Exclusive Excerpt from For the Win
by S.M. James
As much as I don’t want to, I’m going to have to wrap up our non-date pretty soon. “Well you don’t have a whole lot of time left,” I tell Darien.
“Why? Are you leaving?”
“Probably an hour or so.”
“But why? This holiday party goes most of the night.”
“Yeah I know. I … just have to.” I expect him to question me on it, to push. There’s no way that reasoning is even close to being enough.
Darien huffs out a breath. “Okay, better speed non-date, then.”
“What do you mean?”
He drags me from area to area, firing off questions like, “favorite color”, and “guilty pleasures”?
I learn his favorite color is orange, he’s Macedonian Orthodox, and he’s moved four times so far because his dad works for some kind of insurance firm.
“So when you’re not homeschooling, or being Picasso, what do you do with your spare time?” Darien asks. He pulls me out of the main room and into a smaller one, leading the way to a balcony where it’s so cold there’s only a few other people there. Darien falls back into the wall and slides down to sit on the cement. One of his eyebrows pulls up as he pats the ground next to him.
“Wouldn’t you rather be inside where it’s warm?”
“Nope. Too noisy.”
I sigh and sit down, probably too close, but damn it’s cold.
And I really like being near him.
“So …?” he prompts.
“Oh, umm … not a whole lot. I play guitar.”
“Nope. I’ve got the calluses to prove it.”
He takes advantage of the situation to grab my hand and turn it over. His thumb runs over my fingertip and I jerk away. “Hey, don’t forget rules. No hand holding, remember?”
“Technically it’s not holding hands if I’m holding yours, but you’re not holding mine.”
“That sounds like a very loose loophole.” I want him to find more like that.
“What can I say …” he starts, taking hold of my hand again. “I’m king of semantics.”
I don’t move away again because it feels nice. The warmth of his palm on the back of my hand, the grip of his fingers threaded between mine. I’m so focused on how our skin tones look against each other that I barely notice him lean in.
“So … we never discussed whether I could put my arm around you.” He doesn’t wait for me to answer as he slides his arm between my back and the wall. “So I’m assuming it’s okay. We’re just two buddies, keeping each other warm …”
His face is so close I could count every one of those long, dark eyelashes. I swallow. “Well … it is really cold, after all.”
“Happy to be of service.” His dark lips peel back from his teeth in a cheeky way and his arm tightens around my waist, pulling me tight against his side. “But remember, Brooks, no kissing.”
The word makes me want it so bad. I shake my head. “No kissing.” My face is freezing in the crisp wind.
“You should probably stop looking at my lips then,” Darien says.
“Actually, you just had something in your teeth.”
“And you should probably stop shivering against me.”
“It’s really damn cold, Darien.”
“You could also try to be a little less cute.”
“What can I say? Christmas sweaters are irresistible.”
Darien leans in and my stomach jumps, sure he’s about to kiss me. I can already feel it.
The brush of his lips.
The heat of his breath.
The complete break down of my self-control.
But instead, Darien’s mouth misses mine and he lightly drags his nose over my cheek. “Your face is all pink and cold.”
“You never said this was against the rules,” he whispered, lips brushing the skin near my ear with each word.
I’m struggling to breathe. “I don’t think buddies touch like this.”
“Well we’ve already established neither of us has any friends, so how would we know?”
I groan but it gets caught on a cough that’s a little more forceful this time. Rough and loud and deep, I can’t hold this one back. “I really have to go back inside.”
Darien pulls back, eyebrows knit together. He hesitates a second before nodding slowly. “Yeah, I’m getting pretty cold too.”
But even back inside, without his hand on mine or my body next to his, I feel colder than ever.
About The #lovehim Series Box Set
Six stories. Three couples. One perfect kind of love.
Read the first three books in the #lovehim series and their short stories.
That Feeling When
A summer camp romance where a bi actor and a closeted ballet dancer are blackmailed into keeping their relationship a secret.
No Big Deal
In the meet cute to To Be Honest, Angus finally gets a roommate … and a big, fat crush.
To Be Honest
Angus and his adorkable roommate Tyler, embark on a cross country road trip to confront Angus’s catfisher.
For The Win
The meet cute for In Case You Missed It, Brooks agrees to one non-date with Darien because they’ll never see each other again … right?
In Case You Missed It
Love is supposed to be simple, but Brook’s secret will put their relationship to the test.
PLUS A BONUS NOVELLA NOT YET RELEASED
In Real Life
The sequel to That Feeling When, where Archie and Landon visit Australia and try to make their relationship work amidst judgmental family and pushy exes.
Available at: Amazon
About S.M. James
S.M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.
While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.
Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.
As part of this blog tour, S.M. is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card or one of two eBooks of the box set!! To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway unless otherwise stated but are still welcome anyway.