Like You’ve Nothing Left to Prove
by E.L. Massey
Series: Breakaway, Book Two
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 03/14/2023
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex
Length: Novel / 66,200 Words / 296 Pages
Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, gay, interracial, new adult, sports, ice hockey, uni student, ice skating, professional athlete, physical disability, anxiety disorder, coming out, service dog, cooking/foodies, stanning, social media, hashtags, homophobia
As the headline-stealing captain of the Houston Hell Hounds, nineteen-year-old Alexander Price has one goal: the Stanley Cup. He’s got the talent. He’s got the drive. But he’s also got an anxiety disorder and his therapist on speed dial. And, oh yeah, he’s gay. And he’s not willing to hide it anymore.
At eighteen, figure skater Elijah Rodriguez has already had his Olympic dreams crushed by an accident that left him with a seizure disorder and an existential crisis. Now a popular vlogger and freshman in college, Eli is trying to figure out what his new future will look like. Which is a little difficult because, oh yeah, he’s dating Alexander Price. Eli and Alex are happy. It’s sort of a new state of being for both of them. But Eli is out, Alex isn’t, and their very visible “friendship” is already raising eyebrows. They have a plan: Alex will make their relationship public at the end of the season, hopefully with a Stanley Cup in tow. But what happens when that plan is derailed by an overzealous fan who outs them—right before the Hell Hounds’ playoff run?
E.L. Massey © 2023
All Rights Reserved
The problem with dating a celebrity is that sometimes they have to do ridiculous things like take a call from their agent on Christmas Eve when they should be cuddling with their boyfriend.
Something about a sponsor and a New Year’s appearance and an upcoming photoshoot that had to be rescheduled? Eli lost the thread pretty quickly. He watches all of Alex’s games and has made an effort to actually understand hockey rules (though what actually counts as goaltender interference is still a mystery to him). He thinks his boyfriending duties are pretty well covered. He doesn’t need to know which jockstrap Alex is currently endorsing or whatever.
So Eli is reading Great Expectations, proud of himself for getting a head start on next semester’s readings, hoping his boyfriend comes to bed soon, and feeling very sleepy. Though that could be the Dickens. Actually, that’s not fair. He enjoys Dickens a fair amount. But Great Expectations is certainly no Bleak House.
He flips the page and glances up as Alex paces into the bedroom from the hallway, where he’s been in and out of earshot for the last half hour.
Eli’s parents are asleep at the opposite end of the house downstairs, and his sister, Francesca, is still awake next door if the music coming through the shared bathroom door is any indication.
“Hey,” Alex says, tossing his phone onto the top of the dresser. “Sorry about that.”
Eli waves Great Expectations at him in a conciliatory manner. “No problem. But since you’re up, I left my Chapstick in the bathroom.”
Alex gives him a fond look that Eli is still getting used to: a little squint, a little crooked smile, a raise of one eyebrow. “Is that a request?”
Eli tries to look as cozy and pitiful as possible. “Please?”
Alex rolls his eyes but slips through the bathroom door and switches the light on, painting the wood floor gold.
“I loved him against reason,” Eli shouts after Alex, “against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.”
“I already said I would get it,” Alex shouts back. “You don’t need to woo me with Dickens.”
“Ah, but I must always woo you, my love,” Eli argues, affecting a terrible English accent, “With Dickens or otherwise.”
“Can you do your wooing a little more quietly?” Francesca yells from her bedroom.
Eli stifles his laugh in the duvet.
Alex turns off the light, runs into the cedar chest, swears, and then crawls up to flop inelegantly on top of Eli. He tries, very ineffectively, to apply the Chapstick for Eli until, laughing even harder, Eli wrestles it away from him and does it himself while Alex pretends to pout.
“Hey,” Alex murmurs, smudging the words into Eli’s neck, “do you maybe wanna do that thing where you drag your fingernails up and down my back until I fall asleep completely blissed out on oxytocin?”
Eli slides his book and then the Chapstick onto his nightstand and moves his hands automatically to Alex’s shoulders. “How did you know? That’s exactly what I wanted to do.”
“Oh.” Alex makes a point of settling in further before going absolutely boneless. “Well, that’s perfect, then.”
The bruises on Alex’s side look particularly stark when painted in moonlight, and Alex is warm and sleepy and vulnerable. His curled fingers in the periphery of Eli’s vision make Eli’s chest ache in a way he can’t explain with anything other than love. This soft, tactile man, who smells like VapoRub and Eli’s detergent, is so far removed from the visceral, overconfident Alexander Price, whose skill and notoriety sell out hockey arenas. In the dark and the quiet of Eli’s childhood bedroom, it almost feels as if they’re two different people. Except Eli is the only one privileged enough to know this gentle night-time version.
“Mm,” Eli agrees, dragging his nails lightly, so lightly, up the expanse of Alex’s back. “Perfect.”
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Meet the Author
E. L. Massey is a human. Probably. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her partner, the best dog in the world (an unbiased assessment), and a frankly excessive collection of books. She spends her holidays climbing mountains and writing fan fiction, occasionally at the same time.