Release Date: August 8, 2017
Cover art by Natsukoworks
Cover design by Kanaxa Designs
A single stroke can change your world.
Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.
Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.
Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.
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I’m so excited to be here at BFD as part of the official Antisocial blog tour! Today I’m going to be sharing an excerpt with you, but before I do that, I wanted to tell you a little bit about my story.
Antisocial is a new adult gay and asexual romance set in a fictional college in upstate New York between a one-percenter fraternity boy and a highly antisocial artist. One encounter with Xander Fairchild’s artwork is enough to turn Skylar Stone’s carefully orchestrated life upside down, unlacing his secrets and inviting him into a secret anime-soaked world with a new set of friends. But will they be brave enough to embrace their fragile new relationship and let it last beyond the summer?
There are so many reasons why I love this story, and I could go on (and on) about why I feel this is my best book yet. The excerpt I’m sharing today is from one of my favorite scenes, the scene which my patrons call the infamous “hand-holding scene.” I admit I’m a bit of a tease and cut you off before we get going too far (that is my job today, to tease you), but I hope you enjoy this taste of Antisocial. And thanks once again to everyone at BFD for having me!
For the first time since his accidental confession, Skylar seemed like his old self: confident and put together, except this time there was an extra brightness to him that made Xander melt internally into a huge puddle. “You’re serious, aren’t you? You didn’t say that to make me feel better?”
Xander shut his eyes on a slow blink and swallowed in self-defense. “Um, hello, do you think I could lie about something like that? And blush this hard over it?”
“I don’t know, you were pretty slick with Patricia.”
“I could never be slick with you.”
He realized the double entendre in what he’d said, yelped in dismay, and covered his face with his hands as his skin burst into flame.
Skylar laughed, and Xander mumbled into his palms about how this wasn’t fair. Then he froze because he could feel Skylar’s hand on his thigh, his breath brushing against his ear.
“It was when you drew me in the cherry blossoms. That’s when I started to realize I felt more for you.” Skylar withdrew his hand as Xander lowered his, but he remained close to Xander as he confessed the rest. “At first I was confused, then a little scared. Of what it meant that I’d been wrong about myself. Mostly, though, of what it would mean if…” his voice hitched as he went on, “…if you couldn’t be patient with me.”
Xander turned toward him slightly, speaking even more softly. “You mean, you’re worried what happens if something starts between us and I want to go further sexually than you do?”
The tension was coming off Skylar in waves. “I don’t know where the edges are for me anymore. But yes. I worry about that.”
“You don’t need to.”
Skylar clearly didn’t like this answer. “Why not? It’s hardly fair to you.”
“So you’re saying it has to be unfair to you?” Xander gave him a be serious look. “What about me, exactly, gives you the image that I am a rampaging sex maniac? I just told you I’m a virgin. And I’m not a cranky hermit because of that, either. That’s a lifestyle choice. And frankly, so is the virginity. So yeah, if my choices are with you but with a different kind of sexual experience or not with you, I’m going to give with you a try, all right?”
“Even if it’s really limited?”
Skylar regarded him with hope and suspicion at once. “Because if this were a television movie, right now we’d be kissing. And I’m not ready for that.”
“Not to put too fine a point on it, but you legit vomited half an hour ago. I’m not kissing you until you brush your teeth.”
Skylar drew back, eyes wide, putting a hand over his mouth. “Oh my God, does my breath—?” He exhaled against his hand, frowned. “It’s fine. Isn’t it?”
“Yes, but the part to focus on is you have something you’re fussy about, and so do I. And to be honest, I would be too freaked out to kiss you even if you hadn’t decorated the beach with your stomach.”
Xander wasn’t sure it was entirely a positive how easily Skylar slid back into his confident mode. “Why in the world would you be freaked out?”
“Because I would be, all right? I guess that’s my way of saying I’m not ready, either.”
“But why freaked out? It’s just me.” When Xander gave him a death glare, Skylar tipped his head back and laughed, a trill that reverberated through the small interior space and down Xander’s spine. “So, what, you’re saying if I did make a move on you—”
“—after you brushed your teeth—”
Skylar blushed, some of his smoothness eroding away. “—after that, yes. You’re saying you’d reject me?”
Xander did his best to push past his internal freak-out to give the matter serious consideration, but discovered there was only more internal freak-out. “I think I’d try not to let you know I was nervous, which would make me more nervous, and then you’d probably get super smooth or something, and then I’d snarl to keep you from noticing I was exceptionally nervous, and it would end in a mess.”
Skylar wasn’t laughing anymore. “Except I couldn’t ever do that. There is no Silver Stone, not in that department. A girl kissed me once in junior high, and I’m still not over it. It was on that beach where we just were, in fact. I don’t know when I’ll be ready, to be honest.”
Xander wasn’t freaking out anymore. In fact, he felt a small thread of…anticipation. Hope. “You know…this could work.” Except even as he said that, he felt the same pull of longing he’d been denying for a month now, the one his instinct had been warning him to resist. And now he knew why. He sighed. “It is hard not to touch you, though.”
“When did I say anything about you not touching me?” Skylar held out his left hand in the space between them, splaying his fingers. “By all means. Please don’t hold back.”
Xander all but recoiled. He was angry, rattled. “You can’t just whip it out like that, for fuck’s sake. That’s not what I mean by touch you.”
“Well, what do you mean, then?”
Jesus, he never would have guessed the slick magazine ad could be this clueless. “Forget it. You have sufficiently killed the moment.”
Now Skylar looked wounded. God, they were a pair. What idiot had thought this could work again?
Skylar, apparently, because he wouldn’t let it go. “Don’t. I’m serious. I want to know.”
“I don’t really know what I meant, all right? Just that I want to touch you. A lot.” This time the blush started from the center of his chest and ran up his face like a rash. “Fuck. Please, drop this.”
“Xander.” Skylar’s voice was a siren’s lure. He held out his hand again, this time with the same gentleness as his speech. “Onegai. Onegai…shi…”
The parking lot faced the setting sun, and Skylar was cast in warm fire, his cheeks stained with blush, his skin lit by the refracted light against the clouds. He was beautiful and perfect, achingly so.
He has never felt attraction for anyone. Until you.
Xander couldn’t trust in that. Or rather, the thought gave him no comfort. But Skylar’s softness did.
“Onegaishimasu,” Xander finished for him, surrendering.
Pinning his elbow to his side to keep his arm from trembling, he reached for Skylar’s hand.
Shhhh….we’re still reading!
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.