Welcome to the We Three Kings Mini Blog Tour and Giveaway! I am extremely pleased to start this tour off here, at Love Bytes Reviews, and can’t thank them enough for having me.
Today I’ll be sharing an exclusive excerpt from We Three Kings, and I’ve also got a great giveaway that is site specific – in other words, a winner from Love Bytes Reviews is guaranteed! Be sure to read through to the end to get in on the Rafflecopter for a shot at today’s giveaway: a $10 gift certificate to the Less Than Three Press book market, and your very own eBook copy of We Three Kings.
It’s a pleasure to have you here, and I hope you enjoy:
We Three Kings – Exclusive Excerpt
I keep telling myself to stop staring at him. There’s a crew getting Jimmy an office ready at the apex of our three larger ones. It’s nothing more than an entranceway, a tiny seating area that we use as a place to stop on neutral ground before splitting into our own separate offices. Up until an hour ago, it held a small bench-styled couch, two guest chairs, a credenza with various awards and framed photos, and a Ficus Benjamina of enormous reach. The poor plant now sits in my office, to the left of my desk, and I’m more than sure it’s already beginning to sag from the lack of natural lighting. I plan to move it to the south of the room, beside the window, once the space is unoccupied. Now, though, that area is the very-temporary workstation of my new assistant.
He is hunched over a circular, posture-destroying, spine-crippling table, in a desk chair that we rolled out of storage. We’ve closed the door of my office to muffle the sounds of modular furniture being constructed, and while the effort was meant to increase productivity within our space, it has brought mine to a standstill. Because we’re alone. He’s there, and I’m here, and no one can see us, or hear us, or knows what’s going on, and I have all these images of him and I in bathrooms and pantries and storage sheds playing through my head. They are images that no man should have to deal with. Some of them are real: bruises, scratches, tears; some of them are fabrications: naked skin, hard body parts. Some are memories of the things I did while role-playing the Devil, and they are somehow mingling together with the desires I fought so hard against back then. It’s confusing, because it’s making me feel worse than I already do.
Jimmy lowers his pen, raises his eyes, and straightens his spine. He’s uncomfortable, that much is obvious, but there’s nothing I can do about that at the moment.
Which is a lie I’ve been repeating to myself all morning… if I’d wanted to, if I hadn’t been being a sneaky bastard, I could have easily set up Jimmy’s office yesterday and it would have been ready for him to use right away. But Mark and Devin were still here yesterday.
“Am I bothering you?” Jimmy finally swallows enough courage to ask me.
Yes. Oh, yes, he is bothering me. I can’t even begin to list the ways in which he is bothering me. The magnitude of the bother. The all-encompassing weight of the bother that he’s sending my way.
“Ah,” he nods. “Good then.” He retrieves the pen, but it never makes it to the paper. “You just seem like maybe I’m distracting you a little.”
Breath sneaks out between Jimmy’s lips harder than I think he intended it to. Frustration? Uncertainty?
“True enough. Do you want to see what I’ve done with this so far? Just to make sure I’m on the right track?”
I’ve asked him to put together some thoughts on a presentation that I’m never going to make with respect to the new site that Mark and Devin are on. As if, somehow, I might need to convince someone to fund it, or support it, or buy into it. I will need none of those things, but it was the only job that came to mind when Jimmy asked me what he should be working on. For five years, the three of us have talked about getting an assistant, and now that I’ve hired one, I can’t think of a damned thing I want him to do.
Well… a damned thing that he could do fully clothed anyway.
I sigh and bring my palm up to my forehead in an effort to squeeze out the mental picture that my brain has just offered up in its callous disregard to my sanity, a picture that reminds me that Jimmy would not need to remove clothing to do some of things I’d like to see him do, in fact. So as Jimmy rises to walk towards my desk, I’m desperately trying to cancel out the thought of him dropping to his knees in front of me. As such, I’m unable to speak the, “No, that’s all right, I do not want you to come over to my desk.” Or the, “I do not want you to even come close to me,” that I should be saying.
He smells good, like summer rain and open meadows, and I have no idea if it’s cologne or fabric softener. I try to make myself listen to him tell me his ideas, to watch as he points out the sketches and the notes he’s made, and I smile and nod at him when he asks me if that’s what I had in mind.
“Yeah, this looks good.”
He smiles. I can see his shoulders loosening and the muscles softening in his jaw, and as I watch it happen, I can feel my own body follow suit.
Then I have to remind myself to stop nodding so he doesn’t begin referring to me as a my-boss-the-bobble-head behind my back. “It’s really good,” I tell him, and out of nowhere I start gushing over what he’s done. “I like it. A lot. Smart. Professional. Concise. Good design plan. Simple but detailed. Yep, it’s good. That’s definitely going to work.”
Jimmy’s face transforms as his smile grows. He lets his teeth show, small white teeth that are surprisingly straight considering their history. I wonder if he’s had work done to them. When I hear someone say, “We should go get lunch,” I almost look around to see who else is in the office. It takes me a second to realize that I was the one who said it. “To celebrate the new job,” I continue quickly. “And we can go over the new hire kit and get all that paperwork out of the way. So you can keep working. On the presentation. When you get back. Because I need it. This presentation. Badly.”
He doesn’t say anything. He’s giving me the oddest look.
“If you want to,” I add.
“I brought something actually—”
“Which is fine,” I cut him off, rising from my desk, feeling like a complete idiot. “Feel free to use the lunchroom or head outside for a breather. There’s a picnic table in the back that a lot of the employees gather at if you want to get to know some of them.”
I can tell he’s horrified that he’s said something wrong. I shouldn’t feel vindicated by that, but I do.
“I could save it… for tomorrow… or another day or something. I don’t mean…”
I think he’s still mumbling as I walk away.
We Three Kings
Copyright © 2017, A.F. Henley
Chicago 1982 is a goldmine for the construction industry, and Eric and his two business partners are thriving. Once nothing more than orphans in a Catholic boys’ home, they’ve overcome poverty and abuse to obtain success. Now living the lives they once only dreamed of, they’re sure of one thing: they will never look back.
Then the past returns, by way of a cheap polyester suit and a smile Eric has never forgotten—and all the dark memories come crashing back. Lucky for him, Jimmy has no idea who Eric is, or who Eric used to be…
Genre: Gay, Contemporary Romance
Notes: contains some explicit content and references past abuse. This story also includes brief flashbacks of graphic violence.
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A great big thank you to Love Bytes Reviews for hosting today, and another to you for joining me. Best of luck with the giveaway and I hope you enjoyed the post!
Until next time,
AF Henley <3
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish. Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012.
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