Hi guys, we have Tara Lain popping in today with her new release Love and Linguistics, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 Amazon GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
Love and Linguistics
What if Eliza was a guy – and then he met Henry?
In his neighborhood, El Martin stands out, and that can be life threatening. Against the odds, he’s managed to graduate high school and then master IT. Now he’s desperate to get a good job to free his drunken dad and himself from the control of gang leader M2 and the drugs he sells. But with his piercings and his slang-ridden speech, El looks and sounds like a Bronx gangbanger, and potential employers won’t give him a second look. So when El hears about Henry Fairhaven, PhD, linguistics researcher and wealthy New York socialite, El takes his life in his hands to escape from M2 and ends up sleeping in the stairwell at Henry’s building, hoping to learn how to speak.
To Henry, who wants to prove himself as a scholar and not merely a rich dilettante, El isn’t only the most beautiful man he’s ever seen—he’s also the key to getting a paper published on Henry’s ground-breaking linguistics methods before a competitor beats him to the punch. But Henry doesn’t tell El the truth, and El thinks Henry’s helping him because he cares.
El’s dreams collide with Henry’s ambitions at the elegant Met Gala, where El captivates a prince of Silicon Valley. But the real collision comes when M2 tracks El down and Henry has to choose between the validation he craves and a future with the man he’s come to love.
“YOU POOR stupid idiot.”
El—short for Elijah, but hardly anybody knew that, and he wanted to keep it that way—Martin stared down at his sleeping father. His sleeping, drunk father, still passed out at 9:00 a.m. As fucking usual, man. This is what you call one of those love/hate relationships.
Shaking his head, he walked into the bathroom and glanced at himself, then looked away fast. No reminders needed. In the closet he shared with his father, he grabbed a long-sleeved shirt and pulled it over his wifebeater. At least it covered some of the tats.
Okay, let’s go see if there’s a way out of this shit.
The sound of the apartment door opening made him clench his fists. He took a breath and let it out slowly like his dad always said he should do when he got stressed. Of course, his father never did that. He chugged vodka instead.
Sighing, El clenched his jaw and walked into the living room. M2, short for Mean Motherfucker, and there was never a truer word, slouched on the couch with his booted feet on the table. He thrust his chin forward—make that more forward, since M2 looked like a cross between a bulldog and a… bulldog. His shaved head and thick neck added up to one scary dude. “What up?”
El shrugged. Don’t look like you care. “Goin’ to try ta get a bettah job. Make us some guap.”
“Where you goin’?” His narrow, pale eyes glittered. Money always did the job for M2. Money and… well, the way M2 looked at him gave El the creeps.
“Your computer shit?”
“Don’ go lookin’ thirsty, man. Dey got no respect for thirsty.”
“Ya. Jes want da cheese, man.”
“How much we talkin’?”
He shrugged. “More den serving friggin’ tacos, man. Gotta go.”
M2 nodded once, and El escaped toward the door. In the hall of the apartment building, he finally took a full breath, ignoring the smell of onions and garbage. A few months ago, the apartment, piece of shit that it was, had been his and his dad’s. Then his father gave away the little bit of money El had saved to M2 for drugs and booze and, when that wasn’t enough, finally gave him half the apartment. Now El had a twenty-four-hour spy, which was fucking dangerous for a guy with one helluva lot to hide.
Shaking his head to get rid of the picture of M2 on the couch that had once been where El sat with his mom, he hurried down the steps and headed for the train.
An hour later, he was sitting in the waiting room of some bigass company that had advertised for an IT support tech. A few straightover dudes and one pretty female that guys would probably call hot filled out applications around him, but he could feel their eyes creeping all over him. He hunched forward and let his blond braids fall in front of his face.
An older woman in a fancy suit called, “Mr. Martin, come in please.”
El stood and, trying to ignore the stares, walked through the door the woman held open. She glanced over her shoulder and smiled as she led him down a hall lined with offices on both sides. At one of the identical doors, she stopped. “In here, please,” she said, pushing it open.
She walked him to a computer set up in the middle of the small room. “This is your skills test. When you’re done, come back to the reception room, okay?”
He nodded, sat in the desk chair, and flexed his fingers.
“Just click on start whenever you’re ready. Scoring will be based upon accuracy and time.”
She walked to the door. “Any questions?”
He shook his head.
“Well, good luck, Mr. Martin.” She smiled.
He tried to smile back, wishing she’d just leave.
She hung around another moment, looking at him like she couldn’t figure him out. Take a picture, lady. Finally she stepped out and closed the door behind her.
Shit. Get to work. After a big inhale, he hit Start.
When he walked back toward the lobby a few minutes later, the woman looked up from her desk like she was startled. “Are you done?”
She raised her eyebrows. She figures I trashed it. Fuck you, Suit Lady.
He hunkered down on a waiting-room chair. Only one of the other dudes was still there, looking buttoned-up in his suit. He glanced at El, then glanced away real fast. Whatsa matter, asshole? You never seen an escaping gangbanger before?
Suit Lady came out and motioned the other dude over. “Mr. McInerny.”
The buttoned-up guy walked to her.
She spoke quietly, but El could hear her easy. She said, “I wanted to let you know that the position has been filled. We appreciate your application and will keep it on file for future openings.” They shook hands, and the dude left.
El wiped a hand over his head. Shit on that. He stood.
The woman said, “Mr. Martin, will you come with me?”
His heart slammed. Holy shit, did I get the job? He swallowed hard and tried to keep his brain from plotting how the fuck to get his father out of that apartment and away from M2. But his belly clenched with some sick stew of fear and hope.
He followed Suit Lady through a long hall into a big bunch of cubicles and then to a small room with a glass wall. Shit, in there everyone could see him sweat.
The woman opened the door and said, “Mr. Oorderman, this is Mr. Martin. You have his form.” She pointed at the table, then stood back, giving him a small smile. El crossed in front of her, and she closed the door as she left.
The man looked up from staring at some papers and his eyes widened a little.
Not much scared El, but he stood half-frozen. What do you say to a dude who might give you a way out of hell? He wouldn’t be enough of an asshole to pray. Since he knew a long time ago he was going to hell no matter what, asking for shit took real balls. But he sure as hell needed a way out. Pushing bad food in a shithole restaurant and cringing against the day somebody wised up their ass and called him a fag in front of M2 didn’t exactly spell future. More like death for him and his dad. He needed a break.
“Please sit down, Mr. Martin.”
El sat in the chair the man pointed at and tried to make his face at least look like he wasn’t there to rob the place.
Oorderman sat back. “I wanted to meet you.” He cleared his throat. “I first have to tell you that the job has been filled.”
El told himself he wasn’t counting on good news, but the slam of disappointment made him feel sick.
A crease crept between his eyebrows. “That’s whacked, man. You give it to that hot female?”
The man cleared his throat. “Actually, the job went to an internal candidate.” El must have looked confused because the guy said, “A person who already worked for our company. We always give internal candidates preference.”
El wanted to scream, “So why the fuck did you advertise?” but he clamped his lips shut. “Okay, well, thanks.” He stood.
The man held up a hand. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to you for a minute.”
El shrugged. “I’m here.” He sat and clutched his hands together. He still wanted to ralph all over the fucking room.
“You did exceptionally well on your test.”
El nodded. “Yeah, well I’m dumb good at IT, man.”
Oorderman gave a small smile. “I might call it smart good, but I get the message. Anyway, Mrs. Haines told me a bit about you, and I decided to take a chance.” He looked at El with narrowed eyes. “Since I don’t have the job to offer, I feel like I can tell you that if the job hadn’t been filled, you very likely wouldn’t have gotten it.”
“Well, shit, that’s grimy, man.” He already felt so crappy, the dude’s dis landed like a punch in the stomach. “I don’t need this, man.”
“Yes, you do. Please listen for another minute. One thing companies consider heavily when they hire people is what we call culture.”
“So what culture do you think I’m from, man, fucking Denmark?” He held out one of his blond braids.
“I’m not talking about your origin, El. I’m talking about business culture. I mean, we hire people who appear to fit in and share the company values.”
“You think I ain’t got values?” He knew he shouldn’t be saying this, but fuck….
“Please, bear with me.”
El wanted to punch the asshole out, but that’d get him arrested for sure.
“The important word is appear. Appear to fit in. Appear to share the company values. Do you understand what I mean?”
It was sad as fuck, but he did understand. All he had to do was look around. He wiped a hand over his face. “Look, man, I want a job. I need a job. I worked fucking hard to get ready for one. Where I live, people stare at me ’cause I finished high school, then learned IT. I come here and you think I’ve got a gun in my pants. There ain’t no way to win, man. No way to win.”
“Look, I don’t think it’s that bad. All you need is to get past all the ways you don’t fit in and make a good enough first impression that a prospective employer won’t automatically dismiss you. It’s not overt prejudice, El, but if a boss thinks you’re going to make other employees uncomfortable, they’re just not going to hire you. It’s too much work.”
Okay, I give. El nodded. “Look, man, I know you didn’t need to do this. Nobody pays you to help me, and I ’preciate it.”
Oorderman leaned forward and handed El a card. “I don’t know this man personally, but I’ve been told he can help with your type of situation.”
El took the card and looked at it.
Dr. Henry Fairhaven
Linguistics and Speech Transformation
There was a phone number, address, email, and website.
El’s fingers twitched to rip the card into ten million fucking pieces. “Ya, well, this ain’t no fucking option for me, man. Unless this here Fair-whatever dude is big into charity.” He stood and dropped the card on the table. “Thanks, man.” He stuck out his hand.
Oorderman stood and shook it. He looked like he wanted to say more, but El shut him down.
With a nod, El walked out the door of the glass room. Somewhere like halfway down the hall, the whole buggin’ mess landed on his head, and heat shoved behind his eyes. What the fucking hell?
Suit Lady stuck her head out of her cube.
“Thanks for applying, Mr. Martin. We’ll keep it on—”
El pushed by her. She was probably the one who’d told Oorderman El might be good at IT, but he was a fucking loser in every other way, and maybe the dude could give El some lessons in how to be a fucking sellout. Fuck her and all of them.
He made it to the reception room and out the door of the office, down the escalator, and all the way to the sidewalk before he blinked.
What the shit did I think? Why’d I spend all that time learning IT when I could have been acing up my fucking fast-food service skills? If he could have slammed his hand into the side of the building and not broken it, he would have.
People rushed by on the busy city street and stared at him. Yeah, wondering what the fuck the Bronx gangbanger was doing there. He wondered that too. Staring at the fucking sunshine, he gave serious thought to hitting the nearest bar, but he only had to look at his father to know it was craptastic to protest the fucking universe that didn’t give a shit about you by barfing up your guts every morning.
Instead he walked across the street to Starbucks. Although come to think of it, spending $4.95 for tea on his income might be bigger punishment than booze. He stalked through the store to the order line and told the girl at the cash register he wanted a chai latte. How was that for a fucking girlie drink? But he liked that sweetness and spice. Did that make him gay? Fuck yeah, it did.
When he got the cup, he spied an open chair at a table in the corner of the room. He headed toward it and got there at the same time as a big all-American dude in a T-shirt too small for his muscles. El started to back off, but the guy looked at El, swallowed hard, turned fast, and walked away.
El opened his mouth to say something, then closed his lips and sat. Fuck, might as well take a load off. The little table in the corner he scooted into put him opposite the wall mirror. He glanced up. Shee-it, no wonder the big dude walked away. The soul patch, the tats showing at his neck, the pierced nose and ears, and the thin scar across his cheek. Fuck, he looked tired and mean. The first was way true. The second one wasn’t as actual as it ought to be for his own survival. Then there was the hair. The fucking hair. Blond and silky, like some fucking guy from Norway. The world loved it. Yeah, people dig shit that’s rare. He hated it. It made him stand out, and that was dangerous. His mom had medium brown hair before it all fell out from the cancer. Too bad he didn’t take after her. His father was, like, dark blond, and El must have gotten it from him, but El’s was much lighter. For a few years as a teenager, he’d shaved his head so it didn’t show so much, but it left a light shadow on his head that looked weird. Then he’d dyed it, but that was crap to keep up. Light roots. Strange. Now he did cornrows, which he liked, but it was so odd, people stared, and that he hated. Fuck.
He sipped the tea and sucked oxygen. I wasn’t counting on that job. I wasn’t. There are other jobs. Lots in IT. They told me. He pinched the bridge of his nose. And what’re my fucking chances of getting any fucking job? Like that Oorderman dude said, I don’t fit in. Even if they put me way back in the office. They’d hafta be desperate,
He downed the final big mouthful of chai and tried to enjoy the fuck out of it since it was the last time he’d be paying five bucks for tea, at least until he got a job and got his father the fuck out of there. He exhaled.
Out to where?
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!