Book Title: This is Not a Horror Movie
Author: Sara Dobie Bauer
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow Designs
Release Date: May 13, 2021
Genres: m/m new adult, gay paranormal romance, LGBTQ, romantic comedy
Trope: Friends to lovers
Themes: non-explicit, humorous, teens, Florida, summer vacation, hauntings, evil spirits
Heat Rating: 2 flames
Warnings: Scenes of graphic violence, death of minor characters, mentions of bullying, alcohol use
Length: 78 000 words
It is a standalone story.
For the past four years, Emory, Connor, and their families have vacationed side by side on Longboat Key, Florida. Eighteen-year-old Emory has pined for his neighbor from behind the covers of Stephen King books, but college boy Connor has never noticed him. Probably because Emory looks like Jack Skellington with good hair.
Emory anticipates another predictable summer of sunburn and disappointment. Instead, he ends up with a mystery on his hands when a beloved beach bum goes missing, and Connor volunteers to help with the search. Turns out it’s not just scary movie cops who are worthless, so the boys start an investigation of their own—leading them straight to an abandoned beach resort.
Despite the danger, Emory and Connor grow closer, but as Emory’s gay dreams start coming true, so do the horror movie tropes he so loves. Even though he knows that sex equals death in slasher flicks, Emory can’t keep his hands off the guy of his teenage dreams.
I’m about to follow a mysterious rat into the darkness when a hand lands on my shoulder. I suck a panicked gasp in through my lips as Connor says, “Sorry! Sorry.”
I put my hands on my knees and relearn breathing.
He stands there, backlit like some kind of hot angel, and shrugs. “Maybe you should be thanking me.”
“You like to be scared,” he says.
He’s right. Haunted house in the neighborhood? I’m first. Spooky cemetery? Coming through. Maybe that’s part of the reason I always let Liz drag me to parties at the Outpost. It feels like being in a scary movie. I’m waiting for Leatherface to show up and murder the morally reprehensible youth. Of course, if horror movie rules are true, I’m totally dead. I lost my virginity at sixteen and more often than not spend “happy hour” sharing malt liquor with Longboat’s famous homeless dude, Leland.
“What are you doing over here?” Connor asks.
“Befriending local wildlife.” I glance over my shoulder into the dark. I shove hair out of my face—a nervous tic I’ve acquired since growing it out. Because I needed another nervous tic. “What are you doing over here?”
“Talking to you.” He grins, but I can feel a disconnect.
Connor and I have always had a mutually agreed upon rhythm. He’s the big, gorgeous straight dude who puts up with me, the skinny, little gay kid.
No one knows I’m gay down here. Florida is for family, not fu— Anyway.
In summers past, Connor wrestled me and tickled me, and I pretended not to like it. We talked about some things, mostly scary movies, but kept an emotional distance. He accepts me being a drama queen, and I never let him know I would climb Everest for his kiss.
Staring at me with a dumb look on his face is not our rhythm.
I finally lose my shit. “Jesus, am I bleeding from my eyes?”
He coughs out a laugh. “What?”
“You’re looking at me funny.”
He looks away. “Oh.”
I cross my arms. I have, in fact, filled out a lot since last summer—and the lifeguarding helps—but I’m still self-conscious about my small frame and will probably never forget the jocks calling me “Tinker Bell” from seventh to tenth grade. I press my lips together and side-eye the kids dancing to some club beat on Liz’s phone. “Everyone’s looking at me funny, actually.”
Connor clears his throat and plucks at the front of his tight, white T-shirt. He looks like he wants to dive headfirst into the empty pool at his back.
“You don’t have to talk to me, you know.”
His blue eyes flit back my way. Even in the dark, I know they’re blue. He says, “But I like talking to you.”
I hug myself tighter and lift a shoulder. “Seen any good horror movies lately?”
His smile is back. “Tons. I saw this French one called Raw.”
I bounce up on my toes. “Cannibals! Oh my God, that movie was so good! The writing.” I tear at my hair in euphoric bliss.
He nods. “And the scene with the roommate.”
“And the ending!” I poke him in the chest. “Dude, I tried to get Liz to watch it. She’s all vegetarian now because she dated this hippie dude senior year. She said she gave up meat for her health, but I think it’s because he said he tasted death in her mouth.”
Connor does the silent open-mouth laugh thing that happens when my storytelling reaches peak levels of absurd.
“She made it thirty minutes into the movie before she had to leave the room and vomit. Meanwhile, I was sitting there eating, like, spaghetti.”
He puts his hand on my shoulder as he keeps laughing. I smell his deodorant: sporty man stuff. “I can’t believe I almost didn’t come this year.”
That steals the air from my lungs. Sure, I should be avoiding the guy, looking forward to the future, but all of a sudden, I can’t imagine a summer without Connor Nichols making me blush.
About the Author . . .