Happy release day to one of my Facebook friends, and debut author, Roe Horvat.
Eight years ago, Ondro Smrek fled Slovakia and the bigotry that drove his first lover to take his own life. The demons proved impossible to outrun, though, and now, desperate for somewhere to belong, Ondro is returning to start over. During a layover in Basel, Switzerland, he meets Jamie, an American living in Scotland who is as brilliant as he is beautiful.
Jaded Ondro never would have guessed he could fall in love during a brief layover—until now. When he is put in a position to offer Jamie comfort without hope of recompense, Ondro doesn’t hesitate. Soon, he catches a glimpse of the home he longs for. But with their separation looming, confessing his feelings would only lead to pain and humiliation. Life has taught Ondro not to hope, but then, he never believed in love at first sight either.
Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-layover-by-roe-horvat-8690-b
About Roe Horvat
Queer author, storyteller & graphic designer, Roe was born in former Czechoslovakia and endured a miserable adolescence in the post-communist wasteland. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, they left for Germany and later, Spain.
Finally, they settled in Sweden, where the weather is nasty but the freedom great. Roe works as a motion graphics artist, loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams and everything in between, preferably by the fireplace with a strawberry daiquiri in hand. Roe writes contemporary romantic fiction – it conveniently balances out their real-life pragmatism.
When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.
He looked half-dead. I sat up as well and kissed his neck. Leaning back, he rested his head on my shoulder.
It was going to hurt. I could feel it coming. Like a stirring in those depths of my brain that haven’t been touched in years. Why the fuck now? Just because it was impossible? Weirdly, a part of me was trying to sabotage the rest. Conflicted was not a correct enough word to describe it. I felt utterly overthrown. My life had decided to demote me. I was a helpless observer while everything I was supposed to have under control just rushed ahead into the unknown chaos dragging my banged up body behind. I held Jamie closer.
“How can I be this hungover when I wasn’t even properly drunk? That’s unfair,” he complained, his eyes closed, and his nose was skimming my jaw.
I didn’t answer. My throat closed up, and I couldn’t speak. He didn’t treat me like a hookup. He behaved and moved as if he trusted me, as if he knew me. Our bodies interacted as if we’d been lovers for years. I couldn’t make myself draw the line either. I kissed his forehead instead.
I could pretend that we were just going to pack our things, take a taxi to the airport together, and get on a plane somewhere, whine about the food and airplane coffee together. We would come home tired, into a small, cluttered apartment that had blurry contours in my imagination. An actual home. We would heat some frozen pizza and cuddle on a sofa watching old episodes of Red Dwarf until he would fall asleep in my arms again.
He scrambled to the edge of the bed and stood, swaying a little. I reached out to steady him.
“Fuck, it’s cold in here,” he complained.
He had goose bumps on his arms. I couldn’t watch him get dressed without feeling embarrassingly desolate. So I turned away, fumbling with my boxer briefs and shirt.
I dressed and packed the few random items I didn’t put in the bag yesterday. I caught my reflection in the narrow mirror on the other side of the door and started. I watched the stranger in the mirror, still bent over my suitcase. He was looking back at me with fearful eyes and parted lips. He looked like someone I used to know. I frowned at the thought and immediately recognized myself again. There, that frown, that was me.
I double-checked my tickets and the location of my passport routinely and went to join Jamie in the bathroom.
The door was open, and Jamie stood there, looking very poorly. He held on to the sink, his head bent like he was going to be sick.
“Hey, are you okay?”
“I don’t know. I probably only need caffeine.”
I stroked his shoulders and arms up and down. He turned and leaned into me, and I hugged him tight. We stood like that for a minute until he took a step back, and I dropped my arms.
“I’ll meet you downstairs in fifteen, okay?” he said, not looking at me.
He nodded, staring at his feet, and with a deep sigh he turned away. I had to close my eyes. I was so close to crying it was ridiculous. How the hell did I get here?
The door to the small room closed with a soft click.
I peed, shaved, brushed my teeth, and splashed a lot of cold water on my face. When that didn’t help, I took a cold shower.
I looked at the man in the mirror again, the man I used to know. I’ll be fine. I always am.