing away like smoke, and focus to find him racing around the side of the car to open my door and help me out. “John, I’ve cut my arm, not sawn it off,” I say irritably, feeling like some sort of Victorian maiden. He’ll be covering up the legs on the tables next in case I have impure thoughts. I snort out a laugh and he looks at me curiously.
“Ookay.” He elongates the word. “The hospital said to keep an eye on you because you said that some pain medications make you stupid. Apparently, if you were going to have a bit of a funny reaction to the painkillers it would hit you quite quickly. Luckily we’re home now.”
I laugh again. “Funny ha ha,” and then I lapse into giggles at the look of puzzlement on his face. “There’s that word again,” I sigh lavishly, pointing at him until he relocates my finger so that I’m actually pointing at him. Fuck. “Home. I like being at home with you.”
He looks at me in complete abject bewilderment, his brow furrowing, and I poke the line between those spectacular eyes. God you’re pretty, I think, and then see the look of consternation on his face. “I said that out loud, didn’t I?”
He nods, a grin tugging at his lips. “I am not pretty, Matthew. I am extremely good-looking with a brain the size of the Tower of London. That makes me handsome, not, I repeat, pretty.”
“Hope other things are the size of the Tower of London,” I laugh, and get up with a groan and then stand swinging idly back and forth on his door enjoying the breeze, while hoping that my mouth stops talking right about now. A reaction to the painkillers, I muse. Right, at this point, really, could it get any stupider?
He looks at me as I hum a song that’s just come into my head and attempt to thread my good arm through his sweater. “Case proven for the painkiller reaction, I think.” He shakes his head and takes the sweater off me. “That’s back to front, babe.” He throws it onto the back seat and pushes his shoulder under mine. “Come on,” he growls, sending shivers down my spine.
I like that noise. It goes straight to my balls. He freezes. “Shit, I said it out loud again, didn’t I?”
He shakes his head and closes his eyes. “Maybe we need to get some food down you, Matty? Mop up the painkillers.”
I nuzzle into him. “Let’s get some protein in me,” I growl. “Let’s have a liquid lunch. I promise that I’ll swallow.”
He closes his eyes in what looks like pain. “Fuck, the things that you say.”
“It’s not what I say, it’s what I do.” I’m starting to feel very weird now, so to take my mind off it I attempt a lascivious wink, but judging from the consternation on his face I don’t think that I quite pull it off. “I’m very, very good at the things that I do, Johnny,” I say proudly.
“Matt, you’re actually shouting, did you know that?” he says nervously, still attempting to get me up the stairs. Good luck with that, I think distractedly, because my legs don’t appear to be working.
“Oh my God,” I shout in panic, and it must be loud because he nearly drops me. “My legs don’t work. I can’t walk.”
“It’s okay,” he soothes. “The hospital said to let you sleep and the reaction will wear off. I’ve just got to make sure that I wake you up occasionally.”
“To check that I haven’t died,” I say slowly and painstakingly. “You must definitely do that, Johnny. Hey, you know what?” He jerks to a stop again. “We should get in bed together, then you can keep a check on me.” He closes his eyes and I go to nudge him and miss his arm by what feels like quite a lot. I smirk, or try to. My face is so numb now that I might be dribbling, for all the fuck I know. “My face feels funny, but my penis is still working,” I reassure him.
“Oh my God,” he groans.
I laugh. “I know, that’s what they all say. ‘Oh my God, Matty, that’s so fucking good.’” I shout the last and I think that I end it on a bit of a howl because his shoulders are shaking with laughter. I nuzzle into him. “You smell really nice, babe, like blackberries and sunshine and hot skin. Sometimes I want to lick you,” I say dreamily and his steps falter.
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A free short called Matt and John's Wedding is available here.
Second in our line-up, Best Love
Noah and Sage have been best friends since they were seven when Sage climbed over the wall between their childhood homes. They know everything about each other apart from one small thing. Noah is hopelessly in love with Sage and doesn't ever intend to tell him.
However, fate has other plans. A dating website with a glitch in its system leads Sage to challenge Noah. Two days in which they will show each other their best dates. What could possibly go wrong?
At the end of these two days will the men discover that the best love comes with someone who really knows you, or will they fall back into being just good friends?
This short story was originally featured in the Heart2Heart Anthology. It has had a new scene and epilogue added to it.
I look up at the sign again and let resolve fill me. My supposed perfect match is waiting for me a few feet away. If it’s a failure, then no one will know, and if it’s a success I just might find everything I’ve been looking for, and also someone who might prevent me from dying a lonely, single, old man and being eaten by my grumpy dog, Charlie.
Filled with resolution, I nod and stride forward grimly. Maybe too grimly. I pause and adjust my face so it isn’t demonstrating resting bitch. Sorted.
I reach out and push open the door. I’m instantly socked with a wave of warm coffee and sugar scented air, and predictably, my glasses immediately steam over. I curse and remove them, polishing them and popping them back on my nose.
The place comes into focus and I look around nervously. It’s fairly quiet for a weekday. Normally, coffee shops in York are filled to the rafters with tourists, but the rain and wind must have kept most people away. There’s an old couple sitting together but staring in any direction other than at each other, a young couple attempting to share one chair, and a man tapping away furiously on a laptop.
I stare hard at him, but he’s not wearing a red jumper, which is what my mystery man promised to be wearing. I straighten my own navy sweater and look around, my brow furrowing. Disappointment sears me. He hasn’t come.
My racing thoughts come to a stop when I hear a throat clearing behind me. I turn slowly and see a small table and leather armchairs tucked away in a quiet corner. Sitting in one of the chairs is a man wearing a scarlet jumper, and… my thoughts come to a screeching halt.
Sage, my best friend in the entire world, gives a startled laugh. “Me. And you?” I laugh, and he shoves the spare chair forward with his foot. “What are you doing here?” he asks. “I thought you’d bunkered down to get through the revisions.”
I subside into the chair thankfully and take a grateful sip of his hot chocolate which he pushes over to me with the ease of practice. I curse as I notice pen ink all over my hands, before focusing on the question. “I have got a lot to do, but I had a message from that dating site I was telling you about.”
Something crosses his face, a flare of what looks like recognition, before a slow smile lifts his full lips. “So, you’re here for a date then? Don’t tell me. You’re wearing a navy sweater to identify yourself, and your profile name is Ink Sprinkler, which, by the way, either sounds like a porn name or like you’re incontinent.”
I pause, and then realization rushes through me. “Oh, my God. Are you Picture Man?”
He waves his arms about gracefully as if conducting a symphony. The sleeves of the sweater are rolled up, and the colours from the tattoos on his arms and hands shine in the warm light of the coffee shop. “I thought it was appropriate,” he smiles, and just for a second my gaze snags on those full lips and the twinkle in his warm, cognac eyes.
Then I snap back into reality with the ease of practice. “So, we’ve been matched by a supposedly zero percent failure matchmaking agency.” I snort. “We’re going to detract from their perfect score, that’s for fucking sure.”
He sits back, and something crosses his face too quickly for me to figure it out. Then he assumes his normal expression of lively curiosity and welcome. “Why?”
It takes me a second to work out what he’s asking, and then I laugh. “Fucking hell, we’re about as far from a match as Russell Grant is to marrying Jordan Barrett.”
“I personally am really shipping for that to happen,” he says solemnly. “They’re a match made in heaven.” He folds his arms and sits back. “Are we really that different?”
I smirk and drain his hot chocolate with a flourish. “Just look at us.”
He frowns and it sits uneasily on his open face. “What do you mean?”
I wave my hand at him. “Look at you, and then look at me.”
“I am,” he says, and there’s suddenly a deep note to his voice that I’ve never heard directed at me before.
I clear my throat. “You’re cool and sociable and outgoing. Good looking and a good friend.” I look down at myself. “I’m boring and colourless. I hide away in my flat behind a pen name, and I’m anally retentive to boot.”
He stares at me for a long second, and I squirm slightly under that focused gaze. “You forgot to mention kind, funny and a brilliant author,” he says steadily. “And the anally retentive bit I can really get behind.”
I raise my middle finger at him and shake my head. “I’m not under any illusions. Richard always used to say I was boring.”
He scowls and shifts in his chair. “I don’t know why you paid any attention to him.”
I stare at him. “You went out with him for four years. I’m your best friend. Of course I paid attention to him.”
“I wish I’d heard him say that,” he says fiercely, and then sighs. “Anyway, if that’s the sort of crap he was spouting, it’s a good job I’m not with him anymore.”
They’d started going out together at college and stayed together while I was away at university. They were living together at one point, but within a few months of my moving back, they were finished and Richard had moved out. Sage has evaded all of my efforts to find out why, which is the first time in our history that he’s managed to keep anything secret from me.
I can’t even say what went wrong from personal observation, because I avoided being with them as much as possible. I found it peculiarly painful in a way I’ve tried hard not to analyze, to see Richard hug and kiss him and to see their possessions mixed together. I’d secretly been thrilled when he moved out, and then immediately ashamed of myself, because what sort of friend feels like that?
He clears his throat and I look up to find his gaze on me, curiously intent. Then he smiles slowly. “So, you have spare time for this date?” I nod, and his grin widens. “So have I. What a coincidence. How about we go out?”
I choke on my own spit. “Wait. What?”
He laughs merrily. “Come on, Noah. I haven’t seen much of you lately. I’ve missed you. Let’s go out and spend some time together.” He stares into space, an idea obviously forming, and I groan.
“The last time you looked like that, I lost most of my clothes from that bet.”
He smirks. “Well, that’s not going to happen today.” He pauses. “Not unless you ask nicely.” He laughs at my look of disgust. “Come on, I’ve had an idea. How about you take me out on your date, and then tomorrow I’ll take you out on mine?” He settles back against his chair and looks challengingly at me.
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What inspires you? What gets you writing?
I listen to music a lot and I usually get the first hook to the story while I’m doing that. This is usually in the form of a scene or some small fact about a character, and then the plot comes at the same time. Once I have that first hook I’m off and I start to look at the characters and the story. I’ll also make a playlist and create a Pinterest page for the book before I start writing.
What's your writing process? Seat of your pants, lots of sticky notes, complex spreadsheets?
I’m a real plantser. I don’t tend to do detailed plans. When I started writing I did that and very quickly learned that I didn’t want to write the book afterwards. Before I start, I tend to know my characters and have a rough idea of what the story will be. Then once I start to write I keep a close eye on the plot and do a lot of reading and re-reading. Also halfway through the book I’ll write the last chapter and epilogue and that gives me something to work towards.
Which character from your books is your favorite, and why?
I think probably Oz. I love his feistiness, the way he refuses to be cowed, and his unapologetic personality. I also love his softer side. He’s incredibly loving and very nurturing.
Which character is your least favorite, and why?
Frankie in Gideon. He was Gideon’s manager and was just horrible without anything to redeem him.
If you could go back into one of your books and change one thing, what would that be? And why?
I don’t think I’d really change anything. I’d go mad if I started doing that. Once my books are written I don’t go back to them.
What's next for you? What amazing book are you working on?
Next up is the first book in my upcoming new series. The series will be called Close Proximity and the first book is about Jesse. You’ve already met him in Gideon’s book. He was Eli’s best friend.
About the author:
Lily writes contemporary romance novels and specialises in hot love stories with a good dose of humour.
Lily lives in sunny England with her husband and two children, all of whom claim that they haven’t had a proper conversation with her since she bought her first Kindle.
She has spent her life with her head full of daydreams and decided one day to just sit down and start writing about them. In the process she discovered that she actually loved writing, because how else could she get to spend her time with hot, funny men!
She loves chocolate and Baileys and the best of all creations – chocolate Baileys! Her lifetime’s ambition is to have a bath in peace without being shouted by one of her family.
Thank you for celebrating this fabulous author with us. We hope you found a few more books for your TBR and learned some cool things about Lily.
Until next time, happy reading!