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(A Less Is More Story)

M/M, Contemporary Erotic Romance
[Coming September 19, 2024 / 3,300 Words]

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With the last of his law school exams behind him, Simon should be in a celebratory mood. Instead, he's a jittery wreck, caught up in wondering what comes next and not at all enjoying the noisy party around him. At least Erik is here. Though not precisely Simon's boyfriend, Erik always has excellent—and intimate—ideas for keeping him grounded.

Series: Less Is More
Breathless: A Less Is More Story Sleepless: A Less Is More Story Guileless: A Less Is More Story Restless: A Less Is More Story


The couch beneath Simon gives an alarming creak when Erik thumps down beside him, claiming the center cushion and slumping easily into his space. Simon doesn't mind. It's not his couch, and he doesn't particularly care if it gives out under the weight of all the people—five and counting—crammed onto the battered old cushions. Having Erik close feels far more important than worrying about the structural integrity of an old piece of furniture that he's pretty sure was originally salvaged off a curb somewhere.

His not-quite-boyfriend's presence sets off a warm pulse in Simon's chest. It's not enough to calm the whirlwind of thoughts and anxieties, but the arm Erik drapes across his shoulders makes him feel better just the same.

"You okay?" Erik's nose bumps against Simon's jaw as he ducks low to put the question directly in Simon's ear, raising his voice to be heard over the host's chaotic playlist.

As parties go, there's nothing special about this one. It's the kind of casual, noisy jumble that would normally be perfect to let Simon relax and lower his guard. The house belongs to some of his closest friends. Simon knows—and even likes—more than half the people here. If he could get out of his own head enough to enjoy his surroundings, he might have a damn good time.

Instead, Simon offers up a sheepish grimace and takes a sip of his root beer, listening to the ice clink in the glass.

He feels a little guilty for insisting it's Erik's turn to play sober cab, considering Simon cut himself off after one drink left him too on-edge for another. He should probably tell Erik to go ahead and get himself a beer. Simon's not going to risk mixing more alcohol with the anxious headspace he's got going on tonight.

"That bad, huh?" Erik kisses his cheek and tousles his hair, probably making an irretrievable mess of the dark strands. Simon knows he needs a haircut. It's not fair how much Erik enjoys reminding him of this point by mussing up his pathetic attempts at styling.

"Sorry." Simon slouches into Erik's impossibly broad chest instead of trying to smooth the riot back down again. He feels gangly and clumsy and full of restless energy compared to Erik's solid, steady presence. And god, he hates feeling like this—lost and anxious and off his game—when surely he should be elated.

His last exam is over. He's done with law school. He's got a job lined up, assuming he passes the Bar, which is a daunting prospect but not one he needs to think about tonight. The most difficult thing he's ever done in his life, and it's finished, and in a matter of weeks he'll have the diploma to prove it.

When he risks a glance upward, he finds uncomplicated affection written across Erik's handsome face, softening his usually sharp features into something protective and sweet.

"You don't need to apologize." Erik steals the soda out of Simon's hand and takes a long drink, then arches an eyebrow when he realizes it's just soda. "Would you rather go home? We don't have to stay if you're not having a good time."

"No." Simon reclaims his root beer and drains it, then tips an ice cube into his mouth and sucks on it between words. "I'd be completely miserable at home tonight."

"Not to be harsh, but you look completely miserable now." Erik is teasing, but there's a hint of unmistakable worry furrowing the very center of his brow.

Simon glances around and is relieved to see that no one else is paying any attention to him. Certainly no one seems to be offended that he's been sulking in a particularly dim corner of an otherwise raucous party, ignoring his friends and classmates as they celebrate the end of a stressful year. Even Erik carries himself with the kind of sprawling relief that comes with finishing his second year of law school—one more to go, unlike Simon—and a summer of relative respite ahead, regardless of the internship Erik's got lined up.

Simon doesn't realize his leg is jiggling up and down, a twitchy habit he usually manages to suppress, until Erik's heavy palm covers his knee. He knows from experience that the touch is intended as support, not rebuke, and he settles beneath the gentle curl of Erik's fingers.

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Restless (A Less Is More Story)
Cover design by Yolande Kleinn
ISBN 978-1-946316-49-3
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