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Title: Balancing Act
Author: K. Vale
Publisher: Liquid Silver
Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs
Genre: Bisexual, Contemporary, Gay Romance, Humor/Comedy, Romance
Release Date: 06/27/2016
Greg Dwyer and Kyrie Li are living the glorious couple life in New York City. Or are they? When struggling actor Kyrie lands a modeling job, he’s ecstatic to have extra cash to spend on his best-friend-turned-boyfriend.
Of course, Greg is suspicious Anders Berglund, the gorgeous and androgynous Swedish cover model the designers love to pair with Kyrie, is after his man. And maybe Kyrie encourages a growing closeness with the guy?
Greg is probably to blame if Kyrie is drawn to the openly gay and seriously beautiful Andy. With Andy, Kyrie can be himself, as loud and proud as he’s always been. But Greg’s sexuality stays firmly locked in the closest except when he’s with Kyrie’s supportive family or alone with the man he loves.
To make matters worse, Greg’s out-of-touch mom meets with financial ruin and moves in with the couple, forcing him into the closet in his own home.
Can Greg find a way to stand up to Mommy Dearest and win back a love he fought so hard to reach? He discovers the road to pride begins at home and with accepting oneself first. Otherwise, it’s just a dead-end street.
After “I Love You”
Have you ever finished a book with a happy ending, but found yourself wondering what happens next? Many romance tales focus on the mechanics of the chase—main character A meets main character B and fireworks ensue. Sometimes TNT if they hate one another off the bat. In MM romance, there may even be a little character A puts tab A into character B’s…well, B. But however the rollercoaster twists and turns, whatever bumpy ride they endure throughout the book, they eventually come to a stop, breathless, maybe a tad queasy, but safe and sound at their happy ending.
We all know that’s never the end, though, right? Life doesn’t stop after you get the guy or girl. You either stay together, make it work for the long haul, or possibly fizzle out to a different, not-so-happy ending. Rinse and repeat. That’s real life.
Occasionally, I feel like characters should have a bit more after the final kiss. When the curtains close, do they just stay there, frozen and lip-locked forevermore? Do they get into an argument about whose turn it is to take out the trash? Maybe an odious family member shows up to turn their lives upside-down?
Anything could happen. No matter how neatly an author ties up loose ends and hands us a shiny, wrapped package marked “The End,” there is always the potential for “What’s next?”
In the case of Greg and Kyrie from my book Hard Act to Follow, there were a few wispy threads I failed to capture and tie down by the grand finale. I hadn’t wanted to bundle them up all neat and pretty. I knew there was more, and I wasn’t going to pretend every potential future pitfall was miraculously taken care of by the final sentence. It wasn’t. Life is too big and broad to be perfect, so I left a few danglers with a half-assed plan to go back and address them someday.
That day took longer than it should have, but you know how life can be sometimes. I had my own loose ends to deal with before I could return to Kyrie and Greg. And while I know they will have years of story after the last word of Balancing Act (and I also know they’ll get their walk-ons in a future book in the series—a little reassurance things are going swimmingly), they finally have enough threads pulled tight for me to let them ride off into their happily ever after.
Tallyho! Good luck, boys! I have complete faith you’re in it for the long haul. I’m also fairly certain your every argument going forward will end in some amazing make-up sex.
“Shit!” Shock struck Greg with the force of an atomic blast, and he vaulted from the couch, swiping at his wet mouth with the backs of both hands. His mother’s voice, disturbingly close, wilted his hard-on faster than a kick to the balls.
Hell, he’d prefer a punt to the family jewels to a visit from Barbara.
He hadn’t seen her in nearly three years, because he avoided reunions like most people avoided rattlesnakes. She and Greg were oil and water. Nothing he said or did had ever been good enough for his mom, so he’d decided years ago to keep the months between phone calls long and the physical distance between them longer. Barbara hadn’t approved of Greg’s marriage. She’d never overtly stated Jasmine’s race was the cause, but it was implied. Always implied. Always hinted. She was always ready with the tiny digs she could laugh off as innocent no matter how deep they cut.
What degree of shitstorm would Barbara unleash if she discovered Greg fellating his ex-wife’s little brother?
The doorknob rattled. Fuck!
In a breath, he was fourteen again; one hand around his penis, pants lumped at the ankles, and shower running noise interference as he thumbed through a worn porno mag. In the memory to massacre all memories, his mom had barged in with a stack of folded towels and screamed as if he were holding a knife, not his own dick, his hands covered in blood rather than baby oil. She’d accused him of being a pervert. As he’d shielded his scrawny body with the shower curtain, she’d dropped the laundry and picked up his one and only Hustler with tweezer fingers and an expression of abject revulsion. Greg never saw that ’93 scratch ’n’ sniff centerfold of Hustler Honey Tabitha again, and Barbara’s husband-of-the-month replaced the broken bathroom doorknob the following day.
“Greg? Are you in there?” There was a pause and then a thump, almost like a mountain of towels landing at his doorstep. “Suppose I can just wait for him—”
The same sensation, goose bumps erupting across every inch of his skin while his stomach turned inside out, hit him now, all the worse for its familiarity.
No. All the worse because I had my lips wrapped around a dick a second ago.
Mouth gaping, Kyrie shook his head as he straightened his clothes. “What the ever-loving fuck is she doing here?” he whispered. “Did you know she was coming?”
Barbara kept to her side of the country, specifically to her Vegas oasis and to the unspoken agreement that absence, while not necessarily making her and Greg fonder of one another, certainly kept them from each other’s throats.
“No.” Greg wanted to vomit. “I would have given her a million reasons not to.”
A door opened in the hall. “Are you looking for Greg and Kyrie?” Nancy Harris’ muffled voice set Greg’s hysteria dial higher.
“Oh shit.” He flew to the door and wrenched it open before Ms. Harris could involuntarily do the same to his closet. He’d never flat-out admitted to his neighbor he and Kyrie were boning, but she couldn’t be that oblivious. They’d gone to Italy together, for Pete’s sake.
“Barbara! Oh my God! What a…what a surprise!” He gathered her into a rigid hug she returned with an even stiffer version. She’d never been a hugger.
“I thought you weren’t home.” She frowned. “I rang at the street and a nice gentleman let me in. Seventeen B, I think he said? Very well dressed and about my age. Mr. Cunningham. Brian, maybe?”
“Bill?” Nancy offered, wheeling a small stroller out of her apartment. It had a mesh covering, and her overweight Bichon lounged inside.
“Yes, yes. That’s it.” Barbara turned. “He even helped me get to the elevator with my things. Gentlemen are in short supply these days. If that one isn’t taken already, he won’t last long.”
Greg waved at Nancy and kept from rolling his eyes at his mother. Bill Cunningham was easily ten years older than Barbara, which would make him entirely too young to be dating material by her usual standards. Of course, last Greg had heard, Barbara was still happily hitched to hubby number four.
“Sorry. Nancy, this is my mother, Barbara.”
“Nice to meet you.” Nancy held out her hand while Coconut started yapping.
“The pleasure is all mine,” Barbara gushed. “I’m sure we’ll see lots of each other out and about.”
Her tone was believable if you didn’t know her, but the smirk she gave the doggy-carriage would have been kinder delivered behind Nancy’s back. Greg tried to mitigate it with a cooing sound for Coconut, but it died in his throat as Barbara retrieved two enormous wheeled suitcases from a spot against the wall. The luggage had somehow eluded him. He was stunned silent as she foisted one bag off on him and bustled into his sanctuary with the other.
“First things first. I need to use your ladies’ room. It was an ungodly cab ride from Newark. I don’t know how you deal with the traffic.” She clicked her tongue, surveying his open living space. “I suppose it’s just a matter of getting used to. I’ll adjust.”
She stared at Greg. He couldn’t formulate a single word, and she finally shrugged expectantly. He gawked, the knot of dread pulling tighter with every passing millisecond.
“Where’s the bathroom?” She spoke as if he were an imbecile.
“Um…” He certainly sounded like one. “Down the hall, on your right.”
“Good. I’ll get the grand tour after I freshen up.” She strode away, suitcase in tow. “Hope it doesn’t smell like something from a frat house.” She closed the door behind her, and Greg rushed to the bedroom, where Kyrie sat on their queen mattress.
“You told her we live together, right? Or am I supposed to be climbing the fire escape right now?” His voice was waspish, but that golden-brown stare brimmed with pain.
“Don’t be…” Greg threw his hands up, pleading with his eyes. “Roommates. I told her…” Fuck. He scanned the room with fresh perspective. He already hung his suits in the guest bedroom closet because their apartment didn’t have a ton of storage space, but he kept everything else here, in the bedroom he and Kyrie shared.
He grabbed the framed photo from the top of his dresser. Liv—aka Hit Girl—had taken it at last Comic Con. Greg had dressed as Big Daddy, and Kyrie portrayed a trim Kick-Ass. Masked heads tilted together and arms slung over each other’s shoulders, they’d smiled for the camera. Greg had felt cocooned in anonymity at the time, free to be affectionate.
Now they had a flashing neon sign screaming FAG FAG FAG in their room.
He opened the top drawer and shoved the frame inside, exchanging it for a fistful of balled socks and neatly folded boxers. Wallet in his other hand and jewelry box tucked under one arm, he spun for the door.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Making it look like—” He shook his head and hurried from the room, bumping the guest room door wide with his toes and swiftly arranging the items in and on the dresser. He had no time to explain, but Kyrie’s regard was scathing when Greg returned for a stack of T-shirts and khaki pants, still searching for further evidence of their intimate relationship.
“She can’t be in town for more than a day or two,” he whispered. That was about all he’d be able to take. “If she’s just stopping in, we’re not opening a can of worms if we don’t have to. That’ll make it way more painful than it has to be. And it always is with her. Excruciating.” Kyrie had to know that. This wasn’t about Greg denying him; it was about Greg saving them from a shit show of legendary proportions.
“So, you’re going with the roommate thing?” Kyrie’s mouth formed a brittle line, his arms folded across his chest. “After that whole fucking conversation about being honest about us?”
“It’s just to buy a little time, Kyr. Until she’s gone, and then I promise…” Anyone else he’d come clean to. Just not this. Not his mother, especially when he had no idea what brought her here or how long she’d stay.
Kyrie glared, his jaw chiseled by rage. If he spiraled into a tantrum now, Greg was done for.
“I don’t want her in my fucking living room when I tell her,” he whispered harshly.
“Our.” Kyrie arched a brow and stood.
“Our fucking living room!”
“Yes. That’s what I meant and you know it. Just, please, Kyr. Work with me on this—you don’t know how bad she can be.”
“No. Because I’ve only ever met her at your wedding. Because you get mad if I answer the phone when it’s her number.”
“She’s beyond bad. Evil. Let me get her back on a plane, and I’ll tell her over the phone. When I can hang up and block her after. Please. Please, just play along for a little while.”
The sound of running water stopped, and a squeaky towel ring signaled the close of the conversation.
“Well, I’m shit at lying, so you’re on your own. Now, out of my room. I’ve got unfinished business to attend to.” Kyrie opened the bedside drawer and yanked out his purple dildo, brandishing it in Greg’s face before he pushed him from the room and closed the door.
He’s kidding. He better be fucking kidding.
The hinges on the bathroom door whined, and Greg came face to face with his mother.
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About the Author
K. Vale writes erotic romance of all stripes, from hot hetero to mouthwatering LGBTQ romance. Find her M/F work published under Kimber Vale. Stalk Kimber on Facebook and Twitter @KimberVale, check http://authorkimbervale.com for updates, new releases, and freebies, and to sign up for her newsletter to receive an exclusive free read. Come for the sex. Stay for the story.
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