So That Happened

I finished writing Something Like Peace.

I had a bit of a sequester last weekend, on Sunday and Monday, and I banged out more than 14k words.  That, combined with what was already written, brought me to the three quarters mark.  Ad when I called it quits on Monday night, I knew if I had one more day of solid writing, I could get the book done.  Because I only had three chapters left to write.

It ended up being four chapters, because some stuff happened that I didn’t plan, but it’s all good.  And the book is complete.

I edit and tweak as I go, sometimes a little obsessively, so it’s a pretty solid final draft right now.  I’m sure I’ll make a few other changes as I read through it again, get some feedback, and the like.  But it won’t be more than a couple of weeks before I send it in to the publisher, with hopes of seeing it on the shelves in several months.

I am, as always, a little bit in love with my guys.  There’s something about this pair that I just adore.  I really liked watching them fall in love.

So I’m going to take the next couple weeks off from writing, other than polishing up SLP to get it ready to send in.  I don’t know what I’ll be working on next, but I have some vague ideas.  We’ll have to see what percolates and shakes out.  But a little break is definitely in order, relax a bit, get my head clear.  And I’m looking forward to that a whole lot too.

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Flash Fic Friday

**One more fic in honor of Something Like Trust.  This time featuring a sick Jared with Brandon taking care of him.  Enjoy!**

There was something about a sick loved one that just clawed at my gut.  My only experience previously had been with my brother, and Brian was the kind of guy that wouldn’t sit down, sleep, and get well.  He’d constantly insist he wasn’t sick, and try to do everything he normally did.  He had to be constantly watched to make sure he got the necessary rest and that he took his medication.

So when Jared went from having the sniffles and a scratchy throat to sneezing, hacking, and wheezing in the matter of twenty-four hours, I was terrified my big bad Marine would make himself much worse before he got better.  I made arrangements with the producers, and since I had a light week anyway, I hopped in the car and made the three hour trek home.  I was on edge and practically frantic by the time I pulled in the driveway, and I left my bag in the car in favor of sprinting into the house.

Jared was shivering on the couch, his big body huddled to half its size and covered with both the comforter from our bed and the afghan from the back of the couch.  The coffee table was littered with used tissues, nearly empty glasses of juice and ginger ale, and a whole host of cold medicines.  He lifted his head when I walked in, and his face was pale, with high spots of color on his cheeks.

“What are you doing home?” he rasped, the growl dying in his throat to become a hacking cough.  I rushed forward, trying to support his body.  When the coughing eased, I handed him on of the glasses of liquid and he sipped down what was left in it.  I tried not to be dismayed by the sight before me, but he’d managed to make an awful lot of a mess in just one day.  The Jared I knew would never have allowed his kind of clutter to accumulate.

“I’m sick,” he said, utterly miserable.  He flopped back onto the couch and pulled the blankets up around his ears again.  I helped him, tucking it around his neck and smoothing a hand over his brow.  His skin was hot and dry and I didn’t like that. He needed a fever reducer and more hydration.

“I know, love.  That’s why I’m here.”  I leaned down to kiss his cheek, but avoided his lips when he turned his head.  He scowled, but I just smiled.  “When I get you all better, you can kiss me all you want.”

“I have the plague,” he said with a bit of a whine.  “I’m never getting better.”

I resisted letting the chuckle escape.  He was just being a big baby, but I knew it had to be brought on by just how awful he felt.  He was certainly sick, but it was no more than the flu.  As long as I kept him pumped full of liquids and Tylenol, he’d make a full recovery.  I rubbed against his shorn hair for a moment and then stood.

“How about I make you some chicken noddle soup and some tea?  That’ll help you feel better, right?”  I started collecting the glasses from the table, mentally making a note of coming back with a plastic bag and disinfecting wipes.  The coffee table was probably a cesspool of germs. I’d need to kill them all.

“Not hungry,” he mumbled from  his cocoon.

I shook my head and smiled fondly.  “Just try a little, okay?  I need you to stay strong.”  When I got a nod in response, I turned toward the kitchen, my arms full of dirty glasses.  “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

I rinsed the glasses and put them in the dishwasher.  I hummed a little as I worked.  Honestly, as upsetting as it was to see my man laid low by some nasty germy bug, I was more than a bit pleased to be the one taking care of him for a change.  He took such good care of me, all the time, even when distance separated us, that to be able to return the favor felt wonderful.  I didn’t even care that he was a little bit whiny.

Two days later, I was ready to strangle him with my bare hands.

Whiny had morphed into petulant and demanding as he still felt like crap. He was getting better, that much was clear, but he wasn’t there yet and he was cranky and unreasonable because of it.  I wanted to take care of him, to keep him fed and hydrated and give him everything he needed.  And usually when he ordered me around, it made me feel safe and cared for.  But demands for a fluffed pillow, or another glass of juice, or a bowl of soup with crackers on the side without the courtesy of a please or thank you was wearing thin.  More than that, he was whiny.

I’d never seen this side of him.  It was disconcerting.  And irritating.  I was not equipped to handle him like this.  I didn’t know what to do.  I locked myself in the bathroom and dialed the phone, hoping for some advice.

“What’s up, Bran?” Zane asked with a yawn.  It was early, but I didn’t feel bad for waking him.

“I l-love your brother m-more than l-life itself,” I whispered fervently.  “But I’m g-gonna kill him.”

Zane’s laughter rang out, and I couldn’t keep my own smile off my face.  I adored Zane, and Audra too.  They were some of the best people on the planet, and I loved them like they were my own siblings.

“He’s a pain in the ass when he’s sick, huh?  Put an M16 in his hands, and he’s fine.  Infect him with germs, and it’s like he forgot he was a badass.”  Zane paused to chuckle.  “You need some back up?”

I sighed heavily. “I should be able to handle my sick lover,” I confided.

“But you don’t have to do it alone.  I can stand up to him for you.”

“Brandon!”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath at hearing Jared call my name.  At least this time it wasn’t followed with a round of hacking.

“He’s calling for me,” I said to said, standing up.

“We’ll be there in a few hours,” Zane responded, and I could hear the rustle of fabric as he moved.

“It’s okay Zane,” I said softly.  “I appreciate the offer but I can handle him.”

“You sure?”

“Yep.  Just needed to commiserate.  Hear a friendly voice.”

Zane made an affirmative noise, told me to call if I needed him, and hung up.

I took another deep breath, and then unlocked the door and stepped out of the bathroom.  Jared was sitting up in bed, looking better than he had, but still not entirely better.  He needed a shower, but he was too big for me to help him, and he wasn’t steady enough on his feet.  Maybe I could find a chair to set in the stall, and he could get clean that way.

“What do you need, love?” I asked, doing my best not to let the weariness in.

“To apologize,” he said softly.  I stopped short of the bed, the words a surprise.  I looked up at him, into his warm brown eyes that were clear of fever for the first time in three days.  He tried for a smile.  “I’m sorry, sweetheart.  I know I’ve been difficult and I haven’t been taking care of you very well.”

“Difficult?” I repeated, letting him know just how much of an understatement that was.  When his smile grew just a little, I knew I’d succeeded in amusing him. I walked closer and sat on the edge of the mattress.  Once I coaxed him into the shower, I was changing the bedsheets.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated, and I knew he meant it.

“I love you, Jared.  Completely.  You were sick, and now I know how you react when you aren’t well.  And I can deal with it.”

“I love you, too. And I’ll try to be better next time I get sick.”  His vow was solemn, and I knew he meant it.  Of course, I also knew that it wasn’t likely.  The next time some bug laid him out, he’d probably be exactly the same.  But if that was the worst of his faults, I’d just have to deal with it.  And get him in the habit of taking vitamin C to ward off any sickness.

“It’s a deal,” I said.  I leaned in and kissed his check, then stood up.  “Now get in the shower.  You stink.”

The Results

I did some good work this past weekend!  I wrote a lot of words, and I took a manuscript that was barely a quarter finished to three quarters done. I have three chapters left to write.  Maybe four, depending on the words that actually happen.  It’s a day’s work, maybe a little more, and I’m really excited to finish this story.

I’m kind of in love with these guys, which isn’t a surprise, because I always fall a little bit in love with whomever I’m writing.  I’m digging their story, and I really like that I’m in the groove, the zone, and the words are flowing easily.  After having gone so long with real life getting in the way, making things difficult, and stressing me out so the words just didn’t happen, it was really nice just to sit down and write.  And with the story so close to being done, and me being able to see how the rest of it goes, I’m anxious to get it down on the page.

Not in the least because if I can manage that within the next week, I’ll have met my original deadline despite life conspiring and that pleases me.

Of course, I’m also at the point that always and inevitably happens.  That point where I’m second guessing every choice I’ve made with these guess, overthinking every plot point, and absolutely convinced it’s a crap story.  I’m kind of constantly reminding myself that I have people who will read it before I send it to the publisher, and those people will tell me what needs fixing. And I can fix it.

(There’s also another element here, where I’m terrified of disappointing, as well as it being the third book, which is almost always, without fail, my favorite in a series, so there’s internal pressure I’m trying very hard not to succumb to.)

At any rate, I did very well on my writing quest, and that included interruptions this time.  I’m in the home stretch.  So hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll have a completed manuscript in the publisher’s hands, and I might be able to tell you when it’s going to hit the shelves.

I’ll do my damnedest anyway.

It’s All in My Head

I’ve taken the day off from the day job today with the express purpose of spending the day with the fun job. Writing.  A sequester of sorts, to really make some progress on Something Like Peace.  Yesterday I managed to add more than 7,000 words, and today I intend to do the same.  If not more.  We shall see.  SLP is at the halfway point now, which is also the turning point, and I’m loving it.  And after a retrieving a second cup of coffee, I’ll get to it.

Everything about this book is in my head.  I just need to pull it out and put it into words so you all can see it too.  It’s not always the easiest thing.  It’d be great if I could show you pictures of the way the guys looked, so I didn’t have to try to explain it.  But I can’t just whip those out because they aren’t inspired by famous people and I only see what they look like in my brain.  (Except Vincent, but I can’t show you him either because he’s based kind of on a real person.  Trust me, he’s hot.)  It’d be freaking fantastic if I could plug directly into my brain and record the images and scenes that I see, so that you can get the true, full experience of the story. But that’s not possible either.

So I’m putting in the work to get the images translated into words.  So you can see.  So you can follow along as the story progresses and watch two very deserving guys find love.  And today I get to bring out their hurt and fear and worry, delve into some scary emotions, before I make things happy again.

I can’t wait for you guys to see what’s in my head this time.

Flash Fic Friday

** The Admiral commanded a family dinner and a fight this week.  Brandon and Jared had a story to tell.  If you haven’t read it yet, buy links are in the books tab at the top.  I really do love these guys, and I hope you’re entertained as they continue their story.  Enjoy!**

The one and only time we’d all been together had been the weekend Jared and I admitted our feelings.  Because it was so new, everyone had been on their best behavior.  Brian had barely teased, Zane had cooked up a storm, and Audra had been the consummate hostess.  It had been pleasant if reserved and not exactly natural.

But apparently that had been a onetime deal.

Brian and Zane had been snarking at each other practically since the moment Brian and Cas got off the plane.  Zane had been the one to pick them up so that I didn’t have to go out.  Ever since the first episode of Robber Barons aired, the paparazzi spotted me whenever I was in public.  It was a wonder they didn’t invade the house, but so far they hadn’t found me.  Jared was really good at losing any tails we picked up.

But Zane had left me in charge of the bubbling lasagna while he ran out to get them, and Casper had informed me when they walked in the house that the two of them had been sniping at each other the whole time.  It didn’t stop when Jared made it home and greeted everyone. Even as Zane set the table and called us all in to eat, it continued.

I didn’t know what had gotten into my brother, but I didn’t like it.  I tried to catch his attention and beg him to stop with my eyes.  We’d always been close, and B could usually read me with just a glance.  But he was purposely ignoring me and avoiding my gaze.  I was going to have to talk to him about it if he didn’t get his act together.  A kernel of dread formed in the pit of my stomach at the thought.

“Lasagna is an interesting choice,” Brain said after we all sat at the table. His tone held an edge of derision.  “Given how hot the weather is, I would have thought you’d go for something lighter.”

Zane’s smile was all teeth.  “It’s one of Brandon’s favorite meals.  I make it whenever he needs a little comfort.  Which I know he could use right now.  Things have been stressful.”

“Isn’t that sweet?” Brian’s voice was dripping with sarcasm.  Hearing it made my stomach clench.  I set down my fork.  “It’s a crock of shit, but it’s really nice, just the same.”

“Brian,” Casper chastised, but the words were already out there.  I sent up a silent prayer that Zane would let it lie.

No such luck.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“Enough, Zane,” Jared ordered.  But Zane was exactly like his brother, and there is no way he’d let that go.

“That Brandon would lie and tell you it’s his favorite, just to make you feel better,” Brian said, heedless of his husband’s chastisement or Jared’s  censure.

“N-n-not true,” I said quietly, hating the arguing and the attitude, but not able to let it lie there.  “I l-love l-lasagna.”

The entire room went silent at hearing me stutter and I felt the blush burning as it crept up my neck and inflamed my face.  I hated that I couldn’t control it.  That when I was nervous or uncomfortable, my words stumbled over themselves trying to get out of my mouth.  I hated even more that everyone knew what it meant.

“Now, look what you did,” Brian hissed venomously.

“Me?” Zane was incredulous, and his eyebrows lifted.  “It’s your fucking fault, baiting me and being rude.  Who in the hell do you think you are?”

“I’m his brother, you little shit. Which is more than you can say–”

“Enough.” Jared stood, his voice deep and commanding.  He didn’t yell.  He didn’t need to.  His bearing, his face, everything screamed that he was not to be argued with.  His word was law and everyone at the table needed to heed it.  Hearing it gave me comfort, and usually turned me on.  Any other time, and I would have been on my knees and sucking him off.

The thought was inappropriate for the situation, and that made me blush even harder.  When Jared’s hand came down on the back of my neck to lightly squeeze, I relaxed and let the tension go.  He had a way of calming me no one else did.  Not even Brian, who was only three hundred and sixty days older than I was, could manage what Jared could with a look and a touch.

Jared had control, and his brown gaze was assessing as he stared down first his own brother, and then mine.  Audra sat back, her face slowly relaxing now that Jared was taking care of things.  Casper was staring at Brian, disbelief all over his face.  I could practically tell what he was thinking, because I was wondering the same thing.  How could Brian act like this?  It was out of character for him.  Zane too, for that matter.

Jared sat, pulling my chair closer to his with a strong hand.  Then he dropped an arm across my shoulders.  I snuggled into his warmth, and barely restrained myself from turning my face into his neck and inhaling deeply.  I loved his smell, and it never failed to calm me.  But we were still at the dinner table so I didn’t.

“Would you care to explain yourselves?” Jared asked, but it was barely a question.  Both Zane and Brian looked up in disbelief.

“J-Jared, m-maybe we d-don’t–”

“No,” he interrupted gently, pulling me in tighter.  “They want to bicker like children, then they can be treated like children.”

Silence stretched on, neither Brian nor Zane saying a word.  Neither man looked anywhere but at their plates.  Audra started to fidget with a lock of her hair, and Cas sat back and crossed his big arms over his chest.  I grew more uncomfortable as the minutes ticked by.  How long was Jared going to let this go on?

Finally, I couldn’t take the tension anymore.  I turned into Jared’s body, tucking myself tightly up against his side and burying my face in his neck.  He would do what he wanted, what he felt was right, but I couldn’t handle it.  I took a deep breath, and started to get up, to flee the kitchen and the tension until it was resolved, but Jared knew I was ready to bolt. He wrapped his arms around me to comfort me.

“You are both grown ass men,” Jared began, his voice steady. “I know you both love Brandon.  But you don’t have to compete as to who takes better care of him.”

I startled.  Was that what they’d been doing?  Cas’s soft, warm chuckle and B’s indignant sputter confirmed Jared’s assessment.

“It’s a moot point anyway,” Jared said with a hint of finality.  “I take care of him.  The rest of you are on the periphery.”

There was another silent moment, and then Cas and Audra burst into laughter.  It broke the tension, and the mood in the room eased immediately.  I took a deep Jared-scented breath and let it out slowly, finally feeling like I could breathe.

Jared’s hand cupped the back of my head, and then slid around until he could take hold of my chin and lift my face to his.  His smile was bright, the kiss he gave me sweet but chaste, and when he pulled back I could see love and affection in his eyes.

“I love you,” he whispered.

“I love you too,” I answered immediately.

His gaze slid sideways, and I followed with my own, taking in the scene.  Brian and Zane were still a little grumpy, but it was easing with every second that passed, and regular dinner actions were taking place.  Audra was pouring dressing on her salad with one hand and passing the basket of garlic bread to Cas with the other.  Zane was serving perfect squares of lasagna.  And Brian was pouring the iced tea.  It was all so normal.  I almost couldn’t believe that just a few minutes ago, Brian and Zane had been at each other’s throats.  I looked back at Jared.  He was grinning.

“It’s family.  What are you going to do?”

My grin couldn’t be contained.  Family indeed.

Life Conspiring

I’d love nothing more than to be an author, first and foremost.  For that to be my primary focus all the time.  Writing gives me a solace and a creative outlet that I need to function, and to be able to put the words on a page, and craft a story I can share with the world is one of my greatest joys.  Sometimes greatest frustrations too, but that’s a different blog post.

But it can’t be my primary focus, not right now.  Maybe not ever.  And I deal with that in my own way.  But because it’s not, there is a lot of life I have to deal with and sometimes it gets in the way of writing.  And sometimes it feels like it’s all conspiring against me.

The last few months have been stressful, incredibly so, as I’ve been dealing with issues at the evil day job that keep getting worse.  The last week and a half, there’s been family issues too, things going on that I can’t control and that all I can do is worry about. The combination has taken it’s toll on my poor brain.

Basically, I’m a piping hot mess of worry and that’s not the most conducive mindset for writing.  I’ve been able to scrabble out a few words.  The flash fics too.  And I will keep plugging along.  But things are slow.  It’s hard to get the focus.  And I’m putting pressure on myself in a lot of directions.

The point of this post?  To say that I may be scarce for a bit longer, and that I’m not doing much writing.

Brandon and Jared will entertain you again on Friday with their continuing saga.  They can’t wait to share it with you.  I can’t wait for you to read it either.  The flashes will happen no matter what else goes up here.  And I’ll be back just as soon as I can

Flash Fic Friday

**Brandon and Jared return again, this time trapped by snow in a mountain cabin.  Enjoy!**

I woke up sticky, sore, and smiling.  Last night had been so good, exactly what we needed and wanted.  I was sure Jared left bruises on my hips and hickeys on my throat.  We’d been apart for weeks, and he’d been particularly aggressive.  I was surprised he hadn’t attacked in the airport or the car, managed to keep it to just a passionate kiss or four, and was able to restrain himself until we got all the way to the mountain cabin I’d rented for us.  I’d finally finished filming Robber Barons and I was desperate to spend some quality time with Jared.  I needed it.

So I rented the seclude cabin on the mountain.  It wasn’t far from the resort but the eight rental cabins all afforded a great deal of privacy.  When I had perused the website, it hadn’t taken me long to make up my mind.  I had my finger hovering over the book button the entire time I talked to Jared.  I clicked it as soon as he’d given permission.  But last night had been worth it all, to have him own me so thoroughly and completely.

Tucked against his big body, I was overly warm, but I snuggled even closer.  It was the only place I truly wanted to be, and even though he was still sound asleep, I was more than happy to stay right there and enjoy the quiet.

Which, now that I thought about it, was a little too quiet.

Unease started curling in my gut.  I listened hard, trying to figure out what was wrong.  And then I realized it.  There was no hum of the heater, no faint electrical buzz from the clock on the bedside table.  In fact, it sounded like a blanket had been thrown over everything.  I sat up, pushing the quilts down, and was attacked by a frigid cold that had me shivering.  But I still got out of bed, despite turning into one big goosebump, and made my way to the window.  Last night, before we’d closed the curtain, we were able to see the glow from the resort down the road.  When I pulled the curtain aside, I saw nothing but white.

I made my way, quickly and quietly, out of the bedroom and into the front room.  The huge picture window along the front of the cabin confirmed my worst fears.  There was nothing but snow, feet of it, piled up in all directions.  And it was still coming down.  I swallowed hard, shivering in the freezing air, and willed myself not to panic.

“Brandon?” Jared’s voice sounded a bit muffled, like he was just emerging from our blanket cocoon.

“O-out h-h-here,” I stammered.

He was at my side in an instant, his dark brown eyes assessing.  He grabbed the afghan from the back of the couch and wrapped it around my shoulders before he hugged me tightly to him.

“We’re s-s-snowed in,” I said, hating that my words were fighting me.  It had been so long since I’d stuttered in front of Jared, and it was making me angry that the situation was getting to me.  I was with Jared.  There was nothing to worry about.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. You know I’m not going to let anything happen to you,” Jared said as if he’d read my thoughts.  He kissed my forehead, then my eyes and nose, before giving me a quick but passionate kiss. Then he led me toward the couch and urged me to sit.

He didn’t seem to be fazed by the cold, or at least, he wasn’t physically reacting to it.  And I couldn’t tear my eyes off his ass as he knelt in front of the fireplace, and set to work lightly the wood already inside.  It only took him a few minutes before he straightened and then pulled the screen in front of the flames.

“It’ll be warmed up in here in no time,” he said confidently.  Then he leaned over me to drop a kiss on my head.  “Stay here for a bit, all right?  I’m going to check things out.”

I nodded, even as I smiled.  “Yes, sir.”

His grin was gorgeous, and I was rewarded with another kiss, before he strode into the bedroom.  I noticed a book of amenities and services the resort offer, and picked it up.  A moment later he reappeared in sweatpants and a long sleeved shirt, and then he started poking around the cabin; first in the kitchen, then in the back storage closet.

“There’s a generator in the closet, and gasoline,” Jared said with a smile, as if that made everything better.  I had to grin in response, and I held up the binder I’d been leafing through while he searched.

“It r-runs the fridge and the hot w-water heater.”  I opened the book to the page and then handed it over.  “Emergency protocol.”

Jared was instantly absorbed, reading.  I slid across the cushions until I could snuggle up beside him.  The fire hadn’t made things warm enough yet, and Jared was always the best source of heat.  The man was like a furnace.  He didn’t say anything as he memorized the protocol.  My man was a Marine, and he’d make do, but he liked it better when he was prepared. When he was done, he snapped the book shut and laid it aside.

“We’re going to be fine,” he assured me.  I loved his confidence.  I always had.  It was one of the first things that drew me to him.  His confidence was because he was solid, and solid was what I needed desperately.  I nodded fast, and pushed in closer.

“There’s no reason to worry,” he said quietly, pulling me in tight.  “It said this happens from time to time, but they have procedures in place.  We’ll be fine for at least a week, but the resort staff will get to us before that time elapses, even if the snow doesn’t clear.”

I nodded again even as I crawled into his lap.  Jared didn’t hesitate to wrap me in his arms, and position us so I could push my face into his neck.  I inhaled deeply, taking in his earthy, musky scent and letting it calm me.  I loved the way he smelled, and it triggered me to feel safe.  Every dang time.  Also horny, because Jared was incredibly sexy, but that could wait.

“Brandon,” he said, his voice dropping to a lower register.  The things that voice did, the way it flipped my switch, was a marvel to me.  I took a deep breath and let it out, and with it the anxiety and tension left too.  He gave a hum approval, and his big hands cradled my head. “There you go.”

I gave him a small and shaky smile.  “Sorry, sir.  I’m sorry our vacation got ruined.”

Jared started, and then his eyebrows scrunched together like he was confused. “Ruined?”

I blinked.  “Because of the snowstorm?”

Jared’s expression cleared, and then his eyes filled with lust. In a lightning fast move, he had me pinned beneath him.  The growl he let out made me shiver and arch against his body.  “We’re stuck together, unable to leave, unable to see anyone else, with nothing to do but eat, fuck and talk.  And not necessarily in that order.  By what definition of the word is that ‘ruined’?”

Well, when he put it that way….

I spread my thighs so he could fit between them, pulling my knees up to bracket his hips.  “I love you, Jared.”

Jared was too busy sucking up another mark on my neck to answer, but I didn’t need the words.  I trusted him completely, and I knew how he felt.  I tilted my head back so he had better access to my neck, and didn’t even try to stop the whine that escaped.  His answer was a growl that vibrated my skin, but he didn’t seem in any hurry to move things along.  Jared was in the mood to take this slowly.  I clung to him, watching the snow fall, and grinding my hips against him.

How could I have ever thought our vacation was ruined?  It was perfect.