Title: Given the Circumstances
Author: Brad Vance
Release Date: July 13, 2016
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Length: 03 Hours 30 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Sports Romance, New Adult
Two promising college athletes meet, each needing something only the other can give him…
When Roger and Brian lock eyes on the first day of school, a friendship is born. Both men are hungry for connection – Brian needs the acceptance, encouragement and support he never had growing up, and when he finds out his new best friend is gay, it brings his own sexual identity into question. Roger needs a big brother, a best friend, but that will never be enough, especially not when he’s this close to big, strong, handsome Brian.
And both men want something more – careers as professional athletes. For Roger, the demands of the closet, the need to reject the love of a man to fulfill his love of the game, will be a crushing burden. For Brian, his downfall will be the substances he uses to get an edge over the competition, and to suppress his gnawing self-doubt and guilt.
One set of desires will bring them together, the other will force them apart…
Just give me another minute, Brian appealed. But his feet didn’t listen, they kept propelling him forward, and his hand went to the door handle. I’m not ready.
It didn’t matter, he knew. He was here, the die was cast, as Caesar had said. He opened the door and walked in.
Look at them, he told himself. Brainiacs. What are you doing here? It was Cal State Berkeley, man. Not Party Hearty State College, where he maybe, probably, should have gone. It wasn’t Lessing College, where he’d at least been able to keep his scholastic head above water.
He had a year of sitting out ahead of him, a year in academia alone for the first time in his life. Fucking insane stupid NCAA transfer rules that deny an athlete a whole year in his prime, for what? To keep you chained to the wheel, for the benefit of the schools and the coaches and the boosters, never the student, no matter what claptrap they spouted about academic excellence, stay the course, blah blah blah.
There was nobody with a hand on his shoulder, nobody to whisper, “You belong here.” He was on a baseball scholarship, or would be next year. This year he was here on a boatload of student loans. And like anyone else in his situation, who’d made a huge change and realized it couldn’t be unchanged, his blood had gone ice cold and he’d thought, What have I done?
Everyone in the classroom was in their own little world, not even looking up at the new guy. Nobody looks at anybody, he thought, anywhere ever. Trying to make eye contact with people on campus was like a contact sport where the goal was to avoid contact. Some people were oblivious, in their own world. Some people were shy, some people were assholes. But almost nobody wanted to look at you, just nod, and smile, and say “Hey.” To just be…civilized. They acted like you were going to ask them for spare change, or beg them to join your cult. It was the first time in his life he’d been somewhere he didn’t know anyone. And it sucked.
But one guy in the classroom looked at him right away. A fellow jock, no doubt – another guy always watching patterns, movements, making sure no detail of the action escaped his attention.
The guy nodded, Brian nodded back. The desk on his left was empty, and Brian took it. Something tense unknotted inside him, now that he’d finally had his first friendly moment of the day, of his new life. It was something he’d needed like a glass of water.
“Hey, I’m Roger,” the dude said, offering his hand. He looked familiar to Brian, with his dark hair and big blue eyes, the ultra-white sclera of a clean-living man, and the pale skin of someone who either spent this last summer indoors or had sensitive skin. He looked to be just short of Brian’s own height of six foot four, but not as beefy as Brian. He had a firm grip, and a big hand. A really big hand. Meaty and work-toughened, like his own. Football, Brian thought. Was he a wide receiver? I feel like I should know who he is…
“I’m Brian.” Roger looked at Brian, at his serious handsome face, tanned from the summer he’d spent outdoors without any of the sunscreen Roger applied rigorously. He took in Brian’s dark hair and dark eyes, and felt his grip match Roger’s own.
Put it back, Roger told himself. But “it” was out – he was young and horny and this guy was…hot. He’s a big bastard, he’s got to be 240 at least. All muscle, heroic shoulders and chest. Rolling on top of you, wrestling with you, pinning you down, one of the one tenth of one percent of guys in the world who are bigger than you, who can do that, who can win that fight, the fight you’d put up to make him prove his worth, all the while wanting to lose, refusing to lose, thrilled to lose…
And then what? he said, discipline kicking in like it did every time now, every time he met a hot guy. Walk it forward. Let’s say he’s gay, and you fall in love, and then you’re a couple, and then everyone knows you’re gay, and that’s it for your NFL dreams, buddy.
No. He’d put too much into it for too long, to lose it in exchange for a couple quick spurts. Nobody knows who you’re thinking about when you jerk off, he thought. That’s all you get for the next ten years. Just…remember him. And use this tonight.
Dude is intense, Brian thought, feeling the force of Roger’s gaze.
Then there was no more time for conversation, as the professor dashed in the door, hair and papers flying behind him. “Good morning. As they say on the plane, our destination today is the Italian Renaissance. If that is not your destination, you’re on the wrong flight.”
That broke the first class tension, the tension when you didn’t know if the professor was going to be a flake, or an asshole, or an idiot, or a bore.
Q: What unique perspective do you think you had narrating your own audiobook?
A: I know the characters better than any actor or voice artist ever can. There’s a piece of me in every one of them, sometimes a very big chunk. What they’re feeling, what they’re saying, that’s me talking on the page. So to make the jump to “talkies” isn’t as big as I thought it would be.
Q: Do you plan to narrate more of your books in the future?
A: Oh, yeah, I’m addicted! I did A Little Too Broken first, because it was my shortest novel, so if it all ended in tears, as its MC Jamie would say, I hadn’t lost too much time and effort. But I’ve really got a process going now, and I’m on my third one. The goal is to turn my entire back catalog into audio.
Q: Is there a scene that you particularly enjoyed narrating?
Brian’s swan song to baseball at his press conference. It’s a big set piece where he just lays in to the media, the baseball establishment, the hypocrisy of a system that demands big results but then denounces its players for providing them by any means necessary.
Q: Is there a scene you had a difficult time narrating?
A: A lot of them. When I started recording Broken, I was horrified by how often I’d burst into tears at an intense scene. I tried to hold it all in, because I’m a man and that’s how we roll lol. But now I just freakin’ blubber when I need to, keep the tape rolling, and edit it out later. A lot of Brian’s scenes with his father figures made me cry while I was narrating, for sure. I have my own daddy issues and only reading those passages out loud clarified to me that I was writing about mine when I wrote his.
Q: What would be your best advice to new writers?
A: Don’t do it for money. You’re in ruthless competition with 10,000,000 other people, and unless you have not only the greatest book ever, but the greatest marketing, promotional and sales engine, you won’t make a living at this. Do it for love, but don’t quit your day job.
Q What’s one mistake that you’ve made in your writing career?
A: I wrote a “heteromance,” A Great Prince, that I published as Brad Vance. And nobody bought it. It was really, really good, but… there’s a lot of niche readers out there, and when they see Brad Vance, but it’s M/F, they’re not interested. I do have some fanatically loyal readers who’d read the phone book if I wrote it, but I should have sold that book to someone who could have promoted it. I didn’t have the energy to start a new pen name, new social media presence, etc. that’s required to break into a new genre.
Q: Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in?
A: I really gave free rein to my filthiest thoughts. When I started, it was all about short erotica. And I have a very dirty mind. And I really made a splash with that! I’ve never been reticent since.
Q: On that note, what would you have done differently if you could do it again?
A: I’ve thought about that a lot over my life. And finally I gave my answer to Marc in Would I Lie to You:
“Would you still do everything the same way you did?” Jesse asked.
“No. Yes.” Marc laughed. “It’s a Catch-22, isn’t it?”
“Only the person you are now can decide what you’d change then. But making a different decision then, would make you a different person now. Who in turn would regret something different, so the person you became instead of who you are now, would decide to change something else.”
Meet the Author
Brad Vance writes gay romance, erotica and paranormal stories and novels, including the breakout hits “A Little Too Broken” and “Given the Circumstances.”
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