by Alex Winters
Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Release Date: March 4, 2023
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Tropes: Friends to lovers, Second chances, Unexpected reunion
Themes: compassion, comfort, safe landing
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 18 694 words
Is it a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.
JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK
One knock could change their lives forever…
Knox Townsend can hardly believe it when he walks into Playgroundz Café Store #57 to find his old high school crush, Trevor Channing, working the cash register. Once upon a time, the two had shared a smoldering, passionate, once in a lifetime kiss while their prom dates were passed out and… never spoke of it again. Suddenly, Knox is Trevor’s boss and back in tiny Seaside, Florida for the next week to convert his cold brew coffee machines to the upgraded model. But suddenly, the only thing Knox really wants to upgrade are his feelings for Trevor, long simmering but suddenly reignited. This time, Knox hopes, for good!
Trevor hasn’t seen Knox in four years, ever since he left town right after graduation without so much as a backward glance, let alone anything as civil as a goodbye. Suddenly he is Trevor’s boss, in town for a whole week to oversee his franchise café’s equipment upgrades and staying at the same hotel where they’d shared their first, and only, kiss: the Seaside Inn. What Knox doesn’t know is that one of the front desk clerks is his regular customer at Playgroundz Café’ and, for a few free gift cards and extra soy whip on his daily latte, Trevor has just checked into the room next door to Knox’s. The room with the adjoining doors he plans to keep unlocked all week, just in case!
Knox slid close, if only to breathe in Trevor’s vaguely innocent scent and feel the heat wafting from his lean, tempting body. “You know what I have in mind, tease.”
“Listen, let’s not rush things,” Trevor chuckled wryly, enjoying his time in the cat bird seat. “I mean, you’re here all week, right?”
They stood halfway between the sushi bar and the hotel lobby, Trevor’s Jeep—at least, Knox assumed it was his Jeep, owing to the half dozen Playgroundz Café stickers littering the bumper—the only car left in the otherwise empty parking lot. “Fine, sure, if you’re playing hard to get or whatever, I get it, but you’ve still had, like, three carafes of sake, so…why not stay the night and drive in tomorrow when you’re good and sober, you know?”
“Hmmm, tempting,” Trevor teased, digging his hands in the front pockets of his faded salmon cargo shorts while gently drifting from foot to foot in the empty parking lot. “Even if I’ve only had two carafes and I could probably, maybe, kinda drive tonight.”
“Why risk it, old pal?” Knox murmured, clutching a handful of Trevor’s casual sea foam T-shirt in his grip and tugging him toward the stairwell that led to his room on the second floor. “Besides, second chances, right?”
Trevor rolled his eyes even as he followed dutifully. “Good thing the old Seaside Inn still has two queen size beds in every room,” he muttered, still playing coy even as Knox found it harder and harder to walk with every step toward the possibility of another dreamy kiss with his first, and most powerful, boy crush.
“Jesus, Trev, when did you become such a prude?”
“Hmmmmm, not sure,” Trevor mused as he drifted up the steps a pace or two in front of Knox. “Maybe the day you left town without a second glance, let alone another word. Probably then, Knox, is when I became such a prude.”
Trevor stood on the second-floor landing, turning slightly to make room for Knox. They stood, face to face, nearly the same height, and Trevor’s full lips, glossy and thick, aglow beneath the dim light just above. “This feels weird, right?”
Knox snorted, dragging the old school hotel room keychain from his pocket, the key dangling from the vaguely Christmas tree shaped plastic that still had the room number printed under the faded Seaside Inn logo: 224.
“Which part?” He drifted down the hallway toward his room, the air warm and soft on their skin as Knox slowly followed. “Me showing up in your café this morning? Me being your boss? Me being in town? Me drinking too much sake? Or, oh yeah, me staying in the same hotel where we first, you know…”
They were at his door now. Knox’s heart was pounding, his palms sweaty and hands trembling as he struggled to slither the key into the lock. It finally stumbled in, but they didn’t, the door only partly open as Knox felt Trevor still had more to say before finally coming inside.
“Kissed?” Trevor finished for him. “You can say it, you know? It happened, right? It wasn’t just a dream of mine?”
Knox nodded, voice soft and low to match his confessional gaze. “It happened, Trevor. I wanted it to happen. Wanted it to happen since that first time I saw you in homeroom.” He drifted closer, so close, on the empty walkway. Trevor was leaning back against the wrought iron railing across from the half-open door, as if waiting for something. Knox wasn’t sure what. Maybe even Trevor wasn’t sure what. Both of them, it seemed, were grasping at straws, cocky in ways neither of them truly felt, and shy in others. It felt like starting over, and Knox was as nervous as he’d ever been.
“Phew, okay, because…we never talked about it, you know?”
“I’m tired of talking about it,” Knox grunted, inching closer as he put a hand on either side of Trevor’s along the weathered upstairs railing.
Trevor swallowed. Hard. And loud. Loud enough for Knox to hear. “Me too,” he squeaked, involuntarily licking his lips. “So, what are we gonna do about it?”
Knox leaned gently in, winked and gave Trevor a soft, smooth, aborted kiss. With another wink he stepped back and reached for the doorknob. “Come inside, Trev, and find out.”
About the Author
Alex Winters is the pseudonym of a busy restaurant manager whose curious young staff would love nothing more than to follow him around the dining room reading his steamiest, most romantic passages aloud! When not writing romantic holiday stories of various heat levels, he enjoys long walks with his wife, scary movies and smooth jazz. Visit him at www.awintersromance.com to see what stories are brewing up next!
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