Be Still, My Heart

Celebrate Valentine’s Day


Four years ago, Dimitri Petrov had his leg blown off by a landmine while in military service. Suffering from PTSD, he doesn’t do crowds, and he doesn’t do people. If he had his way, he’d never leave his house at all. Dimitri’s sister, Irina, runs a dating agency, and despite that it would be better for business if they had a pretty woman working the front desk, Irina insists Dimitri’s the man for the job.

In a whirlwind of pink shirts, flapping hands, and outrageous flirting enters Elian Hubert. Elian needs a date. Invited to speak on love through time in fiction at a Valentine dinner, there is no way he’s showing up alone. When Dimitri tells him The Single Pursuit is unable to help on such short notice, Elian suggests Dimitri be his date.

Dimitri doesn’t do dates, and he doesn’t do dinners, but Elian’s made him happier in the last few minutes than anyone’s been able to do in years. He might not do Valentine’s, and he might not do gatherings, but maybe he can do Elian… a favor and accompany him to his presentation? If things go too badly, he can always hide behind a curtain and pretend he’s somewhere else.

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Contemporary Gay Romance: 20,843 words

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“We’re here to help you find your true match, your soulmate.”

Elian rolled his eyes. “I don’t have time for a soulmate. I need a date for one night—one. It’s to make me look good.” He popped his hip out and made a swishy motion with his hand.

“I would look better next to a big strong man, but a woman will do. I’m not paying for sex, it’s a dinner date.”

Dimitri blinked, unable to decide if he should be offended or laugh. “This is not a bordello. Men come to us to find a wife or a steady girlfriend. They go through a lot of… screening.” It was a million questions. Dimitri had seen the forms. “And our dating agents find them the best match and then set them up on a date.”

Elian rolled his eyes again. “Look. Do you want to go on a date with me?”

Dimitri couldn’t breathe. A date? He hadn’t been on a date in years. Hadn’t touched a person other than doctors and nurses in longer than he could remember. He would avoid crowds for as long as he lived. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“I’ll pay you.”

“I’m not a whore.” He kept a stony expression on his face, but part of him was amused by this vibrant creature being willing to pay him to go on a date.

Elian sighed. “I didn’t mean that you’d have to sleep with me.”

“But you want to pay me to dress up nice for you and act as arm candy.” He gestured at himself. “I’m not a pretty man.”

Elian’s eyes widened. “I beg to differ.”

“I’m not dating material.” Dimitri crossed his arms over his chest. He should stop talking.

“I’m not asking you to date me for more than one night.” Elian placed his hands on the counter and leaned in closer.

Dimitri narrowed his eyes. “What kind of date are we talking about?” He wouldn’t go.

“I wrote this—” He waved his hands, “—thing. And now they want me to speak at a dinner.”

Dimitri blinked. “You wrote a thing?”

“I teach history of literature at the university.” He motioned in the direction of the old stone building that had always fascinated Dimitri, but where he’d never dared set foot. He didn’t think of himself as stupid, but he wasn’t cut out for academics. Especially not now.

“And I wrote this piece for a magazine; it’s about love through time. They published it and, apparently, some know-it-all deemed it interesting and invited me to talk about it.”

“That’s great. Congratulations.”

Panic shone in Elian’s eyes as he shook his head. “No, I made it up.”


“I… I’ve read a lot of books, you know, and in the old ones there is this pining, letter writing, rules—but in contemporary literature there’s a drunken text, a hook-up in an alley, or a werewolf fucking a zombie in a graveyard.”

Dimitri spluttered. Elian clearly read other books than he did.