Today I am so pleased to welcome Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon to Joyfully Jay. Bonnie and Summer have come to give us the first look at the cover for their latest release, Will and the Valentine Saint (novella 2 in Holiday Hearts)hey have also brought an exclusive excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Bonnie and Summer a big welcome!
Will Andrews is helping his employer, Hugh St. John, practice a speech.
He was hardly aware when Andrews rose from the chair he’d placed in front of Hugh and approached him. Between one heartbeat and the next, he was suddenly just there, right beside Hugh. He put a hand on his back as he murmured, “Steady on. Stop speaking.” Then placed the other on Hugh’s waistcoat. “Inhale deeply, filling your diaphragm. Picture a point of light in the center of your forehead. Exhale and continue to focus on that point. Shut out every other thought. Don’t see the room around you, only the light.”
His calm voice and warm hand on Hugh’s abdomen and back were anchors. And the point of light he envisioned was a beacon, a lighthouse bringing him out of turbulence. The panic receded. Hugh could breathe again.
After Hugh had got himself under control, Andrews continued. “Now you can focus on the speech again. Don’t look at the eyes of the audience if they distract you. Look above their heads. Picture that single point of light and speak directly to it. Recall the reason you speak, on behalf of men like Keller the tailor or Mrs. O’Gill and her brood evicted from their flat. This is not about you.”
The pressure of one palm left Hugh’s stomach, and a warm print was left behind between his shoulder blades. But the other man didn’t step away. He placed his palm on Hugh’s throat above his shirt collar. “These muscles need to relax. Loosen your throat and stop trying to squeeze the words through a tiny tube. Let them roll out of you, nice and easy.”
Nice and easy? How could he relax when Andrews’s hand was lightly massaging his neck? Hugh stood frozen by the unexpected touch. He’d never in his life felt anything as intimate as that caressing hand. He wanted William—how could he think of him as Andrews now?—to touch him everywhere. That was all he could think about.
But apparently his brain still remembered the speech he’d repeated over and over to himself in the privacy of his bedchamber, for it began to flow out of him—smooth and easy, just as William had said.
His voice didn’t falter or shake or sound pinched and tight. Hugh turned his head slightly to look into the other man’s face as he finished, “And so, honored guests, I welcome you tonight and pray you will give generously to support our worthy cause. Allow me to introduce our master of ceremonies, who will now…tell you…more of our hopes for the future.”
He stopped speaking but continued to stare into bright hazel eyes. His entire body was warm and relaxed and yet not relaxed, for he felt like a violin tuned too tight. William’s slow, beautiful smile was a bow sliding against his strings.
“Well done, sir. How did it feel?”
“It felt…” Hugh hesitated, but not in a stammer. He simply couldn’t find words to encompass the feelings roiling through him, the strong yearning to lean just a little closer to Will, who stood so nearby, and let his lips touch someone’s for the first time in his life. “It felt…very good.”
His voice grew so rough, it sounded as if a different man had spoken.
William’s eyes widened, the pupils dilated so those hazel irises nearly disappeared as he held on to Hugh’s gaze. The hand still resting on Hugh’s neck moved in a long slow caress all the way from jaw to starched shirt collar.
Hugh inhaled a trembling breath. William swallowed hard. Something enormous shifted and stirred and filled the space between and around them. William leaned closer.
“William,” he murmured.
“I’m Will,” his assistant whispered. Neither of them moved. It was going to happen. Hugh’s eyelids closed and his lips parted.
Something warm and soft brushed his mouth. He opened his eyes and stared into William’s face. He should have said something or moved, but he could no more move than speak.
William blinked and pulled away enough that Hugh could see his cheeks reddening. Will’s hand abruptly dropped, and he stepped back. He cleared his throat. “Well, sir, if you don’t mind. I’ll leave now. I’ve more details of menu and décor to attend to. I must check with a florist and…” He didn’t bother finishing the thought before fleeing from the office.
After the door closed behind him, Hugh groaned. Embarrassment, disappointment, humiliation, aching loss, and desire stormed through him. He’d never been so close to…to something, to whatever might have happened next, to the possibility of touching another human being, to the delight of having Will Andrews in his embrace. He felt as if a door had slammed shut and he’d been standing close enough that it smashed him in the face.
A Valentine bonbon from Devon/Dee, book two in the Victorian Holiday Hearts series.
Will Andrews wishes to escape the madness of his bohemian family. He dreams of an orderly, quiet life. Hiding his eccentric theater background with false recommendation letters, he interviews for a position at a legal aid society. The last thing he expects is to feel something more potent than respect for his genteel employer, Hugh St. John.
When Hugh needs a secretary, one magnetic candidate has a draw he can’t resist. Will Andrews shares his vision for the Society and is also the most attractive man he’s ever met. But Hugh has never even kissed a man and certainly wouldn’t throw himself at an employee.
As the pair plans a Valentine charity dinner, they grow ever closer to surrendering to their delicious desire. But when Will’s hidden background is revealed, can Hugh forgive his lies and omissions and trust him again?
Buy Link: Amazon
Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee have co-written over a dozen books. Their historical novels usually feature cross class romances which give the protagonists even greater hurtles to overcome than being gay men in dangerous times. Summer is the racy alter ego of author, Kate Rothwell, who writes gaslight historicals. Bonnie is interested in flawed, often damaged, people who find happiness together. These writers met by chance online.
Bonnie and Summer brought copies of both Simon and the Christmas Spirit and Will and The Valentine Saint to give away to three lucky readers. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, January 12th at 11:59 pm EST.
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