Sometimes letting things get complicated is the best way to figure it all out.
Mick Randall is on the run, from the biker culture he grew up in and his impossible vision of love. Alaska should be far enough to escape his old life—until he rolls into a wrecking yard and gets lost in a pair of pale, bottle-green eyes.
Scotty Bell has spent years learning to channel his fiery temper into the heat of a welding torch. His sexual heat has always been slower to ignite, but one look at Mick rouses confusion alongside desire. In all his life, he’s only been attracted to one other person—his best friend, Mercy Taylor.
Mick lands a temporary job at the yard, and finds an uneasy crash pad at Scotty’s place…where the ragged ends of his emotions get tangled up in Scotty and Mercy’s relationship.
But when Mick hears a Harley engine from his past bearing down on him, his first instinct is to go back to the half-life he’d been living. Lest his secrets destroy the only two people who’ve ever made him feel whole.
Warning: Contains references to abuse, subversive ideas about sexual identity and gender expression, and a free-range bisexual on a mission.
~ Pride Promotions
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Mick slept on the couch for two weeks before Scott let him get dinner. Mick brought a pizza, hot wings and a six-pack. When he offered Scott a beer, Mick thought for a second he was about to get decked.
“No thanks, I don’t drink. But you go ahead.”
Mick put five bottles in the fridge and popped the top on the sixth. The long pull of rich beer felt like cool water after he’d been walking for weeks in the desert.
“Nope. I got enough of that before I was even born, I don’t need any more.”
It only took half a beer for Mick to get past the uncomfortable feeling he should’ve asked Scott to tell him more, or that he should’ve switched to Mountain Dew. Scott rented an On Demand movie, something forgettable with vampires, and they sat in their places on the couch and divided their attention between the movie and the pizza for the next two hours. Tom camped out in his usual spot between their thighs, graciously accepting all the chicken and pepperoni tributes offered to him.
After the movie was over they watched another one on HBO, but didn’t pay much attention to it. Mick had a nice buzz going and was happy to sit back and listen to Scott talk about his project—the VW Microbus he was converting into a flatbed. A warm, fuzzy feeling Mick almost didn’t recognize as happiness set up camp in his gut, and life was good.
He thought, more than once or twice, that Scott leaned toward him in a way that was a little more than friendly, but it had to be the beer.
Mick jerked in surprise when he realized he’d started to lean toward Scott. He had no right to be “more than friendly” to Scott. None at all.
Scott reached out to grasp his shoulder. “You okay, Mick?”
“Are you ready for bed?” Scott kneaded his shoulder, sending a current through his body.
“The movie isn’t over.”
“It’s not very good. If you don’t want to finish it, that’s okay with me.” Scott smiled and sat back against the couch, releasing Mick’s shoulder.
He couldn’t help himself, he leaned forward. Only a little bit. He didn’t want to lose Scott’s touch. In that moment, he couldn’t think of anything more important than Scott touching him, not even self-preservation.
Mick Randall wasn’t a stranger to self-medicating with alcohol but before he found Bell’s he hadn’t had a lot of money to spare, and lately he hadn’t had the time. Together, those circumstances had turned him into a lightweight. That had to be the explanation for why he saw a come-on in every glance and heard innuendo where surely Scott didn’t mean any. He’d have to be a lightweight to want so badly to respond to Scott’s touch with an embrace.
Maybe I should quit drinking.
Mick wasn’t capable of walking in a straight line by the time he hit the can, but it didn’t matter. Four beers was plenty and he’d take the other two out of Scott’s fridge the next day and remember not to bring more. If he wanted a drink, he wouldn’t have to drive far. When he left the bathroom his thoughts centered on that warm, happy feeling, and what he could get up to the next day. Before he knew what was happening, Scott had him backed against the wall, both hands spread across his chest.
All that fuzzy warm happiness disappeared, replaced by a tiny shiver of panic mixed with a side of relief. The relief tangled with a mix of “fucking finally” and “what the fuck” that made Mick dizzy. Or maybe that’s just the beer.
“Scott. Maybe I should sleep somewhere else tonight.”
“Yeah. Like in my bed with me.”
“I was thinking like my car, or a motel.”
Scott frowned and pushed him back against the wall harder, caressing his chest and shoulders as he did. The contrast of the unyielding wall against his shoulder blades and the man in front of him spun Mick’s head around once. “You don’t feel anything like Mercy. I knew you wouldn’t.”
“Don’t you think Mercy would—”
“She wouldn’t care. I’m not the only one she fools around with.” Scott leaned against him, chest to chest, close enough to kiss.
“Let me go.” Mick took hold of Scott’s shoulders and tried to push him back, but Scott was stronger than he looked.
“No. I don’t want to.”
“What am I supposed to do now?” Mick couldn’t see a clear path to the door. Panic reared up in the back of his mind—he had no game plan for this, no idea what his part should be.
“You can let me blow you. Or you can blow me. I don’t care who goes first. You want me, don’t you?”
Mick tried to speak but couldn’t. He couldn’t get a decent breath either, not with Scott’s hands on him. He nodded and tried to pull himself together.
“Haven’t you ever hooked up before?”
“Well, so have I. I’m not a little kid. You don’t have to—”
“I know you’re not.” Mick squeezed Scott’s shoulders, anxious to learn how his skin felt over those hard muscles, how those muscles looked when he moved. “I know.”
“I’ve hooked up before.”
“So why not with me?”
“Because it’s different with you. I mean, it would be— I can’t…”
“You think I’m an idiot? Too dumb to know what to—”
“No! No. That has nothing to do—” Mick saw something in Scott’s eyes that made the rest of that sentence turn to dust in his throat. He swallowed hard and was about to—no idea what he was about to do, but he couldn’t stand there forever—when he saw something else that stopped him. “You’re shaking.”
“Yeah.” Scott’s voice had a hard edge so when he surged forward, his erection pressing against Mick’s thigh, it was unexpected.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m trying to keep from punching you in the face.”
“Why do you want to punch me in the face?”
“Because you’re pushing me away. I thought you liked me.”
“I do like you. But—”
“Don’t say it’s not right. I’m dumb but I’m not—”
“I didn’t say you were dumb. You’re not dumb.” Mick could barely speak past his desire, so his last few words came out as breathless as he felt. He’d started panting and the sound filled the short hallway. “Please don’t punch me in the face.”
Scott frowned, but fear and pain was mixed up with the anger and desire showing in his light bottle-green eyes. Mick felt it all right along with him.
“Maybe I should go.”
When Scott didn’t respond Mick slid against the wall, sideways. In just a few steps, Mick wasn’t supporting all of Scott’s weight anymore, didn’t feel his tense muscles or his heat. Mick gingerly pushed off from the wall and walked backward, toward the living room.
“You don’t have to.”
“I think I do.” Mick sat on the sofa to pull on his boots and Scott dropped onto the cushion beside him. Mick straightened, one boot on and one off, and Scott grabbed him and kissed him.
1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
2. What would you say inspired you to write it? ?
A battered old VW Bug. I kept seeing it while I was working toward my Paralegal degree and I kept wondering whose it was. I never saw the person who owned it, but that car inspired Mick.
3. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it? ?
I’m not sure I’ve ever had writer’s block, but I do get stuck at some point during each story. It’s a great feeling when a story takes on a life of its own, but sometime after that it will probably try to go somewhere I didn’t see coming. Sometimes that’s bad, like when I’m writing a happy, upbeat story and it starts veering into angsty territory. Other times it’s very good, like in Torque when instead of a bi/ace Romance it became a bi/ace/trans ménage.
4. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project? ?
A long time! I’m a fairly slow writer, but the longest time I’ve spent on a Romance is going on four years. It’s almost finished!
5. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way? ?
Being an author has forced me to be more social and that’s a good thing. I’ve been a writer for a long time and have spent a lot of time alone at my keyboard. In the past four years, since I’ve been a Romance author, I’ve made the decision to get out from behind my desk once in a while. I’ve met some amazing people and done things I never thought I’d do—like moderate a panel.
6. Was there ever a time, during your work on the book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind? ?
More than once! Torque was a scary book to write, mainly because it’s so far out of the mainstream, even for LGBTQ+ Romance. Bisexuals who do more than say they’re bi and then diligently pursue a same-sex relationship are rare in fiction of any kind, let alone Romance. And if it’s hard to find a bisexual in a Romance it’s even more difficult to find someone on the ace spectrum—especially in an erotic Romance. A common misconception is that all asexuals never have sex and that they all hate it. Some do, some don’t. My Ace character in Torque could care less about it for the most part, but does enjoy the people he loves on occasion.
I could give you more reasons but I think this is enough!
7. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing? ?
Most of my time is spent earning a living. I have a long commute and a stressful day job. I do a lot of reading and plotting on my commutes, though. I also love to knit, watch movies, and occasionally catch a live concert.
8. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title? ?
I’m currently on deadline for two books in the Buchanan House series with Dreamspinner. Right now I’m working on a Christmas story featuring two guys who are supporting players in Tiny House. The story is about two young guys working to get past their last bit of self-doubt so they can create the life they want for themselves.
Fun facts: :
1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for? ?
My dream job. I would wish to make a good living writing fiction so I would never have to sit in a cubicle again.
2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you? ?
A very large blank book so I could write.
3. Name your favorite fruit. ?
Strawberries. They’re so versatile—you can bake with them or put them in salads, dip them in chocolate or eat them plain and they’re always delicious.
4. Coffee or tea? ?
5. Favorite season? ?
Fall. In NW Oregon it’s the most beautiful time of year, not too hot or too cold, and once in a while it stops raining.
6. How about fav time of 24 hours? ?
I’m a night owl.
8. Favorite food for breakfast? ?
Peanut butter toast. Or if I’m being decadent, biscuits and gravy.
9. Latest book you’ve bought and read? ?
A Boy Called Cin by Cecile Wilde. It’s sweet and sexy and romantic as all get-out.
10. Do you collect things like stamps, or key chains, or shoes? ?
I’m a knitter, so I have a massive stash. I love silk and alpaca blends, and superwash merino the best.
11. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us! ?
Purple. It’s not a secret, I have purple dishes, purple linens, purple blankets, I even write longhand in purple ink!
12. Drama or comedy? ?
If I only get to pick one it would definitely be drama. I love stories that rip my heart out. I’m easily amused, though, so they have to be good or I’ll riff them to death.
13. Have a fav quote or personal motto? ?
These aren’t my words, but: If it is to be, it is up to me.
14. Cats or dogs? ?
15. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing? ?
Definitely the candlelight.
1. Your top secret, uber guilty pleasure is… ?
Hard to say. At my age there’s very little in that category, I’ve pretty much come to terms with my weirdness. I don’t think I’ve talked about this before but I have a small Asian ball jointed doll collection.
2. If you could choose to be someone else for just one day, it would be… ?
Ji-Yong Kim, the amazingly talented pianist in the Android Monotone commercial. I’ve always wanted to play the piano, especially like that!
3. If everyone would receive a prize for being best at something, you’d be no. 1 at… ?
Listening. It came in handy while I tended bar. I love listening to everyone’s stories—most people don’t realize how interesting they are.
4. The one thing you’d do anything to avoid/get out of is… ?
Housework! I’d rather shovel snow in a blizzard.
5. Your favorite part of a date is… ?
I don’t remember, it’s been a very long time. *lol*
6. If a character from any book could become real and you could spend a day with them, it would be… from the book… ?
Roland Deschain from Stephen King’s Gunslinger series. That man can tell a story.
7. You were/are a hardcore fan of… ?
Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’m still circulating the tapes!
8. You’d immediately fall for someone who… ?
Wrote me a blues song. That would be really cool.
9. If you could have any one superpower, it would be… ?
Super-strength. I’d step in whenever someone was being bullied, and put a stop to domestic violence and child abuse.
10. The one thing that always brightens your day is… ?
A good book. I read every day and nothing makes me happier than finding a new author or series to love. Except maybe a good review for one of my own books. ☺
11. The awesomest thing in your life is… ?
Being a Romance author! I love that the hours I don’t spend at the day job are full of writing and editing and hanging out with readers and other authors. Book people are the coolest, they’re my tribe and I’m so lucky to have a place in that world.
About the Author & Links:
Charley Descoteaux misspent a large chunk of her youth on the back of a Harley, meeting people and having adventures that sometimes pop up in her fiction. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. Charley has survived earthquakes, tornadoes and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.