Since the day Josh met Laurence, he was positive the man was a preening peacock escaped from the Exotic Bird Exhibit. There was something raw and bright, eye-catching and absolutely, unashamedly gay about Laurence. He was outrageous, outgoing, and wild enough to drive Josh up a figurative wall. Josh didn’t expect Laurence to be anything other than who he was, so long as he did so a good ten feet away from him.

Josh and Laurence's friendship was more like two enemies circling each other around mutual friends. Their arguments were legendary.

Until one night, fate stepped in and changed everything. There was a hard truth waiting for Josh around the next corner. An attraction that could not be denied. One that refused to be ignored.

Would their tenuous friendship survive the fallout between these two reluctant friends? Could a love that took four years to emerge be stronger than either had ever anticipated? Or were they destined to remain merely frenemies?

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Cover Art by Anastasia Rabiyah

Silence sank between them. Something raw and hungry snapped in the air between them with their gazes locked on one another. “Wha-what did he say?” Laurence croaked. His soft pink lips were parted, rough pants slipping from him. He didn’t move a muscle.

josh drew a breath, steadying his nerves, then pulled oh-so-gently on Laurence’s clasped hand. “That instead of letting you go, I should have been doing this.” He brushed his lips to Laurence’s. Crystalline blue eyes shot wide. Josh felt the shocked exhale of Laurence’s breath on his own lips.

Josh’s heart pounded. Blood heated until he was sure he was going to combust. It was a slow, soft sweep. They didn’t close their eyes. The strength of that single touch was more than enough to harden him with a volcanic desire where he sat. He reveled in the new heat, the hunger. He’d stopped fighting it completely. He’d never known anything better.


Neither moved. Both stared hard into each other.


“You just kissed me,” Laurence rasped.

“I know.” Josh squeezed his hand. Color was filling Laurence’s cheeks. The beat of his pulse under his skin was obvious, erratic. Josh felt the same way. “Can I do it again?”

Laurence didn’t speak. He licked his lower lip then very slowly, nodded.

Josh raised his other hand and tenderly threaded it through Laurence’s silken hair. “So pale, so soft,” he murmured.

“Beautiful.” Then he brought them together.

Laurence went supple beneath his hands, bending and twisting for Josh’s kiss. Long lashes fluttered and hid those baby blues and Josh did the same, sinking into the newness, the raw heat of something he’d never tasted.

The skidding press of a flat palm floated over Josh’s shoulder and he fought to not tense, waiting for Laurence to push him away, to start screaming at him. To call him all the awful things he knew he was due.

What he did made Josh moan instead. Laurence’s seeking fingers cupped the back of Josh’s neck, light and caressing. Josh drifted his weight back, dragging Laurence up to his feet without releasing his lips or his hand. Laurence didn’t fight the silent request, rising to straddle Josh’s lap.

The air in Josh’s lungs shuddered out in surprise when Laurence settled on him, his light body filling Josh’s lap and his vision. He wasn’t rail thin, just sculpted, lithe, almost wiry but better. Josh groaned when they separated from the sweetest kiss of his life.

“Josh?” Laurence’s voice was shaking, low and confused, but definitely not angry.


“What happened to being straight?”

Josh caressed Laurence’s jaw with a thumb, tracing Laurence’s face with fingertips and his gaze. “Honestly, I don’t know.”

“Are you drunk?”

Josh’s lips quirked, just a little. He felt like he was floating, but… “No, not drunk.”

“Then… Why?”

“I really don’t know. Something snapped tonight. I hated seeing you with Turd.”

Laurence smiled, his eyes glimmering knowingly. “Ted.”


They chuckled together. Josh didn’t let Laurence go and he grew solemn. “It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, Laurence. Years. Years I gave you hell, and for that, I’m sorry.”

Laurence leaned forward, touching their foreheads together. “I forgave you a long time ago.”

Josh closed his eyes. “Where do we go from here?”

Laurence straightened but didn’t take his weight away from his spot on Josh’s lap. Josh couldn’t stop from dropping a hand and cupping his hip, keeping him there regardless. Josh didn’t want to lose the closeness, this peace they’d hit on together. It was like the world was anywhere but there. They were cocooned in a quiet place, an island for just the two of them. Josh liked the feeling a lot.

“I really don’t know,” Laurence answered.

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