by Kimber Vale
It may sound odd for romance, but hear me out. Think about the books you’ve read, romance and otherwise. One key element in writing a novel is that your characters need to undergo a change. No one wants them to be the same person they were at the beginning of the book. They have to grow and develop; hopefully improve, but I suppose they could become worse. It probably won’t be a romance, though. Once in a Halley’s Comet, a main character will not change, but will be the instigator of change in others. That’s rare, but the end result is still movement and progression in some form. Anyway, change is imperative.
Imagine Romeo and Juliet still just sneaking around behind their parents’ backs at the end of the play instead of dead on the floor. Lame.
What if Allie had stayed a stuck-up rich girl in The Notebook? What if she didn’t lose her memory over time? How much of the poignancy of that story would be lost?
Imagine Marianne of Sense and Sensibility continuing to favor emotion over good sense and marrying Willoughby instead of Colonel Brandon. Okay, maybe a lot of people would have liked that ending better, but Marianne wouldn’t have shown any growth and maturity in that scenario. Characters are not meant to be static from beginning to end.
Imagine if Bella Swan was still the same…oh, forget it, I’ve got enough examples.
Anyway, there is a certain amount of Jekyll and Hydiness in nearly all characters (Yeah, I said Hydiness. What of it?). I don’t mean that they’re all in need of medication to stabilize their constantly vacillating moods, but for the most part they change for the better because that’s what the audience wants to see. We are all changed by our environment, by stressors, by time, and by other people. It’s real for characters to do the same. And if characters aren’t real to us, we don’t care about them or their romance.
Do Kyrie and Greg, the MCs in my newest release Hard Act to Follow, change over the course of the book? They sure do. But you’ll have to read it to find out how.
“Beer!” Kyrie came from Greg’s small kitchen with two fists full of Sierra Nevada IPA. “Last two— You need to do better, buddy.”
“I try not to keep a ton of alcohol—”
“Yeah, yeah. But this is why we never hang here.” Kyrie turned around, arms spread, still laden with pale ale.
“And this…” He spun around. “Is so much classier than my dump. Game nights would be sweet over on the swanky side of town, bro.”
“I let you and the other riffraff over here every other week, and the swanky side of town just took a turn for the worse.”
Liar. You let Kyrie over here and he’ll drink too much and pass out on your bed. That’s why you avoid this shit—because you can always leave his place with your blue balls and your pathetic fantasies. But Kyrie here is a live hand grenade. Duck and cover.
“Catch!” Kyrie tossed the beer underhand, and Greg barely managed to grab it with uncoordinated fingers.
“Watch it!” Greg bent to set the beer on his glass coffee table, heart thumping for a thousand reasons.
“You deserve an exploded brew for that comment.” Kyrie popped his bottle cap with a keychain opener that screamed arrest me. He dropped his keys on the table beside Greg’s beer while looking up at him with an intense stare. “Is that why you’ve been avoiding me lately? Tired of playing with the riffraff across town?”
Kyrie smirked, but pain touched his voice and eyes.
“No, man. You know I’m busy as hell. I didn’t mean that about game night…”
“You totally did.” He narrowed his amber gaze at Greg. “Kilborne’s a slob, and he and Liv would lick your fridge clean. Their combined eating forces are the stuff of legend.”
“It’s weird. She does have an amazing appetite for a girl her size.”
“It’s her thyroid, lucky bitch. Big eyes and a stick figure. She looks like a freakin’ anime.”
Greg grinned, reaching for his beer as he sat heavily on the couch. He recalled its tumultuous state and set it back on the table.
Kyrie plopped down next to him, his knee brushing Greg’s despite the vacant cushion to the guy’s left. “Here. I said I was gonna get you good and drunk.” He took a quick tug and then pushed his bottle into Greg’s hand.
“I really don’t need it. I’m there.”
“You need something. To relax. Chill out. Live a freakin’ little. Something.” Kyrie knocked his knee into Greg’s and his hand slipped off the beer and fell onto Greg’s thigh.
“I’m… relaxed.” But the buzz was suddenly scattered by apprehension. Kyrie couldn’t be this close—touching him. Rubbing the inside of my goddamn thigh!
“Chug it.” Kyrie leaned over, his breath hoppy and sweet, his top lip still glistening from the last sip he’d taken. Greg sucked in a wavering inhalation.
The hand on his leg inched higher and squeezed while Kyrie grasped the glass over Greg’s fingers and led it to his lips.
Greg opened his mouth and managed to take a sip without choking, miracle of miracles.
“Good dog.” Kyrie grinned wickedly less than a foot from Greg’s face. He took the beer back and brought it to his own lips, the tip of his pink tongue darting out to lick the glass where Greg’s mouth had just been.
Greg almost whimpered as Kyrie sucked back a mouthful, his gaze glued to Greg’s the whole while.
Like porn when the chick maintains eye contact while giving head. Wonder if guys do that in gay movies.
Despite the strange sexual attraction simmering inside him—the one that had him jerking off to visions of Kyrie way too often—Greg hadn’t had the balls to look for gay stroke films. He wasn’t even sure he’d find them appealing. He’d never even considered sleeping with men until Kyrie came along and flipped his world over like a sore loser tossing a board game.
All he knew was Kyrie’s puckered lower lip wrapped erotically around the bottle top. Paired with his gorgeous, almost challenging golden-brown stare, it sent a surge of blood to Greg’s dick so hot and fast it made him lightheaded.
“What are you looking at?” It was too close to Greg’s dream. Way too fucking close. And so was Kyrie. But instead of Greg reaching out and grasping nothing but ghost, Kyrie’s hand on his thigh pressed hard, real and reassuring. Instigating. It slid slowly inside and up while Kyrie lifted his eyebrows in question, his sweet mouth forming a tiny O that made Greg desperate to kiss him.
Greg tried to swallow, but the lump in the back of his throat didn’t move—wouldn’t allow for speech. He took a shallow breath that caught when Kyrie’s pinky wisped over his bulging cockhead. Kyrie placed the beer on the coffee table with his free hand while that little finger flirted over Greg’s ridge like it was reading braille. Reading Greg’s perverted mind through his khakis.
“Kyr—” he croaked.
“Shhh.” Kyrie leaned closer, a full hand stroking up Greg’s hard-on. “Don’t.” His lips skimmed across Greg’s, warm, soft, and tremor inducing. Greg inhaled sharply, maybe to work out a final cry for reason, but any remaining resistance fell away as Kyrie’s familiar scent overwhelmed him. Instead, he groaned as that knowledgeable hand squeezed him through his pants, and those seductive lips, a bare hint of stubble peppered above the upper one, touched down again to ply and cajole without words.
Kyrie is an actor with a physical aversion to telling lies, a one-eyed cat, and horrible taste in men. His ex-brother-in-law and best friend, Greg, harbors a secret crush he can’t shake. After denying his feelings for Kyrie for too long, Greg finally gives in to desire one drunken night. Come the morning, the facts get twisted. Kyrie pretends he doesn’t remember a thing—a lie that eats him alive—and Greg can’t stop thinking about how he screwed up the best thing in his life.
Before they can clear the air, Kyrie follows his dreams to New York City, but could he also be running away?
A mistake from Kyrie’s past detonates their silence, and Greg is forced to confront the man he loves. Is their new truth strong enough to support a relationship, or are they doomed to crumble under old fears? Their friendship could evolve into something a million times stronger, but maybe Kyrie’s act is just too hard for Greg to follow.
K. Vale writes erotic romance of all stripes, from hot hetero to mouthwatering manlove. Find her MF work published under Kimber Vale. Come for the sex. Stay for the story. Stalk Kimber on Facebook and Twitter @KimberVale, and check her site for updates, new releases, and freebies at http://www.authorkimbervale.com. The blog: http://www.kimbervale.me