Lucky Seven

E.L. Esch

Dante Mathers, college student, fifth year, has a track record for being dishonest with himself, and is about to undergo the biggest, scariest change of his life. Dante's forced himself to go out with girls in the past and he d...
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Dante Mathers, college student, fifth year, has a track record for being dishonest with himself, and is about to undergo the biggest, scariest change of his life.

Dante's forced himself to go out with girls in the past and he does it again when he's approached by the beautiful Serena one day on campus, desperate to prove to himself that he's "normal." But when he loses a drinking contest and is dared to go to the next campus GLBT meeting by his best friend, he’s not sure how to handle it. Sure he could blow it off and say he went, but something nagging at the back of his mind compels him to go anyway. After all, he’s had problems with intimacy in the past and his first crush was a boy in high school. But is he really forcing himself to go, or is he finally starting to be honest with himself? No need to over think this, Dante tells himself. It'll be get in, get out. No need to talk to anyone. Easy, right?

But then he meets Sven. Sexy, toned, wearing a leather jacket with spiked up bleach-blond hair, Sven's bad-boy flare sticks out on campus and catches Dante's eye. But there's more to Sven than his punkish looks, and Dante's about to find out all the sultry little details.

  • Note:
    Lucky Seven
Excerpt
She was the most stunning woman I’d ever seen, with skin as white and smooth as a fresh blanket of snow and hair like rivers of the finest silk. Deep, dark rivers the color of a raven’s wings.

She carried herself like a proud lioness—the most regal of the pride, the leader of the hunts on the African plain and the one the other females all revered for her strength and grace. An air of majesty radiated from her as she sat on the stone edge of the fountain in the campus square. Poise practically oozed from her as she crossed her legs and brushed straight her dress.

It was a rich plum purple—her dress. She was wearing a matching shrug with a maize-colored shirt underneath—very classy. Silver hoops dangled from her ears, catching the sunlight and sparkling as she ran her hand through her hair. She had large shoulders for a girl, but it didn’t make her look odd. It suited her in a strange way.

I’d never seen her on campus before. New enrollee? I wanted to ask, but for some reason I found her entirely unapproachable. Maybe it was because I couldn’t see her eyes—covered by sunglasses—so I wasn’t sure what kind of mood she was in today. With my luck she was having her monthly gift, and the last thing she wanted was to be approached by some strange guy and asked a bunch of small-talk questions.

What would I talk with her about in depth anyway? Sure, I found her pretty, but what could a gem like her and a plain guy like me have in common?

In my pocket, my phone beeped twice. Shit, I was going to be late for a meeting if I didn’t hurry. I looked up to find the coal-haired woman, but she’d disappeared from her seat at the fountain. I shrugged, not too crestfallen. I’d lost my chance, but face it—I wouldn’t have taken it.

I started off toward the student union and stopped dead in my tracks as my phone beeped again. I suddenly remembered exactly where I was going, and a cold sweat beaded the back of my neck. Maybe I should have approached that girl, because between talking with her and going to this meeting, I wasn’t sure which was scarier.

* * * *

“I’m Mandy, and I’m bi.”

“My name’s Cole, and I identify as gay.”

“Terry, and if you can’t tell I’m gay, you need your brain checked, okay?”

The room chuckled, and then everybody’s gaze fell on me. “Uh…” I coughed. My throat felt like it was filled with sand, and I practically had to spit out my next words, “I’m Dante.” That’s it, just Dante. Now move along…

Fortunately when he realized I wasn’t going to say any more, the man next to me piped up with his introduction.

I whistled a sigh of relief. When I got out of this frigging trust circle, I was going to wring Greg’s scrawny neck!

I felt like a huge asshole sitting in this circle of ten people in a secluded underground room of the student union. They were here because they wanted to share with other people like them, to hang out and not be judged. Well, I wasn’t judging by any means, but the only reason I’d found my way to this LGBTQ meeting was because I’d lost a bet and my friend was still immature enough to find this kind of thing amusing.

The guy next to me nudged me in the shoulder, and I nearly flew ten feet out of my chair. I looked around the room. Introductions seemed to be over, and now everyone was just talking.

“You’re a fourth year, right?” he asked. His voice was smooth and rich. It reminded me of syrup, or tree sap.

“Fifth.” I swallowed. “I’m only finishing up electives this semester. I already have a job in my field.”

“Ah, must be nice.” He threw back his head over the edge of his chair and sighed. “In this little town it’s hard to find an internship close to home. I’ve been going through hell trying.” He grinned. “What’d you study?”

“Physical therapy.”

“Ah, that explains it. There are so many old folks and people who work with their backs around here. You’ll be in business for a long while yet. Or did you have plans to leave town?”

Part of me wondered if this was the kind of small talk I’d thought about making with that girl before. This guy was a hell of a lot better at it than I would’ve been. But whatever his motives, I didn’t mind. Greg was the only close friend I had on campus, and he hated talking about school life and work. The change of topic from girls and clubbing was refreshing.

“Nah, not leaving.” I shook my head. “Born and raised here in the country and no plan on leaving. I stick to my roots.”

He nodded. “I feel the same.” He held out his hand to me. “James.”

“Dante.” I took his hand warmly.

“So…” James leaned back in his chair and gestured at the whole of the room. “I haven’t seen you at one of these before.”

“Um…”

“Hey, it’s cool if you don’t wanna talk about it. Just making an observation. This place is so no pressure.”

It certainly didn’t feel like no pressure to me, but maybe it was the overwhelming guilt that made my stomach feel like it was tangled in knots. I wasn’t going to lie—I’d been curious in the past, but nothing ever came of it. Then again I’d never had a girlfriend either, which was why Greg had thought this would be so hilarious. I found men and women attractive in their own way, but that hardly made me gay or bisexual. Damn, if Greg knew how much stress this was really causing me inside, he’d probably look at me like I’d grown another head.

“Terry over there…” James set a hand on my shoulder and pointed to the guy who’d introduced himself earlier. “Biggest flamer in the whole damn school, and proud of it. You’ll see him at every drag show, and he’ll probably win. Sets the rest of the competition on edge, I tell ya.” He chuckled and pointed to another guy sitting three seats to my left. “The guy with the lumberjack beard is Carl. He’s quiet, not too wild. You two would probably get along.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

James laughed. “Because you’re new, and I can tell you’re the shy type. Just put yourself out there. Nobody here bites…” He winked. “Often. Ah, I just noticed Seven is missing. Bummer. Not surprised, though. He’s a shy guy too. He’d be the perfect one for you to talk to. Better than me.”

“Seven?” What kind of a name was that?

“Ha-ha, I know. Weird name, right? His name’s actually Sven. They accidentally added the extra E on his campus ID card his first year, friggin’ idiots. He’s been Seven ever since. Cute guy. Pretty platinum-blond hair. I’d kill to have skin as smooth and clear as his.”

I tried not to put too much interest in James’s words as he prattled on about Sven, or Seven. But even though I felt uncomfortable, the last thing I wanted to seem was rude. This guy had put himself out there to make me feel better, even though I didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t just ignore him because he wanted to talk about…other dudes.

So with as much of a polite smile as I could muster, I asked, “Is Seven your boyfriend?”

James’s eyes widened. “Seven? Hell no!” He slapped me hard on the back and doubled over laughing.

I stared at him in complete confusion, and I knew it was showing on my face. What the hell was so funny? I looked around. No one else was listening to us, so I couldn’t tell if there was some joke I’d missed or what.

“Sorry, sorry.” James straightened. “Dunno why I found that so funny. Nah, Seven and I have just been friends since high school. Seven isn’t even gay as far as I know. He cleans up around the student union for extra cash. Lots of clubs meet down here, so he’s here a lot picking up cups that miss the trash and junk like that. He told me he was scheduled for cleaning today. Must still be in another wing.” He sighed, almost like he was disappointed by Seven’s absence.

“I see…” I paused and looked around the room again, trying not to attract anyone’s attention. “So, um,” I mumbled to James. “Is this all that happens here? People just split off into their groups and talk?”

“Nah. We have these meetings twice a semester for people who, you know, need a place to go. New people, like you.” James smiled warmly. “Sometimes we have movie night, or game night, or just get together to hang out at clubs or on campus. I can give you the campus Facebook page if you want to know when events are scheduled?”

“No, that’s okay.”

“Come on. Get yourself out there, newbie. You got a phone?”

“Hey!” He practically fondled all of me to get my cell phone, which was unfortunately tucked into my back pocket. He got to it, though, much to my dismay. I shuddered as he slid his hand down against my ass and slipped the phone from my pocket.

He started it up and opened a blank note. “There.” He typed a URL onto the note page, saved it, and pressed the phone into my palm. “Show up to something sometime, will ya? Even Seven comes to movie nights sometimes, and getting him out of his house is like pulling teeth.”

There was no way in good conscience I could go to any of those events. I was there on a stupid dare. Thank God my phone beeped at that moment.

“Sorry, I’ve got class.” I snatched my backpack up from the back of my chair.

“Oh, okay. Have a good one, Dante.” James smiled and waved as I bolted out of the room. “Come to an event!”

It was a shame I couldn’t. Really it was. James was one of the nicest guys I’d met on campus. Not that I’d put myself out there to many people. James was right; I was a shy guy. I thought of that pretty girl again and sighed. I looked back at the meeting room door. Too bad. I could use more friends like James.

Copyright © E.L. Esch

Reviews

Customer Reviews

4 stars = I REALLY liked this book! Review by asgoodrich
Quality
Lucky Seven is a really sweet coming of age story. I adored both Dante and Sven’s characters and loved watching them both come into their own. Based upon the prologue and the comments of Dante’s roommate, it seems that Dante has spent most of his adolescence and young adulthood in an asexual manner. Well I’m not sure that asexual is the correct term as it’s not so much that Dante has no sexual feelings, but rather he refuses to consider them in fear of what he may learn about himself. Dante seems to have adopted the attitude of “You can’t miss what you’ve never had.” Yet suddenly he finds himself thrust into a situation where he has to consider who he is on a sexual level when he meets Serena and Sven and finds himself drawn to both a woman and a man.

Being that Lucky Seven is an M/M romance, it was inevitable that Dante would come to accept that he was attracted to Sven. But as I often say, it is the journey to the final chapter that truly makes the story and Dante’s story is a perfect example of this. At first he doesn’t understand why he’s drawn to Serena because, as reluctantly admits to himself, he’s never been attracted to a woman. With each “date,” he comes to realize that he just enjoys spending time with her and his feelings are completely platonic. Once he comes to understand that he is not attracted to Serena sexually he feels awful because he feels as though he has led her on – which just goes to show how nice of a guy Dante is. That he is plagued by guilt and worries that he will lose her friendship further demonstrates Dante’s character. Fortunately for Dante, circumstances unfold in such a way that Dante is able to let Serena know how he feels without ruining their relationship – and thus begins Dante’s true journey of self-acceptance.

One of the things that impressed me most about this book is that the author did not feel the need to rush the main characters into sex and remained true to the Coming of Age genre. The combination of Dante’s innocence and Sven’s shyness meant that the characters became friends first. There was far more of an emphasis placed on the emotional aspects of their relationship than the physical ones; in fact, Sven pretty much told Dante more than once that there was no rush and that if he [Dante] never felt comfortable going all the way, then so be it. As such, their sexual interactions occurred in a natural progression from learning to kiss, to making out and heavy petting, to oral, and to… well, you’ll have to read the book to find out if they actually go all the way. I will say that if you enjoy M/M coming of age romances, you won’t be disappointed because the author does a wonderful job of balancing the excitement of discovering one’s sexual being and the sweetness of falling in love. I adored Lucky Seven and cannot wait to read more of Ms. Esch’s work.

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
(Posted on 4/11/2015)
Lucky Sven Review by Ruthie
Quality
"I received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads"

This is a sweet coming out story, with some angst, and a cleverly created world of confusion and uncertainty. It develops with both the lead characters, and at times is overwhelming in its chaos. But somehow it works and the reader cannot help but keep reading to see whether these two young men will work out how to be true to themselves. I enjoyed the naivety and the charm, as well as the interactions with family, and the realisation of just what is important.

~~Wicked Reads Review Team~~
(Posted on 2/10/2015)

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