I can’t tell you how excited I’m getting over this upcoming release. The friends-to-lovers theme has always been my favorite, truthfully, and a great many of the stories I write and have written are all about people who already love each other taking that step.(i.e. Aki’s Love Song, My Hot Muse, Soy Sauce Face)
The same goes for my friend and colleague, Doug Starr (a.k.a. D.H. Starr) and those of you who have read his signature piece, Meant For Each Other are already familiar with how beautifully he presents that theme in his stories.
On a personal level, I can say that’s pretty much what happened to me and so my writing most often contains an element of that – two people who were good friends but really were destined to have more, whether they knew it right away or not.
That said, here is a sneak peek!
What do an advertising executive, an Olympic skater and an 18th century samurai have in common? Each is in love with his best friend and knows he’s found his soulmate. But is Fate destined to give him his heart’s desire? A timeless theme explored in three sizzling M/M stories by two of today’s favorite authors, D.H. Starr and Sedonia Guillone. It Was Always You (D.H. Starr), Blind Love (Sedonia Guillone) and Skating For Gold (D.H. Starr)
After a harrowing seventeen-year separation, Hirata Morimasa leaves his home and secure future to search for his childhood friend, Sho. Blinded by illness when they were children, Sho was sent away, apprenticed to a blind masseur (an anma) to learn his trade, and then disappeared. Desperate to find the other half of his heart and soul, Hirata willingly sacrifices the prestige and security of his father’s dojo to find him. When an anma who looks exactly like Sho crosses his path in front of a gambling parlor one day, the man flatly denies he is Sho. Hirata knows better and is determined to get the truth…and his friend back at his side. However, even though Hirata knows in his bones this man is his soulmate, Sho has…changed…in ways Hirata could not have prepared for in his wildest imaginings, changes that could continue to keep them apart…forever.
They reached the riverbank and Sho released the guide rope whose end was tied to a pole a mere few steps from the river. “The water should be nice and warm,” he said and, with Hirata’s hand in his, inched down the bank, toward a large rock protruding from the water. The surface of the rock reached from the water to the grassy slope, its edge an arm’s length from Sho’s guide pole and serving almost as a kind of makeshift platform. Ichi-san had apparently set everything up for them perfectly, Hirata thought with a touch of bitterness. No sighted people needed.
Sho took the first step into the water. “Ahh, it’s beautiful.” He tugged Hirata’s hand. “Come, let’s have a bath, then I’ll wash your hair.”
Hirata followed Sho into the river. Admittedly, the sun felt glorious on his back while the cool water enveloped him up to the waist. In his heavy mood, he didn’t want to allow these things to give him enjoyment, but he couldn’t help it. He’d never been truly able to shut the wonder of life out, even in the depths of missing Sho.
Releasing Hirata’s hand, Sho dipped under the water, remained under for several seconds then came back up under a curtain of cascading water. “Ah, that’s wonderful,” he said with an uncharacteristically wide smile. “Go on, Hirata, wet your hair.”
Hirata paused, caught himself staring at Sho. Sunlight made the droplets of water clinging to Sho’s skin shine. Water beaded down Sho’s chest and abdomen, making small rivulets in the furrows between his muscles. Truly he appeared some sort of god in human form, standing there, the water lapping at his waist.
Sho’s smile faded. No doubt he felt Hirata’s gaze on him. “What are you waiting for?” he murmured, smoothing one hand over his closely shorn head. “Go under.”
Wordlessly, Hirata obeyed. He went under and opened his eyes. In the clear water, he had a perfect view of Sho’s legs, of his sloping thighs and calves, full of power. Sho had worn his loincloth into the water, but Hirata still caught a glimpse of the bulge in front.
Air ran out of his lungs and he surfaced. Since he’d taken the tie out of his hair before leaving the house, his now wet hair hung heavily over his shoulders. He pushed it back, off his face, his heart beating rather hard. A memory flashed in his mind, of the kabuki actor, Aoki, in sexual congress with Sho, riding him as if astride a horse. Hirata cleared his throat, dispelling the erotic image and its painful contrast to his own experience. “You were right.”
Sho’s smile returned. “Of course I am,” he said, dipping the washrag into the water and stepping toward Hirata. “Neither of us was ever one to stay indoors for any length of time.”
Before Hirata could answer, Sho was right in front of him. “Now, stand still and let me wash you so you don’t keep lifting your arm.”
Sho lifted the washrag and sloshed it over Hirata’s back. Up, down, around, with the same caring touch he’d used in all his ministrations. Hirata tensed, in spite of how good the cloth felt against his skin, down his arms, under his arms then…over his chest and abdomen. Down below, his musuko stirred in his loincloth. The more Sho washed him, the more it hardened, rising until it pushed uncomfortably against the cloth. The sensation made Hirata feel oddly wild, abandoned, rather than uptight, as sexual desire usually made him feel.
Sho slung the washrag over his shoulder again and shifted around so that he stood once again at Hirata’s back. “Dip into the water once more time,” he said, “so I can get your scalp clean.”
Again Hirata obeyed and then rose up again. When he did so, Sho reached up. Burrowing his fingers into Hirata’s wet hair, he began to rub Hirata’s scalp vigorously in small circles.
Immediately, Hirata’s whole body relaxed. He closed his eyes and let his head loll back a bit. Sho’s touch was heavenly. And…he thought, feeling wanton again…he wanted it all over his body. Everywhere. “What about the rest of me?” he asked.
Sho’s hands stilled. “Excuse me?”
“The other parts of me, below the water. Don’t you wash them too?”
“You don’t need to raise your arm in order to wash there,” Sho answered. “You can do that yourself.” He fell silent and resumed his work on Hirata’s scalp.
Sho’s response made that testy feeling resurge. Hirata’s misery redoubled. Like a cloud over the sun, it blocked out the pleasure of Sho’s fingers on his scalp, the sun on his skin, and the beauty of Sho’s bare physique. “If I were Aoki,” he mumbled, “you’d gladly wash my nether parts.” The words flew from him, beyond control. After all, Sho had spoken frankly and with brutal honesty last night. Why shouldn’t he do the same now?
Sho’s hands left his hair. “Would I?”
Tension returned, gripping Hirata’s muscles with such force, his neck began to ache. “I believe so. I saw you and him with my own eyes.”
The water churned with Sho’s step back, away from Hirata. “So, because I lay with Aoki, that means I would do whatever anyone bids of me? Is that what I am? A manservant?”
“No! That’s not what I meant.” Blood rushed hot into Hirata’s face. It flowed through his veins like liquid fire.
The erection in his loincloth tightened yet more.
“Then what did you mean?” Sho’s cheeks bloomed with red and his nostrils flared.
“I meant that…I meant…” Hirata couldn’t finish. The fight left him suddenly and the burn of anger turned to the burn of shame. His own words spiraled in his mind. Unseemly things that reminded him of the way Sozaemon had spoken to him that night in his bedchamber as he forced himself onto Hirata’s struggling form. He hung his head. “I’m sorry, Sho. I’m being cruel. I didn’t mean anything. Forgive me.”
Sho was quiet a moment. “No, I’m sorry, Hirata. Perhaps the way I bathed you made you feel…” He cleared his throat. “Teased.”