It’s common to have moments in life when you ponder, “What if I had a second chance with (insert name here)?” Not that I truly want one because I’m happily married. But thoughts like that sometimes spontaneously come after looking old photos or yearbooks. I’ve thought about that friend in college with the gorgeous red hair and blue eyes that I never took the chance to kiss when I should have.
Sometimes people fall in love at the wrong time. It’s like all the stars align but in three weeks you’re leaving to tour the world or moving across the country. Or maybe you were too young to settle down for the rest of your life and felt you needed to go out and explore. Or go to college. Or like me with that gorgeous redhead, at the time I was dating the man I thought I was going to marry.
Those feelings of “What if?” are what inspired Spark, book one of my North Star Trilogy. Hugo Thorson and Kevin Magnus were deeply in love in high school, but then they both left for college. The inevitable happened and they lost contact. Years later they meet on a random lake two hours from where they both actually live and they still feel that intense attraction years later. It’s also at a time that both are free to date. Hugo has been single for a year, and Kevin asked his wife for a divorce eleven months prior.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Sparkjust as Hugo and Kevin are reunited. You can read Chapter 1 here
Kevin laughed deep and warm in his chest and stopped walking, pulling Hugo to a stop with him. “God, Hugo. I missed you. You always did know what to say to make me feel better. How the heck did we ever lose track of each other after everything we discovered together?”
Hugo shrugged, not knowing how to answer after their gradual drift from talking on a regular basis during their first month in college to nothing by the time winter break came. Hugo’s mom and sister had moved to the Twin Cities mere months after Hugo left for college, and that certainly hadn’t helped matters. But it was more, he realized.
“We just had different lives, I think,” Hugo said with a shrug. “We went our separate ways after I said good-bye to you in your driveway.”
“I still regret not kissing you that day. I should have just said ‘screw it’ and kissed you like I wanted to, even if my dad was right there.”
Hugo looked up the few inches to meet Kevin’s gray eyes and tried to smile, but it probably came across more as sadness than a smile. He couldn’t believe Kevin still thought of that day too. He wondered if Kevin’s mind ever drifted to the kiss in the wooded meadow when he was bored in a meeting or like Hugo’s had that very afternoon in the car. Slowly, he felt the corner of his mouth turn into something akin to flirty, and he asked, “Oh?”
“Yes,” Kevin said as his warm thumb trailed across Hugo’s jaw toward his chin. “I’ve thought about that day a lot, about our last kiss and how I wish it never would’ve ended. Damn the rain. Would you mind if I showed you how I’ve always imagined that moment in the driveway would’ve happened? Or are you with someone?”
“No. I mean, yes, you can show me,” Hugo stammered, his heart beating hard against his chest.
Kevin’s smile lit up his face, and he looked so young just then, the careworn lines that had appeared between his brows while talking about his father smoothing.
“Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly like I would have said things back then, but this is how I wish I would’ve done it. Ready?”
Hugo nodded and licked his lips, drawing Kevin’s attention to his mouth.
“So pretend we’re standing next to my open trunk,” Kevin directed as he led Hugo near the tail end of a car parked in a driveway close to the roadside. Kevin tilted his head left and right, shaking his hands out loosely next to his body as if trying to get into character.
“Hugo,” he started, somehow pulling youthful nervousness into his voice, “we should plan on getting together in a few weeks.”
“Sure,” Hugo answered, ready to play along with the conversation he barely remembered. He recalled the feelings he’d had, though: excitement about leaving Austin but sadness about leaving Kevin. “I can get a ride down to St. Peter, or you can come up to Minneapolis. It’s not that far.”
That drive never ended up happening for either of them because Hugo auditioned for a play in the U’s theater department and got a lead role as a freshman, something unheard of. He had no time to get together on weekends because he had homework to do and lines to memorize and blocking to learn and sets to help build.
“Seventy miles or so.”
That’s where Hugo vaguely remembered Kevin’s dad clapping his big hands and telling Kevin he’d better hit the road. Now there was just the sound of far-off waves and traffic from the highway on the other side of the trees peppered with exploding fireworks.
“I’d love that,” Hugo said, regretful he hadn’t taken the time to find a ride and just go. “I’ll make it happen,” he promised, and he wished he’d kept it.
Kevin looked at Hugo with such intensity; even in the darkness surrounding them, Hugo could see how blown Kevin’s pupils were.
“It’ll happen this time,” Kevin whispered against Hugo’s mouth, lazily closing his eyes as he spoke.
Hugo tasted Kevin’s breath on his tongue, remembering it, even with the faint scent of lemon lingering. A silvery thread of his memory seemed to actually weave this moment to the moments in his past, pushing Hugo back into that world, filling him with all those emotions he had for Kevin when they were just boys. Kevin was the only man Hugo had really and truly been in love with. He was the ruler every single boyfriend since had to unwittingly measure himself against. And none, not a single one, had ever gotten anywhere near.
Hugo took in a quick breath and pushed forward, capturing Kevin’s mouth with his own as his fingers threaded through thick blond waves and shorter razor-cut strands; his hands landed on Kevin’s neck. Hugo thumbed over Kevin’s ears, allowing the pads of his fingers to tease the fine hair along his earlobes.
They fused their mouths, opening and closing with lips caressing, teeth nipping, and tongues pushing against each other in an attempt to taste the familiarity that was new again.
Kevin trailed his hands down Hugo’s back, kneading his fingers against Hugo’s ass once he got there, then pulling them closer. Hugo felt Kevin starting to firm up beneath the thin material of his shorts, and he wanted so badly to thrust. He barely restrained himself.
They stood on a darkened road and kissed how they both wished they would have years ago, giving to each other more than they took away. But by doing it that way, Hugo felt more content than he had in years.
“Come back to my place?” Kevin panted against Hugo’s temple. “Please, Hugh?”
Hugo nodded as he tried to catch his breath and then nodded again.
Incidentally, I got to write about that redhead in my trilogy. She’s Erin, Kevin’s wife. So even if I didn’t get to kiss her in real life, I got to write about how intelligent, kind, and beautiful she was to me. That’s as close to a second chance I’ll ever get with her, but the nice thing about writing her into fiction is that I won’t be disappointed by reality. Thankfully, Kevin and Hugo weren’t disappointed with each other.
In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.
By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children.
When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.
Posy Roberts lives in the land of 10,000 lakes (plus a few thousand more). But even with more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined, Minnesota has snow—lots of it—and the six months of winter makes us “hearty folk,” or so the locals say. The rest of the year is heat and humidity with a little bit of cool weather we call spring and autumn, which lasts about a week.
She loves a clean house, even if she can’t keep up with her daughter’s messes, and prefers foods that are enriched with meat, noodles, and cheese, or as we call it in Minnesota, hotdish. She also loves people, even though she has to spend considerable amounts of time away from them after helping to solve their interpersonal problems at her day job.
Posy is married to a wonderful man who makes sure she eats while she documents the lives of her characters. She also has a remarkable daughter who helps her come up with character names. When she’s not writing, she enjoys karaoke, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.