Book: Controlled Burn
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Publication date: August 14, 2017
Length: 293 pages
At eighteen, Joel Smith’s life fell to pieces. His boyfriend died in a car crash while reading a sext from him, the local newspaper outed them both in the aftermath, and his parents got a divorce. Joel did everything possible to outrun his past: he moved to Oklahoma for college, legally changed his name, and started over.
Since then, he hasn’t let anyone get close—not his classmates, not his roommate, and definitely not his hookups. The strategy has served him well for over three years. Why would he change it now?
But Joel doesn’t plan on the articles about his boyfriend’s death being used as a case study in one of his classes. And he doesn’t plan on Paulie McPherson, who is sweet and giving and fun. In Paulie, he finds a home for the first time in years.
But love isn’t simple, and lies have a tendency to get in the way. Joel must figure out if he’ll allow his grief to rule him, or if his connection with Paulie is worth letting all of his walls come tumbling down.
Hello! I’m Erin, and welcome to the blog tour for my m/m college romance, Controlled Burn! I can’t wait for you to meet Joel and Paulie, and hope you enjoy their romance as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Follow along as I stop off at several blogs throughout the week, and don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card!
I slunk to my normal seat at the very back. I would gladly skip Ethics in News and Media if I could. It was a huge class, so it wasn’t like Dr. Milner would notice—it wasn’t like he even knew my fucking name. But his snooty TA, Jacob, took attendance, and it was something like fifteen percent of our grade.
“Well, hello, Joel Smith!” I looked up blearily at the owner of the purring voice, only to be confronted by my obnoxiously perky classmate Paulie McPherson. “Rough night?” he asked with a chuckle.
Paulie was this cute, swishy guy who had claimed me as a class buddy because he’d recognized me from the local gay bar. His name, he told me before the first class, was Paul, but everyone who was anyone called him Paulie. That first day, he grabbed a seat next to me, told me he had a 4.0 GPA, and always found a responsible person to befriend in case the world ended and he had to miss class. “Then I’ll be able to borrow your notes, and you can borrow mine if you miss,” he’d said. “You take good notes, right?” After a mumbled reply from me, he’d smiled and asked, “You’re not dumb, are you? I could go find someone else.” I assured him I was not dumb and would take excellent notes on days he was absent. Besides that exchange, we’d hardly spoken.
Or, well, I’d hardly spoken. Paulie always tried to draw me into conversation.
Good luck with that.
“I’m okay,” I told Paulie. He shrugged, settled into his seat beside me, and arranged his pile of sticky notes and different-colored highlighters.
This was definitely my least-favorite class. Journalism was not my thing. But my advisor had “advised” me to take it since I still needed my mandatory ethics credit, and the class was notorious for being easy. Which was what I wanted in my general education courses. Easy.
The class clatter quieted as Dr. Milner approached the podium, and his TA dimmed the lights. The projector flicked on. Can I sleep without anyone noticing? I’d stayed out at the Lumberyard way too late yesterday, especially for a Wednesday night. And the evening had been a complete bust: not only had I gone home alone, but Travis, my best friend and housemate, had gotten lucky and kept me up even later. Loud bastard.
I laid my head on the little tablet desk and closed my eyes.
Dr. Milner cleared his throat. “As most of you know from the syllabus, today we’re focusing on the treatment of minors in the press, and we’ll continue to evaluate what constitutes private versus public matters.” Dr. Milner plodded on for a couple of minutes, and I tried to ignore the scratching of Paulie’s pen as he took notes.
I pulled my jacket off the back of my chair and folded it up under my head as a pillow. The hot room and the hum of the professor’s voice were going to lull me to sleep.
“Our case study is from a little-known incident in a small town in Nebraska, in which a young man died in a car accident while reading a text message from his alleged boyfriend. After his death, he and his boyfriend, both minors at the time, were outed by the press. Jacob is passing around a packet of the articles we’ll look at today, the first of which is titled ‘Online Exclusive: Local Baseball Star Dies Reading Sext from Boyfriend.’”
I jerked my head up and almost tumbled from the chair. The newspaper article on the projector at the front of the class caught my eye.
Horror climbed my esophagus like bile. No, wait. That was actual bile.
“Please take a few minutes to read the article,” Dr. Milner continued. “Make sure to consider . . .”
Dr. Milner droned on, and I swallowed convulsively so as not to blow chunks. The girl next to me handed me a stack of packets, and I took one and passed them on to Paulie.
Diego stared at me from the front page of the packet. It was his senior picture, and even though the copy was black-and-white, I knew his sweater was green and his eyes light brown. I knew he hadn’t liked this picture as much as the one in his letter jacket.
This couldn’t be happening. I’d outrun this.
Everyone in the room was rustling around, trying to find the article in their packet, but I didn’t need to read it to know what it said. The article quoted a source from the local police department that claimed Diego and his boyfriend had been sexting at the time of his death. It had the contents of one message: I love your mouth. You have the sweetest mouth in the world, D.
My hands shook as I reached for my backpack. I couldn’t be here. I couldn’t do this. I knocked my packet onto the floor, and it flopped open to another article: “Sweet Mouth Texter Incident May Lead to New Driving Legislation.”
The room spun sickly. For some reason, that news article always hurt the worst. Probably because it proved the depth of Diego’s parents’ hate. They hated me so much that they started a pointless vendetta with a slimy politician from their church to penalize people if they texted someone they knew was driving. It hadn’t worked, but it still hurt.
Dr. Milner’s voice filtered in through my panic as I shoved everything into my backpack. “Jared Smith’s name wasn’t released in the press until he turned eighteen, a couple weeks after Diego died, but a substantial amount of personal information about him had already been exposed by one journalist in particular. She was eventually fired due to . . .”
Three years and two states between my past and me; I’d changed everything to escape it. Even my name was different. Dr. Milner had no way of knowing that I had any connection to that boy in the news article with the perfect lips and killer smile.
Acid rose in my throat, and thick saliva filled my mouth. I stood up, ready to flee. Which was what I always did. Run. A weight clamped on my elbow, holding me steady.
From very far away I heard, “Joel, honey, you okay?” The room was tunneling to fuzzy gray, but I recognized Paulie’s sweet, lilting voice. I felt like the ground had turned to mush, and it was only affecting me.
“Joel, you look like you’re going to be sick. You gonna ralph?”
I nodded. My perpetually weak stomach lurched a little. He scrambled over his backpack and rushed me out of the classroom with surprising efficiency.
By the time we made it down the long hallway to the bathroom, my dizziness had cleared, but blood still pumped in my temples. I told Paulie I was fine, and instead of retreating to one of the bathroom stalls “to ralph,” I slid down the wall to sit on the floor across from the urinals, bathroom germs be damned. Paulie wrinkled his nose before crouching beside me.
“If you’re going to puke, you better warn me so I can move,” he murmured before his soft hand landed on my forehead. Hysterical laughter tried to escape my chest, but I pushed it down and closed my eyes.
My God, I was not well. If seeing those articles for the first time in years could undo me so completely, I was obviously still a big fucking mess, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise to me. I lived in my head every day. It wasn’t pretty.
After a couple of minutes of deep breathing on my part and endless questions on Paulie’s—“Is it food poisoning? Are you hungover? Do you have the flu? How do you feel? I’m the worst nursemaid ever. I need you to tell me if you’re gonna ralph”—I finally opened my eyes.
“It’s fine. I’m fine. I’m not going to ralph, but I can’t . . . I don’t think I should go back to class.”
“Well, let me drive you home, honey. You look positively green,” Paulie said.
“I live right across the street. It’s one of the reasons I took this class,” I said.
“Well then, I’ll walk you home. It’ll be a pleasure,” he said with a sassy laugh. “Let me just go grab our stuff and tell the TA.”
Paulie was on his feet so quickly and gracefully that the room spun again. As he left the bathroom, I called after him weakly, “But then no one will be here to take notes for you.” He either didn’t hear me, or didn’t care about class notes today, because he didn’t react at all.
He also didn’t question me on the walk to my house, which was a relief. I didn’t want to delve into the pain of losing Diego without either the ability to sleep it off or a lot of liquid courage, and I simply did not feel strong enough to dredge up a lie for Paulie’s sake. The last thirty minutes, from the moment class had begun to the whole walk with Paulie, was almost like a dream—one where all of a sudden you’re naked in public or the nice guy next to you has a knife to your ribs. A bad dream. The type that makes you sweat through your pajamas and grind your teeth so hard your jaw aches for days. But nope. This sweat was purely the waking kind.
So I shut down. Clicked my brain off like a light switch, something I was rather adept at, and guided Paulie to my home, which was an ancient, crappy two-bedroom house that was a five-minute walk from the campus cutoff. Paulie’s silence left me little to do but distract myself by staring at him. I’d never really given him more than a passing glance before. He was unfairly pretty in a slightly androgynous way. He made my skin prickle, but I didn’t find him attractive, exactly. Sure, he was attractive from a purely objective definition of beauty, but he wasn’t really my type. Short for a man, probably only about five foot seven, with dark hair shaved close to his scalp and a square jaw. He was already fighting a five-o’clock shadow, even this early in the afternoon, and his skull trim left his face exposed and open. Yeah, pretty.
I stared, and he must have felt it because he glanced over at me and smiled. His lips looked plump and wet, and I was struck by the slight gap between his two front teeth.
“You have a gap,” I said because I was a dork who wasn’t coping well at all. “I’ve never noticed it.”
He side-eyed me like I was losing my nut, which was obviously the case. “I don’t think you’ve ever looked at me before today, Joel. It’s been quite the hit to my ego. Must be losing my charm.” He glanced at me through eyelashes so black and thick I thought he might be wearing makeup. There was teasing in his voice, and it made my stomach dip.
He smiled again and skipped ahead of me. At least for a two-minute space of time, I hadn’t thought of Diego.
The two men couldn’t have been more different.
I let Paulie in through our front door, and we were immediately confronted with Travis, in his underwear, lying on the couch playing the ukulele. Poorly. He played every instrument poorly.
Paulie gasped out, “Well, hello, Hot Pants!” in his musical baritone.
Travis was seriously smoking. A six-foot-three black guy with long muscles and a spanking fetish—which, like his near-nakedness and bad musical ability, I was used to—Travis turned heads everywhere he went.
“Hey! I know you,” Travis said. “Paulie, right? I’ve seen you at the Yard. You’re a good dancer.”
“See, at least some people notice me, honey,” Paulie whispered to me darkly before wandering over to the other side of the living room, where some of Travis’s weird avant-garde decorations covered the wall.
When Paulie turned his back, Travis swiveled to me, and his eyes bulged like they were going to pop out of his head. Travis and I both had men over frequently enough, but not usually before 10 p.m., and he had certainly never seen me with anyone like Paulie.
Travis’s brow furrowed. “You all right, man? You look terrible.”
I felt terrible but didn’t exactly relish hearing that it was so obvious.
“He got sick in class today. That’s why I walked him home,” Paulie piped in from across the room. He swiveled back to me. “You’re still a little pale. Maybe you should get something to drink.”
“You’re probably right. Want anything? We have beer, Dr Pepper, and water.” I headed for the kitchen. Was it too early for beer? Some days I wished for an IV drip. The thought of drinking anything, even water, made my stomach flop, but I’d gladly take the buzz of beer over the ringing in my ears.
“Milk is fine,” Paulie called after me. I hadn’t mentioned milk, but he sounded distracted. Travis had that effect on people.
After stealing some of Travis’s expensive organic chocolate milk, for which I would surely owe him later, and downing a huge glass of water, not beer, I was less nauseous, but it still felt like a weight was pressing down on my chest.
I led Paulie to my bedroom, and he plopped down on my bed.
“Oh! This is nice,” he said and patted the mattress next to him. “Comfy too. So much room for activities.” He smiled up at me, and I wasn’t sure if he was flirting or if that was just how he talked to everyone. And, well . . . shit. He was so not my type—he wasn’t quite anonymous enough for me—and I didn’t want to give him the wrong impression. I sat in my desk chair on the other side of the room.
“Your boyfriend is pretty hot,” he said slyly.
I narrowed my eyes slightly. Travis and I did not give off boyfriend vibes.
“He is, but he’s not my boyfriend.”
“Oh, good. Think he’d want to be mine?” He grinned at me. A twinge of something—disappointment that I’d read his interest wrong, that he was interested in Travis, maybe?—echoed through my gut. That pang made me more honest than I probably had a right to be.
“That depends, Paulie. Trav is a bottom, and he likes it rough. You think you could do that for him?”
Paulie blew a big raspberry, which made me laugh and his cheeks pink. “He wants a bossy top? That’s definitely not me.” He sipped the chocolate milk demurely, both hands wrapped around the cup like a child.
“Why not?” I wanted to hear him say it, to hear him say he wasn’t into the things Travis was.
“Well, you have eyes, sweetheart. Everyone assumes I’m a femme-y bottom. I know what I look like, and I don’t fight it anymore.”
I flinched. I’d goaded those words from him. And I wanted to apologize, to tell Paulie that appearance wasn’t everything, and that no one should ever make him feel like he had to be a certain way in bed because of how he looked or spoke or walked. But then he threw a proverbial bucket of ice water on my head, and all those nice, conciliatory words I wanted to say disappeared.
“The TA said we could complete the class assignment together and turn it in next Tuesday before class. We just have to create a list of all of the ethical issues in those texting articles, and then write a couple of paragraphs in support of the journalist’s decision to write the articles and the choices she made.”
All the muscles in my body clenched up and bile burned my throat again. Fuck no. Absolutely not. “I’ll take the zero,” I gasped. Then, before Paulie could catch on to my weird behavior, I said, “A zero on a class assignment won’t hurt too bad, and I have a lot going on this weekend. You’ll get a better grade without having to work with me on it.”
I felt pretty proud of how normal that excuse sounded, until Paulie’s eyes narrowed. He stood up slowly, sat the half-gone milk on my bedside table, and walked toward me. He touched my forehead again and sighed. “You still feel clammy. You should get some rest. I’ll take notes for you if you’re not better by class on Tuesday.” Then he grabbed his backpack and left.
Low voices reached me from the living room and then Travis’s booming laugh. The front door shut a couple of seconds later. Something terrible and unwanted—like loneliness—rushed through me. I clenched my eyes shut until the wave of emotions dissipated, but I couldn’t deny, couldn’t ignore that I wished Paulie had run his fingers through my hair. I couldn’t remember the last time someone had done that to me.
Chapter TwoThe Lumberyard was the only gay bar in western Oklahoma, and it was within walking distance of the Farm College campus and our house. When Travis and I slipped through the entrance, the dance floor was already pulsing with music and the sway of bodies. The beat of each song sang through my blood, much like the two shots Travis pushed on me as soon as we reached the bar. I was not a tequila guy. Unless I was eager to get shit-faced, and let’s be honest, I was. But 8 p.m. was a little too early to get trashed, and I needed to make it to midnight. The memories of Diego were always worse after midnight.
I tried to tell Travis I was still sick from yesterday, when he pushed a third shot on me, but he hadn’t believed I was sick in the first place. He’d accused me of an “afternoon delight gone wrong.”
And, thank God, a big guy in a leather jacket caught Trav’s eye about ten minutes in, so I’d get a temporary reprieve to let the alcohol catch up with me. Sure enough, within minutes, he abandoned me at the bar without even a good-bye.
A rowdy pack of men and women came through the front door with a gust of night-chilled air. I sized all of them up out of habit as they filed past me. Paulie was toward the back of the group, his arm around the shoulders of a petite woman with short black hair. They looked striking, like twin anime characters, all big eyes and delicate features.
My heartbeat sped up as he got closer. I wasn’t sure I was happy to see him. My main goal for the night was to get fucked or drunk until the Diego in my head disappeared. I wasn’t going to fool around with Paulie, and I wasn’t getting drunk with him either, so it shouldn’t matter one bit to me if he was at the Yard or not. But now, with the recollection of Paulie’s irrepressible kindness fresh in my mind, it was impossible not to be drawn to him at least a little.
Paulie didn’t appear to see me sitting at the bar, until he was ordering. I leaned over to tell the bartender that Paulie’s first drink was on me and bought one for the woman as well. Paulie grinned at me and sauntered over until we were side-by-side. The music beat so loudly we couldn’t hear each other speak without getting really close—closer than I wanted—so I just smiled back at him. Thankfully, he didn’t ask me if I was still sick. I didn’t want to think about that right now. Soon, when I could no longer keep the memories of Diego at bay, I would get trashed or find someone to blow. But I wasn’t there yet.
His friend shotgunned her drink—a gin and tonic, which you were probably not supposed to shotgun—and then grabbed my hand, passed my beer to Paulie, and shouted at me, “I wanna dance, and you’ll do.”
I only resisted a bit. I wasn’t used to women pulling me anywhere, and I was worried I’d screw this whole dancing thing up. She probably didn’t want to bump and grind, which was really all I was good for.
Thankfully, a pop song with a catchy chorus flared up just as we made it to the middle of the dance floor. In the space of a few seconds, the dancers around us quit dirty dancing and began jumping to the beat. When the chorus started, the entire club shouted the words, and it was ridiculous and perfect and a rush of giddiness bubbled through me.
“I’m Angie,” Paulie’s friend yelled after a spin that put her right in my personal space. I shouted my name in her ear, and she hip bumped me in acknowledgment.
“Are you Paulie’s sister?”
She stopped dancing, so I stopped jumping, even though I was finally getting the hang of it.
“No. We’re not related. Thank God. His family is a shit show.” She rolled her eyes and resumed bouncing and twirling around me.
After several songs, Angie grabbed my hand. “Come on, I need another drink.”
Paulie smirked at us as we approached. I leaned against the bar beside him and scanned the room for Travis, who was still talking to the guy in the leather jacket. Without another word, Angie kissed Paulie on the cheek and flounced off to the rest of their group, where a bucket of Coors Light awaited.
“Enjoy dancing with a girl?” Paulie asked in my ear. His breath was warm, and it tickled my neck.
I couldn’t help but smile because I had enjoyed it—the whisper of his breath and dancing with Angie.
“It was a first for me. I never even danced with a girl at prom,” I admitted.
Diego and I had gone to prom our junior year with a big group of friends. We’d spent the night getting drunk on the cheap liquor he’d smuggled inside in his cowboy-boot flask. Afterward, I’d nursed him as he got sick on the side of the road. I could still see the glisten of sweat on the back of his neck and hear the tremble in his voice as he apologized over and over.
I hadn’t gone to senior prom. Diego had no longer been there, and I just couldn’t.
“Dancing with women is the best. There’s no pressure or expectation,” Paulie said.
“There would be no pressure or expectation if you wanted to dance with me either.”
I didn’t know where that came from, because I used dancing almost solely as a means for hooking up, and suddenly, I was offering Paulie the opposite. But I understood why he’d want to dance without the weight of casual hookups pressing in on him. It was hard to let loose and enjoy dancing when it was only about sex, when you knew your partner was judging you and trying to decide how fuckable you were. It could suck the joy right out of it. But dancing had never been about joy for me. And I had never wanted to dance just for the fun of it. Until now.
His dark eyes held mine, and I wondered again if his sooty lashes were the product of mascara or if he really was that pretty. But before I could ask about his makeup habits, he downed his beer, handed me mine, and waited while I did the same.
Then we danced.
Travis had said that Paulie was a good dancer, and he was. He blew me away. His chest and stomach, visible under his tight shirt, flexed and twisted with the music, and his hips rolled in a hypnotic rhythm. He moved like oil over water, fluid and sexy. Everyone noticed him, and I couldn’t believe I never had. After a couple of minutes, another guy stepped up behind him and put his hands on Paulie’s hips. Paulie’s shoulder immediately clenched under my hand.
I pulled Paulie flush against me and spun him away from the touchy bastard. We ended up with my back to the other dancer and Paulie’s back against my chest. I had one arm across his torso, like a wrestling hold, and the other hand on his hip. He soon relaxed and fell liquid again. The tendon on the side of his neck caught my eye, and I followed its path to the smooth, delicate skin behind his ear.
Paulie turned in my arms and grinned up at me, his face flushed and his adorable gap fully on display. He said, “Thank you,” and I shrugged it off.
We danced for three more songs, and I just had fun—actual fun—and I placed myself between every dancing interloper and Paulie because I wanted to be that guy for once. I wanted to be a friend that he could dance with and not have to worry about being groped or humped.
After we stopped for another drink, a guy I had screwed around with the year before stopped to say hi. Alex Oleastro, all pierced and tatted and hot as sin, was also incredibly nice and one of my best lays ever. Plus he’d never expected our hookups to lead to a relationship, so in a way, he’d been perfect for me. He asked Paulie to dance, and before I could blink, they were off to the dance floor, Alex leading Paulie by his hand. Right on the edge of the crowd, Paulie turned around to look at me and mouthed, Oh my God! before pretending to grip Alex’s ass. I laughed wildly, too loud and all alone.
While they were dancing, Travis resurfaced from a hot and heavy make out session with Leather Jacket to tell me they were going back to our place, and it was nice of him to warn me. The sound of spanking could be jarring if you didn’t expect it.
Paulie and Alex danced for another song—this one slow and sexy. I got hot watching it. Both of them could move, and they weren’t being moderate with the touching. By the end of the song, Paulie had his head tilted back on Alex’s shoulder, and Alex had one hand splayed across Paulie’s stomach under his shirt. With every sway, there was a flash of Paulie’s pale waist. They were both flushed and smiling, Alex whispering in Paulie’s ear.
As the music crescendoed and cut off, Paulie tipped his head off Alex’s shoulder, and his eyes met mine from across the bar. Shame rushed through me; I felt like I’d been caught watching porn. I forced a smile to cover my discomfort, and then I waved to let him know I was leaving. He turned back and said something to Alex before squeezing through the edge of the crowd to reach me.
I laughed at the excitement radiating off of him. He seemed like a kid about to open Christmas presents.
“That dude is fucking hot!” he said, fanning himself.
I leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “And he knows how to use that tongue piercing, let me tell you.” Paulie made a strangled noise full of heavy consonants, and I laughed at him again. “You be a good boy tonight, Paulie, and have fun.”
He smiled up at me, but it was a different grin than the wide-open one he flashed around without censor. It was soft and shy, and my stomach clenched at the vulnerability there.
Then he leaned forward and kissed me.
The kiss surprised me so much I was still thinking about it hours later while I lay in bed waiting for sleep to take me. It had been a friend-kiss. Just a quick cling of dry lips, no tongue, no breath. But I wasn’t used to getting friend-kisses. I didn’t have the type of friends who kissed me in a nonsexual way. I didn’t really have friends, period, besides Travis, which should probably bother me but didn’t.
I had friends once. They were ephemera.
I was half tempted to go ask Travis why we didn’t ever platonically kiss. I’d seen him greet countless friends that way, but never me. He and Leather Jacket were pretty quiet now, so I probably wouldn’t be interrupting much.
But I was too scared. Scared because I knew the answer Travis would give if he were totally honest.
You’re cold. You cut yourself off. You don’t put yourself out there.
As if being open was the ultimate expression of being a good person. Well, fuck that.
I didn’t want to fall into the dark, oppressive hole that held every reason why I kept people at a distance. I didn’t want to fall asleep thinking about Diego again, not when he was so close to the surface already, pushing against my lungs until I couldn’t breathe without imagining the smell of his teenybopper cologne. Not when I could so clearly see the bliss in his eyes as I’d taken his virginity, or worse, the agony I imagined had flitted across his features as he was impaled on a fence post.
So instead I imagined Paulie and Alex together, which made me feel dirty, but so what? They would have fun, and Paulie deserved that. He so generously gave other people fun, gave me fun.
And, frankly, I didn’t deserve that sort of gift.
About the Author
Erin McLellan writes contemporary romance, often set in the South or Midwest—particularly Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas—with characters that are complex, good-hearted, and sometimes a little quirky. Erin likes her stories to have a sexy spark and a happily ever after.
Erin has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in library and information studies from the University of Oklahoma. She has always enjoyed writing, but becoming a librarian and meeting enthusiastic romance readers helped her find her own writing passion. Now Erin cheerfully writes romance with characters across the LGBTQIA spectrum. A former public librarian, she still enjoys being surrounded by books and readers, but Erin hopes to find her stories on the shelves as well.
Originally from Oklahoma, she currently lives in Alaska with her husband, and spends her time dreaming up love stories set in the Great Plains. She is a lover of chocolate, college sports, antiquing, Dr Pepper, and binge-worthy TV shows.
Connect with Erin:
To celebrate the release of Controlled Burn, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 19, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!