Hello everyone. It’s me. Nell. Back again to talk about my new-ish book, All I’ll Ever See. And by new-ish, I mean it’s an expanded, rewritten version of my previously published short freebie All I See, with close to 10k new words added. But before I start blabbering about it, I want to say thank you for having me to our lovely hostess Ofelia ❤️
The idea for the original story, All I See, came from a picture in my Instagram feed: two guys dressed in fancy suits stood facing each other, holding hands, half-hidden between two trees. The what-ifs and whys flooded my brain immediately. Why are they hiding? What if they can’t be out? What if their relationship is a secret from everyone important in their lives?
Once, I kept a pretty big secret from my friends and family. When I decided to try and make the old dream of being an author come true, only my husband and daughter knew, I told no one else. At first, it was because I was afraid of failure. What if I wasn’t good enough? Putting myself out there through my words was hard enough without the questions that would inevitably come about my writing, that however well-meaning, would be hard to answer. Especially if I failed.
But after a while, when it turned out I didn’t suck and I’d signed my first contract and published my first story, I still didn’t tell people, because I kind of liked that it was something I did for myself. But even so, it was difficult to hide such a huge part of my life. When I spoke on the phone with my mom, she asked How do you spend your days? every time, since I didn’t have a day job in Malaysia, and she thought I was just being lazy all day long. And I couldn’t tell her that I spent hours and hours every day writing or researching or promoting or doing any of the other things authors need to do. And even if I’d chosen to keep the secret, it was difficult to hide such a significant part of who I was, because as time went past, I started identifying as Nell the Author instead of just regular old Nell. So eventually I needed to share that part of me with the people in my life.
Kieran’s, one of the MCs in All I’ll Ever See, secret is much bigger. He’s gay in a conservative family that doesn’t approve of homosexuality. So he hides that side of himself from everyone…until that night he can’t stop himself from kissing the man he loves. Risking everything, his job, the relationship with his family. How can he choose between being his true self and his family? How can he deny the love of his life? Will the secret eventually become too big for them, and what happens if it does?
The night Kieran bangs on Theo’s door and kisses him changes both their lives forever. Theo has never been in the closet, but Kieran isn’t out and risks losing everything—his inheritance, his relationship with his family—should his parents find out.
But their feelings for each other can’t be denied, and Theo agrees to keeping their budding relationship a secret. But can their love grow and flourish when hidden away in the dark? Or will it wilt and die before they have a chance to live happily ever after?
M/M Contemporary / 14 434 words
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.
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After six, as I’m on my third mug of coffee and putting the cinnamon rolls into the oven to bake, the thump of feet hitting the floor reaches my ears. It’s quickly followed by padding footsteps and the door to the bathroom opening and closing.
All the muscles in my body freeze up at once, and I forget how to breathe for a second. The moment of truth is here, and I’ll soon have the answers to my questions whether I want them or not. I shiver, not entirely sure if it’s because I’m too hot or cold, and I almost manage to trap my hand in the oven door when I close it. Then I just stand there, having completely forgotten what I was doing.
A glimpse of my mug from the corner of my eye brings me back to reality.
I grab it too quickly and hot liquid sloshes over the rim, splashing on my fingers. “Goddammit,” I mutter between clenched teeth, slam down the mug on the countertop — spilling more coffee, of course — then grab a bunch of paper towels and start cleaning up, huffing at my carelessness.
I’m probably too busy being hard on myself to notice the padding feet approaching the kitchen because I jump at the deep, raspy “Good morning,” behind me, and my heart rate speeds up until it’s hovering in dangerous, heart-attack-inducing territories.
“Good morning,” I whisper, not turning around, my body tensing as though I’m waiting for a blow.
This is it. The moment I’ve been fretting over all night, the moment that’ll change my life forever in one way or another.
Kieran comes closer until I can feel his warmth along my back, making the hairs on my neck stand up and a shiver racing along my spine.
“May I touch you?” he asks in a rough morning voice. My mouth isn’t cooperating, so I just nod, and his warm hands land on my waist. “Is this okay?”
I nod again; my words are trapped in my throat and refuse to come out.
What does this mean? Is he trying to say he meant what he said yesterday? Is he trying to let me down gently? Not knowing is driving me crazy.
“Breathe.” He steps closer to me, pressing himself against my back, and I drag a stuttering breath into my lungs.
“Will you please turn around?”
“Sure,” I say but stay frozen to the spot. He must realize I’m unable to move because he walks us a couple steps back, then slides between me and the counter until we’re finally face to face.
God, he’s even more beautiful when sleep-rumpled. He has crease marks from the pillow on his cheek, his stubble glitters on his skin, his hair is wild as though he’s stuck his fingers into a wall socket, and his gaze … His gaze is warm and fond and melted, and he doesn’t take his eyes off me even for a second.
“Oh, Theo, did you even sleep?” His tone is gentle.
I shake my head as the timer goes off. “Excuse me,” I mumble and slink out of his grip, then take the cinnamon rolls out of the oven. “Are you hungry?” I ask, back turned to him again. “I baked. And there’s coffee.”
“Do you want me to leave?”
His question makes me whirl around. “No. Why would you ask that?”
“Because you don’t want to look at me and you seem … uncomfortable.”
I shake my head, still not able to string together a complete sentence.
“I’m sorry I barged in here like this. For kissing and touching you without consent. It was unforgivable and I regret it.”
His words are a blow to my hopeful heart, and I stumble. “I understand,” I say, then sucking my lower lip into my mouth to stop it from trembling. And I do understand, it’s not like I wasn’t prepared for this scenario. It’s what I’ve been worrying about all night, after all.
He reaches out to me, movements slow and careful as though he fears I’ll bolt like a skittish animal. I can’t meet his gaze, but I can’t move away either.
“I don’t think you do,” he says, voice low and soft as he coaxes my lip out from between my teeth. “I regret the way it happened, but I don’t regret finally kissing you.”