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Bubble Vacuum

Sometimes, I wish I existed in a vacuum.  Or maybe a bubble.  Perhaps a vacuum-sealed bubble?  Mostly what I’m referring to here is to just be…isolated from the real world.  Because that real world has a really bad habit of intruding on my life.  Of getting in the way.

And I let it.

So life has been happening for the last couple of weeks, and I was caught up in it.  And even when I wasn’t, I was letting things slide.  There is much drama at the day job, and that’s been trickling over into the rest of my consciousness.  So I keep saying I need to relax and decompress.  Which is true in a lot of ways.  But even when it wasn’t, I was still saying it and letting it get in the way.

So, as you can imagine, I haven’t written much.  Hardly anything at all since my big awesome sequester.  I let it slide.  I used excuses.  I was stuck and I knew it, lost a little enthusiasm and drive.  I love these guys, but my confidence was shaky.  And I let real life sneak in and take over for a while.

I got called on it.  And that’s what I needed.  Because in a couple of hours this past weekend, I managed to make a fair bit of progress and get a bunch of words on the page.

This upcoming weekend, my sister and I are having another one of our Sistertime Weekends away.  And that’s going to be awesome and all the decompressing I need.  I have stuff I need to get done this week in preparation of that and I’m scheduling in some time with the words as well.

Something Like Hope releases in about two weeks.  And since I’m working on the sequel, Something Like Trust, and since I don’t want you to have to wait too long before you can read it, I’m determined to get it done.  I have a date goal in mind, and I fully intend to have a completed first draft by then.

Real life be damned.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Ready to see what’s going on in Ben and Zack’s life since we left them last?  Good!  I’m so glad to hear it.  Because I’m telling you, the Admiral has outdone himself with the challenges, and I only hope I can do them justice.  Enjoy!**

“My parent’s never let me have a dog.”

“What’s that now?”

I grinned, knowing I shouldn’t have just shouted that out from two rooms away.  I stood and traipsed off to find Ben.  He was in his office, sitting it his rolling chair and contemplating the bookshelf with a seriousness that was surprising.  I leaned a shoulder against the doorjamb and smiled.

“What’re you doing?”

“Deciding what to pack and what to get rid of.  I’m only going to take the ones that will be of help to me.” Ben let out a small sigh, and the swiveled to smile me.  “What was it you were saying?”

I walked farther into the room and then parked my ass on the edge of his desk.  It was a beautiful piece of furniture.  Big, heavy, made from cherry and stained a deep, rich color.  I had a feeling I’d have to insist on Ben bringing it along.  But I had no idea where we would put it.  Truth was, I had no idea where we were going to fit most of his stuff.  My duplex wasn’t that big, and while I was happy to get rid of just about anything I needed to in order to make room for Ben’s things, I knew it wasn’t going to be that easy.  We would probably have to get a bigger house.  Anxiety started to bubble in my gut.  I’d lived there for five years, right next door to my sister, having moved from her place when the adjoining home became vacant.  I couldn’t imagine not being so close to her.  We had our own space, our privacy, but she was literally seconds away if either one of us needed anything and—

“Zack?” Ben cocked his head to the side.  He looked at me with concern, and then slid a little closer so he could put his hands on my hips.

I forced a smile.  “My parents never let me have a dog,” I repeated, faking a lightness in my tone.  “I never got one after I lived on my own because it didn’t seem like the right time.  I thought maybe we could get one, when we got back home.”  I swallowed hard.

Ben rolled even closer, and wrapped his arms around my waist.  I spread my knees so he could fit between them.  “I guess we could.  Something small and not too yappy maybe?  Or a cat would be better.  I didn’t have pets growing up.  Mother thought they were too messy.”

Oh hell, his mother.  His father had passed years before, and I had lost my own parents, but Ben’s mother was still alive.  Not that he had much to do with her.  The occasional phone call just to check in, but nothing more.  She had problems with his chosen profession, his sexual orientation, and where he’d bought his home.  Ben always tried to sound like it wasn’t that big a deal when he spoke of her, but I thought she was a judgmental bitch. I hadn’t met her, and I didn’t know if I would.  And despite the fact that Ben didn’t get along with his mother, I couldn’t help but suddenly worry that he would regret moving so far away from her.  She was his mother after all, and in her seventies.   Surely that was enough to make Ben rethink moving to the other side of the country.

I wanted him with me, and I agreed that it made sense for him to come to New York, but suddenly I couldn’t see how it would work.  It was too big and too much to change.  There was no way he could be happy, not in my tiny little duplex on the opposite side of the country where it snowed.  Hell, he wanted a cat, not a dog, and as much as I loved him there just couldn’t be—

Soft kisses to the bare skin of my belly distracted me, and I looked down into Ben’s warm brown eyes.  Then he took a deep breath, and blew a raspberry on my skin.  I laughed and shied away, unable to help the ingrained reaction.  Ben’s laugh was rich, and he grabbed my hips tightly to keep me from moving.

“Stop thinking,” he said softly but firmly, tugging me down onto his lap.  I was too big to fit, but a few minutes wouldn’t be a problem.

“Ben,” I said quietly, reaching up and pushing my fingers into his thick hair.  “Are you sure you want to give up your life here for me?”

His face turned serious, and I knew by the way he looked at me that he wanted my full attention.  I gave it to him, and his smile was warm and reassuring.

“I’m not giving anything up,” he said, his tone full of conviction.  “I’m readjusting.  There’s a marked difference.  Yes?”

I nodded face, and Ben’s smile grew.  He pulled me in, and hugged me tightly.

“I love you,” he whispered against my ear.

“I love you back,” I said in the same tone.  And then pulled back far enough to glare.  “But I’m not getting a cat.”

Ben threw his head back and laughed.  “Once we get settled, we’ll revisit the dog discussion then.”

I nodded, and grinned.  I would win.  I wasn’t above resorting to using sex to my advantage if I needed to. In fact, there was no reason we couldn’t indulge a little right now.  I stood and took his hand, pulling him up and tugging.  I loved him and he loved me. Everything else could wait.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Oh, you guys.  On Monday, my newest novella released, and I love these guys so much.  But you know what that means.  Fridays in June, following along on the continuing saga of Ben and Zack.  The Admiral came up with some great challenges, starting with this one.  A drive, a date, and a dance–this time from Zack’s POV. Enjoy!**

The thing I really couldn’t get over was the lack of humidity.

I was well aware that it made me strange but I’d been here for five days, and I still couldn’t believe the air wasn’t an oppressive wall of heat.  Back home, eighty-five degree days would have me begging for mercy, the air so thick with moisture it was hard to breathe.  But not in California.  It was dry here, despite the ocean being so close, and I just couldn’t get over the difference.  Ben stopped teasing me about my wide eyed wonder on the second day.  Now I just got indulgent smiles.

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, and the AC had already kicked on.  It didn’t make a difference to me.  I was snug and cozy in Ben’s bed, with Ben wrapped tightly around me.  Every morning I woke like this I felt luckier than the last.  A week ago, I still wasn’t sure that I could have this.  I knew now we’d be spending our lives together.  But that didn’t diminish the wonder I felt at being in his arms.

If I were honest, I hoped it took decades before that feeling faded.

I could tell the moment that Ben started to wake up, because his body went from that heavy, relaxed state to tense for just a moment before he stretched.  I remained still, knowing he still wasn’t used to having someone else in his bed.  After a moment, he pressed his nose into the back of my head, inhaled deeply, and then kissed my neck.  I smiled and slowly rolled over to face him.

“Let’s get up and go for a drive.” He didn’t even bother with a good morning or a kiss.  His eyes were alight with excitement, and I wouldn’t be the one to dampen it.  I would do whatever he wanted.  He was the one packing up his life and moving across the country for me.

I kissed him first, deep and hard, before I gently slid out of bed.  “Sure.  Drive to where?” I asked as I headed for the bathroom.  Suddenly my bladder was making itself known.

Ben just grinned and waggled his eyebrows.  A secret then.  I chuckled and shut the door, crossing the cold tiled floor to the toilet.  If he wanted it to be a surprise, that was fine.  I trusted him and I knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me.  As I bent to lift the lid, I shouted out, “Fine!  But make me coffee.”

Ben’s laughter was a beautiful sound.

***

We ended up driving for more than an hour on the Pacific Coast Highway.  I craned my neck, trying to take it all in.  This was the famed PCH, highway number 1, right along the coast.  The tourist in me was desperate to see it all.

“It’ll be better on the way back. The ocean will be on your side.”  Ben gave me a grin, and squeezed my knee.  I captured his hand and brought his fingers to my lips.  I loved this man and I wanted him to know it.  I never wanted him to doubt his decision.  And I was a bit afraid, that with a view like this, he would change his mind.

Eventually, we reached our destination.  Malibu was gorgeous and when we parked the car, Ben was quick to come around to open my door.  He took my hand and pulled me in close, his extra inch or two of height making it so that I had to crane my head back, just a little.  One of his hands came up to cup my jaw, his thumb brushing my bottom lip.

“Here’s to a date you’ll always remember.”  His voice was soft and sultry, and I had to swallow hard.  He had to know that I’d never be able to forget this.

We walked on the beach.  We ate at a sweet little restaurant that had the best seafood I’d ever tasted.  Ben had the scallops and angel hair pasta, which he let me taste.  I had beer-battered halibut that was to die for. We walked on the pier and stopped in the souvenir shops.  It was a fantastic day, and when we made our way back to his car, I was feeling relaxed, happy, and joyful.

I was transfixed to my window on the way back, staring in awe at the ocean.  It wasn’t the first time I’d ever seen such a vast amount of water, but this coast seemed even more beautiful and majestic than mine.  Again, I was worried that Ben wouldn’t want to leave all this behind.  New York had its own beauty, things that I was overly fond of, but I had been raised in it.  Hell, I even loved the snow.  But New York was so vastly different from California, I was worried Ben would regret his decision.

I was so absorbed in the ocean and my thoughts that I didn’t almost didn’t notice when Ben pulled off the PCH and into a scenic lookout.  There were no other cars in the gravel space, but it afforded a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the ocean.  I scrambled out of the car without even sparing Ben a glance.  I needed to see this up close and personal.  The steep edge was protected by large boulders, and I walked right up to them before I stopped.

A moment later, Ben was behind me, wrapping me up in his arms and pulling me back against his chest.  We were quiet for a long time, soaking in the peace and the crashing waves, and the bird calls.

“Are you going to miss it here?” I finally got the courage to whisper.

Ben squeezed me tightly.  “Of course I will,” he said easily, and my heart sank.  But he kept talking.  “We’ll have to come back and visit at least once a year, don’t you think?”

Just like that, everything seemed lighter.  Ben was the master at compromise, and I couldn’t be luckier because he loved me and wanted to make a life with me.  I laughed as I turned in his arms, pulling him in close, and starting to sway.  Looking up into his deep brown eyes, I hummed a tune as I moved our bodies.  Ben matched my movements immediately, joining in the dance without qualm.

I was the luckiest man on earth, because Ben Winters loved me.

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The Sequester

So this past weekend, I turned invisible on purpose.  In both real life, and on the Internet (though, if I’m completely honest, I did sneak on a few times, look at some stuff, answer a few emails, and the like.  But mostly ignored it).  My goal was to hide away and focus my brain, and write a lot of freaking words.

I’m happy to say that it was quite a success!

In two days, I managed a little over 11,000 words.  Well, I actually did a great deal more than that, but there was a lot of deleting happening on day two, and I don’t really count those words because they didn’t stay.  And I did struggle to get into the groove on day two that I had on day one, which is when most of those words happened.  But I still managed a huge chunk of writing.

I have, in fact, half a book written.  And that, right there, was what I wanted to emerge from my weekend sequester with.  I have half the book done, and still six weeks to finish the other half.  (the deadline was Admiral suggested and author approved.  I need boundaries sometimes, even ones I impose myself, or I’ll just procrastinate forever)

So the sequel to Something Like Hope, which is out at the end of the month, is half written.   And when I finish that?  Well, then I’ll be diving right into the third book.  Just so I can keep the momentum going on the series, and no one has to wait too long to read the next installment.

Because I know I hate it when I have to wait as a reader.  I don’t want to do that to you guys!

All in all, it was a really good weekend, capped off by the release yesterday.  I really do love those guys, and I hope that if you’re so inclined to read Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love, you’ll love them a little bit too.

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Release Day!!

It’s here, it’s here!  Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love is out!  *bites nails*

I do hope you like Ben and Zack.  And this story, which has a very special place in my heart.

Dont Wanna Lose Your Love-BuildAs it often does, the bad news comes in the middle of the night.

When attorney Ben Winters’s close friend takes a bad spill and ends up in the hospital, he flies across the country to be there for her.  His instant attraction to her brother takes him by surprise.  Wanting Zack Anderson is easy; actually having him is a bad idea.  While the two connect over concern for Zack’s sister, there are many reason to fight the attraction brewing between them.  Things heat up as Ben’s friend begins to show improvement, but the reasons not to get involved with the younger man remain the same–long distance relationships never work and Ben doesn’t do one-night stands.  But there’s one powerful reason to give in: Ben has never wanted anyone more.

You can purchase it from Dreamspinner directly.  And I’ll add the other buy links to the books tab at the top as soon as they become available.

In the meantime, how about an excerpt to entertain you for a bit…and maybe whet your appetite?  Enjoy!

“This place is gorgeous,” I breathed.

Zack’s laugh was low and soft. “You should be here in May, when the lilacs are in full bloom. There’s a festival and everything. It’s at its height then.”

I couldn’t imagine it looking even better, but I took his word for it. We strolled in silence, walking close together but not touching. It was fairly empty, but that made sense because it was the middle of a weekday. I would bet this park would be bursting with people on the weekends.

After a while, Zack reached over and took my hand. I tried to pull away, but his fingers clenched tight, keeping my hand trapped in his. I sighed, but relaxed. “Zack, come on.”

“You come on,” he said playfully. He gave me a tug and I followed him off the path. He sat on the grass beneath a tree and pulled me down with him. “Have a vacation fling with someone who knows how to treat you right.”

I shook my head, and my smile, I was sure, was a little rueful. “This is hardly a vacation.”

“It is now,” Zack said quietly. His gaze searched mine. “Josie is fine and will be out of the hospital tomorrow. So for however long you have left, it’s a vacation. I want you. And I want you to give in to me.” He paused then, and his face grew serious. “I’d never force you. I’ll back off if you really don’t want this or aren’t attracted to me.”

The snort escaped before I could check it, and his eyes lit up. Of course I wanted him. I knew he knew it, and he was trying to be a gentleman by saying that. I still didn’t think it was a good idea, though. There was something about him that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, something that made him different than every man I had tried dating before. But I knew it could never work, not in any lasting way, and I was tired of having my heart broken.

As if Zack could sense my inner turmoil, his smile softened and he opened the bag he carried. He handed me one of the wrapped sandwiches. I took it automatically.

“Think about it while you eat,” he said.

Like I’d be able to do anything else.