Short Story Reviews #3

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Book: Goldilocks and His Three Bears

Author: AM Riley

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: I absolutely LOVED everything about this story. But, I do have to admit that Scott, Paul and Brian tugged at my heartstrings.

The story is amazing. I loved every one and every thing about it. I was like the start of Brian and Scott’s relationship when I read this: giggly, fidgety, gasping, oohing and aahing, hand clamped over my mouth at 2am to keep myself quiet.

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Book: Come With References

Author: Will K Sands

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: Really loved this short story. I could easily read more of these two characters. I also love the writing style of the author. I’ll be stalking – ahem – waiting for them to write more books impatiently.

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Book: Wife For the Night (BoyWife #1)

Author: Layla Laguna

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review: I really enjoyed this. I loved Chris and his uncertainty, though I was unsure about Blake for a while. Once I saw them together, it was better and I could imagine a great future for them, both healing together.

Unfortunately, I wanted to read the next books in the series, so I looked them up on Amazon. I’m not a fan of sharing or infidelity, so I won’t be reading the rest of the series. It really spoiled this book for me, looking them up. I wish I hadn’t done it. Personally, I’m going to go with my imagination on this one. Pretend that they meet up by fluke and end up with a HEA. Really good book, interesting idea and well written.

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Book: Vintage Toys for Lucky Boys (Randy and Max #1)

Author: G.R Richards

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: I really enjoyed this story. This is a new author for me, but I’m now a big fan. This was amazing, sweet and pretty perfect. The whole finger incident was really well done.

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Book: Junk (Randy and Max #2)

Author: G.R. Richards

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: Just as good, if not better, than book one. I’m loving these guys and this author.

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Book: Luscious Love

Author: Zach Sweets

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review: I loved this! I’m a big fan of chocolate and romance, so combining them together was just magic. This story was beautiful through and through, especially the ending. It was special.

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Book: Only For You (Only For You #1)

Author: Chad Lane

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: This was incredible beautiful. Perfect. Stunning. I love Matt and David, together and apart. I just really, really sad that I can’t afford to buy Books 2 and 3 just now. Grrr! I. Must. Read. This. Series!

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Book: Roaming Canisters

Author: Adrian Fridge

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: Original, well written Sci-fi short story. I loved it for many reasons. It was weird, funny, oddly sexy, sweet and cute. I really felt Waters reluctance, emotional struggle and attraction. I love how well we got to know the characters in so short a story. Loved it.

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Book: Cuddly Buddy

Author: Nate Tanner

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: Brilliant. Beautiful. Sad. Funny.

This is a great short story, with awesome character development. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion. I loved every second.

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Book: A Lesson in Truth

Author: Sloan Parker

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: A brilliant short story. This is a feel good, emotional love story and I loved it. The characters were well developed in a short space of time and I really felt their angst, their romance and smiled throughout.

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Book: In Deeper (A Handful of Erotic Shorts…for Men’s Men)

Author: Olley White

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: Amazing, sexy, chillingly, achingly good! And that goes for all of these stories.

I don’t know what Olley White is drinking, but I want some of it. These stories are fantastic. I’ve never got so attached to a character, in such a short time, in maybe ever! I felt a connection with every character, through their POV, and even some of the extra characters that you didn’t see so much. I did it all in less time than some novels give me to know the MC inside and out. I left every story wishing it would never end. That’s the mark of genius. This will be one of my new favourites, to read again and again

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Book: The Chalet (His First Taste)

Author: Elisabeth Ash

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review: This was a great short story. I do wish we’d seen more. The information in the blurb, is the only way we know how these men met, what the circumstances are and where it’s going to lead. The story was good, with great writing and appropriate detail. I do feel like it’s an intermediate short, between two novels, because so much information is missing, but I enjoyed it.

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Book Review: Laika in Lisan

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Laika

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“I wish I could say this is a story of how I saved everyone and set the world to right. But it isn’t. This is a story of my failure.”

Laika Roen has always been strangely attracted to Lisan, a mysterious and isolated country where the citizens worship their despotic leader. When Laika is invited to travel to Lisan as a visiting scholar, she jumps at the chance to experience Lisan’s unusual culture firsthand.

But Laika gets more than she bargained for when her trip is disrupted by violence and she’s forced to set out on her own. As she journeys through forbidden sections of the foreign country, Laika discovers horrible truths about the relationship between Lisan’s leader and his people.

Can a simple scholar change the course of an entire country? And even if she can, should she? The distinction between right and wrong blurs as Laika explores not only Lisan, but her own conscience.

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DECO - Review

Star rating – ★★★★★            Plot – excellently paced

Characters – diverse, well developed and relatable

Movie Potential – ★★★★★ (I see this being along the lines of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

Ease of reading – very easy to read and follow

Cover – ✔          Suitable Title – ✔          Would I read it again –

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

I was intrigued by this book right from the start. I instantly took to Laika and I don’t mind admitting that she thinks a lot like me. She can be naïve, sometimes overly so, but she’s also feisty and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to follow her dream of going to Lisan. I think her excitement perfectly sets us up for what’s to come in the rest of the book. I also love that the beginning promises this will be different to all the other hero-saves-the-day novels. And this delivered on that promise, right until the last page.

I loved the inserts of information. Sometimes, with a world unfamiliar to the reader, the author tries too hard to explain everything at once. Not so, with this book. All the information came when it was relevant and we were only told what we needed to know at the time.

I love Laika’s excitement, even when she knows it’s probably the wrong emotion or the wrong time to feel it. She just can’t help herself and I can’t help but like her. I really hoped, as I was reading the first 20-30% that Laika would fall in love with a Lisanese person, or even Aland, just so that she would get her adventure and love story wrapped up in one. As soon as Rodya came into the story and I read their funny, sarcastic exchanges, I knew I wanted him as her romantic counterpart. I won’t tell you whether I got it or not, but I will say that I was very satisfied with the progression of her romance and the ending.

The romantic in me had a field day, during the first 50% wondering who Laika would fall for. First it was any Lisanese person, then Aland, then Rodya, then I wanted her to fall for one of the spies so that she would get a touch of danger mixed into her adventure. I have to admit that I never really saw any of the plot coming, ahead of time. The only thing I got right was my assumption over Rodya’s past. I did hope and wonder if that was true.

I find the whole story original, intriguing right from the start, well written and enjoyable. There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about it. I fell in love with Rodya and could happily have been good friends with Laika. I also had a bit of a soft spot for Neek and Lord Hamin, when we finally met him. He was so eccentric that I really enjoyed reading about him. Aland was everything I expected and anticipated, from the little hints we were given in the build up to meeting him.

I read a few reviews, when I was 80% of the way through, just to gather what other people were saying. I never read them before a review, because I want to make up my own mind. I noticed a lot of comments about no Happily Ever After and the sudden ending. I have to disagree with both. We were set up on the first page for no HEA and I don’t think the ending is sudden at all. I love the realistic ending and how it perfectly fits the story and the characters. Everything is told through Laika’s POV so we only know what she knows.

I’ll admit that there’s so much more I’d love to talk about that I can’t. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone, so you’ll just have to go read it to find out.

This is an excellently paced mixture of mystery, suspense and action. I never knew who to trust or what would happen next. I love how honest Laika and Rodya are, especially when things get complicated. I love the academic slant we have, from reading in Laika’s POV and how I never felt out of my depth because even the things I wasn’t familiar with were explained just enough for me to keep up.

I’d love to see another book from these characters, maybe with Rodya stepping up and being a bigger character, but that’s all up to the author. If not, it doesn’t change how much I enjoyed this book.

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Maron Anrow

Maron Anrow grew up in California, came of age in the Midwest, and is now passing time in New Jersey. She lives with her husband, stepdaughter, and three awesome cats.

Maron has a Ph.D. in social psychology and has published (under her real name) over 20 scientific articles since 2008. Laika in Lisan is her first novel.

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Goodreads           Website           Google +1         Facebook          Twitter

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DECO - Where to buy

Amazon UK           Amazon US          Amazon CA

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Book Exposure: On the Isle of Sound and Wonder

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All but alone, wild but resourceful, Mira dreams of life beyond the shores of her mystical island. Isolated by her father, a dark sorcerer bent on vengeance, she has only his servants, an air spirit and a misshapen cast-off, to share her company.

When Dante conjures a terrible storm to wash ashore his mortal enemies, Mira must choose between her loyalties to her father and what she knows is right.

Sail the skies and soar the seas surrounding this Isle of Sound and Wonder as Alyson Grauer masterfully retells William Shakespeare’s classic, The Tempest, bedecked in the trappings of Steampunk.

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IOSAW excerpt #2

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Alyson bio

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Goodreads           Twitter           Facebook           Amazon US

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Excerpt from WIP: Cacodemon

Elaine White

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“Elaine White grew up in a small town on the east coast of Scotland. She is an author of paranormal romance, crime and MM romance.

Fighting cancer in her early teens taught her that life is short and dreams should be pursued. She lives vicariously through her independent, and often hellion characters, while living comfortably at home with a pack of wolves cleverly disguised as one standard poodle.

A self-professed geek, Elaine has fallen in love with the research linked with her novels. The more obscure the better. She has recently delved into reading and writing MM romance/erotica and is now a happy addict of the genre.”

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Rocker Peregrine is shocked when stunningly attractive fan, Cade, reveals he is actually a Cacodemon, a warrior for Lucifer. More frighteningly enough Cade is his maker. Designed to his preference, Perry is his idea of human perfection. But when Lucifer asks too much of Perry, he and Cade must choose between happy ignorance or the most impossible reality.

When you discover you were genetically created to be a companion to a warrior demon, how much darkness can you stomach before it gets too much?

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Casting

Cacodemon

(Photo Credit: MathiaArkoniel on DeviantArt)

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“Perry was dripping with sweat already and it was only the fifth song. His fingers ached from the high speed tracks they’d started with and he was pretty sure that he was going to start bleeding soon. He’d told them not to pack too many fact-paced songs into the first half of the concert, but no-one ever listened to him.

“We rage, we run, we die and live like there’s no tomorrow…”

Linc was up front, screaming into the mic as he always did. He wanted to do some screaming of his own; first to tell him to shut the fuck up and start singing like a real front man, then to tell the audience to piss off so he could go ice his fingers.

Maverick was banging the drums behind him and singing like a toned down version of Linc, giving him a headache, while their fans roared and screamed in the audience.

“There’s blood on the walls…no-one knows we’re here…let’s have ourselves some fun…” They sang along to the chorus.

Perry hated the song so much that he mimed it instead of actually adding his voice to the already ear-drum bursting noise level. I need to get the fuck out of here, he thought to himself as he tried to keep up with the ridiculously frantic beat. In two minutes he’d have to do a punishing guitar solo and he wasn’t sure his head or his hands were up to it.

He was the only original member of the band left, but the manager was adamant. Perry wanted to do Classic Rock tunes and songs with meaning that would get them into the charts where they could make the big money. The manager, Tristram, wanted them to do these Rock God indie tracks, with Linc shouting and screaming so hard that they could only ever do a one hour concert before he started losing his voice.

Perry wanted real rock and roll music; he wanted to step out of the background and get on with his music career. He wanted to take it seriously and no-one was letting him do that. Sure, Cacodemon, their band, was doing well and this was their third concert in as many weeks. But he seemed to be the only one who knew and accepted the truth of the matter; they couldn’t go on this way much longer.

Linc was on his way to an OD from all the prescription drugs he was using, to keep his throat free from the pain his singing caused, and the uppers he used to rival the energizer bunny. Either that or all of Maverick’s sleeping around would get the wrong girl pregnant. They’d already had some politician’s daughter claiming he got her drunk and seduced her after their last gig. They were still dealing with the lawyers on that one, arguing that the pissy bitch had shown up drunk in front of eight witnesses and begged him to sleep with her. Which, of course, he did. But it was hard to shake shit like that from their reputation once it was out there. Perry was the only one who saw the train wreck coming and he wasn’t going to stick around to be part of it.

The name of the band had been Linc’s idea. Calling themselves Cacodemon, which basically meant malevolent spirit or Demon, was supposed to make them sound hard ass. All it really did was get them the wrong kind of attention from the wrong kind of people. They had fruit-loop Demon hunters showing up, convinced they were trying to conjure Satan, and Goth chicks getting horny on them anywhere and everywhere thinking they were vampires or supernaturals that would let them live for centuries.

Perry was sick of it. He was sick of the insinuations that three guys with names like Peregrine, Linc and Maverick had to be some kind of ancient species just because they were good looking and had talent. He was fed up of the sick-ass letters he got from fans; the vials of blood, the graphic letters that claimed he should be sacrificed to Satan. And worse than the weirdos were the super religious, who thought they were sinners and needed to be punished. As if they were sacrificing goats and deflowering virgins every day of the week.

He was damned sure that wasn’t how he spent his free time, though he had to admit that he didn’t have a clue about the other two.

Linc was too high or too drunk to know what he was up to most of the time and Maverick was too busy crawling in and out of beds to have time for anything else.

Peregrine,

Perry kept playing, but looked up as he heard that whisper. It sounded like it was right by his ear, but that was impossible. No-one was allowed on stage and he would have noticed if one of the fans had managed it; the security guards would be on them like hungry wolves on a carcass.

Peregrine…I’m here for you. You are not alone.

The voice continued to whisper, but, even when he risked a glance over his shoulder to look, there was no-one there. Besides, no-one but his grandmother called him by his full name. Sometimes the boys joked around about it, but he wasn’t bothered; he’d spent his whole life being made fun of for his name. Peregrine Proctor sounded like a joke to some people, but one magazine journalist said it was sexy and he chose to go with that instead. Especially since that guy had been hellishly sexy too.

Something flashed out the corner of his eye and he heard that whisper again;

Don’t think of other men, Peregrine. It isn’t nice to torment me. The voice said, before laughing a deep masculine laugh that sent shivers right through him.

Perry focused his attention on the crowd, convinced that he was just dehydrated and suffering the effect of their shit music and the lyrics to it. Some hardcore fans had claimed there were subliminal messages in their latest CD and he was beginning to wonder if they were right. But when he looked into the crowd, trying to find a friendly face to focus on, the most unusual sight stood before him, standing out from the crowd.

There was a man, who must have been six, if not, seven feet tall, with long silver hair down to his shoulders. Normally he wasn’t a guy who liked long hair, but this guy was really something to look at. He stood there, this solid block of muscle with almost silver-sheened skin and dark blue patterns on his arms and torso; it looked almost like they’d been painted on. All he wore were a pair of tight black jeans that showed off an impressive package and the rock hard abs that were freely exposed to the world.

Parry licked his lips just to make sure he wasn’t drooling and almost moaned aloud as he felt the vibrations of his guitar thrumming through his now interested cock. He closed his eyes to get his mind back on track, and found the image of that man burned into the back of his eyelids.

“I want to rock you all night, taste your blood and swallow you down. I want to rip open your ribs and expose your heart,” Linc sang, drawing him back to the present moment. When he opened his eyes again, he almost stopped playing.

Every person in the crowd was that one man. Where there had been a thousand or so hard core rock fans, in black from head to toe, with purple hair and Mohawks, there was now just one man. Only, he was everywhere. He was everyone.

Perry looked over to Linc, who was smiling and winking at someone in the crowd. An unfamiliar swell of jealousy raged inside of him and he turned back, to tell the man – his man – not to flirt with someone else. But when he did, the crowd was back and the silver haired man was gone. The feelings coursing through him were irrational and came out of nowhere, but they were strong too. He wanted nothing more than to drop his guitar, ditch the concert and go find that silver haired God who made him so hard it hurt.

“Perry! What the fuck are you doing?” A voice in his ear stunned him into reality again.

He blinked and realised that he wasn’t even playing his guitar anymore.

Linc was still singing, Maverick was still on the drums, but his lead singer was glaring at him and the fans were cheering so hard that he wasn’t even sure they’d noticed he wasn’t playing anymore.

Immediately, he began a slower paced version of what he’d been playing, hoping he could take some time to think and maybe pass it off to the press as a new version of the song. He’d think of something to tell the bigwigs when the show was over. Right now, he tried to get that damned beautiful man out of his head and get back to the concert.

He was in such serious shit it wasn’t even funny. But as he played, he couldn’t help but wonder if the whispers he’d heard were some crazy loon up in the control room trying to play tricks on him. He’d forgotten all about the earwig that told him what song was coming up next and relayed any of Linc’s ‘sudden’ changes to the rehearsed script for the night.

Was that voice real?

More importantly, was that man real?”

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Extract: Faithfully

Elaine White

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“Elaine White grew up in a small town on the east coast of Scotland. She is an author of paranormal romance, crime and MM romance.

Fighting cancer in her early teens taught her that life is short and dreams should be pursued. She lives vicariously through her independent, and often hellion characters, while living comfortably at home with a pack of wolves cleverly disguised as one standard poodle.

A self-professed geek, Elaine has fallen in love with the research linked with her novels. The more obscure the better. She has recently delved into reading and writing MM romance/erotica and is now a happy addict of the genre.”

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You might remember a post called Excerpt: Bromantic? Well, this is the same story, but with a new cover and title. It’s now called Faithfully, and will be a one novel rather than two. That’s all down to word count. Here’s the new cover:

Faithfully

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When Latimer arrives at his local orphanage to adopt a child, he has no idea of the chain reaction his actions will cause. Rocco is the most innocent boy he’s ever met, in desperate need of love and attention. At seventeen he’s older than the child he had planned to adopt, but he doesn’t care. He can’t resist those eyes; the eyes that are so like his husband Beau’s, who died five years earlier. It’s too much for his grief-stricken heart to take. There’s no way he can turn his back on Rocco.

His two son, Dominic and Chandler, adopted many years ago, agree with him. Rocco was meant to be part of their family. Rocco being gay isn’t something they’re worried about, but being young, innocent and naïve is. When Dominic’s best friend Donny returns from a trip abroad and takes an instant shine to Rocco, and Rocco to Donny, it’s suddenly very clear that nothing will ever be the same again.

Can they find a way to live with a boy who is mute and deaf? A boy who has never been taught the basic skills of life; who has been mistreated, unloved and uncared for over the last seventeen years? Can they find a way to let him have his independence without letting him get hurt?

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Rocco was halfway through his sandwich when the green light flickered on the kitchen counter. He turned and looked into the living to see that the light was going off there as well. That meant the doorbell was ringing.

Before Chandler could move from his spot, where he was packing up the ingredients from their sandwiches, he slipped off his stool and headed for the door.

Dominic was walking in the front door when Rocco arrived in the hallway. As soon as he spotted him, he started signing, making a request.

Can we teach Chandler home sign? He’s finding ASL really hard.” He told him, admittedly going a little fast.

Slow down.” Dominic laughed, signing to him with one hand as he dropped a bag by the bottom of the stairs. “Okay, I’ll tell him.” He promised, shaking his head in amusement as he pulled him into a hug.

Rocco hugged back with one arm, showing off his sandwich when they parted.

Looks good. Is there one for me?” He signed.

Rocco made a face of uncertainty and looked back at the living room. He walked him into the room and waved to Chandler. He nodded when Rocco pointed to his sandwich. He loved that, just sometimes, not even signed words were needed. His father and his brothers always seemed to know what he meant.

Rocco,” Dominic caught his arm, as he made his way back to the kitchen.

Rocco turned with a smile, only just spotting the very attractive boy beside his brother.

This is my friend Donny.” He introduced them, signing and speaking at the same time. He looked back at Donny as he stepped forward, holding his hand out to Rocco.

He couldn’t help but blush and smile to himself, ignoring the offered hand to take a bite of his sandwich. He was afraid to take his hand, in case something happened. He’d read books about instant connections and true love sparked by a single touch; this boy was too perfect to risk it. The boy, Donny, didn’t seem to mind. He stood there, smiling to himself, hands in his front jean pockets as he stared at Rocco in return.

Nice to meet you.” Donny signed to him finally.

Rocco coughed with wide eyes, choking on his sandwich.

Dominic rubbed his back, frowning, clearing trying to figure out what was going on. But he couldn’t tell him. He could hardly breathe. “Donny and I have known each other since before I was adopted. He’s deaf in one ear.” He explained, assuming his surprise was from the fact that Donny could sign. Well, it was, but not for the reason Dominic thought.

Rocco stared at Donny, while he stared back.

He was away looking at colleges.” Dominic reminded him, as if he could forget.

Being scouted.” He signed back with a nod.

That’s right. Is that why you want me to talk to Chandler, because he didn’t know that word?” He wondered, suddenly realising the sense in his urgent request.

Rocco nodded but didn’t take his eyes off Donny.

Okay. Well…will you show Donny up to the spare room? I’ll go talk to Chandler.” He asked, with a faint frown.

Rocco nodded again, still silent, and tipped his head to the stairs in invitation to Donny. He led Donny upstairs, unable to believe how utterly beautiful he was. He was stunning; there was no other word for it. He had well tanned skin, chocolate eyes and a sexy smile; it sent a shiver through him to think about the first electric look that passed between them. He could tell that Donny felt it too and understood that it was the reason he didn’t dare shake his hand.

This new man in his life was so different to his family. Donny felt dangerous, exciting. He had a sleeve of tattoos on his right arm, going right from his wrist to the curve of his neck. He could make out a banner with something that was in a font too intricate for him to read, a vine of cherry blossoms twisting and creeping up his arm, through and around other images. On his left wrist was a double band of black ink that looked almost like a bracelet or cuff. He was a complete work or art. With or without the tattoos.

His hair was dark, almost black with a purple tinge that shone out in the direct light, shaved down on both sides. It was an amazing, mysterious effect that perfectly suited the older boy. He knew from Dominic that he was twenty already, a whole three years older than him, but that didn’t stop his heart from drumming or his eyes from appreciating the fine specimen of a man he was.

Chandler had told him that saying, about God breaking a mould and how it meant he had created something special and unique. He hadn’t understood it the way Chandler used it, as if it was a joke, but seeing Donny it all suddenly made perfect sense. He couldn’t imagine there being anyone else like him in the world.

Rocco led Donny to the spare room down the hall, nervously eating his sandwich as he walked, so that he wouldn’t be expected to have a conversation. But when he stopped at the door and gestured for Donny to go inside he just stood there with a smile.

Are you okay?” He signed to him, reminding him of one other too-perfect-for-words quality that he had. He could sign. And he was deaf in one ear, which meant that he understood how he felt more than his new family could. He had to frown at his words though, because he wasn’t sure what he meant. “It’s hard to be the only deaf person in the family. I know. It was the same for me. I was the only hard of hearing kid in my orphanage. I had no-one to sign with.” He explained with one hand, while dumping his bag on the inside of the open guest room door.

Rocco swallowed his bite and stared, trying to find his thoughts. All he could think about was that there was yet another thing that was great about Donny; he was an orphan. He knew the solitude, the silence, what I was like to be all alone in a world of kids who couldn’t talk to him. Could this guy get any more perfect? It was like he’d been made just for him.

I was the same. I’ve not had anyone to talk to my whole life. Some tried, but,” Rocco stalled, not quite sure how to put it as he signed one handed. Eventually he gave up looking for the right words and shrugged.

They treat you as if you’re stupid just because you can’t speak or hear?” Donny guessed with a knowing smile.

Rocco nodded, glad that someone understood.

Well, we’re all family here. I was never lucky enough to be adopted; too wild, I guess. I ran away from my orphanage when I was fourteen and lived on the streets for two years.” He explained, with smiling eyes that pierced right through him. “I got jobs working as an errand boy and then as a waiter when I was sixteen. Dom never stopped checking in on me. Even when I refused to come live here with him.” He signed, intriguing him.

Back then I didn’t think I was good enough to be adopted or to live in a nice place like this. Then I learned that I was really good at sports and I got a scholarship deal abroad.” He admitted, looking proud of himself for a moment. Then his smile fell. “But I’ve been to check out the place and it’s not for me. Their tolerance of my deafness and my need for sign language is atrocious.” Donny explained, making him angry. “They want my talent, but they don’t want me. So I’ve come home to get a job.”

Although Rocco didn’t really know how sports worked, especially with someone who was hard of hearing, he was angry that anyone had thought to dismiss such a great guy. Dominic said he had real talent on the basketball court. Why wasn’t that enough? Why did the fact that he was partially deaf make a difference to how special he was?

Maybe you think I’m rambling, but…I know how it feels to think you’re not wanted. If you ever need anyone to talk to, I’m here for you.” He offered, with a heartwarming sincerity. “I know you’re really close with Dom, but there are some things that even he can’t understand.” He told him, with a mischievous smile. It was so intriguing that Rocco couldn’t help but try to find out what he meant.

Like how it feels to be deaf?” He wondered.

Donny smiled and nodded. “He can sign from here to Sunday, but he will never quite understand what it’s like to experience the world the way we do.” He agreed, thoughtfully. “I know I’m only partly deaf and I can hear some things, but I haven’t told Dom yet…it’s getting worse. By the end of this year or the next I’ll be completely deaf.” Donny confided in him, shaking his thoughts back into fully functioning mode.

Now he wasn’t just mesmerised by him; he felt his pain. He couldn’t imagine what it was like to be able to hear, even at a depreciated level and then be told that eventually he would go deaf. It was almost cruel to have the wonder of sound and then lose it.

Rocco couldn’t help himself; he stepped closer and touched his arm. When he wasn’t pushed away he hugged Donny, trying to offer him what little comfort he could. He was held in return by those big strong arms and the most ridiculous sense of calm washed over him; he felt safer in his arms than he had ever felt his whole life. Then Donny pulled back with a smile.

There’s something else Dom can’t help you with.” He signed.

What’s that?” He asked, curious to find out what it was.

Being gay.”

Rocco could tell he laughed because he could feel the rumble through his back, where he suddenly realised he had a hand pressed against his spine from their hug. He pulled his hand away.

I’ve been gay my whole life. If you need advice or just someone to talk to I’d be happy to help you out. There was never anyone there for me, but I’m here for you.” He promised. “Do you know anything about how to be with another boy?” He asked delicately.

Rocco blushed, embarrassed by the question. But he refused to lie. He nodded.

How much?” He signed.

Rocco looked around to make sure that no-one would see what he was about to say. Then he tried to sign his words as discretely as possible. “Dominic showed me how to buy books for my tablet. I got some free ones. They’re very…detailed.” He signed to him.

Donny laughed at him, but he didn’t mind. “Let me guess, erotica bordering on porn?” He signed back.

Rocco shrugged, since he wasn’t sure what ‘erotica’ meant.

Educational if nothing else. But a bit scary, don’t you think? If you’ve not had any exposure until now.” He hinted, which only made him blush harder.

Who said I haven’t?” He asked silently.

Well, have you?” Donny asked, with that mischievous smile back again.

Rocco stepped closer. He wasn’t sure what shocked him more; that Donny was flirting with him or that he was actually flirting back. He’d always thought when it came to this kind of thing he’d be completely clueless, like in most other things. But with Donny, standing there being held down by those beautiful eyes, it just felt so right, so instinctive.

You promise you won’t tell?” He checked.

Donny frowned at him, but nodded his agreement.

One of the families I was sent to had an older son, Freddie. He was gay, but he wasn’t out to his parents.” He explained, recalling Freddie with warmth that he had forgotten until recently. “When he met me and found out I was gay, he would sit and tell me things about relationships he’d had. He took me to a club when I was sixteen and took care of me.” He added that last part just to make sure he didn’t get the whole ‘he didn’t hurt you or abandon you’ speech that he expected.

You liked him?” Donny asked, with a less than happy look.

Rocco could only smile and hope that meant his attraction was reciprocated. “Not like that. I think he liked me, but he was seeing someone.” He explained the details, signing them out clearly so that there was no misunderstanding.

And there it was – that playful glimmer flickered back into Donny’s eyes, as if he was more than pleased to hear it.

It was fun being at the club. I could see how happy everyone was. There was no hiding, no worry that anyone would see what you were doing.” He smiled as he thought back to that night.

It had been the first positive experience he had of being gay. More than a few guys tried to buy him drinks, but Freddie had hand-picked who he was allowed to talk to and dance with. No-one had been inappropriate or tried to get him drunk. It was just such a fun, carefree, happy place to be.

Donny smiled at him, making his stomach flutter nervously as he reached out and brushed his fingertips through the hair just above his ear.

Maybe you could take me one time? I’ve never been to a gay club.” He admitted in sign.

Rocco frowned lightly, positive that couldn’t be true. From what Dominic said about him he was all for kicking back and having a great time. He was sure he’d ventured to one club or another at some point.

I never had the time.” He shrugged, with a genuine sadness in his eyes. As if there was a bigger story behind that claim than he knew.

Okay.” He agreed, hoping to make him happy again. Rocco couldn’t stop the blush from coming to his cheeks when Donny flashed that sexy smile at him. He tried to make sure he kept his mouth shut and his dignity in tact by taking another bite of his sandwich.

At this rate he was lucky if he had one more bite left, but he tried to make it last as he backed away from the door and the all too tempting boy.

Donny didn’t stop watching him. Even when he turned and walked towards the stairs he could feel his eyes on his back.

What made Donny so intoxicating when he had never had such an intense crush on another boy before?

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