Today at Sinfully we are delighted to bring the exclusive cover reveal for Block and Strike Kelly Jensen. There is also an excerpt for you to whet your appetite for Kelly’s upcoming release. Go have a look!
BLOCK and STRIKE by Kelly Jensen
Release Date ~ 6th January 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary Romance
Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
The soup was about done when Max emerged from the bathroom, pulling the drawstring on the sweat pants tight around his lean hips. Jake caught a flash of material at the waist there, the shorts—good call—then the T-shirt flopped down, looking something like a sack slung over a clothes hanger. Max had fairly wide shoulders and his arms were long. Legs, too, under the sweats. Despite his slim appearance, Jake knew Max had a little heft to him. He’d carried him up and down the stairs last night, after all. Max might look like a waif, with his large eyes (one) and pale skin—but he wasn’t. He had presence. It was just a shorter presence than Jake was used to with everyone in his family being tall.
Pushing wet hair back from his face, Max nodded. “Yeah.” He moved slowly, obviously in pain, and the shower had done little to improve his appearance. He had a pair of stitches closing a cut over his swollen eye and a couple of moist scabs near his hairline on the opposite side.
“You need to cover those?” Jake couldn’t help wincing slightly as he pointed out the cuts.
“Nah, they’ll heal quicker if I let ’em dry out.” The voice of experience? “Soup smells good.”
“We’ll reserve judgment until we taste it. I probably should have just gone to Wu’s.”
“You eat there much?”
“Not really. The hall always smells like Chinese food. Sort of puts me off.”
“I know what you mean.”
Jake waved at the table. “Have a seat. Can I get you a drink?”
“Just water.” Max pulled out a chair and sat carefully. “How long have you lived here?”
“Just over three months.”
“Dang. So if I’d ditched my old place a couple of months earlier, I could have had this one.” Max’s crooked smile looked like it hurt. “Not that I could afford it, mind.”
“Where were you before?”
Max waved in an easterly direction. “Closer to the park. I was sharing with some other guys, but it ended up just being too noisy. I guess I’m a country boy at heart.”
“So, you’re from the country, then?”
“Out past Harrisburg, yeah, I know it.”
Max nodded. “You from Philly?”
“Doylestown. I moved down here a few years ago to be near….” His gaze flicked to the picture of him and Kate, then back to the soup pot. “Friends, and work, I guess. And my sister.”
“What’s your work?”
“Construction. Residential, which is mostly renovation at the moment.”
Max smoothed his hand across the table. “So these tables are your projects, then?”
Tables, plural. He’d noticed the others? “Yeah.”
Jake nodded in acknowledgement. “What about you?” Admitting he already knew where Max worked could sound stalkerish.
He hadn’t noticed how open Max’s expression had become, despite that one swollen eye and all the bruises, until his face closed again. Max looked down at the table and traced a finger along the grain. “I work at Hendrick’s on weekdays and some shifts at the Wawa in the evenings.”
That was a lot of hours. “Why do you work two jobs?”
“What else would I do?”
Jake blinked at the blank question reflected all over Max’s face. “I dunno. Go out. See your family, friends.”
Max’s shoulders crept toward his ears. “I s’pose.”
A long, low sigh deflated Max’s shoulders. He stretched both arms across the table. Okay, time to change the subject.
“Is all your family in Mechanicsburg?”
Max shook his head halfway and offered another of his habitual shrugs. Silence fell between them with an audible thump and Jake turned back to the stove, disconcerted and confused. Max was like a cactus or something. One with those rare flowers that only opened up for an hour a day.
Not able to think of another topic, he served up the soup. It worked out okay. Didn’t really taste like egg drop, but it had the chicken thing going.
“It’s good,” Max said before tackling one of the soft pieces of meat. He winced and snuffled as he chewed.
“Are you in pain? Where did you put your prescription?”
“In the bathroom. I took a pill after my shower. I figured I’d take it before I got really sore. Not that I’ll not be sore somewhere for the next week or two.”
“Sounds like you’re speaking from experience.”
“Sure. Who hasn’t been in a fight?”
“Willa said….” Jake trailed off, sure Max didn’t want be reminded of the beating.
Max looked up, his one startlingly blue eye pinning Jake with a look. “Said what?”
Fuck, here goes. “It looked like you didn’t fight back.”
“They finish up quicker when you let them get on with it.”
Meet Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.