Today I am so pleased to welcome Roan Parrish to Joyfully Jay. Roan has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Better Than People. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
This close, Jack could smell his shampoo in Simon’s hair. He was aware of every shift and breath. Jack wanted to pull him close, kiss his lips, twist his fingers in that unruly hair.
A rip of thunder split the air. Simon startled, jerking upright, and the animals whined.
“It’s okay,” Jack soothed, and though he’d been talking to the pack, Simon settled too.
Lightning flashed and a whine came from the bedroom. Puddles.
“Puddles is scared of lightning,” Jack explained, regretfully pushing himself off the couch. A sweet smile touched Simon’s lips and he nodded.
In the bedroom, Jack could just make out a lump at the foot of the bed. Puddles had rucked all the covers off and buried himself beneath them, not an inch of fur visible. On top of the pile sat Louis.
Jack perched on the edge of the bed and patted the pile, feeling the trembling dog beneath. Louis fixed him with an even look, on guard but not unwelcoming.
“It’s good he has you to protect him,” Jack told Louis.
Louis slow-blinked at him magnanimously.
Simon appeared in the doorway brandishing his phone.
“I’m gonna check on my grandma,” he said, but he walked toward the bed.
He raised a questioning eyebrow at the blanket mountain with Louis perched on top and Jack nodded.
“Hey, Puddles,” Simon crooned. He got to his knees on the floor and lifted the very edge of the blanket to slide one hand underneath. “Being scared sucks so much. I’m sorry.”
He put his chin on the bed and after a minute Jack saw a trembling nose emerge from the blankets and inch toward Simon’s. Puddles gave Simon’s cheek a lick, then retreated back to safety.
Jack felt a funny emptiness in his stomach.
Louis, as if he could sense the danger had passed, put his head on his paws and closed his eyes.
Instead of leaving the room, Simon dialed his phone with the hand that wasn’t under Puddles’ blankets.
“I just wanted to check on you,” he said. “I know. I know you can.” He rolled his eyes but his smile was fond. “No one is debating that, Jean. Because!” He laughed. “Yes, ma’am. Yeah. Just til the storm passes. Oh, okay.” His eyes flicked to Jack. “No you cannot! Goodbye, I love you,” he said quickly and hung up the phone.
“What can she not?”
“She wanted, um. To talk to you. And make sure you didn’t let me leave until the st-storm ended.”
Jack was charmed by that.
“I would’ve reassured her.”
Simon was blushing and had looked away.
He shook his head. “She’s just… Never mind.”
He turned even redder.
“She’s just what?”
Simon buried his face in the bed like a little kid and spoke into the mattress.
“Didn’t catch that.”
Simon put his arms over his head in a gesture that was so adorable and ridiculous that Jack’s heart ached.
Cursing his leg for the umpteenth time, Jack lifted himself off the bed and came around to where Simon was. Simon’s comfort language was clearly touch and Jack wanted his body back so he could speak it fluently. Laboriously and slowly, he lowered himself to the bench at the foot of the bed to sit beside Simon and put a hand on his shoulder.
Making his voice light so Simon would have no doubt he was joking, he said, “Don’t make me call your grandma back myself.”
Simon groaned and peeled himself off the bed, but still wouldn’t meet Jack’s eyes. But he didn’t look shy, just embarrassed.
“She wants to play m-matchmaker,” Simon mumbled. His face and throat were flushed and lust tore through Jack. He wanted to be the one to bring that flush to Simon’s skin. He wanted to do everything to Simon.
“Is that right.” His voice was low and rough. He’d never gone from finding someone adorable to wanting to ravage them in five seconds flat and it was wreaking havoc inside him.
Simon’s head jerked up at his voice, eyes wide and hot.
“And why does she think we’d be a good match?” Jack drawled.
Simon blinked. Blinked again. His pupils dilated.
“I… Um, I… I might’ve, um.” He shook his head in frustration and squeezed his eyes shut. “I said you were handsome,” he whispered, eyes closed.
Handsome. The word ricocheted around in Jack’s brain before sliding sweetly down to rest in his chest. It was so unassuming, so…grandmotherly a word, but it was so very Simon.
Not attractive, not hot. Handsome.
“Thank you,” Jack said. “I think you’re handsome too.”
At that, Simon’s eyes flew open.
“Not just handsome,” Jack went on. He reached out a hand slowly—so very slowly—and traced Simon’s eyebrow, cheekbone, chin. “Gorgeous. Beautiful. Fucking stunning.”
Jack hadn’t thought it was possible for Simon to turn redder, but it was. His eyelashes fluttered wildly and he gulped.
“Wow,” he said on a breath.
Then he hiccoughed. He clapped a hand over his mouth but hiccoughed again. He groaned. Jack had never seen someone look so mortified in his life. This eclipsed even Charlie’s expression when their mom had found out he’d been reading the sex scenes in her romance novels.
Simon pulled his knees up and dropped his forehead to them. Jack couldn’t tell if he was hiding or trying to cure the hiccoughs.
Jack put a hand on his shoulder and when Simon didn’t shy away he began slowly rubbing Simon’s back. He could feel the hiccoughs as well as hear them. Simon muttered something to himself that Jack couldn’t make out. After a few minutes, Simon peeked at Jack.
Simon glared and Jack laughed.
“Not my fault you’re gorgeous and your body revolts at a compliment.”
Simon smiled a little.
“I don’t suppose…” Jack started. But he lost his train of thought as Simon sat upright. The redness had faded to just a blush on his cheeks, and his hair was mussed. He was so damn beautiful.
Simon raised an eyebrow and Jack cupped his cheek.
“Don’t suppose you wanna kiss me?” Jack said, voice rough with desire.
It’s not long before their pet-centric arrangement sparks a person-centric desire…
Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs.
Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise.
Being with Jack—talking, walking, making out—is a game changer for Simon. And Simon’s company certainly…eases the pain of recovery for Jack. But making a real relationship work once Jack’s cast comes off will mean compromise, understanding and lots of love.
Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.
A new Carina Adores title is available each month in trade paperback, ebook and audiobook formats.
- The Hideaway Inn by Philip William Stover (available now!)
- The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron (available now!)
- Just Like That by Cole McCade (available now!)
- Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters (available now!)
- The Love Study by Kris Ripper (available September 29)
- The Secret Ingredient by KD Fisher (available October 27)
- Just Like This by Cole McCade (available November 24)
- Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love by Kim Fielding (December 29)
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genreWhen not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
Connect with Roan Parrish
- Website: https://www.roanparrish.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoanParrish
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/roanparrish/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/parrishorperish/
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14070842.Roan_Parrish