Title: Pieces of Me
Series: Spectrum Nights, Book 1
Author: Melanie Hansen
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: January 16th
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Romance, Photographer/photojournalist, hurt/comfort, step brothers, friends to lovers, model (ish), reunited, family drama, angst
Deep in the heart of the Florida Panhandle, Scott Ashworth’s bleak life stretches out before him with not much hope for the future. His hardscrabble days are brightened by the arrival of a new stepbrother, Rylan Mahoney, who quickly becomes the friend Scott so desperately needs. Their relationship has just started to deepen into more, when during the course of one terrible night, what Scott overhears sends him fleeing from his home, never to return.
Flash forward six years, and Scott is now the hottest club host on the Phoenix gay scene. He takes what he wants, does what he wants, and does whom he wants. It’s a good life, but the journey to local popularity and fame wasn’t an easy one. For all that Scott’s looks are a blessing, at the same time they’re a curse—the source of his alcoholic mother’s inexplicable hatred.
Rylan dreams of photojournalistic glory. He’s in Phoenix looking for the story of a lifetime, but the project isn’t coming to fruition. Needing rent money, he accepts a gig at Phoenix Pride hawking lewd lollipops and edible condoms…all while wearing gold lamé hot pants and a matching bow tie. When Rylan’s house keys and street clothes go missing after his shift, he’s desperate, until a stranger in a convertible stops to help.
The man is absolute sex on legs, and Rylan is jolted when he recognizes him—his stepbrother Scott Ashworth, long missing but suddenly larger than life. Reunited after six years apart, Scott and Rylan are determined to put their past behind them, but fate intervenes and leaves their future in jeopardy once again.
“I hate you, Ashworth!”
Rylan was gasping for breath, feeling like knives were stabbing into his side. His legs were rubbery from exertion, and sweat was pouring from him.
Scott was dripping wet too, his body glistening with an all-over sheen, but he wasn’t even breathing hard…damn him. He’d run—run—up to the summit and back down…twice…while Rylan was still struggling to reach the halfway point.
“Channel that hate, Mahoney,” Scott called out to him, laughter in his voice, “and use it to climb! Deep breaths in, blow it out. Keep that oxygen flowing!”
Rylan wanted to snarl at him, tell him to shut the fuck up, but he couldn’t spare the breath. The heat was making black spots dance in front of his eyes, and he stopped to drink some of the water Scott gave him at the trailhead. His camera felt like a deadweight hanging around his neck, and more than once Rylan was tempted to fling the fucking thing over the side of the mountain. Why had he agreed to this?
“It’ll be worth it at the top, Ry,” Scott coaxed, jogging lightly in place while he waited for Rylan to finish drinking. “Stunning panoramic views of the Valley. It’s gorgeous.”
Rylan capped his water and put it on the ground, bending over at the waist to prop his hands on his knees, letting his head hang while he caught his breath. “It better be worth it, or I’ll push you off,” he threatened, biting his lip to hide a smile when Scott laughed. He looked up just in time to see Scott snap a picture of him with his phone, and Rylan straightened indignantly.
“What the hell? Delete that!” he demanded, only imagining how wrecked and disgusting he was right now. In contrast, Scott was absolutely mouthwatering, all golden brown skin and ridged muscle, his tank top long since shed and tucked into the waistband of his shorts, which rode low on lean hips. All Rylan could think about was kneeling at his feet to lick up every drop of sweat coursing over his incredible body.
Shit. Hiking with a boner would make things even more difficult.
“I’ll delete it if you keep walking,” Scott taunted. “Otherwise, it goes straight to my Instagram for everyone to see. And what a sight you are,” he teased. “Red-faced and drenched, like a little drowned rat.”
“I’ll get you for this—” Rylan growled, lunging at Scott, who danced easily out of reach.
“So many awesome filters I can use,” Scott called back over his shoulder as he moved on ahead. “So many captions begging to be written. Come get me, Ry!”
Rylan lurched after him, focusing on Scott’s voice, on his mock threats, his gentle encouragement, until at last…at last…they emerged from the shadow of the trail onto the summit. Rylan didn’t even bother to look at the views, just staggered to a small outcropping of rock and collapsed down onto it, his legs shaking.
Several people milled around at the top, taking pictures, drinking water, laughing, and high-fiving. Scott headed toward a small group to fist-bump a guy whom Rylan recognized as one of the go-go boys at the club, a skilled pole dancer whose flexibility while wearing a miniscule Speedo had drawn quite a crowd.
After a few minutes, though, Scott left them and flopped down on the ground next to Rylan’s feet, reclining back on his elbow in the dirt, one knee drawn up. “You made it. I’m proud of you,” he said sincerely. “It’s not an easy climb for a beginner.”
Rylan pouted. “Tell me about it,” he groused. “My legs feel like spaghetti, and I’ll probably have to slide back down on my ass.”
“Now that would be a waste of a mighty fine ass,” Scott drawled, craning his neck back as if he was trying to get a glimpse of it.
Rylan was enjoying the harmless flirting, and he playfully flicked some of his water in Scott’s face. They shared a smile, and Rylan reached down to put his hand on Scott’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze.
“Thanks for helping me,” he said softly. “I would have quit long ago, but you challenged me to make it.”
“I’ll have to remember that threats to your vanity work on you,” Scott said, grinning. “Makes you putty in my hands. But you’re welcome.”
Exclusive Content – Deleted Scenes
They rounded a corner, and Maya tightened her hold on his hand. “C’mon,” she urged, pulling him forward. “I see my roommates. Lemme introduce you.”
She tugged him over to where two women stood, one tall and statuesque, the other petite with delicate bone structure.
“This is Julieta.” Maya introduced the tall woman, who was wearing a zebra-striped miniskirt paired with a black bra-style top, her platform sandals easily putting her a few inches over six feet. Her makeup was flawless, and her silver wig gleamed under the weak glow of the street lamps. Rylan itched to take his camera out and photograph her, remembering just in time what Maya had said about her roommates’ undocumented status. He dropped his fingers away from his backpack regretfully.
“And this is Lula.” Lula was wearing a pair of denim hot pants and a tight glittery tank, her hair in a pixie cut which highlighted her narrow, high-cheekboned face. She gave Rylan a shy smile as he greeted her.
“Well, I think I’m gonna trot my happy ass on home,” Maya said with a yawn. “Been a long day, and I got an early afternoon date tomorrow. Need my beauty sleep.”
Rylan glanced at his watch, surprised to see it was after midnight. Scott should be getting done at the club in the next hour or so, and Rylan could just meet him at Scott’s place. Just then a flashy sports car screeched to a stop at the curb in front of Julieta. “Hey, mama,” a drunken voice called out from the backseat. “How much for a blowjob?”
“Ain’t enough money in the world for you, asshole,” Julieta muttered under her breath, then pasted a bright smile on her face, swaggering closer. “How much you got, baby? Let’s negotiate.” She strung the word ‘negotiate’ out into three suggestive sounding syllables, and the car doors flew open. Several young men staggered out and surrounded her, looking her up and down.
“Damn, you’re a big bitch,” one of them said, reaching out and running his palm over Julieta’s ass. “But hot. Wrap those thighs around my face, baby, I’m gonna dive in!”
“Shut the fuck up, Meeks,” someone else said, giving Meeks a small shove. “It ain’t your birthday, it’s Keegan’s. And we only got enough money for one BJ.”
“Gotta get someone’s cherry popped for his birthday,” Meeks explained to Julieta, who rolled her eyes. “We pooled our cash, so you better suck him good.”
“Well, that’ll take all of 30 seconds then. Easy money,” she replied, a tone of derision in her voice. “Let’s go, honey. Alleyway over here. $50.”
“Aww fuck you, slut,” Meeks exclaimed. “Ain’t no $50. Let’s find someone else who’ll do it for less.”
“I’ll do it.”
Everyone swung around to look at Lula, who had come up behind them. “$25 for a blowjob.”
Keegan’s face flushed as he looked at her, and he rubbed the front of his pants, an obvious erection tenting the front.
“Hell, yeah, I like her better than the big bitch anyway,” he breathed, stepping up to Lula and wrapping his arms around her. Meeks came up and fondled one of Lula’s ass cheeks, exposed by the hem of the shorts.
“Maybe you could do a freebie tonight, sweetheart,” he breathed, grinding against her from behind. “Take pity on some poor, horny college boys?”
Lula’s face hardened as she pushed Meeks away. “One blowjob, for him,” she said firmly, pointing to Keegan. “Unless you come up with more cash. And I’ll take that $25 now. Upfront.”
Meeks backed off and sullenly dug in his jeans pocket, slapping the cash down in her outstretched palm. “Here you go. But if you cheat us, we’ll fuck you up, bitch.”
In answer Lula jerked her head toward the nearby alley, and as she passed by Maya, Maya grabbed her arm.
“You don’t gots to do this, baby,” she whispered. “You got every right to say no to these little shits.”
Lula shrugged her hand off. “It’s just a blowjob. It’s a slow night, and like she said, he’s a cherry and he’s gonna blow the minute he feels my tongue. Easy money.”
Maya didn’t look convinced, but she moved out of Lula’s way, the group of frat boys brushing against her breasts and belly as they passed too, copping cheap feels.
Rylan was disgusted at their behavior, and he followed Maya and Julieta when they took up positions at the mouth of the dark alley, listening intently.
“Got a bad feeling about this,” Julieta muttered. “They showin’ us even more disrespect than usual, and that’s sayin’ a lot. It ain’t like we ever drownin’ in respect.”
There was a lot of rustling and male giggling from the alley, then a rhythmic moaning started up. Maya rolled her eyes, but her fingers were twisted together in front of her. “Hurry up,” she whispered anxiously. “I just want them gone.”
A loud orgasmic cry, and a cheer went up from the observers. The women slumped back against the wall in relief. Long minutes passed, and nobody appeared. Rylan peered through the gloom as best he could. “Could they have gone out a different way?”
“Lula wouldn’t do that,” Julieta said worriedly. “We always stick together out here.”
Rylan dug around in his camera bag and pulled out the small, portable LED light bar he carried as part of his gear. “Let’s go,” he said, pushing a button on the back of the bar, activating the light and leading the way into the darkness. For a minute he didn’t see anything, and he was about to tell them the group had to have gone out another way when a muffled squeak reached their ears.
“Over there,” Maya yelled, and Rylan swung the light where she was pointing, behind some nearby dumpsters.
“Holy shit, it’s a fucking dude!” Meeks’s voice was full of rage, and Rylan heard another muffled scream. They ran toward the dumpsters and when Rylan shined his light into the darkness, he froze with momentary horror.
Lula was on her back, spread-eagle, her shorts ripped off and hanging from one thigh, her eyes wild above a hand Keegan had clapped over her mouth. The two other boys had her wrists pinned to the ground above her head, actually kneeling on them, and Meeks was crouched between her legs, his pants undone. Before anyone could stop him, he surged to his feet and aimed a vicious kick at Lula’s exposed crotch, the toe of his heavy boot hitting her square in the mass of tape there.
She screamed in agony, and went limp on the ground. Julieta roared, a small knife she’d produced from somewhere flashing as she lunged at Meeks. With the speed of youth and desperate self-preservation, he managed to knock her away, and she tottered backwards on her platform sandals and went down hard on her ass. En masse the boys rushed by Rylan, and all he could think to do was swing his camera bag hard at the back of Meeks’s head, sending him sprawling. Keegan snarled in fury and pivoted, advancing on Rylan with his fists clenched. Rylan ducked as he lashed out at him, the blow glancing off his cheek instead of hitting him full in the jaw. Still, the pain exploding in his head sent him to his knees, lights sparkling at the edge of his vision.
In a flash Maya was on Keegan, beating him about the head and shoulders with her purse, while Julieta straddled a fallen Meeks and tangled her fingers in his hair, jerking his head back, preparing to smash his face into the concrete. Her knife was kicked away in the melee, clattering against Rylan’s shoe. Meeks managed to break Julieta’s hold, and he flailed blindly, his elbow catching her under the chin. She fell backwards, her blue wig flying off with the blow and revealing a closely-shaved head.
“It’s a fucking she-male too,” Keegan yelled, and Meeks, his eyes murderous, surged to his feet and pulled his leg back to kick her in the face.
“If you try it, I’ll cut you,” Rylan said, holding the knife he’d picked up. His hand was rock steady as he advanced on Meeks. “And I have pictures of all you fucking assholes. I’m going straight to the police, so don’t make it any worse.” Meeks dropped his eyes to Rylan’s camera bag, the camera inside partially visible, and he lunged for it as if to grab it.
“When I take pictures, the camera automatically emails them to me,” Rylan lied, dancing in and out of Meeks’s way, still waving the knife. “You can smash my camera to bits and the pictures are still safe.”
“C’mon, let’s just go, Cody,” Keegan pleaded, grasping Meeks’s arm and pulling at him. “Let’s go.”
“You didn’t touch that thing’s dick,” Meeks yelled, in a frenzy of rage, pointing to a frighteningly still Lula. “I had my hand on it—“ He kicked out at Julieta’s face again, but she’d had time to protect herself and curled into a ball, the heavy boot tip glancing off her shoulder and making her cry out in pain.
Meeks finally allowed Keegan to tug him away, and all the boys turned and ran out of the alley, Meeks’s shout of “Fuck you, you goddamn freaks,” echoing back to them. The sound of car tires screeching came from off in the distance, and then all was quiet.
Rylan leaned down to pull Julieta to her feet, and she brushed him away impatiently. “We need to help Lula,” she urged, and Rylan turned and dropped to his knees beside Lula, Maya right there at his side.
“Baby,” she whispered, stroking Lula’s face, sobbing in relief when Lula stirred, opening her eyes.
Meet the Author
Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.
She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.
Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.
1/16 Boy Meets Boy Reviews – http://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com
1/16 Gay Book Reviews – http://gaybook.reviews
1/17 My Fiction Nook – http://www.myfictionnook.com/
1/17 Outrageous Heroes – http://outrageousheroes.blogspot.com/
1/18 MM Book Escape – http://www.mmbookescape.com
1/18 Happily Ever Chapter – https://www.facebook.com/happilyeverchapter
1/18 Dog-Eared Daydreams – http://www.dogeareddaydreams.com
1/19 Stories That Make You Smile – https://authoraddisonalbright.com
1/19 MANTASY: ManLove for the Grown and Sexy – https://remmyduchene.blogspot.com/
1/19 Bayou Book Junkie – http://bayoubookjunkie.blogspot.com/
1/20 Urban Smoothie Read – http://www.urbansmoothie.com/
1/20 Alpha Book Club – http://www.alphabookclub.org
One lucky winner will receive an ebook of their choice from NineStar Press
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊