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The Masked Boys

A Highlands Bridge Academy Novel

Read Chapter One


They were all rich brats, all from monied families, all connected to everyone, to everything, to the warm center of American politics and wealth. They’d had saltwater pools and au pairs and fast cars; they grew up trilingual and vacationed in places so exclusive most people couldn’t name them. And Brenton Tucker, son of the long-time North Carolina senator, and Reid Wells, son of his chief-of-staff, enjoyed it all together, from their childhood in Sidwell Friends to their graduation from Phillips Exeter.

But in retrospect, when you borrow-not-steal film equipment, when you’re nabbed with drugs in your pocket, and when the Secret Service rats you out for sleeping with the vice president’s kids — at the same party, at the same time, in adjacent rooms — your parents freak out about their walking risks to senatorial reputation. Best friends Reid and Brenton find themselves warehoused after graduation at Highlands Bridge Academy: two years, no contact with the outside world, beat-the-man-into-you, all-boys, all the time. You’re rumored to come out a little — well, not right.

But award-winning, dreamy cinematographer Brenton has access to the academy’s film department, one of the best in the country. And Reid has a plan: he’s slept with a guy or two, who’ve told him whom they’ve slept with, who know who else has slept around. Reid rounds up eight of them and explains the plan: with straight Brenton as director, they film the types of scenes people pay huge sums of money for: Skull and Bones meets Eyes Wide Shut. It’s not cam boys; it’s art house films — starring very, very attractive guys. Reid’s pining for Brenton, like he has since he can remember. He might as well have this to distract him.

And in the meantime, he can also distract himself with sweet, shy Cash — who’s also into Scott, rumored to be at Highlands for hijacking the Fort Sumter ferry. But as Brenton stands as the straight man behind the camera, all those confusing feelings about Reid to surface — and spread, and tangle with Cash and Scott. Brenton, Reid, Cash, and Scott are making movies. They’re trying to figure out where they stand with each other. But they also might be falling in love.

With a bisexual awakening, a best friends to lovers trope, a young daddy, and lots of movie scenes, The Masked Boys not only delivers plenty of boy drama without high angst, but also the twists and turns inherent in multiple-partner relationships, all told in the lyrical prose you’d expect from what’s being called Julia McBryant’s best novel yet.

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