Eight months ago Jude Lucen fled his partner, his career, and a hospital in Boston after a suicide attempt. Now back in Philadelphia, he feels like a complete failure. Piano has always been his passion and his only escape. Without it, he has nothing. Well, nothing except a pathetic crush on the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.
Faron Locklear came to Philly looking for a fresh start and has thrown himself into tattooing at Small Change. He’s only met Jude a few times, but something about the red-haired man with the haunted eyes calls to him. Faron is blown away by Jude’s talent. What he isn’t expecting is the electricity he feels the first time they kiss—and the way Jude’s needs in bed speak directly to his own deepest desires.
Jude and Faron fall fast and hard, but Jude has spent a lifetime learning that he can’t be what the people he loves need. So when the opportunity arises to renew his career in Boston, he thinks he has to choose: music, or Faron? Only by taking a huge risk—and finally believing he’s worthy of love just as he is—can he have the chance for both.
The Small Change series is set in the Middle of Somewhere universe and features crossover characters from that series. Each book can be read on its own.
Content warning: This book contains explicit discussion of depression, anxiety, attempted suicide, and feelings of worthlessness.
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Exclusive Excerpt for Erotica for All:
I wandered over to look at the easel, where the painting of me sat.
Faron waved me on, distracted.
He’d painted me lying on my side, as I had been that day. My pale, freckled skin was like marble flecked with gold, glowing as if lit from within. My hair was fire. My eyes were fire. My mouth and my nipples and my firm cock were a glossy pink that looked almost obscene. I lay in a tangle of white sheets, but there was no bed, the sheets looking instead like a cloud or a crumpled piece of paper. And behind me was a blue so dark it was nearly black. I was on a soft raft, adrift in the maw of the cosmos. Gold lines cut through the blue-back, like an art deco frame, or a cage. My expression was caught halfway between fear and ecstasy.
“Holy shit,” I exhaled. “Holy shit, Faron.”
His smile was private and pleased.
“See,” he said. “Look at how beautiful you are.”
I wanted to hear all about the painting, but his words stopped me in my tracks. And then I got a look at him and I found myself saying “Holy shit” all over again.
He was wearing a longish plum cotton shirt with an asymmetrical hem, slim-cut, tailored black trousers that hit just above his ankles, white wing-tips, and a dark purple jacket that at first glance simply looked like a very well-fitting blazer, but when I looked closer was seamed with copper zippers so that the sleeves could zip off and it could be cropped.
“Jesus Christ,” I muttered. “I need to go change.” Not that I had anything to change into. “You look amazing.”
Faron kissed me softly. “Thank you.”
“Seriously, I…I feel really…I can’t go with you like this. I look—” I shook my head and simply gestured to the world’s most boring outfit that I was wearing. The truth of the matter was that I’d never cared much about clothes. I cared how they felt against my skin and that they didn’t announce quite how skinny I was, and that was pretty much it.
“Jude,” Faron murmured, in that deep, soft voice that made goose bumps rise on my arms and reminded me of the commands that could come after he said my name that way. “I told you. You’re beautiful.” He kissed my cheek. “You don’t express yourself through your fashion choices. That’s fine.”
I pressed my forehead against his shoulder and his hand immediately went to my hair.
“But, babe, your hair.”
I pulled back and looked at him, my brain stuck on the fact that he’d just called me babe. I’d never heard him use anything but everyone’s full names when he spoke to or about them.
“Can I please fix your hair.”
Dazed, I reached a hand up to my ponytail. It felt like it always did. I shrugged my assent.
He sat me down on the arm of the couch and grabbed something from the bathroom. I drifted at the feeling of his fingers in my hair.
“Is it always a mess?” I asked.
“Usually.” I could hear the fond smile in his voice. “You run your hands through it when it’s up, so it gets all bumpy and then you yank on pieces.” He dropped a kiss on the top of my head. “It makes you look like a little boy.”
“I’m old,” I sighed.
“Older than you.”
“That is a true fact.”
When I’d found out that Faron was only twenty-seven, nine years younger than me, I’d immediately added it to the reasons-he-will-never-want-you list. He didn’t seem to care in the slightest.
I sighed and forced myself to concentrate on the tugs and twists on my hair. When he finished, Faron steered me to the bathroom mirror.
I stared at myself. A french braid ran through the middle of my hair, leading back into a messy bun. But stylishly messy, not the kind of messy I apparently rocked all the time. It looked…awesome. I looked almost the way Faron had painted me. Ethereal.
Faron slid his arms around my chest from behind and kissed my neck. In the mirror, with only our shoulders and heads on display, we almost looked like we could go together.
About Roan Parrish:
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
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