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Extract: Depth Over Distance

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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Cover4

TTTT 1 - Depth Over Distance

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Blurb4

When Logan meets sex-on-legs Benji at a local club, he feels an instant chemistry. But after making it clear that he’s only interested in one night, he finds himself drawn to Benji’s little brother.
Innocent and sweet, Zack is everything that he’s ever wanted. But he’s not the only one who can see the potential in Zack. With two other guys interested, they must fight each other to prove that even if they can’t go the distance, they can give Zack the depth of love he deserves. But will it be enough?
Never having face this kind of attention before, will it all prove to be too much for a kid who can’t see what everyone else does?

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Extract4

Benji took another drag on his cigarette and huddled closer into his jacket. The wind was freezing; typical for a July morning for the cold east coast of Scotland.

It probably wasn’t the best idea to be outside in this kind of weather, but he was in desperate need of some inner warmth and relaxation.

Zack was busy with his classes and would be finished soon, but Benji wasn’t due back to class for another hour. He wanted to take him out tonight, to shake off some of the blues he had about the end of the school year approaching.

Benji was a volunteer teaching assistant, without the qualifications. It wasn’t exactly his dream job, but with Zack two years younger and in need of his undivided attention, he wasn’t going to leave him in high school alone. He only had one more year before he graduated and he wasn’t entirely sure that Zack wanted to go ahead and see that through or not. He was capable of leaving early if he wanted to.

“Benji,”

A quiet voice trembled a little as it spoke. He turned to see Zack making his way over, tears in his eyes as he approached.

Benji didn’t think about it; he opened his arms and welcomed his little brother into his body. He was too skinny to be out in this weather without a coat, but that’s what he was doing; he only had on his jumper and a t-shirt underneath. He’d get pneumonia if he wasn’t careful.

“Why aren’t you in class?” He asked, trying not to sound angry.

“I asked to go to the bathroom.” He claimed, in a small voice.

Benji held him tight and wondered how that was an explanation. But he didn’t dare say anything; a car accident when they were six had resulted in brain damage that meant Zack was held back in his emotional development. He was still a teenager and he mostly acted like it, but when it came to his emotions he was pretty much a twelve year old. He was innocent and delicate in nature, with an inability to understand teasing, jokes and most of the stupid things teenagers did to each other.

That was the reason Benji didn’t graduate and go into another job. He wanted to stay close to Zack so that he wasn’t alone in a world he didn’t quite understand. The doctors said he was gaining ground with his emotional development, since he had a lot of support and all of his friends were careful to explain things to him. The more he learned, the more easily he adapted, but it took time.

“What happened?” He wondered, unzipping his jacket so that he could wrap it around Zack’s shivering body. His little brother snuggled further into his arms, laying his head on his shoulder and wrapping his arms tight around his waist.

“Devon,” he said, as if that explained everything. And it did.

For some reason that Benji didn’t really get, Devon found it hard to remember that Zack couldn’t interpret his type of teasing. He was a typical rude boy, with a foul mouth and a preference for sexual innuendos. All things that Zack still didn’t understand.

“What did he say this time?” He asked, with a drawn out sigh.

He could see he’d have to have a word with him again. They’d always been friends, but they’d become much closer since he came back to help teach the special needs kids, who needed more time and attention than his brother. They were best friends now, but that didn’t let him off the hook.

“He asked why I was still a virgin. Then all of his friends made fun of me.” He claimed, sounding upset, though he seemed to keep his tears at bay.

Benji held him closer and ran his hands up his back to soothe him, making sure he was covered by the jacket. “I’ll take care of it.” He promised, like he always did.

Zack nodded his acceptance of that, hugging him tighter and nudging his head into his shoulder. He could feel his breathing calming instantly with his promise; he seemed happy to trust him and knew that he would always take care of him.

Benji had spent his whole life making sure Zack was safe and happy. He would never let anyone hurt his baby brother, whether they were a friend or not. He would kick Devon’s bulky arse if he didn’t see sense and stop being such a blockhead.

“Do you feel better now that you’ve seen me?” He asked softly.

Zack nodded into his shoulder and gave his waist a squeeze; a sure sign that he didn’t want to let go.

“Come on, I’ll walk you back.” He offered, removing his arms from around him. He still held his cigarette in his hand, keeping it away from his jacket. As soon as Zack stepped back, rather grudgingly it seemed, he put his cigarette back to his mouth and took a long drag. It would have to last him the rest of the day now.

“Can I try it?” Zack asked, with an eager look.

“Nope.” He refused as kindly as he could.

Benji knew that he only wanted to smoke because he did. But he smoked because it eased his stress levels and calmed him down; he didn’t want Zack doing the same and getting hurt. He tried not to notice how disappointed he look as he took his hand. “Sweetie, my job is to keep you safe, happy and healthy. Smoking doesn’t fall into any of those categories. Just because I do something doesn’t mean that you have to.” He reminded him.

“Like sex.” He said, in agreement.

“Yes.”

Benji kissed his cheek in appreciation for the fact that he remembered that. He was not the innocent virgin Zack was; he hadn’t been for quite some time. He hadn’t long turned twenty and there were just a few weeks until his little brother turned eighteen.

“But what if I want to?” Zack asked, with a whole lot of innocence that broke his heart.

Benji watched him closely, as he walked him back to his class. He could tell he meant it; he wanted to have sex, even if he didn’t actually want to smoke. He figured, as his big brother, it was his job to give him what he wanted and make sure no-one hurt him.

“Okay. If you really want to get laid, I’ll get you laid.” He promised, taking one more drag on his cigarette as he walked.

“Really?” Zack turned to him with an eager smile, looking so happy that he couldn’t refuse him.

He nodded. “I’ll take you out tonight. We’ll go to a club, have some fun and we’ll talk about it.” He vowed; he wasn’t going to let just anyone touch his brother. He wanted him to have love and be taken care of by whoever popped his cherry.

He was looking forward to having some real fun; he hadn’t been laid in a few weeks and he needed to wind down. That was the best way he could think of, to get rid of the stress and the chaos inside his head.

Zack wasn’t happy about the reason he had started having sex when he was sixteen, but he understood that he had a lot on his plate and needed to forget for a while. Sex was a safe way of handling all the shit in his life, without putting Zack at risk. If he drank or took drugs then he couldn’t guarantee that his boy was safe and that was all that mattered.

“Benji,” Zack turned to him with a soft smile as they approached his class door.

He offered a smile and waited to hear what he had to say, gently brushing a strand of wheat blonde hair behind his ear. “What is it, sweetie?” He asked, encouraging him to break his, suddenly nervous, silence.

“I really love you.” He said, with a faint smile.

“And I really, really, really love you.” Benji promised, with a smile of his own.

Zack beamed and turned to go into his class, leaving him to let out a worried sigh and head back to the teachers lounge. He needed a coffee and a seat; he had to figure out how he was going to give Zack what he wanted, without letting some asshole hurt him.

***

Two hours later, when the end of the day finally came, Benji was nervous. He still hadn’t figure out what he was going to do for Zack, to give him what he wanted. He would try to put him off, for as long as he could, but one day he would really have to accept the truth. No matter what Zack’s emotional maturity was, he was a red-blooded male who wanted a relationship.

He’d already had confirmation from the doctors that his brain damage didn’t make him incapable of the same relationships that he would have or want. It just made him a little less able to cope with teenage pranks, teasing and being able to control his emotions. He was a little more sensitive than other kids his age and his emotions were fragile.

It didn’t help that Zack was gay either.

Benji had worried for a whole year about his insistence, when he was fifteen, that he found other guys attractive. He’d been scared that he was just trying to be like him again, but now he knew it was true, because he’d seen him flirting with enough guys to settle his nerves. He wasn’t sure it helped any, though. What terrified him, was the thought of Zack choosing to bottom rather than top and ending up getting hurt. He would never forgive himself if anyone hurt him and he’d stood by to let it happen.

Catching sight of Devon across the hall, he decided to do something about one of the problems he had promised to take care of.

“Hey Devon,” he shouted across to his friend and waved as he turned to smile at him.

Benji made his way down the hallway, lined with lockers and didn’t stop until he penetrated the circle of friends surrounding Devon. He shoved his way through the crowd of eight gawkers and grabbed Devon by his t-shirt.

“What the fuck were you thinking?” He asked, angrily.

Devon stared at him in surprise, frowning as if he didn’t quite get his meaning.

Benji gave him a slight shake to wake him up. “Zack, Devon. Why would you say that kind of shit to him? You know he doesn’t understand.” He reminded him, needlessly, of the harm he had caused.

To his surprise, Devon instantly took on a wide eyed look of realisation and looked around the corridor.

Benji decided to trust that he knew how wrong he was and planned to apologise. He let him go with a shove that had him stumbling into his locker as the crowd stared in surprise.

Devon was the big bad ass of the school; popular, tough, star hockey player and smart to boot. He was who every guy wanted to be and the guy every girl wanted to bang.

“He’s at his locker. Apologise; now!” He demanded, giving him a shove in the right direction.

Devon nodded and brushed down his t-shirt before walking over to where his little brother was putting away his books from the day.

***

Zack rummaged through the books in his backpack and tried not to think about how rotten the day had been.

He had a massive crush on Devon, so when he’d said the things he had, in his first class after lunch, he couldn’t help but go looking for Benji, so he could make him feel better. There was no-one who took care of him the way his big brother did, but that was half the problem. He really, desperately, wanted someone to call his own.

Whenever Benji went to the hottest gay club in town, The Underground, he always came away happy. He had a lot of sex, even he would admit that, but it was always confined to the private VIP room at the back of the club; he never took anyone home or went home with them.

Zack had asked him why, multiple times, but he always said that he didn’t want to leave him alone or vulnerable. He still didn’t quite understand how leaving him alone, for one night, in his own home, or bringing someone home with him would leave him vulnerable, but he trusted him. He knew that no-one would ever love him the way Benji did and he would never begrudge that.

“Hey,”

Zack turned to find Devon staring at him with a nervous smile. He couldn’t quite believe he was there, never mind that he was smiling.

It had been enjoyable spending a whole class sitting next to him, but then his friends had started teasing him about answering a question about the book they were reading. He’d talked about how the two characters were in love, but that they believed that having a physical relationship could harm that love. Apparently what he’d said was hilarious because everyone started laughing at his interpretation, even though the teacher nodded and told him he was right.

For some reason Devon’s friends had gone on about how he was looking for the same; some girl to be there and swoon over him, but without ever wanting a physical relationship. He wasn’t sure why it was any of their business what he wanted or with who, so he did what Benji always told him to do, and he ignored them. But then Devon, with his beautiful blue eyes and that charming smile, had asked him if he was still a virgin. He practically demanded it and he’d felt his face flush in response.

From that moment on all his friends did was tease him about how he was still a virgin at nearly eighteen and how it was simply because no-one wanted him.

Devon hadn’t taken part in the teasing, but it was his fault they started it and he’d ran. He’d asked to be excused from class and run off to find Benji, who kissed it better and held him tight. Something he often wished Devon would do.

“Zack, I’m really, really sorry for what I said. I should never have said it. I wasn’t thinking.” Devon apologised, as he snapped himself out of the daze he’d slipped into. “Can you forgive me? I would never, ever want to hurt you.” He promised, cupping his cheek in his hand, that was so warm and soft.

Zack leaned into the touch, trying to bask in it for as long as it was on offer.

Devon smiled faintly and caressed his cheekbone. “Please? I’ll do anything to make this right.” He begged, as if he had been the most horrible person in the world. Since it wasn’t all that bad, he stepped in and wrapped Devon in his arms, too speechless around him to forgive him with words. He was held back in a tight embrace that he closed his eyes to.

“I forgive you.” He said, finally getting the words out.

Devon sighed in relief, right by his ear and squeezed him tighter. When he pulled back, he was smiling and cupped his face in both hands. He left a light kiss on his forehead and one on the tip of his nose, before meeting his gaze. “I really am sorry.” He reiterated.

“I know.” Zack promised that he wasn’t going to stay angry at him. Then, with a curious thought, he decided to take a risk. “Benji’s taking me out tonight, to a club. Would you like to come with us?” He wondered, hoping he would say yes.

Devon smiled again and nodded. “I’d love to. Will I get the details off Benji or do you want to text them to me?” He asked, since they had each other’s mobile numbers already.

With him being such good friends with Benji, the constant temptation of having his private mobile number on his phone was one that Zack had to face daily. He often wanted to call him or send him a text to let him know how deeply he cared for him, but he didn’t dare.

“I don’t know anything yet. Benji will tell you.” He decided, since it was true. He didn’t know what the plans were.

For a moment Devon looked disappointed, but then he shook it off and smiled. “Great. I’ll see you tonight, then.” He said, backing away.

Zack nodded and watched him leave, heading back to his locker, where Benji was waiting for him. He got a wink from his brother and smiled, unable to stop himself from wondering if he was hoping to let Devon be the one to ‘pop his cherry’, as he liked to call it. He certainly hoped so.

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