Gigi Rosenberg is living his best life: performances in the big city, side gigs at a dance company, a successful drag act, and the boy of his childhood dreams who now adores him. Even if the boyfriend part isn’t the sparkly ride of passion he expected it to be, life is sweet. So when his sister’s wedding calls him back to his hometown, he sees an opportunity to show the hicks from his past how wrong they were about him. Only, his boyfriend isn’t quite on board.
Brock Stubbs left their hometown and his parents behind for a reason, and the prospect of facing them again is terrifying. He swore he’d never go back, but Gigi has made it clear refusal isn’t an option, and Brock will do nearly anything for him. There’s just one deal-breaker of a problem: Brock promised Gigi he was out to everyone, including his parents. He lied.
It’s magical to run into the sunset together, but staying the course takes work. For Gigi and Brock, going home feels like the finale of a long, disappointing year. Sometimes love isn’t all you need.
Gigi Rosenberg sat in the driver’s seat of his rented car and glared through the windshield at his boyfriend. Brock stood in the driveway, hands in pockets, his face set to that miserable expression Gigi was starting to despise, not least because it always tugged at his heart, and definitely not least because Brock had been using it a lot lately.
And why the fuck was that again? Oh, let’s think.
Ire fully loaded, he lowered the driver’s-side window and leaned out. “Last chance, boyfriend!”
Brock seemed to curl in on himself. It would have been pathetic if he were any less built, those big shoulders rounding by his ears and his chiselled face dipping into his chest.
No, actually, even with the muscles it was still pathetic.
“I can’t,” Brock said.
Typical. Fucking typical.
A red haze clouded Gigi’s peripheral vision, and he slammed the car horn multiple times as he bellowed, “Fuck you!” Then he pulled his head back in, released the car from park, and began reversing down the driveway.
Unbelievable. Unbelievable. This had to be a sign right? Yeah. This is totally a sign that I’m meant to be wild and free and not attached to some overbuilt—he turned into the road—oversensitive—shifted into drive—overworked—stomped on the accelerator—asshole of a dude who would rather stay home than support his beloved boyfriend.
Gigi looked in the rearview mirror as Brock’s house fell farther behind him. In the backseat, he could see his duffel bag, suit bag, coat, Toronto gift hamper, wedding present, and snacks for the journey. Too many snacks, of course, because his supposed boyfriend wasn’t coming anymore.
He paused at the corner, then made a right. Brock’s street was behind him now, out of sight in the rearview mirror. At the next red light, he punched at the GPS and glared as it began chirruping directions to Highway 400.
Highway 400, which then turned into the Trans-Canada Highway. North on that for almost four hours of forest, then a turn off after Sudbury for another hour of more fucking forest. God, Gigi thought he’d never have to deal with nature again after leaving home, or if he did, it would be a nice distance away. Like Niagara Falls, all safe behind a viewing platform and some cliffs. Being in a car would help, sure, but he’d have to drive through kilometres and kilometres of goddamn trees and leaves and moose and shit, and all he’d get for his trouble was his hick hometown in the middle of Nowhere, Ontario. Alone.
After all, it wasn’t, like, important they go or anything. So what if his big sister, Sophie, was getting hitched to love-of-her-life and all-around-decent-heterosexual Alan, and Gigi was so excited and happy for her he could barely express it? Sure, no big. No big at all.
Seriously, didn’t Brock get what a big deal that was to him? To his family? Sophie deserved all the happiness he could imagine.
Even though happiness apparently meant holding the wedding in their hometown because Maney in the autumn was lovely and beautiful and she wanted her poor fiancé to see where she came from.
Please. She wanted to rub her yummy fiancé and big, fancy wedding in the faces of all those hometown hosers, the ones who’d told her she’d be lucky to get a boyfriend, let alone a husband, especially with a brother like hers. Part of him was ecstatic at the idea of helping her, and another part was scared shitless.
Brock might have been grumpy as shit most of the way there, but his grumpy company was always better than no company at all. And no company was what the journey now promised.
No, wait. That’s good. Fuck him.
His fingers tightened on the steering wheel.
Thing was, he’d had such hopes for rest stops. “Rest” stops where they rested their mouths on each other’s dick and maybe swapped drivers. But no, he wasn’t even going to get pit stop blowjobs now.
It almost made him pull into the nearest parking lot to turn around.
What the hell was Brock’s problem? Okay, he hated their putrefied waste of an ex-hometown as much as Gigi did, but he’d definitely had an easier time of it there as a teenager, and he wouldn’t be the only openly gay guy there this time around. Gigi remembered their teen years like they were yesterday, and he knew Brock did too, but those years were gone. Past. Freaking Sean Penn to Guy Ritchie to Independent Madonna. All Brock had said was that he didn’t want to go back there ever, and not even Gigi’s sister’s wedding was enough incentive, apparently.
Did other divas ever have to put up with shit like this? Probably. He could see Guy Ritchie being all whiny and clingy and Madonna having to bitch-slap his English ass into behaving. But they were divorced now, so obviously she hadn’t put up with whatever bullshit he’d dished. Beyoncé and Jay Z had been tight . . . but then Lemonade had happened. Nah, Kylie did things right: all gorgeous boy toys and nothing long-term. Smart girl.
Actually, he was seeing a pattern there that he wasn’t entirely sure he liked.
The passenger seat was empty and it seemed wrong, but Gigi elected to ignore that and focus on the drive, on getting the car through Toronto’s Friday traffic. It was just before lunchtime but somehow still bad. The red haze faded from the edges of his vision the closer he got to Highway 400.
He hadn’t even left Toronto, yet the 400 still felt too close to home.
If he were being honest—and Gigi prided himself on knowing exactly when to be honest and when bullshittery was needed—he couldn’t blame Brock. Going back to their hometown, The Place Where Death Went to Be Bored, was in their top-five Things They Never Wanted to Do. It was also in their top-three things of Stuff I’ll Only Do With You.
For him it was a no-brainer: he’d left the relentless homophobia of his adolescence behind and was so uninterested in visiting it, he might as well wrap it in grey and stripes and call it a police cell.
Brock, though, was being totally closemouthed about whatever his exact problem was. Who knew what it could be? From what little he’d mentioned over the year and three months they’d been dating, and the fact that Gigi had never heard him speak to or mention his parents, Gigi guessed that it had something to do with Brock’s family. But he’d never said anything, so Gigi didn’t actually know.
And when that lousy, traitorous wimp had dropped that I can’t this morning, shut down and pulled out—and not in a sexy way—it had really hurt. Gigi was furious and fucked—also not in the good way. There wasn’t even an excuse this time. Just I can’t. If Gigi could make himself go—not like he had a choice or anything—Brock could put on his big-boy pants and come with.
Gigi’s fingers were all tight on the wheel again, knuckles showing white. Oooh, that couldn’t be good for his skin. Age showed in the hands. He took a few deep breaths, forcing his hands to relax.
All right. So. He was going all toned, sexy, fabulous, and alone.
Well, if Kylie and Gaga could do it, so could he.
To celebrate the release of Growing Pains, one lucky winner will receive $15 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 25, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
About the Author & Links:
Cass Lennox is a permanent expat who has lived in more countries than she cares to admit to and suffers from a chronic case of wanderlust as a result. She started writing stories at the tender age of eleven, but would be the first to say that the early years are best left forgotten and unread. A great believer in happy endings, she arrived at queer romance via fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, and manga, and she can’t believe it took her that long. Her specialties are diverse characters, gooey happy ever afters, and brownies. She’s currently sequestered in a valley in southeast England.
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