Calm is available in general release today! My co-writer and I worked on the Tidal Series for a couple of years getting it right, and, for me, this day has a very full-circle kind of feel about it.
Calm by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn
Pride Publishing, general release September 12
Here’s a teaser for you on this fine Tuesday under the cut:
Jesse licked his lips, appearing to consider his words before speaking. “I know you agreed to meet me here tonight—I mean, you messaged me back, which I took as a sign that you were willing to spend some time with me.”
It was Carter’s turn to frown. “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.”
“Are you sure?” Jesse asked gently. “Because I can’t help feeling I’m making you incredibly uncomfortable.”
Carter’s chest ached at Jesse’s earnest words. God, he was so fucked up.
“It’s not you.” He paused, then laughed with relief when Jesse grinned and broke the awkwardness between them at last. “I’m sorry. It’s a bit early to be spouting relationship clichés, especially when we hardly know each other.”
“Hey, I’m just glad you don’t look like you’re about to bolt,” Jesse told him, head cocked as sat back in his seat.
“I’m not,” Carter assured, “and you’re right. I wouldn’t have messaged you back if I didn’t want to see you again. I’m just out of practice with dating.”
“What makes you think this is a date?” Jesse’s eyes twinkled and he picked up his menu.
“Honestly, nothing. I’m a bit hopeless in social situations lately.”
Jesse dropped one corner of the menu to reach across the table and lay a hand on Carter’s.
“Relax. I asked you to dinner because I enjoyed spending time with you last week. I thought there was something between us worth exploring. But whatever happens depends on you, too. Tonight isn’t about business and I don’t want you to feel as though you’re being forced to be here.”
“I don’t.” Carter struggled to smile through his lingering guilt. “I meant what I said before—I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be.”
Jesse’s megawatt smile lit his face once more. “Then let me buy you dinner.”
Things between them were easier from there. Carter and Jesse fell naturally into conversation, ranging through various topics rather than focusing on any one thing. They shared oysters on the half shell and tuna tartare to start, then moved on to NY strip steaks for the main course, with another bottle of wine.
Carter relaxed as they ate and talked, even while his attraction to Jesse increased. The idea of acting on the impulse appealed, but it worried Carter too. He was out of his depth when it came to fooling around with men. He’d been dating, but hadn’t gone beyond a few kisses with any of the men he’d seen. Jesse, so confident and assertive, was on a whole other plane from any of them, even when Carter included Riley in the mix.
Then again, he didn’t really know Riley anymore, did he? When it came down to it, Riley had more in common with Jesse now than he did with Carter. Maybe that has always been the case, Carter thought, and his stomach dropped with the realization.