Life on Pause
by Erin McLellan
Release Date: October 30, 2017
About Life on Pause
Niles Longfellow is a nerd, and not the trendy type of nerd, either. He wears a historically accurate homesteader costume to work every day, has a total of one friend, and doesn’t know how to talk to guys. So when he gets a flat tire and the hottest hipster ever stops to help him, all Niles can think is that he’s wearing his stupid cowboy getup. Normally, Niles feels invisible to other men, but he’d take that invisibility any day over Rusty Adams seeing him in suede and fringe.
Rusty moved to Bison Hills to help his sister raise her daughter, and nothing is more important to him than that. He’s also fresh off a breakup, and isn’t prepared for anything complicated. But then he meets Niles. Rusty sees Niles as more than a clumsy, insecure guy in a costume. He sees a man who is funny, quirky, and unexpected.
Nothing about their connection is simple, though, especially the lies and insecurities between them. Niles doesn’t know if he can trust Rusty with his heart, and when Rusty’s sister decides to move away, Rusty doesn’t know if he can stay behind.
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An Excerpt from Life on Pause
Niles plopped down on his front porch and pulled out his cell phone. He had the worst gaydar in the history of gaydar. He wanted to call his best friend, Victor, to walk him through using Grindr again to see if he could find Rusty on there, but Victor was on a cruise right now. Well, he was constantly on a cruise because he worked on a cruise ship. Niles always thought of it as if Victor were on vacation, but he wasn’t. He was at work. Niles would try to catch him on Skype over the weekend, but that would not help with his current predicament—the mystery of Rusty’s sexuality.
And fuck! He had been in his stupid historical clothing like a total nerd! It was worse than those nightmares where he was naked in a crowd of people.
Rusty had been a total boner machine, too. Big and broad with chest hair peeking out from the V of his button-down. Surely his hair had been too styled for him to be straight: parted on the side and swept off his face with an undercut on the sides and back, like he was a playboy from the 1940s. But edgier.
Plus, Rusty had been wearing really nice shoes. Which, okay, Niles shouldn’t judge someone from appearance alone, but Rusty had also been super nice. Straight guys were never that kind to him. Not that straight men weren’t capable of being nice, but they didn’t go out of their way to make him feel comfortable. Normally, he could practically see them shouting No Homo! with their eyes, and Rusty hadn’t been like that.
Maybe Rusty had a horrible gaydar!
Oh hell, that would be worse.
Then there was the weird hand-holding thing, which had totally been Niles’s fault. He’d held on like a complete creeper. If Rusty were straight, he’d probably thought Niles was hitting on him! Nausea swept over him so quickly he had to put his head between his knees.
It was almost full dark now, and the August air smelled like grass and leaves and dirt and petrol. Like Oklahoma. He could barely make out the junk littering his parents’ front yard: rusted car parts, a broken tire swing, empty flowerpots, and memories. He should clean the yard or entice a pack of pickers to come and haul all the scrap away, but it was his parents’ stuff, and he wasn’t prepared to part with it yet. Months ago, he’d started to sort through their belongings inside the house. He’d cleaned and imagined loading up and carrying big, bursting garbage bags to the Goodwill. But he hadn’t been able to go through with it. Hell, he could hardly enter his parents’ bedroom. It still smelled like chewing tobacco and antiseptic Bag Balm.
But the least he could do was make the yard seem hospitable. String twinkle lights from the trees and weed his mom’s flowerbeds. Make it the type of place where a nice man might want to spend time with him. The type of place he wouldn’t be embarrassed to point out to a stranger on the side of the road.
Oh, geez. Pathetic much? One kind, burly bear and Niles was planning their freaking wedding. He needed to get a grip.
Or get laid.
But holy Betsy, that sounded like too much work. Driving to Tulsa, hanging out at a bar where he felt like the country bumpkin, and pretending to know what the hell everyone was talking about, and for what? The privilege of blowing some young professional who wouldn’t even kiss him? No, thanks. Palmy Lee Jones and fancy lube—that would have to do.
Niles pulled himself up off the porch and went inside to change out of his work outfit. The pants bore patches of road filth, and he was going to have to handwash them, which served him right for buying authentic historical clothing.
Everything would be easier if he weren’t such a fucking nerd.
While he was changing in his childhood bedroom—which he should admit was just his adult bedroom—he thought back to Denny the Douche-canoe. His hurt feelings seemed almost silly now. The sick drop of shame. The sting of tears in his eyes at being made the butt of yet another joke. Inconsequential—the lot of ’em.
Because nothing, absolutely nothing, could compare to the mortification of a man as hot as Rusty seeing him in fringe.
Niles threw his dirty clothes on the floor and fell back onto his bed in his briefs. His gaze settled on the framed picture of his parents on his bedside table.
His mom, with her pale skin and light eyes and curly hair—Irish, through and through—and his dad, all commanding in full Cheyenne and Arapaho regalia before a Fancy Dance competition. They had been such beautiful people. Strong and sturdy and so young in the picture. Younger than him.
Niles had been a surprise. “The best surprise,” his mom used to say. She’d been almost forty when he was born, and his dad only a couple of years younger. His parents had been told a baby wasn’t in the cards.
He’d always worried he wasn’t the son they’d hoped for. Dreamed of. But Mom had been perfectly willing to smack that notion out of his head. When they found out he was gay—not like he’d hidden it well—neither had batted an eyelash, and his dad had given him a long lecture on the history of the Two-Spirit. So yeah, he was pretty lucky. His parents—his mom, now gone, and his dad, alive but gone in a totally different way—had been great.
But Niles, as much as he loved them, didn’t want to see them right now. He tipped the picture over, opened his toy drawer, and grabbed the lube.
A Note from Erin McLellan
Welcome to the Life on Pause blog tour! Follow along as I stop off at several blogs this week to learn more about this small town m/m romance, which follows a nerdy museum worker and a high school choir teacher as they watch way too much sci-fi on Netflix, wear ridiculous historical costumes, and fall in love.
Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a $20 Riptide Publishing gift card!
About Erin McLellan
Erin McLellan writes contemporary romance, often set in the South or Midwest—particularly Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas—with characters that are complex, good-hearted, and sometimes a little quirky. Erin likes her stories to have a sexy spark and a happily ever after.
Erin has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in library and information studies from the University of Oklahoma. She has always enjoyed writing, but becoming a librarian and meeting enthusiastic romance readers helped her find her own writing passion. Now Erin cheerfully writes romance with characters across the LGBTQIA spectrum. A former public librarian, she still enjoys being surrounded by books and readers, but Erin hopes to find her stories on the shelves as well.
Originally from Oklahoma, she currently lives in Alaska with her husband, and spends her time dreaming up love stories set in the Great Plains. She is a lover of chocolate, college sports, antiquing, Dr Pepper, and binge-worthy TV shows.
Connect with Erin
To celebrate the release of Life on Pause, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 4, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
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