Earlier this month Romance Writers of America released it’s second collection of unpublished stories from hot authors to sample their fabulous talents. If you haven’t purchased the Second Chances: A Romance Writers of America Collection, one-click now!

Included in this collection are tales from J.Kenner, Christina Lauren, Liliana Hart, Alyssa Day, Rachel Hauck, Damon Suede, Marilyn Brant, Renee Luke, Kerri Carpenter, Tara Wyatt, Cici Coughlin, Cassandra Dean, Tina Ferraro, Ariella Moon, Brandi Willis Schreiber, Lizzie Shane, and Sharon Sobel.

Later this morning I’m meeting up with Damon Suede for coffee and wanted to share with you his tale in this collection, Twice Shy. A second chance story about a youthful crush, regrets, and loss.

Jerome and Wendell were best friends in school, then in one moment tragedy strikes and they are forever separated. Seventeen years later fate brings them back together. Life has moved on, years have passed, now more than ever they need each other the most. Can two friends find love after all this time? Older, wiser, and ready to find out what could be, will they take the leap?

When Damon crafts a story he infuses emotion, humor, and the perfect amount of chemistry. In three chapters his characters made me laugh, squeezed my heart, proved that love is everlasting and left me absolutely satisfied. In three chapters readers! Check out this excerpt and see for yourself. I’m off to meet up with Damon for coffee!

In this excerpt from the start of “Twice Shy,”Jerome (aka Jug) has bumped into Wince, his best friend from high school, 17 years after they got expelled; both men are now single dads with kids attending their alma mater.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________


Wince thumped Jerome’s shoulders and squeezed. “You look great, man. I swear you got blacker. And bigger, I think. You’re so jacked.”
“I do. I’m a…” Awkward. “I train people. At a gym. I’m a personal trainer.”
“Oh.” Doubly awkward. “I figured you’d be a doctor by now.”
“I am. I was.” Jerome studied the concrete. “Life got complicated.”
Wince blinked at him. “Truth.” He wasn’t leaving.
He could almost hear Olivia urging him to Talk to the man, Jerome. “My parents had some problems when I was doing my residency and I came home to help and I dunno…I never…”
Shrug, as if Wince wanted to put him at ease. “Well, you look amazing.” He crossed his arms. “I need pointers. Hey, you wanna grab some coffee?”
Yes. Jerome shook his head, wondering what Mrs. Wince might be like, and then wishing he hadn’t wondered. No reason to mention Olivia’s passing. He wasn’t hiding behind his wife’s memory, was he? Ugh. “I’m gonna be late.” He has a kid.
“Train?”
“The R.”
“I’ll walk you.” Wince herded him toward the corner, not actually bumping into him but steering him with his presence the way he had since they were in high school. He even walked with the same loose, dorky shuffle. Time travel again. They could have been headed to the library or to the principal’s office.
“Thanks.” Uneasy, Jerome tried to get Wince back on track. He just needed to survive another five minutes and they’d be done and over and nice to know you. “What about you?”
“Eesh.” Wince grimaced at the winter clouds and hunched forward as he walked, like the memory was too heavy to carry. “Yeah. Well, after I got expelled…so, juvie for a stretch. You knew that. After the wreck. Then a little prison for flavor. Got out, ditched my folks, and knocked around. A lotta drugs, because…reasons. I dunno. It was there. A couple sh*@#y tattoos I don’t remember getting. Then by accident, I fell into music. Bands, y’know.”
“You were in a band?”
“No! Well, I was, but mainly as scenery. Downtown Clowns. Pretty boy pop punk. I pretended to play guitar mostly. They wanted someone to freak the crowd and set fire to their pubes. You know me: professional troublemaker. That I’m good for. Right?”
Jerome chuckled. “And you applied.”
“Bulls@#t. I was recruited.” Wince smiled, big and bright, like they were still kids sneaking out to drink on the roof of his apartment building.
Back in school, how many times had he asked Jerome? What the hell am I good for?
Me. You’re good for me.
Wince faced him again and sighed. “Oh man. Fun gig. All that tail. Money eventually. Record label kept me out of court.”
They reached the corner and started snaking across a wide-open farmer’s market sprawled across a church plaza. In three minutes he’d be safe. “I can’t believe you were in a band. White boy rhythm and all.”
“Hand to God. And then we found a real guitarist and I sort of tagged along for kicks until our manager quit and I took over.”
Jerome choke-laughed. “Wait, what? You managed something? A band?” No way in hell.
“You could call it that. It just sorta happened.” Wince pushed his hand into his thick hair and scratched his scalp. “Made sure we got paid. Set up the venues. Fought with the label once we got signed. Kept the other guys clean-ish. Off hard stuff anyways. They figured I was crazy so they, I dunno, listened.”
They snaked past stalls piled with bread and onions, and fresh honey until they reached Union Square. “Never in a million years….”
“I know, right? But after my folks, what did I care? Nothing scared me. Nothing grossed me out. Turns out I’m a perfect stiff for pop bands. Now the label sends me out to break new talent. I’m respectable, Jug.”
“Jesus.”
“Tell me.” Wink. “But it pays great. How the hell else am I paying for private school in Manhattan?”
Right. “That’s amazing. You finally figured out what you were good for.”
You’re good for me.
Wince smiled again, and for ten seconds they were boys sitting on a window ledge, a hundred feet above the city, sorting out their escape plan.
Jerome could see Union Square up ahead and the entrance to the R train. Fright or flight, mofo. He wanted to run away and he wanted to let Wince kidnap him both.
“Here’s you.” Wince paused at the top of the subway stairs. His dirty gold hair gleaming in the cold sunlight, his joker’s grin teasing at the question that neither of them had the stones to ask.
Do you remember the two of us?
Jerome held out a shaky hand to shake.
Wince took it, but then pulled him into a quick hug, pressing their chests together for two impossible seconds. One breath, two breaths. And he still smelled great and felt better. And for two seconds, they were seventeen and anything was possible.
Once burned.
Wince muttered against his chest. “So great to see you, Jug.” And then he was gone, walking away before Jerome could respond or wipe his eyes.
Downstairs he stepped onto his train headed downtown. “Stand clear of the closing doors.”
_________________________________________________________________________________
Excerpted from Twice Shy by Damon Suede
published by RWA
Copyright 2016. Damon Suede. All Rights Reserved

Click on the cover to start reading this must read collection now.