Love Bytes is saying welcome to author Santino Hassell who is treating us on a very special exclusive scene.
Santino wrote an exclusive,alternate pov introduction to the Community series. the first post was posted on The Novel Approach yesterday and the second part is posted here today at Love Bytes.
SIGHTLINES, the final book in The Community trilogy, is out on October 9th, and you DO NOT want to miss the final installation. If you’ve been following along—Chase, the Community’s outcast, finally gets his chance to destroy the Community from the inside while falling in love while undercover.
If you haven’t cracked open the trilogy just yet, you can start with INSIGHT then move onto OVERSIGHT. If you need to be eased in, here’s an introduction to Trent—one of the heroes of INSIGHT. You don’t get his point of view in the book, but this short is very telling about the instant, and supernatural, connection he and Nate instantly have.
(This is the second part of the exclusive, alternate POV introduction to The Community by Santino Hassell. It continues immediately after the first part, available here.)
“Sorry. My stalker was just leaving.”
The ginger huffed. “Seriously, Nate?”
“Seriously, Eric. Get the fuck out and let me do my job.”
Eric glanced over his shoulder and sized Trent up. Trent lifted his chin and widened his stance, shoulders back. It was total “come at me, bro” nonverbal shit talk. He hadn’t scrapped in a while, not since high school, but he was more than ready to go toe-to-toe with some redneck piece of shit.
There was no reason for him to be this mad or protective over a guy he didn’t know, but for the first time in Trent’s life… he didn’t question his feelings. Didn’t sit around and try to apply a logical reason to a spontaneous reaction. He just went with it.
“Come on, bro. You’re slowing me down.”
Eric scowled at Trent before turning back to the counter. He didn’t say anything throughout the rest of the transaction, but Nate recoiled from him more than once. Whatever bad blood was between them had to be toxic.
“Bye now, Eric,” Nate said.
“Fuck you, fag.”
Trent grit his teeth to keep from going after the guy. He set his wine down on the counter only after the bell jingled, signally Eric having left the store. Trent and Nate studied each other for a long moment before the kid snapped out of it and scanned each bottle. Trent tried to distract himself with the buckets of mini booze dotting the counter, but his gaze wandered back to Nate within seconds. It didn’t help that Nate kept looking at him as well. These quick shy glances that made Trent want to say or do something to drag this out a little longer. Maybe even to distract Nate from the shitshow that had just walked out the door.
“Want me to kick his ass?”
Nate laughed, sounding startled. “No, that’s okay.”
“You sure? I like knocking around rednecks.”
“You do it a lot?”
“Mmm.” Trent made a seesaw motion with his hand. “I don’t usually get the chance, but I enjoy it when it happens.”
“You should get a new hobby,” Nate said, a tiny grin forming on his face.
“Like listening to Dir en Grey?”
Nate looked down at his own T-shirt. “You know who Dir en Grey is?”
“Sure. I saw them play when they came to New York a few years ago.”
Again, there was a moment where they just looked at each other. Nate put a hand on the counter as if to steady himself and inhaled deeply. Trent didn’t know if Nate was trying to calm himself or what, so he offered another reassuring smile. Nate immediately dropped his eyes. Maybe reassuring didn’t look good on Trent.
Grasping for another straw, Trent looked down at the book Nate was reading. He found another anomaly—the dude was reading a book in the Psycop series, which Trent had picked up years ago and had devoured in a couple of weeks.
“That’s a good book too.”
Those big gray eyes rose again as surprise washed over Nate’s face. “You’ve read it?”
“Uh-huh.” Trent’s mouth quirked up at the side. The guy sounded so surprised, like they were in on the same secret. Although, that was how Trent had felt when he’d found out there was an entire genre of queer speculative fiction. “Why are you so surprised?”
Nate seemed to work through several responses before he finally said, “It’s not exactly mainstream. Most people don’t know about it.”
“Guess I’m cooler than most people.”
Nate dropped his gaze again and finished scanning and bagging the bottles. He was a little awkward, and Trent couldn’t help but find it charming. There was something about Nate that made Trent want to reach out to him, to cheer him up, or to just get to know him. For a relatively solitary engineer with questionable people skills, that was major. But everything from Nate’s face to his hesitancy to his taste in books and music, reeled Trent in.
That something manifested into a strong static shock once their fingers brushed as Trent handed over his credit card. He froze, blinking at Nate, whose eyes widened even larger. A strange sensation spread between them, one Trent couldn’t begin to describe, but he felt himself inch slightly closer. Nate did the same. Those silver eyes darkened, dilating, and his lips parted in a low sigh.
Confusion shot through Trent. Wanting to yank a random cashier across the counter for a kiss was… new. Bizarre. Completely out of his character and unreasonable. Yet, instead of shutting it all down the way he normally would, Trent didn’t want to leave. He had to force himself to grab his bag and say, “Have a nice day, Nate. If that dude’s still in the parking lot, I’m totally kicking his ass.”
Nate flashed a wobbly smile. “Thanks for trying to defend my honor.”
Trent looked at him a moment longer, then tapped his knuckles on the counter. He fought against the invisible rubber band wanting to sling him back to Nate’s haunting gaze and shy smile, and left the store to the sound of a jingle.
Once outside in the stifling Texas air, Trent blinked and looked around. Whatever fog had fallen over him lifted, and Trent was left wondering what the fuck crack he’d been smoking before rolling into the parking lot. Talking to randoms wasn’t his thing—let alone wanting to press their bodies against his own for a heated kiss.
He was losing it. Maybe road tripping was a bad idea. He was losing touch with reality, and nothing grounded you better than a six-hour flight where you were crammed into an airplane with a couple hundred other assholes.
Shaking his head, Trent started to his car but missed a step after realizing the ginger douchebag with the silver track was still parked beside him. Trent didn’t hide the fact that he was staring, but Eric didn’t pay him any mind. He was too busy hunching over his steering wheel and glaring into the windows of Liquor World. Specifically, the one near the cash register.
Trent dumped his bag in the backseat, whipped out his phone and stood beside the truck. He angled his camera just enough to catch the company logo—Brookside Plumbing—and the ginger’s face as he glanced out at Trent. Trent snapped a picture just as that broad face contorted with anger.
“What the fuck, asshole?” Eric asked, shouldering the door open.
“Taking pictures so I can include them in my online reviews about the Brookville Plumbing employee who sexually harasses dudes working in liquor stores.”
Eric hopped out of his truck, landing a few inches from Trent’s face. Trent slid his phone into his pocket and squared up, still ready for a fight even after years of being surrounded by nerdy academic types at Caltech.
“I’d love a reason to knock your remaining teeth out, hill billy motherfucker.”
And just like that, Eric backed down. Coward. It was easier to bully someone half his size. Someone he seemed to have abused and beat down before.
“Screw you,” Eric muttered, turning back to his truck. “Mind your own business.”
“I’m making this my business,” Trent replied, like a true New York bullshitter. “If you fuck with Nate again, I will beat the shit out of you and ruin your little plumbing company.”
Eric slammed his door shut and flipped Trent off before speeding out of the parking lot. Trent waved at the rearview mirror and, just before he turned away, his gaze fell on a rifle bumper sticker on the back of Eric’s truck. Of course. Leave it to Trent to go white knight in a place where he was almost guaranteed to get his ass shot.
Shaking his head, Trent got into his car. He reversed, gaze rising to the window again, and felt the strangest urge to go back inside. It was ridiculous. Totally absurd. And yet it pulled at him so strongly that he nearly stopped the car and caused a chill to shoot down his spine.
Setting his jaw, Trent pulled out of the parking lot with only one more glance at Liquor World.
He needed to get out of Texas.
Chase Payne is a walking contradiction. He’s the most powerful psychic in the Community, but the least respected. He’s the son of the Community’s founder, but with his tattoo sleeves and abrasive attitude, he’s nothing like his charismatic family. No one knows what to make of him, which is how he wound up locked in a cell on the Farm yet again. But this time, the only man he’s ever loved is there too.
Elijah Estrella was used to being the sassy sidekick who fooled around with Chase for fun. But that was before he realized the Community wasn’t the haven he’d believed in and Chase was the only person who’d ever truly tried to protect him. Now they’re surrounded by people who want to turn them against their friends, and the only way out is to pretend the brainwashing works.
With Chase playing the role of a tyrant’s second-in-command, and Elijah acting like Chase’s mindless sex toy, they risk everything by plotting a daring escape. In the end, it’s only their psychic abilities, fueled by their growing love for each other, that will allow them to take the Community down once and for all.
Available now from:
About The Community Series
What lies beneath the surface of the world you thought you knew?
Secrets and lies have twisted an underground community founded by psychics escaping persecution. Blackmail, sex, and social climbing in the name of power has created an irreparable rift.
In the eyes of the founders, there are two sides: loyalists and everyone else. Surely no one would emerge from their tightly woven webs. And they certainly wouldn’t sow the seeds of rebellion within the heart of the Community’s only queer night club.
Now an outcast, a scion, and a runaway are leading a revolution to save not only the men they love, but the entire Community.
About Santino Hassell
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.
He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Connect with Santino:
- Website: www.santinohassell.com
- Blog: santinohassell.com/blog
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/santinohassellbooks
- Twitter: twitter.com/SantinoHassell
- Tumblr: thatdudesantino.tumblr.com/
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/santinohassell/
- Instagram: instagram.com/santinohassell
- Google+: plus.google.com/u/0/+SantinoHassell/
- Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/santino_hassell
To celebrate the release of Sightlines, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 14, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!