Title: Center of Gravity
Author: Neve Wilder
Series: Nook Island #1
Release date: October 4, 2018
Cover artist: Jay Aheer @ Simply Defined Art
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Tropes: age gap, slow burn, hurt/comfort
Length: approx. 98,000 words
When life comes apart at the seams, love is the only thread that can repair it.
Accountant Rob Macomb has a stable job that he’s good at and… that’s about it. A year of nothing but heartache leaves him seeking refuge from loneliness and grief behind spreadsheets, punishing daily runs, and the occasional anonymous tryst. He wants only to bury the past and focus on his career, but he has one last task to complete: pack up his parent’s quaint beachside house and put it on the market.
Alex Andrews is a budding artist with a penchant for Converse, Cracker Jack, and piercings. Family turmoil sidelines his dreams of finishing art school and building a career in three-dimensional design, and now he’s doing whatever he can to keep everyone afloat.
When Alex shows up as a part of the moving crew hired to help Rob clean out the house, what should be a simple move becomes far more complex. Because it’s not the first time they’ve met, and their last encounter was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
The attraction between them is undeniable and intense, but Rob’s hell-bent on pushing everyone away, and Alex is on the verge of spinning out of control. Can a grumpy accountant and a bootstrapping artist find their center of gravity together, or are they on a collision course to heartbreak?
*An emotionally-charged, slow burn m/m romance featuring an age gap, hurt/comfort themes, and a hard-won happily ever after. This is the standalone first in the Nook Island, Georgia series.*
In this excerpt, Rob is on the phone arguing with his sister, who oh-so-helpfully set up the impending move with a company called College Buffs Hauling Stuff. Rob is not pleased to begin with. As the truck arrives and the two movers get out, Rob has a moment of awkward realization:
Another door slammed and a guy with short, dark hair ambled around the front of the truck. Cracker Jack opened the door and leaned back inside, soon emerging with a silver clipboard in one hand that he checked before saying something to his coworker. In contrast to the stupid caricature on the side of the truck, Cracker Jack met all the qualifications of college buff from what I could see of his profile. He was an endless summer kind of golden blond, and lean, a bit of leftover sunburn on his cheeks laying over the warm, cabana boy tan beneath. He looked as if he should be holding the handle of a pool net rather than the dolly he deposited at the front gate. “Two Men and a Truck would have worked just fine. Or 1-800-Junk,” I argued.
“The Buffs get five stars on Yelp. Don’t be a stick in the mud,” she replied, knowing it’d get me right in the accountant’s tender spot.
Cracker Jack glanced up at the front door of the house and for the first time I saw his face in full, the dangerously carved cheekbones, the sensually bowed mouth, a bit of silver—incongruous against the golden backdrop of his face—ringed through his lower lip. I froze, first trying to place him, then in frazzled denial. But it was too late: my gut already knew and had twisted up like a pretzel. The memory came in saturated fragments that exploded behind my eyelids.
I narrowly missed being speared by the coat hook as my shoulder slammed shut the faux wood door of the stall. I fumbled the lock with one hand, pulled him to me with the other, fingers spanning and raking the damp sheen of sweat gathered low on his back. A hot wash of breath across my throat, his lips dragging over the curve of my jaw, the tickle of his lip ring against my stubble. He smiled against my teeth and murmured, “A guy who knows what he wants. I like it.”
I felt the color fleeing my face in humiliating mutiny as Cracker Jack stared at the door. I took a backward step. Summer droned on about how she’d just been picking the best option and it was hard to do from far away, that she’d not wanted to interrupt me with something so insignificant during tax season and on and on and on, but it hardly registered.
A rush of cool air over my cock—how had he gotten my zipper undone so fast?—and then the warmth of his touch. The brush of his thumb over my crown. “Fuck, you’re already slick,” he groaned, biting his lip. His forehead bumped my cheek as he looked down at his hand, watching as he stroked me. He paused long enough to spit on his palm then stroked faster, the noise obscene cutting through the piped in music of the club, but the feel of him on me was pure velvet bliss. When I reached for his waistband, he brushed my hand away. “Not yet. I like to concentrate. I’ll get mine in a minute.” He licked at the side of my neck where my pulse was hammering, then tightened his fingers around my shaft, pulling a moan from me. I just wanted him to shut up. Just wanted him to shut up and get me off.
Except he never got his.
And I couldn’t remember his name.
About the author:
Neve Wilder lives in the dirty South, where the summers are hot and the winters are...sometimes cold. She is a mom to three rambunctious weebeasts who have joined forces in a mission to carpet the family home with toys and small items that really suck to step on at six in the morning.
She reads promiscuously, across multiple genres, but her favorite stories always contain an element of romance. Incidentally, this is also what she likes to write. Slow-burners with delicious tension? Yes. Whiplash-inducing page-turners, also yes. Down and dirty scorchers? Yes. And every flavor in between.
She believes David Bowie was the sexiest musician to ever live, and she's always game to nerd out on anything from music to writing.
And finally, she believes that love conquers all. Except the heat index in July. Nothing can conquer that bastard.