It’s release day for How We Began, an anthology with stories from six absolutely incredible authors! I’m so excited about this book, not only because of the theme– the beginning of new relationships and new phases in life– but also because it benefits an incredible cause.
You can read my review of each story here (spoiler: they’re all incredible. ALL OF THEM!), and keep reading for an excerpt from two of the stories (randomly chosen, because I literally wanted to include ALL of them!), as well as your chance to win a $25 gift certificate!
How We Began, an Anthology
Authors: Alexis Hall, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert, Delphine Dryden, Geonn Cannon, and Vanessa North (ed. Edie Danford)
Publication date: November 9th 2015
Genres: LGBTQ+, New Adult, Romance, Young Adult
How does love begin? A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger… or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance.
In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project’s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.
A Song for Sweater-boy by Vanessa North
After class, I’m digging in my locker for a new pen when a body slams into the door next to mine, and the face sucking starts. Ash is pressed up against the orange lockers by a girl with blue pigtails and hairy legs, and she seems to be trying to find his tonsils with her tongue. I avert my eyes, but not before noticing she’s definitely the same girl who was cooing over him last week.
“Love you,” she murmurs, her hands slapping the lockers next to his head. “Text me after you get out of that thing today, okay?”
“Yeah.” His voice is all breathless. I pinch my eyes shut. That’s like a sex voice. Like he’s thinking about having sex with that girl.
My gut churns over a sharp stab of jealousy as I finally, finally find the pen. I shove it into my backpack and resolve to clean my locker so I can find what I need easier. I slam it shut and rush down the hall, face flaming.
Why do I care if Ash Cooper wants to have sex with girls? Every boy I ever crush on wants to be with girls. Maybe I’m just irritated by how easy it seems to be for straight people to find someone to date. Or neurotypical people. I’m pretty sure Ryder from the GSA has a boyfriend, and he’s not even cute like Ash Cooper.
I turn around. The blue-haired girl is gone, and Ash’s hand is on my open locker door. I brace myself for the teasing but he just smirks at me and slams my locker shut.
“You were in such a hurry to get away, it bounced.”
“Sorry.” Why am I apologizing to him?
“Why are you apologizing to me?” His smirk widens to a smile; I turn and start walking again.
“Sorry!” I call back over my shoulder, walking faster. I hoped this year would be different, but that smile reminds me of the way the bullies always act like they’re your friend before they stick your head in the toilet.
“Hey, wait!” He calls after me, but my calculus classroom is right there, and I step inside just as the bell rings.
A Taste of Coffee and Cream by Amy Jo Cousins
The third time she changes clothes in the coffee shop bathroom by the bus station, the boy behind the counter busts her.
“Wait,” he says when she picks up her coffee from the scratched glass case that holds purple-stained blueberry muffins and sticky Rice Krispies treats.
Her heart seizes, then pounds like a rabbit’s. She’s been so careful, never changing in the same bathroom twice in a row before today. But there are two one-person bathrooms here and the tiny blue tiles on the floor are clean, so she doesn’t worry about putting her backpack down.
The boy is holding one hand in the air. His nails are bitten down and his first two fingers and the outside edge of his hand are stained blue with ink.
“Do you even like coffee?” he asks her. She looks at him, confused. “You always scrunch up your nose and make a face when you drink it. Like you hate it.”
“I don’t really like it black.”
He holds out his hand, asking for her cup. “I can fix it. Tell me how you take it.”
She hesitates. Once, at the diner on the next block, she ordered it the way she actually likes it, and the guy there repeated her words with a leer, his lip curled like a dead leaf.
“Extra cream. Three sugars.” She stares past the boy’s shoulder while he pours out some of the black coffee. Adds cream, sugar. He hands her the cup and watches expectantly.
She sips it and smiles without thinking when the rich, sweet taste explodes in her mouth. The boy smiles back, which makes her stop. Smiles are dangerous from boys.
“Jude, right?” She orders a cup of coffee every time, and once the shop had been busy enough that he’d asked her name, writing it on the cup with a blue Sharpie. He touches two fingers to the side of his forehead. She is watching him so hard, while trying not to look like she is paying attention at all, needing to figure out if he’s about to make fun of her. Or worse.
“I’m Owen. I’ll get it right from now on. Don’t worry.”
She almost laughs but the sound gets stuck in her throat. Worry is all she knows.
Despite that, she comes back to the coffee shop every time she takes the bus to this town an hour from her own. The boy never once says extra cream like it’s dirty.
He always smiles at her.
Click on the image below for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate (open worldwide)!