Just Like That by Cole McCade is available now at all e-tailers.
“Why are you attracted to me?” Fox asked.
And Summer laughed.
He laughed, quick and startled, a short light thing that made Fox think of mayflies startled into taking flight. Wide blue eyes darted to him, then away—very firmly away, Summer turning his head to stare across the grass, toward the stark cliff edge that led down the other side of the slope, into dense forest. His mouth pressed to his upraised shoulder, muffling his laughter into a muted sound, and the tips of his ears turned quite a shade of red against the dark backdrop of his tousled hair.
Fox blinked. “Did I say something funny?”
“No,” Summer mumbled against his shirt. “I’m just embarrassed, I… Why would you ask me that?”
“Because I want to know,” Fox said. “I would think that would be entirely self-explanatory.”
“Oh God.” With a groan, Summer closed his eyes, letting his head fall back limply on the toned arch of his neck, hanging between his shoulders, face tilted up to the sky. “I forgot how literal you are. You really haven’t changed.”
No, Fox thought, and wondered at the tight feeling like his ribs were pressing in too hard on his lungs. I suppose I have not.
“But that’s one reason why I’m attracted to you.” Summer opened his eyes, looking up at a morning sky that reflected in his eyes to give them a gray-blue sheen like glacial silt; a small smile touched his lips, warm and sweet. “Maybe I don’t know the real you, but I know some real things about you. I like the way you talk. You’re literal and while you hide a lot, you say what you mean when you do talk. If you don’t want to say something you just won’t, instead of deflecting or falling back on social niceties that are just a step away from lies. But even though you’re so straightforward…there’s all kinds of subtle nuance, too. Soft things between the lines. Sometimes even though you mean what you say…you mean something else, too.”
Fox blinked again.
And had to look away from this strange young man with his equally strange smile, clearing his throat. “Perhaps you’re only imagining what you’re reading between my lines.”
“It’s possible. Projection is a thing.” Even without looking at him…that smile was still in Summer’s voice. “But it’s not the only reason I’m attracted to you.”
“I can’t imagine more than one reason,” Fox muttered.
“I can imagine a thousand. Only I don’t have to imagine, because they’re as real as the color of your eyes and the way you wear your hair.” Summer laughed. “I don’t know how I’m not hyperventilating right now, but I guess I hit ‘fuck it’ mode and can freak out later. Why do you think I wouldn’t be attracted to you?”
It was almost instinct for Fox to want to deflect around that, and yet somehow Summer’s quiet faith in his honesty, his straightforwardness, made him at least want to be somewhat truthful.
“I consider myself a non-entity on that front,” he said. “If romance is a playing field, I benched myself long ago.
Most do not pay attention to players who are not actively on the field.”
“You’re bad at sports analogies,” Summer teased softly, and Fox scowled.
“I have little interest in the sports ball.”
“…‘the sports ball.’” That prompted a soft snicker, barely repressed. “And there’s another reason. You’re funny without meaning to be. But just because you’ve benched yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t still someone’s favorite MVP.”
“Now who is making terrible sports analogies?”
“I don’t watch the sports ball either.” Summer shrugged one shoulder ruefully. “Swimming turned out to be my thing.”
Fox arched a brow, risking a glance back at Summer. The way he’d tanned and filled out, building into compact athletic musculature with a sort of flowing, liquid grace to it rather than thick-honed bulk…he could see it. Summer cutting through the water in smooth, fluid strokes.
He should not be picturing this.
“So is that how you finally hit puberty?” he shot back. “Swimming?”
“There it is. The defensive barbs because I managed to fluster you when you’re supposed to be made of stone.” Summer was still looking up at the sky, but his lips curled sweetly, almost slyly. “Keep insulting me, Professor Iseya. It just means I get under your skin a little. Although that’s kind of regressing, don’t you think? Child psychology. I thought we universally agreed as a field to stop telling children when a little boy pulls your pigtails and kicks dirt in your face, it means he likes you.”
“I don’t like you!” Narrowing his eyes, Fox growled, tearing his gaze away and glaring at the water.
What was even happening here?
How was this shy, anxious young man sitting here with that smile on his lips, needling at Fox and leaving Fox completely uncertain of how to handle this at all?
Yet that smile never wavered, even as Summer lowered his eyes from the sky, looking at Fox with a strange and quiet frankness, a soft ache in his voice when he said, “I know.”
That…should not sting.
A sudden sharp pang, as if an arrow had been fired straight from Summer’s bleeding heart to Fox’s own.
With a soft hiss, he clenched his jaw and looked anywhere but at Summer. At the mist slowly beginning to burn away from the surface of the lake, hovering like the last remnants of ghosts that refused to let go with the dawn.
“This,” he bit off, “is the most absolutely ludicrous conversation. What makes you think I’m even attracted to men?”
“Hope,” Summer answered simply, softly, and yet everything was in that one word.
About the book
Just Like That, Albin Academy, #1 by Cole McCade
Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)
Book Description: Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts.
But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.
Professor Fox Iseya
Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.
Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.
Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.
To find the love they’ve always needed…
Just like that.
In Just Like That, critically acclaimed author Cole McCade introduces us to Albin Academy: a private boys’ school where some of the world’s richest families send their problem children to learn discipline and maturity, out of the public eye.
Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.
A new Carina Adores title is available each month:
- The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron (available now!)
- The Hideaway Inn by Philip William Stover (available now!)
- Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters (available July 28, 2020
- Better Than People by Roan Parrish (available August 25, 2020)
- Full Moon in Leo by Brooklyn Ray (available September 29, 2020)
- If You Can’t Stand the Heat by KD Fisher (available October 27, 2020)
- Just Like Us by Cole McCade (available November 24, 2020)
Cole McCade is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in Seattle. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing contemporary romance and erotica that flirts with the edge of taboo—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats.
He also writes genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background as Xen. He wavers between calling himself bisexual, calling himself queer, and trying to figure out where “demi” fits into the whole mess—but no matter what word he uses he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA and POC representation and visibility in genre fiction. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts:
- Website & Blog: http://blackmagicblues.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/thisblackmagic
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xen.cole
- Tumblr: https://thisblackmagic.tumblr.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thisblackmagic/
- BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cole-mccade
- Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/ColeMcCadeBooks