Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to shine a spotlight on J.R. Loveless’s new holiday romance, Blue Christmas, which sounds like an intriguing read a bit different from the average story of the holiday season. And isn’t that cover a showstopper?
Christmas used to be a time of joy for me, but since my mother’s death three years ago the holiday has lost all meaning, becoming nothing but a harsh reminder of what I’ve lost. I’ve become bitter and skeptical of everyone around me, and the cold aloofness has kept me from being hurt that deeply again. But this year the thought of yet another blue Christmas alone sends me on a path that will change my life forever.
Somehow, I managed to fall into a restless sleep and before I knew it the nurse came in to wake me up and bring me breakfast. I scowled at her as she raised my bed and set the tray on the table before me. I grimaced at the dried out eggs and hard toast. There was no way I’d eat this so I just pushed the table away. “Where are my clothes?” I demanded of her.
“They’re in the closet over by the bathroom, dear. Everything you came in with is in there.” She made a notation on my chart at the foot of my bed and then left the room.
I wanted to be gone before Carter got there. I slid from the bed, gripping the back of the gown closed. Cold air slipped under the hem and I winced at how chilly the tile felt on my feet. Everything was where she’d said. I bundled my clothes together and headed into the bathroom to get dressed. Maybe I underestimated Carter because when I came back out, he sat in the same chair from last night, a magazine propped open on one knee.
He looked up and smiled. “Ah, good, you’re already dressed. I took the liberty of going into your apartment and grabbing a coat for you since you were brought in without one last night. Also the little girl who lives next door to you wanted me to tell you Simba is okay and she’ll take care of him until you get home.”
I tightened my lips into a flat line. “I’m not going anywhere with you. I’ll take a cab home.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m already here and besides we have to stop at the lot and pick out a tree. Oh, I went by my parents’ house and snagged some of their decorations. My mom has so much of them she insisted I take some of hers.” Carter stood and held out the jacket. It was my favorite one, the one my mom had given me the year before she started to get sick. Though a little worn in some places, it still provided enough warmth against the chilly winds and snow.
“Thank you,” I said stiffly. “But I really don’t need a tree or decorations.”
Once again, he didn’t listen to me and waved away my refusal. “You can make me dinner on Christmas Eve and we’ll call it even.”
I shook my head and started to tell him no once again when the door opened and one of the orderlies came in with a wheelchair. “I can walk,” I protested.
“Hospital policy. Please have a seat, Mr. Lords. You’ll be out of here in no time.” The orderly gestured to the wheelchair.
With a sigh, I gave in and settled into it, embarrassed once again. Carter just silently followed along, a smile on his face. Once the papers were signed and I was outside of the front doors, I got out of the chair. I stepped in the direction of the nearest taxi, but Carter grabbed my arm and led me toward the parking garage. “I can walk on my own,” I said, disturbed at his touch and nearness.
“Of course you can. I just wanted to make sure you were heading the right direction,” he soothed. He stopped at a red pickup truck, unlocked the passenger door and opened it, waiting for me to get in. I glared at him, but slipped into the front seat. I breathed a sigh of relief to be out of the cold air, huddling deeper into my jacket.
Carter loped around the front of the truck and slid into the driver’s seat. Christmas music played from the speakers when the engine started. I crossed my arms and turned my head to stare out of the window as he drove.
About the author:
J.R. Loveless is a native Floridian who spends her days in an office physically, but mentally is frolicking between the pages of her imagination. Writing has been a lifelong passion for J.R. and she has pursued it from an early age, even winning awards in school and finally beginning her life as a published author in 2010.
She is a self-confessed Potterhead spending her days with her three furbabies and enjoying the major chapters on her long journey through life. One day she hopes to visit far off places and have grand adventures like those of the characters in her stories.
Romance Across the Rainbow Welcomes Jana Denardo with her new book, Blood Red Roulette!
Jana Denardo has a new bi paranormal book out with a romantic arc: Blood Red Roulette.
Arrigo Giancarlo’s friends think he’s a rich young man with the unusual job of paranormal investigator, working with his psychic assistant in Las Vegas. In truth he’s a two-thousand-year-old vampire and member of the Chiaroscuro, a group of Supernaturals dedicated to keeping humanity safe from the more dangerous of their kind. He’s also openly bisexual… but alone.
When he spots Luc St. John in a bar, Arrigo is intrigued. What begins as an effort to repay the kindness shown to him in the past quickly turns into much deeper feelings for the suffering and displaced Cajun. For Luc’s part, he feels too poor, too uneducated, and too bound to his hateful family to ever be worthy of elegant and cultured Arrigo.
An old enemy, Eleni, blames Arrigo for murdering her true love. On the anniversary of that death, she’s back to take revenge. As Arrigo’s closest friends fall victim to savage attacks, he fears nothing will keep Luc safe. Should he break both their hearts and let Luc go, or is it too late? If Luc’s already in Eleni’s sights, Arrigo knows that like most things in Vegas, the odds are against him.
That night, after dealing with the renegade, Arrigo decided to check out the Alibi. He had wanted to know more about the family who seemed to run the place or, more specifically, the hot bartender with the wild curls, whose name he’d learned on his last visit was Luc. The gray-haired, bearded man whose appearance screamed redneck was of no interest to Arrigo other than to inspire distaste because of how he lorded over the two young men who worked the bar with him. The other man, brawnier with darker hair, bullied Luc too. Arrigo learned quickly that his name was Henri, Luc’s brother, and the gray-haired man was their father.
Their accents were Louisianan, Cajun. Arrigo recognized the bayou accent because he had lived in the Pontalba Apartments in the French Quarter several years back. Arrigo figured they had come west looking for new homes after Hurricane Katrina like many others. He knew a whole clan of vampires who gave up the New Orleans cliché and moved to Tempe, Arizona.
At that first meeting, Luc snagged his attention, sending a warm feeling due south. Rarely did someone stir up enough lust to cloud his Roman-soldier sense of duty, but Luc nearly made him lose track of his quarry that night. He hoped the ghosts of his ancient cadre and his personal lares, the guardian spirits Romans believed in back in his mortal days, hadn’t seen him slip up like that. He hadn’t fully given up his belief in the old ways.
The problem with being so ancient was the nagging feeling he’d done it all, and he’d do something wild—and potentially stupid—to prove to himself there were new things to experience. Some days time went too fast, leaving him feeling alive, almost raw with sensation. On the other hand, there were weeks when time trudged by, and then he’d remember how long he’d been alone. Out of nowhere, a laugh perked up his spirit, a flash of a lovely eye ensnared him, or the sight of a well-rounded butt cheek made his heart race. Those moments were inevitable.
The night he first saw Luc’s cherubic face, it catalyzed a reaction. Of course a night in which he’d stalked dangerous prey had been no time to try to talk to Luc. However, working at Delilah’s Diner several doors down, investigating it for his book, suited Arrigo perfectly. After stopping at Delilah’s to gather stories the day after he’d fought the renegade, he planned to drop by the Alibi to see if he could talk to Luc.
As it turned out, he hadn’t had to. Luc showed up at Delilah’s that night. Luc and Lily, the waitress who had told Arrigo all about Delilah’s ghosts, chatted the whole time Arrigo poked around. The gentleness and concern Luc displayed with her, the promise to help her take her kids fishing like their dad used to, even his agreeing to pretend to be her boyfriend to shake off a scary customer spoke volumes. Luc was either a good guy or a crafty predator. Arrigo dealt with predators often, and Luc failed to impress him as one.
The second time Arrigo returned to Delilah’s to learn more from Lily, the cook, and a couple other waitresses in the dead, late-night hours of the twenty-four-hour diner, Luc showed up again, sporting a busted lip. Arrigo helped with a towel filled with ice for Luc so Lily could wait on other patrons. Arrigo only managed to exchange a few words with him, Luc’s wary gaze never leaving his face. Luc only stayed long enough to confirm the fishing trip before stumbling to the bus stop.
Tonight he’d try again at the Alibi after stopping at Delilah’s, using the diner as his excuse for being in the area. He could only imagine the bad reactions in the biker bar if someone thought he’d shown up to see Luc.
Once he arrived at the diner, Arrigo had second thoughts about going into the Alibi. This sort of bar probably thrived on gay bashing, and he was not in the mood to get into a fight with people he’d gladly drain down to the last drop. His inner predator didn’t need that sort of challenge. He glanced up and down the street, first at Delilah’s, then the Alibi. Tabernae remained unchanged for the most part since the days of his youth. Call it what you will:taberna, tavern, pub, bar, diner even, people had always needed a place to gather, to eat and drink. In a way, the Alibi reminded him far too much of his mortal days: rough people, bad booze, and even rougher prostitutes waiting nearby. A shiver ran through him. Some things Arrigo wanted to forget forever.
While Arrigo mentally debated on doing the smart thing and going home, Luc walked around the corner of the bar with a hose in tow. That made things easier. Arrigo didn’t even have to go into the bar with its sticky floors and miserable clientele.
Even though he knew he was probably asking for trouble, Arrigo sauntered across the street. Luc attacked the gritty, broken sidewalk with the stream of water from hose, but no amount of cleaning could make the Alibi look more enticing. Luc wore torn jeans with ragged stringy hems, a plain blue T-shirt thin enough it was nearly see-through, and a worn-out pair of canvas tennis shoes with the uppers duct-taped to the soles.As he closed the distance, the booze and vomit hit his senses before the copious puddle of it came into view outside the Alibi’s door. “Bonsoir,” Arrigo said, remembering Cajuns spoke a form of French thick with slang he only half remembered. The trouble with living so long was that languages became dated and he knew so many, he struggled to keep them all straight.
Luc looked up, surprise in his expression at hearing French. His face taking on a curious expression, he stared at Arrigo, almost eye to eye. Despite how much taller humans had grown, Arrigo thought he might have an inch on Luc.
Ghost hunting entered this story sort of sideways. I knew from the beginning that Arrigo’s business partner and friend, Taabu, was a true psychic who ran a psychic reading business. Arrigo, on the other hand, is as psychic as a stone so I had to think of why they’re business partners, beyond his natural inclination to help his friends. He loaned Taabu the money to help start her business, but I wanted it to be more than that since Taabu, as a minor character, is in a good third of the novel or more. Their business couldn’t be am afterthought.
I’ve been a paranormal investigator since I can remember really. It began in earnest in the 1980s, long before all the TV shows popularizing it. Actually, I’m kicking myself for never thinking about taking it to TV. I’ve done solo and group work over the last thirty years almost everywhere I’ve lived and now, since it’s so popular I usually work one ghost tour into every vacation.
Las Vegas is one place I’ve gone to that I haven’t done the ghost tours, mostly because several reviewers had said they weren’t that great and very light on the history. That made me sad. I want more out of my ghost tour than just local legend. I want some of the true history, to know that the guides have put forth the effort to investigate the possible hauntings. This lack in Vegas got me thinking and sent me off researching it.
Ghost hunters and psychics go together very well, and it would be something that would amuse Arrigo, a vampire hunting ghosts. Having been alive since the time of Caesar, Arrigo has plenty of money, so he can afford to take a job that’s equal parts job and play. At the opening of the novel, he’s considering offering his own Vegas ghost tours for the multitude of visitors flocking to the city. He figures it would be perfect to help out young vampires who require the darkness to survive. It would be a nice income bump for them and keep them working with humans which he feels is vital to do.
That left me hunting down ghost stories and Vegas definitely does have some. There was one in particular that made the book because I was able to verify some of the history. There was a major hotel fire with multiple deaths. It’s tragic and terrible and a good place to possibly find ghosts. To his surprise, Arrigo has been asked to do a local haunts book and that’s what takes him to Luc’s stomping grounds, at least in part.
The book gives him an excuse to keep visiting Luc, and he definitely wants to do that. Of course, Luc has no idea what to make of Arrigo’s job as a ghost hunter. He’s caught between believing in ghosts and pretending he doesn’t because he knows his brother and Henri’s friends will mock him. I had a blast doing the research for the ghostly aspect of this novel.
Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.
Hello readers! Romance Cross the Rainbow is happy to host Tucker McCallahan today, who’s touring the virtual world with her new release, The Boys of Summer.
Lead singer Ash Redvers needs a drummer. When Dustin Davis shows up, ready, willing, and able to play – not to mention gorgeous – Ash thinks it’s going to be the best season yet. But Ash has never had a boyfriend, and Dust isn’t willing to be a quick hook-up. As the summer heats up, they’ll have to decide whether all they can make together is music, or if there’s something more for them after the Boys of Summer are gone.
Hi! My name is Tucker McCallahan, and I’m the author of The Boys of Summer, the first book in the Dust & Ash Saga. I’m so grateful to Lou Sylvre for hosting me today! (From Lou: You’re welcome, Tucker! My pleasure.)
One of the reasons I ended up choosing to self-publish the saga was because it’s a little unconventional. The novels follow an ensemble cast (a rock band – The Boys of Summer) over the course of the summer of 2011, and every single aspect of the sexual spectrum ends up represented: straight, bisexual, pansexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, polyamory, monogamy, monandry… You name it, if it exists, there’s a character repping it in the Dust & Ash Saga.
I feel like that representation is very important. My sole exposure to LGBTQ+ anything while I was growing up was Clive Barker (and yes, I also write erotic gay horror – mostly because of that). I didn’t stumble onto LGBTQ+ fiction until I was in college, and then suddenly it was like the sun came out, the birds sang, and I knew I wasn’t alone. But in reading those early tales, it seemed like the LGBTQ+ world was somehow separate from the reality of my daily life. Like the things those novels encompassed – while being titillating and wonderful – also existed in their own little world, separate from work, school, and most of all, my family.
In The Boys of Summer, I explored the idea that the LGBTQ+ community didn’t have to ever be separate from any other community; that we could all live, work, and love side by side. I wrote it to be realistic, and chose to tackle some of the trope events of LGBTQ+ life: coming out, having a first relationship, and how friendship effects love.
From The Boys of Summer:
Two hours later Jared was pulling his shirt back on when he heard footfalls on the gravel. He turned to see Ash, wide-awake and his usual charming self, striding toward him.
“Hey, man, place looks good.”
“Thanks. You meet the new drummer?”
“Not yet. I saw you guys moving his massive drum kit and beat feet back to bed.”
Jared’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. He crumpled the empty cigarette pack in his hand and threw it at Ash’s head. He missed by a mile.
Ash grinned at him. “What? No way was I moving all that shit in the hot sun. I needed my beauty sleep.”
“His name is Dustin. He has more bathroom junk than you do.”
Ash stared at Jared for a minute, slightly nonplussed. “Uh, okay.”
“I put him in Arden’s room, but there’s no bed in there except that mattress from—”
“Ugh, that’s nasty.” Ash made a face. “Okay. As soon as he’s done, uh, doing whatever it is he’s in there doing, we’ll go buy a new bed.”
“Cool. He seems like a nice guy. Kinda quiet.”
“He looked like a Marilyn Manson reject, but honestly, as long as he can play the drums, I don’t really care.”
“Well, hopefully I’ll improve your opinion of me over the course of the summer.”
The voice was deep and sultry. Ash instantly thought of Jim Morrison from the Doors growling “Break On Through” or crooning “Love Her Madly.” Ash hoped he wasn’t blushing as he turned around, but when he saw the vision of total fucking hotness on his front porch, he gave up. Ash’s face went as red as a chili pepper.
Dustin was a towhead, that uncanny, natural white-blond that some males were blessed with at birth and never escape with age. Even Dustin’s eyebrows and eyelashes were white, and of course, the very first thing that went through Ash’s filthy mind was that Dustin’s pubic hair would be that same wonderful white-blond too. That thought, and the accompanying mental image, gave Ash a raging hard-on. Fuck.
Aside from the gorgeous color, Dustin’s hair was cut in a skater’s asymmetrical shag, longer on top than it was in the back, and he used some kind of styling gunk to stand it up into an artful pile of spikes. His eyes were toffee brown and positively danced with mischief as he stood on the porch in tight, skinny jeans, an Affliction hoodie, and Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
Yup. Ash was hard as granite.
“Well, goddamn!” Jared said with feeling. “Where’s the little punk I helped with the drums a few hours ago?”
Dustin laughed and jumped off the porch. He landed in a graceful crouch, standing to stretch like a cat, which made his clothing ride up and showed off a sweet little six-pack, complete with a pierced navel.
Oh motherfucking hell. Ash was going to have to go inside and adjust. He contemplated the physical tightness of Dustin’s jeans and cocked his head, trying to decide if the hard-bodied little drummer wore boxers, briefs, or—groan—nothing at all.
“I washed him off. You’re stuck with me.”
Ash stared, filled with simple but intense desire. Everything about Dustin turned Ash on fiercely, right down to the multiple piercings in Dustin’s ears.
Jared laughed and looked sideways at Ash, who was unusually quiet. “Uh, Dustin, this is Ash, our singer. Ash, Dustin.”
Dustin’s gaze devoured Ash from the top down. The singer and leader of the Boys of Summer had skin the color of teak, a tawny dark brown that gleamed in the golden sunshine. Dustin had to put effort into not straight-up ogling the guy, because Ash looked like a hero from some romance cover, complete with long, windswept black hair, fiery dark eyes, and oh-so-kissable lips. “You look like a lead singer. Tall, gorgeous, pretty eyes…. Can you actually sing too?”
Ash’s mouth went bone-dry and his heart pounded like a bongo. Had he heard that right? Did Dustin just call him gorgeous? Ash mumbled something unintelligible.
Jared stared at him. “Ground control to Ash, you okay over there?”
Ash looked at Jared, slightly panicked. He could hardly admit to macking on their new drummer in front of the guy. Plus, there was the whole bit about being told he was gorgeous by somebody he wanted to knock down and fuck senseless on the front porch. What was he supposed to say? Tell Jared he was fine except for the massive erection that was currently preventing any blood from getting to his brain and causing a huge case of stupid? Oh yeah, that would go over great.
Ash managed a vague sort of nod and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He tried to keep his eyes glued to the ground, but it didn’t work. They kept flipping up to gaze at their new drummer. Ash jerked his head toward his SUV. “Guess I’ll drive,” he mumbled.
They were all headed in that direction when Jared’s cell phone rang. Ash’s Sketchers crunching on the gravel didn’t quite mask his growl as he glared at Jared’s retreating back and the phone plastered to his ear.
“Hey, I can sleep on the floor, if getting a bed is a problem.” Dustin’s concern was audible in his voice. “Or if the money’s the issue, a futon would be—”
Ash’s beleaguered brain finally clicked on and he turned his attention back to Dustin. “No. No problem. Sorry, man. I just got done with a killer semester. If I space out, or just kind of stare off or something, smack me. It’s totally posttraumatic stress.”
“If you say so.”
Ash furrowed his brows as he glared at Jared, still talking on his phone. Damn it, Ash needed a wingman here. He hooked his thumbs in his back pockets and cocked his head, pivoting on his heel before dancing from foot to foot as if music played somewhere. Dustin smiled, watching him. Ash’s hair swung around his shoulders as he came to a stop, facing Dustin once again as Jared finally came toward them with an apologetic look on his face.
“Sorry, guys, I gotta bail on the bed trip. I have to go see a… a friend.”
“Dealing during daylight hours?” Ash quipped. “Damn.”
Jared made a face, his voice taking on a very serious tone. “I suggest you tell Dustin that you’re merely attempting to be amusing, because everybody in our band knows that I have no sense of humor whatsoever about being referred to as something so onerous as a purveyor of narcotics.”
Ash abruptly stopped dancing about, straightened up, and nodded. “Right dude, sorry. So… you gotta go?”
“Yeah. That was Tracy.”
“Oh,” Ash said, surprised. “I didn’t know you guys were talking again.”
“On and off.”
“I didn’t know she’d finally gotten a divorce.”
Ash cringed. “Jared, man….”
“Stay out of it, Ash.”
“Yeah, okay. Just… be careful.”
“Have fun buying junior there a bed. Don’t embarrass him too badly.”
Jared jogged off to his ancient Bug, leaving Ash and Dust alone.
As they drove out toward the shopping mall on the edge of the county line, a comfortable silence filled the SUV. They used the time to size each other up, taking the first leg of the journey for some thorough studying. Dustin decided Ash was simply the best-looking man he’d ever laid eyes on. From his long black hair with its natural red highlights, to his rangy hard body that seemed full of childish, happy energy, the lead singer of the Boys of Summer was completely gorgeous. And firmly in his closet, Dustin was sure, which was a problem.
Ash, on the other hand, decided he was getting laid tonight. He was going to take a man home, alone, for the very first time. No girls allowed this time. He didn’t want anything distracting him from the unbelievable bounty that was Dustin the drummer. Ash had Plans (with a capital P) for this boy, and the more he thought about it, the more excited he got. Why the hell hadn’t he ever done something like this before?
“So… thought about what kind of bed you want?” Ash asked.
Dustin cocked his head and frowned. “The kind you sleep on?”
“Smartass. I meant, like, a queen, a king, a firm mattress, a soft mattress? You ever try one of those Tempur-Pedic beds?”
Dustin stared at him with his mouth hanging open. It was kind of cute. Ash wanted to lean over and suck on Dustin’s lower lip, which probably meant he was going to have a car accident if he didn’t stop thinking with his dick and pay attention to the road.
“What are you, like, the Jacques Cousteau of beds?”
“We spend a third of our lives asleep, Dust. It okay if I call you Dust?”
“Sure, I don’t care,” Dustin said, shrugging. Ash beamed at him.
“I happen to like sleeping, so I have a thing for comfortable beds.”
“Okay.” Dustin slowly nodded. “What kind of bed do you have?”
“At the farmhouse?”
“I have a king-sized double pillow-top that I roll a two-inch layer of memory foam over. It’s not ideal, but it does the job for the summer.”
“What’s ideal?” Now Dustin was interested, because thinking about how serious Ash was about his bed was kind of hot.
“The house I live in up in Pittsburgh? I have a California King up there, one of those Sleep Number jobs with separate adjustment areas on each side. It’s on a custom-built spring platform, and it’s fucking amazing. I sleep like a baby every night, even if I’m not wrapped in flesh.”
“Excuse me?” Dustin choked.
“Yeah, uh, I don’t like to sleep alone. It’s kind of a fetish. You’d have found out anyway, living with me. It’s not so much a sex thing as a skin thing. I just sleep better if I’ve got skin on either side of me.”
Dustin stared at him and decided to jump in with both feet and see where he landed. “Well hell, Ash. Why are we wasting money on a bed? Why don’t I just sleep in your room?”
Ash’s heart pounded, and he chose his speech carefully. “Uh, as much as I… appreciate… your offer, you’ll find out pretty quick that our band is really popular. Most of the guys pick up bed-warmers, whether they have sex or not.” At the look on Dustin’s face, Ash’s words spilled out. “I’m not making any assumptions, Dust. What you do is your business. I’m just saying, I don’t doubt you’ll have plenty of offers for—”
But Dustin interrupted him with the one thing Ash totally didn’t expect to hear. At least, not that way.
“I’m gay, Ash. I really don’t think I’m gonna be picking up anybody at a wedding and bringing them home for sex.”
Ash swung the SUV into the furniture outlet and shut the engine off. He pulled the keys from the ignition and turned to look at Dustin, who sat quietly, staring at him, obviously waiting for Ash’s reaction. “Just so you know, I haven’t had any problems picking guys up at weddings for sex. Hell, I ended up with the groom once.” Ash’s face flushed as Dustin’s eyebrows flew up in surprise. “And no, I’m not telling that story. Falling Banks may be a small town, but they aren’t stuck in the dark ages. There are gay couples. There’s even a gay bar.”
“So you expect me to discover the pleasures of hooking up with small-town gay guys?” Dustin’s voice had a hard, sarcastic edge Ash really didn’t like.
“That’s not what I said.” Ash looked decidedly uncomfortable. “I’m just saying, if you’re, uh, out, then you should have your own space.”
Dustin sat back, a contemplative look on his face as he eyed Ash. “I take it, despite your hookups and the fact that you ooze metrosexual all over the place, you’re not out.”
Ash flushed an even deeper shade of scarlet, but decided it was probably better to have this conversation now. He stuck the keys back in the ignition, started the engine, and flipped the air-conditioning on so they’d have both some air—and some cover—then leaned back and turned to his sexy new bandmate.
“No, I’m not. Not down here. Up at school it’s another story, but here at home? No. Jared knows because he lives with me and has seen who I bring home, but since I know he’s a fucking drug dealer, we keep our mouths shut about each other’s business.”
“You mind telling me why? I mean, no offense, but I knew the minute I saw you.”
“I’m not gay.”
“Yeah, okay, dude, whatever.” With a tired sigh, Dustin completely disengaged from the conversation and turned away from Ash to get out of the truck. God, this guy was so far in the closet, he couldn’t even see the door!
Ash reached over and grabbed Dustin’s arm before he could open the door. Strange electricity arced between them, pulling a gasp from Ash and stiffening Dustin’s spine. Reacting on instinct, Ash yanked, and Dust bounced across the seat like he’d been shot from a cannon right into Ash’s lap. Dustin slapped one hand against Ash’s chest to stop the singer from hauling him any closer, and it only made things worse. Unbelievable heat arced up Dustin’s hand into his arm, drawing a hiss from between his clenched teeth. Ash couldn’t think; he hummed with need. He wrapped his fingers around Dustin’s upper arms. Dustin shoved both of his hands into Ash’s chest with a sexy little growl. Their eyes locked, and the wrestling went from a surprised struggle to something downright erotic.
“Thought you said you weren’t gay,” Dustin said, a little breathless.
“Thought you said you weren’t out.” Dustin’s arms trembled and started to weaken. God, Ash smelled good, and he was so pretty….
“I’m not!” Four more inches. Just four more fucking inches, and Ash could devour that mouth.
“You kiss me in the front seat of your truck in broad daylight while they load that sofa, and you will be,” Dustin breathed.
Ash whipped his head around. Four men from the furniture store were loading a large sectional sofa into a 4×4 about twenty yards away. Ash immediately let go of Dustin, but couldn’t help raking his eyes over him again.
Dustin felt the heat of Ash’s gaze and knew he had scant seconds before Ash decided he didn’t care about having an audience. Dust had to stop this now; he just met this guy.
“Look, Ash, I don’t want there to be any problems between us, and I don’t want to cause any problems with the band.” Dustin scooted back over into the passenger seat. He tugged his hoodie down, and only then did Ash realize Dustin’s shirt had ridden up over his abs. Ash bit the inside of cheek to hold back the whimper.
“I’m not usually this—” Ash didn’t know how to say it. “Fuck.” He’d never wanted a guy like he wanted Dustin, but if he said that, it sounded stupid and purely physical—which, well, maybe it was. Damn.
Dustin watched the thoughts flicker across Ash’s face as clearly as if he’d sung them. Dustin had never met a man with a more expressive face. A bolt of lust stronger than anything Dustin had felt in a year struck and left him smoldering. Dustin’s chest seized with actual pain as he recognized the feeling and squashed it flat. He couldn’t afford to take any chances. He was in Falling Banks to play the drums, not find a boyfriend. He took a slow, deep breath to ease the ache in the center of his chest and gazed at Ash.
“Look, I felt it too, okay? There’s definitely some kind of crazy attraction between us, but I’m shambling here. I played an all-nighter last night, and we still need to buy a bed. Then, if you don’t mind, I need to get something to eat—something, you know, real. Not fast food. Energy drinks stop working after you’ve been using them for a few days, so—”
“Dude, when did you sleep last?”
Dustin rubbed his beautiful toffee-colored eyes and offered Ash an exhausted smile. “What day is it?”
“I am so sorry.” Ash turned the SUV back off and pocketed his keys. “Let’s pick out a bed. I gotta drop your contract and tax forms off at my parents’ house, but we can grab food after that. I promise not to make a run on your virtue until you can appreciate it.” Ash’s wink was downright lewd.
Dustin took a deep breath and climbed out of the SUV. He followed the tall, sexy singer into the large furniture depot and tried to focus on the rectangles made for sleeping.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. The Boys of Summer is the first book in the Dust & Ash Saga and is available now on Amazon and Smashwords. The second book is scheduled to come out in the spring; there are six books in all.
To celebrate the first release in the saga, I’m sponsoring a giveaway! There are three ways to enter: like my author page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or – if you’re already following me on FB and Twitter – leave me a comment about your favorite music to listen to at a wedding reception. I’ll be giving away three gift cards, and the winners will get to choose what they’d like to receive! Winners will be announced on my blog on September 30th.
Once again, I’d like to thank Lou for hosting me and the Boys today. Enjoy the end of summer! Thanks for being here, Tucker. Be sure to visit again!
About the author
Tucker McCallahan has been lots of places, seen lots of things, and is still learning new stuff on the regular. Multi-published, bisexual, polyamorous, and slave to a big black cat named Emperor Inka, Tucker is a long-time member of the LGBT community and a proud educator/activist.
Five luminous stars to Anne Barwell’s On Wings of Song. This novella is not a story of hot love or love at first sight, but rather a tale of the tenacity of a first spark between souls. Here Barwell’s prose style pleases as always, but it’s her ability to ferret out the secrets of the heart that shines above all.
Many of us already know the author has a gift for finding the human truth in historical times and events, and especially for seeing past the walls that veterans of war often—of necessity—build around their hearts. In On Wings of Song, her time-travelling pen (or keyboard, perhaps) takes the reader back to one of the most remarkable verifiable events of modern warfare—the Christmas Truce of 1914. Entrenched soldiers of Germany, France, England, and Scotland (the later three allied) in a number of places along a battlefront that already foretold the later horrors of WWI came together across narrow strips of no-mans-land to celebrate together a few hours of peace.
When German soldier Jochen Weber and Englishman Aiden Foster meet that under that extraordinary circumstance, it isn’t football or cards that help them overcome the initial awkwardness of the exchange, but a mutual love of literature and Aiden’s exceptional musical voice. Before they part, they (like others) exchange uniform buttons as pocket mementos, and each hopes for a someday when in a more lasting peace they may see one another again. The remaining years of war leave both men scarred, and life after war holds new challenges and little time or place for true healing. Both men retreat into the silence in which those who survive years of the worst of human cruelty often cloak their hearts—how can anyone who wasn’t there truly understand? Yet a spark of hope lives Jochen and Aiden’s hearts, sharing space with memory of the “enemy” whom they befriended on dark Christmas on a battlefield.
Barwell’s careful, sparsely adorned prose gives the reader an inside look at the redemption of truly broken hearts when long-sheltered sparks meld into flame. The fire burns painfully until it warms and comforts. This is not a long, arduous read, rather a brief but revealing journey into the heart of these two men, Jochen and Aiden, who come to love despite time, distance, and irreparable loss.
I heartily recommend On Wings of Song to those who love men, who love men who love men, and who treasure stories that paint the darkness with light and life.
It’s 25% off at the moment, so now is a good time to snap it up. Or if you feel lucky, Anne will be chatting at the Dreamspinner Goodreads “forum thingy” on 12/28/14 from 4-6 EST, and there will be a giveaway. Win or not, it promises to be a great conversation!
If you want a little more info, here’s the blurb:
Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.
The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.
And here’s Anne’s bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher and a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.
Visit Anne at her blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com or her website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/. You can contact her at email@example.com.
Please take your seats people, we want to get started…. What’s that? Boxer shorts? Certainly they’re allowed…. Yes, sir, briefs, certainly. Sure, speedos are not only allowed but encouraged. Be comfortable, but do pay attention in class.
Even though Kristopher Lehrer’s last name means ‘teacher,’ as we examine the early pages of our textbook, Anne Barwell’s novel Shadowboxing, it is Kristopher who is most in need of schooling. Oh, he is a learned man, it’s true—a physicist working on an important, possibly world-altering project. Unfortunately Very Important Projects often become the clouds where a scientist’s head is most comfortable. Kristopher’s attitude, as the novel opens, is reminiscent of the fearless forward motion of a horse with blinders.
To illustrate, consider this: Kristopher’s friend—the man that could have been his first true love if Kristopher had been honest—is Jewish, and in World War II Germany the yellow Star of David he must wear means that he is in danger every time he steps out in public. And, though David is a respected physician, he can no longer practice medicine for the same reason. Yet when Kristopher meets him for coffee he has no clue why his friend is upset, or scared. Read along in your text (or look over your neighbor’s shoulder if you haven’t yet picked up your text). We look at what happens with David challenges Kristopher’s naivety, beginning on page eight.
“Have you any idea what kind of people you are working for?” David spoke quietly, as always, but there was an underlying tone of fear in his voice that Kristopher didn’t remember hearing before. David’s emotions were always controlled; it was something that Kristopher had envied. “Have you any idea of their real agenda?”
Kristopher snatched his hand away, trying to ignore how fast his heart was beating. Why had David come to him? Surely he couldn’t have presumed to use the closeness they’d once had to further whatever agenda he had? “I’m a scientist, David, trying to make the world a better place, just as you are. We are working for the advancement of science and for the good of the Fatherland.” The last sentence came out sounding like the mantra it was. Any doubts that Kristopher had were always dealt with efficiently when he repeated those words. While he knew the potential danger of the device they were working on, the chances of anyone considering utilizing the catastrophic component of it were remote.
“You always were naïve, Lehrer.” David raked a hand through his hair and replaced his glasses, adjusting them when they slipped down his nose. “Wake up and take a look at what’s going on around you before it’s too late.” An edge of desperation and fear sharpened his voice as he lowered it to almost a whisper; it sounded as though he was talking about the end of the world.
“Too late? Too late for what?” His earlier fears of being used vanished at David’s tone. Kristopher’s voice rose in pitch, all attempts of hiding his conflicting emotions lost as he tried to desperately work through his rapidly escalating confusion.
David shook his head, unwilling to say more, his eyes darting nervously around the small Kaffeehaus before his gaze settled on the man who had entered several minutes earlier. “I have to go. I’ve said too much already.”
“Wait!” David was already halfway out the door before the word was out of Kristopher’s mouth. He pushed his chair back, ready to follow his friend, then hesitated, suddenly unsure as to what had just happened.
A week later, dining at home with his sister Clara (whom he loves and depends on) and his father (with whom he has a strained relationship), he is shocked to hear that David has disappeared, and clueless as to why such a thing had happened. What’s more, he is just as dumbfounded when Clara says (on page 11)…
“Poor Kristopher.” Clara rolled her eyes. “You’re so involved in your work that you haven’t noticed what’s going on around you.” There was no teasing in her voice now. Whatever this was about, it was something very serious. “It’s because he’s Jewish, of course.”
… as he is when his father says…
“They are Jewish, Kristopher. What other reason is needed? Better that they are rounded up and sent somewhere more suited for their place in the scheme of things. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Jews are nothing more than parasites interested in taking control of the economy for themselves.”
We, the readers can take our first lesson from this, and the downhill spiral of father-son relations that follow. Please take this down in your notebooks. It will be on the test:
The longer you keep your head stuck in the clouds of denial (about anything, really), the more it hurts to pull it out.
Our next unit of study follows Kristopher as he goes about his work the next day. The clouds around his head have been disturbed, but not quite dislodged. Feeling cranky and a little wooly due to a poor night’s sleep, he enters his boss’s office when the boss is out, and rather clumsily knocks a pile of papers on the floor, and reads this sentence on one of them:
Cue ominous music.
We look forward to putting these plans into reality. Such a device will ensure the continued success of the Fatherland during this war against our enemies.
Kristopher’s head falls from the clouds with a mighty thud, which hurts and can’t be ignored even by a dreamy physicist.
Gott im himmel, as my very German mother would have said. Here Kristopher had been, believing he was working on nuclear fission for peaceful purposes, and suddenly he realized he’d been living in a lollipop world.
For a number of minutes, our scientist is unable to think straight. He knows what he saw, but he’s unsure of what he might do about it, or even how to keep from getting in trouble for standing in his boss’s office with his pants down (figuratively of course, because that would be far too weird).
But a guard comes along, Obergefreiter (Sargent) Schmitz, and helps him organize his brain and move his body, thank goodness. Of course, at first, Kristoffer is afraid that Schmitz will actually contribute to his danger, but he soon realizes he was lucky the Obergefrieter came along. He leaves the office that day still waffling about what to do. Like most ordinary Germans of the day, he loves his country and has some significant blind spots about it—a phenomenon not unknown at any age of the world in just about any country, including all of those where readers of this blog might be living today. But you don’t become a leading physicist if you are slow-witted. Once Kristopher’s sight is forcibly cleared, he cannot escape the truth about the leaders of the Nazi regime and what their intentions are.
After much soul-searching, presumably some hand-wringing, and a few horrid nightmares, Kristopher Lehrer confronts his boss… and is told in no uncertain way to mind his own business. The encounter goes from bad to worse. (You can read about this in home study, chapter three of the text.) When he is discovered in the room with his dead boss by the same Obergefreiter Schmitz, he figures his number is up.
Thank heaven for pleasant surprises, large and small. When Schmitz asks Kristopher if, as smart as he is, he can come up with no better plan than to threaten the guard with broken glass, here’s what happens (at the beginning of chapter four).
“My plan? […] I don’t have a plan. […] Do you honestly think I would be standing here waving a piece of broken glass if I had a plan.”
“Good point,” Schmitz admitted.
[Text elided by blogger… er, I mean university professor Lou Sylvre. Kristopher says:]
“Have you come to hand me over to the Nazis?” Whatever happened he didn’t intend to go easily.
The corner of Schmitz’s mouth turned up in a half smile before he shook his head. “I’m here to help you, Herr Dr. Lehrer.”
“You expect me to believe you?” Kristopher wished the desk behind him would disappear into thin air, although it still wouldn’t be of much help as Schmitz was blocking the path to the only door. “I know you’ve followed me for the past week.” He noticed the slight look of surprise on Schmitz’s face with a degree of satisfaction.
“You need to trust me, Dr. Lehrer.”
You may guess that Kristopher isn’t so sure that’s the best course of action, but like people everywhere when they’re in danger and want to trust someone, he looks for a way to do so.
“Give me one good reason.”
“The Nazis will be here in, Schmitz said, consulting his watch, approximately ten minutes. Either you trust me, or you tell them what you’ve just told me. I doubt they will believe your story.”
His voice softened. “I do.”
Now, students, you may have guessed that the Obergefreiter isn’t really the Obergefreiter. His real name is Michel, and he’s not even German. And his interest in Kristopher, like Kristopher’s trust of Michel, soon weaves into a whole new feeling. After negotiating much hell and highwater together, Michel soothes a startled, overwhelmed Kristopher in his own native tongue.
“A l’aise, Kit. Je suis ici… Ssh, tout est bien.”
Yes, Michel is there and all is well for the moment. There’s a whole lot more trouble to face, more evil to evade, more heroes to meet—all kinds, German, foreign, soldiers, everyday people. But Michel does whatever he needs to do to keep Kristopher alive. And since this is Gay Romance University, it isn’t giving away secrets to let you know, that once Michel has seen to the matter of Kristopher’s continued existence, he gets the opportunity to use a little French term of endearment.
“It’s all right, mon cher. I love you. I’m not letting you go.”
That is the end of our lesson, today. If you are interested in learning more on the subject, click the cover image above for a link to the blurb and purchase links. (And while you’re there, check out the continuation of this beautiful story in book two of the Echoes of War series, Winter Duet.
I thank Anne Barwell, Kristopher, and Michel for the privilege of treating the serious story of one of the world’s most painful times with a bit of irreverence. Truthfully, the heroes in this story are a reflection of all the real life heroes on every side of that war and every other, especially the quiet ones not lauded in headlines. They all deserve our gratitude, and I take no such service or sacrifice lightly.
As advertised, Gay Romance University is delving into the ins and outs of the life of exceptional service to a well-endowed… er, I mean well-tended master, as experienced by Lornyc, in service to Methian, and recorded in tale well-told by Rebecca Cohen, entitled “Servitude.”
Lest you think this is just your average tale of loving service, let me assure you nothing could be farther from the truth. The person doing the serving is… well, exceptionally able.
Oh, I see a student has raised their hand. There in the back of the hall, did you have a question, sir?
Oh, my! Well, I’m not going to repeat the question, because I fear you simply meant it as an off-color joke. Those are not appropriate in a university class, unless it’s me telling them, so please refrain. But, since you asked, although Lornyc may indeed be exceptionally capable in that respect, judging from Methian’s inability to resist him, I refer to his capability in terms of intellect—perhaps mind-over-matter describes it well. Witness, on page 5, in the labarotory.
In a darkened corner, beside a rack of spare parts for machines long scrapped, was a large black curtain. He walked over to it and pulled the heavy cloth back to reveal a gray rectangle about the size of a standard doorway. Next to it, in a chrome-plated bracket, sat a ball. It was small enough to have been held easily in one hand, and was a cerulean color flecked with gold. When he pressed his hand to the surface of the orb, it began to glow, and with a gentle push, it began to spin in its bracket.
Accompanied by a low hiss, the gray rectangle came to life with a series of waves and swirls appearing across its surface. Lornyc cast a final glance over his shoulder and stepped into the portal.
Stepping out into a tastefully decorated but obviously seldom-used room, Lornyc called out, “Are you here?”
A muffled reply came from what Lornyc knew to be his lover’s bedroom. With a decidedly wicked grin, Lornyc advanced toward the bedroom door, stripping off his tunic as he did so. “I thought,” he said to a figure reclining on the large bed, “I’d put in another long night in the lab—that’s if you’ve not got anything better to do.”
The sandy-haired man grinned and bounced to the end of the bed, holding out his arms in invitation. “You know I’m always willing to help with your studies.”
Lornyc laughed as he walked forward. “Your dedication, Methian, is touching.”
Methian’s strong arms wrapped around him, and the kiss they shared chased away his worries from the lab. Lornyc yelped in a most undignified manner as Methian pulled him forward onto the bed, but any further complaint was lost as he let his lover distract him fully.
Before any servitude comes into play, Lornyc has already managed to demonstrate a successful principle of gay romance—any romance, really. That is:
Access, access, access. Even if you must create a trans-dimensional portal to do it, make sure you can always reach your lover when need arises.
Self-explanatory, right? So I’ll say no more about that.
But even persons with exceptional ability and high station in life in very interesting (and well-realized, thanks to Ms. Cohen) alternate worlds will at times find that not all events are under their control. In order to keep within the time limits of this university course, I’ll summarize events:
Long before Methian or Lornyc were twinkles in their respective daddy’s eyes, Lornyc’s legendary, long-lived grandfather, Reagalos, signed some contracts. Possibly unbenownst to him, these contracts included interwoven magic that would bind a certain grandchild to fulfill them no matter what. One of them said that his grandchild would be servant to a descendant of the house of Hadral. Lornyc is that Reagalos grandchild, and Methian is—you guessed it—that Hadral. So while Lornyc and Methian where busy playing in-and-out-the-portal (yes, very tacky euphemism, I know), their parents were busy binding Lornyc to Methian as valet. Despite the fact that the men had a well-known history of indiscretion! Read along on page 17 of your text:
“Unfortunately, while it would be usual practice for my personal manservant to be housed within my suite of rooms, Tancorix vetoed that immediately. Apparently I’d be unable to control myself and would have my wicked way with you,” said Methian with a wry smile. “As I did when we were at College.”
“Your wicked way?” Lornyc leaned away with a bemused look on his face. “They’ve never thought that poor, sweet Lornyc could’ve possibly gone after Methian Hadral. The way I remember it was that I had my wicked way with you. The mighty Methian seduced by a seventeen-year-old virgin.”
The second lesson to be drawn from this text begins to come clear immediately thereafter, and it’s one to be remembered by all who are wise.
Methian had to work hard not to get distracted at the memory of that encounter. “But it doesn’t matter. You’ll be below stairs—with the rest of the staff. You should be grateful that she’s decided against making you wear Hadral servant livery.”
Lornyc raised an eyebrow in response. “Really? I thought that would’ve been a definite, fitting me out in that gaudy blue you Hadrals seem to like.”
“Careful, it’s not too late to reverse that decision,” warned Methian, pushing Lornyc backward so that he landed on the pillows. “That sort of cheek will have to be punished.”
“Promises, promises,” Lornyc said playfully.
Methian grinned and crawled toward Lornyc, stopping once his knees were either side of Lornyc’s hips and his hands rested on the pillows next to Lornyc’s head. Methian leaned down to kiss him.
A bolt of fiery pain shot through Lornyc’s arm. He sat up abruptly, his head connecting sharply with Methian’s with an accompanying sickly crack.
Methian growled in pain and sat back, clutching his nose.
“My arm! It feels like it’s on fire,” cried Lornyc. He grabbed his shirt, tearing away the sleeve.
Lornyc grunted in agony but seconds later was hit by a wave of ecstasy, which rolled over him, stripping away the heat and the pain.
The two men stared at Lornyc’s left bicep. There, in vibrant colors, was the Hadral family crest: a blue shield embossed with a golden H.
“Bloody hell,” whispered Methian, reaching out and stroking the newly adorned patch of skin.
Right. Simply put: Magic complicates everything.
When magic rears its ugly, controlling head, how does a lover cope? For answers, we look to dear Lord Methian. We find this little jewel of romance on page 34:
Lornyc sagged into Methian’s arms. “I have no choice but to treat you as my master when you command it.”
Methian cupped the back of Lornyc’s head with his hand. “If anything, you are my master, and have been since you were seventeen.”
So, as far as I’m concerned that is the most notable principle to be gained from these two men—loving is give and take. Love is kind, and love is… well, noticeable. See? (This is on page 52.)
“Your grandfather could do amazing things, and from what I felt, you’ll be able to do even more. He didn’t need to rely on muttered words and hand movements, the world yielded to him—and now we need to make it do the same for you.”
“No time for buts, my boy. This contract will be fulfilled, and if what Tancorix has told me is true, we need to get you connected and up to speed as soon as possible. You don’t have the luxury of time to procrastinate. Sooner or later you’re going to be Katraman’s High Lord—and you need to be everything your father isn’t.”
“But the contract to the Hadrals….”
“From what I saw, Methian—that’s what you called him, didn’t you—seems to be willing to cooperate.” The mage grinned. “If you truly are his valet, then you’re doing things way beyond the remit of your job description.” Kat laughed at Lornyc’s expression. “I can see your imprint all over him. Valet, my ass!”
“Even though you can’t do much, you’re still projecting raw energy. One of my talents is to see an individual’s magical signature if it’s being broadcasted, and Methian is covered in yours.”
Oops. But hey, being marked is not always a bad thing, right?
In truth, the lessons to be learned from the interwoven lives of these two men go far beyond romantic words and a master being marked by his servant. They persevere through so many things: parents, politics, grief—even females. But we’ve reached the end of the course seminar, and the rest can be absorbed through home study.
If you’ve been working with a borrowed text book and want to buy it, click the (fabulous) cover image for the buy link at Dreamspinner Press.
Thank you Lornyc and Methian for allowing us to spy on your joys, sorrows, and bafflements. And thanks Rebecca Cohen for a unique and delicious romance.
I got to thinking, when I’ve posted about Because of Jade (Vasquez and James novel coming from in May), I share so much about the Luki and Sonny’s relationship with the little girl, Jade, that you may think there’s no romance. On the contrary… Luki always delivers. For instance, here’s a very teensy excerpt that leads up to a long, hot night of spoiling Sonny and loving him senseless.
Yes, we’re back in one of the sexiest lecture halls ever invented—my blog. 🙂 Today we take a look at the fourth major episode in the romance of Luki and Sonny, as recorded in our text, Saving Sonny James..
In the “front matter” (you know, the pages before page 1) of Saving Sonny James you’ll find the epigraph, consisting of lines of poetry Walt Whitman. This is the first, from a poem entitled: “Old War Dreams.”
Long have they pass’d, faces and trenches and fields,
Where through the carnage I moved with a callous composure, or away from the fallen,
Onward I sped at the time, but now of their forms at night,
I dream, I dream, I dream
So yeah, the beginning of Saving Sonny James is a little weighty. With the events reported in Finding Jackie, in the Umatilla where Luki once again faced a life or death situation and the only solution required deadly force, Luki added one more to a lifetime pile of ‘straws’, and it broke his camel’s back… Or perhaps only very seriously sprained it, because the hope is it can be fixed. Sonny of course, would like to fix it—he really, really wants his husband back, but he’s stymied. On page 5 (the beginning of chapter one), we find a sampling from Sonny’s thoughts:
Luki Vasquez had been his usual self when he and his still newlywed husband, Sonny James, had driven home to the rainy Olympic Peninsula from Nebraska, even though he’d been shot in the thigh—again.
Well, Sonny thought as he backed his yellow Mustang—his baby—out of the old barn where he parked it, Luki was mostly his usual self then, when we first came home.
Because at times he’d still been in a lot of pain, and a few times he’d had plenty of—too much—pain medication, and then there had also been those other, weirder times that Sonny couldn’t explain. Luki would just check out right in the middle of a conversation, stay completely blank until he’d suddenly say, “He was just a kid,” or, “He had the greenest eyes.” Those times never lasted long, though, and Luki’s pain got less and less, and Sonny just didn’t expect the thing that happened to Luki not long after they got home. It was almost like Luki… died inside. Like whatever made him Luki drained off and left Sonny a handsome and heart-wrenching Luki-like shell.
It didn’t really matter that Sonny knew psychological trauma did this to others: soldiers, agents of the law, people who relied on violent skills to guard the world against violence. This development in Luki astounded Sonny. The very idea that Luki Mililani Vasquez could be so overcome, so incapacitated that people felt the need to watch over him, medicate him, counsel him, be careful of him, for God’s sake. It was like weaving a wall-sized tapestry, spending hours with it and knowing every warp and weft intimately, and then one day discovering the image had changed from day to night, ocean to desert, rock to dust. How could it make sense?
Sonny can’t fix Luki, of course. That type of broken has to be fixed from the inside out. For a while, Luki just can’t seem to wake himself up from the horrors in his mind, and the despair they’ve engendered. It takes a near disaster for him to (figuratively) give himself a mighty shake and begin to take steps toward healing. Actually, two near disasters.
First he rescue Sonny from the frigid waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. He has to warm him up of course, and what better way than body heat. One thing sweetly leads to another, and then next thing you know, this, from page 18:
He began to lick the remnants of sea salt off Sonny’s skin, starting out sweet and slow, but growing adamant, pushy, demanding. And Sonny gave and took in kind, until the two of them were half covered in marks from sucks and scratches and bites. Sonny started suddenly to move his head toward Luki’s cock, but Luki pushed him back down and said, “No, you.” He licked the length of Sonny’s erection from base to crown twice, then stroked, squeezing a little until precum coated the sweet tip. Taking Sonny’s own hand, he passed it over to gather the crystal lube, then gave the harvest to Sonny, feeding him his juices from his own fingers.
Sonny moaned, sucking the pleasure from his own hand, and Luki growled, then lay down over Sonny, grinding their hard cocks together. Then, as he almost always did, he asked, “What do you want, baby?”
“Fuck me,” Sonny said, with no hesitation.
Well, you can guess that things progress from there, but I’ll leave it there for now so I can forge ahead. (For independent reading, this smutty/sweet section starts on about page 17.) But after the sex, they fall asleep, and that’s when the unthinkable happens, and Luki has to save Sonny from… well, from Luki.
Even though that first awakening ended in near disaster, it’s a step toward healing, and the next day, Luki is prepared to see Doctor Sonny James off to Paris where he will show his tapestries and lecture on fibers and dies and weaving amazingly beautiful things. Sonny is prepared to believe Luki when he promises to do everything he can—everything he’s supposed to do, for a change—to get well. But first Luki promises Sonny that their last day together will be a good one. And, oh God, yes, they have a little fun. For instance, this, from page 44.
He’d meant what he said to Sonny back at the cemetery. He’d do everything in his power, expend every last drop of his energy if needed, to give Sonny the Luki he wanted today. His thoughts turned to sex, and he knew that if he could pull that Luki out of the magician’s hat, it wasn’t going to be at all unpleasant for him, either.
You don’t deserve pleasure, Luki.
Oh, fuck off.
That little exchange between the halves of his brain, so to speak, struck Luki’s funny bone, and he laughed out loud.
“What?” Sonny said, drawing his brows together in puzzlement, though he smiled. “What is it you’re thinking? Tell me.”
Luki skipped some stuff but he didn’t lie. He stretched in his seat. “Well, sweetie, I was thinking about… oh, this.” He pinched Sonny’s nipple through his T-shirt, making it pucker up and poke out the butter-yellow fabric instantly. Sonny gasped, but his driving didn’t stutter. Luki leaned closer—an easy reach in the small Mustang, and grabbed a handful of Sonny between his legs. That made his sweet husband jump! To his credit, nothing changed in his driving—Luki had known it wouldn’t—but he got a very serious look on his face, a look that Luki loved, treasured. Vintage Sonny.
Sonny put his foot down, figuratively speaking, and the tone of his voice indicated he mentally had his hand on his hip, even though physically one was on the steering wheel and the other on the gear shift. “Luki, don’t do that. I’m driving.”
“Oh, okay,” Luki sighed. “Well, I guess I’ll just do this, then.” He leaned back in the seat and spread his legs as wide as he could, then rubbed his crotch with both hands.
“Fuck!” Sonny said, which was sort of an event all by itself. “Honey, stop! I have to drive!”
Luki laughed again and stuck one hand down the front of his own pants.
“Luki! What the hell is going on with you?”
Luki chuckled once more, removed his hand, and adjusted his clothes and position. “Well, sweetie, it’s like this: I’m either going to laugh with you today, or I’m going to sleep, or panic, or rage, or cry. My ‘just be normal’ mode isn’t working very well. And I want it to be a good day for you, for us. So I’m being a little silly. And when we get home I’ll be putty in your hands…. Orgasmic putty. Okay?”
Sonny giggled, which seemed like a reward. Then he said, “Luki, you’re never putty. You somehow manage to top from the bottom.”
“Not at all.”
They fell into a good-natured silence, a calm that felt good, but almost foreign to Luki—or forgotten. Still, he decided, one could consider it a gift horse, and he wasn’t about to look it in the mouth. He settled comfortably in for the remaining half hour of the drive, and even though he had to keep pushing away intruding thoughts and disturbing images and unwanted emotions, he felt more relaxed than he had for a long time. At some point he noticed that he and Sonny had joined hands, rested them together on the gearshift. By the time they got to Port Clifton, he felt almost too relaxed; he could easily have slept instead of making love, but the idea of sleeping brought a whole slew of scary what-ifs.
We’ll have to stick to fucking. He surreptitiously looked over Sonny’s body… long, sleek, beautiful body. Not an unpleasant choice, that.
They parted of necessity so Luki could retrieve his car from Margie’s parking lot and drive it home. But Luki thought about Sonny and sex for the entire drive. They arrived home together. On the almost quarter-mile walk from the car barn, or garage, as Sonny insisted on calling it, to the house, Luki stopped Sonny, wound his hand through Sonny’s long, thick hair and used it to pull him in for a kiss. More than a kiss, it involved sucking and licking and biting, and it carried with it instant heat that flashed straight to the groin. Luki certainly felt it, and he felt Sonny’s skin flame. Not really breaking their embrace, he started them moving again toward the house.
“Luki,” Sonny said. “Maybe you could just be in charge as usual. I mean, I want to feel… in Hawaii you said that’s best for you, and…. Know what I mean?”
“I do. But, sweetie, no. How am I ever going to perfect my top-from-the-bottom technique if you don’t bottom-from-the-top?”
Which leads—after further shenanigans—to this moment, on page 48.
Sonny’s entry was sure and steady and not too slow, no stops along the way. Once he was fully sheathed, he rocked, moving his erection inside Luki, making almost but not quite constant contact with his prostate.
“God,” Luki breathed. “Good goddamn, baby! Who taught you that?”
Oh yeah, there’s more, the entire NSFW encounter appears on pages 44 through 49 in your text, for further study.
Unfortunately, not too long after this, Luki realizes that the saving of Sonny James has not even really begun, for a very, very bad man waiting for Sonny in Paris has plans—terrifying plans. If you care to research that history, and perhaps partake of the sweet, hot reward waiting at the end, you can borrow the book from a friend, or maybe click on the cover image above and buy the book.
Hello! Today I’m happy to share with you my recent interview with author Anne Barwell. One of the things I most enjoy about Anne’s writing is it’s diversity—she writes series, but they’re all quite different. I made her talk about that sneaky little habit! You can ask her disturbing questions too, if you like, in comments. 🙂 Note: Click any cover for a buy link to that book. For Anne’s bio (and other good stuff), visit her blog
Here’s the interview:
Q: You have, if I’m not mistaken, four different series in process. Please tell us a little bit about each one. A: Five if you include The Harp and the Sea, which is our joint project… [LS—I’m so pleased to be working on this project with Anne!]
I’m still not sure how I ended up with so many series in progress. I blame demanding characters. Seriously though, one advantage I find with having more than one series in progress is that I have a hardcopy in front of me for the previous book while I’m writing the next one, which is so much easier when hunting for continuity details.
Hidden Places [series] is a contemporary fantasy which crosses through a portal into another world called Naearu. The main characters are Tomas, a writer, and Cathal, who is from Naearu. Part of the action takes place in the English village of Oakwood, part in Naearu. So far I’ve written two books in this series Cat’s Quill and Magic’s Muse. I have two more planned: One Word is Ethan and Donovan’s story and is a side story to Cat’s Quill. Dragon’s Price finishes the series and takes the characters back to Naearu.
Echoes is an historical series set in occupied Europe during WWII. Kristopher Lehrer is a scientist working on a top secret project in Germany. When his illusions are shattered and he discovers what the Nazis plan to do with his work, it isn’t long before he is on the run with both the Gestapo and the Allies after the plans he carries. Shadowboxing is the first book in the series and is set in Berlin in 1943. Winter Duet (which I’ve just submitted to Dreamspinner Press) is set in Germany in early 1944. The last book, Comes a Horseman, is set in France in mid 1944
. Dragons of Astria is a fantasy series set in Astria, a land where dragons are real and magic exists, although it has been outlawed for generations. Aric and Denys are from two very different backgrounds, but their destinies are intertwined in more ways than one. A quest for a magical sword will affect not only their life together, but the future of the kingdom. A Knight to Remember is the first in this series, and there will be two more books: A Mage to Forget and A Sword to Rule.
The Sleepless City is an urban fantasy series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble. The first four books are set in the re-imagined city of Flint, Ohio, and the characters are vampires, werewolves, ghosts—and human. I’ve written the first book, Shades of Sepia, and book 2, Electric Candle, by Elizabeth is coming out on April 4th.
Q: Of your series, do you have one that is easier for you to write? One that is your favorite? If so, please explain your choice? AEchoes, being an historical series, requires a lot more research than the others, but I was surprised how fast Winter Duet wrote once I got going with it. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, it’s like choosing a favourite child. My favourite tends to be the one I’m working on at the moment and yes I know that’s not helpful. Each of them have aspects I really enjoy, and I love all my guys but it is easier writing fantasy especially as I can build worlds and ‘make stuff up’ rather than worry about whether I’ve got the details of a time and/or place just right. Ben from The Sleepless City, as a Kiwi character, is very easy to write, but the US setting means a bit of research as it’s the little things that I really don’t know. I’m definitely setting my next contemporary series in New Zealand. But not just for that reason as I think there needs to be more M/M set locally.
Q: How do you balance your writing time between the different series? Do you find that your style differs from one to the next? If so, how do you get in the right mind set for the particular series you’re working on? A: I didn’t intend to have four series on the go at once. My original plan was to have two and alternate them, and once I’ve caught up with finishing what I’ve started that’s what I’ll be doing with maybe a one shot—and yes I know they always turn into series—or two in between. Meantime I’m trying to write in a circle: Hidden Places book 3, </em.Dragons of Astria book 2, Echoes book 3 etc. That way I’m not leaving readers of those readers hanging around too long, or at least that’s the plan. There aren’t enough hours in the day with working full time [outside of writing] so a couple of novels a year is about as much as I can manage.
With the series being different genres, my style does differ between them. No too much so but more in what is needed for the characters and plot. The series tend to have a different feel to them, especially in the narrative/dialogue between historical/contemporary and high fantasy. Aric’s speech in Dragons of Astria is going to be more formal, and have no modern idioms compared to Tomas in Hidden Places, while Cathal from that series being between two worlds in a sense has a mix of both. It also depends on what story a particular book is telling. Magic’s Muse was slower paced but it was filling in a lot of gaps and building relationships which need to be in place for the final book in that series Dragon’s Price which will more of an action/drama.
I get in the mind set when I switch projects by firstly writing an outline, printing it out and scribbling over it, and writing a blurb. Usually I’m thinking through and researching/discussing ideas a couple of projects ahead of what I’m writing so I do tend to multitask a bit I guess especially if I’m working on more than one project at a time like I am now with Echoes and The Harp and the Sea.
Q: Your most recent release is Shades of Sepia, book one in a shared world series, The Sleepless City. How did you and your series partner, Elizabeth Noble, develop this concept? Any hints you can give us about what’s yet to come? A: Elizabeth and I were chatting on IM one day and found we both had vampire characters we wanted to do something more with. One thing led to another and The Sleepless City was born. The mythos or ‘series bible’ is the product of hours of discussion, which is still ongoing.
The first four books in the series are an ‘arc’ and tell a complete story, and then we’re each writing books set within the universe. An arc seemed to be a good way to start the series and establish it and the characters. Shades of Sepia is Simon and Ben’s story, Electric Candle by Elizabeth which comes out in April is Forge’s. [LS—this book is now available for pre-order on Dreamspinner’s site.] I’m writing Family and Reflection later this year which is Lucas’s, and then Elizabeth will tie up the arc with the last book Checkmate. One thing I’m looking forward to in Family and Reflection, as there’s got to be some fun in amongst all the seriousness of the case they’re working, is that Ben’s friend Ange visits from New Zealand. She doesn’t know who or rather what they all are, so they’re going to try to keep it from her. Good luck with that one.
Q: What can you tell readers in advance about the two main characters in Shades of Sepia, Ben and Simon? (Make us curious, or make them irresistible!) A: Ben’s a local guy – well local for me – as he comes from Wellington where I live. He’s very laid back but at the same time speaks his mind and doesn’t take any shit. He’s also a bit of a geek and collects comics/graphic novels. His passion is photography and that’s the really ironic thing about his and Simon’s relationship. The one person Ben really wants to photograph he can’t because vampires not show up on film. Well, not usually, there is a way around it but he’ll have to convince Simon first – and you’ll have to read the book to find out what I’m referring to 😉
Simon’s is very different to Ben, it’s one of the reasons they complement each other so well. Simon’s more serious, and carefully considers his actions before he takes them where Ben’s more likely to just decide and do it. Simon’s also got an old fashioned streak a mile high, which isn’t just because he was born in the late nineteenth century. He’s also got a dark side, not unexpected as he’s a vampire! But like Ben he’s fiercely protective of the people he cares about and won’t hesitate to put himself in the line of fire to do just that. As Lucas says, “You can argue over which one of you is going to play protective over the other one’s ass on a given day. Promise me I can watch?”
Q: What’s coming next from Anne Barwell? Anything slated for release in the upcoming months? (Please elaborate!) Also, what’s on the burner for the next year or so? A: I’m putting the final touches to Winter Duet, which is the sequel to Shadowboxing and the next book in the Echoes series.
Here’s the blurb:
Germany, 1944. With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel begin their journey across Germany toward Switzerland and safety.
Separated in the middle of a warzone, after helping an injured RAF pilot, Kristopher is determined to find Michel again. But how far can he trust the man travelling with him? Whoever he is, he is definitely not the German soldier he appears to be.
Meanwhile Michel mounts a rescue mission. Time is running out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo close in. Can he reach one of their own before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s safety, but that of the remaining members of the Allied team?
Or is it already too late for all of them?
And an excerpt:
Kristopher dropped to his knees, and examined the boy. His eyes were glazed over and he flinched when Kristopher touched him. “He must have hit his head when he fell,” Kristopher said. He brought his hand away from the boy’s temple. It was covered in blood. “He needs help, but I can’t do much for him here, just try and stop the bleeding.” He quickly opened his satchel and pulled out a short length of bandage, bundled it into a wad and held it against the wound. It probably wouldn’t be enough to stop it, but it was better than doing nothing. Head wounds tended to bleed, didn’t they? It didn’t mean it was something serious, but it could be.
He let out a quick breath. Damn it. He wished he’d paid more attention when he’d watched Clara at work. Why had he agreed to disguise himself a medic? In this situation when that was exactly what was needed, he was next to useless.
“We can’t stay here,” Michel said. “Can you tie something around the bandage so it keeps the pressure on it when we move him?”
“Keep pressure on the wound while I look.” Kristopher searched around in his bag, ripped some more of the bandaging material, and tied it quickly. His hands were shaking, but at least there didn’t seem to be any blood seeping through the original cloth he’d put over the wound. “I think that should hold it for now.”
Michel handed Kristopher the flashlight and then lifted the boy into his arms. “What’s your name?” he asked softly when the boy opened his eyes and looked up at him.
“Fritz,” the boy replied, his voice wavering. He put his arms around Michel’s neck and clung to him. Thankfully he seemed more alert than he had a few moments before.
“Hello, Fritz. I’m Michel and this is Paul,” Michel said. “We’re going to keep you safe, I promise.”
“You promise?” Fritz’s earlier confidence was gone. “I didn’t think it was so dark. I know this place. I shouldn’t have tripped.” He glared at the ground. “Stupid thing. Stupid stupid. Everything looks different.” He sniffled loudly, and wiped one dirty hand over his face.
“Do you remember the way to the bunker, Fritz?” Kristopher asked. Michel was watching Fritz carefully, holding the boy close to him. His grip had tightened at the first sign of Fritz’s distress.
“I don’t need to put you down,” Michel reassured Fritz. “You can still guide us while I’m holding you.”
“I don’t want to walk.” Fritz bit his lip. He looked around and then pointed to a street to their left. “If we go down there it’s only about ten minutes away.” They’d never reach the bunker in time before it closed.
“There isn’t one closer?” Michel asked.
“It’s the one I know about,” Fritz said somewhat defensively. “Mutter told me if something happened I should go to it.”
“Where’s your mother now?” Kristopher asked. The light from the flashlight was dying quickly. They had to hurry.
“I don’t know. She went to get my baby sister but she never came downstairs.” Fritz stuck his chin out. “I waited like she said, even when I heard the loud noises and people crying.”
“You live around here?” Kristopher hoped Fritz’s family had survived this. They’d have to try and reunite them or at least find someone who could look after him before they left Stuttgart.
Fritz nodded. Whatever his wound, it seemed as though it was definitely superficial or he wouldn’t be talking as much as he was. “I went looking for her, and I couldn’t find her.”
“You sound much better, Fritz. Do you think you could walk?” Michel asked.
“I don’t want to lose you and Paul too,” Fritz said. He let Michel put him down and then put one small hand into Michel’s.
“You won’t lose us,” Michel promised. “Keep holding my hand and Paul will look after the flashlight. We can work together.”
“Michel’s very good at working together,” Kristopher told Fritz. He shone the flashlight around. The further out into the street they got, the more rubble there was. It wasn’t safe to move too quickly and at this speed they’d never reach the shelter before daylight. He glanced up at the sky. Most of the flashes of light seemed to now be focused toward the city centre. “I’m wondering if it’s safer to stay here, but get as far away from the buildings as we can, and wait for daylight.”
“We don’t know how long this raid is going to last,” Michel said, “but we need to make a decision.” Something creaked and groaned to the side of them. “Move!” Michel yelled. He picked up Fritz and ran back the way they’d come. Kristopher didn’t stop to see what was going on behind him. He followed.
Moments later, more rubble hit the street where they’d just been standing. If they’d stayed there they would have been buried in it.
Kristopher shone the flashlight on it and shivered. “I think finding the shelter is the least of our problems,” he said. “We need to get out into the open. It’s not just more bombings that could kill us, but the buildings that are already damaged.”
“I know a place,” Fritz said after Michel put him down. “I’ll show you.” He took hold of Michel’s hand again. “You and Paul are soldiers.” He pointed to the Red Cross on Kristopher’s arm. “You’ll stay and help look after all the hurt people, won’t you? Vater is a soldier too. He’s fighting at the front. Mutter says he’s very brave.”
“Yes, we’ll stay and help,” Michel said before Kristopher could say anything. He squeezed Fitz’s hand. “We’ll also help you find your mother, or at least someone who can look after you.” He looked over at Kristopher and gave him a questioning look.
“Of course we will,” Kristopher said, wondering why Michel felt he’d even had to ask.
My next project is On Wings of Song which is a WW1 novella which begins in France in 1914. I’ve had the idea for a while, and as this year is the centenary of the beginning of the war, it felt like the right time to write it. And of course The Harp and The Sea.
After that, and book 3 of The Sleepless City, I’m focusing on working on/finishing the series I already have in progress.
Q: To wrap up, please describe for me the single most satisfying thing about being an author. When and how does it happen? A Seeing my ideas and characters take shape as I write, and having others enjoy my stories. It’s a scary thing putting a bit of myself out there, but even if each book just touches one person it’s worth it. I write the stories I want to read, or otherwise what’s the point?
LS—Your writing has certainly touched me, and I know I’m not alone, so thanks for taking the chance! And thank you, Anne, for being my guest today! Come back soon.
Hello class! The third level course in Gay Romance according to Vasquez and James commences with a look at the sweet and slightly ridiculous events of their wedding. We’re using book three in the series, Finding Jackie as ‘text.’ As you will recall from Sonny’s proposal (Delsyn’s Blues, read from p. 74 for full context, through p. 80), and Luki’s acceptance (continue through p89), Luki wanted to have the wedding in Hawaii, because his mother and beloved uncle Kaholo come from that Pacific paradise. In Finding Jackie, we join them there for the event, and they are looking good! No that is not them in the picture (which comes to us courtesy a gay wedding firm called Purple Unions). Luki and Sonny were much like that (happy and kissy and sexy) only loads more fabulous and dressed to the nines. On page 9:
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… .
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.
After the sexy wedding, it’s the honeymoon, Vasquez and James style, starting with Hawaiian beaches. One interesting encounter in which Sonny demonstrates his relative prudishness (as compared to Luki) begins on page 17 of your text. Note the guy in the photo (courtesy Kauai-gay-massage.com) isn’t Luki or Sonny, but he is freakin’ hot!
“That’s a tough color to match,” Sonny said, finally making some notes when he couldn’t quite duplicate the blue a hundred feet from shore. He wondered, though, if he was only having a hard time because of Luki’s eyes. They were all over him. Even though he didn’t turn to look, he could feel them on every inch of his skin—even the most hidden and intimate. He was getting really warm despite the breeze off the sea, and he really didn’t think it had to do with the sun. He loved the feeling, but enough was enough, and he took hold of Luki’s ice water—why waste his own? He turned and leaned toward Luki, glass in hand, but Luki saw what he was up to. Being ever so much quicker and more capable, Luki simply stopped him, rolled, and stood up.
“Brat,” he said.
“You were making me nervous.”
“I was not,” Luki said as he dusted sand off his rented surfboard.
“Okay. True. You were making me hot.”
“Good, Sonny. That’s good. You’re yummy when you’re hot.”
Sonny laughed and tossed the water from his own glass toward Luki, but Luki evaded it and headed down the beach to the edge of the ocean.
Sonny had worried that Luki wouldn’t enjoy the ocean, what with his history with rivers, almost drowning twice, once involving a knife and once involving a bomb. And last year he’d said he didn’t like being on the water, when they took the boat out to Mack Money’s island in the San Juans. He needn’t have feared. Luki took to surfing like he was born to it. And maybe it was something inherited, something hidden in the genes until opportunity arose.
Kaholo had surfed one day before he left, and as old as he was, his body remembered its Hawaiian youth. He let out a “whoop” once, riding just ahead of the crest of a wave, that reminded Sonny of his own uncle, Melvern, at a powwow. So maybe Luki came by his affinity for board and surf naturally. Whatever the explanation, once Luki had a couple lessons, he hardly left the water. He didn’t try any giant combers, of course, and even on a smaller wave his ride didn’t always succeed. He had some spectacular crashes, and sported a gash on his already scarred left cheek from hitting the board fin.
“It figures,” Luki had said, pressing his palm against it.
But even that hadn’t freaked him out about the water and surfing. Because now, here they were, seventy-two hours before they were due to fly out of Honolulu airport, in the heat of the warmest midafternoon yet. Sonny joined Luki in the waves—he liked them well enough. They were so different from the cold, rocking current of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where he swam regularly, or at least took a dip almost every day except in a freeze. Here, the water was a whole different kind of playmate. But after Sonny had played a while, he left Luki to surf the aqua sea, and walked up the beach, raising white sand in the miniscule breeze. He shook out his towel and collapsed onto it.
He lay on the beach, then, letting the sun and breeze dry his skin, his eyes almost closed, drowsy but not sleeping, surreptitiously watching Luki’s play. Because that’s what it was, Luki at play in the surf, and Sonny loved it. Loved the very idea of it. And Sonny couldn’t get enough of seeing Luki overfull of joy. He was just thinking that maybe they should never leave this place, when Luki brought some of that joy—dripping wet joy, it turned out—to share with Sonny. He heeled his board into the sand just like an experienced beach bum, and then flopped down right on top of Sonny.
In one of his most articulate moments, Sonny exclaimed, “Ah! Wet!”
“Kiss me,” Luki responded. “That will be wet, too.”
“Ooh,” Sonny said, because Luki was lying flat on top of him, and there were some interesting contact points.
“I know. Ooh.” Luki wiggled a little.
“Okay, sorry, baby.” Luki started to lift himself off Sonny, but Sonny grabbed him by the shoulders, locking his long arms.
“No! You can’t get up right now. My feelings have become obvious and anybody might walk by. Children. Grandmothers. Lifeguards.”
“Okay, okay. But don’t be silly. There are no lifeguards on this beach—”
“You never know.”
“And I haven’t seen a grandmother around here for at least two days—”
“I’m sure they’ll be back.”
“And I haven’t seen any children here at all.”
“First time for everything.”
“Fine. Try to get ahold of your—”
“Emotions. I’m just gonna move a little to one side, like that”—Luki demonstrated—“so things aren’t quite so… intimate. ’Kay?”
Luki managed little by little to put some distance between them, and both the men sat up. “Phew,” Sonny said, and they laughed.
Knowing the importance of having the most glorious possible honeymoon and doing everything Sonny wanted to do, Luki agreed to a three-phase honeymoon, part two of which was to be a brief stay in Seattle, since Sonny(aka Dr. James) had to be there anyway to lecture on dyes and fibers. By the time they got into their rather posh hotel room at the Monaco, trouble had already begun to rear it’s ugly head, as is unfortunately the way of things with Vasquez and James. Trouble from outside (see the prologue and pages 34 through 37), and of course, trouble from inside, mostly Luki, the twerp (see pages 22-23). But trouble did not stop them from taking a very hot and steamy bath. We’ll start on page 48 to set the scene and move right into the NSFW from there.
Luki’s eyes followed his husband, who paced from side to side, peeked around curtains and walls, opened doors. He made a sound, something like “Mm,” knowing Sonny wasn’t really looking for a response, but would appreciate knowing Luki was paying attention. He also smiled. Something about the quirky way Sonny settled himself into a space was too sweet for words.
“You know what I need to do, honey?”
Luki noted with glee that Sonny had begun to strip. This time, when he said, “Mm,” he didn’t have to feign interest.
“I need to get in that bathtub—do you see that thing? It’s like a swimming pool. I need to get in there and soak, all nice and relaxed, and take in that wallpaper until it seems normal to me.”
The man is fucking crazy, Luki thought, both disappointed and surprised. Sonny was already in the bathroom, fine-tuning the water temperature. Luki put his hands in his pockets—not a characteristic posture at all, but he was at a loss. He literally jumped when Sonny whooped and yelled.
“Yes! There’s bubble bath in here!”
Now, Luki was so nonplussed that he sat down on the couch, rather hard. When he tried to think of something he might be doing the only two things that came to mind were jerking off—which he dismissed immediately—and eating a hamburger. He considered the hamburger carefully, decided against, and got up to wander into the strangely wall-papered, thoroughly lavender-scented bathroom.
“This is a big tub, Luki.”
Luki stepped closer to Sonny and pushed a long strand of dark hair off his chest, letting it join its fellows falling down Sonny’s back.
Sonny grabbed Luki’s belt at the buckle and made as if to undo it. “Get in, Luki. There’s room. Look.” He lifted a foot out of the water. “See, my feet don’t even reach all the way to the other side. Not crowded at all.”
Luki stood silent, chewing his lip. He wasn’t one for shower play, which Sonny knew. It just reminded him too much of lonelier days. He never took baths, especially bubble baths. And, he really, really didn’t want to smell like flowers. But he loved his husband so much, and there the man was, asking for this simple, little thing.
“Luki, take a bath with me. Come on.”
Luki started to strip, tossing his clothes back out onto the chair in the bedroom. He was, of course, hard by the time he was naked, which was something Sonny certainly didn’t fail to notice, even though he said nothing. Luki stood there, feeling confused, never before having realized that deciding how to get into a bathtub and situate oneself was so difficult.
“Luki, you can just sit on that side, facing me so I can look at your eyes and we can talk. Okay? That way you won’t feel so awkward.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s something in that statement I should scold you for, Sonny Bly, I just haven’t figured out what it is,” Luki said while climbing in and turning around and sitting down as instructed. But once he settled, his hands found Sonny’s legs, and he couldn’t help but rub them. And then Sonny found his foot, and as Sonny well knew, Luki’s toes were really sensitive. And Sonny played with them. All the while they looked each other in the eyes.
“Luki,” Sonny said, finally, “you don’t play in the shower.”
“No. What’s your point?”
For answer, Sonny took Luki’s foot and laid it along his own erection, which was one of the sexiest things that had ever happened to Luki. Then Sonny took his size a-very-large-number foot, with its long, nearly prehensile toes, and not too gently stroked it up and down Luki’s cock, and Luki spent a few seconds catching his breath.
“This isn’t a shower,” Sonny said.
Luki nodded. “Right.”
Sonny let a little water out, added some hot to adjust the temperature. “We could fuck here, if we so desired, which I do.” Sonny actually looked hopeful, as if he was a little afraid Luki would say no, or maybe scoff.
Luki wasn’t about to do either one. Sonny was the most beautiful, lovable, eminently fuckable person on the planet, and Luki wasn’t about to fail him. As he’d explained to Sonny just the other day, fucking Sonny happy was his personal joy. He licked his lips. “Come here, baby.”
Sonny more or less slithered up Luki’s body, dragging his weight over Luki’s flesh until he’d brought his lips even with Luki’s. He stopped, offering his slightly open lips, but waiting for Luki to take them. Luki did, starting with a suck and nibble of Sonny’s lower lip, then licking with just the hard tip of his tongue along the underside of Sonny’s upper lip. He kept it up, nibbling, sucking, licking, lingering at the sensitive corners. Sonny made a move to kiss back, but Luki pulled away, and answered Sonny’s widened eyes by kissing them. He smiled, biting his own lip, made sure Sonny saw the expression, then whispered in his ear. “Just let me do whatever I want to you, baby, okay? It’ll be good, I promise, and when I want you to kiss me back, I’ll tell you. Okay?”
“Oh!” Sonny’s breath puffed out; then he nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Yes, Luki. Okay.”
The water, hot and ever so slightly silky from the bubble bath, made touching—running his hands along Sonny’s back, over his ass, down his legs—a little bit different than touching had ever been before, for Luki. And by different he meant, damn, that’s nice! And Sonny, who was never, ever still unless specifically instructed, kept squirming and rocking, moving his body side to side over Luki’s. And the water lifted him just a little bit so Luki felt little weight on him, only a teasingly sweet, achingly light friction.
He pulled his lover tight against his chest. “Sonny, baby, you are so damn sweet!”
Sonny was not very coherent. “Mmm, mm… ooooh! Luki!”
Luki chuckled. He couldn’t help it. Then he took hold of Sonny’s forelock and tilted his head back until he was sure he had Sonny’s eyes, and he said, “Stick out your tongue.”
Sonny did so, a little, and said, “Aauuh?”
Luki smiled. “More.”
When Sonny obeyed, he said, “Yeah, like that.” Then he laid his own tongue alongside it, teased it, licking at its tip, and finally closed his lips around it and sucked it into his mouth, meanwhile invading Sonny’s mouth with his own tongue, and touching every part of Sonny he could reach with any limb, and rocking Sonny over him, cock to cock, chest to chest. At some point he said, “Okay, kiss me back, Sonny.” Finally, after a long interval of bliss, or else torture, Luki asked the question he almost always asked when they made love. “What do you want, baby?”
Unlike his earlier efforts at speech, Sonny answered clear and concise. “Fuck me.” Then he buried his face in Luki’s neck, where he commenced licking, sucking, and yes, even biting.
Luki gasped at the sensations that weren’t quite tickle, weren’t quite pain, “So you’re serious, you want to fuck here? In the bath?”
“Turn over, baby, and turn around; get up on your knees. I want your ass right here, up close and personal.”
There’s more to that bath, but that’s it for the lecture. Read on to the bliss in your text for extra credit. If you don’t own the text, click on the cover image up at the top for a link to Dreamspinner. Also available at Amazon, All-Romance E-books, etc (like all the V&J books). Thanks for coming to class… see you next time!
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Sunset at Pencarrow
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