Love Unlocked—A Beaten Track Anthology—Blog Tour and Giveaway
Love Unlocked is a collection of seven short stories and novellas – unique LGBTQ romances inspired by the Love Lock Bridge.
The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Writer’s Lock by Victoria Milne
Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister
The Weekend by J P Walker
The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter
He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd
Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan
THE TRAP by CLAIRE DAVIS AND AL STEWART
New job – sexy boss – fate – Art…
When Sal attends an open exam for an apprentice artist to work alongside the infamous Matthew Picard, the last thing he expects is to be the winner. But then his role is revealed and nothing is ever the same again. As he toils day and night on the unique sculpture, strange sensations begin to affect both him and the watching master artist.
Matthew Picard thought he was through with men and love. What he wanted was for Sal to help him create one final monstrous masterpiece – The Trap.
But as he observes his young apprentice, his focus shifts, and so do the very walls of the gallery.
Is it the beauty of art, or something more magical at work?
As the sculpture is created, a power is unlocked.
Can love save them, or will they be trapped forever?
* * *
WRITER’S LOCK by VICTORIA MILNE
Spending a month in Paris to write his romance novel had seemed like the perfect plan, but one week in, Phil Pearson is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. With barely a word written, he’s fed up and ready to cut his trip short.
When Laurent Marceau sees Phil in his café, it sends him hurtling into the past, opening old wounds and reminding him of the love he lost. But, after watching the aspiring writer struggle for inspiration, he surprises himself by offering to show him Paris through the eyes of a true Parisian.
Finally bursting with ideas, Phil is delighted to put pen to paper, albeit badly at first. As the writer finds himself falling in love for the first time, Laurent knows he needs to decide quickly if he’s strong enough to return his affections, or whether it would be better for them both if he walked away. He knows he may not have a choice, once Phil finds out the truth.
* * *
LOCKED IN THE MOMENT by DAWN SISTER
Due to a misunderstanding, the troll that lives underneath one of the most romantic bridges in Paris inadvertently unlocks every single padlock lovers have left there over the years. L’Authoritié de Fée Folklorique are up in arms. He has no idea what all the fuss is about. The noise was driving him mad. He just wanted a bit of peace and quiet.
A spell is cast, leaving the troll in a bit of a predicament. He is charged with the seemingly impossible task of fixing the locks before the spell can be reversed and he is allowed to return to his home. There are other complications, the least of which is the insistence and persistence of a fairy who is determined to help him against the wishes of his own people.
Now the troll has a dilemma. What is more important to him? The only home he has known for two thousand years, or a fairy he has just met?
* * *
THE WEEKEND by J P WALKER
Nat’s been through a rough breakup and trust does not come easily. When she accompanies a group of friends to Paris for a hen weekend, she finds a connection she wasn’t looking for, in the form of beautiful, passionate Morgan. They quickly fall into a wonderful weekend fling and even engrave their initials into a lock and attach it to the most romantic bridge in the world, Love Lock Bridge.
But was that weekend fling all there was, or will news of the bridge being taken down lead to something more?
* * *
THE SCARLET LOCK by CARAWAY CARTER
Brandon Marshall, in Paris for his twin sister’s wedding, has a fling before the big day. At the end of a whirlwind week of discovering each other, Brandon and his lover place a scarlet lock on the Love Lock Bridge.
Follow Brandon through six years of letters – to the citizens of Paris, on everything from how to make love, to eating passionate fruit – and to the lover, who is now his brother-in-law.
The locks are being removed, the bridge refitted… What will be the fate to The Scarlet Lock?
* * *
HE MELTED US by OFELIA GRÄND
All Delron wants is to live his life with Phillipe, but when their love lock is stolen from Pont des Art, their relationship is in jeopardy. Without the lock holding them together, Delron is convinced they’ll crash and burn. The only way he can save their relationship is to find the stolen lock, and that is just what he plans to do, no matter what.
Phillipe loves Delron, he really does, but it’s driving him insane that Delron can’t see that a padlock is simply a piece of metal. The lock has nothing to do with them, not really. Up until the night the lock was stolen, their life was great, but Del’s crazy behaviour has Phillipe wondering if he has ever really known his boyfriend.
Delron’s search leads him through art-filled Paris, but will a symbol of love ever be enough to soothe the mistrust his quest has planted in Phillipe? Phillipe always thought he’d spend the rest of his life with Del, but who can live with anyone willing to break the law just to find a padlock when they can buy a new one in just about any shop?
* * *
CHAIN OF SECRETS by DEBBIE MCGOWAN
Josh and George have always shared the special bond of friendship. From days in primary school, to holidays spent riding their bikes along the canal, theirs is a promise to remain best friends forever.
But can that promise withstand the trials of adolescence, and the changes in their feelings towards each other?
Pages or Words: 156,000 words, 550 pages
Categories: Bisexual (1 story), Contemporary (7 stories), Fantasy (1 story), Gay Fiction (6 stories), Lesbian Romance (1 story), M/M Romance (6 stories), Romance (7 stories)
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Al Stewart of The Trap (Love Unlocked) and Dawn Sister author of Locked in the Moment. Let me start with Al.
Hi Al, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us something no one else knows about your characters.
Matthew has a tiny birthmark that looks like a bird above his right buttock.
Have you ever written something that made you cry?
Oh god yes, all the time hahahahhah
Have you ever co-written with someone before?
Yup. Claire Davis, Debbie McGowan, Noah Homes.
What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
The starting. Once I get going, I am a train that never stops except to eat.
Name your four most important food groups.
Breakfast, lunch, tea, supper
Tell us the highlight of your writing career (so far).
I think it was being number-one bestseller on Amazon 😀
Thank you Al. Now, the same questions for Dawn.
Hi Dawn, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us something no one else knows about your characters.
Sol is a troll. Trolls hibernate. A lot, and for a long time. They don’t like being woken up in the middle of a hibernation cycle. They tend to get quite grumpy about it. Hence the stories about eating things that trip-trap across their bridge. That incident with the goats was just a misunderstanding that got out of hand.
Lucien is a fairy. He has been watching over Sol’s bridge for over three hundred years. Sol thinks that’s his job. Lucien hasn’t exactly told the entire truth. He has been watching the bridge, but not because he was assigned to.
Have you ever written something that made you cry?
Oh lord, yes. I listen to my characters too much, and sometimes they do and say things that upset me. Sometimes the plot drives me towards something I would rather avoid, but it crashes me head first into it and I have to take a break.
Have you ever co-written with someone before?
No. Not because I haven’t considered it, but because the right story hasn’t presented itself. I would like to. I’m sure one day a plot bunny will hit me and I will think, “OMG, I wonder if (insert name here) would consider writing this with me.”
What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
Finishing the darn thing. I’m fine if I have a deadline to work to. Otherwise, WIP’s just sit on my flash drive getting longer and longer and longer. I sometimes write an ending first, but then I have to get there.
Name your four most important food groups.
Chocolate, coffee, proper butter, crumpets.
The Trap; by Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Sal gulped, and stepped forward. Matthew was sitting at a large old-fashioned desk. He raised his eyebrows and indicated the chair. “Please,” he commanded.
Somehow, Sal managed to get across the room and into the chair without falling over, fleeing, or speaking, because he couldn’t do anything except stare.
Long, black hair framed a handsome face and intense dark eyes. “Good morning. I trust my staff dealt with all the necessary…things?” Matthew asked, extending a hairy arm. For a second, Sal thought he was meant to kiss that strong-looking hand, but thankfully his manners took over. He seized it and shook, perhaps a little too vigorously, because Matthew looked surprised.
“Good morning, Mr. Picard,” Sal squeaked, watching Matthew’s hand as it left his. He had touched Matthew Picard!
Matthew’s dark eyes watched him thoughtfully, his mouth turning into the infamous half smile. It transported his face into two halves—one of a chilling smile, the other a stony shell. Sal was unable to look away, thinking both of Dorian Grey and Heathcliff.
“Just Matthew. Remind me. Your name?”
“What do you know of love?” Matthew barked suddenly, leaning forward across the desk, his hair running like water across his face, and Sal thought, That’s it. He’ll see through me for the fraud I am. I’m just a nobody who knows nothing about love or art, moved here to be near this gallery because I’m fucking crazy. He knows about eBay!
But Matthew seemed to require no answer. He stood, sweeping the chair away from him with a flourish, and began striding towards the double doors at the end of the room. “Come,” he called sternly.
Sal scrambled up after him, confused and excited, and trying not to let his eyes linger too long on Matthew’s long legs as he flung open the doors and stalked through.
The next day, Sal tried to work in clothes. Maybe there was still time to save himself. Tears were at the back of his eyes, waiting and ready. Even the sculpture could not lift his spirits, but he doggedly carried on.
He cemented the last of the artefacts into the outsides of the wall, creating patterns and bumps that would be interesting for the viewers to touch. After this, he could paint, and then the outside was finished, the early stages of love complete.
He was aware of Matthew by now as soon as he entered the room. Normally, he would stand and watch for a while before coming to assist, and then to touch. Sal did not feel whole anymore until those hands made contact with his skin.
But today, Matthew tapped him sharply on the shoulder. “Turn,” he ordered in his most frosty voice. Sal almost giggled as he turned defiantly to meet Matthew’s eye.
Matthew said nothing, but calmly began to undress Sal. First the t-shirt: he lifted Sal’s arms, pushing the top up past his body, over his head, and off.
He undid the button to Sal’s jeans while Sal concentrated on breathing, so confused he did not know if he wanted to cry or laugh. His erection popped up as the jeans slid down his hips. Soon he was naked again.
Matthew nodded once as he quietly left the room.
Writer’s Lock; by Victoria Milne
Phil Pearson tilted his head, contemplating the blank pages of his notebook, and a dark lock of hair skimmed his eyes. Still nothing. Yet again, his mind was totally blank—an alarmingly familiar feeling. He squinted hard, blurring the faint, ruled lines into thick, grey barriers.
So much for coming to Paris for inspiration; he’d barely written a word in the six days since his arrival. Leaning back in the rickety, wooden chair, he slammed the notebook shut, sighed and gazed out of the café window at the tourists bustling past in the warm, evening sun.
He felt like such a fraud. How could he legitimately call himself a romance writer, when he was in the city of love and still struggling to write anything of significance? His fingers trembled as he smoothed condensation from his beer glass. His inexperience of love was certainly shining through. He had to prove he could do this, for his own sanity if nothing more. Surely, it shouldn’t be this hard.
“Vous désirez…un café peut-etrê?”
Phil peered blankly at the waiter, who smiled and repeated in English.
“Can I get you anything else?”
Phil shook his head, and the waiter took a step closer—a little too close, Phil noticed—as he glanced at his notebook.
“Ideas not flowing today?”
“Or any day, it feels like.”
The waiter indicated towards the empty chair opposite, and Phil shrugged his acquiescence, catching the delicate scent of the man’s aftershave as he took his seat. “You’re a writer?”
“Trying to be,” Phil said with waning conviction.
Studying him, the waiter pursed his full lips. “You cannot wait for inspiration to come to you like this. Sometimes you have to go out there and create it for yourself.”
Phil snorted a laugh. “You really think I’m going to take advice about inspiration from a waiter?”
His companion’s chair legs noisily scraped the tiled floor as he stood and gave Phil a long, hard stare. “Perhaps you should not be so quick to judge on appearances. Most things are not as they seem at first glance. You could learn a lot about inspiration from me, if you were not so arrogant.”
Phil stared at the man as he walked away, horrified with himself. He’d been so caught up with his own woes and torments that he’d unwittingly committed the one sin he despised most in others: not only to judge someone negatively but to do so with no thought as to whether it were true, or deserved, even.
The waiter was preparing coffee behind the bar, and Phil looked at him more closely. His shoulder-length, auburn hair was tied neatly into a ponytail, and he had the physique of a long-distance runner, or perhaps a cyclist. The sleeves of his crisp, black shirt were rolled to his elbows, and a wooden beaded necklace graced his throat. The more Phil watched the man’s practised movements, the more intrigued he became, and also more embarrassed.
Draining his beer and packing up his things, he stood and walked the short distance to the bar and placed the empty glass down with a thud.
“I’m sorry about before,” he said and slid twenty euros across the bar. The waiter glanced over his shoulder and made to open the cash register, but Phil shook his head and began to walk towards the exit. “Have a drink on me.”
Phil spun to look at him and was studied with a guarded smile.
“How would you like to know Paris through the eyes of a true Parisian?”
Phil eyed him cautiously, and the waiter strolled over.
“This is not true Paris,” he scoffed and waved his hand at the tables of tourists. “You will never feel inspiration here. Allow me to show you Paris, the places we Parisians go. If you cannot write afterwards, I guarantee it was never meant to be your passion.”
Phil considered his offer for a moment. “Okay, you’re on.” He scraped a lock of hair from his eyes and held out his hand. “I’m Phil, by the way.”
“Philippe, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Laurent.” He leaned forward, ignoring Phil’s outstretched hand, and kissed him on both cheeks. “But we should start right away, and I know exactly where we’ll go. I’ll get my coat and tell Luc I’m leaving.”
Phil hovered by the doorway, wondering what exactly he’d agreed to. He’d just put what felt like his entire future in the hands of a complete stranger. To his surprise, instead of feeling apprehensive, he was excited to see where this journey would take him.
Locked in the Moment; by Dawn Sister
Lucien’s hiding the fact that he looks like death warmed up with some sort of spell. It’s none of my business, except it did shock me. I don’t want this lock business to cause him any pain or make him ill.
I don’t have time to think about it—or about when I stopped being a selfish old troll and started thinking of someone else instead of myself.
Lucien has us all over the park in search of couples to mend. Despite the fact he looked exhausted for the split second his guard was down, he seems to be driven, like one of those new-fangled car contraptions that rumble over my bridge, day in, day out.
By the time midday approaches, we have fixed twenty-four locks. I don’t think that’s bad going. I do think it’s time for a rest, though.
I still can’t work out how he’s finding these locks, but I’m not going to knock it.
I continue to be completely and utterly underwhelmed by these ‘moments’ that are supposed to be so pivotal and crucial to sealing the bond between two humans in love.
So far, I have witnessed humans realising their undying love over laundry, wire mesh shopping baskets, a tatty old book, a crossword, a pair of worn-out shoes, a scarf, an umbrella and a squashed spider. It’s tedious. For goodness’ sake. I don’t know much about romance, but I’d like to think I’d have a bit more imagination. I’ve come to the conclusion that humans are quite boring.
We are currently sitting on a bench, people watching. Lucien shifts restlessly beside me, mostly because I’ve made him sit here. I might be tired after traipsing around this park fixing lost loves, but he must be exhausted. He’s never stopped.
He clicks his tongue in frustration at the forced rest.
“We ain’t shiftin’, Hairy, so you can stop all that shufflin’ around.” I lean back on the bench, folding my arms across my chest, just so he gets the message that I will not be changing my mind.
“But we need to move around, Sol. We should be in amongst the crowds to find broken couples.” He grumbles beside me, but he doesn’t try to get up.
“If we sit here long enough, the crowds will pass us. We can search just as well from this bench. I ain’t moving another inch. My feet are bloody killing me.” They’re not, but he doesn’t need to know that. He thinks it’s because I’m not used to walking around on human feet, and it was a good enough ruse to get him to sit. “I haven’t walked around this much since the Romans left a thousand years ago.”
He snorts and regards me with sparkling eyes. “Truly?” He sounds dubious, but I can also see wonder in his expression. “You have lived through so many ages, Sol. You must have a great many stories to tell.”
“Not really.” I stare off into the distance. “I slept through most of it, and when I was awake—when I wasn’t being chased around with pitchforks or persecuted by goats—I spent most of my time underneath, or in the vicinity of my bridge. This—” I wave my hands about me “—is the furthest I’ve been from my bridge…erm…ever, actually.”
“That is quite sad, Sol. Because of others’ ignorance, there is so much you have missed.” Lucien lays a hand on my arm, and I fight the urge to jump a mile, because it still sends shocks and tingles through my entire body every time he touches me. Sometimes, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to keep in physical contact all the time; then the sensations might be lessened.
I take his hand from my arm and hold it in my lap.
“I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything, Hairy. I’m not a very adventurous troll. In fact, bridge trolls as a species aren’t all that adventurous. We prefer to stay close to our bridges.”
His hand feels tiny in mine, and warm, and soft. I need to keep talking.
“What about fairies? I expect you get about a bit more because of the wings thing.” I point at his back and then inwardly groan, because it’s not like he doesn’t know where his bloody wings are.
Lucien shifts his shoulders a little but doesn’t answer. When I chance a sideways glance at him, he is staring down at his hand in mine. Slowly, he turns it, so our palms are facing. His fingers link through mine, and my breath catches in my throat. Maybe holding his hand wasn’t such a good idea, because now I have tingling shocks and I can’t breathe. I pull away, and Lucien gives a small huff, narrowing his eyes before gasping and turning his head to stare over to the other side of the park.
“There, over at that bench.” He points, and we are back in business, looking to fix our twenty-fifth lock.
The Weekend; by J P Walker
It’s funny how when you break up with someone, especially under awful circumstances, you realise how much was missing. When I’d first moved out of Katie’s, all I could remember were the good times but now, with Morgan, I couldn’t help but make comparisons. Those good times with Katie came nowhere near how incredible it had been to spend a day with the beautiful woman sitting across the table from me. If I’d been in any doubt before about how much I liked Morgan, I wasn’t any longer. I really did.
After dinner, we went for another stroll around Paris, appropriately dressed this time, with warm coats, and Morgan linked her arm with mine and rested her head on my shoulder. Every now and then, we stopped to look in awe at the beauty of the city around us—the buildings, the street names—Paris was quickly becoming my favourite destination, truly the most beautiful place I had ever been. Eventually, we found ourselves on the Pont des Arts bridge, surrounded by beautiful lights. I knew of the bridge, known as ‘Love Lock Bridge’, but didn’t really know of the tradition that went along with it.
We watched the lights shining from all the locks, and I felt my heart swell. Thousands of couples, all of their declarations of love and commitment…I felt overwhelmed in the presence of so much love. Without any warning at all, my eyes filled with tears. Morgan had wandered ahead, only a few steps, to look at the names on some of the locks, but she noticed my tears and within seconds was by my side and holding my hand. She looked at me questioningly.
“So beautiful,” I said and buried my face in her hair. My word, what a bloody soppy git I had become.
Morgan held me, rubbing soothing circles on my back, and I could hear the jangle of her bracelets. When we parted, she gave me an almost secret grin and reached into her pocket. I looked at her quizzically and then saw what she had in her hand: a small red padlock with a key still inside.
“It’s from my suitcase, I’d forgotten I’d shoved it in my pocket until we got here. Whaddaya say?” She winked.
I nodded and checked my pockets, to see if I had a Sharpie—I love doing crosswords on trains, don’t judge. I found one in my inside pocket. Yay!
“OK, what’s your last name?” I asked as I took the lid off with my teeth.
The pen fell out of my mouth as I gaped at her. Morgan Freeman? Seriously? Then she started laughing and swatted me on the shoulder.
“Just kidding, can you imagine? Ha! It’s Wilson,” she got out between laughs.
I shook my head at her antics. She was a riot.
“What’s yours?” she asked after I’d written ‘MW’ and ‘NB’ on the small lock and deposited my pen back in my pocket.
“Bliss,” I replied smiling.
“Really? Bliss? You’re…Nat Bliss?”
“Well…Natalie Emilia Bliss. But yeah…Bliss.”
“Seriously.” I was enjoying her reaction. Her eyes were shining bright, and puffs of vapour hung in the air as she breathed.
She brought her face close to mine and laid a soft, warm kiss on my mouth, immediately turning me on. I was quickly becoming addicted to her, and giving me a little fix like that left me silently begging for more. Chasing the dragon—I began to doubt if I would ever again find a high like Morgan Wilson.
The Scarlet Lock; by Caraway Carter
Anything can happen in Paris!
That’s what Brandon Marshall told himself, as he sat drinking cappuccino in a café, on a rainy afternoon in April. His eyes caught those of an attractive man in a business suit, and he had a feeling it would be an enjoyable excursion.
He’d arrived before the rest of his family. All had been planning the trip the past six months, for the wedding of his twin sister, Bree. In a week, they’d all unite in the Parisian countryside at the Dupuis home. But, until that time, he’d enjoy his personal vacation.
The man in the business suit approached his table, stopped, and looked down at Brandon. The man’s left hand slipped deep into his pocket. Brandon stared, for a moment riveted to the emerald-green eyes. His gaze traveled down the crisp, white dress shirt, over the Hermes belt, to the growing tent in the man’s black slacks. Brandon’s pinkie fingertip reached to caress the fabric, and energy sparked between the two.
With his other hand, the man pulled a wallet from his breast pocket, deposited a bill on the table and walked away. In one fluid movement, Brandon stood and followed the man across the street to an apartment building.
Left in The Ritz lobby
Reader, are you splurging, or is this your type of hotel?
It was a splurge for my family three years ago. I only walked across the lobby once, to deposit my luggage in my room. Take the adventure this place gives you. If The Ritz is all you’ve ever known, then please leave this letter for someone who needs to experience the luxuriousness.
If you had never imagined in a million years being in this lobby, smile and feel the luxury that surrounds you. Wake up and look out the windows in your room. Before going to bed, look at the lights of the city and enjoy slipping under the cotton sheets. Slide up next to your lover, husband, wife, partner or prostitute, and make each night a night you’ll never forget.
When you understand what I have suggested, leave this letter in another place in the hotel. Hopefully people will be satiated every day for a long while.
He Melted Us; by Ofelia Gränd
Delron was alone on Pont des Arts. The light drizzle made it hard to see over to the cupola of Institut de France. Behind him the lamps outside of the Louvre only gave a dull glow. But it didn’t matter—none of it mattered.
The metal railing dug into his palm as tiny water droplets coated the back of his hand. He couldn’t look down, couldn’t force himself to take in the empty grate on the side of the bridge one more time. Below, the Seine’s water ran black and cold. Delron looked at it whirling and rippling. He could almost feel it swallowing him, even as he stood firmly on the wooden deck on the bridge.
It was gone—their lock was gone.
Delron couldn’t breathe. A group of young men staggered over the otherwise deserted bridge. They were too busy talking and joking to notice him. How could anyone joke at a moment like this?
Once they’d passed, he sat down on one of the benches. The wet seat soaked his trousers, but he didn’t care.
He had known, or assumed, but seeing it with his own eyes made the reality hit home. Their relationship was over. A part of him had still hoped. They’d said on the radio that about 2000 locks were missing, a few dozen had been left untouched. He’d hoped theirs would be one of those few. It wasn’t.
He remembered the day they’d stood there two years ago. The weather had been warm, the sun reflecting off the water below them, and Phillipe had been absolutely gorgeous. His short dark hair had come to life in the sunshine, and his warm brown eyes had held so much affection, Delron felt a warmth fill him every time he thought about it.
Delron had always thought Phillipe was handsome—handsome in an ordinary way. He didn’t look like a model; he looked real, and Del wanted a real man. That day he had thought Phillipe was the most beautiful creature on this Earth. They’d been standing there, holding hands—not giving a damn about what people would think. And they’d attached their lock to the bridge. Both of them had held on to the lock as they attached it, their hands touching as Delron pushed down the shackle and Phillipe pulled out the key. Instead of throwing it into the Seine like Del had wanted to, Phillipe had attached it to his other keys.
Delron had never been happier. It was like everything had finally fallen into place. That lock—it meant everything. As long as their lock hung on the bridge, he knew they would be all right. It was the closest they’d ever come to marriage—the lock was their wedding ring, their promise to themselves and the world that they would be together for eternity. And now? He looked around at the sad-looking grate; the occasional lock decorating the ugly metal grid only made it worse.
It was gone. It was over. Delron might just as well go back home, pack his things, and move out of the flat they’d shared for the last five years. No lock, no relationship—he had no say in this. Someone had stolen his happiness.
Chain of Secrets; by Debbie McGowan
They stopped, chained their bikes together and collected their sweets and drinks before they clambered up the concrete slope. They often had a rest under this viaduct. Not that he’d told Josh, but George liked to think it was their secret place that no-one else ever came to. It wasn’t special, just a road over the canal. But it got them out of the sun, and it was a good place to rest up before they rode the last mile home.
For a few minutes, they lay on their backs, catching their breath and cooling down. Josh reached into the bag of sweets, pulled out two lollipops, and held one out to George. Sitting up straighter, George took the lollipop, and Josh settled back, with his hands behind his head and his knees up, using the traction of his shoes to stop himself from sliding down the slope. He rolled the lollipop around, and the stick slid from one side of his mouth to the other.
George was transfixed. The stick switched sides again. A car rumbled overhead. The sugar left a glossy coating on Josh’s lips, and George wondered what they would taste like, how it would feel to press his lips to Josh’s and…kiss him. George’s heart was hammering in his chest at the thought. He wanted to kiss Josh, more than anything else. He wanted to taste the lollipop on his lips, lick the stickiness away. He wanted it so much he couldn’t stop watching the stick bobbing. He could just reach over and snatch that stick, pluck the sweet from Josh’s mouth, and kiss him.
Josh looked at him in puzzlement. Had he said something?
“Huh?” George asked. His cheeks were burning. The moment had passed, and for now the desperate urge to kiss Josh was lost.
George replayed that moment all the way home, and for days, weeks, months afterwards. He couldn’t seem to get the thought out of his head. He had wanted to kiss Josh. He still wanted to kiss him. Did he know? Could he tell what George was thinking?
At Ellie’s house, Josh got out of the limousine and gasped at the sight of his friend in her beautiful, long blue dress. She smiled and blinked back tears. Three years of fighting bulimia, and counting. Josh could see the pain, hidden behind her flawless make-up and slight yet shapely figure. Another item to add to the list of things that must not be allowed to ruin what might be their last night out together, forever.
Josh waited for Ellie to settle into her seat and sat next to her. He could feel George watching him. The finality of the occasion threatened to overwhelm him, and he waited until George’s attention had shifted before glancing his way.
George. His best friend. The boy with the bubble of blonde hair, the little ruffian with the rusty bike.
George. The tall, handsome eighteen-year-old, star footballer with his own horse.
Lifting the champagne flute to his lips, George tilted his head back to take some of the fizzy golden liquid into his mouth. He met Josh’s gaze, swallowed and smiled. A concerned smile. Josh smiled back. Suddenly, the enormous car was too small, the cooled air was too warm, George was too close, too…beautiful. How had he never noticed before?
Buy the book:
Preordering on Beaten Track is live – will send through other links as soon as they are available.
Love Unlocked Anthology – http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/loveunlocked
The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart – http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/thetrap
Writer’s Lock by Victoria Milne – http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/writerslock
Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister – http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/lockedinthemoment
The Weekend by J P Walker – http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/theweekend
The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter – http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/thescarletlock
He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd – http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/hemeltedus
Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan – http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/chainofsecrets
Beaten Track (ebook): http://beatentrackpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=loveunlocked_format
Beaten Track (paperback): http://beatentrackpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=loveunlocked
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-loveunlocked-1978041-166.html
The authors and where to find them:
Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Al Stewart and Claire Davis write about people who are not perfect. Claire embraces the dark side, and Al the good side of the force. Their work is there for a fusion of both, mixed often with kink and humour.
Contact and Media
Beaten Track: beatentrackpublishing.com/clairedavisandalstewart
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Many years ago, Victoria chose the words ‘watch this space’ to accompany her picture in the school yearbook and had no dreams of being a writer. Sixteen years later, after someone joked that she should be an author, she began the first page of her very first novel and realised how perfect those words had been.
As a latecomer to the world of creative writing, Victoria is now making up for lost time and enjoying every second of the experience.
In the rare moments these days when she’s not writing or dreaming up new plots, she can usually be found at either the ice rink or the dojo and all of these activities are done listening to loud music.
Victoria would love to hear from anyone who shares her passion for writing; and in particular from anyone who has tips on how to tame the editing fetish she has unwittingly acquired along the way.
Contact and Media:
Beaten Track: beatentrackpublishing.com/victoriamilne
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Dawn is from the North East of England. Her life is spent juggling. The juggling balls are: children, husband, work (occasionally), voluntary work, professional knitting (notice she doesn’t class this as work), and writing. When she has time she actually sleeps.
The whole point of writing for Dawn is just to get it all off her chest and out of her head. If she doesn’t write it down then she ends up having long conversations with the characters out loud and her husband thinks she’s crazy.
Contact and Media
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J P Walker
Jem Roche-Walker was born in Norwich and moved to the Northwest in order to attend Edge Hill University, studying Social Work Studies. After studying, she began working in rehabilitation for patients with acquired brain injuries and spent seven years writing her first novel, Knights of the Sun, (2013, Beaten Track).
She lives in Burscough with her wife and baby girl and loves spending family time with them.
Contact and Media
Beaten Track: beatentrackpublishing.com/jpwalker
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Caraway Carter has worn numerous hats. He’s been a furniture salesman, a dresser, a costumer, an actor/waiter, a rabble rouser, a poet and most recently a writer. He married his husband on Halloween and they are the loving parents of two rambunctious cats. He loves words and stringing them together, he loves sex and sexy men. He loves seeing how far his muse will take him and he’s looking forward to entertaining you.
Contact and Media
Beaten Track: beatentrackpublishing.com/carawaycarter
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Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes contemporary and paranormal, and dreams about one day writing a post-apocalyptic story—if that ever happens we’ll see.
Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.
When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods. She’s recently discovered the miracle of podcasts and spends her strolls listening to wise people talk.
If you want to know more, subscribe to Ofelia’s Mailing List:
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Debbie McGowan is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven, realist fiction, celebrating life, love and relationships. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at seventeen, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At twenty-five, she went back to college to study social science—tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can.
Contact and Media
Facebook 1: facebook.com/DebbieMcGowanAuthor
Facebook 2: facebook.com/beatentrackpublishing
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28506378-love-unlocked
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Various
Tour Dates & Stops: