I am getting super excited for next week at Joyfully Jay. As I mentioned a few days ago, we are going to have our first theme week celebrating the virgin hero, one of my all time favorite tropes.
I will be reviewing The Closer You Get by L.A. Witt, a story that features a virgin hero (along with a self-described manwhore). L.A. will also be here to talk to us about writing a virgin hero and to giveaway a copy of the book. Today she was nice enough to share a little tease of the story, just to get us all in the mood for next week!
Alex was fascinated with my stories of the gay pride events that were held annually in this neighborhood, and he was jealous as hell when he found out I’d met two of his favorite musicians at Wilde’s.
“I would have sold my soul to meet them,” he said, shaking his head.
I chuckled. “They were pretty cool. Hot as hell in person.”
“I can imagine. I mean, I saw them in concert a few years ago, and they were—” Alex stopped abruptly, staring at something outside. I followed his gaze, but there was nothing out of the ordinary.
“What?” I asked.
He shook his head. “This is definitely a different world for me.”
Furrowing my brow, I said, “How so?”
He gestured out the window. “Let’s just say two guys ‘being gay’ in public wouldn’t go over well in my hometown.”
I looked again, and this time figured out what had caught his eye: beside one of the newspaper dispensers, a couple looked intently at a piece of paper, alternately gesturing up and down the street like they were trying to figure out how to find something. If not for the guy on the left resting his hand on the small of the other’s back, I wouldn’t have guessed if they were gay or straight.
Evidently satisfied they knew where they were going, the couple walked on.
I turned my attention back to Alex. “You really are from a small town, aren’t you?”
“When I said I was from a tiny little speck-on-the-map town, I wasn’t kidding. It was one of those places where you aren’t gay if you know what’s good for you.”
“Oh, that kind of small town,” I said with a single nod.
“Yeah. That kind.” He folded his arms on the edge of the table and let his gaze drift back to the vacant space where the couple had been standing. “Trust me, in Rayesville, you were better off with a visible swastika tattoo than giving anyone a reason to think you might be gay.”
I thought he might have meant it as a figure of speech, an exaggeration, but a subtle shudder suggested there was more truth to it than not.
I cocked my head. “It was that bad?”
He nodded. “I think half the town was part of the local Neo-Nazi group.” Meeting my eyes, he added, “Needless to say, the closet was the safest place to be.”
I shivered, counting my blessings that my family and community had never made a big deal about me being gay. “Coming to Seattle must have been a switch. Plenty of openly gay guys, a chance to play the field without having to look over your shoulder.”
“Play the field?” With a self-conscious laugh, he dropped his gaze and stared into his drink. “Can’t say I’ve spent a lot of time doing that. Any time, for that matter.”
Something in my gut tightened. “Wait, you haven’t…since you moved here…”
“And you moved here last summer?”
“A few weeks before school started, yeah.”
I chewed my lower lip. “Do you mind if I ask a personal question?”
He raised his eyebrows. “Go ahead.”
“You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but…” I hesitated. “Have you…dated? At all?”
Alex swallowed. Then he shook his head. “No. Never.”
“Not even casually?”
So did he.
Thanks again to L.A. for letting me share a bit of her book. Don’t forget to stop by and join us next week. We’ll be having all kinds of fun, including reviews, a guest blog, and a great giveaway all focusing on the virgin hero.