This Must Be the Place is a novella I started writing in 2014 after I got my first short story published with Dreamspinner Press in their Advent Calendar. You can read the story here. It’s called “Love Light” and it’s a (very short!) short story about two men in a relationship who spend Christmas together at a hotel in Mozambique. I really loved writing about these characters, so I started writing this novella about how they met and fell in love. It’s a little bit modern romance, a little bit funny, and a little bit steamy, which pretty much describes their relationship.
Here’s a short excerpt from the first chapter. If you’re interested, you can read the rest of the chapter at Dreamspinner’s website or buy the book here. Also, if you like, feel free to send me a message or follow me on Instagram @janedariuswrites or at janedarius.tumblr.com.
Nick McDaniel heard those words more often than he heard his own name. Not that he expected the customers who came into Shorty’s for an Old Fashioned and no chitchat to bother learning the bartender’s name, but even the guys he brought home with him after everything closed down referred to him the same way: “That was fun, Bartender.” “I guess drinks are on the house from now on, eh, Bartender?” They said stuff like that, but he always managed to make the whole thing pretty clear on his end. Usually with just a look, an eyebrow raise, and a forced nod. The look said, No, drinks won’t be on the house because we won’t be seeing each other again.
These guys would always wait around until closing time based on something they saw in him, something that said he was interested. Then after he finished all the bar’s closing rituals, they’d hurry the block and a half back to Nick’s apartment and fuck on his coffee table or, if they could make it all the way there, the bed. Not much talking except for the “fuck yeahs” and guttural moans that came with a good lay.
Then in the morning, they’d always say something like, “So, Bartender? Was it good for you?” They’d play it off like a joke, but he knew they said it because they didn’t remember, didn’t care, or never knew his name in the first place. And he’d tell them it was good for him, but he wasn’t looking for anything serious. Or he’d give that look. Sometimes he didn’t even have to do anything, and they just threw on their jeans and tight shirts and got gone. Pleasantries usually weren’t exchanged, for the most part.
But it would have been nice to hear his name once in a while, especially after hearing it ringing in his ears all through high school.
“Nick! Nick! He’s our man! If he can’t do it, no one can!”
“Go, Nick, go!”
“Eyes on the prize, McDaniel!”
“C’mon, three, don’t let us down!”
Even that was better because it was different. He never minded being called the number on the back of his jersey. People really respected you if you could throw that ball. But these guys who teasingly called him bartender didn’t know or respect him any more than the jerks who snapped their fingers for service.
He was worried that, one night, when he was inside one of them, they would say the thing he dreaded most: “Fuck me, Bartender.” Just the thought of it grossed him out.
If he hadn’t been a built six-foot-four, dark-haired hottie, he’d worry the only reason they came home with him was because of his occupation. Everybody wanted to say they’d once fucked a bartender, you know, right after closing. It was one of those stories that, for some reason, warranted a high five for the other guy, but Nick knew he couldn’t squeeze any respect out of it for himself.
In all reality, though, he’d never had problems with his confidence when it came to the question of who wanted him in their bed. When he finally allowed himself to stop picking up women (something he never much cared for) and started fucking the men he really wanted, his game didn’t change much. They came to him, bartender or no. He was the strong, silent type, and either gender pretty much flocked on their own.
That was probably the real reason he wasn’t ready for Ben.
About the Book
A Nick and Ben Story
Having explosive sex is easy for Nick and Ben—getting past their hang-ups and opening up to each other won’t be.
Handsome New York City bartender Nick might’ve left life—and his abusive, homophobic father—in West Virginia far behind, but even though he was a star quarterback in high school, he can’t outrun the effect those years had on him. He’s still not comfortable as a gay man, and he keeps his relationships short… as in a single night.
Hotel reviewer Ben is a hopeless romantic, but he can’t seem to find a guy who feels the same. After being cheated on again, he doesn’t expect to spend forever with Nick, but even their one-nighter doesn’t go off without a hitch. Ben falls asleep on Nick’s couch, and in the morning, they have to face their hookup that wasn’t…and the fact that there’s a connection between them whether they’re looking for one or not.
About the Author
Jane Darius is a writer and dreamer who wants to travel the world. If you try to talk to Jane when she’s writing, she will probably get scared like you just snuck up on her, as she sometimes gets lost in the world of her characters. Someone once told her that writing is like being alone in a dark room. She understands the sentiment but prefers to think of it as sitting by a warm fire while her characters tell her their stories. When she’s not writing fiction, Jane blogs and writes featured articles for a number of websites. In her spare time, she loves to watch movies, drink various beverages, and yell at her favorite TV shows. Writing makes her smile like nothing else does. You can follow Jane at http://janedarius.tumblr.com.