Bookversary | The Dragon Next Door

The Dragon Next Door

It’s National Neighbour Day, which means The Dragon Next Door turns one 🥳 This is one of my favourite stories of all I’ve ever written.

Where I live now, I can see three houses, all of them summer houses that are empty for most of the year. If I go outside, I can see a fourth, and in that there actually is someone living. I can also see the driveway of a fifth house where a 70+ lady is living. If I walk out on the road, I can see the driveway to a sixth house, another summer house that hardly ever has any inhabitants.

I feel trapped. I tell my husband every week, during some periods every day, that we have to move. The next house we live in, there won’t be any visible houses… hopefully. It can go days without me seeing or talking to anyone, but it’s the possibility of neighbours that stresses me out.

So in my world, a good neighbour is an invisible neighbour (Oh, I should write a story with a ghost neighbour!), and therefore Adrian is my worst nightmare. And yet I love him.

I’m glad he’s not real or it would’ve been cool if he was, but then I’d hoped he’d live far from me. He’s still one of my favourite characters though because being in his head was lovely. He’s a sunshine character, and we can all use some light now and then 😊

The Dragon Next Door

thedragonnextdoor

Adrian Green’s new next-door neighbor isn’t really a dragon, but he does snarl an awful lot.

The first time Adrian saw Lorcan Walsh, he knew he needed Adrian’s help. Lorcan has a fractured leg and an empty apartment. Luckily, Adrian doesn’t mind helping him fill his lair with gems, and Doris’s second-hand shop has everything a dragon could possibly want.

The problem is, Lorcan doesn’t seem to want his apartment decorated, and sneaking presents past a grumpy dragon isn’t easy.

All Adrian wants is to cheer Lorcan up, but when Lorcan’s ex appears at the door, Adrian fears not even vintage coffee cups will get them their fairy-tale ending. What if the way to a dragon’s heart isn’t lined with treasures?

Buy links:

Gay Romance: 14,488 words

JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/TheDragonNextDoor

Excerpt:

Adrian carried a box of plates, cups, glasses, and cutlery. Not a single piece matched and yet they fit together beautifully. He and Doris had spent a good couple of hours going through the entire shop and settled on blue and white decor. They were all beautiful pieces, and Adrian wanted to keep them for himself, but it was a gift to Lorcan.

No wonder he was unhappy. All dragons needed a hoard, and his cave was barren.

Grinning to himself, he jogged up the last flight of stairs and found Lorcan’s doorbell with his elbow.

Seconds went by without any sounds coming from the apartment. Adrian pressed the doorbell again.

Still nothing.

With a huff, he put the box down and opened the mail slot. “Hello? Lorcan?”

Maybe it was wrong to assume he was a dragon? The growl coming from within sounded more like a werewolf. Adrian kept looking through the tiny opening of the mail slot until one bare foot came into view, then he stepped back and grabbed the box of crockery.

The door opened, and Lorcan scowled at him. “What?”

“I come bearing gifts.” Adrian bowed and pushed past him into the apartment, having learned his lesson from last time to not try to hand something to Lorcan.

He went straight for the kitchen and poured water into the sink. “Where do you keep your dish soap?”

Lorcan watched him with narrowed eyes. “I don’t.”

It took several seconds before Adrian understood what he meant. “I have an extra bottle.”

Hurrying out of the door, he almost ran into Jesse on his way to his apartment. “Hi!”

Jesse waved in the middle of a yawn. “What are you doing in there?”

“I brought him some plates and cups and stuff.”

Jesse shook his head.

“He has to have some plates.” Adrian put his hands on his hips.

“Whatever, man. Wanna watch a movie later?”

Adrian glanced at Lorcan’s door. He wouldn’t want Adrian to hang around for long. “Sure.”

“Sweet. Pizza?”

Adrian held in a sigh. Jesse always wanted to order pizza. Adrian worried about his nutritional intake, and did his best to sneak in some vegetables and fruit when they hung out. “I can make something.”

Jesse pursed his lips. “No tofu.”

Adrian threw his hands in the air. “There is nothing wrong with tofu.”

“I disagree.” Jesse grinned at him.

“Whatever. Seven?” It would give him time to cook something.

“Sure.”

Jesse headed down the stairs, and Adrian hurried into his kitchen and grabbed the extra bottle of dish soap he kept under the sink. Before he went back to Lorcan, he wrote dish soap on the shopping list he kept by the coffee maker. He always wanted a backup of everything, should he unexpectedly run out. And it was lucky he did, since he now had a bottle he could give to Lorcan.

He closed the door behind him and pushed down the door handle on Lorcan’s door only to find it locked. What the hell? He waited, thinking Lorcan must’ve heard him try to open it and would come to let him in. When nothing happened, he pushed the doorbell.

Seconds went by but he didn’t have to shout through the mail slot before Lorcan opened the door. “Oh, you’re back.”

“Of course I’m back.” Adrian glared at him. “I only went to grab detergent.” He held up the bottle. “Jesse and I are gonna watch a movie later, do you want to come? I’ll cook.”

“No.”

Adrian frowned. “It’s across the hall, at Jesse’s, you don’t have to walk far at all on the crutches.”

Lorcan gave him a look he couldn’t interpret—damned blank face. Maybe he was a gargoyle and not a werewolf what with all those stony looks.

“So, what made you move here?” Adrian poured some detergent into the dishwater and set about washing the plates, cups, and glasses he’d brought. He didn’t ask for a dish drainer. The plates truly were lovely. Maybe he should ask Doris to put some aside for him, should she get more.

“I had to find something fast. This was what was available.”

“Yeah?”

When Lorcan didn’t explain why he needed to find something fast, Adrian gritted his teeth. “Towel?”

A raised eyebrow was the only response he got. Adrian grunted and pushed away from the sink. “Don’t lock the door. I’ll be right back.”

Dish towels. He’d see what Doris had in the shop. Sometimes you could find beautiful towels of far better quality than those you bought new and for next to nothing. He grabbed one from his linen closet and headed back to Lorcan’s apartment.

“Which cupboard would you like to keep your plates in?” Adrian had his in the cupboard closest to the window, and he gravitated toward it with the stack of dried plates.

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Sure it does.” When Lorcan didn’t answer, he placed the plates on the second shelf and the glasses and cups on the bottom. With a sigh of longing, he looked at them. So pretty.

“Are you sure you don’t want to watch a movie with Jesse and me?”

Lorcan shook his head.

“Okay, then.” Adrian dropped his shoulders. “If you change your mind, you know where to find us.” He motioned in the direction of Jesse’s apartment.

Labor Day Sale!

Labor Day

There’s a sale over at JMS Books! If you hop on over there, you can grab ebooks for 40% off Saturday through Monday. May I suggest checking out A.L. Lester, Nell Iris, Amy Spector, Ellie Thomas, Addison Albright, Kris T. Bethke, K.S. Murphy, K.L. Noone, Mere Rain, Tinnean, or any of the other awesome authors hanging out there?

You’ll find all my books here!

Since we’re heading into colder times in the northern hemisphere, I thought I’d share a snippet from Call Me Charles.

Call Me Charles

Call Me CharlesTwenty minutes later, Charles was standing where they’d parked Mikael’s car. It was gone.
He clutched the paddle, tears welling up in his eyes. He was frozen to the bone. It was as if his body didn’t know if it was hot or cold. It burned, and yet he was so cold he couldn’t control the shaking.
He didn’t feel his feet as he stumbled along the narrow gravel road in the direction of the paved one. They had to come back for him. They’d already had a couple of nights where it had dropped below freezing. They couldn’t leave him cold and wet with no means to get home.
And what was he to do with the paddleboard? The number of the renting company was written on it, but he didn’t have his phone.
A tear escaped the corner of his eye, and he angrily wiped it away with the back of the hand.
They had to come back.
He kept on walking, the gravel digging into his feet, but he hardly noticed. Exhaustion settled in his bones. What was he doing? Walking half-naked in the thickening dark.
Some time later, he reached the crossing where the gravel road ended and the country road following the coastline took over. Sighing, he looked in both directions. There was no traffic.
He should know in which direction to walk, but he wasn’t sure. In the end, he took to the right and walked along the side of the road.
An eternity later, the sound of an engine came closer. Charles dropped the board and waved the paddle. He took a step out into the road, but the car only honked and drove past him.
A sob escaped before he knew he was crying. His body ached, his joints burned, his teeth chattered, and he was getting dizzy. He hadn’t eaten, hadn’t had anything to drink for hours, and he had no idea where he was.
He walked and walked but the road looked the same. There was the occasional street lamp, but nothing indicating he was getting closer to the city. Was he walking in the wrong direction?
There was a vehicle coming closer. It didn’t sound like the car had.
Charles squinted at the only headlight—motorcycle? He stepped out into the grass next to the road, not wanting to get hit. He wore nothing reflective and it was truly dark now.
The motorbike passed him, and Charles continued his walk. Then the engine stopped.
“Charlie?”
Charles turned with a frown.
“Charles, is that you?”
Charles squinted at the figure dressed in black leather. He recognized the voice. “H-Hubert?” His teeth chattered, and he sucked in a shuddering breath.
“What the hell are you doing?” He rolled the bike to the side of the road, got off, and removed his helmet. Charles didn’t respond. He didn’t know what he was doing.
“Charles.”
Why was he growling?
“Charlie.” He waved a hand in front of his eyes. “Are you high?”
Charles shook his head. “C-Cold.”
Hubert cursed. “Why aren’t you dressed? Where are your friends?”
Charles shrugged, and to his horror, a tear trickled down his cheek. He wiped it away and prayed Hubert wouldn’t comment on it.
“Oh, honey, what happened?” Hubert grabbed the paddle, pulled it out of Charles’s hand, and wrapped an arm around him. The leather was cold against his wet T-shirt and skin and didn’t offer any of the heat Charles needed.
“They left me on the beach.”
Hubert was quiet for several seconds. “Where are your clothes?”
Charlie shrugged—or tried to, his muscles weren’t cooperating.
“We need to get you somewhere warm. How long have you been walking wet and without clothes?”
Filling his lungs, Charles tried to think. “S-Since b-before dark.”
“For fuck’s sake.” Hubert increased the distance between them and rubbed his arms. “Why aren’t you dressed?”
“They had me paddle boarding.” He gestured at the board.
Another growl followed.
“I didn’t know where to leave it.”
“Fuck the board!”
“B-But it’s rented. I h-have to return it.”
Hubert groaned. “Charles—” Hubert never called him Charles. “—they rented the board, not you. Let them deal with it.”
“Why did you call me Charles?”
“You want me to call you Charles.”
Charles nodded. “But you never do.”
“I didn’t, no, but then they came, and they called you Charlie despite you wanting to be called Charles.”
Charles giggled. He didn’t know why, but it spilled out through his chattering teeth. Hubert who always called him Charlie wouldn’t because Connor called him Charlie? It didn’t make sense.
Hubert smiled. “You’re adorable, but I think we need to get you warm sooner rather than later.”
Charles nodded. He’d love to get warm, but how?
“I live a few minutes’ ride up this road, but I fear you’ll freeze to death on the bike.” Hubert’s gaze traveled his body from his wet hair to his dirty toes. Unzipping his jacket, he shook it off. “Here.” He held it up so Charles could stick his arms in, but he couldn’t get himself to let go of the paddleboard.
“The board.”
“Put it to the side of the road. I’ll come back for it while you take a shower, okay?”
Charles nodded and put the board by the side of the road as instructed. Then he pushed his arms through the sleeves of the jacket. It was warm but so stiff and heavy he couldn’t move.
“It’s not a good fit, but better than nothing.” Hubert zipped up. “If we crash, we’re toast, but I’ll drive really fucking slow, and you’re wearing the helmet.”
Charles looked at him. He’d never been on a motorcycle, he liked living too much.
“It’ll be cold as fuck, but it’s only a few minutes, okay?”
Charles nodded. He didn’t think he could get any colder.
It turned out he could. Once Hubert had helped him onto the bike and got them rolling, Charles realized that while he’d been frozen before, the natural wind was nothing compared to being on a bike.
He hugged Hubert hard and curled up as much as he could behind him. Hubert didn’t go fast, part of Charlie was aware of it, and yet they flew down the road. They passed the gravel road Charles had walked from the beach and continued on. The night was thick, the air cold, and Charles was floating. A sense of weightlessness filled his chest.
Hubert turned in on a tiny gravel road, driving so slow Charles feared they’d fall. He rounded a corner, passed some trees and shrubs, and then came the tiniest little house he’d ever seen. Hubert turned in on the miniature, grass-covered driveway. The shed in front of them couldn’t be called a garage, for no way a car would fit in there, there was one parked on the small lawn next to the shed, though. He wished Hubert had driven it instead.
Charles hurried to get off the bike and almost fell when his numb feet touched the ground.
“Easy.”
“Sorry, my legs aren’t working as they should.”
Hubert shook his head and muttered something.
“What?”
“Worry not, we’ll get you warm in no time.”

Grab Call Me Charles here!

Giveaway | September

Book Giveaway

New month, new giveaway! In September last year, I released The Dragon Next Door. Despite what the title might lead you to believe, it’s a contemporary story.

Adrian lives in an apartment, and one day Lorcan moves in next to him. Adrian has a lively imagination and is convinced Lorcan is a dragon, werewolf, or some other kind of shifter. Why else would he growl when Adrian talks to him through the mail slot on his door?

I love Adrian, but I’m glad he’s not my next-door neighbour. 

Ofelia doesn’t have a good match for this story, but we’ll go with Banger Challenge. Zen might not be as forward as Adrian, but there are some similarities – not many, but he’s also bubbly and positive. Banger Challenge isn’t a clear Grumpy/Sunshine story like The Dragon Next Door. Fred is more shy than grumpy, but ah well.

If you want in on the draw, hop on over to Kingsumo and type in your email address. You’re not subscribing to anything, but make sure you use an address you check since it’s the one Ofelia will contact you on if you’re the winner.

Join the draw!

thedragonnextdoor

Adrian Green’s new next-door neighbor isn’t really a dragon, but he does snarl an awful lot.

The first time Adrian saw Lorcan Walsh, he knew he needed Adrian’s help. Lorcan has a fractured leg and an empty apartment. Luckily, Adrian doesn’t mind helping him fill his lair with gems, and Doris’s second-hand shop has everything a dragon could possibly want.

The problem is, Lorcan doesn’t seem to want his apartment decorated, and sneaking presents past a grumpy dragon isn’t easy.

All Adrian wants is to cheer Lorcan up, but when Lorcan’s ex appears at the door, Adrian fears not even vintage coffee cups will get them their fairy-tale ending. What if the way to a dragon’s heart isn’t lined with treasures?

14,488 words

Read an excerpt!

bangerchallenge

Fred Munson likes his job as a traffic cop. He’s good at it. It’s his personal life that could use some improvement. With no friends, and being too shy to talk to anyone while out of uniform, when Fred is forced to use some of his vacation time, he has nothing to fill his days. At least not until he comes home to find his driveway blocked by a stranger with car troubles.

A month after losing his father, Zen Zeppelin Cave has also lost his place in the world. The only thing holding him together is focusing on a charity junk car race to raise money for cancer research. And he’s crossing that finish line even if he ends up replacing every part of the car along the way.

Zen had planned on completing the race on his own, but a spur-of-the-moment decision changes that when he invites the adorable, blushing police officer whose driveway he’s blocking to tag along. Going with a stranger on a road trip is completely out of Fred’s comfort zone, so when he accepts the invitation no one is more surprised than himself.

Together, Zen and Fred are heading south. But will the old junk car hold together long enough to reach their destination? And will crossing the finish line mean the end of the road for a budding romance, or will they find there’s more to their journey?

31,122 words

Read an excerpt!