I got some great news. I signed the contract for the second book in the When We Were Young series, Toy Soldiers, on July 2, 2020. This is the continuing saga of Billy Redsky and René Oshawee.
I am now in edits with Devine Destinies for its upcoming release. Here is a teaser for you to enjoy!
Check out the first excerpt and the blurb:
Once a thief, always a thief, and if he can’t win the heart of the boy he loves, he’ll steal it.
Blurb: Billy Redsky’s made one of his biggest dreams come true, but there’s a problem. Even though the boy he loves is mere footsteps across the hall from his bedroom, they might as well live a country apart because claiming René Oshawee’s heart is more difficult than Billy anticipates.
Much to Billy’s disgust, René can’t accept his true self, so he’s incapable of loving someone else. And all he cares about is living a life the chief and his wife foresee for their youngest son.
If Billy is to finally have what he truly desires, he must stop René from running away from who he really is and face the man in the mirror, or what they share will never blossom into true love.
Thunder Mountain First Nation
Thank fuck Billy’s foster parents had gone out for dinner. The way they’d hovered over him like a couple of helicopters after bringing him to Castle Oshawee on Sunday morning had been an overcrowding of his landing pad. Sure, Mr. and Mrs. O were nice, but since René didn’t have to work on Thursday nights, Billy could finally claim some alone time with the very guy who was capable of producing goosebumps on his skin and turning his knees to mush.
Billy threw open the door to his room and poked his head out. The Oshawees royal chamber was further down the hallway, occupying the left wing of the upper-floor, and probably then some. Tool’s Third Eye blasted from René’s bedroom. Snickering, Billy inched open the closed door.
René sat at his desk, textbooks and binder in front of him. His ever-present can of cream soda waited for a swig.
Not that creeping was required with the level of sound coming from the bookshelf-size stereo, but Billy sneaked up from behind, anyway. He wasn’t sure what he dug better—René tricked out in his rocker apparel or the sweatpants, t-shirt, and boring white socks he dug lounging around in.
René tapped his pen on the textbook and rubbed his brow. His laptop was on and the screensaver was flashing different colors of music notes.
Choking down his laughter, Billy laid his palms over René’s eyes.
René stiffened and jumped. The pen flew from his hand. “Geez,” he said, loud enough to be heard above the song blasting. “You scared the crap outta me.”
Billy lowered the stereo volume and sat his butt on the edge of the desk. “What? You don’t dig surprises?”
Something he was too familiar with, and what he’d assumed they were now beyond, flashed in René’s chocolate brown eyes. Double great, the guy was a bit ticked.
“Dude, this is my personal space. You can’t be coming in here and invading it. You gotta knock.” A prickle of irritation crept into René’s voice. He leaned down and snatched up his pen.
The same amount of irritation speckled the back of Billy’s neck. “I thought we were together now?”
“We are.” René reverted to a calm tone, as if hoping Billy would understand. He placed his hand out, palm down, and moved it in a straight line. “But we both need our personal space. Okay? I need my personal space. This is my studying time. Don’t you have homework to do?”
“I already finished it.” Billy folded his arms.
“I’m not done. I still got another half hour to put in. Can you give me thirty minutes?”
Because René wasn’t dishing out his talk-down teacher lecture, Billy nodded. “I thought you’d be game, y’know? We haven’t…we haven’t had any real time together since Saturday night.”
“Maybe I wanted to give you space? You’re in a new foster home. You had a lot to adjust to.”
Even though Mrs. O had brought Billy out shopping after school on Monday, and he’d been given approval to buy some nasty threads, and even though he had an all access pass to the pantry and whatever food he desired after being deprived of the stuff for the first fifteen years of his life, and even though he had a rad bedroom with his own walk-in-closet and bathroom, and even though the sophomore class thought of him as the man now, instead of a loser Redsky, and even though he could go into the basement and entertain himself with a game of pool or watch a movie on the massive rear-projection TV, none of it mattered. Being deprived of René mattered.
“Don’t look at me that way.” René shucked his pen on the desk. He laid his palm on Billy’s thigh.
“I just don’t understand why I gotta take the bus now.” Billy picked at a loose thread on his jeans.
“Mom and Dad said ’cause we live together. They believe we need our own space.” René spoke quietly. His palm began moving on Billy’s thigh in circular motions. “And they want you to be around ki— err, people your own age, Dad said.”
Billy’s chest tightened. “You were about to say kids, huh? We’re sophomores. Not kids. Just ’cause we’re not seniors doesn’t make us a bunch of infants.”
“You’re hardly an infant.” René motioned up and down. “Nooope. Not an infant,” he said under his breath, as if he was about to let out a low whistle of approval.
“I barely see you.” Billy swung his leg back and forth in rhythm with René’s circular caresses that were sheets of satin on his skin. “We’re supposed to be together now.”
“When people are dating, they see each other in their free time. My buddies aren’t with their girlfriends twenty-four-seven. They do school. They do homework. They do rehearsal. They do work. And they also see their girls. Do you get what I mean?”
Billy nodded. True. When he was in emergency care at the Atitises, it’d been the same for him and René. “Yeah, I get it.”
“C’mere.” René curled the index finger of his free hand.
A thrill of excitement rode Billy’s spine. He moved off the desk and onto René’s firm thighs that were warm beneath Billy’s butt. It was a little weird to sit on a guy’s lap, especially since he was only an inch shorter, but he wouldn’t complain. He wrapped his arms around René’s shoulders., who gazed up while hugging Billy’s waist.
“Is this what you meant?” He snickered.
“Yeah…” René’s smile was luscious enough to taste.
Billy leaned in. He covered René’s mouth and stole a kiss of cream soda. A big grin stretched across René’s lips, and Billy had to grin, too. They were only a millimeter apart, and he couldn’t resist asking, “Okay, what’s got you smiling?”
“You.” René’s breath of an answer stole itself between Billy’s lips.
“Yeah? I’m responsible for the smile you’re packing? It’s bigger than Thunder Mountain.” Which tickled Billy’s insides. He brushed his fingers through René’s hair. Man, he couldn’t get enough of touching this guy. Everything about him was silky, satiny, even velvety.
René swiveled the chair.
Billy snickered as they moved in a circle, foreheads pressed together. “What’s this s’posed to be? I noticed you dig doing this a lot.”
“You do this when you’re nervous or…happy. Don’t cha?”
“Maybe I do…”
“I’m getting to know the little things you do that are you.” Billy traced René’s cheekbone.
“And what’re you finding out?” Teasing, even bordering on flirting, lingered in René’s question.
“You’re chill right now. More than chill. You’re digging this.” Billy ran his finger along René’s broad chin.
“Yeah, I do.” René’s words were a flavor of pure deliciousness.
Billy slid his mouth back over René’s and suckled on soft lips that moved in the same slow rhythm as his own. Tender. He was being draped in cotton and kept exploring René’s hair. René’s hand on the small of Billy’s back caressed him in those familiar slow circles the guy enjoyed lavishing on him.
Billy used his other hand to trace René’s shoulder responsible for his super-sexy V build to his upper chest. The succulent round muscle flexed beneath Billy’s palm. Even René’s thighs tightened. His breathing was slightly heavier and steamed the dip beneath Billy’s nose.
Sure, he’d kissed before, had gotten into some wicked make-out sessions at the old abandoned house with Julie Handorgan, but what they’d done was nothing compared to kissing René. Julie hadn’t been capable of sucking the air from Billy’s lungs, or coaxing thrilling excitement up and down his spine, or scaring him to pieces from his own burning need for someone that went beyond want, beyond desire, beyond longing.
The chair creaked slightly. René’s mouth left Billy’s lips. The chocolate hue of his irises glimmered.
That was another thing. René knew when to let Billy come up for air, when the kiss was becoming too potent, too hot, and too damned much for him to handle.
Nose to nose, simply staring at each other, René stroked Billy’s jawline. The potent gaze coming from him was intense enough to reach inside of Billy and unearth what was twisting and spinning within his jumbled and swirling brain.
“I can’t really think when I’m with you like this,” Billy murmured.
“You’re not supposed to think,” René whispered.
“But you thought enough to stop.”
“It’s ’cause you’re super-tense. I can feel it on my legs.”
Billy’s muscles were stiff and knotted. He hadn’t even noticed he was coiled tighter than a snake ready to strike.
“You okay?” René’s gaze shifted to warm concern.
“Yeah…I…” Billy stifled the cough ready to come from his throat. “I…it hurts, y’know? Big time.”
“What hurts?” A wrinkle appeared between René’s perfectly arched, black brows.
“Wanting to always be with you. I feel…I feel…as if I dig you more than you dig me…”
A small smile graced René’s rose-colored mouth. “Dude, what do you mean?”
“I dunno.” Billy toyed with the ends of René’s hair that flipped up ever-so-slightly, dusting his shoulders. “It’s the way you got control of it all. You can stop. You can back off. You know when to…I don’t.”
“Maybe ’cause we’re two grades apart? It’s what I was trying to tell you earlier, and why Dad wants you to chill with people in grade ten.”
“When did your dad tell you this?”
“Monday morning. After I had my shower. You were showering. I was downstairs having breakfast. Dad said he wanted you to take the bus and he explained to me why. And what he said is true. We need our space. We’re two years apart.”
“Nope. Uh uh. One.” Billy held up his finger. “I dunno how many times I gotta say it. You’re turning seventeen at the end of December. I’m turning sixteen at the beginning of January.”
“The technicality doesn’t matter. What matters is you’re in grade ten and this is my last year of high school.”
“No, you’re coming back next year for your OAC’s.”
“OAC is required to get into university. If I wasn’t going to university, I’d be officially done school, and you’d have two more years to clock in.”
What was two freaking years? “You’re trying to tell me something but you’re not leveling, man. We’re always gonna be together. Always. I already told you after you booted me to the curb last time—you’re not getting rid of me.” Billy tightened his grip on René’s shoulders. “Ever.”