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Novella Available December 7

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Dreamspinner Press

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EXCERPT FROM SEVEN MINUTES

Stone

HOW IN fuck did I end up at this party? Vegas. Road trip. Yeah. My best friend—a questionable title after tonight—persuaded me to go to a friend of a friend’s house where the partygoers played a bastardized version of Seven Minutes in Heaven using obscene dice. One set had sexual positions; the other set had words mixed with body parts. Pick a name, roll the dice, and spend seven minutes doing something naughty to a friend, acquaintance, or complete stranger. Just a typical night in Vegas. Then there was a bonus round, which my inebriated friend, in all his drunken wisdom, had done. We were too old for this shit, but no one ever accused us musicians of being too mature.

“Stone, you’re up,” Matty hollered, and my stomach flipped. Fucking great. After a hideous break up with my girlfriend—okay, so it was three months ago, and maybe I should just be fucking over it by now—nothing felt right. Matty dragged me out to this messed-up party, where he seemed comfortable enough to do whatever the dice and the tipsy ensemble of people told him to do. I blamed the massive amount of liquor in his blood. Me? I had a couple beers but veered away from getting drunk. Nothing good came out of a drunk me.

Matty, on his turn, drew a dude’s name, and the dice landed on a picture of a couple doing it doggy-style. He got a choice from the hosts: perform a lap dance to match the position or go to it in the adjoining room. He chose the lap dance, and the sight required far more alcohol than I’d allowed myself to drink. Gallons might not have been enough. Matty, however, got into it, laughing his ass off the entire time—seven minutes. And the recipient, a little emo kid who wore guyliner and lipstick, cackled like a hyena. Matty was the straightest man I knew. We joked with some of our friends about our bromance, and sure, fans had “shipped” us, but… ew. He was like a brother. Anyway, if I could gouge my eyes out and erase the image of him grinding against the little emo hyena, I would.

When Matty and I first arrived, I noticed both the emo hyena, whose name was Oisin, and his cross-dressing lover, Devon. They laughed and giggled with each other like kids on the playground. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw genuine happiness like those two shared. I wondered how long they’d been together and was curious about what roles they assumed when they were alone. Why the hell I did, I don’t know.

The emo hyena, who wore skinny jeans and a tight T-shirt, would never be mistaken for a girl, even with the maroon lipstick. Devon, however, I initially mistook as a woman. Closer inspection of his features revealed an Adam’s apple. Still, this guy rocked a skirt and top. They flattered his form, giving him the illusion of cleavage. His sandy brown hair was short on the sides, long on top, and styled up and back off his face. He wore makeup better than most women, managing to accentuate his long lashes, toffee-colored eyes, and pillow-plush lips in a way that looked natural. I wondered if he always dressed like this or if it was just something special he did. Hmm, maybe I used the wrong pronoun entirely.

He caught me looking and smiled, showing off an adorable dimple. I smiled back, heat rising through my cheeks. Must be the alcohol. So the dude had nice lips and a cute freaking dimple. Whatever. I can appreciate beauty, even if it’s on a man. And I only flushed because I got caught staring…. I was embarrassed, not attracted. I continued watching him laughing with his friend, giggling like teenage girls at a slumber party. I found it fucking endearing. And annoying. Like who gave them the right to be so fucking hap—

“Stone!”

“Yeah, yeah. Got it.” With trepidation, I rolled the dice, praying I’d get something simple like TOUCH and ARM. Hell must have been on my side this evening. KISS and TONGUE faced upward for the room to see. I suppose LICK and FOOT would’ve been worse—not my thing at all.

Taking inventory of the potential suck-facers, I noticed a few cute chicks, not that any of them did much for me. After my ex, Violet, decided her high school sweetheart was the man for her, I hadn’t had the desire to be with anyone physically or mentally. I’d be fine single. Less baggage for me. Eh, I admit life with me was no bowl of cherries, more like a pile of mismatched luggage that had been battered around, worn out, and should be thrown away. By thirty, I thought I’d have all that crap sorted out. But growing up with a useless dad and a mom who pretended nothing bad ever happened defined my emotional existence. I’d done some time in therapy—court appointed due to a fistfight with a douche bag stalker fan—and figured out I couldn’t get past it. Not really. And this thing with Violet, who I’d been with for nearly eight years, set a million forgotten insecurities alight. I felt sorry for whoever’s name I pulled because the next seven minutes wouldn’t feel like heaven.

My hand trembled as I dove into the bag of names, making me wish I’d had that third beer. I grabbed the first piece of paper my fingers reached. I longed for my sofa, a bad movie, and my favorite blanket, which I dubbed the Blanket of Mope, wrapped around me. Instead, I looked at the name: Devon. The guy with those feminine lips. Of course.

“Read it!” the other half of the giggling duo shouted.

“Devon.” I looked at him. He sucked in his bottom lip as he stood up. He was surprisingly tall, about three inches taller than me, which made him a little over six feet. Maybe it was the heels. The height emphasized his long limbs, which he moved with the flowing grace of a fashion model. Golden eyes, flawless skin, and a tiny waist. If he had boobs and a hoo-ha, he’d be my type.

“Go get him, Dev!” His jovial friend pushed him.

“Here, or over there,” Dan, our party host, generously said, giving us the options of a semiprivate hallway location or right here in front of everyone to perform our KISS TONGUE.

“There,” I said without hesitating. I’d like to say it was because I hoped for an out, that by being away from prying eyes, I wouldn’t have to actually kiss Devon. It’d be a fucking lie.

“Hi, I’m Devon.” His eyes met mine, and fuck. Like a freaking snake hypnotizing its prey, he transfixed me with his caramel gaze.

“I heard your boyfriend cheering you on. I’m Stone.”

“Stone? That’s an odd name.”

“Nickname. Haven’t used my given name since I was a kid.” Benjamin never sounded metal enough. Stone fit my personality and my profession of being the lead singer in a heavy metal band. I allowed my sister to call me Benny. If anyone else did, I punched them.

We walked into the dimly lit hallway. In the half-light, Devon’s features softened. He was… beautiful. Honestly and naturally beautiful. For the first time in fucking months, my dick decided to come to life. WTF. But he had these perfect lips that begged to be kissed, I swear. They looked so soft. And his fair skin would make any supermodel jealous. How’d he get so clean-shaven? Wax? Women waxed their mustaches…. Did he?

Internal bells and warnings went off, reminding me Devon was not a woman… well, he lacked feminine parts, but that probably didn’t make him less of a woman. I mean, women get hysterectomies and mastectomies and they are still women. So what if Devon didn’t have the parts? Everything else about him was pure feminine. Did I seriously just think that? I rambled. I never ramble.

I had seven minutes with the perfect excuse to explore these feelings. If Matty could grind away on emo boy without anyone thinking twice about it, then I could most definitely taste those lips.

“We don’t have to do anything.” He shifted, knotting his fingers together. “You seem pretty straight and—”

A loud yell came from the other room, reminding us to use tongue.

“And I’m not. So no pressure.”

Devon sucked in his bottom lip, dragging his top teeth against it. He looked scared shitless, like I might pummel him for being stuck here with me. His gaze darted around in the semidarkness. It hit some trigger inside of me, some protective urge. I’d seen that look as a kid: the fearful expression of waiting for a beating. Seeing it on his beautiful face twisted my gut.

No one better ever fucking hurt you, kid. I’d make sure of it.

He gave me the out I had hoped for. Sure, I could hang here for a few more minutes and remain completely safe, never knowing what his lips tasted like, or if his body felt as feminine as it looked, or what those long fingers felt like stroking my back—

Aw, fuck it.

My heart jumped into my throat as I leaned in and kissed him. Those intoxicating lips tasted of vanilla and a hint of the sugary margarita thing he drank. I kissed him some more, sucking on his bottom lip, running my tongue across it. He let out an approving groan, and damn if that didn’t make my dick swell. I sucked harder, and then I nipped. More sounds, moans, encouraging me to continue. Ignoring the part of my brain reminding me Devon was a dude with dude junk dangling between his legs, I parted his lips with my tongue, forcefully diving into his mouth as if he supplied my oxygen and I couldn’t get enough air.

My limbs electrified as he slammed me against the wall, pressing his hips and his groin against mine. Fucking turned me on to be thrown like that. I grabbed his waist, pulling him closer as I continued plundering his mouth. A low, hungry growl rumbled as he rutted against my jean-covered cock. Painfully hard, I welcomed the friction of those hips, wishing I could bury myself inside of him. Him. Fuck. I couldn’t feel his dick, and it disappointed me. I reached down to his front, risking being swatted away—I mean, how fucking rude is that to grab someone’s junk when KISS and TONGUE were the directions? Through our kisses, I felt him smiling.

“Let’s save that for later, sweetie.” He lapped my bottom lip before biting it just enough to shoot a jolt of pleasure straight to my groin. Holy. Fuck. I swear that move was so fucking hot, my lip blistered from the heat.

I dove in again, kissing him, running my hands along his lithe frame, feeling the curves of his body, his pert ass, forgetting all about the seven minutes until the annoying voices from the other room yelled.

“Time’s up!”

Devon broke off the kiss, eyes wild and dilated. A mischievous know-it-all grin shone on his face. I stole another kiss, feeling a sense of pride knowing his lips were swollen because of me. I kissed a boy and I liked it. And I didn’t know what in fuck to do with that information… aside from push it down.