Thank you for joining Riptide on our 4th Anniversary blog tour! We are excited to bring you new guest posts from our authors and behind the scenes insights from Riptide. The full tour schedule can be found at here. Don’t miss the limited time discounts and Free Books for a Year giveaway at the end of this post!
Please welcome L.B. Gregg to the tour!
My Bluewater Bay novella marked a departure for me as a writer. Not just because the series is a group project, but also because I wanted to pay tribute to the sort of friends-to-lovers romances I’ve always adored. The sort of story where characters meet as children and, after trials and tribulations and conflicts and resolutions, the pair come together and find true love as adults. Because they were meant to be.
Linda Howard and Deborah Smith wrote two of my all time favorites in this trope, and while I’d written stories about guys who meet in high school (Mark and Tony; Mistletoe at Midnight; Simple Gifts), I’d never attempted to write one that tapped into the heart of a childhood experience. It was a little daunting, and frankly, my spin is probably a little weird. But that’s okay. We’re all a little weird, and ultimately, this weirdness works.
Buck isn’t responsible for the circumstances of his life, but they define him. He’s like the lonely child inside all of us. Alien in his environment, alone in a crowd, and all he really wants—needs— is a friend. Just one.
We all have favorite stories. This happens to be mine.
About Bluewater Bay
Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.
Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by eleven award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield, Aleksandr Voinov, Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, G.B. Gordon, and Jaime Samms. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.
There’s Something About Ari and the first five Bluewater Bay titles are being sold in a special discounted bundle by Riptide this week only. Check out the sale on this series and other bundles, including more from Bluewater Bay, at Riptide.
Find out more about the series at Riptide Publishing.
An Excerpt from There’s Something About Ari
The cafeteria doors burst open and a stick-thin boy with streaming black hair hit the playground at top speed. His lime-green light-up sneakers flashed as he dodged the kickball game and zigzagged through jump-ropers. In red cargo pants and a yellow Power Rangers T-shirt, he was colorful and electric and probably every bit as bad for me as the bag of Skittles I’d hidden in my jacket pocket.
He made a beeline for the jungle gym, scampered to the tip-top, then flipped upside down, squinting into the sunshine. His arms dangled like tentacles, one wrist-to-elbow covered in a green cast.
My mother would have had a heart attack if I’d flipped over anything, even with two good arms and a safety net. Not this kid. He swiveled from his bat perch beaming such joy—his small, heart-shaped face mesmerized me.
I kept to my swing, toeing the dirt and popping Skittles one after the other, the bright flavor coating my teeth. If only the candy could give me the courage I needed to say hi. Hi. Hi. Hi.
The pint-sized guy waved like I might miss him. “Hey. Hey! Hi! Hi.” He had a squeaky mouse voice, missing front teeth, and a bruise under his left eye—but he had no problem talking to a stranger. “I’m Ari!”
Ari. The name sounded weird and new and maybe even foreign. Ari. I swallowed the candy and lifted my sticky hand. “I’m Buck.”
His eyes widened. “Buck? Wow. Are you a real cowboy? ’Cuz that’s an awesome name for one.”
I was terrified of horses. And I didn’t think Buck was such a great name since I’d learned it rhymed with something awful—but it impressed Ari, so I kept my answer simple. “It’s short for Buckley.”
What else was there to say? I wasn’t good at talking to other kids because they didn’t talk to me. Not at recess anyway. And not in class unless we were partners for something. Not even at Cub Scouts because I was different. I didn’t know how they knew, or what left me standing on the outside, but I was smart enough to stay out of everyone’s way, because when the other boys did include me, it wasn’t especially nice.
This Ari kid’s face was glowing with excitement, though. “Today’s my first day of school. We were late getting here because the car wouldn’t start and we had to walk, so I haven’t gone to class yet, but Mr. Bennett said that’s okay, ’cuz he’s my teacher.” Ari dangled upside down, chatting like this development in my day was totally routine. I didn’t know what to do, so I watched him hang there, his hair falling from his head in straight black lines. He stuck his tongue through the gap in his smile. “Hey. Wanna see something cool? Watch this.”
He flung high in a wild arc, and his arms pumped until he swung parallel to the ground for a hovering second and then he whipped backward. Then he did it again and my heart skipped, and no, no, no. I didn’t want to watch anything cool. He was going to fall and break his other arm or his neck or something, and the teachers would probably think we’d been fighting.
I chewed my lip, sneaking a look at the grown-ups, but they were lumped in a group on the blacktop, talking. Some of them were even laughing.
I felt sweaty.
He used his small weight to rock higher and higher. “One. Two. Three!”
Ari tucked his knees, letting go of the bar, like he trusted gravity not to face-plant him in the woodchips. I thought I was going to die, but he flipped vertical and stuck a two-footed landing. He grinned goofily and took off, running circles under the jungle gym like a crazy person.
Ari squealed, “My dad taught me how. Wasn’t that the coolest?”
I didn’t even know boys could do a penny drop, because that’s something girls did, but his had looked perfect. More than perfect. Magic. Once I got my breath back, I nodded. Ari was actually the coolest.
“My dad says I have a lot of energy, so he showed me all kinds of tricks. I can teach you too, if you want.”
“I’m not very energetic.”
“That’s okay. I have plenty of energy for both of us.” He laughed and wriggled into the empty swing next to me, having to hop to get his butt in the seat. When his toes didn’t touch the ground, he turned to lay on the swing’s seat, chest down. His feet trailed through the dirt.
I started to understand why he had a broken arm.
Ari said, “I’m in Mr. Bennett’s room.”
“Me too.” Mr. Bennett might sit Ari next to me because I modeled good behavior. That’s what all the teachers said. “Why are you wearing the yellow Power Ranger? That one’s a girl.”
“Yellow’s my favorite color. I don’t care if it’s a girl’s shirt. I like girls. They’re okay. I really like your shirt.” Today was Scout meeting day. I was wearing a blue Cub Scout shirt, like the other boys in my class, and the fabric pulled across my chest. “Are you in Scouts?”
I nodded. “We don’t do much, yet. We’re supposed to go camping. That’s why I joined. My mom just had a baby and she can’t take me camping anymore.” I didn’t mention my dad being sick, because it made my stomach hurt and I’d eaten a lot of candy. I didn’t want to puke in front of the other kids.
Ari twisted on the swing. “Can I come too? To Scouts? And camping? I could go with you. We can be friends, if you want. I like you. We can go together.”
I like you.
Those three words pierced the loneliness and chased away my shyness. I pictured the two of us walking into the Scouts meeting room, side by side. Sharing a tent on the sleepover. Eating marshmallows and reading comic books. Shooting rockets in the backyard like my dad used to do. A friend.
Hope curled inside my belly, and it soothed the hunger that Skittles never eased. I gripped the metal chain with one hand; the other, I wiped on my clean pants. I held my palm above my head, waiting until Ari beamed and slapped me up high with a solid thwack.
Best high five ever.
That’s the day I fell in love with Ari Valentine.
About L.B. Gregg
When not working from her home in the rolling hills of Northwestern Connecticut, author L.B. Gregg can be spotted in coffee shops from Berlin to Singapore to Panama–sipping lattes and writing sweet, hot, often funny, stories about men who love men.
For more info on L.B., because surely one can never get too much of a good thing, you can follow her on her preferred social media, Facebook. You can also e-mail L.B. at lbgregg at lbgregg dot com, visit her website www.lbgregg.com, be her GoodReads pal or follow her sporadic appearances on Twitter.
To celebrate our anniversary, Riptide Publishing is giving away free books for a year! Your first comment at each blog stop on the Anniversary Tour will count as an entry and give you a chance to win this great prize. Giveaway ends at midnight, October 31, 2015, and is not restricted to US entries.
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.