Title: Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan
Love Lessons Series Book Three
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, M/M, Romance
Length: Plus Novel
Even hot messes need a happily ever after.
Love Lessons, Book 3
With the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill.
With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.
Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp.
When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.
Product Warnings: Contains sex in a Tesla, sex in a cupboard, sex under a piano, kinky role play, and a cappella RuPaul songs. Just a couple of boys groping, battling, then finally loving their way to becoming men.
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Lewis was…weird. Slightly off, different in a way that made Elijah feel the guy wasn’t fully in focus. He always seemed pissed, or moody, or pissed and moody, and he smoked more than Elijah. Several times Elijah had passed him and seen red-rimmed eyes, from crying or drugs, it wasn’t clear. Either angle meant more baggage than Louis Vuitton, so Elijah elected to pass. He had a matched set of bullshit all on his own, and his recent disaster with Baz had only driven home the need to stay away from headcases.
The day Elijah went to the alley with his industrial-sized pizza sauce can full of discarded chicken parts, Lewis was there, smoking another cigarette. By rights Elijah should have met him before on that count alone, but the alley was technically off-limits for smoking. The whole campus was. If Elijah wanted to light up, he used the alley near The Shack, because he was all about rules now.
Lewis didn’t seem as if he gave a fuck about the rules. He leaned against the wall across from the door to the kitchens, drawing on his cigarette with aggression, tracking Elijah warily as he hauled his can around. He pushed his messy strawberry-blond hair out of his face and frowned. “What do you have in your hands?”
Elijah’s cheeks heated, and he vowed the next time he felt like measuring how much food the cafeteria wasted, he’d lie down until the urge passed. “Nothing.”
“It looks like a pizza sauce can full of half-eaten chicken.”
“Yeah.” Elijah set the can beside the Dumpster and kicked it out of the way. “It’s…for the cats.”
“Great, so there will be more of them the next time I come out for a smoke.”
Elijah thought about pointing out Lewis shouldn’t smoke out here anyway, but he’d sound too much like Aaron. He looked around for something to wipe his hands on and settled for his apron. Watching Lewis smoke reminded him he hadn’t had a cig in over twelve hours, and the yearning hit him upside the head. Fuck the rules anyway. “Hey—can I bum off you? I’ll pay you back inside. Mine are in my locker.”
At first Elijah thought Lewis would say no, but Lewis pulled a pack out of his pocket and passed it over, followed by a lighter. “You’re Elijah, right? Elijah Prince?”
The way Lewis said Elijah Prince made Elijah pause with the lighter at the tip of his borrowed cigarette. Great. He’d almost forgotten about his unwanted celebrity. He inhaled, shut his eyes while he breathed the smoke out, and nodded. “Yeah.”
Lewis ashed his cigarette. “Sorry. I mean—I heard a little about the whole thing with your dad in the parking lot—” He winced and put his cigarette in his mouth. “I’ll shut up now.” Elijah shrugged. “My parents are religious nutjobs. I ran away when I was sixteen, went home because it was too rough on my own, and faked a conversion. Last year in the middle of second semester, it all caught up with me, and when my dad found out I’d made a fool of him, he came to campus with a gun. Now my mom is in the process of being committed, and my dad is awaiting trial for attempted murder and terrorism.”
“Shit.” Lewis ground the butt of his cigarette into the dirt and pulled out a new one. “He shot the guy with the sunglasses, right? Baz Acker? The one whose dad is a US Senator or something?”
“Uncle. And yeah.” “Damn.” They smoked in silence for a few beats, and Elijah used the time to study Lewis at closer range. He was cuter up close. Nice bone structure. Pouty lips. A little too groomed for Elijah’s liking—lots of eyebrow plucking going on. Possibly some makeup. Lewis’s clothes were off the usual queer wardrobe as well. His jeans were wrong, to start. Clubwear should be so tight a dance move threatened to split a seam, and everyday attire should have freedom of movement but an emphasis on the package and ass. The ass was fine, but still not right, and either Lewis had nothing to declare, or he’d gone out of his way to disguise his package. Which was odd.
But it wasn’t only the jeans. Gay guys wearing Hot Topic Maleficent tees wasn’t unusual, but this one all but had hey, this is a girl shirt stitched on the hem. Same for the shoes: a pair of Keds with flowers on the edges. When Elijah spotted two rhinestone studs in Lewis’s ears, he thought, hmm.
“You’re Lewis, right?” Not Louise?
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state’s LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.
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