Posts Tagged With: JMS Books

Public Enemy, Undercover Lover by Amanda Meuwissen: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Public Enemy, Undercover Lover

by Amanda Meuwissen

“Nothing to pique your interest?” the officer beside him whispered.

That voice was familiar, but when Andrew looked, the officer still had his hat tipped too low to recognize him. “I’ve just been over all this already. I’m Andrew Wen, Detective Wen’s brother.” He extended his hand. “Unless we’ve met before?”

“Oh,” the man grasped Andrew’s hand firmly and tilted his head up just enough to reveal Isaac Ford’s smirking face, “I think we’re well acquainted.”

“Ford?!” Andrew hissed, trying to tug his hand away, but Ford released him slowly, dragging his fingers across Andrew’s palm. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Even with the hat on, the memories of Ford’s prim white-blond hair made Andrew self-consciously run a hand back through his. He wished he could just be annoyed with Ford instead of finding him so attractive. He was tall, thin but well-muscled, with intense blue eyes, and a flawless face, ageless and beautiful like some ethereal elf.

An elf who’d had Andrew’s cock in his mouth…

“Shh.” Ford brought a finger to his lips. “Wouldn’t want to draw any attention.”

They hadn’t seen each other since Christmas, but Andrew had certainly felt Ford’s presence after he turned his freedom into starting a profession copying exactly what Andrew was trying to do! “Give me one good reason not to out you for impersonating an officer.”

“Oh, Andrew, I’ve been out for ages.” Ford grinned.

“What do you want?”

“Same thing you do—to catch our wayward thief so this doesn’t get out of hand and put either of us out of business.”

“How did you even hear about this? They’ve been keeping it out of the press.”

“How did you find out?” Ford turned back to the presentation. “Oh, right. Brother dearest.”

Catching Steven shooting him a glare, Andrew dropped his voice lower. “I’m sure my brother will be interested to know Artifice stopped by.”

“No need for threats. We’re on the same side, and the police are stumped. Five businesses have been hit in the past month, and unless something gives, it’s only going to get worse.”

“For all I know, you’re the thief again, and you just want their list of suspects.”

“Please, that would hardly be fun anymore without you on the force.”

Andrew flushed. He hated how easily Ford did that to him. “Aren’t you busy with the last job you poached from me?”

“The benefits of having more than one field agent means I can take on multiple cases.”

Andrew didn’t want another field agent. He just wanted to do something for himself. He almost hadn’t hired the two people who did work for him, Candace and his friend and tech guru, Kevin Lopez.

“Why did you have to choose security?” he lamented.

“What else would I be good at?”

Turning his head, Andrew thought Ford’s expression seemed oddly serious. “I should cry wolf…”

“No professional courtesy?”

“Fuck you.”

Ford slid his eyes over Andrew slyly. “Again? Would that seal your lips?”

Andrew felt his cheeks darken further. He hadn’t wanted to give in that night at Christmas. He’d never taken Ford’s advances seriously before, but when presented with the option on one of his worst nights in recent memory, and with just the right amount of wine to tip his judgment, he’d taken his anger out on a willing participant—and loved it.

He hated how much he’d loved it.

“You seem tense,” Ford said.

“Can’t imagine why.”

“We’re in the back, Andrew. Alone. In the dark. At a table that can easily conceal any dirty deeds we do. Think anyone would notice if I slipped my hand down your pants?”

Andrew honestly didn’t know how he kept from yelping as Ford’s palm slid across his knee. “Tell me you’re joking.”

“Do you want me to be joking?”

“I…” Andrew’s brain took a moment to reboot. “Wait.” He clamped his hand down on Ford’s, already halfway between his thighs in the time he’d taken to respond. “You’re serious?”

Ford licked his lips. “I hadn’t planned a revisit to our Christmas cheer, but this is a rife opportunity. How much longer will your brother be?”

“F-fifteen minutes?”

“Think you’ll last that long?”

Doubtful. Andrew could already feel himself hardening at the thought of what Ford was offering, from the way he looked at him, the low husk of his voice, his fingers digging into Andrew’s thigh, and then sliding further between his legs.

From the memories of rutting on that sofa and wrapping his hand around Ford’s throat.

“Let’s see how long you do last,” Ford purred and reached both hands over to undo Andrew’s pants, letting one slide in to grip him through his boxers.

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Always You by Nell Iris: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Always You

by Nell Iris

I stiffen, waiting for Lee to say something, but he doesn’t. He pads across the floor and then my mattress dips and he shuffles close. Close enough for me to feel his warmth through the sheet but not enough for our bodies to touch. Carefully, he pulls down the cover from my head.

“You’re going to suffocate under there,” he murmurs and presses his palm against my back, right between my shoulder blades.

We lie in silence for a while. The sounds of his breath and the warmth of his hand relaxes me for the first time since yesterday and I sink into the mattress, reveling in the fact that the quiet between us is as comfortable as ever despite the awkward conversation we just suffered through.

“I forgot to ask if you’re okay,” I whisper after several minutes. “About Debora, I mean. I didn’t mean to rant at you like that. I’m sorry. I’m a terrible friend.”

“Shut up,” he says without heat. “You’re not a terrible friend. You were busy looking out for me, just like you always are.”

“I just—” A light pat on my back stops my words.

“Let me talk, please?”

I hum my agreement.

“To answer your question first: yes, I’m okay. I should have ended things between us a long time ago, but I got comfortable. And she’s a nice person. Funny to hang out with. So I thought, ‘so what if I’m not head over heels?’ I’ve never been anyway. But yeah. She saved me the trouble of ending it. I was relieved.” He scoots a little closer and moves his hand from my back to my upper arm, giving it a squeeze. “It was the reason she ended it that shook me.”

“I understand. Being told you’re gay and that your best friend has feelings for you must be a shock.”

“Yes. But not for the reasons you think. Only because I didn’t think you want a relationship.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Every time I asked why you’re single, why you never have a boyfriend, you were adamant you didn’t want a relationship. That you liked being by yourself and able to do what you want.”

What was I supposed to say? I don’t want a boyfriend because it can’t be you? I don’t think so. “Yeah,” I say.

“But that’s not the real reason, is it?”

My throat is dry and I’m certain I won’t be able to produce a sound, so I shake my head.

He hums and scoots even closer to me, his chest brushing against my back, his body curling around mine without really touching, his hand sliding down to my waist, and then coming to rest on my belly. He’s so warm; he’s leaving little trails of fire in his wake, even through layers of clothing and bed linen, and I gasp.

“What are you doing, Lee?”

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Late Night Poetry by Nell Iris: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Late Night Poetry

by Nell Iris

Thursday, November 5, 1990. 06:14 PM

“I thought about you today. When it snowed. About how much you love the snow. I wondered if you tried making snowballs, even though the snow was too loose. And if you made a cup of hot cocoa afterward. Then I saw the weather report and they said it will be warmer tomorrow and the snow will melt, and I know you’ll be so disappointed. I’ve never met anyone who loves snow as much as you do.”—Throat clearing to cover the crack in his voice—“I got a library card yesterday. I checked out a couple poetry books. Can you imagine what my dad would say if he knew? ‘Don’t read that shit, Lou. It’s for sissys and fags.’”—disgusted snort—“Anyway. I wanted to read something to you. Are you ready? ‘When we two parted, In silence and tears, Half broken-hearted, To sever for years, Pale grew thy cheek and cold, Colder thy kiss; Truly that hour foretold, Sorrow to this.’ I probably didn’t read that very well.”—Long silence broken by the roar of a passing truck in the distance—“Take care.” 

I don’t listen to his message again but I don’t delete it either. Instead, I walk over to the window and look out at the snow still glistening on the trees and shrubbery on the street outside my apartment building. I shove my hands into my pockets and lean my forehead against the cold glass, letting my long curls fall across my face, hiding me from the outside world, wishing the chill penetrating from outside was enough to freeze all the memories of him out of my head.

Our first date-that-wasn’t-officially-labeled-a-date was on a snowy December day almost two years ago, when he laughed at what he called was my child-like enjoyment of the snow slowly sailing from the sky. We strolled side by side—at a respectable distance so anyone watching us would think we were just two friends hanging out—through the Christmas market, me carrying a steaming cup of hot chocolate and him sipping from a mug of coffee that smelled so bitter even at a distance I almost grew hair on my chest. 

Our walk was littered with awkward silences and sideways glances at each other. It was the first time we hung out alone—we’d only seen each other in the company of others, his friend Bill knew my friend Lyle—and even though neither of us had said the d-word out loud, we both knew this was more than a friendly outing. 

He was so handsome that day, in faded black jeans, a denim jacket that accentuated his broad shoulders and that looked far too cold for the weather. His usually wild, wavy brown hair was flattened by his hat and he wore a gray scarf around his neck, pulled up to the bright red tip of his nose. His blue eyes glittered more brightly than the cloudless winter day, and two red spots glowed high on his cheeks. I still don’t know if it was due to the brisk, nippy air or the fact that it was his first date-not-a-date with a man. 

He wasn’t out—hence the respectable distance between us—but he told me his dream was to be able to be open about himself one day. I understood his reluctance—still do—because it’s not easy being out. Not even in our fairly liberal town. 

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Ted of the d’Urbervilles by Rob Rosen: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Ted of the d’Urbervilles

by Rob Rosen

I crawled through the busted-out window of the deserted house, catching my foot on the jagged sill. In I tumbled, landing with a dull thud and a loud oomph on the junk-ridden floor. Sighing as I righted myself, I managed a “Ta da,” if only for the benefit of the scampering roaches and other assorted vermin I shared my home with—home of course being such a subjective word. Hovel was more appropriate. Dump, yes; dump definitely would’ve worked, too. Hey, let’s also throw in some nifty adjectives here, just to better paint the picture: ramshackle, bleak, moldy, and, um, demolishable. Not that the last one was a word, but this wasn’t a home either, at least not mine, at least not legally, so we’ll go with it.

All that is to say…“My name is Ted d’Urbervilles and I am a squatter.” A mosquito admired my candor as he also admired my jugular. I swatted it away as I hopped up and dusted myself off. I would’ve taken a shower, but the shack—yeah, shack would’ve worked, too—didn’t have running water. Running mice, sure, but water, not so much. Dripping water, but only when it rained. As for electricity, well, at least I could plug my iPad into the wall at the nearby gas station. FYI, I found said device. FYI, I found it sitting on a table at Starbucks. Finders keepers, losers can go buy another fucking iPad. Last FYI, for now, I also showered at the gas station. Or at least sinkered. Which was also not a word so much as a way of life, what with my life being quite, uh, sunk.

By some sort of miracle akin to Moses’s parting the waters—had the hovel/dump/shack had any water, when it didn’t rain, that is—the place did have an Internet connection. Sort of. That is to say, somewhere within some sort of radius of me and my vermin friends there was a person with an Internet connection and a password that was indeed password. Ergo, I had Internet because the nearby he or she was a moron.

So, there I stood, iPad on the counter, the only light that of the screen, illuminating my face as I perused. Porn. Because when you’re dead broke and sucking on a McDonald’s ketchup packet as a midday snack, porn is pretty much the only thing that gets a guy through the day. And night. And, uh, morning. Porn and ketchup. That’s what my life had become. Me and the mice. I wondered if mice liked gay porn. I’d have to ask them. They tended to come out at night, just after I’d come at night and had then huddled myself in a corner.

God, I wished for a fucking break. Or some bread to spread the ketchup on. Or for a blanket, as the corner was rather drafty. Or for a roof that didn’t leak. Hey, even the Internet was spotty, but wasn’t that par for my fucking course? Par and birdie and eagle. Heck, it was a hole in one, and holes I had plenty of: in the roof, in the walls, in the floor, in my ramshackle, demolishable life. Yeah, that last one especially.


I craned my neck up from the drafty, dusty corner. “Ding?” I again hopped up. My ears went left to right and back again. Where had the ding come from? As my ears came to a standstill, my eyes landed on my still glowing iPad. It had been on when I found it. I’d quickly changed the settings so it wouldn’t turn off. So long as it had power, I didn’t need the password.

I walked to the glowing device, my nightlight, my connection to a world I no longer seemed to inhabit. Poverty, as it turns out, tends to relegate you to the seedy recesses of the world. I glanced at my surroundings. “Seedy,” I lamented. I then glanced at the iPad. I’d checked my Gmail earlier. There had been nothing but spam. Numerous people offered me ways to break my timesharing lease. Seemed to me, I was already on borrowed time, which was far more sad than ironic. In any case, I now had a real email, my first in longer than I could remember.

I had no family. My friends had vanished just as my money had. That was also more sad than ironic. Still, I checked my Gmail when I could, if only for consistency’s sake. And now I had an email from one Maximillian Ditmore, Esquire. Maximillian didn’t write for the magazine, namely said Esquire, but he did practice law. Turned out, my cousin Mortimore had died. Turned out, I had a cousin Mortimore. I didn’t know what to be more astonished by, that I had a cousin or that someone could name a child Mortimore. I read further. Didn’t take me long. There was to be a reading of the will, and that was about all Maximillian had to say.

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, LGBT, Published in 2020 | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Release Blitz: Four Christmases by Nell Iris + Giveaway!

Four Christmases by Nell Iris

Will a decade-old family feud and long held secrets stand in the way of love?

Auden Whipple is searching for a bit of peace and quiet from his loud family when he stumbles across the neighbor, Porter Eldin. Porter is scorching hot on a freezing Christmas Day, and nothing like Auden expected. A moment shared by the creek begins a relationship that surprises them both. 

As the Christmases pass, Auden and Porter’s relationship deepens. But the obstacle of the unresolved conflict between the Whipples and the Eldins makes Auden worried. Worried to tell his family of his new-found love, worried that the conflict will come between them.

Can two men truly in love help mend fences that have been broken for too long? Can the holiday spirit help Auden and Porter find their happily ever after?

Available at: Amazon

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Book Review: But by the Grace of Dog by A.F. Henley

Reviewed by Nikyta

Title: But by the Grace of Dog
Author: A.F. Henley
Series: Four-Legged Friends #1
Heroes: Thom & Justin
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 145 pages
Publisher: JMS Books
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Available at: JMS Books & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: Thom Baron has been struggling with social anxiety his entire life. He’s taken the medications, gone to the therapists, followed the programs, and concluded his best life is a solitary one. When he comes across a dog in obvious need at his local market, it rekindles the desire to have some company around. It may come with a dishevelled coat, a notched ear, and a refusal to respond to anything but its given name “Ugly,” but it could still be a friend.

However, Thom’s new fur buddy has no such need to keep to itself and immediately befriends the man Thom has secretly coveted since he moved in — Justin, Thom’s gorgeous, bright-eyed neighbour. No matter how Thom tries to evade the man, the dog keeps drawing them back into each other’s lives, and it doesn’t take Thom long to recognize it’s simply pursuing the demands of Thom’s own heart. With the dog giving him the courage to try, Thom reaches out to return the love being offered.

Until a stranger shows up insisting the dog is his and demanding its immediate return … a loss Thom knows will take all of his efforts and newfound confidence with it.
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Categories: 4.5 Star Ratings, Book Review, LGBT, Nikyta's Reviews, Published in 2019 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Release Blitz: Love or the NFL by Terry O’Reilly + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Love or the NFL by Terry O’Reilly

Gymnast Frank Bethune arrives on campus already enamored with the star tight end, Bill Billingsly. Although the chances of them meeting are slim, fate draws them together, and their friendship turns to love.

Ever since childhood, Bill has dreamed of playing professional football. Though high risk to his potential career, Bill would seek out clandestine encounters with other guys when and where he could, but the first time he spots Frank, Bill knows he is someone special, someone he could possibly share a life with. If he’s drafted, will Bill and Frank be able to continue their closeted relationship, running the risk of discovery? Or will they have to part company for the sake of Bill living out his dream?

Bill knows he’ll need to use all his considerable skills learned on the field to score the life he wants off of it, too. Either way, is happiness even possible when it’s the NFL vs. love?

Available at: Amazon

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Book Review: 9 Willow Street by Nell Iris

Reviewed by Nikyta

Title: 9 Willow Street
Author: Nell Iris
Heroes: Hannes & Mattis
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Length: 95 pages
Publisher: JMS Books
Release Date: July 6, 2019
Available at: JMS Books & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: Heartbroken after the death of his beloved Nana, Hannes, the family outsider, finally allows himself to grieve. The legal battle over Nana’s quirky old house — the only place he’s ever felt accepted and loved — is over, and he moves in and finds a sense of peace.

… And a rabbit.

An adorable bunny with a huge personality moves in, too, and refuses to leave. Hannes instantly falls in love with the sweet animal who helps heal his heart. But one morning, Hannes’ view of the world changes when the rabbit transforms into a man. A man named Mattis.

After the initial shock, Hannes and Mattis discover a connection between them that runs deeper than it seems. Will their newfound feelings survive unraveling secrets and meddling families, and grow into something real? Something deep and everlasting? Continue reading

Categories: 3.5 Star Ratings, Book Review, LGBT, Nikyta's Reviews, Published in 2019 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: His Steady Heart by Nell Iris

Reviewed by Nikyta

Title: His Steady Heart
Author: Nell Iris
Heroes: Buck & Pippin
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 86 pages
Publisher: JMS Books
Release Date: May 25, 2019
Available at: JMS Books & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: Ashley “Buck” Buchanan moved back home to take care of his sick mother when he was 22. That was the first time he met Pippin, the neglected 6-year-old boy next door. Fifteen years later, Buck, a caretaker by nature, offers up his couch for Pippin, who needs a break from his mom and a quiet place to sleep.

Pippin Olander is a ray of sunshine despite his emotionally lacking upbringing and works hard to make a better life for himself. Even though he’s fiercely self-sufficient, he learns to accept help from Buck, his rock and the only steady presence in his life.

Their friendship deepens and grows into something more as they spend time together. But when other people try to throw a wrench in the works, when Pippin’s independence is triggered, can Buck and Pippin trust in the love they’ve found?
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Categories: 5 Star Ratings, Book Review, LGBT, Nikyta's Reviews, Published in 2019 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Under the Jasmine Flowers by W.S. Long: Exclusive Excerpt!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Under the Jasmine Flowers

by W.S. Long

A very attractive hostess wearing a red ao dai greeted them. “Mr. Arias, thank you for joining us tonight. I’ll let Mr. Chan know you are here. Let me show you and your friends inside.” 

“Thanks!” Jojo answered. He stepped aside allowing Adam and his friends to be ushered in the monstrous space of what was probably the most exclusive dance club in Manila. Their necks craned, and one of them had his mouth open as he eyed the three floors of the club. 

“Wow, I’ve heard about this place!” Nate shouted. Jojo was about to respond but was cut off by Nate. “Shit, it’s true, they have midget boxing!” Nate brushed past the hostess and the other Marines followed, including Adam, leaving the hostess to stand there unsure of what to do.

“It’s okay,” Jojo said, reassuring her that she had done nothing wrong. “They’ll find the away around.”

“Thank you, sir. Mr. Chan is on the second floor.” She dutifully went back to the host stand.

Jojo moved through the boisterous crowd. Here twentysomethings gathered to party. Single, and untethered from vows of matrimony, they partied as if their last days of freedom were about to end and the family pressure to marry into a good family, raise kids, and help with the family business or family fortune was about to catch up with them. Many of the partiers here were from Manila’s small upper middle class, who had to pay a large fee to join the club, and after passing background checks, happily paid their annual dues to be free from the pressures of life. Even though he could easily afford the fee and the dues, Jojo and his cousins always had a free pass. Jojo surmised that Tiny didn’t charge the cousins so could keep up with family gossip and when it suited him, to help stir the pot when it helped him or the Chan branch of the family. 

The velvet rope that blocked the stairs to the second floor came off when the security guard, this one dressed in a black tux, recognized Jojo. Jojo took the stairs only to be greeted by a shriek before he reached the final step. 

“Oh my God, it’s Saint Jojo, come to mingle with the natives!” There was no one behind Tiny when he said this but a couple of blonde models, sipping champagne and another security guard in a tux off to the side. “Ito ang aking pinsan!” he shouted. 

Jojo rolled his eyes. He didn’t know why Tiny was announcing they were cousins to no one, but he hugged Tiny anyway. Sanguinely, Actinious Chan, known to everyone as Tiny, or Tin-tin, was a distant cousin on his father’s side, but in the Philippines, there was no such thing as distant cousins. Once a cousin, always a cousin. The Chans had come from Mainland China around the 1800s, and opened shops on Manila Bay. First, they’d sold yarn and fabric, then they’d opened up a dress shop, then after the Spanish-American War when the Philippines had become a territory of the U.S., they’d supplied clothing accessories, dry cleaning, and tailoring services to the U.S. military, even opening a larger shop in Subic Bay where the fleet was based. Their shop in Manila had become well known, and soon they’d expanded into a department store, then two department stores in Manila, and then one in Cebu City the next largest city. 

When the Japanese came and occupied the Philippines, they’d remained open only because they’d kow-towed to the Japanese while the rest of the Garcia Arias had fled the country for Australia or the U.S. since Spain hadn’t been an option due to Francisco Franco. 

Jojo’s great-grandfather had married a Chan in an arranged marriage between families before the Second World War. The family legend was that although they didn’t know each other very well, they’d come to love each other. There was even a picture of Lolo José, his great grandfather, and Lola Liu, his great grandmother, in the study at his parents’ home. That oil painting was one of the few things to survive the fire that razed his great grandparents’ home, during the first wave of Japanese bombings of Manila, hours after Pearl Harbor. In the picture, both Lolo Joséand Lola Liu were smiling enough so maybe the family story had some truth in it. 

“So what brings the crown jewel of the Arias family to my lowly den of iniquity?” Tiny asked. 

Jojo stifled a laugh. He loved his cousin dearly, and sometimes Tiny’s dramatic flair made him chortle. It didn’t seem to faze Tiny that Jojo deferred on making a decision on a loan to Tiny’s club until his father returned. Tiny’s joking sometimes made him so mad though he wanted to yell at him. He knew he couldn’t ignore Tiny too long because Tiny was a persistent fellow. Even standing here in a bright silk smoking jacket with red velvet oversized collars, holding a long cigarette holder that had no cigarette, he knew Tiny would want an answer or he would do something that Jojo dreaded—Tiny launching a litany of texts to their mutual cousins to stir the pot and cause mischief. 

“I already know about Lani. I’m surprised you stayed together for so long. I’m guessing you only kept that relationship because your parents approved of her.”

Jojo’s mouth dropped. “How’d you know?” As he spoke, Tiny brought out his gold-cased iPhone. Jojo hung his head low. “Oh. I should have known.”

“Lani is good friends with cousin Elizabeth Mercado. You know the Tang Mercados?”

Jojo knew that Tiny knew that Jojo knew the Tang Mercados. They were his cousins through a marriage on his great-grandmother’s side. “Of course I know.” Playing this game drove Jojo crazy. It had driven him crazy when Tiny played this game of I-know-our-family-better-than-you-do when they were in school at Ateneo and it drove him bonkers now. 

“So Lizzybet, you know, Elizabeth, texted everyone. So pretty soon your mom will know, then your father will know.”

“And then the gossip pages of the Philippine Herald will know,” Jojo sighed. But if he had to be honest, he preferred the press than his disapproving parents. It wasn’t what they would say, but how they non-verbally expressed their disapproval that their son, who was nearing thirty, was still unmarried. The gossip that their only surviving son sometimes played for his own team had followed him from CalPoly back to the Philippines, and if there was anything that his parents hated more than losing money, it was losing face because their son was bakla.If Jojo’s older brother had survived cancer, Jojo probably could have lived under the radar, here in the Philippines, in Spain, or back in the states. But the family’s loss of Julius, his older brother, four years ago to a rare bone cancer had changed things. 

“People were taking bets how long before you the wedding of the year was going to take place, that’s what yours would have been. Other notable families would have moved their weddings to avoid competing with yours and Lani’s. But that’s over now. Maybe at this moment, you can consider the possibilities and just follow your heart.”

“Follow my heart? Is that possible? Your mother accepts you, but my mother still hasn’t invited you to the annual Christmas party since you unfurled your flag.”

Tiny laughed. “Are you sure that they’re not waiting for you to come out of the closet. Paglaladlad ng kappa. When are you going to unfurl your cape? If you came out, I wouldn’t be so alone. We could go bar hopping and pick up boys. Think of all the fun we would have, like we used to when I visited you at San Luis Obispo.”

“That was a long time ago, when Julius was alive.”

“Julius knew about you and didn’t care. Didn’t he tell you stay in California, live your life? You could have stayed at your dead-end, boring job at that engineering firm where everyone had pocket protectors. As much as I know you were bored, and one step away from the Asian bowl cut, you were happy and bored. Here you are now, miserable and bored, and your parents, God bless them, guilted you in staying in that relationship with Lani. If Julius could see you now.”

Thinking about Julius pained Jojo. “I really don’t want to talk about Julius right now. Not here.”

“Fine. Then tell me why you brought those military boys with you? Why did you invite them? There must have been something to drive you to be unusually social towards them. You’ve become the most private, practically most reclusive man in Manila since you came back from the states, since Julius died, and you hardly do anything social. Not the charity functions, nothing. Sure, when your mother forces you to do something, then we’ll see you at family events. Even then, it’s like we all smell like dead fish to you. You used to love hanging out with all of us. You used to be the happiest, easiest going of all the Arias’ family. Now, not so happy. Now all we hear is you work sixty to eighty hours a week. We are Filipinos, not Koreans, man. Work is not our life. It’s family, food, and fun.”

Jojo reeled from the emotional punch to his gut, and stepped one foot away from his cousin. “I know I haven’t been the same since Julius, since CalPoly. I have to take over the business some day. I have a lot of catching up to do. I never paid attention to any of it growing up.”

“Yes, someday you can run Garcia Arias Holdings, and you can find out how many tentacles your family has all over Asia, Australia, Arabia, and the states involving real estate, building projects, export and imports. Maybe, just maybe you’ll get to do that. And maybe you can have help so you’re not all alone in this. You have a sister who wants be there right with you. But your own family is shutting her out.”

“She needs to stay in school in London. Enjoy her life.”

“Wow, you have just become Julius,” Tiny said. “I loved Julius, just like everyone else, but Julius was a stick in the mud. You are no Julius.”

Jojo’s cheeks flushed, and his heartbeat quickened. “I’ll forgive you that comment, pinsan.”

“It wasn’t meant as an insult. Come here closer to the railing, take a look at the main floor. While we’ve been chatting away, there’s this guy down there who constantly keeps looking up here.”

Jojo scanned the area and then saw Adam. When their eyes met, Adam smiled. He stood still in the spot, behind his friends, who were busy watching the fake boxing. 

“You sure do have a type. He looks like the guy you dated in CalPoly. Doesn’t he? Tall, blond. I bet he has blue eyes.”

“I don’t know what color eyes he has.”

“Not yet, you don’t, you mean,” Tiny said. “I’ll radio to bring him up.”

“No, don’t, he’s spending time with his friends.”

“Whatever. I want to meet this guy who keeps looking up here, and who is somehow probably the unexplained reason why you brought them to my club.”

“Tiny, you don’t have to do that,” Jojo said, protesting weakly, but as soon as he spoke he saw Adam following a security guard up to the velvet ropes. The velvet ropes dropped and Adam walked up. Jojo moved to greet him. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Adam answered, smiling broadly again.

“Enjoying yourself?” Jojo asked. 

“Yeah, this club is something. My friends can’t believe this place.” 

Before Jojo said anything else, Tiny moved between them. “My name’s Tiny, and it’s not because I’m only five feet four and you two are much, much taller than me, it’s short for my full name. You know Filipinos like to have nicknames right? So what’s your name? My cousin doesn’t remember his manners sometimes.”

“Adam. Adam Stevenson.” Adam held out his hand, and Tiny shook it briefly. 

“Well, Adam Stevenson,” Tiny said. “It’s a little loud in here, so let’s go to the private rooftop to talk, okay?” Jojo’s eyebrows furrowed. Tiny raised his hand to stop Jojo from talking. “My security guards will make sure your friends are having fun and the free booze keeps flowing, okay? We won’t be long. I don’t have any American military guys at my club so you beguile me.”

“Yeah, okay. I doubt my friends are going to complain about the free booze, or anything else around here. It’s one of a kind.”

“Thanks, I only hire the prettiest men and women to work here, other than security. I want them to be mean and ferocious. And besides, Jojo is coming with us.”

As Adam and Jojo followed Tiny to an elevator, Jojo cleared his throat. He wanted to warn Adam about Tiny. He was sure Tiny was going to pepper him with questions. Before the elevator arrived, Tiny stepped away for a second to take a call. 

“So is he your interference?” Adam asked.

“What do you mean?” Jojo asked.

“In a group setting, there’s always someone, usually a wingman, who makes sure that the person who is hitting on you, is the right type of person to be hitting on you.”

Wait, so you were hitting on me when you placed your hand over mine?

“God, no. Tiny is one of my oldest friends. We grew up together. We’re actually cousins, which right now I’m embarrassed to say, so he thinks he gets to know everyone in my life, or everyone he thinks wants to be in my life, or anyone who talks to me.”

“So he’s more a protective sheepdog then?” Adam asked.

“Yeah, if a sheepdog can text with one hand and tell everyone I know what’s going on in my life.”

“So what type of interrogation should I expect? Water torture? Electrical shocks?” Adam asked.

Jojo laughed. “My cousin is a very dramatic person, you won’t think he is asking you any questions of substance, but he is gathering intelligence.”

Adam nodded. “So before he pokes out my eyes with that empty cigarette holder, I should just tell you that I’m Adam, born in Bakersfield, California, family moved to San Diego when my dad joined the Navy, and I have six more months of my enlistment to serve before I leave the Corps. And I find you to be a very intriguing, good looking, mysterious Filipino who happens to pay tabs at an expensive bar, and whose cousin owns the most exclusive night club in Manila.”

Tiny continued talking in Tagalog on the phone. Jojo couldn’t discern to whom he was talking. It sounded like a family member since he was talking very fast and his voice was raised higher than normal. 

“Quick, get underneath this light.”

Adam complied and stood at attention. “I figure I’m being inspected so I might as well stand at attention.”

Jojo stifled a laugh. Clearly, Adam could dish light-hearted sarcasm. He might be Tiny’s match after all, or at least hold his own. “You have blue eyes,” Jojo said.

“Is that a problem?” Adam asked. 

“No,” Jojo smiled, “but it will confirm my cousin’s suspicions.”

“Oh?” Adam asked. 

But before anyone could say anything else, Tiny magically showed up between the two again. Jojo crossed his arms.

“Shall we go?” Tiny asked. “The elevator to the rooftop is waiting.” Tiny grabbed Adam’s hand, and they walked together to the open elevator. As they both turned to face Jojo, Tiny beckoned Jojo with his free hand to join them. Jojo uncrossed his arms. Tiny still had his death grip on Adam’s hand. “Coming, cousin?” Tiny asked. 

Jojo just shook his head in disbelief at Tiny’s brazenness, and then joined them in the elevator.

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, LGBT, Published in 2019 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment