It’s release day!!! I’m almost a little sad that it is because I don’t have any new releases left on the schedule now. I’m working on it, but for the first time since covid hit and I lost most hours at my job, my name isn’t listed on the release schedule over at JMS Books.
It’ll change soon!
Kisses and Cabins is an Up North story that wasn’t meant to be an Up North story LOL. I wanted to write something short after Soul Eater and Mind Scrambler and I wanted to write a friends to lovers story because I don’t have any.
Isn’t that strange? By now, I have written a few stories, but none of them has been friends to lovers (unless it slips my mind at the moment). So that was my goal, to write a short friends to lovers story.
When I’d written it, my lovely beta readers gave their feedback, I worked on it some more, wrote the blurb (the worst thing about being a writer), sent it in, signed the contract, and then it was time for the cover. I hadn’t given it much thought, but it was then I decided Kisses and Cabins would be an Up North story.
It doesn’t matter, all Up North stories are standalone, so whether it is an Up North story or not doesn’t really matter. It’s just for the sake of the cover 😀
So, Kace and Luke have been friends since kindergarten. Kace has always wanted Luke but has always believed Luke to be straight and has never dared to do anything that could ruin their friendship.
In the last few years, they’ve seen less and less of each other. Luke bought a house together with his girlfriend, and the girlfriend doesn’t like Kace at all. So to avoid conflict Kace has stayed away. He misses Luke in his life, but he doesn’t want to cause trouble.
Then one day, Luke appears on his doorstep…
Kace Channing was enjoying the calm. He’d woken up not too long before and was having the first magical cup of coffee at three in the afternoon—like most days of the week. He wasn’t supposed to work today, but Logan, his boss, and co-worker, had called, wanting the night off.
He steered the tank toward a settlement on the screen and fired. He’d been right. The enemies instantly attacked, and he pushed the button to fire again. He leaned in closer to the screen, changed the position of the tank, and fired a third time. Reaching for his cup, he took a sip of coffee.
He didn’t mind working Mondays. The bar wasn’t closed, but normal people didn’t go to a nightclub on the first day of their work week. Mondays were mostly for colleagues working in the bar and restaurant business.
It had started years ago. The workers had gathered. With the weekend over, they had calm days ahead, and they couldn’t party on a Saturday since they were working. Little by little, the club filled up. It wasn’t only those working at The Devil, there were many from other bars too.
Some wouldn’t set their foot in their place, The Devil being a gay club and all, but most didn’t give a damn. So Mondays were always a good mix of people and, mostly, they were fun days to work.
He’d pour drinks and chat with colleagues from the other bars and restaurants in the city. Then there would be some regular customers too.
Taking another sip, there was a bang on the door. Kace groaned. He only wore a pair of jeans, no shirt, and he hadn’t had a shower yet. When the door handle rattled, he hurried toward the tiny hallway.
“Yes?” The cold March air teased his bare skin. Outside stood Lukas Holland, his best friend since kindergarten. “Luke, what are you doing here?”
They hadn’t seen much of each other lately. Kace didn’t know what it was, but Stacy, Lukas’ girlfriend, disliked him—a lot. Could be because he was queer, or maybe because he worked at a gay club without being ashamed. She’d said something about it once. You tell people you work there? And then she’d widened her eyes and shaken her head, not at him, but at Lukas.
“Can I come in?” The slurred speech and the way he stumbled told Kace he was drunk before he smelled the fumes.
“What’s up, dude? You’re drunk on a Monday afternoon.”
Luke dropped a backpack on the floor right on the threshold and pushed Kace against the wall. Kace went willingly. He was a big guy, Lukas was not. Had he wanted to stand his ground, he could have.
Then Lukas cupped his neck with one hand and pulled him down, pressing his lips against Kace’s. He opened his mouth in surprise. Lukas took advantage, caressed his tongue with his, and moaned.
What is going on? Kace tentatively raised his hands—to push him away or pull him closer, he didn’t know.
When Lukas pushed closer, Kace noted the hard length pressing against his thigh, and heat exploded in his mind.
“Luke.” He grabbed his shoulders and gently pushed him away from him. “What are you doing?”
“I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.” Lukas didn’t meet his gaze. His eyes were locked on Kace’s lips.
“Luke, you’re drunk.” And straight. And Kace’s best friend. They might do manly hugs, but they didn’t kiss. Sometimes Lukas snuggled up next to him on a sofa when they watched a movie or something, but it was nothing sexual. This was…
“Why are you drunk?”
“Can I stay with you?”
Kace stared. His apartment slash row house wasn’t big. It was enough for him, but his bedroom didn’t leave room for more than a bed. His living room was about the smallest he’d ever seen, and he only had a three-seat sofa, a coffee table, and a TV. His bathroom had a corner shower where he banged his elbows on the wall every time he washed his hair. And his kitchen was more like a kitchenette than a real kitchen. In the corner, he’d set up a shelf he’d placed his computer on. It didn’t leave room for any office supplies, but it worked for him.
Having another person living there would mean they’d trip over each other.
“Why do you want to stay here? Hang on. I’ll call Stacy.” He turned to get his phone in the kitchen.
“No.” Lukas grabbed his arm. His blue eyes were unfocused, his dark hair a mess, and there was stubble on his cheeks. Lukas shaved every morning.
“Why? Are you having a fight?”
Lukas sighed. “Kind of.”
“You should talk to her.” Lukas and Stacy had bought a house together a little less than a year before. Kace had been expecting a wedding invitation and news about babies on the way for months now. He’d tried not to think about it, a life without Luke in it was too painful to picture, so he’d done his best to ignore Stacy. He hadn’t known they were having problems. But then he hardly saw Luke anymore.
An ache spread in his chest. He’d missed him. A lot.
Lukas had pulled away, and Stacy had glared every time Kace had dropped by their house, so he’d stopped doing it. He suspected she was giving Lukas shit for him showing up unannounced.
Luke sighed. “Not today.”
Fair enough. “I’m off to work in a while.”
Kace looked down at himself and scratched the hair on his chest. “No, I was about to jump into the shower.”
“I can scrub your back.” Luke wiggled his eyebrows, then looked as if he was going to be sick.
“Are you going to puke? I don’t want vomit all over my place.”
Luke stumbled again and put a hand against the wall in the narrow hallway. “No. Got a little dizzy, is all.”
“Yeah?” Kace grabbed his shoulders and steered him toward the kitchen. He pushed him down on a chair, poured a big glass of water, then a cup of coffee, and placed both on the table in front of Lukas.
He sipped on his cooling coffee with a grimace, placed the cup in the sink, and grabbed a bucket out of the cleaning slash linen closet and put by Luke’s feet. “If you’re going to be sick, use that.” He pointed at it. “I’m going to shower.”
“Can I come with you to work?” Luke eyed the coffee Kace had given him.
“I think it’s best you stay here. Put on a movie and relax on the sofa. Don’t touch my booze, and in a couple of hours you should try to eat something.”
Luke deflated before his eyes. “Will you be gone for long?” He avoided eye contact, and Kace frowned. What was going on?
“No, it’s Monday. We close at one.”
“It’s not four yet. One is long.”
Normally, they were open till three, so one was an early night for Kace.
* * * *
“What’s up with you today?” Kayla, one of his younger co-workers, gave him a narrow-eyed look.
Kace poured a drink for a guy he’d never seen before, handed it over, and took his payment before he turned to Kayla. “Nothing. Lukas, a friend, showed up on my doorstep, drunk as a skunk, right before I left.”
“Oh, Luke is back?” Angel, a swishy man who’d worked there almost as long as Kace had, leaned against the bar.
Back? “He’s most likely passed out on my sofa right now.”
Angel grinned. “Too bad, I was hoping he’d show.”
He was? “Why?”
“It’s always fun to watch.” Angel grinned, grabbed a tray with drinks Kayla had prepared and walked over to a table. His ass swayed suggestively in tight black pants.
Kace grinned. Angel was fully aware of what he was doing, and while Kace would never have an affair at his workplace, he could still look.
“That man is such a tease.” Kayla groaned and reached for a glass underneath the bar top. Kace chuckled.
It took almost half an hour before Angel had time to stop to talk again. “So when will Luke come to visit us?”
Kace shook his head. “I have no idea.”
“It’s been ages since he was here. You’d think he didn’t like us anymore.”
Pouring a beer for Caleb, the owner of the restaurant across the street, Kace hid his face. Lukas used to drop by, he’d known the names of everyone Kace worked with, but he hadn’t been around in a long time. People had left and new ones had arrived. Angel, Logan, and Megan remained, Kace suspected they always would. Like him, they’d been here for years and liked what they did. Logan owned the club, so he doubted he’d go anywhere, but the students came and went. They worked extra while studying or took a year off before they went back to studying again.
“Trouble?” Caleb gave him a steady look as he accepted the glass.
“Nah. A friend showed up right as I was getting ready to come here.”
“Luke, yeah, I heard.” He nodded at Angel.
Right, Caleb knew who Lukas was. “Yeah.” Kace sighed. Caleb always had a calming effect on him. They were much alike—calm and quiet, and while Kace enjoyed chatting with Angel and the others, it was freeing to talk to someone who showed little reaction. “He’s been fighting with Stacy.” And had kissed him.
“The girlfriend who hates you?”
“She doesn’t.” Did she? Hate was a strong word.
“No? The girlfriend who stole Luke, then?”
Kace shrugged. In the beginning, he’d been happy Luke had found someone. Happy he would stay in the city. There had been a few years when Lukas had lived in Mont. It had almost killed Kace.
So, at first he’d been glad Luke had found someone local, but then things had gotten weird. He rubbed his chest as an ache spread. He missed having him in his life.
“Are they breaking up?” Caleb brought the glass to his lips and met Kace’s gaze over the rim of the glass.
“He wasn’t very talkative. Was swaying on the spot.” Kace gave a wry smile and shook his head. “I poured him a cup of coffee, and a glass of water, and gave him a bucket if he was going to be sick. Then I left.”
Caleb chuckled. “Personally, I hope he’ll come back. It was always entertaining to watch him.”
Kace frowned. “How do you mean?” It was what Angel had said.
This time Caleb laughed for real. “Those nights Luke came to see you here, how were your tips?”
Kace stroked his beard. “I don’t know.” He’d noticed nothing special when Luke had been here, but then his focus most often was on Luke and not the others.
Caleb grinned. “If he comes again, check your tips.” He grabbed his beer and headed toward a table where some of his staff were seated.
Kisses and Cabins in the JMS shop (20% off in new release sale)
Kace Channing has been best friends with Luke Holland for thirty-five years. He can’t imagine his world without him. But over the last twelve months, they’ve hardly seen one another. And life without Luke seems empty.
When Luke shows up on Kace’s doorstep, asking for a place to stay, Kace is happy to say yes. But he isn’t prepared for the kiss that follows, or ready to admit he could kiss Luke forever. What they already have is too important.
And when Luke, the least outdoorsy person Kace knows, tells him he’s buying a cabin in the woods, Kace tries to talk him out of it. But Luke’s made up his mind. He says they need it, the two of them.
But won’t kisses and cabins ruin their friendship?