TITLE: Signs of Desire
SERIES: Desires Entwined
AUTHOR: Tempeste O’Riley
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
LENGTH: 200 Pages
RELEASE DATE: November 30, 2015
BLURB: Desires Entwined: Book Four
Simon Tyler knows his job as a gay romance author makes his lack of faith in love more than a little ironic, but he’s tired of being used for his wallet. When a night out turns into a matchmaking scheme orchestrated by his best friends, Simon’s not thrilled, but since he’s not the target and he’s sworn off happily-ever-after anyway, he goes along with it… until he meets Adrian, the object of their efforts, and finds perhaps he hasn’t given up on love after all.
Professor Adrian Keys has tried to date Hearing men before, but being Deaf himself, he’s never had any success at making a connection. After his friends con him into going out and Adrian realizes it’s all an elaborate plan to set him up, he braces for yet another failure, only to discover there is a spark—except it’s not with the man his friends had in mind, but with Simon Tyler instead.
Not all their friends have found a way past their romantic failures, but Simon and Adrian might be on the path to happily-ever-after.
A tap to his shoulder pulled Adrian out of his musings. He turned and realized the server was back with their dinners and blushed at how entranced he’d been. He didn’t usually stare, hating when others did that to him. “Sorry.”
“No sorrys.” Chase hugged Adrian, then dug into his bowl of chicken and dumplings.
Simon waved to get Adrian’s attention and smiled when he looked up from his country-fried steak and mashed potatoes with white gravy. “Chase said you were his teacher before and are now a friend.” Adrian nodded. “How’d he convince you to go out with his skinny butt?”
Heat infused Adrian’s face as he laughed. “Chase was very sweet and asked nicely.”
“I love your laugh, by the way. It’s deep like your voice, kind of carefree.” Simon looked slightly sad. Adrian knew he’d had a hard time lately. Chase said he’d been cheated on a year ago and had refused to date since. Adrian knew the feeling, though he pushed the thought away, hoping not to dwell on why he was alone.
He ducked his head slightly. “Thanks? I don’t know how anyone sounds, even myself, so it’s always weird to get comments like that.”
“I said the same when we went out,” Chase commented. “But don’t let him fool you. He’s an excellent teacher and speaks in all his classes. He knows his voice is good.”
“No, I know it’s clear enough for you to understand. That’s something I work hard to make true, but I have never heard my voice, so I have no idea how I sound. And well…. Chase was the first person to ever say something like that.”
He worked regularly with various computer programs to improve and maintain his speech, knowing if he didn’t it could cost him his position at the college. He had always struggled to make sure he spoke well for Hearing people, considering his family’s opinion of his Deafness. His dad knew sign language, but his mom refused to learn, insisting he learn to be “normal.” Adrian had always thought that was extremely unfair, especially as a child. Considering his hatred of being dependent on others for his communication, he was thankful he could read lips and speak as well as he did.
“Then you know the wrong people, ’cause he’s right.” Simon nodded to emphasize his point, confusing Adrian more. Why would he be so determined with his compliments?
Shrugging off his curiosity, Adrian tried to push past the topic. “What do you do?”
Simon’s eyes tightened at the edges slightly, his shoulders drooping a little more. “I’m a writer.”
“He’s a romance author, and a damn good one,” Jamie, or James as he knew the guy’s actual name was, said. Chase talked about his best friend often, though this was the first they’d met. “Don’t let him talk down about what he does.”
“James, hush. He’s not interested in what kind of writing I do.”
“Yes, I am. I love to read. Would I know any of your work?” Adrian didn’t have a large collection of romances, but he had read some. He couldn’t think of any authors named Simon, though.
“You’re an author?” Grayson asked, turning to join their conversation.
The nod seemed reluctant, but the smile on Simon’s face, while small, looked genuine. “Yeah, I write under the name Tyler Jacobs, a pseudonym, but I have a few books out. But, um, I thought we were trying to get to know Adrian and Grayson, not more about boring ol’ me.”
Adrian looked to Grayson and back, then shrugged. “I thought it was so we could all get to know each other.”
“Actually, I think Chase was trying to play matchmaker,” Rhys said, shoving Chase playfully.
“Matchmaker?” Adrian asked. Whom was he trying to set up with whom? And why?
Chase scowled and swatted Rhys. “I was hoping to introduce a few new friends and hoped everyone got on well, brat.” Chase reached out and patted Adrian’s hand, confusing him further. “I swear, I’m not trying to push you if you don’t want to date anyone right now.”
“Just who were you hoping to match up?” Dale asked, smirking as he stared at Chase.
Honestly, Adrian wanted to know that as well. It was obvious Chase meant to fix him up with one of his other friends, but he couldn’t imagine which one. James was married, Chase was happily with Rhys, and he didn’t know Simon, Dale, or Grayson beyond what he’d learned of them since he’d arrived, really.
Only two of the people at the table even interested him, truth be told, but he couldn’t figure out why anyone would try to set him up with either man. In Adrian’s experience, most Hearing people didn’t overly like dealing with having a Deaf partner. His few exes certainly hadn’t, no matter what he did to seem more “normal.”
Chase shook his head, clamping his lips closed as he glared at Rhys.
“Chase?” Adrian said and signed. “Who were you hoping to set me up with and why?”
Their eyes locked for a few moments before Chase looked away, his shoulders drooping. After a moment, Chase turned back to face Adrian and replied, “Grayson. He’s in IT, like you and I are, he’s super loyal and really cute in that quiet reserved-guy kind of way.”
“Grayson?” Well, he was handsome and seemed nice, if a little stoic. Adrian didn’t know how to feel about Chase trying to set him up with one of his friends, though. “I can get my own dates, Chase.”
“I know that. It…. Grayson is really nice, and I’d love to see Rhys’s buddy happy. And I like you, but we’re not right for each other, either. I thought of you two, though. You’d make a beautiful couple. His Native American features and your slightly Asian ones….”
He couldn’t help it, Adrian chuckled, amused at Chase’s logic. The man was sweet and a total flirt, but it seemed he was a bit of a ditz when it came to understanding his friends. Chase frowned, folding his arms across his chest as he stared at Adrian—more a glare really. “Sorry, sorry.”
Quickly putting in his eye drops, he took one last look at himself before he turned away and padded back into his room. There he dumped his dirty clothes into the hamper bag, then scooped the whole thing up. He made it as far as sorting and loading the clothes into the washer before Dale found him.
“What are you doing?”
Simon looked up from adding the soap pod, curious what Dale thought he was doing because it was perfectly obvious he was doing laundry. “It’s a strange thing we humans do once in a while called washing clothes.” Cocking his head to the side and widening his eyes, he added, “Haven’t you ever heard of it?”
“Ass!” Dale lasted to the count of two before he started giggling. “Fine, I know what you’re doing,” he managed once they both calmed and caught their breath. “But why? You’re supposed to be in the other room getting your butt kicked on the PlayStation!”
“You were playing, and I realized my dirty clothes were overflowing. Didn’t think you’d even notice, honestly. So who won?” he asked as they reentered the living room and settled on the floor just in front of the couch. Simon couldn’t explain it, but when playing video games, he always sat on the floor.
“I did, of course. Are you done with being the happy homemaker now? Can we kill shit now?”
“Always so eloquent, Dale. Yeah, we can. Oh hey, do you have to be back at the clinic tonight?” Simon knew how Dale was about the animals at his vet clinic. He rotated shifts with his vet techs so the animals staying overnight were never alone too long.
“Nope. I’m off tonight and tomorrow night.” Dale grinned wide. “So there’s no getting out of games or dancing.”
“Actually,” Simon started and looked away, more nervous than he would have expected. “I, um… I have a date tomorrow night.”
“Like a date, date? Like as in a ‘going out with a real boy’ kind of date?”
“Your tone is not lost on me, dickhead.” He nudged Dale hard with his shoulder as he got up to switch out the game disk. “Yes, like a real date with a sweet guy.”
Dale didn’t say anything, and when Simon turned to go back to his spot beside his friend, he paused at the annoying sight before him. Dale was gaping, his eyes wide. “Who are you going out with, and why didn’t I know already?” he snapped.
“Adrian. He asked me the other night when Chase dragged me over to his place for dinner. Honestly, I figured Chase would have told you as I know he heard. He is so not subtle in his matchmaking.”
The snort from Dale made Simon smile. “Yeah, bat to the head would be about as subtle as Chase, but seriously? You’re going out with the Deaf guy Chase dated?” Dale’s brows scrunched up as he frowned. “Wait, isn’t that like against the friend code or something? No dating your friends’ exes?”
“First off, Adrian is not ‘the Deaf guy.’ Adrian happens to be Deaf, but that’s not all there is to him!”
“Sorry.” Dale raised his hands in surrender. “Sorry. I didn’t mean it the way it came out. You know me and my mouth.”
“Yeah, okay, but be nice. Oh, and secondly, yes, I’m going out with Adrian. Since Chase is who set up the dinner-party-date thing, I’m pretty sure he isn’t going to be weird about it. And really, what are we? Fifteen-year-old girls or something? I didn’t poach, and they didn’t really even date!”
“Wow, you must really like this guy if you’re being so defensive already. And stop scowling at me. I think it’s a good thing, as long as he’s really as nice as Chase thinks he is.”
Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud pansexual genderfluid whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what she couldn’t–defy the hate and come out. He has been her hero ever since.
Tempe is a hopeless romantic that loves strong relationships and happily-ever-afters. Though new to writing M/M, she has done many things in her life, though writing has always drawn her back–no matter what else life has thrown her way. She counts her friends, family, and Muse as her greatest blessings in life. She lives in Wisconsin with her children, reading, writing, and enjoying life.
Tempe is also a proud PAN member of Romance Writers of America®, Rainbow Romance Writers, and WisRWA. Learn more about Tempeste and her writing at http://tempesteoriley.com.
Winner’s Prize: $25 Dreamspinner Press Gift Card
Runner Up’s prize: An ebook from Tempeste’s backlist