Excerpt: Rebound

Rebound will be available from Dreamspinner Press starting December 1, 2013 for individual download or as part of the 2013 Advent Calendar. Since there is no excerpt up on the site yet I am posting one here.

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Christmas is a time for peace, love, and goodwill toward mankind. Not! More like cheating exes and absentee friends. For Emmett Byrd, spending the holiday season with his old college friend Terry in San Diego is supposed to be about mending his broken heart. But when Terry deserts him at the last minute, leaving Emmett alone in his condo for Christmas, it’s just the icing on the cake of a crappy year full of betrayal and lost love. The only Christmas spirit this Scrooge is feeling is the alcoholic kind. Then, a slightly kooky, unsophisticated farm boy named Sky knocks on the door looking for Terry, and a case of mistaken identity reawakens Emmett’s hope in happily ever after.

Rebound, 60 pages. Available December 1 from DSP

“You’re sush a dick.” Emmett Byrd cursed for what he figured had to be the billionth time since he arrived. He ignored the increasing slur in his words as he drained the last drops of wine from the bottle into his glass. Drinking from expensive crystal stemware made getting hammered far more civilized, he told himself as he toasted the life-size black-and-white art photo of Terry’s nude, well-defined body, which dominated an entire wall of the living room. His friend—scratch that, ex-friend—glanced coquettishly over his shoulder, eyes down, a hint of smile to his lips as if teasing the viewer; the light and shadow played off the muscles in his back and ass as he flexed, highlighting the tattoo at the base of his spine. The effect was visually arresting even if it was incredibly pretentious. The photographer was talented—Terry, not so much. “Sheriously. Could you be any more conceited?” Emmett muttered, his voice booming in Terry’s empty, sterile condo.

Emmett hated this place, hated the hard stained concrete floors, the stark white walls and uncomfortable chrome and leather furniture. Fashionable but empty. Just like Terry. It so wasn’t him. His practical nature had always preferred function over form and comfort over style, no matter how much Andy had tried to steer him in the other direction. It was a good thing too, since he was back on a modest single income again and style could be damned expensive.

Two weeks ago, in a moment of loneliness, he had agreed to keep a newly brokenhearted Terry company for the holidays. Since Emmett was well into the seventh month of his own suddenly solitary life, it had seemed the perfect solution—a chance to commiserate together—and, at the time, it had beaten a cold and snowy Christmas alone in Chicago; however, at the moment the only thing that had changed for Emmett was the scenery.

He had arrived in San Diego on Friday, ready to start the pity party Terry had promised him, only to find Terry packing his Louis Vuittons for a weeklong fuck fest in Palm Springs with his on-again, off-again boyfriend, Rick. Somehow during the course of Emmett’s four-and-a-half-hour flight from Chicago, Rick had gone from “off” to “on-again.” Emmett might have been happy for them, except for the fact that Terry and Rick’s volatile relationship hit the skids every other month, and Emmett was the primary recipient of Terry’s drunken texts. Now, the one time Emmett needed a shoulder of his own to cry on, his friend went AWOL. “But it’s different this time,” insisted Terry as he dropped his keys on the counter and ran out to Rick’s idling Beemer. Sure it was. Until the next time one or both of them got restless and decided to pick up a trick in a bar and the other got jealous. Emmett grimaced. Was there any man out there who wouldn’t disappoint him?

Finishing the last of his wine, Emmett flopped down onto the black leather Barcelona chair, forgetting too late that one did not flop onto furniture that cost more than his monthly rent payment. He winced as his butt hit the rock-hard cushion. Immediately, sweat began to collect along the backs of his thighs as his shorts rode up and his bare skin stuck to the leather. Great, just another perfect turd in the toilet bowl of his life.

So here he was now, two days before Christmas—his first in twelve years without Andy (the asshole)—alone in Terry’s Mission Beach town house instead of alone in Chicago, working his way through Terry’s ample wine fridge. On the upside, Terry had enough bottles to last until next week if he was careful, or the day after Christmas if he wasn’t. The latter scenario was looking more likely. And, unlike Emmett’s of late, Terry’s wine did not come in a box.

Half the problem was that it didn’t even feel like Christmas with the palm trees outside the window and the warm breeze blowing through the patio doors. It was hard to stay angry and depressed when the sun kept shining, and dammit, he wanted to stay angry and depressed. Emmett never thought he’d miss the cold and the snow, but right now he did. Almost as much as he missed Christmas shopping on Michigan Avenue with Andy—although to be fair, they hadn’t done that in years—or preparing for the big party they always hosted on Christmas Eve for Andy’s work friends. Even the sound of the ocean, discernible over the traffic, was nothing but an irritation to his irascible senses. He was assailed with an unexpected bout of homesickness that brought tears to his eyes. Oh, well, nothing another bottle of Terry’s finest wouldn’t cure, Emmett mused. He wondered if Terry had taken his stash of weed with him. Maybe he’d search for it later.

The doorbell rang just as Emmett detached himself from the leather chair with a loud ripping sound. He checked to make sure that he hadn’t left a pound of flesh behind and then had to clutch the backrest as the room spun. What a lightweight. He’d never really been able to hold his liquor, although he definitely made for a cheap drunk. Emmett shuffled to the door and peered through the spy hole, but his view was blocked by a field of blue-and-white plaid. With a grumble he yanked open the door and was nearly squashed when the big blond man leaning against it tumbled into the foyer. He had a quick thought that it wouldn’t have been so bad to be squashed beneath that hard plaid-covered chest. Even in his pleasantly inebriated state, Emmett felt a jolt of surprise; it had been a long time since he noticed things like that.

“Oh, hey, sorry,” rumbled the man, who, although taller than Emmett, wasn’t as big as he first seemed. At Emmett’s height, everyone seemed big. “I nearly squashed you there.” He cocked his shaggy blond head and gazed at Emmett with the darkest blue eyes Emmett had ever seen. “You’re not Terry.”

Since Terry was six feet tall, slender, and platinum blond, and Emmett barely made five foot seven, was perpetually rumpled, with a dark buzz cut and black-rimmed glasses, the comment was ridiculous. Bitchy, drunk Emmett came out to play. “Really? How could you tell? Maybe we’re twins.”

“Nah, you don’t look anything alike,” the man said with true sincerity. Emmett blinked in surprise, wondering just how drunk he was. “Is Terry here?” the blond asked with a smile that could melt the polar ice caps. A set of delicious dimples peaked through a day’s worth of golden peach fuzz.

Oh, Christ, not another one.

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