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Wanderlust: Bundle by Quin&Perin
Juste was happy being alone, until he wasn’t.
Cover Artist: Quin&Perin
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Length: Novel / 55k words / 190 pages
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Pairing / Genre: M/M Romance, hurt/comfort, out for you, friends to lovers
It is a standalone story with an HEA
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Please check the warning section inside the book.
I knew all the regulars. I knew their drinks. Their complaints. I knew everything that went on in this little town. But they didn’t know me.
And I didn’t know him.
Momma always told me to be kind to others, so I didn’t even think twice when I invited him into my house, into my life, my heart.
I was happy being alone, until I wasn’t. Little did I know that once you get a taste of happiness, nothing will ever taste the same. Especially when it is taken away.
Every day here was the same. Al came to the bar at the same time, the same exhaustion clinging to his body. He sat on the same seat. Drank a shot and two beers. He asked how I was doing, not expecting a real answer, and then I asked how his family was, not expecting a real answer. He didn’t tell me that his daughter was struggling out in the city. Wouldn’t mention the rumors of her doing less than savory things for cash. He wouldn’t mention that boy of his, the trouble he’d gotten into. And he wouldn’t mention how Sally was really doing. Pale and weak. Growing frailer by the day.
Just like Sally wouldn’t say anything when she stopped by. She’d wear one of her good floral print dresses and a sun hat. Her blond, thinning hair tucked back in a low bun, and she’d have a basket slung over her arm. She’d smile at the men in the bar, her blue eyes bright despite the dark circles under them. Talk to her husband’s friends, sweet as pie and light as cotton. Then she’d come up to the bar and ask for a glass of water before promptly presenting me with several jars of jam.
Sometimes it felt like I was living in a TV show on repeat, the tape getting more and more worn out as it played over and over again. It had been like this ever since I came back to town fourteen years ago when my father got sick. No one had changed. Nothing had changed. Same songs on the jukebox. Same people wandering through life. Rare excitement. It was peaceful, and it was mind-numbingly dull at the same time.
Al finished his first beer, and I grabbed the bottle, tossing it in the trash before grabbing him another. My bottle opener came out of my pocket, and I slid it across to him. “I think I’m fixin’ to head up into town this next weekend,” I told him casually. My one escape was driving nearly two hours to the nearest big city every two or three months. Usually, I’d try to be helpful when I could. Pick up things that people needed and promised to pay me back for. They often didn’t, and I never brought it up.
With a nod, he leaned back on his stool and groaned. “I think we’re good on everythin’ right now, but I’ll ask the missus when I get home.”
I flashed him a smile before turning away to give him his peace. There wasn’t much to do in the bar. Al was my only customer at the moment, and it wasn’t likely to get much busier. On the weekends it was more lively. I’d play music, and some people would get drunk enough to dance. For now, though, it was the two of us.
I was kneeling below the bar when I heard the door open again, and I popped up, expecting a familiar face. It was not. The man who walked in the door was…a stranger. In the best possible way. Not like anyone I’d ever seen in a small town. Damn near took my breath away.
Light eyes, so light that it was hard to tell their color in the dimly lit room, glanced around with ease. One hand was hooked in the back pocket of a pair of faded jeans, the other holding onto the strap of a backpack that looked ready to burst. My stranger was tall. Bout as tall as me. Body sturdy. Shoulders wide. His complexion was darker than mine, darker than anyone else in the town. Not entirely black but more than tan. Soft and smooth with an almost golden glow. Black hair was curly, and there was several days growth of beard across a sharp jaw, but it did nothing to hide his full lips. If he’d been a bit cleaner, he would have looked like someone from the movies. As it was there was a couple days worth of dust on his clothes to match the beard. And his eyes drooped faintly. Like he’d been traveling a long time. Despite the way he looked, I recognized him. Recognized his skin. A hitchhiker. Going to somewhere or away from something.
Long limbs loose, like he had no cares in the world, he headed toward the bar, mine and Al’s eyes fixed on him as he lowered himself onto a stool a couple spaces over. His bag was set on the floor by his feet.
Those lips twitched into a crooked half-grin. “Howdy,” he said. His voice seemed to shake the room. Deep as thunder yet smooth as cream. It made the skin prickle on the back of my neck, warmth flushing through me.
“Well, hey there, stranger.” I didn’t know how I managed to find my voice, but I did, heading over to him and placing my hands on the counter in front of him. “What can I get ya?”
His tongue ran over his lips, and he looked around, at the small display of bottles behind me. “You don’t happen to have any food here, would ya?” he asked. “Didn’t see anywhere else open on my way through town.”
“Nah. No food here,” I admitted. “Just lots of drinks for whatever ails ya.”
A low chuckle and he shrugged his shoulders. “My empty stomach is ailin’ me right now. More than my thirst. You wouldn’t happen to know any place ‘round here that would be open?”
Shaking my head, I put on an apologetic smile. “Fraid not, everywhere closed up early,” I informed him. “Heck, it’s bout near my closing time too.” I usually shut everything up once Al was gone.
“Ah, all right.” His shoulders slumped faintly, but that easy smile didn’t fade from his lips. Poor fella was trying to be positive, but it couldn’t have been easy with an empty belly.
One thing that I had learned from my daddy that I took to heart was the need to help your fellow man. My daddy was a mean drunk, but he never hesitated to help someone who needed it. When he was sober, he could have given Jesus a run for his money. God rest his soul. People ‘round town liked to joke that I was like him because of that, which was fine by me. I wasn’t much likely to turn someone away if they needed a hot meal. I tapped my fingers against the bar and shrugged my shoulders. “If you ain’t got nowhere to be, I’ll be closing in ‘bout thirty or so, and I’ve got a stew simmering at home,” I said. “If ya want.”
Meet the Author
As a pair of genre rebels, Quin and Perin—from the US and Germany—are constantly maneuvering time zones and plot bunnies to whip up Gay Novels. Expect plenty of heat and elevated smut. With a dash of drama, a pinch of sweet, and a hefty amount of kink on the side, they serve up stories that will leave you full and satisfied.
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