A big thanks to Divine Magazine for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for my latest release, More Than Okay. I’m happy to be here talking about Jake and Connor, the latest guys who have wormed their way into my heart.
It’s not an easy road for these two. They’ve been together since college, but adult life is complicated. They don’t have time for lazy weekends in bed or late-night karaoke outings anymore, but that’s to be expected as responsibilities grow and jobs become more demanding. The part that worries Jake most isn’t that he and Connor spend so much time apart, it’s that Connor doesn’t seem bothered by it.
I’ve always been drawn to writing fiction that is realistic. I want to read about people who are like me—who are complicated and sometimes contradictory, who are flawed, who make mistakes and learn from them. It’s no surprise that some of my favorite characters in literature are the villains. I have an abiding love for Heathcliff and his bitter, tortured soul, and the character I can identify most with in Othello is Iago.
I’m a sucker for an emotionally complicated man, and Jake fits that bill. When we meet him, he’s been struggling for months as he watches his partner drift further and further away. One great thing about longterm relationships is it gives people a chance to settle in and get comfortable with each other. Jake and Connor have done that, but they’ve also started taking each other for granted, which is something else that happens a lot when couples have been together for a long time.
Jake starts obsessing over Connor’s absences, adding two and two and getting five. His paranoia over what he thinks is the end of their relationship leads him to make some rash assumptions that can’t be further from the truth, but by the time he finds out what’s actually behind Connor’s distance, those assumptions have already caused a lot of damage. Their relationship didn’t fall apart overnight, and it won’t be put back together overnight, either. (Though Connor puts in an amazing effort to help it along!)
My tagline is “real, relatable romance,” which pretty much says it all about my writing style. I like readers to get into a character’s head and be able to identify with whatever problem that character is facing. For Jake, it’s insecurity and self-doubt. He allows that to color his perception of what’s going on in his relationship with Connor, and it very nearly leads him down a path that would be the end of them as a couple. I doubt this will come as a spoiler since everyone knows how I feel about happy endings, but they don’t take that final step. There’s a long, happy relationship in their future, but they’re not going to get there without some work.
Title: More Than Okay
Author: Bru Baker
Release date: Sept. 28, 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 50 pages
Tags: Gay; M/M
Something in Jake’s relationship with Connor is changing, and not for the better. The only thing that’s been growing between them recently is silence, and when Connor starts lying about where he’s been and slipping out of bed at night, Jake fears the worst. Jake gets the surprise of his life when he finds out what Connor has really been doing. It couldn’t be further from what he’d expected. Instead of ending the relationship, Connor has been building up to taking the next step together with a huge romantic surprise for Jake. The scare shows Jake what’s really important, and the ordeal might make them stronger and bring them closer together than ever before
CONNOR WAS nowhere to be found when he finally made it home, and Jake was too exhausted to care. The only plus was their roommate, Gavin, wasn’t around either. He was a total homebody, so it wasn’t often that Connor and Jake had the apartment to themselves. Too bad it was wasted on a night Connor wasn’t there. Housing in Portland was expensive, and he and Connor had argued long and hard over whether or not to live in the city with a roommate or in a suburb on their own. Proximity to both their jobs and Portland’s nightlife had won out, though Jake wondered if it had been a mistake. Would Connor be working the insane hours he was now if they didn’t have to share their space with Gavin? It was uncomfortable having a roommate, especially after the two of them had lived on their own for years after college, but they’d agreed the sacrifice was worth it if it meant they could live somewhere decent.
Jake hadn’t known the sacrifice would mean not seeing Connor for what felt like days on end. He felt a pang of unhappiness as he bumbled around the quiet apartment. He’d taken privacy for granted for a long time, and now that he and Connor didn’t have any, it felt odd to be alone in the apartment. He wanted to take advantage, to fill up the ringing silence with the uninhibited moans Connor couldn’t hold back when Jake sucked him off. But Connor wasn’t here, and he had no idea when he would be back.
So Jake settled for a quick shower and fired off a text to Connor to confirm he was still alive—he was—before falling into bed. Jake hated going to sleep alone, but with the increase in nights Connor had to work late, it was a necessity. Jake’s day started earlier than Connor’s, which meant he couldn’t wait up for him, no matter how frustrated it made him to go an entire day without actually seeing Connor conscious. Jake made a point of kissing Connor before he left every morning, but Connor was rarely awake to acknowledge it.
Jake sighed and rolled over. He wrapped his arms around the pillow he’d been using as a cuddle stand-in for Connor for the last few weeks. The tension between them wasn’t just due to their conflicting schedules. They’d been growing apart lately, something that the increase in overtime Connor was putting in at the office just served to highlight.
Jake was lonely, and he was sure Connor was unhappy too. Things between them were going to reach a breaking point soon, and change was inevitable. Jake just hoped it was a change he could live with.
He was still awake an hour later when Connor tiptoed in. He didn’t turn on the light when he eased the door open, but Jake had forgotten to shut the blinds when he’d crawled into bed, and the streetlight outside provided more than enough light for him to see how tired Connor looked.
Connor didn’t seem to notice that Jake wasn’t asleep, and Jake took advantage of the rare opportunity to watch Connor while he was unaware. Connor rolled his shoulders after he took his suit coat off, letting out a soft sigh at the stretch. His shirt followed, dropped into the hamper. Connor was much neater than Jake, confirmed by the fact that after he took off his trousers and folded them over a chair by the closet, he bent down to pick up the clothes Jake had carelessly discarded as he’d made his way to bed.
Connor disappeared into the bathroom, and Jake rolled over onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He knew that his own messiness was a cause of constant irritation for Connor. There had been a time when he’d made an effort to be neater, like putting his own clothes in the hamper and hanging his towels on the rack instead of leaving them in a heap on the floor or slinging them over the shower rod. He tended to slip back into his former sloppiness when he was angry with Connor, and Jake knew it was probably a passive-aggressive mechanism to ensure that Connor was as annoyed as he was.
He should make more of an effort, he decided. No more clothes on the floor.
Connor padded back into the room quietly, taking care not to be too loud as he took off his watch and put it on top of the dresser. Jake found the routine oddly soothing—it was nice to know that Connor’s before-bed routine was the same, whether he knew Jake was watching or not.
He climbed into bed carefully, wearing only a pair of boxers. Jake made an appreciative noise and scooted closer, cuddling up to Connor as soon as he was under the covers.
“Didn’t mean to wake you,” Connor whispered, but he inched away when Jake moved in to kiss him. “I have to be back at the office in like six hours. I just want to sleep.”
Jake swallowed back a hurt retort. He had to be up early too, and Connor was right—they needed to sleep. Still, he couldn’t help but feel stung by the rejection.
“Do you want a quick back massage? I know you get knotted up when you’re in all-day client meetings.”
Connor turned back over and looked at him, and Jake could see him thinking the offer over, like he was trying to decide if it was just a ploy for sex. Connor finally sighed and shook his head.
“Maybe this weekend. Okay?”
Jake was tempted not to answer, but he could feel Connor tense up behind him.
“Okay,” he said, pressing back in the hope that Connor would get the message and curl around him. Jake slept a lot better when they at least started the night out spooning. Connor was like a furnace, so they always ended up rolling away from each other in the night, but Jake still craved the intimacy of falling asleep tangled up in each other.
Jake felt Connor press a quick kiss against the back of his neck, but he was disappointed when Connor turned over, pressing their backs together instead of curving around him. It was better than nothing, though, and Jake grabbed his pillow, cuddling it close as he listened to Connor’s quiet breathing.
Meet Bru Baker
Bru Baker spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.