Love Bytes says hello and welcome to author Alexis Hall , joining us today at our blog to show an Exclusive excerpt of his new Riptide release “Looking For Group”.
It was strange being able to watch Kit talk. He was sort of quiet and gentle and seemed to really think about things before he said them. Drew imagined he would be just the same typing.
“All I can remember,” Kit was saying, “is having to ride a horse really slowly around twelfth-century Jerusalem because if you dared to gallop everyone would immediately work out you were an assassin.”
“Yeah, they kind of got better, then they got worse, and now it’s good again. You get, like, a pirate ship and, well, a pirate ship. I mean, seriously, what more do you want.”
“Does it come with Johnny Depp?” Kit arched his eyebrows hopefully.
“No, it comes with really OP swivel guns.”
Kit laughed. “Well, I’m in, then.”
He had a nice laugh, with a slightly uncertain edge to it, which made Drew feel strangely protective. Then he realised he was staring and smiling and probably looking like an idiot. “Shit, sorry, you were talking about running, and I completely derailed you with that stupid Bastion reference.”
“Oh, I thought you were trying to invite me back to your room.”
They eyed each other nervously, trying to work out how far was too far. Drew thought, Screw it, and decided this wasn’t it. He was on a date. With a boy. And the boy was flirting with him, and that was okay. “Yeah, I only bring the pirates out on special occasions.”
Kit faffed with the wooden pokey thing they’d given him with his mocha. After a moment or two he looked up a bit sheepishly. “Sorry, that’s really nice, in a piratey kind of way, and I don’t know what to say. I don’t think I’m very good at this.”
“What, you mean . . .” Drew made a really unhelpful hand gesture.
“I don’t know how to say this without making myself sound completely pathetic and desperate, but I’ve never actually been on a date before. And I think I’m having a good time, but I’m still as nervous as hell.”
“If it helps, I’m definitely having a good time.”
Kit ran a hand through his hair, making it go all fluffy. “It’s easier behind a keyboard. You’ve got more thinking time so you can sound way cleverer than you are, and you can sort of take more chances.”
“You’ve got this . . . wriggle room, I guess? I think because it’s hard to know exactly what someone means, if something goes wrong, you can pretend it didn’t. But now I feel l like I’m sitting here with this big flashing sign over my head saying ‘I really like you,’ so if I put my foot in it or I say something wrong, then I won’t be able to get out of it, and you’ll be right there, staring at me, and thinking, ‘Wow, this guy is a loser.’”
For a moment, Drew just gazed at him, a little bit stunned. Nobody had ever been quite that open with him before. It struck him as weirdly valiant, and made him feel kind of warm and smooshy and a little bit embarrassed. “Honestly, Kit. I’d never think you were a loser.”
The next thing he knew, he’d reached out, and there he was, holding another guy’s hand over the table. He looked down, and thought, Oh. Because it was fine.
Kit’s strong, elegant fingers tightened around his. “So, I’m doing it right, then?”
Drew smiled. “Yeah.”
They kept chatting for a while, still holding hands, until Drew got self-conscious and panicked that he’d come across way too intense.
“Um, is this okay? I mean, this is an okay thing to do? With like . . .” He tried to gesture, but since he was already holding Kit’s hand all he did was kind of jiggle it like a mouse.
“It’s really okay.” Kit smiled at him. “If I’m being a bit odd it’s because I probably am a bit odd, but also because I’m still a bit scared you’ll decide this was a terrible mistake.”
“I’m honestly happy we did this, and I’d really like to—” Unfortunately, at that moment, Drew’s phone bleeped at him. He glanced at it in horror. “Shit. On the subject of terrible of mistakes, we’re both supposed to be raiding in about fifteen minutes.”
Kit’s eyes went very wide. Which, Drew couldn’t help noticing, made them very pretty, but this really wasn’t the time. “Oh my God, we suck.”
They both leaped into action, untangling their hands, sweeping up their various belongings, pulling on their coats. They gazed at each other in panic.
Drew flailed. “I want to stay and stuff and I’m pretty sure this isn’t how to end a date, but I don’t want to let the guild down.”
“No, it’s fine. See you in Crown of Thorns.”
“We’ll do this again, right?”
They crashed into a hasty, awkward, clumsy approximation of a hug. One of Drew’s hands went into Kit’s armpit and Kit bashed his shoulder into Drew’s chin. But that was sort of where they were so they went with it, and Drew clutched and Kit squeezed—and he couldn’t quite tell in the panic, but he was pretty sure Kit’s lips brushed against his cheek.
Then they ran for it.
About Looking for Group
So, yeah, I play Heroes of Legend, y’know, the MMO. I’m not like obsessed or addicted or anything. It’s just a game. Anyway, there was this girl in my guild who I really liked because she was funny and nerdy and a great healer. Of course, my mates thought it was hilarious I was into someone I’d met online. And they thought it was even more hilarious when she turned out to be a boy IRL. But the joke’s on them because I still really like him.
And now that we’re together, it’s going pretty well. Except sometimes I think Kit—that’s his name, sorry I didn’t mention that—spends way too much time in HoL. I know he has friends in the guild, but he has me now, and my friends, and everyone knows people you meet online aren’t real. I mean. Not Kit. Kit’s real. Obviously.
Oh, I’m Drew, by the way. This is sort of my story. About how I messed up some stuff and figured out some stuff. And fell in love and stuff.
About Alexis Hall
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret.
He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.
He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car.
He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
Connect with Alexis:
- Website: quicunquevult.com
- Blog: quicunquevult.com/blog
- Twitter: @quicunquevult
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/alexishall
To celebrate the release of Looking for Group, one lucky winner will receive their choice of 3 ebooks from Alexis Hall’s backlist. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 3, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!