Guest Author: Heather Long

Love Comes without Warning

Not every couple has a fair chance, for Liam and Brenden, the challenges to being together began and ended with the two of them. Brenden understood what was expected of him, but more than that—he knew what he expected of himself. From a very young age, he wanted to be a Marine, he planned to be a Marine, and he directed his life in such a way to become a Marine.

But being that driven meant that he needed to keep a lid on his interest in his openly gay and very proud best friend, Liam.

For Liam, Brenden represented everything that a man could do right. He stood up for his friends, devoted his life to service, and was a good guy. He kept his crush to himself because he thought Brenden straight and didn’t deserve to be uncomfortable around him.

All of that changes when he gets an invitation to a 1Night Stand.

A Marine and a Gentleman is the first M/M I’ve ever written, but it was a story that needed to be told because this 1Night Stand wasn’t about sex for these two—but about revealing some very personal truths and emotions they both kept locked away. It was reuniting two friends who care and respect each other and opening the door to a possibility neither thought was possible.

Every Marine I write about teaches me something—and in this case—Brenden taught me that being true to yourself sometimes requires being willing to sacrifice personal happiness or at least tabling it for a time. Love shouldn’t come with a warning label and this isn’t a story about regret, far from it, I found it hopeful and inspiring. I hope you do, too.

Discover more about Heather and the Always a Marine series:

Heather Long Website | Facebook | Always a Marine Series Page | Twitter

The ninth installment in the Always a Marine anthology in 1Night Stand (1NS) line for Decadent Publishing. 1Night Stand is the business name of an exclusive online dating service run by Madame Evangeline who provides her clients with a possibility of happily ever after or happily for now.

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Always a Marine #9

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Lieutenant Brenden Fitzpatrick is a dedicated Marine, loyal son, and devoted uncle but he’s lonely. When he went Marine, the rule was don’t ask, don’t tell. His brothers-in-arms pretty much didn’t ask and didn’t care. Watching so many friends settle into long-term relationships highlighted the absence of someone to come home to in his life. When his unit encourages him to give the 1Night Stand service a try, he asks for the impossible—a night with the one man he almost gave up the Marines for in the first place. A man he called best friend but let time and distance carry away.

Liam Gardiner grew up on the same Boston block as his best friend, Brenden. Unlike Brenden, Liam always accepted that he was gay—a fact he didn’t mind flaunting to all the bullies and naysayers in school. It got his ass kicked more than once but Brenden always had his back, rescuing him time and time again, until the day Brenden left for the Marines. He missed his buddy—the crush he never confessed, lest it cost him the precious friendship—so when Madame Eve’s invitation arrived to meet Brenden, Liam faces uncertainty for the first time.

(M/M)

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Excerpt:

Liam stepped out of the rental car and handed the keys to the valet. The Dallas night club was not at all what he expected. Heavy wooden doors offered a gothic touch to the façade. A red canopy stretched out to the circular drive matching carpet that led to the doors. A doorman dressed in a nineteenth century double breasted coat, top hat, and tails held out his hand for the card from the mysterious service.

“I think I’m going to wait out here.  It’s a beautiful day.” Sliding the card back into his wallet, he walked along the curb to a quieter spot away from the foot traffic and arrivals—and, unsurprisingly, no departures. It was just after six-thirty in the evening local time. He rented the car at the airport and bypassed his hotel to come straight to the club. He hadn’t decided whether he planned to stay the night or not, no matter what he agreed to with the 1Night Stand service.

Even the name brought a half-smile to his lips. The woman who sent him the three emails offered an uncannily accurate assessment of his situation. At the end of the day, it was the forwarded request from Brenden which prompted him to say yes.  Extracting a cigar case from his inner pocket, he trimmed the end off of one end and lit it. The fragrant tobacco filled the air and calmed his mind. He handled power lunches and dinners every night of the week. As a professional banker, he knew when businessmen tried to bullshit him or when they really had a plan.

He knew how to say no.

He always knew when to say yes.

Reading people for a living wasn’t pretty work, but it was lucrative. Another couple arrived, huddled together and dashing up the steps as if it were cold. The forty-five degree temperature and dead still air were hardly cold to his Boston forged blood.

Why Dallas? Liam would’ve preferred to meet Brenden at home, at the Tipperary on the Green, to toss back a pint for old times. But no, Brendon invited him to the cowtown in the middle of the country where big boots, big steaks, and big boobs seemed to be everywhere.

Big hair, too. He eyed the next couple arriving. It looks like the 80s threw up on her. He puffed the cigar and kept his acerbic opinion to himself but the distraction helped. Thirty-two years old and on the ropes over an invitation to drinks.

The drinks aren’t the problem. Come meet the guy I’ve lusted after for over half my life and spend the night with him? Yeah, nothing to be nervous about.