Join Prism Book Alliance® as Brigham Vaughn goes Outside the Margins today.
To celebrate her birthday, Brandilyn sent us OTM authors two picture prompts that we could take and write flash fics for. When I saw the second photo, I immediately knew I had to post an outtake from “Connection” because the guy in it is exactly how I pictured one of the main characters in the story this whole time. From the moment Evan appeared in “Partners” as a minor character, Brandilyn’s been begging me to write his story and I’m so excited to share his story with you.
It’s been a slow process but now that life is settling down, I should be able to release the book this fall. With Brandilyn’s permission, I am posting a (long) teaser for the story.
To give you a little background, Evan Harris is 21 and shy but eager to explore life now that he’s living in Atlanta on his own. Jeremy Lewis is 36 and was severely injured in a car accident when he was roughly Evan’s age. A cocky, fun-loving guy, the accident took its toll on his confidence and depressed, he’s resigned himself to a sexless, loveless future.
Evan’s shaken him out of the depressed rut, but Jeremy’s struggling to believe that he can offer Evan what he deserves.
One night, they met up for burgers; they’d both had shitty days at work and Evan had a drink on an empty stomach which made him a little tipsy. The second drink while he ate sent him over the edge. Jeremy didn’t mind—better for Evan to get used to being drunk with him than someone he didn’t trust—but he was a little worried when they left the restaurant. He’d drive Evan home if the thought of getting behind the wheel of a car didn’t send him into a blind panic. For the first time in years it bothered him he didn’t—couldn’t—drive and worst of all, he couldn’t take care of Evan because of it.
“How about you take the bus home?” he suggested and Evan pursed his lips.
“Yeah, I guess I shouldn’t drive.”
“I’d really rather you didn’t.” Jeremy’s voice came out tight, and a little strained at the thought of Evan driving in that condition.
Evan nodded, head bobbing as he handed his keys to Jeremy. “You’d worry about me, wouldn’t you?”
Jeremy’s heart clenched. “Yeah, kid, I would. The thought of you getting into an accident …” A shudder ran down his spine. Jeremy had seen pictures of the wreck he’d been in and the twisted mess of metal was something he should never have gotten out of alive. Sure, it had been touch and go for a while, but the fact he had survived was a miracle, even if Jeremy didn’t really believe in those. The thought of Evan in an accident like his was painful. “C’mon, I’ll take you home on the bus, then tomorrow we can pick up your car.” Jeremy worked in the evening and he knew Evan had the day off, so it was no big deal.
“I’ve never ridden the bus,” Evan said, swaying a little on his feet. “’Cept the school bus when I was little.”
Jeremy slipped an arm under his shoulder, trying to convince himself the only reason he felt better having Evan in his arms was because it meant he wasn’t going to fall over. “Come on, it’ll be an adventure,” he coaxed, and Evan’s face lit up.
“I like those. At least I think I do. Never really had one.” He sighed, and a whiff of booze washed over Jeremy. “Always wanted one though. Want lots of things I’ve never had.”
Oh, Jesus, Jeremy thought. This night is not going to end well for either of us. He had a feeling he knew exactly what kind of drunk Evan was going to be. Cuddly and needy, a little sad, and impossible to resist.
“Let’s stick with the bus adventure tonight,” Jeremy said, realizing he was implying they might try something else another time, which was a terrible idea. Oh well, chances were Evan was going to forget everything that happened tonight anyway. The kid was a lightweight. “Come on.”
Evan wasn’t stumbling drunk so getting him to the bus stop had more to do with keeping him focused than keeping him upright. They didn’t have to wait long for the bus and—if Jeremy was being honest with himself—he didn’t mind Evan hanging off him, although he propped himself against a lamppost to keep the strain off his leg. Evan probably didn’t weigh more than 150 pounds though so despite the fact he was roughly the same height as Jeremy he was easy to hold up.
When they got on the bus and took a seat, Evan’s head landed on Jeremy’s shoulder. He glanced around and felt grateful that in Bucktown no one gave them a second glance. There were half a dozen stops between the entertainment district of Bucktown and the cross street near Evan’s apartment, so Jeremy let Evan cuddle close. He did his best to pretend like it wasn’t eating him up inside that he was going to have to tuck Evan in bed, then walk away.
Evan seemed more alert as they stepped off the bus though and he pointed down Rumson street as the bus pulled away. “I live down there.”
Jeremy nodded, but he didn’t let go of Evan. “Want me to walk with you?”
Evan pulled away and crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m not a child, Jeremy.”
“Hey, I know you’re not, but this is an unfamiliar city. You’ve barely been here six months, right? And you’ve been drinking. I’m just looking out for you.”
A look of remorse flashed across Evan’s face as he muttered, “Sorry.” He began walking, so Jeremy followed. “Sometimes I worry you think about me that way. As some annoying kid you have to take care of. Sometimes I feel like everyone sees me that way.”
Jeremy laughed at Evan’s ridiculous idea. “I don’t think of you as a kid, Evan, no matter what I call you.” No, he was all too aware Evan was a horny, twenty-one year old guy who wanted to get laid. Why Evan wanted Jeremy was a mystery, but damn it, he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t attracted to Evan. It would be so much easier if that attraction wasn’t there, but the more he got to know Evan, the more he wanted him. “Never have,” he admitted. “I’m—I’m sorry I’m not the kind of guy who can give you what you deserve though.”
Evan blinked at him. “What does that even mean?”
Sighing, Jeremy shook off the question. “Never mind. We can talk about this when you haven’t been drinking.”
“Oookay,” Evan agreed, still sounding confused. “This is my apartment,” Evan said as he turned to walk up the sidewalk that led to a small brick apartment building. Apparently the food and time were doing their job because he seemed steadier as he walked ahead of Jeremy who tried not to stare at Evan’s tight little ass and wonder what it would feel like in his hands. Evan paused in front of the door to the building and Jeremy cleared his throat.
“Guess I should let you go then,” Jeremy said, feeling strangely reluctant.
Evan blinked at him. “You could … come with me.”
Jeremy brushed his thumb over Evan’s lower lip. “Oh, kid, you have no idea how much I wish I could.”
“Is it your leg? ‘Cause I’m fine with whatever we do.”
Yeah, it was his leg, and his scars, and the fact he was fifteen years older than the sweet young thing in front of him. It was that he was bitter and jaded as hell and this adorable kid deserved way fucking better than him, especially for his first time. “It’s a lot of things.” Jeremy’s sigh was regretful and heartfelt.
Evan blinked, and even in the streetlight Jeremy could see they were watery with tears. “I know I’m not—”
“No!” Jeremy cut him off. “Jesus, no, Evan, it’s not you at all. Please get that idea through your head. I’m a fucking mess and it wouldn’t be a good idea. For either of us. Plus, you’ve been drinking and I’m not touching you when you can’t make a choice with a clear head.” Oh God, why was he resorting to using alcohol as an excuse? That should be the least of it but it was something easy to grasp on to at the moment.
“What about a kiss? That’s all I’m asking for, Jeremy. Just one kiss.” Evan’s hands gripped the front of Jeremy’s shirt and all of a sudden he was so close.
He smelled good, soapy and clean, and Jeremy could picture Evan in the shower, white foam dripping down his narrow back to the hollow at the base of his spine. Jeremy’s hands were there at Evan’s waist before he knew it, pulling Evan closer. He felt shaky, like his equilibrium was well and truly fucked, and apparently so was his judgment, because instead of doing what he knew was smart, he was doing the complete opposite. What he’d wanted to do since they met.
Evan closed his eyes and his lashes were wet and clumped together. It only served to remind Jeremy of Evan’s age, but they were nearly the same height. Evan was, in fact, an adult. An adult who was aroused at the moment, if the hardness pressing against Jeremy’s thigh was any indication.
“Oh fuck I’m going to regret this, kid,” he whispered against Evan’s lips.
“I won’t.” In the end, it was Evan who closed the distance between their mouths, mashing his lips against Jeremy’s. His mouth was hungry and clumsy, but when Jeremy dragged his thumb down Evan’s spine, he shuddered and his lips softened. Jeremy pulled up every trick he could remember, coaxing Evan to follow his lead. When Jeremy teased the tip of his tongue against the seam of Evan’s lips, he opened a little.
When their tongues touched for the first time, Evan jerked in his arms and slammed his mouth harder against Jeremy’s. There was no denying the kiss was awkward but the fumbling effort still sent a shudder through Jeremy and made him wonder why he’d tried to deny himself for so long. He lifted his left arm, cradling the back of Evan’s head, showing him exactly how much pressure to use, and the kiss went from awkward to sweet. When they finally found the perfect rhythm it made Jeremy’s head swim.
For long, precious moments Jeremy forgot everything but Evan. There was just the guy in his arms who shivered every time Jeremy nipped at his lower lip and groaned when Jeremy deepened the kiss. Just Evan, who reminded Jeremy of all of the things he’d denied himself for so long. Evan who fit against him like he’d been made to be tucked close to Jeremy’s chest.
Evan threw his arms around Jeremy’s neck as he pressed closer, his cock rubbing against Jeremy’s with an eager desperation that completely unhinged him.
It wasn’t until Jeremy shifted wrong and a staggering pain ripped through his thigh and hip that he returned to reality. He gasped and fell back, propping himself against the door as he gritted his teeth to keep from crying out. For a few minutes, he’d forgotten his fucked up leg, his shitty life, his plan to never allow a man to get close again. But the pain was an abrupt reminder of why he couldn’t do this. His erection was gone in a haze of agony and stomach-churning nausea.
Evan stared at him with worried eyes. “Did I do something wrong? Did I hurt you?”
“No.” Jeremy took a deep, shuddering breath and spoke through gritted teeth. “My fault. I moved wrong.”
Evan reached for him and Jeremy held out his hand to stop him. “Don’t.”
He watched Evan’s face crumple and his shoulders sag. “Was it that bad?”
Jeremy forced himself to stand upright, reach for Evan’s face, coax him to lift his gaze to meet Jeremy’s. “It was that good.”
Hope flickered across Evan’s face and Jeremy knew he’d have to dash it. “It was good, so good I forgot about my leg. That’s why I can’t do this, Evan. I’m in no position to give you what you need.” He took a deep breath. “Look, I gave you your first kiss, now it’s time for you to go out and find some other guy to do the rest with. We can be friends, but please, don’t ask for anything more.”
He let go of Evan and dug in his pocket for Evan’s keys. Evan took them, staring at him in shock and Jeremy had to grit his teeth and walk away as quickly as his throbbing leg would allow.
He was doing the right thing, wasn’t he?
So why did it feel like every step away from Evan hurt a hell of a lot more than his damaged leg?
About Brigham Vaughn
Brigham Vaughn has always been a voracious reader with her own stories to tell. After many years of abandoned plots, something finally clicked. Now she’s eating, sleeping, and breathing writing and is excited to have finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up. In the little time that isn’t spent writing or reading, she loves cooking, yoga, photography, and remodeling her ninety-year-old home. Brigham lives in Michigan with her three cats and an amazing husband who has always been her biggest champion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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