It’s here! Buy LEVEL HANDS at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, ARebooks, and on the Samhain website.
When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as smooth sailing.
Rafael Castro is so far out of his element he can’t even see it anymore. Carlisle College in Massachusetts is a long way from his Chicago home, even farther from his Dominican Republic roots.
The only thing keeping him attached to his last nerve is the prospect of seeing Denny Winslow again. The first time they met, Denny taught Rafi to fly across the water, rowing hard in a knife-like boat. Now, two years later, on the wings of a rowing scholarship, Rafi is attending Denny’s elite college.
Even before the excitement wears off, Rafi is struggling with classes and fending off rumors that Denny’s family, not Rafi’s talent, won him his spot. To quash the gossip, Rafi tries to steer clear of the man he wants. A plan that evaporates in the fire of renewed attraction.
But Carlisle’s academic pressure cooker has Rafi barely treading water. And when a family crisis hits, both Rafi and Denny must pull hard to keep their relationship from capsizing in rough waters.
Warning: Contains a surly Dominican-American guy determined to show no weakness, a golden boy who knows his soft spots, some seriously dirty bachata dancing, and an excellent excuse for voyeurism in the locker room.
While editing LEVEL HANDS, we ended up cutting an entire chapter that I really loved, but didn’t move the plot forward. I decided to save it and offer it as a bonus free read to newsletter subscribers. So if you want in on that good stuff, make sure to sign up for my newsletter in the upper right hand corner of this page!
Read on for a NSFW excerpt from LEVEL HANDS. The guys have tried to sneak away for a weekend together, only to have their teammates insist on joining them for the road trip. But in the middle of the night, when everyone is sleeping off too many beers…
Rafi stayed sitting up, listening to Denny fumble into the downstairs bathroom and close the door. His heart thumped rapidly. He opened his mouth to breathe, because he couldn’t get enough air. The smell of wood smoke hung in the air as the logs shifted and settled.
He waited for a long time to hear Denny leave the bathroom. He heard nothing.
Denny was mostly naked, right down the hall. And everyone else was asleep. Or puking.
Rafi stood up and headed for the hall.
The bathroom door creaked open as he reached for its handle. A flush of second-guessing rushed through him. Maybe this was a bad idea. Suddenly, all he wanted was to get his ass back to the couch, where he could sleep away his embarrassment. In his head, he’d imagined Denny waiting for him, hoping Rafi would follow him through the dark to the tiny room.
But the gasp Denny let out as he nearly body-slammed Rafi exiting the bathroom said he wasn’t expecting Rafi to be there at all. He flung up a hand, catching himself against Rafi’s chest. His fingers spread over Rafi’s heartbeat, which was fucking racing at the feel of Denny’s hand on him. They stood frozen together for what felt like ages.
Denny snatched his hand away, curling it into a fist against his own chest. Then, as if recognizing who it was, he exhaled, dropping his hand again. Maybe he thought Rafi had been out here in the hall the entire time like a creepy stalker, listening to him piss.
Fifteen minutes was an awful long time to take a leak.
Maybe he’d been jerking off. Rafi licked his lips, his stomach muscles tightening. Don’t think about Denny jerking off.
Great. Might as well tell himself not to picture a pink elephant.
“Hey,” he breathed out on an exhale. Denny’s eyes were midnight on a lake, bottomless, quiet. Rafi could have sworn that neither of them blinked for a minute while they stood staring at each other. Close enough to feel Denny’s warm breath on his face. The brush of it made him shiver, the hairs on his arms lifting.
If he took a deep breath, their chests might touch.
On a shallow inhale, Denny stepped to the side to let Rafi pass him and enter the bathroom. Having none of that, Rafi stepped to the side too, winding up right in front of Denny.
“Sorry,” Denny murmured and moved back, looking down at his feet. Rafi wondered if his cheeks were pink.
Rafi crowded forward, blocking his way out of the bathroom.
Take the hint, dude.
Denny shook his head. Rafi told the zing of awareness rippling up his spine to settle down. He inhaled the smell of the other man, sleep-rumpled and warm.
Instead of continuing their awkward dance in the doorway, Denny took a step back into the bathroom, waiting for Rafi to come in so he could get past him.
Rafi stepped into the bathroom.
And closed the door.
The soft noises of an old house settling in the night were the only sounds Rafi could hear, and then the drumming of his own pulse drowned that out as the two of them stood in the dark. Silent. Staring.
Without a word, Rafi moved forward until their toes bumped against each other. As if in reflex, Denny put a hand out and grabbed Rafi’s hip, his thumb resting on warm, bare skin above the elastic waistband of Rafi’s sleep pants, where his T-shirt was rucked up.
His hyperawareness of Denny’s body was overwhelming. He damn near licked the air with his tongue in an effort to figure out if he could taste Denny’s scent. He was breathing harder now, his dick lifting in his sleep pants, because surely, surely this couldn’t be misunderstood.
I’m pressed up against you in the bathroom in the middle of the night. This is not a mixed message.
He waited, pretty sure he was welcome here, but wanting the go-ahead, given it was 2:00 a.m. in a bathroom. It felt like the sort of moment when he ought to drop to his knees and start sucking Denny off like a porn star, or smash their faces together in some kind of aggressive, tongue-diving make-out session. Instead, he let the quiet pull him under. Let the darkness and the secret of their being alone together in a tiny room under the stairs while the rest of the house slept lead him elsewhere.
With a soft exhale, Denny turned his cheek, laying the side of his face against Rafi’s shoulder. And Rafi realized that for now, for this moment, he didn’t need to be nervous. He didn’t need to worry about the why or the what of their coming together or how they would go forward from here. He could simply touch his chin to the top of Denny’s head and enjoy the quiet press of one warm body against another in the night.
The barely there brush of his hand against the short hair on the back of Denny’s head. The skim of his fingers dragging down smooth skin until he rested them, faint points of contact, at Denny’s waist.
Like an engine revving, the hum in his belly spread with honeyed warmth through his veins. Without hesitating, he slid his arm around Denny’s waist, easing them together until the thick length of his dick rubbed against Denny’s hip, the slight mismatch in their heights noticeable now that he wanted to press himself against the shorter man.
Simple enough though to lower his head and open his mouth against the delicate skin of Denny’s throat. The touch of Rafi’s tongue drew out a gasp and the hardening of Denny’s dick, easy to feel through the thin fabric of their sleep pants.
Smoky heat. The lingering taste of soap. And something fresh and clean that was maybe just Denny himself. Rafi closed his mouth against warm skin and sucked lightly, wondering if he’d even be able to see a mark if the lights were on.
He never wanted the lights to go on.
Rafi rubbed circles on Denny’s back, pressing harder as the pulse under his mouth sped up, vibrating against his lips. Their breathing tore ragged strips across the silence of the bathroom, tension stretching the moment until it felt like, if someone spoke out loud, the air itself would snap and break.
Denny lifted his hands, pulling at Rafi’s T-shirt. But before he could get it more than an inch above his waist, Rafi grabbed him by the hips and turned him around, pulling him in front of the sink.
The fading light from the moon striped the room through the window shutter. In the mirror, he could make out the dark line of his arm angled across Denny’s chest like a seatbelt. Denny leaned his head back against Rafi’s shoulder, and Rafi felt the tension seep out of him. It’s okay. I’ve got you. He watched Denny close his eyes.
Only to feel him gasp out loud and jerk forward as Rafi’s hand landed directly on his dick, finding the hard length unerringly in the dark and grabbing hold.
Buy LEVEL HANDS at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, ARebooks, and on the Samhain website.