Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
The connection was instantaneous. Moments after Milo Graham's family relocates to Cape Cod, he meets Andrew Witherell—launching a lifelong friendship built on a foundation of deep bonds, secret forts, and plans for the future.
When Milo is called home from college to attend his domineering father's funeral, he and Andrew finally act on their mutual attraction. But doubtful of his worth, Milo decides to sever all ties with his childhood friend.
Circumstances send both men home again years later, and their long held feelings will not be denied. But will they have what it takes to find lasting love?
Publisher: Interlude Press
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: Varies During Story
Protagonist 2 Age: Varies During Story
Tropes: Friends to Lovers, Hurt / Comfort, Second Chances, Coming of Age, Slow Burning Love
Languages Available: English
Light filters between the ill-fitted boards cobbling their fort together; it filters through the trees from afar, registering as a small twinkle until he comes close enough to see clearly. There’s a blanket over the open square that was the lookout window. Milo can’t help but think that nothing has changed, yet nothing is the same because he’s not the same boy who built this sanctuary and walked through the framed door into a world of make-believe Andrew could always craft so easily and vividly.
Milo clears his throat before stepping in. Andrew is sitting with his legs curled in the far corner, huddled into a fleece blanket. A lantern casts light and shadows around the small room. It’s small enough that there’s not enough room to sit without bumping knees or feet.
Andrew’s sleepy-eyed and mussed; he looks small under the blanket that envelops him.
“How long have you been here?” Milo asks, keeping his voice low.READ MORE
“I don’t know,” Andrew whispers back. His lips tremble in the cold. Milo moves to get closer, but Andrew gestures him back. Milo settles back with a sigh.
“It’s not that I don’t—” Andrew tips up a shoulder, and his face is rueful. “I thought we should talk.”
Milo wraps himself in his own blanket, covers the lantern and knocks it over. Once he’s untangled and righted it, he’s temporarily blinded by the direct glare. He blinks; when he looks around he notices how much darker the walls are than he remembers.
“Hey,” he says softly, nudging Andrew’s knee. “You painted.”
Andrew looks up, and Milo can see him swallowing. “Yeah, I did.”
“When I came home for the long weekend in October.” Andrew’s fingers trail down the wall. In the night, the walls look black except where the lantern reveals a deep blue. Above his head are scatters of light pricks and moons and planets.
“Finding your way?” Milo jokes lightly. Andrew has always found his way by the stars, not using standard constellation maps, but his own visions.
“Searching for Cygnus,” Andrew says. Milo’s not sure which one that is, only that the irony in his tone means something.
They don’t say anything, letting the night settle over their tiny retreat like its own blanket. Milo lets this place, a place that was always theirs—one that they’ve outgrown—settle him. He dropped out of sleep heavily; that something’s missing feeling startled him until he realized it was Andrew. That disoriented him even more.
He takes time, now, to look him over. That uneasy sense that they’ve both changed irrevocably in the months since September has dissipated. Andrew doesn’t look any different—he’s the boy Milo has always known. Well, man. They’re supposed to be men now, forging into adult lives away from school and their parents.
“I can’t tell what I’m feeling,” Andrew says.
“Yeah, I’m sort of there myself.”
“It’s cold. This is dumb,” Andrew opens his blanket and arranges himself, inviting Milo to share his body heat. They shuffle and tangle until they’re perfectly fitted in a space a shade too small. This is the shape of my childhood, too tight around me. But Andrew makes it okay.
“Are you okay?” Milo asks.
“Of course I am.” There’s a tiny thread suggesting otherwise in the words, though.
“How is this going to work?”
Andrew’s fingers slide between Milo’s, tracing the beds of his fingernails and the palm of his hand. “I think you have to say goodbye.”
“I didn’t mean home. I meant us.”COLLAPSE
At the beginning of this tender and beautifully written love story, two eight-year-old boys meet on a beach: Milo, running away from his new home, trips over Andrew’s sand art. Andrew dreams of being an artist; Milo just wants to be a grown-up, because when you’re grown, “no one can hurt you.” An initial rift, caused when Andrew reports wounds inflicted by Milo’s father, mends with Andrew’s uneasy promise of silence. Over the years Andrew becomes a caretaker, helping Milo breathe through panic attacks, while Milo, “strained and overwhelmed” by his father’s demands for excellence, longs for escape. Their sexual awakenings occur at different times, forcing them to navigate fear, attraction, longing, and rejection. Their love helps them realize their need for separation, but when they meet again as adults, they wonder whether their time has come at last. Sierra (Hush) uses rich characterization and lyrical writing to infuse this slow-building romance with depth, humor, and pathos. Readers will savor every dip and peak of Milo and Andrew’s relationship as they balance the need for safety with the necessary risk of pursuing happiness.