Second-Story Man Excerpt

May 29, 2015
The Brownstone Hotel with an open window or two.

The Brownstone Hotel with an open window or two.

Hello again. It’s Robert P. Rowe taking over the Dreamspinner Press blog to tell you about my novel Second-Story Man. You can find my book here:

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/robert-p-rowe

But you can read an excerpt here and now:

A hot August night is always good for an open window or two, and I’d spotted one on a deserted street. It looked like an easy climb. From the entrance stair it was a short hop onto the balustrade, an arm’s reach to the segmental pediment, and one last stretch across the brownstone wall. By the time I reached the second-story window, I figured out the climb wasn’t as easy as the construction-site scaffolds I was used to. Biker boots aren’t made for climbing. A tank top was great for showing off my brown-skinned muscles, but for climbing up a building it was stupid—I was all scratched up. If I’d planned this, I’d’ve worn a heavier shirt, with long sleeves.
My raw hands throbbed, but at least I made it. I peered inside. The room was dark, but the streetlight showed me enough. Just what I was looking for: a laptop on the dresser. I’d seen ’em at the pawnshop going for five or six hundred—that’s all the money I needed. Across from the dresser was a bed with some white guy—sleeping like a baby. His blanket was pushed down. The guy was half-naked because of the heat, and leaner than me. If I had to, I could take him.
I climbed in without a stir from the bed and headed straight for the computer. Shit! What was that? My own reflection in the dresser mirror made me jump. Suck it up, Carlos—you can do this. Still, my nerves were on edge. How did that gringo not hear my heart pounding? My sweaty hands were shaking as I struggled to unplug the laptop. Suddenly, something caught my eye. The reflection was big and looming up behind me—
Everything went dark. Sound was muffled. I was suffocating.
Gasping, I struggled against a fabric trap, clawing to free myself until I felt a full body blow take me down to the hard floor. The wind was knocked out of me, and the gringo was on top of me. Then I felt an excruciating whack across my forehead, and my world spun out of control.

Oh, man. What happened?
My head was whirling. I wasn’t sure I could open my eyes.
I took a deep breath, then forced one eye open. Too bright. Blurry. I think I was still in the same room. I opened the other eye, tilted my head. Man, did it hurt. A table lamp was glowing and I must’ve been in the bed. Hey, where’s my shirt? I looked around and there’s that gringo, sitting in the chair next to the bed. How’d that guy manage to get the jump on me? He was still half-naked, wearing some boxers, and he was holding—a bat!
“What the… I’m gettin’ the hell outta here.” I started to get up, but my head was spinning and— “Where’re my pants, ya faggot?” I was naked in this guy’s bed. “What’d ya do to me?”
“Me? I didn’t do anything. I picked you up at the bar. On the way home you got gay-bashed. I brought you up here because I think you might have a concussion. You’ll need to get some sleep.”
“Hey, man, I’m no faggot,” I yelled, making my head hurt all the more.
“Really? Then why are you naked in my bed?” Man, he was right. This really didn’t look good. “Whacking you with a bat could get me into trouble. Climbing in my window could get you into trouble. Nobody will bother to investigate some random gay-bashing.”
“So what now?” I felt trapped, but I defiantly dared him to answer. “Ya wanna fuck me?”
“Don’t flatter yourself. I don’t waste my time with straight guys—too much drama.”

***

This is a very unusual way to meet and it sure doesn’t seem like these guys are off to a very good start. But stranger things have happened. In fact I’m hoping that you’ll tell me some strange way that you’ve met someone special in your life.

I’m running a contest to give away an ebook copy of Second-Story Man. All that you have to do is have the best answer to this question:

“What’s the most interesting accidental way that you have met someone special in your life?”

Post your answer in the comments and I’ll be choosing a winner just before 11AM Eastern Time. Feel free to post any other questions or comments that you may have too. I’ll be here answering questions for another hour.

Here are links to my website and my blog:
Website: http://www.robertprowe.com/
Blog: http://artofrobertrowe.blogspot.com/

If you missed this Release Party contact me through my Contact page on my website. I’m always interested in your comments.

Second-Story Man Release Party

May 29, 2015

Hi everyone. I’m Robert P. Rowe and I’ve taken over the Dreamspinner Press blog site to tell you all about my novel that has just been released today, ‘Second-Story Man.’

Here’s the address to find the novel at a discount for the release party:

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/robert-p-rowe

Many readers choose books by simply following their favorite author. But how does that author become a favorite in the first place? Somebody has to take a chance and then they tell their friends. This release party should give you a chance to get to know me, and my writing—and maybe help you decide to give me a chance.

The next thing that draws a reader in is the title. These are just about the most important words in the book—especially for the first time novelist. The title has to be intriguing—it has to promise the reader something.

I carefully chose the word play of ‘Second-Story Man.’ The obvious definition is for some sort of a thief. But the title also offers the subtle promise that the story of our lives is not written in stone—we have the power to change that story—we have the power to choose a second story for our lives. I’m never satisfied following the same path everyday and neither are my characters.

They say, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but people do anyway. For that reason the cover has to grab your attention. Dreamspinner Press art director Paul Richmond created the cover, but I created the cover concept. I’ll tell you more about that later. For now I hope that you’ll just enjoy the cover.

Second-Story Man Cover

Second-Story Man Cover

‘Second-Story Man’ is a 260-page, 95,000 word novel and believe it or not the most important words aren’t even in the book they are in the blurb. These are the words that will get a reader to decide to open the book or move along to the next option. Here’s the blurb:

Offering a would-be thief a second chance is risky—especially when he could steal your heart.

Carlos had it all: a good-paying construction job, a truck, a rental house and his girl. Then he lost his job and everything else along with it. Desperate, he turns to crime—only to fail in his first attempt when he accidentally climbs into the wrong window. Carlos has to rethink his life when his victim becomes his only friend.

Michael has lost too many times in love. Prince Charming won’t be knocking at his door, with its do-not-disturb sign permanently in place, when fate finds Carlos climbing into his window. Michael’s compassion for this down-and-out lost soul turns to friendship. But Michael can’t allow things to go any further and still feel safe from heartbreak.

There are no accidents, and the second-story man discovers that in life and love there can be a second story.

***

When I signed up for this blog I was told that most authors have some sort of contest and offer some sort of giveaway. That sounded like a great idea to me. I wanted to offer a trip to Hawaii to the hottest single guy. I couldn’t think of a better way to promote myself than to let some lucky guy really get to know me.

Sadly I was informed that DSP really wants to promote the book instead. They recommended a contest that offers an ebook copy of ‘Second-Story Man’ as the giveaway. It seems rather ordinary to me, but I guess they know what they are talking about.

In an effort to make the contest a little more extraordinary I decided that the winner should have the best answer to this question:

“What’s the most interesting accidental way that you have met someone special in your life?”

It would be nice if this person became a love interest, but meeting a friend will do. It just needs to be an unusual meeting. Of course, I’m asking the question because it’s an unusual meeting that triggers the events of ‘Second-Story Man.’

Again, the reader with the most interesting answer will be the winner of the giveaway. I’ll be announcing the winner later on this morning.

I’ll be posting more about the book and answering your questions too. I’m here until 11AM Eastern Time. You’ll have to do the math to figure out what time that is where you live. Send me your comments, questions and answers.

Oh, and here are some links to my blog and my website:
Website: http://www.robertprowe.com/
Blog: http://artofrobertrowe.blogspot.com/

If you missed this Release Party contact me through my Contact page on my website. I’m always interested in your comments.

The stress of moving…. MOMENT OF CLARITY release party (post 3)

May 6, 2015

 

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The Moments In Time series features a couple in their early 20s and in the course of the three books one of the things they had to do several times was move—from their dorm to their summer residence on Fire Island, from Fire Island to one of the character’s brother’s house because their dorm room wasn’t ready, from the brother’s house to the dorm, from the dorm to an apartment. It’s been many years since my college days and until I wrote this book I’d forgotten how many times I moved house in my late teens and early 20s.

Moving is stressful. Putting your whole life in boxes. Remembering what you packed where. Physically packing, moving and unpacking. Waking up those first few nights exhausted and not entirely sure where you are. I don’t miss that! I’ve lived in my current house in New Hampshire for over a decade and that’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. I don’t miss moving at all!

Now the closest I get to having to pack up a zillion belongings is conference time. Right now I’m packing to attend the RT Convention in Dallas next week. (If any of you are going, please find me and say hello—I love meeting readers in person!)

In addition to the stress that moving puts on Collin and Tanner, several of the places they live in the beginning of MOMENT OF CLARITY are not places where they have any privacy. Collin’s brother has three young children, the friend they crash with has a roommate who’s up till all hours partying—they are both longing for time alone together.

Here’s an excerpt from the time that they’re living with Collin’s brother…

Between classes, my work at Gino’s, Tanner’s shifts at the bookstore, and commuting back and forth to Sean’s house, Tanner and I were busier than we’d ever been. I always knew it was more convenient to live on campus, but I had no idea what a hassle it was to make the added drive daily. By the time we got to Sean’s, had dinner, spent time with the girls, and did some studying, we were exhausted.

I hadn’t touched Tanner for yet another week, and I didn’t think I’d last the day without changing that. Tanner must have felt the same. I’d seen the looks he’d been throwing me, particularly the night before while we were watching a movie together, but I wasn’t about to do anything with Sean and the kids in the house. I didn’t care that the doors locked. It didn’t feel right. And I didn’t trust either of us to be quiet enough. Especially since it had been so long.

Sean handed me the last dirty dish to load into the dishwasher while Tanner put the juice and milk in the fridge.

“I’m gonna run to the grocery store while the kids are at preschool. Any requests?” Sean asked, grabbing his wallet off the counter and shoving it in his pocket.

“If you get a can of crushed tomatoes and some spaghetti, I’ll cook.”

“Thanks. The kids loved that the other night. Anything else?”

I tried to think but couldn’t. All that registered in my brain was that Sean was going out. Tanner and I would be alone in the house. My entire body was totally onboard with this thought.

“I think that’ll do it. Tanner, you need anything?”

Tanner looked up from wiping off the kitchen tables. His pupils were huge. I knew that look. I loved that look. He was thinking the same thing I was. I twitched with anticipation.

“I’m good,” Tanner said, tossing the rag on the counter.

“Okay, then.” Sean headed for the door. “It’s my turn to drive carpool home, so I’ll probably take the kids to Mickey D’s for happy meals. Lock up if you both leave, okay?”

“Sure.” My heart raced as I watched Sean trot down the back porch steps. I held my breath, listening as the car door slammed, the engine revved, and the tires crunched down the gravel driveway.

I turned to look at Tanner, but before I could even focus my eyes, he was on me. Hands on either side of my face, body pressed up against mine, lips prying mine open, tongue—oh, God, I’d missed that tongue—swirling in circles with mine.

Groaning, I grabbed him and tugged him closer. I needed to feel as much of him as possible. All of him. Immediately, if not sooner.

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For another chance to win an ebook from me, tell me how many times you’ve moved in your life or the longest you’ve lived in any one place. I’ll announce winners in the comment section of each post at midnight tonight (EDT).

Release Party MOMENT OF CLARITY (Book 3 of the Moments In Time series)!

May 6, 2015
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Hi Everyone! I’m Karen Stivali and I’m here today to celebrate the release of the third book in my Moments In Time series, MOMENT OF CLARITY.
If you’re new to the series, let me give you a brief summary. All three books in this series are about college roommates Collin and Tanner. Book one, MOMENT OF IMPACT, is a coming of age/coming out story where they realize that they’re both interested in each other as more than friends. Not everyone is accepting of this, so they leave their conservative college town behind and spend the summer waiting tables on Fire Island in book two, MOMENT OF TRUTH. The freedoms to be publicly “out” as a couple, without judment makes for a summer filled with fun and exploration, but trust and jealousy are issues they have to confront in order to stay together. When the summer ends, they return to college for their senior year in book three, MOMENT OF CLARITY. Being back in the conservative environment proves challenging in even more ways than they expected.
I know some readers worry that the books in a series will have cliffhanger endings. I assure you, that’s not the case with any of these stories. As a reader, I don’t like cliffhangers. As a writer, I choose to write romance because I’m all about the happy ending and I leave my characters in a good place at the end of every book.
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One thing has surprised me about readers of series, and that’s whether they read the books one at a time as they release, or wait until all the books are out and then binge read them. I guess I’m an old-fashioned girl. I’ve been an avid reader my whole life and I remember sometimes waiting a year or more for the next book from a favorite author. Even as recently as the Harry Potter books I remember pre-ordering the final volume and anxiously awaiting its delivery at my doorstep. It’s not that I like waiting—I don’t—but I love to read things as soon as they come out, even if that means a bit of anticipation and longing involved before I can get my hands on the next book. The same is true for TV viewing. If I find a show I like I’ll look forward to the weekly episode and axiously await the start of new season rather than skip the airing of the show and then Netflixing the whole season and watching it in a weekend.
What’s your reading or viewing style? Do you like to wait until you can read/see all the episodes at once? Or do you need to read/see things right away? Do you like the anticipation or need to know you can see what happens immediately? Tell me in the comments and I’ll choose a random winner (later tonight–I’ll be here until midnight EDT) to receive a free ebook!
(Sorry for the formatting errors. WordPress is giving me a hard time today! I’ll try to get it fixed by my next post!)

Release Party – MOMENT OF TRUTH – Part Three

March 5, 2015

Hi everyone, Karen Stivali here again to talk a little more about MOMENT OF TRUTH, Book Two of the Moments In Time series.

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In keeping with the themes from the Moments In Time series, I want to talk about summer jobs in college. I went to college at NYU in New York City and spent summers either there or at my parents’ house in New Jersey. I had so many jobs I can barely remember them all but I’ll list all the ones I can think of offhand:

waitress

wedding planner’s assistant

secretarial temp

hand drawn animator

espresso bar manager

script reader for an agent

receptionist

bartender

reader for the blind

teaching assistant

Several of those overlapped—I worked a lot. It’s expensive to live in New York City, nevermind the cost of tuition!

In MOMENT OF TRUTH Collin is working as a waiter at an upscale restaurant (he needs money badly as when he came out his mother stopped tuition payments and he’s got to make sure he has enough money to get through senior year) and Tanner is bartending at a trendy nightclub.

I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind having this young man as my waiter..

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And I definitely wouldn’t mind having this young man shake me up a cocktail or two…

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Do you have a preference for blonds or brunettes? Or are redheads your weakness? Or shaved heads? Or no preference at all as long as they’re (fill in the blank)?  Tell me below and I’ll choose another random winner to receive an ebook of their choice (winners announce later tonight on each post). Thanks for chatting with me and making my release party more interesting! I love learning things about my readers and their experiences.

Moment Of Truth Release Party – Part Two

March 5, 2015

LIFE’S A BEACH!

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Hello everyone, Karen Stivali, back again. I think the harshness of this winter has finally gotten to me (looking out my window in New Hampshire I see about five feet of snow on everything, and that’s after two days of thawing) so I’m going to talk about the location where MOMENT OF TRUTH takes place: Fire Island.

For those of you not familiar with the northeastern US, Fire Island runs parallel to New York’s Long Island and it’s a beautiful beachy paradise. There’s not much there other than tons of beaches, a few shops, some cool restaurants and night clubs, and miles of trails to walk or bike. No cars are allowed on the island so when you’re there you really feel like you’re away from it all. Like a summer vacation should make you feel!

For Collin and Tanner, spending the summer living on Fire Island not only means an escape from their conservative college town to a much more liberal environment where it safe for them to be “out” as a couple, it also means that Collin is free from the prying eyes of family. It’s like a fresh start for them as a couple. But, as with any summer, the time is limited, so the future—back at school—is always looming in the background.

That’s not to say Collin and Tanner don’t make the most of their summer. They do! From time on the beach to enjoying some of the local clubs and restaurants they definitely get the full vacation experience even though they’re both busy working (Collin as a waiter and Tanner as a bartender).

I’ve been to Fire Island a few times but the beach I visited most recently was Nantucket (pictured in the lovely sunset above and again here).

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I love the beach but I’m not a typical beach person. Too much sunlight makes me jittery and gives me a headache. My favorite time on the beach is sunset or later. I love strolling along the water or sitting on the sand and watching the waves roll in and out in the moonlight. It’s so peaceful and relaxing and beautiful.

My favorite beach is probably Ocean City, New Jersey because it’s the perfect old-fashioned (homemade fudge and donut shops, fresh salt water taffy, miles of boardwalk to bike or stroll) beach town but it’s close enough to Atlantic City that if you want something more lively it’s only a twenty minute drive away. I also love Narragansett, Rhode Island  and Nantucket because their beaches are covered in gorgeous polished stones that look more like river rocks than something you’d find on a beach. I can never leave without a heavy collection of them weighing down my beach bag!

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Are you a beach person? Do you have a favorite beach to visit? Would you rather live at the beach full time if you could, or do you prefer it as a special vacation getaway? Tell me in the comments below and again one random winner will be selected to win an ebook at the end of the day today!

Release Party MOMENT OF TRUTH (Book 2 of the Moments In Time series) – part one

March 5, 2015

 

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Hi everyone! I’m Karen Stivali and I’ll be here for the next few hours to talk about my brand new release MOMENT OF TRUTH!

 

I’m super excited about this release because MOMENT OF TRUTH is the second book in my Moments In Time series. I have absolutely loved every minute that I spent writing about Collin and Tanner, the two college students who experience all the ups and downs of first love together over the course of the three books in this series.  The first book in this series, MOMENT OF IMPACT (on sale this week for 99 cents!), is a coming of age/coming out story that shows how Tanner and Collin, college roommates, discover that they think of each other as a lot more than friends. Here’s the blurb:

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Outside Collin Fitzpatrick’s dorm room is a dangerous place. Beyond his door the students of his small, conservative college think he’s straight, as does his Catholic family who’d disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, he’s safe with his incredibly sexy roommate Tanner D’Amico. Their room makes a perfect place to hide away and fall in love. The moment they cross the line from roommates to lovers, Collin becomes caught between their heavenly passionate encounters and the hellish reality that someone might find out and destroy everything. Tanner’s not used to being so confined, and wants to show the world how much he loves Collin. But Collin’s not sure he’s ready for the impact stepping outside will make.

 

 

MOMENT OF TRUTH takes place a few months later, when Collin and Tanner decide to spend the summer together in the much more liberal and accepting environment of Fire Island.

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Collin expected to spend another summer fixing cars and working at the college pizzeria. Instead, he’s living in a beach house on Fire Island, waiting tables at a hip seaside restaurant and, for the first time since he and Tanner got together, they can publicly be known as boyfriends. Being “out” takes some getting used to, but with the help of new and old friends, Collin is happier than he ever imagined. And more in love. But newfound freedom brings unexpected challenges, and when friends get flirty, old insecurities arise. Moments of doubt and jealousy threaten their happiness, and Collin and Tanner must confront the truth or risk losing it all.

 

 

This is definitely a series that’s best read in order because each book is a complete story that takes place at very different times in their relationship. There are no cliffhanger endings (I can’t stand them as a reader, so I’d never write one—I promise!), just an opportunity to watch their relationship evolve as these two young men are confronted by a variety of life’s trials.

I don’t usually title my books until I’m well into writing the story. At some point while I’m writing I’ll think of something that just “fits” and that’s never been more the case than in the series. While writing the first book it occured to me how many specific moments there were in the story where Collin, the point-of-view character, had his life completely change. You know the kind of moments I mean. The ones where you look back on a memory and you realize that there was a specific second where something happened that altered everything that happened after it. Collin has several moments like that in book one, several experiences where the IMPACT of that one MOMENT changes everything. Hence the title MOMENT OF IMPACT.

When I decided to write more of Collin and Tanner’s story, I focused on what the defining moments would be in each phase of their relationship and that’s how the other titles were born. I loved finding the different pieces of their lives that would be so life-altering and would change them as individuals and as a couple. There are several MOMENTS OF TRUTH in book two as this couple grows and matures.

So now it’s time for my question to you. What were some of the most defining moments in time in your life? The realization you were in love with someone? The decision of where to go to college? A mean thing you said and couldn’t take back? A good choice? A bad one? A freak accident? Tell me one of your most memorable moments in the comments below and I’ll choose a random winner (at the end of the day) to win an e-copy of MOMENT OF IMPACT (and if you already have that, then it’ll be your choice of my other titles).

MOMENT OF IMPACT release day party – post 4

January 7, 2015

It’s Karen Stivali, one last time for the day! I’d like to thank everyone who has stopped by and commented and helped me celebrate the release of my New Adult novel MOMENT OF IMPACT.

If  you’ve missed any of the earlier posts, please scroll back to find an excerpt, some teasers and some info about me. Also please leave a comment  (on any of the posts) to be entered in a drawing to win a Warwick Rowers 2015 Calendar! (I’ll announce the winner in the comment section on this post on January 8 at noon EST). 

I’d like to leave you all with one final teaser for MOMENT IF IMPACT. Earlier I talked about how first kisses are my favorite thing to write. This clip kinda shows that I like to write second kisses almost as much. Okay…maybe just as much. *cheers*

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MOMENT OF IMPACT release day party – post 3

January 7, 2015

Hello, Karen Stivali still here for the day, celebrating the release of MOMENT OF IMPACT the first book in my New Adult series Moments In Time.

I mentioned how much I adore the handsome model who graces the cover of MOMENT OF IMPACT. Here are some more beautiful shots of him with some teasers from the book. If you haven’t checked out the two earlier posts today, please do—and leave comments on any of them to be entered into the contest for a chance to win a Warwick Rowers 2015 Calendar!

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I just love the way his eyes sparkle. He’s the perfect Collin.

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MOMENT OF IMPACT release day party – post 2

January 7, 2015

Hello all! It’s Karen Stivali, here to tell you some more about my brand new release MOMENT OF IMPACT, the first book in my New Adult series Moments In Time.  If you missed the first post of the release party, please scroll back or click the title so you can see more info about the book.

In keeping with the theme of firsts I’m going to talk about my own favorite first—first kisses. Not only are first kisses among my favorite personal memories, they’re my very favorite scenes to write in every single book. I love the build up, the sexual tension, the OMG-is-this-really-happening feeling. *sigh*

There are a lot of “firsts” in MOMENT OF IMPACT but I’m going to give you all a peek at the ever important First Kiss…

EXCERPT:

Don’t blow this. Not now. Not when he’s right here. So close. So… Forcing myself to move, I reached out and clutched at his shoulder. His skin was smooth, warm. I pressed my fingers into his flesh with enough force, he flinched. His gaze darted to mine, wary.

Swallowing hard, I willed myself to maintain eye contact. “I didn’t think I wanted that, until I met you.”

Tanner’s gaze raced back and forth between my hand, which was still gripping his shoulder, and my eyes, which felt like they were about to bulge out of my skull. I couldn’t blink. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. Do something. Say something.

Then his mouth crashed into mine.

I like kissing. I always have. Even though I wasn’t super into any of the girls I’d been with, kissing was the one thing I still enjoyed. Warm mouths, wet tongues, moving together. It felt good. I seriously thought I’d done some decent kissing in my life.

I was wrong. Tanner’s mouth on mine for one fucking second proved to me that what I’d done before might have looked like kissing, might have felt like kissing, but was like the frozen french  bread pizza version of kissing. Nothing like the real thing.

Nothing like this.

His tongue swept into my mouth, hot and velvety. His hand gripped the back of my neck, tugging me upright. Everything fell away. Disappeared. The whole world was this one kiss. I could have drowned in it and died happy.

Tanner pulled away, breathing hard, his forehead pressed to mine. The room spun like a carnival ride.

“You okay?”

His voice sounded lower than usual. Deep and gravelly. I gave a shaky nod, and he tipped his head back, looking at me.

“You sure?”

“Yeah.” My heart beat double time as I realized he still had his hands on me. And he was still naked. And I was probably harder than I’d ever been in my entire life. Jesus.

“We can stop.”

“No.” That wasn’t what I wanted. Not at all. “I just… I mean… we’re roommates. What if this doesn’t work out?”

Tanner’s lips pulled into a grin so sexy my brain turned to oatmeal. He rubbed the back of my neck. “So, one kiss and you’re already thinking about what happens if we break up?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know.”

“Let’s see how we feel after another kiss.”

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Take a moment to leave me a comment and tell me: Where did your all-time best first kiss take place? 

Each comment will give you one entry in a giveaway for a Warwick Rowers 2015 calendar (more details in previous post).

Stay tuned for more posts…in the meantime come follow or chat with me on Twitter or Facebook!