Fighting for Love

by Noah Steele

Fighting for Love - Noah Steele - Cut to the Feeling
Part of the Cut to the Feeling series:
Editions:Kindle: $ 2.99
Pages: 320
Paperback: $ 12.99
ISBN: 9781090871718
Size: 5.00 x 8.00 in
Pages: 320

When daydreamer Oliver Park falls—literally—into the arms of a boy he’s never seen at the coffee house before, the spark of mystery muscle boy Seth Kane’s touch sends him reeling.

He hasn’t felt anything like it since he was in love with his ex-boyfriend turned best friend Aiden. When Seth asks Oliver out, the immediate heat between them is too great to ignore.

But Seth is holding back.

Are stolen moments with Oliver enough, or will Seth’s growing love risk putting a target on Oliver’s back? Someone dangerous stands in the way of the new couple’s happily ever after. Someone willing to do whatever it takes to keep Seth and Oliver apart.

Can Seth get close to Oliver without letting the sweet, soft boy get too close?

What if the truth sends Oliver running scared?

Is their whirlwind romance worth the fight?

Fighting for Love is book 2 in the Cut to the Feeling series. It is a gay instalove romantic drama that is better read as part of the series.

This book is on:
  • 2 To Be Read lists
Published:
Publisher: Independently Published
Cover Artists:
Genres:
Tags:
Pairings: MM
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Big Character / Little Character, Everyone is Queer, InstaLove / Love at First Sight, Interracial Relationship, Meet Cute, Opposites Attract
Word Count: 60000
Setting: A bustling, familiar North American big city
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Excerpt:

“…until you kissed me under that pink sky, I didn’t get it. But your lips, the same soft pink as the sky melting into inky blue, they woke something up in me, and I felt ready. I felt right…and I think you did, too.”

I paused to take a breath, scanning the crowd before I snapped my notebook shut with my best attempt at a wicked grin. People in the crowd stood, some in the front row hovering just above their seats in excitement.

A few people looked bored, their eyes darting toward the window behind me as if to say they’d rather be out enjoying a warm spring night. The bored ones were few and far between, and I shook them from my mind, trying to focus on the people waiting for more.

“And to find out what happens next, you’ll have to come to our next open mic night in two weeks! Thanks for your time, everybody, enjoy your night!”

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A flurry of applause rippled through the crowd, a few familiar faces in the back by the register whooping and cheering louder than the rest as their fists pumped wildly into the air. I swore I could even see Aiden, my ex and best friend of three years, quickly reach for a napkin to hastily dab at his eyes. Despite his boyfriend Derrek’s hard-edged influence, Aiden was still a sap.

I stepped off the stage and pulled my apron back over my head, tying a sloppy bow behind my back as I practically skipped toward my friends. It was just a local open mic night, but our crowds were getting bigger thanks to some love for the coffee house from local bloggers, and people seemed more excited about my new chapter readings.

“Olly, that was amazing!” Aiden shouted as he ran from behind the register to hug me. I tensed, rocking back at the force of my best friend’s excitement, but managed to avoid being tackled to the ground. His early morning gym hours with Derrek seemed to be paying off. I smiled as I straightened up, awkwardly hugging him with one arm as I steadied myself. “Are you still updating your website with new chapters before reading here?” he asked.

“You check my website?” I asked, stunned.

“You’re my best friend and I support you; of course I check your website.”

I shot him a look from under a raised eyebrow, and he grinned at me on his way back to the register. I barely had time to turn toward some tables that needed cleaning before an elbow met my shoulder from behind.

I whipped my head around, and a bright smiling boy with medium-brown hair nearly dropped the tray of empty mugs he held up with a single arm. Theo, the only part-timer left over from when Jolt was still a bookstore, looked like the smile he wore might crack open his slender face.

“I know I was there when you wrote it, but hearing it out loud is kind of amazing. I’m really happy for you!” His smile, though manic, was contagious, and I couldn’t help but smile back as I flashed a quick peace sign in thanks.

“I still can’t believe people are listening,” I said. “It doesn’t feel real.”

“You’ve been putting so much into it! That kind of love for what you do shows. I should know.”

Theo’s soft eyes flickered briefly with a light that made me feel like I was looking in a mirror. Since the bookstore closed before Aiden reopened it as a coffee house, Theo’s band, Plastic Stars, had all agreed to put more time and money into making it big. Their new single even got radio play on the local indie music station.

Aiden almost passed out when he discovered his part-timer was a member of his favorite band. Theo had been around so much when the bookstore closed that when Aiden told me he was moving in with Derrek, Theo jumped at the chance to take over his room and live with me. We’d gotten really close over the last several months.

“Thanks,” I said as he continued toward the back room with his tray. “It just doesn’t feel like real life yet.”

“Since when does your real life match up to someone else’s?” Theo called as he slipped through the door, and I nodded to no one as I turned toward the dirty tables again, pulling a cloth from an apron pocket. I glanced around briefly as I swiped some crumbs onto the floor to sweep later, taking a couple mugs by the handle into my free hand.

I was thankful Jolt seemed like it was starting to clear out. We were all supportive when Aiden told us his plans for the store, but nervous about another coffee house opening in the neighborhood.

Turned out I had nothing to worry about.

It felt like we’d barely opened our doors for the first time before Jolt was the place to hang out for a drink. People were over bars and clubs, and Aiden was still in touch with booksellers to keep our mini-library stocked with a cool mix of titles. I let my eyes wander again as I left the table and ducked between customers making their way to and from the front door.

The remodel made the place look so different, it was hard to believe I was standing somewhere I’d spent so much time over the last few years. Everything felt lighter, brighter, and full of electricity. The rich, dark wood that had made the bookstore feel cozy and classic had all been swapped out for warmer and more inviting tones, and the wall behind the small stage had been knocked out to make room for a second window at Theo’s suggestion. It made me nervous that people would be able to see me read from the street, but I got used to it, and it meant a lot more foot traffic from curious pedestrians.

The rows of dark shelves had been torn down to make room for a carpeted reading nook with just a few shelves lining the soft lavender wall that stretched across the back of the coffee house. It was the one thing I’d hounded Aiden about when I saw the buckets of barely-grey paint he and Derrek had settled on. That, and the Creamsicle orange chairs and sofa that matched our aprons. I couldn’t work somewhere without a pop of color, and customers loved it.

The bell above the door jingled, and I turned to see Derrek stride in, flashing his signature grin. A few heads turned to stare as he passed, and my chest shook as I laughed softly to myself. He was hot, and he knew it. As soon as the weather had warmed up, he ditched his jacket for a tank top if the sun even hinted that it might be out longer than a few seconds, and nobody was complaining.

He made a show of swooping an arm across Aiden’s shoulders at the register, a few phones snapping not-so-discrete pictures of their hasty kiss before he disappeared into the back room, probably to pick up his next delivery order between presentations at Motorsport Park.

A cluster of guys huddled in a small circle by the door comparing their photos, and my mouth dropped when Derrek stopped behind them, took one of their phones, and snapped a selfie before he was out the door again, leaving them all red and reeling.

“Control your beast, Aiden,” I joked as I walked past the register.

“Don’t worry, he’s leashed most of the time,” Aiden said with a wink, and my mouth dropped into a soft ‘o’.

“You two…” I trailed off as I shook my head and slipped into the back room, leaving my two dirty mugs by the sink, where Theo was busy with headphones and tray after tray of dirty dishes.

I left quickly, passing short lines of people walking toward the door on my way to the bathroom, where I quickly threw open a stall door, slammed it shut behind me, and leaned my back against it. I took a long, sharp breath in through my nose before letting it all out through my mouth, slumping forward as I exhaled. My apron buzzed, and I pulled my phone out of the front pocket to find a text from Aiden.

Aiden: Feeling ok? Saw you duck out. You can ditch early if you need to.

I forgot just how well we knew each other. I thumbed at my screen and tapped out a quick reply.

Oliver: I’m fine! Just tired, was up late writing. I can help close. 🙂

It wasn’t totally untrue. I had been up late writing a new chapter to post before the next open mic, but I’d also been swiping through profiles on Knight for the first time in a while. I tapped absently at the edge of my phone, hastily clicking the app open.

Before my dashboard even loaded on the screen, the door to a neighboring stall creaked as it opened and rooted me to the ground, frozen, and I nearly dropped my phone. Chest pounding, I waited minutes after the bathroom door opened and shut before shoving my phone quickly back into my apron. I spun and left the stall, rushing past another customer who’d come in, to wash my hands and head back to work.

I didn’t think I wanted to be recognized on Knight, a popular gay dating app, while at work, anyway, and brushed it off as a sign from the universe that it wasn’t the right time—although it never seemed to be the right time.

“Whatever, time is fake,” I muttered under my breath as I walked quickly down the narrow hall from the bathroom to the storefront, my head down. I noticed a dim glow in the pocket of my apron.

The app hadn’t closed.

I skidded forward, planting my feet too late. One arm searched and found no grip on the wall beside me while the other crashed into something dark and heavy on my other side. I clamped my eyes shut, bracing myself for the incoming thud against the hardwood floor, but it never came.

I’d barely fallen halfway forward before I gasped and grunted, the air leaving me as a thick, black-sleeved arm held me up. The silver glimmer of a thin zipper on a hoodie flashed into view when I opened my eyes, but the man who’d caught me was already back on his way before I could say anything.

He was several inches taller than me, his black hoodie pulled tight across broad shoulders and a trim waist. His arms looked every bit as thick as they felt when he’d lifted me to my feet, and his legs were just as muscular, visible even through his black denim shorts.

Holy shit, he's hot, I thought, realizing too late that my gasp was audible. I clapped a hand over my mouth, wishing I could take the sound back, but he had already stopped and turned toward me. His face was partially obscured by his black hood, but I could make out a chiseled jaw and lips that looked soft despite the distance he’d already put between us.

“Hey, thanks!” I called, taking a step toward the wall of a boy in front of me.

Without a word, he nodded almost imperceptibly and rounded the corner. I slumped backwards against the wall, a few customers stepping over my outstretched legs to pass as I scorched a hole into the wall across from me with my eyes. Maybe I let everyone get into my head about dating again. Was I reading too much into the simple kindness of a stranger? Still…

Maybe that stranger felt every bit as electric as I had when he caught me falling.

Maybe he was about to say something when his lips, soft and pink and pouty, parted just slightly before he nodded and left.

“Maybe I should just get off the floor,” I said out loud, wrinkling my nose as I pushed myself to my feet. I untied my apron, pocketed my phone, and hung the apron on a hook by the door to the back room before I passed Aiden and Theo behind the counter. “I think I’m leaving now after all,” I said quietly, scratching the palms of my hands as I made my way out the front door before waiting for a response.

They’d be fine, I’d text in the morning.

My phone buzzed as I walked the several long blocks from Jolt to my apartment, the warm spring breeze brushing sweetly against my cheeks, and I quickly yanked it from my pocket to find a new message waiting for me on Knight.

My face lit up as I unlocked my phone and opened the app as fast as I could, the electric current of that hooded stranger’s pouty lips and powerful arms still sizzling through my veins, making my chest rattle.

FitDevil: I’m taking you out.

That was it. What kind of screen name was FitDevil? My already thin frame deflated as I puffed my cheeks and exhaled. I stared blankly at the message as I took careful steps around the few people out enjoying a warm evening.

I didn’t know what to say.

When I looked up to find I’d walked a block too far, I turned back and moved my thumb to lock my screen again as a new message popped into view under the first one.

FitDevil: Glad you didn’t hit the floor.

It was him.

I rounded the corner and made my way home, phone heavy in my hand as I jogged down the street, through the building lobby, and into an elevator. Reading to a crowd of friends and strangers twice a month was second nature, but as I sank to the ground again in front of my closed apartment door, the current still running through me suddenly sparked out.

It had to be a trick or something.

A guy like that would never go for a guy like me.

But it couldn’t hurt to make sure, right?

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Noah Steele is an out and proud gay author based in Toronto, Canada. His debut new adult instalove gay romance series, Cut to the Feeling, is the start of a journey to share stories featuring queer characters getting the happy endings they deserve. He believes that queerness is strength, and the gay men at the heart of his books embody that strength without experiencing queerness as a roadblock to happiness. Like Noah, they're out, proud, and thriving in their whirlwind romantic adventures! When he's not writing, Noah is an avid video gamer and gym-goer.


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