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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Textual Attraction by K-lee Klein

Lewis has spent most of his adult life looking after his aging parents, and he recently ended a relationship with a domineering guy who’d been nothing but bad for him. Despite his less-than-stellar track record with men, he’s still hopeful there’s someone out there for him, but he’s learned to be careful with his heart. So he can’t figure out why a cryptic, gruff, drunken voice mail from a stranger named Jerry doesn’t make him hit the DELETE button. It’s clear the man’s got the wrong number. But when Jerry begins to text, Lewis finally responds, saying he’s not the guy Jerry wants. Jerry, however, is nothing if not persistent, and he keeps texting and teasing Lewis, even after he knows the truth.

Lewis is surprised when something sparks between them. Jerry turns out to be charming and witty, and they develop an odd friendship through text messages. When Jerry suggests they finally meet in person, Lewis is apprehensive, yet curious. Can he take the big step to meet Jerry face-to-face? More importantly, can he maybe even trust Jerry with his heart?

Genres: Gay/Contemporary
Heat Level: 2
Length: Extended Novella (34k words) 

Read a short excerpt...

...The first phone call came when Lewis Snell was in the tub. He’d been enjoying a favorite read on his iPad, with his phone close by in case something exciting happened to rock his world on Facebook or Twitter. He’d nearly dropped his precious pad in the bubbly water when the ringing started and the phone clattered incessantly against the marble countertop because no one—absolutely no one—ever called him. And really, who ever used their cellphone for real calls anyhow?

He ignored it the best he could, silently wondering if he’d ever set up the voicemail or if anyone actually left messages anymore either. Even his seventy-seven-year-old mother texted him at least twice a day, plus emailed him more than that, rather than picking up the phone. And speaking of her, Lewis didn’t remember changing his ringtone to “YMCA.” She’d obviously gotten hold of it and worked her magic on it—devious black magic in Lewis’ book.

Once he was perfectly wrinkled from the lavender bathwater, Lewis crawled carefully from the tub. He wrapped his favorite white, fresh-from-the-dryer, Egyptian cotton towel around his shoulders while he stared at the blinking message on his phone.

You have one missed call.

You have one voicemail.

Apparently, his mailbox had been set up after all, but whether Lewis knew the password would be revealed soon enough.

After grabbing up the phone and his tablet, Lewis padded sleepily from his en suite to his bedroom, quickly tugging on his plaid pajama pants and oversized Glee T-shirt to beat the chill of the room from settling in. He popped his evening meds, then tucked himself into bed with his iPad and phone at the ready.

Princess Peony, his beloved and bossy feline, soon joined him, nudging against his chin, until he made room for her on his lap, while he reclined against the leather headboard. She pawed and kneaded him into the best cat bed possible before purring herself to sleep with Lewis absently stroking her fur. In his other hand, he gripped his phone as if it were ready to explode.

“I’m acting ridiculous,” he said to absolutely no one. “It’s only a phone call. Doesn’t mean it has to be bad news or any news at all.” He’d seen his mother earlier, and he’d heard his father shuffling around the apartment, so Lewis’ two biggest fears were unfounded.

With the gentle slide of his finger, he arrived at the voicemail page. He didn’t recognize the number, but he threw caution to the wind, guessed his password in two shots, and pressed the play button.

“Hey, Tom. It’s Jerry…”

Tom and Jerry, really? Now all Lewis could picture was a feuding cat and mouse, and that made him feel old—old and extremely curious.

“I know we didn’t end on good terms last week, but I found that color-challenged knit cap of yours in between the cushions of my couch. I know you’re pretty attached to it, so I figured you’d want it back. You already have my number…or maybe you don’t. It’s 555-6722, so, you know, if you want it just give me a call or else I’ll just drop it in the lap of that homeless guy down on Seventh. Doesn’t matter to me. Yeah, okay…well, later…or not.”

Lewis quite liked the deep, raspy voice. It was one of very few kinks for him, surely obtained from television and movies with hot growly men in them. Kink aside, he found himself interested in the stranger in the message, despite the weird cartoon names and telltale slur he attributed to alcohol. The background noise was rife with loud music and glass bottles clinking together. Calling from a bar to return, or not return, an ugly cap didn’t seem the perfect way to go about talking to someone. But who was Lewis, who rarely used the phone at all, to judge?...

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