#FirstChapterFriday from The Romantic
an eXtasy books editor's pick
Two months after the funeral, Luke Kirby stood in the garden of his apartment and cried. Huge tears ran down his face. They dripped from his chin onto the leaves of a shrub. Martin, his oldest friend, had persuaded him to go out to their favorite bar that night. Luke didn’t think he could face it, and then as he lifted his hand to wipe the tears from his face, a huge dragonfly whirred close to his head and landed on the shrub. Its iridescent wings shone blue and purple in the sunlight. The colors reflected off his fallen teardrops. The strangest feeling trickled over Luke. It put a shiver up his spine, and he whispered, “Take my pain with you when you fly away. I can’t go on like this. It’s no good always wishing I’d said more—done more.”
As if it heard him, the dragonfly took off from the leaf in a shimmer of flight. Luke watched it whirl away over the wattle fence. He glanced at the leaf where the insect had landed. His teardrops were inexplicably gone. The sight lifted his spirits.
That evening, Luke took more care with his appearance than he had in a long time. He used the cologne that sat gathering dust on his bathroom shelf. He dressed in his dark-gray Italian suit that he’d always thought was so cool with a black t-shirt. When his doorbell rang, he went to answer it without the sodden feeling of unshed tears that had dogged him for months.
Martin grinned at him from the doorstep. “You look, well—better. I’m double-parked, so let’s go.”
Luke’s friend inched his sleek sedan into a tight parking spot two streets away from the bar. He grinned at Luke as he shut off the engine and took his keys from the ignition. “This will do you good. It’s time you went out—time to kiss another guy, at least. Don’t you think?”
Luke smiled on hearing the affection and hope in Martin’s voice. “I don’t know about that, but thanks for making me go out tonight.” He followed his friend into the bar, worrying if he could cope with being among crowds. Work was one thing because he loved his job, but socializing, well…
The music alone cheered him. The crowd of guys, some with their heads together talking, some openly kissing, brought a smile back onto his face. His friend only ever drank orange juice, but Luke ordered a beer when Martin insisted on buying. The chilled bottle with its starred label felt familiar. Luke relaxed.
Just before midnight, when Luke was leaning on the far end of the bar nursing his second beer, a guy approached him. He came out of nowhere and stood so close, Luke laughed.
“You’re gorgeous. I’m Chris. How about dancing with me?”
Luke gazed at the man. Handsome, clean-shaven, sexy, dark eyes. “Okay.” He put his beer on the counter. A smile sprang on his face as the guy took his hand and brought him onto the dance floor. Chris must have timed his approach because the song was slow and the dancers held each other close. Luke let the guy pull him into his arms.
Chris rested his forehead on Luke’s. He whispered, “What’s your name?”
Luke enjoyed the closeness. He soaked up the pleasure of being in a man’s arms. “Luke.”
Chris drifted his hands down Luke’s back and rested his palms on Luke’s ass.
Luke smiled to himself at the move. He swayed with Chris to the melody flowing from the speakers fixed high on the bar walls.
Slowly, Chris brought his lips to Luke’s and kissed him.
Luke took the kiss without returning it. He waited to find out how he felt with a man’s mouth on his own. It’s good but… Instead of eliciting a sexual response, the soft merge of lips only soothed him. As the song ended and changed to a thumping dance beat, he allowed Chris to walk him to the wall and push him against it.
Chris pressed the length of his body close. He kissed Luke hard.
The shape of Chris’s erection evident on his lower body, Luke stopped enjoying the kiss, and drew his face away. With as much gentleness as he could gather, he moved back from Chris. “Thanks for the dance and the kiss.” He wove through the crowd to the bar, and seeing Martin talking with a couple of guys he, too, knew, he joined them.
On the drive home, Martin quizzed him. “I saw you dancing with a guy. He was cute. How was it?”
Luke heaved a sigh. “Okay, weird, we kissed. It was good, comforting and then I, I just didn’t want it anymore.”
Martin had stopped at a red light. He glanced at Luke. “You’ll be fine. I know it. A few more kisses and dances, and you’ll be okay. You’ll want sex again.” Martin drove on.
Luke stared out of the window at the Saturday night revelers teaming out of clubs and bars. I want to find love. To be loved.
Copyright Elodie Parkes 2018 eXtasy Books
Handsome Luke Kirby loves books, so when he finds boxes of old and beautiful tomes in a dusty shop, he can’t resist buying them. To his delight one of them contains what he hopes will bring an end to his loneliness and heartache. As he prepares to cast an ancient prayer spell to the god of love, across town Ethan Goss decides that moving to a new apartment will ease his broken heart.
With the help of an eccentric real estate agent, gorgeous Ethan goes to a viewing in the block where Luke lives.
When Luke meets Ethan in the lobby, it’s the start of a passionate love affair.
Fate hasn’t finished with the two handsome men—will true happiness evade them both?