Cover Design: Natasha Snow
Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, heís convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.
But hey, nothing gets the ìterrible two-oî down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andyís family cottage in Cape Cod. As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activitiesóincluding getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that donít just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.
But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.
The first few weeks at the cottage we had good weather and spent most of our time outside. Walter said our burns were coming along well. So far we’d avoided making things worse, which was a miracle. The burns were gnarly looking though, and painful when he rewrapped them.
My palms were the bright red of fresh blood. They looked like they’d been dipped in boiling water, with layers around the edge turning white and loose in spots. My hands alternated between a mild burning and piercing pain that went supernova anytime I accidentally clenched them or bumped them into something. Doing or lifting anything that required any pressure on the skin whatsoever was right out.
So by the time we’d been basking on the Nantucket Sound for two weeks, I was climbing the fucking walls.
“I’ve never been this damn horny in my life,” I complained to Jake, bitterly and sincerely.
It was almost noon, and we were sitting out on the dock like we usually did. It had been great hanging out together. We’d caught up on a lot of stuff we never seemed to get around to talking about during school—his upcoming new life. Harvard. Our mutual friends and exes. We’d told ghost stories. We’d taken long walks and kicked around a soccer ball for hours. We’d played poker on Jake’s tablet and consumed six seasons of The Walking Dead on the big-screen TV. It was nice having undivided Jake time, but I’d reached the point where frustration had me close to tears.
Not tears of boredom either. Sexually frustrated tears.
“Turn page,” Jake responded. He was reading on his Kindle.
“I’m not sure how that would help me get off,” I joked.
Jake snorted, but he didn’t rise to the bait.
I shifted in my chair. I wasn’t kidding. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gone more than two days without an orgasm. Probably not since I’d figured out the magical wonderland that was my dick when I was eleven years old. I’d had a permanent semi for days now, and my loose, silky gym shorts—worn because I could get them up and down by myself if I scooched against a wall—were doing nothing to disguise it or help it go away.
I moved my bandaged hands onto the arms of the deck chair and looked down at myself. Even looking at my crotch made my dick grow under the silky blue fabric. It was like a hopeful puppy anticipating attention.
In my peripheral vision, I saw Jake glance at it too. He leaned forward in his chair, hunching toward the Kindle, which was propped on a little table in front of him. “Turn page.”
“You did not just read an entire page.” I smirked.
“Shut up, Mr. TMI.” Jake fake-read some more.
But I knew I had his attention. “Have you figured out a way to get off yet? Because I haven’t.”
“No,” he said in a distracted voice. Despite his blasé look, I knew there was no way he was absorbing a single word on that Kindle screen.
“Me neither. I tried humping the bed, but it didn’t work. Fucking mattress is so soft and lumpy.”
“Can you not give me the gory details?” Jake hunched further and stared at the Kindle.
“Rubbing against the tiles in the shower didn’t work. They’re too hard.”
He snorted. “What are you, the Goldilocks of self-love?”
I chuckled. “That’s me. I need something just right.” I used a filthy voice on the last bit.
Jake shifted uneasily but didn’t look at me. “Too bad Amber dumped you. Maybe you could call her and play the poor invalid card. She might be willing to drive down for a conjugal visit.”
“Nah. So not worth the bowing and scraping I’d have to do.”
I gave it a moment, trying to build up my nerve.
I hadn’t been kidding. I’d tried a half-dozen ways to get off, but nothing was working. So I’d put some serious brain power into figuring out a solution. I was good at working around obstacles, but the obvious answer—the thing I really wanted—involved Jake, and I wasn’t sure how he’d react.
Just thinking about it, I plumped up further, causing a definite tent in my shorts. I half expected Jake to tease me, something like, You could poke someone’s eye out with that thing.
But all he said was, “Turn page.”
“So . . . you haven’t gotten off since before the hospital?” I asked.
“No,” Jake said quickly. “And it’s not helping to talk about it, thank you very much. It’s like when you talk about having a tickle in your throat, it makes you want to cough.” His voice was tense. I saw his eyes flicker toward my shorts, though he didn’t turn his head and he continued to pretend to read.
My heart pounded. I felt exposed at the moment, my semi obscene, so I sat up and hunched forward too, elbows on my knees. I watched a ski boat go by. The roar of the motor was loud. I waited until it had passed. Then I swallowed and told myself it didn’t matter. It was no big deal to suggest it. And if he said no, it was no biggie. I could play it off as a joke. But it really didn’t feel that way.
“Speaking of a tickle in your throat . . . I have an idea about how we can get off.”
“You do?” Jake’s tone was fast and curious. Definitely interested.
“Like what? Gonna have Walter install a Fleshlight in the shower?” He chuckled.
I huffed. “Yeah. You know my dad combs through every one of my credit card statements. No way am I ordering a Fleshlight. Not to mention the fact that I’d have to kill myself after asking Walter to install something like that.”
Walter, our nurse, was in his fifties, white, bald, and pudgy. He had a squeaky-clean fundamentalist thing going on and had mentioned “praying” for us several times. Ix-nay on asking Walter to mount a fuck tube in the shower.
“So what then, Oh Planinator?” Jake sat up from his slouch and looked at me.
Unable to meet his gaze, I studied the water. “Okay, so just hear me out before saying no.”
“Oh shit. You only say that when it’s really whacked.”
“Come on! I’m serious.”
Jake sighed, but I could swear there was a new tension in the air. He was no longer pretending to read his Kindle. He leaned back in his chair and waited. “Go on, then. Spit it out.”
I grinned and turned my head to look at him, raising an eyebrow. “That’s the goal, yeah.”
He kicked my leg lightly with his bare heel. “Just say it.”
“Okay. So. We can’t jerk off, right?” I held up my bandaged hands a little.
“Well, have you ever heard of guys who can, you know, suck their own dicks?”
There was a sharp inhale from Jake, but he kept his face blank. “Yeah. I can’t though. Not even a little bit.”
“I know. Me neither. So I thought . . .” Fuck. This was hard to say. Incredibly hard to say. But there was no point in beating around the bush. “Okay. So. What if we sucked each other, like, at the same time, and pretended we were doing ourselves? Sort of self-suck by proxy.”
I’d intended to keep a jokey tone during this, so I could claim I was teasing. But the words started tumbling out, and there was a hollow ringing in my ears. I honestly didn’t have the slightest fucking clue what my tone had been or how it must have sounded to Jake.
Next to me, he went deadly still. He stared down at his knees. There was a little frown behind his brow. He looked worried. Or disturbed. Or both concurrently.
I fought the urge to overexplain or justify. Play it cool. I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes as if soaking in the sun. “It would get the job done.” I shrugged.
“Did you honestly just ask me to suck you off?” Jake asked in a quiet voice.
“No. That’s not what I said. Don’t go all homophobic on me, bro. Look, we can’t use our hands at all. Fact. If you could suck yourself, you would—right? Fact. But you can’t. I’m in the same boat. So I’m thinking if we were end to end, we could close our eyes and pretend we’re doing ourselves. And we’d get off. And we wouldn’t have to get Walter or anyone else involved. It’s really the best solution.”
Jake was silent again for a long moment. “I’m not doing that.” His voice was firm, grim, like he meant it.
Honestly, I was surprised. And a little hurt.
“Fine,” I said. “It was just a suggestion. You got a better idea? Or do you want the worst case of blue balls ever? Because I’m about to crawl the fucking walls.”
“I’m not doing it,” he repeated adamantly.
“Yeah, I heard you the first time, Jake.”
In my peripheral vision, I could see he was stiff and tense, like he might bolt. But, finally, he relaxed. He leaned forward toward the Kindle. “Turn page,” he said, his voice tight.
“What if I dared you?” I asked, unable to let it go.
“Jesus, Andy, fuck off!” Jake snarled. He got up and stormed toward the cottage. We’d figured out that if we kicked the bottom of the screen door, it would bounce open for a second, long enough to get one foot in. He did this harder than necessary and went inside. I was so shocked, I let him go without a word.
Goddamn it. I’d known it would be risky to bring it up, but some part of me believed Jake would jump at the chance. Or, worst case, brush it off as a joke. I hadn’t expected anger. Jake had never told me to fuck off like that. Not that I could remember.
Okay. Bad idea. Abort, abort. But it was too late to take it back.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Best-friends-to-lovers is a cute trope. It builds on that pre-existing relationship that makes romantic relationship even better. And yet there are more possibilities for catastrophe, as it may go wrong and ends up with losing a partner and the best friend. But as we know, romance can’t be without HEA, so there’s no worries on this front for this book.
The book is divided into dares. The first one, the catalyst for everything, is Andy being reckless. He wants to end the university on the high note when it comes to dares and picks the most dangerous one yet.
Inevitably, it goes wrong and our heroes are not able to use hands for about eight weeks. Andy, having a better insurance, is able to get a nurse to help him, and decides to take his best friend, another ‘victim’ of his dare, with him to his parents’ lake house.
Being young guys, not being able to use hands is more than just not being able to do simple things like cooking, or playing sports. And once again, Andy is the one that proposes the dare. Jake has had a crush on his best friend for years, but this is a slippery slope that may not lead to anything good.
I was a tiny bit put off with the flashbacks, even though they were well integrated. I am not a huge fan of skipping time in points of views. But in general all things were well organised and interesting.
I did find myself shaking my head often, at how reckless the boys were. Andy was the instigator of most dares, but Jake has also agreed to do them so it was not forced. I also liked their relationship, although it does sometimes seem a bit too codependent.
It’s a cute book that is not too long, but if you worry too much, even when it comes to fictional characters, that’s not for you. 🙂
Having been, at various times and under different names, a ministerís daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, an author of paranormal thrillers, a fan-fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a profound sleeper, Eli Easton is happy these days writing love stories.As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with her husband, three bulldogs, two cows, a cat, and a potbellied pig. She enjoys reading in all genres and, when she can be pried away from her iPad, hiking and biking.
Eli Easton has published 24 books in m/m romance since 2013. She won the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary Romance in 2014 (The Mating of Michael) and in 2016 (A Second Harvest). Her Howl at the Moon series of humorous dog shifter romances have become fan favorites and placed in the Rainbow Awards and the Goodreads M/M Group Readerís Choice awards. She is best known for romances with humor and a lot of heart.
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