Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Cecil Wilde for stopping by today.
Title: Pleasures of the Flesh
Author: Cecil Wilde
Publisher: Liquid Silver
Cover Artist: unknown
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance
Starting over isn’t easy, especially for Elias, an ex-almost-priest on the run from his own heart. Unexpected help from the kind—and stunningly attractive—Seth gives him the opportunity for a new life and a first love, but with Elias’ past never far behind, how long can it last? Pleasures of the Flesh from author Cecil Wilde will be a welcome addition to your contemporary romance library.
Elias is running away from the seminary he’s called home for over two years when he walks into a bar with no name. He almost walks straight back out again when he meets Seth, the kind—and gorgeous—owner, whose existence forces Elias to think about why he’s running away in the first place. Unable to lie about his sexuality anymore or pretend that priesthood is right for him, Elias begins a new life working with—and eventually falling for—Seth, who welcomes him into his home and family. But with Elias’ past full of unfinished business, it’s only a matter of time before it catches up with him.
As far as places he ever expected to end up in his life went, a run-down bar in a small town just off the side of a Midwest highway hadn’t been on the top of Elias’ list. It wasn’t even on the list, and a handful of months ago he wouldn’t have believed anyone who told him he’d be here now.
He hefted his bag over his shoulder as the bus he came in on kicked up dust taking off. This seemed like it was a million miles away from his problems, but he still wasn’t sure it was going to be enough.
He looked briefly for a sign with the name of the place on it, but there wasn’t an immediately obvious one, so Elias turned his attention to the door instead and pushed it open, taking a deep breath as he stepped inside.
The inside of the bar was as dark as he expected and smelled slightly worse. More people than he was entirely comfortable with watched him walking up to the counter, and they didn’t stop looking even when he caught the barman’s attention.
“You definitely look like you could use a drink,” the barman said. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with bright eyes and a warm smile. Elias’ stomach twisted uncomfortably at being attracted to him, but he shook it off as an unwelcome response. He wasn’t the one who was wrong, and it couldn’t possibly hurt this man if a stranger found him attractive, regardless of their gender.
It wasn’t hurting anyone, and he wasn’t doing the wrong thing. Feeling guilty about being attracted to men was a habit Elias intended to break himself of.
“I could use a job more than a drink,” Elias said. “You look…” He looked around the nearly empty bar, populated sparsely with people he imagined mostly either drove trucks or fixed them. “Swamped.”
It was a sin to lie, but it wasn’t a very good lie, so God might not mind as much. It was also in the service of not dying, which probably excused it.
The barman chuckled. At least he wasn’t taking it as an insult. “So what’re you running away from?”
“I don’t…see that that’s any of your business,” Elias said, panic getting the better of him. He felt his eyes widen as he realized how rude it was. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”
The barman leaned forward and crossed his arms on the counter. “Look, I can give you a couple hours’ work, but you gotta let me know that it’s not gonna come back to bite me on the ass.”
Elias leaned in as well and tried not to breathe in the other man’s scent. He told himself it wouldn’t be weakness if he did, but it would be much easier if he didn’t. “I am…I was a man of God. I won’t steal from you.” He shrugged his bag off his shoulder. “You can lock away everything I own if it will make you more comfortable.”
“I’ll go with believing you and hope it earns me a few brownie points with the big guy.” The barman nodded to the door behind the bar. “Throw your stuff in the back and get to collecting glasses. We’re gonna get a rush in about twenty minutes, so I hope you know how to pour a beer.”
“I do,” Elias said. He’d helped pay for college working in a bar during the summer breaks before he’d really been old enough to do it. Small towns had one or two advantages to them.
The barman smiled a crooked, charming smile. “Looks like God really did send you. Go. Clean up first, bathroom’s just upstairs.”
Elias breathed a sigh of relief, and it felt like the first time he’d filled his lungs since he packed his bag in the dead of night three days ago. “Thank you. I will not make you regret this.”
He stumbled his way around the bar and dropped his things under a table in the hallway behind the door before mounting the stairs. Someone obviously lived here, and it seemed like a homely place. Hopefully, they wouldn’t mind him using their bathroom for a moment.
After he’d had the chance to relieve himself and wash his face, Elias felt like a new man. For the first time, running away didn’t seem like the worst decision he’d made in his entire life. Things were going to be okay.
The barman was busy when Elias came back down, so he got to work collecting glasses from empty tables straight away and found the glass washer under the bar himself. That earned him a knee-weakening smile, and from then on he was determined to be good at his new, extremely temporary job.
The ‘rush’ brought in five people, but it was a Tuesday night, so this was probably slower than normal. It was enough to keep Elias from having nothing to do for a couple of hours, until the only people left were one or two stragglers, and the last load of glasses was washed and polished.
“I didn’t catch your name before,” the barman said.
Elias blushed. He had completely failed to introduce himself. He wasn’t normally that rude. “Umm, Elias.” He held his hand out.
“Seth.” Rather than shaking Elias’ hand, Seth put two bottled beers next to it and a bottle opener on the counter. “Go sit, I’ll be with you in a minute.” He nodded to one of the unoccupied booths over at the far wall. Elias took the beers and the bottle opener and followed Seth’s instructions, puzzled, but glad to be off his feet once he sat down.
As promised, Seth joined him after a moment, and Elias slid one of the now-open bottles over to him. “So you’re a runaway priest? Sounds exciting.”
“Runaway priest-in-training.” Elias smiled wryly. “So far it’s mostly been terrifying. How did you know I was running from something?”
“I get runaways in here from time to time. This town is on a couple of long bus routes—half the people on those busses are running from something. You’re my first priest, though.”
“I’m…not sure if that’s good or bad.”
“Me neither.” Seth pulled out a fifty-dollar bill from his shirt pocket and handed it over. “Your earnings. Dunno how far it’s gonna get you.”
Elias took it awkwardly. He’d worked for money before, obviously, but not quite like this. This felt a lot more like charity, and that was strangely uncomfortable.
Pride was also a sin, though, so he stuffed the money in his pocket and silently thanked God for providing. “Thank you. Do you know if there’s anywhere to stay in town?”
“We had a little motel at one point, but it closed down a few years ago. Best bet’s probably the next town over. I can drive you there after closing.”
“You don’t have to do that. You’ve done more than enough for me already.” Elias played with his untouched beer. He wanted to drink it, but now that the brief moment of security he’d had while he was working was at an end, fear weighed heavy in his stomach again.
“You picky about where you stay?” Seth asked conversationally, but it was obvious that he intended to make Elias admit that he was in over his head and couldn’t afford to be refusing help.
Or, at least, that’s what it seemed like to Elias. He felt as though he was barely holding it together and as though it showed.
“’Cause it’s late and there’s a spare room here. If you help me mop up when the bar flies leave, you’re welcome to it.”
“You live here,” Elias said out loud without meaning to. It made sense, now that he thought about it. No one other than a manager or an owner could have just given him a shift without consulting anyone else.
“That’s an added bonus of staying here. So…?”
“Yes,” Elias answered much too quickly. “Uh, yes, please. I’d rather that than try to find somewhere this late at night.”
“Perfect, saves me driving.” Seth smiled another knee-weakening smile.
Elias finally picked up his beer to take a sip. He was safe for the night, and the morning was a whole new day. If God was still taking care of him, He was doing an excellent job.
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About the Author
Cecil Wilde resides in Australia, accompanied by a cat who takes up most of the bed, a family of possums in the roof space, and more spiders than they’re entirely comfortable with. They write altogether cuter queer romance than their image as a grumpy cynic might suggest.
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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