It’s an absolute pleasure to feature Suki Fleet’s heart-rending novel on the Pawsome Blog. Please take a moment to check it out, read the excerpt and my review at the bottom. There’s a giveaway too! Good luck to Suki in the release of this great novel.
Book Title: The First Boy I Ever Kissed
Author: Suki Fleet
Publisher: Stars and Ink Press
Cover Artist: Suki Fleet
Release Date: January 11, 2021
Genre: Contemporary New Adult M/M
Trope/s: . Second Chances, Friends to Lovers, I have always loved you
Themes: Second chances, Bi awakening
Heat Rating: 3-4 flames (not frequent but detailed)
Length: 35 000 words
It is a standalone story.
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
Universal Link | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Kim was the first boy Tommy ever kissed. The only person he’s been in love with.
But Kim broke Tommy’s heart when he left without a word. Can Tommy give him a second chance?
It’s been over two years since Tommy’s heart was broken. Two years since Kim vanished from his life without a word.
Kim was the first boy he’d ever kissed. The only person he’s been in love with. He’d thought they were starting something when he showed his feelings on prom night, and they shared their perfect messy kiss, but he’d been wrong. He never saw Kim again. Until tonight when joy riders crash into the warehouse complex where he works.
Kim’s life is a mess. For two years he’s been involved with a criminal gang, trying to protect his mum from harm. He knows he has nothing to offer. But seeing Tommy again gives him the strength to try. If only Tommy wasn’t leaving the day after tomorrow to go travelling around the world. If only tonight wasn’t all they had.
It’s almost Christmas Day—surely, he’s got somewhere else to be, other people to be with? People far more important to him than me. I think again of the girl with the green braids. The sharp-eyed way she watched him as he gave a false name to the police. Wherever his life is at, ramming a four-by-four into a warehouse complex and then being arrested has got to build up some serious tension. Maybe he needs to let off a bit of steam too. Maybe that’s what this is.
I take my time cycling down the rough track to the park. I’ve popped a tyre before on the glass that’s scattered around here, and my fingers are too frozen to be fiddling around with fixing on a spare.
As soon as we make it into the skatepark’s tiny car park, Kim hops off the bike. I find myself still wanting to feel his arms around me. The ache of it. Like the past has a weight, a texture, and it’s all him.
God, what am I doing? This is such a bad idea. Spending time with him is just going to hurt, I know it is, and here I am just about offering myself up to it like a masochist.
He scrambles to the top of the little grassy hill surrounding the park. “God, I’ve missed this place.”
The wistfulness in his voice surprises me. I follow him up with my bike. He turns to me, pulls off my massive gloves, hands them to me in my helmet, then holds his arms out, races down to the centre of the second biggest ramp, and starts spinning. Spinning and spinning, his head flung back, hair flying. He looks seventeen again. Young. Wild. Free.
For a moment whatever shadows are haunting him are chased far away. And my heart aches and aches.
I remember the first time I saw him, swinging on the metal railing by the coffee shack near the smaller ramps with a couple of girls from school. He was laughing, head thrown back like it is now, pink hair falling away from his narrow face, sharp white teeth flashing, the whole of him vibrating with some wild aliveness I’d never seen in anyone else. Still haven’t. Too involved in watching him, I forgot what I was doing and nearly killed myself, lost control of my bike in the middle of a turn and crashed face first into the ramp. Later, I told myself I’d been so transfixed because I didn’t know whether he was a boy or a girl. But, of course, it wasn’t true. It took a long time for me to realise that though.
That was the summer I finished my GCSEs. I was fifteen. Kim was new. He’d moved from another school across town. I never asked him why.
Back then the skatepark was full from sunrise till late into the night, and Kim hung around almost as often as I did. He made friends quickly, and though I watched him all the time and caught him watching me, I remained clueless. Maybe if I’d have worked out sooner that I was bi, things would’ve been different. I don’t know.
Leaving Kim spinning, I clip my helmet in place, toss my gloves next to my backpack on the frozen ground, and take off down the biggest ramp, doing a few sharp turns at the top to warm up.
“I used to love watching you,” he yells. “You ride like the water flowing in a river.”
It’s ridiculous how buoyed up his words make me feel, and I flush. I’m too old to be showing off at the skatepark, trying to impress some boy I know is watching every jump I make, and still I do it, taking my bike through a few 360 tailwhips. Making it look casual, easy, though it’s not, but that’s the trick. Isn’t that always the trick?
Limbs vibrating with adrenaline, I skid to a stop in front of him. “Get on.”
Kim’s eyes widen. “You’re going to kill us if you jump with me on your bike.” But still he gets on.
I laugh. “Still up for anything, eh?”
“With you, yeah.” His arms fasten around me, and he plasters himself close. “I’ve missed you, you know?”
Has he? I stiffen a little. I can’t let myself believe him, not just like that, because, no, I don’t know. But I don’t say that. I don’t say anything. My feelings are too jumbled to work out how to respond. Instead I focus on the things I do know and take us swooping down the big ramp and up the other side. I’m not about to do any tricks with Kim on my bike. He’s right, it’d probably kill us, plus I only have the one helmet. But it’s just nice riding around with him like this, even though I’m not sure how I feel right now.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers after a while, his arms squeezing me a little tighter like he’s afraid I’m suddenly going to stop and shove him off. “I’m really fucking sorry. I wouldn’t blame you if you hated me.”
“I don’t hate you,” I say quietly. Of course I don’t. How could I ever hate him? I kind of suspect in forty years’ time, if I’m still around, I’ll still get this sharp pain in my chest when I think about him.
About the Author
Suki Fleet is an award-winning author, a prolific reader (though less prolific than they’d like), and a lover of angst, romance and unexpected love stories.
They write lyrical stories about memorable characters and believe everyone should have a chance at a happy ending.
Their first novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014 Rainbow Awards, and was a finalist in the 2015 Lambda Awards. Their novel Foxes won Best Gay Young Adult in the 2016 Rainbow Awards.
Social Media Links
Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter @SukiFleet
Instagram | Newsletter Sign-up
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one of five ebook copies from the author’s backlist.
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A delightfully nuanced story and a great tale of young love, told through the eyes of Tommy, who has never been able to forget Kim, the boy he kissed at the high school prom two years before the story begins. When Kim vanished without explanation, Tommy always blamed himself but the real reason is far more complicated.
The blurb explains the story well so I won’t rehash it. Tommy is a lovely character, really caring and sensitive without being vapid. Kim is a great match for him, learning from the School of Hard Knocks how to defend himself, yet never losing his inherent sweetness. They had real chemistry and it was easy to care for these two boys right away.
And instantly, the reader is aware of the time pressure, as Tommy is due to fly out the very next day on a travelling adventure. This could have made the story rushed, with short-cuts being made. It’s a tough one to pull off but the author manages to cram a whole lot of meaning in those brief hours. The surrounding characters make the story all the more vivid. From a wonderful elderly man to Kim’s frail mother (who isn’t in it a lot but drives Kim’s primary motivation) and hideous gang members who try to drag Kim back into their world, they all bring what could be a bleak story to colourful life.
Finally, to say this was teenage angst would be inaccurate. The feelings these two young men have for each other are real and beautiful. They are well aware of the hard choices they need to make in a seemingly hostile world around them. They are prepared to take risks and face head-on the challenges ahead. The First Boy I Ever Kissed was a beautifully rendered portrait of the ecstasies and agonies of first love, and I enjoyed every word.
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