Book Title: The Art of Living
Author: Abrianna Denae
Cover Artist: Pretty in Ink Creations
Release Date: June 10, 2021
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Tropes: Single dad, hurt/comfort, office romance, slow burn
Themes: Trust, meddling family
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 35 000 words/ 90 pages
It is a standalone book, though the reader may be interested in The Gift of Believing, a companion book featuring the MC’s son: mybook.to/GoB
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Buy Links – Available for Pre-Order
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Letting go is the hardest thing a person can do…
Robert Harper has spent the past seventeen years living for his son. He doesn’t know who he is if he’s not being a caregiver and protector all rolled into one.
Niall Ross is finally ready to make a life of his own. After years spent making sure his younger brother had everything he needed, it’s time for Niall to discover who he is.
All it takes is one glance across a crowded meeting room for the men to feel a connection, but Robert is terrified his life is too complicated for the other man. Luckily, Niall has patience in abundance. With a little help from Robert’s meddling family, the two begin a tentative relationship.
Just as they’re finding their footing, all of Robert’s worst fears come to life and he falters under the pressure. Niall takes the challenge to show Robert that he’s a safe place to lean on, but when his own life begins to unravel, he places his heart in Robert’s hands. When two independent men are forced to trust each other will the love win out, or will vulnerability and fear cause them to lose the best thing they didn’t even know they had.
Ice cream for dinner is the best grown-up way to celebrate all the good changes in my life. I find a cute little old-fashioned ice cream parlor in a shopping center about fifteen minutes from my house.
I probably don’t need the sugar, but after weeks of interviews, packing, moving, and general life shit, I deserve it.
I order two scoops of cherries jubilee and as I turn to find somewhere to sit, I crash into someone. “Shit,” I exclaim as my lovely, hard-earned ice cream drops to the floor.
“Oh my God,” the person I ran into says. “I am so sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going and I can buy you another one. I’m so sorry, I really am, I swear I didn’t see you there-”
“Breathe, Pres,” someone else says.
I look up from the mess at my feet to the two kids in front of me. One of them looks like he’s about ready to cry, his blue eyes are shiny with what must be tears. The other is speaking to him in soft, gentle tones and holding his hands, trying to soothe him.
“It’s okay,” I tell them. “Accidents happen. A little mess can get cleaned up, nobody got hurt and that’s the important thing.”
“I really am sorry,” he says again. “Let us buy you more?”
I want to protest, but if it’ll make the kid feel better, I’ll let him. “You don’t have to, but the thought is appreciated.”
“Go sit down,” his friend says, “I’ll get everything taken care of.”
By this point, one of the employees has come over to clean up the mess and the few people sitting at tables are back to minding their own business.
“We really are sorry,” the other boy says after his friend walks off to sit down.
“No harm done.” We step up to the counter and I let the boy order theirs first. “Is he going to be okay?”
He gives me a small smile, “Yeah, he will, he’s just a bit shaken up. He gets…anxious easily, I guess.”
When we get to the cash register I hand over my card.
“You were supposed to let us pay!”
“It’s fine, my treat, please.”
“You’re welcome. You can pay it forward in some other way.”
“We will.” He gives me a smile and heads over to his friend.
I find my own table and watch them interact. The dark-haired kid I was talking to in line grabs the other one’s hand and the way they smile and lean toward each other tells me there’s more to their relationship.
It makes me happy to see them so comfortable in their own skin. I would have loved to have what they do when I was their age.
Turning away from them, I focus on my own ice cream. The flavor bursts across my tongue and I have to hold back a moan. To some, having ice cream for dinner, alone to boot, might seem like the loneliest mini-celebration ever, but for me, it’s perfect.
I spent so long trying to make sure my brother was taken care of, and that he understood how much I cared and valued his accomplishments, teaching him that it’s the little things that matter just as much as the big ones. Now I’m on my own, and I’m okay with making my own celebrations memorable in the little ways that I enjoy. As long as they bring me happiness, who cares how small it is?
The two teens leave before I do. I watch as the blond, the one who ran into me, takes his boyfriend’s backpack. The smile that lights up on the brunet’s face makes my heart ache with a longing I haven’t felt in a very long time.
Maybe it’s because the dark hair and eyes remind me of Robert, maybe it’s because they have what I would have killed for at that age, or maybe it’s something else entirely.
About the Author
Abrianna Denae is a twenty-four-year-old author living in Northern California. An English major, she has always had a passion for writing.
Deciding to sit down and write one of the many stories that had plagued her mind for years was the easy part—finding the time to do it was a different story.
Caffeine is her best friend, and sleep is her worst enemy.
A lover of books that make the reader feel something, she tries to incorporate as much of her real-world views and feelings into her stories as she can.
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