Today I am so pleased to welcome Karen Stivali back to Joyfully Jay. Karen has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Moment of Silence (A Moments In Time Novel). She has also brought along a great giveaway! Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

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I love writing the steamy-hot scenes that take place after the couples in my books finally get together, but sometimes the earlier scenes filled with uncertainty and unresolved sexual tension are my favorites. I love the neurotic/hopeful/frantic thoughts that whir through Jason’s mind when he’s falling for Quinn and convinced the feeling is not mutual…or is it? This exclusive excerpt will give you a glimpse of what he’s thinking and why he’s so utterly confused.


Excerpt

The second round of beers arrived at our table along with an order of bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers and a plate of chili cheese fries. Quinn and I hadn’t even had to discuss what we were getting. We’d settled into somewhat of a routine together. Whatever time we got off work, we’d pick a place and grab a meal. Each place had its own specifics—same table, same drinks, same food. It felt good. Comfortable.

It’s not a date. It would have been so easy to pretend. To imagine we were there as a couple. To think of Quinn as a boyfriend. To allow the fantasies I’d been harboring for weeks to seep out into our real life. But I knew that’s all they were—fantasies. My fantasies, unshared by Quinn. Just private dreams that would never come true.

But at least I had Quinn as a friend. A good friend I could drink with and laugh with and not feel so alone with, even while I knew it was probably somewhat due to the fact that Quinn had no one else he knew in the city. He didn’t seem to talk to his brothers more than sporadically either. Whatever the reason, it made me feel needed. I hadn’t felt needed by anyone in a long time, and it felt good. I wanted him to count on me.

It was Muriel’s night off, but our substitute waitress was equally attentive, particularly to Quinn. Shit. Is there anyone who isn’t drawn to him? She came back, dropping off extra napkins and staring into Quinn’s eyes with a flirty look, asking if he needed “anything at all.”

“Sriracha?” he asked. Between the way he purred the word at her and the way she reacted, you’d think he’d just proposed.

“Coming right up.” She winked at him and disappeared into the throng of people lining the bar.

Laughter snorted through my nose. “You and your sriracha.”

“What? I like it a little spicy.”

Noted. Spicy. And hot. So damned hot. I couldn’t help but look Quinn over. He was wearing a blue sweater that made him look even more modelicious than usual. I shifted in my seat as thoughts of what sex with Quinn would be like bombarded my brain. I took a long pull on my beer and nearly choked as I went to swallow. Fuck. It’s Kent.

“You okay?” Quinn turned to follow my gaze.

There was no way he could miss the man walking toward us with a shit-eating grin on his smug but beautiful face. He stopped right alongside our table, eyes glued to mine. Shit. Shit. Shit.

“Jason. What a surprise. I never expected to run into you.”

Yeah. Right. “Still working right around the corner. I’m here all the time.” And you met me here, asshole.

“Good to know.” He gave me a cheesy grin that made my stomach churn when I thought of where that mouth had been on me.

“Who’s your… friend?” He said the word in a way that unmistakably meant “guy you’re fucking,” and eyed Quinn.

Quinn starred straight back at him and smiled. “Quinn Fitzpatrick.”

“Kent Bromley.” Kent offered his hand, and Quinn took it, still making eye contact. “Jason’s… ex.”

Oh fuck me. We dated for a grand total of a week. A week I remembered with a mix of disgust and nausea. We’d known each other ever-so-briefly at NYU. Everyone knew him and his family money. Rumor had it he’d be the next Scorcese if he played his cards right. I’d been in a bad place the night we’d run into each other at the bar, and somehow his fake charm and sudden interest in me had seemed appealing. Thankfully we’d never made it past the casual hookup stage, so I just avoided running into him for a few weeks until I heard through the grapevine that he’d moved on to someone else. Someone much more suited to his fast-track lifestyle and wealthy friends.

“I’ve been in LA for a few months, working on a little film with Steven—” He focused his eyes on Quinn and in his most patronizing tone whispered, “—Spielberg.”

“Great.” My teeth hurt from clenching my jaw. Good for you, Kent. Now please leave.

He clearly wasn’t going anywhere. He leaned an arm against my side of the booth, intrusive and annoying. “Seems like I’m way behind on local gossip. How long have you two been together?” He smacked a hand on my shoulder. “I didn’t even know you liked blonds.”

My skin prickled. I didn’t know if I wanted to punch him or vaporize. I mainly wanted him to shut up and disappear. Scooting away from him, I managed to grit out, “We’re—”

Quinn interrupted. “We met a few months ago.” He threw me a quick glance and a crooked smile that almost made me forget how embarrassed I was. And then he picked up my fucking hand.

The look on Kent’s face was priceless.

My own face felt frozen. What the fuck? I stared at our joined hands, wondering if someone had roofied my drink. Or his. Or if this entire evening was some whacked-out figment of my imagination. Quinn gave my fingers a squeeze, and I realized I hadn’t been breathing.

He’s holding my hand. He’s holding my hand, right here in the restaurant, right in the middle of a roomful of people, with Kent standing right next to us. My heart hammered so hard, I could feel every racing beat. What is he doing? Is he trying to be my beard? My reverse beard? Can a straight guy even be a beard? He’s the antibeard.

Quinn kept chatting, but I barely heard a word. All I could think about was his hand on mine. Somehow fake holding hands with him felt pretty fucking real, especially when he for real stroked his thumb along my palm. Fuck.

It doesn’t mean what you want it to mean. He’s playing along, God love him. Doing you a favor so you can save face in front of your douchey ex. He’s being a friend. A friend with a really warm hand and skin that felt so good against mine, I was hard as a rock in spite of the fact that I still didn’t think I’d taken a full breath since the moment our fingers touched.

How fucked is this? And how simultaneously sweet and torturous? God, he feels good. My pulse seemed to have synced to the rhythm of his thumb moving across my hand. Ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump. It’s not real. It only feels real.


Blurb

MomentofSilenceFSGrowing up, Jason Stern led a charmed life complete with devoted sisters, a father who was one of Brooklyn’s most respected rabbis, and a mother who made the world’s best babka. He headed to NYU ready for anything—except falling for the wrong guy, coming out, and getting disowned by his once-loving family. In spite of that, Jason managed to graduate with honors. He’s got friends who treat him like family, and he’s proudly running the largest LGBTQ teen shelter in Manhattan. Life is good, but he’s still falling for the wrong men.

When charming, sexy Quinn Fitzpatrick begins work at the shelter, Jason falls hard and fast. Quinn is tall, blond, funny—damn near perfect. Only if Quinn’s gay, even he doesn’t seem to know it. If he does, he’s not telling anyone. And he’s about one ceremony away from becoming a Catholic priest.

Long hours of work turn to long nights of talking and laughter, and Jason dares to hope this time he’s falling for the right guy. But Quinn’s got a past to deal with and major decisions to make about his future. When Quinn leaves for a silent retreat, Jason knows the silence may change everything.


Bio

author-photo-Karen-Stivali-2015-1Karen’s lifelong fascination with people has led her to careers ranging from hand-drawn animator, to party planner, to marriage and family counselor, but writing has always been her passion. Karen enjoys nothing more than following her characters on their journey toward love. Whether the couples are m/f or m/m, it’s guaranteed that Karen’s novels are filled with food, friendship, love, and smoking hot sex—all the best things in life.

When Karen isn’t writing (and often when she is), she can be found on Twitter attempting witty banter and detailing the antics of her fruit-loving cat, BadKitteh. She loves to hear from readers (and other writers), so don’t hesitate to contact/follow/like her at:


Giveaway

Karen has brought a copy of Moments in Time, the compilation of the first three novellas in the series, to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, January 1st at 11:59 pm EST.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
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