Here’s an excerpt from Almost Gothic (Suncoast Society 65), Rusty and Eliza’s story.


Rusty’s childhood is far darker than it looks on the surface. When he falls in love with Eliza on the day they meet in high school, he knows he wants to spend the rest of his life with her, no matter how long he has to wait. Even if it means waiting forever.

Eliza has no plans to get married—her education comes first. She’s happy to play hard with Rusty, whether at D&D or LARP combat, even if Rusty has one pointless and annoying line he won’t cross in their personal life.

But the night he finally confesses his worst secret, he becomes hers for life. She’ll risk everything to make things right for her beloved barbarian. Sometimes, the darkest and most twisted fairy tales are also the most perfect. Now, nearly thirty years later, the past has returned to haunt him. Can the Lady once again rescue her faithful Knight from his own personal hell?

Note: This is Rusty and Eliza’s story and picks up some of what happened in Friends in Common.

Related Books: A Roll of the DiceA Turn of the ScrewedBroken ArrowInitiativeHappy Valenkink’s DaySee You SometimeHappy SpanksgivingFriends in Common.



With her parents out of town until Sunday evening, Eliza wanted to take advantage of tonight. Almost the end of their junior year, and Rusty had turned eighteen a few weeks before. She would in another couple of months.

Tonight, it’d be just her and Rusty, alone, without Corey tagging along because he was spending the weekend at a friend’s house, an uninterrupted swath of time for them.

While what they had was amazing, she wanted…more. Not like she wanted to run around on Rusty, either. She was happy with the status quo, especially since they’d both be going to college after the end of the next school year.

Eliza was under no illusions that things could get rocky between them once college started. This was their last year to really coast and be kids, and dammit, she wanted it. She didn’t know if what they had could survive college and the time suck it’d be on them, and she wanted this memory between them if nothing else.

She knew Rusty wasn’t gay—well, she hoped he wasn’t gay. Would he kiss her like he did, or his body respond to hers—and some of the other things they’d already done—if he was? Hell, considering the other things they’d already done together, intercourse would almost be…tame.

But she wanted it, with him, and like so many other firsts they’d already shared, she wanted it to be Rusty.

They rarely got alone-alone time like this, without worrying about someone coming home or Corey popping out of his bedroom to bother them.

Tonight she was cooking dinner for him and would tell him she wanted to go all the way with him. She’d even stopped by the drugstore and bought a box of condoms for insurance. Yes, she’d been on the pill for over a year because of her monthly headaches, but no way in hell did she want to get pregnant before she was ready. On that point she was in full agreement with him.

When he finally arrived a little before five, she’d had a shower, shaved everything, wore a sundress she knew he liked seeing her in, and had a roast in the oven.

“Hey, what’s the special occasion?” He leaned in for a kiss when she opened the door for him.

“Us.” She shut the door behind him.

When he turned, she spotted the puzzled frown scrunching up his eyebrows. “Huh?”

Her sweet, clueless barbarian. She rose up onto her toes and draped her arms around his neck, kissing him again. “My parents aren’t coming home until late tomorrow. That means you and I have all night long, by ourselves.” She rubbed her body against his, noticing the sudden, hard bulge pressed against her. “And I want to do something we haven’t done before.”

His eyes widened and she wasn’t prepared for it when he caught her wrists, peeled her arms off him, and stepped back, holding her away from him. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what?”

“Uh, sex, Rus. I want to go all the way tonight.”

His throat nervously worked. “No, we can’t.”

“Yes, we can. I’m on the pill and I bought condoms, just in case. Double insurance. My parents won’t be back. Your mom knows you’re not coming home tonight. It’s perfect!”

He shook his head. “No.”

“Why not?”

One of those dark shadows crossed his expression, not the funtime shadows where she could meet him and enjoy herself trying to beat the crap out of each other with wasters or the bastons—the sticks used in Filipino stick fighting that she was teaching him—or other mock combat.

One of the dark shadows she suspected hid something deep inside him that no one else knew.


She had to ask it. “Are you gay? Because if you are, please quit screwing with my head and my heart. I love you, and I thought you were attracted to me and love me.”

The shadows lessened a little, his expression softening. “I do love you, and I am attracted to you. But…we can’t. Not now. Not yet. And no, I’m definitely not gay. Hello.” He pressed her hand against the front of his shorts and she felt his cock straining against the fabric. “I’d think that’d be obvious based on the stuff we do together.”

Eliza fought the urge to struggle and break free of his grip. Not because she didn’t want to grab him there, because—hellooo, hunky and hung—but because she was afraid she was going to take him down and take her frustrations out on him in ways that would be the bad kind of painful for him.

“Then what’s the problem, Rus?”

“I…” He sighed. “I have my reasons. Maybe it sounds dumb and stupid and old-fashioned, but I want to wait until we’re married.”

“So…I’m good enough to give you a blowjob, but not good enough to fuck? Is that what you’re telling me?”

She might as well have slapped him, the way he recoiled from her words, but he pulled her into his arms. “That’s not it. I’ll…I’ll do just about anything with and to you, baby, but please. Let me have this.”

There was a desperate, plaintive tone to his voice she’d never heard before. Even during the times she’d had fun making him beg. “What aren’t you telling me, Rus?”

“I can’t talk about it. Not right now and maybe not ever, but if you really love me, Li, please let me have this and trust me when I say it’s what I need.”

It didn’t make sense to her. She could tell he was horny. No way to hide it, actually.

That’s when the other side of this smacked her from behind.

Finally. “Are you saying you want to marry me?”

“I’m saying I love you enough that I want to wait because I think what we have is worth waiting for.”

“I’m not ready to say I want to get married yet. Maybe not even after college. You know that. Marriage is a big step and a lifetime commitment, and I want to make sure when I do that it’s right.”

“I know,” he quietly said.

“We’ve talked about this before, Rus. I’ve flat-out told you marriage might not be on the table for me. Ever.”

“I know.”

“I’m not about to toss my future away and hand my life over to someone else. I want to be in charge of my life.”

His voice grew even quieter. “I know.”

She drew back enough she could look him in the eyes. “So you’re willing to just, what, fool around like this for years, maybe?”

He nodded. “Yeah. If that’s what it takes.”

“That means you’re a virgin?”

He nodded again.

This wasn’t making sense to her. Like she was missing a big piece of the puzzle.

“Why are you okay doing other stuff and that one thing is off the table?”

His dense, heavy sigh sucked all the light and half the oxygen out of the room. His hands cradled her face as he stared down at her, and she wasn’t sure but thought he was close to tears. “I’m sorry if what I’m offering isn’t enough for you, baby.”

His tone broke her heart. Somewhere, something had happened to her sweet barbarian, and it evoked every protective instinct within her. “Is this about your dad?”

“No. I mean, indirectly, I guess. Please?”

“You know I’m not worried about my honor, right?” Except she knew. She could make any threat, use any number of temptations on him, and he would not budge from this decision. It was one of the things she loved about him, that he had his principles, and he wouldn’t waver from them.

Her sweet knight, always honorable, a man of his word.

It took him several minutes to finally speak again, and his voice sounded jagged and raw and full of old pain that she sensed predated her by years.

“Some things are meant to be really special. I don’t mean that in some religious way, either. This is something I want to have a good memory of for the rest of our lives. I need something that’s just you and me and untainted by anything else. You want to ride my face and make me go to sleep with blue balls, I’ll do it. You want me to not jerk off in the shower, okay. You want to be in charge? Okay. You want to make me your slave? Good, fine. You make any rules you want about our relationship, and I’ll follow them, and I’ll wait as long as it takes because I love you. All I’m asking for, beyond not cheating on me, or lying to me, is to give me this one thing. Please, Eliza.”

The last two words were delivered in a nearly choked tone, enough to practically drive her to tears.

“You’re not fooling around with anyone else, are you?”

He shook his head. “No one but you, I swear. I’ve never been with a girl before you. Not and did the things we’ve done.”

“Or a guy?”

“I told you, I’m not gay.”

She studied his eyes, the pain in them, everything mixed together with an intensity she nearly couldn’t tolerate.

“Okay,” she finally said. “But if you can’t trust me enough to talk to me to tell me exactly why you need to wait, that’s still not going to happen between us until you can. I don’t like secrets.”

He slowly nodded. “I understand.”

“What if you can’t make it to that point? Where you feel you can talk about it with me?”

At this point his gaze faltered, dropping to the floor. “I don’t know. I’ll try. I swear. But…not right now. Not tonight.” He dropped to his knees in front of her and encircled her with his arms, his face pressed against her stomach. “This isn’t about you. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re beautiful and perfect and I don’t want anyone but you. This is about me and…” She felt his hands skim up and down her ass through the sundress. Then he looked up at her. “You’re not wearing any panties.”

She smiled down at him, playing with his hair. “Nope.”

A soft moan escaped him and he buried his face against her stomach again. “Jeez, Li, you’re killing me, baby.”

She thought about telling him well, if he’d just do what she wanted to do tonight, he wouldn’t be in agony.

Except that almost felt like rubbing his face in it in a bad way, and it didn’t set well with her at all.

She opted for humor. “Well, since you’re already on your knees, you can—oh!”

He dove under her sundress.

When she could finally speak about twenty minutes later, she was sitting cradled in his lap on the floor, a playful smile on his face.

“What about you?” she mumbled.

“What about me? I can wait until after dinner. Frankly, dinner smells great.”

She buried her face against the side of his neck. “What if I decide to make you wait and hold it?”

He groaned. “M’lady has my oath,” he said in character. “This knight obeys his Lady’s word.”

Yeah, she wasn’t going to make him wait long. She loved it when he did that, talked like that, and not even the goofy but halfway decent British accent could kill her mood.

She loved it when he deferred to her like that, which was nearly always.

Except this one time.

“Let’s eat dinner,” she said. “Then I’ll take care of my knight.”

He stared down into her face, caressing her cheek. “I love you, Eliza.” He was back to using his normal voice, except he spoke so softly she almost couldn’t hear him. “I mean it. I’m going to wear you down and marry you one day, even if you make me wait decades.”

She believed him. “Love you, too. I can’t promise you I’m going to want to get married, though.”

He nodded. “I know.”

“And you’ll still wait?”

He smiled, back to the accent. “A knight doesn’t give up on his Lady that easily, ma’am.”

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Suncoast Society

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Excerpt: Almost Gothic (Suncoast Society 65), Rusty and Eliza’s story.
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