A Honeyed Light
by Freddie Milano
Genre: M/M Paranormal Romance
Kunal, relative newcomer to the strange town of Harmony, has his hands full preparing for Diwali. That should be enough to keep anyone's mind preoccupied, but Kunal can't really ignore that he's nearly thirty, single, and still buried in the closet.
Out of town at a gay club one night, he bumps into Oscar, proprietor of Harmony's only sex shop, and figures his secret is now officially out. What he doesn't expect is a slow seduction, or to have to decide what it is he really wants in life.
Sighing, Kunal stepped back out of the employee area to where Divya and Shanti were chatting, Divya pressing their baby sister about the still-new beau she'd been seeing. He couldn't help feeling a stab of jealousy. It seemed so easy for them.
He pasted on a bright smile and swept himself into the conversation. "I don't care what you say, Shanti, it's not serious until we've all met him, not just Divya. Not until he's met Mom and Dad."
Shanti frowned and shoved Kunal, and he felt real force behind it, but Kunal didn't budge. She was a scant few inches shorter than him, but he was broad. The hours he put in at the gym ensured that his arm muscles were corded and just the right amount of bulging, his overall build sturdy. What he lacked in height, he made up for in breadth, and he worked hard to look as good as he did.
"Shush, Kunal. You know if I bring him home, they expect a ring on my finger right after."
"Or before," Divya added. "But Kunal's right. They won't believe it's serious until then. Look how many times Amit brought home a girl before he gave one a ring, huh?"
Amit poked his head out from behind the bar. "Slander and lies," he called, levity in his tone.
"Oh," Kunal countered. "I remember Gina, Monica, Elizabeth, and who was the pretty one with the unfortunate name?"
"Ivana," Amit said sullenly.
Kunal grinned. "Amit. What was her whole name?"
Amit glared at his brother. "Ivana Hardick."
"We're lucky Mom and Dad didn't catch onto that." Shanti giggled.
"It's not my fault her parents gave her that first name with that last name, okay? She was nice, she was just…"
"She's no Angela," Kunal murmured. It had been different when Amit brought Angela home—the expression in his eyes, the way he couldn't stop talking about or looking at her. Kunal wanted that so much, but he was certain that he neither deserved it nor would get it.
That shut Amit up, and his angry glare turned into a beatific smile, just the way Kunal knew it would.
"Well," Kunal continued, "I don't know about you all, but I'm getting out of here. You all have a good night. I'll see to you tomorrow."
His siblings all chorused good night. Kunal slipped out, glad his parents were already upstairs in bed and not privy to the conversation. Not only would it have turned back on him, but he wasn't sure they hadn't understood Ivana's name, and he had no desire to ever bring that back up in front of them to find out for sure.
He headed out into the cool night air. It was late summer and warm during the day in Harmony, but the town was close enough to the water that the cool ocean air lowered the temperatures at night. A light jacket or long sleeves was needed, and Kunal had elected for the latter.
Leaving Harmony to hit up one of the neighboring towns for bars and clubs was about the only way he'd meet someone, but he had no intention of making it a permanent thing. It was his MO now. Meet a guy, hook up, refuse to exchange numbers, and leave. If he kept it casual, it meant he never worried about getting attached. But deep inside, he knew this lifestyle couldn't last. He'd either hurt someone unintentionally or he'd run into someone he already knew.
It was only a matter of time.
Freddie Milano lives with her partner-in-crime, two adorable and devilish cats, and far more ideas than she really has time to set down on (electronic) paper. She’s been writing since she could hold a pen, though most of the embarrassing stories thankfully never made in onto the internet, and can stay safely buried.
She loves wine, Korean pop music, tea, chocolate, coffee, mythology, and both video and tabletop gaming. An ESFJ surrounded by introverts, Freddie has learned the art of socialization in moderation. Besides, staying in just leaves her more time to write.