Cover art: Les Byerley
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 soul mate. 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” by D.H. Starr
A drama club geek and a consummate jock—hardly a formula for friendship. Yet Caleb Richards and Kevin O’Brien have been best friends since high school. Kevin’s free spirited ways brought Caleb out of his shell, and Caleb introduced Kevin to a world outside of sports. When Kevin came out to Caleb as gay, all the things he’d thought were wrong about himself suddenly seemed right…except for his inability to say the four words that could open the door to his ultimate happiness: I love you, Kevin. Years later, when Caleb finally faced his fear and plans to finally tell Kevin, “It was always you,” he’s a bit too late: Kevin tells him he’s found someone. How will a friendship ever become more now?
“Blind Love” by Sedonia Guillone
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 to get back the friend he’d lost. However, even though Hirata knows in his bones this man is his soul mate, Sho has…changed…in ways Hirata could not have prepared for in his wildest imaginings, changes that could continue to keep them apart…forever.
“Skating For Gold” by D.H. Starr
Joined by sorrow, Olympic figure skating hopeful Devon Hayes met champion Lance Dawes at a time when both their worlds were falling apart. Devon lost his mother to cancer and Lance’s family rejected him for being gay. When Devon leaves for college, a door seems to close on any hopes for something more than friendship…until Fate provides a second chance. Devon returns home to train with Lance. As the Olympic trials draw closer and their love grows stronger, the tug-of-war between desire and ambition threatens to ruin everything. If they can’t discover what matters most, they might end up with nothing.
Read an Excerpt from “Skating for Gold” (D.H. Starr)
Lance Dawes watched Devon glide gracefully along the pond’s frozen surface. In all of the years he’d coached Devon, he’d never met a man more focused or driven. Devon’s concentration on the quadruple jump, the one move he’d failed to master, was laser sharp. Digging the pick of his skate into the ice, Devon pumped his powerful quads, generating speed. His body lifted, sailing through the air. Lance counted each spin. One, two, three, four. C’mon. Now the landing. Lance held his breath. Devon’s arms hugged his torso, his body blurring from the speed of his rotations as he drew closer to the ground until his skate touched the ice. A triumphant thrill shot through Lance, but the victory was short-lived. Devon’s ankle wobbled and he toppled over, landing heavily on the ice. Fuck! He’s gonna be pissed.
Lance skated over to Devon, extending his hand. Without accepting the help, Devon pushed himself into an upright position. Despite the sour expression on Devon’s face, heat radiated through Lance. Just three years earlier, the man sitting on the ice had been a boy of seventeen. A lost, scared kid who needed training, friendship and encouragement. Back then, their five-year age difference had placed them in two different worlds. Lance thought of Devon with affection, like a kid brother, but certainly not romantically.
But Devon wasn’t a kid anymore. At twenty, even hunched over and angry, he radiated masculine perfection. Each muscle ran smoothly into the next. Bulges and ripples gleamed off the sheen of his sweat-covered skin. The way his broad shoulders tapered into a narrow waist drew Lance’s eyes like a magnet. He had to forcibly break his gaze when it scanned over that rounded ass only to rest on a generous swell pressing at the front of Devon’s skating pants. His legs, tree-trunks of muscle, were proportionate to the rest of his body. He has a perfect skater’s body.
“Damnit. Why the fuck can’t I land the jump?” Seemingly oblivious to Lance’s attention, Devon placed his hands on the ground and pushed himself to his feet. “I thought I had it.” He skated until only a few feet separated them, and took the towel Lance held for him.
Lance draped a woolen jacket over Devon’s shoulders, his hands brushing across the tense muscles. Even accidental touches sent currents of pleasure straight to his groin. “No one’s getting the quadruple jump consistently yet.” Although true, his words wouldn’t matter to Devon. Aside from Devon’s physical flawlessness, he also held himself to the highest of standards. It was just another item on the lengthy list of things Lance found irresistible about the man.
“I don’t give a fuck about other skaters. I generated enough speed, got great height, and even completed all four rotations with enough time to prepare for my landing.” With a final dab at his forehead, Devon tossed the towel back to Lance. “So what’s wrong?”
“It’s your landing. You aren’t coming around enough with your foot. You need to make a full rotation with your blade or your balance will be off and you won’t land with stability.”
Devon squared his body, standing at his full six-foot-two height as he faced Lance. Despite the impressiveness of his physique, there was still something innocent and vulnerable in him. “You think?” Devon placed one hand on Lance’s shoulder for balance while gripping his blade with the other and pulling his leg up stretching his muscles. “I do feel unstable on the landing.”
The contact where Devon’s hand gripped Lance’s shoulder sent a heated excitement through Lance, despite the frigid chill of the February air. Deep blue eyes filled Lance’s vision. Piercing sky-blue eyes, the same hue as the color reflecting off the ice. It took him a moment to realize he needed to respond. The trust and openness of that gaze had a power over him like no other.
“Absolutely. Once you bring your foot all the way around before you actually touch down, you’ll nail it each and every time.”
Devon pulled the coat around him, leaning in and playfully nudging Lance with his shoulder. “Thanks, Coach.”
Lance chuckled, but he couldn’t shake the way Devon had smirked after nudging him, and he swore Devon winked at him before turning away. Is he…Nooooo! It couldn’t have been. I’m just projecting. “Where do you think you’re going? We’re not done here.” Better to boss the kid around than contemplate what had been on his mind ever since Devon returned from college. “And how many times have I told you not to call me Coach? I’m not your coach, I’m your friend who’s been on the Olympic team and who’s helping you get ready for the trials in Seattle next month.”
Devon flashed Lance a dismissive glance. “Sheesh. Sensitive much?” He winced after the words came out as he caught his tone.
The comment had come across harshly, but three years ago, Lance could have easily passed it off as a bratty kid action. Now, even the tone of Devon’s voice cut straight through him. “It makes me feel old.” Lance kicked at the snow.
Devon laughed and placed an arm over Lance’s shoulder. “You’re not old. We’re practically the same age now.”
Ignoring the comment, which echoed something he had spent too much time thinking about himself lately, Lance redirected the conversation. “We still need to go over the routine.”
Devon rolled his eyes then settling his gaze on Lance. “I need to head back to the farm. There’s a ton of work to be done, and Dad will do all of it if I don’t get home soon.”
Lance knew better than to argue with Devon about helping his father on the farm. He’d learned long ago what a waste of time and energy that was. Instead, he waited as Devon removed his skates and replaced them with clunky Doc Martens. He’s right, at twenty and twenty-five, we’re both men.