Exclusive excerpt from A Present for Daddy

My latest e-book release is a gay romance novelette entitled A Present for Daddy.

Some of my favorite stories to write are those about best friends who feel more than friendship for each other, but for whatever reason, don’t act on those feelings. In this story, Bob and Dave were very close growing up, and Dave felt they might eventually have a bond stronger than friendship. He hoped they might … at least, until Julia entered the picture. She interrupted their friendship senior year of high school when Bob fell for her, and Dave took a back seat to the couple’s budding relationship.¬†Unfortunately¬† after graduation Dave lost touch with Bob completely, and it’s only through a holiday coincidence they meet up again years later.

When they do, Dave is a successful ad-man at a local mall in the city where they grew up, and where Bob’s parents still live. Bob’s marriage with Julia went south — she left him six months prior to the story, and served him divorce papers the day he left to visit his parents for Christmas. In tow is Bob’s 7-year-old daughter Jenna, whose letter to Santa this year asked for something special Bob’s afraid he won’t be able to give her.

The connection between Bob and Dave is as immediate — and as powerful — as it was all those years ago. The two men spend the night catching up with each other, though the painful subject of his ruined marriage leads Bob to drink more than he should. Instead of driving home, he decides to visit Dave’s apartment, where one things leads to another and …

Well, here’s an exclusive excerpt from the story that tells it a little better!

Excerpt from A Present for Daddy:

The rest of the room stretches away in darkness. Dave disappears for a moment, then turns on a floor lamp in the main room. A well-worn sofa along one wall faces a huge, flat screen TV. There’s also a recliner, a coffee table covered with empty soda cans and an oil-soaked pizza box, and a large aquarium full of colorful rocks and a handful of small fish. “The living room,” Dave explains. “My TV.”

“It’s huge,” I say.

He teases, “That’s what they all say.”

For a moment, I stare at the blank screen, unsure what he’s talking about. Who says it? Then the sexual innuendo beneath his words hits me, and I snicker. Looking to change the subject, I point at the aquarium. “You have fish.”

“You’re so right.” Dave turns on a switch that lights up the fish tank and stares into the water at the moving creatures within. I join him, and I can see our reflection in the glass, our hands folded behind our backs, our faces side by side up against the glass. In a low whisper, Dave admits, “I have something like four hundred channels on satellite, and sometimes this is the only thing worth watching.”

“They look pretty boring,” I admit. In these close quarters, I can smell the reek of alcohol on my breath.

Dave nods. “Yeah, they are.”

That sets me snickering again. He stands and claps me on the back. “We’re halfway through the tour now, folks. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on your way out and pick up a souvenir to commemorate your visit. If nothing else, let the girl behind the register validate your parking.”

I laugh at his goofiness. “My car’s at the mall.”

“No problem,” he says. “The shuttle bus runs every half hour. If you want to see the rest of the place …?”

“Sure, I’d love to.”

Off to the right is a tiny closet which houses an artificial Christmas tree, a vacuum cleaner, and not much else. Beside that is a small bathroom. “Have to keep the door open a crack or I forget which is which,” Dave says. He leans in to click on the light, showing me white tiles and a stainless steel sink. “Don’t want to piss in the Christmas tree in the middle of the night.”

“Why isn’t the tree up?” I want to know.

“It is,” Dave argues. “I never take it down. It’s easier that way.”

I glance around the living room, which is suspiciously devoid of any holiday trappings. “No, I mean, why isn’t it out here? Decorated and shit?”

Dave shrugs. “Too much trouble. Who’s going to see it, anyway?”

“You,” I argue.

But he shakes his head. “I work at the mall, Bobby. I have Christmas shoved down my throat all damn day. I don’t need it waiting for me when I get home at night, too.”

Still, it seems sad, the tree tucked away in a closet despite the season. It puts a somber tone to my mood, and I can feel the beer bringing me down. The buzz is dissipating. One more room to see on the tour, and I’ll head back to the kitchen for another bottle to pick me up again. Under my breath, I mutter, “You really should put up the tree.”

But Dave is already moving on, into a short hallway off the living room that ends at an open door. The darkness beyond is absolute, but Dave plunges in fearlessly. I step inside and wait for him to turn on a light. When he does, it’s just a little lamp beside a large, full-size bed. A golden glow casts over the disheveled bedspread and doesn’t light up much else in the room.

“Where I sleep,” Dave announces, flopping onto the bed.

I cross the room and sink down beside him on the mattress. The top cover is a quilted comforter, and under that is a soft, chenille blanket. I lay back and hug the blanket around me. It smells manly, a musky, deep scent that’s soothing. My eyes close on their own. My whole body seems to melt back against the bed, exhaustion pinning me down, the beer making me drowsy. I blink once, then can’t seem to be bothered to open my eyes again. I sigh, content. Going to retrieve my cold car in the empty mall parking lot seems light years away.

The bed shifts as Dave settles down beside me. “I’ve always dreamed of this,” he murmurs. “You, here, with me. In my bed.”

That sounds like a silly thing to say, but I don’t argue. I can’t, I’m too tired. Too much has happened, too fast. I feel a gentle hand brush back the hair from my brow, then something warm and damp and soft touches the spot between my eyebrows. It lingers there a moment, then moves to touch the tip of my nose.

A kiss.

I half-turn, eyes opening in surprise, but before I can protest, Dave leans down a third time and presses those warm, damp, soft lips of his against my mouth.

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