I’m still in a “let’s celebrate Jeremiah” mood. I make no apologies for it. Today, I’m not giving you another glimpse from Jeremiah. Instead, I’m including an excerpt from Courtney, a novella I did a year or so back. Right now, it’s only available as a freebie to Solomon, so if you like what you read, that’s the only way to get it. I’ve been asked if I plan to release it individually, but to be honest, I haven’t decided yet. We. Shall. See.
But, because this is a High Rise novella, Jeremiah and Collin are certainly in it, so in keeping with my celebration, here’s a snippet from a Fourth of July celebration. Y’all remember the Fourth was their second meet-cute, and the one that was really the catalyst of their relationship. So here’s a glimpse of them from the next Fourth of July. And for a bit of background, Courtney is a photographer who’s been offered an out-of-country photoshoot. Tracey is André’s brother (from André, because I keep it all in the family). Enjoy, and don’t forget to pick up Solomon so you can read the entire thing!
Mom had given me her key card, so I got to the roof with no problems. There, by the grill, was a Black man, his hair in a low fade, in a V-neck shirt and shorts, manning it.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m Muriel Johnson’s son. She asked me to bring up her pies.”
The guy turned and, after wiping his hand off on the towel that hung from a belt loop, smiled and shook mine. “Thanks, man. I’m Jeremiah Stewart.”
“Mom’s told me about you. Courtney Johnson.”
He chuckled. “She told you about me, or about Collin?”
I laughed. “More the latter, to be sure.”
Jeremiah’s face softened into a grin. He pointed across the way, where a group of guys, Tracey
included, stood and walked toward us. I knew which one Collin was without him saying anything.
“That’s my baby,” Jeremiah said, as if there was any doubt. Then he lowered his voice. “Don’t let
anything he says shock you,” he muttered. “He’s really gotten into that lately.”
I laughed, not sure what else to do, and finished setting up. Tracey hadn’t seen me yet, but when he looked up, his eyes widened, and his posture, which had been a little stiff, loosened. I held out my hand and he took it, and looked at me as though I was heaven-sent.
I didn’t know what that was about, what was going on in my baby’s poor head, but I was glad he was glad I was there. We lined up to get our food. Collin was right in front of us, and when he got to the hot dogs, eyed them and looked back at us. His grin at Tracey was positively mischievous.
Jeremiah pointed his spatula at him. “Behave,” he said, and Collin and Tracey burst out laughing.
Jeremiah groaned. “Do I even want to know what he said to you?”
Tracey shook his head. “Nope. Just that you’d probably have something to say if he got a hot dog.”
Collin turned and absolutely beamed at us. “Told ya.” Jeremiah gripped Collin’s chin, leaned in,
and kissed him.
No lie, that was way hotter than I’d expected. Collin whimpered when he pulled back and muttered, “fucking tease.”
Everyone fixed their plates, Jeremiah included, then found space around the fire pit again. We
pulled up chairs from other tables dotting the rooftop, since no one else was currently out there.
I took a few bites, then looked at Tracey. “I said yes to the shoot.”
Tracey smiled and nudged my knee with his. “Good. You know you want to do this.”
I did, and briefly, I explained to everyone else the situation.
“Why were you apprehensive about it?” Jeremiah asked.
I sighed. “I’ve been on the road for a long time. Years. I think I was just tired of traveling. Tired of going from city to city, hotel to hotel, nowhere to call home, and I wanted a break. I wanted someone who was happy when I showed up, someone who didn’t assume that my absence and doing a GQ shoot meant I was fucking the models.”
“That happened?” André asked. “Because you don’t just make shit like that up.”
I nodded. “Yeah. That happened.” Remi had walked out the next day and, when he realized I’d been telling the truth, had gone ballistic when I wouldn’t take him back.
“Is it the location and the hotel that bothers you, or the lack of companionship?” the guy I’d been introduced to as Solomon asked. If I was pretty, this guy was next level. It took me a
moment to stop staring and replay his question in my mind.
I’d rolled my issues into one, but now I had to really unravel my feelings about it. “More the latter,” I said carefully. “When my ex and I were together, the shoots hadn’t seemed so bad, you
know? It felt like I was doing something worthwhile.”
“That having someone to come home to thing must be an Ellison trait,” Marcus commented wryly beside me. I wasn’t the Ellison, but Tracey shifted in his seat and I ghosted my hand
over his knee. I was rewarded with a smile that made my heart soft and my dick hard.
André tapped his knee. “You benefit from it.”
We laughed, then Jeremiah grunted and I looked over. Collin had moved from his chair into Jeremiah’s lap and was resting his head on Jeremiah’s shoulder, nearly asleep. Jeremiah looked down at him with a fond smile and trailed a finger over the outline of his ear. “He doesn’t do so well in the heat. Especially since he was pre-gaming and has zero tolerance.” We
chuckled and Collin’s head popped up for just a second. He looked at us, grinned, then relaxed against Jeremiah’s neck again and his breathing evened out.
“Here’s what I’ve learned,” Jeremiah said. “Take it for what it’s worth. Stability can be found anywhere. It can be found in a different hotel room every night. It can be found in a different
city every day. Having that person who grounds you, who wants to see you succeed and pushes you when you might not push yourself? Who’s as thrilled for your success as they are for their
own? That’s life-changing.”
Next to Tracey, André grabbed Marcus’ hand and squeezed. Marcus’ smile was soft, almost shy, in return. Next to me, Solomon bit his lower lip and looked away, as though bearing witness to such obvious devotion among the couples hurt. If it weren’t for Tracey sitting next to me, I’d feel the same way.
I’d sworn Collin was asleep, but I saw him open his eyes long enough to look at Jeremiah. Huh, so that’s what heart eyes looked like. “Love you,” he whispered.
Jeremiah kissed him softly. “Love you too, baby boy. Go to sleep. I’ll wake you up when it’s time.”
I know that was a long one, but if you enjoyed it, again, definitely pick up Solomon so you can read the entire thing. It’s around 80 pages of awww.