Title: Loving Sarajevo
Author: CL Mustafic
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: October 2, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Family drama, BDSM, D/s, spanking, travel, businessmen, men with children
This question keeps popping up and I suppose it’s because Sarajevo isn’t the first place most people would think of to set a romance novel. It’s not Paris or London or somewhere exotic with sandy beaches. No, Sarajevo doesn’t bring up images of romance, if anything most people only remember Sarajevo for the war that ravaged it only twenty odd years ago. But Sarajevo is more than just the bombed out streets and pictures of scared and beaten down people most people remember seeing on CNN and I wanted to share the city I know with readers.
Sarajevo has come a long way in a short period of time. Sure, there are still buildings around the city that are pock marked with bullet holes but all things considered they’ve done a remarkable job of rebuilding. When I told people I was moving to Sarajevo with my family, the first question was always: Is it safe there? Now, anyone who knows me and how I am about my kids would know that I wouldn’t ever put them in harm’s way so of course, the answer was always: it’s about as safe as it is anywhere else.
So, anyway, here are some of the places Gage visits with Nikola. They’re some of the most spectacular sights around Sarajevo. I hope you enjoy this little tour around my home town.
Baščaršija is Sarajevo’s old bazaar and the historical and cultural center of the city. Baščaršija was built in the 15th century when Isa-Beg Isaković founded the town. The word Baščaršija derives from the Turkish language. The word “baš” which is “baş” in Turkish literally means “head”, in some contexts however also “primary”, “main”, “capital” and “čaršija” which is “çarşı” in Turkish means “bazaar” or “market”. Due to the large fire in the 19th century, today Baščaršija is half the size that it once was.
By Natalie Wilson from Edinburgh, Scotland – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. August 2009 057 (Photographs by Natalie Wilson)Uploaded by Smooth_O, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11000629
(photo Sarajevo_-_Sebilj.jpg) Picture By Josep Renalias – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4586541
Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque is a mosque in the city of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Built in 16th century, it is the largest historical mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most representative Ottoman structures in the Balkans. Being the central Sarajevan mosque since the days of its construction, today it also serves as the main congregational mosque of the Islamic community of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is located in the Baščaršija.
By Martin Belam from Chania, Crete – 7204_mosque, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4877436
Vrelo Bosne or the Spring of the Bosna river is a public park, featuring a spring of the River Bosna, at the foothills of the Mount Igman on the outskirts of Sarajevo. Vrelo Bosne is one of the country’s popular natural landmarks and provides a quiet escape from an otherwise busy city life. A Roman Bridge is located not far from Vrelo Bosne on the Bosna river which was built sometime between 1530 and 1550 from the original Roman stones and ruins of the bridge that stood there during the Roman period used to connect the Romans with the village of Aquae Sulphurae at the time.
By stg (Own work (Original text: self-made)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By CJ – Bosnia and Herzegovina Apr-29-2012 028Uploaded by Smooth_O, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20554775
Jablanica lake is a large artificial lake on the Neretva river, right below Konjic where the Neretva expands into a wide valley. The river provided fertile, agricultural land before the lake flooded most of it. The lake was created in 1953 after construction of a large gravitational hydroelectric dam near Jablanica in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. The lake has an irregular, elongated shape. Its width varies along its length. The lake is a popular vacation destination.
By cosic4, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53853247
Gage has problems saying I love you. After five years with his live-in boyfriend, Lucas, he still hasn’t said it. When Lucas calls it quits, it’s not a surprise, but it couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time—the eve of Gage’s first business trip to Sarajevo.
Nikola, who’s been tasked with chaperoning Gage during his stay, is the walking epitome of sex on a stick. Gage quickly develops an attraction to him, even before he’s certain it could ever be reciprocated. When the feeling turns out to be mutual, Gage is surprised by Nikola’s domineering bedroom persona but finds he likes being manhandled by the sexy Bosnian.
After a heated disagreement, Nikola must convince Gage that even though they’ve only known each other a short time, what they feel for each other is worth fighting for. With only his cell phone and a plan, Nikola goes about getting the man who has stolen his heart to give them a chance at happiness.
CL Mustafic © 2017
All Rights Reserved
“I swear to god, if you get on that plane tomorrow, I’m going to pack my shit and go home,” Lucas shouted.
Gage sat on the couch looking up at the slight blond man who was in the middle of having yet another tantrum brought on by Gage having to leave on a business trip. “I thought this was your home,” Gage replied blithely.
It wasn’t the first time Lucas threatened to leave, and it probably wouldn’t be the last since they’d had this same argument each time Gage left on a business trip. Still, he knew he’d get on the plane, and when he got back in a month, Lucas would be there—apologetic and looking to make up. That’s the way it had gone for the last two years—ever since Gage took over the emerging markets accounts at his dad’s company.
“You know that I only came here to be with you. There’s no other reason anyone would come to this Podunk town.” Lucas gave Gage his best scowl. “But you’re never here. This isn’t what I signed up for.”
“I told you I’d be gone quite a bit. I never lied to you. You were the one who decided to move here. I was fine with driving down to see you on the weekends.”
Okay, so he knew Lucas wasn’t exactly happy in a smaller city, but it was Lucas’s decision—after a year and a half of only seeing each other on weekends—to move. Lucas had been happy in Minneapolis, when they both had their own places and could see each other whenever they’d wanted but had grown weary of the weekend-only visits that were primarily spent in bed. Gage had been just as happy with seeing Lucas only on the weekends when he’d moved back north to his hometown, and with all of Lucas’s drama of late, he’d been thinking he’d be happy to go back to that arrangement. He’d thought his feelings for Lucas would deepen over time but, though he cared for Lucas, he’d never fallen in love with him—or at least he didn’t think this was what love felt like.
“Sure you were fine with that, but I want more. I’m not just some booty call here for your pleasure when you need to get off,” Lucas spat out. And there it was. It was like there was a script for their lives, and this scene was repeated often.
Lucas wanted more, and at the age of thirty-seven Gage probably should too, but he’d come to realize more wasn’t always better, and even though he tried, it was impossible to convince Lucas what they had was good enough. He’d only let Lucas move in with him because he’d been lonely, although now he was thinking he should have gotten a dog.
Pushing himself up off the couch, he went to Lucas. This was the part where he always took Lucas in his arms and let him cry it out until he decided to stay. Then Gage would take him to the bedroom, fuck him through the mattress, and Lucas would fall into a contented sleep in Gage’s arms. In the morning, Lucas would wake up just enough to tell Gage to have a safe trip and that he loved him when Gage kissed him before he left for the airport. Of course, Gage would reply with a “Me too” because he’d never said the actual words to anyone before, and he wasn’t about to start with Lucas—Gage had never lied to Lucas.
“Don’t even, Gage,” Lucas said holding up his hand to ward Gage off. “I’m not going to let you sweet-talk me into bed this time.” Oops, Lucas had gone off script. He looked up at Gage with his big blue eyes on the brink of tears. “I’m really going this time. You know I love you more than anything, but I can’t do this. I’m sick of being alone so much, and there’s nothing here for me. All of my friends and family are back home. You’re all I have here, and you’re never here.” His voice cracked with emotion, and he ended his speech with a sniffle Gage knew always preceded the tears that were inevitably going to come.
“Babe, come on; we do this every time. You know how this is going to play out. Can’t we just skip this?” Gage grabbed his hand, giving it a tug, and Lucas let himself be pulled to Gage’s chest, even wrapping his arms around Gage’s waist like he wanted to be there. Lucas’s chest hitched, and Gage knew he was crying before the wetness seeped through his shirt. Gage stood there holding him for a couple of minutes, hoping Lucas would come to his senses like he normally did.
“I have to leave, Gage. Maybe you were right. Maybe we’re just in different places in our lives—our timing is off. I just can’t do this anymore. I’m going to be gone when you come home. I hope you understand. I don’t want you to hate me because I still love you. Maybe someday you’ll be ready, but I can’t take the chance that you may never be,” Lucas said into Gage’s chest after he’d calmed enough to talk.
Gage couldn’t help thinking how sad it was that Lucas was the one saying it to him instead of the other way around. He should be the one ready to settle down and start a family, not Lucas, who was only twenty-six—just a cute little twink. Someone like Lucas should be out clubbing and fucking everything that moved and not tied down to a guy like Gage.
It wasn’t that Gage didn’t want to be with just one guy for the rest of his life and maybe adopt a couple of dogs or kids or whatever. It was hard for him to explain it to Lucas because he didn’t really understand it himself. He could tell Lucas that his shrink diagnosed him with “commitment issues” that stemmed from his not “fully accepting his homosexuality,” but Gage was sure Lucas wouldn’t buy it for a minute—hell, Gage didn’t buy it for more than the time it took him to walk from the guy’s office to his truck.
“You have to do what’s best for you, Luke. I just wish you wouldn’t have waited until the night before I leave to tell me.” Gage was more than a little annoyed at the timing.
“If I would have told you sooner, you’d have had time to talk me out of leaving. I thought about just letting you leave, thinking I was happy, and moving while you were gone, but I couldn’t do this over the phone. I’ve loved you too long to end it that way,” Lucas said softly. He tilted his head up to look at Gage, who leaned down for a kiss, which Lucas accepted, letting Gage kiss him tenderly but pulling away before it could become anything more. “I can’t do one last goodbye fuck with you, Gage, I know how it will end. I’m going to go stay at Jen’s tonight. I’ll move my stuff out before you get back.”
“You don’t have to go. You can stay here. We’ll just sleep. Just let me hold you while we sleep one more time.” It was finally sinking in—Lucas was serious this time and was going to leave. That fact hit Gage harder than he figured it would. He wasn’t sure he wanted Lucas to stay, but he was almost certain he didn’t want him to go either. Yeah, I can’t even figure things out in my own head, some great catch I am.
“No, you know that is not what will happen. I need to go now while I still have some control over my emotions.” Lucas put on his coat, grabbed his car keys off the hook by the front door, and then turned his tear-stained face to look at Gage. “I’m so sorry, Gage. Have a safe trip. I love you.” Opening the door, Lucas walked out on Gage without giving him the chance to say “Me too.”
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CL Mustafic is a born and bred American mid-westerner who mysteriously ended up living in one of those countries nobody can ever find on the map of Europe. Left with too much time on her hands—let’s be honest here: it was the lack of television channels in her native language–and too many voices in her head trying to fill the silence, she decided to give her life-long dream of writing a novel a shot. So now, between shuttling kids back and forth from various activities and risking her life on the insanely narrow, busy streets of her new hometown, she loses herself in her own made-up world where love always wins.
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