I was lucky enough to be included in the Start Here blog tour. All opinions are my own.
There’s a first time for everything. Gatecrashing a KPop concert with an oppa in a business suit. Taking shelter from the storm with the girl you’ve been meaning to shake off. That kiss that blurs the line between friendship and something more. A one-night stand (or, is it?) with your best friend from across the hallway.
Dive into these 10 stories of first encounters – unapologetically queer, happy endings required, with a smattering of that signature #romanceclass kilig. Whether you’re recalling your own firsts or out there looking for one, there’s a story in here for you.
So, go on.
Turn the page.
(Edited by Ronald S. Lim and Brigitte Bautista. Featuring short stories by Agay Llanera, H. Bentham, Ella Banta, Danice Sison, Yeyet Soriano, Barbie Barbieto, Katt Briones, Bobbi Moran, Motzie Dapul, and Brigitte Bautista. This anthology contains M/M, F/F, F/NB romance stories with happy endings. Some stories have a high heat level.)
When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew that I had to be a part of this blog tour. I’ve been trying to find more diverse romance, and this absolutely fit the bill. Every story in this #romanceclass short story collection has representations of Filipinx and LGBTQ+ characters. Ships include M/M, F/F, and F/NB.
All of the short stories in this collection are nuanced and adorable as hell. Each one is long enough that you get a feel for the characters, so even if you’re not the biggest fan of short stories, this collection is definitely for you. I kind of think of this collection as an adult version of the YA book Meet Cute, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while.
Now, to finish off the post, I have an exclusive excerpt from Come Full Circle by Bobbi Moran, which was one of my favourite stories in the collection!
It was in October, fifteen years ago, when I first realized I was in love with you.
It crept up on me, and I was caught unaware. You were no one special in school—although admittedly you were one of the smart ones and one of those who always played by the rules. I’ve known you since elementary, but you never stood out from the crowd. You were pretty, yes, but pretty girls were a dime a dozen in our high school. You were also one of the first to get a boyfriend. But you still kept your good-girl image.
What changed? We both joined a musical production, and I saw a different side of you. You were Maria to my Captain von Trapp, and I marveled at your versatility as you tackled the songs and the production numbers. But apart from your obvious talent, there was a glint in your eyes that I never noticed before. You loved playing a role, and you did it with such zest. You never dabbled in these extracurricular activities before, but it was our senior year and maybe you wanted to do something different, something you have never done before we all went off to college. You became Maria who was not so appropriate in the abbey and the same Maria who brought joy to the kids she took care of and the same Maria who showed the captain he could love again.
You certainly made me see you in a different light. But it wasn’t until October, a week before the night of the show, that it all made sense to me.
I was not a natural singer, but I could carry a tune. So I wasn’t even sure why I was given the role of the captain, except maybe I was tall and looked good in a suit. I had some issues with our song, and you offered to help me after the main rehearsals. So after everyone had left, we stayed in the empty auditorium, and you patiently ran me through the song. It was a simple song really—“Something Good”—but I always faltered. I didn’t know why until that time I realized it was because I was singing it with you.
And with every word and every note, I meant everything. Whenever you looked into my eyes as we sang the chorus and every time you held my hands, I hoped it was you singing to me, and not Maria to Captain von Trapp.
We usually sang the last part of the song with our eyes inches from each other, and that time, all alone on the empty stage, your face was closer than usual. I could see the hazel flecks in your eyes, the freckles on the bridge of your nose, and the mosquito bite on the lower left side of your chin. I could smell the cherry scent of your glossed lips. I caught my breath and felt faint. I must have swooned because I felt like I was losing my balance and falling into you. Our lips must have brushed because I felt every fiber of my being jolted. But then you buckled under my weight. And you fell back with my big-ass frame falling on top of you.
I thought you would be horrified, but you laughed.
“You haven’t had lunch, have you?”
I was still dizzy, but I tried to remember the last time I ate and you were right. It was 4:00 p.m., and I hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast.
I smiled sheepishly as I tried to get off on top of you.
You gracefully stood and walked off stage.
I thought I had lost you. But you came back with a sandwich bag and a thermos of water. You urged me to eat, and the cold ham and cheese sandwich never tasted better.
You watched me, amused.
You touched my shoulder softly.
“Don’t stress too much about the song. You know the words, and you know the harmony. Just sing from the heart. I will be here with you, so I won’t let you screw up.”
You smiled at me, and I felt like swooning again.
You were right. I didn’t falter, and you were right there with me. But when the curtain closed, you were back to your original persona. And I did the same. Our cliques didn’t have anything to do with each other.