Category Archives: Contests

HAHAT 2014 will start May 17th—stop by on your hop!

Yes, I will be participating in the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia again this year! Hopefully a fun blog post, and of course a prize drawing. Hope you’ll stop by on your hop!
HAHAT 2014

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by | March 26, 2014 · 2:51 pm

Saint Valentine’s Equal Marriage Connection (and what do Wolves have to do with Valentine’s Day, anyway?)

2014 blog hop picThis is my post for The Power of Gay Love 2014 Blog Hop. At the end, I’ll tell you how you can win $14.00 to spend on sexy, romantic books at Dreamspinner Press.

Every year, chocolatiers and florists make an unholy mint on February 14th, Valentine’s day. Couples are making their first declarations of love (or lust as the case maybe), others proposing marriage, and others smiling, crying, or quaking through their wedding vows. Thank all the powers that be, in some states, some of those couples who are getting married are gay.

But what makes February 14th the romantic pinnacle of the year? The day is named after a Christian (Catholic) Saint who allegedly was martyred on that day. Yes, martyred, as in put to death whilst taking a stand for a cause, which doesn’t seem very romantic, in the sense of love and happily ever after. Of course, as soon as someone says that, someone’s conscience will lead them to proclaim that, like just about every other “Christian” holiday, the celebration had pagan origins—and they’re right.

In fact, ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia on February 13th – 15th,, commemorating (who else?) Romulus and Remus, the twin hotties who, after being suckled by a wolf in a cave called the Lupercal, grew up to found Rome. “Ah,” you say, glancing back at my title. “There is the wolf connection, right there.” Well, yes, but the connection is multi-faceted and a lot more convoluted. You see, the festival was connected with the Roman God Lupercus, represented by a wolf, who strangely enough was the God of shepherds. Yes, Roman shepherds worshipped the wolf—and I’m sure they had their reasons. During the festival a goat (standing in for a sheep?) and a dog (standing in for a wolf?) were sacrificed, and salt cakes prepared by vestal virgins were burnt. Okay, vestal virgins/romance, a vague connection, but a step further reveals that Lupercus was sometimes identified with Faunus, the Roman version of Pan.

Okay, Pan. Not so much romance, but hot sex with glorious abandon. That’s possibly a connection. And in fact, before the Roman holiday, a Greek festival on the ides (13th) of February celebrated Lykaia (the wolf-god) and Pan (the pleasure and chaos god, or at least that’s how I like to think of the little devil).

But we’re still a far cry from the public vow of love (or at least commitment) which we know as marriage, and especially (see title of post), equality of marriage rights. For that, we must return to the story of the martyr, Valentine. There are many stories about the man, but it is agreed he was a real fellow and did indeed get martyred on February 14th by the Roman emperor Claudius II in the 3rd century of the common era (AD). One story about why he was martyred… wait for it… wait for it… he was performing marriages for Christians! Apparently, Christians in 3rd century Rome did not enjoy marriage equality, and our dear Saint Valentine defied the powers that were, either just because he wanted to, or because he believed love is love, marriage is marriage. (Or else he didn’t do it at all, as no one knows for sure.)

To further muddy the waters, there are a dozen or so Saints Valentine. That’s unimportant, as the February 14th date is definitely connected with the forward thinker I mentioned above, identified for disambiguation as Valentine of Rome. But it does tickle the imagination—what if we celebrated a smexy holiday for each of them?

As a last little tidbit of information, in medieval times, Valentine’s Day may already have been a celebration of love, courtly and/or marital. Chaucer took note that on February 14th, birds find their mates. Also humans, for he wrote:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day when every foul (fool) cometh ther (sic) to choose his mate.

So, go forth and give chocolates, send bouquets, kiss, make love, and marry the person of your dreams no matter the gender and (possibly thanks to Saint Valentine) even if you’re Christian.

So yeah, comment below, tell me something lovely about Valentine’s day, or the reason you loathe it, if that’s the case, and you’ll be in the drawing for $14 spending cash at Dreamspinner–and they just happen to be having a sale!

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Filed under 2014 The Power of Gay Love Blog Hop, Contests, Dreamspinner Press

Vasquez and James Road Trip Update! (with links to the strange and wonderful places they’ve been)

'68_Ford_Mustang_Coupe_(Cruisin'_At_The_Boardwalk_'10)Hello readers and fellow travelers! As many of you know, Luki Vasquez and Sonny James have been on a road trip vacation, celebrating their survival after yet another harrowing episode in Saving Sonny James, the fourth book in the suspense series. It’s been crazy fun–the boys have thus far visited across the Atlantic, the eastern seaboard, a future Yukon, the South Seas, and the lone star state. Here follows the precise links to “where they’ve been,” and the list of what’s yet to come. Please feel free to read up and join in. Most of the previous prizes have been awarded, but there will be more prizes to be had between now and the end.
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  • 10/18: Sonny James and Luki Vasquez start their trip home from France, taking the Chunnel train, at The Novel Approach. 1st prize Saving Sonny James signed paperback (or ebook if preferred) and $15 to spend at Dreamspinner Press; 2nd prize Saving Sonny James ebook
  • 10/19: Off the train at Ashford, Kent, England, heading for London, at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews.
  • 10/20: London! Right here at this sylvre.com blog.
  • 10/21: New Hampshire (yes they will have made it back to the USA!), fittingly at the blog of New Hampshire writer, Jamie Fessenden.
  • 10/25: Uh-oh. On their way to Ohio, to visit at Elizabeth Noble’s blog, Emotion in Motion, when something crazy happens… Todd… Todd Ruger, is that you? Prizes not yet awarded!.
  • 10/28: New Zealand? How the hell do you get to New Zealand in a Mustang? Find out at Anne Barwell’s Drops of Ink.
  • 10/29: Back to the States once again–in Texas! San Antonio, the lovely, romantic Riverwalk, made (even more) famous by the sexy characters of our host, Carol Zampa!
  • 11/2: Chris T. Kat will be our host! Hmmm… what to do, what to do?
  • 11/5: Luki and Sonny will take Rhys Ford’s blog and San Diego, CA by storm. (They will… just wait and see. And I’m pretty sure a prize will be up for grabs, too.)
  • 11/8 through 11/11: Well, I’m going to Bent Con in Burbank (yeah, like Los Angeles and Hollywood, only not…) and since the Vasquez-James boys are my transpo, they’re going, too. I’ll post their odd adventures here, at sylvre.com.
  • 11/13, Recap, and a prize. Here again.

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Saving Sonny James Road Trip–London (A friend, some food, sex for dessert)

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London: Being the third stop in the Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour Vasquez and James adventure

Sonny slept the whole way from Ashford to King’s Cross Station in London. It wasn’t a long trip, but as they deboard Sonny thinks Luki must be getting tired of that scenario–he’d slept from France to England too.

“I’m sorry, Luki.”

Luki looked slightly up into Sonny’s eyes, something close to confusion written on his face. “I don’t mind, baby. If you need to sleep, sleep. Gather your strength.”

“C’mon, Luki. Don’t pretend I’m not boring you silly.”

“True story is, Mr. Sonny James, you’re an awful sweet husband to cuddle, and your various snores keep me interested.”

“I don’t snore.”

“Will you teach me how to record with my phone, so I can play it back it next time?”

London night wiki 799px-Thames_Night_Pan

They’ve arrived in London just as dark has fallen, though the lights of the millenium city keep the deepest dark at bay and almost hide the moon and stars. They’ve contacted Brian Harrison, Luki’s former agent who, in the tale told in Finding Jackie helped rescue Luki’s teenage nephew from a nightmare. He left Luki’s employ and came to London to escape Jackie, because–even though he’s only a few years older–he knew the feelings he had for the childlike but scarily mature seventeen-year-old would have to wait until Jackie dealt with demons and came of age.

But instead of breaking the fever, the separation has cured Brian’s feelings into a low-level but ever present yearning, a haunting kind of love. Sonny never knew him well, but he knew the story, and the minute he saw Brian’s face in the light outside Cannon Street station, he read the loneliness there and understood its source. He glanced at Luki to see if he read his former agent as well. An expression passed over Luki’s face, perhaps of puzzlement. It seemed he knew something wasn’t right, but he didn’t know what.

“Hey, Luki! Sonny! It’s good to see you. You look tired–probably too much travel. I didn’t even know you guys were over on this side of the Atlantic. Did you go to France for a delayed honeymoon, or something?”

“Well–” Luki started to answer.

“Yes,” Sonny interjected. “Paris is something else.” He had no desire to relive for Brian the nightmare Lou Sylvre (their author) had put them through in Saving Sonny James.

“Well,” Brian chuckled, “I’ve never been there. Maybe someday… if I ever have a honeymoon…”

“He’ll be eighteen in a couple months, you know.” Sonny wanted to chuckle seeing Luki’s surprise, quickly followed by the dawn of understanding, but he didn’t want to seem flippant.

Brian stayed silent as they walked away from the station entrance, then said. “I hope you don’t mind–we’re not far from my neighborhood–I share a flat near the college with some other students. I thought we’d just take the bus.”

“Sure,” Luki said. “So how are you doing? School? Everything else?”

“School’s good–a lot to learn as you probably already know, boss.” He smiled.

Luki raised his eyebrows and nodded. “Yeah, a lot of new stuff since I was in school, and I’m sure you’re better suited to learn it. But what about everything else?”

Brian laughed, low and not really with much humor. “Well, I know he’s going to be eighteen soon–thanks for the reminder Sonny–but I’ll wait. He’s got other stuff to figure out. I send him a card every now and then, he texts me thanks, but nothing else.”

“Sorry, Brian,” Luki said.

“Brian,” Sonny said, “if it’s meant to be it will. If you’re waiting, it’s only because you choose to wait, and think it’s worth waiting for something that’s not a sure bet. I’d lay my money down betting someday the two of you will have something together, but of course none of us know.”

“Hey, Luki, ever eat a lamburger?”

Sonny smiled, understanding Brian’s remark as a permanent change of subjct.

Luki looked a bit lost, “Um…”

“I know a place, called The Don Bistro, where they serve a fabulous one. I think you’ll like it as much as much as Dick’s Drive-in’s hamburgers.”

They stopped first at Brian’s apartment, and Sonny felt a little shell-shocked. Luki looked a lot shell-shocked. After they’d taken in the smell, the stack of fly-strewn dishes, and the apparently drunken state of two of Brian’s roommates, they looked at each other and by unspoken agreement kissed each other to keep from embarrassingly loud laughter.

Luki whispered in Sonny’s ear. “Oh my god, baby, I’ve never been so glad to be forty-two!”

Brian said, “Uh… well, listen if you guys aren’t too tired for another bus ride, let’s go eat.”

They did. The Don was fabulous. Luki had the recommended lamburger The Don Smithens Lane London bistro-0111with carmelized onions, and Sonny had a rib-eye, Scottish beef, with mushrooms. They both had fries and local beer chosen by Brian. Brian, it turned out had become a vegetarian, and had risotto with veggies and gorgonzola, and bean salad.

After a fabulous dinner completed by great conversation and Luki’s repeated promise that he’d rehire the young man whenever he wanted, they thanked Brian, Luki slipped money into Brian’s coat, and they decided to get a hotel room rather than try to brave Brian’s apartment for the night.

On the street, watching for a cab, Luki put an arm around Sonny–protecting him from anything that might be hiding in the fog, Sonny thought.

Luki said, “I know a place I think you’d like, Sonny. Called the Hand and Flower. It’s a bit out of the way–Chelsea, I think. But we’ll have time to get to the airport tomorrow without rushing. What do you think? Not exactly luxury, but… history, and, um… beauty, maybe.”

“Beauty?”

“I think so. I can’t explain.”

london hand and flower street They went, and Sonny did love the polished wood, decorative iron work railings, lush colors and papers on the wall. The Hand and Flower had history, and that made it feel rich to Sonny, luxurious even though the quarters seemed a bit cramped.


He walked around the small suite, carrying his bottle of wine, but when he saw the bed…

“Luki, let’s go to bed.”

“You’re tired again, baby?”

“No. I don’t think so. Not at all, at the moment. See?” He looked down at the bulge that had developed behind his zipper.

***
cocksox-mens-boxer- Sonny's shorts

Luki’s eyes followed Sonny’s lead, seemingly of their own accord, though Ms. Sylvre always says that can’t be true–autonomous body parts and all. Still, Ms. Sylvre never has had an erection, or (apparently) unruly eyes that go where their lover leads.

“Yes,” Luki said. “But I’d like to see more.”

Sonny smiled, giggled even, and with a flourish of his free hand, reached for his zipper. Ever so slowly, he un-zipped, revealing–yes, you guessed it–red silk beneath. He took his hand away, pushing his jeans down just a bit, and his penis gave a mighty push at the silk, trying to break free (ABP again), but only succeeding in peeking out.

Luki’s breath escaped in a loud puff, and he took the wine bottle from Sonny and plunked it on the side table. Then he pushed his body against Sonny until his sweet, beautiful husband fell back on the bed, his mouth already wet and craving a taste of his favorite dessert–husband, hot and a la creme.

koisuru_boukun__color_version__by_samy_consu-d614r3c (google free to U or S)

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Filed under Contests, New M/M releases, Saving Sonny James, Vasquez & James

The Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour Calendar: Do your planning here, prizes to be had!

SavingSonnyJames_bookmarkV_DSP Saving Sonny James is out now and available at Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more. To celebrate their new happy ending, the guys have decided on a a road trip vacation. I insisted they take me along to turn it into a blog tour so all of you can go, too. (I have to ride in the backseat of the Mustang…)

This isn’t just any road trip though, because they cross the Atlantic, visit the Southern Hemisphere, and land accidentally in a strange, post-apolcalyptic world. In order to make it easier to keep up and enter all the drawings for prizes, I thought you might like a calendar itinerary. Here it is, but precise links and prizes will be updated as we proceed!

  • 10/18: Sonny James and Luki Vasquez start their trip home from France, taking the Chunnel train, at The Novel Approach. 1st prize Saving Sonny James signed paperback (or ebook if preferred) and $15 to spend at Dreamspinner Press; 2nd prize Saving Sonny James ebook
  • 10/19: Off the train at Ashford, Kent, England, heading for London, at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews. 1st Prize $15 to spend at Dreamspinner; 2nd Prize Saving Sonny James ebook.
  • Also Meet the Author (that’s me) Goodreads chat, on Dreamspinner Group discussions! Here’s the precise link, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Pacific Time, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM Eastern. Excerpts, discussion, prize! (Dreamspinner discussion board)

  • 10/20: London! Right here at this sylvre.com blog. For prize info see the Rafflecopter post.
  • 10/21: New Hampshire (yes they will have made it back to the USA!), fittingly at the blog of New Hampshire writer, Jamie Fessenden.
  • 10/22: We take a hiatus from travel for a release party at The Dreamspinner Blog–here be contests, excerpts, history, pictures, and a chance for enjoyable discussion. Please come!
  • 10/25: Uh-oh. On their way to Ohio, to visit at Elizabeth Noble’s blog, Emotion in Motion, when something crazy happens… Todd… Todd Ruger, is that you? Yes, prizes will be had.
  • 10/26: A spot of simple promo at Cafe Risque, hosted by Cardeno C!
  • 10/27: New Zealand? How the hell do you get to New Zealand in a Mustang? Find out at Anne Barwell’s Drops of Ink.
  • Back to the States once again–in Texas! San Antonio, the lovely, romantic Riverwalk, made (even more) famous by the sexy characters of our host, Carol Zampa!
  • 10/30: Visiting at Charlie Cotchet’s blog–agenda, etc to be announced!
  • 11/2: Chris T. Kat will be our host! Hmmm… what to do, what to do?
  • 11/5: Luki and Sonny will take Rhys Ford’s blog and San Diego, CA by storm. (They will… just wait and see. And I’m pretty sure a prize will be up for grabs, too.)
  • 11/8 through 11/11: Well, I’m going to Bent Con in Burbank (yeah, like Los Angeles and Hollywood, only not…) and since the Vasquez-James boys are my transpo, they’re going, too. I’ll post their odd adventures here, at sylvre.com.
  • 11/13, Recap, and a prize. Here again.

Hope to see you all along the way, here, there, wherever!

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Filed under Contests, Lou Sylvre, New M/M releases, Saving Sonny James, Vasquez & James

Breaking news: Deadline to enter for $25 prize extended through 8/10

I got the mother of all summer colds and didn’t follow through on anything, so there’s still time to enter to win. See the full post for details, and please do play!

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by | August 6, 2013 · 5:13 pm

$25 prize 5-minutes-in-heaven part 2: select an excerpt to enter

Well, I’m behind… who is surprised? I was supposed to put this part two up yesterday. But (insert credible excuse here) so I’m racing to try to catch up. The $25 prize is still up for grabs. If you offered an excerpt to be considered for my five-minutes-in-heaven reading (9/14, Seattle, happy hour following GRNW), then your name is in the bucket once. But now vote, and you enter again. If you didn’t offer a selection, you can still enter by voting! There are seven selections, please vote twice. The entries are here, I’ve linked here from facebook, twitter, and goodreads. You can vote at any one of the sites (whatevers easiest for you). Voting is open for one week, through 8/7/13. on 8/8, I’ll announce a winner and which excerpt I’ll read.

#1 (Lou’s own selection) On the Hilltop Before the Wedding, in Finding Jackie 823 words)

Finding Jackie by Lou Sylvre art by Reese Dante THE Hawaiian sky stretched wide, exactly the hue of Delsyn’s Blue #3, which would make it all that much easier for Sonny James to eventually weave a tapestry commemorating the day of his marriage to Luki Vasquez. The lava at Sonny’s feet seemed peculiarly lumpy; he studied its color as he stepped across the nearly flat-topped hill where they would be wed. Splashes of dark red lay almost hidden in the surface. From a distance, one would never guess they were there. If Sonny had encountered that coloring a year ago, he would have woven it with judicious touches of Sonny’s Red, a dye that had long been his trademark. But once he’d been forced to stand and watch his nephew’s precious, red blood drip into white porcelain, Sonny’s Red was dead and gone, and even scarlet and carmine no longer held a prominent place in his art.

“No,” he said, forcing the horrors from his mind. “Happier things today.” He half turned just as Luki—his lover, fiancé, groom, and at the moment the most breathtaking part of the scenery—stepped near. Thinking “groom” made Sonny smile, and when Luki held out his big, capable hand, Sonny recognized the invitation and held out his own, letting Luki twine their fingers together.

“Hey, sweetie,” Luki said, his scratchy voice nevertheless deep and musical.
“Hey,” Sonny answered, feeling suddenly shy under Luki’s gaze—an inexplicable reaction, though not unusual. Their eyes met as they leaned toward each other for a kiss, and even though the sight was far from new, Luki’s pale blue irises, bright eyes surrounded with black lashes and dark skin, startled Sonny, and he caught his breath in surprise. Sometimes those eyes were like ice. Used to be that way more often than not, but lately the irises were nearly always dark-centered, wide open with love when they looked at Sonny, and the corners of Luki’s eyes often crinkled with a smile that didn’t quite reach his lips. He smiled like that now, in that very moment on the lava hill, and his eyes danced, reflecting blue sky, blue ocean, sunlight. The grooms shared their kiss, chaste but full of promise. Then, Luki pulled Sonny’s hand to his lips and kissed the finger that bore the fire opal engagement ring. Sonny’s mouth went dry.

“Kaholo’s on his way up the mountain,” Luki reported. “We’ll be saying our vows in just minutes, baby.” His voice held an edge of excitement that Sonny would have bottled if he could. Miracles like that thrill in Luki’s words, like that flush over his dusky skin, were not things that happened every day—even now, even after Luki had learned how to love. Sonny breathed deep in an effort to slow his thoughts enough to savor that and everything beautiful about the day. And Sonny was honest enough, and artist enough, to admit that he was part of the beauty—he and Luki both.

Both men wore white. Luki’s suit fit loosely, almost blousy, giving him plenty of room for his muscled chest and shoulders, yet at the same time it had been tailored so perfectly that, while it only showed off some of Luki’s curves and planes, it eloquently promised the rest. He wore a tie of barely blue silk, woven by Sonny with a subtle, obscured pattern of lauburu—the Basque Cross. They’d gotten legally married at home in Washington State, but they were both thinking of this Hawaiian ceremony as their real wedding. Luki had asked for that, in honor of his Hawaiian ancestors. But Sonny had thought it proper to have something to honor Luki’s Basque heritage too, and when he found the lauburu, a simple, ancient, pagan symbol of prosperity, he took some joy in weaving it into the tie.

Sonny wore white silk, an Italian cut customized for his height and slightly broader shoulders, following closely the slim lines of his elegant frame. He wore a white ribbon shirt, with the remaining three sacred colors in the ribbons—narrow strips of a blue so deep it was almost black, golden yellow, and dark red. They crossed his chest and climbed his shoulders, then hung from his shoulder blades in the back, hidden now under his jacket. The two silk-covered buttons of Sonny’s light-weight, summer wool jacket had been set with diamonds at the center. A silk scarf woven—like the ribbons on his shirt—of the four sacred colors from his tribal heritage, fluttered at his chest in the slight breeze. Sonny had created both Luki’s tie and his own scarf, and they carried meaning—almost as much as the rings they would exchange.
Reality check, Sonny thought. Nothing meant nearly as much to him as Luki himself, as he was just then, awaiting their wedding—his eyes excited, his smile nervous, his touch warm on Sonny’s hand.

#2 The Wedding Ceremony suggested by Traci from Finding Jackie 597 Words

Finding Jackie by Lou Sylvre art by Reese Dante The ceremony involved simple words, panic, laughter, and tears.

First, Kaholo led them through some traditional vows. To have and to hold, to love and to cherish, and so forth. Luki stopped himself from thinking, yada, yada.

Then it was Luki’s turn to wing it. He’d rehearsed only a little and never really planned the words. He was surprised how easy they came, how good they felt. “Sonny, I promise to love you, never to try to change you, to trust you with my heart and with everything I have, and always to remember how precious, how fine, how beautiful you are to me. And I’ll keep you safe, Sonny. I’ll always keep you safe.”

Panic entered the picture when it came time for Sonny to respond—which he couldn’t seem to do, really. “I… I… Luki, I… oh.” Tears started, and Luki had no idea what to do until Josh nudged him and mouthed the word handkerchief.

“Oh!” Luki said. “Yeah. Here, baby.” He held the snowy-white square out as if he was going to wipe his groom’s nose, but Sonny snatched it away, swiped it down his face, and then grabbed hold of Luki’s shoulders, bending slightly to bury his face in Luki’s neck. Luki reached up and put his two big hands over Sonny’s slender ones—Sonny’s trembling hands that seemed so vulnerable. “Shh, sweetie. It’s okay. You don’t have to say anyth—”

“Shut up, Luki, of course I have to say something.”

Those words left Luki slack-jawed again, but the need to decide what to say or do was swept away from him as Sonny stood away once more, grabbing both of Luki’s hands and holding them to his chest, where the many-colored scarf buffeted against them in the breeze, tickling. Luki met his lover’s dark, dark eyes, and found them smoldering despite the rim of moisture, smoldering with such intense sincerity or need that Luki wondered absently if a spark would ignite them like oil on water.
“Yes, Luki. I have to say things. I have to tell you that I… will love you and no other, body and soul… will honor your strength and cherish it. And, Luki, I promise to give you what I am. Every day I want to show you beauty—the beauty I see in the world. That vision is the best I have to give, the best of what I am. And….” His voice trailed to a whisper. “Thank you, Luki, for loving me so much.”

“The rings,” Kaholo said, somehow managing to put an audial eye roll in the words. Josh passed one to Luki, and Jackie passed one to Sonny, and chuckling with their guests they pushed them past knuckles that seemed to have recently grown too large.

“Kiss, then,” Kaholo ordered, and pronounced them a pair of husbands.

Everyone had survived. The boys began to help the guests line up for congratulations. Neither of the men had wanted a receiving line, but Kaholo and Leilani insisted. Both of the men looked a little shell-shocked, but a worried look suddenly flashed across Luki’s face. “Wait!

All eyes turned Luki’s way as he dropped Sonny’s hand and reached into his vest pocket. “I forgot something important. Sonny, this is a wedding present. I know it isn’t all glamorous or anything, but… I hope you’re happy with it.” He held out a hand to Kaholo, a hand holding a half-smoked pack of cigarettes and his dad’s USS Vincent/Dennis the Menace vintage lighter. “Uncle, please take these. I’m quitting. As of right now, I don’t smoke.”

#3 from Bluesimplicity First Meeting from Loving Luki Vasquez 557 words

LovingLukiVasquezLg cover Reese Dante BRIGHT clothes, sunburns. Summer had arrived, and Port Clifton was awash in tourists. Since Juan de Fuca Boulevard constituted most of the town, they had nowhere else to go. They chattered and milled about, and Sonny Bly James wasn‟t in the mood for chatter or milling because he was worried about his nephew, Delsyn, who always stayed gone for days, but who should have come home by now. Sonny quickened his long-legged strides and slid through the crush, trying to disturb the air as little as possible on the way to his truck.

Then he saw a man.

Which in itself wasn‟t unusual, but this man, an islander, maybe Hawaiian, by the look of him, lounged cool and beautiful in loose summer whites, half-sitting on the fender of an ice-blue Mercedes, a strip of sand beach and the blue straits for a backdrop. Dark chestnut curls shining; straight, white teeth softly teasing a lush, plum-red bottom lip. His eyes, startling pale blue against brown skin, roved all over Sonny; the islander made no effort to pretend otherwise, and besides, Sonny could feel them. Their touch trickled over him like ice water, exciting every nerve he had, even those he‟d never heard from before.

Which scared Sonny, a recluse by choice—and, he knew, because he‟d always managed to be socially… well, clumsy. So, he turned to the weapon that had been his first line of defense since adolescence, when all the reservation had noticed that their star young grass dancer didn‟t mind being gay: a smart mouth.

“What are you looking at?”

Even though the islander had responded by looking away, Sonny knew he hadn‟t—couldn‟t have—intimidated him. The stranger might have been a few inches shorter than him, but judging by his physique, and despite his laid-back manner, Sonny guessed the man could have dropped him with a cold look and a slap. It would have been less of a blow if he had. Instead, he freed his lower lip from his teeth and spoke.

“I beg your pardon.”

Sonny wanted to let a whole raft of words spill out, starting with “I didn‟t mean it,” and ending with “so kiss me, now.” But the man‟s attention had turned away. A baby in a stroller dropped a floppy brown bear at his feet. The young mother looked frazzled, at her wit‟s end, carrying another child and trying to keep a third from making a dash down the boulevard. The islander squatted down—a graceful move—and picked up the bear. Right before Sonny‟s eyes, his icy exterior melted, and though he didn‟t smile and couldn‟t pass for cheerful, he somehow seemed kind. He handed the stuffed creature back to the baby, who seemed to like him. She expressed her gratitude by spouting a number of syllables that all sounded a lot like “da.”

Sonny, angry with himself for blowing his chance to meet this chill but beautiful stranger—who might be trying to hide a kind heart—pretended he hadn‟t seen. He turned his faux-stoic shoulder and walked away. A little shaky, perhaps; already sorry. Three strides and he heard a voice, unexpectedly scratchy, even hoarse.

“Hey.”

Sonny turned.

The man took a deep, lovely breath, flashed his cold-fire eyes at Sonny, and said, “I have coffee most mornings at Margie‟s. In case you‟re interested.”

#4 Suggested by Juliana The Tucking-in Scene at the Hotel from Loving Luki Vasquez 418 words

LovingLukiVasquezLg cover Reese Dante After a while Sonny‟s breathing calmed. Luki flared his nostrils to draw in the smell of Sonny‟s sex, like saving it up, and rose to his knees.

Sonny looked spent. Not necessarily in a bad way, but Luki hoped he hadn‟t overtaxed him, what with his injury and all. He moved up next to him, handed him the water glass, and propped him up to drink from it. Not at all sure what to make of his own feelings, Luki nevertheless curled up around Sonny, cradled his head and kissed the top of it.

Sonny said, “You?”

“No. Another time. This was for you, Sonny.”

Sonny pulled his head away to look at him. After a time he whispered, half asleep, “You‟re smiling.”

“I guess I am. I‟ll probably have to rectify that.”

“Punctures the tough-guy image.”

“Almost irreparably. Are you hurting, now that you‟re awake and not being driven into a sexual frenzy? Do you want some more pain meds?”

Sonny hesitated. “Yeah, I think so.”

Luki extracted himself from his cozy situation reluctantly, then resisted the instinct to rush after

Sonny, who had rolled off the bed and set off for the bathroom.

Damn, Sonny, what if you fall! Damn, Luki, give it a rest!

Sonny made it back in one piece and, breathing again, Luki brought him his pill and plumped his pillows and helped him lay down without straining his injured muscle and pulled the blanket up and….

“What are you doing, Luki?”

“I‟m tucking you in.”

“Tucking me in?”

“Yes.” He hoped he was managing a cold and intimidating expression. “You have some sort of problem with that?”

Sonny laughed hard enough that Luki worried about his stitches—what the hell is going on with me—and kept laughing when Luki turned the lights out and stepped to the balcony to smoke, flopping on a cushioned wicker chair with one leg draped loosely over the arm.

Sonny fell silent, and a moment later his drowsy advice floated out to the balcony. “You should quit.”

“News,” Luki said. He found the night air, the lights on the water, the faint noises of traffic a lot more satisfying than would usually have been the case. He suspected he was still smiling, even though it wasn‟t stretching his scar.

Sonny‟s low, buttery voice came again, softly, from the edge of sleep. “Luki?”

“Mmm.”

“Uh… thank you?”

Luki smiled some more, which should have alarmed him but didn‟t. “You‟re welcome, sweetie,” he said. “You‟re more than welcome.”

#5 Suggested by Kat The Ambulance Ride (Neck Collar) Loving Luki Vasquez 473 words

LovingLukiVasquezLg cover Reese Dante The EMT had already checked Luki over, catalogued cuts and bruises and—mostly on his hands—relayed information about body temperature, pulse, and respiration to the ER. He moved on, and Luki tried to catch glimpses of Sonny as the EMT moved up and down the narrow aisle between them. He saw bloody patches on his clothes, gashes on his arms, one place on his left shoulder where both shirt and skin had been peeled away. A cotton pad had been laid under his back, and blood oozed into it, blooming along the edge near Luki.

Just when Luki felt despair looming over him, Sonny inhaled sharply, cleared his throat.

“Mr. James,” the EMT said. “Glad to see you‟re with us.”

Sonny said nothing. His breathing sounded ragged.

The EMT moved into Sonny‟s line of sight, which meant Luki could see Sonny too. Alive. Awake. Relief struck so fast and hard it hurt. Luki thought that, though he‟d survived everything else, this just might stop his heart.

“Mr. James, can you hear me? Do you know where you are?”

Which is when Luki realized that his own hearing had returned. Though a bit muffled, it was acute enough to hear Sonny rasp his answers.

“Can hear. I‟m in hell. Delsyn? Luki?”

“You know damn well you‟re not in hell, Mr. James.”

“Sonny.”

“Okay, Sonny. Delsyn was airlifted about three minutes before the blast; they got away clean and will be at Nebraska Hospital in about ten, I‟d say—”

“Factor?”

“Yeah, that turned out well. Mr. Vasquez‟s folks had the stuff in spades. Not quite sure how they got it, but I imagine that little breach of legal etiquette will be overlooked in light of the outcome. He‟s getting factor and red cells, and they‟ll transfuse him as soon as they arrive at the hospital. I can call and see if I can get an update, if you like, as soon as we clear this mockery of a road and reach the highway.”

“Luki?”

“He‟s right here, to your left—that‟s the side that probably hurts the most—and he won‟t stop staring at you. Not sure what that‟s about….”

It looked like an effort, but Sonny turned his head. Luki crinkled his brow, thinking they should have had a neck collar on him. What’s wrong with these people? But when Sonny locked his soft brown eyes on him, Luki forgot about his complaints. It felt like forever that they stared at each other. To him, it seemed they floated in a vacuum; nothing else existed but his lover and the small part of him that was good enough to let Sonny love him back. Finally, the ride smoothed out as the aid van pulled onto the highway, and the two of them spoke at once.

“What,” they said, “are you looking at?”

#6 The Blood Bowl Loving Luki Vasquez suggested by Cynthia 712 words

LovingLukiVasquezLg cover Reese Dante The ATF experts confirmed that, indeed, there were explosives in the van. They confirmed that the hardwired device did appear to be a detonator. They were a little surprised, and alarmed, at the ingenuity Royce had used in rigging the heat-sensitive switch. Maybe it wasn‟t a first, but this bunch hadn‟t seen that twist before.

“We don‟t have any way to be sure about the remote detonator because we could set it off while trying to find the closed signal. Cell phone controlled detonators are pretty common, easily done, and it seems he‟s got the know-how, so I think we‟d best assume it‟s real. As far as that heat-activated switch, we‟ve got a solution.”

Janine helped him pull a cut-off, dark green, insulated ATF vest over his head, which covered the face of the lens but missed the various wires. “There,” she said, in a voice like everybody‟s kid sister. “Now we‟re all a notch safer and you‟re more stylish into the bargain.”

Sonny actually smiled at that, which he found unbelievable. But it did feel good, like it untied one of the numerous knots in his belly.

“Hey, Sonny,” Duff said. “We‟ve got some of Luki‟s people here—employees, we call them. We‟re kind of snooty so we don‟t call them agents even though they‟re damn good ones. And our folks are calling in from Kaholo‟s. I‟m supposed to be the boss, so I need to hear everything. I‟m going to leave Janine here for company. She likes to gossip, so just tell her to button up if she‟s bothering you. And, Sonny, calm is the word. If it helps, I‟ve done this job for twenty-two years, done dozens of situations, and I can tell you the odds are on our side.”

Sonny nodded as the fiftyish man walked away. It surprised him how much calmer he did feel, just having the agents there. Have faith. Luki was right of course. There would be a way out, even if it hadn‟t come into view. He looked into the windows at Delsyn‟s blood. Still dripping. Still a steady rhythm. He reminded himself that, though it seemed a lifetime, not much time had passed. Del would be alright as long as they could get him out of that van alive.

He saw a black speck in the left hand blood bowl. It moved.

(Passage of time)

A fly.

SONNY could see nothing but the black fly in the bowl of blood. It had subverted every cell capable of forming thoughts. It didn‟t move, and Sonny wondered if flies drown. But, still as it was, he soon forgot that it was a fly at all. Just a dot of black on a field of red. Red that didn‟t quite match Sonny‟s red, the dye no one could copy, but almost. Whoever made this red, he thought, should be proud. He wanted that red, wanted to weave it through weft of the same hue….

“Mr. James… Mr. James!”

For a split instant, Sonny wondered why the young woman was bothering him, couldn‟t she see he was working? He lifted his eyes from the porcelain bowl in order to scold her. On the way to do that he saw Delsyn, then the van, then remembered the monstrous device strapped to his belly, and he came back.
He breathed a deep and quivering sigh, licked dry lips, and focused on Janine. “Sorry,” he croaked.

“Mr. James, did you hear the explosion?”

He realized that he had, though he‟d shut it away.

The sergeant, Duff, trotted toward them. “Are you holding up okay, Sonny?”

“The explosion?”

“Yeah, that‟s what I want to talk about. We got a radio call from the agents who went upstream, following the trail Vasquez left, presumably for us. An old powerhouse on the river is what blew.” He slicked his hair back, as if stalling. As if he didn‟t want to say more. “It‟s pretty clear that the bomber was in there. Since the remote detonator signal, apparently, did not come, we‟re operating on the assumption that the bomber went down with the building.

“Luki.”

“We don‟t know. We haven‟t found him, but he‟s always been crafty. And strong. There‟s hope.”

“Faith.”

“Pardon.”

“He told me to have faith. In him. In chances.”

#7 First Reunion Love Scene Beginning Delsyn’s Blues (Lou’s own selection) 607 words

delsynsbluesfs1.jpg An hour later, Luki stepped outside to smoke, no jacket against the cold, dry wind, nothing between his eyes and the stars. Dry, cold, and clear—a rare March night here on the Olympic Peninsula. He walked out to sit on the drift log halfway between Sonny’s house and the water. A square of artificial daylight lay on the sandy grass to his left, bursting out through the window of Sonny’s studio, where he was probably hard at work.

“I’m going to my studio,” he’d said a short while ago. “See if I can clean it up some.”

“Want help?”

One word answer, “No.” And he walked away.

Luki refused to wonder if now, inside his studio, something bad was happening to Sonny—emotions, memories, dope, whatever. He told himself for the hundredth time it was about trust. Soon, his cigarette had come to its predestined seven-minute end, and he was starting to feel the bite of the cold. But instead of going in, he walked down to the edge of the water, dark as it was, with stars sprinkled in the quiet waves. At the edge of his vision, he noticed the studio light disappear from the ground, and moments later he felt, more than heard, Sonny coming out of the house, walking toward him. He didn’t turn
around, but when Sonny reached an arm over his shoulder, Luki took Sonny’s hand and kissed it, not surprised at all, and led him back to the driftwood seat.

Sonny straddled the log next to Luki and leaned in to kiss Luki’s neck. Which tickled in a most seductive way. Sonny’s long legs grabbed hold of him like pincers, and he dragged his lean fingers over Luki’s chest, leaving heat trails on Luki’s night-chilled skin. The whole event felt like a stroke of better-than-luck to Luki because, though he refused to jump to conclusions, he was pretty sure Sonny was making sexual advances. And it had been a couple or a hundred months since any such thing occurred or even was hinted at. So if his response was a little too enthusiastic, a little too heated, he hoped Sonny would forgive him for that.

Better than forgiving, Sonny matched him flame for flame, and pretty soon hands were inside clothes and doing some exquisite touching, tickling, rubbing. But it wasn’t all that comfortable—cold and clothed—so Luki breathed, “Bed, sweetie.”

“Yeah,” Sonny answered, but he didn’t stop what he was doing, and Luki didn’t really want him to.

It made it all the more difficult to insist. “Come on, baby, let’s go.” He took Sonny’s hand out of his clothing and they both jogged, holding hands and holding up their unzipped pants with their free hands, moving about as gracefully as contestants in a three-legged race. Which made Sonny guffaw. He did it from time to time and it always delighted Luki—made him sort of laugh too.

When they reached the house, Luki slammed the door behind them with a foot and rushed to catch up with Sonny, who was already shirtless and dropping his jeans and a step away from the bed. All Luki could think about was skin, Sonny’s skin: bare, sweet, brown skin over legs and ass and chest and shoulders and toes and fingers and yes, penis. Perhaps the sweetest skin of all, that. He wanted so badly to taste it.

When Sonny’s jeans came off and he stood bare and enflamed, molded by lamplight, Luki’s entire being—every sense, every belief, and everything he knew in all the world—was about Sonny, the beautiful, breathtaking, heart-stealing man standing naked before him.

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Win a $25 prize! 5 Minutes in Heaven Contest (and author rescue)

GRNW_Sylvre_Ad copy by Reece Wedschilde

It’s simple, really. I’ll be reading my work at the Gay Rom NW meet-up happy hour on 9/14 in Seattle, and I can’t decide what to read! 5 minutes, 550 to 700 words, on the theme 5 minutes in heaven. That means the readings have to be sweet stuff, happy, sexy, poignant perhaps but not angsty or scary, etc. 2 part contest, double-down by playing both parts. PART ONE (starts now!): nominate a favorite passage from any Vasquez and James book! Make your nominations here in comments. Every nomination get’s your name in the hat! PART TWO (starts Tuesday 7/28) I’ll post a link to all possible passages nominated or selected separately by me, and you vote. Your vote gets your name in the hat again. Summary–play either part or both, help me out (save my butt), and maybe win a bunch of book money!

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And the HAHaT winner is…

Penumbra! Congratulations! Thank you to all who participated in the hop, read A special thank you to the HAHaT organizers and the people who keep the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (otherwise known as IDAHO) afloat.

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HAHaT 2013: Thoughts About Legalities, Love, Fear… oh, and there’s a freebie

Hello blog-hoppers! This post is my contribution to the Blog Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, or HAHaT 2013. I hope tons of you visit, and we can discuss some serious matters, while having some fun, too. Read all the way to the end to find out about the small but noticeably free-of-charge thing I’d love to give you…

The hop supports the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Undoing the knotted mass of threads that is homophobia/transphobia is a necessary focus, because, well, it’s all over the place and it’s messed up.

“But,” you or someone you know says, “it’s all coming up roses, isn’t it? Laws are being passed, people are getting married. It’s a brighter day!”

Yes! It is a brighter day, indeed!

But before we assume that laws leaning more toward fairness and equality mean the demise of fear and hate, let’s think about history. Some questions to ponder:

  • Did legalizing the right of women to vote and work give them equal standing in the community? (If you think so, you and I should talk.)
  • Did abolishing legal slavery create attitudes of fairness and equality toward African Americans?
  • Did laws prohibiting brutality lead to the end of child abuse?

In the USA, we’ve had eleven states (I think) pass laws saying GLBTQ people can marry. In some of those states, the spouses can also adopt children, should they wish. These changes have led to many lovely, loving moments and years, and beautiful images, for us all to cherish, that have made it into our lives.

Like this one:

And this one:

But eleven states is only twenty-two percent of all the possibilities. To me, the progress of human rights in terms of marriage equality has seemed like a snowball rolling downhill. But there is no guarantee that the ball will keep rolling! If anything, I think this is the point in the battle when so much can go wrong, simply by virtue of a broader, shifting field–and this is even more true because the fight for fair laws is an international one.

And the fight for legal equality is also, moreso, a fight for the hearts of all good people.

Forgive me, for I am about to commit the fiction writer’s sin of thinking all points can be illustrated by a scene in their novel. No, really. This is a very brief excerpt from Saving Sonny James, the finale to the Vasquez and James series, which has been submitted to the publisher a few days ago, but not yet accepted. Here, Luki and Sonny have recently been through hell (which anyone who’s read the series has come to expect 🙂 ). In this case, hell is in Paris, France, where equal marriage has recently been codified as law, in the real world.

The black car rolled up to the embassy, an elegant building with an expanse of lawn, a pair of huge flags—US and France, and a red-trimmed, white fabric canopy over the entry walk. Jean Baptiste let them out at the street curb, and they walked along a paved semicircle drive, hand-in-hand, though they weren’t conscious of it until they got some looks from the Gendarmerie in their peaked hats. Sonny might have tried to extract his hand, but Luki held on tight and gave one or two of the gendarmes his iciest look.

When they reached the canopy, he quietly said to Sonny, “Tell me those bigots don’t have the power to make you ashamed of me… or of who you are.”

“Of course not, Luki!” Sonny was emphatic, but he chuckled and added, “But they do seem to have the power to make me nervous.”

Luki glanced sideways at him and back at the police—whose attention had gone elsewhere, now—“Fuck ‘em, baby. We’re legal in this country, you know. Just like at home.”

“Yeah but honey, when Washington State decided we could marry, that was a vote of the people, and the people that didn’t like it didn’t join up in mobs and start beating people up and killing folks wholesale in the street. Here…”

Luki heaved a tired sigh. “I know, but it’s—”

“Safer to be right up front with it. I agree. Thanks for holding my hand, husband.”

I invite your comments and discussion! I’d love to hear about fictional characters (movies, books, TV, ballads, whatever) that have put the haters in their place. Can be humor or badass-ness, or whatever. Tell me about your fave, and you’re in the drawing for a $15 certificate for Dreamspinner Press, anything at all from their catalog. The contest runs all ten days of the blog hop, and you can enter more than once as long as you have new material in your comment. ‘Kay? Please play! (By the way, I’ve had to put comments on moderate for awhile because of ugly spammers. Please don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up right away.)

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