StrangeLove by T. L. Bradford || Excerpt
The Young Americans #3
number of pages
April 18th, 2022
adult, romance, contemporary, lgbtq+
The year began great for me.
Became the starting quarterback for an NFL team – check.
Secured a multi-million-dollar contract – check.
Moved to LA and lived the glamorous life – check.
What could possibly cause me any issues?
Oh yeah, one more thing. I’m gay.
I was outed a couple of years ago to my former team and my family, but it hasn’t been made public knowledge yet. Well, that is, until now. I’ll be known as the first LGBTQ+ active player in the league’s history. And if I stick to the conditions of my contract, it won’t be a problem. The thing is, I’m not really a guy known for playing by the rules.
Most people think of my personality as the three B’s: bold, brash, and blunt. My mouth has gotten me into more predicaments than I can count. Even my best friends have told me I’m stubborn as a mule and have the delicacy of a bull in a china shop. This presents a big problem for me because I have my eyes set on winning over the guy who stole my heart years ago, only he doesn’t know it yet.
Getting his attention is going to be challenging. It’s a good thing I’m tenacious.
Unfortunately, it’s not great timing and could get me into a whole mess of trouble.
Why does falling for a guy need to be anyone’s business but mine?
The past couple of years were a whirlwind of activity. My career took off after my guest shot appearance in Americana. I appeared in a few indie features and finally got a shot at my first major motion picture release. The work came as a great distraction from my personal life, which took a further nosedive after I found out the guy I was falling for had already fallen for someone else.
Why should I be surprised? He was another in a string of failed relationship attempts. I swore I wouldn’t get involved with anyone else, choosing to stay focused on my career instead. That is, until the force of nature known as Archer McMillan came storming into my life.
To be the pursued instead of the pursuer was not in the cards. To top it off, he’s everything I’m not. Yet, there’s something to be said for a guy who can make you laugh when it’s the last thing you want to be doing. I’ll admit he’s got a playful and determined spirit. Archer also has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever known. Not the mention the cute way he… Hold on. What am I doing? We cannot be a thing. Nope. Not gonna happen. Ever. Right?
Follow Kai and Archer as they cross the lines as friends, partners-in-crime, and confidants, to discover a love beyond boundaries that needs no definition.
(StrangeLove is a funny, heartwarming, slow-burn love story. It contains a cast of fully developed characters that encounter romance, laughter, and life lessons. It contains adult language, mature themes, and is best enjoyed by those over the age of 18. It can be read as a standalone; however, if you would like to know the backstories of some characters, check out the prior books in the series.)
First Date Panic
My heart is pounding double time as I head home from Kai’s. I put on the Bluetooth and call my relationship guru to give her the good news.
“Chloe? Guess who got himself a date?”
“Don’t tell me. Wait! Is it you!”
“Damn straight it’s me.”
“Interesting turn of phrase for the occasion, but I’ll let it slide.”
“Very funny. Ha ha.”
“Congrats! How did it happen? Did you ask him? Where are you going? OMG what are you going to wear!?! This is mission critical time!”
“This is how it happened. We were sitting on the couch. I held his hand, kissed his forehead, and asked him. We’re going out tomorrow night.”
“I can’t believe you finally got the balls to ask him!”
“I know, right!?! I wasn’t nervous at all. It felt… right.”
“Where are you taking him?”
It dawns on me, I asked him before I had any idea where I’d take him.
“It’s a surprise.”
“Why does it need to be a surprise for me? I’m your freakin’ spiritual guide! I must be informed about these things!”
“I don’t want to jinx it; in case it doesn’t work out.”
“You’re not bringing him to one of those demolition derby things, are you? I can guarantee you he’ll hate it.”
“No. I’ve learned my lesson. Derby’s not a good date idea.”
“Repeat to me again why it’s not, Archer,” Chloe reprimands me.
“Because flying shrapnel is painful,” I say quietly.
“Yes, it is. And how long was that guy in the neck brace?”
“Only a few weeks.”
Chloe rationalizes, “To be fair, the full body brace did distract from the gigantic bandage on his nose.”
“I apologized to him. I even paid his hospital bills.”
“Not the point.”
“Whatever. I’m not taking him there. I have something sweet for us to do.”
She sounds skeptical. “You don’t have a clue, do you?”
I pause for a moment. “I’ll think of something.”
“It’s tomorrow, so you better think fast. Ask Josh. He’s always coming up with date ideas for him and Noah.”
“If I ask Josh, then he’ll tell Noah.”
“Noah doesn’t know you’ve got a thing for Kai?”
“He does. He didn’t seem to take it so well when I mentioned the possibility.”
“You know how super possessive he is. You dating Kai will be like you’re meeting the dad before the prom to take out his virginal daughter.”
“I’m pretty sure he’s not a virgin. So, we can skip that part.”
“Isn’t it weird though how you guys swapped partners? I get confused trying to keep up with who’s dated who.”
“It’s not that weird. I hope Noah won’t try to convince Kai we’re not good together. If I need to prove to Noah that I’m good enough for Kai, I will.”
“Good, because he’ll come prepared with a list of reasons why you don’t make the grade.”
“List of reasons? What do you mean? I’m an awesome catch.”
“Reason number one. You eat crap food.”
“They have some nutritional value.”
“You wouldn’t eat a salad to save your life!”
“I can change,” I say defiantly.
“Number two. You’re pushy and clingy.”
“I prefer to think of it as being affectionate.”
“When you met Kristen Bell at that celebrity ASPCA charity event last year, she left out of the emergency exit when she saw you coming.”
“Maybe she had a medical condition and needed to leave?”
“I saw the look of pure panic in her eyes, Arch. It’s the same look a wild animal gets when it’s stuck in a bear trap!”
“Fine! I’ll tone it back.”
I groan. “Really? Do we need to go on?”
“Yes, you need to hear it. Number three. You laugh way too loud.”
“You’re not Santa. Number four. You lack etiquette.”
“Excuse me if I didn’t grow up in a fancy estate manor. I try my best.”
“Your best is the problem. Watch some YouTube videos before you go out to any fancy restaurants with Kai. Number five. You’re far too blunt. Think before you speak.”
“Hey, it’s not my fault if everyone else has stupid ideas.”
“And he fails to see the irony,” she says, mostly to herself. “Okay, here’s the last one. It’s really important.”
I let out a big exhale. “What now? Haven’t you roasted me over the coals enough, already?”
“You have a bad habit of picking your ears and wiping them on your pants. Don’t do that. Ever.”
“I do that?”
“Yes, Archer, you do. It’s disgusting.”
“We all thank you.”
“You ruined my happy good feelings.”
“I’m sorry, but if you want Kai, I’m afraid you’ll need to step up your game a bit.”
I slouch in the cab of the truck. “I know. It sucks to hear it, though.”
“Sweetheart, don’t get down on yourself. Your positives far outweigh the negatives. On occasion, those negatives shine a little brighter. They could benefit from being dimmed a bit.”
“Thanks. I’ve never been called a fuckup so gently.”
“You’re not a fuckup. And there’s no reason for you to change completely. I think if you made a few minor adjustments, it could make things between you both go smoother.”
“See Chloe, this is why I need you here. Colorado is too far away.”
“Let me remind you, you’re the one who moved, not me.”
“Then you need a stand in proxy here in LA.”
“Holy crap! You just gave me an idea.”
“Should I be scared?”
about the author
T.L. always hated math, so it was a good thing she had a way with words. Since she was a shy and quirky kid; words were her best friends. She would imagine entire worlds in her head and talk to herself endlessly. Her mother wondered if she was speaking with ghosts for a while.
Her older sister was a voracious reader of trashy romance novels and would pass them down to her after she had finished them. T.L. was the only 10-year-old kid sitting in class reading “The Stud” by Jackie Collins during reading time. Oddly enough, she never got called out on it.
As she grew older, her tastes evolved, but one thing held fast; her undying attachment to love stories. One day out of the blue, she decided to write the love stories she always wanted to read instead of searching for her story. Since then, writing has been a dream fulfilled for her and she could not be happier.
She enjoys writing about love, regardless of gender and is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community.
T.L. calls the Pacific Northwest her home and enjoys the quiet rural life of her little oceanside home with her playful/crazy husband and their giant dog Noah.