As JMS Books enters its sixth year of business, there have been ups and downs, but any company weathers its fair share of growing pains. We’ve learned who our audience is and what they like to read, and the stories in this collection reflect their diverse tastes.
Here you’ll find our best-selling gay romance stories of the past year, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!Enchanted Love by Kris T. Bethke
For Michelle. Because of meatloaf, eclairs, long hair, and infectious smiles.
I lost my left shoe as I ran around the corner and up the next flight of stairs, but momentum had me halfway up before I could stop. The metal step was cold beneath my bare foot. The staircase in the reclaimed warehouse had been retrofitted when the building was converted into lofts, and the metal fit the whole industrial vibe. Right this moment, I was regretting the choice. The die-cut tread pattern was sharp.
I bit back the groan by huffing out a breath and looked at the canvas bags I gripped in each hand. Getting them balanced enough so I could make one trip had taken some careful shuffling. The thought of setting some down in order to retrieve my shoe didn’t appeal in the least. I would have to, though. I couldn’t leave the flip flop on the landing between flights. I hardly ever took the elevator, but today it was clear I should have.
“Hey, Cinderella!” The voice was a deep rumble and I squeezed my eyes shut at the edge of mocking I heard. Or perhaps it was just amusement. I’d been told more than once I was too sensitive. A lifetime of conditioning meant I reacted a certain way to anything that sounded remotely like jeering.
“You dropped your slipper.” The owner of the voice was closer now. Right behind me. I took a slow breath and opened my eyes, then peered over my shoulder to see who had spoken.
The air I had just inhaled disappeared in an instant when I took in the perfect male specimen before me. He was tall and broad-shouldered. He obviously spent time in the gym if the way his biceps strained the sleeves of his T-shirt was any indication. His eyes were a perfect mix of brown and green, surrounded by lush blond lashes, and the smile he wore made his entire face light up. The Giants cap did little to hide his unruly curls, a shade darker than his lashes, and it seemed a contrast to the red tinge of the scruff on his cheeks and chin. A sheen on his face, and the sweat stains on the neck of his shirt, clued me in that he’d been exercising.
I couldn’t stop staring. He was gorgeous. Like male-model-make-everyone-in-the-world-jealous kind of gorgeous. And exactly my type. My gaze darted everywhere, taking him in. I wanted to drop my groceries and throw myself into his arms.
I swayed toward him, my body wanting to be closer and not caring that my head urged caution
“Whoa there.” He steadied me by gripping my shoulder. “Are you okay?”
Crap. I was acting like a lovesick teenager instead of a grown man. He probably wouldn’t appreciate the advance anyway. With the way my luck went when it came to men, he was straighter than an arrow and a conservative to boot.
“Yes. I—” I cleared my throat and stood straighter. “Sorry. I was rushing.”
“Yeah, I saw that.” He grinned again, then held up the flip flop. “I picked up your shoe.”
“Thank you.” I tried to smile back. As I lifted a hand to take the shoe from him, I realized the bags still weighed me down. I felt foolish and cleared my throat again. Managing to free a pointer finger, I stuck it out, then looked at him again. “If you’d be so kind.”
“You want some help?” He gave a head-tip to the bags. “Those seem pretty heavy. I could give you a hand.”
I blinked. Then squinted and scrutinized his face. It seemed like a genuine offer. People didn’t usually offer me assistance unless they knew who I was. Then again, maybe he didknow who I was. I’d been in the news a lot lately, and if he ever turned on a TV, he’d probably seen my face. I waited another beat, but he just smiled at me and I decided I’d accept.
“That would be great.”
His smile grew wider still, and he placed the flip flop onto the stair by my naked foot. Then he took all the bags as easy as anything. Just slipped his fingers in with mine and relieved me of the entire burden. I wobbled at the sudden absence of weight, and reached out to grip the railing.