Better Than The Day After- A Matt & Aaron Short Story (Mild NSFW)

Surprise! This short story is from the archives! It’s takes place right where Better Than Good ends in the kitchen at Matt’s apartment.Unknown-2For those who don’t know this story, Better Than Good is my debut MM romance book. It was released in July 2013. Almost six years ago. I wrote Matt and Aaron’s story right after my eldest son came out to his father and me. It was an emotional time or trying to find the best way to offer our 18 year old the support he needed as he was about to leave for college. He knew we loved him unconditionally, but the bigger journey for him was learning to love and accept himself. I’m pleased to report that one week from his 25th birthday, he’s a confident, super fabulous gay man living his best life in San Francisco.

Here’s the link to Better Than Good for those interested. https://amzn.to/2XQT9w4

And here’s the short story! We’ll call this one…wait for it…

Happy Reading! Lane xo
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Better Than The Day After by Lane Hayes

Aaron came up behind me and hugged me tightly from behind, laying his head on my back.

“Take me home?”

I turned to face him and felt that flush of raw attraction. Fuck, he’s a beautiful man. I bent down to kiss him as he wrapped his arms around my neck. He smiled at me and made as if to return my kiss, but bit my lower lip instead. Just hard enough to get the blood flowing south. I groaned and held him close to me, squeezing his ass and dipping my fingers inside his tight jeans.

“Let’s go before we end up back in bed.” I gently pulled away and placed a chaste kiss on his nose.

Aaron had decided a few weeks ago that we needed a cooling off period. He was sure that I was confused about my sexuality. He wasn’t wrong. But I was miserable without him. As we drove toward his neighborhood, I listened to the sweet sound of him chattering away about nothing and everything. We passed a bookstore that he had heard was going out of business and wasn’t that sad? He pointed out an Ethiopian restaurant he heard was worth trying and was I interested? And on and on. It was music to my ears after the silence of recent weeks. I’d missed him more than I imagined I could ever miss anyone. He brought light and music and color into my life. Aaron could make almost anything seem interesting.

We found a decent parking spot near his building and made our way hand in hand up to his apartment. He leaned over to steal kisses in the elevator and then pulled me with him when the doors opened to the fifth floor. Aaron’s apartment is small but chic. Old architecture meets modern style. Aaron could have been a designer if he wanted. Not that I knew shit about design, but his place reminded me of high gloss photos of contemporary apartments. Mid century inspired furniture, including a sofa that wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as it looked, with black and white photography adorning the gray toned walls. There were hints of red and bright orange in the accents, like throw pillows and pottery. It was small and appealing. Like Aaron. The best part was that he lived alone.

I hadn’t been to his apartment in a while and was surprised at how I immediately felt at home. Sort of like the car ride over, when I had let myself enjoy the sound of his voice. The lilting cadence and sweetness of something I’d lost and thankfully found again.

“Looks the same.” I pondered as he moved into his bedroom, stripping along the way and eyeing me suggestively.

“It hasn’t been that long, Matty. You getting naked or am I putting on a show here?” Aaron turned his sleek toned back toward me as he looked over his shoulder and lowered his jeans over his ass. He’d gone commando, of course. I knew that, but it made me crazy all over again. “Coming?”

I reached for him and he deftly side stepped my advance, pulling his jeans lower as he moved. I got a glimpse of his beautiful cock and licked my lips when I noticed he wasn’t unaffected by our exchange either. I loved knowing he wanted me as much as I wanted him. I made a lunge and caught him around the waist from behind. He squealed and made a weak attempt to pull away, but then melted against me when I grabbed his dick. I smeared the precum leaking from his slit over the mushroom head then used it as a lubricant when I stroked him. He moaned into my ear as he gyrated against my jean-clad dick. I kept a steady rhythm with my left hand. When I slipped two fingers of my free hand between his lips, he obediently sucked the offered digits and moaned like a porn star. I popped my fingers from his mouth and gently placed my middle spit slicked finger at his hole. He stopped all movement for a moment and looked back at me over his shoulder.

“Do it, Matty. Finger me.” He whispered.

“Fuck, yes.” I eased one finger inside him, wondering if I could bring him to orgasm just like this.

“I don’t think I have lube in here. Use spit.” He trembled when I obeyed. “Oh fuck, that’s so hot. I don’t want to come like this. Fuck me.”

“Keep going, baby. Just like that. Come for me.”

“Ahhh…fuck!” Aaron’s entire body stiffened and shook with the force of his orgasm. He fucked myself on my hand, riding out the waves of pleasures. Then shivered one last time as I released my hold and gathered him in my arms. He clung to me for a long moment and then fell to his knees.

“No. It’s okay.” I protested for no apparent reason. I was hard as a rock. Thankfully, he ignored me.

“Shhh.” Aaron licked my crotch through the denim. Fucking tease. I was close to begging when he unzipped my jeans and freed me. I had to keep myself from holding him still and fucking his mouth when he swallowed me whole. He bobbed his head and stroked me then pulled back to lick me from base to tip before doing it all over again. I watched him in awe until a telltale tingling sensation fluttered at the base of my spine.

“Aar, I’m gonna come. Fuck!”

He sucked me through wave after wave of pleasure then pulled back to look up at me with an angelic smile. He looked awfully pleased with himself, I mused with a laugh.

“Damn, that was hot, Matty,” Aaron purred, still kneeling.

“It was. C’mon. I think we both need a shower now.”

I finished undressing and joined him under the spray. It was a little snug but we made it work. We took turns soaping and shampooing each other before stepping out to dry off. I followed Aaron into his bedroom. He changed into grey sweats and a tight fitted neon green t-shirt that I didn’t think would look as good on anyone else as it did on him . Fuck, he was pretty. He caught me staring and smiled at me.

“Come on, Matty. Get some clothes on…or don’t. I’ll be perfectly happy chatting with a naked man in my kitchen.” He pressed a chaste kiss on my lips before heading for the kitchen. “I’m thirsty. Want something?”

I pulled on my boxers and jeans but left my shirt off. I snickered when Aaron swallowed audibly and handed me a water bottle. Then I took a seat on the sofa and waited for him to join me. He set a bowl of grapes on the coffee table before bouncing next to me with his legs folded under him. We fed each other grapes and chatted about we’d missed in the past few weeks.

“I was sad, Matty. Terribly sad. I couldn’t shake the feeling.”

I brush his hair from his eyes and kissed his forehead. “It was the same for me.”

My roommates had staged an intervention to find out what the fuck was wrong with me. It was what triggered me to come out and tell them about Aaron. To be here with him now was a relief. I felt like I could breathe again.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Hmm?” I played with his hair, running my fingers through it and caressing his scalp.

“I heard your roommate mention your graduation. That’s soon, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. A couple weeks, I guess. I really haven’t been thinking about it. Preoccupied, you know?”

“Well. I want to say something and I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but—”

“Uh oh.” My stomach turned uneasily.

“No big deal, silly.” Aaron smacked my arm playfully and sat up to face me sitting cross-legged. “But I know you’ve worked hard for this and your family will be here and I just…” He paused and sucked in his lower lip nervously.

“What is it?”

“Matt, this is new. Us. I think it might be a good idea for you to just graduate and not do the big coming out thing with your family and friends at the same time. Too much at once, you know?”

I was two steps behind. Again. I hadn’t even begun to think about my parents and other family members coming into town. Of course, they’d be here, but it seemed like I had some time to mentally prepare. I hadn’t considered potential introductions. The thought alone made me break out in a sweat. This was one of those moments that I might get wrong, but I needed to be clear.

“What are you suggesting?” Smooth, Matt. Hand it back to Aaron.

“I’m suggesting you graduate as planned. That’s it. No other complications. I’m not generally altruistic by nature, so please, this is a big step for me.” He huffed sarcastically. “I want to be there for you… I mean, if you want me to be. I’m saying, please celebrate your accomplishment and let your family just be proud of you for that. Save the “I have a boyfriend” speech for another time. Good idea?”

I took a deep breath before looking into his eyes. He was perfectly sincere. I could see that. Maybe he was right. I cupped his jaw in between my thumb and forefinger and traced the pad of my thumb over his lower lip.

“I haven’t thought that far ahead, baby. You’re probably right. But, I want you to know I’m going to tell them. My folks, my brother, my sisters, my friends…everyone. I don’t want any secrets. This is who I am and you’re who I want to be with.”

Aaron smiled sweetly and licked my thumb.

“I’ll lay low while they’re visiting, okay? But I do want to come to your ceremony. After all, what will our children say if they find out I didn’t attend Daddy’s graduation from law school?”

I chuckled at his silly expression, though I had to admit to myself anyway that I loved the idea of building our future together. “Come here, Goofball.”

I pulled him into my arms and held him tight. This was good. This was where I was supposed to be and I was going to do my best to never leave Aaron’s side again.

Starting From Zero Cover/Blurb Reveal!

Ta da! Starting From Zero is coming soon! Mark your calendars and Goodreads page for April 12! *Cover art by Reese Dante. She’s done it again! Isn’t it gorgeous?StartingFromZero-1400x2100Starting From Zero is Book 1 in my new rock and roll series set in LA. This May to December romance belongs to Justin and Gray. Justin is an aspiring rock star going through some tough times. He’s lost his girlfriend, his place in his band and his reputation. He has no choice but to start over from zero. When a chance meeting with a sexy older man tuns into unexpected opportunity, he’ll have to set aside his misgivings to write a dreaded love song that just might help launch his new band. The ultimate challenge for an HEA-non-believer!

Starting From Zero is an Out in College spin-off. If you’ve read Out in the Offense, you may remember Rory’s older brother, Justin. If you haven’t, not to worry! All of my books can be read as standalones. And yes, Book 4 in Out in College is coming late spring!

Happy Reading! Lane xo

Check out the blurb for Starting From Zero (April 12):

Justin Cuevas is going through a rough patch. A broken relationship, a scandal, and the demise of his band have shaken the aspiring rock star’s confidence. Working two jobs and sleeping on his friend’s sofa isn’t ideal, but Justin isn’t ready to give up yet. With a little luck, he’s hoping to re-launch his music career in LA with his new band, Zero. The key is to stay focused, and not get distracted by his past…or the sexy songwriter he can’t get out of his head.

Gray Robertson has written dozens of hits and worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. But he’s never met anyone like Justin. The younger man is fiery, passionate, and smart. A powerful voice for a new generation. Other than an unforgettable one-night stand and a passion for music, the two men have nothing in common. Or do they? Justin knows the out-of-the-blue challenge to write a quintessential love song is a huge opportunity. And it’s the ultimate test for someone who’s doesn’t believe in happily ever after. When sparks fly, Justin and Gray realize they have a shot something special if they start from zero together. Maybe even love.

 

OUT IN THE OFFENSE is Live on Audio!!

Yes!! All three Out in College books are now available on audio, narrated by the extremely talented Michael Pauley! His narration of Rory and Christian’s story, Out in the Offense, might be my favorite addition to the series. That’s saying something because he did an amazing job with Out in the Deep and Out in the End Zone too. Listen for yourself! Here’s the purchase/sample link for Out in the OffenseOutInTheOffense-audiopromoIn upcoming news…the cover and blurb reveal for my new release, Starting At Zero, is coming up in a couple of weeks! I can’t wait to introduce everyone to Book 1 of my new series. This one follows the evolution of an LA-based rock band from the very beginning. Hint…those who’ve read Out in the Offense may recognize one of the main characters. 😉 I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the MM rock star trope and I’ve really missed the A Kind Of boys! And YES…Out in the Field, Book 4 in Out in College will be coming soon after. It’s going to be a busy spring!

Be sure to swing by my FB group, Lane’s Lovers, on Valentine’s Day for a chance to win the brand new Out in the Offense audiobook and other prizes too!

Happy Reading and Listening!  Lane xoOut in College Series

Out in the End Zone Audiobook is LIVE!

Woohoo!! Out in the End Zone, Book 2 in my Out in College series, is available now at Audible! This is pretty cool news because Out in the Deep just came out in audiobook format last week too. And yes…Book 3 is currently in production! The very talented Michael Pauley is back to narrate Evan and Mitch’s story and once again, he does a masterful job. He pairs Evan’s cool dude goofiness with Mitch’s self confidence beautifully! Check out the purchase link and sample here.

I’ll be sure to post details for the Out in the Offense audiobook asap, but it’s available in paperback now. I’m hosting a signed paperback giveaway at Lane’s Lovers now. Stop by for a chance to win!

Happy Listening! Lane xooutintheendzone-audiopromo

OUT IN THE DEEP is Live on Audio Now!

OutInTheDeep-audiopromoIt’s a big month for the Out in College boys. Out in the Deep  (Book 1 in the series) is live on Audible now. It should be followed very shortly by Out in the End Zone. I can’t wait for listeners to hear Michael Pauley’s narration of Derek and Gabe’s story! I may be biased, but I think he did a fabulous job! Check out the sample here.

And of course, don’t forget…OUT IN THE OFFENSE is available on Amazon KU. Michael is currently working on this audio, so hopefully we’ll have it next month!

Happy Reading and Happy Listening! Lane xo

OUT IN THE OFFENSE is LIVE on Amazon!!

OutInTheOffense-1400x2100Woohoo!! It’s true! Out in the Offense came out a few days earlier than expected! Happy Monday! LOL. The long wait is over…Book 3 in my Out in College series is here and this one belongs to Rory and Christian. Rory is the tattooed bad boy slash math genius and Christian is the talented quarterback who happens to need a tutor. However, Rory is unexpected in more ways than one. He doesn’t look, act, or seem like a brainiac. But under his rough-edged and sometimes intimidating exterior, Rory might just be exactly what Christian needs. *sigh…

Rory is my new book boyfriend. No joke. He’s funny, self-deprecating, patient, and sexy as hell. I can’t wait for readers to meet these two young men! ❤

As with all of my series, Out in the Offense can be read as a standalone. However, you may want to check out Books 1 and Books 2, Out in the Deep and Out in the End Zone. Both will be available in audiobook format this month! Out in the Offense will follow shortly on audio in February. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Happy Reading! Lane xo

Blurb from Out in the Offense.

Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.

Coming Soon Page Updated & Just 10 More Days till OUT IN THE OFFENSE is Here!

After six months, I’d say it was more than time to update my Coming Soon page! LOL. Take a peek for my upcoming release info and plans for 2019.  First up is Out in the Offense. Woohoo! It will be here January 10, which crazy enough, is next week! Mark your calendars!OutInTheOffense-teaser2-1000x750It’s hard to believe we’re at the final day of 2018. This year has flown by. Ultimately, it’s been a good year of growth and learning for me. Professionally, I challenged myself with books like Leaning Into Forever and the Out in College stories. I knew Geordie’s story would be difficult but I didn’t think I’d cry over my computer as often as I did. He wrecked me! I thought Out in the Deep would be a nice change of pace and an easier book to write. Yes and no. Writing books about college aged characters takes a different approach, but it’s not easier at all. LOL. I’m excited to continue the series into 2019 and begin a new one as well.

On to RL New Year’s preparations. The big plan at our house is lasagna, a family card game or two, and a plate of homemade cookies. A movie may happen too. As long as I can be in PJs, I’m in!

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019 filled with laughter, love and LOTS of amazing books! Cheers!  Lane xonew-year-2019-celebration-gold-foil-balloons-royalty-free-image-1019228852-1543876863

Leaning Into the Holidays- Part 4 (NSFW)

2014-12-21-17-29-41-1000x1500-56a388455f9b58b7d0d275b1Here is the final chapter of my holiday short story featuring the boys from Leaning Into!  And yes… it’s a bit NSFW. 😉 For those of you who may have missed it, Leaning Into Forever, will be available soon at all online retailers! Also, be sure to mark your calendars for Book 3 in my Out in College series. Out in the Offense will be here January 10!

I’m off to wrap gifts!! Merry Christmas, everyone!! Have a safe and very happy holiday.  Love, Lane xo

Leaning Into the Holidays- Part 4

Eric’s POV

Conrad Winery had become a second home amongst our group of friends. Nick moved to Napa less than a year after he met Wes Conrad. The vineyard, tasting room, processing plant, and various storage and supply warehouses were located on a gorgeous property with sweeping views of the valley. It was more of a compound than a simple business location. Wes and Nick’s ranch-style home was within walking distance of the tasting room. Wes’s business partner, Geordie, lived up the hill from them with his boyfriend, Levi who owned a popular restaurant in town. And there was even talk of Ryan and Danny, long-time employees and good friends of Wes and Geordie’s, building a small bungalow on the far edge of the estate too.

It was funny how seamlessly our lives had intertwined over the past few years. It felt like yesterday that I was yelling at Nick to return the personalized bottles of Conrad wine stacked in my office. Who knew that fateful trip to Napa on a rainy afternoon would introduce Nick to his future husband and the rest of us to an extended family of friends?

“What’s your favorite animal?” Zane asked as he navigated our Range Rover along the quiet ribbon of highway toward the winery on Christmas Eve afternoon.

I snorted a laugh, twisting in my seat to face him. “Spirit animal, wild animal, pet? Where are you going with this one?”

“Okay, smartass, let’s go with spirit animal first.”

“Hmm. That’s tricky. I want to say something fierce like a lion or a grizzly bear, but I’m probably an elephant,” I said.

“Ha! Why an elephant?”

“What’s wrong with elephants?”

“There’s nothing wrong with them. I happen to love elephants. They’re pretty cute. Didn’t you make me watch a documentary on the National Geographic Channel about them a couple of months ago? The things I do for you,” Zane sighed playfully.

I huffed. “I didn’t make you watch it. You could have left the room. And don’t pretend you weren’t fascinated. You liked it as much as I did.”

“That’s debatable,” he teased. “Okay. I guess it was interesting. They said elephants are extraordinarily attentive and sociable, and loyal. So yeah…that could be you. I just don’t think of them as a sexy animal, and baby, you’re sexy beast.”

“Who me?”

“Yeah, you. Fuck, this morning was hot.” Zane made a production of adjusting himself before returning both hands to the steering wheel.

That was an understatement. It began with a normal morning chat over a cup of coffee. I stood behind the island while Zane lounged on a barstool. We’d been discussing his mother’s sudden plan to go out of town for the holidays. It caught Zane by surprise and spurred a few changes in our schedule. Originally, we were going to spend Christmas with her and tell her our news. But if she wasn’t going to be in town, there was no reason for us to fly to Orange County until my parents got home from their cruise on the twenty-seventh. Supposedly Wendy would be home that day too. The whole concept of her not being there bothered Zane more than I realized it would. I quickly switched the topic to house-hunting.

Thankfully, he took the bait. His zoned out expression faded as I talked about our home and whether or not it was ideal for raising a child. We loved our place and we knew we wanted to stay in the Marina district. But our townhouse had a ton of stairs. Too many for my peace of mind. Zane suggested putting up gates, but I wasn’t sure that would be enough. We had an open floor plan with a family-style kitchen and generous bay windows with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

I suppose I got caught up pontificating the amazing amenities in the area. I didn’t think anything of it when he skirted the island to rinse out his coffee cup before coming to stand beside me. And when he slipped his warm hands under the elastic of my pajama bottoms and gripped my cock as he nuzzled my neck and murmured “mmhmm”, I figured he was trying to distract me. It didn’t necessarily mean he wanted to act on it. Zane had a habit of casually sticking his hands down my pants when we were home doing mundane things, like watching TV or brushing our teeth. Sometimes it led to more, but not always. I was too worked up about school districts and property taxes to think twice he might have an ulterior motive. And frankly, I was glad he’d stopped thinking about his mom. But then he lowered my PJs and briefs and sank to his knees behind me.

He bit my left cheek and smacked my right one, then pulled my ass open and licked my entrance. And suddenly, nothing else mattered. It happened so fast, I didn’t have a chance to do much more than grip the countertop and reach for my dick when he darted his tongue inside. Zane was an expert at the art of rimming. He licked, sucked, and flicked his tongue over the sensitive skin until I was a whimpering, needy mess. When my chant of “fuck me, fuck me” escalated, he stood abruptly and unzipped his jeans.

He opened a drawer in the island, and fished around in the back for one of the many bottles of lube he insisted should be stored all over the house…in case of emergency. He flashed a devilish grin my way and kissed me hard before instructing me to stay where I was and bend over. I hummed in appreciation as I turned my head to watch him pull his jeans and boxer briefs over his rigid pole and then apply a liberal amount of lube. He moved behind me and wrapped his arms around my chest before molding his length against my crack as he whispered sweet nothings. The dirty version he knew always turned me on. When he slid his middle finger alongside the sensitive skin, I might have gone a little crazy. I held my ass open and begged him to fuck me. He didn’t hesitate.

Zane lined his cock at my entrance and pushed, slowly making his way inside me. He didn’t stop until he was balls deep. He rested his forehead on my shoulder and kissed my neck before reaching for my aching cock. And then he moved. Sweet and steady. Not too fast and not too slow. At least that was how it started. He probably knew I’d want it harder and faster the second he rubbed his thumb over my slit and sucked the precum from his digit. And when he whispered how fucking amazing I tasted…that was when the tempo changed.

Zane’s calloused hands roamed along my spine. He pistoned hips with growing urgency and picked up speed. When he clutched my left shoulder for purchase and smacked my ass, it was over. I shot ropes of cum over my fist and across the countertop and Zane was with me a moment later. He lost his rhythm and roared my name as his orgasm slammed into him and held me close, trembling wildly in the aftermath.

We didn’t move immediately. He was probably trying to catch his breath and me?…I wanted him inside me for as long as possible. I loved this connection. I loved the feel of his body against mine and his cum dripping from me. And if I complained about the mess we made later, he knew I was kidding. I loved him more than I could say and I’d do anything to keep him close.

I stared at his profile in the SUV and linked our fingers before kissing his hand as the memory faded. “It’s always hot.”

“True. Now quit talking about sex. I gotta concentrate on the road,” he grumbled playfully.

I threw my head back and laughed. “I didn’t say a word.”

“You were thinking about it.”

“Guilty,” I admitted with a chuckle. “So what were you saying about elephants?”

Zane snorted. “I really don’t know.”
“Spirit animals, favorite animals…” I reminded him.

“Oh yeah. Have you ever had that conversation with Geordie? Josh told me that’s what led to their super-size bunny. I’m kinda wondering what giant stuffed animal we’re going to be carting home tomorrow. Elephant sounds about right. It just better not be life-size.”

I chuckled. “It could be some kind of a water animal for you. A sting ray or a dolphin or a—”

“Shark,” Zane said, lifting my hand to his mouth and nipping my thumb.

“Ouch. We’ll see soon enough.” I pulled my hand away and reached for my cell just as we neared the gated entrance to the winery.

“Did Geordie say how many people are coming tonight?” he asked.

“Just family…or friends who’re like family. Josh said his dad and Lars were going to swing by at some point too. We’re all staying at Nick and Wes’s, but Geordie and Levi have room for extra guests.”

Zane parked the Range Rover and unbuckled his seat belt. “Like who?”

“Does it matter?” My reply was carefully flippant.

“No. I hope it’s small though. Just us and the guys.”

“What about Lauren? She might stay for dinner too.”

“Sure. Lauren’s cool, but it would be nice not to have to make small talk with thirty people we don’t know well,” he sighed before opening his door.

“Hang on. You love these gatherings. We’ve spent plenty of holidays here. It’s always beautiful. Geordie makes sure of it and—”

“I know. And…hey, I’m sorry. I’m happy to be here. That’s not it. I just—I don’t get why my mom didn’t tell me at the beginning of December that she’d made plans for the holidays. It’s not like her. We could have gone up last weekend to see her and told her about the baby. Honestly, I’m worried about her. Did she tell you who she was going to be with? She said ‘friends’ to me. Very generic. Do you think she’s seeing someone?”
“She didn’t say, but maybe. I don’t know. Zane…” I caressed his cheek and brushed his hair away from his face. “She’s fine. We’ll see her very soon. We’re going to have a great time with people we love tonight and on Christmas day. And we’ll see our families right after. I’m sorry the plans changed, but—”

“Don’t apologize,” he assured me with a grin. “You’re here. That’s I care about. Come on, babe.”

My smile faded when he stepped outside. The sooner we were surrounded by our friends in the winery, the better. Fuck. I should have known this might not go smoothly.

Zane’s POV-

Conrad Winery was decked out for the holidays. As in a team of elves had descended and made sure every nook and cranny in the main tasting room had a touch of Christmas. Sprigs of holly and fresh garland were draped along the bar and along the mantle of the stone fireplace on the opposite end. A massive tree twinkled in the corner and mistletoe hung from the spherical iron chandelier delineating the tasting and lounge areas. Holiday music was playing in the background. “Silver Bells”, I thought. I couldn’t tell over the din of laughter and the sweet sound of familiar voices. When Danny yelled a greeting, the room erupted in a resounding. I was immediately overcome with a feeling of joy and gratitude. Eric was right. This was where we belonged tonight.

I dropped our overnight bags and a bag of gifts in the middle of the room and waited for Eric to meet me under the mistletoe. He set the presents he’d carried in on one of the high tables then slipped his arm around my waist and glanced up at the bough of green tied with an ornate red ribbon. “Are you going to kiss me or what?”

I chuckled and ran my hands down his back before sealing my lips to his. He hummed into the connection, oblivious of our friends’ cat calls and wolf whistles a few feet away. I broke the kiss then whispered something slightly lascivious in his ear that made him laugh. Then I yanked him against me in a playful embrace and felt the edge of a something like a small box in his coat pocket. I stepped back and was about to ask what it was, but we were surrounded before I had a chance.

“Merry Christmas, darlings!” Geordie effused with his arms outstretched. “What would you like to drink? Levi my love made a rum eggnog concoction. Heavy on the rum. I assured him it’s the only way to drink eggnog.”

“Sure, I’ll try some,” Eric said. “And thank you for hosting again. You must be exhausted, Geord. Was the winery open today?”

“We closed at two o’clock today. More than enough time to prepare for tonight. Besides, it’s just family.” Geordie beamed. “Look at how handsome you two are, decked in your holiday finest!”

He snickered at our Christmas sweaters. Mine had a moose with light bulbs on its antlers while Eric’s featured Santa stuck in a chimney, ass up. The chimney was wrapped in lights and yes… both of our sweaters blinked obnoxiously. They were seriously ugly, but it was tradition. Just like it was tradition for Geordie to be the only one who never participated. When we first met him, he was mourning the death of his long-time partner, Mike, who’d started the winery with Wes fifteen or more years ago. He dressed only in black with the exception of eye-catching jewel-toned shoes until he met Levi. Nowadays, he didn’t participate because according to him, he wasn’t made for tacky sweaters.

There was no denying Geordie was a beautiful man. He was six foot four with a lean, willowy build, dark hair, and olive skin. He emanated warmth with a serious dose of fabulous. The combination drew people in. To be included in Geordie’s orbit of those he considered family felt like an honor. I was glad he’d met someone like Levi, who seemed to get that without having been told. They were complete opposites. Levi was a former baseball player turned restaurant owner. He had the athletic physique of a former athlete and the patience of a saint.

I laughed when he nodded at Geordie’s rapid-fire instructions about cocktail orders and where the luggage should go, rolling his eyes playfully.

“…to our house. Eric and Zane are staying in our blue room.”

Levi set his hand on Geordie’s hip and pulled him against his side. “Got it. What time do you want everyone at the house?”

“Five sharp. We have plenty of time for…”

Everyone was talking at once now. I could see Eric hugging Grant and Miles then crouching low to greet Anna while Josh and Finn smiled nearby. Nick and Wes stood with Ryan and Danny behind the bar. Lauren sat at one of the barstools chatting with Jeff, Josh’s dad and his husband, Lars. A young man I didn’t recognize and a woman with her back us hovered nearby. Maybe Lauren’s friends. A couple of extras, but everyone I cared about was accounted for.

If the holiday went according to plan, we’d have appetizers in the tasting room then head to Nick and Wes’s for dinner. At some point, Geordie would lead a sing-along and insist on watching Christmas movies until we all pleaded exhaustion. Then we’d retire for the night in the rooms we always slept in when we stayed at Conrad Winery. And Eric and I always stayed at Nick and Wes’s.

“Excuse me.” I held my hand up to interrupt Geordie before he spun away to oversee official holiday duties. “We’re happy to stay at your place, but—”

“Wonderful! We’re thrilled to have you. I was going to have Jeff and Lars stay with us, but we have an extra guest and I think this will work out better.” He patted my arm sweetly and stepped backward with a wink. “I hate to give away too many secrets at once, but Levi and I have a very large gift for you both.”

I smiled. “We’re prepared. I drove the Range Rover.”

“Smart man. Have I told you how happy we are for you?”

“You did, Geord. Thank you.”

He’d sent a giant bouquet of pink and blue flowers to our house and made a big mushy toast at the annual holiday party he’d hosted at Conrad Winery a couple of weekends ago. Part of me wanted to beg him not to give us a stuffed animal too, but I didn’t want to rain on his parade. Family was important to Geordie. I hoped he and Levi had kids one day too. They’d be amazing dads.

“Don’t thank me. It’s my pleasure. I never thought we’d host family parties with a kids’ table. Look at us now. Things have certainly changed….and in a very good way.”

Eric returned to my side and looped his arm through mine. “Are you thirsty?”

“No, I’m okay.”

“Are you sure?” he prodded.

“Positive.”

“Glass of wine or a beer? Maybe we should try that eggnog or—”

“Zane, my darling…Go to the damn bar,” Geordie sighed theatrically before turning away, singing “Santa Baby” at top volume.

Levi snickered at my confused expression. “Come on. I’ll get you a beer.”

I frowned at Eric. “Is something going on?”

“I don’t think so. Why?” he asked, gently tugging at my sweater.

“’Cause everyone’s acting weird.”

“Don’t be silly.”

I greeted our friends with fist bumps and hugs, and razzed Josh about his tacky sweater before bending to scoop Anna in my arms. She was almost three years old now and super chatty. I complimented her beautiful dress and pretty blonde hair and got an earful of toddler chatter. I nodded and bounced her in my arms until she giggled. Then I ramped it up a notch and tossed her in the air, accidently bumping the barstool behind me. I tucked Anna on my hip and turned to apologize…and froze.

“Mom?”

“Hi honey.”

She launched herself into my arms just as Josh pulled Anna from me. I pushed back slightly and stared at her in wonder. Wendy Richards was a beautiful woman. She was a quintessential California girl with blonde hair and blue eyes who exuded health and a sense of well being. She was a true free spirit and the best woman I knew.

“What are you doing here? I thought you said you were going out of town.”

“Yes. This is out of town for me! Eric wanted to surprise you and…well, surprise!”

I looked over at my husband in wonder. Eric hurried forward and hugged my mom tightly then motioned for me to join in. I obeyed automatically. I couldn’t speak though. I knew exactly what he’d done now and I was overwhelmed by the gesture.

“Let’s go by the fireplace,” Eric said, stepping backward. “It’s kind of loud over here.”

Our friends gave us high fives and raised their glasses as we walked into the adjoining space. Eric grabbed our bags of gifts and handed one to me, then went directly to the tree. He knelt and signaled for me to come close, then whispered, “Are you okay?”

“Yes. Thank you. You’ve got some big plan going here, don’t you?”

Eric smiled bashfully. “I thought it would be nice to have all the people we love the most in one spot tonight.”

“What about your family?”

“We’ll see them after Christmas. They’ll be excited for sure. But they’re out of town anyway, and this is your favorite day. I want you to have everything you want.”

“Er…baby, I do.” I bit the inside of my cheek to keep my emotions in check. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” He rested his forehead against mine and kissed me. “Come on. We have to tell her now before anyone slips up. Unless you have anything special you want to say or do, I have a gift for her that should tell her everything. Your call, Daddy.”

I stood slowly and inclined my head toward my mother, standing in front of the fireplace. “Go on. Give her the gift.”

Eric pulled a small red box with a white satin bow from his pocket. I set my hand on his shoulder. He smiled at me, and then presented the gift to my mom.

“Are we opening gifts now? Yours are at Geordie’s house. Maybe we should wait until later,” she suggested, fiddling with a tassel on her wacky penguin-themed Christmas sweater. It looked like she got the sweater memo, I mused as I pushed the box into her palm.

“We’re doing things out of order tonight, Ma,” I said with a laugh. “I’m really happy you’re here and I’m pretty sure I married the coolest fuckin’ guy on the planet…excuse my language. He found a way to fix something I’ve wished I could address for a long time, and—Look, I can’t explain. You just need to open that.”

She knit her brow as she pulled at the end of the ribbon then tore the paper back, revealing a plain white box. She glanced between us before lifting the lid.

Silence. I actually thought I could hear “Silent Night” in the background now. That was almost a little too perfect.

Then my mom set her hand over her mouth and burst into tears. “Oh, my God! A baby? A real baby? I’m going to be a grandmother?”

“Yeah. You are.” I pulled her into my arms and held her for a moment. When I thought I could speak, I reached for Eric’s hand and cleared my throat. “We’re gonna be dads. And…it’s a big deal. We’re scared out of our minds, but we’re ready at the same time, if that makes any sense.”

“Trust me, I know exactly what you mean,” she said in a half laugh, half cry.

“I know you do. Sometimes, I think about how it was always just me and you. You probably weren’t ready for me, and I know that being a single parent wasn’t easy. I used to wish we had more family around. The non-judgmental kind who just want to be part of your life. Especially around the holidays. But as I got older I realized how lucky I was to have someone in my corner who devoted every resource she had to make my life richer. Not with money, but with experience. With opportunity.

“You made it possible for me to meet every person in this room, including the man I love. I didn’t have a dad, but I had…have an amazing mom. Even though I’m sure I’ll make mistakes, I think Eric and I are gonna be okay. And spending this holiday with my amazing mom, my husband, and the family we chose…this is the best Christmas ever.”

She sobbed as hugged Eric and me. I kissed their heads and then looked up at the faces of our friends looking on in the next room. I beckoned them over and laughed like a loon when Grant put Anna on his shoulders and raced to our sides. Everyone followed. Nick and Wes, Miles, Josh and Finn, Jeff and Lars, Danny and Ryan, Geordie and Levi… and even Lauren and her date.

“Gather round, everyone. Merry Christmas, my friends, my brothers… I love you guys. Group hug!”

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

bead

Leaning Into the Holidays- Part 3

Ta da! Part 3 is finally here! I apologize for the delay.  Somewhere between traveling and holiday preparations, I caught a cold. Not fun at all, and definitely not convenient during the holiday season. On the upside, this chapter is longer than the others. There’s one more installment coming. My plan is to post it before Christmas. *Fingers crossed… In the meantime, enjoy! And stay healthy!

*PS- Just 3 weeks until Out in the Offense is here!!! Woohoo!!

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays, Lane xo2014-12-21-17-29-41-1000x1500-56a388455f9b58b7d0d275b1Leaning Into the Holidays- Part 3

Eric’s POV-

Our friends stared at us as though they couldn’t quite process what Zane was saying. Of course, once the initial surprise wore off, it was a race to the finish to see who could come up with the expected hilarious quip.

“Eric, are you pregnant?” Nick and Josh asked at the same time.

A collective groan broke the silence, followed quickly by enthusiastic congratulations and a million questions of the basic “how, what and when” variety.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” “Surrogate or adoption?” “When, how, where?”

“We’re telling you now and you’re officially the first to know.” Zane raised his hands to high-five everyone like the winning contestant on Wheel of Fortune. “We haven’t even told our parents yet.”

“So keep talking,” Nick prodded, “When is the baby due? When do you find out what you’re having? Or is the baby already born and—”

Wes put his hand over Nick’s mouth and pressed a sloppy kiss on his fiancé’s cheek. “Let them tell us, Nicky.”

I squeezed Zane’s hand then set my wineglass on the island, and took a deep breath before launching into our story. “We have a surrogate. Her name is Darcy. She’s twenty-nine, unmarried and has a kid of her own. She’s sweet and smart and she’s been incredible. We’ve been working through this process for over a year. We wanted to adopt first and we thought we were close once, but everything fell through at the last second and it was…hard.”

“Very hard,” Zane agreed, pulling me close when my voiced cracked.

“We haven’t given up hope on adoption,” I said. “Maybe something will happen eventually, but we didn’t want to wait any longer. We opted to try the surrogate route and well,…Darcy’s pregnant!”

The room erupted in a new round of congratulations. And more questions.

“Do you trust her? I mean, this a big deal. She’s not going to change her mind and take all of your money and run, is she?” Nick asked.

“I seriously doubt it. She’s a good person and we trust her, but this is a huge decision that’s going to impact our lives forever. We aren’t going into this lightly. Besides, you know Eric. The contract is iron-clad and has been triple checked,” Zane teased, mussing my hair playfully.

“True.” Josh and Nick said in unison, followed by a sophomoric round of “jinx” that made everyone laugh and groan at the same time.

“You two are idiots,” I huffed without heat. “Hey, I admit it. I’m cautious. We’ve talked this decision through over and over. As in every day, multiple times a day. Believe me, we’re ready and we’re so fucking excited about this. We wanted to tell you sooner, but we decided to wait until we heard the baby’s heartbeat, so it felt super official.”

“You heard the heartbeat?” Grant asked excitedly.

“Actually no. I thought our appointment was Friday, but it’s Monday. I had big plans involving a video of the ultrasound and the baby waving to his or her guncles, but…I screwed up.” I flashed a sheepish glance at Miles before adding, “That probably wouldn’t have happened if you known.”

“I should have guessed, shouldn’t I? It’s my job as your secretary to know everything about you.” Miles frowned. “I noticed things, but I couldn’t figure it out.”

“What kind of things?” Zane asked.

“Little things. Every once in a while, Eric seemed withdrawn or upset for no particular reason. If I didn’t know him so well, I’d have thought you were having marital problems. But you guys seemed closer than ever, so yeah…this makes a lot of sense.” He smiled warmly at Zane and me and then bit his bottom lip as if to hold back emotion. “Wow. I’m so happy for you both.”

When Miles’s eyes welled with tears, I moved to his side and hugged him impulsively. “Thanks, Mi.”

I had a soft spot for Miles. He was kind of like the younger brother I was supposed to mentor who always seemed to be a step or two ahead of me. He effortlessly paired his sassy, in-your-face persona with an innate kindness that drew people to him. Or maybe it was his sense of fun and his ability to find humor in odd times. In a lot of ways, he was Grant’s exact opposite. Miles was tall and very lean with a shock of auburn hair and a quirky sense of fashion while Grant was model handsome with dark hair, olive skin and hazel eyes. They might be an unexpected couple to some, but I knew them both well and I couldn’t help noticing that they brought out the best in each other.  The same way Wes understood Nick’s idiosyncrasies and Finn and Josh balanced out one another.

Grant perched on the barstool nearby and gently tugged on Miles’s belt loop until he stepped back and leaned against Grant’s knee.

“So, do you know what you’re having? And what about the due date?” Grant prodded insistently.

“Damn Grantster. Are you guys next?” Josh asked with a half laugh.

“Maybe,” he replied with a shrug.

Miles flashed an amused sideways glance at his fiancé. “Honey, you gotta put a ring on it before we’re having any kids.”

“Oh, I will,” Grant singsonged.

I chuckled at their antics as I reached for my Chardonnay. “To answer your question, we won’t know if it’s a boy or a girl until mid-February. And…he or she will be here mid-July.”

“When are you telling your parents?” Finn asked.

“At Christmas. My mom is gonna flip. This is much better than that yoga mat she wanted.” Zack skirted the island and set a slice of pizza on a plate and slid it toward me. “Eat up, babe.”

I smiled my thanks before taking a sip of wine. “Mine will be over the moon too. I just have to mentally prepare myself for the questions about whether or not we’re raising our child in the Jewish faith.”

“Well, are you?” Nick asked as he popped the top off a beer and leaned against the counter.

“Yes,” I replied quickly. “But we’ll celebrate all the holidays that are important to Zane too. They’ll think it’s weird to have a menorah and a Christmas tree, but they’ll get over it. Evenutally. I hope.”

“They will,” Zane assured me around a bite of pizza. “And maybe they’ll even want to help us decorate it.”

I snorted in amusement. “Yeah, I don’t think so. But that’s okay. This is our tradition. Some day in the not too distant future I can see us gathered around a giant tree with all of our kids running around us, jacked up on too much sugar while Mariah Carey sings about what she really wants for Christmas. Anna Banana will be the head elf in charge. Being the oldest should come with perks, right?”

“Right.” Josh beamed proudly.

“And what are we going to be doing?” Grant asked.

“We’ll be watching them and reminiscing about days like today when we knew everything was about to change. Somehow I think it’s about to get better.” I stood abruptly and raised my glass. “Let’s drink to that. To friendship. To our beginning when everything was new and nothing seemed impossible. To the people we’ve met along the way who’ve made our lives richer. And to our future generation. I can’t wait to see where we go, boys. Cheers.”

Everyone lifted their glasses…or beer or water bottles, in a toast. I was about to suggest that we get started decorating the tree when Nick waved his free hand above his head to get everyone’s attention.

“Wait. I want to say something.” Nick raised his beer bottle and fixed with an earnest look.  “To Eric and Zane. And to your incredibly lucky son or daughter. Congratulations. On behalf of all of us, baby Schuster Richards has…” He paused to scan the group gathered around the island before continuing. “…Six uncles who can’t wait to spoil him or her rotten.”

“Ten,” Wes corrected. “Don’t forget the boys in Napa. Geordie and Levi, and Ryan and Danny. By the way, Geordie is gonna go crazy when he hears your news. Prepare yourselves for an enthusiastic congratulations at the winery party next weekend.”

“And take your Range Rover. The oversized stuffed bunny he bought when we were expecting Anna didn’t fit in my car,” Finn advised with a laugh.

“Oh boy. I remember that. And thank you, Nick.”

“We appreciate it,” Zane slipped his arms around my waist and pointed at the tree in the bay window. “Now it’s time to decorate that bad boy. If I catch anyone hanging all the balls in clumps or on the bottom, I’m gonna kick some ass. I don’t want to spend my night fixing the tree after you yahoos leave later and Eric isn’t happy with the ball placement.”

“That sounds like a personal problem, Z,” Josh quipped.

“Ha ha…or ho ho. Let’s fuckin’ do this!”

“And on that note, cheers!” We clinked our drinks noisily against Nick’s and then shuffled around the island, piling pizza and salads onto our plate before moving into the living area to gather around the tree.

The sound of familiar voice, chatting above the strains of George Michael’s “This Christmas” warmed my heart. This was a good home. A safe place filled with love and laughter. I loved my husband and I love these people. I was grateful to have friends who truly felt like family. And I couldn’t wait for our son or daughter to meet them.

 

Today was a big day and I was nervous as hell. I wished I hadn’t poured that fourth cup of coffee. My heart raced and my palms were sweaty. The only thing keeping me from spirally out of control was knowing Zane felt the same way. My normally easygoing husband looked anxious and uncomfortable. Other than greeting Darcy in the chic lobby of at the doctor’s office, he hadn’t said a word.

I leaned against his side as though I couldn’t hear our peppy surrogate highlight the details of her ongoing battle with morning sickness. Truthfully, I wanted an excuse to touch Zane, but I was also desperate for every little scrap of information she gave us. I wanted to know that she was eating well and getting enough sleep. If she felt even a twinge of discomfort, I wanted to know  how we could help. I thought about asking her to move into our Marina townhouse for the duration of her pregnancy, but Zane hadn’t liked the idea.

“First of all, we don’t really have the room and secondly, I don’t want to be on my best behavior for nine whole months,” he groused.

“She knows we’re married. I’m sure she knows we sleep in the same bed and do stuff.”

Zane threw back his head and laughed. “Do stuff. See? You can’t even say ‘fuck’ without blushing. And that’s at the idea of someone overhearing us. Besides, she has a kid and a routine of her own. Our job is to be supportive. Not to smother her. We’ve been very clear that if she needs anything…even if it’s just someone to talk to, we’re always available.”

Except he wasn’t particularly ‘available’ at the moment. He was internally freaking out. When we embarked on this journey, we agreed that if one of us was overwhelmed by the specter of parenthood, the other should step up. It was my turn.

“…woke up feeling fine. I had a light breakfast, took Jack to preschool and barely made it home before I puked,” Darcy reported matter-of-factly.

“Do you think it was something you ate?” I asked.

Darcy pushed her long blonde hair behind her ear and grinned. She was a naturally pretty young woman with big blue eyes and high cheekbones who rarely wore makeup. She claimed it was a big day if she bothered with mascara. She taught yoga at a studio in Pacific Heights and worked part time selling olive oil at a kiosk in the Ferry Building. It was a family-owned business she’d helped expand with her older sister after they’d graduated from college. In some ways, she reminded me a lot of Zane’s mom. She had a sunny demeanor and seemed to read people well. Like now.

“I’m fine now. In fact, I’m hungry. I could go for three quarter pounders from McDonald’s, two orders of fries, a chocolate milk shake. What d’ya say, Zane? Are you in?” she asked.

The twinkle in her eyes gave her away, but Zane wasn’t quick on the uptake this morning. He jolted and shot a panicky glance at her. “I thought you didn’t eat fast food.”

“Oh, I don’t. Usually.” She snapped her fingers and grinned. “Ice cream sounds better. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s Double Fudge Brownie. Make it two pints. And a jar of pickles. I love pickles.”

Zane opened his mouth and closed it twice before turning to me. “Is that normal?”

I shrugged. “Maybe. But I also think she’s playing with you, honey.”

Zane frowned at Darcy and huffed. “Play with Eric. He’s smarter than me, and he’s cool and collected. I’m a mess.”

“Relax, Zane. Everything is fine.” She smiled at him kindly and set her hand over his. “I promise. You don’t have to—”

“Darcy Malecki?”

“Yay! That’s us. Come on, Dads.”

I watched Darcy head to the reception desk to check in before nudging Zane’s elbow. “This is it. Are you ready?”

“No. Fuck, Er. I’m not ready at all. What if something’s wrong? What if there’s no heartbeat? What if we have to start from zero all over again and—”

“Zane, baby, look at me.” I waited for him to obey. “Whatever happens, we’re in this together. You aren’t doing this alone. We’re family.”

He nodded mutely then looked into my eyes. “I don’t know if I told you this today, but…I love you so much.”

My heart was close to bursting. I bit the inside of my cheek and whispered, “I love you too. Come on. She’s waiting for us.”

We were escorted to a small room with a wide window overlooking a parking structure and a slew of equipment including a monitor stationed next the paper-covered bed or lounge or whatever it was called. I swiped my damp hands on my suit pants and studied the chart of female reproductive system above the petite sink in the corner. Nothing put a gay man back into neutral faster, I mused, starting when a nurse knocked on the door.

She greeted us warmly and asked Darcy a few general questions about how she was feeling as she took her vitals. “Pretty good. Morning sickness isn’t fun, but it doesn’t last long.”

“Lucky you. Well, your blood pressure and heart rate are normal. I’ll back in a sec with Dr. Wu. I’m sure you’re all ready to meet your baby,” she said.

“Perfect. Thank you,” I replied.

I set my hand on Zane’s hip and smiled at Darcy. “It’s kind of nice that you’ve been through this before. You’re so calm and we’re…not.”

“If you’re nervous, it means you care. And it makes me think this kid is going to be very well taken care of. But like I told you, I really am fine. Today, is when things get fun. You’ll get your first chance to meet your new person.” Darcy’s grin was contagious.

“Thanks.” Zane met her gaze as he laced his fingers in mine. “For everything.”

“It’s just the beginning, Zane. We’ve got a ways to go still,” she reminded him with a chuckle.

Another knock interrupted us. This time a tall woman with short dark hair and a lab coat joined the nurse. She introduced herself as Dr. Wu, made idle chitchat that basically covered all the same general health questions the nurse had asked, and then instructed Darcy to lift her shirt and expose her stomach. She turned to the ultrasound equipment and liberally gelled Darcy’s lower belly before moving a wand-like instrument over the slick skin. She didn’t speak for a long moment. She kept her eyes locked on the monitor with an intensity that worried me.

“Do you see anything?” I asked anxiously.

Dr. Wu smiled. “I do indeed. Look here.”

“Where? That little pea shape?”

“Yes. That little pea is your baby. He or she is actually closer to a strawberry in size right now.”

“And that’s good, right?” Zane asked.

“It’s very good. And right here, we have the heart. Can you hear?” She turned up the volume and gave Zane and me an expectant nod. “That’s a nice, strong sound.”

I furrowed my brow as a whoosh of static broke the silence followed by a distinctive beat. I opened my mouth and stared at Zane with a wild-eyed look as the sound echoed in the room.

Zane brushed at the tears welling in his eyes and grinned at me. “That’s our kid, Er. Our baby.”

To be continued…

OUT IN THE OFFENSE COVER REVEAL!

It’s here! The cover and blurb for Out in the Offense is revealed! Check out this gorgeous new cover by Reese Dante for Book 3 in my Out in College series, coming January 10.OutInTheOffense-1400x2100

Out in the Offense is Book 3 in my new Out in Sports series set at a Southern California university. This one belongs to Christian and Rory and the sport…football! If you’ve read Out in the End Zone  you might remember that Christian is the quarterback and undisputed leader of the offense. He has a very big secret he’d like to keep at least until  graduation, but he has to pass statistics first. Math has always been Christians’s most dreaded school subject (I can relate!), but his new tutor makes things very interesting. Rory is tattooed bad boy slash former wrestler who happens to be a genius. When an unexpected friendship leads to something more, Christian realizes he has a lot to learn from the former wrestler about bravery, honesty and finding his own truth. Something tells him he can have it all if he finds the courage to come out on offense. Including love.

Out in the Offense will be released January 10. Be sure to mark your calendars and Goodreads pages! Also, Joyfully Jay is hosting the exclusive cover reveal today. Be sure to stop for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

Blurb for Out in the Offense by Lane Hayes:

Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.