My Book Boyfriend is a short story written for the Hope and Love Charity Anthology.
When Regan wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings he doesn’t expect to come face to face with his ultimate book boyfriend, Falcon Roman. He’s the cowboy man of his dreams, even if he thinks the writer didn’t give him enough smarts to be a pivotal character. Since he was reading the novel containing Falcon’s character just before he fell asleep he believes he’s falling into a strange dream. Until someone calling himself ‘the author’ shows up and tells him otherwise.
Regan has 24 hours to fulfil three tasks. If he succeeds he can return to Falcon’s ranch in his novel any time he falls asleep, if he chooses to. If he fails then he will never come back and he will never see those smouldering green eyes or those rock hard muscles again. Torn between wanting to stay to adore his dream man and wanting to leave so he can return to his real life and make some important changes to the way he lives, Regan decides to go with the flow. He’ll stay the 24 hours, but not actively seek out his three tasks. If he manages to fulfil them, then what the hell he’ll be able to choose whether he returns or not. And if he doesn’t then he’ll wake up in his own bed and make some changes to his pathetic, lonely life.
But what happens when his ideal book boyfriend, Falcon, sends all the right signals of attraction his way? Is it possible that his fictional book boyfriend has fallen for him? And what will Regan do if that’s the case?
Regan moaned as he woke up. His head was throbbing, as if he’d cracked it off something. He opened his eyes, wondering if he’d fallen off the bed during the night. He could remember reading on his Kindle before bed and from the sore spot on the bridge of his nose he could guess that it had whacked him in the face as he fell asleep. Not that it would be the first time.
With a deep sigh he rubbed his right eye as he came to, looking up at an unfamiliar ceiling. The last he remembered his bedroom ceiling was plaster not wood. And it certainly didn’t look rotten or crawling with bugs. He pushed himself to sit up, his heart racing at the very thought of having spiders crawling over him as he slept. He hated creepy crawlies.
“Howdy handsome.” A male voice said, with laughter in his voice.
Regan blinked a few times to convince himself he was imagining the whole thing. He must have been having one of those awful dreams that seemed so real he couldn’t tell the difference between reality and the dream.
“Come on, up you get.” He chuckled, giving his side a nudge with a booted foot. He opened his eyes reluctantly and looked up at the male standing over him. His mouth fell open and he sat up straighter. This couldn’t be happening.
“You’re…I mean, you can’t be,” He protested to himself. This wasn’t possible.
“Afraid I am and I can.” He said with a hint of a Texan accent as he folded his arms over his chest. His denim shirt was faded, stretched over his broad chest and shoulders, far too tight around the guns on his biceps. Regan couldn’t help but let his gaze drift to the too tight jeans and the evident bulge that made him avert his gaze quickly. God, he was even better in person than on paper. “Right you tenderfoot, time to get moving. We got a foal on the way. No telling when he’ll show.”
“Wait a minute…this isn’t real.”
“Oh it’s real. You’re here on my ranch and I’m putting you to work. You’re not getting out of pulling your weight.” He smiled a perfect smile that made his palms sweat and then winked before walking away.
Regan took a deep breath and raised his knees to rest his elbows on. He buried his head in his hands, trying to figure out what had happened. Suddenly he wasn’t at home anymore. He was in a barn he didn’t recognise, with the hottest but dumbest character he had ever read in a novel. Falcon Roman wasn’t exactly the smartest or bravest character he had ever read about, but then again he’d been reading a romance novel. He was the supporting character in a story about Victor Capucci, the rich town lawyer and Yvonne Brandt, the local sweetheart who fell madly in love with Victor.
He couldn’t understand what the hell he was doing on Falcon’s ranch or how it was even possible, but he kind of didn’t care. He’d read the book multiple times for the last two years since he first bought it and he only read it for the scenes with Falcon. He was written so well, so beautifully that he couldn’t help himself. But what he had always hated was that his character never went anywhere or did anything in the novel. He was just there, this hunk of a man in the background of all the important scenes and somehow, he had no idea how, he found himself on his ranch with those gorgeous green eyes staring back at him.
“Well, you’re awake then.” Another male voice broke into his thoughts. Regan turned and looked around the barn to find an older man, probably forty or fifty from the grey hair, sitting on a hay bale staring back at him.
“Who are you?” He asked, not recalling anyone of his age being in the novel.
“Oh, you don’t know me, kiddo. I’m the author.” He beamed, showing off slightly yellowed teeth. A quick glance at his hands and the yellowing around his fingernails, let him guess he was a smoker. “This isn’t a gift bestowed on anyone, you know. You’re special. You see what no-one else sees…who no-one else cares to see.” He said, nodding to the open barn door where Falcon was pushing a wheelbarrow over to a small pen at the side.
“How is this even possible?” Regan asked, hoping he would find out it wasn’t just a dream. This was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to him in twenty-two boring, lonely years.
“I met an old medicine man who claimed I had a gift for drawing people in. I laughed and said I wished that were true so he made it happen.” The man shrugged. Regan struggled to recall his name; this was the only novel of his he’d ever read because Falcon had never been carried on into the other stories. “No idea why. To prove a point, I think. But ever since then a few worthy readers have been granted twenty-four hour access to their favourite part of the novel. You were one such lucky reader.” He claimed, with a chuckle that led off into a barking cough.
Regan looked around and felt the straw he was lying on. It all looked and felt so real. “Wow. Even if this is a dream, it’s a damned good one.” He admitted it freely.
Falcon was his biggest book boyfriend, his biggest crush. He felt like he made a pretty pathetic twenty-two year old male. He hated his job as a freelance courier and his non-existent social life, preferring to stay at home and read a good book rather than go out to socialise or meet a real, living male. God forbid he actually dated anyone. What had it been? Three years?
“Well, make the most of it boy because you have twenty-four hours to prove you deserve it. Fulfil three tasks and you can come back. Fail and this will be your only stop.” The author informed him. That brought him back to the present. Half of him wanted to fail so that he could go back to his life and give himself a shake. He really needed to get a life outside of his books and this was proof of that. But the other half of him really wanted to succeed and come back again and again.
“What three tasks?” He wondered curiously.
“I ain’t telling you.” The author beamed at him with a crooked smile. Little wrinkles moved and scrunched together at the sides of his eyes. “Got to work it out for yourself. You’re a smart kid, you’ll get it eventually. No-one else has, but I think you’ve got it in you.” He said, cackling to himself in amusement as he suddenly faded away into nothing.
Regan got up and walked over to the hay bale the author had been sitting on. He tapped the ground in front of it with his toe, gingerly, only to find empty space and air. He patted the bale and found the same; the author was nowhere to be found and there were no wires or mirrors to convince him it had been an elaborate trick.
“Great. A fictional character, an author who appears and disappears and a medicine man who spelled a romance novel? This is officially the weirdest dream you’ve ever had, Regan. Wake up!” He slapped his right cheek hard, willing himself to wake up and get back to reality. Nothing happened. He tried again, but it hurt the second time so he let out a sigh and sat down. He took a few deep breaths, trying not to hyperventilate. “Okay. Twenty-four hours. You can do this. Just suck it up and get it over with. It’s not that long.” He told himself.
He could see out the twenty-four hours, or however long it took for him to fall asleep again, and then he’d wake up in his own bed and get back to his real life. He needed to make some drastic changes; get out of his apartment more often, socialise with real people, stop reading bloody romance novels before bed and get a boyfriend. He needed to start living his life.
“You coming, greenhorn?” Falcon’s voice carried right into the barn and sent shivers down his spine. God, who knew fictional characters could have that gravel in their voice. It made him positively tingle all over and sent unwelcome heat soaring right through him.
“What? I’m not…whatever. I’m coming.” He called back in frustration. He was better than that. Yes, Falcon was stunning; tall, muscled and delicious in a dozen different ways. Yes, he had that thick dark wavy hair that looked suitably messy on top of his head, short enough to be manageable but long enough to run his fingers through. And, okay, yes he had those piercing green eyes that spoke of heat and hunger and a raw untamed animal lying within but he was fiction. He wasn’t real.
“My name is Regan Sinclair, just so you know.” He informed him, as Falcon walked into the barn.
“Nice to meet you. Here. Brush the horses down while I finish feeding the pigs.” He smiled while handing him a small hand brush.
“God, how can you be so gorgeous and dumb as shit at the same time?” Regan complained to himself. His two-year fictional boyfriend raised an eyebrow at him and gave him a kick with a pair of steel toed ankle boots. He grimaced, but tried not to let on that it hurt. “Falcon, I’ve never been on a farm never mind a cattle ranch. I don’t know how to brush the horses down.” He explained, waving the brush at him with a look that let him know he wasn’t joking.
“I reckon you don’t. Wait here and I’ll be back.” He chuckled, as if his total lack of knowledge amused him. He figured he might have a point; if he’d actually read the rest of the novel and not just the scenes with Falcon in them, he might know something about how to behave on a cattle ranch.
Regan sat where he was for ten minutes as he caught glimpses of Falcon’s shadow outside the barn doors. Whatever he’d been doing in that time, he came back rubbing the sweat off the back of his neck with a cloth that he tucked into his back jean pocket.
“We need to keep you workin’. Can’t have you jawin’ me to death.” He said, throwing a rake at him. He managed to catch it, so he scored himself some points for not being such a tenderfoot and dropping it. But then he spotted a trickling sweat bead making its way down the side of Falcon’s neck and his attention wavered. He stood up and found himself wanting to take an extra step closer to lick that bead right off his gorgeous sun-tanned skin.
Instead, he shook his head and looked down at the rake in his hands. Apparently he was going to be working for the next twenty-four hours. “Gee, thanks.” He grumbled, looking around at all the loose hay that he guessed he was going to be cleaning up.
Regan wasn’t sure what was worse. On one hand he had to spend an entire day working on a ranch he knew nothing about, doing things he wasn’t prepared for. On the other, it was going to be torture to be around the pant-droppingly gorgeous Falcon for a whole day only to remember that he was a one dimensional character who offered nothing worthwhile to the plot. And he wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. As far as dreams went, this one was going to be torture.