The Boy Next Door

The school doors open, light from outside hitting him just right and making his blue eyes sparkle. And his hair color, a rich chestnut brown, is new and makes my knees weak.

“Hey, Bell!” he greets, calling me by my last name as usual. I ignore the popular people at his side who sometimes clearly wonder why we interact. “What’s up?”

The Boy Next Door

Zach

Zach Ahmad is a fun character from the One More Thing Series. I would explain more, but I think this quote showcases my point without needing more context. This is from One Little Lie, which is now available as a box set.

Zach nodded his head at her words, then changed tracks. “Don’t get me wrong, you’re a bitch and we can definitely be friends. But is this seriously the only reason you guys are here? To talk about our big gay feelings?” He grimaced. “I’m already getting enough of this from Luke.”

Maybe things were always weird

One Little Word involves pretend boyfriends, secret fake relationships, regular fake relationships, and actual feelings. All of this refers to one couple. In One Little Lie, there are secret relationships and fake relationships. Luke is one of the parties involved in both scenarios, but there are three people and two different relationships. I’m not sure why, but when talking about pretend dating scenarios, I like making everything sound as complicated as possible.

In one sense, I suppose fake dating is complicated enough. But if you like fake dating stories, then you like the kind of extra drama that can only happen in romcoms.

If you haven’t read One Little Word, no worries. One, it’s included in a box set with One Little Lie. And two, Ryan will also get you up to speed:

It started when an idiot from the baseball team (Luke Chambers) got himself in trouble. There was foul language, high stakes, dire consequences, and then… things got weird. The idiot, being an idiot, decided the best way to get out of the mess he created involved pretending to date me.

Wait, Luke’s moroncy aside, the whole thing worked out great for me. The broken leg sucked, but I healed, and now I had an awesome hottie boyfriend.

A picture is worth…

No matter how many times I paint the feelings, he doesn’t understand. The canvas displays the buttery yellow curtains of his room, the wide-open window and all the hope there painted in shades of pink and possibilities, but he never understands my message. He never hears my love for him.

The Boy Next Door

Hunter Cruse

Here’s a quote from Hunter Cruse, a main character from my YA M/M Kindle Vella novel, The Boy Next Door.

“Hey, losers,” says a voice from the side. Whoa, I was too busy agonizing about the new girlfriend to notice Hunter’s here, leaning against his car. “We can chat while we eat. Let’s go.”

“In a hurry?” Dylan teases.

The older brother looks around with contempt. “I’m done standing in the parking lot of my old high school wondering if maybe I just applied myself like all those teachers begged, I wouldn’t have ended up back here.”

“You can take Sam, right?” Dyl asks as he heads to his car hand-in-hand with Renee. No, no, no.

“Sure, we definitely need two cars for four people.” Hunter tosses me a dry look over his shoulder as he walks to the driver’s side, though it seems more at their expense than mine.

-The Boy Next Door

In the garden

Despite a lack of fence or other divider line, it’s still obvious where our property ends and the Cruse yard begins. Our yard is sparse while the side closest to us on the Cruse property has a pond and archway that leads back into a vibrant garden. Flowers bursting with color perfume the air with an intoxicating aroma as I walk into the backyard.

Mrs. French might call their garden an artist’s dream, a place to stimulate the senses and inspire creativity. Even in the fall, their garden flourishes, and some flowers are always blooming until the first frost.

Plus, their pond kicks ass.

-from young adult romance novel The Boy Next Door

New M/M box set!

Completing a box set for the One More Thing Series has been on my to-do list for a long time. Finally, I can cross it off. Check out this four book bundle for the first four books in the series.

A straight jock thought it was all pretend… until he started to fall for the gay school nerd. Will romance be his best play yet?
Seventeen-year-old Luke Chambers has what every small-town boy desires: a car, varsity jacket, and phone numbers from all the pretty girls. But when a stupid mistake and zero-tolerance teacher could cost the popular pitcher everything, his only hope of redemption involves playing pretend with the school’s biggest loser.

Ryan Miller is sick of being bullied for his sexuality. And his town’s most-admired athlete represents almost everything the smart-mouthed geek hates. So when the guy proposes a fake relationship, he’s not sure cuddling up to a gorgeous straight boy will amount to anything except a huge disaster.

When sparks fly, Luke struggles with confusing feelings even as the sarcastic scientist tries to openly humiliate him. But as Ryan starts to fall for the softer, authentic side of the baseball player, he can’t decipher what’s real and what’s make-believe when their public displays of affection hit far too close to home…

One Little Word starts the One More Thing series when a clueless athlete and witty nerd go from enemies to fake boyfriends and begin an adventure that may change their lives forever.

Get One Little Word and 3 other fantastic books in the One Crazy Love Story Bundle!

Hooray for The Boy Next Door

Do I fully understand how Kindle Vella works? No, the internet and most modern technology confuses me even though I am not an incredibly old person who has never used technology before. Anyway, readers in Vella can like and fave stories, in which case a fancy little crown appears above the cover. For example:

Yes, this post is just me bragging that my Vella novel is now top faved. Awesome! Even if I don’t totally get what this means, I’m thrilled people loved (or faved) my book! Thank you so much, and go check out the episodes of The Boy Next Door if you haven’t yet.

Quick Description: A shy artist works up his nerve to confess his feelings for his neighbor, the boy next door. But when his neighbor’s moody, wannabe rock star brother returns home unexpectedly, his love note falls into the wrong hands.

Though the main character Sam shares some of anxious personality traits, Hunter (aka the bad boy next door) is who I have a huge soft spot for. Whether being tough or showing his softer side, he was so much fun to write.

Here’s an excerpt where Sam runs into Hunter on the street after dinner. Hunter gives him some advice.

“Hey, you barhopping too?” He nods, indicating some bars farther down the block.

“Fish tacos,” I answer honestly and stupidly.

“Okay?” He seems to regret saying anything to me. That makes two of us.

Still without his leather jacket, Hunter looks smaller. The night helps hide his surprisingly muscled arms, probably from dragging his drum set around.

“I’m not old enough for bars,” I say when we linger awkwardly.

Leaning in, he confides, “I never let that stop me.”

But I will. Because I’m not as cool and badass as him. He never lets me forget.

“Well, I should probably—” go far away as fast as possible.

“I can sneak you in,” he offers, probably because he knows I’ll refuse. Is he even old enough to drink legally? If so, it’s just barely.

“No thanks.” 

“Sam,” he says, his tone strange.

His teasing demeanor vanishes in an instant. Us prey to the predators know when it’s time to make a quick exit.

“Uh, see you around, Hunter.”

When he moves, I expect him to waltz right by me to the alcohol without saying goodbye. Instead, he steps right into my personal space. As he joins me in the shadows, I can’t see the intensity in his eyes, but I feel it on my skin.

“Be bold,” he says.

Up this close, it’s hard to breathe normally without inhaling the scent of him. And I never could read those eyes even in better light, too dark with unfathomable depths.

I manage to step away. “Fish tacos were bold enough for one night.”

“No, not about your plans for tonight. Just in general.” He’s trying to tell me something. What? I don’t know. “Sounds like advice you need to hear.”

“I do fine.” I cross my arms around myself, suddenly chilly out here.

“You could do better than fine,” he insists. “Be bold. You won’t get what you want otherwise.”

“How do you know what I want?”

Something about his expression makes me wonder if somehow he sees right through me. He isn’t smirking as he always does, yet he seems sure.

A shiver wracks my body, and I hope he doesn’t see. He probably does because he sees everything, it feels like he’s viewing my soul and finding me lacking. Any second, he’s going to reveal what I try to keep hidden—but the moment ends.

“Anything worth wanting doesn’t come easily, so.” He shrugs.

“Yeah, yeah.” I take another step away, but it doesn’t feel far enough. “Bold. Got it.”

“No you don’t.” He seems… sad. Sad I’m so slow. He pities me. Nothing new there.

I smile tightly. “Have a good night.”

~

-Read the Boy Next Door here!

New Novel Characters

Ready to meet the main characters of my new M/M contemporary romance? Hopefully, because that’s what this post is about. The novel is called The Boy Next Door, featuring a shy artist who works up the nerve to confess his feelings for the boy next door, only to have his love note fall into the wrong hands.

This is a Kindle Vella novel, and the first three chapter are free, or available without spending any tokens. And if you haven’t checked out Vella yet, you should, because you can claim some free tokens to get started. (Right now Vella is just for US audiences.)

Sam Bell is the main character. He’s made a lot of progress since he was a young boy suffering from crippling anxiety. He’s now a high school senior who isn’t sure if he wants to pursue art or something else in college. Despite the eccentricities of his teacher, he’s excited to be in an honors art class and thinks now might finally be the right time to confess his love for his sweet neighbor Dylan.

Dylan Cruse is popular, good-looking, and almost certainly the love of Sam’s life. Even if the other guy doesn’t know it yet. While nice and easy to talk to, Sam and Dylan don’t have a ton in common. But they are both in photography club and grew up together as next door neighbors.

Quote: The school doors open, light from outside hitting him just right and making his blue eyes sparkle. And his hair color, a rich chestnut brown, is new and makes my knees weak.

Hunter Cruse is Dylan’s older brother. He’s nearly 21 and left home years ago in order to move to the West Coast and become a huge rock star. Now the drummer is back and just as mysterious and superior as ever. Sam’s afraid Hunter is going to stand in his way when it comes to Dylan. And he’s right. Because when Sam confesses his feelings in a note, Hunter intercepts the message and thinks it’s for him.

Quote: Hunter dyed his hair black as night practically as soon as he reached preteen years. The blonde fringe falling in his eyes now reminds me of the cherubic golden curls that framed his face when we met. His angelic appearance duped me into trusting him and he pushed me into the pond when I couldn’t even swim.