Stepping Stone Not Doormat

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.Stepping Stone Not Doormat Loose Id, February 3, 2015

ISBN 978-1-62300-833-8

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Fifteen years ago in Los Angeles, a man named Charlie lost everything in his life to drug and burglary charges. Everything including his lover Navon, who was unable to accept Charlie’s actions.

Nine years ago, after building a drag career that included TV appearances and international travel, Charlie left his entire life behind to escape his abusive boyfriend Mason, and started anew in Boston as club queen Solara Flare. Going by stage name and female pronouns, Solara has taken every step possible to prevent Mason–or anyone else from her former life–from finding her.

Now, Navon has tracked Solara down in the wake of Mason’s death to return something Mason had kept, and to apologize for abandoning her after her arrest. Fifteen years hasn’t dulled their sexual attraction to each other, but the memories brought up by Navon’s appearance are almost more than Solara can stand. And no matter how much she wants to give Navon the second chance he asks for, Solara doesn’t know whether she can move beyond the past.

EXCERPT:

The weekend shows went better than Solara expected, given her lack of focus. She knew the routines as well as her own phone number, and that was something to be thankful for when every time she quieted down for even a second, Navon’s face flashed through her mind.

She still loved him. At least she thought she did. More likely, it was the echo of old emotions, not something that existed in the here and now. Surely it wasn’t possible to be in love with someone after not even seeing them for nearly a decade.

Feelings aside, she wanted him again. The guy had only been in town a few days, but having him in her apartment—in both senses of “having”—had awakened desires she’d ignored for months. Fucking him had been as good as she remembered, if not better.

But she shouldn’t have done it. Bad enough he’d showed up in the first place. Fucking him had only let him believe they could have something again.

If he was going to stay in Boston awhile longer, maybe they could do more than fuck. Sex was great, but it wasn’t enough for Solara to be sure of how she felt. In the early days of their relationship, they’d gone on dates. Dancing at clubs. Taking long walks together. Even visiting a couple of museums.

Boston had opportunities for all of that. Solara could ask Navon out on a date and see whether the physical connection extended to emotional.

She might do exactly that if she ever spoke to him. All weekend, she couldn’t decide whether she dared let him back into her life at all, let alone as a lover. She didn’t want to give him false hope that they could try again.

She didn’t want to open herself up to being hurt again.

On Monday, she slept in, exhausted from performing and lack of sleep. When her phone’s ringtone awakened her, she glanced at her clock and was surprised to see it was already noon. She had a nice piece of morning wood in the front of her shorts, and seeing the name on the display didn’t do much to calm her hard-on.

Navon.

She couldn’t avoid him forever. He’d respected her request for space, and sooner or later, she would have to give him an answer about whether they could go forward despite their past.

She answered the phone. “Morning.”

“Afternoon,” Navon said. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“You did, but I’ll live.” Solara sat up and propped herself on the pillows. “Still in town?”

“I told you I wasn’t going to leave.” Navon paused. “I’d like to see you. You asked for space. Maybe it hasn’t been long enough, but we should figure out what’s going on.”

“Yeah. Let me think.” She wasn’t awake enough to decide whether seeing him would be a good idea. All she really wanted to do was curl up and go back to sleep for a few more hours.

But she knew better than to believe that she would be able to fall asleep again. Even if Navon didn’t come over, Solara’s brain would start whirling through all the things she needed to do in the next few days, and she would lie awake until she got up and actually did something. In that case, she might as well see Navon and resolve things between them once and for all.

“Bring coffee,” she said. “Large, and just like me. Hot and black.”

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