Today I am so pleased to welcome Stella Shaw to Joyfully Jay. Stella has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Rick. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
My dad used to say, fake it until you make it. So, that’s what I did. I strode up to the counter like I was used to booking rooms in odd little boutique hotels on the spur of the moment. Like I knew perfectly well what else they offered here. Like it didn’t faze me in the slightest.
Then the man behind the counter shifted his muscled body in his comfy chair and smiled up at me.
And God, look how it went from there. All the way from my bumbling embarrassment to awkwardness over a drink, and a very sensible but also bizarre run-through of the rules of the house. Everything I needed to know about my booking for the evening. With my escort. Rent boy. Oh God.
I was mortified about so much. Being shocked that he’d spoken so bluntly and calmly about the arrangements. That I’d mumbled out a whole load of naïve questions that must have made me look a complete idiot. God knew, I thought I was a man of the world. But this man—he’d made me catch my breath from the minute he greeted me. He was so bloody hot, so confident, so together. I could hardly believe I’d been lucky enough to snag his company.
But what the hell did I think I’d get? Whatever my questions, they were only the tip of the iceberg for me. I was naïve about this whole damn situation.
On another Friday night, just two weeks ago, my best friend Lizzie had leaned over my kitchen table, where we’d eaten a takeaway and were already half-way down the second bottle of wine, and pressed the hotel gift card into my hand.
“The last six months have been so difficult for you,” she’d said. “I want you to try this place.”
We’d both been well on the way to happy-drunk, talking way too loosely about men and sex and—in my case, at least—deep regret.
“What is it?” Just a plain white card with ‘Haven Hotel. Advance bookings preferred. Valid for one evening’. And on the back, ‘Contact Reception for room requirements’.
“You deserve a hot, sexy guy and a hot, sexy time, Eliot,” she’d said. “That’s what they offer. It’s a clean, smart, safe place. My friend Felix told me about it.”
While I’d gaped at her, she’d given me a fierce, boozy, tearful hug, nearly falling off her chair in the process.
“Please make the most of it, Eliot. Look, I still love you. But we were never going to work as a couple, were we? You should find a guy who’ll rock your world. Find out what it can really be like. But with no strings, no pressure.”
And so, here I was, clutching the edge of the counter in the Haven Hotel bar, suddenly realising I was going to walk into a hotel room with this gorgeous mountain of a man.
“Are you okay, Eliot?”
He looked concerned, but his voice was like a purr: a low-level, all-consuming comfort blanket. It had that firm, sexy edge I’d been fascinated by, through all the practical information he gave. Just listening to him, I could feel myself getting hard.
“I don’t know your name,” I blurted out. I’d just rudely called ‘Hello’ to him across the bar.
A gift of a man for one night. The promise of so much more.
When Rick Thatcher’s beloved aunt leaves him the run-down Haven Hotel, he’s amazed to find a group of young men running an escorting business out of it. Intrigued and impressed, he allows them to stay. But sacrifices have to be made to keep the hotel running. The hotel is always short of funds, and the guys… they’re sexy, they’re fun, they’re loyal friends. But they can also be a bunch of trouble. Rick has no time left for romance.
Until the night Eliot Walker arrives at the Haven, naïve but brave, looking to discover what it’s like to be an openly gay man at last. He wants to spend the night with a man, one who can excite and guide him. But an escort? He’s nervous of what he’ll find.
He finds Rick. Just the kind of man he’d choose to have his first experiences with, if it was possible. And from Rick’s point of view – on this one special night, and for this one special man he can’t take his eyes off – why shouldn’t it be?
If only this could be more than one night. But their potential happiness and the Haven’s security may already be under serious threat.
Stella Shaw is the penname for an author of MM romance. Her new Rent Boy Romance series: Love at the Haven launched in January 2021.
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