The Good News

Something Like Trust is out! Woo!  You can get it directly from Amber Allure or hop over to ARe.  It’s not up on Amazon yet, but that should be soon.

I hope you get it and I hope you like it.  These guys are near and dear to my heart.  There is something about their relationship that I just love, and I’m so excited for them to be out in the public and for everyone to have a chance to read their story, should they wish.

If you haven’t read the first one, this story definitely stands on it’s own.  You won’t have any trouble following along.  Each book in the series will work just fine as a standalone.  Except maybe the last one, but that’s far down the road at this point.

Because I’ve just (finally!) started writing Something Like Peace, and I’m more than five thousand words in.  This one has been a challenge from the beginning; first it got pushed off to the third book, then it was replotted three times, there was the whole drama with losing the outline and having to do it all over again.  Day job has been crazy stressful for months now, and I’ve been working long hours.  It’s been one thing after another, keeping me from writing it, and some of it has been my own head.

But now, I’ve begun.  I just jumped right in.  And I can see the whole story taking shape before me.  I don’t know when I’ll actually get it done, but I’ll do my best not to procrastinate.  At least, not too badly.

So sit back and enjoy Something Like Trust. It’s on sale all week at Amber.  Take advantage of it.  Enjoy Jared and Brandon and watch them fall in love.

And know there is definitely more to come in this series.

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Release Day!!

SomethingLikeTrustWhile working security for a popular prime time television show, reservist Jared Connors meets guest star Brandon Culpepper. They are immediately drawn to each other, quickly discovering they are exactly what the other needs in a friend and a lover.

Even though Brandon is in town for only the duration of his guest-starring role, the men agree to have a short-term affair. When the filming is finished, however, it’s harder to let go than either man expected, but Brandon has to leave for another role. Their resolve for their relationship to end is soon tested when each realizes their emotions are more involved than they originally thought.

But figuring out a way for their very different lives to fit together seems an impossible task. Can they trust each other enough to find a long-term solution? 

Sound fun?  There is something about this story that I completely adore.  I love the relationship between Brandon and Jared.  I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I do.

So.  How about an excerpt?

You can buy it here.

“What about you, Brandon?” I liked saying his name. I liked the way it felt in my mouth.

He blinked those pretty eyes. “What about m-me?”

I grinned, doing my best to be charming, then turned so I was standing next to him. I made sure I was close enough that he could sense my presence, but I didn’t want him to feel pressured. I let my gaze scan the set, taking it all in, even as I spoke to him.

“Are you gay? If I were to ask you out, say for dinner at a quiet little hole-in-the-wall, out-of-the-way restaurant that has outstanding food, would you say ‘yes’? Or would you tell me that I’m barking up the wrong tree?” I knew I wasn’t, but I thought I’d give him the easy out if he wasn’t interested in me. I was fairly certain I wasn’t wrong about that either, but I was willing to give him the option of bowing out gracefully.

He let out a small, quiet laugh. “Barking is for d-dogs, Jared. Are you a dog?”

I heard the worry underneath the question he’d tried to say jokingly. I turned quickly, and gave him my full attention so he would not miss how serious I was.

“No, Brandon,” I assured him, my voice low but utterly sincere. “I am not a dog.”

Finally, he looked me in the eye of his own volition, his entire being focused on me. He studied me, and I let him. Then he took a deep breath, and I knew instantly that he believed me. Was, in fact, willing to trust me.

“Then I would say, yes, Jared. I am gay. And yes, I’d like to go to dinner with you.” His voice was soft, but there was no hint of the stutter that usually plagued his words. The relaxed set of his shoulders gave me the idea that he was comfortable in my presence, and I had to wonder if the stutter came out only with his nerves. The thought made me feel smugly proud.

“Outstanding,” I said, letting myself smile. “Are you free tomorrow evening?”

Flash Fic Friday

**I’m going to preface this one with the disclaimer: the Admiral said I could!  Enjoy an end of summer barbeque and an unexpected but welcome kiss.  Also, you can find the Admiral’s version of the story here.**

The barbeque was Katie’s idea.

I wasn’t exactly up to a party, but she deserved to relax and have a good time with family and friends.  My sister was rock star awesome, and I couldn’t ask for anyone better.  So if she wanted to take Labor Day off, and just party all day, then I was not going to stop her.  Everyone else seemed to think it was a good idea, swarming in and bringing so much food I wasn’t sure that it would all get eaten.  Uncle Jimmy was manning the grill, with Uncle Tommy standing close by and assisting.  Katie’s best friend Cindy was flitting around, making sure every dish was full and that everyone had what they needed.  Katie herself was standing in a group of friends and family, laughing her head off at something, and looking radiant in the sunshine.  My sister deserved this, and it made me happy to see her so carefree.

I pulled the afghan a little tighter around me and leaned back deeper into the Adirondack chair.  It was comfortable, much more so than any of the other deck chairs, and I was happy to be sitting in the fresh air.  It had to be at least eighty degrees out here, though it was cooler where I was sitting in the shade of the awning, but I was still cold.  Losing thirty pounds over the course of a couple of months would do that to a person.

Chemo was the devil and radiation was its evil twin.

Being sick sucked so badly I didn’t even have words.  But I was fighting the cancer trying to eat my body.  And my beloved sister was the one to drag my ass to appointments, clean me up when I was too sick and weak to move, soothe me when the pain was too great, take care of me in all the ways I needed.  She was the best, and if she wanted this barbeque then that’s what she got.  Even if all I wanted to do was curl up and take a nap.

“Kate says this round worked.” Trent’s voice startled me, making me jerk, but I found a smile for my friend.  He’d been there, helping us both out, since my diagnosis.  I was lucky to have him, I knew it.  But I was also glad I’d never made my move when I was healthy.  He’d have been stuck with a sick boyfriend, and that just wasn’t fair.  At least now I got the pleasure of his company, and when he helped out, I knew it was because he wanted to instead of because he felt he had to.

“Cam?”

I glanced up at him with a sheepish smile.  He grinned back and perched on the arm of the chair.  He radiated heat, and I couldn’t help but cuddle in.  “Yeah, we’ll see.”

“You don’t sound hopeful,” Trent said, his voice ever so slightly disapproving.

I sighed, and then snuggled in a little more.  “They said it worked last time and I had to have another round so…”

“Yeah, I hear ya,” Trent agreed.  One big hand started rubbing up and down my arm.  “You look better than you did last week though.”

I smiled for him.  “Yeah, I feel better.  Not great, mind you.  Not yet.  But a little better.”

“Good,” Trent said.  Then he cupped my chin in one hand, tipped my face up, and kissed me.

For a second I was so surprised, I didn’t even react.  Trent’s patient exploration didn’t cease though, and a moment later, I made a hungry noise and pushed into the kiss.  He felt so warm, so alive, his lips soft and coaxing, his tongue a wet, hot heat filling my mouth.  I reveled in it, whining just a little as I tried to get closer.  And then I realized I was kissing Trent, and I pulled back with a gasp.

“What?” The kiss was unexpected, but I was definitely all for it.

Trent’s smile was serene, and he was stroking his thumb along my cheek.  His eyes were filled with affection and something more that I didn’t dare put a name too. I wanted it, but I was scared to believe it.

“I’m tired of waiting for you to get better.  I should have done this a year ago, before you got sick.”

Oh, that was a harsh reminder.  I pulled back a little further, but Trent wouldn’t let me go.  I scowled at him.  “T, you can’t—” I made a frustrated sound.  “I’m sick and I might not get better.  I might have months, maybe a year more.  If this didn’t work, then there’s a time limit on—”

He cut me off with another quick kiss.

“Days, months, years–and I’m hoping for a whole shit ton of years–whatever time you have left, I want to be with you.”

For a long moment, I didn’t say anything at all.  I felt like I should be noble, to push him away and save us both from heartbreak.  But he was so warm and alive.  Someday my dick would work again, and I’d be able to enjoy that a hell of a lot more with Trent than by myself.  But even more than that, his smile eased my soul.  It always had.  It was selfish to say yes, to tie him to me that much.  But I’d wanted him for a long time, and he was now telling me he wanted me too.  Sickness and all.

“Yeah,” I said softly and something settled in my soul.  “Okay.  Yes, please.”

Relaxed…Mostly

So I took a few days off from the evil day job, and I went away for a couple of days, and it was lovely and relaxing and just wonderful.  There’s something fantastic about being on your own, without an agenda to follow.  I got a little lazier than I intended, but a swift kick got me moving again and I had some great experiences and saw some great things.

And now I’m back.  A little more relaxed.  A little more recharged.  I needed it pretty badly, and it didn’t last nearly long enough of course, but it’ll do me for now.  With some of the stress lifted from my shoulders, I feel more grounded.  And that’s a very good thing.

I also got an insanely good plot bunny, with pictures, that I’ll be filing away for a bit.  But I’m looking forward to pulling that out in the future and writing it.

A relaxed writer is a happy writer.  And hopefully now I can begin to make headway.

And just a quick reminder!  This Sunday, Something Like Trust releases!

Flash Fic Friday

**Another prompt to which the Admiral and I both wrote.  Check his out here.  And read two stories about a summer movie in the park and geeks.  Enjoy!**

“We’re almost there, Nate.”

I chanced a glance sideways.  “Almost where?” I asked, knowing it would never work.  The look on Kyle’s face let me know he was disappointed I even tried.

I was bored out of my skull, and he still wouldn’t tell me where we were going.  No matter how hard I pouted or what sexual favors I offered.  He just kept driving, a smug little grin on his face.  If I didn’t trust him so much, and love him so hard, I would have been truly worried.  But I did, so I honestly had no qualms about riding for two hours to some unknown destination. That didn’t mean I wasn’t going to pout about it though.

A few more minutes passed, and then Kyle pointed out the window.  “Here we go.”

I turned to look, then sat up straight, my eyes nearly bugging out of my head.  The banner proudly proclaimed “Star Trek in the Park.”

“What?  How? What?” I sputtered.

Kyle laughed.  “I’ve been worried for weeks you were going to find out about this and beg to go, and that would ruin my surprised.”  He pulled into the parking lot.  It was mostly full, but he managed to find a space way in the back where he could park his little coupe.  “Double feature once it gets dark enough. Star Trek: The Motion Picture and then the reboot Star Trek with an intermission in between.”

“I love you,” I breathed, leaning into him and kissing him hard.  This was the coolest thing ever.  What was even better was that Kyle wasn’t into the show.  He didn’t have the love of it that I did.  But he loved me, so he watched.

We got out of the car, and Kyle retrieved a blanket and a small cooler out of the trunk.  It looked like we were set.  I couldn’t stop grinning. It didn’t even falter as I took in all the people streaming into the park from the lot.  A lot of them were dressed in costume to a degree.  I could have easily done the same.  If I had known, that is.  I tamped down the niggling of resentment that tried to work its way into my brain.

“Hey,” Kyle said, drawing my attention to where he was fiddling with something in the trunk.  When I turned, he gave me a wicked grin, then held up a piece of fabric.  It took me a second to recognize it as one of my t-shirts.  The one designed to look like the science uniform worn on The Enterprise.

I threw myself into his arms.  He’d thought of everything.  I’d bet money that my favorite snacks were packed in the cooler.  I kissed him again, very thoroughly, before I stripped off the shirt I was wearing and replacing it with the one that proudly proclaimed my geekiness.

Kyle waited until I was ready, helped smooth my hair back into place, and then took my hand. “Let’s go. Marvin and Lee got here hours ago, and they said they’d save us a spot.  He even promised it wouldn’t be too out in the open.”

I laughed, pleased down to my toes. “So we can snuggle?”

“Or something,” Kyle said with a suggestive eyebrow waggle.  I laughed again, and bumped his shoulder with mine.

We spotted Marvin easily enough, even with all the people.  Mostly because he was literally jumping up and down and waving his arms above his head.  He looked ridiculous, but I adored him for it. Just before we got to the place where they were waiting, I tugged on Kyle’s hand.  When he stopped, and looked at me with a question in his eyes, I just smiled.

“Thank you for this.  It’s awesome.”

“I love you,” he said with an easy shrug.

I kissed him and then we started walking again.  Nothing more needed to be said.

Let’s Panic, Shall We?

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been working out a rough outline from which to work for everything I’ve written.  Though it’s prone to change and is by no means super detailed, it gives me a chance to work out plot holes before hand and to have something to guide me while I write.  It’s been working incredibly well, to have a little guidance, and during two novellas and a short story, I’ve come to rely on it.

So yesterday morning when I went to open the outline for the next story and couldn’t find it anywhere, you can imagine that I freaked out a little.

Okay.  A lot.

I’d put in the work, I’d replotted the dang story three different times, and that one was the right one, finally, the story that was supposed to be written.  And even though I wrote it a few weeks ago (okay, a month), I hadn’t opened it again because between work and my own brain, I wasn’t ready to start it.  And then I was and the document was not there.

Or anywhere.  I scoured my entire hard drive.  I looked everywhere.  I handed the laptop to someone much more tech savvy than me, to see if he could find it.  And it wasn’t anywhere.  It was just gone.  Like I never saved it in the first place.  Which is the only explanation I have even though I’m an obsessive saver…to the point where I do it every few minutes sometimes, and back up my back ups.  I save to the hard drive, two different flash drives, and also the cloud. But this document I needed, my outline, no longer existed.

So I had to start from scratch and write it all over again.

Which sent me into a panicking tailspin.  I was utterly certain I wasn’t going to remember something important that I wanted to write, and it was going to be less of a story because of it.  I had another doc where’d I’d written down a few snippets from scenes that I had seen in my head over the last few weeks, so that gave me a little bit to work with.  And then, miracle of miracles, I found a hand written version of the very basic plot details.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  It wasn’t everything, and my hand writing was bad enough that I could not read all the words, but I had the very general plot, and the main plot points, and I could recreate my outline from there.

Which I did.

And saved it to every damn thing.

We’re good now. Panic has passed.  I definitely have my outline.  And I’m once again excited to write this book.

Flash Fic Friday

**The Admiral gave me a specific prompt this week.  A summer fling that ten years later becomes more. I took a bit of a different twist with things this time and jumped into a little fantasy.  And!  To make it even better, the Admiral wrote to the same prompt, which was a blast.  You can check it out here and see how we came up with such different stories.  (The similar names are a conscious choice on my part)  Enjoy!**

The air conditioning was rapidly cooling the sweat and cum—both mine and his—that covered my body, but I was too relaxed and sated to move more than my head.  And I only did that so I could see my lover, stretched out beside me with a blissful look on his face.  Spirian didn’t even open his eyes, but I loved just looking at him.  He had the flawless, pale skin, long straight nose, and pointed ears all fae did.  Unlike the rest of the elves, though, he kept his dark hair cut short instead of hanging at least halfway down his back.  It was currently sticking up in odd directions, adding to his sated appearance.

“You are staring at me, James,” he said, still a little breathless and without opening his eyes.

I grinned widely, and a small laugh escaped. “Yep.  I totally am.”

Spir turned his head, and then slowly opened his eyes.  A lot of people thought brown eyes were boring or ugly, but not me, and especially not in regards to Spir.  His eyes were warm, melted chocolate pools, and I could get lost staring into them.

“Why?”

That was it.  Nothing more.  I loved his bluntness. It was the thing that drew me to him in the first place. He didn’t play games and he didn’t beat around the bush.  He didn’t see the need.  Spir did what in his gut felt right, even if it was just a passing fancy or a temporary need.  If he wanted to lie on the forest floor for the afternoon, he did it.  And if he wanted to spend the better part of the summer months in my bed, no matter that he was supposed to be training, he did that too.  And if he got up out of that bed to go sing to trees and not contact me for days on end, it was because it felt like the necessary thing to him.  I respected that need, and appreciated that I knew exactly where I stood with him.

“Because you’re pretty and I like looking at you,” I answered, giving him the same honesty that he would have given me.  He smiled, and I knew I pleased him.

He stood then, and after using a towel to wipe away the worst of the mess, pulled on his clothes.  The long tunic and soft, woolen breaches were also a trademark of his race.  Despite fully integrating into the human realm and no longer hiding in the shadows, the fae still held to a lot of their traditions.  I kind of liked that, and wished I had something that concrete to ground me.

“I do not know when I will return.”  Spir turned to me.  He was fully dressed and a sad sort of smile graced his lips.  I sat up fast, the languor from earlier dissipating abruptly.  He’d never said those words to me.  Always before it had been “I will return when I am able.” I knew instantly that our sweet summer affair was about to come to an end.

“You aren’t coming back, are you?” I felt the sadness like an acute pain in my chest. I’d known all along this wouldn’t last forever, and that helped to easy the hurt somewhat.  Or at least, I conceded to myself, it would have hurt a whole lot worse if this had been a surprise.  Or if Spirian hadn’t looked as miserable and upset as I felt.

He sat on the edge of the bed by my hip, and leaned forward to kiss me softly.  “I would like to.  But I do not see how it is possible.  I’ve already lingered too long here.  And the flora are calls my name.”

I nodded because I knew it, and I couldn’t make him chose between me and the plants.  We weren’t that couple.  There was a deep affection between us, a genuine like and an insane amount sexual chemistry, but it didn’t go deeper than that.  We were both young, and both trying to find out feet in the world.  I cared about him.  I always would.  But I didn’t love him.  I could let him go with a kiss and well wishes.

So that’s what I did.

***

10 Years Later…

I never put too much thought into why, on the eve of my thirtieth birthday, I’d made the decision to quit my corporate job and sink my savings into a rural property with three huge greenhouses and acres of fruit trees.  Five years later, I’d built it into a thriving business. I’d renovated the farmhouse that had come with the land, and made the second floor into my living space, while the offices took up the first floor.  I had been able to hire managers and accounts and assistants to deal with the paperwork.  I spent my days in the greenhouses and out in the fields. Growing and nurturing some of the best produce in the region.  I loved it and I was happy.  Even if the orchids were proving to be a bit more difficult than I’d originally thought.

I’d had the small greenhouse built behind the house. After I converted greenhouse 3 for houseplants, and the response to including them in the inventory was overwhelmingly positive, I decided to try my hand at orchids.  While the phalaenopsis were doing fine, I couldn’t get anything else to continue growing.  The plants themselves were still living, and had healthy beautiful green leaves.  But not a single plant would put out a new flower spike.  I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.  I’d consulted with experts, had dozens of people in, and no one seemed to think there should be a problem.  I was doing everything right, and yet the plants wouldn’t flower.

I was ready to give up.  Have a huge sale, or hell, give the plants away, and admit defeat. I loved orchids, and I thought they were exceptionally beautiful plants.  But if I couldn’t get them to grow, there was no point in keeping them. The loss of profit aside, the plants deserved better. With a sigh and resigned to my fate, I exited the greenhouse and ran directly into another person.

It was weird how the smell of him, long forgotten but still so familiar, was the first thing to register in my brain.  It only took seconds after that for my eyes to catch up and recognize that beautiful elfin face. He hadn’t changed at all in ten years. But of course he wouldn’t have.  Elves didn’t, really. Not when they lived for several centuries.

“Spirian,” I breathed out his name, surprised and delighted all at once.  I hadn’t given him more than a passing thought in years, but it was still good to see him.

“You used to shorten my name.  It was a privilege only you were allowed.” His mouth quirked the smallest amount, like he felt like he should smile but didn’t actually feel like it. I opened my mouth to respond even though I didn’t know what to say, but Spirian cut me off with a shake of his head.  He gestured behind me.  “What is going on in there?”

I shook my head with a smile.  Drawn to growing things.  He always was. “Orchids,” I said softly.  “They don’t seem to like me very much.  Healthy plants that won’t flower.”  I gave a helpless shrug.

He kept staring at the greenhouse for a long moment, before he finally turned those deep, dark, warm eyes to me.  “Would you like me to sing to them, James?”

I swallowed hard.  That voice saying my name was enough to be my undoing.  I cleared my throat.  “If you have the time, that would be awesome.”

Spir finally smiled, and he took my hand, leading me inside.  He left me by the door as he wandered around the small space, lifting a hand every now and then to touch.  Eventually, he drew a deep breath and began to sing.

I’d always loved listening to ancient fae, though I didn’t understand the words.  There was a cadence to it, an ebb and flow, that never failed to affect me deep inside. I unconsciously swayed to the song as Spir’s voice rose and swelled with each verse.  When the song ended, I had to take a deep breath.

“That was beautiful,” I whispered.  Spir turned and graced me with a smile. He spent another minute or two fussing with one of the dendrobiums before padded softly across the floor and stopping directly in front of me.

“Thank you,” Spir smiled and leaned a little closer. “They are happy here, your plants.  They were just confused.   They will produce beautiful flowers for you now.”

“I appreciate that. Thank you.”  My voice was soft and I meant it, but I couldn’t stop staring at the man I never imagined I’d see again. “Not that I’m complaining, but why are you here, Spirian?”

He cocked his head to the side and studied me like he didn’t understand the question. “Though I said I didn’t know when I’d be able to return, that did imply I would come back at some point in the future.”

I shook my head and laughed.  I’d forgotten how matter-of-fact he could be.  “That was ten years ago.  I’d sort of assumed the statute of limitations had run out on that particular promise.”

It took him a minute to understand the reference.  He shook his head, “It has not.”

“Okay,” I said slowly. “But why, exactly, are you here?”

He let out an exasperated sigh, and I almost laughed at how familiar it sounded.  “Previously, neither one of us were in a mindset to fully engage in a relationship despite how compatible we were.”

I nodded. “Yeah, I agree.”

Spir took a step closer.  “And now we are.  You have built us a place where we could both be very happy.  I could help you grow such beautiful things. That is all I require in this life, to sing to the flora and to have you close by.”  Suddenly his cheeks went red, and he could no longer look me in the eye.  “If you’ll have me, that is.”

Ten years ago we might have been young and unprepared.  But I knew I was ready to settle down.  If Spirian was even half the man he used to be, we’d be just fine.

I nodded even as I closed the distance between us.  “Yes, Spir.  I’ll have you.”