Bradley Parker has waited twenty years for Mr. Right, and on Valentine’s Day, he finally finds him. It’s love at first sight, and Brad even loses his virginity to the man of his dreams. But when he wakes up the next morning unable to remember anything—even what the man looked like—his best friend, Leslie, is convinced he imagined the whole thing. Brad knows he didn’t make up the best night of his life, but he has no idea of the danger he’s putting himself in as he struggles to recall the details of his perfect man. His search may lead him to parts of New York City he never dreamed existed and a war being waged in the shadows.
LESLIE WAS certain.
Her best friend Brad had totally lost his mind.
After being forced to get out of bed at six in the morning, Leslie had given up on thinking the day would get any better. She had groaned and cried and begged for some mercy, but Brad hadn’t shown any.
“This is important, Les!” The phone call had arrived somewhere around five thirty in the morning, and his commanding tone rang into her ears, no less annoying than a blaring alarm clock. “I am important. Nothing else should matter to you more than to know what is happening in your best friend’s life, and this is huge. Woman, I need you now!”
Leslie loved to hear those words when they came from her boyfriend’s dirty mouth. Coming from Brad, though, they only ticked her off. Not only did she have to end her sleep, but she had to turn down Pat’s tempting request to take another wild round before she left. Poor guy had to settle for a quickie and go back to sleep alone.
So when she reached Brad’s place, Leslie gave him an earful. “Whatever this is about, it better be good, mister, because I’m this close to kicking your ass,” she grumbled as she breezed into his dorm room. Brad and Patrick were roommates, and her feet automatically took her in the direction of her boyfriend’s bed.
Briskly, she swiveled on her feet and dropped her butt on the squishy bed. Her hands felt the warmth of the sheets underneath, making her realize how badly she needed some more sleep, and that made her angrier than she already was.
“It’s the day after Valentine’s, Brad.” Leslie crossed her arms over her breasts and frowned. “Most couples get out of their beds a little late because the sex last night has worn every fucking inch of their body out. Women just want to lie cuddled in their man’s arms….”
“I thought you hate cuddling.” Brad raised his right brow, giving her a mocking face.
Although he was right on that part, she wouldn’t admit it to him. “I love cuddling. I can stay spooned up with my Patty-pie all night and still wouldn’t complain. I am the queen of cuddling, all right?” Leslie shook her head, realizing she was getting off topic. “But that’s not the point, Brad. You call me up in the middle of night—”
“It’s six in the morning….”
He had the nerve to interrupt Leslie again, and she wasn’t going to let him this time. Instead, she spoke louder and continued, “… in the middle of night, Brad, and expect me to leave everything else and come running to you for your stupid little problems. You can’t do that. I know you are my best friend, but you aren’t the only person in my life right now. Pat is too, and he deserves to be given priority over you.”
Brad narrowed his brown eyes at her. “How could you?” He gasped suddenly.
“You forgot to get him a Valentine’s Day gift, didn’t you?”
Leslie threw her hands up in the air and whined, “I thought Valentine’s Day was tomorrow, and I was going to get him something today. But damn, these days come and go too quickly for my taste.” The day never meant anything big for her. But Patrick was the romantic type, who eagerly looked forward to the day of love. So, for his sake, she had decided to give in to this nonsensical belief. “Come on, Brad, don’t give me that look. I feel guilty enough already. I mean, that guy got me a pretty expensive… um… gift… ahem.”
“Don’t bother explaining. I already know what it is.” Brad smirked. He had, by then, plopped on his bed, which was on the opposite side of Pat’s.
“He showed it to you?” she gasped.
Brad chuckled slightly, shrugging his shoulders. “He wanted a second opinion, so….”
“Yeah, well.” Leslie’s face felt warm, and she desperately attempted to change the subject. “Anyway… what is this important thing that couldn’t wait until later?”
She watched her friend as his fair skin turned crimson and he averted his eyes from her. Leslie grew impatient as time passed, but she still decided to give him another moment or two.
However, when he didn’t speak, she yelled. “God! Spill it already!”
Brad crawled to sit by the edge of his bed and looked her in the eye. His eyes showed a lot of things in that moment. He seemed excited, that was for sure. But Leslie also picked up on a few other emotions that kept flicking through his face. His eyes stared at her vacantly at one point, while another time, they twinkled like never before. She had also caught him blushing at times. Leslie pondered, making all sorts of deductions in her mind to figure out his changed demeanor, and she still had nothing. So, she waited, though a bit annoyed, for Brad to speak up.
“Okay, remember how I said it is huge?” Brad finally spoke, and Leslie nodded her head to let him know she was all ears. “Well, it is. Last night, something happened, something unimaginable… beyond any of my wildest dreams. I never thought….”
“Brad.” Leslie yawned. “To the point, please. I don’t have all day.”
“Okay, all right! What happened is….” He paused, plastering a big grin on his face. She tried very hard not to roll her eyes, letting him tell her at his own pace. “Last night, my dear, I finally got laid!”
When he broke the news to her, Leslie’s subsequent yawn was cut short by the initial shock she went through. Her body jerked forward, now fully awakened. There wasn’t any amount of caffeine that would have made her feel as lively as she felt at that moment.
This was definitely huge, and not just for Brad.
Over the years, Leslie had constantly tried and consequently failed in hooking him up with several guys. Bradley Joseph Parker had the arrogance of a drag queen, she thought. He was too picky when it came to dating and relationships; never wishing to settle for anything less. He dreamt of a guy whose mere presence would take his breath away, who would be so handsome that every girl and every gay guy in the world would yearn to have him in their lives.
“Such a guy would only belong to me, holding my hand in a roomful of envious people,” he would say with a smirk. “I would look around and say to them ‘Suck it up, bitches! He is mine!’”
Brad had wasted years with these stupid fantasies, and he had remained a virgin. So Leslie never thought the day would come when Brad’s whining would ever end.
But it had. And Leslie thought she would faint, even with the adrenaline rushing through her veins.
“Wha—?” She became aware of the fact that she had left her mouth hanging open for too long and shut it immediately. A smile crept across her lips, getting bigger by the second, and it turned into a cheek-hurting grin. “Oh my God! Shut up. Seriously?” She quickly sat up, hopping on the bed to cross her legs.
“Very seriously, Les.” Brad’s cute face beamed with wonder and excitement. Leslie couldn’t blame him. She remembered the day she had had sex for the first time, and even though it was a while back, she couldn’t forget the bliss she’d felt after finally losing her virginity or the hunger she felt for getting some more. Leslie was ready to bet that Brad was experiencing similar whirls of emotions in him.
“Last night, on Valentine’s Day…?” she asked.
Brad gave a nod. “On Valentine’s Day.”
“That’s so funny.” Leslie laughed out loud. Even though Valentine’s Day never meant anything to her, something this huge happening to her best friend did force her to consider it a special day. “Okay, you have to tell me everything, dude! Don’t leave out a single detail. I don’t care if it’s too much information. I just have to know. How long has this been going on between you two?”
Brad laughed. “Not too long. I just met him yesterday.”
“And you slept with him already?” Leslie’s mind was drawing up the picture of the perfect guy in her imagination, a guy who had managed to entice someone like Brad in such a short time. She was sure he would be down-to-earth, with an impeccably charming personality. “Way to go! I won’t deny it; I like the spontaneous Brad. Who is this guy, by the way? Do I know him?”
“No, you don’t.” His smile wavered a bit.
“Well, what’s his name?”
Leslie watched him hesitate for a moment. “I… don’t know.”
It took her by surprise.
“I think my devilish side just had a mind-blowing orgasm. You not only have sex with a guy for the first time, but you are also telling me it was simply a one-night stand?” She put her hand over her heart and mockingly said, “Mama Les is so proud of her boy!”
“But Les,” he knitted his eyebrows together as he stood up and came over to sit by her side. He took hold of Leslie’s hand, and she felt his grip tightening when he said, “It wasn’t a one-night stand. Definitely not, uh-uh.” He shook his head, and she immediately wondered if he was trying to convince her or himself. “It was special to me, and I could tell it was special for him too. Why else would he go to extremes to make that night an unforgettable memory? He lit up hundreds of scented candles in the room for me, and there were rose petals all over the bed where we did it.” Leslie didn’t miss the blush forming on his face again as he spoke. “There was champagne, sweet music, and he was a perfect gentleman. He kept asking me if I was sure about this.”
“WOW! Sounds utterly cheesy to me….” Leslie said, although she was quite impressed by all of it and maybe a bit jealous too.
Brad let go of her hand and sighed. “It was damn romantic.”
Leslie moved her gaze around the dorm room, scrutinizing it. “I am guessing it wasn’t here you did it then?” She inquired, turning to face him and watched him slowly crossing his legs like she had.
“No, he took me to his place.” Brad had his mouth open to probably add something more, but he stopped abruptly, scrunched his nose up, and glanced at her with some doubt. “I think it was his place… I don’t know. Where else would he take me?”
Leslie noticed uncertainty, even when he shrugged. What Brad was saying didn’t make any sense to her. “The champagne! Did you have too much of it?”
He frowned. “God, no! Why would I want to give him the impression I’m an idiotic drunkard on our first meeting?”
Of course she didn’t believe him. “Right, says the one who’d put Britney Spears to shame with his underage drinking. Seriously, dude, I’ve had to pick you up in a drunken state from God knows how many parties by now. So don’t shit me by saying you didn’t have any amount of alcohol in you last night.”
Brad reddened and carefully said, “I may have had a little bit of alcohol.”
Typical. Leslie rolled her eyes. “Weren’t you at Ian’s party last night?” She tried to keep her face straight as she asked. The party he had gone to was for all the single men and ladies from their college. Leslie knew exactly how that turned out every year by the end of the night.
He gave a nod in reply.
“Well, maybe you did it at his place?”
“No, it can’t be because we were partying at a nightclub last night.”
“Since when do nightclubs allow in a bunch of twenty-year-olds?” she asked, certain they must have been stopped at the door for IDs. She couldn’t say about the others, but Brad’s cute baby face did give away his age.
“They don’t, but Ian somehow knew a few guys working at this nightclub that we went to, so we were able to sneak in.” He grinned.
Leslie suddenly wished she could have joined them. “Lucky you!” Now she couldn’t wait for May to arrive; that was when she turned twenty-one. She had been planning it in her mind forever. “So you met this mysterious guy in that club?”
“Yes, I think so.” Brad chewed on his lower lip.
“Well, what did he say to you? What did he look like?”
Brad turned sorrowful. “If I only knew….” He hung his head down and began to pull on his hair. “Fuck, Les!” He yelled, then looked up, scowling at her. “I can’t seem to remember any of it. The only thing that has managed to stay stuck in my memory is the mind-blowing sex that I had with him. I even remember all the positions we did it in, and God, that guy has the stamina of a wild lion, I tell you.”
She wouldn’t say it, but Leslie was a bit turned on by that description. Watching two hot men going at it was always a part of her wildest fantasy.
However, she couldn’t help but turn a bit worrisome for her friend. He looked vulnerable as he sat there in front of her, grimacing like a sick old man.
“Sounds like you did have some quality time with him,” she said, playing with a few strands of her dirty-blonde hair.
“You have no idea.” Brad groaned. “And that’s why I have to see him again. He is the man of my dreams.”
“Why don’t you go up to his place? Give him a nice surprise.” Leslie suggested the first thing that came to her mind. However, when she watched her friend squirming, she threw her head back, exasperated. “Don’t tell me,” she grunted. “You don’t even remember where he took you? How the hell did you even get here? Did he blindfold you or something?”
“No,” Brad snapped, sounding offended at first but composed himself within a second. “I don’t know. It’s all such a blur. The last memory I have is of me staring at his muscular chest when I came. And then… I just woke up here on my bed, draped in my sheets.”
Leslie stroked his arm. “Are you sure it wasn’t just a dream? Maybe you imagined it all.” That explanation made more sense.
“It wasn’t a dream, Les,” he snapped at her. “Believe me, I know.”
“How could you know for sure? You don’t even remember a single thing about this mysterious guy that you were with. For all I know, you may still be a fucking virgin.”
“Uh… I know I am not because my ass has been hurting like hell.”
Leslie pursed her lips, and her face hurt more as she tried not to burst out laughing. She had never imagined Brad being on the receiving end when it came to sex. Finally, when she couldn’t contain it any longer, she guffawed aloud, shaking her head at a mortified Brad.
“Les, come on, this is not funny,” he whined and got off the bed. “I am feeling damn helpless here. I know I don’t remember his name, or where he lives, or what he does, or even what he looks like exactly.” Leslie’s laugh transformed into soft giggles before subsiding. She gazed at her best friend as he paced in the room, blabbering. “But it doesn’t mean I am going to give up on finding him again. He was my first, Les. So this can’t be it. There has to be more, right? We have to meet again, and I am not waiting years for the fates to show mercy on me. I am going to make it happen, to find what’s in store for me and this guy.”
Leslie stayed silent. She didn’t usually hold back on her honest opinions just because it would hurt the other person. But Brad wasn’t just any person. He was her best friend. They had been pretty tight for five long years, never leaving each other’s side. She knew him inside out. She was perfectly aware of the strong emotions he was experiencing toward this mysterious guy. She knew he wanted to see him again.
But she was afraid her friend was going to end up hurt at the end of this impossible journey. There was a possibility this mysterious guy never even existed, or maybe Brad had slept with someone who expected nothing more from him. In either circumstance, Leslie knew that when Brad learned the real truth, he would be devastated.
“Say something, Les.” Brad stopped moving and looked at her desperately. “I could do with a sensible opinion right now.”
“I don’t know, Brad. I mean,” she stammered. “You don’t know where he lives. Where would you go looking for him?”
“The nightclub,” he said, dropping on his knees in front of her and grinning with increasing excitement. “Maybe the people in that club know him. He could be one of their regulars, right?”
“Or he could have also been a first-timer, like you. You don’t know for sure, Brad.” She watched her friend sulking. Brad got to his feet again and resumed pacing around the room. “Look, even if we go to that nightclub looking for him, what are we gonna say? ‘Hey, we are looking for this guy who maybe comes to your bar regularly. We aren’t sure what he looks like or what his name is, but maybe you can still tell us something about him.’” Leslie shook her head, frowning deeply. “Admit it, you can’t find your guy with so little details known to you.”
“There’s one thing, though.” He turned swiftly to face her. “There is this bronze pendant that keeps popping in my mind every time I think about him. I am pretty sure he was wearing it around his neck all night.”
“So what?” Leslie shrugged. “There must be dozens of men wearing the same kind of pendant….”
“Les, this pendant was kind of unique. It was like a sword with flowers and creeping vines around it. You don’t see anyone wearing that around here, do you? If you ask me, it looked like an ancestral piece. I bet it has caught some attention.”
“Okay,” Leslie doubted this information was going to be helpful for Brad in finding this guy. “But how do you plan on getting yourself into that nightclub again? You are still underage.”
Brad shrugged. “I can ask Ian to come with me.” In the next moment, though, something seemed to click in his mind, and Leslie saw his face lighting up like a Christmas tree. “Ian! He was with me all night. Maybe he saw me leaving with that guy. Come on!”
Leslie uncrossed her legs and jerked forward, watching his hurried movements. “W-wait! What?” She watched him collecting his coat from the hanger and approaching the door.
“We are going to Ian’s right now,” he called over his shoulder as he opened the door.
“For God’s sake, Brad, it’s six thirty in the morning! You can’t go around waking the whole city just to find your boy toy. Sheesh! Grow up!”
Brad stopped and smiled. “I don’t care what time it is. I have to find my man, Les, and I have to find him now.” He said it with such intensity that it tugged at her heartstrings. “And you, my dear Les, are coming along with me.”
“What if I don’t want to?” Leslie whimpered. She was tired, and being part of a search party wasn’t something that she was up for. All she wanted to do was go back to her apartment and sleep with Pat in her bed.
However, her friend gave an evil laugh before turning toward the door. “I will be waiting for you by the car, so hurry up!” he called behind him.
After lots of cursing and muttering death threats at Brad, Leslie followed his lead, still assured that nothing good was going to come out of it. Yet a small part of her heart prayed for a miracle.
Sid Love may be new to this genre but he is certainly been around the story telling track before given the debut of this novella.
Read the full review at
Mr. Love is a good storyteller who uses a lot of imagery and can weave a complicated paranormal plot with the best of them.
Holding On To Hope is a great way to read once, twice or more if you feel like it.
I was quickly enthralled by this story.
I’d recommend this book for people who like paranormal romance set in college age
I'm like Leslie. I pay no attention to Valentine's Day and consider it a completely useless day to celebrate. I, also, would have been really angry with Brad, Leslie's best friend, if he'd woken me up at the butt crack of dawn demanding my help and making me leave the comfort of my lover's arms. Brad is a bit of a drama queen, looking for Mr. Right and definitely not interested in Mr. Right Now. Living on his fantasies of the perfect man. Which makes him a bit of an anomaly on a college campus. So when Brad tells her that he met the "one" the night before and even lost his virginity to him, but can't remember anything more than the necklace the man wore, well Leslie gets over her mad in order to help Brad find Mr. Mysterious.
Brad and Leslie begin their search with Ian, a classmate of theirs, and the guy whose party Brad was at the night before. Apparently Ian was able to get his group of friends into a club downtown, even though they're all under twenty-one, and Brad is sure that's where he met him. Ian doesn't remember seeing Brad with anyone and the necklace Brad recalls is one Ian wears and is an antique passed down in his family. Now the story is just getting more mysterious and a little freaky, and Ian knows a lot more than he's telling.
At this point I can't say any more because I would ruin the book with some serious spoilers. Considering that 'Holding on to Hope' is Sid Love's first published book, in my opinion, the author did a good job. It was a little disconcerting to realize the entire book was written from Leslie's point of view, but I suppose because of some of the circumstances (I can't say due to spoilers), it made more sense that way. Congratulations to the author on his first release!
NOTE: This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews
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