So, I’m putting this up on Kermit Flail on Monday, but I wanted to remind you all that Regret Me Not will be out on Monday too!
Pierce Atwater used to think he was a knight in shining armor, but then his life fell to crap. Now he has no job, no wife, no life—and is so full of self-pity he can’t even be decent to the one family member he’s still speaking to. He heads for Florida, where he’s got a month to pull his head out of his ass before he ruins his little sister’s Christmas.
Harold Justice Lombard the Fifth is at his own crossroads—he can keep being Hal, massage therapist in training, flamboyant and irrepressible to the bones, or he can let his parents rule his life. Hal takes one look at Pierce and decides they’re fellow unicorns out to make the world a better place. Pierce can’t reject Hal’s overtures of friendship, in spite of his misgivings about being too old and too pissed off to make a good friend.
As they experience everything from existential Looney Tunes to eternal trips to Target, Pierce becomes more dependent on Hal’s optimism to get him through the day. When Hal starts getting him through the nights too, Pierce must look inside for the knight he used to be—before Christmas becomes a doomsday deadline of heartbreak instead of a celebration of love.
Buy at Amazon
Buy at DSP
* * *
So– about the excerpt–
I love watching those old movies–Audrey Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart– the dialog is just gorgeous. You never saw those characters naked, but their words said everything you needed to hear about how much they meant to each other when the clothes were off.
I loved writing this book because it was two characters, alone in a beach house, with their damage. Pierce’s is both physical and emotional, but Hal’s got his own baggage, and as they open up their suitcases, they’re both surprised to see they can deal with the other person’s items.
bed and staring at his feet. Yes, he’d slipped the tennis shoes on—but tying
them was going to be a challenge.
“Oh, there you are,” Hal said, poking his head in. “I set the basket on
top of the washer so we don’t forget to keep the parade moving. How are
you—oh!” And God, he sounded so natural. “Would you like some help?”
into a sweat for the last ten minutes. “How do you stand me? I’m worthless!
I can’t even put on my shoes!”
Hal paused on his way into the room. “There’s got to be a Shakespeare
quote in there,” he said, like he was thinking about it hard. “About how a
man’s worth is more than his ability to lace his boots. Now you sound like
you’re in asshole mood—you’re not going to kick me in the face if I squat
down to tie those, are you?”
“No,” Pierce told him—but sulkily. “I try not to hurt the people who
help me. Usually.”
“So that means there’s some danger,” Hal said, just to make sure.
“That’s good to know. You can protect yourself if you know the dangers.”
Everything in Pierce’s brain backed up and fountained out his ears.
“You can’t,” he said fervently, because this suddenly seemed important.
“You can’t. A relationship isn’t like that—you can’t protect yourself, even
if you know the dangers. You protect yourself and you’ll just… it’s like a
circuit. You can’t make a circuit with the vinyl still on the wires. You either
strip the protection off to make the circuit complete and hope it doesn’t
explode, or nothing ever happens.”
Hal paused, kneeling at his feet, his hands warm on Pierce’s calf.
“That’s… well, off topic, actually. And I’d love to know where it came
from. But for right now, I just need to know if you’re going to kick me in
He rubbed Pierce’s calf absentmindedly, his hands warm and strong
and capable. The taut panic wire that had been zinging up Pierce’s spine
since he’d realized that no, he couldn’t really bend far enough to put on his
shoes yet, and how embarrassing that was when this young, attractive man
was… was putting himself at close range—that panic wire stilled, muted,
the charge of embarrassment dampening until Pierce could breathe again.
“No,” Pierce whispered huskily. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
Hal blinked a couple of times, looking up at him. “How do you strip
the wires?” he asked, the absentminded rubbing turning into a caress.
The question made Pierce’s eyes burn. “I have no idea.”
The corners of Hal’s mouth turned down, and he stopped touching
Pierce and made quick work of the laces. “We’ll figure it out,” he promised.
He stood, offering Pierce a hand up, and Pierce took it, then accepted the
hated cane so he could make his way through the house.
Once he got outside, the cold and humid breeze took his breath away.
He kept walking, expecting Hal to catch up at any moment, but he was
surprised when he’d gone nearly a hundred yards before Hal trotted up to
his side. Hal zipped up a windbreaker of his own before handing Pierce a
“It’s frickin’ cold out here!” he called, and Pierce grimaced.
“You guys are a little spoiled,” he said through the wind. He remembered
going running in the chill of a Sacramento winter, when it got down to the
“Yeah, well, humor me.” Hal stood solicitously and helped him on
with the hoodie; then together they soldiered through the loose sand that
formed a pathway through the rushes toward the harder sand of the beach.
Hal’s hand hovered under his elbow for a few steps, and Pierce, eschewing
his pride for once, paused and took his hand, putting it rmly under his arm.
“People will think we’re a couple,” Hal said, and he had to talk over
the sound of the surf, so it was hard to know if he was irting or embarrassed.
“I don’t mind if you don’t.”
Hal squeezed his elbow in response, and they hit the harder-packed
sand of the beach proper.
Pierce swung toward the pounding surf and paused. The waves were
decent-sized but still small compared to high tide in Monterey or Half-Moon
Bay, and the horizon tinted toward gold instead of gray-blue.
But still, it was a great unfathomable deep, and since he’d hauled his
limping ass out here, he wanted a good look at it.
“Why are you stopping?” Hal tugged on him, and Pierce bit his lip,
“Because,” he said, having trouble raising his voice. “It deserves our
respect, don’t you think? If you don’t respect the ocean, or time, or fate, or
the big things in the world, you sort of have it coming when they knock you
on your ass.”
Hal stopped tugging and drew up even with him. Shyly, with tentative
little pauses and jerks, he put his arm around Pierce’s shoulders.
Pierce let him.
“Does it make you feel alone?” he asked, voice throbbing with a
loneliness he rarely showed but Pierce had guessed at.
“Yeah,” Pierce said, wrapping his arm around Hal’s waist. Comfort, right?
“Then why do we keep coming here?”
“Because it’s great and vast and holy,” Pierce told him, unexpectedly
moved by having it right there, in front of him, when he’d ignored it for the
better part of two weeks. “And it lets us touch our toes to its surf and play.”
“Do you think you’ll ever be able to strip the vinyl off?” Hal asked
quietly. “Let your wires touch?”
Pierce swallowed, although the question wasn’t unanticipated.
“I have to know I’m strong enough to take the charge,” he answered.
Oh, he liked this metaphor. It was another layer of vinyl between him and
the pain of the divorce, and his bitterness, and of loving someone enough
for the love to hurt.
“I’ll test it gently,” Hal whispered. “When you’re ready.”