Book Hooks is a weekly meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog. Readers have the chance to jump from one author to another who share hooks from their current WIP (work in progress) or any previously published book.
The courage of a warrior is a must on their new path, or they’ll never grasp their happily ever after.
Blurb: Just when eighteen-year-old Billy Redsky believes he’s holding his happily ever after in the palm of his hand, he must practice what he’s learned in ceremony to face two more tests—share with the world his love for René, and let go of the past.
But that’s not so easy. René is terrified of exposing their secret to anyone else but his family. As for Billy’s brother, he has no intention of changing his criminal ways.
Only a miracle can help Billy reach his final destination on the red road his Ojibway ancestors once walked. For his dream to come true, he must look deep inside of himself and trust the creator he follows.
Genre(s): Multicultural, m/m contemporary romance, LGBT, new adult.
Heat Rating: Level 3
Publication Date: August 13, 2021
Publisher: eXtasy Books
They were downstairs in the basement, the most private place to speak. René was at the bar, fixing himself a whiskey and Coke.
Billy held a beer. The Oshawees had actually relented and let him have the occasional drink in the house now that he was almost nineteen.
“What’d you need to talk about?” René sauntered from the bar. He flopped on the sectional beside Billy and set his socked feet on the coffee table.
Having finished up work for the night, Billy took a long refreshing gulp. He placed the bottle on his thigh. “I saw the guys at the mall. The food court. I was there doing some Christmas shopping.”
“Get what you need?” René stretched his arm on the back of the sectional.
His fresh clean scent wafted under Billy’s nostrils. He could sit here smelling the guy all night. “You told me to stay far away when I first called dibs on you.”
“All I can say is I’m glad you didn’t listen.” There was teasing in René’s reply and also thankfulness.
Billy patted René’s leg and rubbed. “I love you, man. Love you so much it hurts, but…” How could he put this into words?
“What is it? You know you can tell me anything.” Concern was in René’s question. He leaned his head in slightly so Billy caught a glimpse of his gorgeous features in his peripheral vision.
Billy kept his gaze focused on the projection TV, yet his side vision kept distracting him. His lips were in on the game, wanting to forget the convo and kiss René. “I… when am I gonna get a say?”
“A say about what?” René tilted the glass and sipped. His luscious lips were pressed on the rim.
“The guys were razzing me today. Asking me why I was stagging it to the party.” Billy moved his palm in circular motions on René’s thigh. A hint of friction erupted on his skin from the warmth coming from René’s six-foot-two body. “How long am I gonna have to keep giving excuses? Do you think I should tell them the truth about us?”
“Oh man.” René’s head disappeared from Billy’s vision. He must’ve flopped it back on the sectional.
Billy turned to see René rubbing his forehead while still clutching his drink.
“Y’know what a big mouth Stu has. It’s not his fault he’s the way he is. If you tell him, he’ll let it slip for sure. He can’t help himself. The rez doesn’t need a newsletter, not with Stu playing reporter.”
“What about Andrew, then? I gave him a lift home. He knows something’s bugging me.”
René removed his feet off the coffee table and straightened. He set his elbows on his knees. “I know this is hard for you. And I’m sorry. I really am. If word gets out, what do you think your brother’s gonna say? You’re trying to… reconnect.”
Dammit, Hoyt. Billy sighed and laid his head on René’s shoulder. “Why does this have to be so hard? Your buddies know. Your parents know. Keith and Daniel know. Don’t you get tired of living this lie?”
“You will never know how much it bothers me,” René whispered. He stared at the carpet. Without looking, he fumbled inside Billy’s t-shirt and drew out the dog tag locket. “Y’know how much I hate seeing you have to hide this?”
“What’re we gonna do then?”
“If you tell Stu, he’ll tell someone else with a don’t say anything. Instant dominoes.”
“I get it. I do. Look, everyone at the university digs you. Everywhere you go, people dig you. It won’t change anything. I know it won’t. Not amongst the university crowd. They are so twenty-first century.”
“I know.” René toyed with the dog tag. “You have no clue how much I wanna start the new century out in the open.”
“Then what do you say? I know I push too much. For this, I’ve been restraining myself, doing all I can to respect your—”
“Don’t apologize.” René’s voice firmed. “You got nothing to apologize for. You don’t think I realize I’ve been calling the shots most of the time? And I know it’s not fair to you. I love you.” He shifted and set aside his drink.
They were face to face.
René set his palm on Billy’s cheek. “I’ve done everything I can to show you how much I love you. Words mean nothing unless they’re backed up by action.”
“And you have—”
“Do you think this will impact your progress with Hoyt?” René’s stare was searching. “I know what reconnecting with him means to you. Every week you take him out for dinner.”
“Progress? There’s been no progress.” Billy almost gasped. “I talked to your uncle about it back in the fall. He told me to leave it in Creator’s hands. I’m guessing the big guy doesn’t want any progress. ‘Cause nothing’s happening. He’s always gonna be Hoyt. I’m beginning to wonder what the point of this was, or if my imagination had run wild at the sun dance.”
“Don’t second-guess yourself,” René reassured him. “You said you felt it in your heart. As much as I can’t stand your brother, he’s family.”
“He doesn’t believe for a second you’re gay. Or that I’m bi. He razzes me by calling you stupid names. I know he doesn’t believe what he’s saying. I know this for a fact because I asked him about it. He came back with a… ah, he said stuff. Stuff about you and Olivia.”
René’s face reddened. “I hate when you bring that up. If I could go back in time—”
“Don’t get upset. I didn’t believe him when he was shooting off his mouth. I know what I feel here is true.” Billy thumped his chest. “You did what you had to do and left.”
The tightness in Billy’s shoulders faded. He’d guessed correctly. René might as well have jumped on top of a stump in the ground with a hole in it for all that night had mattered.
“Like I said, actions speak louder than words. If you feel you wanna tell Andrew, then you go ahead and tell him.” René pecked Billy’s nose. “If you need to tell Stu, go ahead.” A hint of worry clouded his chocolate-brown eyes. “I don’t wanna make you feel you’re my dirty secret, ‘cause you’re not.”
“I don’t want you to feel forced.” Billy gripped the bottle tighter. “You’re moving at your pace, and I know what your pace’s always been. You’re not the kind of guy to make fast decisions. I do that. You, you prefer to think everything through first.”
“Your feelings matter to me.” René’s gaze became more intense.
“Yours matter to me, too.” Billy laid his head on René’s shoulder. “We’ll wait. Can you at least come with me to the new year’s bash? Everyone’s making bets if the computers will stop. I’m betting against it. I’m not worried.”
“I planned on spending New Year’s Eve with you.” René’s reply stroked Billy’s skin. “We’ve always rang in the new year together. I wanna be holding you when we kiss off the twentieth century and say hello to twenty-one.”
“Yeah?” Billy lifted his head. He brushed his lips against René’s. “Maybe surprise everyone and kiss when the clock strikes twelve?”
René snickered. “I’m not that bold, and you know it.” He touched Billy’s chin. “Maybe we’ll stay in like we always do. Watch the Rockin’ New Year special. I don’t need a big party to make me feel good.”
“You won’t be gigging?”
“Nope. I told them already I had no intention of playing anywhere on that night.”
“‘Cause I always spend it with you.”
“Hmm, how about humping our way into the new century?” Billy snickered.
“Mom and Dad are going out. I say you’re on. We’ll make dinner, watch the show from my bed, and then…” René cocked his brow. “Now, back to our talk. If you wanna tell your buddies, go ahead. Just give me the heads-up before you do.”
“Remember, though, if word ever gets back to Hoyt…” Warning lingered in René’s words.
If Billy told Stuart, Hoyt would for sure find out. Now he had an even bigger decision to make.