Media Blitz & Excerpt: Sun, Sea and TV + Giveaway

sun,sea, and TV

Sun, Sea and TV by Alyssa Rabil

Word Count: 30,541
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 148

Genres:

CELEBRITIES
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI

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Book Description

Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.

Taylor is an actor on a show called According to Us and Everett is one of his costars. They’re best friends until one day, after filming a kiss on set, their relationship changes into something unexpected. Fans of the show have wanted their characters to be together for years. Only after the kiss is cut from the show does that relationship seem like a possibility.

Unfortunately, Taylor is engaged, and after he develops feelings for Everett, he must make a choice—his fiancée, or his best friend.

Everett has loved Taylor for years. Their kiss is something he will cherish forever. But is it the only moment they’ll have together?

After someone finds out about their feelings for each other, Taylor and Everett take to the sea for an adventure. They must learn to navigate the waters of their new relationship and survive a potentially deadly storm before finding true happiness.

Excerpt

Taylor

The waves thrashed against the boat, threatening to capsize it.

Taylor held Everett against his chest and said a quick prayer. If they made it through the storm, they’d be all right. If Everett would wake up. If Taylor could get the navigation system up and running.

They were huddled together below deck in the cabin.

Taylor bowed his head. He wasn’t a believer in higher powers. Maybe that was why he felt so alone in the darkness of the storm.

He wasn’t sure what was wrong with Everett. Lightning had struck near the boat. Everett had been up and barking orders one minute, then down the next. He’d grabbed Everett as soon as he’d seen him fall. He wasn’t even sure Everett hadn’t been hit by lightning. He hadn’t waited to make sure Everett wasn’t electrically charged.

Everett had fallen right after the strike. Taylor had panicked at first, but Everett was breathing and that was most important. He wasn’t bleeding. There was a small cut on his forehead, but that had already clotted.

The lights were out completely. The motor was dead, and he had no idea how far away they were from shore.

This had begun as a quick getaway—a few days on the open water to clear their minds.

Taylor, Everett and their friend George worked on a sitcom called According to Us. They played three unlikely best friends who had to navigate life in a small southern town. Taylor’s character had moved to town in season one and met George, the local, in the first episode. They’d become fast friends. Then a stranger had visited in season three, a Yankee from New York. He’d come to town to see family. That was how Everett had gotten onto the show.

Somehow, over the years, fans had gotten the impression that Taylor’s character and Everett’s character were in love, and George was happy to tease them about it every chance he got.

It didn’t help that Everett was a naturally intense person and had a tendency to stand too close to Taylor and make prolonged eye contact. The problem was Everett’s eyes were so deep and the most beautiful dark brown. The other problem was Maria, Taylor’s fiancée.

Everett’s character was named Charlie and Taylor’s character was named Jason. Their fandom had smashed the names together to create ‘Jarlie’. That was the unofficial name of their ship, or character relationship. While the mainstream media never acknowledged their chemistry, the fans talked about it constantly.

George’s character was named Matt, but he wasn’t part of the ship. For some reason, no one ever thought Matt and Jason made a good pair. No one ever gossiped about George and Taylor getting dinner or hugging.

If they managed to make it back to shore alive, they were going to have a whole media circus to contend with.

Why were they on a boat together?

Why didn’t Maria know where her fiancée was?

Why did Taylor lie about where he was going?

That was another problem. Why did he lie about where he was going? He wasn’t cheating on her. Not yet, anyway.

Everett knew about Taylor’s feelings and Taylor knew about Everett’s. They’d kissed a few times. In his head, he’d already broken up with Maria. They weren’t getting married. Of course, she didn’t know that yet.

She’d know after this.

Taylor had told her he had some extra work to do though it was the middle of summer and there was hardly ever extra work to do. She’d bought it, though.

Taylor had packed a bag and met Everett at the marina. They’d taken Everett’s boat and prepared for a peaceful retreat.

The storm had surprised both of them. It wasn’t like Everett not to be prepared.

Lightning struck again and flashed bright and blinding across the open water. It illuminated the cabin, if only for a second. The light was a welcome change from the imposing, lonely darkness.

Taylor gritted his teeth. He’d dragged Everett into the cabin after he had been knocked unconscious. He hadn’t been up top since the lightning had hit them.

He needed to get to the radio, though, and see if he could get it back online.

The waves heaved and tossed the boat so that it was almost airborne. It felt like they were in freefall for a split second, then the boat came crashing back down into the water.

Taylor braced himself as the boat rose again with the swell. He wrapped an arm around the base of the table, which was bolted to the floor, and held Everett as tight as he could. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as he anticipated the fall.

“I’m not ready,” he said. “I’m not ready to die.”

The boat fell back to the ocean.

Then again, if he had to die with someone, he wanted it to be Everett.

He wondered what Teddy would think if he knew that Jarlie were prepared to die together.

Teddy was one of the show’s producers, and he’d somehow become the unofficial mediator between the cast and the network executives. He complained constantly about being in the middle, but Taylor had always suspected he liked the attention.

George would find a way to make a joke about how gay it was, them being trapped on a boat together.

Taylor realized he didn’t care what George thought. George had a big mouth and too many opinions as it was.

Thunder roared.

Taylor shivered. It was a miracle the boat wasn’t underwater already.

George was right about it being gay, though. This certainly wasn’t a platonic getaway, not to mention George knew how Taylor and Everett felt about each other.

He’d seen them kiss at Taylor’s birthday party. He’d given Taylor until the end of June tell Maria.

If they made it out of this alive, Taylor wouldn’t have to break the news to her. Hell, she probably already knew something was going on.

That was wishful thinking.

They weren’t going to make it out alive. No one knew where they were. Everett probably hadn’t told anyone where he was going. Taylor had lied to the one person who was most likely to sound the alarm. They were screwed.

This wouldn’t have been a problem if Everett had kept his big mouth shut. If he’d never told Taylor how he felt, Taylor wouldn’t have known he was in love with him and he wouldn’t have lied to Maria about where he was.

Another bolt of lightning.

That was a stupid train of thought, desperate in the face of fear. And he was afraid, terrified. He’d never been so close to death and he wasn’t prepared to go out this way.

Thunder ripped through the sky.

He needed to get to the radio.

He waited for a break, for a moment when the ocean wasn’t churning so violently.

Taylor carefully moved Everett to the middle of the floor. Then he maneuvered to the top deck.

Dizzy from rocking back and forth, he welcomed the cold rain on his face. It helped him focus. The gale-force winds howled in his ears.

He made it to the helm. He checked the radio and GPS, but nothing was working.

Frustrated, he slammed his fist against the controls. He half expected that to trigger something. He wished he had any idea how to navigate without their equipment.

A large wave slammed against the side of the boat and Taylor found himself teetering over the side. He managed to pull himself upright before the next wave hit.

He hurried below deck and returned to Everett.

He was still out cold.

Taylor wedged himself back under the table and clutched Everett tight to his chest. They were going to make it. They had to.

He thought back to their kiss, when this whole mess had begun.

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First For Romance

About the Author

Alyssa Rabil

Alyssa has always had a love for fiction. She read her first romance novel from her mother’s collection. Her first love story was about a tiger that fell in love with a zebra.

Alyssa lives in a wild west with her cats. She loves cooking and writing. Follow Alyssa on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a First For Romance Gift Card!

Alyssa Rabil Sun, Sea and TV Giveaway

ALYSSA RABIL IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET AND YOUR FREE ALYSSA RABIL ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 27th July 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Sun, Sea and Summer Vibes + Giveaway

summer vibes banner

Sun, Sea and Summer Vibes, by Zoe Allison

Word Count: 49,961
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 196

Genres:

CELEBRITIES
CHICK LIT
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MULTICULTURAL
SECOND CHANCE

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Book Description

Sometimes first impressions are far from the truth…

Nina Darwish is a scientist who likes to proceed with caution and careful deliberation. When she arrives at the party destination of Ibiza to play PA for her best friend international pop sensation Isla Starr, she has trouble adapting to the carefree and easy-going vibe on the island. The situation isn’t aided by Isla’s seemingly surly yet irritatingly attractive music producer, the world-renowned dance DJ Logan Wild, known by his real name—Cameron—to his friends. Plus, Nina’s run-ins with, and repeated rebuttal of, an extremely entitled and very annoying male singer named Zac don’t help aid her mood.

Unbeknownst to Nina, Cameron remembers her from the past, when he was a geeky student who admired her from afar. Unfortunately, it’s clear that Nina considers him ill-natured, no doubt due to his natural awkwardness, which he masks using a stage persona. However, even if that weren’t the situation, he’s involved in a dead-end relationship with his celebrity girlfriend Ash. Plus, Nina’s eye appears to have been drawn onto Ash’s no good ex-boyfriend, Zac, therefore there’s no point in believing anything could ever happen between them.

But despite all that being the case, for some reason, he just cannot stop thinking about her.

Excerpt

Nina rolled her eyes as the racket from the rowdy young men at the rear of the plane grew louder. The stewardess marched down to tell them off for the second time. Nina didn’t envy the job of the plane crew at the best of times, never mind with that rabble.

She lifted the laminated flight menu and fought the urge to gag at the images of the greasy cuisine. I suppose that’s par for the course on a cheap airline. The stewardess came back to the front and recommenced loading the trolley in the galley.

One of the young men from the group staggered down the aisle toward the toilet. He tried the door, despite the very clear ‘engaged’ sign, then let out an exasperated noise when it didn’t open. He eyed the stewardess. “Can’t we just have one more drink?” he slurred.

She looked at him. “No. You’ve had enough. There’ll be plenty more alcohol for you once we get to Ibiza.”

He slouched against the wall. “For fuck’s sake, who put the rod up your arse?”

The young mum next to Nina put her hands over her small child’s ears. Nina gritted her teeth, unbuckled and stood. “Don’t speak to her like that.”

The guy did a double-take, clearly not expecting anyone to challenge him. “Mind your own business.”

“I am minding my business,” Nina said. “This is my flight as much as yours.” She pointed to the young mum and her daughter. “And theirs.” Nina gestured to the elderly couple in the row behind. “And also theirs. We didn’t pay good money to sit and listen to your crap. And the staff are trying to get on with their jobs. They don’t have to put up with your abuse.”

He opened his mouth.

“Shut it,” Nina said. “Shut your mouth, use the toilet, then go back to your seat and keep it shut. That stewardess has the power to instruct the pilot to turn back to Glasgow, land this plane and throw you all off. Then you’ll get the forty-thousand-pound bill to pay for the disruption to the flight.”

The guy glanced at the stewardess, who smiled and nodded.

Nina folded her arms and stared at him. He broke eye contact to glance at the floor. The toilet freed up and he nearly tripped in his hurry to get in there.

Nina took her seat again to the sound of applause from the people who’d heard the exchange.

The mum next to her touched her arm. “Well done.”

Nina smiled and waved her hand in an ‘it’s nothing’ gesture.

The stewardess came over and checked that the mum and her little girl were okay. She smiled at Nina. “Hi, I’m Laura. Can I get you anything? It’s on the house.”

Nina smiled back. “I’m fine, thanks. I’ll wait until we land.”

Laura perched on the staff seat across from her. “These summer Balearic flights are always the same—too many unruly groups who can’t wait until they arrive to get leathered and live it up. Sorry they caused a disruption.”

Nina shook her head. “It’s not you who should apologise.” She paused. “I did tell a white lie, though. I got this flight for free.”

Laura raised her eyebrows. “Oh?”

“My friend is out in Ibiza for a few weeks,” Nina continued. “She’s a singer and her new label is paying for me to go out as her PA.”

“That’s really cool,” Laura said. “Would I have heard of her?”

Nina nodded. “Maybe. Her name’s Isla Campbell, but her stage name is Isla Starr.”

Laura’s eyes widened. “Wow, I love her. She’s totally famous.”

Nina smiled, pride rising in her chest. “She’s really talented. I always knew she’d make it big.”

“What’s she doing in Ibiza?” Laura asked.

“There’s some hot-shot dance producer who’s asked her to do the vocal on his track. Her new label is massive with loads of contacts, so I think this is the start of her becoming known internationally.”

Laura sighed. “That sounds so glamorous. What do you do? Are you in the music industry too?”

Nina laughed. “Nope. I know nothing about music. I was a project manager for a drug company, but I just got made redundant…hence being available for this trip.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Laura said. “But I’m sure you’ll have a ball on Ibiza.” She sighed. “Anyway, I’d better get on with the trolley service. Shout if you need anything.”

Laura went back to work, and Nina stared out of the tiny window. She was pretty exhausted from the last few days, and only being given a couple of weeks’ notice about the trip had made the preparations very rushed. She smiled. Typical Isla.

Once they’d landed, Nina was among the first to leave the plane, getting a wave from Laura and her colleagues as she went. On the way through the airport processes, she tried to ignore the grumble of her stomach. She’d stop and get something once she got out into the arrivals hall.

Nina pulled her suitcase along and through the automatic doors toward the exit. Isla was always late, so when Nina locked eyes on a sandwich shop, she started toward it. A man holding a sign caught her eye. The placard said ‘Nina Darwish’.

Nina paused. Could it mean a different Nina Darwish? She went over to him. “I’m Nina, but I’m not sure if you’re here for me? My friend was supposed to meet me.”

The man nodded, saying something in Spanish then taking her suitcase and making toward the exit. Nina ran a few paces to keep up. This had better be for me, because goodness knows where I’ll end up otherwise. She wished she’d paid more attention in her Spanish class, but all she could remember was how to say ‘two beers, please’.

Out in the pick-up area, Nina expected a small taxi to await her but her jaw dropped when she clocked the guy putting her case into the back of a limo. There has definitely been a mistake. The driver held the door for her and she tried to ask him again if she was the right Nina Darwish, but he just ushered her into the vehicle.

Once inside, she scrabbled around in her bag for her phone and turned it on. She waited while it roamed to connect to the local service then brought up Isla’s number.

Isla’s face appeared on screen. She was among a crowd of people and there was a heavy bass line playing in the background. “Nina!” Isla shouted above the din. She flashed her megawatt smile. “You on your way here?”

“I’m on my way somewhere but God knows if it’s to you,” Nina said.

Isla’s frowned and flipped her red hair over her shoulder. “What do you mean? Didn’t you get the limo we sent?”

A wave of relief washed over Nina. “Yeah, I did, but I was confused. I didn’t think it was for me.”

Isla blinked, and her green eyes appeared a little glazed.

Is she drinking already? It’s only three p.m.

Isla shook her head. “The guy was meant to have a sign with your name on it.”

“He did,” Nina said. “But, you know, I still wasn’t sure.”

Isla rolled her eyes. “For goodness’ sake, you need to loosen up and stop second-guessing everything. I thought it’d be a nice surprise.”

Nina’s relief morphed into guilt. “It is a nice surprise. Sorry… I didn’t mean it that way. Thank you.”

Isla raised her arm in the air as she moved in time to the music. “Open the mini fridge.”

Nina leaned forward to do so and found a half-bottle of champagne. There was a glass in a holder next to it.

“That’s for you!” Isla called out over the music. “Drink up. You’ll be here soon.”

“Where’s here?“ Nina said, but the call cut off. She sighed. She was starving. Oh well. I’ll get something once I arrive. She lifted the champagne and popped the cork, pouring a glass. it was typical that Isla was fully embroiled in the Ibiza party atmosphere when she’d only been on the island a little over twenty-four hours.

It was hardly ten minutes later that the limo arrived outside a beach bar on Playa D’en Bossa, and Nina climbed out. She made to pay the driver, but he waved his hand, indicating that the fare had been pre-paid. He said something in Spanish and pointed along the road, but Nina was at a loss. Then he pulled away, leaving her outside the bar holding her bottle of champagne, minus her luggage. I have no clue what’s going on.

She turned to the bar and decided to go find Isla. Maybe she could solve the mystery of the kidnapped luggage. Nina walked inside, scanning for her friend. Crowds of very beautiful, scantily clad people milled around. The women were wearing bikinis and the men tiny beach shorts and Nina found herself averting her eyes. She glanced at her vest top and linen trousers, feeling overdressed.

Nina stopped in the middle of the bar, her hunger perpetuating her frustration. She took a glug of champagne from the bottle, leaning against a pillar and feeling like some sort of reprobate. She caught movement out of the corner of her eye. There was another room leading off the bar, manned by a burly bouncer holding a clipboard. Nina took another sip then steeled herself for embarrassment, because there was no doubt she’d be turned away.

She approached the bouncer. “I don’t suppose my name’s on there? It’s Nina Darwish.”

The bouncer looked her up and down with a raised eyebrow then scanned his list. He nodded and shifted to the side. For a moment Nina was frozen with surprise. Then she remembered herself and walked past him, impulsively offering him a sip from her bottle as she went. He shook his head, a bemused expression on his face. She shrugged. “Suit yourself.” I think this champagne is going to my head. She paused, trying to spot Isla. Finally, she laid eyes on her, in the middle of a dancing crowd. Nina made her way over, excusing herself through the throng. “Isla!” she shouted over the music.

Isla turned. “Nina!” She threw her arms around Nina, causing her to nearly drop the bottle.

Isla released her. “I can’t believe you’re here. It’s been months.”

Nina smiled. “I know. I’ve missed you.”

Isla grinned. “Me too. I’m so glad you made it.”

“Yeah, but my luggage didn’t,” Nina said.

“What?” Isla frowned. “The airline lost it?”

Nina shook her head. “The limo guy took off with it.”

Isla laughed. “He’s taking it to our hotel, you idiot.”

Realisation dawned on Nina. She really did need to loosen up and not think the worst.

Isla grabbed the bottle from her and drained the last of it. “Come on. Let’s go to the bar.” She took Nina’s hand and pulled her through the crowd.

Isla leaned against the bar and gestured to the barman for another full bottle of champagne.

Nina nudged her. “I wish you’d told me I was coming straight here. I would’ve dressed up.”

Isla laughed. “Dressed up? Everyone’s in beach wear.”

“Yeah,” Nina said, eyeing a beautiful woman passing by in a tiny white bikini embellished with jewels. “But they’re still more glamorous than me.”

“Bollocks,” Isla said, drinking straight out of the bottle the barman had handed her, then passing it to Nina. “You look effortlessly awesome, as per normal. Come on. Let’s have a dance. Then I’ll introduce you to some people.”

Nina took a swig and huffed out her breath. I’d rather go to the hotel and stuff my face, then have a lie-down.

She followed Isla onto the dance floor. They took turns to drink from the bottle, and before long, Nina’s head was swimming from both the alcohol and Isla spinning her around. She paused to get her bearings and took Isla’s arm. “I need to go to the loo. Back in a sec.”

Isla nodded. “Take this back to the bar on the way.” She handed over the empty bottle.

Nina stumbled through the crowd. Did we finish it already?

After using the ladies’ room, she returned to the bar in order to get a soft drink, plus some snacks to soak up the alcohol. She was just stuffing herself with the remnants when someone nudged her arm. She glanced over and a guy was standing next to her, grinning. “Wish I was that packet of chips,” he said.

Nina frowned. I haven’t got any chips. She studied him for a second and was nearly blinded by the whiteness of his teeth. Her alcohol-addled brain took a couple of moments to process. He’s American. They call crisps ‘chips’. “Okay,” she said, for want of a better response.

He sidled in closer. “You’re English? That’s sexy. Can I get you a drink?”

Nina’s sixth sense told her that he was the sort of guy who’d feel entitled to whatever he wanted in return for buying a female a drink.

“No thank you,” she said.

He frowned, clearly not used to hearing the word ‘no’. “Don’t you know who I am?”

Nina rolled her eyes. Does that line ever get him anywhere? Even if she did know who he was, she still wouldn’t be interested. “I know you’re a dickhead,” she said, aware that the drink had loosened her tongue but figuring he deserved it after that arrogant statement.

He laughed. “Your loss.” He took his drink from the barman and turned to leave.

“Thank God for that,” Nina muttered. She glanced up and locked eyes with another man across the bar. He seemed vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t think when she’d have met a guy as handsome as him before. He had hazel eyes and sandy, sun-tinted hair. Before she had a chance to smile, he looked away and moved from the bar.

Dammit. Why couldn’t he have been the one to offer me a drink? Someone nudged her arm and she sighed. “For God’s sake, I said no, okay?”

“What?” Isla said, leaning in next to her. “What’re you talking about?”

“Oh. Nothing.” Nina said, glancing behind to check that white-teeth-guy had gone.

“Were you talking to Zac before?” Isla said.

Nina frowned. “Who?”

“Zac,” Isla said. “Like, the hottest male pop star on the planet.”

Nina raised her eyebrows. “Hottest, as in most attractive—or as in most popular?”

Isla smiled. “Both.”

“I’m not sure,” Nina said. “Has he got wavy bleached-blond hair with short sides that comes over his forehead, nearly obscuring his ice-blue eyes and bright-white-teeth that nearly blot out the sun?”

Isla sighed. “Yes.”

Nina frowned. “Then I think I might have spoken to him. I told him I didn’t want a drink and he wasn’t impressed.”

“You turned him down?” Isla said. “Are you mental?”

Nina shook her head. “I didn’t find him attractive. He was an arrogant prick.”

Isla craned her neck, clearly hoping he might return and buy her a drink instead. “Then you must be the only woman on earth who thinks so.”

“Doubt it,” Nina said.

Isla turned back. “Anyway, you need to come meet Cameron.”

“Who’s Cameron?” Nina said. She rubbed her stomach. Maybe eating those crisps so quickly on a bellyful of champagne hadn’t been a good idea.

“Cameron Wild,” Isla said. “My producer? His stage name is Logan Wild. Don’t tell me you’ve not heard of him either.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of him,” Nina said. It wasn’t a lie. She vaguely knew of Logan Wild, DJ and dance-music producer, but had no idea what he looked like or any details regarding his background.

“Come on,” Isla said, grabbing Nina’s hand and leading her through the throng.

The sudden movement caused Nina’s stomach to lurch and her niggling nausea intensified. She took a deep breath in an attempt to quell it.

Isla weaved them through the crowd toward the back of the room where a small group was conversing. There was one guy with his back to them who Nina assumed was Cameron, mainly because the rest of the group was female. As they approached, she realised it was the handsome man she’d locked eyes with across the bar. That did nothing to aid her nausea.

Isla tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned. His eyes struck Nina. Up close they were even more intense.

“This is my friend Nina,” Isla told him. “The one I was telling you about. “Nina, this is Cam.”

He surveyed her with a cool expression then held out his hand for a shake. But before Nina could grasp it, she gagged and slapped her hand over her mouth. She turned and fled for the ladies’ room and only just made it to the toilet before vomiting profusely.

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Zoe Allison

Growing up, Zoe Allison loved stories about falling in love. But rather than being rescued by a knight in shining armour, she imagined herself fighting dragons alongside him, battling supervillains as heroic allies, or teaming up to dive into perilous waters in order to save a loved one from drowning. Once Zoe did grow up, she became a doctor. But as time went on, she craved a creative outlet to counter the soul sapping burnout that her career inflicted upon her, and also to achieve those happy endings that were so often lacking in the real world. She wanted heroes who truly love and value women, who find their true love inspiring, are fascinated by her, want to connect with her as a soulmate and fully open themselves to her on an emotional level. And so, Zoe began to write her romances.

A Zoe Allison novel promises a heroine who is not only her hero’s equal in ability and intellect, but whose hero equals her in emotional intelligence. Her characters overcome conflict infused with spine tingling sexual tension to forge a deep connection as soul mates as well as lovers, and ultimately, they both rescue each other emotionally. Even if they might begin their journey as enemies…

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous prize and get a FREE eBook from the author!

Zoe Allison Sun, Sea and Summer Vibes Giveaway

ZOE ALLISON IS GIVING AWAY A BEAUTIFUL BLUE SARONG TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN AND GET A FREE ZOE ALLISON ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 20TH July 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Taking Chances in Cedarwood + Giveaway

Taking Chances in Cedarwood Banner

Taking Chances in Cedarwood, by Megan Slayer

Word Count: 41,902
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 172

GENRES:

CELEBRITIES
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI

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Book Description

He found his freedom…in Cedarwood.

Cain Ables is the it actor in Hollywood. Everyone wants to work with him, his movies make money and he’s handsome—but all that glitters isn’t gold. He’s lonely. Growing up in the glare of the spotlight with the stage parents from hell and being protected from any scandal—and real life—has left him empty. Cain wants freedom and experience. He also wants to come out. The man who plays by the rules is about to break them all.

Andrew Meadows isn’t looking for love. He’s at the farmers’ market to sell the fruit and vegetables he’s grown. When Cain shows up at his stall, he’s captivated. The more they talk, the more he likes Cain, but Cain’s got baggage—and he’s not out yet. Yet something about Cain makes Andrew want to take a chance on romance…and forever.

Will the farmer and actor find the love they both deserve, or will the glare of the spotlight ruin their future?

Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of homophobia, and controlling, emotionally and financially abusive parenting.

Excerpt

“This is the script that’s going to catapult me into the next level?” Cain Ables stared at his agent, Dixon Nell. “You’re sure?” Cain read through the script again. He’d always wanted to do an LGBTQ movie and stretch his acting abilities. He also wanted to finally come out and admit he was gay. Jesus. No one wanted their boy wonder to be gay. He had to be approachable and make people desire him. According to his agent and parents, no one would want him if he wasn’t perfect.

Apparently, being gay wasn’t perfect.

What the fuck did anyone else know? He was gay and very imperfect.

“You’re going to work with Liam Blackwell,” Dixon said. “He’s a good guy and careful with his costars. He won’t make you do anything you’re not comfortable doing. Just say the word and he won’t kiss you or anything without your being okay. You know him, remember? You met at the celebrity baseball game last year.”

“I remember.” Cain closed the script. “How do you know I won’t want him to kiss me?”

“Please.” Dixon rolled his eyes. “You’re being a maverick by stepping out of your comfort zone. This role will have award nods all over it. You need to do this.”

“But?” He both loved and hated his agent. Dixon could act like he cared one thousand percent for Cain and his career, then he could turn on him and be so scathing. Cain never knew which side of Dixon he’d get.

“But you’re not gay. You’re the it guy in Hollywood. This is going to be a big risk, but it’ll be worth it when you get the statuette.” Dixon grasped Cain by the shoulders. “You’re getting older, and while you can age in Hollywood, you can’t be the pretty boy all your life. You’ll have to age with the roles. You’ll have to mature.”

Cain knew that. He wasn’t stupid. In his thirty years, he’d played so many roles that he swore the business had to be tired of him. He curled the script in his hands. For someone who disappeared into characters, he’d damn near lost his true self along the way. He stared at Dixon again. “What if I am gay?”

Dixon burst out laughing. “You’re not gay. Confused, maybe, and intrigued by this role, but you’re not gay.” He shook his head and continued laughing. “God, if you were really gay, you’d have come out by now and you’d be chasing Penn. That kid will fuck anything who asks.”

Cain glared at Dixon as he walked away. What an asshole. I’d be chasing Penn. Who does Dixon think he is? Dixon knew lots about the business, but nothing about dating or relationships. He certainly knew nothing about Cain. Penn wasn’t Cain’s type. Too pushy and way too young.

“Hey.” Penn strutted up to Cain. “I hear you’re working with Liam Blackwell and going to Cedarwood to make a movie.” He rubbed his hands together. “There’s not much to do in Cedarwood. It’s small, boring, dull…” His eyes flashed. “You could always take an assistant or two with you. I’ll bet Lucia would go along. She wants more exposure.”

He shook his head. Penn was not his type. He’d kept his preferences to himself, but honed them over the years. He wanted a man with muscles, a forthright attitude, who wasn’t afraid of manual labor and looked good in a baseball cap. Penn wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he had to wear a T-shirt and jeans for a living. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-three.” Penn grinned. His green eyes glittered and the smattering of hairs on his chin belied his age. He rested his hands on his narrow hips. “Interested? I’m game to go to Cedarwood. I bet we could have a great time. I’d keep my mouth shut.”

His stomach churned. Is Penn coming on to me? He hadn’t come out yet and was already being propositioned. Penn would keep quiet for a hefty price. “No thanks.”

“You’re sure?” Penn rubbed Cain’s thigh. “You don’t know what you want until you can’t have it.”

“I’m okay.” He left the chair and squeezed the script in his hand. He’d agreed to do the movie and agreed to film in Cedarwood. Maybe it was time to head out to Ohio and find himself. He knew damn well he was gay, but he had to decide what he wanted out of life. Did he want to come out? Could he live his life in the closet?

He massaged his forehead and continued walking away from Penn. In some ways, the man was attractive. He also offered an interesting proposition—he could be the first lover Cain wanted without having strings…unless he counted the financial ones. Penn would attempt to bleed him dry. If he wasn’t begging for money, he’d take him to court or wring him out in the tabloids.

His stomach churned harder. In the last year, Cain had fought the twisting ache in his belly and the fear he’d be found out. He was gay. No question. He’d dated starlets and had been with women, but he’d rather be looking at their dates or admiring another certain actor’s ass.

He was supposed to be the guy every woman wanted to fuck and the man the guys wanted to hang out with—attainable, even if he wasn’t going to be anywhere near most of his fans. His parents made sure he stayed as isolated as possible. Maybe that was his problem. He needed to get out from under their thumb. He’d been under it for long enough.

The limo waited at the side door of the offices. The driver opened the door for him and ensured Cain was ensconced in the back seat. The scent of rich leather swirled around Cain, and the darkened windows of the vehicle ensured no one would see him. He could move around without anyone knowing he was there. A ghost of himself.

He unrolled the script and read through the first three pages again. Two men, quiet romance, small town and everyone rooting for them. He needed to do this movie. If he did, he’d get to go on location. His parents wouldn’t follow him to Ohio. They detested anywhere that wasn’t Beverly Hills. He’d go to Ohio, read, relax and be a human being. Yeah, he’d do this movie. He’d do the hell out of it. If he happened to grow as a person or found a lover, then even better. First, he had to get the fuck out of California and be on his own.

The vehicle lurched and swerved, then stopped. He had no idea how long he’d been in the back or where he was, but he assumed the driver had taken him home. He might be a big celebrity and wanted by millions, but he had little free will.

The door opened and a valet gestured to him. “Good afternoon, Mr. Ables.”

“Hello.” He didn’t recognize this valet. “Where’s Green?”

“Reassigned, sir.” The valet closed the limo door. “Your mother requests your presence.”

“Thanks.” He patted the valet on the arm. The guy was only doing his job. Cain’s mother and father insisted on orchestrating his life as much as possible. He knew damn well why—if he stopped working or fell out of favor, they’d lose their funding. He’d kept the family afloat nearly his entire life.

He strode through the house to the massive living room. The opulence and expense of the place suffocated him. Everywhere he looked, he recognized something bought with the money he’d made over his career. His parents hadn’t worked for a damn thing.

His mother lounged on the expansive couch. She had pillows around her and a magazine on her lap. She flipped through the pages. “You’re home.”

“I am.” He didn’t sit. Not now. He couldn’t relax. “Reading anything important?”

“You’re featured in this magazine.” She held up the periodical. “I see you’re with Aidyn Malachi. Good. She’s up-and-coming. You need to be seen with someone fresh.”

“I do.” Someone who isn’t a starlet.

“You look like you’re upset.” His father stood by the bar. He sipped a brandy and crossed his ankles. “Something on your mind?”

He shored up his courage. He had no plan to get to Cedarwood. No money of his own. Fuck it. He’d figure something out. Rami had always been good for a favor. He’d call his best friend to get him to the airport. “I’m leaving.”

“You are?” His father laughed. “Christ. You have no idea how to live on your own. Where in the fuck do you think you’re going? You can’t handle life without us guiding you.”

His father was such a stereotype—elbow-bending closet drunk pretending to be macho and perfect, all while he’d lost control. His wife had cheated on him multiple times. He’d cheated on her, too, and Cain swore he had a sibling somewhere he knew nothing about. The odds were in his favor for the assumption to be true. Cain gritted his teeth. “I’m being called out for a movie and need to go on location. Plain and simple. I don’t need a babysitter. Remember? I’m thirty years old. I can handle my life.” Maybe, but maybe not. He’d never actually lived on his own. He’d been given spending money and the catering trucks made sure he was fed.

“You’re not going.” His mother didn’t look up from the magazine. “You aren’t ready.” She pointed to an image of Cain tangled up with Aidyn in a bed. Both looked disheveled and sated after sex. “This is what you should be doing. Marry her. Or fake it. The public needs more of these pictures.”

He rolled his eyes. The photoshoot had been a gigantic disaster. Aidyn had cried half the time, wanting her actual boyfriend, and the photographer had pushed him and Aidyn to look more in love than they’d ever be. No one wanted to see fake pictures.

“If you’re going, then you’ll have your full treatment of servants and the corps. I won’t have you making an ass of yourself.” His father slashed his hand through the air. “You’re not a child, no, but you’re not smart enough to be on your own. You can memorize lines and channel characters, but anyone can do that.”

He groaned. If I pack a small bag, I could take one of the sports cars and drive there, right? Nah. His parents probably had trackers on the cars. He nodded to hide his frustration. “I suppose you’re right.” He turned on his heel and headed up to his bedroom.

Wouldn’t his fellow actors laugh? He still lived with his parents in the house he’d bought for them when he’d made his first television show at age five. He couldn’t bring a lover home—male or female. What would he say? Mom, Dad? I need you to go so I can fuck this lovely person. Right.

Cain shoved his wallet, license, some money he’d squirreled away over the last year, two changes of clothes, an extra pair of shoes and the stuffed cat he’d had since he was a baby into a knapsack. If he was going to blow up his home life, he refused to leave the last vestige of his childhood in the hands of his parents. The stuffed cat might look like hell and have almost no fur left, but he gave Cain more comfort than anyone. He swept his gaze around his room. Even his bedroom had no personality. It could be the room of any celebrity—perfect decor, nothing to denote that he lived there and nothing out of place.

The churning in his stomach increased. If he didn’t get the fuck out of the house and away from his life for a while, he’d have a huge-ass ulcer. The stress of living a life he didn’t want had gotten to him. The doctor on the set of Victor’s Rules had urged him to get some rest. Why not do it now?

He deserved to live the life he wanted.

Cain hurried down the back steps clutching his bag. The valet from before stood by the doors leading to the garage.

“Sir?” He opened the door for Cain. “Going out?”

“To Aidyn’s.” Cain winked. “You know.”

“I used to.” The man smiled. “Shall I let your mother in on this?”

“Please do. I’ll be over there for a few days.” He winked again and elbowed the valet. “We don’t plan on coming up for air in that time.” God, he was laying it on thick.

“Yes, sir.” The valet dispatched a driver, then disappeared into the main portion of the house.

Cain slipped into the back seat of the limo and waited until the car moved. His heart hammered. He was doing it—leaving the nest. He’d lied, of course, but that didn’t matter. Fuck it. His hands shook and he held the bag tight. He’d never acted out before, never tried to be something he wasn’t or push anyone. He’d fallen right into line because it had been required of him.

The driver dropped him off at Aidyn’s hotel. Instead of expecting the car to wait on him, Cain waved him home. “Get some rest. God knows I won’t be.” He grinned. “I’ll call for you.”

The driver nodded once and left.

Cain ducked into the hotel. He’d never stayed at this particular building and hoped no one would recognize him without his Cain Ables celebrity persona in place. He was just Cain Ables, regular guy.

He headed through the lobby to the side entrance. An attendant smiled at him. “May I help you, sir?”

“I’d like a taxi to the airport.” Holy fuck. He was doing this. “Please?”

“Sure.” The attendant waved down one of the drivers. “May I help you with anything else?”

“No, thank you.” He shook hands with the man and settled into the back seat of the taxi. As the car sped toward the airport, Cain sighed. He’d really escaped. His parents would be thrilled when they found out he was at the hotel with a woman. He was being the bad-boy actor everyone expected.

Except he wasn’t bad and he wasn’t with a woman. Fear and doubt crept into his brain. Part of him wasn’t sure he could get away with his act of transgression. The rest of him couldn’t wait to get to Ohio and be a nobody.

Time to be myself.

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About the Author

Megan Slayer

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

Find out more about Megan on her website, and sign up for the newsletter here. You can also check out her Blog, Amazon Author Page, Bookbub and Instagram.

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