The Falling series
For Ty Allen, a trip to Los Angeles for a comic book collectors convention with his friends is the perfect place for the Buffalo based artist to hunt down rare issues for his collection, and take a much needed break. When he crashes through a vendor booth and is saved from bodily injury by a man dressed as a popular comic book character, the trip takes an intriguing turn. One look into the dark eyes and sexy smile of the masked man with the lightning fast reflexes, and Ty wants to learn more.
Rock musician Craig Simms spends his spare time in a mask and a cape, bringing happiness to sick children in LA through his foundation. When he dives in to rescue Ty from a close call with the concrete floor, he ends up wrapped around the cutest guy he’s ever seen. Drawn to Ty’s friendly, sweet nature, he doesn't want their interaction to end.
A whirlwind weekend of chemistry and connection has them free falling into something bigger than they'd anticipated. Ty is like a perfect melody for Craig’s weary heart, and for Ty, Craig shifts every experience from muted tones to vibrant hues. But when the weekend ends, does what happens at the comic convention stay at the comic convention, or can they find a way to fit into each other's universes?
Falling Faster was originally part of the Love Is All, vol. 3 anthology, and has since been expanded.
READ AN EXCERPT
Ty stood when Craig entered the room. His gaze lingered on Craig’s face before journeying to his black T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, then back again. He sauntered closer, smiling, and closed the distance between them. "I like your tattoo."
Craig glanced at his left forearm. The tattoo of a rose and thorns interwoven with music notes wrapped around the length from his wrist to his elbow. He held still as Ty traced a finger along the stem. The touch was like sparks of electricity. A live wire that only increased in strength when Ty’s chocolate gaze collided with Craig’s. "I got it when I was eighteen. Creating music is beautiful, but it can be painful too."
Light came into Ty’s eyes. "You said you were a musician. What do you play?"
"Guitar, piano, and the drums."
"So, what kind of musician are you? Are you in a band, or something else?"
"Right now, I’m mainly a songwriter for other artists. But I moved out here with dreams of being a rock star."
Ty trailed his fingers back and forth along the sensitive line of skin. He was close enough for Craig to see the lighter shade of caramel in his eyes. "I’m impressed. A superhero and a rock star. This is my lucky day."
The urge to touch was too strong to ignore. Craig laid his hand over Ty’s, locking them together. "I feel like the lucky one."
Ty sucked in a breath. "You don’t know anything about me yet."
"Not true." He ticked each reason off on his fingers. "I know you were nice enough to stick around and help clean up the display table. You didn’t have to do that. And you’re a good friend because you made sure your buddy wouldn’t miss out on something that obviously meant a lot to him. Slater also told me that you’re helping him bring his comic book idea to life. And I know you’re an artist from Buffalo. That’s a good start."
Laughing, Ty nodded. "All right." Then his gaze tracked to Craig’s other tattoo, peeking from beneath the shirtsleeve on his right bicep. "Can I look?"
Craig inwardly cringed, but raised his sleeve to reveal the large smiling purple narwhale wearing a blue and yellow striped necktie.
Ty’s brows shot up, then narrowed as he studied the ink. "Whoa. That’s… not at all what I was expecting."
"Me either, when I woke up and found it on my arm. I got it after a show, years ago, on my first tour. I was drunk, wasted to the point that I don’t remember anything after stumbling through the tattoo parlor’s doors with my band. They shouldn’t have given me anything in that condition. I hate it, and occasionally think about getting it removed or covered, but it’s been an effective reminder to never let myself get in that state again. Not that I’m in that same place anymore. That hasn’t happened in years."
With a gentle smile, Ty stroked the narwhale’s horn. "I think it’s cute."
"I guess I can live with cute."
"Wait." Ty latched on to his forearm and his fingers curled into Craig’s skin. Surprise skipped over his features. "Band? On tour? Wasted? You really are a rock star, aren’t you?"
Discomfort at the label rolled through him. Craig shook his head. "Not the star part so much. I’ve been in several bands, and some of them have had success, some more so than others. But these days, I really am more of a songwriter. I play some shows here and there, but I’m trying to get away from touring."
"That’s… wow. I don’t know what to say. You’re probably one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met." Ty released his hold and stepped back. He fidgeted with the strap on his bag. "My life will seem boring compared to yours."
"I sincerely doubt it." Voices in the hall reminded him that they weren’t alone. "Let’s get out of here. We need to replace that sketchbook."
"Craig. Really, you don’t have to do that."
"I insist. If someone spilled something all over my guitar, or my piano… Hell, I’ve spilled coffee and beer on lyrics I’m writing, so I know what it’s like to have your tools messed with." He didn’t know if he’d ever be able to erase from his mind the disappointed, deflated look that had crossed Ty’s face when he’d held the ruined sketchbook. "Let me do this."
Ty cocked his head to the side and finally nodded. Then he crossed his arms over his chest and raised a brow. "All right. But only if I get to buy you a coffee to replace the one that spilled."
Surprise surged across Ty’s features and a laugh sputtered from his lips. "That was quick. I thought I’d have a fight on my hands."
Craig closed the distance between them and laid his hand over Ty’s heart. "I don’t think you’d ever have to work hard to convince me to spend time with you."
The laugh and smile faded as Ty’s eyes widened. He seemed genuinely stunned. "Oh."
Craig wondered if Ty would wear the same expression after they’d kissed. He was sure Ty’s kiss would stagger him. "Let’s go. My regular car isn’t anywhere as cool as the Batmobile."
"As long as it runs, that’s all that matters."
Ty stayed close as Craig led the way outside. His black Corvette had over one hundred thousand miles, and had seen better days.
He opened the door for Ty, then hurried to climb in the other side. "There’s an art supply store across the street from my favorite guitar shop."
As they drove, Ty told him about the comic book series he and Slater were working on. The way he lit up from within was beautiful.
While they were in the store, strolling the aisles, Craig listened, enrapt as Ty taught him about paper types and the uses of the different pencils, and pointed out the pros and cons of various mediums. The fascination had nothing to do with the items—although he’d been curious—and everything to do with the man himself. Ty was sparkling, like sunlight on water or a shooting star.
He selected a sketchbook nearly identical to the ruined one in his bag, then pulled Craig to a small cafe two shops down.
They settled at an outside table, protected from the sun by a rainbow-striped umbrella.
Craig wrapped his hands around his cup of iced coffee. "What do you think you’ll draw first in the new book?"
"Probably the scene I sketched this morning. It’s one for the series with Slater."
"I’d love to see some of your art."
Ty pulled out his phone, hit a few icons, then held it out. "Here."
Picture after picture revealed the talent that flowed from Ty’s fingers. There were dozens of drawings of superheroes, fiery dragons, calm seascapes, mythological creatures, and portraits of several people. Craig recognized Slater and Noah among the group. "These are unreal. You’re really talented."
"I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I never thought about making it into a career until a few years ago. My twenty-fifth birthday was an eye-opening, mini life crisis moment."
"You should definitely be drawing." He handed Ty the phone.
Ty set it on the table and withdrew a pencil from his bag along with the fresh sketchbook. He tapped the pencil against the paper a few times then began making fast, faint lines, glancing at Craig every few strokes. "I’m still working at a regular office job, handling home and auto insurance claims, but I shifted from full to part time last year. I wanted more time to spend on my art."
"Not yet, but someday, it will be." His hand moved quickly over the page. Craig glimpsed wavy hair similar to his own.
Metal scraped over concrete as he moved his chair beside Ty’s. "You sound like someone who has plans."
"I do. Big dreams." Determination poured out of his posture and for a moment, his eyes glinted with defiance quickly banked. "I got tired of waiting to chase them."
"Sounds like the change you mentioned earlier."
With a sigh, Ty stopped sketching and lifted his coffee. "A lot has changed for me, compared to how I was a few years ago. In addition to switching to part time, I had to downsize a lot. Make sacrifices, some easy, some not. This is the first vacation I’ve taken in three years. Instead of having my own place, I’m sharing a house with two friends."
"Slater and Noah?"
Ty shook his head, smiled, and resumed sketching. "With how often I’m over there, it seems like I’m living with them, but no. Guys I grew up with. It’s not bad. I’m much happier than I used to be."
"Being happy is the most important thing." Craig leaned back in his chair as he watched his own likeness form on the page. Memories surfaced of the early days in the city with his friends. "I moved out here at nineteen with my three friends, and money was so tight, we were scrounging for change, working whatever jobs we could around band practices and gigs. Bartender, bike messenger, you name it, I did it. All of the sacrifices were worth it."
"Are your friends still here?"
"Only one out of the three. Cody’s dad got sick early on and he went back home to help out. Dan followed two years later. Patrick, the last member of our group, is still here. He’s a studio musician. I see him as often as our schedules allow. The last time we were all together was back in Buffalo at Christmas. We had a jam session and it was like no time had passed at all."
"You sound a little wistful."
"I miss them, and how we all were together, but I think we ended up where we were supposed to be." Lately, he’d been missing them more and more.
Ty’s pencil stilled and then he signed his name with a flourish and tore the page from the book. "Here."
"Wow." Craig studied the sketch. He looked like himself, but kinder maybe. And definitely happier. Was that how Ty saw him?
"Can I keep it?"
The corners of Ty’s lip lifted into a smile. He slid his supplies into his bag. "Of course."
Craig tucked the paper under his sunglasses and keys. A thrill skipped through him when Ty’s fingers brushed along his hand. The fingers flexed and shifted, exploring the back of Craig’s hand and then his palm and fingers. He didn’t seem fazed by the callouses on Craig’s fingertips, earned from years of playing guitar. The light touches raised nerve endings in their wake. Little strikes of lightning along his skin. Craig sucked in a breath, rotated his hand and returned the gentle grazes over Ty’s hand.
Lips parted, eyes heavy-lidded, expression full of yearning, Ty shifted closer. "Craig."
Pulse pounding with a steady beat of desire, Craig bent his head. As he closed the distance, he watched Ty’s eyes darken. He breathed in the scent of coffee and the hint of mocha Ty had added to his order. Their lips touched, brushed, then lingered. Ty was soft and warm and sweet. Craig linked their fingers together and deepened the kiss. Slowly, he tasted and teased as his body hummed with the need for more.