Today is the fourth bookversary for Okay, Then. Or rather for the release of the story as an individual ebook. The first edition was seen three years earlier in the JMS Books anthology, Love Is Proud. A year after that, the current edition was published in both my collection of shorts, Snapshots, and the Vows Box Set. But as a story being sold all by itself (and it can stand alone as a fun meet-cute), today is the bookversary.
If I remember right, Okay, Then was the third book I wrote in the 4-book Vows Series (though the first edition was actually published in that charity anthology about a week before book two was released), but it can actually be read at any point…first, second, or third among the three Henry/Sam books in the series. Or last, after Nash gets his HEA in the final book.
Okay, then…that’s what Sam said after Henry convinced him he was interested in dating, not merely a fling while together on a research trip to the Solomon Islands. And so they embark on their first date, but the conditions are not ideal.
Henry is desperate to convince his crush of his sincerity but second guesses his every move. He’s thrilled to discover Sam is just as anxious to impress him. Can these two work through their first-date jitters or are they destined to drift apart?
Revisiting the main characters from ’Til Death Do Us Part, this short story takes place within the timeline of the flashback scenes from that novel, detailing Sam & Henry’s first date/encounter after Sam tells Henry “Okay, then” while they’re together on a research trip in Honiara in the Solomon Islands. It’s a short story written to be able to stand alone, with its own HFN.
For context, they’re talking about Vegemite.
Henry’s 1st-Person Past POV
I stabbed a fork into my salad and watched with morbid curiosity as Sam bit into his sandwich. He grinned mischievously and took an extra-large bite.
“It’s not bad.”
“That’s not exactly a glowing recommendation.”
He laughed. “That’s a figure of speech. I kinda like it.” He held it out to me, slowly waving it back and forth. “Try it.”
If his gesture was meant to entice me, it missed the mark, but I didn’t want to be ungracious. I tentatively leaned forward and took a small nibble, making a point of overlapping his own bite mark.
It really wasn’t bad. Not when it was properly used as a condiment, thinly spread onto the bread. The flavor was… interesting.
He nodded. “Right. The fifth flavor.”
“Okay, I’ll admit it,” I said with a smile. “You were right, and I was wrong.”
“I’m trying to expand my horizons. My New Year’s resolution was to try ten new foods this year. This makes five, so I guess I’m on target.”
“Any regrets among them?”
He winced. “Grasshoppers.”
“Gross. Apparently my resolution was to give up sex.”
Sam snorted. “I’d rather eat tripe.”
“Ew. Just when I was starting to elevate the value of your opinion.”
Sam’s grin had a sly tilt. “How about this—you eat another large bite of Vegemite, and you can be off the hook with your ill-advised resolution.”
I wagged my fingers to signal my agreement—I wasn’t stupid—and invite him to extend the sandwich back toward me. Vegemite might be an acquired taste, but it was already growing on me, so I chomped out a fair-sized chunk without any hesitation.
I leaned back in my chair as I chewed and stared into his eyes. He blushed, but held my gaze.
I swallowed. “So, what were you thinking when you suggested we walk here?”
Sam’s blush deepened. That was another one of his charming traits. “It sounded romantic. In theory, anyway…obviously not so much in practice.”
My head tilted to the side as I mulled over his words. Had any of my exes ever made the effort to actually romance me? I didn’t think so, and I liked the idea. No, I loved it. This man, whom I’d secretly admired for the entire preceding school year, was old-style courting me.
“That’s romantic,” I said.
“No, it was hot and sweaty—and not in a fun way.”
“I mean the fact that you’re trying to be romantic is in itself romantic…and very sweet.”