A warm welcome to author Logan Meredith joining us today here at Love Bytes to talk about new release “Expanded Hearts”.
Hello all. My name is Logan Meredith, and I appreciate the opportunity to introduce Expanded Hearts, the second book from my Heartland Series, on Love Bytes.
Home sweet home.
There’s always some truth behind every cliché. No matter how great a vacation I’ve just experienced, I always look forward to the moment I get to sleep in my own bed after spending time away.
In Expanded Hearts, newly homeless Antonio Reyes knows exactly how precious that feeling is and exactly what he’s willing to do to get a taste of it. He has rules, of course. No sex for money. And he has to find the man attractive. That’s important. He likes sex as much as the next twenty-two-year-old gay man, and if he gets a warm bed out of the deal—then what’s the harm?
When Derek Jameson—a man one red cape away from superhero territory—offers to take Antonio home for a night of hot sex, he jumps at the chance. Even though Derek makes it clear his heart is already spoken for, Antonio can’t help but fantasize. After Derek leaves for work, Antonio spends the next day winning over Derek’s partner, Victor. They connect on a level Antonio didn’t even know existed and before the day ends, he knows his innocent fantasy has progressed to real hope. Hope that he might someday find something similar. But like everything else, hope comes with too steep a price tag. So, Antonio makes another rule—no ridiculously happy, gorgeous couples who live in picturesque suburbs. Only a masochist would subject themselves to that level of pain and disappointment.
When Antonio’s dangerous past catches up with him, he has nowhere else to go. Derek and Victor offer him a job and a place to live, and they don’t ask for anything in return. The fiercely protective Derek gives him the sense of security he needs. The much older Victor is the friend and confidante he desperately craves. He understands Antonio in a way no one else ever has. A clean bed every night, a hot shower, a respectable job, and two men who actually care about him. There is even a cuddly dog to snuggle with. If home is where the heart is, then Antonio knows he’s finally found one with Derek and Victor.
But loving two men who are already in love is tricky, and Antonio doesn’t have much to offer but his body, which both men are reluctant to take. When Antonio’s past knocks at their door, he knows he must do whatever it takes to protect them, even if that means leaving the only home he’s ever known.
And of all the clichés Antonio has heard on the subject, the only one he knows to be true is this—you can’t go home again.
Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from Expanded Hearts available now from Dreamspinners Press.
When Antonio scooped up the most adorable puppy in the world, he could almost ignore the odd silence on the way back to the house. He always wanted a dog, ever since he sort of had one at his uncle’s house. Antonio never belonged there, so he couldn’t claim the dog as his, any more than he could claim Orca. The way Cooper the hound dog clung to the floor, it was easy to forget about him. Orca, on the other hand, insisted he pay attention. He wiggled in Antonio’s lap and demanded love. Antonio giggled as he let Orca lick his face. If only that worked for humans. If it did, he’d climb into Victor’s lap right that instant. Only Victor’s lap didn’t seem to be available at the moment.
“So, when are you two leaving?” He directed his question to Derek, who, he assumed, was the one in charge.
“In the morning. We can go over the logistics before we leave,” Victor answered. “It’s getting late. Are you tired? I can show you the guest room.”
“The guest room?” Antonio glanced back at Derek, who nodded his confirmation. He caught sight of the clock on the mantle. It was nearly midnight. Almost the New Year. Maybe he would start the year off by earning a place to sleep without having to trade his ass. That’d make a nice resolution.
“Yeah. Umm… that would be great. Thanks.”
He followed Derek and Victor into their spare bedroom. Orca raced ahead and jumped on the bed.
“Orca, get down,” Victor ordered.
“C’mon Orca,” Derek whistled, but Orca remained on the guest bed, tail wagging.
“It’s okay if you don’t mind. It would be nice to have the company,” Antonio offered.
Victor nodded at the same time Derek shook his head. They exchanged an indescribable look that made the room fill with tension. “I do like to cuddle. Remember, Victor?” Antonio joked. He was trying to lighten the mood, but no one laughed.
“I remember.” Victor nodded. “I think you should cuddle with Orca, and I’ll cuddle with Derek. How does that sound, sweetheart?” Victor smiled at Derek, who grunted his agreement and then yawned and excused himself. So, Victor was in charge. That surprised him. “Okay. Well, then. Umm… I’ll leave you to it, then. Umm… well, I guess this is…. Umm…. Okay. Night, then.”
Antonio couldn’t help but smile as Victor stumbled through an equally awkward hug.
“Thank you,” Antonio said and placed a small kiss to Victor’s cheek. Antonio thought he caught a glimpse of Victor’s real smile in return. The one he used the first day they met.
“You’re doing us a real favor by dog-sitting. So, thank you.”
After Victor left, Antonio lay in the bed with the lights out. He closed his eyes and took a deep inhale. All he smelled was clean. Clean sheets. Clean skin. Clean hair. Even Orca smelled good—like he had just been groomed. Antonio closed his eyes, thinking that if there was a heaven, it would probably smell just like that.
Antonio woke up alone in Derek and Victor’s home as the sun was rising. The house was quiet—almost uncomfortably so. Antonio had never lived in such a quiet area. There were no sounds of sirens, cars backfiring or garbage trucks outside. No creaks or stomps from the floor above him. No stray dogs barking incessantly.
He looked at Orca, who sat up and whined.
“What’s the matter, boy?” he asked, patting him behind his ear. Orca pushed up into his hand. He loved how soft Orca’s fur felt. “Do you have to go potty?”
Orca jumped off the bed and waited at the door. Antonio stood and pulled on the jeans he shed the night before. He noticed the small hole in the left knee was no longer there. Then he remembered they weren’t his clothes. He had worn Victor’s clothes home. He froze at the thought. Catching his reflection in the mirror, he stared at the image. You are not home, idiot.
Orca’s whine grew more desperate. Antonio wasn’t sure if he should let him out into the backyard, take him for a walk, or wake Derek and Victor up to ask them. Their yard was really nice, and even though it was winter, he could tell it was beautifully landscaped. He recalled his uncle’s reaction when Cooper would dig in their crappy, overgrown flowerbeds, so he ruled out that option. Antonio had never dog sat before, but he didn’t want Derek or Victor to think he didn’t know what he was doing and change their mind about letting him stay. He figured dog-walking was part of his job. He found Orca’s leash hanging in the garage and set out.
Antonio stood in the driveway and surveyed the serene neighborhood, and it calmed him. The houses weren’t identical, but the aesthetic was purposeful, as though the same person had painstakingly coordinated each brick, mailbox, and shutter to be enough alike so that no one house stood out above another. Antonio supposed the motto of the suburb might have been “blend in, or else,” but he liked it. It conjured up the opening line of Anna Karenina. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
He set out for his walk and wondered what kind of lives were lived inside the organized rows of picture-perfect containers. It wasn’t that he thought nothing bad happened to rich people, but he imagined the children in those houses were loved more than he had ever dreamed of being. For block after block, he let that thought fuel a fantasy where he lived in that neighborhood with a husband and a couple kids.
Orca was an enthusiastic walker. He zigzagged from tree to mailbox to fire hydrant, smelling everything he could. Antonio paused and bent down to untangle his feet from the leash as a large man in a hooded sweatshirt came toward him at full speed. He stood and tightened his hold on Orca’s leash as the man approached.
Antonio’s heart rate quickened as he came closer, and he froze. How will I explain what I’m doing here? He exhaled as the man jogged around him with a friendly wave and yelled, “Good morning,” as he passed by.
Antonio laughed at himself. “Morning,” he called as an afterthought, pleased that he fit into the environment. He walked a little taller as he started home with Orca. I look the part of a suburbanite out for a walk with his dog. What could be more normal than that?
He could imagine coming home to a man like Victor or Derek. Victor was adorable. So smart and maybe a little on the dorky side. A hot nerd. Yeah. That was Victor. He was easy to talk with, and Antonio enjoyed the hyper way he reacted to him when he was nervous. It let him relax knowing he made Victor way more nervous than Victor could ever make him.
Derek was a different story. A man like Derek could break a person into a million pieces, but even from the first night they met at Charlie’s, Antonio could tell he had no reason to be afraid. Derek was the kind of guy who used his size to protect the underdog, not beat them up. He reminded him of a superhero. Antonio laughed. That was it. Victor was Clark Kent, and Derek was Superman. Now if only if they’d rescue him.
He let his mind play out a fantasy where they both wanted him, and he thought he had to choose, but then he discovered Derek was Victor’s secret superhero identity, and he got to have them both. He was so distracted that he didn’t notice the car until he turned the corner toward the house. The hair on his neck stood up as he realized the black Escalade he passed on the last block was behind him and slowing down. The dark windows obscured his view of the driver, but he didn’t wait.
He knew who it was, and he ran.
TITLE: Expanded Hearts
SERIES: Heartland #2
AUTHOR: Logan Meredith
COVER ARTIST: Paul Richmond
LENGTH: 224 Pages
RELEASE DATE: August 12, 2016
Psychologist Victor Mascari and his partner, massage therapist Derek Jameson, have been together eight years, but their relationship is still evolving. Derek distrusts monogamy because of his parents’ messy divorce, but as marriage equality advances, Victor’s doubts about their open relationship are growing. He doesn’t necessarily want a legal union, but he’s increasingly concerned about how others view them.
When Victor comes home to find Derek with another new boy, he’s annoyed… at first. As he gets to know Antonio, Victor discovers the young man is intelligent, self-assured, and charming. This time, it’s Victor who is intrigued by someone else, and Derek who thinks Victor’s interest is crossing the lines they’ve agreed on. If Victor wants to keep Derek, he’ll have to let Antonio go.
But Antonio is in real trouble, on the run from abuse with nowhere to turn. Victor and Derek take him in, and it soon becomes clear how well he fits into their lives, and how strong the bonds between all of them are growing. A committed relationship between three men, all very different in age and background, is enough of a challenge—and then the deadly secrets of Antonio’s past emerge.
Logan Meredith began writing as a teenager when beautiful boys started keeping her company at night. Unfortunately, the voices she heard were imaginary, and their conversations resulted in horrible insomnia. They only let her sleep when she started typing their words down. Thankfully, being awkward as hell and a head taller than anyone else in the school afforded plenty of spare time for writing.
At first, she tried to make them play with characters from her favorite television series or books. She found her lost tribe with a ravenous, crazy group of fanfiction lovers online and started sharing her stories publicly. Then something amazing happened—new characters arrived and started demanding their own stories. Only they wanted their own world to play in, and they wanted to find their true loves. So between her day job and making time for her family, she tries to keep up with the demands from her beautiful men for their happily ever afters.
A native of San Antonio, Texas and a graduate of the University of Texas-San Antonio, Logan currently resides in Indianapolis, IN. In addition to writing, she spends her time reading and re-reading her favorite books, cheering for the San Antonio Spurs, playing Words with Friends, and procrastinating pretty much everything else.
Logan is a proud member of the LGBTQA community and vocal advocate for mental health awareness, suicide prevention, and marriage equality campaigns.
Logan welcomes the chance to interact with readers.